Joshi Spotlight- Big Egg Wrestling Universe (Part One)

BIG EGG WRESTLING UNIVERSE:
(“AJW Doumu Super Woman Great War”)
(Tokyo Dome- 20.11.1994)

-Now it’s FINALLY time I dive into the ludicrously over-stuffed mega-event- Big Egg Wrestling Universe! This event is the only Joshi event in history to take place within the massive Tokyo Dome, stuffing 42,500+ fans into the huge “Big Egg” for… a one-night super-tournament of Main Eventers (the V*Top). And some legitimate athletic contests. And a midget match. And a “cram every single person onto the card” undercard. It’s… a loaded show. Joshi: So advanced that it was putting on hideously bloated 6-hour stadium shows WAY before WWE was! True innovation!

TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?: Well, one of the greatest matches in history is fought tonight. Also, Aja Kong surpasses Bret Hart’s “Three good matches in one night” achievement in terms of quality, several people put on AMAZING performances, and you see Joshi in its biggest spectacle in history- something women’s wrestling has never matched since.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- Big Egg Wrestling Universe (Part One)

Joshi Spotlight- Chaparita ASARI

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JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- CHAPARITA ASARI:
Stats:
Real Name: Masami Watanabe
Billed Height & Weight: 5’0″ 123 lbs. (she doesn’t look any more than 100 lbs., though)
Career Length: 1992-2003
Trained By: Unknown

-I think Chaparita ASARI (sometimes its capitalized; sometimes it isn’t) may be one of the most well-known lower-tier Joshi out there. I feel like her name is more commonly brought up than many more notable, top-tier figures like Shinobu Kandori, Dynamite Kansai, Harley Saito and others, largely because her style of flashy high-flying was so popular in the West during the dawn of the mass Internet Wrestling Community- someone whipping out a Sky Twister Press was going to draw a lot of attention, no matter what her position on the card was!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- Chaparita ASARI

Joshi Spotlight: AJW/LLPW Nagoya Super Storm

AJW NAGOYA SUPER STORM:
(29.09.1993)

This show is placed just before Wrestlemarinepiad ’93 and the huge St. Battle Final, which “capped off” most of 1993’s Interpromotional Feuds. Instead of being all about the various companies, it’s themed around All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling vs. Ladies Legend Pro Wrestling, with almost every match being along those lines. Though this event’s a bit odd compared to the others, in that it’s not a mega-show featuring Main Eventers fighting each other- it’s instead a show of complete blow-outs! Okay, so that’s not ENTIRELY fair, but for the most part, every single match on here, I could tell you who was gonna win before they rang the bell, just by virtue of star power. Hell, even the Main Event is telegraphing the end, to me. That doesn’t mean the matches will be BAD, of course- plenty of great matches were foregone conclusions, and Japan is good about giving a “good showing” to the losing party. So let’s see what we got!

TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?: It’s a fascinating look at some less-competitive “Dream Matches” of the interpromotional era, has a great “LCO Template” match, and one of those bouts that let you realize just why everyone was so high on Sakie Hasegawa for so long.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW/LLPW Nagoya Super Storm

Joshi Spotlight- Grand Prix ’93 (Semi-Finals)

ALL JAPAN WOMEN’S GRAND PRIX SEMI-FINALS 1993:
-I actually wrote this like 2-3 months ago, before I even submitted major events, but since it wasn’t as “important” I didn’t post it. However, doing Big Egg Wrestling Universe is taking some time, so I’ll throw this down- it’s got a few matches I’ve reviewed prior, but it’s actually really great matches throughout.

TL;DR- Why Should I Care?: There are four ***1/2+ matches on here, a huge establishing moment for one of LCO, and some of the most interesting “filler” you’ll ever see, featuring Main Eventers going at each other, a great Rookie/Veteran tag team match, and an honest to God SQUASH MATCH, which in all my time watching Joshi, I’ve never truly seen before! This show is really just incredibly fascinating. Also, I threw in a match at the end that’s also ****.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- Grand Prix ’93 (Semi-Finals)

Joshi Spotlight- Joshi in the WWF (1990s Edition!)

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JOSHI IN THE WWF (1990s Edition):
-Six years after the Jumping Bomb Angels left the WWF, Joshi returned to the company in 1994, when Alundra Blayze was a bit of a lame-duck WWF Women’s Champion- the company had reintroduced the belt in 1993, using the former Madusa Micelli (a star in Japan & America) as the center of the division, which consisted mostly of just her. She won a tournament against a bunch of nobodies, defeated Leilani Kai (who wrestled at the FIRST WrestleMania!) at WrestleMania X in an utter throwaway bout, and was engaged in a feud with the heel Luna Vachon, but they didn’t wrestle much on TV. During a tour of Japan in mid-1994, Alundra called in on her old AJW (All Japan Women’s) partners to provide her some opponents, resulting in Sakie Hasegawa, Kyoko Inoue, and others losing to her on the tour. And one of these opponents (our own Bayless reviewed the bout just a week ago!) would actually join full-time, with BULL NAKANO, right out of AJW, becoming Alundra’s new opponent!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- Joshi in the WWF (1990s Edition!)

Joshi Spotlight- Joshi in the WWF (1980s Edition!)

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JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- JOSHI IN THE WWF (1980s Edition):
This is a real bit of weirdness, and one that has largely been ignored by WWF history- the late 1980s run of the Jumping Bomb Angels (and other Japanese women’s wrestlers) in the WWF. The timing was odd, and I’ve never read a behind-the-scenes piece of this era, so it’s a tricky thing to put together.

Many wrestling fans, especially us “Workrate Snobs”, are aware of the Jumping Bomb Angels getting a terrific run in the WWF from 1987 to 1988, though you would actually see the occasional bit of guest-starring from AJW-trained women before that. There are a couple of Crush Gals matches on WWF TV from early 1986, in fact!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- Joshi in the WWF (1980s Edition!)

Joshi Spotlight- Dream Rush

AJW DREAM RUSH
(26.11.1992):

-So for my Joshi reviews, I’m largely focused on the “interpromotional era”, as it’s generally seen (okay, Meltzer said it and others repeat it, but it looks true to me!) as the Golden Age of Joshi. And this appears to be the first big Interpromotional Joshi show (it was apparently all started with FMW, however, when Megumi Kudo & Combat Toyoda called out Akira Hokuto & Bull Nakano in June ’92). Now, you may be asking why I didn’t just review THIS one first, instead of the Dream Slams, which are a few months after it, and the answers are simple: 1) I got into Joshi through the Dream Slams, so I wanted to do the same for others; and 2) I had no idea this was first because RESEARCH IS HARD, DAMMIT!

TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?: The Main Event is *****, and we FINALLY see an end to the Aja/Bull feud in an epic final bout. Multiple matches on here establish what’s going to be the status quo in Joshi for years, too.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- Dream Rush

Joshi Spotlight- Wrestlemarinepiad ’91, ’96 & ’97

WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’91, ’96 & ’97:
-Okay, so the other Wrestlemarinepiads aren’t really available to watch online, unless you pay for stuff, which would give me nothing to link anyone to… plus I’m cheap. In any case, I found the last three bouts of WMP ’91 (it’s a five-match card, so that’s enough, really), one ’96 bout, and ’97’s awesome Main Event.

TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?: One match is good, there’s an amazing tag bout between future stars, and a hugely violent Cage Match War between four major stars, and it ends with a truly remarkable Tag Team match that’s one of the most legendary Joshi bouts post-1995. LCO versus the U*Tops is SERIOUSLY amazing.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- Wrestlemarinepiad ’91, ’96 & ’97

Joshi Spotlight: Plum Mariko

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Plum always dresses like a giant cupcake.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- PLUM MARIKO
Stats:
Real Name: Mariko Umeda
Billed Height & Weight: 5’2″ 121 lbs.
Career Length: 1986-1997
Trained By: Kotetsu Yamamoto, Atsushi Onita, & Gran Hamada

A HUGE bio/description of Plum (the temptation to just “Caliber Winfield” it is enormous): http://www.quebrada.net/columns/old/30.htm

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Plum Mariko

Joshi Spotlight- AJW Wrestlemarinepiad ’95

Unfortunately, this one’s kind of all over the place on Hasegawayoshi’s channel. You practically have to search for them match-by-match. Here’s the main event!

WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’95:
(18.11.1995)

-And now we reach the 1995 Wrestlemarinepiad! This one feels quite a bit bigger than the last one (which was mostly Rookie vs. Veteran, with a big tag match on top), but now that we’re out of the Interpromotional Era by a bit, it feels a bit “diminished” compared in importance. This was kind of a shame, and a harsh result of that era spoiling the fans with fantastic “Dream Matches” on every single show. And also, Wrestling Queendom was now the big yearly show instead.

TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?: Actually, this is more of an “okay” show than a GREAT one, but it’s got one of the best brawls ever between LCO, some “WTF?” one-offs like Hokuto wrestling in a mask, and the Sakie Hasegawa “Blizzard Yuki” push, too.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- AJW Wrestlemarinepiad ’95

Joshi Spotlight: The Crush Gals

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“Japanese crowds are usually respectful and quiet.”
-Chris Jericho (paraphrasing)

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- THE CRUSH GALS:
CHIGUSA NAGAYO:
Stats:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’5″ 192 lbs. (lighter in the ’80s)
Career Length: 1980-today (still active; retiring shortly)
Trained By: Unknown

LIONESS ASUKA:
Stats:
Real Name: Tomoko Kitamura
Billed Height & Weight: 5’7″ 172 lbs. (lighter in the ’80s)
Career Length: 1980-2005
Trained By: Unknown

“She’s [Chigusa] the single most popular and arguably the most historically important female wrestler who ever lived. To this day, in pro wrestling or MMA, not Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Kerry Von Erich, Dusty Rhodes, or Chuck Liddell could match the reaction I saw that woman receive live in her heyday.”- Dave Meltzer, who LOVED to point out how big the reactions the Crush Gals got compared to Hulk Hogan. If you write a Gals article, you have to mention them equaling Hogan in popularity. I think it’s a rule.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: The Crush Gals

Joshi Spotlight- Wrestlemarinepiad ’94

AJW WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’94:
(09.10.1994)

-Another year, another Wrestlemarinepiad! I think there’s one more of these on YouTube, and then I’ll never have to type that damn word again! OK, I found a few scattered other matches for a final FINAL Spotlight, as well.

This show’s a little underwhelming compared to past ones in terms of the card, as the REAL event, “Big Egg Wrestling Universe”, comes about a month later, and is an enormous deal with a ton of top-tier matches. So this one has way more of an “In Your House” feel, albeit with a big-time Main Event. The Interpromotional Era is still going strong, but there’s less of that this time around (four matches in total; one that matters), as AJW holds the Main Event for itself.

TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?: It’s a pretty interesting look at people moving up slowly through the ranks. Also, the main event is a must-see classic.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- Wrestlemarinepiad ’94

Joshi Spotlight- Aja Kong

“God made the Devil just for fun;
But when he wanted the real thing, he made Aja Kong!”
-Aja’s theme song, “Jungle Emperor”

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- AJA KONG:
Stats:
Real Name: Erika Shishido
Billed Height & Weight:
5’5″ 227 lbs.
Career Length: 1986-today (still active)
Trained By: Jaguar Yokota

-One of the most outstanding wrestlers of the “AJW Boom Period” of the ’90s is surprisingly the short, squat monster Aja Kong. Handily described as a “Female Vader” to outsiders, that really doesn’t even complete the picture of just how outstanding Aja was- she is like Vader if he was better at literally every aspect of professional wrestling. And that’s not a knock of Vader! Aja’s just THAT GOOD.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- Aja Kong

Joshi Spotlight- St. Battle Final (Part Two)

AJW ST. BATTLE FINAL
(09.12.1993):

Part One

And we’re back! The previous part had six matches on it, while this one, of equal length, only features four. But HOLY CRAP are they incredible.

TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?: Because it’s got an even shot at being the greatest wrestling show of all time. Six matches break **** for me, and I’m pickier than any of the other Joshi fans on here, I think. It also culminates the stories of the 1992-93 stretch of Interpromotional Matches, especially the Hokuto/Kandori feud and the AJW/JWP Tag feud!

I actually split this with the final three matches being along, because HOLY SHIT this is probably the best ending to a card any show has ever had.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- St. Battle Final (Part Two)

Joshi Spotlight- St. Battle Final (Part One)

AJW ST. BATTLE FINAL
(09.12.1993):

So this takes place merely two months after AJW Wrestlemarinepiad ’93, which is fitting, as it pays off the various angles in play, many of which started at Dream Slam, and some even before THAT. Christ, 1993 Joshi was loaded with stuff. The whole ’93-95 rush is nuts, but this seems like a particularly busy year- big show after big show after big show. And this just might be the best of them all, and I LOVE the Dream Slams (tons of great matches, plus nostalgia- it’s how I got into Joshi).

TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?: Because it’s got an even shot at being the greatest wrestling show of all time. Six matches break **** for me, and I’m pickier than any of the other Joshi fans on here, I think. It also culminates the stories of the 1992-93 stretch of Interpromotional Matches, especially the Hokuto/Kandori feud and the AJW/JWP Tag feud!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- St. Battle Final (Part One)

Joshi Spotlight- AJW Wrestlemarinepiad ’93 (Part Two)

AJW WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’93:
(09.10.1993)

And we’re back! I cut this review in half since it was going to be an insane length, so here’s the last three matches. We last left off with a few multi-person matches, and Reggie Bennett making her AJW debut in a tag bout where she scored the winning fall over Suzuka “JTTS” Minami. And Kyoko Inoue scored a roll-up to defeat JWP’s Devil Masami in a big upset!

Part One

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- AJW Wrestlemarinepiad ’93 (Part Two)

Joshi Spotlight- AJW Wrestlemarinepiad ’93 (Part One)

AJW WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’93:
(09.10.1993)

It’s the fifth Wrestlemarinepiad! With the Dream Slam having happened earlier in the year, “Interpromotional Matches” are the new norm! This led to a series of increasing houses for the various joshi companies in a new age, though of course this had that issue you always run into- once you escalate things to that point, what are you going to do once the fans get bored… or worse, if you eventually stop co-promoting stuff and have to go back to regular shows? But tonight, we have a ton of Main Event-quality matches that are also Dream Matches in many regards!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- AJW Wrestlemarinepiad ’93 (Part One)

Joshi Spotlight- Wrestlemarinepiad ’92

WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’92:
(25.04.1992)

And we’re back to another Wrestlemarinepiad! Unfortunately, nobody can seem to find 1991’s show, but it looks pretty good. Bull Nakano fought Monster Ripper (Rhonda Sing/Bertha Faye) in the main event after teaming up against Aja Kong & Bison Kimura in a Steel Cage match, Kyoko Inoue & Toshiyo Yamada took on Akira Hokuto & Manami Toyota, and more. I’ll see if that ever turns up.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch It?”- This show features the Toyota/Inoue match that Dave Meltzer rated “*****+++”, which may in fact be the first time he broke the ***** scale- not a New Japan or NXT bout. And IT’S NOT BULLSHIT! The rest of the worked matches are at least good.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- Wrestlemarinepiad ’92

Joshi Spotlight- The ’90s Promotions

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JWP had its own video game! Check out terrifying Command Bolshoi!

With AJW’s history out of the way, I can fill in the blanks with some stuff about their rivals of the 1990s! The most important two to any of AJW’s storylines were JWP and LLPW, though you saw some FMW crossover. The late ’90s brought out GAEA Japan as a chief competitor, and more came from that. For the most part, JWP was “AJW Lite”, while LLPW had a different, more mat-based “feel”. FMW had a much smaller division made up of a handful of wrestlers, usually acting in a single women’s match on a card full of men. Joshi avoided “Wacky Japanese Splinter Promotion Madness” for the most part until disillusionment over AJW management would shatter the industry after 1995, with every former AJW Main Eventer you can think of (Chigusa, Aja, Kyoko, Jaguar, even Mayumi) forming their own company (with beer! And HOOKERS!). This splintering led to a huge reduction in the once-huge Joshi fandom, and they went from filling arenas with 15,000+ fans routinely, to getting 1,000+ if they’re lucky.

I stuck with the ’90s stuff because otherwise this would be MUCH too long, and because I know jack squat about Joshi in the 2000s, so the whole article would be a mess of guesswork and possibly-false conclusions. And I don’t think Scott could take the humiliation of a poorly-researched article about women’s wrestling appearing on his blog.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- The ’90s Promotions