Joshi Spotlight: The Interpromotional Era Begins!

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- AJW TV (Sept. 21, 1992)

-Hailing from the Morioka-shi Ice Arena, it’s another episode of the AJW TV show! And also, the first-ever Interpromotional Match, which exists online only in clipped form, I guess! So read on if you want to see how the most legendary era in Joshi began!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: The Interpromotional Era Begins!

Joshi Spotlight: Cutie Suzuki

“They definitely made the right call- it wasn’t Ugly Suzuki.”
-someone during a livewatch.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT: CUTIE SUZUKI:
Stats:
Real Name: Yumi Suzuki (now Yumi Harashima)
Career: 1986-1999

Word of Advice: Do not translate the comments left on Cutie Suzuki videos into English. Just trust me on this.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Cutie Suzuki

Joshi Spotlight: Crush Gals & Jumping Bomb Angels

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- JUMPING BOMB ANGELS & CRUSH GALS:
* Okay, for this Spotlight, I figured I’d do something a little different- just gather some random Gals & Angels matches I found and make a dual Spotlight between the two teams, whom I’ve already done bios for.

What’s Awesome Here: Two ’80s matches (one okay, one REALLY good), a fricking fantastic “War of the Gods” tag match that’s a total classic, a *WCW* Joshi bout from 1991, and then a look at a late-stage JB Angel.

Quickie Bios:
Chigusa Nagayo: Sporty-looking tomboy who turns into a pure ass-kicker. Always wears read. Total icon in Japan, and heroine to schoolgirls of the ’80s.
Lioness Asuka: Fights & dresses like Chigusa, but in blue. A better worker, but didn’t have as much of the “It” Factor; Still a huge star.
Noriyo Tateno: “Pretty Girl” wrestler turned ridiculously innovative in the ring, inspiring a generation of stunt-workers. Went on to LLPW post-1990 and became a big solo wrestler there.
Itsuki Yamazaki: Quicker, more slender high-flyer. Inspired Manami Toyota. Retired in 1991, pretty much for good.

AJW JUNIOR TITLE:
NORIYO TATENO vs. CHIGUSA NAGAYO:
(01.08.1984)

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Crush Gals & Jumping Bomb Angels

Joshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix ’92 (Finals)

AJW GRAND PRIX 1992- FINALS:
(30.08.1992)
-And now we FINALLY come to the end of the months-long AJW Grand Prix. The story thus far has been the dominance of Aja Kong & Manami Toyota (who shockingly BEAT the Ace-adjacent Kong in a big upset at Korakuen Hall), with Kyoko Inoue right behind them. Mariko Yoshida has also impressed very well, as despite being on the “lower rung”, sorta (she’s well below her rookie classmate Kyoko, who was given a mega-push first), she’s in high-profile positions all over the place, has been made to look good, took both Kyoko & Sakie Hasegawa to 30-minute draws in big showcases of her stamina, and more. It seems like she’ll be given a big push going forward. Toshiyo Yamada also did well enough in non-televised stuff, hitting the semis. All five women will wrestle tonight, with the winners hitting the finals immediately following. The rest of the matches are made up of other tournament wrestlers being paired up.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: One of the best multi-person matches I’ve ever seen is on this show, and you get to see just how much work everyone’s willing to put into their matches, as everyone goes to 15+ in the Grand Prix.

AJW GRAND PRIX FINAL STANDINGS:
Wrestler: Points:——–Wrestler: Points:
Manami Toyota 9.0—–T. Yamada 8.0
Aja Kong 8.0————Mariko Yoshida 7.0
Takako Inoue 6.0——-Kyoko Inoue 7.0
Suzuka Minami 5.0—–Akira Hokuto 4.5
Etsuko Mita 5.0———Sakie H. 4.0
Mima Shimoda 5.0—–Yumiko Hotta 4.0
Bat Yoshinaga 4.0——Miori Kamiya 3.0
Tomoko W. 3.0———Debbie Malenko 3.0
Cynthia Moreno 1.0—-Terri Power 3.0
Bison Kimura 0.0——-Kaoru Ito 1.5

Semi-Finals: Manami Toyota (vs) Kyoko/Mariko; Aja Kong (vs) Toshiyo Yamada
Finals: Toyota/Kyoko/Mariko (vs) Aja/Yamada

So there’ll be a tiebreaker between Yoshida & Kyoko tonight, then the two Semi-Finals- Aja/Yamada & Toyota/(winner of Kyoko/Yoshida), then the Final match. Of interest here is how closely this mirrors the standing in the company of the girls, save Hokuto getting a low score (injury?), and Takako being unusually high compared to Minami.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix ’92 (Finals)

Joshi Spotlight: AJW Midsummer Typhoon

(the playlist starts here)

AJW MIDSUMMER TYPHOON:
(15.08.1992)
* Time for a big Summer Event from AJW!! The booking for quite a few months has culminated right there, which is super exciting!! Though I already reviewed the Main Event, so I kinda just have to do the undercard and then do an abridged review of the Main (which is *****, by the way, and ends in the BEST POST-MATCH ANGLE EVER). Dave Meltzer apparently describes the Main Event to this day as the greatest match he’s ever seen live. A bout where merely his description of what happened had people on the Blog welling up with tears.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: The main event is one of the most famous Joshi matches in history, and the one Dave Meltzer says was the finest match he’d ever seen live (unsure if he changed that recently in the era of 7-star matches). The final three matches are all killer, but yeah- that main event, and the angle & ending surrounding it, is the reason everyone should see it- it’s Savage/Liz Reunion good.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Midsummer Typhoon

Joshi Spotlight: AJW TV (Aug. 14, 1992)

AJW TV (Aug. 14th, 1992):
* The other AJW TV show I saw on YouTube. It features two matches from the Lethal Lottery-style “Fuji TV Network Tag Team Tournament”, plus a huge mismatch in Aja Kong vs. Takako Inoue. Wonderfully, it keeps the ads, though it’s hard to tell what they’re advertising- everything’s got song accompaniment. There’s a commercial for sake, one for a hotel with an onsen in it, and assorted mascot things. Oh, and a tree-trimmer that extends to 1.8 meters! And Lawson, the weirdly-ubiquitous American convenience store chain that exists on every single city block in Japan!

At the end of the show, they show some other match endings. Rie Tamada pins Saemi Numata in a 6-woman tag match after (11:53) before Tomoko Watanabe can break it up, Etsuko Mita beats Bat Yoshinaga with her Straighjacket Perfect Plex at (12:15), and Bull Nakano beats… someone in white with the Guillotine Legdrop in (13:44). Damn, the tape transfer sucks too much for me to tell who that is. They looked thin and had short hair.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW TV (Aug. 14, 1992)

Joshi Spotlight: Kanaami Death Match!!

BULL NAKANO VS. AKIRA HOKUTO- KANAAMI DEATH MATCH:
* Okay, so this review will be a little bit different, as I can’t find the whole AJW tape (mostly featuring a Fuji TV Tag Tournament of random partners) on YouTube featuring this match, and what DID make the tape was either cut to shreds or had some bad injuries wreck things. So instead I’ll take the one match I can find, and combine it with some AJW TV shows recorded by Roy Lucier’s YouTube account! Dude actually has a couple of AJW’s shows… OH MY GOD WITH COMMERCIALS!! Japanese commercials from the early 1990s!

The other matches in the show:
Fuji TV Tag Tournament: Etsuko Mita & Takako Inoue vs. Mariko Yoshida & Sakie Hasegawa (7:20 of 14:37 aired).
Fuji TV Tag Tournament: Manami Toyota & Mima Shimoda vs. Bat Yoshinaga & Tomoko Watanabe (10:09). I would imagine Toyota’s team won. Shimoda apparently got a bloody nose.
The Kanaami Death Match goes here.
Fuji TV Tag Tournament: Akira Hokuto & Toshiyo Yamada vs. Marikyo Yoshida & Sakie Hasegawa (2:44). Stopped by a back injury to Sakie.
Akira Hokuto vs. Mariko Yoshida (0:23). Restarted as a singles match, which Hokuto immediately ruins by using a weapon.
Bull Nakano, Bat Yoshinaga & Tomoko Watanabe vs. Aja Kong, Miori Kamiya & Kaoru Ito (9:01). Bull pins Ito after Aja accidentally Urakens her. Despite their long-standing fued, the two titans apparently “buddy up”.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Kanaami Death Match!!

Joshi Spotlight: The Jumping Bomb Angels

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“The Jumping Bomb Angels were very popular at the time, and my friend invited me to the show – and I went to the first show without any prior knowledge- and then I thought ‘oh, THIS is what I have to do’. That was about ninth grade.”
-Manami Toyota, via a translator, about why she became a wrestler, at the Chikara Joshimania show.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- THE JUMPING BOMB ANGELS:

NORIYO TATENO:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’5″ 165 lbs.
Career: 1981-2010

ITSUKI YAMAZAKI:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’5″ 137 lbs.
Career: 1981-1991

Among the only classic Joshi known to North American fans, the Jumping Bomb Angels are somewhat famous to workrate snobs for coming on WWF TV and blowing minds with offense that looked straight-up futuristic for the time, throwing out crazy double-teams and top-rope moves that NOBODY was doing at the time. Popular in Japan, neither became a true megastar, and they were always subordinate to the Crush Gals (who were over to the point of being a cultural phenomenon at the time), but I think they were definitely more noticed by people who wanted to see fast-paced action- hell, I think it’s fair to call the JB Angels among the most influential wrestlers of all time!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: The Jumping Bomb Angels

Joshi Spotlight: OTA-KU Champion’s Legend ’92

AJW OTA-KU CHAMPION’S LEGEND ’92:
(15.07.1992)

-More AJW time! This one is nearly all Championship Matches, with most of the top stars defending- it’s the AJ Tag, AJ Title, All Pacific, WWWA Tag, and even Bull Nakano defending her CMLL World Women’s Title against Akira Hokuto! This show is named for the “Tokyo Ota-ku Taiikukan” building in which it’s taking place, not anything to do with anime fandom (“Otaku” is a decidedly NOT polite way to refer to someone in Japan, especially in 1992).

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: It’s an interesting much of matches tonight- one of the greatest talent disparities you’ll ever see in a major title match, as Kyoko Inoue has to do something with TERRI POWER. The invincible Toyota/Yamada team faces their hardest challenge yet when AJA KONG is their opponent, and gets to pick the opponent she wants. Also, it’s Bull Nakano vs. Akira Hokuto! And LCO takes its final form tonight!!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: OTA-KU Champion’s Legend ’92

Joshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix ’92 (Part Two)

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Ever wanna go on a backstage tour of Korakuen Hall? This show lets you do that!  By proxy of an Attitude Era-style brawl!

AJW JAPAN GRAND PRIX ’92 (Part Two)- BOMB BLAST FEVER POINT

(07.05.1992, Tokyo Korakuen Hall)

-The second of three tapes devoted to the AJW Grand Prix, which lasted for three months and had a bunch of tapes between it. The last tape is only from the week before, so most of these people are well-travelled already. This is one of the lowest-rent of the tapes, though, as many of the matches are cut down by half.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: Ever wanna go on a backstage tour of Korakuen Hall? This show lets you see it! Via Aja Kong & Manami Toyota inventing the Attitude Era Main Event Style! The early matches are clipped to death and not very good, but the latter bunch are great, though not the classics we’re used to seeing weekly at this point. Also, a joshi handicap match, further proof that great things were expected of Mariko Yoshida, and more!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix ’92 (Part Two)

Joshi Spotlight: AJW Beat Power Oh-Mi-Yah!

AJW BEAT POWER OH-MI-YAH!
(27/06/92; Omiya Skate Center)

-Time for another full AJW show- this one 2:30:00, and hailing from the… Omiya Skate Center? That’s apparently in Saitama, Japan. The arena is dark and the sound blows on this tape, too. We’re right in the middle of the AJW Grand Prix (with a few matches tonight), Las Cachorras Orientales has formed, and Toshiyo Yamada just defeated her partner & friend, Manami Toyota, in a big part of their long rivalry. And part of what makes that interesting is tonight… they defend their WWWA Tag Titles against two of AJW’s top wrestlers- Akira Hokuto & Kyoko Inoue! THAT’S gotta be awkward. Meanwhile, it’s another shot in the Aja/Bull feud (they’re in a 6-Woman Tag), Mariko Yoshida defending the “Rookie Belt”, and tag partners Sakie & Debbie fighting on the lower card! Actually, it’s a lot of interesting match-ups tonight.

LOL and the video’s opening straight-up gives away the finish of the Main Event. This is like those anime episodes where it’s like Dragon Ball Z: Cell Kills Android 18 And Takes His Final Form, And Also Yaumcha Dies! This country doesn’t appear to have much of a thing about spoilers.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Beat Power Oh-Mi-Yah!

Joshi Spotlight: Yumiko Hotta

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JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- YUMIKO HOTTA:
Statistics:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’6″ 159 lbs.
Trained By: AJW Dojo
Career: 1985-today (still active!)

-One of the longest-serving Joshi still active, Yumiko Hotta was a great worker and a tough, credible name for decades, but is far less well-known than most wrestlers at her level, especially in the West. My best guesses as to why:

1) Spent most of 1992-1995 (generally considered the “Peak of Joshi” by most, including Dave Meltzer) as the lowest-tier Main Eventer around. So if she was in the Main Event, she was losing and “Looked good in defeat”. So she wasn’t as memorable as her contemporaries.
2) Didn’t get a true World Title run until 1997, after Joshi had fallen into a backslide, and was the Ace of a gutted AJW with a diminished roster. This hurt her credibility as a top name.
3) Was “skipped over” for a mega-push compared to many later talents (Aja Kong, Akira Hokuto, Manami Toyota, etc.).
4) Not as charismatic as her contemporaries.
5) A penchant towards no-selling and booking herself as dominant, making her a prominent case of the “Elder Joshi were Selfish” stereotype that plagued the industry.
6) A tendency to join companies just as they were dying.
7) Her overall milieu (a short-haired, powerful wrestler with lethal kicks, a martial arts background, and a Powerbomb finisher) was identical to that of her contemporary, Dynamite Kansai… who was better than Hotta in every possible way.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Yumiko Hotta

Joshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix (Part One)

ALL JAPAN WOMEN’S GRAND PRIX ’92- PART ONE:
(21.06.1992)

-AJW, much like All Japan & New Japan, has a yearly thing where their top stars wrestle in a Round Robin-style deal. In this case, as with most years (others have been one-block round-robins or a standard tournament), it’s two “Blocks” of wrestlers doing so, with the winner of each block wrestling in the final match. Most of the matches weren’t televised or taped from what I can see. But these shows are a BIG DEAL in AJW, as we’ll see- every time I’ve seen a Grand Prix VHS release, it’s been absolutely stuffed with ****+ dream matches and people working their hardest- this is no “House Show Mode” release.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: Spoiler Alert- this ends with four matches in a row at **** or above, and one all-time classic. Also, Debbie Malenko talks with one of the commentators in English, giving us insight into early ’90s Puro we’d NEVER get otherwise.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix (Part One)

Joshi Spotlight: The Dawn of Las Cachorras

Las Cachorras Reunited.jpg

I had to start with Las Cachorras Orientales reuniting in late 2019. I just had to. It’s too adorbz.

AJW SUPER CHARGE:
(24.05.1992)

-This is another AJW event at Korakuen Hall, about a month after the previous “Funto” show. It’s ALSO named “Super Charge”, like a prior show in 1992. The main focus here is actually on some returning wrestlers- Akira Hokuto, Etsuko Mita, Mima Shimoda and some others ended up on a trip to Mexico, where many puro stars go for extra training and character revamps (they’re still doing this; Naito gained his modern persona there, for instance). This was in part to gain some lucha experience and shake things up in AJW (newcomer Cintia Moreno is actually trained in the style, and worked a tour here as well), though few of the wrestlers really copied much of it.

This is mainly important because Hokuto & Mita came back with entirely new visual “looks” and personalities. Yes, this is the origin of Las Cachorras Orientales, which literally means “The Oriental Bitches” in Spanish. Shimoda would later join the group, but for now they merely have dyed hair, Atrocious Alliance facepaint, and other heel trappings.

“TL;DR: Why Should I Watch This?”: At least one match over ****, the debut of LCO in their “first form” against AJW’s current top heels, and a great Bull/Yamada match

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: The Dawn of Las Cachorras

Joshi Spotlight: JWP Super Major Queens FLASH!

JWP SUPER MAJOR QUEENS- FLASH!:
(22.05.94)

-Right in the midst of the Interpromotional Era comes this show- a JWP event with almost every match featuring an AJW invader, capped off by an Ace (vs) Ace bout- Dynamite Kansasi fighting the WWWA Champion, Aja Kong! Also wrestling is Kyoko Inoue against an up & comer, the legendary Chigusa Nagayo (on her JWP run to regather her strength) against Mayumi Ozaki, and an Idol (vs) Idol match- Takako Inoue & Cutie Suzuki! This is thus JWP’s biggest show ever up until this point, with major stars all over the place and a great Main Event. Weirdly, there’s no commentary at all for this show, giving it an odd feel… provided you notice it (I was 3/4 the way through Takako/Cutie before I realized “Hey, nobody’s talking here”).

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: Standard-issue Joshi excellence, in that four matches hit around ****, and some rare “Dream Matches” you’ll literally never see again. The stars of  yesterday versus the stars of tomorrow is particularly excellent.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: JWP Super Major Queens FLASH!

Joshi Spotlight: Dynamite Kansai

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JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- DYNAMITE KANSAI:
Stats:
Real Name: Chieko Suzuki
Billed Height & Weight: 5’8″, 205 lbs. (varied significantly)
Career Length: 1986-2016
Trained By: JWP Training

-Among the bigger stand-outs when watching Joshi cards in the mid-90s is the Ace of JWP, Dynamite Kansai. Probably the most underrated of the top-rated workers in Joshi, she’s been in a shitload of ***** matches (including the set of three with Mayumi Ozaki as her partner, against Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada), has wrestled in two matches at ****1/2 in one night (in the TOKYO DOME, no less!), and more, yet is far, far less known than Toyota, Aja Kong or Akira Hokuto at the top of the mountain. Why? Probably because she was the Ace of the smaller promotion.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Dynamite Kansai

Joshi Spotlight: AJW St. Battle Day & Funto! (Hard Struggle!)

ST. BATTLE DAY:
(20.03.1992)
-This is a taped show at Korakuen Hall, largely centered around the Main Event. I’ll combine this with the following “Funto” event, since I only have the one match. These are largely intermediate cards of AJW, featuring their top-flight workers in major bouts, including the culmination of their Yamada/Toyota team’s push.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch?”: Most of these women are already at the point where they’re having **** matches in their sleep, and these cards do a good job of setting up what the peak of the Interpromotional Era will look like- Manami in particular is the worker of the future, with many wrestlers now openly mimicking her style, and this first bout is a major one for her career. Also, you can see just HOW GOOD Mariko Yoshida was until an injury derailed her career, and how good Sakie Hasegawa was at her “Plucky Rookie” style, which AJW shows by having her get murdered on every show.

2/3 FALLS MATCH:
WWWA WORLD TAG TITLES & UWA TAG TITLES:
JUNGLE JACK (Aja Kong & Bison Kimura) vs. MANAMI TOYOTA & TOSHIYO YAMADA:

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW St. Battle Day & Funto! (Hard Struggle!)

Joshi Spotlight: Korakuen Super Charge

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Manami Toyota- Not just Meltzer Hype. She actually IS that good.

AJW KORAKUEN SUPER CHARGE:
(04.01.1992)

-Going back to the early days of AJW’s mega-cards, I figured this’d be a good place to start if I’m going to review the rest of AJW’s stuff (that I can find online, anyways). This one seems to have the theme of the stars of the future wrestling each other- the top acts aren’t here, but the #3-10 ones seem to be. Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada keep their rivalry going, and Akira Hokuto tries to prove again that she’s one of the best in the world against Kyoko Inoue.

Unfortunately, a large chunk of the card is un-findable on YouTube (even translating the names into Japanese and searching THAT gets nothing), but the final two matches are the real stand-outs anyways. So instead I found the only match I could find from ANOTHER show and threw that one in. This is an interesting time, as the “Interpromotional Era” hasn’t started yet, and Aja’s still rising up the card, so people are kind of… jostling for position. Manami’s also using the offense she’d soon drop, as I see that odd Butterfly Lock/Leg-Trap move all the time.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: Three matches, all at **** or better. Meltzer rated one at *****, too!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Korakuen Super Charge

Joshi Spotlight: Devil Masami

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“I imagine she wouldn’t smell bad but she’d smell…weird. Like her hair would have the faint aroma of the ocean or something.

She seems like a goddamn mythological witch sent to the world because she can’t stand the thought of little girls being happy.”
-Phrederic, during a live-watch, about Devil Masami

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- DEVIL MASAMI:
Stats:
Other Name: Super Heel Devil Masami
Real Name: Masami Yoshida
Billed Height & Weight: 5’6″ 154-198 lbs.
Career: 1978-2008 (30 years!!)
Trained By: AJW Dojo

-Having written a bio on Bull Nakano and showcased her ***** match with Devil Masami (Meltzer agreed, which is proof I’m right!), I figured I would write one for Masami herself next. Masami is probably one of the most underrated Joshi by Westerners owing to her tremendous obscurity- of the biggest Joshi shows of all, she’s in very few of them, and often in diminished roles; I’ve only seen a handful of her performances there. Never mind that her career peak was in the 1980s, which is ages before most wrestling fans would have ever heard of her.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Devil Masami