I decided to take a little break from JWP. No way I was going to meet my self imposed deadline. Instead I thought I would switch stuff up and watch the best of Megumi Kudo. As an FMW and joshi fan, it's a bit crazy that I've only seen like 2 Kudo matches and some clips. I skipped the one's I've seen 04/02/93 AJW and 05/05/96 Combat Toyoda retirement match. Oh I have seen the first inter-promotional match with Toyoda vs Bull & Bonito in 1992. That's covered in my 1992 FMW post from a couple years ago. I watched her other most highly recommended stuff as well as some other matches that may have been overlooked. If you're unfamiliar with her, she's Jaguar Yokota trained and AJW dojo grad. She wrestled there for a couple years until they gave her the boot as they just didn't think she'd be popular or have anything for her. Along comes Onita and FMW a couple years later. Same for her friend Combat Toyoda. Kudo's style reminds me of a baby face Mayumi Ozaki. Her move set also seems influenced by Misawa but those things are observations on my part.
Megumi Kudo vs Combat Toyoda - Street Fight (08/04/1990): 7 minutes of beating the crap outta each other followed by like 3 minutes of wrestling. I'm all for that! This is very good stuff. In contrast to what JWP was doing in 1990, this was pretty crazy shit.
Megumi Kudo & Combat Toyoda vs. Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada (05/05/93): Fierce fight in Kawasaki Stadium! The rematch from their 04/02/93 fight. All kinds of great action with Combat being spoiler since she's so much bigger than the AJW team. They did a great job containing Toyoda and beating the crap out of Kudo. If it was anyone else I'd be concerned but I knew she could withstand the pain until she could get Combat in there. Great match with a great final third for sure. The outdoor atmosphere was awesome too!
Aja Kong vs Megumi Kudo (AJW 12/06/93): Great title fight! The opening mat wrestling was pretty awesome. After that Aja dominated Kudo until she finds an opening mercilessly attacks the champ's arm. It's a smart way for the smaller wrestler to get an advantage. Aja sells it all beautifully throughout. It's a slower paced match even towards the end as they are milking the drama of the FMW joshi not just surviving but defeating the baddass AJW WWWA champ. Again this was a great match and in my mind shows Kudo's skill as a singles wrestler beyond just death matches. I wish I knew why they showed Jaguar Yokota... Aja references her post match I assume... perhaps it is in reference to her training the both of them. Jaguar seems to get a little emotional. Later Kudo cries which I think is her thing like Onita. She seems pretty sincere here.
Megumi Kudo & Aja Kong vs. Combat Toyoda & Bison Kimura (FMW 12/21/95): Great tag battle between class of 1986 AJW. This might be as good as the Toyota/Yamada match above as these teams are similar in size & styles and of course the familiarity and backstory are greater. The 05/05/93 match was probably a smoother fight but this felt grittier and more FMW. Bison was great and I've missed her..just blazing choppin' the fuck outta people. I would've like to have seen an Aja/Kudo tag run in either FMW or AJW. They are great together! Gladly could have gone a couple more minutes. I liked it a bunch.
Megumi Kudo vs. Shark Tsuchiya (FMW 12/22/95 -First Ever Women's No Rope Barbed Wire Death Match): This was first No Rope Barb Wire joshi match but on 09/05/95 there's a handicap joshi tag match where they wrap wire around the ropes and boards on the floors. I could only find shaky zoomed in hand cam stuff otherwise I would have watched it. Kudo refers to Sapporo in her pre and post match interview (thankfully subtitled) so I was to find that out if you're interested. This match started out a little slow with Shark dominating Kudo but eventually things pick up when she makes her comeback They did a couple really great spots with the wire. Shark's seconds interfered during the match which annoyed me at first but once Kudome's friends helped her, it evened out. Excellent spot with the sickle, super dangerous. Of course it was best when Kudo was in control. Very good match. I'm guessing this was super gnarly at the time. It would have flipped my lid had I seen it back then -Cobra clutch with a barb wire kendo stick still is pretty awesome. Brutal finish too.
Megumi Kudo vs. Shinobu Kandori (FMW 12/11/96) : About 15 minutes of all action...you know they could have gone longer. Kudo was the standout for sure. Kandori's performance was good and it got the job done. The story is about Kudo overcoming the badass that is Shinobu Kandori. She was indeed a badass who turned quite a few of Kudo's routine holds/moves into pretty intense submission holds. There were some really great moments too. I dunno, I thought this was a great match. Maybe I appreciate Kandori more after watching JWP 1990 stuff.
Megumi Kudo vs Shinobu Kandori (Street Fight - LLPW 01/05/97): Almost missed this one but caught it thanks to BAHU's Megumi Kudo bio. This takes place in LLPW. A great match. Very much an FMW type match with good wrestling and spots with tables & chairs and even a chain. The finish was pretty awesome and involved that chain. My only gripe is that it was very much a tale of two matches. Kandori controlled one half and Kudo controlled the other. I think the Kandori half on a whole was not as exciting from an action standpoint. It made sense though so I can't fault it too much. I think this had potential to be a near classic and that's what I am commenting on. It was 20 minutes and maybe this would have been a classic if it were closer to 15? It was really chaotic and I think that helped keep my interest when things slowed down towards the end.
Megumi Kudo vs. Bison Kimura (Jd' 01/16/97): Yup next day. No gimmicks just Bison vs Kudo. And this was a great match! I think what makes this a better match fundamentally than the street fight above is that it felt more natural. There's transitions from offense to defense. There are little windows where one might get an advantage that get closed as soon as they're opened. We get brawling on the floor, we get some chair and table stuff but more importantly, we get a match that has a good layout and pace. Awesome finish too. It's a simpler, shorter match and doesn't have the memorable spots like the street fight but is just as great.
Megumi Kudo vs Shinobu Kandori (No rope Barbed Wire - FMW 03/14/97) : This was super exciting at the beginning with both wrestlers trying to avoid the wire. After Kudo went into it though it was dreadfully dull. This again was kind of like each person controlling 1 half of the match. Things did pick up when Kudo did a dive over the wire to the outside. This set up the list part of the match. This part was pretty good actually but that should be a given, right? It didn't help matters that the crowd was very quiet. I think Kandori's control section was about her trying to get heat by stomping, cutting Kudo but it didn't work really. It just didn't have a lot of energy, spots or anything to spice it up. I think Kandori felt the novelty of her being in a barb wire match would be enough? Don't get me wrong, Kandori gets the wire pretty good a few times and this is the way to end the feud but I thought this was the weakest of the three matches. This needed more wrestling in the middle. Folks doing the 1997 yearbook liked this more than me so, check it out nonetheless.
Megumi Kudo & Bison Kimura vs. Lioness Asuka & Shark Tsuchiya (Bunkhouse Death Match - FMW 03/28/97) - This OK but Bison is chained up for a good portion and Lioness and Shark beat up Kudo. Kudo makes some comebacks and eh its not worth your time considering the line-up.
Megumi Kudo vs Mayumi Ozaki (Double Hell Barbed Wire - FMW 04/18/97): Argh! If only there was a full version of this out there! Little clips don't matter too much but there's a big clip where suddenly Ozaki is not only in control but she's power bombing Kudo. Yet a few seconds earlier on the tape, Kudo is rolling Oz back in the ring after doing a diving splash onto the barb wire boards on the floor. Anyhow the 3/4ths of the match that's shown is awesome! They are just flying into the wire trying to dish out as much punishment as possible. And they are actually wrestling and bumping the whole time as well. Their styles are pretty similar where both are athletic, tough and not afraid to take bumps. It actually feels like competition. They are not going for drama as much as danger. Who knows what was actually omitted but some key transitions must be on the cutting room floor. What's shown is great though. This would probably be a classic if shown in full. That said, you should check it out!
Megumi Kudo vs. Shark Tsuchiya (FMW 04/29/97): This was a very good and sometimes great exploding/electric barb wire death match. I think it was a fitting retirement match for Kudo. This features one of the best uses of the sickle by Shark who actually attempts to slash/stab Kudo while she's down on the mat. Shark is pretty limited in her offense but what she did got the job done as Kudo provided most of the good stuff but also took some nasty bumps. She's seriously tough. The finish is kinda cheesy as they did similar stuff during the Attitude Era, later WCW but, hey they didn't get blown up during their matches! It works here so I'm not complaining it's a nice end to this post and her active wrestling career.
This was a pretty cool project. It's something that I didn't plan on. It just sort of came together on its own. I'm definitely a fan of hers now. I think if she were to have gone to JWP, she would have eventually had a good clutch of classic matches with Dynamite Kansai, Ozaki, as well as had those inter-promotional matches too. I just don't think the caliber of opponents in FMW was up to her standard other than Toyoda. All that said, in FMW she is the queen of the joshi and a star right up there with Onita and Hayabusa. So one cannot fault her one bit. I was going through an old post and I think there was a rumor that some women from AJW wanted to go to FMW back in the early 90's. I feel like they were appeased by the inter-promotional stuff throughout the early & mid 90's. Thankfully! For Kudo's & our sake we got a bunch of great memorable battles.
I'm going to take a little break from Joshi in February and focus on watching FMW. This Megumi Kudo post acts as a segue into that. But I'm definitely not forgetting JWP 1991 or the couple other projects I have planned.
Thanks for reading!