Joshi Spotlight: Bat Yoshinaga

Bat Yoshinaga vs Tomoko Watanabe (Clipped) - YouTube

Sometimes I have the work of trying to sum up some of the greatest workers of all time in a handful of paragraphs! Other times I just have to sum up people like this.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- BAT YOSHINAGA:
Real Name: Eriko Yoshinaga
Billed Height & Weight: 5’4″ 165 lbs.
Career Length: 1989-94

-Bat Yoshinaga is one of those peculiar oddities where a wrestler is very poorly remembered, but only for their non-worked stuff. She was a perfectly cromulent undercard wrestler for much of her run (with a jobber tag team with stablemate Tomoko Watanabe in the early part, and as a martial arts bruiser for the last year or so), but on many of the most famous Joshi cards of all time (in particular the Dream Slams), she was in the worst matches- most notably, an infamously boring shootfight over her trophy WWWA Martial Arts Title. So this kind of equates “Bat Yoshinaga” with “UGGGGGHHHHH” in the eyes of many joshi fans, and since she was already gone by 1995, this kind of stuck to her.

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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!

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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 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 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: VIOLENCE WAR- Las Cachorras vs. The U*Tops (Steel Cage Deathmatch)

This one comes to us via Blog poster Evito-X-Puro, who, upon realizing that the full match was not uploaded anywhere online, posted the full version to their YouTube channel! So bask in the glory as LCO go completely insane in the match that made them semi-legendary to tape traders.

VIOLENCE WAR:
STEEL CAGE MATCH (Escape Rules):
LAS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES vs. THE U*TOPS:
(Wrestlemarinepiad 1997- 21.09.1997):
* This and the Aja/Kyoko brawl from the same year are probably the most famous matches LCO ever had- legendary brawls in the annals of Joshi. 1997 is a much different time for all four of these women- LCO (Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda) have been upgraded to Main Eventers, but only as a duo, thanks to their own greatness, and Shimoda’s multiple WWWA Tag Title reigns with other wrestlers. It’s really fun seeing Main Event LCO versus the “midcarders rising up” LCO of 93-95. Much more deliberate, and more confident- Mita always seemed like she had something to prove in 1993, but by ’97, she acted like she’d already proven it. And being so devoted to cheating that they have their own specially-made steel chairs is a master-stroke. They’re wearing reverse-colored versions of each other’s gear- two-piece outfits in purple & white.

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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 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: Tomoko Watanabe

One of those wrestlers who doesn’t seem great on most cards, yet will have one of the most buckwild brawls you’re ever going to see at random. Ever wanna see someone take a bump so insane in Korakuen Hall that I don’t even wanna spoil it? Look here!

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- TOMOKO WATANABE:
Other Names: ZAP-T
Billed Height & Weight: 5’3″, 161 lbs. (it shifted a LOT, though- she was slender in the early ’90s, chubby later and really wide in the late ’90s)
Trainer: Jaguar Yokota
Career: 1989-today (still active)

-Tomoko Watanabe is one of those wrestlers who was quite good at times and has hit near-***** in multiple tag bouts, but has the bad luck of having some of the worst matches on the best Joshi cards of all time, owing to the Botchamania Highlight Reel that was the early part of her career. She was… very clearly the worst wrestler of the “Class of 1989”, with Sakie Hasegawa being the obvious future superstar, and Kaoru Ito being better than Tomoko and ending up the Ace when AJW ran out of stars- both were a lot more athletic than the squat Tomoko. But still, she was okay! Eventually! I mean, it took a while!

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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 Grand Prix 1993 (Part Four)

The best match of the show! As always, ya gotta search & paste in Ringstarfield’s YouTube channel to get all the matches in succession.

AJW GRAND PRIX 1993 (Part Four):
(04.07.1993)
* Part four away! Once more, the tournament includes JWP’s Hikari Fukuoka & LLPW’s Harley Saito on different sides, meaning there’s a lot of never-before-seen Dream Matches here.

“TL; DR- What’s The Big Deal?”- One of those nights when almost every single wrestler is gunning to steal the show, so there’s multiple great matches all evening. Also, a BAT YOSHINAGA match nearly gets four stars.

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Joshi Spotlight: Manami Toyota Fights Twenty People

MANAMI TOYOTA FIGHTS 20 PEOPLE (30 Match Gauntlet):
(Christmas Day, 1995)

-So Manjiimortal shared this with the Joshi Boyz one day, and despite it being a bit out of the timeline, I figured I’d review it now since it’s kind of a funny anomaly.

So Manami Toyota is the newly-crowned WWWA World Champion of All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling, having defeated Dynamite Kansai to win her second title. And then they do this random thing where she has to wrestle a thirty-minute bout, but against TWENTY PEOPLE! AJW’s Jobbers and Main Eventers alike come out, and will alternate 1-minute matches against the Champion- if someone is pinned, they are immediately replaced. Since there’s 30 bouts and 20 wrestlers, some will get a second shot!

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom 1997

The main event, between Kyoko Inoue & Aja Kong. All the bouts are on this channel- just type in “Unified” or find out the names in Japanese and search that way.

AJW WRESTLING QUEENDOM 1997:
(23.03.1997)

-Aaaaaaaaaaaaand now we’re into the depressing year. 1997 is where it all fully went wrong for Joshi as a whole, but AJW wasn’t quite bankrupt here. What we now had was a very different company in a changing business, though, as the Joshi boom had hit big and then just DIED by this point. Admittedly it was kind of a “fad” thing and fads die out, but various other factors played into things. Kyoko Inoue was now the WWWA Champion, having defeated Manami Toyota to become the new top star… and sadly her reign was a complete box office failure. Perhaps because of that, this show is doing an interpromotional thing with Chigusa Nagayo’s GAEA Japan, but only with her rookies. So a lot of the undercard has GAEA girls on it. Otherwise, much of the card has people rapidly being pushed on it- the 3WA Tag Champs are Tomoko Watanabe and KUMIKO MAEKAWA of all people- a midcarder and a rookie as of last year! Kaoru Ito’s getting shoved into the Main Event spot, too- it’s like even with most of the old guard still around, they were desperate for people to fill the top spots.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: If you’re gonna love something, you should be there when it dies (ugh, I just compared a wrestling show to a dog being put down). And this is like watching the last hurrah of a company as it slowly falters and takes an eight-year lurch towards the grave. Okay, and the final three matches are all around ****.

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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.

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What the World Was Watching: Monday Night RAW – November 27, 1995

Vince McMahon recaps Shawn Michaels collapsing on last week’s show, taking the chance to remind fans that bad things can happen inside of the squared circle.

McMahon and Jerry Lawler are doing commentary and they are still in Richmond, Virginia.

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What the World Was Watching: Survivor Series 1995

Howard Finkel announces Mr. Perfect, who is returning to the company after a year and a half hiatus.  Perfect comes to ringside to serve as a color commentator.

Vince McMahon, Mr. Perfect, and Jim Ross are doing commentary and they are live from Landover, Maryland.

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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.

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