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

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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: 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- 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: 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- 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- 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- 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- 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)