Before we get to this review, today is my beautiful daughter Savannah's 1st birthday. She has been an absolute blessing in my life and since NHO is something I care about, I wanted to acknowledge her special day here: Happy Birthday, Savannah Banana!
1) Kaoru Ito/ Cynthia Moreno v. Tomoko Watanabe/ Saemi Numata- 5
2) Mima Shimoda v. Takaco Inoue- 3
3) Sakie Hasegawa v. Debbie Malenko- 6
4) Mariko Yoshida v. Etsuko Mita- 6
5) Aja Kong/ Miori Kamiya/ Terri Power v. Bull Nakano/ Yumiko Hotta/ Suzuka- 5
6) Toshiyo Yamada/ Manami Toyota v. Akira Hokuto/ Kyoko Inoue (Best 2 of 3 Falls Match)- 7
Wrestling fans in the know are well aware of the reputation All Japan Women's Wrestling had in it's hey day and that is stellar workrate, phenomenal physicality and some of the more innovative stuff that was being done in the 90's period. 5 star matches galore came from this fed so I thought it's about time we got some of it reviewed.
Intros to the crowd from all participants makes this feel like a major event. The first tag starts off fast and furious right from the bell and the action never lets up. It's more or less a different style of wrestling than a lot of stuff you see. There's virtually no rest holds at all (anything like that is thrown in for a second or two and that's it), not a lot of tag work, just constant offensive flurries from all 4 girls and there's not a lot of time to properly sell a lot of what's being done, more like Lucha in that regard. But, it plants the early seeds of a lot of ROH tag matches in that a lot of little things are done that make the match seem much more competitive. Little shots to the arm to set up an arm attack later in the match, stiff strikes, wild kicks, harsh snap mares, lots of little golden gems that make some of the other oversights not so important because it works here.
2nd match is much slower, and these two girls are trying to work a match they're not quite capable of yet. But I still applaud them for it. Shimoda is a force, quick, technical and probably one of the hottest chicks on the show (w/o the massive augmented breasts for our viewing pleasure) and Inoue keeps her grounded a lot, with holds and even when she picks her up for offense, the move always knocks her back down. It's like she knows to win she needs to keep momma grounded. Some big mis-steps along the way though and the near 20 minutes they got to work the match ended up being their enemy more than their friend.
3rd match in showcases a Malenko??? Any relation, possibly because she knows her stuff. Wraps Hasegawa in complicated hold after hold for much of the match. She clearly is the ringleader in this one but Hasegawa (who stamped her name across her inadequate chest) shows tons and tons of heart, kicking out of big move after big move. Another 20 minute encounter that picked up the pace and intensity as time wore on. Really good wrestling all around and this is for sure recommendable, even with Malenko's wispy housewife hair and leopard swimtrunk tights.
This is a classic face v. heel encounter with Mariko Yoshida (no, not Logan's long since murdered love from Japan) as the hero babyface against my new evil boo, Ita. This blasted off right from the bell as Ita took Yoshida outside and beat the tar out of her; my favorite part was her putting Yoshida's arm inside of a steel chair and pulling on it from the other side. She'd probably be much happier eating that poisoned blowfish like her Marvel Comics counterpart than having to deal with that pain. Ita also broke out a series of awesome Owen dropkicks from the top, just blasting Yoshida time after time. Yoshida had some great comebacks, but I felt myself rooting for the face painted heel much more. They broke out a great technical spree at the end, with counter after counter into the finale which was pretty simplistic in it's execution. They brought out the best of both styles, clean scientific wrestling and hardcore brawling.
The six women tag was, in essence, a pretty by the numbers match for this type. It started as a messy brawl where everyone was in the ring throwing girly punches (no offense). Nakano was looking like a death metal groupie wearing her Megadeth tee tucked into her pants. But, her first two clotheslines were among some of the stiffest I've ever seen thrown in the business, incl. by that nearsighted lovable old fart Stan Hansen. Hotta had literally no discernible female qualities so I found myself distracted whenever she was in the ring, desperately scanning my TV screen of her image looking for any kind of bulge in her trunks whether it be top or bottom that might help me uncover this mystery. She was loved by the crowd, but her flying back elbows were quite piss-poor. Kong & Nakano came in for big woman spots that didn't thrill or disappoint and while in seperatly, dominated their opposition. The finish though was almost inhuman: Kong gave one chick what we like to call the "doomsday piledriver" from the top rope where basically you are dropped upside down on your head. For all you wrestling insiders and internet pervs, Terri Power was actually Tori from WWE fame back in the late 90's, you know the mannish looking chick that fucked both X-pac and Kane.
And our main event was a whole lot of fun. Started out with a crowd brawl messier than Motoko Baba's soiled diaper after a night of watching old videotapes of her husband making trainees suck his nasty toes. Akira Hokuto was one nasty bitch, throwing top rope slaps and giving her version of Kobashi's 100 hand slap but all to the face. 1st fall was all heels, just pummeling the faces, Hokuto also had a lot of cool offense she used, different ways to utilize the arm and balance of her opponents with pushes and pulls. 2nd fall was Yamada being a samurai badass. Made Uma Thurman's "The Bride" character look like a pregnant housewife. Kicks all around then a German suplex spree that surely had Chris Benoit smiling his fiery pit in hell. Yamada capped the fall off with a Vertebreaker that more resembled a Body breaker as Hokuto slipped off and was compeletely folded in half. One of the most disturbing images in wrestling history but in a good way, not a bad way when Vince has his rump showing to the world after a fresh ass-cial. 3rd fall was all about the wrestling: This is where Toyota shined, as she was pretty quiet during the first half of this match. Amazing athleticism (asai moonsaults and stellar dropkicks from the top rope) accented her beautiful rollups that came from out of nowhere for close near falls. Face team sends the crowd home happy after another suplex display where they had the heels folded up like pretzels and dumping them on their craniums numerous times.
We here at NHO have ignored All Japan Womens' and women's wrestling for too long I think. This was a great card that was full of awesome matches. Def. recommended.