It’s a two-match Joshi Spotlight for you today, as there’s a 3WA Tag Title defense between Manami Toyota & Mima Shimoda and upstart midcard team Kaoru Ito & Mariko Yoshida! Come see how AJW tries to fill out shows with their greatly diminished roster as 1996 rolls on! This match is mostly notable for being the first instance I can find of one of the late 1990s’ most spectacular moves- the Air Raid Crash!
Also, I found a random squash from February so this isn’t just a one-match review. I forgot we only saw Sakie Hasegawa retire earlier in 1996.
PS I finally made a “Master List” of all my Joshi Spotlights in order of when the shows happened: https://www.echoesofthemultiverse.com/viewtopic.php?t=2086
WWWA TAG TEAM TITLES:
BEST TWO OF THREE FALLS:
MANAMI TOYOTA & MIMA SHIMODA vs. KAORU ITO & MARIKO YOSHIDA:
(Sept. 28th 1996)
* So it’s come to this- the 3WA Tag Team Champions facing down a pair of midcarders who have no chance in the world. Sometimes these matches produce some real classics, though (Las Cachorras Orientales had no chance against Toyota & Yamada years ago, and that match was ****1/2 or so). Ito has a slick green & silver bodysuit, having escaped her “worst gear in wrestling” tag years ago, and Yoshida’s in yellow. Manami’s in black & gold and Shimoda’s in red & gold.
FALL ONE: The challengers miss dropkicks right away and Ito takes a bunch from the champs, but dodges a dropkick sandwich and we get Stereo Cartwheel Hip Attacks in the corners! Ito does stomp spam into Yoshida’s toss-up stomachbreaker on Toyota, but Shimoda’s in with her typical stuff- Yoshida cartwheel dodges and Ito flies in with dropkicks & her senton for two. Ito throws on a figure-four, getting Yoshida to fly in with a splash, but then MANAMI does the same to Ito in a cute bit- Shimoda doesn’t even bother selling the legwork as anything but an annoyance and disregards other stuff before nailing the challengers with a double-falling clothesline. She Germans Yoshida for two- Ito pulls her off the top but gets nailed by Yoshida by mistake, but Yoshida just nails her run-up knee smash to Toyota- Ito misses the Flying Stomp but gets missile kicked by Shimoda into the Rolling Cradle for two.
Ito gets her knees up on Manami’s Moonsault but they get dumped and Manami hits the Running No-Hands Springboard Plancha… but splats Shimoda! And that lets Yoshida set up a table and lays Manami on it- flying splash onto Toyota! And Ito comes off with a friggin’ FLYING STOMP on the table! That is suicidally dangerous but she slid off harmlessly. Flying Stomp in the ring- Shimoda saves, so Ito hits two MORE Flying Stomps… but Toyota “F*ck YOU!” bridges out! Double Super-Fisherman’s Buster- Shimoda saves! So Ito finally hits a solo Super Fisherman’s Buster, and THAT gets the three (10:04). Very odd to hit such a huge bunch of moves only for the lesser one to get the pin. Unpredictable but I can dig it- very “ECW”.
FALL TWO: Now this is a bit more interesting, as the challengers are 1-0 and the champs now have to win two straight- probably a good way to build fake drama. Toyota gets pounced on and tricked into missile kicking Shimoda, but dodges stereo flying headbutts and hits a Manami Roll for two. Ito slams Shimoda out of her charging clothesline and Yoshida hits a run-up flying sunset flip, but takes Shimoda’s flying headscissors, then a Tiger Suplex for two. Shimoda goes for a backdrop suplex, but Yoshida pulls her up and over her own body and… HOLY SH*T SHE INVENTS THE AIR RAID CRASH! One of the biggest eye-popping moves of the late ’90s and an outstanding move that pops the crowd AND the commentator… and of course it gets two, lol. Shimoda actually has this “…” sell like that was WAY worse than she expected, but Toyota’s missile kick takes down Yoshida, who then tries a run-up out of an Irish whip but gets caught up top, and the Death Lake Driver (tiger superplex) brings her down for the pin after a bit of a “steadying themselves” delay at (2:37). Yes they invented an MDK finisher and then had her do the quickie job right after.
FALL THREE: Shimoda immediately pounces and tries her finisher again, and JESUS F*CK Yoshida lands flush on the back of her neck with another Death Lake Driver- Ito dives in while Yoshida kinda kicks out. Yoshida gets her feet up on a move and bails so Ito flattens Shimoda repeatedly, but takes a couple clotheslines and a trio of Manami’s missile kicks. Ito USES THE ASS to escape, but Yoshida seems lost and eats the Kick of Fear as a result. Toyota boots her again and Shimoda does piledrivers, but misses her cross-body- Yoshida uses a camel clutch of all things but Ito & Toyota fly in with dropkicks to both women, so Yoshida hits a Crippler Crossface instead. A double bulldog sets up a stereo flying move, but Toyota shoves Yoshida off and Shimoda hits a butterfly superplex for two, but then Yoshida flies in with a missile kick to the champs!
That sets up that Stereo Flying Headbutts- two! Ito misses a Flying Stomp, but Shimoda nails Toyota, then Manami stops a double-team and Shimoda dives onto the challengers after that. Running No-Hands Springboard Tope Con Hilo from Manami, into a Missile Kick Sandwich in the ring on Ito- two! But a Doomsday Device Cyclone Suplex is broken up and they double-superplex Shimoda in an ugly spot, getting two, then eating a double-cartwheel back elbow. Stereo dives on the champs set up Yoshida’s Run-Up Plancha, but she lands on Ito and the champs pounce- but Yoshida swats away Shimoda’s missile kick and La Majistral gets two! Manami pounces with a double-missile kick and hits a Moonsault for two, but a second misses and ANOTHER La Majistral nearly gets her! Damn that move is over. Manami hits a German to halt her momentum, and the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex gets two- Ito saves. Yoshida reverses another JOCS to her sunset flip for two, reversed for two- Japanese Ocean Suplex (double-hammerlock german)… 2.9! The crowd chants “YO-SHI-DA!” for the underdog but it’s too late- the Doomsday Device J.O.C.S. finishes her at (11:08). Well it got hot in the end.
This one had some hot bits, but ended up quite disjointed and oddly-timed- the hottest bit was the end to the FIRST fall, which had all the logistics of a final fall, and everyone just kinda did “stuff” in a lot of bits that needed a lot more urgency to them until the VERY end, when Yoshida’s flash-pins end up being the hottest moves of the match and they won the crowd over in the end (as Ito apparently fell off the face of the Earth and stopped mattering).
The first fall was a bit weird- the Shimoda bits were awkward and borderline “I can’t be bothered to sell this” but fast-paced in other parts, and it was kind of disjointed without much flow aside from the MOVEZ they threw in at the end. A Flying Stomp onto a table is HUGE, yet Ito just has to hit three more in the ring and STILL can’t win, and so a Double Super-Fisherman’s Buster… also gets two, but a solo one gets the pin? It’s like they couldn’t decide WHAT they wanted to do. The second fall was the mandatory “Quick Fall”, this one run entirely by Shimoda, though hilariously Yoshida invents her Super-Finisher and it gets two (makes me wonder if that wasn’t improvised). Fall Three features yet another insane bump (even by joshi standards, especially considering Yoshida missed a year with a neck injury), then some “same old” from Ito & Toyota. Yoshida didn’t really impress me in this match until the last few minutes with her desperation, which is weird as she’s usually quite good- she seemed a bit lost and like she didn’t know how to do a “Big Main Event Match”, especially with the odd Three Falls match construction.
Rating: ***1/4 (kind of a disappointment given the talent level)
SAKIE HASEGAWA vs. YUKA SHIINA:
* I just found this one- I actually kinda forget Sakie retired only this year. This is shortly before she did so, and she’s given an easy one against the rookie Shiina, still in her white jobber swimsuit. Sakie’s in her blue shorts & top that kinda look like normal clothes.
Sakie largely ignores basic rookie-fu and throws the kid around, then puts on restholds, actually kinda looking pretty tired during them. She throws some very loose stomps and does a whip into a corner-dropkick, but gets reversed for the same, actually selling that. They miss wild swings and Shiina hits two hair slams but gets swatted down coming off the second rope, Sakie hitting a flying splash for two. Shiina rolls her up for two- Sakie follows her up top and tries a superplex, Shiina landing on her (right on her head!) for two. Shiina scores some 2nd-rope dropkicks but then things break down into sloppiness as she gets away from Sakie’s finishers, but another dropkick is swatted away and Sakie scores dropkicks of her own, ending with the Savate Kick at (5:50) for a handy win.
A pretty ugly “Rookie vs. Veteran” match, as Shiina had the generic rookie stuff going, but Sakie looked slow and kinda sloppy in parts, and her head wasn’t in the game. The breakdown when they both do that odd “oh sh*t- what was next again?” was pretty notable, too. To be fair, Sakie was gone in like a month.
Rating: 1/2* (an extended jobber match with a veteran kind of loosely going through their “usual”)