Joshi Spotlight: AJW DESTINY
By Jabroniville on 1st November 2021
(Sept. 2nd 1995)
* So AJW is going wild at the moment- we’re in the middle of the Japan Grand Prix round-robin, a rival promotion’s Ace (Dynamite Kansai) is AJW’s World Champion, and ticket sales are suffering in part because we’re outta fresh match-ups. Yet we’re still having ****+ matches all over the place, so fuck it- I’D be buying tickets! This is a mega, mega, mega-event, too, with TOYOTA/HOKUTO as the Main Event- two of the very best on the entire planet at this point. It’s like them, Bret, Shawn, and three of the Four Pillars and that’s it.
Also on the card are matches between upper-midcarders Yumiko Hotta & Reggie Bennett, Kyoko Inoue & Bull Nakano doing another match in Bull’s last hurrah as a major solo act (and she knows it), Aja Kong taking on her old partner Bison Kimura, and even LCO fighting the Raijin Army, which includes their trainer Jaguar Yokota. This show is STACKED, and nearly five hours long. Mike Lorefice darkly notes that this is “the last excellent top to bottom show AJW has presented”.
Of particular note is the fact that this show is literally THREE DAYS after the fantastic “Queen’s Holy Night” show, which featured Aja lose the 3WA Title to Kansai in a ****1/4 match, Akira Hokuto & Mima Shimoda hitting ***3/4, and a ****3/4-***** match between Manami & Sakie and Double Inoue! So everyone on here is busting their ass despite wrestling on the same level three days earlier!
“TL;DR: What’s The Deal?”: One of the year’s best matches in the main event, plus the big stars in assorted other bouts (including what I think is Reggie’s best match). Also shorter match lengths than in many other big shows- only two go over 20:00, so nobody is overstaying their welcome.
We start with like THIRTY MINUTES of assorted stuff, with Bull’s old stable (her, Kyoko & Tomoko) showing up for an interview, assorted signings and even memorabilia (a J.B. Angels magazine cover, ASARI’s gear, etc.). Backstage stuff with Hokuto & Bull putting on their gear together. Everyone comes out in white shirts and red shorts to start the show- the real mark of a “big event”. Biggest reactions by far are for Bull (who almost never wrestles now) and Akira. Manami & Kyoko get the next biggest reactions, but much more muted.
ZENJO UP TO TYPE II:
MISAE WATANABE & NOBUE ENDO vs. YOSHIKA TAMURA & YUKA SHIINA:
* Rookie mayhem! You know it’s a huge show when rookies with no business on such a stage are wrestling first. Diminutive Endo’s in blue, white & red, while gangly Misae’s in black & purple. Long-haired Tamura’s dressed like Megumi Kudo (white/pink) & Shiina’s in white with stripes. Bargain-basement rookie gear, but at least not “Rookie Swimsuits” anymore. Tamura seems to have been a student of Kyoko’s, given how she later becomes 5-time NEO Champion in the 2000s. She & Misae had the longest careers of this bunch, though everyone stuck around a while.
Tamura gets her butt kicked with jobber-fu for a while, then Shiina, who comes back, but Endo kicks out of a bodyslam at ONE, which I think makes her the Undertaker of rookies. Everyone trades boring stuff as I am continuously fascinated by how much better GAEA’s rookies are, with far less experience. It’s just restholds and awkward boots from AJW’s. Tamura shows some fire with a billion dropkicks, then Endo does some, while I’m distracted by three white guys in the front row. Misae eats some dropkicks from Shiina and barely kicks out after a double one, but comes back with the worst atomic drops in history, ending with a Baaaaaaaack Body Drop at (8:24) for the struggling pin on Tamura. Haha, good ol’ jobber moves getting the pin.
Rating: DUD (OH GOD I MISS GAEA ALREADY)
MIDGET PURORESU THUMBTACK MATCH (Guest Referee Little Frankie):
TIGER JEETMEZUCITO vs. BUDDHA NAKAMAKI HIROSHI:
* Once again, the midgets are parodying bigger named acts. This seems like it should be HILARIOUS, though, doing thumbtack indie sleaze shit. The one dude (Tsunokake, I think) is doing a “Tiger Jeet Singh” riff, but using a long umbrella instead of a sword, while Mr. Buddhaman is just sporting a mohawk. The ref is Little Frankie and there’s a board covered in thumbtacks in the middle of the ring.
Funny bits right away as Buddha gets whipped but swerves around the board, and Tiger nearly gets wheelbarrowed into it but starts literally blowing thumbtacks out of his way. Tiger gets some tacks in his shoulder, literally counting them as he takes them out, then Buddha gets pushed on back-first. They brawl outside and Tiger gets into it with the white guys (who I guess are invited guests- they do look like athletes). Tiger does comedically bad ranas on Buddha, then fishes for a hidden weapon, Singh-style, but taking like two minutes to dig it out from his crotch- hee. Buddha politely waits for him and gets stabbed for it, then Tiger grabs a beer and shares it with White Guy #1. More comedy bits, including Buddha putting his bare ass on Tiger’s face, but Tiger catches him with a slam and bonks his head into the board for the win at (11:42), Frankie hurting his hand slapping the tacked board for the count. The retired Bat Yoshinaga comes out at the end to throw fake kicks at them for fun (I guess?).
Rating: DUD (funny comedy bits, but at least twice as long as it should have been)
JAPANESE TAG TITLES DECISION MATCH:
CHAPARRITA ASARI & KUMIKO MAEKAWA vs. RIE TAMADA & YUMI FUKUWA:
* These low-tier Tag Titles were vacated by Rie & Mariko Yoshida in July for some reason, and now the youngest “actually almost getting pushed” people in the company are going for it (I haven’t seen ASARI in AGES, either). Fukuwa’s WAY beneath the others, though- her & Rie actually form a recurring duo from this point on the undercard, but she’s barely been on any show I’ve seen. ASARI, in red & gold, finally doesn’t look like she’s eight, and Kumiko’s in blue & white. Rie’s in an all-white leotard with sleeves & Fukuwa’s in blue w/ white.
The babies double-team Kumiko to start, but she beats the dogshit out of Fukuwa and ASARI uses her knee shots. Fukuwa gets stretched out for a while, but hits an elaborate sunset flip for two on Kumiko. Rie’s in, but eats the Argentine backbreaker slam for two. Rie manages Toyota-Lite offense on ASARI, but she gets the “forward flip out of a slingshot” spot and gets two off a cross-body. ASARI avoids a double-team with a lucha armdrag, then hits her Cartwheel Handspring Mule Kicks on Fukuwa for two, followed by Kumiko’s big wind-up kicks for two-counts. Great bit as Kumiko gets sick of Rie breaking up shit so she boots her in the collarbone, and when she turns around to do something, Rie dropkicks her in the back of the head. Rie gets confident, but Kumiko pump-kicks her down for two. Rie manages helicopter cross-bodies on ASARI for two, and both stuff Germans until Kumiko gets payback by booting Rie from behind.
ASARI planchas both opponents, but Fukuwa stops the Sky Twister Press, so she settles for a rana for two. Rie stops another and does her OWN plancha to both opponents, then hits a GREAT missile kick- her Bridging German gets two and Kumiko saves. The fans were into that one. Rie Germans Kumiko for revenge, but ASARI reverses another for two! Perfect Plex gets two for ASARI, and she reverses a corner whip with an ugly cannonball, setting up the Sky Twister Press… for two! That was more of a corkscrew somersault legdrop and didn’t hit well, so she just slams Rie and goes up again, finishing with the proper application at (12:34). New Japanese Tag Champions!
Very simple, basic match, but it was actually really impressive in its own way- the slower pace let them settle into everything and not screw up or get ahead of themselves, and they slowly hit bigger and bigger moves until the end. Low-key heeling by Rie paid off with Kumiko’s annoyance, and ASARI teasing her Sky Twister before hitting it ALWAYS works. Unfortunately things got messed up by the ending- ASARI was clearly supposed to hop up and spin off on Rie, but she slipped and it was ugly (deflating the crowd), and then hit a bad Sky Twister before correcting it. That held back an otherwise very good midcard bout.
Rating: **1/2 (going quite swimmingly until the end- ideal match time, too)
WINNER GETS A PRINTER (or whatever that thing is):
TOSHIYO YAMADA, TAKAKO INOUE & TOMOKO WATANABE vs. FREEDOM FORCE (Blizzard Yuki, Mariko Yoshida & Kaoru Ito):
* This is just a “Pair the Spares” match, to be honest. Nobody has an issue and it’s just the six highest-ranking people in the company without anything going on. Though the one side is all people in Manami’s new stable, “Freedom Force”- all fast-paced young stars seen as kind of “the future”. Yamada, notably, was Toyota’s old partner. Yamada’s in mint-green and white (haha, that’s weird), Takako’s in black, Tomoko’s in black with white tassels, Yuki’s in the red & black gear (and TAKA Michinoku’s theme!), Yoshida’s in all white, and Ito’s in a black, green & yellow diagonally-striped singlet. The crowd is very, very quiet for the introductions (as quiet as for the last match), which is weird- only Yuki draws any reaction.
So Freedom Force cheat like asses to start, Yuki hitting her great Tope Con Hilo to the floor on Tomoko, FINALLY popping this quiet crowd! Triple-dropkick and a missile kick from each wrestler gets two. Ito’s in, but she takes Tomoko’s judo flips, Takako’s tombstone and Yamada’s strikes & snap suplex in short order. Long heat segment on her, but she escapes and Yuki hits a weak ax kick (kinda grazed Takako more on the lift than the drop), and Takako fires back with some snippy ones of her own, then chokeslams Yuki off the apron! Yuki escapes, but Yamada schools Yoshida and flattens her with the Kick of Fear. Triple dropkick pays back the earlier triple-team and Takako hits two dangerous backdrops for two and talks shit. Tomoko does Thesz Press Spam for two, but Yoshida hits the run-up cross-body and a cartwheel handspring back elbow. Ito USES THE ASS and her rolling senton for two. Yuki eats Tomoko’s facecrusher, but she & Takako reverse on each other until Takako uses her armdrags on Ito for two. Ito reverses the Aurora Special (shoulder-mounted backdrop) but ends up in the Backdrop Hold for two, then climbs up after her and eats the Super Chokeslam for two! Flying Knee misses and Yuki clotheslines her to set up Ito’s Stomp Spam for two. Flying Stomp misses and Takako catches an ass attack out of the counter for an Aurora Spe– no, Ito rolls her forward for two!
Yuki hits Ito by mistake and gets killed by Yamada, who hits an enzuigiri for two. Everyone hits the floor, but Yoshida’s run-up plancha only hits her teammates! Yamada spinkicks Yuki for two, but Ito stops the Finisher That Never Hits. Yamada stuffs her after a reversal of a double-team, but Tomoko gets Savate Kicked for two. She avoids the Uranage, but a second try hits (Sakie does a little “yeah!” pump of the fist and that’s great), with Ito running in with a stomp for the hell of it. Two Uranage/Stomps get two. Ito’s Flying Stomp & Yuki’s twisting somersault senton hit- Yamada saves. Yoshida misses a run-up move, but reverses a lariat to a German for two. Run-up splash gets two. Tomoko avoids the Super DDT but misses her flying press, then gets sunset flipped for two. Tomoko gets her rana for two- Yoshida does her cartwheel dodge but eats a lariat for two! Tomoko counters a whip with another lariat, and a BIT one gets two- Screwdriver (backdrop suplex to kneeling powerbomb)! Ito/Yuki save! Yoshida reverses another for two! Yoshida, upset, struggles up- Tomoko lariats her again, then slams her with ANOTHER Screwdriver, getting three (18:24)! They’re awarded a photo of a printer, which I assume means they get printers? I dunno- joshi apartments are pretty tiny judging by those 1993 bio videos. Where are they gonna keep those? Tomoko shows some HORRIFYING dental damage in the post-match- jesus, that’s not a new injury from the looks of it, either. That’s worse than Nick Gage’s!
Odd little match, as it was really slow to start, and was a bit disjointed, with everyone taking turns hitting a couple of moves before bailing in each segment. It came off like many of them were all “now what?” with rapid momentum shifts- sort of like lucha with less planning, but everyone has good enough offense it was still pretty cool. Then Ito & Takako had this very good segment of reversing on each other and trying their best stuff- that was one of the better bits. Yamada always beating the shit out of Yuki seemed to be a running thread, too- makes sense that Toyota’s ex-partner would be able to easily one-up her new protégé. By the end, everyone was reversing on each other, too. And hey- look at Tomoko! She got the pin! Given everyone in here outranks her by far that’s a great sign for her push, as she singles out Yoshida and her partners prevent the interference.
Rating: ***3/4 (started off disjointed but they fought hard and everyone brought it- this is what “you didn’t give us important matches? Well take THIS” looks like)
UWA WOMEN’S WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES:
LAS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES (Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda) vs. RAIJIN ARMY (Jaguar Yokota & Lioness Asuka):
* LCO is still around for the time being, and now they’re taking on their trainer, Jaguar Yokota, plus legendary Lioness Asuka, in a real test of their skill. Both are kind of in that “Midcard Tag Zone” around this point, lacking main event credibility but both (especially LCO) being deserving of the status in-ring. LCO are in matching white & red two-piece outfits, while the RA are in black- Lioness in her shirt & pants combo and Jaguar in a leather singlet. The vets look surly as fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.
LCO meet their elders with typical respectfulness, hitting stereo Germans, but the Raijins blast them with kicks on a double-whip attempt. Asuka dumps them and Jaguar nearly kills herself overshooting them on the dive (at least she still hit). Shimoda gets a slam in the ring, but Jaguar does her bridge-out & Ranas for two. Asuka beats up Mita, but she bites free of a hold and hits the Blazing Chop for two. Bitch Pose! Shimoda goes, but takes some payback (including a Bitch Pose from the vets)- butterfly & backdrop suplex punish her, and Asuka kicks her ass. Shimoda finally fights free of Jaguar’s headscissors and now Mita launches her around the ring with helicopter-hairtosses, impressing the crowd & commentators. Hangman’s choke gets two. Shimoda does a flying assisted hair slam, but gets rolled up and Asuka works her over again- Shimoda gets slapped into her own corner and Mita immediately goes for the Blazing Chops again with some great timing. Asuka avoids Mita’s Electric Chair Drop and kicks her, then Jaguar dives… right onto a fireman’s carry, setting the crowd aflutter until she manages a crucifix for two. Yeah, that was nearly a DVD and the fans bit on it.
Mita snags Jaguar with a Northern Lights suplex for two. Doomsday Device is dodged and Jaguar lands her Leg-Trap Backdrop Suplex on Shimoda for two! She goes for the Straightjacket Suplex but Mita Blazing Chops her in the back, so Shimoda goes for the Tiger Suplex and earns a kick from Asuka just as fast. Jaguar tries another rana but gets powerbombed- Asuka halts Shimoda’s climb and Jaguar hits a Butterfly Superplex for two! Shimoda avoids a powerbomb from Asuka, who finally kick-blocks Mita’s Blazing Chop, only to get slapped trying a Giant Swing! Asuka kicks out of the DVD but the Raijins get dumped- Assisted Plancha/Dive combo from LCO! Electric Chair Drop/Flying Splash! Asuka, bleeding like nuts from Mita’s drive smashing her into the floor, kicks out at two, elbows free from the DVD, then powerbombs the shit out of Mita for two. Jaguar’s in, blocking Shimoda’s Tiger Suplex with a rollup for two, Shimoda rolls her back for two, then Jaguar blocks her clothesline a monster release vertical drop piledriver! That looked BRUTAL- and probably a mistake, but an awesome one, haha. Mita barely saves the pin and the crowd’s way into it. Shimoda reverses a whip with the Tiger Suplex, AT LAST, getting two- Asuka saves! Asuka stops the Death Lake Driver (tiger superplex) with a backdrop that folds Shimoda in half, but Jaguar’s missile kick hits her by mistake, and Shimoda hits her flying headscissors while Mita holds back Asuka… for the three (15:49)!! LCO wins!
However, as they hug and celebrate, the mood is a bit different, and Mita happily announces something as Las Cachorras simply take the pink UWA Tag Titles and leave them in the center of the ring next to all their trophies, then shake hands and leave… down separate aisles! Yes, LCO have not only vacated the UWA Tag Titles (which disappear from the lineage at this point, reappearing only YEARS down the road) but have split up! LCO is no more! This sets off the next stage in Shimoda’s career in particular.
A pretty baseline LCO match that got better and better during the final 8 minutes or so, eventually turning into a very good one. Man, the whole “Shimoda takes; Mita gives” LCO Template was all over this one, too, as poor Shimoda got her ass kicked every time she stepped in, while the veterans were only to happy to fly around for Mita. Asuka bleeding from the old LCO standbys actually enhanced the match quite a bit.
Rating: **** (LCO is incapable of having a bad match, and their elders were good to match them all the way)
THE DESTINY STRONGEST:
YUMIKO HOTTA vs. REGGIE BENNETT:
* An interesting high-level match, as Hotta’s a top-tier “gatekeeper” to the Main Event, while Reggie’s a high-end power wrestler who’s yet to pick up a really major win. Like, I could see them either keeping Hotta at that “always a threat” tier, or deciding this is when Reggie finally picks up a big win. Reggie’s now FINALLY dropped the “construction worker” get-up for a tight black & pink singlet. Hotta’s in white. Poor Reggie nearly biffs it tripping on the mats right in front of the cameraman, lol.
Hotta starts with kicks, but the two clothesline each other and Reggie’s so worked up she mounts for the friggin’ ground and pound! Hotta dodges a splash and threatens the same thing, but is like “… naw” drawing applause for sportsmanship. Hotta keeps knocking Reggie down with kicks to the back of the leg, so Reggie just sweeps her with a bear-paw and works the leg. Hotta manages an Owenzuigiri but can’t get a piledriver- frustrated, she grabs the hair and peppers her with knees and slaps until Reggie just hulks out and swats her down with a roar. They scrap on the mat until Reggie hits a monster Samoan drop & that splash for two. Vader Bomb! That gets two. They forearm the hell out of each other until Reggie just hauls them both over the top rope on purpose. Hotta gets whipped into the railing, ducks a lariat, then gets floored by another one on the follow-through. Then Reggie grabs a table, but in a terrifying spot, goes for a piledriver and the table collapses on one side! Holy shit that could have been bad- thankfully, Reggie barely avoids Ganso Bombing Hotta on the edge of the table by a narrow margin. Reggie & Hotta wisely sell the disaster spot there, and Reggie slowly brings Hotta into the ring- she tries a powerbomb, but Hotta sits out on her!
Infuriated, Hotta lights Reggie up with slaps and a million headbutts, then lands her Rolling Kicks for two. Tiger Driver fails, so she settles for a brutal face-kick (the Kawada-style “they’re bent over” one) and a Flying Rolling Kick for two. Tiger Driver… Tiger Driver… NO! Reggie’s still resistant, then lariats the shit out of a charging Hotta! Big splash gets two, but the lariat’s blocked for a Tiger… falling underhook piledriver. She tries a proper one, but again fails, and Reggie hits the spinning powerslam for two. Reggie climbs, so Hotta just palm-thrusts her a dozen times in the ass cheeks- Reggie manages to toss her off twice over, but Hotta manages one more climb, and HOLY F*CKING SH*T- a Straightjacket Superplex right onto the fucking head! Reggie HOWLS in pain, but it only gets two! Reggie backdrops out of the Pyramid Driver, hits a lariat, then plasters her with a huge Second-Rope Splash- 2.7! Ligerbomb! 2.7! Reggie, running out of shit and she knows it, screams “Top ROPE-ahhhh!” and sure enough- a FLYING Splash… 2.9! She freaks on the ref and climbs again, but this times she misses- Hotta pops up and pretty much ignores the prior damage, throwing two kicks to the face and a rolling kick while Reggie’s downed, and that gets the surprise three at (14:23)- fans did not expect that to do it.
Okay, I LOVED this one- it had such an awesome dynamic, with the Best Striker in AJW going up against the one person thicc enough to weather those strikes. Reggie had zero technique- just bear-like power, and that gave her the credibility to take on Hotta, who for once couldn’t bully someone. I loved how there were two major fuckups (the table spot and Tiger Driver-piledriver), but both looked so vicious they were arguably more effective than the actual moves would have been. Like, a near-Ganso bomb on the floor from a table. Reggie’s final surge there was one of the coolest strings of power moves I’ve seen, too. The only thing I didn’t love was the finish- Hotta just popped up like she was fine, then hit a trio of loose kicks and that was it? I get that she couldn’t hit a real powerbomb on Reggie, but weird no-selling holds it back.
Rating: ****1/4 (hoss as f*ck and I loved it)
Bison ends up in kind of a weird “JTTS” zone in AJW at this point, but is usually good for a great performance anyways.
THE DESTINY BEASTY:
AJA KONG vs. BISON KIMURA:
* Jungle Jack EXPLODES!! Aja & Bison are former best friends & partners, but Bison’s in the Raijin Army stable, and in a match months ago, Bison found herself totally dissed by Aja, who refused to face her and instead focused on Lioness Asuka. This might come from that. Aja, in white & black, has almost nothing to say to the interviewer. Bison (or “Baison” as her gear says- I mean, to be fair if you didn’t know the real spelling and based it off of the sounds, that’s what it would be like) is in white & black with a golden lightning bolt on it (Raijin is the God of Thunder, so that fits).
Oh, and like I said above, Aja just lost the World Title three days ago, so she’s probably in a fuck of a mood with something to prove. Notably, she stares Bison down her entire way down the aisle, and DOESN’T BOW TO THE RING, which is something that’s universal to her matches!
Bison immediately lands a Bison Chop to the back and a German at the bell, then throws a ton more chops to the chest and head. She crushes Aja with her own oil can, then posts her and smashes her into a guardrail. Then runs a bloodied Aja into a standing table. Back in the ring, repeated Chops to the cut, second-rope ones, and running kicks have Aja looking punch-drunk and doomed, and a flying headbutt gets two. And a snarling Aja springs to life (“RAAAAAAHHHHH!”)! The crowd marks out as she bleeds all over the place with this horrifying look on her face, and Bison desperately tries to headbutt her down. But Aja just roars herself awake and kills Bison with punches and headbutts before finally her second wind runs out and she exhausts herself. Haha, that’s a great way to sell post-Hulk Up. Aja now methodically beats Bison’s ass, blood trickling down her old friend’s face, but Bison does her own roars of defiance until a third headbutt just flattens her. Piledriver! Second-rope splash… “Fuck YOU!” bridge! Two Backdrop Drivers get two. Super Mountain Bomb also gets two! Aja loads up the Uraken, but Bison dodges and Bison Chops the hand and arm! A full Bison Chop gets two, as do two more. Aja no-sells a fourth, though, and hits the Uraken! But she collapses in agony, desperately holding her hand even while Bison sells like death. Aja finally sucks it up and hits a full Uraken for the pin at (8:03).
Okay, THAT was different- eschewing weardown holds, posturing or anything, it was just ugly, brutal and short, but in the best way. They started out with brutality and never let up on it, proving you don’t need 20 minutes to tell every story, and that you can drop the “weardown” portion so long as you just hit someone with every metal object you can find. Aja was in need of some credibility after losing the WWWA Title TWICE in one year, and slaughtering her old friend in a bloody punchfest is a good way to do it. Eight minutes is crazy-short for AJW and probably wasn’t the nicest way to treat a returning star like Bison, though.
Rating: ***1/2 (a really brutal, vicious match that never let up, yet still had good psychology and selling- shockingly good for the time given)
Bull Nakano is fading and in the last year of her career- so she decides to go all-out in making her subordinate look good on the way out.
THE DESTINY MEGA-POWER:
KYOKO INOUE vs. BULL NAKANO:
* These two fought an amazing match for the WWF Women’s Title (yes, that one) before this, but now it’s a year later, and Kyoko’s ready to be elevated- could her former stable boss be doing the job? Especially as we’ve entered her final year in the business (her final match is in Aug. 1996). Kyoko’s in neon yellow, tassels and all sorts of other colors, while Bull’s in the most unique gear I’ve seen her in- a navy blue number with silver decal work on it. Like the world’s most murderous marching band leader!
Oh shit- not only does Kyoko diss the handshake, but she attacks Bull from behind! She still gets the “KYO-KO!” chants, but Bull responds to a lariat with two of her own for two. Kyoko tries the Slingshot Backsplash but Bull catches her right into a sleeper in a cool bit. Kyoko gets out and hits a headscissors for two, then draws a ROAR from the crowd for throwing Bull into the surfboard! Dancing Deathlock fails, though- Kyoko just slips off. Bull can’t get Bull’s Angelito on, either- both just do chinlocks. Bull lands the “Trap in the Ropes” lariats- Kyoko does her Mongolian Chops to fire back, but gets lariated again, only to finally get her Backsplash… and then get lariated again! There’s a weak double lariat and both are down- crowd doesn’t bite on that, so they’re up fast for Kyoko’s corner DDT. Run-Up Flying Back Elbow misses- Bull powerbombs her but gets dumped off the top.
Kyoko slips trying the corner DDT off the RAILING, then hits a weak one. Commentary even goes “chotto” (“She didn’t quite get ALL of it, Brain”) at it. Bull chucks her into the other railing and lariats her over it, then places her on a table- OH SHIT THE NUNCHUCKS! Kyoko gets hammered with them, but reverses a suplex to one off the table to wake up the crowd, then does a thirty foot charge into a Lariat! Back in, Bull catches Kyoko up top… but Kyoko slowly hauls her into the Powerslam position as the crowd screams in terror! She settles for a release bodyslam off the top, unable to control the fall if both went down, most likely. Missile kick sets up the Niagara Driver, but Bull reverses to an inverted DDT! Rope assisted DDT gets two! Bull hits a dive and climbs to the top to greet Kyoko into the ring… and Kyoko just charges all the way up for her Belly-To-Belly Superplex! She signals the Niagara Driver, but Bull just backdrops o— oh jesus- BULL’S POSEIDON! Kyoko just goes head-first into the mat from the backdrop position! Guillotine Legdrop- misses! Niagara Dri- no, she has to settle for a great Ligerbomb for two!
Bull resists another, then dumps her off a slingshot attempt, then hits a DDT on the floor and Guillotine legdrop off the apron! And another! They tease the count-out (Takako trying to clap Kyoko awake), but a glassy-eyed Kyoko is roused by Bull getting on the house mic and demanding she get back in. Guillotine Legdrop in the ring… gets one! The crowd EXPLODES for that, haha- what great timing. Another one ALSO gets one, and Kyoko teases hulking up, only for Bull to knock her down with a lariat and signal the Rolling Double-Guillotine! 1…2… 2.9! These moves are KILLING Bull to do and you can tell. Bull has only one move left, but of course the Moonsault misses! Kyoko tries her Deathlock/Chinlock finisher, but Bull makes the ropes. Bull resists the move again, so Kyoko runs up with an enzuigiri and BAM- NIAGARA DRIVER!!! 1…2.. no! Kyoko hits a second one, but AGAIN gets two. Kyoko, pulling out all she has left, hauls off another Ligerbomb, finally getting the three at (21:02). Kyoko has finally topped Bull! Naturally, this has to end with the two giving each other props in the ring with tears in their eyes- the whole nine yards. Tomoko, also from their stable, comes out as well, but Lioness pops in to talk some shit, probably setting up the Gokumon-To vs. Raijin Army match in one month’s time.
This was “Kyoko Has Made It: The Match” with the two being treated like equals to start instead of Kyoko fighting from beneath. The first 11 minutes or so were pretty slow, with a few spots failing or just not hitting hard enough to draw a reaction. Bull felt… slowed, probably by injuries, and her weight meant Kyoko couldn’t do all her crowd-pleasing power stuff. But yeah, once they hit “go” after the table spot it was all awesome stuff, though again you saw Kyoko struggle with the Niagara Driver. Bull finally dumping her and hitting deathblow after deathblow was a great final surge, though, as Kyoko’s fiery babyface energy was at its limit. But all those kickouts at “1” just ignited the crowd, and you saw Bull slowly dying the more huge bumps she had to take off the top rope trying to finish this chick off. And that kind of told the story in the end- Bull was at her end, and Kyoko was still rising, and had finally surpassed her “senpai”- she dodges the moonsault and then just hits her finisher again and again (paying off all the times she COULDN’T hit it) until Bull-Sama fades once and for all. This ends up being the “Last Great Bull Match”- her other bouts following this all seem to be much shorter. You could see the wear and tear on her body here, too- something like ten years of wrestling had probably ensured this was her last hurrah, and she knew it. But a great match to go out on.
Rating: ****1/4 (pretty basic and slow first half, but really picked up in the second and told a great- if predictable- story)
THE DESTINY CLIMAX:
MANAMI TOYOTA vs. AKIRA HOKUTO:
* So this year featured Manami Toyota finally got to be the one to unseat Aja Kong for the WWWA Title, but lost it back, and was then charged with being the one to try and win it back from JWP’s Dynamite Kansai. Along the way, one Akira Hokuto kept talking shit to Manami about… I dunno, probably respect and stuff. That’s how Akira works. So this is the Main Event of one of the biggest AJW shows of the year. Akira’s wearing an outfit comprised entirely of black veils, while Toyota’s got this amazing white feathered robe. Both also wrestled great matches days earlier, too, Toyota going 32+ minutes in a tag match.
Toyota decides to get cheeky immediately, charging in with a dropkick, but she takes the Mulkey Bump out of the ring and Akira follows, still in her veil-covered outfit, with the Tope Con Hilo! And now a frustrated, humiliated Toyota has to limp into the ring while a smirking Hokuto is like “hey, shake my hand, bro”. And of course she backdrops Toyota onto her neck when she does. Manami manages to whip her to the apron and hit a dropkick off the 2nd rope, but tries her Running No-Hands Springboard and Akira leaps back to the apron and slugs her, completely blowing the crowd’s minds. The timing on that was NUTS. Akira hops to the top, but Toyota boots her off and then does the motherfuckingest missile dropkick to the outside I’ve ever seen.
Hokuto walks it off and turns a lockup into a suplex & straightjacket hold as we finally slow the pace, but they immediately start BITCHSLAPPING each other, defiantly refusing to back down. Hokuto uses her sharpshooter as a wear-down- Toyota yanks her hair back, but Hokuto does the same and segues to the STF, then Gumbyfies her with a camel clutch and finally just uses the hair and stretches back. Crossface & dragon sleeper follow, but she whips Toyota to the ropes and it’s the Running No-Hands Springboard Cross-Body! The greatest running dropkick in the history of wrestling follows, and Manami just starts laying waste, giving a receipt for all that shit before. But she gets too careless and eats a German and that sick Inverted Brainbuster. Hokuto slows it down again with a torturous sharpshooter with extra-wrapping. Toyota finally gets out and does a Rolling Cradle- Moonsault gets two. Akira reverses a whip to a DQ Bomb, but Manami Ranas out for a two- don’t see THAT very often. She tries a Manami Roll, but gets squashed with a powerbomb for two.
Akira dives onto her and hits an Inverted Rana for two- well that wasn’t pretty, but it looked like it hurt. She goes for the NL Bomb, but Toyota reverses to the Japanese Ocean (double-hammerlock) Suplex for two. She aims for the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex, but Akira leaps back and hits the Dangerous Queen Bomb for two- crowd didn’t bite on that- it’s only 11 minutes in. NASTY Fisherman’s Buster- “Fuck YOU!” bridge! The fans bit on THAT. And then Akira hits STRANGLEHOLD GAMMA- her husband’s finisher! Toyota scrambles for the ropes, and Akira gets cute and announces her own Moonsault- Manami responds to that finisher-stealing by nearly hitting the J.O.C.S. from there (the move that won her the Title), but Akira fights out and… misses a missile kick! J.O.C.S… no- victory roll from Akira for two! Manami’s up first, but another Moonsault hits knees. Akira charges in with a punch, but Manami JB Angels her around and… hits the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex!! 1…2… NO!! Manami can’t believe it.
So Toyota’s out of shit and she knows it, so she dumps Akira and gets a table- HUGE flying splash onto Akira… and the table doesn’t break! Akira’s broken, and Toyota presses her luck with a Running No-Hands Springboard Tope Con Hilo- and splatters on the floor! Toyota sells this like it was fatal, and Akira struggles to her feet (they clearly have a chat here) and drags her to the table- POWERBOMB ON THE TABLE! She halts the table to ringside and hits ANOTHER one, then a Flying Seated Senton onto the table! That shit STILL won’t break! Unlike the women, who are just absolutely dead, flat-backed on the floor from the effort. The ref just pushes their corpses into the ring because it’s the main event I guess, and half a minute later, they literally haul themselves up using each other’s bodies, and Manami… hits the NORTHERN LIGHTS BOMB! Akira’s own finisher! The crowd frickin’ jumps for that one, but Manami’s selling too hard to capitalize. But finally, she finds the energy to get up, signals for another one, and a SECOND Northern Lights Bomb finishes at (20:43). Akira lies dead in the back for 20 minutes in the festivities- hey, if you’re gonna sell a finisher, it might as well be yours.
Holy shit- absolutely perfect, epic match between two superstars at the top of their game. Now THIS is how you lay out a match with a ton of great spots- you blow a ton out in the early going to get it going hot, and then you slow it down with some vicious stretching and good character bits, and then you rev it up every so often with increasingly-finisher-y moves. There’s a bunch of great teases as the crowd gets more and more into it (a Fisherman’s Buster out of nowhere had them), and finally Manami’s finisher FAILS 15 minutes in. And so they go completely suicidal with a series of big moves on an invincible table, Manami turning into a shattered doll by this point. I mean, that table wouldn’t even BUDGE, and they hit it full-on more than once. And this wasn’t just some spotfest- most of the moves had to fail before they would work, there was an escalation of moves (even the table stuff built), and the big bumps all got sold huge- the Seated Senton on the table had them both on the floor for a full sixty seconds, and they were barely moving by the end of it. The ending was fascinating, because Manami’s OWN finisher didn’t work, and Akira was the last one to do a move- but just that surge to hit everything possible was the end of her- she never hit another move after the last suicide dive onto the table. This sets up that Manami, not Hokuto, is the true “Ace” of the promotion, I would think.
Rating: ***** (one of those moments where the effort matched the application- perfect bout all the way. Amazing selling and the throwing of megaton bombs for offense, but it never felt “too much” or like the moves didn’t matter)
Misae/Endo vs. Tamura/Shiina: DUD
Midget Thumbtack Match: DUD
ASARI/Kumiko vs. Rie/Fukuwa: **1/2
Yamada/Takako/Tomoko vs. Freedom Force: ***3/4
Las Cachorras Orientales vs. Raijin Army: ****
Yumiko Hotta vs. Reggie Bennett: ****1/4
Aja Kong vs. Bison Kimura: ***1/2
Bull Nakano vs. Kyoko Inoue: ****1/4
Manami Toyota vs. Akira Hokuto: *****
So yeah, this is another fantastic all-timer in AJW’s huge run from 1992-1995, and a heck of a one to start faltering at. Ending with a ***** match from Big Match Manami, proving Hokuto can still hang at that level, and then pushing Kyoko to the “next level” by defeating her mentor once and for all. Then you have Aja renewing her push by crushing her old friend in an 8-minute bloodbath, the best Reggie Bennett match ever, and two MORE matches hitting around ****. Like, this is a murderer’s row of great stuff, and you’d never think this was a company about to crap out within a couple years.