JWP PURE-HEART FESTIVAL:
(Aug. 17th 1997)
* A big JWP show at Korakuen Hall happens on August 17th, featuring a day show and a night show (with everyone wrestling on both shows). If I’m reading the date right, this is filmed literally the day after Plum Mariko was killed in the ring by Mayumi Ozaki’s Ligerbomb. If so, HOLY SHIT.
This one also features the Retirement Match of Candy Okutsu, as her real-life best friend Hikari Fukuoka defends the JWP Title against her, but can’t hold it together for the match- it’s a pretty unique display. How many matches do you see where one person is sobbing the entire time?
Note that there’s a Day Show and Night Show, but I can only find one Day Show match.
MAYUMI OZAKI (JWP) vs. YUMI FUKAWA (AJW):
* Ozaki takes on AJW’s newest wannabe Idol, Yumi Fukawa, in an interpromotional match! Few are better at getting something out of a green opponent than Ozaki, so this will be interesting. Fukawa’s in a very sparkly white outfit with blue on it- clearly someone is putting a lot of effort into her gear.
Fukawa embarrasses Oz with a flash-pin attempt and immediately pays for it, going into the railing twice, and Oz dominates her while smirking, tying up all four limbs and elbowing her in the head while talking smack. Oz pulls her hair repeatedly but Yumi gets PO’d and clotheslines her and repays the hair-pulling- Ozaki appears almost amused and soon takes back over with her own clothesline. There’s some ugliness as they’re out of position but Ozaki reins it in a bit, missing a cannonball off the apron and taking a plancha. Ozaki now goes into railings and chairs and eats some dropkicks, but there’s another awkward pause and a “DDT out of the corner” spot goes badly. Oz misses her backfist and does TWO revolutions before Fukawa Germans her, Ozaki appearing to sandbag it or something and they do another proper bridging one for two. Yumi climbs and gets superplexed off, but avoids the Tequila Sunrise & backfist and hits a rolling legbar, then does a version off the top- Oz sells pretty well but nobody’s buying it. Fukawa flies onto her feet but Manami Rolls out of a powerbomb attempt for two, then single-legs her into a Perfect Plex for the same. Two 2nd-rope dropkicks to the head and another Perfect Plex net two-counts, but after a slap-flurry she charges into the Tequila Sunrise for three (10:28).
Man, this started the usual “fun Ozaki bullying lesser wrestlers” match but got bowling shoe ugly in the middle, as they kept doing the “pause before doing something” thing and that is DEATH in wrestling. This just felt like they were on different pages or that Fukawa was being asked to work a harder match than she was ready for, as she was out of position a bunch on spots that require precision. Ozaki could have also been at fault, though- either not being familiar with her opponent or just didn’t like her or something… and then of course I realized the date of this show, which could easily explain why she was off- a move she did literally killed someone the night before. Really poor match for both.
Rating: * (just a sloppy, ugly mess, like they weren’t on the same page or Fukawa just couldn’t wrestle the match required)
REIKO AMANO vs. SARI OSUMI:
* The future “Carlos Amano” is still in her Jobber Swimsuit phase (though she’s a member of OZ Academy at this point), wearing blue & white. Sari Osumi is brand-new and won’t even last a year in the business- she’s got her hair dyed blonde and is in green & blue.
We’re joined in progress as Osumi hits the Rookie-Slaying Boston Crab & dropkick spam as I observe Amano’s selling is actually REALLY good, doing this agonized expression even for jobber-fu. Amano wins a strike war with some clotheslines and some flying moves get two- Osumi reverses one for two, then surprises her with an ass attack out of the corner for two. Another ass attack sets up a flying splash for two, but Amano gets a good reaction with a cross-armbreaker. They each try more pins, but Amano finally scores another missile kick & cross-armbreaker for the submission at (6:31 of 10:12 shown). Another basic rookie match, though Amano looks a lot more advanced. Osumi has some decent fire, too.
Rating: 1/2* (these are always death, but it’s good learnin’)
Man the thumbnail is like a walking anti-smoking ad.
CANDY’S RETIREMENT MATCH:
JWP OPENWEIGHT TITLE:
HIKARI FUKUOKA vs. CANDY OKUTSU:
* So Candy Okutsu is yet another wrestler giving it up in 1997, joining Megumi Kudo and eventually Bison Kimura, thanks to being too busted up to continue at only 22 years of age. However, she’d be back pretty quickly, as she’s with ARSION in the next year. Her final match is to be against the JWP Champion, now Hikari Fukuoka. Hikari’s in a yellowish version of her Tarzan gear, while Candy’s in yellow & black with tassels (actually one of her best looks, right before she’s gone). You can tell the two are good friends, because they’re openly beaming at each other with huge smiles during the intros (though my god Candy confirms the hell out of the rumor I’ve heard that she was a chain-smoker- 90% of her teeth are grey!). According to Mike Lorefice, the two are like sisters & best friends in real life.
Candy pounces before the bell and kicks Hikari’s ass for yet another “run & toss” segment tonight, then hits a run-up plancha & run-up cross-body. A second misses and Hikari goes for the RIDER KICK of all things (her finisher!), but the somersault missile dropkick mostly grazes Candy’s ass. She gets a standard missile kick but is now just openly bawling, unable to even get up. Candy recovers by slapping her a bunch and hitting a brainbuster for two. Locomotion German Suplexes! Also two, then Candy fires off clotheslines as this is just her hitting a crying, undefending opponent now. Candy gets on the mic to fire her up, and Hikari finally brings it with a slap, Tiger Driver & Moonsault for two.
Candy charges back with a clothesline & three brainbusters, but Hikari bridges out, only to get put up top for a run-up… okay she slowly puts on a release Northern Lights Superduperplex for two. She tries another run-up, but Hikari shoves her to the floor and follows with a cannonball off the apron, but her follow-up sees her German’d off the top- Candy messes up the locomotion Germans and settles for a regular cover for two. Hikari catches her with a Superduper Powerslam and Tiger Driver for two, then misses a Moonsault Stomp and Candy ranas her out of another Tiger Driver, getting two. Hikari hits a release double-arm powerbomb, misses another Moonsault Stomp, hits a Tiger Driver for two, then hits two more and another release version and just WAILS while on top of Candy as the ref counts three at (10:42).
Kind of more of an exhibition & personality display than a proper “match”, as Hikari obviously couldn’t hold it together and was largely not defending herself at all until Candy forced her to, then Candy just hit a bunch of her stuff. Hikari mostly got random comebacks that consisted entirely of finisher-tier maneuvers, too. The run-up moves and “both standing on the top rope” moves were interesting because they’d do these dramatic charges to the top but then very clearly start helping each other get into position for these moves that really only work if both have their balance just right.
And so Candy gets the retirement ceremony- at least NOW she can unleash the tears, thanking the fans for their support.
Rating: ** (I mean, why bother rating it, lol? Just someone bludgeoning a crying opponent until she hits a bunch of finishers amidst some comebacks for the win)
SUPER HEEL DEVIL MASAMI vs. MAYUMI OZAKI:
* Yes, it’s back to Masami’s Undertaker-inspired “Super Heel” gimmick, where she moves like a zombie wearing Crush’s Demolition makeup, and she’s up against a sneering Ozaki. This match isn’t dated so could have happened anywhere between 1993-97- the outfit on Ozaki is similar to the 1996 one. Super Heel matches are somewhat notorious for the same way Taker’s 1990s matches were, though she definitely has an aura- her size combined with her just staring down opponents silently is pretty intense. I actually reviewed this last year, not knowing the date and just guessing, but only now do I realize it took place in 1997, haha.
Super Heel just lurches forward like a zombie at the bell, not even looking at her, so Ozaki easily does a go-behind, but can’t lift her and Devil effortlessly powerbombs her. They take turns throwing each other into the guardrails and Oz gets dumped trying a punch- she sells the bump like it’s stunning, but dodges Masami’s stomp and Germans her on the floor. Devil still takes over out there, tossing Ozaki into stuff and nearly press-slamming her off a raised stage on the edge of the arena, but Oz pushes her off and hits a Tornado DDT on the floor from there! Woah, that was cool. Oz piles chairs AND the guardrail on her, drawing an ovation in the ring, but an infuriated Devil pops up, ax kicks her, then hits a press slam FROM THE TOP ROPE, which is awesome. She misses the Guillotine Legdrop, however, and Oz goes for a chair but gets booted down and POWERBOMBED on it. Ozaki thankfully dodges an avalanche and hits the Tequila Sunrise on the chair for two, then the flying cannonball for the same. She’s still too hurt and takes forever to climb, so Devil just smokes her off the top in a big bump.
Ozaki’s dead on the floor, so Devil takes all day to grab a crazy Skeletor staff and comes off the middle rope with it, but misses and Ozaki mounts the comeback, only to get clobbered trying another Sunrise. She manages a few Urakens, but gets caught and powerbombed, but turns the second attempt into a DDT and the Sunrise gets two! Devil powers out of a follow-up powerbomb and knees at her, but Oz catches her up top, attempting a SUPER Tequila Sunrise, but settling for a backdrop superplex for two. She attempts a Manami Roll but gets caught in a big sleeper, Super Heel growling like a monster attempting to strangle her prey to death- when Ozaki makes the ropes after a struggle, Masami methodically beats her down, but a high ax kick gets her foot caught on the top rope and Ozaki beamspams out Urakens like crazy, flailing around and trying to do as much damage as possible with the opportunity! And Devil sells it 100% like a dead body, glassy eyes staring with nothing behind them- the ref frantically tries to see if she’s alive, calling out her name, while Ozaki kneels over, exhausted, but BAM! Devil just shoots up to her feet, wowing the crowd- she immediately locks Ozaki into a Tiger Driver, but gets the signature Ozaki Rollup… for two! And Devil just shifts her weight back, leaning on her and getting the pin (11:48)! Devil beats Ozaki at her own game!
Okay, now THIS was excellent! Tiny, crafty Ozaki is a perfect opponent for the slow, plodding monster, as she can wear Devil down with attrition and believably avoid her stuff, using clever tactics, weapons and comebacks to take the lead. Yet you never doubt that Devil can just backhand her once to shift the momentum again. So it’s a constant series of reversals, some by sheer brute force and others by intelligence. And impressively, Ozaki gets some HUGE chances as Devil constantly overdoes it- getting caught up top & backdropped off, then missing an ax kick and getting bludgeoned into a glassy-eyed stare (FANTASTIC sell-job). And even her “pop-up” no-sell is paid off, as she again gets too aggressive and nearly loses to the patented “Ozaki reverses a powerbomb to the pin” finish, only to use her OWN ring-savvy, rolling back and scoring her own pin! The evil, no-selling monster having to use Ozaki’s own tactics to beat her actually kinda puts over Ozaki, too- like she couldn’t just beat her to death like she normally does.
Rating: **** (very impressive for such a relatively-short match- great story, good use of no-selling, and a very impressive reversal game for the whole thing)
Bolshoi Kid & Emi Motokawa d. Sari Osumi & Tomoko Kuzumi (13:38)
Kakutogi (“Fighting Arts”) Rules: Kumiko Maekawa d. Reiko Amano (Round 3- 0:27)- probably a shoot fight?
Aja Kong & Cutie Suzuki d. Hikari Fukuoka & Kanako Motoya (23:41)- Aja teaming with Cutie seems like a hoot, and they’re up against the JWP Ace and a rookie, but wow- 23 minutes?
Candy Okutsu & Devil Masami d. Bolshoi Kid & Tomoko Miyaguchi (13:14)
JWP Junior Title: Tomoko Miyaguchi d. Tomoko Kuzumi (17:47)- The JWP rookie title changes hands, as their most credible rookie drops the belt.
Bolshoi Kid & Cutie Suzuki d. Dynamite Kansai & Kanako Motoya (12:36)- Kind of a shocker, though combined Bolshoi & Cutie beat them on experience, as Motoya’s a baby.
So overall it’s a show with some historical relevance, featuring Candy’s first retirement, the only match I can think of where someone sobbed the entire thing through and nearly broke kayfabe, and a ****+ SUPER HEEL match, which is pretty much the only time in recorded history that ever happened.