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: JWP (May to July 1994)

JWP IN 1994 (May-July):
* So here’s a short collection of JWP bouts from that YouTube channel I found, mostly timed to spring 1994. August 1994 is VERY well-represented, and so will have its own review a couple weeks from now. Some of these I’m not EXACTLY sure on, as the tiny promotion often had the same people wrestle a lot. Tonight, there’s a handful of filler, and then a pair of VERY good tag matches, one of which features AJW’s Suzuka Minami teaming with Hikari Fukuoka against a demon team of Devil Masami & Mayumi Ozaki!

MAYUMI OZAKI vs. FUSAYO NOUCHI:
(May 1994)
* High-ranked Ozaki takes on the rookie Nouchi in a shorter match. Ozaki’s in red, and Nouchi’s in that white/red/cyan one. And it’s that cool arena with the big theatre stage and curtain on it!

Ozaki, a real pro, jumps Nouchi early and drags her up the steps to the stage (inching them both past an obstacle), and bodyslams her on it, then strikes a pose. She beats on Nouchi in the ring and does a submission that’s equal parts casual and fucking painful-looking, holding it for ages, even biting Nouchi’s hands and tauntingly holding her hands close to the ropes. They bite each other’s feet and Nouchi mounts a mini-comeback, with Ozaki selling the holds more with disgust than with pain, like this is some sort of nuisance to her. Ozaki SLAMS her into the mat for two, demanding the audience’s applause for it, then counters a tornado headlock takeover with a backdrop, but misses the Cannonball Senton- Nouchi gets a victory roll for two, but Ozaki stuffs her comeback and hits a backdrop suplex hold for three (9:16).

Rating: ** (Ozaki’s so great- a completely one-sided bout, but she makes both her stretching and Nouchi’s seem fun with good character bits)

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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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GLOW vs. AJW (and other Dream Matches)!

Welcome to a second edition of Dream Matches for this week! aka “I already reviewed these matches once so it’s just a cheat to re-use them”. This one features some fascinating stuff between “People who know how to wrestle” and “People who had two weeks of training and were just sent out there” as All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling (AJW/Zenjo), one of the best workrate promotions in the world, somehow thought it would be a great idea to get the women from GLOW to visit Japan and wrestle their stars in the huge Retirement Show of Chigusa Nagayo!

Most GLOW girls were just wannabe actresses given a modicum of training and filmed doing simple stuff, but it became a pretty big fad for a year or two in the 1980s. Meanwhile, AJW’s wrestlers could do some state-of-the-art stuff, like the Jumping Bomb Angels, and were among the best wrestlers in the world (like Jaguar Yokota, who trained some of the AJW women seen this night).

I’ll also throw on a couple of other bouts here- didja know that Jamie Noble wrestled as a jobber in WCW? Well you will tonight, as he takes on HARDWORK Bobby Walker! And also another look at Terry Taylor’s forgotten 1992-93 WWF run as he takes on Mister Perfect on an early ’93 RAW!

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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: 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- AJW TV (Feb. 18- Toyota/Yamada vs. Kyoko/Hotta)

AJW TV (Feb. 18th 1994):
* Weirdly, I somehow nearly missed this one entirely. A random check of Grand Prix matches from the summer somehow showed U-Channel’s two February AJW shows uploaded. I mean, I normally work a bit ahead, and this BARELY made it on time. I normally search names in English & Japanese, so I shouldn’t have missed this quite so badly. But in any case, here’s a pair of TV shows with likely some fairly edited shows.

ETSUKO MITA, TOMOKO WATANABE & RIE TAMADA vs. SUZUKA MINAMI, CHIKAKO SHIRATORI & KUMIKO MAEKAWA:
* It’s a combination of Giant, Rookie & Bottom-Tier Wrestler, though Tomoko way outranks Chikako at this point, so Minami’s practically fighting by herself. Rie’s in white & red, Tomoko’s in green & blue, Mita’s in black, Minami’s in red & black, Chikako’s in blue & white and Kumiko’s in the jobberiest blue swimsuit ever.

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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: AJW St. Battle Day 1992

 

ST. BATTLE DAY:
(20.03.1992)
* This is actually a bit of a throwback (since I just finished going through all of 1993), as I initially couldn’t find the full show on YouTube. Maffew uploaded it as “Indie Uploader”, but he was banned for copywrite violations, but someone else was good enough to upload it when I bemoaned that fact. So here we are! Finally!

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: One of the better tag matches of the year and a truly important title-change… and one of the worst AJW tag matches ever- a smorgasbord for Botchamania! Watch what happens when technical wrestlers try lucha!

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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: 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: 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 Super Whirlwind

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT: AJW SUPER WHIRLWIND:
(05.09.1993)
Only one match from this show appears to be on YouTube, but the rest of the card doesn’t look too promising, aside from one match. This gives me the opportunity to review that one, then make notes on the two big Joshi shows that I already reviewed, but putting them more into the context of what’s been going on in the promotions, having seen much of 1993 so far.

The tag match itself features Takako Inoue & Yumiko Hotta fighting the reformed Marine Wolves- Akira Hokuto and Suzuka Minami.

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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 TV (Aug. 5th, 1993)

AJW TV SHOW (Aug. 5th, 1993):
* So in the midst of the never-ending AJW Grand Prix, here’s an August TV show I found! It was taped at the Kasumigaura Cultural Gymnasium in Kasumigaura, Ibaraki on August 5th, airing Aug. 13th, and features a Grand Prix match between Akira Hokuto & LLPW’s Harley Saito! There’s also a pair of Big Monster Veteran (vs) Up & Coming Undercard Wrestler matches.

So highlights here are a one-time-only bout (Hokuto/Saito I do not believe ever met in singles competition again), and the goddamn Dragon Ball Z theme song being used as an entrance theme. Plus the truest test yet for Bat Yoshinaga after a fairly impressive year for the up & comer.

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JWP Thunder Queen Battle

JWP THUNDER QUEEN BATTLE:
(31.07.1993)
* And now we come to what is possibly JWP’s biggest show ever- the Thunder Queen Battle! I actually reviewed the Main Event early last year, as it’s one of the most famous bouts in Joshi history- an 8-Person Tag Team Iron Woman Match! It’s one of those things that’s just ***** or you’re wrong and that’s that- it’s that good. But hey! There’s OTHER matches on the card, too! Every match on here features JWP’s stars in a “home field advantage” show against AJW stars- still big business as this was a brand-new thing. Everything on here is a never-before-seen spectacle as a result, drawing a lot of attention.

Everyone comes out for the match announcements to start the show, mixing up business casual (Ito, Minami), “Fashionable Teenager” (Sakie), ’90s skateboarder (Hotta), “Peter Griffin” (Aja), or just “company t-shirt and shorts” (most JWP wrestlers). Whatever Ito says cracks up everybody, while Minami positively TOWERS over people in the most 1980s suit ever- a red business top with huge shoulder pads and stark-white pants. JWP’s rookies (Candy & Sumio) look positively terrified to be doing promos in front of a live crowd- their eyes are wide as dinner plates. Aja & Kansai get the biggest reactions- it’s weird to see Kansai kind of smiling and snarking given how serious she normally is.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: Pretty much every Joshi fan automatically gives the main event *****, and it’s the most unique, once-only match stipulation I’ve ever seen. And there’s another **** match in the middle! Otherwise, it’s good old-fashioned interpromotional mayhem, with a lot of one-time-only matches.

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