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It's been a while gentlemen. But old JWP STILL rules!

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JWP '91 First Half Best Match Collection Tag Match Volume

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Miss A & Harley Saito vs. Rumi Kazama & Mayumi Ozaki (JWP 4/23/1991)

Fun, fun showcase tag between the kickpadded JWP asskickers and the catsuited Ozaki/Kazama pair. This was structured and paced like a BattlARTS match into a joshi match. You would get thudding kicks and big suplexes interspersed with brief matwork and then a big 2,99999 run full of exciting twists and turns. There were little antics with the exception of Ozaki & Kazama running in to kick someone in the head once or twice to break up a submission, which is what I guess their idea of a title match was. I'm really curious to know what joshi purists think of this stuff. It's not typical joshi sprint work, but it's far from US/japanese mens style tag wrestling aswell. The body of the match was back and forth exchanges until the nearfalls got closer and the moves bigger and the action a little more frantic. Some might call it mindless but I thought the action delivered and the finishing run had some cutoffs and tricks that were right on the money proving they were using their brains. There was also one sequence between Kazama and Harley that was cooler than anything you think Kazama can pull off. Saito looked great as usual brutalizing her opponents with kicks, knees and elbows and Kansai is of course a juggernaut. Even Ozaki was laying it in, hitting possibly the most gritty dropkick ever aswell as taking a hideous lariat. At this point maybe I actually prefer this more subtle version of Ozaki.

Pink Cadillac & Mayumi Ozaki & Yukari Osawa vs. Cuty Suzuki & Miki Handa & Utako Hozumi (JWP 6/20/1991)

Ooof. There's no reason to work hard in a Pink Cadillac match and the only thing you need to know about this match is that they understood this too. I guess some of the 3 on 1 spots would be sort of amusing for some.

Mami Kitamura & Rumi Kazama & Devil Masami vs. Miki Handa & Miss A & Harley Saito (JWP 6/21/1991)

This was an evenly matched 6 man tag sprint, so naturally it was good. Each team had a kickpadded vixen (Saito/Kazama), a somewhat nondescript young talent (Handa/Kitamura) and a heavyweight monster (Devil/Kansai). Altough they switched the pairings up constantly. The matchups weren't quite stretched out and there wasn't a big conclusion so it's below your higher tier of JWP tags, altough you had your usual goodness, stiff kicks and occasional clever spots. The highlight was easily the Masami/Kansai pairing. Devil had one of her better days and went the full mile here. She has the kind of commanding presence a 3 vs 3 tag needs and her performance here made me think she would kill it in Arena Mexico. Engaging the crowd through her mannerisms, bumping big and dishing out the big blows when it counts. There were also some brief Saito/Kazama exchanges and while Saito looked good it felt like a rehash from their previous matches and very brief. This was the kind of solid cruise control tag they could have in their sleep worth watching for Devil Masami giving the kind of performance that proves she still had some left in the tank by 1991.

Devil Masami & Hikari Fukuoka vs. Itsuki Yamazaki & Cuty Suzuki (JWP 5/25/1991)

Borderline excellent character driven tag. This matchup really tells the story by itself, but I give them credit for going the extra mile and really emphasizing the dynamic constantly. You had Fukuoka, the non descript little mouse teaming with the juggernaut that is Devil Masami. So Yamazaki & Cuty are basically pushing Fukuoka, but when Masami comes in she dominates. Yamazaki & Cuty trying to outwrestle Devil and bouncing off of her is all kinds of fun (including Yamazaki hitting maybe the most logical sunset flip in history on Devil) and because Fukuoka is dependant on her partner to survive you get that constant intensity and nifty help spots. Yamazaki really shines in JWP because not only can she wrestle she adds a ton of character without being overly theatric. I've talked about Cuty resembling Arn Anderson and I was getting some dismissive Anderson Bros vibes from her team in how they threated Fukuoka, there was also some really nice armwringer work from Cuty altough she didn't go full bore like in her Scorpion matches. At one point Yamazaki just kicks Fukuoka in the mouth. When Fukuoka puts her in the Boston Crab it feels like a big moment and I love a match that makes me care about a Boston Crab. There was also an ultra gnarly piledriver which is sold like a fucking piledriver so that ruled too. Match didn't have a grand finishing run but there was absolutely no reason for this to go all epic. We do get the absolutely devastating Gorilla Press from Masami aswell as some fat powerbombs and another nasty dropkick finish. Cool character work and cool wrestling, this is what makes old JWP so worthwhile.

Cuty Suzuki & Plum Mariko vs. Yukari Osawa & Sachiko Koganei (JWP 6/30/1991)

A chance to see the lesser featured Osawa & Koganei stretch out and do stuff. Match wasn't bad at all and had it's moments but was more than a hair below the upper tier of JWP tags. Osawa wears the kickpads but aside from a hard kick or two looked noticably less polished than her peers. Koganei was fun and spunky. Osawa & Koganei did some heel tactics – biting, cut play etc but they didn't run it into the ground. Match was worked like your usual JWP tag – constant back and forth with the moves getting bigger and the occasional half crab. Nothing super compelling especially with all 4 being limited on offense (lots of flying clotheslines and crossbodies) and the match needed someone to really push it. I did really like the flying legbars from Plum. I imagine this kind of match would've gotten more play back then. The opening exchange was quite flippy and you had your usual barrage of great looking suplexes and the occasional cool double team.

 

There you go, 4 good matches on this tape. Now I wonder where is the Best Match Collection for the SECOND half of 1991??

 

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Mie Dohiki vs. Sumiko Saito (JWP 4/26/1991)

Fun rookie match which was slightly more flashy than your average young lions opener. Some nifty technical moves. I'm a sucker for a good armdrag takeover or leg trip. I didn't get much from Saito, who looked tall and awkward running the roopes, but Dohiki was quite feisty. She wasn't afraid to kick Saito hard in the spine and her fast dropkicks looked great. Of course, true to form, Dohiki doesn't show up again after 1991.

Eagle Sawai & Mayumi Ozaki vs. Shinobu Kandori & Harley Saito (JWP 4/26/1991)

Was shaping up to be a pretty great match before it ended in baffling manner. Match was built around Sawai & Ozaki trying everything to compete against the badass duo that is Kandori & Harley. There is some ultra sharp, violent work on Harley consisting mostly of brutal looking stomps to the head and elbows to the neck aswell as some nifty evasion spots and Kandori & Saito teeing off on Sawai & Ozaki with slaps and kicks. Then a weird transition happens when Ozaki hits a nice dive to the outside before a brawl erupts. Kandori brings in a table and they teased a double countout, but Ozaki goes back in and is in peril now. Saito & Kandori are just destroying Ozaki now hitting every move they have on that tiny woman. Ozaki wants to tag out, but Sawai isn't there. This is great drama, but then Sawai comes in and some awkward fumbling around with weapons ensues. They brawl outside again and a guardrail is brought in. I admit Kandori and Sawai using the guardrail is quite the epic visual, but I thought all the drama they had with Ozaki in peril just fizzled away when they went to the garbage stuff. I could see some people really digging this.

Devil Masami & Rumi Kazama vs. Miss A & Itsuki Yamazaki (JWP 4/26/1991)

This was just a tremendous match; great, intelligent, character driven pro wrestling and some brutal spots. This was probably Masamis finest JWP performance outside the Kandori match. It's also another great one for Yamazaki. Lord, is there any other veteran wrestler who has an unseen run as great as Yamazakis in JWP on tape? Her retiring before the interpromotional era is certainly a waste. This starts out fiery hot with some massive lariats and kicks thrown before a slowdown and then sprint again which involve Masami doing some pretty fun wrestling and Yamazaki looking super impressive. Masami ends up caught in a Figure 4 which sets up some really nice legwork and Masami finally doing a really good job selling vulnerability. They keep the nifty moments coming and Kansai & Kazama look impressive aswell mostly kicking the hell out of whoever is in the ring but also bringing some well timed spots of their own. Really well executed economic pro wrestling, the kinda match that was missing from joshi in the later 90s.


 

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Cuty Suzuki & Miki Handa & Mikiko Futagami vs. Sachiko Koganei & Yuka Nakajima & Ayumi ? (1/13/1991)

Pretty average action. Lots of half crabs. Yuka Nakajima and the mysterious Ayumi had a Dump Matsumoto-esque punk look and were working a standard heel style, staying in the ring. Nobody except Cuty and Koganei looked above average. Not a terrible match but it didn't have the hard hitting, sharp technical work or psychology that makes JWP what it is.

Mie Dohiki vs. ? (1/6/1991)

Mie Dohiki faces another mysterious short haired rookie. Not as good as the previous Dohiki match because it ended weirdly, as Dohiki controlled her opponent for a while before a comeback was supposed to happen, but mystery girl blows it and is easily defeated. Dohikis stomps, kneedrops and holds looked great again. The opening work reminded me a bit of the more technical 80s AJW matches. Wonder if I can unearth a listworthy match of hers?

Devil Masami & The Scorpion vs. Eagle Sawai & Sachiko Koganei (1/6/1991)

Good match, with a similiar dynamic to the Masami/Fukuoka tag where it's her working as a juggernaut protecting her smaller partner. Scorpion is nowhere near as helpless as a young Hikari Fukuoka of course and there were some neat spots involving her. Sawai & Koganei are perfectly solid in their roles. They didn't work towards any epic stretch or grande climax, just a fun character driven undercard tag and I don't mind watching matches like this at all.

Mayumi Ozaki & Rumi Kazama vs. Shinobu Kandori & Harley Saito (1/6/1991)

Much more compact, better version of the previously reviewed match. Kandori was so fun as a dominant force here, and you got the sense Ozaki & Kazama were pushing hard to contain her. The Kazama/Kandori interactions were foreshadowing the future Kandori/Hotta matches. Kazama is no Yumiko Hotta, Daisuke Ikeda, Koki Kitahara level ass stomper, but when it was time to be a woman she stepped up and kicked Kandori in the face. Kandori was using a half crab as a finisher at this point, which sounds lame but the way she cranks in that half crab you buy it forcing a tap. Ozaki looked good doing some slick wrestling and while Saito was subdued but she is more than solid in her „run in and kick the hell out of whoever is in the ring“ role. Some nifty spots and a funny finish.

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Just a heads up - this channel has uploaded quite a bit of this presplit JWP stuff, including many matches that I've added to the recommended list. Check it out:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxJ353H3dEId-YbpDYi60Zg/videos

 

So let's start with this match which is also on the channel:

Devil Masami & Itsuki Yamazaki vs. Miss A & Harley Saito (8/12/1990)

Especially interesting matchup because it's one of the longer JWP matches I've seen at 30 minutes. Most of these matches don't go over 15, and I was a little surprised how well they handled themselves. You'd think a 30 minute match would start slow, but they start pushing the pace pretty quickly and never really let things drag. Even when they were working holds there was something interesting going on (usually a partner running in to deliver a crushing blow or step on someones face). So on one hand this was a really well executed match with plenty of neat spots and good control segments. On the other hand none of that stuff built to anything grand and the match ended up feeling a little average on the ending. I mean, you are going for a 30 minute epic! I love economic pro wrestling more than most, but if there is ever a reason to go bonkers wth 2.99999s and exciting counters, it's a match like this, and instead they kept it so conservative. I feel like a hypocrite over this. It didn't help that the most exciting moment of the match - an absolutely murderous lariat out of nowhere that turned the receiving person into a stiff - happened in the first 90s seconds of the match. Harley looked good mostly selling and occasionally teeing off on someone with her kicks, while Yamazaki wasn't in the match a ton, but always looked good: she had some really unique, sharp legwork aswell as hitting some nasty elbows to the neck. Devil had her working boots on nuking everyone with powerbombs and gorilla slams and doing some neat wrestling of her own. Miss A was still pretty limited at this point and had some awkward moments. I think this the match one might love as an example of well executed pro wrestling with character work, fun dynamics and neat moments or be completely indifferent to, wondering what's the point. I'm more on the positive side but I'll leave it for the community to decide.

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Itsuki Yamazaki & Rumi Kazama vs. Miss A & Mami Kitamura (7/19/1990)

 

Previously unavailable match from the mysterious japanese YouTube page. This was a fun sprint. The highlight was unironically Kazama running in to kick the hell out of whoever was in the ring, something she did pretty well during this time period. Yamazaki was cool as usual. Kansai felt a little subdued considering both opponents were pushing her. Kitamura looked solid doing basic stuff like working a legbar, but also looked crummy hitting a lousy dropkick etc. Not every match can be an epic and stuff like this is part of the reason why JWP is so enjoyable.

 

Devil Masami vs. Eagle Sawai (7/19/1990)

 

Funny match which was centered around Sawai using her heel tactics and Devil soon fighting fire with fire. Funny because Sawai was using eye rakes and chokes much like Masami would do a decade earlier. Not saying Masami didn't have her working boots on, but it got quite silly especially when a minion of Sawai ran in with a chair and Masami went Steve Austin on everyone.

 

Miki Handa vs. Jiang Lee Jun (?) (7/19/1990)

 

Here's an oddity: in 1990, JWP was also doing wrestler vs. Martial artist matches BECAUSE THAT WAS THE STYLE AT THE TIME. I assume the martial artist is always the same in these matches – a girl in a gi with brutal kicks. Most of them are fun because the JWP girls aren't afraid to get kicked in the face. This was probably the funnest of the bunch, weirdly involving rookie Miki Handa. Handa hits some cool judo throws (I'm surprised you didn't see more judo in matches involving one wrestler wearing a Gi) and Jiang Lee absolutely kicks the living hell out of here. Totally up there with any beating you see in other wrestler vs. Martial artist matches. The finish is great too with the martial artist landing a serious of devasting kicks, jumping around and celebrating in a cocky manner only for Handa to clock her with a big punch and sink in a choke.

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Mami Kitamura & Hikari Fukuoka vs. Midori Saito & Yuka Nakajima (JWP 4/22/1990)

 

Rookie match. Highspots: dropkicks and a Bulldog. All 4 worked with some nice snugness, thudding back elbows and tight small packages. It reminded me a bit of those stumpy legged IWE juniors. Perfectly enjoyable match, altough they basically just worked to a finish with no real structure or story in mind. Great looking basic moves and a nice finish. Another type of match that is hard to find these days.

 

Plum Mariko vs. Yukari Osawa (JWP 3/21/1990)

 

Undercard match with some fun moments. Pretty much all there is to it. Osawa did some low end heel stuff (chokes and claw holds) but they didn't set out for anything more than some fast food action. Plum is more at home in workrate matches, but she did suplex tall awkward Osawa around nicely, so what do I know.

 

Rumi Kazama vs. Miyuki Takayama (JWP 1/7/1990)

 

Wrestler vs. Kickboxer time. This was short but felt like a fight. Takayama was laying in the punches and kicks. Things got pretty intense for a second when Kazama started kicking the kickboxer when she was down. Kazama dominated most of this taking Takayama down repeatedly and finally forcing a tap with a half crab in under 4 minutes, proving pro wrestling is superior. Not a super impressive performance from Kazama as the kickboxer looked way smaller and lighter, but I enjoyed it.

 

The Scorpion vs. Hiromi Miyagawa (JWP 1/7/1990)

 

Found a masked japanese girl wrestler vs. Female kickboxer match. Life is complete. This went longer than Kazama/Takayama and I imagine would have been pretty good with someone less reluctant than Miyagawa. Scorpion looked good, she has more impressive takedowns and ground game than Kazama, and she also slapped the kickboxer in the face. I also liked how she would complain about an illegal(?) knee from Miyagawa, sell her stomach and give her comeuppance by basically making minced meat out of the kickboxer.

 

Cuty Suzuki vs. Sachiko Koganei (JWP 1/7/1990)

 

Another brief midcard encounter. Cuty Suzuki could work, no lying. Her basic moves - kneedrops, drop toe holds etc look more impressive than a lot of male indy workers. Koganei looks talented but was mostly indulging in heel tactics which was pretty passe by 1990. She also looked sloppy at times. I give her props for being so delightfully evil, though.

 

Devil Masami & Itsuki Yamazaki vs. Harley Saito & Miss A (1990 or 1991)

 

JIP. Was going good like the matchup promises with some hard kicks being thrown, but then a bullshit double countout happens. They do a restart only to do another brawl into an easy rollup finish. I guess you can file this under „a night off“, altough I love savage Yamazaki can be in these matches. You don't expect her to run in and punch Kansai in the face, but she does.

 

Miki Handa vs. Utako Hozumi (JWP 3/21/1990)

 

Technical undercard match. Loved the flying headscissors and there was some cool back work. Handa wins with a cool rarely seen pin combo.

 

Mayumi Ozaki & Eagle Sawai vs. Cutie Suzuki & Rumi Kazama (JWP 3/21/1990)

 

Another fine match. Ozaki & Sawai start out by bashing Suzuki & Kazama with their flowers and proceed to work the heel stuff well. It just works better in a tag where you can have a faster pace while still building some heat. Kazama looked solid hitting some good kicks and a nice Fujiwara armbar, while Cutie was pretty much working as a technico to Ozakis and Sawais rudoism, doing mostly flash pins and submissions. Seemed a little subdued and you soon found out why when the silly buggers began and they ended the match in a no contest due to chairs getting involved.

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JWP TV taped 11/2/91 Tokyo Korakuen Hall

Mayumi Ozaki vs. Hikari Fukuoka

Fukuokas Toyota worship was already becoming apparent here. What makes this more than your average rookie squash is Ozaki kicking the living hell out of her and doing some gritty armwork. Ozaki working like Regal rules. She rocks a mean Fujiwara armbar and will pull your fingers apart. Her kicks and stomps were also pretty manly. Eat your heart out, britwres shitters.

Eagle Sawai & Reiko Hoshino vs. Itsuki Yamazaki & Mami Kitamura

Hoshino is the newly unmasked Scorpion. This was an undercard tag that felt like they made it up as they went a long. The match still had a story with Sawai really roughing up young Kitamura and her going against the vets with Yamazaki helping her along being the plot of the match. Nothing out of the extraordinary here but the match had it's moments and some nice smacks.

Cuty Suzuki vs. Plum Mariko

I like both these workers, but there wasn't much to this. Just your usual perfunctory holds → filler legwork → couple nearfalls affair. Felt like a touring match, but they were in Korakuen Hall.

Shinobu Kandori & Miki Handa vs. Devil Masami & Utako Hozumi

The Kandori/Devil matchup is interesting in theory, but they didn't deliver a whole lot. It was a short match to begin with and they wasted a good chunk of time with Boston Crabs and mild outside brawling. Not exactly a working boots performance from Devil and Kandori wasn't exactly fired up either. Match had it's moments such as a few stiff lariats and a big press slam into a splash.

UWA International Title: Harley Saito vs. Dynamite Kansai

Great ultra stiff fight between two of the stiffest workers not just in womens wrestling. These two had been battling it out fierce for over a year and this was probably their most brutal outing. Just two asskickers cracking eachother with shots. The opening minute are fire, and we get some really good battle for control stuff with Harley making use of the kneebar and both of them really punishing the other. One thing that stands out about JWP is that there was no „I hit you, you hit me“, it's a constant battle for the advantage until one gets control and just tees off on the other. To be honest Kansai doesn't have much character or selling ability compared to Kandori so this wasn't as good and they went for the usual 50/50 exchanges in the last third. However the finish gave the whole thing a touch of epic as it was quite unique for japanese wrestling which has conditioned us to expect a different outcome from that kind of move. I'd say Harley did well here carrying this selling and giving Kansai as good as she had making this the 1991 MOTY as it's more compact than their earlier match.

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Harley Saito & Devil Masami vs. Dynamite Kansai & Madusa (JWP 12/7/1991)

Oooh baby. The highlight in this was of course Kansai and Saito pulverizing each other with thudding kicks. BattlARTSian rhythm at times. I was also shocked how well Madusa did here. I mean, I've liked her WWF stuff against Bull and so on, but she fit really well here, hitting her kicks on point, engaging in good exchanges, and nailing the submissions and suplexes. She looked better doing that hybrid shooter stuff and kicking Devil Masami in the chin than a lot of girls today with a much bigger fanbase. Speaking of Masami, she was energetic and played her usual role of the explosive powerhouse that will turn the match around by blasting someone with fat powerbombs and lariats if given the chance. This had more structure than the usual JWP tag, we get some hot opening exchanges, before some backwork on Saito is teased, then Masami helps her out and we get Kansai in peril instead. Masamis intrusiveness ends up backfiring later. The finish was a little cute but nothing offensive. Not quite the stone cold classic that the first couple minutes were hinting at but a far above average match nonetheless.


 

10/23/91: Cuty Suzuki & Devil Masami vs. Reggie Bennett & Terri Power

Reggie Bennett Sighting!!! While there was no ARSION matwork in this match, it was a really fun houseshow tag. The US gals added significant big/little psychology to the match. This was also a nice nuanced Devil performance, as she put over the massive physical advantage of the foreigners while retaining her own monster status by doing cool things such as selling her own arm and shoulder after landing a big lariat or breathing heavily after hitting a bodyslam. Bennett & Power looked good on offense aswell, hitting nice elbow drops, big powerslams etc. Match includes a sumo standoff and buildup to a vertical suple ex. Also thought the structure was good with Cuty being severely disadvantaged and Masami saving her repeatedly leading to a cool unique finish.

12/1/91 Osaka: Reggie Bennett & Terri Power vs. Eagle Sawai & Dynamite Kansai

 

The previous match was a fun little match due to character dynamics and big/little psychology. This was Reggie & Terri stepping up for a stiff heavyweight clash. And they did pretty well too. Nothing as nuanced here as Devils selling in the previous match but they had no problem stepping up to trade big blows with Kansai. There were some hints at Kansai and Sawai having to use double teams to cut Reggie down but the match had no real depth. I was also surprised how easily Kansai beat Reggie. I mean, you have a big gaijin lady who can work, surely you might want to set her up as a bigger threat?

 

12/7/91: Eagle Sawaii & Dynamite Kansai & Reiko Hoshino vs. Itsuki Yamazaki & Harley Saito & Hikari Fukuoka

Joshi sprint no better or worse than any other you've seen. Tag in, do a couple moves, tag out. I actually like these JWP sprints a little more than the AJW equivalents because everyone has really solid offense and they only go 13 minutes. Fukuoka was fully embracing Toyotaism here and took some bad abuse from Kansai and Sawai. Hoshinos dive was easily the highlight. Saito and Kansai interactions could've made this something noteworthy but they only interacted briefly.

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