LADIES LEGEND PRO WRESTLING- THE KAGEKI RENAISSANCE- GRAND OPENING!:
(Aug. 8th 1992)
* And now we travel back in time! Someone on YouTube has been uploading as much as they can of even classic joshi, so there’s a ton of stuff on there that I’ve missed, particularly from the two second-tier ’90s joshi promotions- LLPW & JWP. This one starts with a lot of black & white slow-motion images that make the promotion seem pretty cool, then the color turns up and you realize how horrific all their gear looks. Jesus, their tailor is the biggest heel in all of wrestling. I dunno what it is, but LLPW always had the worst costumes, just putting EVERY color on these poor girls’ gear, haha. They’re so garish!
With these I think I’ll do more quick-style recaps, as full ones tend to take a while and these aren’t really that amazing save for a more historical perspective. I mean, this show has Yasha Kurenai as a rookie jobber before she got her gimmick!
THE DEBUT: So LLPW was formed from the acrimonious split in the original Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling, with Shinobu Kandori and her faction (with Rumi Kazama as President) splitting off to form LLPW, while the others stayed with a renewed “JWP Project”. The promotion is largely top star Kandori, upper-mid Eagle, former Jumping Bomb Angel Noriyo Tateno, great worker but upper-mid Harley Saito, and then Rumi with a bunch of rookies.
LEO KITAMURA vs. MIZUKI ENDO:
* Rookie fight! Endo has had a MASSIVE career, which is funny to me as I can never remember what she even looks like, as she’s so low-tier in all the stuff I’ve seen. Leo retired in 1994. Endo’s in navy blue & white, Leo’s in orange/black/white
Basic rookie match, but instead of the AJW “Bump & Run” style it’s kinda slow-paced and looks more like 1980s WWF. Leo shows a bit of personality, but Endo gets the big moves like an Oklahoma stampede, 2nd rope splash & Samoan drop. Leo ultimately catches her with a powerslam off the top, a tombstone, and a bad moonsault (kneeing her in the gut) for the three at (5:42 of 13:34 shown).
Rating: * (seemed very basic and fine- a bit more than the usual AJW rookie bout as they were allowed some MOVEZ)
MIDORI SAITO & RUMI YASUDA vs. MIKIKO FUTAGAMI & YUKARI OSAWA:
* Weird- I have no idea who these first two are, haha. oh wait, it’s Carol Midori & Yasha Kurenai as rookie jobbers! Carol’s a midcarder on some mixed shows, while Yasha (Yasuda) had a fun run as a snarling undercard heel. Futagami has a LONG career mostly as a comedy wrestler (I did a Spotlight on her recently) while Osawa pretty well stuck around as “just another face” for years. Yasuda’s in purple & yellow, Saito’s in white with mega-dorky flowers on top, Futagami’s in black & white w/ tiger stripes & Osawa’s in pink & black. There’s definitely a “2nd-year versus Freshmen” aspect to this.
To that last point, the elders jump the rookies immediately & beat them up outside. Osawa seems to be the best, dominating with some SWEET kicks, while Futagami gets handled by the kids. Osawa keeps controlling even when double-teamed, though lets Midori hit a very slow-motion Manami Roll. She comes back and they do an outside beatdown AGAIN, but Yasuda grabs the chair and annihilates Osawa with it, leading to a beat-down where Osawa bleeds and sells for about a minute. She makes her own comeback with some good stuff and then all the rookies do weak stuff. Doomsday Device Chokeslam gets two on Gami. The crowd loves Midori kicking out after a pumphandle slam, and while Osawa’s beating on Yasuda, she rolls Gami up off the ropes for three (11:39 of 19:49 shown)! The rookies steal one!
Pretty weaksauce match when Osawa wasn’t in it- she looked like a trained (if generic) pro already and had great movements, but the others were all “angry rookie” and things fell apart without her, and like… the heat segment on her was over so fast and she didn’t even get any revenge!
Rating: * (was looking better, but then Osawa was out for an extended period and things fell apart and got boring)
EAGLE SAWAI vs. MICHIKO NAGASHIMA:
* It’s the upper-midcard powerhouse probably eating alive this rookie. Eagle’s already in her amazing Queen of Hearts gear (red/black) while Michiko’s in white and looks jobbery as hell. Eagle’s merely KINDA thicc at this point, not the full BBW she was later.
Eagle’s act is kind of funny, as she easily throws the child around without a care in the world, often preening or talking smack to the crowd during it. Michiko is too new to take great bumps so she’s kinda awkward. Eagle misses her Super Vader Bomb, but Michiko’s eaten like three backbreakers already so can’t capitalize- Eagle’s up first but her powerbomb is reversed for two. Bad victory roll gets two and the kid keeps coming back and avoiding shots, every move being a reversal, but gets caught. They botch the powerbomb finish, Eagle just ignoring Michiko’s attempts to cover it with a comeback and hitting it for three at (6:31 of 8:46 shown). Just an extended squash, and not a particularly great one, as Eagle was too sloppy and slow with a lot of stuff, even taking a “Bret Bump” into the corner wrong (lightly touching it and then FLYING backwards), then blowing the finish.
Rating: 1/2* (just a squash, but like… almost ten minutes of one)
Noriyo Tateno, seen here in her pre-Jumping Bomb Angels incarnation, is the oldest star in LLPW, which is mostly newer talent.
NORIYO TATENO & HARLEY SAITO vs. MIKI HANDA & UTAKO HOZUMI:
* NOW we’re getting somewhere! The former JB Angel teams up with Harley against two JTTS midcarders, which will probably be a lot better. All the gear here is LLPW at its best- just hideous. Harley’s in a white onesie with red “circuits” going up and down it, Tateno’s in purple with checkered flag designs on the sides (looking like Thurman Plugg’s comely older sister), Utako’s a skinny girl in a red onesie with grey tire-prints all over it and Handa’s in black with gold strips, which is the only decent outfit here.
Tateno does some JB Angels spots to make the crowd happy, then they settle into killing Handa’s arm for several minutes. Tateno just kinda seems to ignore all the rookies’ moves- the vets do a nasty double-team to Utako to come off as heels, doing some classic Midnight Express tricks (false tags, double-teams)- it goes on a long time but Utako isn’t great at selling it. Handa gets in and does really well grinding on a figure-four, having Harley wailing. This actually goes on 2+ minutes and they stay on the leg for minutes after, Handa showing effort and Hozumi being more “spirited” than good. Harley FINALLY escapes after 8 minutes of that, and Tateno controls with basics. The kids do stereo rollups out of a do-si-do, but Harley superplexes Handa for two- great reaction for her “f*ck YOU!” bridge.
Utako does some bad rollups but Harley, with her leg now healed, kicks her ass. LONG restholds set up a great German & enzuigiri from Harley- Handa keeps saving. Tateno’s flying kneedrop gets the same, but the kids catch her and work her over (a dropkick appears to hurt her legit)- she comes back and Utako takes another beating… then dies attempting a tope con hilo, tripping over the ropes. Her missile kick knocks Harley into Handa’s German for two, though. They work bridging suplexes on her, then Tateno, who gets some VERY last-second kickouts from flying attacks. She & Harley clobber each other and she eats a sandwich missile kick, for example. Then FINALLY Harley just wipes out Handa with a run-in, Tateno flies onto Hozumi to deal with her, and they hit Stereo Flying Headbutts to pin Handa at (35:32 of 36:06 shown).
Padded all to hell, but not quite as bad as I expected until they started going REALLY long- mostly because the longest segment was spent beating on Harley’s leg, which is a consistent limb at least. And the heels controlled before that with some low-down Southern tag team stuff, punishing Handa. Handa’s stuff looked tight and Harley was great but unable to show it so much. Utako is green as grass and had that “flailing speedster” thing going on, and had some BAD rollups late in the match, Harley having to sell garbage or act like she meant for it to happen. Tateno had tight offense… but very generic stuff. Like she was doing low effort “wind up a big elbow and just drop down” stuff when everyone else was doing running attacks or big moves. In the end I was liking it a bit until Harley’s leg was suddenly fine (after EIGHT MINUTES of limbwork? What did I sit through all that for then?) and they did another 10-ish minutes on screwing around or beating up Utako. The ending surge was pretty good and there were some good things here and there, but YIKES- totally padded to make up for the light show.
Rating: *3/4 (soooooooo longggggggggggg)
SHINOBU KANDORI vs. RUMI KAZAMA:
* The Ace versus the President! So the two were best buds in real life and formed LLPW together, and of course work the first main event (though Rumi is usually WAY below Kandori in the pecking order of wrestlers). Kazama’s out there in a wedding dress (ah, that Japanese fetish), doffing it to reveal her purple Power Rangers gear. Kandori’s in a purple, red & black singlet. I kinda love how awful her gear always is- like “I can’t be bothered to choose- I have asses to kick!” and just threw on whatever.
The crowd reacts HUGE to them spinning around to avoid front-facelocks & armbars, then Kandori just hits the gigaton slap from hell when Rumi challenges her to amateur wrestling. Kandori generously sells for Rumi’s kicks and has her sharpshooter resisted, but manages a bunch more holds, then starts methodically wearing Rumi down. Rumi dodges a charge and step-kicks Kandori to come back, working some holds until Kandori turns a cross-armbreaker into a damn Texas cloverleaf! Damn, didn’t know you could do that. Rumi manages a sleeper and won’t break till they’re on the floor, then planchas out, just trying EVERYTHING. They each keep trading moves in a pretty methodical manner, then trade sleepers with no real urgency. This is weird having watched 1993 Kandori where every single hold is treated like potential death.
Rumi stuns her with an AMAZING kick to the forehead, Kandori doing her great “that staggered me” sell, but doesn’t follow up right- Kandori’s supposed to be out of it, but Rumi has her RUN THE ROPES so she can do a roundhouse kick. Rumi keeps trying to wear Kandori down, but gets dumped and a really bad Tiger Driver (Kandori really just kinda flips her) gets two until Rumi starts rollups. Three Germans (the last one was good!) gets two. So does a straightjacket suplex. Kandori gets an anklelock & backdrop suplex for near-falls, but Rumi tries a bad O’Connor roll (getting caught on Kandori’s taller body for the 5th time this match)- Kandori’s up first and just casually hits a backdrop suplex for two, then finishes her with a kneeling powerbomb at (17:14).
Match was disappointing- since they’re such good friends I was hoping for both to sell like nuts and try to work well, but it ended up kinda having no flow and just being “Kandori slowly hits stuff until Rumi makes a sudden comeback” with mostly weak transitions. Kandori’s aura as an MDK Strangler didn’t seem on at all here- in 1993 matches her slapping on a mere armbar has the crowd thinking she’s coming away with a limb, and here she’s got a sleeper on for like 40 seconds and Rumi is still breathing. An additional problem is Rumi isn’t quite smooth enough to overcome her small height- a lot of her moves look incredibly awkward because she isn’t tall enough to pull them off, as she’ll get caught up on her taller opponent repeatedly (she can’t roll over Kandori adequately in a rollup). Then instead of this big ending surge it’s just Kandori getting up first from a rollup and hitting two straight moves for the win.
Rating: **1/4 (too long and Rumi’s just not at this level, especially here)
So, uh… JWP Project had a hell of a stronger show: https://blogofdoom.com/index.php/2020/03/30/joshi-spotlight-jwp-midnight-special/. That one ALSO drew out matches to absolutely absurd lengths (with Bolshoi and others doing 20-ish minutes), but at least had workers on Ozaki, Kansai & Devil’s tiers to make up for it, then a fun “Submission Battle Royal” at the end of the show. This one was just 2.5 great workers spread out across six matches, most of which were too long.
And yet I’ll try to review more of these when I can, lol.