Joshi Spotlight: JWP Tag Titles- Manami Toyota’s Team vs. Hikari Fukuoka’s Team!
By Jabroniville on 20th November 2023
JWP- NO GIMMICK:
(Jan. 23rd & Feb. 11th 1998)
* Holy shit! I found some JWP content! It’s from early in 1998 so I only missed it in the timeline by a little bit. I do NOT think 1998 was a good year for JWP at all, but let’s take a look-see at it. The big deal here is a pair of JWP Tag Team Title matches- starring JWP’s Ace & Champion Hikari Fukuoka as she defends JWP’s honor against the Zenjo duo of Kaoru Ito & Manami Toyota- the latter of whom Hikari spent years aping (she considers Toyota an inspiration). As Toyota has beaten Hikari twice in singles, there’s a bit of drama there.
Previously (via clips): Mayumi Ozaki, demon queen of JWP and the leader of OZ Academy, brained Cutie Suzuki with a chain-wrapped backfist strike and sent all the JWP wrestlers in out of concern. And so it’s a dramatic attempt at revenge, as a furious Dynamite Kansai challengers her to another Dress Up Wild Fight as they keep chasing that dragon from their original legendary bout. They trade big moves using a table, Kansai kicking out after two chain-assisted backfists, failing to win with Splash Mountain, but finally hitting SUPER Splash Mountain to put Ozaki down. Ozaki’s subordinate Rieko Amano is enraged and challenges Kansai, then helps Ozaki into an ambulance.
Note that these matches are showed on this video wildly out of order: the first one here is on the same show as the last one.
DYNAMITE KANSAI & COMMAND BOLSHOI vs. OZ ACADEMY (Sugar Sato & Rieko Amano, w/ Chikayo Nagashima):
(Feb. 11th 1998)
* So in revenge for Ozaki’s beating, Amano brings stablemate and GAEA Japan wrestler Sato with her against JWP stars- Kansai backed up by the clown. Bolshoi’s in white tiger-print (… clown gear), Kansai’s in black & white (she’s got new gear for 1998! Only a bit of yellow anymore!), Sugar’s in white & Amano’s in blue.
The heels pounce to start, double-teaming Kansai on the floor while Chikayo interferes on the other side, effectively making it 3-on-2- Kansai finally gets a comeback in the ring and immediately takes over, knocking them around with kicks. Bolshoi with an uranage on Amano for two, and begins to slowly work her over. Kansai adds a sleeper & Sugar literally pulls them into the ropes, but the babyfaces beat up OZ outside the ring now, taking their time again. Kansai puts on a resthold!sharpshooter and ignores Sugar’s dropkicks until she gets annoyed and boots her down. Finally, after NINE MINUTES of this, Amano hits a comeback and Sugar beats on Bolshoi. But then Kansai’s back with more lariats until OZ double-teams her, reversing her second double-clothesline but getting double-DDT’d. Bolshoi hits another uranage on Amano for two, but Sugar interferes again and a leg-twist has the clown yelling. Sugar with the Oklahoma Stampede for two, then works the leg (hitting her flying back elbow onto it).
Bolshoi kinda buggers a rana but Sugar saves the move, kicking out at two. Kansai’s back with lariats, but Amano stops a powerbomb and Sugar nails her with Ozaki offense- three backfists into a sit-out powerbomb for a close two! Amano dives into Kansai on the floor, but Sato comes off the top with a chair and of course beans Amano, but Amano counters a backdrop with a German for two- Kansai powers up and backdrop drivers her for two, Sugar saving. In comes Bolshoi, who misses her shotei palm strike and gets backfisted by Sugar, then again misses and Amano lands a cross-armbreaker for a near-fall. Doomsday Device gets two, but Bolshoi gets a German for a near-fall, then Amano gets two of her own. She goes up, but Kansai nails her in the head and Bolshoi finishes with the Super Rock Bottom at (20:24). Bolshoi pins Amano!
Ah, 20-minute JWP rest-fests- how I have missed thee. This went on FOREVER, with the heels being beaten up for massive 9-minute chunks of time and nearly never getting any offense of their own, like this was a “lesson” from the seniors. Thankfully Team OZ picked up after that and started controlling with more interesting things. Amano has really developed well, doing good Bridging Germans and submissions, and Sugar has of course improved going by her GAEA stuff. This helps make up for Kansai mostly going through the motions while Bolshoi is somehow able to be forgettable while dressed as an Army Tiger Clown.
Rating: **1/4 (“JWP slogs” are just too long to score high ratings, but the OZ kids did good work in the back half. Kansai was fine and Bolshoi did some okay moves)
And we get a clip of a Jan. 11th show where GUREN-TAI INVADES, shocking everyone as Eagle Sawai’s LLPW stable of heels jumps JWP’s wrestlers. This was extremely rare, as JWP & LLPW largely formed due to a split of the original JWP, leaving a lot of bad blood. JWP’s President loses his shit and nearly charges the ring in a great bit of “this is SERIOUS”.
GUREN-TAI (Eagle Sawai & Michiko Nagashima, w/ Goon) vs. KANAKO MOTOYA & TOMOKO MIYAGUCHI:
* So in revenge from the previous assault, two of JWP’s kids of the Class of 1995 team up to face Eagle’s stable. As Eagle is an LLPW Main Eventer and they have an associate on the floor (I think Sari Osumi), Guren-Tai definitely has the lead, here. Eagle’s in black, Michiko’s in white tiger-striped gear, Motoya’s in white & Miyaguchi’s in red.
We’re JIP with Guren-Tai cheating with a shinai stick and double-teaming Miyaguchi- Kanako runs in, but Nagashima uses the shinai again- Miyaguchi ends up hung in the corner and triple-teamed with heel avalanches, but dodges a shinai off the top and Eagle gets beaned. She bails to the floor and Kanako dives onto her- Nagashima takes a flying splash and an AWFUL German (no lift at all) gets two- Kanako then takes a HUGE bump missing a flying senton, getting missile kicked. She evades Eagle but gets drilled from behind, but Miyaguchi does the same to Eagle, who bowls over the rookies but misses a top-rope Vader Bomb. Kanako pounces with a DDT & Flying Senton- two! But the goon prevents a double-team and Eagle gets a lariat, and a Double-Assisted Powerbomb is foiled by Kanako (Eagle nearly drops Miyaguchi with it, but wisely just falls backwards- it looks stupid but it protects her).
A Dropkick/German gets two on Eagle , as does a Rocket Launcher- Nagashima saves with the stick. Eagle finally double-clotheslines the rookies and tags out- Nagashima hits a backdrop hold on Miyaguchi for two- Kanako saves. Her own flying senton hits- same result. Then there’s a funny bit because Nagashima kind of loses the plot and isn’t sure what to do next while Guren-Tai sets up a table so she’s just awkwardly clapping and doing the “Walk & stomp” during what should be the important final Finisher Surge of the match, before finally springboard plancha-ing Kanako through a table. Back in, a cross-arm Northern Lights suplex gets two (well geez- Miyaguchi’s been lying there for a minute!). Eagle hits a missile kick and a Double Assisted Powerbomb, then rubs it in before finishing Miyaguchi with the powerbomb at (8:09 of 13:48 shown). After the unfair finish, Hikari Fukuoka gets on the mic and talks some shit, seemingly challenging Eagle.
Actually not bad- pretty packed with stuff and while it wasn’t the most well-wrestled match (look at how they lost the plot by the end and just sorta farted around casually), the story was decent enough that it got the point across. The juniors were able to control when it was Nagashima in there, but were fighting an uphill battle against Eagle, not helped by the heel cheating.
Rating: **1/2 (pretty weak move execution but a good little story and a solid use of time)
There’s a clip of Tomoko Miyaguchi & Sari Osumi (JWP) vs. Sayuri Okino & The Bloody (Jd’), one of JD’s team piledriving Miyaguchi on a table and falling off in humiliating fashion because she falls back too far, then winning with a perfect plex. Then it’s revenge time as Hikari leads Kanako Motoya against Eagle Sawai & Sari Okino- Hikari does well, landing a Moonsault to the floor on Eagle, but Okino uses double red mist on the JWP squad to stop a Doomsday Device and Eagle finishes Motoya with a powerbomb- clearly the feud must continue.
JWP TAG TEAM TITLES:
DEVIL MASAMI & HIKARI FUKUOKA (JWP) vs. MANAMI TOYOTA & KAORU ITO (AJW):
(Jan. 23rd 1998)
* !!!!!! MASAMI vs. MANAMI!!!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before! That’s one of the few Dream Match bouts I don’t think we ever got in the Interpromotional Era! Probably because JWP was hesitant to job out Devil to more than Bull & Kyoko, and AJW was NEVER letting Manami lose in those solo matches. And oddly it’s Manami teaming with Ito right when the ZAP thing is about to start up, with Ito becoming ZAP I. Devil’s in black & purple, Hikari’s in tiger-print & blue, Ito’s in white, and Manami IS IN THE RED GEAR FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY WATCHTHROUGH!
We’re JIP (dammit!) with Devil having issues with Manami’s center of gravity in a powerbomb, having to try again to hit a flush Ligerbomb- Ito saves. So they hit a Doomsday Device Powerbomb and get the same result! They again leave Ito alone, so she pops in and stops Hikari’s moonsault and Manami has to pop up (no-selling) so they can hit a Doomday Dropkick and then the old Toyota/Yamada finisher- the Stereo Flying Headbutts get two! I see we’re well into the MOVEZ portion of the match. Hikari slumps over dead, so Manami aims for the moonsault, but lands on feet and accidentally kicks Ito when she interferes- but Ito manages to drag out the Champs so Manami can hit her Running Springboard Tope Con Hilo. But Manami’s like “haha, now you do one!” and is hoist by her own petard as Ito accidentally dives right into her and Devil promptly holds them both for Hikari’s Moonsault to the floor.
Back in the ring- SOMERSAULT MISSILE DROPKICK- only two! Hikari moves to finish while Devil drags Ito out, and the Moonsault Stomp— has Ito still break up the pin! Double-arm Powerbomb- Manami kicks out but is selling death. That exhausts Hikari’s supply- Devil prepares to do a double-team in the corner but gets dumped by Ito and Flying Stomped from the top to the floor, and while Hikari gets out of the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex, she falls victim to the Pumphandle German for two. Manami can’t believe the kickout, manages to outrageously flip off the JWP audience, and the Japanese Ocean finishes at (5:18 of 16:43 shown). Manami just BOLTS to her feet to celebrate her victory in the most hilariously ungracious fashion possible, and after getting the belts, Hikari openly mourns the loss and has to be forced to shake hands by Devil.
Tragically we lose a ton of the match, including a bunch of presumably great Devil character stuff, as the final five minutes has ONLY Manami in the ring, and Devil tags out quickly. It’s very weird to have the whole back third of a match mostly having two women pound away at each other while their partners just run interference and double-teams. What we saw looked pretty great, albeit with Hikari shoving out her finishers all in a row, which kind of hurts each one (in fact, does the Rider Kick EVER actually score falls?). Manami alternates between great death-sells and then hitting her cool shit. The best part is Manami’s post match celebration, which is like the antithesis of so much I’ve read about Japan. I feel like “Manami the ungracious celebrator” has legs as an invading heel persona. That whole “OMG YAYYYYYYYYYY!!! I WONNNNNNNNNN!!! GO MEEEEEEEEEEEE!” runs contrary to a place where I’ve heard sumo get shit on if they even look happy after winning, it’s so un-Japanaese, lol.
Rating: **1/2 (too hard to sincerely rate given we miss so much, but it was a great MOVEZ match from what I saw)
JWP TAG TITLES:
MANAMI TOYOTA & KAORU ITO (AJW) vs. HIKARI FUKUOKA & TOMOKO KUZUMI:
(Feb. 11th 1998)
* Woah nellie! Only a couple weeks later and we have our rematch! But it’s KUZUMI slotted in for Devil, which on paper is a huge downgrade, as Kuzumi’s only a 4th year. She’s in a skimpy black leather outfit, Hikari’s in the same as before, as are the Tag Champions.
Team JWP starts hot on Ito, but Manami flies off onto Hikari when she goes for a figure-four. They batter her around and Manami gets the rolling cradle on her Mini-Me. Manami completely ignores a DDT and hits her own, but Hikari counters a move to her OWN Rolling Cradle for two. Kuzumi in with the giant swing and she & Manami bite each other, causing Toyota to get pissy and dropkick her in the spine. Ito works the back and hits her corner senton. Both tag out and the fans amuse Manami by switching from chanting for Hikari to her at Manami’s request. Manami powers Hikari down one-handed but gets caught and held down for Kuzumi’s dropkick spam. They keep double-teaming her as Manami appears to be corpsing or trying to blow them off completely, and she hits a shockingly great Running No Hands Springboard Cross-Body counter (those ropes seem IRON-stiff because they barely move when she hits them), then bringing in Ito for a payback “held for the kick”. Then Manami hilariously starts “building up” her own kick by booting the turnbuckle like a dork. Hikari uses a moonsault dodge on Ito, but gets PLASTERED with an uranage/foot stomp, then boots Kuzumi by mistake during interference.
Hikari slides to the floor to avoid more punishment, but Toyota is waiting with a plancha while Ito pescados Kuzumi and they are getting their ASSES kicked out here. Hikari manages to dodge Ito’s Flying Stomp and hits a run-up crossbody, but Kuzumi’s run-up is dodged and she eats the stomps into the senton for two. She avoids Manami’s German and catches her with a flash-pin for two, but Ito stops a double-superplex and Manami hits a missile kick to the neck and a Moonsault. Hikari saves, and finally runs in to stop a Japanese Ocean (double-hammerlock) Suplex, but Ito catches Kuzumi with a Super Samoan Drop… but the champs miss the Stereo Flying Headbutts and crash & burn! Kuzumi fires up, but takes the Japanese Ocean and Hikari has to take out Manami’s bridging leg. Kuzumi dodges the Flying Stomp and Ito crashes RIGHT into Hikari’s missile kick, but then Ito lures JWP’s team right into Manami’s as this is nuts. But Ito goes up top and Kuzumi brings her down with Toyota’s Victory Star Drop (and, like Manami, she loses the grip and gets two) and gets Rolling Germans for two. Ito avoids Hikari’s Tiger Driver but eats a German, only to avoid a Moonsault and the champs hit a Doomsday Device Dropkick for two. The mother of all Flying Stomps gets two on Hikari as Kuzumi saves.
The funny thing is this match is going pretty well by my standards but the crowd is still QUIET and you’re not getting any big “OHHHHHHH”s for any kickout- they’re just not buying it yet- no “legit” finishers! Plus the pace hasn’t hit that manic point yet- it’s just the champs endlessly countering stuff and beating them down- they even have time to pose before all their stuff. Manami goes for the JOCS, but Hikari victory rolls her for two. The champs dump JWP to the floor, but Manami’s Running Springboard Tope Con Hilo hits Ito by mistake, and Kuzumi follows with a springboard plancha and Hikari Moonsaults them on the floor, too. She goes up to finish, but Manami nearly catches her with the JOCS again, and when Hikari gets out she takes Toyota’s Pumphandle/Straightjacket German for two. Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex… two! Manami can’t win with it this time! Manami howls out a taunt, but her attempt at building her SmackDown! meter just has Kuzumi flying in with a missile kick to the back of HER head, and that’s Hikari’s cue- Tiger Driver! The Rider Kick hits, somersault ass-slamming the back of Manami’s head! Moonsault Stompppppppp but Ito saves! So Kuzumi slide kicks her to the floor and holds her back, so a SECOND Moonsault Stomp scores the three at (18:37)! Hikari wins the Tag Titles back! And defeats her rival and inspiration for the first time in her career!
This was a fascinating one- the champs just DOMINATE to start, effortlessly beating on Hikari (Manami borderline doing comedy and “LOL I’m not taking this seriously” and using her dorky sense of humor), then turn on a fresh Kuzumi and start whupping on her. 16 minutes of dominance- like it’s ENDLESS and perhaps its the slower pace or the arrogance of the Champs but the crowd isn’t as wildly into it until the very last minutes. It’s so dominating that the champs almost never sell, and you can only tell something’s up when they upgrade to finishers and still can’t get it done. The challengers’ selling was OKAY but not great- Hikari kinda has the same “tired” expression during all of it, but is at least good at flopping over looking dead. Kuzumi still doesn’t quite have it, but is extremely underutilized in this match, as if they expected Hikari to carry the whole thing. To the point where Kuzumi doesn’t hit a single big move all match save for her Victory Star/Rolling Germans and can only run interference to help her senior out.
And it’s a borderline “Savage Template” match, with Hikari eating move after move until springing to life and hitting her three big moves in a row for the pin. It’s funny comparing Manami’s selling to the first match and here- in the first one she sells her ass off and looks agonized the whole time, but of course scores the win. In this, she’s losing and she barely sells anything until the finish.
Rating: ***3/4 (a great spot-based match on one end, though slower paced and without much drama for the longest time)
So this establishes some things- they’re still trying to juice houses by booking sudden rapid-fire title switches, as Hikari & Devil’s superteam loses the JWP Tag Titles to a Zenjo squad, then Hikari forms a flying team with Tomoko Kuzumi and wins them back. This also establishes Kuzumi’s status as the “Future Star”, as she’s a 4th year and is suddenly teaming to win the Tag Titles, mimicking Hikari’s past status doing just that with a veteran of her own (when her & Mayumi Ozaki won the JWP Tag Titles back from Las Cachorras Orientales). Hikari finally pinning Manami, especially so cleanly (and more or less by herself) is a big moment for her.