Joshi January continues! This little post started out about Momoe Nakanishi and me reviewing a DVD I got 6 years ago. Anyway I was watched a couple matches and realized that the real hero was Kaoru Ito. Well shoot, I'm down with that. She's a great wrestler that unfortunately doesn't get the love because she was pushed at the tail end of AJW after many of the stars left. But Ito made the absolute best of it and had some fantastic battles. Here's just a sample from 2000 & 2001.
Kaoru Ito vs. Manami Toyota (AJW 09/17/00): A great title fight for sure. There's plenty of crazy moves and action going on. Ito uses her double stomp quite a bit at the end but any criticism is unwarranted as its a strike move like a lariat or elbow. Toyota is an absolute punishment sponge and if you think it's going to take 1 or 2 stomps to win then, you're mistaken. So the folks complaining in the comments on the YouTube page... c'mon. What's a more fair criticism is that they did kind of stick to working around the one corner for the final part of the match. Kinda like if you get stuck in a corner playing a wrestling video game. That said they really made the very best of this almost like the final portion of a ladder match. But that's me just going after the haters. Personally I thought it was a great match. Ito's move set is comparable to Kyoko which meshes well with Toyota. What I like about Ito is that she isn't trying to out work or keep up with Toyota. She's probably Toyota's last great rival in AJW.
Momoe Nakanishi & Nanae Takahashi & Kaoru Ito vs. Mima Shimoda & Etsuko Mita & Kumiko Maekawa (AJW 12/9/00 - Cage Match): An absolute war from beginning to end. Ito was an absolute beast in this match. And not in an unbelievable way either. LCO and Maekawa beat the snot out of in the late stages of the match but her powerful style along with her size advantage kept hope alive. I'm not a giant cage match fan but having to have everyone out of the cage to win is so much more exciting and dramatic than having only one member needing to escape. I'm not going to go into much more but this is exactly what I had hoped for and more. If you know a little bit of Ito's history then there's a moment that pushes this into the stratosphere. All time classic cage match.
Momoe Nakanishi & Nanae Takahashi & Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe vs. Manami Toyota & Mima Shimoda & Etsuko Mita & Kumiko Maekawa - (AJW 2/28/01 - Elimination Match): 30 minutes of mayhem! There was so much action going on that it was difficult to tell what was happening. This was especially true early on before any eliminations happened. But let's say this, being eliminated meant something different for Toyota's heel team. Or that's how they understood it This was a classic match but with an asterisk. The footnote is that recommendation or rating is based on the brutality, creativity and execution of the match. This was not as deep of a match story wise and I wouldn't say that they built the drama to the fullest potential with the eliminations. But this match lived up to my expectations in terms of the wrestling/fighting.
Yumiko Hotta & Manami Toyota & Mima Shimoda vs. Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe & Momoe Nakanishi (AJW 04/01/01): Similar full tilt madness like the above match but with Korakuen Hall as their playground. So we get some really creative spots as a result. What also was pretty great is the each teams' seconds got in the fighting. Maekawa was especially involved. I think I would have preferred her to Hotta as a participant but I think they are building Hotta vs Ito up down the road. Hotta just doesn't seem to have the stamina she used to. This was not an elimination match so everyone was working 27 minutes solid. So I can understand her not having as much juice by the final portion (...actually only Momoe seemed to have a lot gas left in the tank). So having her play role towards the end of the match didn't seem as impact ful as one of the main heels. But that's my only nitpick.In some ways the actual action was better than the elimination match above. I don't want to sound like a broken record but I thought this was another classic. It was not a retread of the elimination match and if you're into the brawling chaos then I think you need to see this just as much as the others. Oddly enough this wasn't on my Momoe DVD but is online.
Momoe Nakanishi vs Kaoru Ito (AJW 07/08/01): Absolutely fantastic match and finish. I think what made this something special is that they stuck to selling the same story the whole match. There wasn't any time where Momoe powered up, blew off all of punishment and did 3-5 explosive moves. In fact, Ito beat her from pillar to post. Momoe was lucky to get one bit of offense in. And not in the way that Ito just hogged the match. No Momoe would get countered, blocked or overpowered. In a really subtle way, she often couldn't get to where she needed to be in time because of her severely weakened/damaged state. This was exceptionally well paced and thought out. A classic match in my book.
This was an absolute joy to watch and feel a little dumb sitting on these for so long. I made the time and am glad I did. Now you might be a little skeptical of my high ratings and I don't blame you. I could be wrong but this looks to be one of the last if not the last great programs for AJW (I think Momoe vs Maekawa folds into this and sets the stage for later Ito vs Momoe and the last couple Ito vs Toyota in 2002). I may think better of these matches as I'm partial to latter day ECW & FMW and some folks don't care for the style. But if you've got similar tastes then you should absolutely check these out. I think most are available online if DVDs aren't your thing