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Chigusa Nagayo vs. Leilani Kai, AJW All-Pacific title, 8/21/86

 

This was always one of my favourite Chigusa matches and it holds up really well. It starts off with Chigusa doing a lot of her shoot style kicks and submissions and Leilani not having much defence against them. Then when Kai finally does get a takedown on Chigusa, she launches a pretty vicious assault on Chigusa's leg and the match becomes this gritty brawl with Kai even working over Nagayo's fingers. There's some pretty innocuous outside inference at points, but it's more or less heel girls running in and getting chased out by the AJW ring girls. In the main, it's a fight, and even the high spots section packs a fair wallop. Leilani does a thunderous looking missile dropkick from the top rope, and the finish, while it looked like it might have been botched, is one of the best pure contest finishes I can remember seeing. Really great match in front of a hot Korakuen Hall crowd. Leilani was pretty emotional at the winning the title. I did wonder if she thought the crowd were chanting her name, as they kept crying "moiikai" which means "one more time" in Japanese. Probably one of my favourite Joshi matches.

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Leilani Kai vs. Chigusa Nagayo, AJW All-Pacific Title, 4/27/87

 

The rematch from Osaka. Not quite as epic as their Tokyo match, but still really good. This time it starts off as more of the brawl that the Korakuen bout turned into with occasional flashes of targeted offence. Chigusa again used her kicks to good effect, and once again the styles clash of the American bruiser and Japanese "shooter" made for an electric mix. Both women did blade jobs, which were kind of cute (if a blade job can be cute), as both women rolled to their corners and had their seconds cut them. The stand off at the end with both women bleeding came across well and they both went to the top for nearfalls. The finish was a bit weak in terms of the move that actually won it, as it was a body slam from Chigusa after a series of top rope moves, but the schoolgirls were understandably excited and the post-match was cool.

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Any plans to explore much more of her work OJ?

A few years back I started really getting into her stuff and came away thinking she was the best American women's wrestler of her era and someone that doesn't get near the amount of props she deserves.

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Part way through the Leilani Kai RF Shoot interview, especially by the standards of RF shoots it's pretty damn good.

 

A few notable things I took away

 

- She considers the 86 Chigusa match her best ever. Said it was Chigusa's idea to drop the belt to her and they gave her the title so she could take it back to the US as a way to try and get a working relationship going so the Japanese girls could come over to the states & tour. AJW paid for her to go to Hawaii for a month and train to get ready for the match because they wanted it to be really special and Kai droped 20 lbs in the process. Originally was supposed to be close to 60 mins long, they did about 40 and it was cut to 20 or so for tv.

 

- Moolah comes across like the biggest ass hole in the world from the stories Kai tells. Only ppl she has any bad words for were her & Vince Russo

 

- It was Kai & Judy Martin's idea to bring over talent from Japan for them to work with because they were tired of working with Moolah's other girls and they thought it'd be fresh & diffrent.

 

- It was Jimmy Hart's idea to call them the Glamour Girls, change their look and be their manager. When it 1st got pitched to Vince, Moolah tried to weasle her way in to be their manager instead with out mentioning Jimmy at all. A few weeks later they got to pitch the idea again to Patterson when Moolah wasn't around and that got everything rolling. Vince agreed to still pay Moolah to use them but didn't want her being part of the act which pissed her off.

 

- Out of jealousy / spite Moolah sabotaged the JBA vs Glamour Girls feud and basically got the division killed. The original plan was to have the Bomb Angels take them on at Wrestlemania in 88 and drop the tag titles back to them there. WWF sent them over to Japan for a tour so that they could work out a really great, special match for the ocasion. A few days before the tour ended, Moolah called them in Japan and told them to do the title change on the last show of the tour which confused everyone. Turns out the WWF hadn't approved it but Moolah lied and said they did so when Vince & Patterson found out about the title change they were pissed, canceled the Mania match and didn't believe them that Moolah had told them to do it.

 

- Had things gone according to the original plan. After Mania they were going to do more of a talent exchange with other Japanese girls coming over to work with them and more US girls getting tours over there to exspand the division. Between wrestlers, staff & press, AJW was going to have almost 60 people travel over for Mania that year.

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Part way through the Leilani Kai RF Shoot interview, especially by the standards of RF shoots it's pretty damn good.

Agreed. Leilani had a lot of interesting stories to tell.

 

- Moolah comes across like the biggest ass hole in the world from the stories Kai tells.

Yep. And Luna's stories are even worse. Moolah seemed to be a complete piece of shit.

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Lelani Kai vs. Yukari Omori, 9/14/87

 

This should have been more than what it was. Leilani tended to follow the Japanese workers' lead since she was in Rome, and for whatever reason, booking or otherwise, Omori wasn't interested in making it anything special despite the fact that she had major matches with both Chigusa and Lioness around this time and was perfectly capable of working a big match. Maybe it would've been a bigger deal if it had been a title defence between the Chigusa matches. In any event, this was disappointing.

 

Lucy Kayama, Victoria Fujimi & Rimi Yokota vs. Mami Kumano, Joyce Grable & Leilani Kai, 12/79

 

This was your typical late 70s trios match with the bad girls bullying the idols. I don't think too many people here would enjoy this sort of thing as the face comeback wasn't the kind of tight, well-executed thing that people sing about, but man was Mami Kumano the glue that held this kind of thing together. She may not have been technically great, but her presence and relentless bitchiness really make her stand out in this era. Kai was just a heavy at this point.

 

Jaguar Yokota, Mimi Hagiwara & Yukari Omori vs. Devil Masami, Leilani Kai & Velvet McIntyre, 5/15/82

 

This was a 6 man tag main event from an early 80s episode of AJW TV. It was from some point after Jaguar became the WWWA World Heavyweight champion, back when Devil Masami was the lead heel in the company after they'd phased Monster Ripper out and before they pushed Dump Matsumoto. As with any tag match where Devil faces off against Mimi Hagiwara, there was a big heat segment where Devil beat on Mimi. Mimi wasn't the originator of screaming in Joshi, but she took it to new levels. If that's not your thing steer clear of Mimi, but she was very good in her role. Leilani was again hired muscle. I think Devil's trio were called Black Gundam Trio or something. Match ended with Devil going batshit with a kendo stick.

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Devil Masami, Yukari Omori and Jaguar Yokota vs. Bull Nakano, Leilani Kai and Velvet McIntyre, 6/25/85

 

Devil Masami had crossed over to the face side by this point and Bull Nakano had peroxide blond hair not blue. This looked like it was clipped to shit, but there were still some cool moments. There were a couple of times when Devil squared off with Bull that really made me want to see a singles match from this time period and Devil vs. Leilani would have been welcomed too. Leilani didn't get to do much here, but she bumped pretty well.

 

Jackie Sato, Rimi Yokota and Mimi Hagiwara vs. Mami Kumano, Yumi Ikeshita and Leilani Kai, 1/4/81

 

This had the almighty shit clipped out of it, but what aired was chaotic and fun. Leilani got a bigger role this time around, getting on the house mic to start with and taunting the shit out of Sato. The usual mix of brawling and non stop running between the ropes. Yumi Ikeshita was so fucking cool. Man, I love that girl. The rudo side was fantastic in general. Yokota, as she usually did, looked great in her early years.

 

Dump Matsumoto, Bull Nakano, Condor Saito and Leilani Kai vs. Chigusa Nagayo, Yumi Ogura, Kazue Nagahori and Yumiko Hotta, 8/23/86

 

This was from American TV and was a bit of a hatchet job, though I'm sure the original broadcast version was the same. The parts where Leilani fought Chigusa were awesome, especially the ending where she kept taunting Chigusa about having taken her belt. As you can imagine, it came down to three on one with Chigusa not having much of a fighting chance. Ogura and Nagahori showed their usual spunk.

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Yumiko Hotta & Hisako Uno (Akira Hokuto) vs. Lelani Kai & Judy Martin, 4/15/87

 

This was a long 2/3 falls match for the vacant WWWA Tag Team Titles from right in the middle of Lelani's prime, so I was hoping to get more of a showcase from her than in the six-woman tags, but this was the Judy Martin show. The opening falls weren't bad, but you kind of wish Martin and Kai were wrestling more experienced opponents than Hotta and Uno, who were game but didn't have much of an identity at this point. Kai sold an arm injury in the third fall which left Martin facing Hotta and Uno two on one. In typically chaotic 80s AJW action, Dump Matsumoto, who had vacated the titles with Bull Nakano for some reason, attacked the shit out of Yumiko Hotta without any sort of DQ. Hotta bled like a stuck pig, but Uno and Hotta managed to pull off the upset victory, which was a big win for them at this stage of their career.

 

Chigusa Nagayo & Lioness Asuka & Yukari Omori vs. Devil Masami & Leilani Kai & Despina Montegas, 7/84

 

This was a decent TV main event. It had plenty of Devil vs. Crush Girls, which is what you want from this era. Devil is quickly reminding me of why I was such a mark for her back in the day. Devil Masami was to Joshi what Satanico was to lucha and Fujiwara to Japan in the 80s. Despina Montegas was a Greek born American women's wrestler who fell in love with Tarzan Goto at first sight and married him. It was a bit hard to tell Montegas and Kai apart as they were wearing matching costumes and Kai was rocking a perm, but this was a typically good 80s match that ended in a ringside brawl and count out finish in a major surprise, not.

 

So, you tube isn't exactly a mecca for Leilani Kai matches and there's a lot of interesting singles matches in particular that aren't on there, but I might check out some of her American work in the future.

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So, you tube isn't exactly a mecca for Leilani Kai matches and there's a lot of interesting singles matches in particular that aren't on there, but I might check out some of her American work in the future.

Some stuff i'd reccomend that you haven't covered

 

AJW

9/1980 (2 out of 3 Falls) Jackie Sato & Nancy Kumi vs Leilani Kai & Mami Kumano

 

LPWA

Wendi Richter vs Leilani Kai

2/28/1991 (LPWA Tag Titles - 2 out of 3 Falls) (Team America) Misty Blue Simmes & Heidi Lee Morgan vs The Glamor Girls

12/29/1991 (LPWA Tag Titles - 2 out of 3 Falls) Glamor Girls vs Rockin Robin & Wendi Richter

 

Might be hard to find, at quick glance, a lot of the LPWA that was on youtube isn't up anymore

 

WWF

2/18/1985 (WWF Women's Title) Wendi Richter © vs Leilani Kai

3/16/1986 Crush Girls vs Leilani Kai & Penny Mitchell

1987 (WWF Women's Tag Titles) Leilani Kai & Judy Martin vs Velvet McIntyre & Angie Minnelli

11/22/1987 10 Woman Survivor Series match

1988 Leilani Kai vs Noriyo Tateno

The Jumping Bomb Angels vs Glaour Girls series. The 11/87 & Royal Rumble matches are the most famous but I think they've had atleast 5 or 6 total that are available on tape

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So, you tube isn't exactly a mecca for Leilani Kai matches and there's a lot of interesting singles matches in particular that aren't on there, but I might check out some of her American work in the future.

Some stuff i'd reccomend that you haven't covered

 

AJW

9/1980 (2 out of 3 Falls) Jackie Sato & Nancy Kumi vs Leilani Kai & Mami Kumano

 

Is this on youtube? I can't find it.

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It was, looking around it got taken down

 

Searching I did find this however

AJW TV w Nancy Kumi & Jackie Sato vs Yumi Ikeshita & Leilani Kai

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kr1uKco2uhk

This was from the summer tour of Kyushu and Okinawa. It must have been a hot summer as the girls were gleaming with sweat. The match was from that weird venue in the Okinawan countryside that looks like some kind of ditch. Folks are sitting on the banks, kids are running around free, it's in some field fucking field somewhere. Not only that, but the canvas looked like it had either been drenched by some kind of downpour or didn't fit the ring properly and the girls kept slipping on each other's sweat, I guess. None of this was really conductive to a good match and the end result was that apart from Ikeshita's awesome headbutts this was the most boring Kai match of the lot. I did enjoy the commentators, who don't help matters with their BS commentary, saying that brawling in the crowd was Tokyo-to style. There you go, whenever you see Japanese wrestlers brawling in the crowd that's distinctly Tokyo style.

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Nancy Kumi vs. Leilani Kai (1979)

 

Nice to see Leilani in a singles match instead of being Goon #1 or 2. Of course, she was still a stereotypical American brawler, but her brawling was tight and she made sure to stay with her woman and not let up. Kumi was a good worker and did some nice athletic spots for the era. The heels cheated to win and Moolah entered the ring to try to draw more heat for Kai, and man was she scarier than anything Leilani did in the bout. That was one frightening looking woman. This was pretty much what you'd expect from the era. Not too bad.

 

Jumping Bomb Angels vs. Judy Martin and Leilani Kai (Royal Rumble '88)

 

It's weird how workrate driven this was. I guess nobody was able to translate to Yamazaki and Tateno that you're not supposed to work like this in the WWF. Once again, Martin did the bulk of the work for her side, which wasn't such a bad thing as she was a pretty good bumper. There were some blown spots here and there, but it was a fairly exciting bout by WWF standards and it's hard to imagine it's been matched by their women's division since.

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Jaguar Yokota vs. Leilani Kai, 9/23/83

 

This was shaping up as something good, probably the best Leilani Kai match other than the Chigusa matches, and then it ended. Horribly disappointing, but man Leilani took a queen sized bump into the ringside chairs. That's the way that bump should be done.

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Lucy Kayama, Nancy Kumi & Jackie Sato vs. Mami Kumano, Yumi Ikeshita & Leilani Kai, 7/80

 

All Japan Women felt like a stale promotion in 1980. They'd been doing variations of this Black Trio vs. Beauty Trio stuff since the mid 70s, the schoolgirls had moved on after Ueda's retirement, and it was just the same match-ups with no story progression. The only reason to watch matches like these are for the Black Pair. Yumi Ikeshita is the best worker from this era that nobody talks about and Kumano is a superb bitchy heel. She wore this awesome black cape and gloves combo to the ring, so props for her costume sense too. And she went on to have something like six kids, so she was a heck of a lady. The only problem with Ikeshita is that she's so small that Sato could have just kicked the shit out of her and she would have never come back. Whenever Ikeshita bumps for her, it's like Sato is Hogan. This was a bit more workrate driven than the usual AJW brawls, but nothing about it really stood out. Leilani was third string as usual.

 

Jumping Bomb Angels vs. Leilani Kai & Judy Martin (11/24/87)

 

Really hot semi-sprint at MSG. Once again, Judy Martin did the bulk of the work for her team, but y'know, Judy Martin was a pretty good worker. The JBA looked better here than in the Rumble match and I think the one fall stip suited them better. Martin busting out a powerbomb was not something I expect from 1987 WWF.

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In the Leilani shoot she talks about how Martin learned the powerbomb over in Japan and tells a funny story of how Martin got pissed at Moolah over something (I forget what) at the 87 Survivor Series so she kept threatening to powerbomb Moolah in the 10 woman tag but Kai talked her out of it.

 

It took me a little while to come around on Martin because Kai had the flashier moves but I really appreciate her work now. And yeah, always loved how she murdered girls with the powerbomb back then.

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Slightly off topic OJ but do you have any idea of how Ikeshita went out? Her last appearance (judging from the episodes on youtube) was her All Pacific title loss to Mimi Hagiwara in what looks to be a good old fashioned screw job to me. The ref pins Yumi whilst her shoulder's blatantly off the mat. She gets up from the mat and looks PISSED (yes, she actually makes a facial expression!), and walks straight to the back. No remonstrating with the ref, no post match angle/shenanigans, no retirement ceremony in future episodes, nothing. Gone. Hagiwara looks puzzled. I've heard that she was getting married which I'm guessing was a no no? Am I looking too far into this?

 

I'm gutted she's gone. Watching some of these AJW shows and she's easily the highlight. It's a shame she was mostly booked in tedious brawls because she could fucking GO when given the opportunity and showed a lot of range in ring. Cool as fuck too.

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From memory, Ikeshita retired in June of '81 and Kumano retired in October. I don't think the heels had retirement ceremonies in those days, at least not ones that aired on television. I know they mentioned on commentary that she was getting married (the commentary on these matches is a relentless stream of facts about the wrestlers), but I've never read anything about her getting buried.

 

The dates on early 80s footage are a mess. The guy who uploads that stuff, through no fault of his own, has summer footage listed as "early 80" and stuff like that.

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The guy who uploads that stuff, through no fault of his own, has summer footage listed as "early 80" and stuff like that.

The majority of that stuff is from Ginetty's 70's/80's AJW comp set (a little might be from Lynch too) and that's just how it was labled originally on there

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Rimi Yokota & Tomoko Kitamura vs. Wendi Richter & Leilani Kai, 2/81

 

This is probably the best way to watch early Leilani, in tag matches where she gets more of an opportunity to shine. She was working some kind of whiny, high pitched heel gimmick at this stage. I'm not sure if she intended it to be comedic, but the audience found it funny. Yokota was impressive here. I'm not sure that she was in another universe when it came to work as some of the other girls were pretty good workers too, but the way she carried herself made her seem light years ahead of her peers. Asuka was okay, but mostly it was amusing watching her with a Jackie Sato-like mop top.

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Yuriko Tagakai vs. Leilani Kai, 1/81

 

Leilani ate this girl for breakfast and they still wouldn't give her a win.

 

Jumbo Hori vs Leilani Kai, 6/82

 

This was hugely disappointing, especially for a title match. I remember Hori being better than this, but I suppose that was from '84-85. Leilani did some cool shit like a delayed butterfly suplex, but Hori was off on most of his stuff and Leilani's second kept interfering all match long. Bullshit countout win for Hori in a championship match was the last straw. I am not enjoying this promotion's booking.

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Lucy Kayama & Nancy Kumi vs Wendi Richter & Leilani Kai, 9/80

Nancy Kumi & Jackie Sato vs. Mami Kumano & Leilani Kai, 9/80

 

Being a Joshi pro-wrestler in these days was pretty tough, but at least they got to tour Guam. Both these matches were from a local high school and featured an American guy as the ref. They were the same kind of brawls you see on every other episode of AJW TV, but the locals were into it, especially the older folks. The 2/3 falls format tends to be a momentum killer and you often only get one really solid fall, but there was plenty of good stuff throughout. The first match is kind of ruined by the heels fighting with the ref, which leads to Leilani accidentally punching him and then posting him for real. The ref does a bladejob and DQs the heels. A know a lot of people don't like heel ref schtick, so that's one to avoid. Leilani had a really cool punch exchange in the first match where she did this bug-eyed selling as the girls whacked her. Arn Anderson would have been proud of that spot. Even though these matches aren't that great, Leilani always brings plenty of intensity to her performance. Kumano is the same. Kumi and Kayama have superb execution on their highspots, but Kayama is perhaps the epitome of an awkward Joshi pro-wrestler between the ropes. Sato sometimes looks like she doesn't care in matches like these.

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