AJW NAGOYA ULTRA WHIRLWIND ’96:
(Oct. 6th 1996)
* And it’s an extra AJW event before “Real Earnest” (the Manami/Kyoko match)! With some big… well ONE big match on it, with Manami Toyota taking on Aja Kong for the WWWA World Title!
PS here’s a list of my full Joshi Spotlight archives: https://www.echoesofthemultiverse.com/viewtopic.php?t=2086
Looks like most of this isn’t on YouTube, but here’s what goes down:
MIHO WAKIZAWA & SAYA ENDO d. NANAE TAKAHASHI & YACHIYO KAWAMOTO (11:18): The super-green rookies (some of whom go nowhere) get 11 minutes!
YUKA SHIINA d. MOMOE NAKANISHI (7:58): Momoe is the best of her generation, but gets fed to a 2nd/3rd year.
KAORU ITO & TOMOKO WATANABE d. MISAE GENKI & YOSHIKO TAMURA (11:53): Oh god- the legendary Rookieslayers of AJW get to murder the “next generation to get pushed”. Poor Tamura especially- she was in the finals of Discover New Heroine and gets to die here.
Okay, this one disappeared from YouTube, but I included it in my Spotlight on Etsuko Mita, so I might as well re-post it here.
TOSHIYO YAMADA, MIMA SHIMODA & ETSUKO MITA vs. CHAPARRITA ASARI & TAKAFUMI (Rie Tamada & Yumi Fukawa):
* Hahahahahaha oh my god- the seniors look like GIANTS compared to Team Small. ASARI, Tamada & Fukawa are all about five feet or under, while every member of the opposing team is at least 5’6″. Mita in particular looks ENORMOUS. Yamada’s in purple/white, Mita’s in blue & Shimoda’s in red/white. ASARI’s in red & white, Rie’s in red/white & Fukawa’s in a white tutu. Yamada is of course Mita’s old partner in “Dream Orca”. The latter two were a low-ranked tag team in AJW here, so the outcome isn’t really in doubt against some pretty elite midcarders.
Smart booking, as right away the three girls are up against Etsuko Gonzalez, who just starts ignoring all their shots and throws the babies around by their hair. She casually grabs one out of a cross-body, hair-tosses Asari with one hand, and even takes a TRIPLE DROPKICK and stomps forward like it was nothing. Mita demolishing short people is my happy place. All three elders start killing Fukawa, who yelps with each move. Oh god, and they Triple Dropkick her- that’s just mean. Mita wrestles more Giant-like than I’ve ever seen before, hitting a delayed bodyslam, doing a one-knee pin, and even ignoring the others’ kicks while Boston Crab-bing Fukawa. Eventually they get sent away, and Mita’s not even holding the crab anymore; she’s just sitting on a squealing Fukawa’s ass. Fukawa elbows her in the ass on the way up, which is funny, but her punches do nothing, and Mita just hits a VICIOUS slap and one-handed tosses her across the ring.
Fukawa gets tossed into her own corner, and now Mita taunts ASARI by holding her hand up for a test of strength- the ten-inch height difference makes that one-sided. But then Mita gets her just desserts, as ASARI wipes out her leg, puts on a Figure-Four, and her teammates alternate flying in with splashes! But Mita just rises up, laughs, and turns the Figure-Four over! Jesus, where has Giant Mita been all my life? ASARI desperately bites the foot to keep the move on, but Mita casually unthreads their legs through sheer reach, then bites ASARI’S foot! Shimoda in, but ASARI does a great flip-out reversal of a slingshot and Team Small takes over on her, then Yamada, though nobody is in much danger. Mita actually sells like a champ eventually, being thrown over for a ton of Sunset Flips & assorted roll-ups- given the height difference, she has to show a lot of athleticism and careful limb placement to not make that look like crap.
ASARI hits a great Cartwheel Handspring Mule Kick to Shimoda, and we get a lot of fun stuff to show Team Small using their smolness to advantage, getting out of the way of things, breaking up falls by outrunning the big girls, and going for quick team attacks. Super Rana gets a VERY close call! Shimoda’s Death Lake Driver (tiger superplex) is countered to a cross-body, but a Tiger Suplex is only barely tipped over, so her teammates just muscle down the other girls, leaving Shimoda alone. So she gets the Death Lake Driver at last, and oh CHRIST did that look like it hurt. The pinfall is just a formality at (14:41). Poor girl landed right on her shoulder and head. Yikes.
Really, really fun squash, where the juvenile team had no chance, but kept doing a lot of smart tactical stuff with their speed (often just outrunning LCO & Yamada to break up pins, or luring them into dropkicks), and we got to see some unusual bully/power tactics from wrestlers who are normally more scrappy and fight-y because they’re fighting equals. Mita in particular was AMAZING as this cruel, no-selling giantess, but I won’t even pretend to not be biased there. Yamada is a fun bully, and Shimoda’s a psycho, as always.
Rating: ***1/2 (probably the highest you’ll ever see me rate a glorified squash match, but it was fun. But I’m biased)
KUMIKO MAEKAWA d. YUMIKO WATANABE (5 Round Decision): Yes they’re still doing this kind of thing.
TAKAKO INOUE d. MARIKO YOSHIDA (23:00): Wow is THAT ever a long match. Takako is higher-ranked than Yoshida, who is definitely rising a bit, though- she shoulda been up there quicker than this, but it seems like this is the kind of match designed to get her over and establish her as more “legit”, going 23 minutes with a belt-holder.
Takako Inoue (c) defeats Mariko Yoshida (23:00)
WWWA WORLD TITLE #1 CONTENDER MATCH:
KYOKO INOUE d. YUMIKO HOTTA (19:13): Kyoko’s latest run at Toyota gets cemented with a victory over AJW’s eternal also-ran, Yumiko Hotta. Hotta was pretty good in this kind of role, much as the fans must have gotten sick of her always being the one people have to beat to run at the champion.
WWWA WORLD TITLE:
MANAMI TOYOTA vs. AJA KONG:
* And it’s one last World Title match between Manami & Aja- these two have a ton of amazing matches to their name, being diametrical opposites in the ring (hyperkinetic, flashy, spotty & insane vs. strong, methodical, psychological and patient), and a long history. Manami won her first 3WA Title against Aja, but lost it back within months. She managed to beat the person who beat Aja, but this would be her only successful defense against Aja if she can make it. Manami’s in black, Aja’s in white & black.
Aja machine-gun slaps Manami during the pre-match handshake and does her sweet martial arts pose after blasting her down, but whips her to the ropes- Manami does her No-Hands Springboard, but slips off and tries an embarrassing correction by walking back up the ropes and launching her foot onto Aja’s back, landing on her ass as a result. She missile kicks her in the face to make up for it but Aja no-sells and bullrushes her down with a lariat, popping the crowd. Good to stifle Manami’s overcorrections because Manami can be a SO freaking cringey when she does that, lol. Manami decides to talk smack in a resthold, which seems suicidal, and Aja continues her methodical beatdown. Manami GRABS THE EARS, which is a new one, then actually gets into a headbutt contest with Kong, and that goes about as well as you’d expect. Aja hits a camel clutch- “Give up!” “No!” *headbutt*. The beating continues despite a great Manami Roll on Aja. Manami shows crazy strength on a bridge, so Aja just sits out on her stomach and works the back some more. Some weird clipping of a pedestrian beating on the outside leads to a piledriver on the floor from Aja.
Back in, Manami taunts Aja using her extra height to avoid a test of strength, then dropkicks her right in the face from her patented reversal and fires off missile kicks for two. Aja walks her to the ropes while in an octopus stretch then flattens her when she tries a cross-body, and a piledriver gets two- Toyota avoids a sit-out from a sunset flip, but her Running No-Hands dive sees her fly right into a kick. She dropkicks Aja off the top, then Aja has to sell an unrealistically long time while Manami lays her on a table, SLAPS her a bunch, and finally hits a Running No-Hands Springboard Tope Con Hilo, murdering HERSELF on the landing as she hits her ass onto Aja and then takes an MDK neck-bump on the floor. Manami somehow isn’t dead, so she tries another Manami Roll and of course gets reversed, Aja pulverizing her with a sit-out powerbomb for two. But Manami lands on her feet from a backdrop and actually hits a deadlift German for two! But Aja stops the Moonsault and crushes her with a Backdrop Driver for two. Second rope splash- “F*ck YOU!” bridge! Aja climbs but Manami brings her down with a sunset flip powerbomb for two.
Manami declares it’s the end, but Aja easily avoids the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex and counters her off the ropes for a Northern Lights Bomb-esque brainbuster for two. Avalanche Waterwheel Drop! But it was a bit loose on the landing and Manami bridges out AGAIN, getting a big reaction. Toyota avoids the Brainbuster and they counter each other until Aja just reverses a rollup from a German through sheer strength, launching Toyota onto her neck with it. Aja climbs to finish, but Manami bolts to life and hits the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex from there- two! Both do the “All Japan Sell” for a straight 40 seconds, and Aja cranks Manami with a sudden Uraken, but collapses so she can’t capitalize! The fans go nuts, and the delay is too long- Aja only gets two as Toyota bridges out! Manami manages to spring up first and hits a German onto Aja’s neck- but this has her spent and Aja slaps herself awake and gears up the Uraken… she slaps Toyota and prepares to do the full “MDK” version… but Toyota blocks it! She grapples both wrists in the double-hammerlock- Japanese Ocean Suplex! For the three (20:09 of 21:07 shown)!! Toyota finally nails her with a bridging suplex! Though wow- that’s not been a pin-worthy hold in a LONG time, so it’s unexpected. Manami absorbing all of Aja’s finishers and STILL winning is a big deal, too.
Well they pulled this one out in the end, though it was still a very strange match. Parts of the match were a bit odd, as they’re in a WORLD TITLE MATCH yet do borderline comedy routine, Manami talking smack in holds and trying to HEADBUTT Aja, then Aja starts headbutting her in a clutch. Then Aja does her post headbutting routine to show her toughness and Manami does a wild, screaming version that just comes off as silly, then later is seen pumping her legs on the mat in a tantrum when Aja knocks her down. Manami’s famed athleticism might have been fading by this point too, as she is missing those springboards more often. She’s also totally dropped the Victory Star Drop it looks like, as she normally would’ve done it here but settled for a “mere” sunset bomb instead. Since the VSD rarely hit flush and usually killed both of them I can see why.
Another issue here is that Aja was just TOO dominant, so Manami’s rare comebacks just didn’t seem to be believably killing her. I know I’ve seen Toyota hit a lot more stuff than this against Aja, so I shouldn’t normally have as hard a time buying this- getting dropkicked off the top is devastating, sure, but Aja just kinda did a safe roll to the floor- that shouldn’t have stunned her so bad Manami could grab a table, put Aja on it, slap her a bunch, then go back in and do her taunt before hitting the running springboard. Like, there’s a more organic way to do that, y’know?
That said, I did like the endgame of Toyota just hitting a bridging suplex every chance she could get to halt Aja’s momentum- she’s strong enough to actually HEFT Aja’s considerable mass like that (you can see from some of these that Aja is NOT jumping the whole way- there’s some midair pauses that make it clear Toyota is plenty damn strong), and it’s sudden and quick enough that it’s believable. The final minutes full of double-downs and both selling like nuts was great, too- a bit more “earned” thanks to multiple Toyota comebacks. Aja kept getting stunned by them, and even gets too cocky with her slow offense as she taunts too much or climbs even though Toyota is the master of the top rope- she even does her taunt before the final Uraken, which costs her the match. Though it’s unlike Aja to be so un-smart in the ring and make such obvious mistakes, especially in a Title match over a belt she once adored like a child.
Rating: ***3/4 (I come and go on this one- it’s just so odd in construction and has some weird bits, in addition to the occasional sloppiness or comedy- great final 4-5 minutes though)