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: 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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Joshi Spotlight: AJW May Storm ’94

AJW ZENJO MANIA- MAY STORM ’94:
(02.05.1994)
* From Korakuen Hall is the next big AJW show, with a lot of really, REALLY long matches, possibly to fill time and “justify” the ticket prices, and also to put over the resiliency of the athletes, I think. This show seems to have a theme of “rookie showcasing”, as the opener is massively long and between two of their smallest young stars, and the next two feature Kumiko & Sakie, a rookie and up & comer respectively, being murdered by their elders. This Korakuen crowd is hot as FUCK and stays that way all night long, giving even the rookies a huge ovation for big moves. As usual, you have to track through one guy’s YouTube channel to find these multi-part matches.

“TL;DR: Why Should I Care?”: The show ends with two fantastic matches, and nearly every bout is a testament to either joshi’s insane cardio or their invincible spinal cords. Also, a crowd that’s into EVERYTHING. Also, proof joshi invents everything with wrestling’s first-ever One-Winged Angel. By accident, but it counts!

ZEN NIHON OZA KETTEI TOURNAMENT:
RIE TAMADA vs. CHAPARRITA ASARI:
* Tamada beat ASARI on the last show, so this is a rematch, and the finals to some kind of tournament. ASARI’s in the neon yellow with silver puffy bits, and Tamada’s in black & orange.

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Joshi Spotlight: AJW Super Hurricane ’94

AJW SUPER HURRICANE:
(09.04.1994)
* Here’s another named AJW show, hailing from the Sendai Miyagi-ken Sports Center! Tonight is actually more of a return to form after several All-AJW shows in a row, as we see LLPW’s wrestlers back into the mix, with three Interpromotional matches (including a rarity tag match), plus Manami/Kyoko vs. Bull/Sakie, as Sakie Hasegawa is put in a match with AJW Main Eventers yet again! Oh, they knew what they were doing. This arena looks CRAZY-empty, especially at the start of the set. As usual, this one is split up on an ancient YouTube set. You can find it all here: https://www.youtube.com/user/ringstarfield/search?query=SUPER%20HURRICANE%E3%80%80%E9%9D%92%E8%91%89%E5%9F%8E%E4%B8%8A%E9%99%B8

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: Three “Dream Match” interpromotional bouts and some of AJW’s best wrestlers put their “Main Event Effort” into things. Mima Shimoda showcases her new drive, Kandori’s her arrogant best, and Bull Nakano takes on AJW’s fastest workers.

CHAPARRITA ASARI vs. RIE TAMADA:

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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: AJW TV (April 1994) & Wrestling Queendom Recap

AJW TV (April 13, 1994):
* And it’s time for another 1:20:00 AJW TV show (taped March 30th, only three days after Wrestling Queendom ’94), this one featuring two big tag matches! LCO, newly crowned JWP Tag Team Champions in a WAR with Cutie Suzuki & Mayumi Ozaki, take on the UWA Tag Champs, Yumiko Hotta & Takako Inoue! There’s some Okinawa Resort Convention highlights, as they visit the islands far to the south of Japan, home to the former Ryukyu Kingdom and the origins of karate. Our hosts are the usual AJW guys, plus Jaguar Yokota and Akira Hokuto in a Hawaiian shirt, looking much more like a human being instead of the mythical creature she turned to in 1993. It’s honestly weird seeing her just shoot the shit. She does commentary for this show.

Sweet! More ads! Problem Child with Macauley Culkin! Chips! Max Factor! Guys tapdancing for KDD! Some cartoon face I find immensely disturbing! And an ad for World Heroes 2 Jet, with Mudman performing in Swan Lake, lol. Some boy-band duo called “class” is releasing a new single called Holiday! Some smutty CD-Rom video game! Final Fantasy VI!

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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. 27- Manami/Yamada vs. Aja/Sakie)

AJW TV (Feb. 27th, 1994):
* Here’s another AJW TV show, though I could only find two matches from it, making this a shorter review. One match missing off of what was taped is Bull Nakano beating Etsuko Mita- another thing is Numacchi’s retirement. So Saemi Numata had been jobbing throughout most of 1993 and engaging in some pretty horrible matches (and one miraculously “pretty good” match by Mayumi Ozaki), including jobbing big-time to both Akira Hokuto & Reggie Bennett, losing in 10 seconds and 3 minutes, respectively (in a promotion where it can take ten minutes to kill off a rookie). Her last bunch of bouts were in Oct. 1993, and one match in Jan. 1994, so I dunno what happened. Either injures or “you know what? There’s no future as a comedy jobber in AJW” and she was done. A few years later we’d get Tanny Mouse in a similar role.

Other, unaired matches: Chikako Shiratori & Kumiko Maekawa d. Rie Tamada & Tomoko Watanabe (that’s kind of a shocker- Tomoko way outranks everyone), and Suzuka Minami d. Mima Shimoda.

YUMIKO HOTTA & TAKAKO INOUE vs. KYOKO INOUE & KAORU ITO:

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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 Champion Legend 1994

 

AJW OTA-WARD CHAMPION LEGEND 1994:
(01.24.1994)

* And now, with 1993 complete in my Joshi runthrough, here’s the first big event of 1994- the Ota-Ward (I assume that’s a region, since the arena’s called “Tokyo Ota-ku Taiikukan”) Champion Legend show, headlined by Aja Kong defending her WWWA World TItle against AJW’s toughest wrestler, Yumiko Hotta, in a super-disgusting fucking match that involves a BLOODY HAND. And also Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada defend the World Tag Titles against LCO! Read on!!

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: This is an unsung candidate for “best short show ever”, as it’s three ****+ matches in a row- the shittiest match on this card is ****1/4. Aja/Hotta is also a must-see in terms of brutality, and this is LCO’s first TRULY awesome tag match in a long, legendary career full of them.

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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 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: Legendary Goddess III & St. Battle Final Recap

Yes, that’s the image they put on the cover. They knew what they were doing.

LEGENDARY GODDESS III- MANAMI TOYOTA:
* And now it’s Toyota’s turn for her own “LG” tape release. This one actually contains two matches I’ve seen- one from the previous tape! The non-match bits are actually quite short, featuring her modelling (humorously, thanks to the wind machines to blow her hair around, she has to blink rapid-fire, making it look super awkward), walking around and buying something from a collectible shop, and a short interview.

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Joshi Spotlight: Legendary Goddess I-II & Wrestlemarinepiad Recap

LEGENDARY GODDESS I- TAKAKO INOUE:

* So the “Legendary Goddess” tapes are an octet of VHS releases at the tail end of 1993, each about an hour long, featuring a spotlight on one particular AJW wrestler. The top eight stars of the company at the time each had their own, with the UWA Tag Champs having theirs first. These LG tapes feature an odd thing where some tag matches have a laser-focus on only one wrestler- one camera man follows only the focus of the tape around, even if she’s just on the apron. Having watched most of them by this point, I notice that almost every single match is taken from the same handful of shows, as I recognize the unique arenas (“bright one with low-lying balconies”, “one with the giant stage behind a see-through curtain” and “outdoor arena one with dirt in the stands” being the most notable ones).

“TL;DR- Why Should I Care?”: These tapes are a quirky look at some wrestlers, showing tours of their apartments or shots of them eating, and some of the matches are high-quality “House Show Effort” performances that give you a better sense of what a typical show from AJW is like. Also I toss in a recap of Wrestling Queendom I.

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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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