BUDOKAN MIDSUMMER NIGHT- DISCOVER NEW HEROINE (Day Two):
(Aug. 13th 1996):
* It’s the next day of the “Discover New Heroine” show! This time we get three straight rounds of the tournament, ending with a final match in this Rookie/Veteran Team tournament concept!
Tonight’s show is INFAMOUS for injuries, with two particularly brutal, violent-looking ones absolutely flattening some of the “New Heroines”. And, of course, those are the VERY TWO women going all the way to the final match!
In addition, we get the worked-shoot U*Top Tournament, where 3/4 of the fighters in it are of course big joshi stars who beat no-name European girls to move on. So come see rookies with potential teaming up with veterans giving mostly half-hearted efforts in matches half as long as the usual joshi contests… which actually kinda suits the style a bit more as the bouts have less padding than joshi typically does.
DISCOVER NEW HEROINE TAG TOURNAMENT ROUND TWO:
MEGUMI KUDO & KAORI NAKAYAMA (FMW) vs. BISON KIMURA & YUKI LEE (JD’):
* Most interpromotional stuff typically involves “Someone vs. GAEA” or “Someone vs. AJW”, so FMW & JD’ mixing it up is interesting for the time period. Both teams are the only representative of their company left, so it’s kinda anyone’s ballgame. Bison & Kudo notably were part of the same AJW training class in 1986. Bison & Yuki are in blue & white again, Kudo’s in black and Kaori’s in red & white.
Team JD’ attacks to start, then tee off on Kudo (Yuki seems to throw a REALLY stiff Bison Chop on her), then the rookies do basic stuff. Yuki seems pretty stiff and not good (expect to read THAT a lot in the next few months). Finally it’s Bison/Kudo, but they do a long test of strength- Bison straightjackets Kudo, then does the Bushwhacker battering ram of all things into the turnbuckles and piledrives her for two. Kudo does the same ram a couple of times, then dumps Bison & everyone fights outside the ring, with Kudo missing with a piece of guardrail. Then we’re OBVIOUSLY clipped to to the ring, with Kudo reversing Bison with a big DDT to a crowd pop. Bison reverses another one, and throws Bison Chops until Kudo reverses to a Northern Lights suplex for two. Bison counters a rana with a powerbomb for two, then another sets up Yuki’s awful elbow off the second rope for two- Kudo reverses for the same and then the rookies fight- Kaori keeps reversing stuff on Yuki, hitting a bridging double-arm suplex for two, but Bison runs in after fighting Kudo outside and Bison Chops her into Yuki’s leg-trap backdrop suplex hold for three (6:36 of 16:51 shown). Wow, they’re clipping these by a lot.
Rating: *1/2 (“bleh” match- we get the slack opening and then lead right to a merely “okay” end-run, with the rookies not really showing much and the veterans wrestling like it’s an easy payday- we’re missing a LOT, however)
“One day, Las Cachorras Orientales are going to throw you off of that.”
DYNAMITE KANSAI & TOMOKO KUZUMI (JWP) vs. TOMOKO WATANABE & KUMIKO MAEKAWA (AJW):
* JWP’s Ace kicker up against AJW’s rookie kicker! Plus Toyota Lite against Kyoko Lite!
Kuzumi seems hesitant to deal with Kumiko’s MMA stance to start, so she tags in KANSAI, and the fans immediately react. She does the “Hotta no-sell” of some kicks, only wincing a bit, then puts Kumiko on her can with one shot- Kuzumi adds a missile kick, and Tomoko flies off the top but misses Kansai, setting up Kuzumi’s springboard plancha to the floor! Kuzumi does boring rookie stuff until Tomoko’s in and hits her slingshot elbowdrop, but Kansai’s in and methodically wears her down. Tomoko bulldogs her and she & Kumiko try stuff, and NOW Kansai sells as Kumiko runs in with a series of big pump kicks! Team AJW double-team her into a corner lariat/knee-assisted bulldog from the top for two. Double lariat and they BOTH sell a bit, Tomoko getting a big reaction for still standing- Kansai resists some lariats but one timed with Kumiko’s sweep kick puts her down, then Tomoko immediately shakes the ropes and hits a proper knockdown lariat… but Kansai handily elbows out of the Screwdriver then absolutely massacres Tomoko with her own lariat for two and tags out to Kuzumi’s missile kicks while still holding her head to sell the pain of Tomoko’s offense. Kansai rules.
So Tomoko powerslams out of Kuzumi’s stuff, and there’s a slick bit where Kumiko misses a kick but does a follow-through spin into a spinkick that Kuzumi ALSO dodges, then uses a bridging butterfly suplex for two. But then Kumiko kicks her coming off the top and throws an INSANE thrust kick to the mouth that immediately explodes Kuzumi’s lower face, then another for two as Kuzumi is now bleeding all over herself from the mouth. Kumiko’s like “aaaaa f*ck” checking on her but hits a SUPER-slow ax kick, allowing Kuzumi to bridge out at two. Lariat, Thesz press and FLYING Thesz Press from Tomoko gets two as well, then it’s a DOOMSDAY Thesz Press that of course plants Kuzumi on the back of her neck- Kansai has to save. She saves Kuzumi from a move and enters, wiping out Tomoko, smashing Kumiko in the face to prevent any interference, then absolutely devastates Watanabe with Splash Mountain at (11:38 of 14:12 shown)- haha, impeccable strategy- just slaughter both people yourself because you’re good enough.
Very good mid-length match- Kansai was SO good at little things like making someone work for their offense, but putting them over as gradually wearing her down, like selling those Kumiko kicks and Tomoko lariats like they were really bothering her, but without looking too vulnerable. An Aja-like Monster ability that’s underrated in the true top stars. And because she still wins in the end, pretty well by herself (after poor Kuzumi- who has to WORK AGAIN tonight, mind you- gets her face blown to pieces), proving the old Michael Hayes adage right- make your opponents look like somebody and you’ll look even better for beating them.
Rating: *** (a lot of weak rookie offense, but lethal Kumiko kicks and Kansai controlling the selling and then coming in to mop up is a good story)
Sonoko Kato, whose name I’m finally beginning to spell right, is one of GAEA’s most pushed rookies.
MANAMI TOYOTA & RIE TAMADA (AJW) vs. TOSHIYO YAMADA (AJW) & SONOKO KATO (GAEA Japan):
* The former 3WA Tag Champs are set against each other one more time, teaming with Rie (one of AJW’s “about to hit the next level” people) and Kato from GAEA. Team AJW’s in black (Manami) & white (Rie) while the other team’s in matching blue & white gear, and wrestled a good “veteran/rookie” match to earn respect and team up here.
Team AJW crushes their opponents in the corner with dropkicks to start, but they do a double-kick on Rie, who does her helicopter cross-bodies on Yamada. Yamada gets her snap suplex & legdrop, so Kato throws “GAEA offense” (kickpad kicks and slams) on Rie, then copies Yamada’s legdrop, but Rie throws out the Toyota dropkick spam! Mimicking the vets! Team Blue fires off kicks on Team AJW, hitting a sidewinder legdrop on Rie, followed by Kato’s rolling fireman’s carry as Rie is checking her teeth after kicking out at two. She lures them into a Toyota double-missile kick, but Kato doesn’t go over right for the German so Rie’s bridge can’t get her. Rie tries the Dragon Suplex, but Team Blue sandwich her with kicks- she knocks Kato off the top, though, and Manami hits the Running No-Hands Springboard Tope Con Hilo to Team Blue! Rie hits the Dragon Suplex in the ring, but Yamada topples the bridge with a legsweep. Toyota responds with her insane missile dropkick to the floor (which is essentially a flat-back bump off the top to the floor), and Stereo Missile Dropkicks to Kato… get two! Toyota tries another suicide dive, but MISSES, and can’t get to the other corner in time- Yamada holds her back while Kato reverses Rie into a SUPER rolling fireman’s carry (I believe this is the debut of the Kamikaze Bomb) for the three (6:23 of 13:21 shown)! The 3WA Champion’s team loses!
This seemed like a great showcase for Kato, who got to do the “Chigusa kicks” and look strong against elder wrestlers, as Rie pummeled her with suplexes and she got to kick out of a tandem finisher, then WIN! Rie losing to someone with only a year in the game isn’t the greatest showcase for her- not that she’s particularly great, but it’s gotta be kinda damning. I liked the tag psychology, too- Yamada was too good at breaking up pins and even holding off Toyota, letting her partner do the ending stuff. What we saw here (clipped by about half) was pretty damn good, even without Manami being in the ring hardly at all- who knows how much of HER stuff we missed?
Rating: **1/4 (some good bits throughout, despite the abridged match- Kato looked good and showed a lot, and I liked how the teaming psychology worked)
Yoshiko Tamura is a follower of Kyoko’s, so often gets paired up in matches against her “kouhai” and get to look good.
AJA KONG & YOSHIKO TAMURA (AJW) vs. KYOKO INOUE & CHAPARRITA ASARI (AJW):
* Tamura is a pal of Kyoko’s and followed her to NEO Ladies, so Kyoko will probably be quite generous here in an AJW/AJW fight. Some WILD outfits in this one- Aja’s in silver/black, Tamura’s in bright frilly aquamarine, Kyoko’s in canary yellow & black, and ASARI’s in red & black.
ASARI dodges Tamura handily but runs right into Aja, but lures both into Kyoko’s flying crossbody. ASARI hits her knee shot and Kyoko adds the corner DDT, surfboard/dragon sleeper & Dancing Deathlock to Tamura, whose shrieks of agony are some A-tier “jobber selling”. Taunting Aja all the while (including slapping her ass), Kyoko tosses Tamura onto her knee, but Tamura escapes to tag Aja, who slaughters ASARI and taunts Kyoko back. Clipped to Kyoko hitting the Slingshot Backsplash on Aja/Tamura, but Aja shoves Kyoko off from the Run-Up Elbow and sets up Tamura to dive onto both… but she crashes and burns, hitting nobody. ASARI then flies onto both opponents, then KYOKO does, via a run-up plancha with some great balance! THAT gets the crowd going! Run-Up Back Elbow gets two on Tamura, who gets an emphatic kick-out. She avoids the Niagara Driver and Aja CRANKS Kyoko with her oil can, stunning her. Kyoko tags out after avoiding a backdrop driver and ASARI eats Aja’s powerlsam, but gets a snazzy rana hanging onto the ropes to reverse a charge- Aja cross-bodies both opponents and hits a second rope splash on ASARI- “F*ck YOU!” bridge! Aja climbs, but eats the Mandatory 1996 German Off The Ropes, then ASARI flies off with a flying rana for two.
Aja prevents a Sky Twister Press but smashes Tamura with the oil can by mistake, and ASARI aims for it again, and HOLY F*CK SHE CORKSCREW HEADBUTTS HER RIGHT IN THE GODDAMN FACE. From off the top rope! Jesus Christ. Both women are absolutely DEAD, with ASARI being the worse for wear at first, and Kyoko super-delicately slams Tamura so ASARI can crawl over to her and tag. Kyoko throws lariats and ducks an uraken but gets backdropped onto her neck in their classic sequence, but ducks another uraken and headscissors Aja for two. Aja tries to set her up, but gets tossed off the top as Tamura is gingerly moving around- Kyoko’s powerbomb gets two. ASARI finally gets up after a few minutes, but Tamura gets the world’s weakest German to save Aja, who hits the URAKEN- two! ASARI saves! Aja directs Tamura to get rid of her, then slaps Kyoko around to finish with the emphatic, no-joke Uraken at (10:53 of 14:22 shown). And now poor concussed Tamura has to wrestle another match!
Holy CRAP that bump was ugly- ASARI just twistered herself right into a shoot headbutt to Tamura’s face, and actually got the worst of it, being completely done for the rest of the match. She can’t even get UP, much less do anything, for several minutes, and is either running to break up pins or lying down for the rest of the match. The bout is shockingly good in spite of two of the wrestlers dying with 4 minutes to go, as Aja & Kyoko do one of their usual sequences. Odd to see Kyoko go down so cleanly without even looking like she has a chance against Aja, but I’m thinking they might have had to come up with a plan on the fly given ASARI was in no position to be eating Aja’s offense.
Rating: **3/4 (had some stuff working against it, but everyone fought well until the rookies died)
BATTLE ROYAL GAUNTLET MATCH:
(AJW- Takako Inoue, Mima Shimoda, Etsuko Mita, Kaoru Ito, Mariko Yoshida, Yumi Fukawa, Saya Endo, JWP- Hikari Fukuoka, Command Bolshoi, Rieko Amano, JD’- Jaguar Yokota, Chikako Shiratori, FMW- Miss Mongol, Miwa Sato, GAEA- Tomoko Miyaguchi, Makie Numao, OTHER- Chiquita Azteca, Pequena Azteca, Princesa Blanca, Kyoko Ichiki)
* All the women eliminated so far, plus some others, show up for a LONG Battle Royal to fill time. Like, 30 minutes of it. It’s clipped to like 10 minutes, and pinfalls count.
Takako starts us off with IWA Japan’s Ichiki, dominating her like an evil amazon until Pequena Azteca comes out- she ranas Takako but Ichiki saves, maybe because they were partners in the tournament? Chikako’s next, but gets triple-teamed. Chikako cross-bodies all three women and gets caught, so Shimoda knocks them over when she comes in, celebrating. We’re clipped to Hikari, Jaguar, Mita, Sato, Miyaguchi, Numao, Ito, Blanca & Endo being in there too, and EVERYONE stands in opposition to poor Miss Mongol for some reason. She belly-bashes a bunch of incoming jobbers, then Amano comes in and armbars Takako immediately, but eight women divebomb them with a gangbeating. Jaguar & Shimoda end up in figure-fours and a SERIES of women hit Flying Double-Foot Stomps on them! Chiquita Azteca comes in, then finally Fukawa as we’re just getting sparse clips (Yoshida & Bolshoi are in there now, while Jaguar, Shimoda & Ito are on the floor, along with most of the jobbers), but Takako beans Fukawa immediately with Takako*Panic, pinning her in seconds! Takako also snags Mita and rolls her up, women piling on to get rid of her.
Ichiki avoids Mongol’s belly-bash, resulting in Sato getting pinned. Takako DDTs Numao after getting angry at getting kicked, and she’s gone via dogpile. Bolshoi’s bodyslammed by five people in a row, but Takako shoves Blanca over during it and SHE gets dogpiled for the pin, too! Takako cheers on Bolshoi, putting on her shoulders… and of course that’s the position for her Aurora Special! And now Bolshoi’s gone, haha. But they got Takako in the pile, too! Everyone does corner moves to Hikari, but she powerbombs Ichiki… who kicks out, despite two women holding her down! A Doomsday Device Dropkick finishes her off, though. A bunch of people moonsault Yoshida, but Peqena gets caught in Hikari’s German, then inside cradled for the pin. Yoshida pounces with La Majistral, but gets rolled over for the pin, taking out both I guess. That just leaves Chiquita & Mongol- Chiquita avoids Sato interfering with a cannonball, which hits Mongol, then follows with a quebrada to the floor on Sato! Mongol hits her with a belly-bash, but climbs up and gets caught in a Run-Up Frankensteiner… for the pin! Chiquita Azteca wins at (10:10 of 27:38 shown). Yes, THIRTY MINUTES for a comedy routine.
This one’s hard to rate, as we missed half the eliminations and it came down to Miss Mongol’s comedy routine getting dusted off quickly by Azteca, whose semi-push is very weird around this time, as she’s in tons of “Filler” matches but is also big in JD’. This ended up being the “Takako Show”, however, as she started the thing, directed traffic, set off a ton of eliminations, and only got dogpiled after hitting her finisher by tricking Bolshoi. But ultimately most of the pins mean nothing because it’s all via people piling on to score falls.
Rating: **1/4 (I dunno- some funny stuff and some good spots? But we miss 2/3 of it!)
DISCOVER NEW HEROINE TOURNAMENT- SEMI-FINALS:
BISON KIMURA & YUKI LEE (JD’) vs. DYNAMITE KANSAI & TOMOKO KUZUMI (JWP):
* So poor Kuzumi has to wrestle like 30 minutes after her face exploded, and Bison & Yuki are somewhat fresh. Kansai is actually comforting the rookie, who weakly sits there with a fat lip and a worried expression- Kansai barely even raises her hands at the intros.
Kansai easily resists Yuki, but Bison runs in and spams her Chops and hits a backdrop suplex. Kansai eats a lot more Chops, but get Yuki taken out with one, only to eat a Chop, backdrop suplex & Moonsault for two, taking the latter weirdly (she actually sits up into it). They bring in a table and lie it down, Moonsaulting Kansai on top of it, but Kuzumi breaks up the pin. Kansai kicks to freedom, and stuns Bison enough that two head-kicks and a Backdrop Driver finish Yuki at (2:48)! Kansai wins without having to tag in her partner at all!
Okay, this one looks like it was mostly there to buy Kuzumi some time to recover, as she’s in the finals. Crazy to see Bison just spam finishers to try and get a quick one, but mysteriously be so beaten by a couple of kicks that she can’t save her rookie partner.
Rating: 3/4* (just a handful of spammed moves- shorter than many Jobber Squashes!)
AJA KONG & YOSHIKO TAMURA (AJW) vs. TOSHIYO YAMADA (AJW) & SONOKO KATO (GAEA):
* Hopefully Tamura’s recovered from her own injury here.
Aja gets jumped by Team Blue and kicked to the mat and double-suplexed, but clotheslines them both, only to get caught trying it again. Tamura gets mopped up by Yamada, but Kato DEMANDS AJA. Aja beats her for that impertinence, easily resisting hope spots but Yamada stops the pin after a Backdrop Driver. Tamura avoids the bulldog when she comes in, but gets caught in a sleeper and Aja knocks them over. Yamada hits a belly-to-belly superplex on Tamura, Aja saving, but Tamura reverses the Reverse Gory Bomb to a German for two! Aja superplexes Tamura onto Yamada- Kato saves. Team Blue catches Tamura in that Sidewinder Legdrop, but Tamura kicks out on her own! They set up a huge kick, but Tamura reverses Kato’s whip and sends HER into Yamada’s boot, and they reverse Germans on each other until Aja casually strolls in… but Urakens Tamura when Kato ducks! But Kato sets up the Kamikaze Bomb, and Tamura slips out to a flash pin as Aja Urakens Yamada- Tamura wins at (5:58 of 12:25)!! She LEAPS onto Aja after that, beside herself with joy as Aja has this delightfully proud grin on her face. There’s a hilarious post-match interview where Aja casually talks while Tamura’s unconscious body is laid out on the table beside her, like she’s sleeping off this deadly concussion.
Fun little match that we saw barely half of, as Aja & Yamada actually just serve as an underscore to Kato/Tamura stuff. Tamura wasn’t that great for obvious reasons at this point, but she sold her desperation well, and I loved the finish and the reaction to it. She managed to reverse Yamada’s finisher, kick out of the tandem move, then score the pin on the other rookie!
Rating: **1/4 (very short but some fun stuff)
DISCOVER NEW HEROINE TOURNAMENT FINALS:
Azumi Hyuga is considered one of the best workers of her generation, and a highlight of the “Dead Era” of joshi. She was even pretty good in her rookie years as Tomoko Kuzumi.
AJA KONG & YOSHIKO TAMURA (AJW) vs. DYNAMITE KANSAI & TOMOKO KUZUMI (JWP):
* And now we hit the finals, with an unexpected bout- Aja/Kansai once more. The two had an AMAZING series of matches in the mid-90s centered around Aja’s WWWA World Title, so it’s fun to see them paired off again. And you kind of see the “point” of the tournament here, as each company’s most-pushed rookie is in there now. Except both are legitimately injured by the previous matches and look like walking wounded.
Tamura & Kuzumi go in some 1/3 speed Rookie-Fu, given both are tired and hurt (Tamura almost seems too concussed to sell, ironically). Aja comes in, slapping Tamura awake as she does so (either annoyed or sympathetic to her situation) and stretches Kuzumi, but Kansai mimics the same to Tamura. You can tell this is going long cuz they keep stretching Tamura. Aja even tries to rescue her at points, cheering her on, and Tamura finally escapes. Aja mimics Kansai’s prior elbowdrop and delayed suplex, but puts some STINK on the latter, turning it into a brainbuster! The vets finally go at it, Aja running into a boot but hitting a mountain bomb against a charge. Kansai dodges an Uraken and dumps Aja, but teases a dive (!) only for Tamura to get the best reaction so far by charging in with a dropkick to stop it. Kansai swipe-kicks Aja to set up Kuzumi’s Garvin Stomp, Aja no-selling until she eats a hop-up missile kick, and Kansai’s lariat sets up a flying stomp for two. Aja just slaps Kuzumi so Tamura can come in- she works her over, but they each score slaps big enough to earn two-counts, busting open Kuzumi again. Kansai no-sells Tamura so Aja lariats her, then sets up Tamura to finally hit her Northern Lights suplex after a struggle, again popping the crowd.
Rocket Launcher gets two & Aja adds a second rope splash, but Kansai avoids a Backdrop Driver & Uraken, only to catch one on the backswing! Kansai manages to kick out at two given how quick it was, so Aja adds the flying back elbow, moving up her pseudo-finishers. She goes for the Super Mountain Bomb, but Kuzumi stops it, allowing Kansai to hit Splash Mountain! Two! Kansai tries another, but settles for a kick for two, then tries it again, only for Tamura to fly in with a missile kick to the back of her head! And it’s a charging Uraken from Aja! But Kansai still kicks out! Aja weakly crawls away to tag, but Tamura runs into the Backdrop Driver… for two!- Kansai goes full “Shocked Kickout Face” and tags out in disbelief, and Kuzumi hits a trio of butterfly backbreakers, Tamura screaming as she kicks out at two. Flying Stomp right to the back- same result! Kuzumi goes for a German, but Aja runs in and backdrops her right on the head, getting two for Tamura. But Tamura misses a flying cannonball, not helping her back- they screw up the timing of Kansai interfering with a kick, but Kuzumi gets a bridging butterfly suplex- Aja saves. Aja then uses a friggin’ TOPE SUICIDA of all things, splatting Team JWP! And then superplexes Tamura onto Kuzumi’s ass, Kansai saving! But then Aja stupidly sets up the Double-Team Uraken, and that trick NEVER works! Tamura goes down! Kansai shoves Aja out of the ring so Kuzumi can hit a hop-up Turning Splash for the win (18:04)! Team JWP wins!!! Tamura, with a goose-egg the size of a fist on her cheek, had no chance there.
About as good a match as you can possibly expect featuring two green rookies and the first eight minutes wasted on stretching and basic rookie-fu- they pulled it ALL OUT in the ending, doing a great job of setting up Aja & Kansai hitting finishers on each other in the prelude so that only Tamura & Kuzumi were left to do a big surge, and they swung for the fences with great stuff. Tamura getting her spine crushed set up some close-calls, and then Aja recovers and hits a TOPE. It’s almost too bad it ended the way Aja tags often end- like, Aja was taking on a rookie and had to have Tamura holding her?
Rating: ****1/4 (was looking super-mediocre at first and got REALLY fun in the end- some great tag psychology)
Joshi veterans I talk to always have this distinctive “UGH” underscoring their typing when they talk about Hotta’s “Shooter” push. Come see why!
ELINA RODINA vs. REGGIE BENNETT:
* Elina beat Yoko Takahashi, while Reggie beat a European. They throw such weak stand-up I’m SURE this is a work, and Reggie gets taken down but Elina only kinda pushes against her arm before being pushed back by Reggie’s foot. Elina gets a few takedowns with nothing much happening, but eventually gets an armbar when Reggie’s on her front, albeit from a weird angle, and gets the submission (5:38 of 9:47 shown).
LIONESS ASUKA vs. YUMIKO HOTTA:
* They do some weak stand-up until they finally hit the mat, Asuka looking to lead, but Hotta slowwwwwwwly puts her into an armbar for the submission (3:12).
Someone named Aya Mitsui now does a “kickboxing exhibition” that’s just repeated kicks on a pad.
ELINA RODINA vs. YUMIKO HOTTA:
* Lots of non-committal stand-up leads to Hotta trying backfists and fighting out of a takedown. She finally knocks her down with a backfist, but Elina’s right back up on her feet. Another punch a couple minutes later kinda connects. Elina finally takes Hotta down and throws ridiculously light, super-fake punches while she’s got a side mount, until finally pulling Hotta’s arm into the cross-armbreaker for the win (9:14 of 12:47 shown). Thank Christ.
So Elina Rodina wins the horrible U*Top Tournament, ending 20-30 minutes of garbage. I guess she fights for RINGS, judging by her shirt? Hotta “looks tough” by beating Asuka quickly, but I don’t know what this tournament did for her.
Okay, so like… the tag tournament had mostly fine matches! The “Joshi Style” actually suits a 10-minute battle as well as any, because it cuts out the restholds and excessive padding- in the early ’90s they struggled with it because they simply lopped off the back third of the match instead of the first third, but they mostly have it okay now. Though it’s still weird watching some big stars go down to a single move or two given how big a howitzer it used to take to bring one down.
But for the most part the tournament matches were **-***, and with shorter matches that’s a bit easier to take than the only 18-minute “* first half, ***+ second half” structure to get similar ratings. And the final match definitely delivered, and made me impressed by Kuzumi & Tamura’s toughness and capability at this experience level! But hoo boy, the injuries to both were uncomfortable to watch, and seeing them have to go to the finals like that was brutal (and led to hilariously abridged semi-final matches). And ultimately the entire tournament just comes down to Aja & Kansai, rehashing an age-old rivalry, which probably doesn’t help the whole discovering of “new heroines”. But at least a rookie scored the last fall.
Man I hope there’s not a lot more fake shoot stuff in ’90s joshi, though.