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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Joshi Spotlight: JWP’s One-Count-Fall Gauntlet Tag Match

JWP (March 21st 1995):
* This show’s a crazy one. Ever seen a match set up so that you win on the count of ONE? Well watch a Gauntlet Match of that, ending in a Multi-Person match under the same rules. And it’s not the disaster you think it will be! JWP has the weirdest, most incredible shows sometimes.

1-COUNT PINFALL GAUNTLET/TAG TEAM MATCH:
DYNAMITE KANSAI, DEVIL MASAMI, HIKARI FUKUOKA & HIROMI YAGI vs. MAYUMI OZAKI, CUTIE SUZUKI, CANDY OKUTSU & SUMIO TOYAMA:
* Okay, so the rules here are completely insane- everyone is set up in a Team Gauntlet of five-minute solo matches, and you win the fall on a ONE-COUNT. Which… okay that’s how amateur wrestling works, but still- in puro especially, every move on Earth at least earns a two-count, so the cadence here will be super-interesting. It can create some flukes pretty easily, at least. Following that gauntlet is a standard 8-Woman Tag. Pretty one-sided teams here, as the two Aces mix with Hikari and a higher-end rookie Yagi against Ozaki & Cutie, plus Candy (a bit above Yagi, maybe?) and Toyama, who is easily bottom-tier in this crew. Kansai’s in yellow & green, Devil’s in black & purple, Hikari’s in black & white and Yagi’s in black & purple. Ozaki’s in red, Cutie’s in white, Candy’s in black & white and Toyama’s in black & orange. Kansai’s still sporting a band-aid on her forehead from Ozaki trying to eat her face only four days earlier.

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Joshi Spotlight: Collision in Korea & Bridge of Dreams

Most North Koreans are relatively small, compact, and conservative in how they handle themselves. When it was time for the Japanese women to wrestle, they didn’t know how to react.

“These female wrestlers were just completely from another planet,” remembers CNN correspondent, Mike Chinoy.

“Bull Nakano had hair dyed blue, and it went straight up about six or eight inches. She was wearing a white sleeveless shirt over a leotard with half-calf boots. Manami Toyota sported a black leotard with partly opened arm coverings and looked like a dominatrix from some S&M movie. And these North Korean men were sitting there staring. Whether they had any idea what this was about is entirely beyond me.”

https://prowrestlingstories.com/pro-wrestling-stories/collision-in-korea/

COLLISION IN KOREA:
(April 28-29, 1995)
* So today I’ll be doing a double-whammy, as we’ve hit the point in my reviews were they stars of AJW and other Joshi promotions hit both the Tokyo Dome’s Bridge of Dreams show, and go to North Korea for the WCW/NJPW dual-show, Collision in Korea! This is AJW’s contribution to the Collision in Korea double-show, as they apparently stuck to themselves and quietly went out there and wrestled. Though I think this is how Kensuke Sasaki met Akira Hokuto, his future wife.

AKIRA HOKUTO vs. BULL NAKANO:
* So they’re teaming up the next night, but today they fight each other- AJW’s top two stars, even then. Bull’s in all-black, with her giant blue hair, and Akira’s in green & white.

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Joshi Spotlight: JWP Neo Street Fight (Kansai vs. Ozaki)

This damn match has 3-4 “Holy fuck, who agreed to THAT?” spots in it.

JWP HARD CORE GIG:

(Feb. 25th, 1995)
* Welcome to another set of JWP matches, this time from the first three months of 1995! This features a handful of throwaway bouts to start, but ends with the absolute best goddamn Street Fight I’ve ever seen save Triple-H/Foley. This match is INSANE, as diminutive Mayumi Ozaki pulls out some of the most Satanic evil shit in wrestling against the bigger, stronger Dynamite Kansai. It’s proof of how weirdly good JWP can be, where hordes of matches that “go way too long” or “Matches that would be ****+ but they wanted to give the rookies lots of match time” will suddenly be capped off with one of the best matches of the entire year.

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Joshi Spotlight: Mariko Yoshida

Mariko Yoshida

This is, bar none, the greatest gear in wrestling history. She looks like a goddamn SUPER-VILLAIN.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- MARIKO YOSHIDA:
Real Name: Mariko Morita
Billed Height & Weight: 5’4″ 139 lbs. (varies in body type considerably; translation: gets swole)
Career Length: 1988-2017

-One of the unsung heroes of Joshi would be Mariko Yoshida, probably most notable to Western fans for having almost the exact same name as Wolverine’s lady-love for about a decade, one Mariko Yashida. This is most likely a coincidence, though Yoshida’s real family name is apparently Morita. Her biggest contribution to Western wrestling might be the creation of the Air Raid Crash, an over-the-shoulder move where she drapes the opponent across her back, cradles a leg and their neck, and drops down in an Inverted DDT hold. It was swiped by Mike Modest, appearing prominently in Beyond the Mat (Jim Cornette marks out upon seeing it). This devastating-looking move is STILL a big maneuver, and is currently used by AEW’s Britt Baker, among others.

Yoshida was surprisingly one of the most interesting workers in 1992 AJW (with only four years in the biz at that point), using Lucha Libre-influenced stuff to great success- her sunset flips, quick runs up to the top rope, and more led to a very good “come from behind” rookie style that made flukes seem like a constant threat. Hilariously, she uses a friggin’ Super DDT as a mere “prelude to the big stuff” move, as it had zero credibility as a finisher. – Rookie Yoshida in 1992 was one of AJW’s top eight best wrestlers easily (possibly behind only Bull, Aja, Akira, Yamada, Manami & Kyoko). Her future seemed bright, before a horrible neck injury put her out for nearly two years.

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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: JWP in 1994 (Jan-May)

JOSHI WOMEN’S PRO WRESTLING IN 1994 (Jan-May):
* Here’s another collection of JWP bouts, this time from early ’94 to match the AJW content I’ve been going through. It’s actually a pretty varied bit of stuff, owing to most of it being from a single card in March, I believe. I also found an additional ’93 match (Cutie vs. Bolshoi) that I threw on the “1993- Part Two” review.

The second match in particular is a real stand-out, and why I search through these shows for hidden gems- Dynamite Kansai’s kicks here are some of the most lethal shots I’ve ever seen.

JWP THE STARS ’94:
(11.01.1994)

FUSAYO NOUCHI vs. HIROMI SUGO:
(Jan. or Feb. 1994)
* Two of JWP’s greener wrestlers take a shot at each other. Sugo’s in a black Jobber Swimsuit, while Nouchi’s in the elaborate red, white & blue.

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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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JWP Thunder Queen Battle

JWP THUNDER QUEEN BATTLE:
(31.07.1993)
* And now we come to what is possibly JWP’s biggest show ever- the Thunder Queen Battle! I actually reviewed the Main Event early last year, as it’s one of the most famous bouts in Joshi history- an 8-Person Tag Team Iron Woman Match! It’s one of those things that’s just ***** or you’re wrong and that’s that- it’s that good. But hey! There’s OTHER matches on the card, too! Every match on here features JWP’s stars in a “home field advantage” show against AJW stars- still big business as this was a brand-new thing. Everything on here is a never-before-seen spectacle as a result, drawing a lot of attention.

Everyone comes out for the match announcements to start the show, mixing up business casual (Ito, Minami), “Fashionable Teenager” (Sakie), ’90s skateboarder (Hotta), “Peter Griffin” (Aja), or just “company t-shirt and shorts” (most JWP wrestlers). Whatever Ito says cracks up everybody, while Minami positively TOWERS over people in the most 1980s suit ever- a red business top with huge shoulder pads and stark-white pants. JWP’s rookies (Candy & Sumio) look positively terrified to be doing promos in front of a live crowd- their eyes are wide as dinner plates. Aja & Kansai get the biggest reactions- it’s weird to see Kansai kind of smiling and snarking given how serious she normally is.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: Pretty much every Joshi fan automatically gives the main event *****, and it’s the most unique, once-only match stipulation I’ve ever seen. And there’s another **** match in the middle! Otherwise, it’s good old-fashioned interpromotional mayhem, with a lot of one-time-only matches.

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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.

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