Here’s another single-match-review Spotlight, as I finally work through some more of the great stuff Evito-X put up on YouTube! Check out his channel!
WWWA WORLD TITLE:
BULL NAKANO vs. AKIRA HOKUTO:
* So well into the WWWA Title reign of Bull Nakano comes a challenge in the quickly-rising big star Akira Hokuto. Hokuto’s megawatt charisma and great matches have earned her a lot of attention, but even AJA KONG took a while to be seen as a “legit” contender, so I don’t know what tier Akira was on in early ’91. The schoolgirl fans are way into Akira’s corner in this one, as this is early enough in the ’90s that teen girls were still the core audience. I haven’t watched a lot of this era of Bull (I mostly went from the ’80s to her legend run post-1992) but she’s a real monster here- typically her matches seem to feature her just gobbling up her opponents alive as a respected Monster Heel.
Bull’s in her standard “rock band t-shirt over black leotard” look while Akira’s in her early ’90s white & blue karate fighter gear, Bull being a lot heavier that her WWF & WCW stuff (about 210 lbs), and Akira lacking her bleach-blonde crazy-makeup look, appearing more like a short-haired normal person. Bull’s goons, Tomoko Watanabe & Bat Yoshinaga, are at ringside.
Akira responds to Bull dissing her handshake with a bridging German, and there’s the bell- she hits a piledriver but tries a flying splash and hits Bull’s knees, then gets press-slammed, but she ducks under a lariat and they trade pin attempts. Bull drags her outside and whups her ass on the floor while the schoolgirl fans chant for Akira, but the timekeeper’s mallet meets her skull regardless. Bull waits her out in the ring to slow the lightning pace, and hits a lariat for two- when she tries again, AKIRA knocks her down with one. That gets two, but when Akira tries to slap her around, Bull just clobbers her with one and kicks the absolute shit out of her for that act of defiance. Like, this turns into a complete mauling as the schoolgirls are back into it (“Aki-ra! Gan-ba-re!”). Bull draws some blood by sheer attrition and just roars as Akira tries a comeback, stuffing her to the mat and crushing her with those giant legs. Haha, I love how she doesn’t bother with any of that wussy “technique” stuff- this is just raw power.
Akira finally fights free of a chinlock and goes right into a Liontamer, and squats RIGHT onto her for a half-crab, making what’s normally joshi’s laziest maneuver look agonizing. Akira ties up all four limbs and then segues to a camel clutch with the deathlock still on. Bull finally powers out and hits a jumping face-kick, but Akira keeps grabbing the ropes to avoid pins. Bull senses the end and goes for a lariat, but Akira hauls her down with a Fujiwara armbar. Bull won’t go flat down, though, holding a side position and finally kicks free- Akira fells her with some dropkicks for two. Piledriver & sleeper wear Bull down, but Bull finally reverses with a great Backdrop Hold for two. Akira stumbles around like this scrambled her brains, and Bull (with her hair flattened and makeup smeared everywhere, looking totally dissheveled) plasters her with another one for a great near-fall. So Bull just kicks her in the ass to put her on the floor, then walks up the ropes and hits a plancha from the top! Bull again waits Akira out in the ring, and immediately snapmares her into a Guillotine Legdrop… for two!
A furious Bull piledrives Akira and tries the Guillotine Legdrop again, but misses and Akira sneaks in for a Tiger Suplex- two! Akira measures her and hits a big missile dropkick, then gets up and does it again! And another- right to the face and she falls into a pile on the ground! A fourth gets two, but Akira charges in and eats a DDT, then Bull’s slingshot kick to the head. Bull goes for another, but Akira dropkicks her in the ass and over the top, then follows with her Tope Con Hilo! Akira looks to have her, and climbs to the top again, but Bull finally Flair-Tosses her off… and then Tomoko runs in and hoists Akira up for the boss- TOMBSTONE OFF THE SECOND ROPE!! The ref is like “nuts to that” and refuses to count, so Bull has to find another finisher- she hits a Kneeling Powerbomb, but this time only gets two! Shocked Kick-Out Face (joshi DOES invent everything)! Bull climbs to try and finally put this chick in the dirt, but now Akira’s alive, and catches her with a monster superplex! She flops her dead body onto Bull in a great visual, but only gets two. Akira has one weapon left- the Northern Lights Bomb! But Bull manages a last-second kickout, leaving Akira to try her spinkick, but Bull ducks and manages a desperation Backdrop Hold, finally keeping Akira down at (18:30).
Wow, fascinating match that got really awesome- Akira was the “Defiant Chigusa Nagayo-style Babyface”, trying super-hard and attempting to beat Bull into respecting her, but Bull was just this unstoppable force. I liked the tactics of Bull just overpowering Akira- there was nothing fancy about her style here; it was just slugging blows, hauling Akira down through sheer body mass, and clinching her to stop momentum. It was fierce, fighty Akira who was doing all the technical stuff, using submission counters and reversals, in addition to sticking and moving. Note how at the end Bull is crushing her, but Akira has the fortitude to kick out of the Guillotine, then dodges another and hits a Tiger Suplex, then hits four missile kicks in a row and next comes back with the Tope Con Hilo- like flying stuff is all she has left that can work without Bull getting a hold of her, and speed is her one big advantage. And when Bull DOES get a hold of her, and Akira has to resort to more dropkicks & flying around to keep her at bay.
And Bull’s selling at the end was epic- not only is her hair/makeup a great visual indicator of a match’s exhaustion factor, but every time Akira hit her, she did something different- sometimes it’s a full-back bump, sometimes she just gets punch-drunk to set up the next move, and sometimes she collapses into a pile like a Family Guy character. I was thinking this was very slow and basic for the first half (I typically like my “GO GO GO!” AJW style), but they pulled off the story excellently in the end, with both being great characters and using great strategy- Bull had the power, but Akira had the spirt and the speed, but ultimately Bull is just too strong to kill, and Akira loses the war of attrition.
Rating: **** (slow start into a great story)