Joshi Spotlight: AJW Tag League THE BEST 1994 (Part Two)

AJW TAG LEAGUE THE BEST 1994:
(10.12.1994)
* And now the final VHS release of 1994 for Joshi, as we end the 1994 Tag League! It looks like tonight it’s a three-way “Playoff Final” for the top ranks, as Aja Kong & Reggie Bennett, Kyoko Inoue & Sakie Hasegawa and Manami Toyota & Takako Inoue all end up tied (aw man, poor LCO)! Tragically, we’ve missed Kumiko Maekawa vs. Yoko Takahashi in rookie mayhem, and some showing of their trip to Bali in mid-December. Last year’s show saw a legendary bout in which Manami Toyota & Akira Hokuto beat Kyoko Inoue & Toshiyo Yamada in a PAIR of ***** matches back-to-back (the only time in history this has been done), so this show has an awfully big pair of shoes to fill.

Tag League THE BEST 1994:
MARIKO YOSHIDA & CHAPARRITA ASARI vs. TOMOKO WATANABE & RIE TAMADA:
* Both teams are ranked at the bottom, making this a solid early match. Tomoko & Rie both look heartbroken for their low standing, while the other two are Deer-In-Headlights. Yoshida’s in that gloriously terrible blue/pink/yellow thing, ASARI’s in light blue & silver (hey, that’s a new one!), Tomoko’s in black & white, and Rie’s in white & orange.

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Joshi Spotlight: Wrestlemarinepiad ’94 EX

The Main Event- Aja vs. Hotta for the WWWA World Title.

AJW WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’94 EX:
(12/4/94)
* Here’s an odd little show near the end of the year- a mere TWO WEEKS after Big Egg Wrestling Universe in the Tokyo Dome, we get a reasonably-big show that features a WWWA World Title defense, “new act” Blizzard Yuki against a Main Eventer, and more. Though… only the top three matches are particularly big- everything else looks like “card filler”. Thankfully I found the card on Ringstarfield’s channel, and… oh thank god, we have FULL VIDEOS of each match! Like, not all cut up into separate parts! These videos are only NINE years old, meaning that YouTube then allowed people to upload things over 10 minutes long, so we get 26-30 minute videos in some instances. That makes watching this a whole lot more pleasant.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: Well, two weeks after the biggest show in AJW’s history, they’re back AGAIN pitting superstars against each other. Most are beat to hell and shooting more for *** than ****, but check out Manami being a crazy person in another extremely long eye-opening match to put over a big new act.

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Joshi Spotlight: Lioness Asuka & LCO vs. Manami, Ito & Nanae in the Rain

So here’s one recommended by Evito-X- a semi-famous “Trios Match in the Rain” featuring an outdoor rooftop show in a torrential downpour, giving us one of the better, more memorable “settings” for a wild brawl you’ll ever see. While wrestling in the rain is hardly ideal, this is exactly how things become legendary and remembered- every single camera becomes dotted with water and everyone has to try not to kill themselves while still selling the slipperiness of the mat and ramp, and it turns into great fun immediately, and one of AJW’s best matches. Nothing sells “chaos” like seeing people slide around every time they hit a move while ring girls desperately squeegee the ring.

SPECIAL SIX EXPLOSION:
LIONESS ASUKA & LAS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES (Mima Shimoda & Etsuko Mita) (Free Agents) vs. MANAMI TOYOTA, KAORU ITO & NANAE TAKAHASHI (AJW):
(07.11.1999)
* Welcome to a famous match in Joshi circles- the Fuji TV rooftop rainy-day match! As AJW at this point was often on the rooftop of the Fuji TV building on Odaiba Island in Tokyo (Yay! A place I’ve been!), they had to deal with inclement weather at times, and never more inclement than THIS- this becomes one of very few matches by a prominent company that features a massive downpour hitting the ring during a match. One featuring many of the top stars of the day, too- Lioness Asuka, huge star of the ’80s, teams up with top tag team freelancers (and current WWWA Tag Team Champions) LCO against AJW’s top two solo acts and rising star Nanae. Grumpy-ass Asuka carries a table to the ring with her, while LCO are in their best outlandish regalia. The freelancers are all in black & silver variants of their regular gear (Asuka’s shirt & pants, Shimoda’s two-piece tasseled bit, etc.). Nanae, who I’ve not really seen before, is a stocky girl in a white & purple thing with triangular fabric across the front. Manami’s in red (she’d dropped the “always in black” thing a ways back I think) & Ito’s in a black & blue MVP-style singlet.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW TV (Oct. 13th 1994)

AJW TV (Oct. 13th, 1994):
* So we’ve entered a strange bit of time in available Joshi matches, as we just started Tag League THE BEST 1994, but there’s two months before it ends and in the meantime there’s a dozen random JWP & LLPW bouts available, PLUS some shows I already reviewed fall here, such as the major Tokyo Dome show!

But for now, here’s another edition of the AJW TV show, with LCO fighting the monster squad of Aja Kong & Reggie Bennett, plus Double Inoue vs. Sakie Hasegawa & Toshiyo Yamada. This aired in October but was taped in August, as we seem to miss September ENTIRELY for AJW releases (I guess they made one commercial tape, with an interesting Manami/Sakie/Kyoko vs. Reggie/Aja/Ito match on it). But thankfully we’re back to Japanese commercials! Clipper, the chip-like snack with the kawaii mascot! A Japanese version of A Christmas Carol! And they announce Sakie Hasegawa’s new persona as the manga character brought to life- Blizzard Yuki! This would be them finally shooting their shot at making her a huge star.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Tag League THE BEST 1994 (Part One)

The best match of the show, BY FAR- Las Cachorras Orientales vs. Manami/Takako.

TAG LEAGUE THE BEST (Part One):

(10.08.1994)
* And 3/4 through the year, we hit another Tag League THE BEST installment! This one features some established squads, plus weird random duos (Manami/Takako?). There’s also a “Junior League” of rookies between AJW & JWP, giving us Interpromotional Rookie Mayhem once more! At last! this one is highlighted by a TREMENDOUS LCO vs. Manami/Takako match, as well as showcases for Mariko Yoshida, Sakie Hasegawa, and the monster Aja Kong/Reggie Bennett team.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: LCO vs. Manami/Takako is another classic in a long line of great Toyota & LCO matches this year. The rest of the card is mainly about the rookies and some rising up the card for Sakie Hasegawa against an old standby “gatekeeper”, but the main is also very good.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Budokan Retsuden MAX

AJW BUDOKAN RETSUDEN MAX:
(24.08.1994)
* And now we hit one of the biggest Joshi cards of the year, in one of the most legendary arenas in Japan, with the now-rare Interpromotional Matches taking up the entire card! They’ve really edged off on those in 1994 (they’re probably difficult to book, and I’d imagine most don’t want their top stars to lose to others), but we add one more Dream Match to Akira Hokuto’s generous supply, putting her up against Dynamite Kansai in an elimination tag match! We’ve also got FMW’s top women’s star, LCO vs. an LLPW team, Takako & Cutie forming an Interpromotional Idol Team against two other JWP wrestlers, an ultra-rare Chigusa Nagayo match against AJW wrestlers, and a Kyoko Inoue/Manami Toyota singles match! aka the pairing that first broke Dave Meltzer’s ***** scale! This is a MONSTER show, and a long review- let’s get to it!

We start with a full half-hour of “arriving at the arena and doing photo-shoots” stuff, really padding out a 5-hour (!!) tape. Everyone shows up, people shoot the shit, and at one point Manami & Takako switch outfits. Oddly both seem to fit, despite their different body types. Takako seems to be mimicking Minami by doing endless hair-flips and glamor-girl poses, which is pretty hilarious. Everyone does test-bumps and rope-jumps in the ring, too. Our Main Eventers are all pretty jovial, Hokuto cracking everyone up instead of setting off real-looking fights like usual. Oh man, the show’s announcer is wearing a LIME GREEN suit- that’s top-notch.

I should emphasize right away that this crowd is TOUGH to win over- they pop for comedy and real effort, but they will sit the fuck on their hands if you try stretching or other “match-filler”.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW TV (June 10 1994)

AJW TV (June 10th, 1994):
* Today’s Spotlight takes a look at a big Summer 1994 TV show featuring the WWWA Tag Champs defending their gold, and the monster duo of Aja & Bull fighting midcard crazies LCO. Curiously, AJW seems to release only a single VHS tape each month of the summer of 1994, meaning that this thing is a LOT more sparse and it’s trickier to get a feel for the stories. The Budokan Retsuden is the next show in this series, for example, and is in AUGUST. Therefore, we don’t see any of the build for it- all the matches kinda seem out of nowhere.

And we’ve already reached time for a new Japan Grand Prix! This year’s tournament only takes place across two main tapes instead of four, though a few intermediate shows have JGP matches as well. This year? They reduce the number of wrestlers GREATLY, and drop having two blocks, nor are their any wrestlers from other promotions, as AJW runs it solo. So we have only ten women present, and only a couple of big stars are in this year- Hotta, Manami, Yamada… and that’s about it- it’s just LCO, Minami, Sakie & midcard jobbers after that. No Kyoko, even!

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW May Storm ’94

AJW ZENJO MANIA- MAY STORM ’94:
(02.05.1994)
* From Korakuen Hall is the next big AJW show, with a lot of really, REALLY long matches, possibly to fill time and “justify” the ticket prices, and also to put over the resiliency of the athletes, I think. This show seems to have a theme of “rookie showcasing”, as the opener is massively long and between two of their smallest young stars, and the next two feature Kumiko & Sakie, a rookie and up & comer respectively, being murdered by their elders. This Korakuen crowd is hot as FUCK and stays that way all night long, giving even the rookies a huge ovation for big moves. As usual, you have to track through one guy’s YouTube channel to find these multi-part matches.

“TL;DR: Why Should I Care?”: The show ends with two fantastic matches, and nearly every bout is a testament to either joshi’s insane cardio or their invincible spinal cords. Also, a crowd that’s into EVERYTHING. Also, proof joshi invents everything with wrestling’s first-ever One-Winged Angel. By accident, but it counts!

ZEN NIHON OZA KETTEI TOURNAMENT:
RIE TAMADA vs. CHAPARRITA ASARI:
* Tamada beat ASARI on the last show, so this is a rematch, and the finals to some kind of tournament. ASARI’s in the neon yellow with silver puffy bits, and Tamada’s in black & orange.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Zenjo Mania Spring ’94

AJW ZENJO MANIA SPRING ’94:
(04.03.1994)
* More Joshi from early 1994! Now, from Korakuen Hall, we get another major AJW show that looks like it has a ton of matches on it. Curiously, they’ve kept the Interpromotional stuff off of this one, and filled the card with mostly singles matches, which is a rarity on AJW shows. Here, we see a Rookie Mayhem bout, Tomoko killing another rookie, Ito trying her best against an elder, a Spotfest Tag Match, a Hoss Match (Reggie vs. Bull!), and a brutal KO-style Main Event. So sneakily, this one is a bit of an “elevate the younger wrestlers” show, with mostly lesser stars going up against bigger ones. This is one of the older “Ringstarfield” uploads, so all the matches are piecemeal to fit under old YouTube requirements- just search “全女マニア 後楽園SPRING’94” in their channel to find the full show.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: A FANTASTIC six-woman tag match surrounded by other very good matches, including surprisingly-good performances by up & comers. Also, I think they must have released the AJW Theme Song CD around this time, because “Knockout” and “Jungle Emperor” make their debuts tonight (“God made the Devil… just for fun!  But when he wanted the real thing, he made Aja Kong!”).

KUMIKO MAEKAWA vs. RIE TAMADA:
* Another match featuring two of AJW’s lowest-ranked wrestlers, both in their “getting experience” phase. Kumiko of course became the Ace in the future, while Tamada was a “good hand” in various companies. Rie’s in white and pink, Kumiko’s in black & white. Surprisingly, neither are really in Jobber Swimsuits anymore.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW TV (April 1994) & Wrestling Queendom Recap

AJW TV (April 13, 1994):
* And it’s time for another 1:20:00 AJW TV show (taped March 30th, only three days after Wrestling Queendom ’94), this one featuring two big tag matches! LCO, newly crowned JWP Tag Team Champions in a WAR with Cutie Suzuki & Mayumi Ozaki, take on the UWA Tag Champs, Yumiko Hotta & Takako Inoue! There’s some Okinawa Resort Convention highlights, as they visit the islands far to the south of Japan, home to the former Ryukyu Kingdom and the origins of karate. Our hosts are the usual AJW guys, plus Jaguar Yokota and Akira Hokuto in a Hawaiian shirt, looking much more like a human being instead of the mythical creature she turned to in 1993. It’s honestly weird seeing her just shoot the shit. She does commentary for this show.

Sweet! More ads! Problem Child with Macauley Culkin! Chips! Max Factor! Guys tapdancing for KDD! Some cartoon face I find immensely disturbing! And an ad for World Heroes 2 Jet, with Mudman performing in Swan Lake, lol. Some boy-band duo called “class” is releasing a new single called Holiday! Some smutty CD-Rom video game! Final Fantasy VI!

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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: VIOLENCE WAR- Las Cachorras vs. The U*Tops (Steel Cage Deathmatch)

This one comes to us via Blog poster Evito-X-Puro, who, upon realizing that the full match was not uploaded anywhere online, posted the full version to their YouTube channel! So bask in the glory as LCO go completely insane in the match that made them semi-legendary to tape traders.

VIOLENCE WAR:
STEEL CAGE MATCH (Escape Rules):
LAS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES vs. THE U*TOPS:
(Wrestlemarinepiad 1997- 21.09.1997):
* This and the Aja/Kyoko brawl from the same year are probably the most famous matches LCO ever had- legendary brawls in the annals of Joshi. 1997 is a much different time for all four of these women- LCO (Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda) have been upgraded to Main Eventers, but only as a duo, thanks to their own greatness, and Shimoda’s multiple WWWA Tag Title reigns with other wrestlers. It’s really fun seeing Main Event LCO versus the “midcarders rising up” LCO of 93-95. Much more deliberate, and more confident- Mita always seemed like she had something to prove in 1993, but by ’97, she acted like she’d already proven it. And being so devoted to cheating that they have their own specially-made steel chairs is a master-stroke. They’re wearing reverse-colored versions of each other’s gear- two-piece outfits in purple & white.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Champion Legend 1994

 

AJW OTA-WARD CHAMPION LEGEND 1994:
(01.24.1994)

* And now, with 1993 complete in my Joshi runthrough, here’s the first big event of 1994- the Ota-Ward (I assume that’s a region, since the arena’s called “Tokyo Ota-ku Taiikukan”) Champion Legend show, headlined by Aja Kong defending her WWWA World TItle against AJW’s toughest wrestler, Yumiko Hotta, in a super-disgusting fucking match that involves a BLOODY HAND. And also Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada defend the World Tag Titles against LCO! Read on!!

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: This is an unsung candidate for “best short show ever”, as it’s three ****+ matches in a row- the shittiest match on this card is ****1/4. Aja/Hotta is also a must-see in terms of brutality, and this is LCO’s first TRULY awesome tag match in a long, legendary career full of them.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW TV (Jan. 16th 1994)

AJW TV (Jan. 1994):
* And welcome to AJW in 1994! After several months of working on 1993’s shows, it’s fun to see a whole new “era”, as all the major story-arcs have ended and the feuds run their course- Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada have finally unseated JWP’s Ozaki & Kansai for the WWWA Tag Titles, and Akira Hokuto has given her win back to LLPW’s Shinobu Kandori. As a result, they’re gonna have to find all-new angles and feuds- 1994 has a handful less tapes available than 1993 did (especially if you count the Legendary Goddess ones), but builds to the biggest joshi show of all time by the end of the year- Big Egg Wrestling Universe.

This show is about an hour and a half, and covers the 1993 AJW Awards Party, as well as having four unique matches on it.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: It’s a pretty interesting show in terms of bouts you rarely see- a rare Aja solo bout to build her up for Hotta’s Title shot in a week, LCO against a thrown-together team, and the Tag Champs facing the future Double Inoue!

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Joshi Spotlight: Jaguar Yokota

Mother Joshi ○ Jaguar Yokota #WWMII | Wrestling Amino

Jaguar’s theme song is EPIC.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- JAGUAR YOKOTA:
Real Name: Rimi Yokota (aka Jaguar Y)
Billed Height & Weight: 5’3″ 128 lbs.
Career Length: 1977-1986, 1995-1998, 2004-today (rarely-wrestling freelancer)
Trainees: Manami Toyota, Aja Kong, Megumi Kudo, Etsuko Mita, Mima Shimoda, Kyoko Inoue, Toshiyo Yamada, Takako Inoue, Bison Kimura, Miori Kamiya, Combat Toyoda, Kaoru Maeda

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Joshi Spotlight: Legendary Goddess VII-VIII (Bull Nakano & Toshiyo Yamada)

Image result for bull nakano

I’d share the link to the YoutTube, but it turns out that Bull wears clothing and decorates her room featuring photographs of nude women on them, so I actually can’t, lol. So here’s that rad Bull Nakano fanart again!

And now it’s two remaining Legendary Goddess VHS reviews before I’m finally done with all the Joshi I could find from 1993! A “Year In Review” article will be up this Friday.

LEGENDARY GODDESS VII- BULL NAKANO:
* We get our “LG” tape release for Bull Nakano at last! And immediately it’s bizarre, as a denim-clad Bull, with normal hair and no flashy facepaint, walks gingerly through a ratty old shipyard while 1980s-sounding screeching guitars play. Bizarrely, her dour expression and outfit make her look older here than she does today. And then she starts breathing heavily and just goes mental on a chain link fence while her jacket is now made of leather, and says fuck across the back- God I love joshi.

Then she goes walking down some of the grimy bar-filled streets in Japan (that actually reminds me more of the real Japan than the shiny yachts & harbors they normally go on in these), shows that her jacket has a photo that is DECIDEDLY not safe for work on it (a topless woman pantomiming fingerbanging herself- well now I can’t put the YouTube video in the review, then!), then puts on a Chicago Bulls jacket, and prepares for her first match. Tremendous.

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Joshi Spotlight: Legendary Goddess IV-VI (Akira Hokuto, Kyoko & Aja Kong)

It’s time for another bunch of Legendary Goddess VHS reviews! Three at a time in this one, since it’s a lot of retread material, but DAMN some of it’s great footage.

LEGENDARY GODDESS IV- AKIRA HOKUTO:
* This one starts with some hilariously overwrought footage of Hokuto stalking around a temple wearing her traditional Noh theater garb, complete with big sound effects, which would be so incredibly stupid on anyone without Hokuto’s credibility. So instead it’s awesome. Partway through, there’s this “normal person” interview of her laughing and smiling on while some silly symphony plays, and it’s so unsettling to see the Dangerous Queen as a human being. Like, her mystique actually makes this stuff come off as odd. Then she strolls around in denim shorts and a floral-print shirt in black & white.

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Joshi Spotlight: Legendary Goddess I-II & Wrestlemarinepiad Recap

LEGENDARY GODDESS I- TAKAKO INOUE:

* So the “Legendary Goddess” tapes are an octet of VHS releases at the tail end of 1993, each about an hour long, featuring a spotlight on one particular AJW wrestler. The top eight stars of the company at the time each had their own, with the UWA Tag Champs having theirs first. These LG tapes feature an odd thing where some tag matches have a laser-focus on only one wrestler- one camera man follows only the focus of the tape around, even if she’s just on the apron. Having watched most of them by this point, I notice that almost every single match is taken from the same handful of shows, as I recognize the unique arenas (“bright one with low-lying balconies”, “one with the giant stage behind a see-through curtain” and “outdoor arena one with dirt in the stands” being the most notable ones).

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: These tapes are a quirky look at some wrestlers, showing tours of their apartments or shots of them eating, and some of the matches are high-quality “House Show Effort” performances that give you a better sense of what a typical show from AJW is like. Also I toss in a recap of Wrestling Queendom I.

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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”.

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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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