Joshi Spotlight: AJW Queen’s Holy Night

AJW OSAKA QUEEN’S HOLY NIGHT (WWWA Championship Night):
(Aug. 30th 1995)
* Welcome back to another Joshi Spotlight, as we take a look at one of the biggest shows of the year! This one has a pretty great concept- it’s just all the top belts being defended, including the fourth match between Aja Kong & Dynamite Kansai! Plus Double Inoue defend their Tag Titles against Manami Toyota & Sakie Hasegawa for the third time!

Some matches aren’t available on YouTube as far as I can tell. Mike Lorefice’s ratings are in brackets:
Rie Tamada, Yoshiko Tamura & Yumi Fukawa defeat Chaparrita ASARI, Misae Watanabe & Yuka Shiina (8:56): Basic rookie trios match. (*1/2)
Kaoru Ito & Mariko Yoshida defeat Tomoko Watanabe & Kumiko Maekawa (8:55): The rating seems high, here- not even ten minutes and it gets four stars (****)?.
Yumiko Hotta & Toshiyo Yamada & Etsuko Mita defeat Jaguar Yokota & Bison Kimura & Reggie Bennett (12:55): Interesting use of the Raijin Army, pairing them up with Reggie against… well a Random Grab-Bag team. (***1/4)
Bull Nakano beats Lioness Asuka (1:29): Huh. (*)

LAS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES EXPLODE!:
AKIRA HOKUTO vs. MIMA SHIMODA:
* Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh shit- here comes Hokuto bringing the hate against her stablemate and adoring fangirl, Mima Shimoda! Hokuto’s in pink & white, while Shimoda’s in red, black & gold.

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High Energy & Max Moon vs. The Genius & The Beverly Brothers (and other Dream Matches!)

Re-Re-Ranking WWE's Greatest Tag Teams – #4 High Energy | Jive Soul Bros  Wrestling

High Energy AND Max Moon! In one match! It’s the most 1992 thing in wrestling!

Here’s an extra Dream Matches column for the week! Mainly because I had an extra couple of Steiners/Fire & Ice matches to post, plus I found this other bizarre one- a rare Genius match from 1992… AND a Max Moon appearance! In the same match! These would be posted MONTHS apart if I did the usual thing, so I give a little extra this week. I also threw in a short Giant/Ice Train match from the same time.

MAX MOON & HIGH ENERGY (Owen Hart & Koko B. Ware) vs. THE GENIUS & THE BEVERLY BROTHERS (Beau & Blake)
(Dec. 7th 1992)
* Wow, now THIS is a weird one. The Genius in a rare 1992 wrestling appearance, along with the short-lived Max Moon teaming up with fellow high-fliers Owen & Koko! The Genius is ultra-pasty in his black jobber trunks. Monsoon jokes about the twelve Hart children before the match, “Stu was certainly busy, wasn’t he?”, cracking up Lord Alfred.

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The Hardy Boyz vs. Rob Van Dam & Sabu (and other Dream Matches!)

Welcome back to more Dream Matches! This time I hit a request from a couple weeks back, as the Hardy Boyz (then indie darlings and not WWF superstars yet) take on Sabu & Rob Van Dam in a one-time-only match! Then we get an amazing HOSS MATCH as the Steiner Brothers and Fire & Ice just got buckwild and murder each other with suplexes for six minutes on Nitro. Then it’s Andre the Giant & Giant Baba taking on Terry & Dory Funk in All Japan from 1990! And then I torture you all by featuring the No-Limit Soldiers (B.A. & Swoll) vs. Lenny & Lodi doing an offensive gay gimmick from the dying days of WCW! Finally we end with a “Dream Matches” MVP, Roadblock, taking on one of the Texas Hangmen (maybe the Disorderly Conduct guy!). Read on!

TORNADO TAG TEAM MATCH:
SABU & ROB VAN DAM (w/ Bill Alfonso) vs. THE HARDY BOYZ (Matt & Jeff Hardy):
(All Star Wrestling NWA Legends Show, Feb. 11th 1998)
* Okay, huh? I’ve never heard of this, but it’s before the Hardys meant anything, as they were merely respected job guys at this point in the WWF, with their own spotfest indie promotion (OMEGA). It would be Sept. 1998 when they properly debuted as “featured” guys in the WWF, after being trained by Dory Funk Jr. for a bit. This is some All Star Wrestling show in Greenville, North Carolina. RVD was still with ECW at this point, and Sabu was suspended around this time (might be later). The camera work here is… not great. Very grainy, pixelated and stuck in one corner. Sabu’s in orange, RVD’s in light tights (I can’t tell the color), and the Hardys are in matching checkerboard baggy pants.

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Joshi Spotlight: Reggie Bennett

Reggie Bennett - Imgur

Writing these columns about Joshi produces some great challenges: Finding information on incredibly obscure wrestlers; speculating on angles and wrestlers without the benefit of “being there” in context; and writing anything about Reggie Bennett without turning into a cartoon wolf.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- REGGIE BENNETT:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’8″ 249 lbs. (it, um, varies, though- she was very toned in her early career)
Career: 1986-2001

-Reggie Bennett is, in many ways, the perfect Upper-Midcard wrestler. Not credible enough to be World Champion, she’s just this big, powerful wrestler able to be a credible opponent for everyone from the technical geniuses to the strikers to the monsters, yet has a likeable charisma (she’s kind of endearingly cheery in pre-match promos, even against murderous opponents) and just enough cardio to both get the fans behind her and do the long matches that Joshi requires. She kind of came out of nowhere as a forgettable women’s wrestler in the US to become AJW’s new “Big Gaijin” (a role they sometimes utilized), and actually made a heck of a career of it, unlike weaker stars like Terri Powers.

While nobody thinks Reggie’s a great worker, she’s very good at her chosen style, which is “Being Big and Wrestling Big”. Not really athletic or quick, she was big and strong and fought like it. Like Andre the Giant, she wrestled like you thought a bear might wrestle- big bear paws, or just grabbing people and hauling them down. Being, um, top-heavy, she had a somewhat awkward motion, but it still looked like it hurt when she charged in like a rickety freight train. And her Splash is legit one of the best ones ever- just hauling off the ropes and doing a wicked Superman Dive and just SPLATTING people. Like, in a company with Tiger Superplexes, Electric Chair Suplex Holds and Sit-Out Razor’s Edges as finishers, that Splash still looked like it hurt like hell.

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Scott Norton vs. Ice Train (and other Dream Matches!)

Scott Norton vs. Ice Train [1996-02-24] - YouTube

WCW’s manliest tag team in a pairing that would probably have gotten a lot more love in today’s era than 1996- Fire & Ice!

Welcome back to more Dream Matches! This time, we have the beginnings of the Fire & Ice tag team, as Scott Norton & Ice Train wrestle a match on the D-show and are suddenly filled with manly feelings of respect! Also, the time Jerry Lawler cuts a horrific promo about Goldust in a King of the Ring Qualifying Match… and gets a face reaction for it! Plus after the oddly-good Henry Godwinn vs. Bradshaw match I was compelled to watch their later matches in 1997… and immediately regretted that compulsion! Also since those matches sucked, I added an extra bout- Sid & The 1-2-3 Kid vs. Aldo Montoya… and AVATAR! He’s back! Read on!

As always, these matches are all available on YouTube.

SCOTT NORTON vs. ICE TRAIN:
(WCW Pro, 1996-02-24)
* So weirdly enough we have the future Fire & Ice wrestling on the WCW show even *I* didn’t watch, even at the peak of my “watch EVERYTHING in wrestling” fandom. Norton’s in a red & black singlet, while Train’s in… kind of the same gear, making the Mirror Match even more obvious. Train’s looking more slender than I remember seeing him- he obviously got more swole later. Both guys nave near-identical builds, though Train is puffier and Norton more of a solid barrel.

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Joshi Spotlight: GAEA Wrestle of Dreams

GAEA WRESTLE OF DREAMS:
(06.18.1995)
* It’s another GAEA Korakuen show, featuring more of a lesser cast that the previous ones, though if features the #2 & 3 GAEA wrestlers paired off in a match, with KAORU taking on Bomber Hikaru. The Main Event is a peculiar one- Chigusa Nagayo taking on FMW’s Bad Nurse Nakamura of all people! I’ll also add in the next show they did, featuring KAORU vs. Candy Okutsu, and Chigusa, Meiko & Kato against Devil Masami and the two Tomokos from JWP!

This one’s missing a short Meiko Satomura vs. Chihiro Nakano match (2:41), and Chikayo Nagashima beating Makie Numao in (6:03 of 12:05 shown) in Makie’s debut match. She makes a real go of it, lasting about four years, but appears to be a job girl the entire time from a quick scan of CageMatch, almost always losing.

MOST FIGHTING G vs. J:
TOSHIE UEMATSU & SONOKO KATO (GAEA Japan) vs. TOMOKO MIYAGUCHI & TOMOMI KOBAYASHI (JWP):
* Rookie Mayhem starts us off, with Uematsu (green) & Kato (blue) representing GAEA against Miyaguchi (red) & Kobayashi (yellow) from JWP. Miyaguchi is the future Ran Yu-Yu and has looked okay in the past. These names are absolutely awful for my poor typing, lol- I can’t even switch to first names, because then it’s Toshie, Tomoko & Tomomi! Thank God this is clipped.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix 1995 (Part One & Two)

Pretty much universally considered Shimoda’s best singles match. And it’s Manami’s THIRD ***** match of the year.

AJW JAPAN GRAND PRIX ’95- PART ONE & TWO:
(July 1995)
* And the AJW Grand Prix is back! Last year’s was almost completely blown off and Hotta quietly won it for whatever reason, but this time it’s For Serious and it’s a big deal. Except I can only find a tiny handful of matches on YouTube of the first two shows. I managed to cobble together some other info on the tournament, at least. I’m posting this as an “extra” for Friday because it’s something I’ve reviewed before, plus just a summation of the goings-on at the time.

MANAMI TOYOTA vs. MIMA SHIMODA (AJW Japan Grand Prix- Round Robin, 23.07.1995)
* This is an interesting one, timeline-wise, as Manami is the top-tier girl at AJW at this point, and pretty much a living legend of Joshi (as what was generally accepted as the best worker), while Shimoda, who was a midcard tag team player in 1993, has now elevated herself to a higher level. Both have a history- they were a tag team coming up in the late 1980s before Toyota had better success with the sportier Toshiyo Yamada. Shimoda’s cheating will be an interesting counterpoint to Toyota’s hyper-graceful style. Their pre-match interviews show both women in good spirits- Manami looks so serious most of the time, but here she’s smiling a ton and laughing along with the interviewer. Hey, both these ladies aren’t bad looking- has anyone else noticed this? And HOLY GOD, Manami’s pre-match outfit- this giant, flowing white qipao dress with enormous, fluffy feathered sleeves. Now THAT is style. Manami’s in her black leotard with the arm cutouts, while Shimoda’s still in her black & red two-piece with all the yellow tassles.

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Shawn Michaels vs. The New Rockers (and other Dream Matches!)

Well That Didn't Work: The New Rockers | Ring the Damn Bell

Welcome back to more Dream Matches! This week, I have Shawn Michaels taking on both members of the New Rockers, but in separate matches! This is during the year he became WWF Champion for the first time, so it was a pretty big deal. And both Marty Jannetty & Al Snow were good workers, so the matches are pretty good! And then we get a lucha-rules match from late-stage WCW where Rey Mysterio & Eddie Guerrero team up against Blitzkrieg & La Parka for a shockingly great short match! Also since I showed Al’s run as Shinobi a couple weeks ago, here’s part of his run as Avatar! And finally, some of the mightiest of the Rick Fuller Division go up against each other, as the dreaded huge JTTSs of Roadblock and RON STUDD are in our final bout!

SHAWN MICHAELS (w/ Jose Lothario) vs. LEIF CASSIDY:
(WWF RAW, March 25th 1996)
* So naturally, with Marty Jannetty returning to the WWF and forming the New Rockers, it was only fitting that at some point his old partner Shawn would end up wrestling one or the other. Shawn, introducing Jose for possibly the first time in front of fans, was on the road to the Iron Man Match at this point. Humorously, Leif is such a dork he’s seen marking out for both Shawn and Jose, then aggressively shakes Shawn’s hand to start. Shawn’s in red and Leif’s in a black singlet with a neon “X” across it.

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Joshi Spotlight: Dynamite Kansai vs. Mayumi Ozaki (Dress Up Wild Fight #2)

DYNAMITE KANSAI vs. MAYUMI OZAKI- DRESS UP WILD FIGHT #2:
(July 9th, 1995)

* Hey, look! It’s the sequel to the amazing ****3/4 “Dress Up Wild Fight” brawl from earlier in the year. So JWP’s Ace and the devilish Ozaki face off one more time. Last match, they beat the ever-loving SHIT out of each other, dragging one another all over the arena. Kansai bled buckets, Ozaki bit the cut and then spat the blood at the referee to be a shit about it, and Ozaki nearly died a thousand times but managed a last-second roll-up to win. So this is good old-fashioned revenge, probably selling tickets based off of how great the first match was.

DRESS UP WILD FIGHT #2:
DYNAMITE KANSAI vs. MAYUMI OZAKI:
* Both are in street clothes again, with Ozaki in a black shirt & blue jeans, and Kansai in a white shirt & green army fatigues. Ozaki hangs out in the stands during her entrance theme, so Kansai has to go find her while “Night Creeper” plays- she calls out Oz and soon it’s a brawl using a chain as the bell rings!

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Ahmed Johnson vs. Vader & Triple-H vs. Jake (and other KOTR Qualifying Matches!)

Austin 3:16- The Most Iconic Promo Ever Happened 25 Years Ago Today

Beating a bunch of midcarders and you change the business forever. Wrestling is weird.

WWF KING OF THE RING QUALIFYING MATCHES (1996):
* You might have heard of this tournament before. So by this point, the tourney was kind of up in the air after Mabel’s failed Main Event push. It could have even poisoned the “King” title, in fact. Hopefully THIS year’s winner makes more of a go of it.

So the backstory here was that the crown was meant to go to the “Next Big Midcarder”, more or less- mid-tier heel Hunter Hearts-Helmsley was expected to win it. But instead, he was one of the few guys the WWF could punish for doing the infamous “Curtain Call” (the Kliq members all coming out for a group hug in the ring, “exposing the business” by confusing fans at an MSG house show). And so he had his big push taken away and they threw it on some other guy. Thus giving HHH a lifelong persecution complex and an obsessive need to look smarter and better than everyone else, covering his own ass at every opportunity. But who knows what effect THAT had on the business?

This review is comparatively massive, because I decided to put the trio of Quarterfinals in the same review instead of splitting them up. Easier to look at the tourney as a whole that way! Hopefully it’s not too long, haha.

HENRY O. GODWINN (w/ Hillbilly Jim) vs. JUSTIN “HAWK” BRADHSAW (w/ Uncle Zebekiah):
(WWF Superstars)
* Weirdness abounds as tag wrestler Godwinn is out there with absolutely ZERO chance, taking on rising midcard guy Bradshaw, then a super-green Stan Hansen wannabe in red trunks and a ponytail managed by Zebekiah. At this point, the future JBL was nowhere near as protected as he would be even as part of the Acolytes, but he was protected enough.

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Joshi Spotlight: Shinobu Kandori

Joshi Spotlight- All Star Dream Slam I (Part 2) – Scotts Blog of Doom!Shinobu-Kandori-hair – I Maintain The Double Foot Stomp Is Silly

Kandori, looking humorously like a female version of Antonio Inoki. Especially with the Elvis hair.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- SHINOBU KANDORI:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’7″ 165 lbs.
Career Length: 1986-today

-Shinobu Kandori, Brock Lesnar before there was a Brock Lesnar (ie. the snide, arrogant, vicious shoot-fighter whose real-life cred is played into their wrestling character) is one of those very few wrestlers that has a match so good that it eclipsed the fact that she’s one of the only pro wrestlers to ever shoot on someone in a televised match! Her ***** showdown with Akira Hokuto at AJW Dream Slam in 1993 is heralded as one of the best matches of all time, and has an even shot at being the greatest women’s match of all time. And yet nearly all the praise went to Hokuto!

Overall, Kandori has an iffy reputation in joshi circles- people like Mike Lorefice have brushed her off as having been entirely carried to one of the greatest matches of all time- and it’s generally accepted that yeah, she was the lesser party there. She’s even ignored for holding the World Championships of TWO COMPANIES simultaneously! But I think having seen a bunch of her stuff, and great matches with a variety of opponents, proves that Kandori is in fact HIGHLY underrated and could definitely hang with the top stars. Like, I would say she was the lesser worker in every one of her great matches… but her opponents were people like friggin’ Hokuto, Kyoko Inoue & Manami Toyota, y’know? I mean, do we shit on Davey-Boy Smith because “he only had ***** matches with top wrestlers?” No- we certainly don’t put him in the Greatest of All Time lists or Mount Rushmores or whatever we classify wrestlers with these days, but he’s a well-respected worker!

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The Legion of Doom vs. The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express (and other Dream Matches!)

WWE's Top 10 Most Controversial Storylines - Page 4

The LOD vs. the RnRs! And not in FirePro! But don’t get too excited, because it’s short!

It’s time for another Dream Matches column! I was really surprised by how much of a reaction my 1995 KOTR one got, so I’ll have a 1996 version next week. This one features the one-time-only tag team match between the Road Warriors and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express… except it’s given 4 minutes on a WWF D-Show and the Express are heels! Life is weird.

Also up is a DOUBLE-SHOT of Ahmed Johnson vs. Al Snow, as Ahmed takes on Shinobi in an infamous squash match, and then the next year faces the New Rockers’ “Leif Cassidy”. Then we get the Bruiser Brody Memorial Show weirdo match of Abdullah the Butcher & Jimmy Snuka against Stan Hansen & Tom Zenk of all people. And we end it with a WCW Lucha Libre show match starring Psychosis, Felino & El Mosco vs. Blitzkrieg, Venum & Super Calo!

THE LEGION OF DOOM vs. THE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL EXPRESS (w/ Jim Cornette, Jeff Jarrett & Barry Windham):
(WWF Shotgun Saturday Night, Jan. 24th, 1998)
* Yes, this is apparently the one and only time the friggin’ Road Warriors & R’n’Rs EVER FOUGHT, despite the vast amount of years both teams had been around, often in the same company. This seems impossible given how today’s wrestling is, but back then, I guess they just never wanted to run it. On this very blog, someone suggested it and Scott pointed out the Roadies weren’t gonna lose and the Express was better off getting the rub for teams who could play ball with them: https://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2020/05/19/road-warriors-vs-rnr/. All there ever was was a 4-way match I guess. So instead we get a four-minute bullshit match on a WWF D-show, and this is the only time these two legendary squads ever faced each other in a tag match… with Jim Cornette backing up the HEEL RnRs, who are advertised as the NWA Tag Team Champions. Life is weird.

The Express are in red tights with white tassels (coming down to the ROCKERS’ theme music of all things) while the LOD are sorta in their “LOD 2000” gear, with grey shoulderpads- an unusual look for the WWF. The Express are 40 and 42, yet both look nearly fifty- they did NOT age well.

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Joshi Spotlight: GAEA Second Battle & Champ Forum

GAEA SECOND BATTLE:
(4/15/1995)
* More GAEA Japan goodness, as Chigusa does a tag match alongside her Mini-Me, Meiko Satomura, against some LLPW invaders on one show, and then two months later, we check out the match everyone wanted to see- a Dream Slam rematch between ’80s icons Chigusa & Devil! Plus more from the Angry Teenager Division!

I wasn’t sure if I should split this into two reviews (1500-ish words each) or one big one, so let me know which y’all would prefer.

GAEA NEO SOUL 3 ON 3 MIX:
TOSHIE UEMATSU (GAEA), SONOKO KATO (GAEA) & YASUKO KURAGAKI (JWP) vs. MEIKO SATOMURA (GAEA), TOSHIE SATO (GAEA) & TOMOKO KUZUMI (JWP):
* So this is six rookies piled into one match, with two GAEA girls joined by a JWP girl each, and we’re joined in progress, so I miss announcements and thus have to use process of elimination here. Uematsu’s in green & Kato’s in blue, so Yasuko is in black/blue. Meiko’s in red & Sato’s in white, which makes Kuzumi the black/pink one. Okay, so the JWP girls are in near-exact gear- suuuuuuuuuure makes things easier.

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Mabel vs. Adam Bomb (and other King of the Ring 1995 Qualifying Matches!)

8 WWE Matches Where The Crowd Was The Star – Page 3

Mabel vs. Savio Vega ending a PPV. This was so bad it feels like a hard-boiled noir detective should be doing narration over it.

KING OF THE RING QUALIFYING MATCHES (1995):
* Back for more King of the Ring Qualifiers- technically still part of my “Dream Matches” column, haha. And with a special edition of everyone’s favorite wrestling standby: FANTASY REBOOKING!!

This year’s King of the Ring was very well-represented on YouTube. This is the most infamously bad tournament in history, which is hilarious, as “on paper” it looks to be the biggest one ever- while most tourneys are foregone conclusions or are full of mid-level guys, this one had Lex, Owen, Razor, Shawn and even the UNDERTAKER wrestling, with a ton of matches having equal stars. So the disaster that was the ’95 KOTR is a true epic. Come watch as the long national nightmare of Savio Vega in a prominent role begins, plus how NOT to create a new Monster Heel.

Previous tournaments re-legitimized ex-champion Bret Hart and gave credibility to Owen for his feud with Bret. A third tournament could either legitimize another would-be champion (Shawn Michaels, in this case), or set up a challenger for Diesel, who’s coming out of a feud with Psycho Sid. It looks like Bob Holly beating Mantaur is not on YouTube, but I found the rest.

MABEL (w/ Mo) vs. ADAM BOMB:
(WWF In Your House, May 14th)
* This was a strange decision- putting the first KOTR Qualifier on the first-ever In Your House PPV as a throwaway bout. Mabel had just recently turned heel, while Bomb was spinning his wheels as a directionless babyface after splitting with Harvey Whippleman last year. Bomb’s in the red & yellow gear as usual (he only briefly wore other colors), while Mabel’s in black & purple.

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Joshi Spotlight: Sapporo Best*One (Manami vs. Aja- WWWA Title)

The Main Event. Great thumbnail.

AJW SAPPORO BEST*ONE:
(27.06.1995)

-Coming from Sapporo is this two-match tape featuring Las Cachorras Orientales reuniting- Akira Hokuto rejoins Mita & Shimoda to put the trio back together, and they’re out to murder a randomly thrown-together trio! And also, more importantly, the WWWA World Title is on the line once again, as Manami Toyota defends against the previous champion, Aja Kong- champ rematches seem like a rarity (Bull never got one, but she was stepping back). A now-retired Suzuka Minami joins the crew at the beginning of the TV show. And also we see clips of Kensuke Sasaki & Akira Hokuto announcing their engagement! Seeing Hokuto as a reserved bride-lady is really different. Sasaki cracks up EVERYONE at the press conference with whatever he said, too.

The Japanese commercials are back, though! There’s apparently a Japanese version of “Stand By Me”! They advertise a “Born To Be Wild” movie with a guy in a gorilla suit- never heard of that one.

The matches not shown:
Nobue Endo d. Yoko Takahashi (6:03): Rookie mayhem! I bet a bodyslam was the finish!
AJW Junior Title Tournament: Yoshiko Tamura d. Misae Watanabe (10:05): A new Top Rookie!

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Juventud Guerrera vs. Blitzkrieg (and other Dream Matches!)

Whatever Happened to WCW's Blitzkrieg? | Ring the Damn Bell

Welcome back to more Dream Matches! This time, I lead off with what is probably Blitzkrieg’s best match ever, as he takes on Juventud Guerrera on PPV. More Hossery as the Faces of Fear take on the Giant Jobber Division of Ron Studd & John Tenta at the same time! Then it’s a rare look at the 1-2-3 Kid in a JTTS match, as Damien “I was NOT a JOBBER!” DeMento takes him on! And I found one of Lash LeRoux’s early matches, up against a “long since stopped giving a fuck” Roadblock. And finally, my “King of the Ring Qualifying Matches” series continues, but with the only two bouts I could find on YouTube. No idea why 1993 & 1995 are there in their near-entirety, but this one only has a couple.

JUVENTUD GUERRERA vs. BLITZKRIEG:
(WCW Spring Stampede, 4/11/1999)
* Here’s another Blitzkrieg match- arguably his biggest, as he takes on Juventud on PPV! Juvi’s maskless and in mostly black (with silver & gold highlights), while Blitz has his best gear on- a slick black/red/silver get-up that’s not as loose as it sometimes is.

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Joshi Spotlight: JWP in China

JWP IN CHINA:
(May 1995)

* So now I finally hit more JWP matches in Rico Kasai’s YouTube channel, and these seven matches are all from a JWP tour of China in May 1995! I’m really curious what their effort-level will be. “Bret at a House Show”-tier since the crowd isn’t even aware of them? “We want to leave a good impression” tier? PPV-tier? Um, probably not that one.

The first match opens with a bit of sightseeing and clips of Chinese people doing things, while the second involves the gang at the Great Wall of China. The first show takes place in a very small auditorium with most of the crowd being Chinese military, and a “Pure Heart China” sign that looks like it was scribbled in felt-tip market the minute before showtime. There’s some announcer talking during EVERYTHING, which is weird and kinda distracting.

“TL;DR- What’s The Deal?”: Overall, this ends up being kind of an interesting look at how you make wrestling fun to an audience that’s unfamiliar with it… while also saving your bodies by not throwing too much effort into the actual moves. And also that Candy Okutsu is very spotty and botch-y at this point.

DAY ONE:

HIROMI SUGO & SUMIYO SAYAMA vs. REIKO AMANO & TOMOKO MIYAGUCHI:
* Rookie Mayhem between the bottom-tier JWP wrestlers. Sugo looks like Dynamite Kansaicito with her yellow & green-diamonds look. Soyama’s got that black/salmon thing, Miyaguchi’s in a red/black Jobber Swimsuit, and Amano’s in a black/blue & yellow Jobber Swimsuit. That only one side has real gear makes it pretty clear who’s gonna win, I think.

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Earthquake & Vader vs. Gary Albright & Kazuo Yamazaki (and other Dream Matches!)

Oh man, I found some wild stuff for everyone today! VADER AND EARTHQUAKE as the mother of all Monster tag teams! In the weirdo Fake-Shoot Japanese UWF-I fed, no less!

Also, here’s a horrifying indie match between the Warlord and an ultra-green Ron Reis, plus a tag match in the storied No-Limit Soldiers/West Texas Rednecks feud. And we end things with a Saturday Night match between Eddie Guerrero & Blitzkrieg, as my “check out all the Blitzkrieg stuff on YouTube” series finally continues!

SUPER VADER & JOHN TENTA vs. GARY ALBRIGHT & KAZUO YAMAZAKI:
(UWF-I, 08.10.1994)
* Now THIS is a Fat Man Stand-Off! So Vader/Albright is the big feud in the company at this point, and Vader (the reigning champ) brings it Earthquake for a tag match. Quake is noticeably taller and wider than Vader is, in fact. Both are wearing their standard gear, though Tenta has an oddly blank upper torso, as “Earthquake” has been taken off. Albright was a big kinda homegrown UWF-I star, becoming a big name they were building up. He got pretty fat after this, but here is a barrel-chested guy in yellow, being dwarfed by the opposing team. Yamazaki has no physique, but was a shooter-type guy through most of the UWFs- feeling skipped over for title shots, he bailed for New Japan (his original company) and even sided with them during the “New Japan vs. UWF” angle, training its boys against the “Shooters”.

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Joshi Spotlight: GAEA Japan’s First Show!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-B_ymlL2QeQ&ab_channel=GAEAISM%E5%85%AC%E5%BC%8F%E3%83%81%E3%83%A3%E3%83%B3%E3%83%8D%E3%83%AB

The first two matches of the show.

GAEA MEMORIAL FIRST GONG:
(April 15th 1995)

* HERE COMES A NEW CHALLENGER! So sometime in 1994, Chigusa Nagayo, having come out of retirement the previous year and wrestled the occasional match for JWP Project (curiously, rarely at her former company, AJW), announced that she had formed a new Joshi promotion called GAEA Japan, with some different backers. Given that Joshi was still going through a Golden Age of sorts, this seemed like someone was trying to capitalize on a hot product, and Chigusa could control things in a way she liked. I dunno what the general impression was with the public at the time, but Chigusa was still the biggest star in Joshi history, even though her peak was ages ago (it would be like Hulk Hogan backing a promotion in 2001… wait, didn’t that actually happen?).

This ends up throwing a spanner into the works of Joshi promotions as a whole, as there were only four promotions really doing it (and FMW only did it as a small division of their shows). GAEA adds a fifth, though the star power isn’t huge at first- Chigusa poaches Kaoru Maeda (herself barely used by AJW) and the two train the entire first class by themselves, including names like Meiko Satomura, Sonoka Kato & Toshiyo Uemura. JWP still seems on friendly terms with her, too, judging by their usage on this show. I often wonder what would have happened if cooler heads had prevailed and the companies would just merge and be stronger- a combined LLPW & JWP would make for a much stronger company, y’know? And imagine GAEA attaching to THAT. But I guess people had to hate each other and try their own thing.

This ends up having major repercussions for the business, though- through a variety of business, economy-related and star-power concerns, Joshi goes through a major flux in the next couple of years, producing even MORE promotions as things splinter in a way that the business never recovers from… and GAEA Japan will one day sit at the top of it, getting its own reputation for good and ill (“The Joshi Retirement Home”, never mind Chigusa’s manner of booking herself). But for now it’s just one star, one minor star, and a bunch of rookies!

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: Most of the matches here are super-green rookies debuting against each other, but the last two matches are legitimately fantastic ****-ish affairs, and are one-time only Dream Matches. Also this is the very first match of the legendary Meiko Satomura.

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Manami Toyota & Mike Quackenbush vs. Cesaro & Sara Del Rey (and other Dream Matches!)

Mike Quackenbush 25th Anniversary: w/ Manami Toyota vs. Cesaro & Sara Del Rey - YouTube

We live in a world where Manami Toyota gave Cesaro the rolling cradle. Life is so weird.

Welcome back to another Dream Matches column! This time, I have a wild CHIKARA match- MANAMI TOYOTA vs. CESARO!! With Mike Quackenbush and Sara Del Rey as their partners! I’ve had my eyes on for a while but was avoiding because of the length, but it turns out it’s really goddamn awesome!

And we follow that up with a very “Before They Were Stars” showdown, as John Cena as the super-lean, roided to the gills “Prototype” takes on WCW reject Chase Tatum, who has to lead the match! Back to All Japan, as John Tenta’s “oddly-skinny rookie run” has him teaming with Yoshiaki Yatsu against… Bruiser Brody and Jimmy Snuka!?! Then we cap it off with some WCW Saturday Night goodness, as Barry Darsow & John Nord take on Disorderly Conduct.

LUCHA RULES (leaving the ring counts as a tag):
MIKE QUACKENBUSH & MANAMI TOYOTA vs. CLAUDIO CASTAGNOLI & SARA DEL REY:
(CHIKARA, 19.09.2010)
* Okay, now THIS is an interest mix of characters- friggin’ CESARO vs. TOYOTA?!? I’m there, dude. This is CHIKARA owner Mike Quackenbush teaming up with Manami again, but in a tag team match, and their opponents are the future Cesaro as an indie darling under his real name- long, lean and already bald, in white trunks. His partner is Sara Del Rey, who… okay I don’t know jack shit about modern women’s wrestling, but I’ve heard she’s respected. She was big in Shimmer, a women’s promotion that I always found to have a very clutzy-looking style of wrestling (but I’m a puro snob when it comes to women’s stuff, and ’90s AJW casts a WIDE shadow over low-budget American indies). She also went to ROH, CHIKARA and has been a WWE trainer since 2012.

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