Behold the face of evil.
Behold the face of evil.
And we’re back to another Wrestlemarinepiad! Unfortunately, nobody can seem to find 1991’s show, but it looks pretty good. Bull Nakano fought Monster Ripper (Rhonda Sing/Bertha Faye) in the main event after teaming up against Aja Kong & Bison Kimura in a Steel Cage match, Kyoko Inoue & Toshiyo Yamada took on Akira Hokuto & Manami Toyota, and more. I’ll see if that ever turns up.
“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch It?”- This show features the Toyota/Inoue match that Dave Meltzer rated “*****+++”, which may in fact be the first time he broke the ***** scale- not a New Japan or NXT bout. And IT’S NOT BULLSHIT! The rest of the worked matches are at least good.
JWP had its own video game! Check out terrifying Command Bolshoi!
With AJW’s history out of the way, I can fill in the blanks with some stuff about their rivals of the 1990s! The most important two to any of AJW’s storylines were JWP and LLPW, though you saw some FMW crossover. The late ’90s brought out GAEA Japan as a chief competitor, and more came from that. For the most part, JWP was “AJW Lite”, while LLPW had a different, more mat-based “feel”. FMW had a much smaller division made up of a handful of wrestlers, usually acting in a single women’s match on a card full of men. Joshi avoided “Wacky Japanese Splinter Promotion Madness” for the most part until disillusionment over AJW management would shatter the industry after 1995, with every former AJW Main Eventer you can think of (Chigusa, Aja, Kyoko, Jaguar, even Mayumi) forming their own company (with beer! And HOOKERS!). This splintering led to a huge reduction in the once-huge Joshi fandom, and they went from filling arenas with 15,000+ fans routinely, to getting 1,000+ if they’re lucky.
I stuck with the ’90s stuff because otherwise this would be MUCH too long, and because I know jack squat about Joshi in the 2000s, so the whole article would be a mess of guesswork and possibly-false conclusions. And I don’t think Scott could take the humiliation of a poorly-researched article about women’s wrestling appearing on his blog.
THE HISTORY OF ALL JAPAN WOMEN’S PRO WRESTLING (AJW):
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.
AJW WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’90-
-So with the success of the first Wrestlemarinepiad, comes the second one! It’s called “Wrestlemarinepiad II” in a lot of places online, but it clearly just has “90” written after it in the opening screen… which shows some of the finishes. GOD, JAPAN! This is like how the episode where Frieza dies is called “Frieza Dies in this episode! Goku’s heart is contentment!” or some shit.
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.
THUNDER QUEEN BATTLE:
AJA KONG, KYOKO INOUE, TAKAKO INOUE & SAKIE HASEGAWA (AJW) vs. DYNAMITE KANSAI, MAYUMI OZAKI, CUTIE SUZUKI & HIKARI FUKUOKA (JWP):
* I remember hearing about this match, or another with the same rules, years ago, and I totally fell in love with the idea. It’s basically an “Iron Man Tag” with eight people, but with a twist: The match starts out with two people in the ring, going for five minutes. Then another two start a match. Then another two, and finally the two Team Captains wrestle for five. Any falls counted in there count towards the total. And then the remainder of the bout is a forty-minute tag team bout, all falls again counted.
It’s a really amazing idea- the four separate matches to start act as “filler” and give the audience something different to look at (a 60-minute multi-tag match would get tiring no matter how good it was- too many bodies), and the Joshi style LOVES “early pinfall flukes” in matches where it wouldn’t be a disappointment (2/3 Falls matches tend to have one fall last a very short amount of time), so there’s some real drama. And then it’s 40 minutes of balls-to-the-wall action. The Joshi tag style is all about pinning someone and dealing with their partners running in, so it gets some good psychology going (you can’t just MDK someone; you have to MDK them AND have your teammates hold off three other people). And this match features bragging rights, as it’s three top names from AJW and JWP (rival companies), with each one sporting a Good Young Rookie Future Star. This is only a few months after the legendary Dream Slams- huge interpromotional shows that saw AJW drop some pretty big losses to other companies’ stars, and forging a good working relationship with many.
And now it’s the final part of the “Dream Slam” reviews, culminating with soem of the best matches fo the shows!
And now for the final part of my All Star Dream Slam review! Last time, we’d only had a couple of ****+ matches- here’s where the show gets GOOD.
Up next: probably the greatest stretch of great matches any show has ever had. This show (taking place on the 25th anniversary of AJW and intended to be a super-show as a result- thanks Manjimortal!) is one of wrestling’s legends for a reason.
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”.
Third, you only had one point there.