Joshi Spotlight: AJW Nagoya Whirlwind ’95

Kaelan Ramos on Twitter: "Yellow: Etsuko Mita, Pink: Mima Shimoda, Middle: Akira Hokuto. Together = Las Cachorras Orientales (or LCO for short) - a legendary wrestling tag team. This photo was taken

LCO, now with a new combination, as Hokuto & Shimoda form a duo!

(Nov. 3rd, 1995)
* So an entire month after Manami Toyota wins the Japan Grand Prix and is set to challenge Dynamite Kansai to bring the WWWA Title back home to AJW, we have another big-ish show. And something crazy happened in the interim- Akira Hokuto teamed up with subordinate Mima Shimoda to win the WWWA Tag Team Titles from Double Inoue! With Manami busy with World Title stuff, her team with Sakie had to wait, I suppose, and now the nigh-unbeatable Tag Champs are dethroned! I really searched for that match, but couldn’t find it. Nor Yumiko Hotta defeating Toshiyo Yamada for the White Belt on the same show! It’s not even on Mike Lorefice’s list of AJW tapes! Did they even record this one at all? Evito-X says it wasn’t. Missing two major title switches is a rarity for this promotion.

So this show features the first Title defense by Hokuto/Shimoda… and they’re up against BULL NAKANO, former Ace, with Tomoko Watanabe backing her up! Bull hasn’t challenged for gold in years, so this is pretty crazy.

Looks like the card has a bunch of stuff that wasn’t taped:
AJW JUNIOR TITLE: YOSHIKO TAMURA vs. NOBUE ENDO- Time Limit Draw (20:00)- Jesus Christ, glad we missed that’n.


IWA WORLD TITLE: REGGIE BENNETT d. ETSUKO MITA (15:36): Mita seems to be settling into Suzuka Minami’s old “good wrestler who jobs in 15 minutes” role.

MANAMI TOYOTA & MARIKO YOSHIDA d. SAKIE HASEGAWA & KAORU ITO (16:57): Meltzer gave this **** and Lorefice gave it ***1/2, saying it saved the big moves for the end. It was taped, but I can’t find it on YouTube.

* Here’s a potentially big one, with huge ’80s star Lioness going up against rising star Kyoko! Particularly since the Raijin Army has been used as JTTS midcarders for most of their tag run, but in a solo match Asuka took Hotta to the limit. Asuka’s now wearing all black, and has her face painted in this heelish Ultimate Warrior pattern- a look she’d keep for her WWF matches later this year.

Asuka jumps Kyoko before the bell, but Kyoko lariats the shit out of her only to be backdropped out. Asuka drags her across the arena for a beating and slams her on some chairs, looking like a right heel- she blocks Kyoko getting in, then snaps the arm and goes to work on it, beating Kyoko down when she tries her Mongolian Chops comeback. Kyoko finally hits her Slingshot Backsplash & Dancing Deathlock to come back, Asuka reversing a surfboard for two, then hitting a good German out of a second Backsplash attempt. Weird stalling Ligerbomb (nearly ganso bombed her there) gets two, and she gets backdropped out of a second try. Kyoko hits her Run-Up Flying Back Elbow handily, but gets Fujiwara armbarred out of a lariat. She dodges a flying thing and hits a missile kick (despite pointing to her head to indicate intelligence before!), getting armbarred but escaping and managing a lariat. Asuka dodges a second one and gets a wheel kick, but misses HER second one, but Kyoko can’t manage the Niagara Driver because her arm’s too hurt- Asuka gets a THIRD armbar, Kyoko screaming in agony but the crowd not really buying an early tap-out. Asuka tries another armbar but Kyoko leg-clutches her around the waist and hauls her back for… the three (9:33)? Yes, Kyoko wins via ROLL-UP in less than ten minutes! Asuka attacks after the bell, but Kyoko’s still there for the post-match interview.

Really weird match that almost seemed like it got the “go-home” signal early, as they weren’t working even close to “Main Event Pace” yet. Hardly a great, hard-fought win for Kyoko, who just gets lucky. I dunno what the deal was here (Asuka is heading to JD’ soon, but still). As it stands, it seems like the first part of a standard ***-**** AJW main eventers match, then with the final minutes tacked on (desperate submission attempts, finisher failing to hit) and then a banana peel finish.

Rating: ** (what we got was okay, but they were still in their “slow start” mode until the end)

* … uh-oh. Takako’s been rising in credibility all year, but AJA KONG? This seems set to re-state that Aja remains a top star, as despite losing the 3WA Title twice in one year, she’s still doing things like crushing Bison Kimura in nine minutes and now being set to sacrifice Takako. This is weirder still because Takako’s getting a 3WA shot of her own (the first AJW wrestler to try and dethrone Kansai, in fact), so you’d think they’d want to build some credibility for her. Aja’s in red & black, Takako’s in puffy silver idol gear that makes her look like easy prey for the monster.

Fun start, as Takako uses speed and reversals to harry Aja with machine-gun knees and kicks, then hauls her down with a dragon screw off a kick attempt! Takako stays on the knee a bit, but gets run over and we hit the “Aja methodically tears someone down” segment, complete with outside brawl. Takako goes two hands to one in a test of strength, but Aja keeps overpowering her and belly-bashes her down. Vader attack gets two and Takako takes a big beating- her facial expressions in close-up are hilarious. Just SO aggrieved and pouty. Lonnnnnnnnnggggggg beatdown (sleeper, lifting choke, standing on her, hairpulling) commences, and Aja gets a big reaction for her “chop & pose” move.

Piledriver gets two for Aja, as does a delayed suplex. Aja sits on a sunset flip attempt for two. Takako gets a pop for kicking out of a 2nd-rope splash. Annoyed, Aja goes up, but Takako FINALLY awakens, catching her with the Aurora Special for two! Aja climbs the corner after her like a dumbass and eats the Super Chokeslam for two! Aja blocks the Backdrop Hold but Takako ducks the Uraken and hits a floatover DDT. Flying Knee gets two! Great “falling tree” sell by Aja, too. Aja reverses the Backdrop Hold for two, and her Backdrop Driver gets the same. Takako gets a rollup, but only two, and she just HOWLS in frustration at the kickout. Aja pounces with desperation, hitting her Flying Back Elbow for two. Takako’s dead, though- Aja just hoists her body up and EXECUTES her with the Uraken at (13:09).

A match that was rarely competitive and with a foregone conclusion, but was solid throughout. Aja is so good at selling- she doesn’t completely ignore Takako’s leg stuff because that makes it worthless, but she can’t OVER-sell it, either, because that’s not credible. So she has this combination of anger and impatience while she’s in the hold- she’s trying to grapple out or escape without being too desperate about it, and it puts over the move as painful but not debilitating. Takako also didn’t cower- she brought the fight right to Aja and didn’t back down. Then we get into the patented “Long Aja Beatdown”, giving the match “Bret Hart Template” vibes with Takako eating so much offense before the comeback, but it kinda comes off like she has a “puncher’s chance” at victory. She runs through all her shit and does clever reversals until Aja finally tags her and hits her with a succession of big moves. The long beatdown and one-sidedness hurts it, but they’re still great characters.

Rating: *** (solid little story for a match that had an obvious ending)

* Okay, this one is SUPER-weird, as it’s two Main Eventers as their “kouhai” subordinates, but like… Bull hasn’t challenged for any gold for a LONG time. There was no way they were winning here against new champions, so I get the impression this was kind of a throwaway first defense for the new champs, but with some great interest because of the ancient Bull/Akira feud and their past friendship. Akira’s in blue, gold & white, Shimoda’s in red & black, Bull’s in a shiny black & gold one-piece (actually looking like her WWF gear) & Tomoko’s in her white tassel-covered thing.

FALL ONE: The former Gokumon-To pounces before the bell, Bull holding Akira in the corner so Tomoko can hit the Screwdriver (backdrop to powerbomb) on Shimoda… for the pin (0:05)! Lucky first fall immediately! Hokuto just stares Bull down with this “You fuckin’ bitch…” glare before checking on an agonized Shimoda, then unceremoniously drags her partner to the corner to start the next fall herself (is that legal? I’ve always seen the last fall’s participants forced to pair off to start the next).

FALL TWO: Akira starts against Tomoko, but the ref in fact is like “No, Shimoda’s legal” so Akira just holds up her hand and tags it, haha. Then she calls out Bull for the clash everyone wanted to see- Bull agrees, flipping off the fans for chanting “HO-KU-TO!”. They lock up the way I’d imagine wolves would do if they had hands, then Bull slugs her down, hits a press-slam, and launches her by the hair. Tomoko misses a shot and gets missile kicked by Shimoda- she manages a slingshot move to come back, but Akira halts her on the top rope, leaving her easy prey… for Shimoda’s Death Lake Driver (Tiger superplex)! And Akira holds Bull back by the hair with the hugest smirk on her face as Shimoda redeems herself with the pin at (2:05)! Another quick fall! Akira & Bull have to be separated, and poor Tomoko looks heartbroken.

FALL THREE: All tied up now as Shimoda spams piledrivers for two. They do the LCO Bitch Pose to her and Akira wears Tomoko down with sharpshooters, egging on Shimoda to keep running in and add punishment. Tomoko scores her rana on Shimoda for two, though, then crushes her with judo flips for two. The Boss of the World adds Bull’s Angelito, but when Tomoko tries to pay back Shimoda’s interference, Akira just hauls her down like “nah, kid- only WE may be bitches”. Bull laughs off Shimoda’s weak punches and lariats her to death for two- Akira saves- then hits a kneeling powerbomb for the same. They torture her a while, repeating some spots Akira had been using earlier. Tomoko sits on her with a sharpshooter… and Bull suddenly flies in with the Guillotine Legdrop to Shimoda’s head! Tomoko gets two off that, then hits twin Whoopie Cushions for two. Bridging suplex gets two and Shimoda REALLY needs outta there, and Bull hits her brutal draping DDT, so Akira saves. A seriously elevated Brainbuster gets two- Shimoda manages a rollup and her corner cross-body reversal for two-counts, but can’t make a tag. Bull sends her to the ropes, but Shimoda FINALLY comes back with her hooking clotheslines and manages to tag out happily.

Akira lands her roundhouse kick and a GIANT Dragon Suplex to Bull for two, and then yanks the hair and they torture Bull in the ropes for a bit, but both try a suplex, setting up the usual “Bull suplexes both opponents” spot. Tomoko tries a slingshot move, but Shimoda meets her with a dropkick, only for her “corner cross-body” reversal to be ITSELF reversed, this time with a judo flip in mid-air! Pretty tight. Superplex into Bull’s legdrop gets two. Bull tries a powerbomb, but Akira spikes her right in the vertebrae with a missile dropkick, collapsing her. Akira gets a German for two, but Bull clotheslines her & Shimoda over. But Tomoko gets her clothesline ducked and is Tiger Suplexed while Akira knocks Bull off the apron, setting up Shimoda’s dive and Akira’s Tope Con Hilo onto both opponents! But when they finally haul ’em back in, Tomoko springs to life and lariats both women over- Screwdriver to Hokuto! That gets two! But she accidentally lariats Bull down and ends up in the Dangerous Queen Bomb- Fisherman’s Buster gets two on Bull! But Bull dodges a missile kick and hits Akira with Bull’s Poseidon (drop-down head-first from a standing backdrop position) for two. But she goes for the Somersault Double-Leg Guillotine and misses, so Akira hits her with a sloppy-ass Inverted Frankensteiner and locks her in Stranglehold Gamma (armbar with a leg around their neck) for the submission at (16:01). The champs retain!

This video cuts out quickly thereafter, but an angle happens post-match where Akira completely snubs Shimoda, taking all the credit for the victory (I mean, she ain’t wrong, sorta), then walking off with BOTH trophies and title belts, refusing to show her kouhai any respect at all.

Turned into a heck of a match, largely after two quick falls set the story: Tomoko & Shimoda are weak to Akira & Bull. This set up a lot of stuff, as both tried but were vulnerable. Some good “learning” bits like Shimoda’s corner reversal getting reversed with that cool judo flip, and you saw a lot of the “Shimoda is easy pickings, so Akira has to do mop-up once Shimoda absorbs all the punishment”, which you saw in the end where Akira is doing smooth bridging suplexes up on her toes while the others all look like utter shit and have hair all over the place as they stumble around. There was a good bunch of finisher attempts right at the end, done entirely by Akira while Shimoda just held off Tomoko, to the point where it was clear Akira was doing all the work. This sets up the “Akira disrespects her partner” angle.

Rating: ***1/2 (pretty smartly-booked and well-wrestled throughout- only lacking a big “Finisher Surge” and some extra “oomph”)

So overall, this was a pretty good night of wrestling- nobody quite shooting for the fences and I apparently missed a good Manami tag match, but otherwise it was fine as a third-tier type of show.