This is a project I wanted to do for a good while now. When I decided to watch all Joshi this month, this it the one I've been itching to start all month. Jetlag has done an awesome overview and Quebrada.net's reviews are really great as well. I've used those as my guide. As Jetlag has said, so little is talked about this era. I hope to add a little bit to the conversation. For reference here's Jetlag's Microscope topic: https://forums.prowrestlingonly.com/topic/39849-early-jwp-pre-splitinterpromotional-era/#comment-5816331
I have the dates first because that's how I organized the matches originally. This started out pretty small but mushroomed because I enjoyed the neck out of this stuff. Some stuff I watched in chronological order but there are some I skipped ahead to or snuck onto my watch list towards the end. So sorry for any confusion you might come across!
04/22/90: Plum Mariko vs The Scorpion
Not sure what to make of Scorpion beforehand but I like her and the masked gimmick. She displayed a lot of spectacular lucha type moves. Plum was just sort of there to make those moves look smooth. But hey, she did an awesome job in doing that. This was a fun match. A very nice start!
05/25/90: Cuty Suzuki & Oscar Tomo vs. Mayumi Ozaki & Yukari Osawa
Really glad that I checked this one out. It was a good tag match. Ozaki and Osawa are heels with Cuty and Oscar as baby faces. What's great is that the heels don't really get into brawling and using weapons as you'd see in AJW around this time. They take shortcuts in the ring but when the action picks up down the stretch they have the wrestling skills to rely upon. Ozaki is already on her way to being awesome. She has a ton of personality and her moves are immediately identifiable as her own.
05/25/90: Itsuki Yamazaki vs. Plum Mariko
I really dig Yamazaki from the Jumping Bomb Angels so its cool to see that she went to JWP. Really good match that's veteran vs up and comer. Everything looks really good and builds very nicely. They wanted to put on a really well wrestled match that makes sense and gets the fans pumped to see Plum get an upset victory. Much more competitive than the above match.
06/14/90:Eagle Sawai vs. Maiko Tsurugi
Only have seen Eagle a couple times and Maiko is new to me. Anyhow, the moves and action is a little simpler than the match above but the story is much stronger. Maiko is getting the advantage on Eagle. But Maiko gets hurt due to outside interference. Eagle then goes to work on that injury. Can Maiko survive? Very good stuff.
06/14/90: Plum Mariko & Cuty Suzuki vs. Miki Handa & Utako Hozumi
A good fast paced match that got more interesting with a restart and a hot finish. Plum and Cuty are a pretty fun team to watch. I wouldn't mind seeing more Handa & Hozumi as they develop.
06/14/90: Mayumi Ozaki vs. The Scorpion
Another very good match! Closing in on a great one actually. I think in part it just had those big moves towards the end or something. I mean Scorpion does a moonsault and Ozaki does a springboard cross body block for instance. That said there is a good portion of quality matwork as well. Scorpion seemed at Ozaki's level.
07/19/90: Shinobu Kandori vs. Harley Saito
This is stylistically UWF meets 80's Inoki Strong Style. Nothing has been like this at all so far in JWP. Later 80's Crush Gals would do the shoot kicks but nowhere as stiff as this and not this type of grappling. It is tremendously intense and nasty at times. I think if the filming was more than fixed camera, this would be even nastier. Harley is just soccer kicking Kandori in the head for instance. It very rarely feels cooperative. One thing I've noticed is the frequent use of pinning moves in JWP at this time. That is the case here as well and I appreciate it as its going for the win by any means. I also appreciate the refs who actually count the shoulders on the mat. That plays a part here. I don't know if I could call it a classic match but it's certainly memorable, influential and highly recommended stuff. A great match without a doubt. Post match stuff is sick too!
08/12/90: Mayumi Ozaki & Rumi Yasuda & Yukari Osawa vs. Cuty Suzuki & Plum Mariko & Miki Handa
Haven't heard great stuff about this but I wanted to see a 6 woman tag in JWP. One of the others I was looking for cannot be found. Plus I know all of the wrestlers at this point and it has potential. And yeah this lived up to the potential. Fast paced stuff with Plum & Ozaki being the most impressive. Plum gives Ozaki a dangerous looking backdrop also. Really fun stuff, good match. I really like the pacing and competitive nature of these JWP matches.
08/12/90: Devil Masami & Itsuki Yamazaki vs. Miss A & Harley Saito
Pretty darn good match. Devil and Itsuki did all kinds of cool stuff here. This is a longer match but I think they filled the time very well. Miss A and Harley weren't necessarily putting the other team in constant danger however Devil and Itsuki couldn't put them away either. That would give the younger wrestlers and opportunity to find an opening with their kicks. I think a faster paced match would have been more exciting but they wanted to go longer. They even snipped a few minutes from the footage. I'm not sure it needed that because it didn't drag at all. The veteran team knew how to control the excitement even when the pace slowed down.
09/30/90: Rumi Kazama & Shinobu Kandori vs. Devil Masami & Itsuki Yamazaki
Oh this was a great tag match! Shinobu & Rumi are not necessarily heels in deed but the fans are against them. Devil & Itsuki might be heels but the fans like them especially against Rumi and Shinobu. Or that's my point of view. Nonetheless, this is a match that pits the shooter style against the entertainment style of Joshi more than above. And Devil and Itsuki are old guard entertainment style and I imagine the tension is real in ring. It's great because everyone is professional about it and it makes for a really exciting & intense back and forth match. Seeing Devil toss around Rumi is pretty enjoyable. Some might find the finish corny but it works!
10/10/90: Plum Mariko & Cuty Suzuki vs. Mayumi Ozaki & Rumi Yasuda
A clear face vs heel match which is a lot of fun. Hair pulling, biting, running the face along the ropes etc. Everything was well executed and honestly Cuty Suzuki actually wrestled well here. I'm not a big fan as we go further into the decade but perhaps the simplicity of the matches is in her favor? I wouldn't say this is a need to see bout but its fun. Also online this is listed as from 12/12/90 but double checking Quebrada as well as the finish of the Miss A/Saito vs Kandori/Kazama match, this is 10/10. Same with the below. 12/12 must just be either the tape or TV episode date. I've listed it accordingly.
10/10/90: Devil Masami & Itsuki Yamazaki vs. Eagle Sawai & Moon Ayako
So yeah, Devil and Itsuki are the best tag team in the promotion. I shouldn't be surprised but this was almost a squash in that no way were Eagle and Moon going to win but this was really fun stuff. That enjoyment was pretty much all from Devil and Itsuki. They just have so much charisma and great ideas on how to work little matches. 5 minutes was cut from the footage but no matter. It was a blast!
10/10/90: Miss A & Harley Saito vs. Shinobu Kandori & Rumi Kazama
I watched this the following day after the great 07/19 match. I look to this as the follow-up to that battle. I definitely think is the case or the way to watch it. This was great and perhaps a near classic with the story of that singles match (and aftermath) giving this some depth. This is more like a traditional tag match despite both teams being shoot wrestling but the intensity and stiffness is still there. Miss A/Dynamite is really laying in her kicks. Like Shinya Hashimoto, they thud. I just thought everyone was great here. There were a few callbacks to the 07/19 bout that really made this something special. I'm a tag wrestling fan and I think I liked this better but certainly the singles match needs to be seen to fully appreciate this.
11/11/90: Miss A vs. Devil Masami
Whoa! This was a great match! Stiff intense battle from two of the larger wrestlers. There were less pin attempts and more power moves as a result. Therefore it felt like a big-time match with the established star Devil fighting the up and coming Miss A. Miss A/Dynamite Kansai already looks like a star in '90. There's no underdog story here. Its Miss A challenging Devil head on. The middle portion might put some folks off as they settle into some mat work but its purposeful and aggressive enough to keep things going. Again this is more like a heavyweight men's match than a hyper Joshi fight with reversals, roll ups etc. And this is only 15 minutes long, so even if you're not feeling it, the mat work transitions to the exciting conclusion rather quickly. That said, this section didn't bother me in the slightest. I'm just responding to criticism that I have read. I thought it was a good way to bring the match pace & energy down a little bit in order to have the end ramp up into something truly exciting. Works for me! Its on the JWP Best Match - Single matches compilation for a reason.
12/7/90: Plum Mariko & Cuty Suzuki vs. Mayumi Ozaki & Rumi Kazama
Had trouble finding this but its on the JWP Best Of Tag Matches 1990 tape and you should be able to watch it searching for that tape title. Anyhow, this was a great match on its way to being a near classic. They never got into top gear but everything looked great. Constant action, always going for an reversal or an escape of some sort. I don't get hung up on joshi mat work as any more than a way to slow things down while putting a hurt on your opponent. Same thing goes here. Plum's different leg lock moves were awesome so I'm not going to complain that they didn't end the match. For a 13 minute match this was a blast!
12/24/90: Rumi Kazama vs. Mayumi Ozaki
Great match that I haven't seen any praise for. Ozaki is already a bad ass and Rumi is definitely more than just Kandori's lackey. I just thought that JWP is like an alternative to AJW. It doesn't seem as polished as AJW but makes up for it in grit and hate. That's what makes JWP great in 1990 really. It all feels like a honest athletic competition. This match is a great example of that but also goes into high gear with great action and moves in the end. Really glad I went out of my way to watch this.
Overall, this has been a fantastic project. Part of that feeling is not having super high expectations. In actually only the Kandori vs Harley match had a real must-see vibe. I think it lived up to that as it is so intense and unique. But I really took a liking to JWP's stuff in 1990. I'm always skimming the cream off the top because I have a bunch of other stuff to watch but this stuff made want to search out stuff not talked about or, if talked about, it wasn't recommended. Even those matches I enjoyed to different degrees. I think in some part this just seemed very Indie Japanese wrestling. Everyone was busting their asses to put on entertaining matches. What many lacked in technique, experience or pizzazz, they made up for in heart & fight. As I said in a few reviews, matches felt like competition with wrestlers always trying for a quick pin or for a chance to get another stomp in. It reminded me of my fondness for W*ING, IWA Japan, WAR, Michinoku Pro and FMW from the 90's. I definitely put JWP 1990 in that category of excellence now.
I'm going to go onto 1991 next! Thanks to Jetlag for paving the way and thank you to the folks who have posted these matches online. As always- Thanks for reading!