Joshi Spotlight: JWP in Mid-1996

JWP IN MID-1996:
* Hey look! More JWP! Because… okay I forgot to post the one below, and then I had an undated match I figured I’d find a place for! So it’s only a two-match review! The first one is really good, though! Eventually!

CUTIE SUZUKI & HIKARI FUKUOKA vs. ESTHER MORENO & HIROMI YAGI:
* The two top idols in JWP take on rising star Yagi and Mexican talent Moreno, who was also in AJW around this time- maybe doing a full tour of Japan? The latter are in black gear, Hikari’s in her leopard-print & Cutie’s in white.

Hikari & Moreno do a double-somersault into a stand-off to be rad, and end up in an acrobatic routine (usually flipping off the mat) to applause, but Hikari jumps Esther for turning her back. Yagi does armholds on Cutie, but Hikari hoists her up in a lifting choke of all things and hits that Manami-style wrap-up submission move again. Esther keeps running in, then managers her springboard backflip double-armdrag on the girls, then her team hits double ranas! Cutie takes some basic stuff and Yagi Germans her for two, but Cutie comes back with sloppy nothing and Hikari comes in for the POPEYE PUNCH~~! for two. Yagi then leglocks out and Moreno hits a missile kick and a FORCEFUL Moonsault for two- Jesus, that looked like it HURT. Cutie has to save- Moreno hits a good bridging butterfly suplex for two, but Hikari DDTs her after a cartwheel dodge and they slow it down with stretching. They blow several minutes on that, both teams doing double-team submissions. About five minutes after the stretching starts, Cutie does some weak stuff on Moreno, including some sleeperholds, but hits a tombstone & bridging suplex for two-counts. Hikari scores a helluva missile kick, but Yagi comes in and dodges a second cartwheel handspring elbow and gives HER a missile kick, too. Super Armdrag! That gets two, but Hikari manages a tombstone lift into an impromptu powerbomb that coulda gone ugly- Yagi quickly takes over on Cutie, handily reversing her Dragon and German suplexes.

Moreno misses another Moonsault, however, and she eats a double-DDT & Stereo Flying Headbutts for two! They hit stereo dives, but Moreno trips & holds them for YAGI’s dive, and that actually gets really over. Moreno does a suicidal Moonsault from the inside of the ring’s second rope to the outside on the opposite part of the corner. Moreno’s “How ’bout THAT, you f*ckers?” reaction finally has her over with the crowd- she got ’em. She kills a bunch of time, but Cutie Germans her for two. Yagi tosses Moreno up into a dropkick/stomp, and a nasty Moonsault seems to have Moreno & Cutie’s heads smash for two. Cutie gets the knees up on Yagi’s splash, though, and that leads to the Flying Stomp Spam from both her & Hikari! Moreno saves Yagi from the Dragon Suplex. Yagi kicks out of Hikari’s German and Moreno smashes Hikari with one of her own. And then we get a slick sequence, as a double-whip to Hikari sees Cutie grab Moreno, Hikari snag a double-arm on Yagi, Moreno break free and miss a clothesline, going over the top on the follow-through thanks to Cutie, and Hikari landing the Tiger Driver… for two! Okay, I had that marked as the finish I was so sure. Hikari appears to not know the next position to be in, but boots Yagi off of a Super Armdrag, sending her into Cutie’s Flying Knee Smash, which allows Hikari to hit the Ryder Kick (somersault missile dropkick) for the win at (22:31).

Not a bad little match- it had a pretty hot bit with Moreno/Hikari, but settled into a LONG stretching period (and mostly with the generic chinlocks and half-crabs) until they got going again, pretty well losing the crowd until the last 4 minutes once they started the dives. Cutie continues to disappoint me- she was never the greatest, but at least had fire and SOME attempts at precision- now it feels like she’s just going through the motions, and her stuff is very loose, sloppy and doesn’t look impactful at all. Moreno looked the best I’ve seen her at, here, either having a lot of time to practice with joshi or just REALLY wanting to impress people, as she hit some very precise shots and slams. And then she even gets over, thanks to both doing good s--- and doing fan-interaction! The ending got a bit drawn-out, but the false finish was tight (almost TOO tight, as Moreno had to go around the ring and get grabbed to prevent another pin-break).

Rating: ***1/2 (got good, then boring and lame, then brought the crowd back, and ended up with a few solid finisher attempts in the end)

CANDY OKUTSU vs. FUSAYO NOUCHI:
* I actually don’t know when this match took place- there’s like a dozen singles matches featuring them, lol. But it seems 1996-ish judging by their talent level. Nouchi’s in red & white, and Candy’s in blue & white- both generally dressed sorta like a tag team. They’re in some small white gym here.

Nouchi dominates the early going with arm stuff and some running attacks until Candy finally does her corner-dodge into a missile kick for two. Candy then hits like three goddamn minutes of a Boston crab & chinlock- at least Nouchi sells it well, and periodically yanks hair or bites her way free. Nouchi gets a sunset flip out of the corner for two and then does her OWN crabs, with a Liontamer-like one used as another weardown hold. Candy does a drop-toehold into a Japanese leg roll clutch for two to come back, then hits a DDT for two and the crowd are actually super-appreciative of the kickouts.

Candy locks on a good figure-four around the neck, choking Nouchi with it- Nouchi tries to bridge it into a pin, but Candy rolls her onto the stomach and just starts bouncing her head into the mat with it- good stuff. Nouchi finally has to make the ropes, unable to squirm out of it, and Candy backdrop suplexes her for two. Nouchi hits a victory roll for two, then they both try rollups and miss flying attacks as the pace quickens. Nouchi hits a missile kick for two, then catches Candy trying her corner-dodge again and superplexes her for the same. Candy reverses a backdrop to a German for two, but Nouchi tries another rollup, then gets her knees up when Candy goes for a flying splash. Nouchi climbs, but that’s it- Candy runs up the ropes, then gingerly places her in a Northern Lights Superduperplex, getting the pin at (14:28).

Okay, so it’s basically ten minutes of sitting on butts and then an interesting figure-four around the neck, but at least that part was good- Nouchi worked to sell and acted pretty dramatic, though Candy seemed to view this match more as “filler”. Things picked up with Germans & rollups as they kept trying to catch each other, with Candy just being a bit too good- she was the same size as Nouchi and was vulnerable, but her offense is too varied and just caught her. The finish was appropriately big considering neither had been worn down that much beforehand, though they took so long to get comfortable in the move (to avoid botching it) that it wasn’t as smooth as it could have been- it’s kind of a fancy move to be done as “quickie run-up into a reversal” deal.

Rating: **1/4 (fine enough match- mostly filler to start to pad for time and then it got good)