So with my review of AJW Destiny, with a legendary Hokuto/Toyota match on it, coming up this Monday, I figured I would finally review their first notable contest- the Jan. 11th, 1991 show! Back when Manami was the All-Pacific Champion and Akira was coming in injured. You know, for a change.
AJW ALL-PACIFIC TITLE:
MANAMI TOYOTA vs. AKIRA HOKUTO:
(Jan. 11th, 1991)
* So here’s a highly-recommended match from Evito-X’s puro channel. Neither wrestler is remotely as big as they’d later become- Hokuto is already just below the Main Event-tier, however, with a sporty haircut and in her old white & black karate gear, while Toyota’s a rising star in a black… singlet? Wow, it’s so weird not seeing her in the standard leotard. And she’s the current All-Pacific Champion! Akira is sporting a HUGE bandage wrap all up her right arm, as well as all over her right leg, which makes her look close to death and suicidally insane. So truth in advertising, I guess. Suzuka Minami, Akira’s tag partner, is her second here.
Manami hits the JB Angels armdrag immediately, then stomps the shit out of the cast to boos- hey, it’s a big target you judgemental assholes! Akira Flair-Slams her out of another armdrag but gets rolled up for one, then Manami hauls her down by the arm and starts to unwrap her like a cartoon mummy. Manami undoes the entire damn thing like she’s straight out of LCO, sending Akira scurrying to the outside for medical help, then BREAKS THE SPLINT OVER HER KNEE just to show she means it. Then she shreds the arm as soon as Akira’s back in- the medics finally re-wrap the arm while Akira moans in agony, literally heard crying on camera.
Back in, Akira FINALLY gets some offense in, hitting her roundhouse kicks, but Manami kicks out at 2 and wipes out that arm again. I love how her technical expertise consists of “bend the arm and kick it”, though she’s not really doing any heel mannerisms. Suzuka makes a show of waving the towel at Akira, pantomiming “Do you want me to toss it in?” to add to the drama, and ultimately Akira’s dropkicked out and Manami dives onto her, but misses a dive off the top! Manami sells on the floor, so of course injured Hokuto comes off the top with her Tope Con Hilo. Manami’s knee is now fucked, evening the odds- Akira bends her like Gumby, leaving Manami wailing.
Manami comes back with her bridging reverse butterfly suplex for two, then missile dropkicks her- Akira catches her trying another, slipping but still managing a vicious superplex. She tries a slam, but the arm’s too hurt and Manami snaps on another armbar! Hokuto finally whips her off after two minutes of that (Suzuka literally standing on the apron waving the towel around, threatening to toss it in), but gets piledriven and Moonsaulted for two. Bridging Double Hammerlock Suplex… two! A second Moonsault misses and Akira missile kicks her in the chest for two, then hauls her up for a Bridging German- two! She goes up for a Somersault attack into the ring, but Manami dodges, leading to Manami reapplying that armbar, and it’s FINALLY over for poor Akira at (16:21), Suzuka at last throwing in the towel to prevent permanent injury- the camera misses the toss, but the ref waves the towel around.
Akira is carried off (literally) in agony, while Suzuka Minami gets in the ring and is like “WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT BANDAGE SHIT?!” (presumably; I don’t speak Japanese), likely setting up the match two months hence where Suzuka wins the All-Pacific Title from Manami herself.
Wow, NOT the match I was expecting, as Manami essentially works like a total heel, ripping the bandages apart and making Akira look like a badass for taking all that punishment, but Manami just had no “Heel Energy”- no sneers, growls, disrespectful looks, or anything- she just kinda antiseptically did heel shit, which I suppose fits as she’s more of a “determined to win through sheer competitive drive” than “Dump Matsumoto”. Though that breaking of the splint (which I missed the first time around) was pretty great. Imagine how vile LCO would look in this situation. She just doesn’t “connect” at this point, I think, only managing proper acting when she’s selling. Still, how can you not love someone just divebombing an injured limb and unwrapping it so you can kill the opponent as quickly as possible?
That led to Akira’s amazing selling being the central point of the match, and the limbwork gave it great focus, even if Manami’s hardly a technical wizard at this point (almost every move was a basic armbar). I’d actually missed the towel stuff because I was focusing on the moves, so thankfully I read some other reviews once I was done and went back to look at it- that really does add to the drama.
Rating: ***3/4 (ratings at the time were far more wild- I think Meltzer gave it ****1/2- but the limited types of submission moves and Manami’s lack of heel energy to back up her heelish actions held it back for me, as much as the unwrapping was an AMAZING spot and Akira’s selling top-notch)