“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
“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.
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!
“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.
THE HISTORY OF ALL JAPAN WOMEN’S PRO WRESTLING (AJW): Existence: 1968-2005
With enough reviews posted, and a better understanding of joshi, I figured I would post a full history of the top company in the genre.
-AJW, called “Zenjo” in Japan (“All+Women”) is pretty much where Joshi begins and ends- it’s responsible for all the peaks and most of the valleys. When Meltzer and his readers go on about ’90s Joshi, they’re almost always talking about something AJW did- most of the biggest stars of all time (The Beauty Pair, Crush Gals, Manami Toyota, Aja Kong, Akira Hokuto) are AJW alumni, and all the biggest cards feature them.