Joshi Spotlight: AJW DESTINY

Part One

AJW DESTINY:
(Sept. 2nd 1995)
* So AJW is going wild at the moment- we’re in the middle of the Japan Grand Prix round-robin, a rival promotion’s Ace (Dynamite Kansai) is AJW’s World Champion, and ticket sales are suffering in part because we’re outta fresh match-ups. Yet we’re still having ****+ matches all over the place, so fuck it- I’D be buying tickets! This is a mega, mega, mega-event, too, with TOYOTA/HOKUTO as the Main Event- two of the very best on the entire planet at this point. It’s like them, Bret, Shawn, and three of the Four Pillars and that’s it.

Also on the card are matches between upper-midcarders Yumiko Hotta & Reggie Bennett, Kyoko Inoue & Bull Nakano doing another match in Bull’s last hurrah as a major solo act (and she knows it), Aja Kong taking on her old partner Bison Kimura, and even LCO fighting the Raijin Army, which includes their trainer Jaguar Yokota. This show is STACKED, and nearly five hours long. Mike Lorefice darkly notes that this is “the last excellent top to bottom show AJW has presented”.

Of particular note is the fact that this show is literally THREE DAYS after the fantastic “Queen’s Holy Night” show, which featured Aja lose the 3WA Title to Kansai in a ****1/4 match, Akira Hokuto & Mima Shimoda hitting ***3/4, and a ****3/4-***** match between Manami & Sakie and Double Inoue! So everyone on here is busting their ass despite wrestling on the same level three days earlier!

“TL;DR: What’s The Deal?”: One of the year’s best matches in the main event, plus the big stars in assorted other bouts (including what I think is Reggie’s best match). Also shorter match lengths than in many other big shows- only two go over 20:00, so nobody is overstaying their welcome.

We start with like THIRTY MINUTES of assorted stuff, with Bull’s old stable (her, Kyoko & Tomoko) showing up for an interview, assorted signings and even memorabilia (a J.B. Angels magazine cover, ASARI’s gear, etc.). Backstage stuff with Hokuto & Bull putting on their gear together. Everyone comes out in white shirts and red shorts to start the show- the real mark of a “big event”. Biggest reactions by far are for Bull (who almost never wrestles now) and Akira. Manami & Kyoko get the next biggest reactions, but much more muted.

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Joshi Spotlight: The WWWA & JWP Tag Title Defenses

Double Inoue vs. Manami Toyota & Sakie Hasegawa.

AJW TV (Jan. 1995):
* And welcome to the beginning of 1995 in the Joshi Spotlight! So I found a handful of stuff from the early part of the year, but of primary importance here are the huge Title defenses of Double Inoue & LCO!! So this is a “two-match review”, as both major Joshi promotions defend their top gold in the early part of January 1995!

So first off, Double Inoue make a very big WWWA Tag Title defense as Manami Toyota comes back for her gold, but with Sakie Hasegawa as her new partner! And then we have Las Cachorras Orientales defending the JWP Tag Team Titles on JWP home turf against the odd pairing of evil Mayumi Ozaki & rising idol Hikari Fukuoka! Both matches are absolute bangers, so come take a look!

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Joshi Spotlight: Korakuen Holy War ’94

AJW KORAKUEN HOLY WAR ’94:
(03.03.1994)
* “Seisen” translates as “Crusade”, but the Ringstarfield guy who uploaded this called it “Holy War”, which is a million times cooler so I’m going with that. The early part of the year tends to be a tad light in AJW (their big events were kinda Spring/Winter-y), but this one has some interesting stuff, though the “Interpromotional” stuff has taken a dive in favor of feuds going on within AJW itself. The Aja/Sakie duo is definitely getting pushed ahead of the “Monster Squad” team of Aja & Bull (which seems to be mostly for special appearances). We also miss Numacchi’s retirement ceremony, as the goofy comedy character only lasts about eight months or so before she’s gone.

As usual with this guy’s clips, you have to find the whole match by searching his “Videos” for the show name.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: Actually a really awesome show, with two ****-ish matches in the final slots.

KUMIKO MAEKAWA vs. MIKI YOKOE:
* Even the narration on the YouTube video advertises this as a rarity, because Miki is “Soon Retired”. Though she wrestled a TON in 1993, it was generally untelevised “exhibition” stuff. Kumiko’s in blue, and Miki’s in this hideous green/blue Jobber Singlet, with what looks like big sneakers on.

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Joshi Spotlight: Tag League THE BEST 1993 (Finals)

How many cards have had back-to-back ***** matches on them, anyhow?

AJW Tag League- THE BEST 1993 (Part 2):
(10.12.1993)
* And so we come to the last big tape release of 1993, and the capper on Akira Hokuto’s remarkable year, as Flying Dangerous (her team with Manami Toyota) have neared the finals, facing off against two of the other top workers in AJW- Kyoko Inoue & Toshiyo Yamada. Looks like much of the card wasn’t uploaded to YouTube, but the two big ones are. The original tape is apparently only 2 hours 30 minutes, making me suspect there was a lot of clipping.

This show is suuuuuuuuuuuuper famous (among puro nerds) because of the two matches at the end, which are the only time any wrestlers have ever wrestled back-to-back matches that got ***** ratings from Dave Meltzer. And of course, ALL FOUR people earned that honor.

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Joshi Spotlight: Tomoko Watanabe

One of those wrestlers who doesn’t seem great on most cards, yet will have one of the most buckwild brawls you’re ever going to see at random. Ever wanna see someone take a bump so insane in Korakuen Hall that I don’t even wanna spoil it? Look here!

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- TOMOKO WATANABE:
Other Names: ZAP-T
Billed Height & Weight: 5’3″, 161 lbs. (it shifted a LOT, though- she was slender in the early ’90s, chubby later and really wide in the late ’90s)
Trainer: Jaguar Yokota
Career: 1989-today (still active)

-Tomoko Watanabe is one of those wrestlers who was quite good at times and has hit near-***** in multiple tag bouts, but has the bad luck of having some of the worst matches on the best Joshi cards of all time, owing to the Botchamania Highlight Reel that was the early part of her career. She was… very clearly the worst wrestler of the “Class of 1989”, with Sakie Hasegawa being the obvious future superstar, and Kaoru Ito being better than Tomoko and ending up the Ace when AJW ran out of stars- both were a lot more athletic than the squat Tomoko. But still, she was okay! Eventually! I mean, it took a while!

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom 1997

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kL_phwJkEo

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 ****.

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