Joshi Spotlight: Tag League THE BEST- Part One

AJW TAG LEAGUE THE BEST 1993- PART ONE:
(10.10.1993):

And as we wind down the crazy-ass 1993 in Joshi, here comes the end-of-year Tag Tournament once again! Except this time… it’s totally random-ass. Like, NONE of these people are regular partners! Except for LCO, I guess. The top teams in AJW are Toyota/Yamada, Hotta/Takako & Bull/Aja, and now they’re all split up. But now we get the debut of a NEW Big Gaijin star in AJW (the incomparable Reggie Bennett), and a trio of tag matches so random they look like a WCW “Lethal Lottery”- except all the wrestlers are good so it should be rad.

“TL;DR- What’s The Big Deal?”: The best wrestlers in the company putting their “big show” efforts into their matches, producing some of AJW’s better stuff.

PS I love that their sashes all read “TAG LEAUGE”.

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Joshi Spotlight: Devil Masami vs. Dump Matsumoto (and the best squash EVER!)

Shit like this is why Hokuto is an all-time legend.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- DEVIL MASAMI vs. DUMP MATSUMOTO:
* Okay, so with this week’s Spotlight being a tad short (a single match plus a recap of two old reviews), I figured I’d find some ’80s stuff, including a Devil/Dump match I was linked to weeks ago. And also, someone uploaded the Hokuto/Numacchi match from Super Whirlwind so I can review that arduous epic here!

So read on and see some of that wild 1980s Atrocious Alliance clusterfuck goodness! And an ultra-rare WWWA Title decision!

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Joshi Spotlight- Rumi Kazama

Akira Hokuto (AJW) vs Rumi Kazama (LLPW) - YouTube

Rumi Kazama! Google carefully.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- RUMI KAZAMA:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’0″ 136 lbs.
Career: 1986-2003

-Rumi Kazama is one of those “hey, who is that again?” wrestlers, rarely appearing on big shows and typically lacking a lot of extraordinary showings or a huge push in most of the Interpromotional stuff I’ve seen in the mid-1990s. She’s probably most recognizable for her weird ’80s-style gear, like leopard-print shoulder pads and chest-piece on a bright purple jacket, an all-tiger-print set of tights, and a purple leopard-print set with black epaulettes. Not to mention her hilarious “Soccer Mom Hair”, sporting this GIANT teased mullet on a few ’90s shows I’ve seen.

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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: 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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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: 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.

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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: AJW Tag League THE BEST ’92 (Part 2)

AJW Tag League THE BEST ’92- Part Two:
(02.11.1992)
* Taped about two weeks after Part One, Part Two of Tag League THE BEST involves an interesting batch of midcard bouts with obvious winners (if I hadn’t looked at the match time for one, anyways), LCO’s subordinates in a pair of them, and one hell of a Main Event on paper- Aja/Kyoko vs. Akira/Bull! This is the last “Tag League” show I can find from ’92. This takes place at Hakata Starlanes, which is a REALLY bright, very small set for something like this, giving it a whole different “look” than other AJW shows. I mean, it’s a damn gymnasium. This is like watching joshi cards after 1997, complete with a crowd that’s 90% male.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: Another night of fun wrestling matches- not as flashy or showy as a Grand Prix card tends to be, but with some fun midcard singles matches (actually a rarity in joshi) and two very good matches to end the show!

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Joshi Spotlight- The Best of Numacchi!

Numacchi: The legend of AJW.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- NUMACCHI:
Stats:
Real Name: Saemi Numata (aka “Numacchi”, or “Numatchi”)
Billed Height & Weight: 5’3″, 141 lbs.
Career Length: 1990-1994

-Well, who better to write a Spotlight on this April 1st than All Japan Women’s joke wrestler, Saemi “Numacchi” Numata? Where else are you gonna see a grown woman running around in pajama bottoms, a plastic helmet, and a shovel?

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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: AJW Midsummer Typhoon

(the playlist starts here)

AJW MIDSUMMER TYPHOON:
(15.08.1992)
* Time for a big Summer Event from AJW!! The booking for quite a few months has culminated right there, which is super exciting!! Though I already reviewed the Main Event, so I kinda just have to do the undercard and then do an abridged review of the Main (which is *****, by the way, and ends in the BEST POST-MATCH ANGLE EVER). Dave Meltzer apparently describes the Main Event to this day as the greatest match he’s ever seen live. A bout where merely his description of what happened had people on the Blog welling up with tears.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: The main event is one of the most famous Joshi matches in history, and the one Dave Meltzer says was the finest match he’d ever seen live (unsure if he changed that recently in the era of 7-star matches). The final three matches are all killer, but yeah- that main event, and the angle & ending surrounding it, is the reason everyone should see it- it’s Savage/Liz Reunion good.

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Joshi Spotlight: Kanaami Death Match!!

BULL NAKANO VS. AKIRA HOKUTO- KANAAMI DEATH MATCH:
* Okay, so this review will be a little bit different, as I can’t find the whole AJW tape (mostly featuring a Fuji TV Tag Tournament of random partners) on YouTube featuring this match, and what DID make the tape was either cut to shreds or had some bad injuries wreck things. So instead I’ll take the one match I can find, and combine it with some AJW TV shows recorded by Roy Lucier’s YouTube account! Dude actually has a couple of AJW’s shows… OH MY GOD WITH COMMERCIALS!! Japanese commercials from the early 1990s!

The other matches in the show:
Fuji TV Tag Tournament: Etsuko Mita & Takako Inoue vs. Mariko Yoshida & Sakie Hasegawa (7:20 of 14:37 aired).
Fuji TV Tag Tournament: Manami Toyota & Mima Shimoda vs. Bat Yoshinaga & Tomoko Watanabe (10:09). I would imagine Toyota’s team won. Shimoda apparently got a bloody nose.
The Kanaami Death Match goes here.
Fuji TV Tag Tournament: Akira Hokuto & Toshiyo Yamada vs. Marikyo Yoshida & Sakie Hasegawa (2:44). Stopped by a back injury to Sakie.
Akira Hokuto vs. Mariko Yoshida (0:23). Restarted as a singles match, which Hokuto immediately ruins by using a weapon.
Bull Nakano, Bat Yoshinaga & Tomoko Watanabe vs. Aja Kong, Miori Kamiya & Kaoru Ito (9:01). Bull pins Ito after Aja accidentally Urakens her. Despite their long-standing fued, the two titans apparently “buddy up”.

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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!

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Joshi Spotlight: OTA-KU Champion’s Legend ’92

AJW OTA-KU CHAMPION’S LEGEND ’92:
(15.07.1992)

-More AJW time! This one is nearly all Championship Matches, with most of the top stars defending- it’s the AJ Tag, AJ Title, All Pacific, WWWA Tag, and even Bull Nakano defending her CMLL World Women’s Title against Akira Hokuto! This show is named for the “Tokyo Ota-ku Taiikukan” building in which it’s taking place, not anything to do with anime fandom (“Otaku” is a decidedly NOT polite way to refer to someone in Japan, especially in 1992).

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: It’s an interesting much of matches tonight- one of the greatest talent disparities you’ll ever see in a major title match, as Kyoko Inoue has to do something with TERRI POWER. The invincible Toyota/Yamada team faces their hardest challenge yet when AJA KONG is their opponent, and gets to pick the opponent she wants. Also, it’s Bull Nakano vs. Akira Hokuto! And LCO takes its final form tonight!!

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix ’92 (Part Two)

Image result for korakuen hall

Ever wanna go on a backstage tour of Korakuen Hall? This show lets you do that!  By proxy of an Attitude Era-style brawl!

AJW JAPAN GRAND PRIX ’92 (Part Two)- BOMB BLAST FEVER POINT

(07.05.1992, Tokyo Korakuen Hall)

-The second of three tapes devoted to the AJW Grand Prix, which lasted for three months and had a bunch of tapes between it. The last tape is only from the week before, so most of these people are well-travelled already. This is one of the lowest-rent of the tapes, though, as many of the matches are cut down by half.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: Ever wanna go on a backstage tour of Korakuen Hall? This show lets you see it! Via Aja Kong & Manami Toyota inventing the Attitude Era Main Event Style! The early matches are clipped to death and not very good, but the latter bunch are great, though not the classics we’re used to seeing weekly at this point. Also, a joshi handicap match, further proof that great things were expected of Mariko Yoshida, and more!

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Beat Power Oh-Mi-Yah!

AJW BEAT POWER OH-MI-YAH!
(27/06/92; Omiya Skate Center)

-Time for another full AJW show- this one 2:30:00, and hailing from the… Omiya Skate Center? That’s apparently in Saitama, Japan. The arena is dark and the sound blows on this tape, too. We’re right in the middle of the AJW Grand Prix (with a few matches tonight), Las Cachorras Orientales has formed, and Toshiyo Yamada just defeated her partner & friend, Manami Toyota, in a big part of their long rivalry. And part of what makes that interesting is tonight… they defend their WWWA Tag Titles against two of AJW’s top wrestlers- Akira Hokuto & Kyoko Inoue! THAT’S gotta be awkward. Meanwhile, it’s another shot in the Aja/Bull feud (they’re in a 6-Woman Tag), Mariko Yoshida defending the “Rookie Belt”, and tag partners Sakie & Debbie fighting on the lower card! Actually, it’s a lot of interesting match-ups tonight.

LOL and the video’s opening straight-up gives away the finish of the Main Event. This is like those anime episodes where it’s like Dragon Ball Z: Cell Kills Android 18 And Takes His Final Form, And Also Yaumcha Dies! This country doesn’t appear to have much of a thing about spoilers.

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Joshi Spotlight: Yumiko Hotta

Image result for yumiko hotta

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- YUMIKO HOTTA:
Statistics:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’6″ 159 lbs.
Trained By: AJW Dojo
Career: 1985-today (still active!)

-One of the longest-serving Joshi still active, Yumiko Hotta was a great worker and a tough, credible name for decades, but is far less well-known than most wrestlers at her level, especially in the West. My best guesses as to why:

1) Spent most of 1992-1995 (generally considered the “Peak of Joshi” by most, including Dave Meltzer) as the lowest-tier Main Eventer around. So if she was in the Main Event, she was losing and “Looked good in defeat”. So she wasn’t as memorable as her contemporaries.
2) Didn’t get a true World Title run until 1997, after Joshi had fallen into a backslide, and was the Ace of a gutted AJW with a diminished roster. This hurt her credibility as a top name.
3) Was “skipped over” for a mega-push compared to many later talents (Aja Kong, Akira Hokuto, Manami Toyota, etc.).
4) Not as charismatic as her contemporaries.
5) A penchant towards no-selling and booking herself as dominant, making her a prominent case of the “Elder Joshi were Selfish” stereotype that plagued the industry.
6) A tendency to join companies just as they were dying.
7) Her overall milieu (a short-haired, powerful wrestler with lethal kicks, a martial arts background, and a Powerbomb finisher) was identical to that of her contemporary, Dynamite Kansai… who was better than Hotta in every possible way.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix (Part One)

ALL JAPAN WOMEN’S GRAND PRIX ’92- PART ONE:
(21.06.1992)

-AJW, much like All Japan & New Japan, has a yearly thing where their top stars wrestle in a Round Robin-style deal. In this case, as with most years (others have been one-block round-robins or a standard tournament), it’s two “Blocks” of wrestlers doing so, with the winner of each block wrestling in the final match. Most of the matches weren’t televised or taped from what I can see. But these shows are a BIG DEAL in AJW, as we’ll see- every time I’ve seen a Grand Prix VHS release, it’s been absolutely stuffed with ****+ dream matches and people working their hardest- this is no “House Show Mode” release.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: Spoiler Alert- this ends with four matches in a row at **** or above, and one all-time classic. Also, Debbie Malenko talks with one of the commentators in English, giving us insight into early ’90s Puro we’d NEVER get otherwise.

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