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: 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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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 (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: JWP in 1993 (Part 2)

JWP in 1993:
* Happy New Year! Here’s the second half of my look at the JWP stuff from 1992-93 in Rico Kasi’s YouTube videos! Time to see what JWP was up to in the second half of ’93, when left to their own devices! This features a lot of matches between their top stars, plus a couple of Dream Matches of a sort when a pair of construction worker gimmicks show up from AJW for some matches. One of them features proof that Mayumi Ozaki may be the greatest carry artist of all time- going nineteen minutes with NUMACCHI.

CUTIE SUZUKI vs. HIKARI FUKUOKA:
* The Battle of the Idols! Hikari’s slowly moving up, but this is a rare opportunity to see Cutie in the role as “experienced elder”. Cutie’s in white with some black bits, while Hikari’s in her goofy pink cone-bra gear.

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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 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.

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Joshi Spotlight- AJW Wrestling Queendom- VICTORY

Bull Nakano & Kyoko Inoue in the best match ever wrestled for the WWF Women’s Title.

AJW WRESTLING QUEENDOM- VICTORY (1995):
(26.03.1995)

-Four months after the biggest show in Joshi history, Big Egg Wrestling Universe, comes the next Wrestling Queendom event- Akira Hokuto was triumphant at Big Egg, but kind of went to Mexico for a while and kinda/maybe won’t come back. But that’s okay, because Manami Toyota, the flashiest worker in wrestling, is being elevated, and is now in our Main Event, taking on the Ace of AJW, Aja Kong! Bull Nakano is still WWF Women’s Champion, and is defending tonight. Plus we have a bunch of wrestlers who came out of retirement between 1993 and here, taking up spots on the card. And a few wrestlers are being elevated up the card, while others are sort of in interesting positions- Takako, Yamada, Bennett and others are floating around the upper-midcard, and who knows where they’ll land? So there’s a lot of drama and mystery about tonight’s big card.

“TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: This show contains, I swear to God, FIVE matches at **** or higher, with one of the craziest MMA-style fights I’ve ever seen in a wrestling ring, the best WWF Women’s Title Match ever, and a Main Event that’s even better than THAT.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom- SUCCESS

The first part of the Main Event. Searching this is a bit of a pain- type in “Success” in this guy’s channel and you’ll find the matches, but all split up because it’s from ten years ago, before YouTube allowed longer videos.

AJW WRESTLING QUEENDOM- SUCCESS (1995):
* Four months after the biggest show in Joshi history, Big Egg Wrestling Universe, comes what is actually a PAIR of Wrestling Queendoms- SUCCESS and VICTORY. This show is a bit unusual in that it’s built entirely around a one-night tournament for the WWWA Tag Team Titles- the 99th champions, Double Inoue, willingly vacated the Titles, hoping to become the 100th champions as well! Which is kind of funny, but also TOTALLY BOSS, because they’re so confident that they can win that they’d do such a thing. This is an 8-Team Tournament, which is crazy considering how much damage it usually takes to finish off one of these wrestlers- tag bouts in Joshi are LONG. So we get this interesting thing, where most of tonight’s matches are 13-16 minutes long, but the losing team carries most of the offense so as to not look weak.

“TL; DR- Why Should I Care?”: It’s a really kickass tag tournament. And a good example of how to shake things up when the same bunch of people are fighting all night long. There’s a Super-Team, a Veteran/Rookie team, a Kicker Team, and the heelish delights known as LCO!

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Joshi Spotlight- Big Egg Wrestling Universe (Part One)

BIG EGG WRESTLING UNIVERSE:
(“AJW Doumu Super Woman Great War”)
(Tokyo Dome- 20.11.1994)

-Now it’s FINALLY time I dive into the ludicrously over-stuffed mega-event- Big Egg Wrestling Universe! This event is the only Joshi event in history to take place within the massive Tokyo Dome, stuffing 42,500+ fans into the huge “Big Egg” for… a one-night super-tournament of Main Eventers (the V*Top). And some legitimate athletic contests. And a midget match. And a “cram every single person onto the card” undercard. It’s… a loaded show. Joshi: So advanced that it was putting on hideously bloated 6-hour stadium shows WAY before WWE was! True innovation!

TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?: Well, one of the greatest matches in history is fought tonight. Also, Aja Kong surpasses Bret Hart’s “Three good matches in one night” achievement in terms of quality, several people put on AMAZING performances, and you see Joshi in its biggest spectacle in history- something women’s wrestling has never matched since.

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Joshi Spotlight- AJW Wrestlemarinepiad ’95

Unfortunately, this one’s kind of all over the place on Hasegawayoshi’s channel. You practically have to search for them match-by-match. Here’s the main event!

WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’95:
(18.11.1995)

-And now we reach the 1995 Wrestlemarinepiad! This one feels quite a bit bigger than the last one (which was mostly Rookie vs. Veteran, with a big tag match on top), but now that we’re out of the Interpromotional Era by a bit, it feels a bit “diminished” compared in importance. This was kind of a shame, and a harsh result of that era spoiling the fans with fantastic “Dream Matches” on every single show. And also, Wrestling Queendom was now the big yearly show instead.

TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?: Actually, this is more of an “okay” show than a GREAT one, but it’s got one of the best brawls ever between LCO, some “WTF?” one-offs like Hokuto wrestling in a mask, and the Sakie Hasegawa “Blizzard Yuki” push, too.

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Joshi Spotlight- Wrestlemarinepiad ’94

AJW WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’94:
(09.10.1994)

-Another year, another Wrestlemarinepiad! I think there’s one more of these on YouTube, and then I’ll never have to type that damn word again! OK, I found a few scattered other matches for a final FINAL Spotlight, as well.

This show’s a little underwhelming compared to past ones in terms of the card, as the REAL event, “Big Egg Wrestling Universe”, comes about a month later, and is an enormous deal with a ton of top-tier matches. So this one has way more of an “In Your House” feel, albeit with a big-time Main Event. The Interpromotional Era is still going strong, but there’s less of that this time around (four matches in total; one that matters), as AJW holds the Main Event for itself.

TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?: It’s a pretty interesting look at people moving up slowly through the ranks. Also, the main event is a must-see classic.

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Joshi Spotlight- AJW Wrestlemarinepiad ’93 (Part One)

AJW WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’93:
(09.10.1993)

It’s the fifth Wrestlemarinepiad! With the Dream Slam having happened earlier in the year, “Interpromotional Matches” are the new norm! This led to a series of increasing houses for the various joshi companies in a new age, though of course this had that issue you always run into- once you escalate things to that point, what are you going to do once the fans get bored… or worse, if you eventually stop co-promoting stuff and have to go back to regular shows? But tonight, we have a ton of Main Event-quality matches that are also Dream Matches in many regards!

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