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: 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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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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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: 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- Big Egg Wrestling Universe (Part One)

BIG EGG WRESTLING UNIVERSE:
(“AJW Doumu Super Woman Great War”)
(Tokyo Dome- 20.11.1994)

-Now it’s FINALLY time I dive into the ludicrously over-stuffed mega-event- Big Egg Wrestling Universe! This event is the only Joshi event in history to take place within the massive Tokyo Dome, stuffing 42,500+ fans into the huge “Big Egg” for… a one-night super-tournament of Main Eventers (the V*Top). And some legitimate athletic contests. And a midget match. And a “cram every single person onto the card” undercard. It’s… a loaded show. Joshi: So advanced that it was putting on hideously bloated 6-hour stadium shows WAY before WWE was! True innovation!

TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?: Well, one of the greatest matches in history is fought tonight. Also, Aja Kong surpasses Bret Hart’s “Three good matches in one night” achievement in terms of quality, several people put on AMAZING performances, and you see Joshi in its biggest spectacle in history- something women’s wrestling has never matched since.

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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: Plum Mariko

Image result for plum mariko

Plum always dresses like a giant cupcake.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- PLUM MARIKO
Stats:
Real Name: Mariko Umeda
Billed Height & Weight: 5’2″ 121 lbs.
Career Length: 1986-1997
Trained By: Kotetsu Yamamoto, Atsushi Onita, & Gran Hamada

A HUGE bio/description of Plum (the temptation to just “Caliber Winfield” it is enormous): http://www.quebrada.net/columns/old/30.htm

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Joshi Spotlight- Wrestlemarinepiad ’94

AJW WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’94:
(09.10.1994)

-Another year, another Wrestlemarinepiad! I think there’s one more of these on YouTube, and then I’ll never have to type that damn word again! OK, I found a few scattered other matches for a final FINAL Spotlight, as well.

This show’s a little underwhelming compared to past ones in terms of the card, as the REAL event, “Big Egg Wrestling Universe”, comes about a month later, and is an enormous deal with a ton of top-tier matches. So this one has way more of an “In Your House” feel, albeit with a big-time Main Event. The Interpromotional Era is still going strong, but there’s less of that this time around (four matches in total; one that matters), as AJW holds the Main Event for itself.

TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?: It’s a pretty interesting look at people moving up slowly through the ranks. Also, the main event is a must-see classic.

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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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Joshi Spotlight- AJW Wrestlemarinepiad ’93 (Part One)

AJW WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’93:
(09.10.1993)

It’s the fifth Wrestlemarinepiad! With the Dream Slam having happened earlier in the year, “Interpromotional Matches” are the new norm! This led to a series of increasing houses for the various joshi companies in a new age, though of course this had that issue you always run into- once you escalate things to that point, what are you going to do once the fans get bored… or worse, if you eventually stop co-promoting stuff and have to go back to regular shows? But tonight, we have a ton of Main Event-quality matches that are also Dream Matches in many regards!

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Joshi Spotlight- The ’90s Promotions

Image result for jwp joshi

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.

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Joshi Spotlight- Thunder Queen Battle

THUNDER QUEEN BATTLE:
AJA KONG, KYOKO INOUE, TAKAKO INOUE & SAKIE HASEGAWA (AJW) vs. DYNAMITE KANSAI, MAYUMI OZAKI, CUTIE SUZUKI & HIKARI FUKUOKA (JWP):
(31.07.1993)
* 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.

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