Joshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix 1995 (Part One & Two)

Pretty much universally considered Shimoda’s best singles match. And it’s Manami’s THIRD ***** match of the year.

AJW JAPAN GRAND PRIX ’95- PART ONE & TWO:
(July 1995)
* And the AJW Grand Prix is back! Last year’s was almost completely blown off and Hotta quietly won it for whatever reason, but this time it’s For Serious and it’s a big deal. Except I can only find a tiny handful of matches on YouTube of the first two shows. I managed to cobble together some other info on the tournament, at least. I’m posting this as an “extra” for Friday because it’s something I’ve reviewed before, plus just a summation of the goings-on at the time.

MANAMI TOYOTA vs. MIMA SHIMODA (AJW Japan Grand Prix- Round Robin, 23.07.1995)
* This is an interesting one, timeline-wise, as Manami is the top-tier girl at AJW at this point, and pretty much a living legend of Joshi (as what was generally accepted as the best worker), while Shimoda, who was a midcard tag team player in 1993, has now elevated herself to a higher level. Both have a history- they were a tag team coming up in the late 1980s before Toyota had better success with the sportier Toshiyo Yamada. Shimoda’s cheating will be an interesting counterpoint to Toyota’s hyper-graceful style. Their pre-match interviews show both women in good spirits- Manami looks so serious most of the time, but here she’s smiling a ton and laughing along with the interviewer. Hey, both these ladies aren’t bad looking- has anyone else noticed this? And HOLY GOD, Manami’s pre-match outfit- this giant, flowing white qipao dress with enormous, fluffy feathered sleeves. Now THAT is style. Manami’s in her black leotard with the arm cutouts, while Shimoda’s still in her black & red two-piece with all the yellow tassles.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: Shinobu Kandori

Joshi Spotlight- All Star Dream Slam I (Part 2) – Scotts Blog of Doom!Shinobu-Kandori-hair – I Maintain The Double Foot Stomp Is Silly

Kandori, looking humorously like a female version of Antonio Inoki. Especially with the Elvis hair.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- SHINOBU KANDORI:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’7″ 165 lbs.
Career Length: 1986-today

-Shinobu Kandori, Brock Lesnar before there was a Brock Lesnar (ie. the snide, arrogant, vicious shoot-fighter whose real-life cred is played into their wrestling character) is one of those very few wrestlers that has a match so good that it eclipsed the fact that she’s one of the only pro wrestlers to ever shoot on someone in a televised match! Her ***** showdown with Akira Hokuto at AJW Dream Slam in 1993 is heralded as one of the best matches of all time, and has an even shot at being the greatest women’s match of all time. And yet nearly all the praise went to Hokuto!

Overall, Kandori has an iffy reputation in joshi circles- people like Mike Lorefice have brushed her off as having been entirely carried to one of the greatest matches of all time- and it’s generally accepted that yeah, she was the lesser party there. She’s even ignored for holding the World Championships of TWO COMPANIES simultaneously! But I think having seen a bunch of her stuff, and great matches with a variety of opponents, proves that Kandori is in fact HIGHLY underrated and could definitely hang with the top stars. Like, I would say she was the lesser worker in every one of her great matches… but her opponents were people like friggin’ Hokuto, Kyoko Inoue & Manami Toyota, y’know? I mean, do we shit on Davey-Boy Smith because “he only had ***** matches with top wrestlers?” No- we certainly don’t put him in the Greatest of All Time lists or Mount Rushmores or whatever we classify wrestlers with these days, but he’s a well-respected worker!

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: Sapporo Best*One (Manami vs. Aja- WWWA Title)

The Main Event. Great thumbnail.

AJW SAPPORO BEST*ONE:
(27.06.1995)

-Coming from Sapporo is this two-match tape featuring Las Cachorras Orientales reuniting- Akira Hokuto rejoins Mita & Shimoda to put the trio back together, and they’re out to murder a randomly thrown-together trio! And also, more importantly, the WWWA World Title is on the line once again, as Manami Toyota defends against the previous champion, Aja Kong- champ rematches seem like a rarity (Bull never got one, but she was stepping back). A now-retired Suzuka Minami joins the crew at the beginning of the TV show. And also we see clips of Kensuke Sasaki & Akira Hokuto announcing their engagement! Seeing Hokuto as a reserved bride-lady is really different. Sasaki cracks up EVERYONE at the press conference with whatever he said, too.

The Japanese commercials are back, though! There’s apparently a Japanese version of “Stand By Me”! They advertise a “Born To Be Wild” movie with a guy in a gorilla suit- never heard of that one.

The matches not shown:
Nobue Endo d. Yoko Takahashi (6:03): Rookie mayhem! I bet a bodyslam was the finish!
AJW Junior Title Tournament: Yoshiko Tamura d. Misae Watanabe (10:05): A new Top Rookie!

Read more

Manami Toyota & Mike Quackenbush vs. Cesaro & Sara Del Rey (and other Dream Matches!)

Mike Quackenbush 25th Anniversary: w/ Manami Toyota vs. Cesaro & Sara Del Rey - YouTube

We live in a world where Manami Toyota gave Cesaro the rolling cradle. Life is so weird.

Welcome back to another Dream Matches column! This time, I have a wild CHIKARA match- MANAMI TOYOTA vs. CESARO!! With Mike Quackenbush and Sara Del Rey as their partners! I’ve had my eyes on for a while but was avoiding because of the length, but it turns out it’s really goddamn awesome!

And we follow that up with a very “Before They Were Stars” showdown, as John Cena as the super-lean, roided to the gills “Prototype” takes on WCW reject Chase Tatum, who has to lead the match! Back to All Japan, as John Tenta’s “oddly-skinny rookie run” has him teaming with Yoshiaki Yatsu against… Bruiser Brody and Jimmy Snuka!?! Then we cap it off with some WCW Saturday Night goodness, as Barry Darsow & John Nord take on Disorderly Conduct.

LUCHA RULES (leaving the ring counts as a tag):
MIKE QUACKENBUSH & MANAMI TOYOTA vs. CLAUDIO CASTAGNOLI & SARA DEL REY:
(CHIKARA, 19.09.2010)
* Okay, now THIS is an interest mix of characters- friggin’ CESARO vs. TOYOTA?!? I’m there, dude. This is CHIKARA owner Mike Quackenbush teaming up with Manami again, but in a tag team match, and their opponents are the future Cesaro as an indie darling under his real name- long, lean and already bald, in white trunks. His partner is Sara Del Rey, who… okay I don’t know jack shit about modern women’s wrestling, but I’ve heard she’s respected. She was big in Shimmer, a women’s promotion that I always found to have a very clutzy-looking style of wrestling (but I’m a puro snob when it comes to women’s stuff, and ’90s AJW casts a WIDE shadow over low-budget American indies). She also went to ROH, CHIKARA and has been a WWE trainer since 2012.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: Manami Toyota vs. Kyoko Inoue- 1995 WON Match of the Year

60 minutes of the AJW Workrate Style. Just insane.

AJW KORAKUEN G*TOP:
(5/7/95, Tokyo Korakuen Hall)
* And now it’s time for Dave Meltzer’s favorite match of 1995! Manami is the WWWA Champion and having her first defense… and it’s against her old Workrate-Goddess rival, Kyoko Inoue! This one is pretty legendary in terms of what is possible for a wrestler’s cardio. AND it’s the 1995 Wrestling Observer Match Of The Year! And, on a sadder note, this show is the official retirement of Suzuka Minami, who spent most of last year in middling roles on the card and seems to have just called it quits when it’s clear there are no plans for her.

… wow, May already? AJW seems to be releasing only 1-2 VHS tapes a month at this point, so stuff is being skipped over I think. And also I have only two matches from this show on YouTube. But hey- 60 minutes in the *AJW* Workrate Style? Sign me up.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: Collision in Korea & Bridge of Dreams

Most North Koreans are relatively small, compact, and conservative in how they handle themselves. When it was time for the Japanese women to wrestle, they didn’t know how to react.

“These female wrestlers were just completely from another planet,” remembers CNN correspondent, Mike Chinoy.

“Bull Nakano had hair dyed blue, and it went straight up about six or eight inches. She was wearing a white sleeveless shirt over a leotard with half-calf boots. Manami Toyota sported a black leotard with partly opened arm coverings and looked like a dominatrix from some S&M movie. And these North Korean men were sitting there staring. Whether they had any idea what this was about is entirely beyond me.”

https://prowrestlingstories.com/pro-wrestling-stories/collision-in-korea/

COLLISION IN KOREA:
(April 28-29, 1995)
* So today I’ll be doing a double-whammy, as we’ve hit the point in my reviews were they stars of AJW and other Joshi promotions hit both the Tokyo Dome’s Bridge of Dreams show, and go to North Korea for the WCW/NJPW dual-show, Collision in Korea! This is AJW’s contribution to the Collision in Korea double-show, as they apparently stuck to themselves and quietly went out there and wrestled. Though I think this is how Kensuke Sasaki met Akira Hokuto, his future wife.

AKIRA HOKUTO vs. BULL NAKANO:
* So they’re teaming up the next night, but today they fight each other- AJW’s top two stars, even then. Bull’s in all-black, with her giant blue hair, and Akira’s in green & white.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: Wrestling Queendom 1995

AJW QUEENDOM ’95:
* For this Joshi Spotlight, we take a look at the three “Wrestling Queendom” shows in March 1995! However, I’ve done two of them before, so here’s the two matches available from the first one- thankfully, BOTH are ****+! Here we see the returning veterans of the Raijin Army take on LCO & Suzuka Minami, and then the Main Event is a spectacular 8-Woman Elimination Tag with some odd rules- all to see which AJW wrestlers get to head to the “Bridge of Dreams” show and showcase their promotion at the Tokyo Dome!

This review will feature those two big matches, then end with summations for the two Queendoms.

RAIJIN ARMY (BISON KIMURA, JAGUAR YOKOTA & LIONESS ASUKA) vs. SUZUKA MINAMI & LAS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES (Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda):
* And now it’s time for Jaguar’s “Returning Veteran Squad” to take on the reunited Minami/LCO team! The Raijin Army sort of forms as a whole at this point, with the wily vets throwing a spanner into the works of AJW- this bout probably being to properly reintroduce them as a unit. There’s some fun stuff here, as Jaguar trained both Mita & Shimoda, while Mita based a huge chunk of her current act (especially her Chops) off of Bison after she retired. Jaguar’s in pink, Bison’s in white tiger-stripes, Asuka’s in navy blue, Minami’s in orange & blue, and LCO’s in white & purple. This is Bison’s first real match back, so she gets a BIG reaction. Mita talks shit on the mic and Bison grabs at her right away.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: AJW TV (March 1995)- Toyota/Hotta vs. Double Inoue (WWWA Title Shot Match)

Puroguide: All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling | Puro Guide

AJW TV (March 1995):
* This is an episode taped on Feb. 15th, but aired in early March. This one largely features a handful of “Filler” bouts, a very good Aja Kong/Etsuko Mita match, and most importantly- Kyoko & Takako Inoue vs. Manami Toyota & Yumiko Hotta- the person scoring the winning fall will challenge Aja Kong at Wrestling Queendom 1995! Watch as a fascinating little story of inter-team squabbling plays out!

And wouldn’t ya know- it’s apparently U-Channel that bit the big one and made all its videos private, which kills a lot of Joshi videos on YouTube. So these ones have all been deleted between my reviews and my posting, but at least I got ’em. Sorta! Take my word for the match ratings!

AJW TAG TITLES #1 CONTENDERS MATCH:
TOMOKO WATANABE & KUMIKO MAEKAWA vs. MARIKO YOSHIDA & RIE TAMADA:
* A match to determine the top contenders for the lowest ranked Tag Belts in the company, as the future U*Tops duo take on Yoshida (who is still kind of hovering in the lower-midcard) & Tamada. Yoshida’s in her white gear, Rie’s in white w/ ’80s wallpaper accents, Tomoko’s in black w/ tassles, and Kumiko’s in a sports bra and shorts in 1980s wallpaper decor. Man, all rookies have to dress in these garish designs, I swear.

Read more

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!

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: AJW TV (Oct. 31st 1994)

AJW TV (Oct. 31st):
* Another week of AJW TV hits us, and we have a bunch of matches, including a very big Manami Toyota vs. Takako Inoue All Pacific/IWA Title match, plus Kyoko Inoue vs. Reggie Bennett! This show features a huge amount of hype for Big Egg Wrestling Universe– the upcoming Tokyo Dome show. And more Japanese commercials! An English voiceover describes to pretty-boy actors in the film Night Head, while we also hear about the Japan Supercross ’94, a serious-looking movie called Stay Gold (the producer an Outsiders fan?) and TUNNELS having a concert tour. Oh boy- TUNNELS!

SUZUKA MINAMI & KAORU ITO vs. SAKIE HASEGAWA & MARIKO YOSHIDA:
* Wow, Sakie & Yoshida- old rivals- are now paired up against the low-tier team of Minami & Ito. Yoshida’s in her blue, pink & yellow “M Y” gear, Sakie’s in all the splatter-colors, Ito’s in green & yellow, and Minami’s in some odd, loose-fitting shiny lavender thing.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: Manami Toyota vs. Suzuka Minami (All-Pacific Title, 1991)

A one-match Spotlight today, but it’s a doozy, and one I’ve been waiting to see for a year or so. Come see what Dave Meltzer considered ****3/4 in 1991!

ALL-PACIFIC TITLE:
MANAMI TOYOTA vs. SUZUKA MINAMI:
(17.03.1991)
* Yes! This one has finally been uploaded! Our own Evito-X popped this one onto YouTube recently, giving us a match I’d been looking for for a good while- Meltzer rated this ****3/4, which in “1991 Talk” means it’s gonna have one fuck of a pace. Toyota, holding the White Belt for half a year by this point, is increasingly over and getting very legit, though 1992 was when she started REALLY getting made (and it took 1994 for her to become a worthy Main Eventer)- Suzuka is older and more experienced, and at the peak of her singles credibility, though she only held that belt via a referee decision when Aja Kong got disqualified for cheating too much (and you’ve seen how difficult it is to get DQ’d in AJW). Toyota’s in her early ’90s gear- the all-black, un-detailed leotard, while Suzuka’s in a black & yellow basic singlet. And I have to use those names specifically because “Manami vs. Minami” would get way too confusing.

Read more

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.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix 1994 (Part Two)

The Main Event- another Toyota/Yamada match in their never-ending series of ****+ masterpieces!

AJW GRAND PRIX 1994 (Part 2):
(28.08.1994)
* And it’s time for another edition of the yearly AJW Grand Prix. Since the first one isn’t on YouTube, I only have this second part here for review. We get a couple of matches from it, plus the return of MARIKO YOSHIDA, who has been out since just after *1992*’s Grand Prix, missing out on most of the Interpromotional Era due to a neck injury. The neat things about Grand Prix shows is that everyone has a huge fire lit under their ass to perform- like it’s as big as the “Arena Shows” or what-not, and they’re looking to show off and have the best match possible. The hard camera front row is pretty funny- two nerdy guys and a Skeevy Porn Dad, plus a bored-looking girl with dyed red hair.

This year’s edition worked slightly differently- it’s a ten-woman round robin tournament instead of featuring “blocks”. And a few big stars are out- Aja (the Champs are never in these, I think), Akira Hokuto (kinda maybe retired) & Kyoko Inoue. No interpromotional guests this time around, either.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: This is a remarkably epic show, with a FANTASTIC match between a returning Mariko Yoshida & KAORU, then another classic bout in the storied Toyota/Yamada rivalry. Plus a remarkable three midcard matches actually hit ***1/2, which is pretty rare for any show.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: AJW Summer TV & Dangerous Queen Forever

AJW TV (Aug. 1994):
* Here’s a couple of random matches I found from AJW in August! Plus a video all about Akira Hokuto’s career- match clips and interviews that would probably be awesome if you understood Japanese!

TL;DR Version: Hey, two ***+ matches in one TV show- not bad, right? AEW hasn’t spoiled us THAT much! And this is like *1994*!

YUMIKO HOTTA & TOMOKO WATANABE vs. SUZUKA MINAMI & MIMA SHIMODA:
* This was from Aug. 31st, and is pretty much a “random grab-bag of wrestlers” match (though Minami sometimes pairs up with LCO). Minami’s in a hideous red outfit with floral-print, a zipper, and a wide collar, while Shimoda’s in the usual red & black. Tomoko’s in the black with tassles, and Hotta’s in blue & yellow.

Read more

Joshi Spotlight: Akira Hokuto

Akira Hokuto | Akira, Royalty, Female wrestlers

“AJA. Bull- you listen carefully, too. I have two lives left. If anyone wants them, come forward now!”
-Hokuto dropping a challenge during her retirement tour.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- AKIRA HOKUTO:
Real Name: Hisako Uno
Billed Height & Weight: 5’6″ & 132 lbs.
Career: 1985-2002

-This is one I’ve been dreading and anticipating for ages now- how does one make sense out of the career of Akira friggin’ Hokuto? Pro wrestling’s living embodiment of “die for your art”.

Akira is one of the “Big Three” of Joshi, arguably the “Big Two” with Manami Toyota- someone whose respect is well-earned and nigh-universal. Anyone who knows anything about wrestling has a deep respect for her work, and even people who aren’t major joshi fans have either seen or heard of her legendary ***** match with Shinobu Kandori at Dream Slam 1, and consider her a top-tier talent. At one point, she has an even shot for being the greatest wrestler ON EARTH, regardless of gender- 1993 was quite possibly the best year any wrestler has ever had- at least six solo matches over ****, more than double that if you count tags, and more. Any female wrestler of the ’90s whose best match wasn’t against Toyota was against Hokuto instead. NOBODY was better at playing through an injury or carrying someone else than Hokuto- Rumi Kazama hit **** with her, and never came close with anyone else, and Akira hit ****1/2 or so against Aja Kong while on a broken leg.

Read more

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”.

Read more

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!

Read more