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[1992-08-15-AJW-Mid Summer Typhoon] Manami Toyota vs Toshiyo Yamada (Hair vs Hair)

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- (IWA Title - Hair vs Hair) Manami Toyota © vs Toshiyo Yamada

One of the most famous matches in wrestling history so doesn't need much detailed play by play from me on this one :) I suspect most people reading this have allready seen it and if you haven't then WTF? GO WATCH IT NOW. It's by far deserving all of the praise it's gotten over the years. Aside from a small slower paced section in the middle of the match this is 20+ mins of non stop, all out high end action with a super hot crowd going nuts throughout cheering on both though you can actually tell they'd rather see Toyota win even if they do love Yamada too. In the end it comes down to a battle of the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex vs The Gori Special Bomb with both attempting to hit their big moves and playing off their previous match, this time it's Toyota who has Yamada's figured out as she manages to escape and hit the JOCS to win. You know, following this whole story from the start, Toyota really comes across like an ass in this whole thing. It all started because Toyota couldn't handle losing so she snaped and challenged one of her best friends in the world and tag team partner not only for her title but for her hair, really out of nothing more then jealousy and ego. Knowing this, it kind of explains the post match as Toyota snaps again with the gravity of what she's done finally hitting her. There was no need for it to have come to this. Toyota breaks down, attempts to cut her own hair instead and desperatly tries to prevent the barber from shaving Yamada only to be held down by 6 or 7 other girls as it happens. One of the more emotional sceens you'll ever see in a wrestling ring. Course, knowing that Chigusa was her idol, you know deep down Yamada was probably loving every second of this too.

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Of course, knowing that Chigusa was her idol, you know deep down Yamada was probably loving every second of this too.

I missed that line in your initial review :).

 

In a lot of ways, this is Joshi. Great action, furious pacing, screaming crowds, screaming wrestlers, tonnes of "passion", an incredibly melodramatic post-match... Meltzer's a cunt.

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The first Manami Toyota match I ever saw was vs. Aja Kong from Big Egg Universe, which made a very good first impression. Unfortunately, it isn't at all representative of her usual style. So when I started to dig deeper into her oeuvre, it was all downhill.

 

This match encapsulates everything I dislike about Toyota's work. It's fast-paced and action-packed, but there really isn't any story being told. To quote The Simpsons, it's just a bunch of stuff that happens. This is most egregious with the segment where Yamada works over Toyota's leg with the half crab. Once Toyota regains control, she's hopping around like a jackrabbit and not even making a token effort to sell the leg. I'd been thinking recently that Toyota was the Davey Richards of joshi, and matches like this really reinforce that idea.

 

Plus, I just can't buy into hair matches as being a big deal. I get the significance of masks and the gravity of putting them on the line. Hair, not so much. I mean, it's just hair. It'll grow back. Even given that, matches like Dump/Chiggy and MS-1/Sangre Chicana treat it like a big deal by bringing the hate and violence from the opening bell. I'm not saying there should have been that level of intensity, but there should have been something to push it beyond a standard match. If you went into this completely cold, you'd have no idea that anything of note was on the line.

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Toyota and Davey Richards are different wrestlers with different styles with different things with different match structures that make them unique. Since this is the second time I've seen this comparison, I want to say I agree with the comparison in a lot of ways as at their core what makes them so awesome is the same thing but they're definitely different too.

 

And I've said it before, but I have to say it again. Toyota just maybe the best wrestler of all time especially given the context of time. Screw it, she is. I'm even more convinced after rewatching her matches. Joshi puroresu is the most organic, natural, emotional and competitive form of the sport exhibition there is and Toyota is the king of the style. I would venture to say live it would be even more apparent.

 

Nobody ever wowed me like they did when I first saw Toyota. Nobody blew my mind in what I was watching like she did. PWI had talked about incredibly amazing she was but even than I wasn't prepared. Not The Great Muta, not Sasuke, not Benoit or Dynamite or Scorpio or Eddie or Rey Mysterio Jr. or Ozaki or Yamada Keichi or Toshiyo or Owen or The LOD or the Steiner Brothers or Steamboat or Richards or KENTA or Kobashi or Misawa or any of the great athletic talents of today. I love every one of those wrestlers but nobody made the emotional/"This is the best thing I've ever seen in wrestling face drops down to the floor in amazment" impact that Toyota did. Not even the legendary Tiger Mask who is one of the best of all time in this category (which PWI also told me was one of the biggest names in Japan wrestling history due to his athetic ability) Toyota is everything that I love about wrestling.

 

Also, hair is absolutely essential to a feminine woman. It is MUCH more signifigant for a woman than it is for a guy. Now I know someone might reply that Joshi wrestlers might not be that feminine but let's just leave it at that.

 

So I imagine that would make the match more emotional for the female audience. Guys too to an extent.

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And I've said it before, but I have to say it again. Toyota just maybe the best wrestler of all time especially given the context of time. Screw it, she is. I'm even more convinced after rewatching her matches. Joshi puroresu is the most organic, natural, emotional and competitive form of the sport exhibition there is and Toyota is the king of the style. I would venture to say live it would be even more apparent.

I saw her win Big Red for the first time live.

 

She wasn't the best worker on the card. Or in the match.

 

I'm trying to remember the number of times I saw here live in 1995-96... I think five cards. She wasn't the best worker on any of them.

 

Not saying she wasn't watchable. She was, on all of the cards.

 

John

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Rewatching this match in context, it's clearly the best of an overrated serie. I hate the 40 minute draw. This one is still a pretty great match though, but Toyota and Yamada are two girls that dropped a whole lot when I watched the entire 92 year. And Toyota's personnality is kinda grating actually. Kyoko smokes her in 92.

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And I've said it before, but I have to say it again. Toyota just maybe the best wrestler of all time especially given the context of time. Screw it, she is. I'm even more convinced after rewatching her matches. Joshi puroresu is the most organic, natural, emotional and competitive form of the sport exhibition there is and Toyota is the king of the style. I would venture to say live it would be even more apparent.

I saw her win Big Red for the first time live.

 

She wasn't the best worker on the card. Or in the match.

 

I'm trying to remember the number of times I saw here live in 1995-96... I think five cards. She wasn't the best worker on any of them.

 

Not saying she wasn't watchable. She was, on all of the cards.

 

John

 

I kind of agree with both of you here. There were better overall workers around '92-'95, certainly, but... I do think if I was watching AJW in 1992 for the first time she's easilly the most amazing/spectacular. Was there a more athletically spectacular worker in the world?

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She wasn't the best worker on the card. Or in the match.

That's a fair description of Toyota in general guess.

 

She was in too many great matches to deny she's one of the best however even if she wasn't always #1. She still has way more moments of that were great atleast in part because of her efforts rather then in spite of them. Hell, thinkng about it, longevity and the depth of her ******* resume may be what she has most going for her.

 

And Toyota's personnality is kinda grating actually.

Heh, I think I know what you're talking about here but i'd still be interested to hear you elaborate.

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So Yamada pulled double duty? Quite the night for her. Fantastic match! All of the reversals and counters leading to big spot, leading to kickout, repeating over and over make this quite possibly the best spotfest match ever. I do think the recent criticisms MJH had about Cena/Punk being "empty" would also apply here. There's not a real focus to the wrestling other than trying to win. (Of course, the action is light years beyond that in Cena/Punk, and considering the stakes, maybe that's more fitting in this context.) They do get over the overall desperate storyline and adding in the haircut, this is an incredibly dramatic scene.

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And Toyota's personnality is kinda grating actually.

Heh, I think I know what you're talking about here but i'd still be interested to hear you elaborate.

 

She never seems very sympathetic after all. She's got an obnoxious and showoff quality that makes her not exactly the greatest face, unlike Kyoko who has this happy-go-lucky character. She's got a "look at me" attitude inside the ring that fit her style but also does make me want her to get beat down by Aja.

Sorry for the very late answer, was on vacation in Barcelona.;)

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I just couldn't get into this and I usually like Toyota. The match was fine but I don't understand why they were in a hair match where it seemed like there was no hate. Isn't that the whole point of hair matches? You do one because either A: You want to embarrass your opponent or b: Lazy booking doing multiperson hair matches to pay someone extra. Why did Toyota try to stop the hair cutting? Would Yamada have done the same thing if the roles were reverse? I would hope not.

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I just couldn't get into this and I usually like Toyota. The match was fine but I don't understand why they were in a hair match where it seemed like there was no hate. Isn't that the whole point of hair matches?

I couldn't tell you the specifics for lacking of speaking japanese, but I remember Toyota being pissed off of her best friend Yamada for not picking her as her tag partner in some tag league, and it jumpstart their rivalry. The hair-match was all about Yamada emulating her childhood hero Chigusa.

 

You do one because either A: You want to embarrass your opponent or b: Lazy booking doing multiperson hair matches to pay someone extra. Why did Toyota try to stop the hair cutting? Would Yamada have done the same thing if the roles were reverse? I would hope not.

Toyota trying to stop Yamada was all about her getting super emotionnal and not wanting her friend to cut her hair after all I guess. I think there's something lost in translation here, as I don't think we can apply the same psych to joshi puroresu than to US men's wrestling. The über emotionnal stuff seems very japanese to me.

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The Tag League (ie; Yamada teaming with Hokuto) was a "random drawing" done on the 7/15 (?) show. Yamada didn't pick Hokuto.

 

I'm not sure why you were expecting a Lucha-style hair vs. hair match.

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I just couldn't get into this and I usually like Toyota. The match was fine but I don't understand why they were in a hair match where it seemed like there was no hate. Isn't that the whole point of hair matches? You do one because either A: You want to embarrass your opponent or b: Lazy booking doing multiperson hair matches to pay someone extra. Why did Toyota try to stop the hair cutting? Would Yamada have done the same thing if the roles were reverse? I would hope not.

Go read my review of the 6/21 match. I go over what set it up in detail thear.

 

Short version though is, Toyota's a sore loser so she snaped and wanted the hair match. Her trying to stop the hair cutting is the reality of her request crashing down on her, an "oh shit what have I done, I didn't REALLY want this" type moent.

 

Going in cold this match didn't make much sense to me either (the reasons for it) and didn't for a long time. Wasn't until I watched everything that came before it in order that it really clicked for me and I realised what a great angle it was.

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I'm a girl so I can relate to the big blowup with a friend only to apologise and kiss and make-up and be BFFs the next day. I'm not an expert on this, but I think I'm right in thinking that a lot of young women watched AJW. So I think the booking may have been geared to their female fanbase. That's why I actually really liked the ending where Toyota throws herself on the proverbial cross and it gives her some of the sympathy.

 

And yes, speaking as a girl, losing your hair is horrible. You don't see a lot of females in masks so the hair is a logical thing to put on the line and losing it would suck which is why the wig business is a multi-million dollar business for women that lose hair for whatever (unfortunate) reason. Also, ask ANY woman that gets a bad haircut...the WORST part is all the bad hair days you have while you wait for it to grow back. :angry:

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I'm not an expert on this, but I think I'm right in thinking that a lot of young women watched AJW. So I think the booking may have been geared to their female fanbase.

Yeah, 91 - 92 was around when you first started seeing the large influx of guys showing up to the shows but up until that point the vast majority of the audiance was female and even past that for much of the 90's that was still a large part of the audiance.

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I think alot of the critcisms here should be more for the booking than Toyota. They told her what to do and she acted it out. Japan has never been a great place for storylines anyway, especially in these times.

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Amazing physical effort by Yamada after competing in the previous match. The AJW athletes were superbly trained and conditioned, with these 2 amongst the best. It probably even enchanced the match as going under 20m instead of another lengthy battle was ideal. I liked how countering moves because of familiarity was a recurrant theme. Nice build. The transition to the stretch was a little quick, needed a bit more middle. And then it was a full on 2.9 count thriller as they threw everything at one another. The finish played off their previous bout superbly. I love when they do that. Excellent match quality. The dramatic and emotional scenes postmatch are amongst the most memorable moments of the year.

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Its not Dump/Chigusa nor is it the the tag match from earlier in the night. But its still pretty damn good. Surprisingly little heat for the predictably fast start which sees dropkicks raining everywhere. The crowd gets into things as the near falls start coming pretty early. Tons of great high spots and counters playing off their previous encounters. I normally don't go for Toyota bridging out of falls but it felt right here. The post-match was intense, emotional and just as big a part of this as anything that took place during the match.

 

I wish I'd know a bit more about what led up to this as well as that Chiguys was Yamada's idol growing up. As great as this was, it didn't compare to the tag from earlier in the night. It deserves its own recognition, but man that match blew me away.

 

****

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So Yamada has to come back AGAIN and wrestle another huge match. That's kind of a crock.

 

That notwithstanding...joshi match of the year? Without going back and reading everything else from '92 (that will come when the Yearbook is finished) I would say yes. For once the go-go-go opening makes sense. Of course Toyota's going to try to end this quick, and Yamada throws some great counters to fend off her attack. Yamada has done the best job so far of reigning Toyota in and slowing things down, so that there's more meaning to her comebacks and to the highspots. Her kick-and-submission style makes for a fine contrast with Toyota's. And we get more awesome counters at the end, enough to leave you dizzy. I guess there wasn't a "deep" story to the match itself other than counter-finisher-kickout, but when it's as well-executed as the finish was here, that's just fine. The joshi on this set has been so spread out for a noob like me that I sometimes find myself lost as to what the overarching story that's going on (Bull and Aja are PARTNERS now? WTF did I miss?) but I totally understood where Toyota was coming from in the post-match. This was a hair match more about pride and wanting to win, rather than a blood feud.

 

Excellent bout, among the top 10-15 of the year.

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Someone a lot smarter than me should write up something comparing Toyota's go-go-go style to the Movez~! matches going on in the US indies during the last 10-15 years. Seems like a lot of similarities with matches like this - fast pace, tons of near falls off big moves, etc. Or I don't know what I'm talking about. :)

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I liked the postmatch better than the match itself, actually. Even after reading about the setup for this, it still doesn't makes sense. Toyota's mad because Yamada had to wrestle with someone else in the joshi equivalent of Battlebowl, and eventually gets so mad that she wants to shave her own partner bald? I'm blanking on the specifics here a bit, I guess, but I don't think even knowing more about it would do much good. That's why I like good old American bullshit better than 95% of anything out of a foreign country, even if the actual wrestling may be better overseas.

 

Anyway, what a performance by Yamada. She gave literally everything she had in this match after getting the hell kicked out of her by Aja and Bull earlier, not to mention fighting with Hokuto back to the locker room. She knew she had limited energy, so she tried to finish this as quickly as she could, but in the end Toyota was just too fresh for her. I liked the fact that this was a clean match, although hair matches are really supposed to settle blood feuds; I'm assuming that they were still partners, and unless you're nuts like Aja and Bull, it really makes no sense to beat the hell out of someone you're going to have to trust again before too long.

 

I think part of what bothered Toyota (or at least what should have bothered her) was that Yamada had already wrestled one tough match that day and wasn't at her physical peak. In essence, she (Toyota) had taken advantage of someone who'd already been softened up by Aja, Bull, and Hokuto. She may have wanted to win the match to prove her point, but she wasn't crazy about Yamada losing her hair, and she definitely hated it happening under these particular circumstances. Yamada took it like a trooper, though, never complaining once (although I think I saw her tear up at one point, which is certainly understandable). It was nice to see the two of them embrace and forgive each other, and I liked seeing Toyota smile a little as she accepted her trophy and showed it to the fans. She's still champion, she's still got her best friend and tag team partner, and neither one of them was hurt seriously in this whole mess. Life might not be perfect for her right now, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

 

I thought the crying and trying to cut her own hair instead was a bit over the top on Toyota's part, but she'd just had a tough match against her best friend and tag team partner (which was her own dumb fault in the first place), so I can forgive her for it. What really seemed like overkill was having all of those people holding Toyota back. Two or three should have been enough, even given her hysteria at the time.

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