Joshi Spotlight: AJW Two-Day Riot (Day One)
By Jabroniville on 27th February 2023
ALL JAPAN WOMEN’S TWO-DAY RIOT:
(June 17th 1997)
* It’s time for more AJW! We hit the middle of 1997, and though business is down, the CRAZINESS is afoot, as Las Cachorras Orientales have reunited and set the company on fire with banger after banger after banger! Come see LCO vs. Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada as the now main event heel duo actually make MANAMI bleed and show just how much mayhem they can fit into a basic tag match! Also it’s the WWWA Decision Match of Kyoko Inoue vs. Kaoru Ito for the vacant Red Belt!
The YouTube videos for most of this have been axed between when I reviewed it and when I posted this, but I found the Class of ’87 Clash up above there.
CMLL WORLD WOMEN’S TITLE:
MARIKO YOSHIDA vs. RIE TAMADA:
* Okay, this one’s a bit weird. The CMLL Women’s World Title is largely a trophy belt created in Mexico for AJW’s women to use, but is occasionally traded to Mexican talent like Lady Apache. But Akira Hokuto won it as the masked “Reina Jabuki” until late 1996, when she was stripped of it for appearing on WCW Nitro to do a quick job in the Women’s Title Tournament (which of course Akira won… but not as Reina). Apache won the belt but vacated it herself, and Mariko won it in Feb. 1997, and is now using it as a trophy. ie. AJW realizes that they have something in Yoshida, but not enough to like… give her an IMPORTANT belt, so she has this and defends it. Like when Manami had the IWA Title in 1992.
Both Yoshida & Rie are in white & light blue, though Yoshida has FINALLY adopted the “bare arms, but full leggings” superhero bodysuit look she’d have the rest of her career. Rie’s in a frilly suit with lots of square-tipped fringe by contrast.
Tamada uses dropkicks to control, but Yoshida wakes up the silent crowd with a run-up plancha. Flying splash gets two, but Rie does the JB Angels bridge-out and helicopter cross-body, only to get dumped and dived on again. Rie comes back with a headscissors, plancha & missile kicks for two. Yoshida flies back with a run-up sunset flip, reversed for two, then runs into an inside-grip fisherman’s suplex for two. Bridging German gets two, and Rie sorta invents a cross-armed bridging front suplex for two. Yoshida tries armbars, but eats a DRAGON Suplex for 2.8- even her La Majistral comeback is sat back on for a close call. She’s getting caught repeatedly but FINALLY scores the comeback with a pumphandle back suplex and the Air Raid Crash (over-the-back cradle inverted DDT). She appears unsure of what to do next, but La Majistral finishes at (5:45 shown of 12:46). LOL I love that damn cradle being the finisher with the AIR RAID CRASH as the set-up move.
A solid little match, mostly Yoshida putting over Rie as “the one to watch” by eating tons of offense, giving two near-falls and even having her COMEBACKS stuffed, but reliably finishing with the usual. Obviously clipped a bit but it was good. Also I think I know where AEW got their women’s match cameraman from judging by the shots taken in this.
Rating: **1/4 (not much scene, but the action was good even if Rie is still quite unsteady)
WOO JAPANESE COMMERCIALS! Sexy open-shirt man singing in the rain! Japanese people in a powder-faced 1700s France setting!
AJA KONG, TAKAKO INOUE & MOMOE NAKANISHI vs. YUMIKO HOTTA, TOMOKO WATANABE & KUMIKO MAEKAWA:
* Standard TV filler- trios matches! Aja & Takako are bringing a rookie with them to face Hotta and the Tag Champions, but AJW booking means this is still up in the air- Momoe’s gonna get murdered but Aja can easily single out one of the others for a pin- especially either tag champ. Aja’s in pink/black, Takako’s in white & Momoe’s in blue/white. Hotta’s in black, Tomoko’s in white/black & Kumiko’s in black/red. Everyone has “X-Pac Jobbing Face” on, which in this case is probably “We haven’t been paid in months” face.
Momoe gets cute with Kumiko, so Kumiko kicks her right in the damn face and crushes her with strikes as I bet SHE’S happy to be on the other side of rookie bullying nowadays. Tomoko does her boomerang moves to Takako, and Takako bites Hotta but gets her ass kicked for it. Big reaction for Aja hitting the ring, and she wins a thigh-kick war with Hotta, but gets beaned in the head by the rolling corner kick. Kumiko tries to start things with Aja but gets annihilated by a hundred different strikes and flattened with a slap. This gives Momoe her chance… but Kumiko just murders her again and stretches her out. We trade off a bit and Takako works over Tomoko, who bumps like nuts until Aja comes in and gets dragon screwed. The Kick Demons tee off on her while she looks a combination of enraged and helpless to do anything about it, and Hotta stretches her. Aja finally escapes, but Momoe goes nowhere and Kumiko kicks her in the face. Cute bit as she fights out of a bodyscissors through sheer perseverance and viciously slaps Kumiko, only to flat-back eating a receipt. Momoe gets booted again trying to reverse things but the vets finally come to her aide via Aja’s oil can to the head and Tomoko’s super armdrag.
This finally lets the kid get in some offense, as Momoe throws dropkick spam, and when Kumiko fires back, Aja clotheslines her… into Momoe’s BRIDGING GERMAN! Holy shit check out the rookie! That gets two, and Aja comes in but eats Kumiko’s boot- Aja misses her second rope splash on Tomoko and eats the Whoopie Cushion for two. Classic bit where Aja suplexes both tag champs at once. Tomoko hits her rana for two, but charges right into a backdrop suplex- Hotta saves. Takako runs in but takes a vicious dragon screw on her injured knee and Aja has to save her, then avoids another Whoopie Cushion and hits her Backdrop Hold for two. She lures Tomoko in for the Super Chokeslam for two, but takes a lariat reversal and Hotta rolling kicks her- Momoe gets a great reaction saving Takako from a cross-armbreaker (Aja even cheers her on from the apron- like “good job, kid!”). Hotta’s like “… fine” but when she tries another thing, AJA drills her with the oil can! Flying Knee gets two for Takako, but she gets kicked trying another and the Tiger Driver gets two- cross-armbreaker has her scramble to the ropes, and the tag champs hit a Doomsday Device Whoopie Cushion! Aja clearly breaks up a Pyramid Driver (cross-armed ligerbomb) pin too late, but Hotta just segues right into the cross-armbreaker again and Takako taps to AJW’s Super Shooter at (17:33 of 20:00 shown). Takako’s HOWLS of pain, especially as Hotta hangs onto the hold, are pretty epic and sell the deal.
Actually a pretty strong “psychology” match as everyone kind of does what they do and establishes “tiers”. Momoe gets mostly no-sold and beaten on, Hotta sells nothing, Aja is dominant yet sells a ton to put others over, Tomoko bounces around, etc. Mostly it’s people doing short sequences with each other and little bits of stretching in between- a few mini-stories develop (mostly with Momoe) but it’s not a huge deal or anything. Momoe is already an impressive little “character”- in her rookie years yet is a great “squawking rookie”, being defiant and fighty but getting killed. She can’t get even a bit of offense in without the vets coming in and helping her against the lowest-ranked opponent (Kumiko), who ends up bouncing around well. But check out that GERMAN- most people with her experience can’t even dream of getting that one yet! I noticed Takako & Hotta barely got in till the end, and it thus became clear they were the “ending sequence”- Takako trying all her usual stuff but Hotta handily dealing with it and finally killing her- Aja & Momoe getting easily held off by a relatively fresh U*Tops team. Tomoko’s boomerang moves make me recall her bad 1993 days of screwing those up and marvel at how they always hit flush now
Rating: ***1/4 (one of those fun AJW Tags- where they seem to be in “House Show Mode” and “just doin’ fun spots” for 80% of it, but the stories are so fun and the effort clearly there so it still rocks)
WWWA TAG TITLE SHOT:
LAS CACHORRAS ORIENTALES (Mima Shimoda & Etsuko Mita) vs. MANAMI TOYOTA & TOSHIYO YAMADA (17.06.1997):
* AAWWWWWWWWWWWWWW YEAH- it’s time for the S-tier run of LCO!! Mita is wearing the most ridiculous, glorious feathered pirate hat ever as part of her ring gear (along with a powder-blue French courtesan’s dress), and both are carrying specially-colored chairs, just embracing their gimmick fully by this point. Mita is wearing the bright orange two-piece with the skirt that becomes her “post-1996 gear” and Shimoda has her standard black & red. Toyota’s in black leotard and Yamada is wearing a red singlet with white & black arrows pointing downwards- pretty sharp. The winners get the WWWA Tag Title shot.
LCO of course jump the dream team and start choking away on Manami, hitting a glorious assortment of choking and hairpulling. Assisted flying hair slam! Piledrivers! Manami gets PO’d enough at the choking that she gets into a slapfight while lying on the mat, but Shimoda stomps on her hands with aplomb and then Mita just bites the forearm, because LCO are amazing. 5 minutes in and barely a single legal hold has been used. But then BOOM- No-Hands Springboard Crossbody, and now Yamada just kicks away at Mita after a double dropkick & snap suplex. Mita just starts clawing Yamada’s face like a bear to take the lead again and Shimoda scratches away after the Bitch Pose, but Manami finally cheats to put them back on offense. Shimoda catches her with a butterfly superplex for two, and Manami resists the Tiger suplex aaaaaand then it’s chair time. Manami takes chair after chair to the head, with LCO doing this casual “swing down and release” thing so the pastel blue chair bounces off every time, Shimoda grabs a spike and now… MANAMI IS BLEEDING! Holy crap, when have you EVER seen Manami Toyota blade? Yamada tries to help but just eats chairshots and spike gouges, too. Her face ends up a mess for the majority of the match, creating a fairly iconic visual.
And because Shimoda is an absolute pro, she makes sure to drag Manami to multiple sides of the ring to show the crowd her handiwork, while the Flying Angel does her best death sell and Mita grabs her hair like “Yeah we CUT THIS BITCH!” and flings her head down. Why must they all be so good at what they do? And then, in a HILARIOUS bit, the poor girl on commentary gets so startled that she freaks out and tries to run away… so of course Shimoda drags Manami over there to get blood on the table and freak everyone out close-up. Toyota finally springs to life and starts whipping Shimoda ar ound by the hair while Mita kicks Yamada’s ass, and LCO just start throwing chairs to pummel the faces. Yamada fights back with a chair toss of her own, but Mita just chases after her and waylays her with another one. Shimoda drags a bloody table into the ring, Toyota’s blood all over her legs- Mita powerbombs Toyota straight onto it while it’s lying flat, flipping off the crowd while Manami looks near-death, gasping for air with dark red blood all over her face. And now Mita sarcastically claps along to the “To-Yo-Ta!” chants of the crowd, but Shimoda’s German Suplex doesn’t get counted (because of all the cheating), and she spazzes out and kicks the ref. Mita’s in, but she gets Manami Rolled out of a powerbomb and fails the DVD & Blazing Chop- Manami Germans her for two and hits a Moonsault, but Shimoda starts hammering at Manami with a bright pink chair, but accidentally nails Mita when she throws it.
Yamada comes in and just throws the pink chair into Shimoda over and over again to stun her, and they hit their Double Super Backdrop finisher to Mita! Mita, who has barely taken any offense this match, sells it like death, just slumping to the side after kicking out at 2.7. Manami is too beaten up, and hits the worst Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex ever, struggling repeatedly to lift Mita (who has a different center of gravity than most Joshi), who has to kind of… push herself up using the ropes and falling back. It fits the match, though. That’s broken up, and then Yamada goes for the Reverse Gory Bomb… but Shimoda works the Best Reversal Ever by just throwing the blue chair into her face. Yamada takes a Death Valley Driver from Mita- Toyota saves! She’s just standing there in the SmackDown! dazed animation while Mita & Yamada roll over each other’s dead bodies to try and get something going, then Toyota suddenly springs to the top and missile kicks Mita in the ass! But Shimoda whacks her with the blue chair and just lies in wait like a predator- Yamada tries a Flying Kick, but Shimoda tosses the chair to Mita, who clobbers her mid-dive! DVD reversed to spinkick to DVD to sunset flip for two! Spinkick from Yamada- Shimoda saves! That sets up the Reverse Gory Bomb, but Mita swings out and hits ANOTHER Death Valley Driver for the win (14:28 of 22:10 shown)!
Hollllly jesus what a match. Just an absolute mess of cheating and destruction, as LCO doesn’t bother with wimpy things like “counter-wrestling” or “tactics” and instead just spends every available moment throwing slaps to the face or choking and clawing their opponents to death. Opponent’s about to hit their finisher? Just throw a pastel chair into their face! Shimoda making like Dump Matsumoto with the blading and taunting the fans (and tormenting the guest commentators) was a thing of beauty, too. It was interesting how Shimoda dominated the first half, then Mita started eating all the big offense in the back half- the opposite of the usual “LCO Template”- it fit that she could still kick out of things as she was relatively fresh, and they were just KILLING her with moves, but sneaky damn Shimoda kept coming in like a hyena, always with the chair. The whole last five minutes was a ton of great reversals and false finishes- great timing with the chair toss into the reversal of the flying kick, and even better, it led to a reversal-chain from Mita & Yamada, and Yamada gets two more chances at a pin until she’s left alone with Mita, who finally scores a big reversal to win
Rating: ****1/4 (still feels only partial to what these four could create- it’s less of a “match” and more “complete mayhem” from start to finish. Nobody even TRIES to wrestle so it’s just a wild, frenetic brawl)
WWWA TITLE DECISION MATCH:
KYOKO INOUE vs. KAORU ITO:
* A big one for the vacant Red Belt- Kyoko gave up the title after their 60:00 draw last month because she couldn’t beat Ito, and a rematch was called. This is probably a desperate attempt to juice some houses as it’s a real “Someone Wins the Title” match. Ito’s in a cool silver version of her “bodysuit w/ shorts” gear with the fire on it, while Kyoko’s in shiny red/yellow pinstriped tasseled gear.
Ito gets slugged down, but maintains back control and ass attacks and her corner senton while Ito is just squealing because I guess that’s what she thinks a main eventer does. Resthold City afterwards, but Kyoko launches her with the fallaway slam and hits the run-up flying back elbow for two. So weird that that’s a “first five minutes” move for her now. Kyoko gets dumped and eats a dive, and the Flying Stomp gets two. Another misses and she rolls Kyoko up for two, but tries the corner ass attack and takes the German off the second rope (hey, that move actually hasn’t shown up for a while!), and Kyoko lariats her against the ropes for two. Ito uranages her and resists the Run-Up Super Belly-To-Belly and hits two Flying Stomps for two. Kyoko gets knocked off the top and stomped off the apron and yes it’s the Flying Stomp to the FLOOR. The crowd’s reacting pretty well for the big spots and some kickouts, but is otherwise pretty quiet and in “random guy yelling” mode. Kyoko’s just doing a “grimacing pain” sell instead of her usual dramatic flair, and a superplex gets two.
Three Flying Stomps get two as NOW Kyoko is writhing and groaning in agony, but another attempt NOW sees the Run-Up Super B-to-B hit! Kyoko gets caught up top, but resists another superplex with her Super Powerslam reversal- Ito barely kicks out. Niagara Driver (over the shoulder ligerbomb) gets two. Ito resists another and gets a Bridging German for two. Ito with an Irish whip but Kyoko surprises her with a big Lariat for two, and pays her back with the German reversal of a lariat, but lets go and hits a Kneeling Powerbomb for the three at (12:37 of 26:01 shown). Huh, that was pretty anticlimactic. And holy shit, they cut out more than HALF of the World Title match? That’s a REALLY bad sign. Kyoko wins back the Red Belt and gets the award ceremony, now a “legit” champion again. Yumiko Hotta comes out backed by Kumiko to be announced as the next contender for the title.
This is… pretty much how you’d expect Kyoko vs. Ito to go. Ito’s a repetitive worker, so they threaded her usual array of Stomp Spam around and had Kyoko doing her “writhing sell”, with the usual Kyoko reversals (like the superplex and powerslam), but at least teased some. Kyoko just feels so… diminished at this point. The fans aren’t chanting for her as much, she’s bigger and slower than she used to be (I suspect that’s why the run-up move is now done so early), and she spends a LOT more of the match lying around and selling instead of scoring her big, impressive offense. It doesn’t help that most of her moves never score the pin anymore so there’s little drama even for moves that should be a huge deal like the Super Powerslam or Niagara Driver. And then just randomly finishing with a powerbomb out of nowhere? Very odd, especially for two people who went 60 minutes only a month before. Like powerbombs should be a big deal, but in joshi they usually have to be SPAMMED to be legit finishers. The crowd was also very, VERY quiet compared to past main events, which is a horrible sign.
Rating: ***1/4 (I mean, it’s GOOD, but for a WWWA Title Main Event it’s depressing. Plus we miss a ton of it and that probably robs some context)
And we end things with the usual shows of what we didn’t get to see, and the real match times. Yoshiko Tamura pins Miyuki Fuji in (7:31) with the Rookie Bodyslam of Death (wait, Tamura’s still in “Rookie Bodyslam” mode?). Saya Endo pins Nanae Takahashi with a legdrop off the second rope at (9:38). Yuka Shiina & Yumi Fukawa beat Tanny Mouse & Misae Genki with Shiina’s missile dropkick to the back of Tanny’s head at (13:12).
So overall it’s hard to hate this night of wrestling, as LCO gets yet another banger of a match, and destroys the former champions to do it in a way to really “level up”. And tomorrow night (reviewed next week), they get the Tag Champions!