Joshi Spotlight: Harley Saito

Ewzzy — Harley Saito & Bull Nakano with Nunchucks

Harley Saito in one of her most memorable spots- going all “A FELLOW ‘CHUCKER, EH?” on Bull Nakano.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- HARLEY SAITO:
Real Name: Sayori Saito (aka Halley Saito, Harley Saito, Karula)
Billed Height & Weight: 5’5″ 148 lbs. (though she seems MUCH shorter than that- dwarfed by the 5’8″ Suzuka Minami)
Career: 1986-2012

-And now for a bio on one of the unsung workers of the ’90s Boom of Joshi- the late Harley Saito!

Harley is somewhat notable for the fact that her wrestling style was INCREDIBLY similar to that of Sean “1-2-3 Kid” Waltman, sharing his rapid-fire kicks (including the “multiple kicks then a jumping spinkick” in the corner) and many other moves. Like, it was seriously a Dynamite Kid/Chris Benoit-like “wait a second” kind of similarity, here. I have no idea if Waltman ever saw Harley’s stuff, but it’s uncanny. Her style is a modification of what I’ve heard called the “UWF Style”- the martial arts-themed theatrical kicks and submissions, but done way more rapid-fire, as the diminutive Saito didn’t have the hitting power of say, Dynamite Kansai or Yumiko Hotta. This leads to a lot of high-workrate matches as she could fly around like the acrobats of joshi, too.

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Joshi Spotlight: LLPW Women’s Sparkling Fireworks

Thankfully, this uploader (Joshi Puro Oshi) puts all their stuff in a playlist.

LLPW WOMEN’S SPARKLING FIREWORKS (LLPW vs. AJW):
(11.09.1993)

* This show has popped up a couple of times during these Spotlights, as I recognized this extremely distinctive arena (looking like a high school gym with high bleachers on one side), but didn’t realize that these matches were all from the same show. This actually precedes the mega-show LLPW vs. AJW: Nagoya Super Storm by a couple of weeks, meaning this is much less of a big deal. But in that, you kind of get some freedom- silly matches, squashes, true rarities, etc. The Main Event is the cap-off to the Akira Hokuto/Rumi Kazama mini-feud that’s sprouted up over these shows during the summer months, while the Ace of LLPW is in a unique tag match right before the main, and AJW’s Ace is facing a jobber.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: So the interesting thing from a “wrestling nerd” perspective is all these stars you rarely find on these shows otherwise, plus things like utter squashes. LLPW is throwing mid-tier star up against top-tier AJW foes, but also dumping many of their lower-tier stars in one-sided contests against big names. Some of the matches are clipped, but not by much.

The crowd here is REALLY sparse at first, with empty chairs seen everywhere. And there’s four weirdos who spend all the matches sitting in the aisle while facing the crowd, then stand up to block the fans during entrances. Are these out-of-work train workers?

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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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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom 1994

AJW WRESTLING QUEENDOM 1994:
(27.03.1994)

-So with the rousing success of the first Wrestling Queendom event in Nov. 1993… comes a SECOND WQ show only five months later! The timing on AJW events is always so weird for that. This time, they’re hailing from the big Yokohama Arena, drawing 16,500 apparently! Generally, the same sort of stuff is going on- AJW is feuding with JWP and LLPW separately, there’s occasionally some FMW stuff, and people are trading titles between promotions. AJW finally won back their WWWA Tag belts from JWP, but lost the Japanese Tag belts in the interim, for example. Akira Hokuto finally traded her win back to Shinobu Kandori to “end” their epic feud, but now she’s… TEAMING UP WITH HER?!? Good lord this show is crazy.

“TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?”- Two matches hover around the “Perfect Match” level, and that’s not even including the Manami Toyota bout. Lots of great interpromotional hate, big moments, and the Main Event has a ton of character and huge moves. Plus there’s a great Rookie/Ace contest.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom I

AJW WRESTLING QUEENDOM I:
(28.11.1993)

Wrestling Queendom is the name of the new “biggest show in Joshi”, effectively replacing Wrestlemarinepiad after a point as the top-tier AJW event. At this point, however, it seems to mostly be standard-issue “Dream Bouts” and not “Main Eventer vs. Main Eventer” stuff.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch It?”: This is a FANTASTIC night of wrestling, with several matches at ***3/4 or better, one of the greatest Survivor-type bouts ever, and most importantly, every match feels completely different from every other match- a Big vs. Little bout, a Power Match, a Toyota-Style MOVEZ Match, Rookie Mayhem, two hateful tag bouts (one of which is an Attitude Era brawl), and more.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW/LLPW Nagoya Super Storm

AJW NAGOYA SUPER STORM:
(29.09.1993)

This show is placed just before Wrestlemarinepiad ’93 and the huge St. Battle Final, which “capped off” most of 1993’s Interpromotional Feuds. Instead of being all about the various companies, it’s themed around All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling vs. Ladies Legend Pro Wrestling, with almost every match being along those lines. Though this event’s a bit odd compared to the others, in that it’s not a mega-show featuring Main Eventers fighting each other- it’s instead a show of complete blow-outs! Okay, so that’s not ENTIRELY fair, but for the most part, every single match on here, I could tell you who was gonna win before they rang the bell, just by virtue of star power. Hell, even the Main Event is telegraphing the end, to me. That doesn’t mean the matches will be BAD, of course- plenty of great matches were foregone conclusions, and Japan is good about giving a “good showing” to the losing party. So let’s see what we got!

TL; DR- Why Should I Watch This?: It’s a fascinating look at some less-competitive “Dream Matches” of the interpromotional era, has a great “LCO Template” match, and one of those bouts that let you realize just why everyone was so high on Sakie Hasegawa for so long.

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Joshi Spotlight- St. Battle Final (Part Two)

AJW ST. BATTLE FINAL
(09.12.1993):

Part One

And we’re back! The previous part had six matches on it, while this one, of equal length, only features four. But HOLY CRAP are they incredible.

TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?: Because it’s got an even shot at being the greatest wrestling show of all time. Six matches break **** for me, and I’m pickier than any of the other Joshi fans on here, I think. It also culminates the stories of the 1992-93 stretch of Interpromotional Matches, especially the Hokuto/Kandori feud and the AJW/JWP Tag feud!

I actually split this with the final three matches being along, because HOLY SHIT this is probably the best ending to a card any show has ever had.

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Joshi Spotlight- All Star Dream Slam I (Part 2)

And now for the final part of my All Star Dream Slam review! Last time, we’d only had a couple of ****+ matches- here’s where the show gets GOOD.

Here’s Part One: https://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2019/06/28/joshi-spotlight-all-star-dream-slam-i-part-1/

Up next: probably the greatest stretch of great matches any show has ever had. This show (taking place on the 25th anniversary of AJW and intended to be a super-show as a result- thanks Manjimortal!) is one of wrestling’s legends for a reason.

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