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: Eagle Sawai

Joshi Spotlight- St. Battle Final (Part One) – Scotts Blog of Doom!

Eagle Sawai in one of her more conservative outfits.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- EAGLE SAWAI:
Real Name: Tomoko Sawai
Billed Height & Weight: 5’7″ 242 lbs.
Career Length: 1986-2007

-And now we come to an odd woman out in a lot of Joshi- the easy #2 wrestler in LLPW during the Interpromotional Era, but one that never got a lot of credit, respect, or big matches… despite being one of the more protected people on the cards. Fighting using a heavyweight power style despite dressing like the Queen of Hearts, she definitely stood out from the crowd, especially with LLPW’s lower-budget gear. She isn’t considered one of the top workers of her era, but at the same point isn’t derided as over-pushed, either. I mean, LLPW was a pretty small company with not a lot of stars- she’s probably as good a #2 as they were gonna get. And if put against a top-flight worker, she didn’t look out of place or embarrassingly-slow- she was a good, solid “Big Woman Worker”. Her “Vader Attacks” looked LEGIT, and she was believable pinning people with simple lariats and powerbombs- her stuff hit and hit hard.

Eagle is… all in all, pretty okay. Not great, but pretty good. Sometimes. Her career highlight is probably a ****-ish match with Akira Hokuto at Big Egg Wrestling Universe, where Eagle is LLPW’s entrant into the V*Top tournament, losing in the first round. Naturally, most joshi had their best matches with Hokuto, and this is the only time I think I’ve seen Eagle hit that high. But as LLPW was a very small company (a card with 5-6 matches typically involved the entire roster!), she wouldn’t have had as many opportunities. Her ring gear is TREMENDOUS, though- these huge, ostentatious mega-gowns and flowing robes make her look like a Disney Villain, and her “pretty face, but a BBW” thing makes her seem even prouder about it. Like “Yeah, I have 110 lbs. on Takako Inoue but I’m still FINE”.

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Joshi Spotlight: LLPW in 1994 (Bull Nakano vs. Kandori in a Chain Match)

Bull.jpg

Oh shit how can I NOT use this picture for this article. This is like a friggin’ Renaissance painting of action shots.

LLPW IN 1994:
* LLPW is the joshi league from this time period with the worst online presence, especially these days, so you won’t find much. But they ran a pretty wild card in July 1994 with a lot of Interpromotional matches, being one of the companies to boost sales by running those kinds of things, and one of the only ones to try and run the cards by themselves, against companies other than AJW (most such shows just feature “AJW vs. xxxx” matches, not mixing up the other companies).

So tonight, we’ll see Shinobu Kandori & Rumi Kazama vs. Eagle Sawai & Harley Saito, a rare LLPW/FMW match where Megumi Kudo takes on Yasha Kurenai, and a FANTASTIC Chain Match between Bull Nakano & Shinobu Kandori!

SHINOBU KANDORI & RUMI KAZAMA vs. EAGLE SAWAI & HARLEY SAITO:
(LLPW, June 30, 1994)
* It’s four of LLPW’s top stars in one tag match! Jesus, what’d they fill the REST of the card with? Kandori’s the unstoppable champ at this point, but Eagle always looks strong in matches. Rumi & Harley are nearly always doing the job in Interpromotional Shows, however. This looks like a fancam, so the quality is ass. Harley’s in a blue & green jumpsuit, Eagle’s in red & black, Rumi’s in a black & pink outfit with domino mask (and comes to the ring waving a whip or flail around- so yup, her thing is now that she’s an S&M domme), and Kandori’s in black with yellow stripes.

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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 Super Hurricane ’94

AJW SUPER HURRICANE:
(09.04.1994)
* Here’s another named AJW show, hailing from the Sendai Miyagi-ken Sports Center! Tonight is actually more of a return to form after several All-AJW shows in a row, as we see LLPW’s wrestlers back into the mix, with three Interpromotional matches (including a rarity tag match), plus Manami/Kyoko vs. Bull/Sakie, as Sakie Hasegawa is put in a match with AJW Main Eventers yet again! Oh, they knew what they were doing. This arena looks CRAZY-empty, especially at the start of the set. As usual, this one is split up on an ancient YouTube set. You can find it all here: https://www.youtube.com/user/ringstarfield/search?query=SUPER%20HURRICANE%E3%80%80%E9%9D%92%E8%91%89%E5%9F%8E%E4%B8%8A%E9%99%B8

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: Three “Dream Match” interpromotional bouts and some of AJW’s best wrestlers put their “Main Event Effort” into things. Mima Shimoda showcases her new drive, Kandori’s her arrogant best, and Bull Nakano takes on AJW’s fastest workers.

CHAPARRITA ASARI vs. RIE TAMADA:

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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: 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: 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 Grand Prix 1993 (Part Four)

The best match of the show! As always, ya gotta search & paste in Ringstarfield’s YouTube channel to get all the matches in succession.

AJW GRAND PRIX 1993 (Part Four):
(04.07.1993)
* Part four away! Once more, the tournament includes JWP’s Hikari Fukuoka & LLPW’s Harley Saito on different sides, meaning there’s a lot of never-before-seen Dream Matches here.

“TL; DR- What’s The Big Deal?”- One of those nights when almost every single wrestler is gunning to steal the show, so there’s multiple great matches all evening. Also, a BAT YOSHINAGA match nearly gets four stars.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix 1993 (Part One)

AJW GRAND PRIX 1993 (Part One):
(03.05.1993):
* So, um, yeah. Dream Slam 1 & 2 just happened the month before, and now we’re already into the Japan Grand Prix round robin. But things are different now, as the era of interpromotional matches results in LLPW’s Harley Saito & JWP’s Hikari Fukuoka joining the tournament! Bat Yoshinaga is clearly being elevated, while Terri Power is now gone from AJW (DS2 was her last match, apparently), and now almost every major show is topped by AJW fighting a rival company.

“TL;DR- What’s The Big Deal?”:  Two matches you’ll never seen anywhere else due to AJW vs. JWP and LLPW vs. AJW shenanigans, plus four of the top five stars in the company in a tag match.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW/LLPW Outbreak of the Storm

The main event- LCO vs. LLPW’s #2-4 stars!

AJW vs. LLPW- ARASHI NO KAISEN! (The Outbreak of the Storm):

(24.01.1993, Korakuen Hall)

* And we’re back with the first big Interpromotional show of 1993- another “Rivals” show with an AJW card but an LLPW/AJW match in the Main Event! In this, it reflects the AJW/JWP “I Know You” show from December 1992 in that it’s mostly AJW at work, but with a main that’s all-new and would thus have a lot of drama attached to it. During the announcements of the wrestlers (who enter the ring and take their bows), they announce parts of the Dream Slam card! Debbie & Sakie are set up to take on the JWP team of Plum Mariko & Hikari Fukuoka, as all are around the same level… but Debbie would be swapped out for Kaoru Ito, for reasons we’ll soon see. Double Inoue (vs) Ozaki/Cutie only draws the same applause as that bout does, but the crowd is REALLY impressed to hear Dynamite Kansai (vs) Yumiko Hotta getting announced!

“TL;DR: Why Should I Care?”: The final two matches are really incredible Dream Matches, featuring 4 of AJW’s 7 best in a classic tag war, and then a 6-Woman tag that gets ugly in the best possible way.

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Joshi Spotlight- Grand Prix ’93 (Semi-Finals)

ALL JAPAN WOMEN’S GRAND PRIX SEMI-FINALS 1993:
-I actually wrote this like 2-3 months ago, before I even submitted major events, but since it wasn’t as “important” I didn’t post it. However, doing Big Egg Wrestling Universe is taking some time, so I’ll throw this down- it’s got a few matches I’ve reviewed prior, but it’s actually really great matches throughout.

TL;DR- Why Should I Care?: There are four ***1/2+ matches on here, a huge establishing moment for one of LCO, and some of the most interesting “filler” you’ll ever see, featuring Main Eventers going at each other, a great Rookie/Veteran tag team match, and an honest to God SQUASH MATCH, which in all my time watching Joshi, I’ve never truly seen before! This show is really just incredibly fascinating. Also, I threw in a match at the end that’s also ****.

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Joshi Spotlight- Random Grab-Bag (LCO & Toyota!)

So here’s a random assortment of matches I’ve found- some of the most fun to be had on YouTube Joshi searches isn’t with spotlighting only one wrestler or one show, but by jumping all over the place, finding interesting little things here and there. Some of the best workers of the early ’90s were paired up in all sorts of interesting ways.

But don’t worry if you don’t like it- the next batch will be more focused- the first two Wrestlemarinepiads, a Grand Prix thing from 1993, and maybe a history of a few Joshi promotions.

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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)

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