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 TV & AJW/JWP Rival Match

AJW TV (Jan. 26th, 1993):
(Taped 04.01.1992)
* Yay, I found another AJW TV show! This show features the up & coming junior team of Sakie Hasegawa & Debbie Malenko up against established veterans and title-holders in Manami Toyota & Akira Hokuto! We start off with some year-end awards show, with the injured Mariko Yoshida tearfully accepting some trophy, plus Yumiko Hotta, Akira Hokuto, and more. Bull Nakano’s gold & black sparkly tux and headband is the mega-showstealer, here. Though Aja Kong’s “Peter Griffin” shirt & tie look is a close one. Manami’s inability to go through any interview without corpsing continues to be hilarious.

“TL;DR- What’s Good Here?”: A very solid TV show with some rare matches! Also, I add a ridiculously-good tag match between JWP & AJW blood-rivals!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW TV & AJW/JWP Rival Match

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.

Read moreBridge of Dreams- Tokyo Dome All-Promotion Supershow (Part 1)

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: The Interpromotional Era Begins!

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- AJW TV (Sept. 21, 1992)

-Hailing from the Morioka-shi Ice Arena, it’s another episode of the AJW TV show! And also, the first-ever Interpromotional Match, which exists online only in clipped form, I guess! So read on if you want to see how the most legendary era in Joshi began!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: The Interpromotional Era Begins!

Joshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix ’92 (Finals)

AJW GRAND PRIX 1992- FINALS:
(30.08.1992)
-And now we FINALLY come to the end of the months-long AJW Grand Prix. The story thus far has been the dominance of Aja Kong & Manami Toyota (who shockingly BEAT the Ace-adjacent Kong in a big upset at Korakuen Hall), with Kyoko Inoue right behind them. Mariko Yoshida has also impressed very well, as despite being on the “lower rung”, sorta (she’s well below her rookie classmate Kyoko, who was given a mega-push first), she’s in high-profile positions all over the place, has been made to look good, took both Kyoko & Sakie Hasegawa to 30-minute draws in big showcases of her stamina, and more. It seems like she’ll be given a big push going forward. Toshiyo Yamada also did well enough in non-televised stuff, hitting the semis. All five women will wrestle tonight, with the winners hitting the finals immediately following. The rest of the matches are made up of other tournament wrestlers being paired up.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: One of the best multi-person matches I’ve ever seen is on this show, and you get to see just how much work everyone’s willing to put into their matches, as everyone goes to 15+ in the Grand Prix.

AJW GRAND PRIX FINAL STANDINGS:
Wrestler: Points:——–Wrestler: Points:
Manami Toyota 9.0—–T. Yamada 8.0
Aja Kong 8.0————Mariko Yoshida 7.0
Takako Inoue 6.0——-Kyoko Inoue 7.0
Suzuka Minami 5.0—–Akira Hokuto 4.5
Etsuko Mita 5.0———Sakie H. 4.0
Mima Shimoda 5.0—–Yumiko Hotta 4.0
Bat Yoshinaga 4.0——Miori Kamiya 3.0
Tomoko W. 3.0———Debbie Malenko 3.0
Cynthia Moreno 1.0—-Terri Power 3.0
Bison Kimura 0.0——-Kaoru Ito 1.5

Semi-Finals: Manami Toyota (vs) Kyoko/Mariko; Aja Kong (vs) Toshiyo Yamada
Finals: Toyota/Kyoko/Mariko (vs) Aja/Yamada

So there’ll be a tiebreaker between Yoshida & Kyoko tonight, then the two Semi-Finals- Aja/Yamada & Toyota/(winner of Kyoko/Yoshida), then the Final match. Of interest here is how closely this mirrors the standing in the company of the girls, save Hokuto getting a low score (injury?), and Takako being unusually high compared to Minami.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix ’92 (Finals)

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.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Midsummer Typhoon

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”.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Kanaami Death Match!!

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!!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: OTA-KU Champion’s Legend ’92

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!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix ’92 (Part Two)

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.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Beat Power Oh-Mi-Yah!

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.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix (Part One)

Joshi Spotlight: The Dawn of Las Cachorras

Las Cachorras Reunited.jpg

I had to start with Las Cachorras Orientales reuniting in late 2019. I just had to. It’s too adorbz.

AJW SUPER CHARGE:
(24.05.1992)

-This is another AJW event at Korakuen Hall, about a month after the previous “Funto” show. It’s ALSO named “Super Charge”, like a prior show in 1992. The main focus here is actually on some returning wrestlers- Akira Hokuto, Etsuko Mita, Mima Shimoda and some others ended up on a trip to Mexico, where many puro stars go for extra training and character revamps (they’re still doing this; Naito gained his modern persona there, for instance). This was in part to gain some lucha experience and shake things up in AJW (newcomer Cintia Moreno is actually trained in the style, and worked a tour here as well), though few of the wrestlers really copied much of it.

This is mainly important because Hokuto & Mita came back with entirely new visual “looks” and personalities. Yes, this is the origin of Las Cachorras Orientales, which literally means “The Oriental Bitches” in Spanish. Shimoda would later join the group, but for now they merely have dyed hair, Atrocious Alliance facepaint, and other heel trappings.

“TL;DR: Why Should I Watch This?”: At least one match over ****, the debut of LCO in their “first form” against AJW’s current top heels, and a great Bull/Yamada match

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: The Dawn of Las Cachorras

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.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: JWP Super Major Queens FLASH!

Joshi Spotlight: AJW St. Battle Day & Funto! (Hard Struggle!)

ST. BATTLE DAY:
(20.03.1992)
-This is a taped show at Korakuen Hall, largely centered around the Main Event. I’ll combine this with the following “Funto” event, since I only have the one match. These are largely intermediate cards of AJW, featuring their top-flight workers in major bouts, including the culmination of their Yamada/Toyota team’s push.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch?”: Most of these women are already at the point where they’re having **** matches in their sleep, and these cards do a good job of setting up what the peak of the Interpromotional Era will look like- Manami in particular is the worker of the future, with many wrestlers now openly mimicking her style, and this first bout is a major one for her career. Also, you can see just HOW GOOD Mariko Yoshida was until an injury derailed her career, and how good Sakie Hasegawa was at her “Plucky Rookie” style, which AJW shows by having her get murdered on every show.

2/3 FALLS MATCH:
WWWA WORLD TAG TITLES & UWA TAG TITLES:
JUNGLE JACK (Aja Kong & Bison Kimura) vs. MANAMI TOYOTA & TOSHIYO YAMADA:

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW St. Battle Day & Funto! (Hard Struggle!)

Joshi Spotlight: Korakuen Super Charge

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Manami Toyota- Not just Meltzer Hype. She actually IS that good.

AJW KORAKUEN SUPER CHARGE:
(04.01.1992)

-Going back to the early days of AJW’s mega-cards, I figured this’d be a good place to start if I’m going to review the rest of AJW’s stuff (that I can find online, anyways). This one seems to have the theme of the stars of the future wrestling each other- the top acts aren’t here, but the #3-10 ones seem to be. Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada keep their rivalry going, and Akira Hokuto tries to prove again that she’s one of the best in the world against Kyoko Inoue.

Unfortunately, a large chunk of the card is un-findable on YouTube (even translating the names into Japanese and searching THAT gets nothing), but the final two matches are the real stand-outs anyways. So instead I found the only match I could find from ANOTHER show and threw that one in. This is an interesting time, as the “Interpromotional Era” hasn’t started yet, and Aja’s still rising up the card, so people are kind of… jostling for position. Manami’s also using the offense she’d soon drop, as I see that odd Butterfly Lock/Leg-Trap move all the time.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: Three matches, all at **** or better. Meltzer rated one at *****, too!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Korakuen Super Charge

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: AJW Wrestling Queendom- HIGHEST WARS

Another of those annoying ones- this channel has it all, but split up into multiple portions under 10 minutes. Look up “Highest Wars” to find the matches.

WRESTLING QUEENDOM 1996- HIGHEST WARS:
(31.03.1996)

-Joshi had changed tremendously in 1995- the Interpromotional Wars have largely subsided, leaving the companies mostly on their own (with cards looking somewhat… diminished, as a result). Manami Toyota won, then lost, then won the WWWA Title again! She currently stands as the promotion’s top star, but career-long rival Kyoko Inoue has risen up just behind her, and challenges her tonight- it’s their first match in years. Takako Inoue & Mima Shimoda are getting upper-midcard pushes, too, and everyone’s kind of… jostling for place, in this new era, now that Aja Kong has been unseated and they can’t just sit there in stasis while feuding with JWP or whomever. Unfortunately, business as a whole is down owing to multiple factors- the Japanese economy is faltering, the wrestling boom has faded a bit, and the aforementioned card-diminishment. However, tickets were apparently much better for this Queendom than ’95’s, probably owing to the strong Kyoko push and some interpromotional stuff tonight.

“TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: Well, the last match is one of those bouts where you put two of the best workers on Earth and let them go crazy for 20+ minutes.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom- HIGHEST WARS