I've got a few New Years Resolutions and watching more Joshi is one of them. It's been a while so doing a spotlight on one of my faves Mariko Yoshida seems like a great way to get back into this style. As always, I'm cherry picking but here I'm omitting her stuff from 98-99 Arsion on purpose. I think I should do a separate post on that. Enjoy!
Kyoko Inoue/Takako Inoue/Mariko Yoshida vs. Cynthia Moreno/Etsuko Mita/Mima Shimoda (AJW - 08/15/92) Great 6 woman tag match! Intensely fought from start to finish. Everyone was doing something at any point of the match. It get like each team truly wanted to score the victory. This is probably a better example of Shimoda and Mita performance than Yoshida but it is a really exciting start to this post.
Kyoko Inoue vs. Mariko Yoshida (AJW 08/30/92) - This was an OK match. If you really like 10 minutes of half crabs, this is your match! Seriously, it was getting close to a SKIP but I fast forwarded to shorten the time killing half crabbing after watching 7-8 minutes. And the last 5 minutes are super exciting. Those final minutes totally save this but 5 minutes in a 15 minute match can't diminish the first 10 minutes of boredom...and I like "work a hold" wrestling. That is not Kyoko's strong suit.
Mariko Yoshida vs. Manami Toyota (AJW 08/30/92) - Same night as above, not a typo. Lord reegrus! That was an awesome match! A classic and a great example of the high level that Yoshida was working at early on. Excellent work on offense and consistent selling of her arm pain. That and she very nearly matched Toyota's athleticism. She was less reckless with her body (good or bad). Yoshida was much better on the mat though and the holds were much more interesting and engaging than what Kyoko did. Toyota's work here was also pretty strong. Here in August 1992 these two were peers in my view. Yoshida very definitely is in the same class as Toyota, Inoue, Yamada, etc. at this time. I really strongly feel if injury did not sideline her, she would have moved her way up with them. What is bothersome is that she was kept down in the bookings after her return. I understand the company & the show must go on but it seems like AJW thought she would just get injured again. Perhaps that's true but also why she changed her style.
Yumiko Hotta vs. Mariko Yoshida (AJW October 9, 1994) - A very good, almost great match. I would say most of that quality comes from Yoshida's gutsy performance. She utilized her aerial skills but her submission skills and toughness are what kept her in the fight with the brutal Yumiko Hotta. She did not back down and in fact opted to use strikes of her own against the hard hitting Hotta. Of course Yoshida got a bloody mouth for her trouble.
Yumiko Hotta & Kaoru Ito vs Manami Toyota & Mariko Yoshida (AJW 06/18/97) - A very good tag match. It was rough around the edges but it was acceptable since it was so brutal at times. Double foot stomps to the spine & Toyota trying to stomp Hotta's head like a giant grape are two memorable instances. Yoshida & Toyota brought the more interesting offensive maneuvers where Hotta and Ito's attacks were of the cringe inducing variety. They were just so stiff. Toyota had a taped cut that got reopened but I'd think she had some far worse internal damage. I'm not aware of a story they were trying to tell here but it was really enjoyable and the Toyota & Yoshida team was most interesting.
Lioness Asuka vs Mariko Yoshida (Arsion 07/03/01) - This was a great fight that meshed grappling, brawling and big moves into one. I honestly would have liked to see more matwork early on but what was done was good. I got the point across that Asuka hadn't lost her wrestling skills with age or in her brawling/hardcore style change. They put the hurting on each other in this one. Hard fought and at 14 minutes+ and it could have gone on a few more and I'd have been quite happy.
Lioness = Bad Ass
Check out Asuka's arm on the right
Manami Toyota vs Mariko Yoshida (Arsion 11/25/01) - This is a match that they could have done in AJW years earlier had the split not happened. In a way it wasn't too dissimilar than their match in 1992 at least in terms of parity. Sure Mariko was the submission queen at this point but Toyota wrestled this no different than she normally does. Maybe that's what hold this back from being great. She never really truly sells the damage that Mariko should be inflicting on her. Toyota wanted to get her shit in whereas Yoshida wanted to create some tension. Toyota just popping up afterwards doesn't totally ruin anything as she had been doing that for at least 6 years at this point. It would have helped make this a great big time match rather than just a very good one.
I think this was a excellent way to get back into Joshi. It's been quite a long while since I've watched anything. That surprises me since I preferred it to men's wrestling for years but frankly there were some let downs in 1996 AJW that kinda soured me on it. I definitely will be watching more stuff prior to then- Late 80's-94 . I know I am missing out on some really good stuff especially JWP. I think I want to revisit Mariko Yoshida 98-99 also. It's been quite a long time.. I do have some 2000's stuff in mind to watch too so, it should be fun!
Everything here is online and easy to watch except the Lioness fight. I have that on a DVD compilation. I highly recommend the 6 woman tag (its in the full 08/15/92 show), the Toyota fight from '92, the 1994 tag and the Lioness fight if you can find it. Those are all absolutely worth your time.
Thanks for reading and happy 2023!