JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- COMBAT TOYODA:
Real Name: Noriyo Toyoda
Billed Height & Weight: 5’6″ 195 lbs.
Career Length: 1986-88 (let go from AJW), 1990-1996 (FMW)
-Megumi Kudo’s great rival and partner, Combat Toyoda is the OTHER “Good Female FMW Wrestler”, and the most unfortunate thing about her is her entire career runs the length of Aja Kong’s, who did exactly what she did but was better in every way because Aja’s one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, while Combat was merely “very good”. But Combat herself has a match many would consider *****- and in her RETIREMENT match- the No Ropes Exploding Barbed Wire Deathmatch against Kudo herself!
As the other big female star in Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW), Combat was a perfect rival to Kudo, who was pretty, slender and sympathetic. A big, mean powerhouse, Toyoda could launch people around, defiantly no-sell, and believably crush opposition. Combat was really good as the “Monster”-style worker, particularly because she had one of the most important things a Monster needs: SELLING ABILITY. Underrated since by all rights, Monsters are defined by the difficulty in getting them to sell at all, but it’s the timing of said selling that makes it work. Combat was really good at no-selling, but only up to a point- it’s when you start selling the fourth and fifth attack that the fans start to react, as even by ignoring the first couple, you’ve “put over” your opponent by going “HOLY SHIT- that one actually hurt!” to their last shot. She doesn’t just gobble people up- like the best Monsters, she eats offense and sells when it’s time to, and makes it look like her opponent has a chance.
Against Kudo, she was awesome. Bigger and stronger, she set up Kudo’s comebacks and sold like crazy when it counted. During their Barbed Wire match, both sell the terror of being thrown into the wire- reacting as if it’s the worst thing in the world and putting over the horrors of the match.
She’s a pretty clever worker, too- at the Big Egg Wrestling Universe show, she wrestles a great match against Yumiko Hotta (one of her best, at **** or so), and then faces Akira Hokuto in one of those “Hokuto has to stay healthy, so dominate the match but lose suddenly in the end” bouts. Combat sets her up on a table and is to fly through it by accident, allowing Hokuto to pick up a banana-peel victory, but unfortunately they’re in Japan and the Tokyo Dome, where tables are tougher than the later levels in Battletoads. And so Combat bounces off harmlessly, which ruins the spot… and immediately she begins screaming in agony, holding her leg and acting like the landing was vicious and really hurt her. And THAT lets Hokuto fire off her finisher and win the match. Quick, smart improv- a lesser worker would have been a stunned fool in there, and they’d have to clumsily improvise something else to end it.
Combat with Hayabusa.
-Noriyo Toyoda, a big tall girl, debuted for All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling in 1986, having been trained by Jaguar Yokota. Her class included the future Aja Kong, Bison Kimura, Megumi Kudo, KAORU & Cooga- a who’s who of major stars. And Cooga. However, in 1988, both Kudo & Combat were “passed over” and left the promotion- ie. they were deemed not good enough, and were let go.
In 1990, both of them were asked by Atsushi Onita to form the center of the women’s division in his start-up Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW). She, Kudo & Reibun Amada debut as “The Outbreakers” in 1990. However, they quickly turned on Kudo, and soon Noriyo changed her name to “Combat Toyoda”, adopting a big scary punk-rock look, reminiscent of Dump Matsumoto, the huge monster heel of 1980s AJW. In Nov. 1990, Combat defeated Beastie the Road Warrior (a GLOW wrestler, lol) to become the inaugural WWA World Women’s Champion, now the top woman in FMW. In 1991 she formed her own “Atrocious Alliance”-like group of face-painted punkers (I hate punkers), including Eriko “Shark” Tsuchiya, Yoshika “Crusher” Maedomari, Delta Dawn (a Canadian wrestler), and Reggie Bennett (an American who later joined AJW). She lost the Title after 5 months to Kudo in March 1991. However, she became WWA Women’s Champion again in August, losing two months later to Miwa Sato.
In July 1992, Combat’s group split up and she reunited with Kudo, feuding with Shark & Maedomari. The two also represented FMW, making a formal challenge to AJW’s Bull Nakano & Akira Hokuto, in the very first inter-promotional Joshi match! They lost at an FMW show, which gave a really big showcase to AJW and set off the “Boom Period” of the ’90s Interpromotional run. FMW politics made Kudo/Combat the main event challengers at Dream Slam 1, having a ****+ match with AJW’s 3WA Tag Team Champions, Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada, losing in the end when Combat is tricked into striking her own partner, setting up Manami’s Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex. The next week at DS2, she & Kudo demolished Las Cachorras Orientales, crushing Mima Shimoda with a neck-dropping tandem move.
In June 1993, Combat turned heel again and reformed her group, now the “Mad Dog Military”, with Shark & Crusher. That July, she won the WWA World Women’s Title a third time, beating Kudo, holding it for three months before Crusher defeated her. At AJW St. Battle Final, she wins a great ***3/4 bout against AJW’s Suzuka Minami (an upper-midcard gatekeeper), making great use of the advantages of both- Combat’s power vs. Minami’s ring-smarts.
In June 1994, Combat won the WWA World Women’s Title & FMW Independent Women’s Title (a new women’s belt just tied to the first one) against Kudo, losing them to Yukie Nabeno in a big upset two months later. Shark & Crusher then turned on her, turning Combat face for the remainder of her career- the betrayal made her decide to retire in kayfabe, which gave Kudo the fury required to challenge Shark to a Barbed Wire Deathmatch. Combat later defeated Shark for the WWA/FMW Women’s Titles in Dec. 1995.
Combat then went on a great “Retirement Tour”, dropping jobs all over the place as she was giving it up anyways. She lost a great Hoss Match to AJW counterpart Aja Kong, and ended her career with a near-***** Deathmatch against Kudo- the aforementioned classic (where Combat uses the recently-retired Onita’s theme song “Wild Thing”) where they react in terror to the notion of the explosives, putting over every huge blast as a deathblow. Ultimately, Combat eats two vicious neckdropping suplexes, kicks out, and then dies against the Kudo Driver (Vertebreaker). Both women cry their eyes out as they say their goodbyes from stretchers, putting over the match in the best way possible, and Combat dropped her belts to Kudo after five months. Combat retired on May 1996 and has never returned to the ring.
Combat has since become a semi-successful restauranteur, with her shop(s) being a frequent stopping ground for AJW wrestlers of past eras- a lot of “Joshi Twitter” has reunions featuring LCO and other groups hanging out at Combat’s place.
Running Shoulderblock, Clothesline, Tiger Driver (double-underhook sit-out powerbomb), ThunderFire Powerbomb (over-the-shoulder powerbomb) (finisher)
SUZUKA MINAMI (AJW) vs. COMBAT TOYODA (FMW):
* Oh, now THIS is interesting. I’ve never seen a Toyoda solo match before, and Minami matches have a lot of intrigue in them for me, because she’s an Uppercard JTTS/Gatekeeper kind of wrestler, who maintains credibility but can offer up a star their first big win. I… anticipate her jobbing in this one, though, especially as FMW’s other entry, Kudo, is facing the mighty Aja Kong. Minami’s wearing a red two-piece tied together by criss-crossing orange lines, and yellow feathers all over it. That’s, um, something. Toyoda’s again the big bulky chick in a black bodysuit with red bits on it, her red, tiger-striped hair sticking straight up with some harsh “Atrocious Alliance” makeup. Minami is, in fact, the taller of the two- I guess she IS 5’8″.
Minami jumps Combat to start, and they brawl outside. Minami tries a roll-up, but yanks Combat’s belt and stretches is out by accident, causing a ton of laughter from the audience. Oh, that has to suck, haha. AJW’s girl manages to dominate at first with technical stuff, but Combat comes back with her Aja-Lite offense (like the charge into the corner on a Tree-of-Woe’d opponent). More I see of Minami, the more I appreciate what she brings to the table- her style here is way different from the way she fights the smaller Harley Saito- here, she’s playing for speed, reversals (a recurring theme is hitting a sit-down thing out of a Powerbomb) and stuff to stifle a stronger opponent. She fights TACTICALLY- like Bret Hart. Combat’s PRETTY good, and can go up for stuff, but I’m seeing a lack of smoothness- she hits a pretty ugly Snap Powerslam (more of an Awkward Grab & Spin Powerslam). Suzuka hits a German, but can’t get the Powerbomb, and her Senton later misses after she reverses another Powerbomb. FINALLY Combat hits a Sit-Out Powerbomb, and it gets a really close two. Then she hits two Backdrops and a BIG Super Backdrop for even closer twos- shocked, she hits the Flying Splash, picks Suzuka up immediately, and drops her with an awkward lift that’s like a Shoulder Piggyback into a Backdrop Suplex for the three (13:54).
Very nice, solid “Power vs. Skill” match, with Minami fighting tactically and with reversals and clever stuff against Combat’s more aggressive, bullheaded power- it actually stifled her for a good while, with Minami controlling the first half until Combat finally started getting her stuff together. And Minami looked great in the loss, kicking out against an increasing number of power moves until there was just nothing left she could do- Combat looked pretty dominant, and AJW’s resident high-tier JTTS gatekeeps yet again.
Rating: ***3/4 (smart, strategic wrestling. Combat was a bit clumsy and lacked the authenticity of other power wrestlers, though)
AJA KONG (AJW) & MEGUMI KUDO (FMW) vs. COMBAT TOYODA (FMW) & BISON KIMURA (JD’):
(FMW, Dec. 21st 1995)
* Hey look! The AJW Class of 1986 brawls once more! But in an interesting combination, as the two who left and formed the backbone of FMW’s Women’s division are now split up, pairing up with the former Jungle Jack members, also split! Aja beat Bison in a bloodbath a few months before this, and Kudo is also notable as one of the people who came closest to beating Aja Kong in 1993’s St. Battle Final. Aja’s in yellow & black, Kudo’s in black, Combat’s in red/yellow & Bison’s in white with black leopard-print. Kudo & Bison are both in their typical one-legged outfits, as I realize I’ve never seen that combo before.
Aja & Combat start us off, and the titans immediately make this completely awesome by doing FAT GUY RUNNING NO-SOLD SHOULDERBLOCKS, then Combat sneaks in a lariat, but Aja ducks, shrugs off another, then dumps her over the top so Kudo can tear across the ring and dive into her! And then Aja teases a dive and lips her off. Oh, that’s fantastic. Bison does a terrific job completely overpowering Kudo, wrestling like she has 100 lbs. on her opponent, then Combat hits a body attack & a terrific sprinting avalanche. Kudo hits a great running rollup & a cross-body for two, then Aja starts in with those crowd-pleasing stiff kicks, then copies Combat’s own avalanche! Combat gets fired up and they slap the shit out of each other until Bison flies in, but Aja no-sells some Bison Chops with a HORRIFYING death-stare and boots Bison down. Aja slaps her around & does her “Chop & Karate Taunt” move, then wears her down- Bison bites free, but Aja bites back until Combat comes in and there’s STEREO biting! Aaaaaaaaand there’s Kudo in to return the favor on Bison.
Kudo & Bison stretch each other out, then Combat hits a backbreaker & torture rack, then helicopters Kudo & drops down for two. Kudo reverses a back stretch for two and then Aja & Combat get into a violent HEADBUTT fight, Combat refusing to back down and roaring in defiance even as Aja seems to take the lead- she wrestles Combat into a piledriver for two, but tries another Vader Attack and Combat straight resists it by force, and Bison Chops Aja in the back and Combat lariats her down… only for Aja to hit a running cross-body on both women! 2nd Rope Splash gets two on Combat, then Aja tries her Flying Back Elbow, misses, resists a piledriver, misses an Uraken, but ducks a lariat and backdrops Combat for two. Hoss Reversals! Kudo & Combat brawl, the idol actually knocking Combat down, but she’s caught in a press slam. She ducks and Bison splats Combat by mistake, and Kudo slowly Toyota Rolls Combat to reverse a powerbomb, only to try an ass attack and get German’d in mid-air! Okay, these two clearly have their sequences down TIGHT. Bison Chops Kudo, but a powerbomb & second Chop both fail and NOW the ass attack connects! Aja lariats Bison after a rope-running sequence, then launches Kudo for a rana- Bison gets a weak chop, but Kudo lands on her feet from a powerbomb and plays ring-fu to deke out Bison and lure her right into a Tornado DDT. Jesus, her reversals are SLICK.
Aja comes in for mop-up, but NOW Bison has her number, throwing out two Bison Chops and a nasty side suplex right onto Aja’s head for two. Aja gets her feet up on a flying headbutt and gives payback with two Backdrop Drivers- “Fuck YOU!” bridge! Aja’s annoyance is great, and when she puts Bison up top to finish her, Combat sneaks in and they hit a Doomsday Device Bison Chop for two! Combat slowly puts on a backdrop superplex for two- they damn near had a Superduper version but Aja slipped and they probably called an audible, haha. Missile dropkick gets two, and Kudo saves Aja from something- Aja stops a double-team but Kudo still takes a powerslam from Combat for two. But Combat climbs and gets caught with a Butterfly Superduperplex for two- Bison saves! Kudo tries to finish with her Triple Tiger Driver Neckdrops, but again Bison stops the count- Kudo tries a flying Thesz press but gets powerbombed in mid-air. Bison throws Chops but gets caught in a Northern lights suplex for two, but hits a bridging T-Bone suplex for two, then powerbombs Kudo to set up Combat’s for two. Ligerbomb from Combat- Aja saves, so they double-suplex her. Kudo… hits a double-DDT out of the same move and calls in Aja, but BAM! Uraken hits her by mistake! Combat hits her ThunderFire Powerbomb (one-armed over-the-shoulder powerbomb) and Aja saves, so Bison hauls her outside and Chops her off the apron, fending her off, but Kudo to reverses a top-rope move to the old Sunset Flip Powerbomb off the top… for three (22:30)! Kudo & Kong win!
TONS of fun with this match, as they start out with all kinds of crowd-pleasing spots and fun stuff before settling into stretching to pad for time, then start doing fun stuff again. Kudo is one of the tougher big stars to find on YouTube owing to FMW’s stuff being buried or disappearing but she always impresses- more than anyone, it seems like she just precisely times her comebacks and they always look like they came from ring-smarts, not toughness (Hokuto) or athleticism (Toyota). Bison wasn’t that terrific here, but had some good character bits with her hate-on for Aja- it was clear the other three were the best, with Kudo & Combat having some amazing chemistry, with Combat’s defiance and insistence that she’s on Aja’s level. Then ending felt a LITTLE out of nowhere but fit Kudo’s “Sneak out a win by reversing their power stuff” bit, helped by Bison leaving the ring in an attempt to hold off Aja.
Rating: ***3/4 (a good, fun tag team match)
AJA KONG vs. COMBAT TOYODA:
(FMW, Jan. 10th 1996)
* Aja’s in white & gold here, while Combat’s in black & red. Unfortunately, this looks like a REALLY small gym.
DOUBLE CHARGE AT THE BELL! Combat clotheslines Aja down, then dodges her when Aja charges in and Kong hits the floor. Combat whips her into the chairs, into Aja’s own oil can, and then flies off the apron with the can, leaving Aja doing the “falling tree” sell on the floor. Holy shit, she made AJA KONG SELL AN OILCAN SHOT! That NEVER happens! Combat talks shit in the ring and dives out- BANG! Oil can catches her right in the head! haha, serves her right for just leaving it out there! Aja returns some of that punishment, and a chair has Combat bleeding, then she’s thrown into a table that’s propped up against the ring and Aja slams it straight onto the back of her head. Aja throws headbutts & punishing chops, then her charging corner lariat & kicks, and fights her into a piledriver for two. More headbutts have Combat about to rise defiantly, but Aja stuns her with another and hits a big second rope splash for two and NOW Combat is roaring defiantly, ignoring some chops and catching Aja with a clothesline! Flying Splash gets two and now AJA is roaring up defiantly, and it’s the best spot: FAT GUY NO-SOLD SHOULDERBLOCKS! Each one eggs on the other to try again as the crowd is way into that, and they perfectly time their pause, then charge off the opposite sides, right into the Hogan/Warrior double clothesline spot! Crowd LOVES that.
Aja’s up first and manages a backdrop driver for two. Annoyed at the kickout, she hits her Flying Back Elbow for the same. Even MORE annoyed, she gears up the Uraken- miss! GERMAN from Combat! Aja takes a sickening bump right onto her head, so bad that Combat’s bridge can’t even hold her slumping corpse. Combat suddenly goes “Manami Toyota” with DROPKICK SPAM, a missile dropkick ending it and getting two. The ThunderFire Powerbomb is countered to the Uraken- blocked! Combat clotheslines Aja but can’t get a flying move or a tiger driver, so just pounds Aja down and hits some kinda motherfucking flying Earthquake Vertical Splash and holy shit did that look like it hurt. She is NOT a small lady. That gets 2.8, and Combat tries to finish with the Tiger Driver, but Aja slides out… URAKEN!!! Both women are dead, putting over the horrors of those moves, and Aja tries to finalize it- she gets the first syllable of “Shi ne!” (die!”) out but Combat blocks and goes for the German again, but Aja reverses and SHE hits a German, leaving Combat wide open- URAKEN! Aja covers her for the win at (10:23 of 12:20 shown), ending a brutally tough match. Aja & Combat have the Hoss Hug of Mutual Respect at the end.
This was totally rad- just non-stop brutality and power moves from both women. It was short but it was VIOLENT, to the point where it was clear nobody could last another minute with all that horrific shit they were throwing out in there. It was interesting- Combat dominates with speed (!) to start, but then Aja cleverly counters her and it’s the typical “Methodical Aja Match” for several minutes until Combat does a believable “okay NOW I’m pissed off” comeback, as she’s one of the few wrestlers who can brawl back and forth with Aja and have it look credible. The shoulderblock no-selling was perfectly timed- they even had a dramatic pause right into the double-charge off opposite ropes for full Hogan/Warrior- the crowd popped as soon as they started running! And then Aja takes the lead and tries to finish, but Combat’s wise to her and uses MORE speed to harry her, then fucks her up with that devastating flying move. Who on Earth would want Combat to put all her weight on their chest like that? That was either a fucked up senton or a super MDK. And then Aja proves she’s no dummy, as she counters Combat’s LAST counter and tags her with the same move, setting up her finisher. I was disappointed when I saw the match-time on YouTube, but wow, they did NOT waste time. They cut out all the bullshit and just went right at each other.
Rating: **** (one of the best short matches I’ve seen- ten minutes of two people trying to murder each other with power moves and smart counters for two behemoths)