Yes, that’s the image they put on the cover. They knew what they were doing.
LEGENDARY GODDESS III- MANAMI TOYOTA:
* And now it’s Toyota’s turn for her own “LG” tape release. This one actually contains two matches I’ve seen- one from the previous tape! The non-match bits are actually quite short, featuring her modelling (humorously, thanks to the wind machines to blow her hair around, she has to blink rapid-fire, making it look super awkward), walking around and buying something from a collectible shop, and a short interview.
YUMIKO HOTTA vs. MANAMI TOYOTA:
* Okay, this is the exact same match that was on the prior Hotta VHS tape. Man, how pissed would you be if you had bought both? Making it weirder- Hotta WON that match! Why is this on a Manami tape?
MANAMI TOYOTA & YUMIKO HOTTA vs. AKIRA HOKUTO & TOSHIYO YAMADA:
* And now because it’s AJW you can throw in four ****+ workers into a throwaway tag match on some gym show just because. This should be awesome regardless. Manami’s in black, Hotta’s in purple & white, Akira’s in black & Yamada, Manami’s normal partner, is in orange or pink (this VHS transfer sucks). This match was actually on one of the previous things I reviewed, but a year or so ago.
Toyota & Yamada start us off, and Manami unfortunately blows the No-Hands Springboard right away, slipping off and ending up outside- Yamada’s stumble seems to indicate it was a legit botch. They work Toyota over anyhow, with Hokuto torturing her with lethal crab holds and a camel clutch that could only be done on someone that flexible. Yamada & Hotta go at it with strikes, creating one of those weird Mirror Matches because they so clearly have the same style for those. Both teams do the “camel clutch/devastating chest kick” spot that happens every time a kicky person is in these matches, and then Toyota hits Dropkick Spam on Yamada. There’s a LOT of stretching going on, but it’s the good shit- Yamada’s Swinging Stretch Muffler (someone HAS to steal that spot), Hokuto’s arm stuff to Hotta, etc. Momentum shifts quite a lot, with Hotta usually getting the best of Yamada, but Manami gets reversed a lot (she does her “slide out with a missed dropkick” spot, but hitting Hotta at the same time).
Hokuto dives to the outside off of that last bit, then a Rocket Launcher on Toyota gets 2. Hokuto’s interesting me here, because I haven’t seen as much of her “regular” stuff in my Joshi watches, so it’s fun seeing her hit the usual moves instead of being this manic, bleeding, injured warrior. Yamada kicks the bejeezus out of Hotta, who boots her out of a flying thing and hits a Tiger Driver for 2. Toyota misses a Moonsault, eats a Dragon Suplex, but reverses the Finisher That Never Hits (Reverse Gory Bomb) to a Victory Roll for a near-fall. Wicked Springboard Moonsault takes out Hokuto, and a Released Straightjacket Powerbomb/Moonsault almost finishes Yamada, but Hokuto recovers in time. Hotta finally deals with her, allowing Manami to hit the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex (Electric Chair Drop Suplex w/ Bridge) for the win (21:51).
Very interesting match from the perspective that it seemed like they were mostly wrestling in a “lighter gear”, doing a House Show Main Event… but all four were so incredibly good that they nearly hit **** anyways. Very few nearfalls on Toyota/Hotta, Hokuto never “got her shit in”, Toyota took a huge beating most of the match, and it felt like it was 50% stretching stuff, which keeps it out of that “upper echelon”, but everything looked great (aside from Toyota’s one botch at the beginning, though you never know when they’re deliberate).
Rating: ***3/4 (they’re all so good they basically sleepwalked to that)
MANAMI TOYOTA vs. ETSUKO MITA:
* Mita’s in her red variant gear at this point, and is a solid midcarder by now, though not on Toyota’s level.
Mita dominates with power to start, showing how she “got better” so fast- like as soon as she gained enough credibility that she could take it to opponents instead of having to sell to her superiors, she improved about tenfold in the ring. Some people just have a style that requires the other person selling a lot, and not have to bounce around as much in return. Her hammerlock/headscissors and chinlock/chickenwing are actually pretty cool, but just restholds here. Manami fights out of a bodyscissors and hits her bridging deathlock/inverted full nelson thing, really stretching out the arms. Bow & arrow leads to Mita biting her thigh to take over, and Mita works a crab, then tosses her & throws chairs. Best part- using Manami’s selling as time to take a drink. She steps on Manami’s feet AND pulls the hair just to be awesome, but the pop-up dropkick and Dropkick Spam knock her around.
Octopus stretch & butterfly suplex hit, but she’s caught and eats Blazing Chops and the electric chair drop (still selling the chest on her way up) get two counts, then she takes a piledriver and does the Mulkey Bump out of the ring (okay that’s three times in this tape- this is looking fake, lol), eats Mita’s dive, and FINALLY gets a comeback with the Rolling Cradle for two. Flying Headbutt misses, but she reverses a second electric chair to a victory roll for two, climbs the ropes, and takes a BIG superplex for two. She “Fuck YOUUUU!” bridges out of that, dropkicks Mita off the top, and adds a flying plancha out of the ring, then hits a German for two! Mita reverses a charge to her own, then whips Manami… who botches her No-Hands Springboard (okay she’s missed it twice on her own tape- who put this damn thing together?) and faceplants. Mita pounces with a Perfect Plex, playing off the botch, but they screw up the Manami Roll (Manami not being fast enough on the forward roll part) and therefore the powerbomb reversal from Mita looks bad. Manami finally just swats away and hits three German Suplexes in a row, then a Moonsault (Mita sliding in so Manami can at least hit the thighs to her face) for the three (16:44).
Ooh- not a good night for Manami. Two prominent botches really left Mita on the hook for reversing things and playing it off (she did okay). Good, not great match otherwise, with Mita heeling it up and playing the strong brawler, but Manami firing off the usual comebacks and picking up a tidy win with her secondary finisher. They were obviously going at half-speed, making the botches seem more prominent- though that might be WHY they were botches- Manami works best at a high-tempo, and having to slow it down like this probably f’d up her cadence. Also, I could pretty much always predict the next move (“ah, she’s gonna backflip out of this backdrop for the next transition; this electric chair will see a victory roll…”), but it’s a fine enough TV match. But… wow, you put THIS performance on a Manami Showcase set?
Rating: **3/4 (fine match for TV save for some unfortunate botching)
This set would have been quite the rip-off if you paid 1990s VHS prices for it in Japan- two matches from other collections and the Mita solo performance.
AJW ST. BATTLE FINAL:
-This show is largely the cap-stone for the entirety of 1993 (though there’s a couple of shows after it), finishing two stories in one night- the WWWA Tag Title feud, and the Hokuto/Kandori feud. Despite this being an ENORMOUSLY important show, I’d never heard of this when I first got into Joshi, with the Dream Slams being much bigger, and stuff like the Wrestlemarinepiads being promoted more as well. It’s probably I just missed out on it due to cherry-picking info, but it’s weird.
TOMOKO WATANABE & CHIKAKO SHIRATORI (AJW) vs. LEO KITAMURA & UTAKO HOZUMI (LLPW): Actually not a bad match, as it’s kept under ten minutes, with the LLPW girls winning- Chikako accidentally knocks Tomoko off the apron and eats two backdrop suplexes from Hozumi, whom LLPW seemed to want to push- 9:56. **1/2.
WWWA WORLD MIDGETS TITLE:
LITTLE FRANKIE vs. MISTER BUDDHAMAN: A standard goofy Midget Match, but Frankie pulls off a freaking *619*! In 1993! Flying Splash finishes at 5:19. 1/4*.
AJW JUNIOR TITLE:
CHAPARITA ASARI (AJW) vs. CANDY OKUTSU (JWP): Perfectly fine match, though Candy is more well-rounded and ASARI is just flashier. ASARI misses the Sky Twister Press in the most horrifying way possible, bouncing her head off the mat in mid-spin, and Candy gets a German Suplex for an academic three count at 12:16. **1/2.
AJW TAG TITLES:
SAKIE HASEGAWA & KAORU ITO (AJW) vs YASHA KURENAI & MIKI HANDA (LLPW): Very good match, as Sakie’s team has acted really nasty to every rival company team during this mini-feud, usually with Yasha on one side, but with Handa, she FINALLY gets a partner who can hang, and the LLPW girls win the AJW Tag Titles at 15:27- Chokeslam/German Suplex combo gives Sakie a taste of her own medicine after a series of moves stun her. ***1/2.
SUZUKA MINAMI (AJW) vs. COMBAT TOYODA (FMW): A very good Big vs. Little match, as Minami uses a totally different strategy than she would against smaller opponents, sticking & moving. Combat lacks smoothness, but plays the “heavy” role well enough. Minami is made to look good in defeat, kicking out of huge moves like a Backdrop Superplex, Combat looking shocked and wiping her out with a series of huge moves in a row before a shoulder piggyback into a Backdrop Suplex pins Minami at 13:54. ***3/4.
BULL NAKANO & LAS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES (AJW) vs. CUTIE SUZUKI, PLUM MARIKO & HIKARI FUKUOKA: Huge, 20:35 match featuring a ton of crowd-pleasing spots and a near-constant pace. There’s a Double Demolition Decapitation three minutes in, Hikari takes the mother of all ass-kickings (furthering her underdog push this year), and Shimoda finally kills her with a Tiger Suplex. ****1/4.
YUMIKO HOTTA & DOUBLE INOUE (AJW) vs. EAGLE SAWAI, HARLEY SAITO & RUMI KAZAMA (LLPW): A complete head-drop fest right out of All Japan, with LLPW’s #2 star, Eagle, being tossed around like Misawa. Effectively a spotfest of power moves, throwing bombs at each other immediately. Kyoko’s Niagara Driver finishes the massacre of Harley Saito at 15:37. The thing I remember most is Takako swatting Eagle at the end of the match, then casually walking behind Hotta (who is guarding her from immediate death) with this innocent “Hm, what?” look on her face. Takako Is Life. ****1/4.
WWWA WORLD TITLE:
AJA KONG (AJW) vs. MEGUMI KUDO (FMW): An absolute mega-match, as FMW’s top girl takes on Aja Kong, who was in her training class in 1986 AJW- the woman who trained them both, Jaguar Yokota, does commentary at ringside, too. And for the whole match, Kudo plays keepaway, crushes Aja’s hand to disable the Uraken, and fights a smart TECHNICAL bout instead of what you’d expect from someone from FMW. Aja barely knows how to deal with it, spams Urakens at the cost of her hand, and finally DESPERATELY holds Kudo down for the pin, really putting over how close Kudo came to costing her the beloved WWWA Title. Both wrestlers congratulate each other after the match and pay homage to their trainer, Jaguar Yokota. ****3/4.
WWWA TAG TEAM TITLES:
DYNAMITE KANSAI & MAYUMI OZAKI (JWP) vs. MANAMI TOYOTA & TOSHIYO YAMADA (AJW): And this caps off the legendary WWWA Tag Title feud, and this one plays off of all the other ones- the JWP team tries the move that one them the first fall in their LAST bout (which won them the belts in the first place), but the AJW team counters it. EVERYONE hits their finishers, and this bout is possibly the most exquisitely-choreographed one ever, taking about 10-20 minutes less time than their others, but making EVERYTHING count. Toyota flies in with a dropkick save on a pinfall that looks like teleportation thanks to the close-up camera angles, and I literally went “Oh Shit!” three times during the course of the match. It finally ends at 25:32, the AJW girls finally knocking Kansai out of the ring so that Ozaki is vulnerable- Toyota hits a weird arm-trap Alabama Slam to stick her to the mat for good. Sooooooooooooooo good, and I think it’s my favorite match of the entire year. *****.
AKIRA HOKUTO (AJW) vs. SHINOBU KANDORI: And now the OTHER feud ends, as Akira finally gets some payback for beating Kandori at Dream Slam (in Joshi’s most legendary singles match). Kandori, furious ever since, is finally ready for the brawl that Hokuto lured her into earlier in the year. And she beats the SHIT out of Akira, giving her very little, and hammers her again and again. Akira manages a Northern Lights Bomb on the FLOOR, nearly scoring a comeback win right then and there, but Kandori finally uppercuts Akira’s soul out of her body at 21:15 while Akira’s subordinates bawl their eyes out at ringside and have to be physically restrained from getting into the ring to save her. One of wrestling’s perfect moments. ****3/4 (but an A+++ character bit with LCO there).
All in all, it has an even shot at being the greatest wrestling show of all time- minimal filler and three matches near *****. Truly remarkable stuff, and pays off an entire year’s worth of storylines.