JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- AKEMI TORISU:
Billed Height & Weight: 5’5″ 220 lbs.+
Career Length: 1990-1992
-Yeah, it’s a “Short Article” week, so I figured I’d do a bio of one of the failed nobody joshi of the ’90s! Akemi Torisu is barely remembered by anyone, and those who do just recall this giant stiff. Worse still, AJW put a bunch of work into her, but it never panned out and she retired young, so it was all a waste.
The idea was… well it was doomed to failure. All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling (AJW) had a legit bad-ass who could do shoot matches in Bat Yoshinaga (a short but burly karate expert), and Akemi was brought in more or less as her own personal jobber. But like… in real life, as these matches were meant to add variety to the shows. Akemi had a background in karate and so actually skipped the typical “audition process” for AJW and was hired on directly to fight with Bat and be a rival for her.
However, she struggled with her weight and just didn’t pick up wrestling (granted, she didn’t have much time to do it) and faded away in a hurry. And she was AWFUL, too- even two years into her career, she moved like she was made of wet bags of cement, with most of her offense consisting of running into people. She was too big in the wrong sort of way- Aja Kong & Bull Nakano were big but could bump and choose when and how to sell or get moved, while Torisu appeared to have difficulty being moved about at all. TO BE FAIR, she was green as grass and was chosen without having to audition- there was no chance she’d have been good in only two years.
I mean, sometimes stuff just doesn’t work out- promotions that have to hire on and train their own rookies (versus territories that hired on established hands and let their own rookies go elsewhere) tend to have failures like this. It’s not that bad in the long run, though in AJW’s case, disaster was looming: almost all of their Rookie Classes after 1989 turned out to be crap. You’d have a highlight like the flashy Chaparrita ASARI (1992), and a few later stars started improving before quitting AJW when it went bankrupt in 1997, but for the most part their rookies stopped panning out, and that was a horrible blow to a company that was used to cycling new talent in periodically. Instead, the old stars just hung around and diminishing returns were had.
Case in point: 1990 featured Torisu, Numacchi (an infamous, terrible comedy wrestler who retired early), Yuki Lee (quit and joined JD’ and never got good), Shiho Nakamigawa (WHO??) and a pair of Thai sisters whom I’ve also never heard of but are spoken of in hushed whispers by old joshi fans. That’s an entire “lost class” when the one before it was Sakie Hasegawa, Tomoko Watanabe & Kaoru Ito- all future stars. 1991’s class at least had future star Kumiko Maekawa (who took six years to get good) & Rie Tamada (who was in the “pretty okay” zone since 1994 at least). The Class of 1990 should have been filling the midcard of 1997 (where I’m at in my timeline right now), fighting for the All Pacific Title, etc. And instead it was gone entirely.
-Akemi Torisu was hired on by AJW as a trainee in mid-1990, joining a class that featured Saemi Numata (the future Numacchi) and a bunch of people who quit right away. A heavy, durable karate-trained fighter, she was set up to have matches with Bat Yoshinaga back when every promotion was trying to put “Shoot Matches” on the card- Bat was given the WWWA Martial Arts Title to defend in real fights under a rounds system. These are uniformly boring and most recappers like myself learned to hate them.
Akemi gets a short feature on an AJW Documentary that aired in France in 1991, when she was still in her first year:
220-lb. rookie Akemi Torisu is mentioned as an example of someone who avoided the usual selection process- as they have Bat Yoshinaga doing shoot-fights on the shows, Torisu was specially selected for her karate experience as an opponent in those bouts (she loses here to Mayumi Yamamoto in a “muay thai” bout to add variety to the shows). However, Matsunaga mention her as overweight and they want her to get slimmer. She wouldn’t last- she’d be gone in 1992, as would Yamamoto.
In April 1991, she’d lose a Martial Arts Title match against Bat via referee’s decision. She loses again the same time next year as well, but by 1992 is doing more tag matches. Cagematch doesn’t list a lot of them, but I’ve reviewed a handful, and it’s mostly very basic stuff where she teams with another rookie against other rookies. Typical for 1st & 2nd-Years to be doing things like that. Some bouts involve going to a 10:00 Time Limit Draw against Yuki Lee for the AJW Junior Title (their rookie belt, typically traded among promising rookies- it says a lot that Torisu never even won THAT), teaming with Tomoko Watanabe & losing to Chikako Hasegawa (Shiratori) & Kaoru Ito, and teaming with Saemi Numata to lost to Bat & Tomoko.
Her final match appears to be her & Numata losing to Rie Tamada & Chikako at AJW Midsummer Typhoon in August- despite not being any good, she’d entered that “Jobber Zone” where she was starting to be featured in the opening match on big shows, which AJW used to showcase their rookies in extra-long, weaksauce matches full of repeating offense. But right around then, she gives it up and has never reappeared. In 1994, Numata herself retired after a neck injury, killing the entire Class of 1990, resulting in a “Dead Year” for AJW- typically by 1994 or so these stars would have been moving up the card, then peaking in 1996-98. Instead, it was back to the drawing board with the Class of 1991 doing the move, and even they weren’t that great. AJW’s weak rookie classes would absolutely come back to bite them in the late 1990s.
Running Into People, Standing Backdrop (finisher- yes, really- all the rookies did this)
GOKUMON-TO (Bat Yoshinaga & Tomoko Watanabe) vs. SAEMI NUMATA & AKEMI TORISU:
(AJW Grand Prix ’92, 21/06/1992)
* It’s up & comers versus rookies, meaning the latter team is going to get crushed. Numata is the future comedy Numacchi, while Torisu is a dumpy-looking girl with heelish eye makeup- both washed out very quickly by the standards of their contemporaries on all these shows. Numata’s in a blue & red checkerboard singlet, while Torisu’s in yellow & black. Gokumon-To here consists of the two juniors in Bull Nakano’s stable, with Tomoko being the weakest of the Class of ’89 rookise, while Bat had legit martial arts skills but was very limited in the ring. They’re both in white pants, with black tops that say “ellesse” in grey print, and Tomoko is VERY skinny compared to what she’d look like even by the end of the year.
It’s kept basic as hell, with Bat in particular being kinda uncoordinated, and everyone else keeping it simple. Torisu bites Tomoko’s limbs during stretching, but Tomoko hits her Slingshot move on Numata soon as she comes in, and Bat kicks Numata around and uses THE CLAW. Numata’s bridging sell is actually pretty great. After way too long a heat sequence on Numata, she gets fired up and does Fast Rookie Offense to come back (facecrushers & running stuff), then Torisu spams out weak shoulderblocks until Bat kills her with Spinkick Spam (one of which wowed the fans) and they clubber her (all four hands! It’s a full-bore clubbering! I haven’t seen that in Joshi yet!). This is going on WAY too long- it’s extending a sequence on TORISU, now, and Tomoko hits both rookies with her Slingshot and Bat nails a Missile Dropkick on Torisu for two. Stereo Elbowdrops miss and a Flying Splash gets two on Numata. Doomsday Device Thesz Press gets broken up so fast I think it was a fuck-up, so Tomoko improvises a JACKHAMMER to finish at (13:20).
Rating: *1/4 (UGH- if it was 5:00 it’d be ** easy, but they had only enough offense for that, then dragged it out repeatedly to give the people experience. Just way too much running attack/stretch/kicking nonsense)
RIE TAMADA & CHIKAKO HASEGAWA vs. AKEMI TORISU & SAEMI NUMATA:
(AJW Midsummer Typhoon, 15/08/1992)
* Yep, more ROOKIE MAYHEM to start the show, though this one looks super-short. I dunno when Torisu was done, but I have no memory of her from big 1993 shows aside from one Martial Arts Title match. Neither her nor Numata made it, and Chikako never got any good, either, but her looks earned her a push sometimes. So Rie, a third-tier ARSION star, is like the only person here who “made it”. This is actually the Class of 1991 vs. the Class of 1990, so Numata’s team will probably take it. Torisu’s the big girl in black & yellow, Numata’s in some horrendous neon checkerboard get-up, Rie’s in red, and Chikako’s in black & pink.
Torisu bullies the tiny Tamada for a while, but the rookies stick & move on her. Seeing as how Torisu looks and moves like she’s made of cement, she’s in an uncomfortable zone selling for babies- she’s so much bigger that it lacks credibility that she can be wrapped up like any other rookie. Numata works Tamada’s neck and does a bunch of awkward running X-Factors to Chikako, as this is looking really uncoordinated. Rie spams the Rookie Dropkicks of Filler Offense and then hits the Rookie Bodyslam of Finishing… for the finish, grinding it out at (6:11). Well alright, then! Weird to see the Class of ’91 beat their elders, but only Tamada looks to be actually athletic out of this crew.
Rating: 1/2* (clumsy and short, but Rie has obvious potential)
And that’s all for Akemi Torisu! I do so enjoy delving into the loser stories, haha.