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Manami Toyota vs Shawn Micheals

Who is better, Manami Toyota or Shawn Michaels?  

20 members have voted

  1. 1. Who is the better GWE Candidate, Manami or Shawn?

    • Manami Toyota
      14
    • Shawn Michaels
      6


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Two of the best scarecrow wrestlers in history. Oh boy, Toyota for me, but I don't have a side in this fight but I want to view the bloodbath.

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This is a tough one. I think Toyota destroys Shawn in volume (though she usually had better folks to work with) and probably longevity, but I think Shawn was probably more versatile, at least pre-comeback. I love the Rockers and I think Shawn's absolute top-tier matches are better than Toyota's, but the rest of Toyota's are better than Shawn's. Toyota is better on offense but pre-comeback Shawn is better at selling.

My two biggest "I'll rank them, I just have no idea where" wrestlers.

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Both were, at one point, all world tag workers. I legit think the best face in peril I've ever seen was Michaels in AWA against Rose and Somers. Toyota is a terrific tag worker. I also think both of them are fucking dogshit as singles workers for a good portion of there career, though admitted I've only seen a bit of Toyota. She somehow has no idea how to sell a leg in a promotion that specifically taught people to work the leg in almost every match, and I'm a "I want my wrestling to be logical" person, which means I actively dislike her work. Shawn, while I disliked most of his post retirement work, was a worker who worked well put together, smart matches for most of his prime that I enjoyed. Now, I actively believe that was due to having some damned good road agents because we've seen in recent times what happens when Shawn gets to put together his own stuff *shudder*, I can't argue against the performances.

 

Shawn will make my top 100, though not high, and for me personally, Toyota wouldn't make my top 200. 

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I'm tired of sticking up for Toyota, but I will say two things:

1) I don't get people who say they love Joshi, or whatever, but they hate Toyota. To me, I don't know that those people really get Joshi. Even worse are people who don't like Toyota but think everyone else was great -- like we're supposed to believe that Hasegawa, Mita, Shimoda, Yoshida, Takako Inoue, etc. were better than Toyota.

2) Toyota was a better seller than most wrestlers who'll finish above her. She didn't sell pop up transitions. Not the only wrestler who didn't, but somehow the worse offender. The argument that she stopped selling all together is lazy and false. I would say that in Joshi only Hokuto, Ozaki and Chigusa were better at selling, and only at their absolute best. 

What I would really like to see is some proper critical analysis of Toyota from someone who doesn't dislike her. The first good Toyota match that I've seen is from 1989. The last great Toyota match is from 2002. That's 13 years as a good worker, which is a lot more than  most Joshi workers. Her absolute peak is 92-94, IMO. I'm not a big fan of her '95-99 period, and prefer her '00-02 work, but I like her earlier work more than her period as the company ace. 

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If it helps, when I watch her in a couple of years, I'll be coming mostly new to her. I am not someone who's going to enjoy/forgive something because it was true to the style or the moment or the crowd or whatever though, but I'm usually consistent to a fault. I'll be coming in with as open a mind as possible and from a place of general ignorance.

I will say that I enjoyed the hour long Toyota vs Inoue hour long match way more than I was expecting to (which I mean, yeah, open mind, I guess?).

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1 hour ago, ohtani's jacket said:

I'm tired of sticking up for Toyota, but I will say two things:

1) I don't get people who say they love Joshi, or whatever, but they hate Toyota. To me, I don't know that those people really get Joshi. Even worse are people who don't like Toyota but think everyone else was great -- like we're supposed to believe that Hasegawa, Mita, Shimoda, Yoshida, Takako Inoue, etc. were better than Toyota.

2) Toyota was a better seller than most wrestlers who'll finish above her. She didn't sell pop up transitions. Not the only wrestler who didn't, but somehow the worse offender. The argument that she stopped selling all together is lazy and false. I would say that in Joshi only Hokuto, Ozaki and Chigusa were better at selling, and only at their absolute best. 

What I would really like to see is some proper critical analysis of Toyota from someone who doesn't dislike her. The first good Toyota match that I've seen is from 1989. The last great Toyota match is from 2002. That's 13 years as a good worker, which is a lot more than  most Joshi workers. Her absolute peak is 92-94, IMO. I'm not a big fan of her '95-99 period, and prefer her '00-02 work, but I like her earlier work more than her period as the company ace. 

I'll work on it after you tell us about Lou Thesz. 

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1 hour ago, ohtani's jacket said:

I'm tired of sticking up for Toyota, but I will say two things:

1) I don't get people who say they love Joshi, or whatever, but they hate Toyota. To me, I don't know that those people really get Joshi. Even worse are people who don't like Toyota but think everyone else was great -- like we're supposed to believe that Hasegawa, Mita, Shimoda, Yoshida, Takako Inoue, etc. were better than Toyota.

2) Toyota was a better seller than most wrestlers who'll finish above her. She didn't sell pop up transitions. Not the only wrestler who didn't, but somehow the worse offender. The argument that she stopped selling all together is lazy and false. I would say that in Joshi only Hokuto, Ozaki and Chigusa were better at selling, and only at their absolute best. 

What I would really like to see is some proper critical analysis of Toyota from someone who doesn't dislike her. The first good Toyota match that I've seen is from 1989. The last great Toyota match is from 2002. That's 13 years as a good worker, which is a lot more than  most Joshi workers. Her absolute peak is 92-94, IMO. I'm not a big fan of her '95-99 period, and prefer her '00-02 work, but I like her earlier work more than her period as the company ace. 

1) Sorry I LOVE JOSHI. It's my favourite wrestling ever, and I don't hate Toyota (although you seem to be lumping me in with that crowd). Toyota does not equal joshi. I think people you mentioned you could easily argue are about than Toyota. Toyota will be low on my GWE list and many many many joshi workers will be ahead of her.

2) SHE SELLED GREAT, in the moment. Then she would brush it off and ignore it to get her spots in. That's all anybody is saying. She gets her legs worked on for 15 minutes and then pops up and hits 15 drop kicks (this is not an exaggeration). It's infuriating.

 

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Toyota's offense is better than Shawn's. 

Her dropkick looks more powerful than sweet chin music.

Bridge out of pin is more impressive than kip-up. I voted Manami. 

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6 hours ago, ohtani's jacket said:

1) I don't get people who say they love Joshi, or whatever, but they hate Toyota. To me, I don't know that those people really get Joshi. Even worse are people who don't like Toyota but think everyone else was great -- like we're supposed to believe that Hasegawa, Mita, Shimoda, Yoshida, Takako Inoue, etc. were better than Toyota.

I just do not get this line of argument and I don't remember anyone ever saying this about any other wrestler. If someone generally likes Joshi but doesn't like Yumiko Hotta does that mean they must not really get Joshi? If they don't like Johnny Saint does that mean they must not really get WoS? It just seems very bizarre and arbitrary to put her on a pedestral like this. She's far from the biggest Joshi star ever, stylistically she's not exactly representative of even just her era (Aja, Dynamite and Bull were the other world champs in her peak and she works nothing like them) and long-term she's not especially influential seeing how no one really works like her anymore, yet in 2021 Stardom has a bootleg Dump Matsumoto as their top heel. Why out of all the big stars of Joshi is she the one you have to love or you must just not get the whole genre (or whatever you want to call it)?

And I'm really not one of her biggest detractors, she's probably gonna be #95 on my ballot or something. I just find the discourse around her weird more than anything else

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2 hours ago, Kadaveri said:

I just do not get this line of argument and I don't remember anyone ever saying this about any other wrestler. If someone generally likes Joshi but doesn't like Yumiko Hotta does that mean they must not really get Joshi? If they don't like Johnny Saint does that mean they must not really get WoS? It just seems very bizarre and arbitrary to put her on a pedestral like this. She's far from the biggest Joshi star ever, stylistically she's not exactly representative of even just her era (Aja, Dynamite and Bull were the other world champs in her peak and she works nothing like them) and long-term she's not especially influential seeing how no one really works like her anymore, yet in 2021 Stardom has a bootleg Dump Matsumoto as their top heel. Why out of all the big stars of Joshi is she the one you have to love or you must just not get the whole genre (or whatever you want to call it)?

And I'm really not one of her biggest detractors, she's probably gonna be #95 on my ballot or something. I just find the discourse around her weird more than anything else

It's not about liking or disliking Toyota. I get why people have a problem with Toyota. It's about actively hating on Toyota while claiming that every other Joshi wrestler is great. I don't get how someone can watch that period of Joshi and not coming away with the understanding that she was an integral part of the era and a worker who embodied what it means to be a Joshi pro-wrestler.

I don't know anything about current Joshi, so I'll stick with the older era. Aja, Dynamite and Bull were not indicative of Joshi pro-wrestling or Joshi pro-wrestlers. They were given the gimmicks they had because of their body type and the way they looked, and also because it had worked in the past. That style was antiquated, the audience changed, and finally they were able to show traits that were closer to what Joshi was truly about. Aja got to show more of herself. Bull got to show more of herself. The best part of Bull's career, IMO, is when she's the respected elder stateswoman speaking on behalf of all the wrestlers. She had been moved sideways, career-wise, but she seems happy to be in that role. I don't know that for sure, that's simply my impression. I know from listening to her speak that she had a hard time at the beginning of his career and a difficult time during that early 90s period people have been talking about a lot recently. 

Anyway, back to Toyota. Toyota was representative of practically every girl who broke into Joshi or tried to break into Joshi. The outliers might be bigger girls, smaller girls, or sporty types, but the point is that pretty much every girl who tried out for AJW wanted to be the babyface idol. Aja wanted it. Bull wanted it. They all wanted to be like Chigusa. Toyota didn't have the charisma to be an idol like The Beauty Pair or Crush Girls, but she did have the drive and determination to be a fierce competitor. People praise Hokuto the hilt, but to me there is no difference between Hokuto and Toyota when it comes to their mindset, their attitude, the raw feeling they tapped into. I do not see a difference between Toyota and Jaguar when it comes to determination, either. There were a lot of girls on the AJW roster who were good workers, or fun workers, inoffensive, but not on Toyota's level. I'm not gonna say Akira Nogami was a better worker than Shinya Hashimoto and I'm not gonna say Takako Inoue was a better worker than Manami Toyota. 

The most frustrating thing about Manami Toyota is that you can never have a proper conversation about her. You can't talk about what she was like in '89-90 or how terrible her GAEA work is because all anybody ever talks about is selling the leg. 

Anyway, this was an antagonistic thread in the first place, and I gave an honest answer even if it made no sense.  

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8 hours ago, elliott said:

I'll work on it after you tell us about Lou Thesz. 

If you're interested in Lou Thesz, go ahead and watch a Lou Thesz match. They're not hard to find. I'm not interested in championing Thesz so that people will vote for him. I'm too old, tired, and swamped at work, and it's not going to happen anyway because it's not an era of wrestling that people are interested in. If people want to talk about Thesz that's cool, but watch a couple of matches first. I don't know why people wouldn't like the Thesz vs. Schmidt matches and not be interested in seeing more Thesz, but I can't wrap my head around a lot of things. 

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15 minutes ago, ohtani's jacket said:

 a worker who embodied what it means to be a Joshi pro-wrestler.

 

I don't think it does.

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1 hour ago, ohtani's jacket said:

If you're interested in Lou Thesz, go ahead and watch a Lou Thesz match. They're not hard to find. I'm not interested in championing Thesz so that people will vote for him. I'm too old, tired, and swamped at work, and it's not going to happen anyway because it's not an era of wrestling that people are interested in. If people want to talk about Thesz that's cool, but watch a couple of matches first. I don't know why people wouldn't like the Thesz vs. Schmidt matches and not be interested in seeing more Thesz, but I can't wrap my head around a lot of things. 

 

*Shrug*

Elsewhere you mentioned Thesz as someone you were considering for the top 10. Considering this whole project is about ranking and making cases for wrestlers, you have a big voice, have watched more of him than probably 99% of people, and theres not a lot written about Thesz in his thread, I would've thought you'd rather talk about one of your top 10 candidates ahead of someone you earlier said you were tired of sticking up for. But that's cool. I won't ask anymore. 

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10 hours ago, Matt D said:

If it helps, when I watch her in a couple of years, I'll be coming mostly new to her. I am not someone who's going to enjoy/forgive something because it was true to the style or the moment or the crowd or whatever though, but I'm usually consistent to a fault. I'll be coming in with as open a mind as possible and from a place of general ignorance.

I will say that I enjoyed the hour long Toyota vs Inoue hour long match way more than I was expecting to (which I mean, yeah, open mind, I guess?).

This is the early favorite for most surprising revelation of the 2026 project. 

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I'm a big Shawn fan and right now he's a top 10 contender to me. And I do believe Toyota is a very accesible worker and one you could use to get introduced to joshi pretty easily. They're kinda similar because their respective characters rely on showing how awesome they can be before defeating their opponents, but they approach that character trait differently: for HBK is all about ego, but for Toyota is about fighting spirit.

I think HBK's versatility is one of his biggest strenghts, specially considering gimmick matches. Unless he's paired with Triple H, you can always expect one of the best [insert random stipulation] matches if Shawn is in it: HIAC, LMS, Ladders, No DQ, Ironman, Triple Threats, Survivor Series, Rumble performances... He can be a fiery babyface or an asshole heel. He obviously will bump like a maniac, in a good way. He will adapt his offense while fighting big guys. His catalogue of great matches is huge, but I'm also finding him pretty good on a week to week basis pre and post injury (specially 2005-09).

Toyota is one of the best spotty wrestlers ever. You can always expect fireworks when watching a match of hers. Maybe she was a bit excesive quite often and that stopped her matches to reach their full potential (still great matches most of them), but when she found the perfect balance she was as good as anyone. The Yamada tags with Ozaki and Kansai, the Aja matches and the Destiny Hokuto match are truly exceptional matches and she's one of the big reasons why.

Both have tendencias that could hurt their matches a bit, exagerating their bigger traits, but I think Toyota's are a bit more present in her overall career. Manami is the best offensive wrestler, Shawn is the best seller. I'm a big fan of HBK's long term selling and (most of) his facial expressions and how he uses those two things to put over the epicness of the climax of his matches. I wish Toyota had some of that, but she's more impressive athletically. I have to admit I'm more of a character and theatre guy than a sport and athleticism guy when it comes to wrestling, so my personal preference will be Shawn. I think I enjoy most of his work more than Toyota's. But it's a pretty fun comparison!

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This is so one sided against HBK for me that I really can't even begin to imagine a planet where I think he does anything better than her so I won't even debate this.

 

I do think her influence is pretty strong in modern Joshi, though not as much as someone like Jaguar's but to say "nobody" works like her is either unlearned or just disingenuous. Just look at the way Mayu Iwatani sells and her reckless abandon in matches, look at Fujimoto & Tsukushi in Ice Ribbon, even Io has a bit of Toyota in her especially when she was coming up. And that Dump Matsumoto tribute is about one million times less of a worker then any of the above mentioned wrestlers.

 

I think that her selling is underrated and more specifically her being an actress in wrestling which I think is a better way to judge certain dynamics in Joshi specifically. Tell me there was "no selling" in her match vs. Hokuto from 1/6/91, or all sorts of tag matches with Yamada, hell she basically single handedly made that hair angle work to the point Stardom did a direct copy of it 30 years later at Budokan (that made little sense in that particular story amd also was significantly lesser than the original but whatever) Unfortunately people will judge her run with all the 5 star matches and stuff, and that doesn't hold up as well as her early career IMO but also that was her role at the time in the company that others couldn't have pulled off or even remotely came close. I don't think anyone would claim she was a great worker past the early 2000s when the dark ages really kicked in but that's still basically over a decade and even by the very end when she was older she wasn't nearly as broken down as Kong is now. I do think she's a bit unfairly maligned due to her early rep and doesn't get the credit as an overall performer although even with me her run as Ace wasn't particularly to my tastes.

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30 minutes ago, DylanZero said:

I do think her influence is pretty strong in modern Joshi, though not as much as someone like Jaguar's but to say "nobody" works like her is either unlearned or just disingenuous. Just look at the way Mayu Iwatani sells and her reckless abandon in matches,

I have watched a lot of both and I have no idea how you can compare their selling.

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Each bumps with reckless abandon, often in effort of making their opponents look good. Their similarities are actually extremely basic. Not to say that they are the same in terms of prolonged selling, but moreso the style of Mayu in taking moves is taken quite similarly from Toyota, if not directly. Even then the dramatics and prolonged selling from a match like the one I mentioned vs. Hokuto is similar to many of her modern ilk, but particularly Mayu's style certainly has a lot of similarities.

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8 minutes ago, DylanZero said:

Each bumps with reckless abandon, often in effort of making their opponents look good. Their similarities are actually extremely basic. Not to say that they are the same in terms of prolonged selling, but moreso the style of Mayu in taking moves is taken quite similarly from Toyota, if not directly. Even then the dramatics and prolonged selling from a match like the one I mentioned vs. Hokuto is similar to many of her modern ilk, but particularly Mayu's style certainly has a lot of similarities.

That Hokuto match is not a normal Toyota match, I feel that is very much Hokuto making her work a Hokuto match. Prolonged selling by Toyota is something that maybe comes in 93, because I've watched everything from her debut till 92 in the last year and she sucks at that aspect. 

I am failing to see the comparison, maybe I'm just blind. She grew up watching Dragon Gate, I thought that is where she gets her bumping style from?

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11 hours ago, DylanZero said:

I think that her selling is underrated and more specifically her being an actress in wrestling which I think is a better way to judge certain dynamics in Joshi specifically. Tell me there was "no selling" in her match vs. Hokuto from 1/6/91, or all sorts of tag matches with Yamada, hell she basically single handedly made that hair angle work to the point Stardom did a direct copy of it 30 years later at Budokan (that made little sense in that particular story amd also was significantly lesser than the original but whatever) Unfortunately people will judge her run with all the 5 star matches and stuff, and that doesn't hold up as well as her early career IMO but also that was her role at the time in the company that others couldn't have pulled off or even remotely came close. I don't think anyone would claim she was a great worker past the early 2000s when the dark ages really kicked in but that's still basically over a decade and even by the very end when she was older she wasn't nearly as broken down as Kong is now. I do think she's a bit unfairly maligned due to her early rep and doesn't get the credit as an overall performer although even with me her run as Ace wasn't particularly to my tastes.

I think the areas where Toyota excelled at selling were during the meaningless filler sections in Joshi matches where they stretch each other, selling the impact of a bump, and putting over the fatigue and the physical and emotional exhaustion of a match. I know some people are turned off by the screaming, but I'd rather listen to Manami shrieking than the workers talking to each other while they do submission holds. She sells bumps like an all-timer, IMO. She always likes like she's been wiped out. And she's a champion at putting over the overall effect a match has on the competitors. She was very good at putting over the fact that her matches were special and distinct from other girls' matches. I wouldn't call her a great actress. I find her a bit over the top when she tries to work heel or shine as the ace, but I don't really love that mid-90s period for AJW in general. I gravitated toward JWP for that period and early GAEA vs. Oz Academy matches. .  

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17 minutes ago, ohtani's jacket said:

I think the areas where Toyota excelled at selling were during the meaningless filler sections in Joshi matches where they stretch each other, selling the impact of a bump, and putting over the fatigue and the physical and emotional exhaustion of a match. I know some people are turned off by the screaming, but I'd rather listen to Manami shrieking than the workers talking to each other while they do submission holds. She sells bumps like an all-timer, IMO. She always likes like she's been wiped out. And she's a champion at putting over the overall effect a match has on the competitors. She was very good at putting over the fact that her matches were special and distinct from other girls' matches. I wouldn't call her a great actress. I find her a bit over the top when she tries to work heel or shine as the ace, but I don't really love that mid-90s period for AJW in general. I gravitated toward JWP for that period and early GAEA vs. Oz Academy matches. .  

I agree her run as Ace was my least favorite portion of her career on a personal level. I meant more her matches vs. Hokuto and Yamada and her tag work. 90-92 is peak Toyota and there's no denying IMO her acting abilities made multiple matches work during that time. After that it wasn't the same on that level and things shifted. Although even in her match vs. Kandori as late as 98 her selling helped make that match too. I do think the stylistic change and just burnout with the company by the time she got that spot to do these things in 1995 played a role but I would agree with you by that point left a lot to be desired.

 

 

@GrimmasShe had multiple matches against Hokuto and Yamada which were of this, again, one even directly and blatantly ripped off thirty years later.

 

And maybe Mayu did watch and was influenced by DG, but there's nobody in DG she bumps like as much as she Toyota. Obviously her size naturally would effect that so it may be a mirage of sorts on my end, but all of these attributes myself and OJ are saying can also be directly attributed to Mayu as well. To say there's no influence from Toyota in modern Joshi is not fair. Even if you take away Mayu, although again I personally find her killing herself in all her matches quite comparable at worst to Toyota's way, if not directly influenced.

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