Joshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom 1997

The main event, between Kyoko Inoue & Aja Kong. All the bouts are on this channel- just type in “Unified” or find out the names in Japanese and search that way.

AJW WRESTLING QUEENDOM 1997:
(23.03.1997)

-Aaaaaaaaaaaaand now we’re into the depressing year. 1997 is where it all fully went wrong for Joshi as a whole, but AJW wasn’t quite bankrupt here. What we now had was a very different company in a changing business, though, as the Joshi boom had hit big and then just DIED by this point. Admittedly it was kind of a “fad” thing and fads die out, but various other factors played into things. Kyoko Inoue was now the WWWA Champion, having defeated Manami Toyota to become the new top star… and sadly her reign was a complete box office failure. Perhaps because of that, this show is doing an interpromotional thing with Chigusa Nagayo’s GAEA Japan, but only with her rookies. So a lot of the undercard has GAEA girls on it. Otherwise, much of the card has people rapidly being pushed on it- the 3WA Tag Champs are Tomoko Watanabe and KUMIKO MAEKAWA of all people- a midcarder and a rookie as of last year! Kaoru Ito’s getting shoved into the Main Event spot, too- it’s like even with most of the old guard still around, they were desperate for people to fill the top spots.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: If you’re gonna love something, you should be there when it dies (ugh, I just compared a wrestling show to a dog being put down). And this is like watching the last hurrah of a company as it slowly falters and takes an eight-year lurch towards the grave. Okay, and the final three matches are all around ****.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom 1997

Joshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom- HIGHEST WARS

Another of those annoying ones- this channel has it all, but split up into multiple portions under 10 minutes. Look up “Highest Wars” to find the matches.

WRESTLING QUEENDOM 1996- HIGHEST WARS:
(31.03.1996)

-Joshi had changed tremendously in 1995- the Interpromotional Wars have largely subsided, leaving the companies mostly on their own (with cards looking somewhat… diminished, as a result). Manami Toyota won, then lost, then won the WWWA Title again! She currently stands as the promotion’s top star, but career-long rival Kyoko Inoue has risen up just behind her, and challenges her tonight- it’s their first match in years. Takako Inoue & Mima Shimoda are getting upper-midcard pushes, too, and everyone’s kind of… jostling for place, in this new era, now that Aja Kong has been unseated and they can’t just sit there in stasis while feuding with JWP or whomever. Unfortunately, business as a whole is down owing to multiple factors- the Japanese economy is faltering, the wrestling boom has faded a bit, and the aforementioned card-diminishment. However, tickets were apparently much better for this Queendom than ’95’s, probably owing to the strong Kyoko push and some interpromotional stuff tonight.

“TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: Well, the last match is one of those bouts where you put two of the best workers on Earth and let them go crazy for 20+ minutes.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom- HIGHEST WARS

Joshi Spotlight: Sakie Hasegawa

I love that stuff like this is part of Joshi, lol. It looks like something out of Tiger Beat.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT: SAKIE HASEGAWA
Stats:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’7″ 154 lbs.
Career Length: 1989-1996
Trained By: Jaguar Yokota

-I find that for most Joshi reviewers, one of the big stand-outs on any AJW card you watch during 1992-1996 is Sakie Hasegawa. Debuting in only 1989, she was in the “plucky rookie” position during that peak era of Joshi, but she was so far beyond most of the people on her same level that it’s impossible not to notice her and be impressed- she had “Future Ace” written all over her, and the push she got indicated that in every way. Her Class of ’89 team included Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe, who both maxed out at “pretty good” in the same era, so Sakie going out there and having ***-**** matches was seriously impressive- like she wasn’t a “MOVEZ” wrestler, but a “little things” one- almost a proto-Chigusa Nagayo. And it was all the worse that she retired young, never having really attained her full potential.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Sakie Hasegawa

Joshi Spotlight- AJW Wrestling Queendom- VICTORY

Bull Nakano & Kyoko Inoue in the best match ever wrestled for the WWF Women’s Title.

AJW WRESTLING QUEENDOM- VICTORY (1995):
(26.03.1995)

-Four months after the biggest show in Joshi history, Big Egg Wrestling Universe, comes the next Wrestling Queendom event- Akira Hokuto was triumphant at Big Egg, but kind of went to Mexico for a while and kinda/maybe won’t come back. But that’s okay, because Manami Toyota, the flashiest worker in wrestling, is being elevated, and is now in our Main Event, taking on the Ace of AJW, Aja Kong! Bull Nakano is still WWF Women’s Champion, and is defending tonight. Plus we have a bunch of wrestlers who came out of retirement between 1993 and here, taking up spots on the card. And a few wrestlers are being elevated up the card, while others are sort of in interesting positions- Takako, Yamada, Bennett and others are floating around the upper-midcard, and who knows where they’ll land? So there’s a lot of drama and mystery about tonight’s big card.

“TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: This show contains, I swear to God, FIVE matches at **** or higher, with one of the craziest MMA-style fights I’ve ever seen in a wrestling ring, the best WWF Women’s Title Match ever, and a Main Event that’s even better than THAT.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- AJW Wrestling Queendom- VICTORY

Joshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom- SUCCESS

The first part of the Main Event. Searching this is a bit of a pain- type in “Success” in this guy’s channel and you’ll find the matches, but all split up because it’s from ten years ago, before YouTube allowed longer videos.

AJW WRESTLING QUEENDOM- SUCCESS (1995):
* Four months after the biggest show in Joshi history, Big Egg Wrestling Universe, comes what is actually a PAIR of Wrestling Queendoms- SUCCESS and VICTORY. This show is a bit unusual in that it’s built entirely around a one-night tournament for the WWWA Tag Team Titles- the 99th champions, Double Inoue, willingly vacated the Titles, hoping to become the 100th champions as well! Which is kind of funny, but also TOTALLY BOSS, because they’re so confident that they can win that they’d do such a thing. This is an 8-Team Tournament, which is crazy considering how much damage it usually takes to finish off one of these wrestlers- tag bouts in Joshi are LONG. So we get this interesting thing, where most of tonight’s matches are 13-16 minutes long, but the losing team carries most of the offense so as to not look weak.

“TL; DR- Why Should I Care?”: It’s a really kickass tag tournament. And a good example of how to shake things up when the same bunch of people are fighting all night long. There’s a Super-Team, a Veteran/Rookie team, a Kicker Team, and the heelish delights known as LCO!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom- SUCCESS

Joshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom 1994

AJW WRESTLING QUEENDOM 1994:
(27.03.1994)

-So with the rousing success of the first Wrestling Queendom event in Nov. 1993… comes a SECOND WQ show only five months later! The timing on AJW events is always so weird for that. This time, they’re hailing from the big Yokohama Arena, drawing 16,500 apparently! Generally, the same sort of stuff is going on- AJW is feuding with JWP and LLPW separately, there’s occasionally some FMW stuff, and people are trading titles between promotions. AJW finally won back their WWWA Tag belts from JWP, but lost the Japanese Tag belts in the interim, for example. Akira Hokuto finally traded her win back to Shinobu Kandori to “end” their epic feud, but now she’s… TEAMING UP WITH HER?!? Good lord this show is crazy.

“TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?”- Two matches hover around the “Perfect Match” level, and that’s not even including the Manami Toyota bout. Lots of great interpromotional hate, big moments, and the Main Event has a ton of character and huge moves. Plus there’s a great Rookie/Ace contest.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom 1994

Joshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom I

AJW WRESTLING QUEENDOM I:
(28.11.1993)

Wrestling Queendom is the name of the new “biggest show in Joshi”, effectively replacing Wrestlemarinepiad after a point as the top-tier AJW event. At this point, however, it seems to mostly be standard-issue “Dream Bouts” and not “Main Eventer vs. Main Eventer” stuff.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch It?”: This is a FANTASTIC night of wrestling, with several matches at ***3/4 or better, one of the greatest Survivor-type bouts ever, and most importantly, every match feels completely different from every other match- a Big vs. Little bout, a Power Match, a Toyota-Style MOVEZ Match, Rookie Mayhem, two hateful tag bouts (one of which is an Attitude Era brawl), and more.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom I

Joshi Spotlight: Suzuka Minami

Image result for suzuka minami

A wrestler so underrated even Google Image Search produces only 5-6 things.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- SUZUKA MINAMI:
Stats:
Real Name: Mika Suzuki
Billed Height & Weight: 5’8″ 136 lbs.
Career Length: 1985-1995
Trained By: Unknown (I forgot to ask Manjiimortal)

Bolt Statement: Suzuka Minami is the most underrated wrestler ever. I mean, there’s others who deserve more attention, sure- but NOBODY is as good, and as little-known, as poor Minami here! She doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, despite multiple title runs! It takes a lot to be so underrated people barely even talk about how underrated you are!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Suzuka Minami

Joshi Spotlight: Big Egg Wrestling Universe (Part Two)

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

-And now it’s the second part of this quick, breezy 10-hour wrestling show! At least this time, I’ve reviewed two of the matches already, so I don’t need to re-post them!

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 Two)

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

Image result for sky twister press gif

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!)

Image result for bull nakano

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

Image result for crush gals

“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