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[1996-06-22-AJW-Champions Night] Kyoko Inoue & Takako Inoue vs Manami Toyota & Mima Shimoda


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  • 4 weeks later...

Toyota had a ridiculous blown spot in the really short first fall, attempting a springboard dive from the top rope to the floor and completely losing her balance and landing on her back on the apron. The crowd laughs and the others seem unsure what to do for a second.

 

Shimoda is fine for most of this, but at times she wrestles too fast to really connect with anything she tries to hit.

 

I am really interested in having a conversation about why it is Toyota is so loved by Joshi fans. Off the top of my head, these are all people I'd rather watch:

 

* Aja Kong

* Akira Hokuto

* Bull Nakano

* Chigusa Nagayo

* Devil Masami

* Dump Matsumoto

* Dynamite Kansai

* Itsuki Yamazaki

* Jaguar Yokota

* Kyoko Inoue

* Leilani Kai

* Lioness Asuka

* Mariko Yoshida

* Mayumi Ozaki

* Megumi Kudo

* Meiko Satomura

* Noriyo Tateno

* Reiko Amano

* Sakie Hasegawa

* Takako Inoue

 

Toyota's career output is probably much higher than many of the names I listed, but as an individual performer, I'd rather watch anyone else listed here because they are much easier to tolerate even if they don't peak as high. I understand with what Dave Meltzer likes why he likes her, as she's a pretty extreme version of his tastes, but I'm surprised more people haven't torn into Toyota. I know she's gotten some criticism, but not as much as you'd think. Maybe it's because Joshi fans are a subculture of a subculture of a subculture, so there just aren't very many people who care.

 

In fairness, this match is a bit easier to take in than most of the other Toyota matches, simply because the Inoues control most of it and the pacing makes more sense.

 

Later in the match, Toyota tries the spot a second time and slips again. She tries it a third time and finally barely hits it. All the while, Shimoda looks like a fool trying to hold the other two there to catch her.

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People were becoming critical of Toyota right around the time of this match.

 

I recall coming onto rsp-w in mid-1996 and not long after that the Barbi jokes started being tossed around. The WON and a generation of newsletter readers loved Toyota in the era, largely led by Dave and Zavisa. Online, Kunze followed Dave's drum. From 1996 through the balance of the decade online, there were strong pro-Toyota fans like Mike Lorefice and James Phillips, and people who were critical of her like me and some of the DVDVR guys.

 

I suspect the reason that criticism of Toyota hasn't lingered is because:

 

* Joshi began it's death march in 1997

 

Discussion of joshi didn't die, but it moved slowly to a smaller and smaller circle. Perhaps the contrast would be All Japan, which began it's decline in 1997 as well, and fragmented at the turn of the decade. The difference is that Misawa, Kobashi, Kawada, Taue and Akiyama lingered long into the following decade as frontline workers, and their matches of the 90s continued to be among the gateway matches to puroresu. Discussion of them continued. With less and less fresh joshi, and Toyota's career moving into the shawdows at least as far as "mainstream" hardcore discussions, what largely remained was the occassional comments by Dave putting her over.

 

* Joshi discussions soured

 

Yeah... a good deal of that in the early parts of the last decade. :/

 

What's a little sad is that Dan G has made compiled and made available more joshi than anyone could have imagined back in 2000. I'm sure there are boards out there where people in the past five years have invested a lot of time rewatching joshi from that era and talking about it. But it appears not to have hit Loss' radar, as it's hard to think that any big rehashing (similar to the SC WWF Poll) wouldn't have some folks being critical of Toyota. Her style isn't far removed from the juniors style of the 80s and 90s that's been hit pretty hard by puroresu fans over the past decade.

 

Anyway, Toyota has had people critical over the past 15 or so years. But the criticism like joshi itself has faded.

 

John

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Thanks John, that explanation makes sense. Great post.

 

It must have flown under my radar. I know SC did a new Joshi poll, but I remember Toyota finishing pretty highly. For a while, I thought I was being a little unfair toward her just because the shrieking during her matches drove me insane. I think I also went through phases where I decided the problem was that I just preferred the 80s AJW style to the 90s style.

 

Toyota has been part of some outstanding matches. I love her singles matches against Hokuto in '90 and '93, along with the Big Egg Universe match against Kong. And the Dream Rush tag is in my opinion the best match of all time.

 

But in spite of that, I wouldn't consider myself a Toyota fan at all. I tend to like matches where she's involved, even when she brings certain strengths, despite her, not because of her.

 

What I would hope doesn't happen is that because of all the Toyota hype, someone decides to start just by watching her matches, then writes off the entire style based on her and decides all Joshi must be like that. Because it's definitely not. And I really have a much easier time getting into JWP during this time frame.

 

I don't know if the Joshi decline and her ascension to the top happening at the same time are just coincidence or if they're related. I tend to think it's more coincidence than anything, but it's worth pointing out.

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I think Manami Toyota is best compared to Kurt Angle. Incredibly talented, reliably hard-working, loved by Meltzer, but often mindless in doing 'big match'-style and highspots. I enjoyed Toyota quite a bit in my first years of watching puro, but having seen more of her second and third tier matches has lessened that fandom quite a lot.

 

I agree with JDW in that the lack of criticism is more from joshi's current irrelevance than anything else.

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There was more criticism of Toyota ten years ago when people were into tape trading and starting up their own review sites. The only Joshi communities I'm aware of these days are Joshifans.com and the "I LIKE JOSHI!" thread at DVDVR. Aside from that, there's guys like Pozen and Lorefice floating around but they tend to keep a low profile.

 

Lack of cricitism is hardly specific to Joshi, however. There's bugger all discussion about 90s Japanese wrestling in general. Newer fans tend to be more interested in the current product and older fans have seen it all before and aren't interested in 90s stuff unless it's a WAR revival or something like that. Personally, I think wrestling is becoming increasingly disposable because of its greater availability and that's why you don't see as much discussion as when people had to make more of an effort procuring tapes.

 

Having said that, criticism of Toyota is by and large redundant these days. There's not much that can be added to what's already been said. Either you pick and choose the Toyota matches you wish to see or you ignore her altogether, because the things she's criticised for are things she never changed. You can watch 15 Toyota matches in a row and they'll be present in all 15 matches. Personally, I'd say away from a 1996 Toyota match against Kyoko Inoue and Takako Inoue because I know how those workers were by 1996.

 

I tend to fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to Toyota. I think she made a valuable contribution to All Japan Women's and the company would've been worse off without her. When she was in rhythm, she was an exciting wrestler and fun to watch. Occasionally, she had a great match with her peers and a few times she carried a lesser worker to a good match. Her style was a progression of a style that was present as far back as the 70s in Joshi puroresu and which was extremely popular with live audiences. Having been to Joshi live, I'd argue that Toyota's style is indeed far more effective than any other style on show and that includes workrate favourites like Aja Kong. It's similar to someone like Mistico, who I don't much care for but my wife thought was amazing live. I didn't see prime Toyota, but I saw Toyota clones and the style is an engaging live experience.

 

A couple of final points -- JWP was a far superior company than AJW in 1996 and produced much more enjoyable TV. There used to be a crew of us who were big JWP fans back in the day. And as for Toyota and the decline, the decline was a mix of the bubble bursting and poor business decisions (as well as financial investments.) The seeds of the decline were sown before the 90s boom period and they basically cashed in while they could on Joshi's short popularity in the 1990s. Toyota was one of those popular Joshi pro-wrestlers during the boom since there was an idol aspect to her. She probably wasn't a strong draw in her own right, but the business model was already fucked by the time she was on top. You're really looking at a situation like AJPW where some better booking decisions could have stretched things out a bit and drawn a couple of more big houses but still the decline was terminal.

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To make something of an additional defence for Toyota (though I hardly disagree with the criticisms...) sprinting has always had a stronger role in Joshi than elsewhere. I mean you can judge a company by how it has its' rookies work. NJ it was always the five-minute opening "sparring" mat work with an odd move or two and quick finish. AJ tended to stick guys in roles as the underdog much more. WWE have their whole developmental system now where you work a set routine of this face shine spot, these 5 moves and this rest hold for your heel control, this set face comeback, etc... with Zenjo it was generally "keep the action quick with what moves you have and show fire/look competitive". And I still think Toyota is the best pure 'go-go-go' worker they ever produced.

 

The comparison with Angle works to a point... though Toyota had a greater array of spots and she's probably the best Ricky Morton too. Taking the "long term selling" out of the equation for a second and hypothetically saying she tags someone in as opposed to transitions at that point, she was a great great bumper, uber-flexible, sympathetic and really just a great punching bag. Hokuto might be a more dramatic and certainly greater long-term seller, say, but in terms of purely taking an ass-kicking, Toyota was great. Actually as the Robert Gibson hot tag whilst we're at it, Aja might be more dominating/ass-kicking, so might Hokuto, actually, but when Toyota picks up the pace, too, again out of context I know, she was as great as anyone at it.

 

And, yeah, I mean the # of classic matches, too... vs. Yamada hair vs. hair/Dream Rush/Hokuto JGP Semi's/Aja Big Egg... they're all sure-fire Top 10 picks for the decade and whilst she's not the best worker in the last three, she's by no means baggage either. I'd put the Kyoko 60:00 on there, too, for all its faults, just because it's ungodly to me that they managed to work their match for almost fifty minutes before they got gassed and, of course, it really fell apart. It's the definitive example for me of that old guys cliche "leaving it all out there" (which is often bullshit but...).

 

She's infuriating even without the sloppiness because you do think "if only...", but... if you take her as she is she's pretty much elite-level at everything she was focused on. It'd kinda take the fun out of it for me if she didn't fuck up at exactly the wrong time, all the time...

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Hold on, Kudo before Toyota? Are you kidding me? Watch the matches they were in together and you'll see how she wasn't even close to her league until near her retirement. Don't even get me started on Takako or Leilani Kai over her, especially Takako.

 

Toyota had nothing to do with joshi crashing. It started when AJW lost free TV and continued with more men watching than women which caused less new girls. Add the Matsunaga's losing all their money(which really was the main reason), then everyone forming their own promotion, and there were a mess of problems. Toyota helped Zenjo stay around longer by staying true to them when they should have crashed sooner. Another thing that hurt AJW was all of the interpromotional stuff from the peak years, IMO. Where do you go after that?

 

Toyota also started to go down as her weight when up. I saw this comment on youtube before but it's really true.

 

Toyota never really changed or adapted, but overtime did get rid of the stuff she can't do anymore. It just took her longer than others. I just saw her live last week and she is still going strong. She's held up alot better than some. She also benefits from being taller as the average height in joshi has totally dipped.

 

Toyota is definitely one of the top joshi workers of all time. The great tags with Yamada vs Kansai/Ozaki, and all the singles matches: vs Kandori, vs Kyoko, vs Yamada, vs Hokuto, vs Kong(x2), vs Yoshida, etc. It's going to be tough to find others who have had as many good matches as her, yet alone others who were involved in 3 of the top tag matches of all time. If you want the hold for hold or slow style though you got the wrong girl.

 

What to love about Toyota? What's not to love about Toyota? Good looking girl involved in some of the best matches ever who was very agile at one point in time.

 

You guys also have to understand that people like Toyota don't really have any option other than to keep wrestling. What else is she going to do? She's been at this since she was like 16 or 18. WWWA champion won't get you far on a resume.

 

Nobody watches joshi anymore except for about 25 of us. Joshi went down with Men's wrestling and is further going down everyday. 2011 is scheduled to be the worst year for joshi since before AJW. Ice Ribbon has taken over and their influence has spread to LLPW and STARDOM who will continue to produce underage girls and awful matches. It would be great if there was something to discuss, but their honestly isn't. The people who want to discuss it end up being turned off from doing so by a few certain idiots on joshifans.

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-vs Kandori? Was that in '98 or so? Haven't seen that one discussed, since it took place in another 'dark era'.

 

-Who's saying she should retire?

Yeah, that's from 8/23/1998. I had it at about 4.5 stars. I really loved that and it made me realize the greatness of Shinobu Kandori.

 

I've seen alot of people say she should retire.

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I think the Matsunagas knew they had problems when they stretched out Dump and Omori's retirements in '88 with the knowledge that Chigusa and Asuka would retire in '89. Chigusa didn't want to go and I assume Asuka was the same. Dump and Omori went into TV and I've heard that Omori flirted with the idea of returning at one point, but the reason AJW let them go was that with JWP teetering on bankruptcy there was no rival to snap them up and challenge AJW's position. The Matsunagas believed they could start anew, and that's why there were so many young idol pairings around that period and why they continued with the singing even when it seemed inane. I once read an interview with Takako Inoue where she said when she first started with the company she desperately wanted to be a heel and join Bull's heel faction, but on her first day at the AJW office they showed her a big framed picture of Jackie Sato and lamented that they hadn't had an idol like her for a number of years.

 

The thing about NJPW, AJPW and AJW's television contracts where that they were amazingly fickle. Even when they drew big ratings their position was as tenuous as prime time Japanese anime, which ultimately suffered the same fate as professional wrestling in Japan but not to the same extent. The mistake the wrestling companies made, however, was thinking that they didn't need TV anymore. In AJW's case, it was Rossy Ogawa who was behind the push to take everything in-house and exploit the home video market. They should've fought tooth and nail for their television slot but instead they thought they could outfox the network. Japan is so fast moving in terms of trends that as soon as they were out of sight, out of mind they were screwed.

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The networks seem to have done okay with their cheap variety shows. The profit margins on those things must be INSANE. So, wrestling needed them more than the other way around.

 

I doubt AJW would have lasted long on TV no matter what they did. Baba was Mr. NTV, had all the right friends, got ratings, and got shafted time after time.

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Went ahead and watched this for the sake of discussion (skimmed through it, actually, since it's so damn long), and I thought it was the same boring style that they've been using since '93 up until the present. I don't think you can pin it on Toyota, however. This was the style of match that everyone was working in tag matches at the time and it had already begun to get stale by '96. In 1997, they'd start turning these matches into garbage brawls in an attempt to freshen things up a bit, but this was pretty much the Toyota vs. Kyoko feud stretched about as far as one of Mr. Fantastic's limbs in an old Fantastic Four comic book. 1996 had some high points in Japan, but it was also the year that the rut began and the last time I watched a significant amount of All Japan I thought they were struggling with what to do with the style. In the case of All Japan they began sprinting to a greater degree, but All Japan Women more or less did nothing. In all honesty, I think Kyoko is just as much to blame as Toyota. She shouldn't escape criticism just because she was charismatic and had a number of good years as a worker. She was as stale as everyone else. In a sense, the idea was to get Shimoda and Takako over more but that boat had already sailed. Shimoda did well to reinvent herself with Mita from the looks of it.

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For people who've seen it, i'm curious what'd people think of the W Inoue vs Toyota/Shimoda 50+ min match from May 96???

Didn't make the set but I thought it was really good myself.

 

Personally, I think wrestling is becoming increasingly disposable because of its greater availability and that's why you don't see as much discussion as when people had to make more of an effort procuring tapes.

This has been my own theory for a while as well.

You had to go out of your way a lot more to read reviews and talk to people to find out what was good when the only way to get footage was to spend money on it and you didn't want to be wasting cash picking up crap. Stuff becoming so easy to get online for free killed off a lot of that.

 

She's infuriating even without the sloppiness because you do think "if only...", but... if you take her as she is she's pretty much elite-level at everything she was focused on. It'd kinda take the fun out of it for me if she didn't fuck up at exactly the wrong time, all the time...

What's funny about Toyota & her selling issues is that it's not like she couldn't do a great job of it when she wanted to, she just didn't work that way most of the time. That or her blowing moves has never been something that hugely bothered me though I do atleast understand the complaint.

 

Personally I always thought it added to the realism of things to see people fuck up ocasionally (only magical robots are perfect creatures after all) and don't usually hold it against a match unless it's just massively bad.

 

Hold on, Kudo before Toyota? Are you kidding me? Watch the matches they were in together and you'll see how she wasn't even close to her league until near her retirement. Don't even get me started on Takako or Leilani Kai over her, especially Takako.

Kudo doesn't have as deep a resume but i'd take her at her best over Toyota at her best too.

 

I wouldn't agree with Takako over her but I can see how the case could be made atleast. She was great at a lot of the things Toyota was flawed at and really good at a lot of the things Toyota was great at.

 

Toyota had nothing to do with joshi crashing. It started when AJW lost free TV and continued with more men watching than women which caused less new girls. Add the Matsunaga's losing all their money(which really was the main reason), then everyone forming their own promotion, and there were a mess of problems. Toyota helped Zenjo stay around longer by staying true to them when they should have crashed sooner.

Agree 100%.

If people don't like her/her style fine but she was hugely popular with the fans and the major one who held that sinking ship together. You take Toyota away in 97 and AJW wouldn't have lasted the 7 more years they did. Her eventually leaving in 02 & Momoe (the only real big new star they created post 97) going freelance the following year were the final nails in the coffin and it was all a slow limp to their death after that though there were a few highspots (better circumstances Hikaru would have been a huge star, prob Nishio too).

 

Toyota also started to go down as her weight when up. I saw this comment on youtube before but it's really true.

Disagree as I thought she was still great up until a few years ago and atleast ocasionally good up until the last year or 2. Only recently whear I finally thought that yeah, she's going down hill now.

 

Toyota is definitely one of the top joshi workers of all time. The great tags with Yamada vs Kansai/Ozaki, and all the singles matches: vs Kandori, vs Kyoko, vs Yamada, vs Hokuto, vs Kong(x2), vs Yoshida, etc.

Which 2 Kong matches are you talking about?

I'm guessing Big Egg in 94 is 1 but i've seen them in like 8 or 9 singles matches and I know they've had more then that.

 

And is the Yoshida match you're talking about the ARSION one in 2001?

Kind of an odd choice. I thought it was really good but there's a ton of Toyota matches i'd name before that one to make an argument for how great she was.

 

Nobody watches joshi anymore except for about 25 of us. Joshi went down with Men's wrestling and is further going down everyday. 2011 is scheduled to be the worst year for joshi since before AJW. Ice Ribbon has taken over and their influence has spread to LLPW and STARDOM who will continue to produce underage girls and awful matches. It would be great if there was something to discuss, but their honestly isn't. The people who want to discuss it end up being turned off from doing so by a few certain idiots on joshifans.

Kinda sucks what joshifans turned into. Not that it was ever the greatest place to have a serious discussion but of late it's such a pit that going thear gives me a head ache half the time.

 

Like 90% of the reason I started writing old AJW reviews over thear & DVDVR was out of sheer boredom & trying to atleast spark a conversation.

 

the reason AJW let them go was that with JWP teetering on bankruptcy there was no rival to snap them up and challenge AJW's position. The Matsunagas believed they could start anew

What's the JWP story? Don't think i've ever heard that before.

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re Toyota vs Yoshida: They had a good match in the finals of the '92 singles tournament, so maybe that's the one? I like the 2001 iteration okay but the '92 match is more exciting.

 

You had to go out of your way a lot more to read reviews and talk to people to find out what was good when the only way to get footage was to spend money on it and you didn't want to be wasting cash picking up crap. Stuff becoming so easy to get online for free killed off a lot of that.

I'll add that in many cases, I was the first person to ask Lynch for a certain show in the DVD era- that is, he had the VHS and only converted it when I ordered the show. Granted it was usually obscure NOAH shows with matches that were 'good' at best, but not always. There's so much to watch online, why bother delving into it?

 

In a way it makes it easier for those of us who DO seek out new-to-us matches to have an impact. We bring old matches to new light, and sometimes there's a great response. Of course the best example is the work Goodhelmet et al. have done on these huge sets. But there's no real 'competition' for those sets, and nobody else really doing what I do for hosting matches.

 

Ultimately, what we care most about is that people have the ability to find new stuff to enjoy, and can watch as much as they have time for. I think that's the case.

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JWP was backed at first by a sort of talent agent company who were in the business of promoting idols. They were trying to capitalise on All Japan Women's success with idol wrestlers, but lost money from the beginning. Meltzer mentioned in the Observers Loss typed up that JWP was already bankrupt in 1988 (WON 12/12/88.) Their backers went bankrupt in '92.

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  • 1 month later...

Besides Toyota's botches and the fact the match went on too long, I liked most of it. Toyota and Kyoko continue to be the stars of this set but I can see why some people don't like Toyota. The Angle analogy is right on .

 

As for the AJW vs JWP debate, based on this set, I like AJW more. Just a Better presentation and JWP reminds me too much of ROH.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Toyota vs Hokuto 1993 was the first joshi match I ever saw, so she was special to me for awhile. In the last year, as I have watched more joshi, I find her to be rushed and sloppy. This match is a great example. Like an Amazing Red or Jack Evans, she gets the crowd excited. But a little goes a long way in her style. If only she didn't make a habit of loooooong matches, we might not have seen her so exposed.

 

I am a fairly new joshi fan (and puro, as Ditch can attest from my ignorance). I am eager to learn and see matches and discuss them. But apart from a few good apples like Flik, joshifans makes me crazy. It's got no traffic, and what discussion does occur is so often inane. Eh well. Sometimes, ironically, the best discussion can come from the insulated community of joshiwatchers on YouTube at doublemiz and a few others. And the little bit of talk at dvdvr's thread.

 

This match had some good stuff. I liked the first fall. But I just don't dig on Toyota much anymore. I would much rather watch Aja, Bull, Hokuto, Jaguar, bison Kimura, Arsion Yoshida, Cattleprod Bitch Takako, Toshie Uematsu, Dump, Chigusa, Kudo, and a slew of others. Oddly, I do like Natsuki*Taiyo, who works a supersprint style. But I can't think of her in a 50 min match.

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  • 4 months later...

Oddly, I do like Natsuki*Taiyo, who works a supersprint style. But I can't think of her in a 50 min match.

Heh, missed this comment.

Now i'm curious to see what you'd think about the Momoe Nakanishi 30 & 60 min draws she had with Maekawa. (Natsuki is more or less a Momoe clone)

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  • 3 years later...

All the Toyota talk is fairly fascinating. I'm like OJ in that I'm somewhere in-between on her. And the point that Toyota could be infuriating but probably wouldn't reach the highs that she did if she worked any other way is well-taken. That said, I've been pretty sour on 1996 AJW and the wheel-spinning is palpable. Shimoda taking Yamada's place as Toyota's tag partner seems to be the only real major "elevation" of a star to take place from 1990 until this moment. They're a little higher up on the cards, and Bull and Kimura and Hokuto are gone, but otherwise it's the same core group of people, working an unsustainable style. Even AJPW, for all their criticism, seems to have had a better track record in developing future talent. Who has debuted for AJW in the '90s who compares to Tamon Honda or Satoru Asako, much less a guy like Akiyama?

 

The match? Well, actually, I thought the first two falls were awesome, Toyota botch notwithstanding. I should probably be annoyed by the joshi trend of having one of the first two falls of a multi-fall match end very quickly, but they always find a way to make it work. Double Inoue do some great work in the second fall in targeting Toyota's back, and we again see Kyoko murdering Toyota with a lariat. I was ready to mark this up as a lost Top-10 MOTYC contender, but the third fall bogged down. It wasn't *bad*, but it did tend to meander. They didn't overdo the near-falls but I didn't quite buy into any story that was told--a big, miraculous Toyota comeback would have been a nice way to go but it didn't seem like they were even going for that. We end up with a good match with a more engaged-than-usual '96 AJW crowd, but that's as high as I'll go.

 

Shimoda looks pretty, but so far I can't remember a single really memorable performance of hers. She just seems to be there, as opposed to Yamada who was far more memorable and was a fun contrast to Toyota's style.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1996-06-22-AJW-Champions Night] Kyoko Inoue & Takako Inoue vs Manami Toyota & Mima Shimoda

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