Joshi Spotlight: Megumi Kudo vs. Shark Tsuchiya- Barbed Wire Deathmatch

So I’m finding assorted stuff from the unusually-stuffed Dec. 1995 to review before I sum up the entire year, and I found ANOTHER one-off Dream Joshi Match! It’s a fantastic Interpromotional Tag Team Match, as the former Jungle Jack and FMW’s top two women’s wrestlers are split up and made to face each other, as Kong & Kudo take on Combat & Bison! Oh, and the next night, we get a BARBED WIRE DEATHMATCH between two insane women, as Megumi Kudo shows just how she got the title “Deathmatch Queen”.

(FMW, Dec. 21st 1995)
* Hey look! The AJW Class of 1986 brawls once more! But in an interesting combination, as the two who left and formed the backbone of FMW’s Women’s division are now split up, pairing up with the former Jungle Jack members, also split! Aja beat Bison in a bloodbath a few months before this, and Kudo is also notable as one of the people who came closest to beating Aja Kong in 1993’s St. Battle Final. Aja’s in yellow & black, Kudo’s in black, Combat’s in red/yellow & Bison’s in white with black leopard-print. Kudo & Bison are both in their typical one-legged outfits, as I realize I’ve never seen that combo before.

Aja & Combat start us off, and the titans immediately make this completely awesome by doing FAT GUY RUNNING NO-SOLD SHOULDERBLOCKS, then Combat sneaks in a lariat, but Aja ducks, shrugs off another, then dumps her over the top so Kudo can tear across the ring and dive into her! And then Aja teases a dive and lips her off. Oh, that’s fantastic. Bison does a terrific job completely overpowering Kudo, then Combat hits a body attack & a massive sprinting avalanche. Kudo hits a great running rollup & a cross-body for two, then Aja starts in with those crowd-pleasing stiff kicks, and copies Combat’s own avalanche! Combat gets fired up and they slap the s--- out of each other until Bison flies in, but Aja no-sells some Bison Chops with a HORRIFYING death-stare and boots Bison down. Aja slaps her around & does her “Chop & Karate Taunt” move, then wears her down- Bison bites free, but Aja bites back until Combat comes in and there’s STEREO biting! Aaaaaaaaand there’s Kudo in to return the favor on Bison.

Kudo gets worked over but reverses a back stretch for two, and then Aja & Combat get into a violent HEADBUTT fight, Combat refusing to back down and roaring in defiance even as Aja seems to take the lead- she wrestles Combat into a piledriver for two, but tries another Vader Attack and Combat straight resists it by force, and Bison Chops Aja in the back and Combat lariats her down… only for Aja to hit a running cross-body on both women! 2nd Rope Splash gets two on Combat, then Aja tries her Flying Back Elbow, misses, resists a piledriver, misses an Uraken, but ducks a lariat and backdrops Combat for two. Hoss Reversals! Kudo & Combat brawl, the idol actually knocking Combat down, but she’s caught in a press slam. She ducks and Bison splats Combat by mistake, and Kudo slowly Manami Rolls Combat to reverse a powerbomb, only to try an ass attack and get German’d in mid-air! Okay, these two clearly have their sequences down TIGHT. Bison Chops Kudo, but a powerbomb & second Chop both fail and NOW the ass attack connects! Aja lariats Bison after a rope-running sequence, then launches Kudo for a rana- Bison gets a weak chop, but Kudo lands on her feet from a powerbomb and plays ring-fu to deke out Bison and lure her right into a Tornado DDT. Jesus, her reversals are SLICK.

Aja comes in for mop-up, but NOW Bison has her number, throwing out two Bison Chops and a nasty side suplex right onto Aja’s head for two. Aja gets her feet up on a flying headbutt and gives payback with two Backdrop Drivers- “F--- YOU!” bridge from Bison! Aja’s annoyance is great, and when she puts Bison up top to finish her, Combat sneaks in and they hit a Doomsday Device Bison Chop for two! Combat slowly puts on a backdrop superplex for two. Missile dropkick gets two, and Kudo saves Aja from something- Aja stops a double-team but Kudo still takes a powerslam from Combat for two. But Combat climbs and gets caught with a Butterfly Superduperplex for two- Bison saves! Kudo tries to finish with her Triple Tiger Driver Neckdrops, but again Bison stops the count- Kudo tries a flying Thesz press but gets powerbombed in mid-air. Bison throws Chops but gets caught in a Northern lights suplex for two, but hits a bridging T-Bone suplex for two, then powerbombs Kudo to set up Combat’s for two. Ligerbomb from Combat- Aja saves, so they double-suplex her. Kudo… hits a double-DDT out of the same move and calls in Aja, but BAM! The Uraken hits her by mistake! Combat hits her ThunderFire Powerbomb (one-armed over-the-shoulder powerbomb) and Aja saves, so Bison hauls her outside and Chops her off the apron, fending her off, but Kudo reverses a top-rope move to the old Sunset Flip Powerbomb off the top… for three (22:30)! Kudo & Kong win!

TONS of fun with this match, as they start out with all kinds of crowd-pleasing spots and fun stuff before settling into stretching to pad for time, then start doing fun stuff again. Kudo is one of the tougher big stars to find on YouTube owing to FMW’s stuff being buried or disappearing but she always impresses- more than anyone, it seems like she just precisely times her comebacks and they always look like they came from ring-smarts, not toughness (Hokuto) or athleticism (Toyota). Bison wasn’t that terrific here, but had some good character bits with her hate-on for Aja- it was clear the other three were the best, with Kudo & Combat having some amazing chemistry, with Combat’s defiance and insistence that she’s on Aja’s level. Funny bit with the superplex to Aja where they were seemingly going for a Superduper-version but Aja slipped and they called an audible not to kill her, lol. Then ending felt a LITTLE out of nowhere but fit Kudo’s “Sneak out a win by reversing their power stuff” bit, helped by Bison leaving the ring in an attempt to hold off Aja.

Rating: **** (a good, fun tag team match)

MEGUMI KUDO vs. SHARK TSUCHIYA (w/ Miwa Sato & other goons):
(FMW Yamato Nadeshiko II, Dec. 22nd 1995)
* So this is an infamous example of the No-Ropes Barbed Wire Deathmatch between WOMEN, as Kudo is thrown in there against vicious, nasty heel Shark. Shark is a pretty famously-bad worker (it’s virtually mandatory for someone to bash her in-ring skills as soon as she’s brought up), but she’s beaten Chigusa Nagayo this year already, so Kudo’s in trouble. Both are in their recognizable gear- Kudo the white & pink with the one leg, and Shark with her green & black suit and facepaint. The ring is already a complete disgrace, covered in bloodstains and all sorts of s---. I wouldn’t want to walk across it; much less have any part of my skin touch it during a match.

And yes, this is literally the night after the previous thing. Joshi are crazy.

We set off pretty well immediately with the trademarks of what I’ve noticed from FMW’s Barbed Wire matches- it’s not so much a straight bloodbath as a battle royal in execution- people fight NOT to be sent into the pokey stuff. They lock up to start, and merely moving Kudo backwards gets the crowd buzzing a little bit. They reverse Irish whips but rear back and end up in a headlock, then both try to push the other into the wire- Sato grabs at Kudo from the floor, still having the temerity to interfere with barbed wire all around. Kudo resists the wire for a bit, then tries another whip (the spot looks weird when they can’t use the ropes to push off), but Shark REVERSES it, and Kudo’s our first victim, writhing her head back in agony! You can see her hair get hooked on it, too. Shark shoves her into the bottom wire, aided by her goons, and Kudo shows she’s a pro by making sure to crane her head back so the camera gets the shot of blood trickling down her face as the gore begins. Soon she’s a MESS as Shark presses her into more wire, then uses a staff wrapped in the wire for more. She alternates grinding it and throwing some very light strikes with it, but she sets up Sato’s swing and Kudo ducks! But she tries a Thesz press and ends up shoved into the wire again, chest first.

Kudo screams defiantly when the ref asks her if she quits, and the goons toss in a table. Kudo sells “dying of blood loss but has the will to fight” as well as anyone I’ve ever seen, and Shark accidentally flips the table over with Kudo’s legs trying a powerbomb on it. So she’s just like “Well, whatever” and realigns Kudo so that doesn’t happen again, haha. The table makes a good “CRUNCH!”, but is too Japanese to break. Kudo kicks out of a slack pin at two. Sato comes in for an ASSISTED powerbomb, but they just kinda press Kudo onto the table and it collapses on one side. That gets two, and Shark drops her ass first on it- nope. Kudo kicks her in the gut and slams her to FINALLY break it- she grabs the table piece as a makeshift weapon but Shark grabs a huge-ass sickle and Kudo’s SCREAMING in horror at the agony of it being see-sawed into her forehead. They wrestle over the sickle, but then in a brilliant spot Kudo grabs the table piece and BLOCKS THE SICKLE with it, leaving us with the great visual of the blade sticking all the way through the wood as Kudo holds it in front of her. And Kudo knocks Shark around with the table piece! Shark goes into the ropes, then Kudo USES THE ASS to dig her in deeper!

Kudo, caked in blood but defiant, finally has her spirit back and starts whupping on Shark with that wire-staff (SUPER-delicately, though), even getting a subordinate in there for some shots! Shark collapses after a ton of those and some kicks. Shark nearly reverses a stick-shot but Kudo gets a go-behind and chokes her out with it. Okay that’s obviously super-gimmicked- Kudo’s using her bare hands to pressure it in. Perfect Plex gets two for Kudo on a tired Shark, but then she tries another Ass Attack like a crazy person and FLIES into the wire! Vicious backdrop suplex gets two for Shark, who now actually wants to win and not just apply torture. Huge powerbomb gets two. We’re back to “dying Kudo” flopping around, so Shark’s minions snip some wire so she can use barbed-wire assisted FIST STRIKES and clotheslines for two. She tries to powerbomb Kudo ON THE STAFF but she lands on her feet and DDTs Shark onto it instead, then hits a Bridging German… but a goon breaks up the pin at “2”! Oh you ASS! But she tries a chokeslam and Kudo armdrags out, whips her into the barbed wire, then dropkicks SHARK into it, hitting a Butterfly Powerbomb for two! Butterfly Bomb on a chair! Two! Shark nearly backdrops her out of a wild swing, but Kudo lands on her feet, shoves her into the wire again, and hits her MDK- KUDOME VALENTINE!! The move Shane Helms ripped off for the “Vertebreaker!” And that gets the pin at (16:25 shown of 19:41)!

In a brilliant (subtitled) post-match interview, Kudo brings up how the pain of barbed wire matches “was beyond imagination”, but adds “But when I think of the harm that she has done to us- Tsuchiya bullying rookies and forcing Combat (Toyoda) to consider retirement, I could overcome the fear with anger and a sense of responsibility”. BAD ASS.

So this kind of deathmatch brutality is NOT my thing, especially so when it’s women killing each other, but holy s--- Kudo is just THE BEST at selling death. She sounded like a horror movie victim in there- something more evocative and sympathy-inducing than even Toyota or Hokuto are capable of. She is REALLY good at timing her “defiantly stand up only to get killed again” s---, and knows how to make her real comebacks count. And after ten minutes of torment she FINALLY lands a reversal, then pays back Shark some. And she gets some good revenge for about five minutes before she horribly screws up by missing her running Ass Attack and DYING on the wire. Then it’s more Shark punishment, but the impact moves that can actually finish. The staff shots were kinda funny because they were being sooooooo delicate with that, even though I think they were all gimmicked. I’m not used to FMW of all places using Lance Storm-tier weapon shots. But the bits with the goon running in were some epic timing, with Kudo perfectly reversing on her and then tossing both of them into the wire. Shark isn’t great, but this covered all of her flaws and made it look like Kudo was absolutely being slaughtered, but also made you BUY her comebacks, which were earned with courage and smarts.

Rating: **** (just an awesome deathmatch brawl- so much emotion and character and not “just” blood & guts)