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.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: GAEA Japan’s First Show!

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.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: JWP Stars on Tour

JWP IN 1994 (Sept.-Dec.):
* 1994 is by far JWP’s best-represented year on YouTube, owing to Rico Kasai’s channel. 1995 and on are barely there at all, so this might be the last big update. We start off with a pair of interpromotional matches with GAEA Japan, as Chigusa Nagayo was on good terms with JWP, and a stop at an interesting-looking small arena that features one of Devil Masami’s first title defenses as JWP Openweight Champion, as she recently beat Dynamite Kansai (as reviewed here: https://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2019/12/11/joshi-spotlight-devil-masami/ -the YouTube clip has since been taken down, however) while in her “Super Heel Devil Masami” persona (wrestles like Taker, looks like Demolition Crush).

CHIGUSA NAGAYO & KAORU (GAEA Japan) vs. CUTIE SUZUKI & HIKARI FUKUOKA (JWP):
(Sept. 1994)
* And so Chigusa Nagayo, biggest star of ’80s Joshi, is returning to full-time, but is having disagreements with AJW management (who, to be fair, don’t need an extra person clogging up shows), and is so working for JWP as she prepares to start up GAEA in early 1995. Already my mind is blown because Chigusa is wearing black and GREEN. I have literally never in my life seen her wear anything that didn’t have red in it. She wore that in the goddamn WWF! KAORU’s in black, Cutie’s in white & gold, and Hikari’s in the Tarzan gear. The expressions in the staredown here are great, as KAORU has this “fuckin’ right us vets are gonna kill you kids” death glare, Chigusa’s very calm and serious (with a taped arm), and the idols are doing this big “I’m nervous and I respect you, but I’m trying really hard to look confident and defiant”.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: Crane Yu

SUSPICIOUS TUMBLR — Dump Matsumoto & Crane Yu with Shiro Abe (1985)

Crane is on the right, Dump Matsumoto on the left.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- CRANE YU:
Real Name: Yukari Honjo (aka Masked Yu, Dynamite Jack)
Billed Height & Weight: 5’8″ 220 lbs.
Career Length: 1980-1989

-So on the famous Atrocious Alliance bouts of the 1980s, you’ll see a pretty wild assortment of punk rock girl characters backing up the legendary Dump Matsumoto. Most notable of these is a baby Bull Nakano, but there’s also this HUGE, muscular woman with curly hair, and one that’s effectively a “Clone Buddy” of Dump (like how WWF would add Typhoon to Earthquake and Phineas to Henry Godwinn). That’d be Crane Yu, the former “Masked Yu”, who continues to befuddle Westerners as to the naming theme of the group, as according to our own Manjiimortal, they are named after CONSTRUCTION VEHICLES, not animals- Dump Truck, Bulldozer and Crane. So the “Crane” in her name isn’t the animal, nor is Bull’s “Bull”. That there is a Grizzly on the team confuses this further, though.

Read more

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”.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: The Crush Gals vs. The Jumping Bomb Angels

THE CRUSH GALS vs. THE JUMPING BOMB ANGELS:
* Here’s a collection of three matches featuring the Crush Gals going up against the Jumping Bomb Angels, all uploaded by our very own Evito-X Puro! The first one happily keeps some commercials, but ’80s ones are less wild than the ’90s stuff.

These matches are fascinating because the JB Angels are of course memorable to WWF fans of the ’80s for throwing out the most innovative offense on Earth at the time, in Japan it was the Crush Gals who were more popular and successful, being full-bore teen idols with a fan movement that was a pure phenomenon.

A Refresher:
Chigusa Nagayo: The most wildly popular Joshi probably ever, with legions of teenybopper fans despite honestly coming off like a bully when she’s not fighting the Atrocious Alliance. REALLY good at selling. Plays Ricky Morton. Wears red.
Lioness Asuka: Better worker than Chigusa but only 80% as popular. Comes in to mop up. Wears blue.
Noriyo Tateno: Long hair and the thiccer of the two Angels. Was the bigger star.
Itsuki Yamazaki: Slender and extremely quick- inspired Manami Toyota big-time.

Read more

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.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: Toshiyo Yamada

Toshiyo Yamada

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- TOSHIYO YAMADA:
Stats:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’6″, 154 lbs.
Career Length: 1987-2004
Trained By: Jaguar Yokota

-Toshiyo Yamada is one of those weird wrestlers who’s usually the least-memorable part of some of the best matches of all time.

Yamada has an absolutely stacked list of ***** matches, yet all of them seem to have the peculiar caveat that they involve Manami Toyota, either as a partner or an opponent. I dunno what it is, but Toyota’s presence brings this incredible thing out of Yamada, who is never a hindrance in any of these matches, and never looks like she’s being carried. She’s a very stable, centered wrestler, which lets Manami fly around like a maniac and the match never feels like a “Spotfest” or anything. It’s peculiar because while both are obviously great, of the two, only Toyota has ***** matches with other top-tier opponents- Yamada’s ceiling felt much lower for whatever reason.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: Dump Matsumoto

Image

Pic by our very own Bob Dahlstrom!

“Matsumoto actually pioneered the gimmick that the Road Warriors would later use to great fame in the United States, of being face-painted bikers with bizarre haircuts and monster heels who sold very little, if at all, for the smaller, under matched babyfaces. […] Matsumoto’s impact was so great that she often brought crowds literally to tears with her villainous tactics, and when she would merely walk down the street in any major city, people would scatter in fear”
-Dave Meltzer

Dump’s amazing theme song.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: The Jumping Bomb Angels

Image result for jumping bomb angels

“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 more

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 more

Joshi Spotlight- Big Egg Wrestling Universe (Part One)

BIG EGG WRESTLING UNIVERSE:
(“AJW Doumu Super Woman Great War”)
(Tokyo Dome- 20.11.1994)

-Now it’s FINALLY time I dive into the ludicrously over-stuffed mega-event- Big Egg Wrestling Universe! This event is the only Joshi event in history to take place within the massive Tokyo Dome, stuffing 42,500+ fans into the huge “Big Egg” for… a one-night super-tournament of Main Eventers (the V*Top). And some legitimate athletic contests. And a midget match. And a “cram every single person onto the card” undercard. It’s… a loaded show. Joshi: So advanced that it was putting on hideously bloated 6-hour stadium shows WAY before WWE was! True innovation!

TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?: Well, one of the greatest matches in history is fought tonight. Also, Aja Kong surpasses Bret Hart’s “Three good matches in one night” achievement in terms of quality, several people put on AMAZING performances, and you see Joshi in its biggest spectacle in history- something women’s wrestling has never matched since.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: Plum Mariko

Image result for plum mariko

Plum always dresses like a giant cupcake.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- PLUM MARIKO
Stats:
Real Name: Mariko Umeda
Billed Height & Weight: 5’2″ 121 lbs.
Career Length: 1986-1997
Trained By: Kotetsu Yamamoto, Atsushi Onita, & Gran Hamada

A HUGE bio/description of Plum (the temptation to just “Caliber Winfield” it is enormous): http://www.quebrada.net/columns/old/30.htm

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: The Crush Gals

Image result for crush gals

“Japanese crowds are usually respectful and quiet.”
-Chris Jericho (paraphrasing)

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- THE CRUSH GALS:
CHIGUSA NAGAYO:
Stats:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’5″ 192 lbs. (lighter in the ’80s)
Career Length: 1980-today (still active; retiring shortly)
Trained By: Unknown

LIONESS ASUKA:
Stats:
Real Name: Tomoko Kitamura
Billed Height & Weight: 5’7″ 172 lbs. (lighter in the ’80s)
Career Length: 1980-2005
Trained By: Unknown

“She’s [Chigusa] the single most popular and arguably the most historically important female wrestler who ever lived. To this day, in pro wrestling or MMA, not Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, Kerry Von Erich, Dusty Rhodes, or Chuck Liddell could match the reaction I saw that woman receive live in her heyday.”- Dave Meltzer, who LOVED to point out how big the reactions the Crush Gals got compared to Hulk Hogan. If you write a Gals article, you have to mention them equaling Hogan in popularity. I think it’s a rule.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight- All Star Dream Slam II (Part 2)

And now it’s the final part of the “Dream Slam” reviews, culminating with soem of the best matches fo the shows!

The Previous Parts:
Dream Slam I (Part 1)
Dream Slam I (Part 2)
Dream Slam II (Part 1)

Read more

Joshi Spotlight- All Star Dream Slam I (Part 1)

ALL STAR DREAM SLAM I (April 3, 1993):
The two Dream Slams are events that took place about a week apart, meant to be interpromotional shows between the top Joshi (women’s wrestling in Japan) companies around. All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling, or AJW, had been the top company for years, but several upstarts had gained a lot of traction (often using former AJW talent), and the rivalries brought on a surprising amount of working together- in this case, the sheer amount of money to be made from interpromotional “Dream Matches” was too good to turn down. So at the peak of the business, all the companies got together and put on a few Supercards, creating a new status quo that lasted a few years- AJW, the dominant promotion, actually being rather magnanimous, realizing that there was big money in continued shows, so everyone got to look competitive and strong (titles even change promotions!).

When I first got into puro stuff in the early 2000s, this was one of the “Holy Grail” shows in terms of “stuff that had to be seen”. Unfortunately, joshi was very hard to come by back then unless you had deep pockets, so it wasn’t until YouTube uploads became common that I saw much more of it.

Here, they’re in Yokohama Arena, drawing 16,500 to the show. Yes, women’s wrestling in Japan used to draw THOUSANDS to shows- now you’re lucky to draw 1,000.

HOW THIS IS SET UP:
I’m doing this in two parts, because I’m long-winded and it’s a five-hour show. There’s a handful of information up front about the nature of Joshi you can skip if you don’t care about it. Every match is prefaced with stuff in italics about who the performers are and their general gimmicks & careers, just so it’s not all “here’s some Japanese women you don’t know”.

Read more