Joshi Spotlight- JWP in April ’96 (Kansai/Takako vs. Ozaki/Kyoko)

* We’re back to more JWP stuff! Their YouTube presence is a bit odd, as it’s mainly limited to one guy’s account- Rico Kasai is the name. None of it’s dated, so it took a hell of a lot of work to find out when all of this happened. Some in my “Can’t find” pile should just be mass-reviewed at some point too, I guess. We last left off with them in September 1996, but also had the Tag Title change in December, but the last stuff of Kasai’s was a ways before that, so I haven’t gotten to his in a while. In any case, we have SIX matches from April 1996! One is an absolute BANGER that I’ve reviewed before in a Takako Inoue vs. Mayumi Ozaki spotlight- it’s a fantastic Interpromotional Tag Match between Dynamite Kansai & Takako vs. Kyoko Inoue & Ozaki- and in it, they go all-out and very clearly attempt to replicate the success of the famous Toyota/Yamada vs. Kansai/Ozaki series from 1993.

* Miracle rookie Amano (who gets good FAST- I’ve seen a **** match from only a couple years after this, tops) goes up against Bolshoi, who’s on the low end of the pecking order for “name” wrestlers, and is thus a good gatekeeper and “test” against the kids. Amano’s in a white & blue jobber singlet, while Bolshoi’s in the rad blue & green gear.

Fun bit right away as Bolshoi whups on Amano & tosses her, but when she runs to the opposite side to build up steam for a dive, Amano just charges in after her and busts her one. Bolshoi quickly stuffs Amano to put her in her place, though, and is in full heel mode tonight. Chinlockomania runs wild as the crowd is completely silent until Amano hits some dropkicks and does her own chinlocks. They’re at least moving around, but JESUS CHRIST. Bolshoi finally gets out and hits slingshot cross-body spam for two. Amano actually shoves her out of a Tiger Feint attempt, but Bolshoi comes back and Rock Bottoms her for two with a foot on the chest. Bolshoi then grabs a goddamn PIPE from under the ring and beats the rookie bloody over several minutes outside, then disconnects the turnbuckle pad with it. This appears to delight Ozaki, watching on by a table. Amano gets good applause for kicking out of a bridging German, at least. Missile kick to the face- “F--- YOU!” bridge! Amano finally manages clothesline spam to come back (a top rope one, even!), but Bolshoi keeps blasting her- Amano tries rollup after rollup and snap-submissions and everything, but just can’t get it done. Amano gets some good snap suplexes for two, but Bolshoi hits Rock Bottom Spam for the same. Two MOONSAULTS get two, and Amano gets another snap-armbar out of desperation, but is done- her eyes are wide as dinner plates and she can barely react. Bolshoi Germans her All Japan-style and hits the Super Rock Bottom… but Amano no-sells it and tries the Fujiwara armbar again! But Bolshoi now just rolls through and keylocks the arm for the tap-out at (16:48). Wait… I don’t think they ever used the exposed turnbuckle!

This is such a goddamn JWP match, lol- fantastic story, but WAY TOO GODDAMN LONG. You don’t need six minutes of chinlocks then 4-5 comebacks in a match like this. It should be Bolshoi being challenged, then eating the rookie alive with the cheating, then a few hope spots, then the end. That said, Amano showed a lot, here- not only is there great rookie fire, but she can do the “little things” like the “crawl to the ropes wide-eyed like you’ve been beaten to death and are just running on willpower” and stuff like that. No wonder she turned out so great.

Rating: **1/2 (legitimately tough to rate these, as the story is worth ***1/2 but the ringwork is so padded with stuff that it drops way below that)

* A rookie bout- Motoya (who retired so early she has no Cagematch bio!) vs. Miyazaki (who went on to DDT & WAVE). Motoya’s in a pink & black jobber singlet (same design as Amano’s in the above match), while Yuki seems to have the look of a biggers star- a black leather singlet with her hair dyed reddish.

Motoya tries her luck early and soon dominates with rookie-fu for a few minutes. Ugh this is all just chinlocks and legscissors around the waist now. Both try biting each other as it gets competitive, then Yuki uses a crab and legscissors Motoya’s head. They actually do a TOMBSTONE REVERSAL spot, but Motoya just rolls Yuki up for two. Yuki does a weird slingshot mule-kick off a whip- Motoya hoists her up on her shoulders when she tries another, but Yuki victory rolls her for two. Weird cannonball-style move sorta pushes Motoya over for two, and when Motoya tries a “spin her head around” headbutt like she did at the beginning of the match, Yuki slams her ass into her opponent’s face. Motoya reverses a missile kick to a half-crab that has Yuki desperately clawing to the ropes, and a flying splash to the back gets two. Yuki psyches her out with another mule-kick, instead going behind her for a Japanese leg-roll clutch, but only gets two, and Motoya immediately traps her legs and hits a camel clutch arching her back for the submission win (11:44)- Motoya takes it.

Rating: DUD (it’s basically a 12-minute match comprised of the stuff I usually skip recapping in other matches- just way too long and the fans were bored)

* Okay, now THIS fascinates me. A bit after the peak/end of the Interpromotional Era comes a bizarre tag match that splits up two big teams from that era, putting an AJW & JWP wrestler on each team! Dynamite Kansai now teams with Takako Inoue against Takako’s “Double Inoue” partner Kyoko, and Kansai’s rival/partner Ozaki! Whenever Takako and Ozaki step in the ring, thunder crashes and horses whinny in the distance. Seriously, these two HATE each other. Three of the four here are among the best ever, and Takako’s way underrated due to a lot of factors, so I’m expecting this to be fun. Takako’s in the black gear she’d wear for most of the rest of her career, Kansai’s in green & white (with her hair bleached blonde and that ridiculous, beautiful, hideous green jacket with the fake pipes all over it), Ozaki’s in the red as usual, and Kyoko’s in all the colors and all the tassles.

Kyoko gets the worst of Kansai in an exchange, but snap-fallaway slams Takako and tags out- every time Ozaki steps into the ring against Takako, lightning crashes and you can hear horses whinny in the distance. Ozaki’s sheer delight in Takako’s pain as she rips her hair out is amazing. Hair-assisted X-Factor and a DDT bump her around, then Kyoko adds the fireman’s toss and the surfboard, and of course Oz just LOVES that, smiling maniacally and adding slaps and stomps. Takako armdrags out and Kansai just kicks the HELL out of Kyoko, but Ozaki does better with kicks, then catches a counter-kick with a snap submission! Kansai fights out and Takako gets revenge on Oz. Ozaki tries to bite her way out of an STF, so Takako chomps her on the side of the face- this is like hyena matriarchs fighting. Fun bit as Double Inoue hit defiant DDTs on each other, Kyoko winning that battle with her run-up DDT out of the corner. Takako gets stretched, dodges Kyoko’s missile kick, but gets Perfect Plex’d anyways for two. Kyoko then lands it for real (was the miss an accident?), but climbs again and is taken down with the Super Armdrag for two! Takako tags out after five straight minutes and Kansai does a slow beat-down, but Takako stops Kyoko’s run-up DDT comeback and gets lariated by Kansai when Kyoko ducks. Three lariats put Kansai down for two!

Ozaki hits a cannonball off the top and a crazy Manami Roll into an armdrag, ducks a lariat and hits a German… then gets lariated anyways! Great sequence! Ozaki dodges Takako off the top and tries the Tequila Sunrise (half-nelson/tiger suplex), but Takako counters with the megaton slap (“Bakayero!”). They kick and slap each other, but Takako counters a running Oz with the “knee them in the face repeatedly” Tombstone for two! Kyoko grabs Takako from the apron and Ozaki scores a powerbomb and tags out- Kyoko’s own powerbomb is reversed to a Manami-esque sunset flip from Takako. Impressive! Kansai’s in, but Kyoko nails them both with the slingshot backsplash! Run-Up Back Elbow attempt… but Takako catches her with a one-armed Powerbomb for two! Kyoko tries to catch Takako, but that’s always a terrible idea- Super Chokeslam for two! Kansai adds kicks and a nasty Backdrop Driver, but tries to fill her “SmackDown Meter” and gets caught with an elbow and a German. Kansai kicks her head off, resulting in a “dead body sell” from Kyoko. They both sell the damage… and a double lariat just makes it worse. And then, while they sell the beating, Takako & Ozaki do a 120 mph Joshi “Go Go Go!” sprint like crazy, firing off clotheslines, boots and rapid-fire punches!

And only NOW do they slow things down, then brawl outside… but Kyoko PILEDRIVES KANSAI THROUGH A TABLE!! Kansai sells death while Kyoko hits her Run-Up Flying Back Elbow on Takako for two, then they try a Doomsday Device, only for Takako to roll up Kyoko for two. Kyoko tries to hold her back from a tag, but she Germans out and Kansai adds a lariat and a huge kick when Kyoko tries to stop her from climbing. Ozaki interferes to stop Kansai’s finisher, so Takako hits the Takako*Panic (flyine knee) to her spine! Kyoko nearly gets counted down from that kick while Takako takes a powerbomb on a table outside, and Splash Mountain hits… for two!! Damn Kyoko and those last-second kickouts. Kansai preps a top-rope version, but Oz kicks her and Kyoko hits a SUPER Rollover DDT for two- jesus. Ligerbomb… two! DOOMSDAY DEVICE POWERBOMB… but Takako saves! Kansai scores a kick & backdrop driver, but Ozaki Tiger Suplexes Takako and hits a Ligerbomb for two each. Tequila Sunrise… and Takako rolls over at two! A second frickin’ one gets two! Kansai kicks Oz and Takako hits a Takako*Panic to the HEAD for two! TAKAKO*PANIC/SPLASH MOUNTAIN COMBO, and Kyoko saves! I thought that was it! Now they do a SUPER Splash Mountain/Super Chokeslam, which is the most devastating-looking move I’ve ever seen… and Kyoko STILL saves! Kansai just forces Kyoko down while Takako elbows a dead Ozaki and desperately holds on for the three (28:41).

This was just AWESOME and a total mystery, as I’d never heard of it before and only found it at random while looking for 1993 stuff. Great chemistry between most of the fighters, with oddly Kyoko standing out the least. It barely ever slowed down, and they even played the “filler” moments correctly (ie. lots of character; Ozaki threading submissions together so they’re not just lying around). The only flaw I noticed was that they started just Beamspamming a little too much near the end, hitting finisher after finisher, so countless awesome moves seemed diminished. Seems like they were deliberately chasing that “Dream Slam 2 Ending” high with all the big moves, but just overreaching a tad. But seriously, a SUPER CHOKESLAM/SPLASH MOUNTAIN combination move? That’s completely insane. Kinda/shoulda been the finish, but at least the next move (a generic strike) was.

Rating: ****3/4 (an exceptional piece of work that should be way more famous. Turns into a spotfest at the end)