Joshi Spotlight: Harley Saito

Ewzzy — Harley Saito & Bull Nakano with Nunchucks

Harley Saito in one of her most memorable spots- going all “A FELLOW ‘CHUCKER, EH?” on Bull Nakano.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- HARLEY SAITO:
Real Name: Sayori Saito (aka Halley Saito, Harley Saito, Karula)
Billed Height & Weight: 5’5″ 148 lbs. (though she seems MUCH shorter than that- dwarfed by the 5’8″ Suzuka Minami)
Career: 1986-2012

-And now for a bio on one of the unsung workers of the ’90s Boom of Joshi- the late Harley Saito!

Harley is somewhat notable for the fact that her wrestling style was INCREDIBLY similar to that of Sean “1-2-3 Kid” Waltman, sharing his rapid-fire kicks (including the “multiple kicks then a jumping spinkick” in the corner) and many other moves. Like, it was seriously a Dynamite Kid/Chris Benoit-like “wait a second” kind of similarity, here. I have no idea if Waltman ever saw Harley’s stuff, but it’s uncanny. Her style is a modification of what I’ve heard called the “UWF Style”- the martial arts-themed theatrical kicks and submissions, but done way more rapid-fire, as the diminutive Saito didn’t have the hitting power of say, Dynamite Kansai or Yumiko Hotta. This leads to a lot of high-workrate matches as she could fly around like the acrobats of joshi, too.

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Joshi Spotlight: JWP in 1993 (Part 2)

JWP in 1993:
* Happy New Year! Here’s the second half of my look at the JWP stuff from 1992-93 in Rico Kasi’s YouTube videos! Time to see what JWP was up to in the second half of ’93, when left to their own devices! This features a lot of matches between their top stars, plus a couple of Dream Matches of a sort when a pair of construction worker gimmicks show up from AJW for some matches. One of them features proof that Mayumi Ozaki may be the greatest carry artist of all time- going nineteen minutes with NUMACCHI.

CUTIE SUZUKI vs. HIKARI FUKUOKA:
* The Battle of the Idols! Hikari’s slowly moving up, but this is a rare opportunity to see Cutie in the role as “experienced elder”. Cutie’s in white with some black bits, while Hikari’s in her goofy pink cone-bra gear.

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Joshi Spotlight: JWP From 1992-93 (Part One)

JWP SHOWS (1992-1993):

-So a while back, I discovered a YouTube channel called “Rico Kasai”, which uploads exclusively JWP-produced matches. And finally, after a LOT of work (seriously, oh my god), I cross-referenced all his un-dated stuff so I can figure out an approximate order, lol. Pain in the ass, that was. It turns out a bunch of them were from 1992-93, so this allows me to complete the library a little more. This will be in two parts, with the second coming this Friday- it’s too much to post all at once.

First, a bunch of ultra-clipped matches showing only a minute or two of action. None really deserve ratings.

DEVIL MASAMI vs. MAYUMI OZAKI
(1991 sometime)
-Devil, in a black one-legged outfit, charges Ozaki (in green), but misses and gets missile kicked. She tries a Manami Roll but gets a HUGE Powerbomb, but just rolls Devil back for a rana-style pin for two, then Devil rolls her back for the same. Devil works her way into a surfboard, but Ozaki does a cool flip into a pin from up high. Clipped to Ozaki getting a German for two, but she fires too many running shots and gets caught in a backdrop-to-Powerbomb move at (2:08 of 14:39 shown).

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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: Takako Inoue vs. Mayumi Ozaki

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- TAKAKO INOUE vs. MAYUMI OZAKI:

* Doing these Joshi Spotlights kind of piecemeal, then trying to go in order, certain things kind of stand out. Little feuds here and there, or people who take special relish every time they’re in the ring against each other. Takako Inoue in particular tends to hate other pretty girls- every time she’s in the ring with another “Idol wrestler”, she acts like a mirror just told her that girl was fairer than she. Mayumi Ozaki, too, seems to delight in tormenting and bullying all of her rivals, especially the pretty ones.

But when it’s Takako VERSUS Ozaki? Every time they step into the ring against each other, thunder crashes and you can hear horses whinny in the distance.

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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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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: AJW/JWP- Fierce Fighting in the North!

This guy here has a BEAUTIFUL series of DVD rips going up on his channel. I’m so used to Joshi vids flaring up the screen when the bright-ass costumes show up that stuff like this is is astonishing to see.

AJW/JWP- FIERCE FIGHTING IN THE NORTH!:

(03.06.1993)

* Time for another Joshi Spotlight, this one set between AJW Grand Prix episodes- we’ve reached the first two, and this show features a pair of Grand Prix matches, a Dream Tag Match, plus a mega Main Event featuring JWP defending AJW’s own WWWA Tag Titles against an AJW team!

“TL;DR- What’s the Big Deal?”: Only four matches, one of which is a true rarity in terms of match length for Joshi. Interesting interpromotional stuff and a good look at what people do when they’re not necessarily out to blow minds, but just put on a fun, solid show.

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Joshi Spotlight: Manami Toyota

💖 A R R U M 💀 NAITOJAPANCUPSZN! on Twitter: "Sometimes I google ...

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- MANAMI TOYOTA:
Statistics:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’6″ 150 lbs.
Career: 1987-2017

-And now we come to another of the Great Pillars of Joshi: Manami Toyota!

It’s hard to describe Toyota’s abilities without using too many superlatives- she’s just so incredibly good at nearly every aspect of wrestling, and if you put a gun to my head, I’d probably consider her my favorite worker. Nearly every AJW show from 1991-1997 that I’ve seen has her in either the best or second-best match on the card, and she has more ***** matches than anyone I can think of. She’s the only wrestler I can think of who’s had ***** singles matches with five different people: Aja Kong, Akira Hokuto, Toshiyo Yamada, Kyoko Inoue & Mima Shimoda. Even Akira has probably only managed it against 2-3 opponents, and the latter three in Toyota’s list never hit that level with anyone else!

And I mean, how many workers have a match style named after them? The “Toyota Style Match” ended up being shorthand for AJW’s trademark “GO GO GO!” flashy, fast-paced style, full of epic moves and escalating finishers, dramatic near-falls, “how did THAT happen?” athletic moves, great selling, and frequent tag-outs in team matches.

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Joshi Spotlight: Debbie Malenko & Ozaki/Kansai

Warning: Actually features a gross leg injury.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- Kansai/Ozaki & Debbie Malenko’s Last AJW Match:
* Anyways, I had to get to this one at some point. But I didn’t see much other things surrounding it, so I grabbed assorted stuff from 1993 (and one thing I missed from ’92), thus getting a full Spotlight out of it.

“TL; DR- What’s The Deal?”: Welllllllll… ya know how I sing Debbie Malenko’s praises a bit on here? And then mention how you shouldn’t get used to her presence? Well this is why. Also there’s a good JWP match on here!

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW TV & AJW/JWP Rival Match

AJW TV (Jan. 26th, 1993):
(Taped 04.01.1992)
* Yay, I found another AJW TV show! This show features the up & coming junior team of Sakie Hasegawa & Debbie Malenko up against established veterans and title-holders in Manami Toyota & Akira Hokuto! We start off with some year-end awards show, with the injured Mariko Yoshida tearfully accepting some trophy, plus Yumiko Hotta, Akira Hokuto, and more. Bull Nakano’s gold & black sparkly tux and headband is the mega-showstealer, here. Though Aja Kong’s “Peter Griffin” shirt & tie look is a close one. Manami’s inability to go through any interview without corpsing continues to be hilarious.

“TL;DR- What’s Good Here?”: A very solid TV show with some rare matches! Also, I add a ridiculously-good tag match between JWP & AJW blood-rivals!

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Bridge of Dreams- Tokyo Dome All-Promotion Supershow (Part 1)

WEEKLY PRO WRESTLING “BRIDGE OF DREAMS” (02.05.1995):
* This is a semi-legendary, monstrous 6-hour pro wrestling event at the Tokyo Dome, made weird because of all sorts of vague Japanese political shenanigans that I only barely understand. So “Weekly Pro Wrestling” was a wrestling magazine with a lot of name value in Japanese wrestling, and they put on a massive Interpromotional Show at the Tokyo Dome on the same night as WrestleMania XI. The idea was to put on a match from every big promotion in Japan for a true “Supercard”. Wikipedia says that Dave Meltzer says that it was supposed to have 8 promotions, but 13 ended up applying. Notably absent is Genichiru Tenryu’s WAR promotion, as they had an event the same day at Korakuen Hall, which was reviewed by another mag called “Weekly Gong”.

The show was a big thing among tape traders because only two versions were ever made available- one was a fancam pointed at the arena’s big screen, and the other was a very low-grade recording (the All Japan match has no audio for most of it). It turns out that New Japan, who I guess had the rights to distribute the tape, was like “HELL NO!” for reasons that, if true, are absolutely hilarious. Read on!

“TL;DR- What’s the Deal?”: 4-5 all-time classic matches, the women showing up nearly everybody, worked shoots, bloodbaths, spotfests, comedy- something for everybody.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW/JWP “I Know You”

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- JWP (vs) AJW- “I Know You”:
01.12.1992, Tokyo Ota-ku Taiikukan
– This YouTube video is taken from a JWP video with mostly clipped matches, two huge bouts, and some surrounding nonsense afterwards. This actually matches Dream Rush from a week ago slightly, in that it’s got the triumphant coronation of an Ace champion… but is the sub-main event to an interpromotional tag match. These interpromotional matches are SO BIG that they completely subvert the notion that the World Title matches go on last, and that’s reflected in the heat these bouts get.

Dream Rush itself was a really great card, featuring the retirement of Bison Kimura, Aja Kong finally becoming Ace of AJW by defeating Bull Nakano to end their years-long rivalry, and Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada being triumphant over JWP’s Dynamite Kansai & Mayumi Ozaki in the first of their ***** trio of matches. My review here: https://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2019/09/23/joshi-spotlight-dream-rush/

Since a lot of this is clipped, I threw on a couple of long JWP tag bouts I found as well.

“TL;DR: Why Should I Care?”: The two main matches are actually really fantastic bouts, with great heat. One of the tags at the end is really good, too! And anything where JWP & AJW wrestlers fight each other always draws a tremendous reaction.

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Joshi Spotlight: JWP Midnight Special

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT: JWP MIDNIGHT SPECIAL:
(17.08.1992)
* So I have no idea what the backstory is for this show, but this is one of the only extended shows I can find for AJW’s rival promotion, Joshi Women’s Pro-Wrestling Project, in 1992, so I figured I’d show what they were up to around this time. I believe the company has only recently split up at this point, continuing on after many women quit to form LLPW (including Shinobu Kandori, Harley Saito and others), so it’s a big show for a company that has to be a bit endangered at this point. And MAN is the setting weird- it’s like a High School gymnasium, with only four rows in the bleachers on the hard camera, and two rows on the floor on another side! Yeah, only two sides of the ring have an audience! I could literally count the paid attendance here- I’ve seen Nickelodeon Game Shows in front of more people.

This show appears nowhere on CageMatch, nor WrestlingData, so I couldn’t tell you anything else about it. Like why the YouTube video is a 2-hour show with an hour of dead air after it. Quebrada calls it “JWP Pre-Stage Studio Match” and mentions the setting as TV Asahi Studios.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: You get to see a whole ton of people work an ungodly amount of time in a single night- a truly remarkable case of stamina from all involved. And nearly every match is around ****.

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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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Joshi Spotlight: Dynamite Kansai

Image result for dynamite kansai

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.

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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.

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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

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