Joshi Spotlight: Mikiko “GAMI” Futagami
By Jabroniville on 18th July 2022
JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- MIKIKO FUTAGAMI:
Other Names: GAMI
Billed Height & Weight: 5’5″ 161 lbs.
Career Length: 1990-2013
-One of the more long-running minor stars in the 1990s & 2000s joshi scene, Mikiko “GAMI” Futagami actually made the Dream Slam card, but is such a minor star throughout the Golden Age that I’ve barely seen any of her stuff! She mostly did stuff in LLPW as a minor-league wrestler for the first couple years of her career, then moved on to ARSION, becoming a regular star there. The vast majority of her career is made up of tag team matches, where she acts as a comedy wrestler- she’s never won a single solo title in 23 years as a pro! Her push is solidly in the midcard, then- scores of Tag Title reigns in every promotion but AJW, but never becoming a giant star on her own. Asking joshi-learned BOD poster MoskowDiskow, he said “she was a decent junior/midcarder for years, then went to ARSION and was amazing for like 1 year, then became a comedy reject for the rest of eternity”, something more or less admitted by others I asked- like she found a niche in comedy wrestling and stuck with it.
So this is a bio I was almost gonna hold off on, as while she was a minor LLPW star like others I’d done, I learned she had a MUCH longer career than the others, and changed as a worker considerably, all in stuff I haven’t seen. But the hell with it, haha- I got a solid playlist! Her 1998 ARSION stuff reveals a very “complete” worker- not a standout megastar but someone with solid kicks and good suplexes- a 6-7/10 worker, maybe? A bit of a “Generic Puro Worker Moveset”, if anything- where everything looks nice even if the ****+ matches aren’t flying. Nothing looks outstanding but nothing looks BAD, either- it’s just the basic “Communal Joshi Offense”, complete with a fancy powerbomb (a sit-out pumphandle version). She’s fine, but if that was her peak they I can see why she “Bushwhackered” the rest of her career- probably got a lot more longevity out of goofy stuff than being “pretty good”.
Futagami as she appeared in ARSION, with bleach-blonde hair and kind of a “Fighter” look.
-Gami debuted in 1990 for the original Joshi Women’s Pro-Wrestling (JWP), joining the mostly less-flashy workers in the acrimonious split to Ladies Legend Pro Wrestling (LLPW) in 1992, where she was mostly an opening match rookie. She makes Dream Slam 2‘s card in a meaningless (and WAY too long) Rookie Trios Match, beating an AJW team of Tomoko Watanabe, Kaoru Ito & Saemi Numata. She appears frequently with Wrestle Association-R in 1995, wrestling there while still in LLPW, where she remains the next couple of years. She wins the inaugural LLPW Six-Fighter Tag Team Titles in July ’96, teaming with Carol Midori & Yasha Kurenai, holding them for 52 days before winning the LLPW Titles back in May 1997, holding them only 93 days before losing to a three-promotion team of Lioness Asuka, Eagle Sawai & Shark Tsuchiya.
During the “Great Dying of Joshi” in 1997, Gami quits LLPW for some reason and joins Hyper Visual Fighting ARSION alongside many of AJW’s stars who’d also quit, like Aja Kong, Mariko Yoshida & Rie Tamada. I would guess she was expecting a bigger push there, as she was treated like a legit upper-midcard person for a while there. She wrestles a lot of matches over the next several years- I see years with 67, 112 & 125 matches on them, as she wrestles every third day for 3-4 years in a row! This is apparently not that crazy given the industry at the time (it’s nothing compared to AJW’s disgusting touring schedule of 300+ nights a year), though it surprised me to look at it the first time, haha. Here at ARSION, she gets her first real push, winning the Twin Stars of ARSION tag titles with Rie Tamada twice- the first one in Aug. 2000, beating Michiko Omukai & Mima Shimoda. They lose to a reformed Las Cachorras Orientales (Shimoda with Etsuko Mita) 105 days later.
The titles become vacant in late 2001, and her & Tamada win the Twin Stars of ARSION again in Dec. 2001, holding them for 71 days before losing to Ai Fujita & Omukai. Then, three months later, she & Lioness Asuka (huge star of the ’80s on a major career resurgence) team up to win the Twin Stars back, holding them for 49 days before vacating them. She & JWP’s clown wrestler, Command Bolshoi team up in JWP to win the JWP Tag Titles in Sept. 2002 from Azumi Hyuga & Kayoko Haruyama, holding them for 313 days! She & Asuka manage to win the Twin Stars of ARSION back that July for her fourth run, becoming a double-champion, this time holding them for 149 days before losing to Rie Tamada & Takako Inoue. She & Bolshoi lose the JWP Tags to Hyuga & Ran Yu-Yu in Dec. ’02, too. Sometime around here, she goes from “Futagami” to just “GAMI”.
Gami stays on when ARSION becomes AtoZ under Yumiko Hotta for a couple of years, doing 70+ matches, then moves on to JD’ in 2005, but freelances a lot in different companies. She becomes a consistent tag star there, too, teaming with Drake Morimatsu to win the TWF Tag Titles in Nov. 2004 against AKINO & Ranmaru, but lose 12 days later to Fuuka & Shuu Shibutani, winning them back immediately (like, within a day?) but have to vacate them later. GAMI & Fang Suzuki win the TWF TagTitles in Nov. 2005, and they are apparently the final champions before the promotion dies in 2006. She pops up in the very popular yet very weird promotion DDT in 2006, winning some 6-Wrestler Tag Team Titles in September alongside Guts Ishijima & MINAMI, losing them 133 days later to Daisuke, Shoichi Ichinomiya & Yuri Urai.
In 2007 GAMI helps found Pro Wrestling WAVE, one of those weirdo promotions (apparently good for setting up big matches between freelancers, but soon shifting to a Comedy Promotion), along with Tatsuya Takeshi & Yumi Ohka (I focus so much on the ’90s stuff I have no idea who those people are, lol)- WAVE is her home straight until her retirement. Once more, she was a reliable tag hand, winning the vacant WAVE Tag Titles with Tomoko Nakagawa in June 2012, holding them for 163 days before losing to Misaki Ohata & Tsukasa Fujimoto. They won the WAVE Tag Titles back in Aug. 2013 from Hikaru Shida & Yumi Ohka, holding them for only ten days before losing to Cherry & Shuu Shibutani.
Gami finally retired in 2013, ending a 23-year career, and has only popped up in one-off matches since then.
Shotei (palm thrust), Rolling Armbar with a Leg Compressing the Head, Lariat, Nothern Lights Suplex, Kentucky Bomb (sitout pumphandle powerbomb), Dragon Suplex (full-nelson suplex), Adios Amiga (Fisherman’s Buster)
(about 1:35:00 in)
THE FINAL STARLET:
MIKIKO FUTAGAMI vs. CANDY OKUTSU:
(Hyper Visual Fighting ARSION, April 17th 1998)
* So this is from when Gami moved on to ARSION, actually getting a midcard push there. Here, she’s got shorty puffy hair dyed blonde, wearing a red & gold two-piece suit that’s a sports bra and long pants. Not a bad look, all things considered! Candy’s in a gold two-piece outfit, and is herself getting the biggest push of her career.
Slick bit to start, as Candy just CHARGES in with an elbow, then does a Tiger Feint and runs up the ropes, but Gami slides in behind her, only for Candy to leap back for a cross-body, but Gami rolls through and nearly gets a cross-armbreaker! Candy gets a lariat and a cool rolling armbar, then reverses a dragon sleeper to a regular one, but gets stunnered and caught in a standing butterfly-lock with her legs around Gami. Candy comes back with missile kicks and a run-up moonsault press, but Gami’s too far back and the bump is ugly (she sits down on it)- they both do legholds but Gami cracks her with a lariat for two. Candy gets a run-up dropkick off the top & a run-up plancha, but Gami reverses to a cross-armbreaker on the floor! The ref finally breaks that up, and Gami hits a good Northern Lights suplex for two, then some shotei palm-strikes, but climbs up and Candy launches her off with a run-up Northern Lights Superplex!
Candy misses a flying headbutt follow-up and Gami tries to build up her energy, but runs into the Rolling Germans for two! But Gami immediately throws on a kimura, no-selling- a desperate Candy makes the ropes, but gets flipped with a release pumphandle toss, then the proper Kentucky Bomb gets two. A flip off the top into a cross-armbreaker has Candy make the ropes again, but Candy gets a powerbomb & moonsault for two. Candy with a charging elbow, but Gami blasts her with another shotei for two, then tries the kimura again. She threads to another cross-armbreaker, but Candy hits more Rolling Germans, then a Straightjacket German for two. They FINALLY start selling again, and Candy tries her 90th run-up move to Gami up top, but Gami shoteis her off and hits a flying headbutt to the back for two, then goes for this rolling armbar/neck-trap thing a few times, then a rolling stump puller for a close call, but Candy reverses a big wheelbarrow suplex by flipping onto her feet (!), then hits a running big boot (?) for the “hold them down struggling” pinfall at (13:15)- Candy wins!
A good little match, albeit one that shows the weaknesses of Candy, who had a lot of athletic gifts but not a lot of “thread it together” know-how so it’s largely her endlessly doing run-up moves ad nauseum. And I kept seeing people “Adam Cole” their selling- eating a big move but then popping up for their own offense immediately after dodging something. Like people would kick out of a move and then promptly hit their own offense. Candy also isn’t the greatest at making the submissions look desperate- I think I’ve noticed this before with her ARSION stuff, but she kinda pulls off the “OW!” stuff but not the scratching & clawing to the ropes, so I never bought those submissions. At least the story kind of comes off clearly- Candy is better but Gami keeps “challenging” her and trumping her moves, nearly getting her a few times.
Rating: **3/4 (kind of gets weaker as it keeps going, as they didn’t have enough to fill that time and had questionable selling. Quebrada rated this as **** so if you watch it and think I way underrated it, let me know)
(about 48 minutes in)
MIKIKO FUTAGAMI vs. MARIKO YOSHIDA:
(Hyper Visual Fighting ARSION, May 5th 1998)
* Gami takes on the “True Heart of ARSION”, Swoleshida! I am told this is the year in which Gami was totally awesome. Yoshida is in full-Spider Lady at this point, using the red & black color scheme. This is part of a one-night tournament, so the workrate may be altered a bit.
Yoshida grapples her into a cross-armbreaker almost immediately, but Gami bridges out and gets her leg up in a good bit. She throws kicks in a lockup after shoving Yoshida off her, then takes her down with an anklelock, but Yoshida actually manages a leghold using just her own legs to tie up Gami’s, from on her back. Gami has to break on the ropes and manages a front facelock, but Yoshida traps her in a kimura and gets another break! Yoshida can’t manage to get anything going while Gami throws kicks here and there to hold her off, until knocking her down with one. Yoshida tries to turn a vertical suplex into an armbar but Gami swings it into a Northern Lights suplex for two! Not bad! They each hit overhead suplexes on each other & a Gami lariat gets two, but Yoshida reverses another to a pair of release Germans for two. But she gets careless and eats a MEGATON slap, actually getting two for Gami, who tries a cross-armbreaker, triangle choke & kimura before Yoshida breaks.
The Kentucky Bomb gets two, but Yoshida quickly reverses another grab for a sleeper with bodyscissors. Gami tries another head-kick, but Yoshida catches her foot and does her own slap for two, then pounces with a powerbomb for two, then slaps on an anklelock immediately on the kickout. Gami reverses another to her own, then a crossface, then kicks Yoshida down, letting her rise for a crowd-popping rolling kick. Yoshida cleverly does the “flat-back KO, but snags the bottom rope right at 3” sell off of that, and Gami gets flustered- she tries another charge, but Yoshida catches her with a stomach-buster and immediately moves to the Henkei Sleeper (using two hands to choke Gami against her thigh), Gami fighting but ultimately tapping out at (10:53).
Interesting match in the ARSION style, as Yoshida’s “Grapplef*ckery” carries the day. She’s actually setting up Gami’s comebacks here if you look, feeding her openings by doing stuff like diving in with her head in the front facelock position and letting herself get taken down that way, or opening herself up to the trio of basic “UFC Finishes” all in a row just by positioning herself a certain way. Gami threw good kicks and could solidly hang with her move application, though, looking like she definitely knew what she was doing. She seemed to be giving Gami the majority of the match (Yoshida has to wrestle later- she loses to Reggie Bennett), but did a good job in making it look like she was being “caught” by those kicks (even though they weren’t exactly Dynamite Kansai-tier) and Gami’s submissions.
Rating: **3/4 (solid midcard match with a veteran leading a lower-ranked wrestler through a bunch of stuff to let them shine a bit)
(about 1:09:00 in)
MIKIKO FUTAGAMI vs. AJA KONG:
(ARSION Starlet- handheld shot, April 11th 1998)
* This is from an ARSION house show, shot via handheld- Gami now has longer blonde hair, tasseled shorts and a black & white t-shirt on over her gear. Aja, the big star of ARSION, is in her yellow & black gear.
Aja starts with some stiff chops (though Gami has two layers over her chest), and they alternate going to a top mount, Aja eventually controlling using her body weight and just stuffing her. Gami keeps going to the leg, eventually putting on some holds, Aja bailing after a figure-four to sell the damage. They slug it out with elbows but Gami’s back to the knee with those dropkicks, Aja really selling the agony of these rolling legholds- she gets her boot up in the corner but runs right into a Northern Lights suplex for two. Aja gets a cross-body, but gets whipped off the second rope into an armhold- she dodges Gami’s flying attack, but actually eats strikes and GOES DOWN (!) for a close two-count. Another leghold and she’s getting desperate, but Gami takes a wild swing and eats the Backdrop Driver for two- another is reversed to a sleeper, but Aja kicks free of that and catches Gami charging in- BAM! Uraken! Aja won’t even let her drop and immediately hits the Brainbuster for the desperation three at (13:38). Aja wins!
Man, Aja went all-out here to put Gami over and make it seem like this kid had a chance- hell, this was actually the “Savage/Bret Hart Template”: sell all match and then pull out the last-minute win! But it was a high-tier version of that, selling like hell in legholds, putting over those strikes, and not being able to get any significant offense going before getting worked over again- not like how Bret/Savage would just lie there and eat offense until pulling it out. Every time Aja did something, Gami was back to a front dropkick to the knee. VERY slow, steady “House Show Match” for the first five minutes, with Aja being very methodical as they gear up. Aja selling those front dropkicks to the knee is interesting, as it’s a very “simple and practical” way to work her over, as there’s not a lot of options for the heavier, slower Aja to avoid that and it lets Gami take a measure of control. In the end, she just had to catch Gami trying something a bit too careless- even so, that was a pretty emphatic series of moves.
Rating: **1/2 (not the most exciting, dramatic bout, but “Wrestling 101” in terms of putting someone over before the veteran crushes them)