BUDOKAN MIDSUMMER NIGHT- DISCOVER NEW HEROINE (Day Two): (Aug. 13th 1996):
* It’s the next day of the “Discover New Heroine” show! This time we get three straight rounds of the tournament, ending with a final match in this Rookie/Veteran Team tournament concept!
Tonight’s show is INFAMOUS for injuries, with two particularly brutal, violent-looking ones absolutely flattening some of the “New Heroines”. And, of course, those are the VERY TWO women going all the way to the final match!
In addition, we get the worked-shoot U*Top Tournament, where 3/4 of the fighters in it are of course big joshi stars who beat no-name European girls to move on. So come see rookies with potential teaming up with veterans giving mostly half-hearted efforts in matches half as long as the usual joshi contests… which actually kinda suits the style a bit more as the bouts have less padding than joshi typically does.
DISCOVER NEW HEROINE TAG TOURNAMENT ROUND TWO:
MEGUMI KUDO & KAORI NAKAYAMA (FMW) vs. BISON KIMURA & YUKI LEE (JD’): * Most interpromotional stuff typically involves “Someone vs. GAEA” or “Someone vs. AJW”, so FMW & JD’ mixing it up is interesting for the time period. Both teams are the only representative of their company left, so it’s kinda anyone’s ballgame. Bison & Kudo notably were part of the same AJW training class in 1986. Bison & Yuki are in blue & white again, Kudo’s in black and Kaori’s in red & white.
BUDOKAN MIDSUMMER NIGHT- DISCOVER NEW HEROINE (Day One): (Aug. 12th 1996):
* Welcome back to AJW, as they release this MONSTER interpromotional show in mid-1996, at the Budokan Hall! It’s just like the old days- AJW! FMW! JWP! JD’! GAEA Japan! Holy crap! It sounds like the biggest show in Joshi history… except it’s this weirdo “Veteran + Rookie” Tag Team Tournament so every match has amateurs in it, AND there’s also the U*Top Shoot Fight tournament on the same show, lol. MoskowDiskow, who regularly posts here, says this is one of those “the Matsunagas were losing their shirts so they let Rossy Ogawa book a show, and he did some weird Gimmick Show” situations.
Cagematch says this drew 4,500 to the Budokan, which is pretty crazy, but might be a lie… and also 4,500 is like 1/3 full, so if that’s papered/lying then HOLY CRAP. So this show is largely seen as a disaster. This show is also apparently quite infamous for injuries, but only on Day Two. So come see future stars and washouts give some decidedly iffy performances and take easy falls to veterans! And the “Joshi Style” wrestled in 5-8 minute matches instead of 16-minute wars!
DISCOVER NEW HEROINE TAG TOURNAMENT ROUND ONE:
AJA KONG & YOSHIKO TAMURA (AJW) vs. CHIGUSA NAGAYO & SAKURA HIROTA (GAEA Japan): * Okay, so Aja/Chigusa is a huge “get” for a match, as their eras only barely overlap, and Aja was very young when Chigusa retired. I’m like “who the frig is Sakura Hirota?” but it turns out she’s making her DEBUT here, and is a new GAEA trainee to join the other recent ones this year. She’s actually still wrestling, making this a NON-washout GAEA hire! She’s a long-haired rookie in a pink Arena swimsuit (which was worn by Mariko Narita before her, but Narita vanished from the biz). Aja’s still a big, pushed star, and Yoshiko is a rookie getting a very sudden lot of emphasis. Aja is giving Chigusa the death glare to end all death glares, here- like I’m watching this on YouTube and even I’m kinda scared.
AJW JAPAN GRAND PRIX 1996 (Part Three): (Aug. 16th & 23rd, 1996)
* And we finally finish the Japan Grand Prix 1996! This one has a handful more clipped matches, but this time we get full clips of the Semi-Finals and Finals, plus a bunch of other bouts! Reggie Bennett vs. Yumiko Hotta and Aja Kong vs. Kyoko Inoue! Also, Etsuko Mita vs. Mima Shimoda in the battle of Las Cachorras Orientales! Plus the legendary rivalry of Manami Toyota vs. Toshiyo Yamada in a tag match, with each paired up with a rookie the company is desperate to focus on. We get the token “flukes can totally happen in round robins” stuff and end with a truly great match- sadly the only one in the tournament.
THE FINAL JGP RESULTS:
-So… more or less what I expected, especially the top four. The big surprises to me are Yamada being above Takako (even by 2 points), and Shimoda rising up that high (even though I figured she SHOULD be, AJW has been half-assed about her singles stuff). Tomoko & Yoshida also did quite poorly… but looking at the tournament, they’re both way lower in the pecking order than almost everyone else, so it’s probably inevitable. But just kind of a shame, and shows a lack of foresight, especially with Yoshida. Poor Mita being in the BOTTOM FOUR seems to sign her death knell as a performer (she even JOBS TO ASARI, looking at the tournament record), so it’s a wonder she’s a main event tag wrestler by 1997- the return of LCO seems to save her career. ASARI’s two wins are over Mita & Yoshida, actually.
AJW GRAND PRIX 1996 (Part One): (July 14th 1996)
* It’s time for another Grand Prix show! Though sadly, this one is 90% clipped matches- AJW was really cheaping out on tapes as profits fell by this point, I think. We do get a full Yumiko Hotta/Aja Kong match and they’ve had some REAL bangers, and a Manami Toyota/rookie vs. Kyoko Inoue & Chaparrita ASARI match, as AJW gets serious about pushing ASARI, though!
The opening clip shows Manami Toyota’s two 1995 Title wins- against Aja Kong and against Dynamite Kansai, then clips of other women’s faces beside the 3WA World Title and a Manami promo. Finally, the entrants enter the ring wearing sashes to denote their entry- we have exclusively AJW wrestlers this time around, meaning there’s no fun Interpromotional stuff, sadly. This one drops the concept of “Blocks” and is now a single 12-woman round robin tournament.
Our Participants: * Kyoko Inoue: the heir apparent to the 3WA World Title and Manami’s longest rival. Probably gonna win, if AJW’s typical way of doing things holds true. * Aja Kong: The dethroned champion. Was maybe gonna be pushed down the ranks like past champs, but is now just there again. * Yumiko Hotta: Has now been training for shootfights for a while, but AJW wants to keep using her as a great “threat” to any top wrestler, despite never beating them. * Takako Inoue: Amazing, underrated wrestler, but never QUITE pushed to the next level. Is All Pacific-level now, and if they’re smart, this should be a big run. * Kaoru Ito: Now the highest ranked of the Class of ’89. Clearly meant for big things. Will probably earn middle ranks. * Tomoko Watanabe: A rising star who is just now picking up some wins in tag matches. Has a bright future, and will probably score some suprise wins and earn middle ranks. * Mariko Yoshida: Has been back from injury for a year, occupying an uncomfortable “middle ground” between pushed stars and midcarders. If they’re gonna push her, now’s the time (she’s easily better than either Ito or Tomoko at this point). * Mima Shimoda: Now the current Tag Champion and has been in successful teams for a year now, but never quite does well in singles. They seem to see a future in her, so she should HOPEFULLY do well. * Etsuko Mita: Now without Shimoda for most of a year, she’s floundered in the midcard, and has likely entered the “Suzuka Minami” role of being a gatekeeper. Probably won’t do well. * Reggie Bennett: Foreigner powerhouse with some big title runs last year- again, a strong contender to do more, especially as she’s not as “tired” as the other stars yet. Her introductory interview, in English, was clearly not planned out ahead of time (“with the, uh, opposite belt and won the uh, six-man championship…”. * Toshiyo Yamada: Gone are her All Pacific runs and now she’s just kinda ambling about the company. Injuries and motivation seem to have done a number on her. * Chaparrita ASARI: No chance, but a stupendous acrobat they still wanna do things with. She has super-long hair now and no longer looks 13. Obviously gonna be in last place.