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

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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: 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

Joshi Spotlight: Sakie Hasegawa

I love that stuff like this is part of Joshi, lol. It looks like something out of Tiger Beat.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT: SAKIE HASEGAWA
Stats:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’7″ 154 lbs.
Career Length: 1989-1996
Trained By: Jaguar Yokota

-I find that for most Joshi reviewers, one of the big stand-outs on any AJW card you watch during 1992-1996 is Sakie Hasegawa. Debuting in only 1989, she was in the “plucky rookie” position during that peak era of Joshi, but she was so far beyond most of the people on her same level that it’s impossible not to notice her and be impressed- she had “Future Ace” written all over her, and the push she got indicated that in every way. Her Class of ’89 team included Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe, who both maxed out at “pretty good” in the same era, so Sakie going out there and having ***-**** matches was seriously impressive- like she wasn’t a “MOVEZ” wrestler, but a “little things” one- almost a proto-Chigusa Nagayo. And it was all the worse that she retired young, never having really attained her full potential.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Sakie Hasegawa

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.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- AJW Wrestling Queendom- VICTORY

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!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom- SUCCESS

Joshi Spotlight- Grand Prix ’93 (Semi-Finals)

ALL JAPAN WOMEN’S GRAND PRIX SEMI-FINALS 1993:
-I actually wrote this like 2-3 months ago, before I even submitted major events, but since it wasn’t as “important” I didn’t post it. However, doing Big Egg Wrestling Universe is taking some time, so I’ll throw this down- it’s got a few matches I’ve reviewed prior, but it’s actually really great matches throughout.

TL;DR- Why Should I Care?: There are four ***1/2+ matches on here, a huge establishing moment for one of LCO, and some of the most interesting “filler” you’ll ever see, featuring Main Eventers going at each other, a great Rookie/Veteran tag team match, and an honest to God SQUASH MATCH, which in all my time watching Joshi, I’ve never truly seen before! This show is really just incredibly fascinating. Also, I threw in a match at the end that’s also ****.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- Grand Prix ’93 (Semi-Finals)

Joshi Spotlight- Joshi in the WWF (1990s Edition!)

Image result for bull nakano

JOSHI IN THE WWF (1990s Edition):
-Six years after the Jumping Bomb Angels left the WWF, Joshi returned to the company in 1994, when Alundra Blayze was a bit of a lame-duck WWF Women’s Champion- the company had reintroduced the belt in 1993, using the former Madusa Micelli (a star in Japan & America) as the center of the division, which consisted mostly of just her. She won a tournament against a bunch of nobodies, defeated Leilani Kai (who wrestled at the FIRST WrestleMania!) at WrestleMania X in an utter throwaway bout, and was engaged in a feud with the heel Luna Vachon, but they didn’t wrestle much on TV. During a tour of Japan in mid-1994, Alundra called in on her old AJW (All Japan Women’s) partners to provide her some opponents, resulting in Sakie Hasegawa, Kyoko Inoue, and others losing to her on the tour. And one of these opponents (our own Bayless reviewed the bout just a week ago!) would actually join full-time, with BULL NAKANO, right out of AJW, becoming Alundra’s new opponent!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- Joshi in the WWF (1990s Edition!)

Joshi Spotlight: Plum Mariko

Image result for plum mariko

Plum always dresses like a giant cupcake.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- PLUM MARIKO
Stats:
Real Name: Mariko Umeda
Billed Height & Weight: 5’2″ 121 lbs.
Career Length: 1986-1997
Trained By: Kotetsu Yamamoto, Atsushi Onita, & Gran Hamada

A HUGE bio/description of Plum (the temptation to just “Caliber Winfield” it is enormous): http://www.quebrada.net/columns/old/30.htm

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Plum Mariko

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.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- AJW Wrestlemarinepiad ’95

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.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- Wrestlemarinepiad ’94

Joshi Spotlight- Thunder Queen Battle

THUNDER QUEEN BATTLE:
AJA KONG, KYOKO INOUE, TAKAKO INOUE & SAKIE HASEGAWA (AJW) vs. DYNAMITE KANSAI, MAYUMI OZAKI, CUTIE SUZUKI & HIKARI FUKUOKA (JWP):
(31.07.1993)
* I remember hearing about this match, or another with the same rules, years ago, and I totally fell in love with the idea. It’s basically an “Iron Man Tag” with eight people, but with a twist: The match starts out with two people in the ring, going for five minutes. Then another two start a match. Then another two, and finally the two Team Captains wrestle for five. Any falls counted in there count towards the total. And then the remainder of the bout is a forty-minute tag team bout, all falls again counted.

It’s a really amazing idea- the four separate matches to start act as “filler” and give the audience something different to look at (a 60-minute multi-tag match would get tiring no matter how good it was- too many bodies), and the Joshi style LOVES “early pinfall flukes” in matches where it wouldn’t be a disappointment (2/3 Falls matches tend to have one fall last a very short amount of time), so there’s some real drama. And then it’s 40 minutes of balls-to-the-wall action. The Joshi tag style is all about pinning someone and dealing with their partners running in, so it gets some good psychology going (you can’t just MDK someone; you have to MDK them AND have your teammates hold off three other people). And this match features bragging rights, as it’s three top names from AJW and JWP (rival companies), with each one sporting a Good Young Rookie Future Star. This is only a few months after the legendary Dream Slams- huge interpromotional shows that saw AJW drop some pretty big losses to other companies’ stars, and forging a good working relationship with many.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- Thunder Queen Battle

What the World Was Watching: WWF Superstars – October 7, 1995

Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler, and Jim Ross are calling today’s action and they are still in Valparaiso, Indiana and on the campus of Valparaiso University.

Read moreWhat the World Was Watching: WWF Superstars – October 7, 1995