AJW TV (Oct. 31st):
* Another week of AJW TV hits us, and we have a bunch of matches, including a very big Manami Toyota vs. Takako Inoue All Pacific/IWA Title match, plus Kyoko Inoue vs. Reggie Bennett! This show features a huge amount of hype for Big Egg Wrestling Universe– the upcoming Tokyo Dome show. And more Japanese commercials! An English voiceover describes to pretty-boy actors in the film Night Head, while we also hear about the Japan Supercross ’94, a serious-looking movie called Stay Gold (the producer an Outsiders fan?) and TUNNELS having a concert tour. Oh boy- TUNNELS!
SUZUKA MINAMI & KAORU ITO vs. SAKIE HASEGAWA & MARIKO YOSHIDA:
* Wow, Sakie & Yoshida- old rivals- are now paired up against the low-tier team of Minami & Ito. Yoshida’s in her blue, pink & yellow “M Y” gear, Sakie’s in all the splatter-colors, Ito’s in green & yellow, and Minami’s in some odd, loose-fitting shiny lavender thing.
Sakie & Ito have a scrap to start, then Ito controls with submissions, and Minami adds double-arm backbreakers for two. Sakie gets stretched out a while, but Yoshida fares better against Ito, tossing her around. Ito finally USES THE ASS to come back, getting two, then hitting her Rolling Corner Senton, just SPLATTERING Yoshida’s face with her ass. Yoshida monkey flips Minami so Sakie can get some offense- hooking clotheslines, missile kick, etc. Ugly bit as Sakie changes her mind about a missile dropkick and just hops down and boots Minami, who falls over like a tree- super awkward. Minami whips her into Ito’s ass, but the next ass attack meets mat. Yoshida misses her Run-Up Flying Cross-Body, so Ito hits running stomps- Flying Stomp misses and Sakie clotheslines her, then Yoshida cartwheel dodges through a double-team and sunset flips Minami for a close two. Sakie’s Savate Kick is reversed for two, Minami’s powerbomb gets her sat on, and she dodges a flying Yoshida, hitting the Powerbomb- Yoshida dodges a Flying Stomp and stops the pin. Run-Up Plancha from Yoshida hits Sakie by mistake, and a Powerbomb/Flying Stomp is stopped by Sakie hitting a Savate Kick for two. Uranage’s reversed for two, and Ito fires off some offense, but takes a Savate Kick, then a final big one right to the head- Minami saves. Ito reverses a whip, but gets caught in the Uranage for the three (12:27 of 16:56 shown).
Fine enough match, but never got into a final gear and was so by-the-numbers- classic “House Show Match”, with some spotty execution by Sakie (who occasionally works too fast for her own good). The game with all the reversals in the end was pretty fun, though, as everyone cycles through stuff again and again to try and connect- the powerbomb, Flying Stomp, Savate Kick & Uranage were always turned around, making it very unpredictable. But Sakie scores another win- that’s important.
Rating: **1/2 (solid “House Show Match”- good reversals, but sloppy in parts)
KYOKO INOUE vs. REGGIE BENNETT:
* Another “Reggie faces a huge star” match-up, as they seem to be setting Reggie up to lose, but always look good in defeat. A very “Japan” kind of wrestling push, and actually kinda works. Gives ’em a degree of credibility, and room to grow. And of course she’s being set up to face GAEA Japan’s Chigusa Nagayo at Big Egg coming up. Reggie’s in a pink shirt, and Kyoko in her pink & yellow.
Reggie hits the belly-bash to an “oooooh” reaction, and no-sells Kyoko’s Mongolian chops, so Kyoko’s just like “okay” and wipes her out with a huge lariat. Another one hits, and she actually tries a SURFBOARD, only getting half of it (I mean, duh) and getting mad about it. Reggie powers her around to come back- Kyoko tries a few comebacks, but Reggie stuffs them and avalanches her, then hits a clothesline off Bret’s Rope after Kyoko makes the mistake of pointing to her head to indicate intelligence after a dodge. Reggie actually teases a DIVE, but Kyoko gets out of the way and they take turns whipping each other into the guardrails instead.
Kyoko climbs, but Reggie charges up to the top and slowly gets into position for a Superduperplex, really impressing the crowd. She damn near slipped by they had good control- just imagine the disaster of THAT landing. Reggie climbs to finish, but Kyoko pays her back with ANOTHER Superduperplex! That gets two, and a big bodyslam & Run-Up Flying Back Elbow do as well. But she can’t hit the Niagara Driver (over-the-shoulder sit-out powerbomb), so Reggie just clobbers her again for two, hitting the splash. But the 2nd Rope Splash misses, and Kyoko hauls her up- Ligerbomb! That gets two, and looked awesome. She tries for another, Reggie backdrops out, and Kyoko sunset flips her… for three (10:40)? Huh, that was unexpected.
Good little match! Short but based around good old-fashioned HOSS fighting, getting right down to business instead of doing stuff Reggie can’t do. Which is the secret to having a good match with Reggie. The dual Superduperplexes were great “middle-match” signature spots to set up the endgame, and Kyoko being unable to hit her finisher and instead settling for other moves, including a flash pin finish, “read” very well. And of course AJW is sacrificing Reggie to GAEA’s Chigusa at the big Tokyo Dome show, then by COMPLETE COINCIDENCE job her out to one of their B-tier stars right before that. Pretty cheeky political game, guys!
Rating: ***1/4 (good for a mid-match show)
We get clips from local shows, including some Tag League THE BEST stuff: Hotta/Yamada beat LCO in (19:02), Kyoko & Sakie (the latter wearing a hilarious pink riff on Kyoko’s look) beat Yoshida & ASARI in (11:30), LCO beat the Tomoko/Rie jobber duo in (13:05) to what is usually their mid-match spot- the electric chair drop/flying splash, and Hotta/Yamada vs. Ito/Minami goes to a (30:00) Time Over. And we get adds for Big Egg Wrestling Universe, with the entire card on display! Interestingly, Kyoko seems to be set up to fight some kickboxer instead of being in the V*Top Tournament– the tourney itself lists seven wrestlers, with JWP’s Dynamite Kansai skipping the first round- looks like plans changed? Maybe JWP was like “um, no, you’re giving Kansai a win over a top star first before she loses to Aja, you dicks”. And LLPW had Eagle Sawai as their representative, as she beat Noriyo Tateno, the current Champ (in a match that apparently had a VERY early kickout by Tateno, according to Mike Lorefice’s review).
The politics to that tournament are fascinating- their big star, Shinobu Kandori, is in a meaningless midcard match and not the Tournament, and their champion isn’t on the show at all. Their sacrifice in the first-round is thus a star that not only doesn’t hold a belt, but just won a cheap finish. Plus the whole Kansai situation. CLEVER.
A better-looking version of this match.
IWA WORLD/ALL PACIFIC TITLE MATCH:
MANAMI TOYOTA (c) vs. TAKAKO INOUE:
* Manami is wearing a standard black leotard, but this one’s all covered in silver sparkles and has a symbol on the chest. Takako’s wearing a hideous white leopard-print outfit with a bed skirt sewn onto it. She really has some of the most terrible gear at times- was she trying to deliberately avoid notice to her looks or something?
Takako attacks before the bell, and Manami misses her No-Hands Springboard attack AND her “slide between the ropes” dropkick spot, taking the Mulkey Bump. Takako then CHOKESLAMS HER OFF THE APRON. Yikes. Manami gets stretched for like five minutes with that usual insane relish Takako puts into things (often smirking or taunting the crowd), and even chokeslams Manami onto her knee- she’s the only person who does that. Takako grinds on her, hangs her in the ropes, hits an STF, etc.- Toyota comes back with her dropkick reversal, then yanks the hair all over the place and showers Takako with dropkicks and stretching, including her bridging Deathlock Bodylock (which no other wrestler on Earth could do). Takako reverses to a DDT, then just CLOBBERS her with knees while upside-down, then hitting the Tombstone, which gets two. How has no one ripped that move off? She is literally the only person I’ve ever seen do that. Takako then machine-gun punches Manami in the corner and flips off the entire audience before grinding on her with her foot. Dude, what IS it with this chick?
Takako just brawls for a while, stomping on Manami’s head a bunch, but Manami FINALLY makes the comeback by chasing Takako back inside the ring and stomps the shit out of her in turn. This is awesome. A splash hits feet, and she overdoes it by trying a tombstone on the floor- Takako gleefully reverses it and crushes her. A comeback Manami Roll in the ring nearly gets a fall, but the Moonsault misses. Manami avoids an Aurora Special (shoulder-mounted backdrop) but takes a Backdrop Hold for two. Manami climbs, but Takako hits the mother of all Super Chokeslams, Manami taking a HUGE bump onto the back of her neck that makes you wonder how she’s not crippled. And she STILL manages a “Fuck YOU!” bridge! Takako misses a variant of her Flying Knee off the apron, so Manami goes crazy, hitting dives like a lunatic on the outside! Dive! Plancha! Running No-Hands Springboard Plancha! “Casually walk up the middle of the ropes and deliver a Quebrada off the top one even though it’s 20 minutes in”! Who is she, Teddy Hart?
Manami hits a Straightjacket German for two back in the ring- great bridge. She climbs for the Moonsault, but Takako charges and hits the Aurora Special for two. Super Armdrag- two! Her finisher- the Flying Knee! Again two! Takako’s facial reactions at the near-falls are GREAT- just this look of utter disbelief and annoyance, and then this look of glee as she realizes she gets to hurt her opponent some more (like “SHE KICKED OUT! GODDAMMIT! Hey wait, this means I get to do more torture- GLEE!”). She misses the second Flying Knee and Manami snaps off another Straightjacket German, then FINALLY… FINALLY hits that Moonsault on her third try, getting two. But Takako gets out of a Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex (bridging cross-armed electric chair drop) and Manami has to settle for a German for a VERY near fall. Takako properly subdued, a last attempt gets the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex off, and Manami finally wins (24:01).
Oh man, they beat the DOGSHIT out of each other in there- Takako proving to be a wonderfully psychopathic heel, reveling in tearing people apart and being a royal shit about it. She gets smack-talked online for not being as good as the other top stars, but fuck it- she’s just as fun to watch and can hang just fine. Her “Walk Around The Ring” Tombstone is amazing and her character work is arguably the best in AJW. She makes stuff like stretching and brawling a million times more fun than lazy-leaning. Manami’s offense was off the chain here, just spotfesting everything around. You could say her selling wasn’t quite on point- she’s amazing when IN pain, but her Supermanami Comebacks more or less ignore everything so she can hit flying springboards and bridging suplexes, but… they look cool. FUCK IT I’M A MOVEZ WHORE I ADMIT IT. The Escalating Finishers portion here was BITCHING, and you had Takako nearly getting the win, but hit all her shit and couldn’t get it done- proof she’s not on the top-level yet.
Rating: ****1/4 (Takako can hang with anyone and hold her own- one of her best matches)
We end with real match-times. Some rookie tag match ends in (9:05). Chapparita ASARI beats Rie Tamada in (9:57). LCO beat Tomoko and somebody in (15:36) with a Death Valley Driver. Aja Kong beats Toshiyo Yamada in (19:05) with a Mountain Bomb (her mid-tier move- not a good sign for Yamada).