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”.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Tag League THE BEST- Part One

Joshi Spotlight: Kaoru Ito

Kaoru Ito

I’ll be nice and not use the “Peter Pan” gear from 1993 as her image. Also I couldn’t find a good pic of it.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- KAORU ITO:

Real Name: Kaoru Ito (aka Black Blizzard, Makai Majo #1, ZAP-I)
Billed Height & Weight: 5’3″, 238 lbs. (was… MUCH lighter in her younger years)
Career: 1989-today (currently active)

-And now it’s time for a bio on Kaoru Ito, aka “The most terribly-dressed wrestler of all time” on any ’90s Joshi show you’ll watch, and the “wait, SHE became the top wrestler?” star of the same.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Kaoru Ito

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.

Read moreJWP Thunder Queen Battle

Joshi Spotlight: AJW TV (July 1993)

AJW TV SHOW (July 1993):
* Oh good! I found another one of these! Always fun to check out their weekly TV show (with ads! One features an AMAZING trailer for a “tiny samurai” movie where he opposes a cat and a street-sweeper. I wanna see that movie).

“TL;DR- What’s The Big Deal?”: These shows are always fun, if only for the commercials and the rare matches. It’s very interesting to see the weekly TV of a promotion most would only recognize from their biggest shows only. Okay, that’s just a nice way of saying “it’s fine and nothing stands out as overly great”, but it shows a complete package of the promotion!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW TV (July 1993)

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.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix 1993 (Part One)

Joshi Spotlight: Zenjo is Dream- IGNITION!

ZENJO IS DREAM- IGNITION!:
(28.02.1993, Korakuen Hall)

* Gotta love those Japanese titles. This is one of two “Zenjo is Dream” shows taking place on the way to April’s Dream Slam dual-show. “Zenjo” is short for All Japan Women’s Japanese name (“ZEN Nihon JOshi Puroresu”)- it’s common to shorten it that way in Japanese, but doing so in English is too weird, because I’d have to keep explaining it every time I used it. Everyone comes out before the event starts, getting the “all in the ring at once” introduction, and the announcer goes over the Dream Slam card again- the crowd reacts well to the Toyota/Yamada vs. Combat/Kudo Main Event announcement, but the biggest reaction by far goes to the announcement of Chigusa Nagayo coming out of retirement against Devil Masami.

“TL;DR- What’s The Big Deal?”: I bet you think WWF’s Tori could never have a really good singles match, right? Seriously, watch this and be amazed. Oh also the Main Event completely kicks ass.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Zenjo is Dream- IGNITION!

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.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW/LLPW Outbreak of the Storm

Joshi Spotlight: Manami Toyota Fights Twenty People

MANAMI TOYOTA FIGHTS 20 PEOPLE (30 Match Gauntlet):
(Christmas Day, 1995)

-So Manjiimortal shared this with the Joshi Boyz one day, and despite it being a bit out of the timeline, I figured I’d review it now since it’s kind of a funny anomaly.

So Manami Toyota is the newly-crowned WWWA World Champion of All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling, having defeated Dynamite Kansai to win her second title. And then they do this random thing where she has to wrestle a thirty-minute bout, but against TWENTY PEOPLE! AJW’s Jobbers and Main Eventers alike come out, and will alternate 1-minute matches against the Champion- if someone is pinned, they are immediately replaced. Since there’s 30 bouts and 20 wrestlers, some will get a second shot!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Manami Toyota Fights Twenty People

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!

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

Joshi Spotlight: AJW Tag League THE BEST ’92 (Part 1)

AJW TAG LEAGUE THE BEST ’92- PART ONE:
(17.10.1992)
* Yes, it’s really called “Tag League The Best”. This is pretty much the tag team equivalent of the “Grand Prix”, with multiple teams operating in a round-robin tournament that gets released over three VHS tapes. The shows operate very much like the Grand Prixs as well, with a few random bouts, one or two big fights, and then some tournament matches. In this tourney, the tag champions (Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada) are naturally expected to do well, but their challengers include top-tier squads like Aja Kong & Kyoko Inoue, plus Yumiko Hotta & Suzuka Minami. Also, Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW) throws in its own candidates, as a team of their lower-tier stars has entered! The Interpromotional Era debuting with FMW is always very odd to me. Up & comer Mariko Yoshida has been injured, leaving a big gap in the midcard- now who’s gonna leap up and fill that slot?

NOTE: YouTube is apparently missing Part Three, so I only have two parts to post. Looks like the YouTube set is missing the WWWA World Midget Title Match between Little Frankie vs. Tomezo Tsunokake. I can only assume Frankie defeats his foe, like in 900 other matches.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: Ever wanted to see a bad, uncoordinated brawl get the Rock/Hogan reaction? Look no further. Also some interesting combinations of wrestlers having some good matches.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Tag League THE BEST ’92 (Part 1)

Joshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom 1997

The main event, between Kyoko Inoue & Aja Kong. All the bouts are on this channel- just type in “Unified” or find out the names in Japanese and search that way.

AJW WRESTLING QUEENDOM 1997:
(23.03.1997)

-Aaaaaaaaaaaaand now we’re into the depressing year. 1997 is where it all fully went wrong for Joshi as a whole, but AJW wasn’t quite bankrupt here. What we now had was a very different company in a changing business, though, as the Joshi boom had hit big and then just DIED by this point. Admittedly it was kind of a “fad” thing and fads die out, but various other factors played into things. Kyoko Inoue was now the WWWA Champion, having defeated Manami Toyota to become the new top star… and sadly her reign was a complete box office failure. Perhaps because of that, this show is doing an interpromotional thing with Chigusa Nagayo’s GAEA Japan, but only with her rookies. So a lot of the undercard has GAEA girls on it. Otherwise, much of the card has people rapidly being pushed on it- the 3WA Tag Champs are Tomoko Watanabe and KUMIKO MAEKAWA of all people- a midcarder and a rookie as of last year! Kaoru Ito’s getting shoved into the Main Event spot, too- it’s like even with most of the old guard still around, they were desperate for people to fill the top spots.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: If you’re gonna love something, you should be there when it dies (ugh, I just compared a wrestling show to a dog being put down). And this is like watching the last hurrah of a company as it slowly falters and takes an eight-year lurch towards the grave. Okay, and the final three matches are all around ****.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom 1997

Joshi Spotlight: Sakie Hasegawa

I love that stuff like this is part of Joshi, lol. It looks like something out of Tiger Beat.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT: SAKIE HASEGAWA
Stats:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’7″ 154 lbs.
Career Length: 1989-1996
Trained By: Jaguar Yokota

-I find that for most Joshi reviewers, one of the big stand-outs on any AJW card you watch during 1992-1996 is Sakie Hasegawa. Debuting in only 1989, she was in the “plucky rookie” position during that peak era of Joshi, but she was so far beyond most of the people on her same level that it’s impossible not to notice her and be impressed- she had “Future Ace” written all over her, and the push she got indicated that in every way. Her Class of ’89 team included Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe, who both maxed out at “pretty good” in the same era, so Sakie going out there and having ***-**** matches was seriously impressive- like she wasn’t a “MOVEZ” wrestler, but a “little things” one- almost a proto-Chigusa Nagayo. And it was all the worse that she retired young, never having really attained her full potential.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Sakie Hasegawa

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 ****.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- Grand Prix ’93 (Semi-Finals)

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

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Plum Mariko