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  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. 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 Awesome stuff!
  4. It has been quite some time since I watched 1980's AJW. After getting a taste of a few of the classic matches of the 90's from a couple Best of the 1990's compilations, I was bit by the Joshi bug. I wanted to see what all of talk was about with Crush Gals. I have always been partial to wrestling from the 80's and I wondered some 14 years ago if it was as good as the stuff from the 90's.Well hells yeah it is! Just as wrestling changed for men's wrestling so did women's wrestling 90's. So as long as you know that then, you'll have a blast. Well, for as much as I loved it I got knocked out of its orbit. I was pretty much getting DVDs exclusively 6-7 years ago and didn't want to get burned with getting a defective DVD or 3 again. So anyhow, I have been meaning to watch some of the matches below for a long time and thank goodness people have posted them online. Perhaps its because AJW is defunct but there's a lot out there! (duh grandpa)... Anyways let's get started! Crush Gals vs. Devil Masami & Jaguar Yokota (09/04/84): A frenetic match with a frenetic camera. Maybe that's just how they shot TV AJW at the time. It was a little hard to follow but this was fun. I wonder if this is one of the classic matches of the 80's. I can't agree with that. They just did everything so fast and with little rhyme or reason and they never had any downtime to let anything have much meaning. Crush Gals vs. Devil Masami & Jaguar Yokota (09/26/84): Now this is more like it! Camera work is still not my favorite but its nowhere as crazy. That aside, this is a great match. I definitely think that the 2/3 falls format helps tremendously. They can go full speed ahead and it works. What's cool here is that each fall seems to be equal in length. Most times fall #2 is super quick and almost a formality. So this is a fireworks match that could just as easily taken place in 1994 or even 2004...they were so ahead of their time in terms of speed, athleticism and moves. I can still say they did rush through things a bit more than I would have liked. I would have liked some hot tags and those things. This was just a pedal to the metal fireworks extravaganza. Dump Matsumoto & Bull Nakano vs Crush Gals (Tag League The Best '85 Final 10/10/85): Great wrestling as theatre match. It's chaotic from the moment Dump and her crew make their entrance. Chigusa and Asuka are assaulted by all of the crew (who are all wearing masks and matching black outfits). Eventually they get things a little settled and Dump herself makes herself known and the match can start in earnest. 2/3 falls format makes this even better as each fall functions as a chapter in a larger story. Now this isn't a great "moves match" or even a great brawl but the hate and determination really is off the charts. A very very simple match but a great one. Crush Gals vs. Jumping Bomb Angels (09/14/1987): Wow! This was a classic fireworks extravaganza match. Bell to bell action that was perfectly executed. I'm not sure if there was a larger story or what but, the Angels really showed that they were on the Gals level here. There are little touches that you'd see in a slower fights like Asuka re-trying pins right after a kick-out. Unlike the Devil/Jaguar match (09/14), I felt they allowed moves time to sink in and allowed drama to build with their respective Ricky Mortons in danger (Tateno and Chigusa). The girls with pompoms chanting all match was electrifying as well. I'm sure this is one of the best pure work rate matches of 1987. Crush Gals vs. Jumping Bomb Angels (05/15/1988): Yeah there's a camera man that loves doing a super quick close up to where its fucking blurry and then immediately doing a fast zoom out that is fucking giving me a headache. It like a little kid with a camcorder. I bet he thinks he's avant garde but its annoying. People want to watch the match on TV not feel like they are in a carnival fun house. That's probably the producer/director telling them to do that. Once that scrap stops, I can actually pay attention to what's going on. And this is a good match. It's not as good as the above bout but it has its moments. I think they lose track of the legal participants towards the end and the one woman has one shoulder up facing the camera on the pinfall. I dislike that more than the legality stuff. So many refs don't even see the shoulders and start slapping the canvas because it is close enough. These are the same people who don't count even when someone's shoulders are down while locked in a hold!? Similarly, the person applying the hold also must keep their shoulders off the mat for a 3 count as well. I'm ranting...Joe Higuchi was one of the best at understanding the importance of these things. So this was kinda sloppy from the crew and not really the wrestlers. It was good and full of action but held back by these distractions. Liones Asuka & Chigusa Nagayo vs Bull Nakano & Delta Dawn (04/1989): Delta Dawn did not wrestle in the match. She basically just carried a giant boa constrictor around. That's ok because Bull wrestled both Gals along with an assortment of weapons and a crony referee. That referee actually got the shit kicked out of him by the Crush Gals and they eventually got disqualified. That didn't stop the mayhem. By the way the ref no sold head kicks and chair shots like Ultimate Warrior. This was all kinds of fun! Lioness Asuka & Chigusa Nagayo vs Akira Hokuto & Suzuka Minami (04/27/89): I rarely spoil a finish but I am going to. I'll say this was a pretty good match all in all.** spoiler alert** I think the structure of the third fall was a little bland as it featured dueling sleeper holds/chin locks. I think all 4 wrestlers applied the move as well as had it applied to them. It starts to pick back up like they are working towards a big finish especially when Lioness hits Hokuto in the face with a couple kicks then tags Chigusa back in and finishes it with a really crappy northern lariat. Joshi lariats are never really awesome as at very best they are like a good clothesline. Well this is not that good, it's anemic as if Chigusa was like I'm supposed to win, I wanna go home, this will do. I think a bulldog would have been cool instead. What was interesting is that this is close to Chigusa's compulsory retirement from AJW and she seems in a foul mood. The school girls are chanting like her & Asuka are baby faces but she's seems like she is not happy and is going to take it out on The Marine Wolves...especially in fall #2. This doesn't look like part of the story as like the third fall finish and maybe the whole sleeper hold stuff, she was just over it. Like "we're doing sleeper holds until I say we're not, got it?" Lioness spices it up with sick Dragon sleepers at least. Chigusa is like "we're going to get the school girls freaking out with the least amount of work...do some suplexes, and then I'll figure out a finish." I had high hopes for this as its something I wanted to see for probably more than 10 years now but it didn't live up to the hype. I can't end it like that though... Crush Gals vs Akira Hokuto & Devil Masami (GAEA 05/14/2000): Gaea 5th anniversary main event. Nostalgia? Yes, I'll take it. This was a great match even without it though. Devil & Akira are cheating heels, this is 2000's Joshi so from its pretty close to 80's Joshi...weapons are pretty much allowed in moderation As an ECW fan at heart, I can never say no to a couple chair shots thrown in for good measure. Crush Gals are bleeding but they won't go down without a fight. Tons of great moves, very chaotic in a good way... tons of charisma as well. I really liked this and am happy to end this on a more positive note. This started out as a 3-4 match quickie project but I kept finding stuff that looked interesting. That really says something about how great the Crush Gals were. They excelled in a variety of styles with a variety of opponents. And I only touched upon them as a tag team. They were fantastic singles wrestlers as well but that's for another post. Everything above is available online so if something strikes your fancy, do yourself a favor and check it out! This was a super fun project. Glad to revisit 80's AJW & I hope do it again soon. Thanks for reading!
  5. I was psyched to find this inter-promotional JWP show online. It's from right around the era I want re-explore. Having watched a ton of full Joshi shows, I skipped the following: Kumiko Maekawa & Rie Tamada vs. Fusayo Nochi & Hiromi Yagi, Command Bolshoi vs. Bolshoi Kid, and Cutie Suzuki vs Takako Inoue. Chigusa Nagayo vs. Mayumi Ozaki - Well, that was a war! I wasn't quite sure what to expect but the hate in this match was off the charts. It wasn't the quick burst of hate type match but more of a smoldering hate. Shit talking on the mic, stare downs, nasty looks and gestures and of course blood and kicks to the face. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't a fast paced match but I thought that it was wonderfully laid out. The match was almost a series of escalating encounters of violence. I could see some fans of more modern wrestling not liking this. In my book though this was a classic. Very distinct and memorable for sure. Kyoko Inoue vs. Candy Okutsu- From what I could tell, Candy was going to face a mystery opponent. Well here comes Kyoko! This was my favorite version of her - pulling out creative submissions, limited but energetic bursts of offense and using her strength/size while still being vulnerable. Candy I'm not too familiar with but I'm sure I've seen her before. She was really exciting here and I could draw comparisons to AJW stars, I think she's really her own wrestler. She reminds me of Mariko Yoshida at this time though. You can tell she's physically proficient, and can wrestle however she likes (at least in this match). Really cool near fall from Candy as well. All that said this was a great match. Bull Nakano & Devil Masami vs. Hikari Fukuoka & Sakie Hasegawa - Good match. I think it was a little bloated in the middle but overall it was enjoyable. I think if they could have stayed more focused after they went into the crowd (for some reason), this would have been very good stuff. The last third was pretty fun with lots of neat double team moves and that's what really saves it from just being an OK match. I don't think the outcome was in doubt so I question the booking a little bit though. Aja Kong vs. Dynamite Kansai - I've seen this rated as just an OK match. I disagree. I think it is great! It's at a pace that really requires patience with the story they are telling. It was different from what I've seen them in AJW and if you're going in with expectations based on that, I could see one's disappointment. When Kansai makes her move and shifts the direction of the match, it happens at just the right time. Had they waited one more move or done it in a less memorable way, I don't think the first part of the bout would have been worthwhile. You could just say 'well they were killing time.' Instead we get an awesome moment where Dynamite Kansai just pops Aja Kong right in the face and derails the momentum she had worked so hard to build up. Everything really just came together and happened at just the right time. The pacing reminds me of a Dory Funk Jr. match to be honest. If you're patient and stay invested in what they're doing then you'll be rewarded. I might even call this a near classic...or even classic in terms of timing and pacing. This show was a excellent example of the classic 90's Joshi period but with a twist. I'm not sure if it's a stylistic difference but these matches especially Chigusa vs Ozaki and Aja vs Kansai were more reminiscent of the slower early 80's AJW style. They focused much more on atmosphere and wrestling holds than speed and athleticism (think about AJPW 70s & 80's vs 90's style for instance). I enjoyed this quite a bit and plan to watch more JWP as a result. This is easy to find and totally recommend watching a couple matches if you're so inclined. Thanks for reading!
  6. 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. Our Hero 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!
  7. Basically a tale of two matches. When Yamada and Kandori are in the ring, it's gold--tremendous heat, and the action lives up to one's expectations of these two badasses going at it. The partners add very little other than making saves and taking up space, and things die off when they're legal. It's more like a singles match with two assist characters than a straight tag. Yamada throws kicks and Kandori twists her limbs in various directions, before Shinobu catches Yamada coming off the top in a Fujiwara armbar for a tapout. Somehow in the middle of a 10-hour show this match still felt rushed, but the action was good while it lasted and has you wanting to see these two women go at it again.
  8. Now we're back to 2013 AJPW...well Diamond Ring with the two top matches involving AJPW top talent. Its their 08/31/13 show. Akira Hokuto Produce ~ Women's Pro-Wrestling Special Tag Match: Yumiko Hotta & Nanae Takahashi vs Natsuki*Taiyo & Sareee - Clipped here and there but not much really. Good to see Joshi again especially with familiar faces like Hotta & Takahashi to a lesser extent. The younger and smaller team were new to me but they were a lot of fun. This was fun stuff! Hotta and Nanae blasted their opponents in the head a couple times and it was great - in true Joshi fashion. Diamond Ring vs. Voodoo Murders ~ Mitsuhiro Kitamiya Return Match: TARU, "brother" YASSHI & Kengo vs Osamu Nishimura, Satoshi Kajiwara, Mitsuhiro Kitamiya - Very much an Indie 6 man mid card match where you get a little bit of everything but not enough to really identify it as anything other than Good. I think a tag match may have been better. Also clipped a tad so was disorienting with 6 guys fighting at times. Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kota Ibushi vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Kotaro Suzuki - Here we have the first of two AJPW related matches. This was a great match. Kota Ibushi was the odd man out as I don't think there's much history with him & the others. Stylistically I don't think he fit as well. He is very good at what he does but thankfully he's not in there a bunch. The heart of the match is Burning vs Nakajima especially Kotaro vs Nakajima. Kotaro was on fire here and Nakajima wasn't far behind. Kanemaru brought his A game as well but is much subtle (like a Shiro Koshinaka or even Christopher Daniels) so you just expect him to be flawless and keep moving the story/match along. That said, this was the match I'd hoped for with a very different finish that was fantastic. I'd probably put this at **** or so. Kensuke Sasaki, Jun Akiyama & Go Shiozaki vs Suwama, Takao Omori & Kento Miyahara - A near classic match with stories weaving in and out. Kensuke vs Suwama, Suwama former Voodoo Murder member years ago seemingly dealing with the devil teaming up with V.M member Kento Miyahara. Shiozaki against his rivals Omori & Suwama, Miyahara opposing his mentor Kensuke and seemingly hating Akiyama because he exists. And Akiyama is this decade's Tenryu. And the action backs all of that up! ------ This was a enjoyable little diversion having the Kensuke Office/Diamond Ring guys mix it up with the AJPW roster. The two matches that needed to be awesome delivered. Only a few more shows/matches to go. Adding: Go Shiozaki vs Suwama (Triple Crown, 08/25/13) - I accidentally watched this after the Diamond Ring show. I think everything is like mid 90's AJ and if I watch anything out of order, it will spoil it. Anyone else like that? Of course it didn't matter that I watched this chronologically out of order! and in a way the 6-man Diamond Ring match made this better. I think that tag match is a good build up to this title fight. That aside, this delivered in just about every way. This was the culmination of Suwama vs Go and I feel the culmination of AJ vs Burning as well. Suwama had held off Akiyama and delayed Go but could he actually stop Shiozaki? This was the HARD hitting title fight you & I wanted to see. I legitimately think they took each other to their limit. Shiozaki was bleeding from the nose and Suwama from the chest. Both wrestlers were spent by the final bell. Neither have looked so battered all year. I would have really been thrilled to see some cleverness in terms of strategy (kayfabe work a body part) or a few nifty sequences towards the end. It wasn't that kind of match though. It was like a Shinya Hashimoto, Riki Choshu or Kensuke Sasaki match where its about endurance and pushing through the pain & exhaustion onto victory. That's what kind of wrestler Suwama is so he's not going to get cute & intricate at the end. Shiozaki can hang with that style. I can certainly appreciate that! I'm thinking this is probably the best singles match of AJ 2013 so far. Its a classic heavyweight title fight. Its not an all time classic but I want to see their next meeting and that's good business. Super awesome bonus! Gaora's YouTube channel has this up for your viewing pleasure. Skip the first tem minutes to get straight to match or sit through that to get some clips and backstory. You'll see see some stuff I've talked about in previous posts. And because I am all about spreading the wrestling love, here it is: Thanks for reading!
  9. This might be my top joshi match of the 80s at the moment. Crazy action with amazing character work (all four have distinct roles), heel vs. face dynamic and great heat. Up there with many of the acclaimed 90s joshi tags. ****1/4
  10. This is a decision match for the tag titles after Aja and Bison vacated them, only to try to win them back right afterwards. I have no idea why. I think this is the best Aja & Bison tag I've seen, Bison's performance in this is particularly good, probably had a better night than Aja actually. ****1/4 Note, if you want to watch this in almost complete form, see the version on AJW Classics 54 that aired on 8/22/11.
  11. This is a fantastic hidden gem. Aja and Sakie seem like an odd team at first, Monster Heel/Ace and the loveable underdog midcarder, but they make it work as the story of their partnership is Aja trying to bring out a killer instinct out of Sakie so she can elevate herself. There's nice spots like Aja chopping Kyoko super hard in the corner when Sakie is being half-hearted about it, or get Sakie to hold someone in a camel clutch so Aja can boot her in the chest. Sakie looks a bit "omg I can't believe I did that" afterwards but then rolls with it. Kyoko and Toshiyo are very good as well, Kyoko especially murders Sakie with a lariat when it's her time to take control. ****1/2
  12. Oh this rules. It's the 4th best match of their rivalry and is more of an angle really. It reminds me of that Steve Austin vs. Bret Hart "fight" on Raw in 1997 where Austin injures Bret, although this one officially is a match even if they barely ever get in the ring, and even when they do it's more to maul each other with weapons than actually wrestle. But they get a title match in two months so this gives nothing away. Just a chaotic hate-filled fight leaving a trail of destruction everywhere. ****
  13. This is a big battle between generations, Devil debuted in 1978 and Kyoko in 1988. Kyoko gives a sincere bow of respect at the start. Devil controls the majority of this, cutting a slower pace than you'd normally see in a Kyoko Inoue match and making it feel like Kyoko has to dig deeper than normal to keep herself in this. There's a good few moments where Kyoko attempts her usual offense but gets cut off by Devil's size, or needs to really struggle to pull it off. Her Giant Swing looked pretty precarious! I'm watching this thinking Devil has one of the best lariats in Joshi when Kyoko eventually fires back with one of her own and takes her down to a wooooooah from the crowd. She earned that momentum shift. Finish was a cool surprise and Devil had a great facial reaction like "that kid f***ing boomed me". ****1/4
  14. Firstly this is clipped. AJW Classics #55 gives us about 10 minutes of a 14 minute match and the cut is pretty blatant and comes right in the middle of the match interrupting the flow. But still I'll judge based on what we have. This is the least of their 3 matches in 1992 but it actually fits really well with them in terms of a longform narrative arch. Hokuto is still a straight babyface here. After this she goes to Mexico and comes back as Las Cachorras Orientales to challenge Bull again. Hokuto does an upside down Figure 4 + heelhook submission in this that I've never seen anywhere else. The finish is neat. Just a brutal counter to a basic move. ***1/2 (might have been better if in full)
  15. This bangs. Suzuka attacks Hokuto before she can get out of her big robes and wig only for Hokuto to counter a backbreaker into an armdrag over a pile of streamers. Hokuto takes her wig off, Suzuka jumps her and attempts the backbreaker again but Hokuto counters it into a splash this time, goes back into the corner to take off her robes and shouts something at Suzuka which got a lot of crowd laughs. Suzuka looks a bit embarrassed that she failed to jump Hokuto at the bell not once but twice. One of the wackiest opening 30 seconds ever. They then have a great violent match with nasty handwork and the big bombs you'd expect. ****1/4
  16. This is the best thing to ever happen in wrestling. We are in the heart of the interpromotional wars and Hokuto has beat Kandori, so here we are in the Grand Prix with Kandori's LLPW teammate Yasha Kurenai is out to prove something. We start with Kurenai walking up to Hokuto and spitting into her face with the hugest spit ever. Hokuto has 0 reaction. The crowd realizes what is about to happen and starts chanting for Hokuto. Kurenai then gets to the middle of the ring and does her pose, Hokuto just has a seat and stares at her. Kurenai then gets a kendo stick and starts attacking Hokuto's leg and then proceeds to do 3 lame choke slams, which Hokuto no sells with Kurenai getting angrier and angrier. Hokuto gets tossed a kendo stick which she immediately throws back, because she doesn't need that shit. A moment later Hokuto hits one of the most vicious Northern Lights Bomb ever for the win. She then yells a lot on the mic and this is the best. 9/10. Wrestling is amazing!
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