MEGUMI KUDO- QUEEN OF THE DEATH MATCHES:
* So Megumi Kudo is set to retire at this point in my timeline, so I figured I’d finally review one of those Kudo Compilations that shows up on YouTube from time to time. I hear FMW stuff gets stricken down all the time, and it’s almost never around when I want to review it, but I’ll try this one out.
BARBED WIRE STICK MATCH:
LIONESS ASUKA & SHARK TSUCHIYA vs. BISON KIMURA & MEGUMI KUDO:
(FMW Winning Road 1997)
* This one features a pair of JD’/FMW teams, as JD’ Ace Lioness Asuka teams with FMW’s top female heel against Kudo the Ace and Bison Kimura, whom JD’ was using as a common main eventer. Bison’s in khaki gear this time, and Kudo’s & Shark are in jeans and a black shirts- Asuka’s in all black.
We do “everyone charges the ring at the start” to begin, everyone throwing the most baby-soft shots against each other, and Kudo using her ass, flying rana & suicide dive against Shark. Bison Chops strike Asuka, but she gets the Owenzuigiri, but trying another gets her dragon screwed & STF’d. The heels gang up and beat on the faces for a while, Shark using the stick, then grabs a sickle and they do a really bad, slow “press it against Kudo’s head” spot, Kudo bleeding all over the place. Shark does the Dump Matsumoto “show each side of the crowd the blood” spot and then tries to murder Kudo with the sickle, slicing it through the mat for the biggest reaction so far. Asuka adds punishment as I guess Bison is dead (oh wait, there she is! Asuka chained her to the post), but Kudo makes one of her trademark comebacks with running stuff & DDTs. Asuka breaks up Kudome Valentine, boots her in a chair, and Blue Thunder Bombs her on it, pulling her up at “2”. Assisted Powerbomb gets the same, and a piledriver on a pile of chairs gets two. Torture Rack Ligerbomb sets up Shark’s kneeling powerbomb for the three at (8:34). Some heels come out to talk smack, but Shinobu Kandori of LLPW shows up to give Kudo a pep talk, and she gives one of those defiant “FMW Screaming Promos” to set up the next match.
Rating: * (A very weak, lazy match- half of it was just people lying around and occasionally hitting each other until Kudo started bleeding, then Bison got chained up and the heels easily massacred Kudo (who only got one hope spot)
MEGUMI KUDO, KAORI NAKAYAMA (FMW), SHINOBU KANDORI & MICHIKO OMUKAI (LLPW) vs. SHARK TSUCHIYA, MISS MONGOL (FMW), EAGLE SAWAI & SAYORI OKINO (JWP):
* A big mixed match, with Kudo teaming up with LLPW’s biggest star and two rookies against Shark & Miss Mongol, plus Eagle (LLPW’s top heel) & a rookie. Kudo’s in black, Kandori’s in “FMW designed purple”, Omukai’s in a yellow/black frilly Idol Outfit & Kaori’s in black/red. Shark’s in green/black, Mongol’s in black and has pink hair, Eagle’s in red/black and Okino’s in a red “Steiner singlet”. Shark attacks and bloodies Kandori with a barbed wire stick before the bell like a good heel.
The heels quadruple-team Kandori in the ring while Kudo gets tossed by an additional heel goon, then gets revenge on her- Kandori gets a pop just for a simple comeback on the two lowest-ranked heels because she’s awesome. Omukai gets distracted after getting tagged in and Eagle thumps her, then Mongol/Okino get their reps in working her over. She boomerangs onto Okino, but Nakayama also gets killed, getting a single rollup once or twice but the big heels drubbing her. Okino perfect plexes & missile kicks her for two-counts, then Mongol hits Mongolian chops (appropes) and Shark uses the stick, lightly pressing it against Nakayama’s forehead while all the other heels get the crap beaten out of them on the floor. After a ridiculously long time of all the heels beating her up, Nakayama gets a good reaction for kicking out after an overthrow powerbomb and scoring a Tornado DDT. But then she tags OMUKAI of all people (tag in the badass murder judoka! Jesus!) and she gets chaired, but Kandori grabs it and wipes out all the heels in a good bit.
Omukai gets some token offense on Okino (like a rookie double-missile kick) and Nakayama finally gets some revenge with rookie-fu. Kudo’s in and double-DDTs the FMW heels and ass attacks Shark, and Kandori FINALLY gets into the ring, hoping to murder Shark- Eagle stops both Fujiwara armbar attempts like a total bag, but Kandori lands a THIRD one and it’s total drama as her team finally blocks for her… but Shark’s minion runs in to break it up this time. Eagle scores a chokeslam & missile kick for two, but Kandori hits a cross-armbreaker, releases to smash Shark, and tags in Kudo for a high-speed attack. She tries a Tiger Driver of all things, but Eagle resists it. Eagle & Shark sandwich lariat Kudo but Kandori lariats both heels in some great comeuppance, but Eagle lariats Kudo and Miss Mongol’s in. She eats the Tiger Driver and Shark saves, so Kandori runs in to mop up- they brutally botch an Assisted Powerbomb (Kudo coming off the top), then do it again. Omukai is tagged in for a Bridging German, getting two when Okino interferes, and Nakayama adds a moonsault and holds Okino off for Omukai’s Tiger Suplex at (20:50).
Man, SUPER disappointing, as I was expecting Kudo & Kandori to go on a tear. Instead, Kandori sits on the apron for 16 minutes, bloody-faced, watching the rookies do rookie stuff in generic fashion. I get the importance of giving the rookies some experience, but an 8-woman tag should have LOTS of tags in and out, not massive heat sequences beating on one jobber for 5 minutes. The veterans finally got their hot sequence… but it was a couple of hotly-choreographed minutes right at the end. Omukai getting tagged in seems like it’s just to give her the rub in the match, as she wipes out the least-active of the four heels thanks to some interference-running by her partners.
Rating: ** (a VERY poor, way too long match saved in the last 1/4 by Kandori & Kudo running some hot action)
DRESS UP WILD FIGHT:
MEGUMI KUDO & RIE vs. MAYUMI OZAKI & RIEKO AMANO:
* I literally JUST did this one on the last review- another way-too-long brawl.
NO ROPES BARBED WIRE DOUBLE HELL DEATH MATCH:
MEGUMI KUDO (FMW) vs. MAYUMI OZAKI (JWP):
(FMW Fighting Creation)
* Oh hell yes- we finally get to this! This was in the first set of matches I actually watched when poster Lawrence Talbot got me back into joshi. Wanting to check out more Kudo & Ozaki and found this one, but only now does it hit the timeline. Kudo’s almost done and Ozaki’s gone on a tear in her “Dress Up Wild Fights”, but this is an FMW-style match. So two sides of the ring have been replaced with ropes of barbed wire, and two others are empty, leaving a straight drop onto boards covered in spirals of barbed wire.
Immediately the stakes are made apparent when Ozaki misses a punch and nearly gets pushed off the ring, showing utter “SHITSHITSHITSHIT” panic in her body language. They grapple on the other side and Kudo desperately slides to the mat on a whip-reversal as it becomes clear this is more of a battle royal than a bloodbath of weapons spots- the psychology is that barbed wire HURTS and you don’t want to be shoved into it- like all the good Kudo deathmatches. We’re clipped to Ozaki going into the wire front-first and Kudo not only grinding her into it but choking her with Ozaki’s own dog collar. A bleeding Oz manages a comeback with machine-gun knees and pushes Kudo back into the wire to buy herself some time. She boots Kudo over to the edge of the ring, but charges and nearly eats a GERMAN into it, but Kudo catches her with the kneeling Tiger Driver for two… but Ozaki’s kickout dumps Kudo onto the boards of wire! Oh shit, such a sudden spot! That is the greatest reversal after a finisher I’ve ever seen. Kudo’s staring at the wire like “…” while Oz takes a moment to recover and then dog-collars her and pulls her “trophy” around the ringside area, tossing her into chairs as she does.
A chain-wrapped fist works over bleeding Kudo, and Ozaki gleefully yanks her towards herself… but Kudo USES THE ASS to knock her off the edge via the momentum! You can see the rings of wire catch Ozaki’s clothes so you know it’s not gimmicked, and Kudo waits her out, hitting a swinging sleeperhold for… two, as the ref STOPS THE COUNT to go check on Ozaki. The crowd boos the shit out of him as he counts her to “6” (was she legit stunned and he improvised?), and Kudo Germans her for two and hits two Backdrop Drivers, but when she tries to dump Ozaki again, it’s reversed and they BOTH tumble to the wire! Ozaki goes straight onto her head and can’t recover, so Kudo goes nuts and hits a SPLASH onto her out there! She brings Ozaki into the ring but is hurt and we’re clipped right to an Oz Straightjacket Ligerbomb for two! Ozaki misses her backfist and gets shoved into the wire and ass-bumped into it, and a Fisherman’s Buster gets two. Kneeling Tiger Driver gets two, and Oz tries a Manami Roll but gets powerbombed. The Kudo Driver fails as Ozaki goes right to the Tequila Sunrise (tiger/dragon suplex) for 2.8! Ozaki grabs the chain and swings it wildly at a fading Kudo, but she ducks both shots and hooks her- KUDO DRIVER!!! Ozaki takes one of the most vicious neckbumps I’ve ever seen and is done at (10:23 shown). Ozaki is somehow still alive, and congratulates Kudo on the mic for kicking her ass- they shake hands and we’re done.
This was fantastic- like a battle royal but with extra panic and motivation to NEVER go out, and the wire serves as an instant “push” to the next stage of the match, as there’s no weardown stuff and they instead try to kill each other. The kickout of a finisher right into the wire was amazing, as it completely changes the momentum while still keeping the finish strong, as Ozaki didn’t really DO anything but used the ring to her advantage. We lost the peak a little bit as they did all the cool stuff, then did a bunch of slow finishers as time wound down, but then the finish got hot again.
Rating: ***3/4 (a great battle royal-esque match with great deathmatch spots and some of the most unique counters you’ll ever see. Pity it’s only 10 minutes)
FMW INDEPENDENT WOMEN’S & WWA WOMEN’S TITLES:
NO ROPES EXPLODING BARBED WIRE DEATH MATCH:
SHARK TSUCHIYA vs. MEGUMI KUDO:
(FMW 8th Anniversary Show)
* So it’s come to this- the retirement of Megumi Kudo. Against the arch-nemesis of FMW girls and workrate fans everywhere- Shark Tsuchiya! This is also for Shark’s FMW Women’s Titles, giving it an extra “oomph”, as Kudo can retire with the belts she got over in the first place. As before, two sides of the ring are wrapped with barbed wire (but EXPLOSIVE barbed wire!), and the other two have a straight drop onto boards spiraled with more wire (and also explosives). Kudo’s in a silver-ruffled outfit with a VERY pensive expression on her face- just blank as if she’s wrapped up in the totality of her career. Shark’s in the usual, staring daggers at Kudo. this match was such a big deal it even made the Apter Mags- I’d never heard of either at the time, but the image of a bloody-faced woman doing this brutal match in barbed wire against a monstrous opponent stuck with me for pretty much ever.
The “battle royal” nature of these matches continues as they struggle to push each other over the edge of the ring, then the wire and the other edge- Kudo gets a big reaction for selling a kick like it’s ABOUT to send her face into the wire, but then BOOM!! Shark reverses a whip and Kudo explodes one whole side. Shark, instead of taking advantage, just throws slow stomps and works the bandaged side of Kudo. Shark keeps pulling at the front of her shirt like Rey fiddling with his mask in that WrestleMania match, and they weakly do go-behinds until she shoves Megumi side-first into the wire- BOOM!! Shark uses the slow-sickle-push and Kudo’s a mess, trickling blood all down her face. Shark keeps sawing away, but misses a few big swings (naturally doing the “it sticks into the mat to show she was SERIOUS” spot again) and Kudo slugs her way out and disarms her, but Shark disarms her back and we’re back to square one. Kudo gets strangled with the sickle-chain and sleepered, the crowd slowly chanting her name when she keeps her hand up at “2.5” (wait, FMW does that version of testing the arm?), and when Shark tries to whip her, she counters with a chain-drag and sends SHARK over the edge- BOOM!! Shark explodes!
Shark slowly gets in (her selling mostly consists of “leaning forward and looking tired”) and Kudo hits a floatover DDT for two (and Shark does my pet peeve of “fucking around with her clothes while selling on the mat”)- she resists the Tiger Driver but gets caught in the Northern lights suplex for two. Shark tries a powerbomb but Kudo does a flawless Manami Roll over her for two, then counters a whip into the kneeling Tiger Driver for the same. Kudo’s taking the lead, but Shark avoids the Kudo Driver and when Kudo insanely leaps up for a rana, Shark just turns around and dumps her right over the edge, NECK FIRST into the explosives- BOOM!! Kudo is dead on the boards, but pulls herself up using the rope tying the mat to the ring and struggles in after 50 seconds, then eats a trio of backdrop suplexes for two. Piledriver gets two and Shark piles up chairs for another, then SPITS FIRE on her. She dives for the ref and he manically puts out the fire to really put it over (also to really put out the fire that Shark just put IN HER HAIR), and Shark gets two out of that, then a powerbomb. Kudo avoids the wire, but Shark pushes her right in- BOOM!! Both take that… but Kudo lands forward on Shark- for three (17:38 of 21:47 shown)! Shark is undone by her own brutality, surprising the fans and netting Kudo both FMW Women’s Titles in retirement!
Kudo & Shark clearly have their goodbyes while in that heap and a purple-faced, bloodied Kudo looks like a war veteran as she’s cared for by the seconds. Shark hasn’t moved at all and gets carted away by her own seconds (Miwa Sato and co.), and Kudo finally recovers enough to take her bows- her post-match appearance almost makes me want to raise this by another star. She says a very quick goodbye to “puroresu” and finishes with “arigato gozaimasu-desuka” and collapses. She’s carried away and sobs to Hayabusa and other FMW wrestlers as she gives the belts back. RIP FMW’s women’s division. Oh, and now we end with a pervy bikini video! Man did Rossy book FMW too?
This whole thing was just Kudo being thrown into stuff and then bleeding, as Shark is so limited she can really only do stomps and then that dumb “slowly push the sickle into someone’s head” thing. At least the psychology is sound- Shark does the brutality and uses the wire, but Kudo manages to reverse her using momentum and physics (the counter-whip over the edge; reversing things to legit wrestling moves). Kudo’s as good a comeback artist as you’re gonna get, but it felt like her “fire” was diminished a bit compared to 2 years prior- I’d imagine all the wear & tear has its effect on her. Her selling is still terrific, though, going flat-backed and still having this “aura” about her that whatever you’re seeing is important. The match itself had decent enough “flow” between segments- Shark’s brutality, Kudo’s reversal into legit wrestling moves, then Shark’s reversal into more brutal stuff, weapons and fire… but the ending didn’t really build quite to the peak, and it almost seems like saving face for Shark, who instead of eating a finisher gets a borderline fluke loss.
Rating: **1/2 (PRETTY good in parts, but mostly slow stuff from Shark- who is NOT good- with Kudo carrying the day via her great selling, but even she’s past her peak by this point)
So that’s that for Megumi Kudo’s career, as we close the chapter on another part of joshi during my watch-along. I don’t review much FMW stuff, as its status on YouTube is all over the place and much has only been uploaded recently, but I’ve got many of the big bouts. It’s style is decidedly NOT my thing, but it’s good to see some of Kudo’s biggest matches, as she’s a great hero of the genre and I can’t help but wonder what kind of amazing matches she’d have if mixed in with AJW & JWP’s best stars.