Joshi Spotlight: The Interpromotional Era Begins!

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- AJW TV (Sept. 21, 1992)

-Hailing from the Morioka-shi Ice Arena, it’s another episode of the AJW TV show! And also, the first-ever Interpromotional Match, which exists online only in clipped form, I guess! So read on if you want to see how the most legendary era in Joshi began!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: The Interpromotional Era Begins!

Joshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix ’92 (Finals)

AJW GRAND PRIX 1992- FINALS:
(30.08.1992)
-And now we FINALLY come to the end of the months-long AJW Grand Prix. The story thus far has been the dominance of Aja Kong & Manami Toyota (who shockingly BEAT the Ace-adjacent Kong in a big upset at Korakuen Hall), with Kyoko Inoue right behind them. Mariko Yoshida has also impressed very well, as despite being on the “lower rung”, sorta (she’s well below her rookie classmate Kyoko, who was given a mega-push first), she’s in high-profile positions all over the place, has been made to look good, took both Kyoko & Sakie Hasegawa to 30-minute draws in big showcases of her stamina, and more. It seems like she’ll be given a big push going forward. Toshiyo Yamada also did well enough in non-televised stuff, hitting the semis. All five women will wrestle tonight, with the winners hitting the finals immediately following. The rest of the matches are made up of other tournament wrestlers being paired up.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: One of the best multi-person matches I’ve ever seen is on this show, and you get to see just how much work everyone’s willing to put into their matches, as everyone goes to 15+ in the Grand Prix.

AJW GRAND PRIX FINAL STANDINGS:
Wrestler: Points:——–Wrestler: Points:
Manami Toyota 9.0—–T. Yamada 8.0
Aja Kong 8.0————Mariko Yoshida 7.0
Takako Inoue 6.0——-Kyoko Inoue 7.0
Suzuka Minami 5.0—–Akira Hokuto 4.5
Etsuko Mita 5.0———Sakie H. 4.0
Mima Shimoda 5.0—–Yumiko Hotta 4.0
Bat Yoshinaga 4.0——Miori Kamiya 3.0
Tomoko W. 3.0———Debbie Malenko 3.0
Cynthia Moreno 1.0—-Terri Power 3.0
Bison Kimura 0.0——-Kaoru Ito 1.5

Semi-Finals: Manami Toyota (vs) Kyoko/Mariko; Aja Kong (vs) Toshiyo Yamada
Finals: Toyota/Kyoko/Mariko (vs) Aja/Yamada

So there’ll be a tiebreaker between Yoshida & Kyoko tonight, then the two Semi-Finals- Aja/Yamada & Toyota/(winner of Kyoko/Yoshida), then the Final match. Of interest here is how closely this mirrors the standing in the company of the girls, save Hokuto getting a low score (injury?), and Takako being unusually high compared to Minami.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix ’92 (Finals)

Joshi Spotlight: Kanaami Death Match!!

BULL NAKANO VS. AKIRA HOKUTO- KANAAMI DEATH MATCH:
* Okay, so this review will be a little bit different, as I can’t find the whole AJW tape (mostly featuring a Fuji TV Tag Tournament of random partners) on YouTube featuring this match, and what DID make the tape was either cut to shreds or had some bad injuries wreck things. So instead I’ll take the one match I can find, and combine it with some AJW TV shows recorded by Roy Lucier’s YouTube account! Dude actually has a couple of AJW’s shows… OH MY GOD WITH COMMERCIALS!! Japanese commercials from the early 1990s!

The other matches in the show:
Fuji TV Tag Tournament: Etsuko Mita & Takako Inoue vs. Mariko Yoshida & Sakie Hasegawa (7:20 of 14:37 aired).
Fuji TV Tag Tournament: Manami Toyota & Mima Shimoda vs. Bat Yoshinaga & Tomoko Watanabe (10:09). I would imagine Toyota’s team won. Shimoda apparently got a bloody nose.
The Kanaami Death Match goes here.
Fuji TV Tag Tournament: Akira Hokuto & Toshiyo Yamada vs. Marikyo Yoshida & Sakie Hasegawa (2:44). Stopped by a back injury to Sakie.
Akira Hokuto vs. Mariko Yoshida (0:23). Restarted as a singles match, which Hokuto immediately ruins by using a weapon.
Bull Nakano, Bat Yoshinaga & Tomoko Watanabe vs. Aja Kong, Miori Kamiya & Kaoru Ito (9:01). Bull pins Ito after Aja accidentally Urakens her. Despite their long-standing fued, the two titans apparently “buddy up”.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Kanaami Death Match!!

Joshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix ’92 (Part Two)

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Ever wanna go on a backstage tour of Korakuen Hall? This show lets you do that!  By proxy of an Attitude Era-style brawl!

AJW JAPAN GRAND PRIX ’92 (Part Two)- BOMB BLAST FEVER POINT

(07.05.1992, Tokyo Korakuen Hall)

-The second of three tapes devoted to the AJW Grand Prix, which lasted for three months and had a bunch of tapes between it. The last tape is only from the week before, so most of these people are well-travelled already. This is one of the lowest-rent of the tapes, though, as many of the matches are cut down by half.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: Ever wanna go on a backstage tour of Korakuen Hall? This show lets you see it! Via Aja Kong & Manami Toyota inventing the Attitude Era Main Event Style! The early matches are clipped to death and not very good, but the latter bunch are great, though not the classics we’re used to seeing weekly at this point. Also, a joshi handicap match, further proof that great things were expected of Mariko Yoshida, and more!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Grand Prix ’92 (Part Two)

Joshi Spotlight: AJW Beat Power Oh-Mi-Yah!

AJW BEAT POWER OH-MI-YAH!
(27/06/92; Omiya Skate Center)

-Time for another full AJW show- this one 2:30:00, and hailing from the… Omiya Skate Center? That’s apparently in Saitama, Japan. The arena is dark and the sound blows on this tape, too. We’re right in the middle of the AJW Grand Prix (with a few matches tonight), Las Cachorras Orientales has formed, and Toshiyo Yamada just defeated her partner & friend, Manami Toyota, in a big part of their long rivalry. And part of what makes that interesting is tonight… they defend their WWWA Tag Titles against two of AJW’s top wrestlers- Akira Hokuto & Kyoko Inoue! THAT’S gotta be awkward. Meanwhile, it’s another shot in the Aja/Bull feud (they’re in a 6-Woman Tag), Mariko Yoshida defending the “Rookie Belt”, and tag partners Sakie & Debbie fighting on the lower card! Actually, it’s a lot of interesting match-ups tonight.

LOL and the video’s opening straight-up gives away the finish of the Main Event. This is like those anime episodes where it’s like Dragon Ball Z: Cell Kills Android 18 And Takes His Final Form, And Also Yaumcha Dies! This country doesn’t appear to have much of a thing about spoilers.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Beat Power Oh-Mi-Yah!

Joshi Spotlight: Yumiko Hotta

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JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- YUMIKO HOTTA:
Statistics:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’6″ 159 lbs.
Trained By: AJW Dojo
Career: 1985-today (still active!)

-One of the longest-serving Joshi still active, Yumiko Hotta was a great worker and a tough, credible name for decades, but is far less well-known than most wrestlers at her level, especially in the West. My best guesses as to why:

1) Spent most of 1992-1995 (generally considered the “Peak of Joshi” by most, including Dave Meltzer) as the lowest-tier Main Eventer around. So if she was in the Main Event, she was losing and “Looked good in defeat”. So she wasn’t as memorable as her contemporaries.
2) Didn’t get a true World Title run until 1997, after Joshi had fallen into a backslide, and was the Ace of a gutted AJW with a diminished roster. This hurt her credibility as a top name.
3) Was “skipped over” for a mega-push compared to many later talents (Aja Kong, Akira Hokuto, Manami Toyota, etc.).
4) Not as charismatic as her contemporaries.
5) A penchant towards no-selling and booking herself as dominant, making her a prominent case of the “Elder Joshi were Selfish” stereotype that plagued the industry.
6) A tendency to join companies just as they were dying.
7) Her overall milieu (a short-haired, powerful wrestler with lethal kicks, a martial arts background, and a Powerbomb finisher) was identical to that of her contemporary, Dynamite Kansai… who was better than Hotta in every possible way.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Yumiko Hotta

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: Korakuen Super Charge

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Manami Toyota- Not just Meltzer Hype. She actually IS that good.

AJW KORAKUEN SUPER CHARGE:
(04.01.1992)

-Going back to the early days of AJW’s mega-cards, I figured this’d be a good place to start if I’m going to review the rest of AJW’s stuff (that I can find online, anyways). This one seems to have the theme of the stars of the future wrestling each other- the top acts aren’t here, but the #3-10 ones seem to be. Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada keep their rivalry going, and Akira Hokuto tries to prove again that she’s one of the best in the world against Kyoko Inoue.

Unfortunately, a large chunk of the card is un-findable on YouTube (even translating the names into Japanese and searching THAT gets nothing), but the final two matches are the real stand-outs anyways. So instead I found the only match I could find from ANOTHER show and threw that one in. This is an interesting time, as the “Interpromotional Era” hasn’t started yet, and Aja’s still rising up the card, so people are kind of… jostling for position. Manami’s also using the offense she’d soon drop, as I see that odd Butterfly Lock/Leg-Trap move all the time.

“TL;DR- Why Should I Watch This?”: Three matches, all at **** or better. Meltzer rated one at *****, too!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: Korakuen Super Charge

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 ****.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom 1997

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- 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: 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.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW Wrestling Queendom I

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.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight: AJW/LLPW Nagoya Super Storm

Joshi Spotlight: Plum Mariko

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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 ’93 (Part One)

AJW WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’93:
(09.10.1993)

It’s the fifth Wrestlemarinepiad! With the Dream Slam having happened earlier in the year, “Interpromotional Matches” are the new norm! This led to a series of increasing houses for the various joshi companies in a new age, though of course this had that issue you always run into- once you escalate things to that point, what are you going to do once the fans get bored… or worse, if you eventually stop co-promoting stuff and have to go back to regular shows? But tonight, we have a ton of Main Event-quality matches that are also Dream Matches in many regards!

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- AJW Wrestlemarinepiad ’93 (Part One)

Joshi Spotlight- Wrestlemarinepiad ’89

AJW WRESTLEMARINEPIAD ’89:
The Day the Music Died (06.05.1989)

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- Wrestlemarinepiad ’89

Joshi Spotlight- Random Grab-Bag (LCO & Toyota!)

So here’s a random assortment of matches I’ve found- some of the most fun to be had on YouTube Joshi searches isn’t with spotlighting only one wrestler or one show, but by jumping all over the place, finding interesting little things here and there. Some of the best workers of the early ’90s were paired up in all sorts of interesting ways.

But don’t worry if you don’t like it- the next batch will be more focused- the first two Wrestlemarinepiads, a Grand Prix thing from 1993, and maybe a history of a few Joshi promotions.

Read moreJoshi Spotlight- Random Grab-Bag (LCO & Toyota!)