Joshi Spotlight: Debbie Malenko

Debbie Malenko Sakie Hasewara | Tops, Women's wrestling, Women

Debbie Malenko with her regular partner, Sakie Hasegawa.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- DEBBIE MALENKO:
Real Name: Debbie Drake
Billed Height & Weight: 5’6″ 143 lbs.
Career: 1990-1993, Barely-Active since 2000-something

-So one of the few bad things during AJW’s rise in the early 1990s was the very short career of the promising Debbie Malenko, who was the sole foreigner on many AJW shows of the time period. She had formed a spunky undercard tag team with Sakie Hasegawa, and was utilizing some very unique stuff for the “GO GO GO!” joshi style (being more of an American-style technical wrestler with precision offense taught by Boris Malenko, who let her use his worked surname). Hitting big-time STFs and stuff as major offense was typically not done around this point, as AJW’s style was more “you sit on them for stretching to kill time between major periods and to take a rest”, save a few exceptions. Best of all was the duo dressing like the Steiner Brothers in distinctive multicolored amateur-wrestling singlets and even doing the “Rick Steiner barking run” and Debbie crawling under Sakie for the “Steiner Pose”. Great midcard tag stuff.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Summer TV & Dangerous Queen Forever

AJW TV (Aug. 1994):
* Here’s a couple of random matches I found from AJW in August! Plus a video all about Akira Hokuto’s career- match clips and interviews that would probably be awesome if you understood Japanese!

TL;DR Version: Hey, two ***+ matches in one TV show- not bad, right? AEW hasn’t spoiled us THAT much! And this is like *1994*!

YUMIKO HOTTA & TOMOKO WATANABE vs. SUZUKA MINAMI & MIMA SHIMODA:
* This was from Aug. 31st, and is pretty much a “random grab-bag of wrestlers” match (though Minami sometimes pairs up with LCO). Minami’s in a hideous red outfit with floral-print, a zipper, and a wide collar, while Shimoda’s in the usual red & black. Tomoko’s in the black with tassles, and Hotta’s in blue & yellow.

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Joshi Spotlight: Akira Hokuto

Akira Hokuto | Akira, Royalty, Female wrestlers

“AJA. Bull- you listen carefully, too. I have two lives left. If anyone wants them, come forward now!”
-Hokuto dropping a challenge during her retirement tour.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- AKIRA HOKUTO:
Real Name: Hisako Uno
Billed Height & Weight: 5’6″ & 132 lbs.
Career: 1985-2002

-This is one I’ve been dreading and anticipating for ages now- how does one make sense out of the career of Akira friggin’ Hokuto? Pro wrestling’s living embodiment of “die for your art”.

Akira is one of the “Big Three” of Joshi, arguably the “Big Two” with Manami Toyota- someone whose respect is well-earned and nigh-universal. Anyone who knows anything about wrestling has a deep respect for her work, and even people who aren’t major joshi fans have either seen or heard of her legendary ***** match with Shinobu Kandori at Dream Slam 1, and consider her a top-tier talent. At one point, she has an even shot for being the greatest wrestler ON EARTH, regardless of gender- 1993 was quite possibly the best year any wrestler has ever had- at least six solo matches over ****, more than double that if you count tags, and more. Any female wrestler of the ’90s whose best match wasn’t against Toyota was against Hokuto instead. NOBODY was better at playing through an injury or carrying someone else than Hokuto- Rumi Kazama hit **** with her, and never came close with anyone else, and Akira hit ****1/2 or so against Aja Kong while on a broken leg.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Budokan Retsuden MAX

AJW BUDOKAN RETSUDEN MAX:
(24.08.1994)
* And now we hit one of the biggest Joshi cards of the year, in one of the most legendary arenas in Japan, with the now-rare Interpromotional Matches taking up the entire card! They’ve really edged off on those in 1994 (they’re probably difficult to book, and I’d imagine most don’t want their top stars to lose to others), but we add one more Dream Match to Akira Hokuto’s generous supply, putting her up against Dynamite Kansai in an elimination tag match! We’ve also got FMW’s top women’s star, LCO vs. an LLPW team, Takako & Cutie forming an Interpromotional Idol Team against two other JWP wrestlers, an ultra-rare Chigusa Nagayo match against AJW wrestlers, and a Kyoko Inoue/Manami Toyota singles match! aka the pairing that first broke Dave Meltzer’s ***** scale! This is a MONSTER show, and a long review- let’s get to it!

We start with a full half-hour of “arriving at the arena and doing photo-shoots” stuff, really padding out a 5-hour (!!) tape. Everyone shows up, people shoot the shit, and at one point Manami & Takako switch outfits. Oddly both seem to fit, despite their different body types. Takako seems to be mimicking Minami by doing endless hair-flips and glamor-girl poses, which is pretty hilarious. Everyone does test-bumps and rope-jumps in the ring, too. Our Main Eventers are all pretty jovial, Hokuto cracking everyone up instead of setting off real-looking fights like usual. Oh man, the show’s announcer is wearing a LIME GREEN suit- that’s top-notch.

I should emphasize right away that this crowd is TOUGH to win over- they pop for comedy and real effort, but they will sit the fuck on their hands if you try stretching or other “match-filler”.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW St. Battle Day 1992

 

ST. BATTLE DAY:
(20.03.1992)
* This is actually a bit of a throwback (since I just finished going through all of 1993), as I initially couldn’t find the full show on YouTube. Maffew uploaded it as “Indie Uploader”, but he was banned for copywrite violations, but someone else was good enough to upload it when I bemoaned that fact. So here we are! Finally!

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: One of the better tag matches of the year and a truly important title-change… and one of the worst AJW tag matches ever- a smorgasbord for Botchamania! Watch what happens when technical wrestlers try lucha!

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Joshi Spotlight: Legendary Goddess VII-VIII (Bull Nakano & Toshiyo Yamada)

Image result for bull nakano

I’d share the link to the YoutTube, but it turns out that Bull wears clothing and decorates her room featuring photographs of nude women on them, so I actually can’t, lol. So here’s that rad Bull Nakano fanart again!

And now it’s two remaining Legendary Goddess VHS reviews before I’m finally done with all the Joshi I could find from 1993! A “Year In Review” article will be up this Friday.

LEGENDARY GODDESS VII- BULL NAKANO:
* We get our “LG” tape release for Bull Nakano at last! And immediately it’s bizarre, as a denim-clad Bull, with normal hair and no flashy facepaint, walks gingerly through a ratty old shipyard while 1980s-sounding screeching guitars play. Bizarrely, her dour expression and outfit make her look older here than she does today. And then she starts breathing heavily and just goes mental on a chain link fence while her jacket is now made of leather, and says fuck across the back- God I love joshi.

Then she goes walking down some of the grimy bar-filled streets in Japan (that actually reminds me more of the real Japan than the shiny yachts & harbors they normally go on in these), shows that her jacket has a photo that is DECIDEDLY not safe for work on it (a topless woman pantomiming fingerbanging herself- well now I can’t put the YouTube video in the review, then!), then puts on a Chicago Bulls jacket, and prepares for her first match. Tremendous.

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Joshi Spotlight: Legendary Goddess IV-VI (Akira Hokuto, Kyoko & Aja Kong)

It’s time for another bunch of Legendary Goddess VHS reviews! Three at a time in this one, since it’s a lot of retread material, but DAMN some of it’s great footage.

LEGENDARY GODDESS IV- AKIRA HOKUTO:
* This one starts with some hilariously overwrought footage of Hokuto stalking around a temple wearing her traditional Noh theater garb, complete with big sound effects, which would be so incredibly stupid on anyone without Hokuto’s credibility. So instead it’s awesome. Partway through, there’s this “normal person” interview of her laughing and smiling on while some silly symphony plays, and it’s so unsettling to see the Dangerous Queen as a human being. Like, her mystique actually makes this stuff come off as odd. Then she strolls around in denim shorts and a floral-print shirt in black & white.

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Joshi Spotlight: Tag League THE BEST 1993 (Finals)

How many cards have had back-to-back ***** matches on them, anyhow?

AJW Tag League- THE BEST 1993 (Part 2):
(10.12.1993)
* And so we come to the last big tape release of 1993, and the capper on Akira Hokuto’s remarkable year, as Flying Dangerous (her team with Manami Toyota) have neared the finals, facing off against two of the other top workers in AJW- Kyoko Inoue & Toshiyo Yamada. Looks like much of the card wasn’t uploaded to YouTube, but the two big ones are. The original tape is apparently only 2 hours 30 minutes, making me suspect there was a lot of clipping.

This show is suuuuuuuuuuuuper famous (among puro nerds) because of the two matches at the end, which are the only time any wrestlers have ever wrestled back-to-back matches that got ***** ratings from Dave Meltzer. And of course, ALL FOUR people earned that honor.

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Joshi Spotlight: Legendary Goddess III & St. Battle Final Recap

Yes, that’s the image they put on the cover. They knew what they were doing.

LEGENDARY GODDESS III- MANAMI TOYOTA:
* And now it’s Toyota’s turn for her own “LG” tape release. This one actually contains two matches I’ve seen- one from the previous tape! The non-match bits are actually quite short, featuring her modelling (humorously, thanks to the wind machines to blow her hair around, she has to blink rapid-fire, making it look super awkward), walking around and buying something from a collectible shop, and a short interview.

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Joshi Spotlight: Legendary Goddess I-II & Wrestlemarinepiad Recap

LEGENDARY GODDESS I- TAKAKO INOUE:

* So the “Legendary Goddess” tapes are an octet of VHS releases at the tail end of 1993, each about an hour long, featuring a spotlight on one particular AJW wrestler. The top eight stars of the company at the time each had their own, with the UWA Tag Champs having theirs first. These LG tapes feature an odd thing where some tag matches have a laser-focus on only one wrestler- one camera man follows only the focus of the tape around, even if she’s just on the apron. Having watched most of them by this point, I notice that almost every single match is taken from the same handful of shows, as I recognize the unique arenas (“bright one with low-lying balconies”, “one with the giant stage behind a see-through curtain” and “outdoor arena one with dirt in the stands” being the most notable ones).

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: These tapes are a quirky look at some wrestlers, showing tours of their apartments or shots of them eating, and some of the matches are high-quality “House Show Effort” performances that give you a better sense of what a typical show from AJW is like. Also I toss in a recap of Wrestling Queendom I.

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Joshi Spotlight: JWP Thunder Queen Battle II

 

Full Playlist here!

JWP THUNDER QUEEN BATTLE II:
(20.11.1993)

* This is yet another big Joshi show; actually the third last really big one of the year- only Wrestlemarinepiad ’93 and St. Battle Final come later. This is a sequel of sorts to the first TQB from the Summer, which had the famous “Multi-Person Iron Man Match” that saw JWP pull out a last-minute victory against AJW. Here, we feature a ton more Dream Matches, with more focus placed on singles contests between people who haven’t fought before.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: Hokuto’s ridiculous run in 1993 continues with a match against Mayumi Ozaki, we get Manami Toyota versus her Non-Union JWP Equivalent in a match over ****, and one of the best tag performances you’re gonna see, courtesy of Devil Masami against old rival Chigusa Nagayo’s team. This show kicks some serious ass.

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Joshi Spotlight: Flying Dangerous vs. Aja/Sakie, & JWP on TV!

Hostess Roll Toyota runs wild!

Something a little different today, as I could only find one Tag League match from a particular show, but also found an episode of Champ Forum TV featuring JWP matches from 1993 as well! So it’s a double-whammy today!

“TL;DR: What’s the Big Deal?”: The three best wrestlers in AJW in one tag match, with the other one being a rookie phenom who can hold her own. Plus an interesting look at JWP in “normal people” interviews and that ***** Bull Nakano/Devil Masami match I’ve reviewed before!

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Joshi Spotlight: LLPW Women’s Sparkling Fireworks

Thankfully, this uploader (Joshi Puro Oshi) puts all their stuff in a playlist.

LLPW WOMEN’S SPARKLING FIREWORKS (LLPW vs. AJW):
(11.09.1993)

* This show has popped up a couple of times during these Spotlights, as I recognized this extremely distinctive arena (looking like a high school gym with high bleachers on one side), but didn’t realize that these matches were all from the same show. This actually precedes the mega-show LLPW vs. AJW: Nagoya Super Storm by a couple of weeks, meaning this is much less of a big deal. But in that, you kind of get some freedom- silly matches, squashes, true rarities, etc. The Main Event is the cap-off to the Akira Hokuto/Rumi Kazama mini-feud that’s sprouted up over these shows during the summer months, while the Ace of LLPW is in a unique tag match right before the main, and AJW’s Ace is facing a jobber.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: So the interesting thing from a “wrestling nerd” perspective is all these stars you rarely find on these shows otherwise, plus things like utter squashes. LLPW is throwing mid-tier star up against top-tier AJW foes, but also dumping many of their lower-tier stars in one-sided contests against big names. Some of the matches are clipped, but not by much.

The crowd here is REALLY sparse at first, with empty chairs seen everywhere. And there’s four weirdos who spend all the matches sitting in the aisle while facing the crowd, then stand up to block the fans during entrances. Are these out-of-work train workers?

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Joshi Spotlight: Devil Masami vs. Dump Matsumoto (and the best squash EVER!)

Shit like this is why Hokuto is an all-time legend.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- DEVIL MASAMI vs. DUMP MATSUMOTO:
* Okay, so with this week’s Spotlight being a tad short (a single match plus a recap of two old reviews), I figured I’d find some ’80s stuff, including a Devil/Dump match I was linked to weeks ago. And also, someone uploaded the Hokuto/Numacchi match from Super Whirlwind so I can review that arduous epic here!

So read on and see some of that wild 1980s Atrocious Alliance clusterfuck goodness! And an ultra-rare WWWA Title decision!

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Joshi Spotlight- AJW Super Whirlwind

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT: AJW SUPER WHIRLWIND:
(05.09.1993)
Only one match from this show appears to be on YouTube, but the rest of the card doesn’t look too promising, aside from one match. This gives me the opportunity to review that one, then make notes on the two big Joshi shows that I already reviewed, but putting them more into the context of what’s been going on in the promotions, having seen much of 1993 so far.

The tag match itself features Takako Inoue & Yumiko Hotta fighting the reformed Marine Wolves- Akira Hokuto and Suzuka Minami.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Legacy of Queens

AJW LEGACY OF QUEENS:
(25.08.1993, Tokyo Nippon Budokan)
* So this is a positively AWESOME AJW show devoted to the interpromotional rivalries going on, effectively doing another Dream Slam-tier show full of mega-Dream Matches- it’s easily one of the biggest shows of the year, surpassed only by Dream Slam 1 & 2 and St. Battle Final (later in the year). Much like the Slams, this features “AJW wrestler vs. JWP/LLPW/FMW wrestler” in one-of-a-kind bouts that, if they’re not competitive, are at least unique. And this time, it’s not AJW’s tag titles on the line- both their #1 and #2 singles golds are up for grabs, as Akira Hokuto defends against an LLPW wrestler and Aja Kong defends the Red Belt against the Ace of JWP, Dynamite Kansai! And LLPW’s Ace, Kandori, is up against one of AJW’s biggest stars in Kyoko Inoue, plus we have a duo of multi-person match sprints.

The setting is really awesome- like one of the early King of the Ring shows, with huge gated doors visible on the hard cam at the end of the aisle.

This show is MASSIVE and would prove a monster 2-parter to review, but thankfully I’ve reviewed three of the matches before on separate sets.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: This show is up there with some of the greatest, boasting FOUR MATCHES at **** and over, the legendary first Kong/Kansai match, a spectacular carry-job by Hokuto, and one of those unique situations where nearly every wrestler seems to be trying to show up every other wrestler.

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Joshi Spotlight- Rumi Kazama

Akira Hokuto (AJW) vs Rumi Kazama (LLPW) - YouTube

Rumi Kazama! Google carefully.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- RUMI KAZAMA:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’0″ 136 lbs.
Career: 1986-2003

-Rumi Kazama is one of those “hey, who is that again?” wrestlers, rarely appearing on big shows and typically lacking a lot of extraordinary showings or a huge push in most of the Interpromotional stuff I’ve seen in the mid-1990s. She’s probably most recognizable for her weird ’80s-style gear, like leopard-print shoulder pads and chest-piece on a bright purple jacket, an all-tiger-print set of tights, and a purple leopard-print set with black epaulettes. Not to mention her hilarious “Soccer Mom Hair”, sporting this GIANT teased mullet on a few ’90s shows I’ve seen.

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AJW Grand Prix- Finals

Toyota vs. Hokuto- two of the best ever fight for 17 minutes!

AJW GRAND PRIX 1993 FINALS:
-And now, after four LONG shows and several months’ worth of random GP matches taking place on AJW’s events, we get the finals. And of course because I can’t find it on YouTube, I can only produce a couple of matches, lol. Stupid Ringstarfield! Four of the five shows and the FINALS he’s missed uploading?

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: So even though I could only find two matches… they’re both at least ****.

Here’s how the event shook down:
Wrestler: Points: Wrestler: Points:
Akira Hokuto 6.0———-Yumiko Hotta 6.0
Harley Saito 5.0———-Manami Toyota 5.0
Toshiyo Yamada 4.5———Bat Yoshinaga 5.0
Suzuka Minami 3.0———Hikari Fukuoka 4.0
Sakie Hasegawa 3.0———Kyoko Inoue 3.5
Takako Inoue 3.0———-Mima Shimoda 2.5
Etsuko Mita 3.0———-Kaoru Ito 2.0
Tomoko Watanabe0.5——Saemi Numata 0.0

SEMI-FINALS: Akira Hokuto (vs) Manami Toyota; Harley Saito (vs) Yumiko Hotta

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW TV (Aug. 5th, 1993)

AJW TV SHOW (Aug. 5th, 1993):
* So in the midst of the never-ending AJW Grand Prix, here’s an August TV show I found! It was taped at the Kasumigaura Cultural Gymnasium in Kasumigaura, Ibaraki on August 5th, airing Aug. 13th, and features a Grand Prix match between Akira Hokuto & LLPW’s Harley Saito! There’s also a pair of Big Monster Veteran (vs) Up & Coming Undercard Wrestler matches.

So highlights here are a one-time-only bout (Hokuto/Saito I do not believe ever met in singles competition again), and the goddamn Dragon Ball Z theme song being used as an entrance theme. Plus the truest test yet for Bat Yoshinaga after a fairly impressive year for the up & comer.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW TV (July 1993)

AJW TV SHOW (July 1993):
* Oh good! I found another one of these! Always fun to check out their weekly TV show (with ads! One features an AMAZING trailer for a “tiny samurai” movie where he opposes a cat and a street-sweeper. I wanna see that movie).

“TL;DR- What’s The Big Deal?”: These shows are always fun, if only for the commercials and the rare matches. It’s very interesting to see the weekly TV of a promotion most would only recognize from their biggest shows only. Okay, that’s just a nice way of saying “it’s fine and nothing stands out as overly great”, but it shows a complete package of the promotion!

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