AJW ALL JAPAN WOMEN'S PRO-WRESTLING 2001 DVD VHS
Zen Nihon Joshi Puroresu Tapes Videos


AJW ATHENA on Fuji 721 #29 1/13/01 taped 1/3/01 & 1/4/01 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
-2hr. Q=Near Perfect

1/3/01, WWWA World Single Title Match: Kaoru Ito vs. Etsuko Mita

1/4/01

Yumiko Hotta vs. Manami Toyota

2/3 Falls WWWA World Tag Title Match: Momoe Nakanishi & Nanae Takahashi vs. Mima Shimoda & Etsuko Mita

AJW ATHENA on Fuji 721 #30 2/19/01 taped 1/21/01 Tokyo Differ Ariake
-2hr. Q=Near Perfect

Mika Nishio vs. Miyuki Fujii

Takako Inoue & Rumi Kazama vs. Manami Toyota & Kayo Noumi

Eagle Sawai vs. Miho Wakizawa

Mima Shimoda & Etsuko Mita & Yumiko Hotta & Kumiko Maekawa vs. Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe & Momoe Nakanishi & Nanae Takahashi

1/4/01 Tokyo Korakuen Hall, AJ Single Title Match: Miho Wakizawa vs. Kayo Noumi

AJW ATHENA on Fuji 721 #31 3/18/01 taped 2/28/01 Tokyo Ota-ku Taiikukan
-2hr. Q=TV Master

Miyuki Fujii vs. Mika Nishio. Fujii is their youngest non-rookie, so she gets the unenviable task of leading her inexperienced opponent through an incredibly basic match. Fujii made sure she didn't look like a rookie, but I give her credit for figuring out ways to sell some of the rookies offense without it being to her own detriment. Obviously this wasn't a good match, but I appreciated their effort and Fujii's positive attitude. Nishio, of course, has no move set, but I think she can be good because she did show some spirit, fire, and confidence. The confidence led to Fujii bloodying her nose when she was stomping a mudhole in her face, but Nishio just kept on fighting as if nothing had happened. There were some awkward moments when it was all too obvious that Fujii was instructing Nishi what to do next, but overall I thought it was good for what it was. If nothing else, they succeeded in making the match seem like a struggle. *1/2

SHOOT DOWN at B.J: Miho Wakizawa & Kayo Noumi vs. Eagle Sawai & Takako Inoue. MihoKayo weren't made to look non-competitive. Actually, considering it was usually 3-2 (Rumi), their showing in this brawl was pretty impressive. The main reason they were able to look good is they'd get rid of one of their opponents so they could double team the other. MihoKayo were in Indian mode. Before their usual camel clutch pose, Miho smeared some "war paint" on Eagle's face. When Takako was about to spike Noumi to complete Eagle's powerbomb, Miho put a rope around Eagle's neck and tuggged so Kayo would fall on top of Eagle. Miho soon tied Eagle to the post, which led to Rumi trying to save, but Rumi wound up getting Eagle with her running kick. They were able to give the match the necessary out of control feel, but I hated everything about the finish aside from MihoKayo not having to job. **

Elimination Match: Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe & Momoe Nakanishi & Nanae Takahashi vs. Manami Toyota & Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda & Kumiko Maekawa. Wild, frantically paced match with strong crowd reactions. Hyper pace right from the outset with dives in the first minute. In addition to the fast paced work, there was also a lot of brawling, particularly early on before LCO were eliminated. There were several performances that were at least good including Ito, Watanabe, & Maekawa, but it was clearly Momoe's match. She gave an electrifying performance, flying around everywhere with great moves and counters. In addition, she pinned both Mita & Shimoda. 30 minutes of non-stop action, actually too much to follow at times. ****

Vale Tudo Match: Yumiko Hotta vs. Shinobu Kandori. Supposed to be a shoot, but there were gaping holes as always. Match was neither good nor interesting. They used shoot positions, but showed no creativity, complexity, or even competency. Hotta's strikes look much weaker in this setting because she doesn't get her whole body into them like she does with her typical kicks. *

AJW ATHENA on Fuji 721 #32 4/15/01 Zenjo SPRING RUMBLE '01 taped 4/1/01 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

3/25 Tokyo Differ Ariake

Heels attack faces during opening ceremony. Hotta bloodies Noumi

Make War on V ~ Zenjo Zenmensenso 62 vs 8~: Momoe Nakanishi & Nanae Takahashi & Miho Wakizawa vs. Manami Toyota & Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda. Non-stop action. Sloppy at times, which isn't surprising because when trying to keep this pace up for the entire match it's bound to become too fast for their own good from time to time. Exciting match with very good work. 8:05 shown. Very good

4/1 Tokyo Korakuen Hall

Kumiko Maekawa vs. Miyuki Fujii. All the heels do LCO-esque brawling through the stands. Maekawa totally dominated this as you'd expect, and was punkish in regularly letting Fujii know about it. Fujii's execution was pretty shoddy, but since she got almost no offense in it hardly mattered. Fujii's only "run" came when NanaMomo were helping her out for a few spots, but as soon as those two left the ring Maekawa no sold Fujii and made a comeback. Fujii showed some resiliance, but that was about it. Maekawa looked good, but the match was nothing more than a slightly elongated squash so one can't exactly recommend it. *3/4

Takako Inoue & Chaparrita ASARI vs. Miho Wakizawa & Chie Terashita. This was like the last match except twice as long. Terashita was destroyed for the first 5 minutes before making the tag, but Wakizawa was also unable to mount any offense. ASARI went right after Wakizawa's bad knee, and this weak point was exploited for the rest of the match. Wakizawa was probably really hurting pretty bad because I tend to doubt she's become this good at keeping an injury in focus. In any case, this portion of the match was good and Wakizawa did get some reaction for her determination and fighting spirit, but still it was nothing more than an 18 minute drubbing. ASARI looked good and Takako was fine, but Terashita was out of her depth even though pretty much all she had to do was take bumps and sell. **1/4

Nanae no Yabo (?) ~take aim at KAWASAKI~: Etsuko Mita vs. Nanae Takahashi. Mita was typically solid in holding this match together. Takahashi got the majority of the offense because she was doing the job. Her execution is better, but there were several awkward moments because she goes full speed all the time except at points she basically stops and decides what she's going to do next. **1/2

Zenjo Zenmensenso IV ~in the midst of war~: Yumiko Hotta & Manami Toyota & Mima Shimoda vs. Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe & Momoe Nakanishi. Aside from this not being elimination rules, this was pretty similar to the main event on the previous show. Cachorras brawling around the arena, mainly early on, combined with the Toyota rabid pace and one spot after another. Toyota was much better here. It's weird seeing her spew mist and do a moonsault with a chair, but in any case her work with Momoe was the highlight of the match. There was one spot where Hotta & Maekawa tied Momoe in the ropes and gave her some lame kicks then Toyota gave Momoe a running dropkick in the small of the back. This wouldn't normally be notable, but Momoe took this super fast bump where she exploded forward right onto her head, almost like she was doing this super fast handstand except without putting her hands out. Momoe was also excellent, although she didn't have the opportunity to stand out as much. Watanabe was in a lot, taking much of the punishment for her team. She was bloodied, as was Ito. Great crowd reactions, although it seemed like most were added in post production. Very good work, but the match tended to come off as a collection of spots rather than attaining the level of drama they were trying to reach with all the near falls at the end of the long match. ***3/4

AJW ATHENA on Fuji 721 #33 5/12/01 taped 5/4/01 Kanagawa Kawasaki Shi Taiikukan
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Zen Nihon Tag Senshukenjiai: Miho Wakizawa & Kayo Noumi vs. Carol Midori & Sayori Okino. Basically what you'd expect except it was WAY TOO LONG. What's worse is it lasted over 27 minutes only to be a no contest. Heels dominated, with Wakizawa bleeding. There were some poorly executed spots, but for the most part it was adequate. **

Momoe Nakanishi vs. Kumiko Maekawa. Whose idea was it to get 109 minutes of wrestling over 3 matches out of Hotta, Maekawa, & MihoKayo? I love long matches, but they are practically the poster women for less is more. Although Maekawa at this point is by far the best of the four, this is the match that would have benefitted most from shaving 1/3 of the length. Maekawa lacks the smarts and the move set for 30 minutes. Some of her kicks were just wicked, but others were sluggish. She seemed kind of lethargic, partly because she was probably conserving energy and partly because Momoe is so damn explosive. Everything Momoe does has a lot of zip on it. Even though she's as small as they come, her suplexes are as impressive as just about anyones because they are so fast and crisply executed. She also does some of the most impressive climp-up spots because she bounds up the turnbuckles so quickly. Momoe blew more spots than Maekawa, but because of the way she does things and the difference in degree of difficulty it doesn't seem that way. Due to Momoe, there were some amazing sequences and moves. The match meandered in points though. It really wasn't a smart match. They didn't seem to have any direction or focus. There was this weird spot where Toyota put Momoe on a table in front of the crowd and Maekawa stood on the table only to spew mist in Momoe's face, drag her back over the guard rail, and run her into an adjacent guard rail. Momoe worked on Maekawa's knee, but it was a minor point that was long forgotten by the time the action got hot. Maekawa did this one awesome kick where Momoe ducked the spinning high kick with the right foot, so Maekawa planted that foot and kept spinning so she could catch Momoe with a high kick with her left foot. Another cool spot was Maekawa ducking Momoe's moonsault attack, but Momoe landing on her feet right behind her and going into her Dragon suplex hold. The last 10-11 minutes were excellent, but they didn't do a great job of setting this portion with all the big moves and near finishes up. ***1/4

Street Fight: Kaoru Ito vs. Yumiko Hotta. There wasn't much of what you'd call wrestling in the ring here. They were in the ring some, but the ropes were down most of that time. It was an all out brawl all over the building. The match was very good when Ito was on offense because she's got some imagination and doesn't mind doing her regular moves on the outside. Among others, she did the powerbomb, uranage, and nodowa otoshi on the floor and she used the ladder for a handful of footstomps. Ito was so brutal that she made Hotta's offense look weak. She was vicious throwing chairs and the ladder. She thumped Hotta on an unbreakable table with a piledriver. Later she put Hotta through a table that may have been gimmicked with a Ligerbomb. Hotta did way too much dragging and pulling her opponent around the arena on a sightseeing tour. Brawling normally covers wrestlers weaknesses, but it had the opposite effect for Hotta here because she's so by the book. This was way too much time to ask her to fill, but she would have seemed one-dimensional if the match lasted 15 minutes. There were a number of blown spots, but the match did go on for over 50 minutes and they weren't fighting in the best of circumstances. They did a good job with the selling, pacing, timing, and overall mood of the match. That said, it was more a gruelling match I respect them for putting themselves through than a match I liked. ***

AJW ATHENA on Fuji 721 #34 6/18/01 Japan Grand Prix Kaimakusen taped 6/1/01 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshiki Leaguesen: Nanae Takahashi vs. Miyuki Fujii. Very basic match that built fairly well. Fujii fought a solid match, focusing on Takahashi's knee. The wrestling wasn't the stuff of legend, but they worked really hard and there were a lot of near falls. The fans were so into the whole thing that it seemed like a very good match even though it wasn't. **1/4

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshiki Leaguesen: Mima Shimoda vs. Etsuko Mita. Unlike the Crush Gals, Mita & Shimoda don't have near the chemistry opposing as they do teaming. While they have good matches against each other, it's more a testament to their individual skill. The early portion was nothing to write home about, but when they got down to business there was enough good offense to satisfy. That said, the brawling was the strongest point of the match because it's the one area that most clearly benefits from the LCO style blending. Despite my well known admiration for these two, I didn't find this match particularly involving and some of the execution was less than stellar. It's amazing how much more heat Fujii vs. Takahashi got. I realize they are faced, while these two are heels, but their faces are still Fujii and Takahashi. **3/4

~SHOOT DOWN AT BLACK JOKER~: Miho Wakizawa & Kayo Noumi vs. Eagle Sawai & Rumi Kazama. These teams have developed pretty good chemistry. There are still a lot of flaws becase there's not a good worker in the lot, but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It helps that the are very vocal for MihoKayo.Although certainly getting the better of the opposition, I can't say that Rumi or Eagle were selfish in any way. **1/4

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshiki Leaguesen: Kaoru Ito vs. Tomoko Watanabe. Fiery, enthusiastic work with extremely crisp execution. Although they aren't burners, this was a nice combination of power and speed. Match was of the nice spots back and forth variety with up and down pacing. The finish was nothing special, although it magnified the theme of equality. ***1/4

5/4/01 Kanagawa Kawasaki Shi Taiikukan 2/3 Falls WWWA Sekai Tag Senshukenjiai: Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda vs. Tomoko Watanabe & Nanae Takahashi. Long match with good action throughout. Nothing revolutionary for LCO vs. Watanabe, but it sustained a high quality level for a considerable amount of time. Takahashi doesn't even add what Maekawa used to when she was first starting in this program, but they kept it simple for her. She did fine, but obviously the match was much better when Watanabe was in. Watanabe bled. ***1/2

AJW ATHENA on Fuji 721 #35 7/14/01 Japan Grand Prix '01 taped 7/8 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Idol Wrestler Dojo: Takako Inoue vs. Mika Nishio. Takako's 2001 offense consists of dragging/pulling/throwing her opponent around, using strikes that either miss or have no impact, and doing a few suplexes that she can't or bridge on. Nishio showed less than nothing as well. Her awkward falls without bending made Takako's offense look that much less impressive. 1/4*

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshiki Leaguesen: Miho Wakizawa vs. Kayo Noumi. A good match considering who was involved. Unfortunately, these two still aren't capable of much, especially together. They fought hard, went through their entire arsenal small as it is, and executed as well as you could expect them to. Noumi is a lousy bumper and seller, so it's hard for Wakizawa's offense to look too good. Not that she does more than a couple impressive moves to begin with, but Noumi makes average moves look poor. The best part was Wakizawa doing a plancha then Noumi giving her something that resembled a suplex while Wakizawa was playing to the crowd and following with a plancha of her own. The heat was disappointing for these two especially for the good near falls. **

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshiki Leaguesen: Etsuko Mita vs. Tomoko Watanabe. Battle of the bad knees. Watanabe was the heel here because she chaired Mita in the knee and went after it with Dragon screws and such. Mita really didn't brawl here and was actually destroyed for the majority of the match. The match was going along well when Mita suddenly hit her Death Valley bomb out of nowhere and the ref counted three even though it looked like Watanabe kicked out. Mita attacked Watanabe after the match for going after her knee during it. **

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshiki Leaguesen: Manami Toyota vs. Mima Shimoda. Seemed like it was in slow motion for the 1st 17 minutes even though started using Toyota big moves at 12. Then Shimoda finally injected some life and a sense of urgency into the match, making me remember what a Toyota vs. Shimoda match should look like. Unfortunately, the match was over less than a minute later. **1/2

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshiki Leaguesen: Momoe Nakanishi vs. Kaoru Ito. Ito wrestled a smart match. Rather than blending the styles, she made it a battle of two distinct ones. She had Momoe start out busting it and showing her up with her aerial skills and awesome speed. Momoe seemed sped up after watching the previous for matches. As a fast paced match obviously wasn't to Ito's advantage, she set out to ground Momoe. Using her superior power and submission skills, she picked Momoe's right knee apart with leg locks and footstomps. With Momoe hobbling and hopping around, Ito would then be able to use her bigger moves with less threat of a counter. While this portion wasn't the most exciting you'll ever see, Ito's attack was focused and Momoe was struggling a lot. Momoe didn't do much of a job putting her knee over during her comebacks. That said, what makes Momoe's comebacks so good is they are so explosive. She does a counter out of nowhere and then picks the pace up several notches. As Ito was on offense doing effective but slower stuff most of the match, you appreciated the exciting flashes of offense Momoe would give you "when she could." The match had all the great spots you'd expect, but they were actually well incorporated and of course tremendously executed. Aside from Momoe's carry over selling being weak, the only other drawback was you could see pretty early that the match was probably going the distance. Excellent performances by both. While Momoe is clearly better as a pure worker, she's never shown the smarts, logic, or ability to pace that Ito instilled en route to carrying her to her best singles match to date. ****1/4

AJW ATHENA on Fuji 721 #36 8/4/01 W FUSION 2001 ~Yoyogi Joshi Wrestling Festival~ taped 7/27 Tokyo Kokuritsu Yoyogi Kyogijo Dai-nitaiikukan
-1hr 55min. Q=Ex

Kiss of the World live performance

5 Minute Exhibition Match: Kumiko Maekawa vs. Ari Suzuki. Suzuki is an amateur wrestler. She mainly did dropkicks though. As you'd expect, it was a basic match that Maekawa dominated. Maekawa was using more tosses and locks than kicks.

Zen Nihon Single Senshuken Oza Kettei Tournament Kesshosen: Miho Wakizawa vs. Kayo Noumi. Pretty similar to their JGP match, but a little more juice and a bit better executed in spite of Miho injuring her shoulder. **1/4

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshiki Leaguesen: Momoe Nakanishi vs. Yumiko Hotta. Hotta was typically selfish, giving Momoe little and forcing Momoe to struggle through her match. Momoe had to do a lot of matwork because Hotta has this idea that she's good at matwork even though in actuality Hotta's shooter gimmick only holds some water in standup. The match was slow paced with Hotta seemingly on offense 85% of the time. The final four minutes were good if you don't mind Hotta not letting Momoe hit the cool moves she was trying. Momoe won, but Hotta made sure everyone knew it was a fluke. **1/2

2/3 Falls WWWA Sekai Tag Senshukenjiai: Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda vs. Tomoko Watanabe & Nanae Takahashi. LCO vs. Watanabe has been going on for 5 years and three partners, but it remains one of the most interesting programs to watch. This time LCO came right out and started bashing Watanabe with chairs, not giving her the chance to damage Mita's knee. Watanabe bled profusely. This first fall was vintage LCO, pure havoc. The second fall also really didn't involve Takahashi, which meant the match got off to an excellent start. While the first two falls were short, violent, and action packed, the third was lengthy, dramatic, and more wrestling oriented. Mita vs. Watanabe was the best pairing in the match, but while this was going on Shimoda was busy giving her team the best possible chance to win. Either she was knocking Takahashi around so she could't make any saves or she was assisting Mita in a double team. As Takahashi wasn't involved until the third fall, most of her liabilities were hidden. She could do the few spots she does well and fall down when LCO bashed her. Shimoda mainly handled Takahashi and the strength of her performance was such that she actually made Takahashi look pretty good. Of course, Takahashi was still out of position or overly deliberate or not sharply executing her moves (she was particularly pathetic when she tried to do cradles back and forth with Shimoda). Shimoda can't be blamed for this, no one can help it, but once again that's what kept this from reaching the level of the Maekawa years. ***3/4

W FUSION steel & iron Vale Tudo Rule: Kaoru Ito vs. Erin Torghill. Ito used her weight to her advantage. She was able to get Torghill down right away in 2 of the 3 rounds, avoiding Torghill's big standup advantage. Unfortunately, Ito had no offense once she got down there. Torghill worked submissions from the bottom. At one point putting pressure on Ito's arm gave her the oppenign for a reversal. In the third round, she had two decent chances for an arm bar, with Ito perhaps being saved by the bell the second time. While Ito was on top for more than 80% of the fight, Torghill was clearly the one trying to do something, the aggressor. Torghill wasn't particularly impressive and didn't have a great deal of success, but at least she was active and she did make Ito's left eye swell up from her strikes. I think it's pointless for AJW to have their champion do shoots because there's no women with a big enough name that it'll help much if she does win. That said, Ito certainly isn't ready for them because she lacks the offense and thus can't be aggressive because the chance is more likely to cost her than help her.

AJW Zen Nihon Joshi Puroresu Garage Match Namajo. Vol. 1 DVD taped 6/24 & 7/29/01 Zenjo Garage
-2hr 35min. Q=Near Perfect 1st Gen. 2 DVDs

6/24

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshiki Leaguesen: Etsuko Mita vs. Miho Wakizawa. Mita tried to ground Wakizawa by working on her bad knee. Between Wakizawa's lack of sizes and damaging moves, it's hard to buy her against Mita. Wakizawa had one good series with her missile kicks, but then Mita got her with the blazing chop and that was it. Match was fine, but very short and not too competitive. *1/2

Kaoru Ito & Mika Nishio vs. Momoe Nakanishi & Kayo Noumi. They do more comedy on these small shows to save their body. Ito is so intense that she still works hard, but she kept laughing at Noumi, especially when Noumi expected her to sell such weak offense. There was a funny spot where Ito held Nishio to stop Momoe & Noumi's double dropkick then came in, so Momoe & Noumi both ran to their corner. Another interesting spot saw Nishio try to make it to her corner to tag, but Momoe just pushed her back into her team's corner almost like a sumo spot. Ito & Momoe got into it pretty well, but the other two were just good for a laugh. **1/2

Nanae Takahashi & Miyuki Fujii vs. Yumiko Hotta & Manami Toyota. You got the idea early on that Hotta could beat these two by herself. The first 10 minutes were so onesided that it seemed like a squash match even though the last 5+ were fairly competitive and good. Toyota was good, doing the moonsault and plancha even on the smallest of shows, but Hotta was in too much. **1/4

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshikisen: Tomoko Watanabe vs. Kumiko Maekawa. Good spurts, but as a whole it was uneven. They didn't stick with anything and it felt pieced together. Should have been a little longer and better developed. **1/2

7/29

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshiki Leaguesen: Kayo Noumi vs. Miyuki Fujii. All things considered they executed pretty well. Of course, what they executed pretty well was their usual weak and/or uninteresting offense. Fujii makes regular moves look pretty good. She kept it passable. *1/2

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshiki Leaguesen: Kaoru Ito vs. Nanae Takahashi. Ito was in bad shape from her shoot with Erin. Her cheek and the area under her left eye were black and blue with a bandaid covering the worst part. Her eye was still swollen too. Takahashi was clutzy as usual, catching her foot in the ropes on a tope, but this was the most intense of the garage JGP matches. Ito did her good hard hitting match rather than easing up. **1/2

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshiki Leaguesen: Manami Toyota vs. Miho Wakizawa. Considering Wacky and the garage this was actually an intense match. Unfortunately it was really short and they didn't cut out much of the dilly dallying and clowning. Wakizawa got a fluke victory. **1/4

Tomoko Watanabe & Momoe Nakanishi vs. Yumiko Hotta & Kumiko Maekawa. Hotta & Maekawa are a bad pairing because they have the same no selling gimmick. Watanabe got beat on for several minutes, including accidentally getting cut from a bootrake. She was good, but it's hard to be effective when Hotta won't even go down for her lariat. Momoe kept it interesting even though most of her moves were avoided. Execution was top notch. **1/2

Momo*latch Camera 1, II, & III. Momoe "filming" the various AJW wrestlers, particularly Kiss no Sekai, usually on the Zenjo tour bus.

*I have a limited number of additional 1st gen SP VHS copies available*

AJW ATHENA on Fuji 721 #37 9/8/01 Japan Grand Prix '01 Saishusen taped 8/17/01 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
-1hr 55min. Q=Ex

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshikisen: Miyuki Fujii vs. Kumiko Maekawa. I thought this had some potential since Fujii appeared to be utilizing some strategy in working on Maekawa's right knee rather than displaying her "moveset." Unfortunately, the match never got going, ending with a series of rollups and cradles. *1/2
MS: Fairly interesting match. Maekawa dominated throughout, but Fujii was given just enough to make you think that she had an outside chance of pulling the upset. Fujii's only effective offense was pin attempts though, as Maekawa couldn't be bothered selling her taped up knee even after Fujii purposely went after it a couple of times. Maekawa did enjoy smacking around the ref though in her attempt to impress Shimoda and Mita at ringside. *

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshikisen: Tomoko Watanabe vs. Nanae Takahashi. Watanabe gave Takahashi every opportunity to impress. Unfortunately, this just made it not much of a match. The finish was like Watanabe's previous JGP match with Mita except the wrestler getting all the offense in was the one that got the flash pin. It was fast paced, but too short with too little drama and offense from Watanabe. **
MS: Not bad. Nanae controlled a lot of the match even though she was going over, and looked about as good as she can in doing so. Watanabe was on this night as well and they traded a lot of "big girl" offense trying to see who would fall first. The finish was pretty wild as well with near falls aplenty, culminating with Nanae winning on a flash as she shifted her weight and landed on top of Tomoko during a screwdriver attempt then hooked her leg for the win. Much better than I had anticipated and a pretty exciting match (for them) as well. **1/2

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshikisen: Momoe Nakanishi vs. Mima Shimoda. Shimoda was energized for this one. She jumped Momoe as soon as she entered the ring and roughed her up in and out of the ring, causing her to bleed. This set up a fantastic spot where Shimoda tried to whip Momoe into the stage that starts the elevated seats, but Momoe jumped onto it and moonsault attacked off. What made this such a good match is that Shimoda can do the fast paced stuff as well as anyone in AJW other than Momoe and perhaps Toyota. Unlike the usual match where Shimoda is in charge of making the opposition look good, Momoe instead made her look good. As the match was short with Momoe having to work again later, Shimoda kept pushing the pace leading to some spectacular spots and bumps like the one Momoe took for Shimoda's deathlake drive. If it went another 5 minutes and didn't have a flukish finish it most likely would have been an excellent match. The selling was definitely the weak point and the match didn't build, but it was definitely the best singles match Shimoda has had in quite a while. ***1/2
MS: They started out really fast with Mima jumping Momoe before the bell rang. After Shimoda bounced her around the ring for a minute, Momoe took control as they went outside and hit a cool running moonsault off the seating platform to the left of the entrance way at Korakuen Hall. They briefly went back in the ring before Shimoda dragged Momoe back outside and piledrove her thru a table, causing Momoe to blade, and dragged her all over the building. Back in the ring for good, they exchanged big spots on a pile of chairs with Momoe hitting a german suplex and then Mima catching her off the ropes with a powerbomb. They basically went all out for the entire 10:27, with the match being completely comprised of spots culiminating with Momoe ducking some orange mist and landing a Dragon suplex for the pin. The last few minutes were fairly heated and the finish got a big pop. The pacing was non-stop and awesome with not one rest spot or submission hold. I enjoy submissions when they are incorporated in the right way, but that isn't a big strength of either women (especially Momoe) so I didn't mind them not bothering with them. ***1/2

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshikisen: Yumiko Hotta vs. Etsuko Mita. Hotta attacked Mita's bad knee right away. Part of this attack was a curious spot where repeatedly hitting Mita's foot into a table was supposed to damage the knee. Mita worked on Hotta's knee as well. I expect a slow paced match from these two, but not only is Hotta slow these days, she's has no stamima, is unmotivated, and fairly lifeless. Mita did a good job, but the match crawled along because Hotta showed nothing. Once the match got going Hotta showed she could still provide a few good minutes, but 14 dull minutes and 3 good ones doesn't exactly make me long for her latest matches. **
MS: Decent match. The first 10 minutes were very methodical as they traded off working over each other's knees without putting a ton of effort into what they were doing. Hotta actually put forth a good effort after that, so the last 7 minutes were strong as they kept barely escaping each other's finishers. The highlight was a (soft) powerbomb by Hotta onto a ladder bridged across two chairs. Hotta eventually won with her third pyramid driver and then attacked Shimoda with the ladder. Mita was solid as usual though and with Hotta deciding to work, she was able to get a good amount out of her. **1/4

Japan Grand Prix '01 Koshikisen: Kaoru Ito vs. Manami Toyota. This match has gotten some high praise, but I was not overly impressed. It looked like it was going to be a great match because Toyota came out like a house of fire. For the first two minutes she looked like the Toyota of old with energy, intensity, and athleticism, but also being a heel she was attacking Ito's bad arm. Quickly though, she reverted back to the usual nonsense, meandering with submissions to any old spot rather than keeping at Ito's weakened spot. Later she began attacking Ito's shin. This renewed some of my faith in her until Ito kept hobbling around and Toyota refused to go back to it, resulting in Ito eventually giving up on the idea. The middle portion really did nothing for me. They threw out a little of everything, but it amounted to nothing. In the end, what made it a very good match was simply that them doing a number of nice moves and executing them well. From 15:45 on it was a great match except for the way they brought the shin back in. Ito no sold the damage the first time then when she sold it the second time Toyota totally left it since she has n big moves that actually damage the shin. Thus, the only point of the entire shin attack was that Ito had to take a little more time to make the cover after doing her diving footstomps. Ito certainly did her best to sell her injured parts, but ultimately it failed because Toyota has no clue when and how to attack them. That said, the final 8 minutes had loads of near falls back and forth and was exciting and dramatic. Ito was clearly in top form, and that easily puts her among the top 5 women right now. Like Shimoda, after having a sluggish JGP match on the previous Korakuen show Toyota came back energized and had her best singles match in a while. ***1/2
MS: Very good match, but not quite up to their usual standard. Manami was strong throughout, but Ito seemed a bit lethargic (not lazy but not crisp either). Part of that was her selling her leg as Manami would drift in and out of attacking it, but even early on when Manami was flying Ito was somewhat off. The body of the match was kinda slow as they mainly did submissions to pass the time as opposed to having a defined focus on them (moreso in Manami's case which is expected). The final few minutes made the match as Manami showed a lot of resilency by surviving most of Ito's top stuff and she eventually caught Kaoru with a wicked modified DDT/loose Northern Lights bomb for the win. The last few minutes were very heated for Manami's comebacks and she got a monster pop for the pin. They did such an effective job of teasing a draw that even though the match was 6-1/2 minutes short of the 30 minute time it was almost a shock to the crowd (and me as well to an extent) that Manami wasn't just able to survive but get the pin. ***3/4

Japan Grand Prix '01 Yushoketteisen: Momoe Nakanishi vs. Kumiko Maekawa. The attendance for this show was disappointing and the crowd wasn't as hot as I expected, but Momoe came out on fire and got the place rocking from the get go. Shimoda also got big heat for tripping Momoe. Momoe's work was awesome. She pulled off the athletic moves in ways that few can and the counters and transitions were really fast and precise as well. Maekawa was also impressive because she stuck to what she does very well, kicking. Really what made the match so good is that it was short. These two are not going to give you psychology, build, or selling, so why have them go long? It only put them in a position where those aspects become more and more important. What they gave you was a lightning pace, tons of dramatic near falls, & super counters. The match actually seemed long because there were several minutes when every move led to a 2 1/2 or more count. They also made it seem like the stakes were as high as they should be, giving the match an aura and instilling a sense of urgency. There was some downside like at certain times you cuold tell they weren't sure what they wanted to do next. Maekawa also did some silly stuff like bringing the match to the floor and setting Momoe up on a table just so she could kakato otoshi her (where she couldn't get the pin). Definitely though this was the best Momoe vs. Maekawa of '01 because the length was suited to their abilities. ****
MS: Momoe picked up right where she left off with Shimoda and hit a tope con hilo off the apron and a moonsault to the floor less than 20 seconds in. And playing off their match earlier in the show, Shimoda tripped her about 90 seconds later which led to Nanae attacking Mima. After Momoe hit a plancha they went back inside for a little while and kept up the quick pace already going to wall-to-wall near falls. There was one awkward sequence that briefly stopped this where Momoe seemed to forget what she wanted to do next so Maekawa kicked her off the top rope to the floor. This led to another gawky moment where Maekawa slammed Momoe on a table (almost missing it) and then climbed up and gave her an axe kick that looked pretty weak because Momoe had to duck into it. They were able to swiftly recover from this though and continued trying to end the match as soon as possible with pin attempts. Momoe finally got the win in just under 13 minutes and the crowd (who was into the last couple of minutes but probably a bit worn out from the Manami/Ito match) went nuts for her. Both women really made this excellent as Momoe was able to keep up her incredible pace that started vs. Shimoda and Maekawa's being able to keep up and hit most of her kicks in a strong manner. ****

AJW Zen Nihon Joshi Puroresu Garage Match Namajo. Vol. 2 DVD 8/19/01 Zenjo Garage
-1hr 50min. Q=Near Perfect 1st Gen

Debut 5th Anniversary Memorial Match: Nanae Takahashi & Miyuki Fujii vs. Momoe Nakanishi & Mika Nishio. Wakizawa was supposed to be in this match, but couldn't work so the less experienced Nishio took her place. The offense was at quite a low level, especially with Nishio working so much. It got better after 10:00 with Momoe working against Takahashi. These last 4 minutes were pretty good, but the finish was lame. **

Yumiko Hotta vs. Kayo Noumi. As one-sided as you'd expect, and then some. Almost like watching the old American squash matches. *

Midget Japan Grand Prix '01 Kesshosen: Mr. Buddhaman vs. Tomezo Tsunokake

Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe vs. Manami Toyota & Kumiko Maekawa 15:00. Nice small show main event. A bit routine, but the action and effort were good throughout. They were energetic, and didn't tone the match down or skimp on the quality apart from the shorter time limit. Ito & Watanabe were closest to their tv taping level, even though Ito was all banged up with her arms all taped and her knee bothering her. They were the foundation of the match with Toyota supplying the big offense. Maekawa worked at about her usual pace, but her kicks were somewhat off. **3/4

AJW ATHENA on FUJI 721 #38 10/6/01 ODAIBA W EXPLOSION 2001 SUPER LIVE 2 DAYS
taped 9/15/01 & 9/16/01 Tokyo Odaiba Fuji TV Studio
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

2/3 Falls WWWA World Tag Title Match: Tomoko Watanabe & Nanae Takahashi vs. Miho Wakizawa & Kayo Noumi 15:15 & 15:52. A successful promotion is often one that simply understands how to promote the talent they have. Unfortunately, AJW has never figured out how to adjust to not having super talent, so they still try to push everyone who isn’t a monster in essentially the same way. They simply throw the young “stars” out there for lengthy periods of time even if they don’t execute well and have no truly good looking offense. Lioness Asuka & Chigusa Nagayo or Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada had the talent to find their way through their lengthy spotlight matches, but trying this with wrestlers who obviously will never be top flight is putting them in a position to embarrass themselves. 10 or maybe 15 minutes of this with major help from Watanabe would have been more than adequate, but going past the 30-minute mark with Nanae & MihoKayo was deadly. MihoKayo were forced to expand the boundaries of tag team wrestling to include the double scream in the opponents ear which, while undoubtedly more damaging than Kurt Angle’s best ankle lock, doesn’t exactly make for scintillating television. Miho soon tried to top her early clowning, blowing on Watanabe to try to get her to release the top rope so Kayo could German suplex her. Watanabe is obviously the one high quality wrestler in the match, but she knew it was hopeless and decided not to take up a losing cause. There’s not much you can do when your opponent, Miho, throws their 15 best shots at you, and not one of them is good enough to warrant you releasing your scorpion. By pretty much stayed out of this match, Watanabe left the other three to fall flat on their face. This heatless match wasn't compelling to the silent crowd, who didn’t get into MihoKayo shaming the titles by being at their goofiest with the straps on the line. There was no direction, focus, drama, or intrigue, the match simply meandered along as an endless collection of remedial moves executed passable, at best, when they were finally able to set them up. MihoKayo were largely portrayed as what they are, a team that isn't serious and certainly isn't on the level, losing possibly the worst WWWA tag title match in history in straight falls. Black Joker attacked after the match, so in case the first 32 minutes of NanaMihoKayo weren’t enough...*1/2

BLACK JOKER IN W EXPLOSION 2001: Nanae Takahashi & Miho Wakizawa & Kayo Noumi vs. Rumi Kazama & Eagle Sawai & Takako Inoue 19:33. If you saw the pictures in a magazine, this would probably look like a good match. The first half was almost a facsimile of wrestling, really just setting up opportunities to posterize the opposition. The wrestling in the second half wasn't any good either, but at least there was a lot of fast paced semi legitimate action. Black Joker might not be much individually, but at least their teamwork is effective. Takako and Rumi carried the match, which had 15 times the heat of the previous tag title match. Even Eagle was better than any of the AJW women if you don't mind that she moves at 1/10th the speed she did a decade ago and was on offense just about the entire time she was in. The best spot was Takahashi giving Eagle a superplex then MihoKayo jumping from opposite corners with a diving headbutt and Takahashi doing her diving elbow drop. *3/4

All Pacific Title Match: Tomoko Watanabe vs. Kumiko Maekawa 11:44. Watanabe apparently saved it for the real title match. She didn’t hold anything back against Maekawa, delivering one of those hyper spotfests where the workrate is so high it’s ridiculous. The main difference in the pace of the match was that they took no time between moves to sell (rest). With all the brutal kicks Maekawa threw, it would have been nice if Watanabe took a minute to put one over, but they succeeded in delivering the exciting short match they embarked upon. Watanabe tried some knee work early to take some of the zip of Maekawa’s punts, but it was to no avail, with the bulk of the match being Maekawa's kicks vs. Watanabe's lariats. The final minutes were excellent, but the match was essentially a formless explosion. Maekawa captured the title. ***1/4

W EXPLOSION MOST IMPACT: Yumiko Hotta & Mima Shimoda vs. Manami Toyota & Takako Inoue 3:19 of 21:05.

W EXPLOSION ESPECIALLY: Yumiko Hotta & Manami Toyota vs. Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda 2:15 of 24:33. More good wrestling in 2 minutes than MihoKayo gave you in 50, and this was a garbage match!

WWWA World Single Title Match: Kaoru Ito vs. Momoe Nakanishi 24:27. An excellent match with both women wrestling on an extremely high level, but also one that seemed out of sequence. Momoe was extremely competitive in their last meeting, and has only increased her standing coming off winning the JGP. They should have done a match to get over Momoe’s skill by treating her as a legitimate threat to Ito, but instead they did a match designed to get over her heart where she simply withstood a sick amount of punishment. Unlike Watanabe vs. Maekawa, the match was very dynamic because they understood how to manipulate the pace. Ito played the role of the powerful beast early on, using her size and strength to methodically maul Momoe, who would sometimes pull a faster than a speeding bullet counter. However, since Momoe didn't get much offense in and was never able to compete, the match wasn't nearly as dramatic or exciting as it rightfully should have been. Ito went right after Momoe's knee, never giving Momoe a chance to get started to the point she almost completely neutralized the opposition for the first 17 minutes. Nakanishi might pull one sweet move, but when it looked like she was about to come back, Ito would have her offense scouted and find a way to retain control. Realizing that trying to string her holds together had failed, Momoe tried to get off before Ito and beat her with one move. While not the greatest strategy, it can work for her because her Momo*latch finisher is more a flash pin move than something that supposedly does damage. The match began to reverse with Ito working faster and more aggressively, but Momoe being the one who saw the flying move coming and found a way to avoid it. Momoe's selling was much better here than in their JGP match with the exception of her getting ridiculously hyper around the 22:00. They pretty much couldn't have executed their offense better and they saw the story they told through as well as one could hope. ****

AJW Zen Nihon Joshi Puroresu Garage Match Namajo. Vol. 3 DVD taped 9/24/01 Zenjo Garage
-2hr 10min. Q=Near Perfect 1st Gen

Fumiko Yamane vs. Chiemi Kitagami. Yamane is so slow and deliberate. She does some really awful stand over her opponent and touch her boot to them (aka stomps). Kitagami showed nothing either. 1/4*

Tomoko Mori vs. Mika Nishio. What's scary is Nishio looks really competent in comparison to this year's rookies. Mori is better than the previous two. She's more athletic and there is some speed and impact to her moves. Passable. *

Miyuki Fujii vs. Kumiko Maekawa. Fujii is a pretty good opponent for Maekawa because she doesn't require much offense. Maekawa did some good kicks, but the match was short and one-sided. *3/4

Manami Toyota & Yumiko Hotta vs. Tomoko Watanabe & Momoe Nakanishi. Good effort here, particularly from Toyota & Momoe. Actually, Watanabe gave close to her best effort, but with her favoring her knee so much the results weren't what they used to be. The time limit was short, but they filled those minutes with action. It's amazing how much better Hotta was in 9/01 then in 12/01, not that she was good in either but at least here she still moved. ***1/2

Miho Wakizawa & Kayo Noumi vs. Kaoru Ito & Nanae Takahashi. Lots of comedy since MihoKayo weren't going to be taken seriously. They had their buddy put a dog on Ito when Wakizawa had her in a figure 4. Even MihoKayo's double teams couldn't hurt the opposition. **1/2

NanaMomo at the beach

Basically the entire roster demonstrating their cell phone

AJW Zen Nihon Joshi Puroresu Garage Match Namajo. Vol. 4 DVD taped 10/14/01 Zenjo Garage
-2hr. Q=Near Perfect 1st Gen

Mika Nishio & Fumiko Yamane vs. Chiemi Kitagami & Tomoko Mori. Standard rookie match, but these women don't show any potential yet. Way overlong match with lots of bad dropkicks. 3/4*

Manami Toyota vs. Miyuki Fujii 10:22. Considering how small a show and how weak an opponent, this was a pretty good effort from Toyota. She had to dominate because Fujii lacks the offense to take it to her and is really all effort, but she was countering her rather than totally squashing her. It wasn't the smoothest match, but it was a lot more complex than the typical garage fair. Toyota still did a moonsault and with both women did dives (although Fujii's tope was rather pathetic). **1/4

Yumiko Hotta vs. Kumiko Maekawa. Meandered along for quite a while before becoming interesting. Still, it seemed like they didn't want to give anything away. Yamane interfered on Maekawa's behalf so Hotta could sell a little without "looking bad." **

Momoe Nakanishi & Miho Wakizawa & Kayo Noumi vs. Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe & Nanae Takahashi. Lighthearted match, but there were still a number of good moves, especially in the later stages. Momoe's team wore Ito's old Peter Pan outfits, while Ito's team wore her new fire outfits. Later, Momoe provided Peter Pan tops for Watanabe and Takahashi, so everyone gave Ito her footstomps. Some good stuff, but Ito and especially Momoe didn't do as much as usual to make up for MihoKayo's liabilities. **1/2

Karaoke performances by Nakanshi, Takahashi, & Nishio

AJW ATHENA on Fuji 721 #39 11/3/01 THE SHOCK OF QUAKE II taped 10/24/01 Tokyo Ota-ku Taiikukan
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Kiss of the World live performance

Tag League The Best '01 Koshikisen: Manami Toyota & Yumiko Hotta vs. Kayo Noumi & Miho Wakizawa. The match kept moving and certainly wasn't lacking in action. MihoKayo were made as credible as they could be without it becoming an embarrasment for Hotta & Toyota. Hotta took more moves than I expected, but didn't really sell them. I can't blame her too much since MihoKayo's offense is so light. Toyota, of course, wasn't indifferent like Hotta, and did a good job mainly with Miho. The finish was a big surprise with Wakizawa getting a flash pin on Toyota, but obviously wasn't going to help Miho much (even if she wasn't retiring). **1/4

All Pacific Senshukenjiai: Kumiko Maekawa vs. Momoe Nakanishi. Quality is sometimes purportionate to quantity, but there are other cases where it's dispurportionate. The Maekawa vs. Nakanishi series has been one of those cases. Their 13 minute JGP final was one of the best women's matches of the year, but their 30 minute draw was about at least 13 minutes too long. Now they inexplicably went up to a 60:00 draw, and the results were exactly as you'd expect if you understand what these two are and aren't good at. The match got off to a great start with their fast paced action, but since it was 45 minutes too long it quickly slowed down. The first half was WAY BETTER than the second half. The fans were really into Momoe's flying. Unlike the recent matches against Ito & Hotta, this was Momoe's match so she really showed her stuff. Momoe's stuff doesn't last that long though, and the big problem was they didn't know how to pass the time. These two are probably never going to give you psychology, story, or a strong build, but AJW keeps putting them in the position where these aspects are inherent. Maekawa doesn't have near the stamina to do a Toyota vs. Kyoko 5/7/95 kind of draw; this was way slower and Maekawa was still gassed half way through. They tried something of a knee storyline, but this just isn't their thing. The second half was defined by them tiring, mainly Maekawa because Momoe was able to turn it on when she needed to, that they don't have enough different moves to keep it from being repetitive, and that they don't know how to utilize the moves they have well enough to make you not mind or even want to see them go back to the same things. This was not a goofy match, rather it was more a thoughtless one that crawled to the finish because Maekawa had nothing left. Momoe is the best pure worker of all the women these days, but a60 minute requires more than that unless your opponent is also an awesome pure worker with a ton of stamina. This match is certainly worth watching, but more than anything else it makes me appreciate what Toyota & Kyoko pulled off. ***

Earthquake Zone: ZAP I & ZAP T vs. Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda. Long violent well executed brawl. Out of the first 10 minutes, about 1 of them was fought inside the ring. The ZAPs were pretty dominant here. They were better than usual because they didn't rely on their sticks as much, in part because the match was all over the building. Still, the ZAP gimmick is not as interesting because their move set is tighter and all their charisma is hidden under the mask. Shimoda took most of the beating, bleeding heavily and doing an excellent job of looking battered. The match wasn't particularly exciting or dramatic, but she kept me interested. In a way it was one of LCO's better brawls because it was a rare opportunity to face a team that brawls well and are equally nasty, but the match lacked an arch and really anything to get you into it. In the end, the brawling was better but wound up being at the expense of the other things the teams do well. ***

AJW Zen Nihon Joshi Puroresu Garage Match Namajo. Vol. 5 DVD taped 11/11/01 Zenjo Garage
-2 1/2hr. Q=Near Perfect 1st Gen

Tomoko Morii & Ayako Sato vs. Chiemi Kitagami & Saki Maemura. Dropkick match, but at least what they did was passable. Sato showed the most potential of the bunch. *

Handicap Match: Yumiko Hotta vs. Miyuki Fujii & Mika Nishio. What a bore. Even 2 on 1, they couldn't do anything to the vaunted "shooter" who was once again feeding her ego. 1/4*

Kumiko Maekawa vs. Nanae Takahashi. The offense was fine, but as you'd expect neither did much bumping or selling. Lots of brawling outside the garage, with Takahashi shoving a banana in Maekawa's mouth and Maekawa putting a plastic bucket on Takahashi's head and kicking it. Takahashi was in control a lot considering she was wrestling Maekawa, which didn't make for much of a match. Maekawa did one exceptionally nasty kick - accidentally - when Takahashi ducked into her boot during a sequence where she was supposed to avoid the kick and back body drop Maekawa to the floor. **

Wacky Garage Final: Momoe Nakanishi & Kayo Noumi vs. Manami Toyota & Miho Wakizawa 17:48. Some good action mixed with comedy and filler since it's a small show and a tribute to Miho. Even though the Toyota of today is lazy by her '95 standards, she still gives a better effort on the small shows than even most of the younger wrestlers. It started off slow with some clowning such as Toyota breaking up a 1/2 crab by spitting water in Momoe's face until she desisted. Later, Momoe got revenge by holding Toyota so Miho could spew water in her face. Kayo was screaming when she squeezed her bodyscissors tight on Toyota, so Toyota screamed back at her. Toyota & Momoe eventually did some good things to save the match, and Kayo actually had a few moments. Wakizawa did a nice elevated missile kick. The ending was lame, but at least it was different that they had the retiring wrestler get the pin instead of getting pinned. **1/2

Farewell Garage Battle Royal 17:25. The garage was first and foremost a training facility, so it was fitting that they closed it down with a match that was essentially a glorified training session. Everyone did a tumbling drill in the ring when the match started then a series of arm whips and snapmares, just as they did here when they began their training. After the long warmup they went to more conventional comedy with everyone putting the next person in a headscissors and Ito jumping on their stomachs. Once they cleared the ring there was some spurts of good wrestling, but mainly a lot of clowning and the usual stupid pileup pins. It was a bit much that they had Wakizawa win this too, but just in case anyone was thinking of taking her seriously, she decided to wear a hanger on her head.

AJW Zen Nihon Joshi Puroresu Garage Match Namajo. Vol. 6 DVD taped 12/1/01 Shizuoka-ken Fujikawa-cho Sogo Taiikukan
-2hr 35min. Q=Perfect. 1 DVD

Tomiko Morii vs. Ayako Sato

Chiemi Kitagami vs. Fumiko Yamane

Kumiko Maekawa vs. Miyuki Fujii

Manami Toyota & Yumiko Hotta vs. Tomoko Watanabe & Kayo Noumi

Wacky Final Countdown: Nanae Takahashi vs. Miho Wakizawa

Tag League The Best '01 League Match: Kaoru Ito & Momoe Nakanishi vs. Mima Shimoda & Etsuko Mita

Training In AJW Dojo

Kiss no Sekai & Miyuki Fujii training girls in AJW dojo and playing games with mallets and wrestling with each inside a giant inflatable ball

AJW ATHENA on Fuji 721 #40 12/9/01 taped 12/2/01 Tokyo Korakuen Hall
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

Kiss of the World music video

Fumiko Yamane vs. Ayako Sato. There's plenty of time for these girls to improve, but what scares me about this years crop of rookies is none of them seem particularly athletic. Obviously that's not a prerequisite to being a good wrestler, but with the direction women's wrestling has gone in it's more important than ever. The execution wasn't exactly up to the old standards either. Sato was just there, but Yamane was absolutely awful. Not only does she wildly oversell, she starts falling down before the dropkick even hits her. 1/4*

Miyuki Fujii & Saki Maemura vs. Chiemi Kitagami & Tomoko Morii. Dropkick city. Fujii dumbed down to the rookies level. Tedious but passable match. 3/4*

Tag League The Best '01 Koshikisen: Miho Wakizawa & Kayo Noumi vs. Kaoru Ito & Momoe Nakanishi. This match was fine, but after seeing how good Ito vs. Momoe is it's hard to get into them teaming against these offensively anemic goofballs. Momoe got stuck selling all of MihoKayo's junk because Ito can't sell most of it without looking stupid. As Ito was almost always on offense Momoe didn't get to do much flying. It was weird to see her brawling alongside Ito, throwing chairs and such. Certainly this was one of those I wonder who's gonna win this one matches. Wakizawa's best chance came when she ducked Ito's lariat, resulting in Momoe accidentally getting taken out. They did try to make it dramatic. **1/2

Tag League The Best '01 Koshikisen: Yumiko Hotta & Manami Toyota vs. Kumiko Maekawa & Misae Genki. A good match because Toyota was willing to step up and carry her team. Hotta wasn't exactly going to treat Genki as even a semi-equal, so Maekawa & Genki had to double team her. Hotta vs. Genki wasn't very good either, with Hotta being so slow these days that it seemed like the Maekawa footage was being sped up. Maekawa vs. Toyota was definitely the highlight pairing. A 20 minute max singles match between these two right now would be big time by today's standards. One thing that annoys me these days is this trend where everyone in AJW (and some other leagues) feels the need to brawl into the crowd. It cheapens LCO's style and generally makes the brawling disinteresting, especially since the few wrestlers that make the brawling seem like it belongs in the match are the ones that were doing it before it became a prerequisite. The finish was a big surprise. ***

Tag League The Best '01 Koshikisen: Tomoko Watanabe & Nanae Takahashi vs. Mima Shimoda & Etsuko Mita. The best and longest league match of the night. It was more wrestling oriented than usual, more solid but less dramatic and spectacular. In spite of one painfully embarrassing spot where she came up so short on her diving elbow drop that she didn't even reach her opponent, Takahashi was better here. She seemed to wrestle with a little more maturity, standing up to Mita better and starting the attack on her bad knee. In turn, LCO worked on Takahashi's bad shoulder. ***1/2

Tag League The Best '01 Yushoketteisen: Kaoru Ito & Momoe Nakanishi vs. Yumiko Hotta & Manami Toyota. The three best wrestlers in AJW were more than able to offset the Hotta slug. Hotta was crawling slower than usual because this was obviously her second match of the night. There was more brawling than I wanted to see, with them going out of the arena area and onto the balcony. Hotta wound up dropping the scissors off the balcony when the ref was trying to stop her from using them on Ito, who was already sliced upen, but luckily they didn't land on a fan. Once they stuck to wrestling the sequences that didn't involve Hotta were damn good. Momoe was the best as usual, but Ito and Toyota were certainly impressive in their own right. ***1/2

AJW MAIN EVENT MIHOKAYO FINAL DVD
-2hr 10min. Q=Near Perfect 1st Gen

This DVD features several match highlights from the final months of MihoKayo plus out of the ring footage like them posing in the pool, visiting Miho's apartment, bowling, playing tennis, and so on.

12/16/01 Kanagawa Kawasaki Shi Taiikukan Miho Wakizawa Intai Jiai Wacky Final Smile: Miho Wakizawa vs. Kayo Noumi. A good match for them. They kept it simple early on then Wakizawa started going to her "big" moves at 8:00. Wakizawa got the majority of the offense in since she was losing, which boded well since even an injured up Wakizawa has far better moves and execution than Noumi. Everything was well executed for Noumi. Well there was a lot of repetition since neither are capable of doing much, I'd certainly rather see more missile kicks, fisherman busters, and doublewrist armsaults and the usual goofiness. Actually, this was probably as serious as MihoKayo gets. Although it had surprisingly little atmosphere, especially for a retirement match, this is probably the best match they've had against one another. Noumi pinned Wakizawa with her own fishermanbuster. During Wakizawa's retirement ceremony, Rumi & Takako made it look like they were going to have Eagle beat Miho up. However, they "doublecrossed" Eagle with a double DDT and had Wakizawa pin her with a diving body press. **1/2

AJW ATHENA on Fuji 721 #41 1/19/02
-1hr 55min. Q=TV Master

12/16/01 Kanagawa Kawasaki Shi Taiikukan

Miho Wakizawa Intai Jiai Wacky Final Smile: Miho Wakizawa vs. Kayo Noumi. A good match for them. They kept it simple early on then Wakizawa started going to her "big" moves at 8:00. Wakizawa got the majority of the offense in since she was losing, which boded well since even an injured up Wakizawa has far better moves and execution than Noumi. Everything was well executed for Noumi. Well there was a lot of repetition since neither are capable of doing much, I'd certainly rather see more missile kicks, fisherman busters, and doublewrist armsaults and the usual goofiness. Actually, this was probably as serious as MihoKayo gets. Although it had surprisingly little atmosphere, especially for a retirement match, this is probably the best match they've had against one another. Noumi pinned Wakizawa with her own fishermanbuster. During Wakizawa's retirement ceremony, Rumi & Takako made it look like they were going to have Eagle beat Miho up. However, they "doublecrossed" Eagle with a double DDT and had Wakizawa pin her with a diving body press. **1/2
Michael Smith: The match started out slowly being that they were using very basic moves. The first few minutes were very reminiscent of a "green" girls match from say '94 or '95. That and the strategy of using eardrum piercing screams to make each other deaf took away from this match a bit. There were however a lot of nice near falls (which unfortunately were hurt by the lack of heat) over the last few minutes including Kayo rolling through on a top rope hurancanrana for a two count and another two count off Kayo's rolling doublewrist armsaults. It's a good thing this was Miho retirement match in the sense that Kayo surviving 5 fisherman's busters killed Wakizawa's finisher dead. Noumi eventually got the win with a fisherman's buster of her own that came off more like a regular fisherman's suplex (minus the bridging pin attempt). They kept the goofiness down in this match which helped it be better than I had expected going in. As I said before, the lack of heat hurt them but overall I feel they still put out a **1/2 effort. Miho got alot of streamers before and after the match, which makes you wonder why the crowd couldn't support her during it. I think she could come back though and be successful if she recovers from her injuries and decides she wants to wrestle again. She never was or will be a great worker but she and Kayo both have a lot of charisma as a team and since standards aren't as high as they were in the mid-late '90s, she certainly has a solid place in today's era. **1/2

Kanaami & Waisha Kamikiri Death Match ~Final Conclusion~: Kaoru Ito vs. Yumiko Hotta. Only in AJW do they have someone with very negative stamina go 45 minutes in a cage match. In their previous moronathon all the brawling around the building helped mask Hotta's lack of ability and stamina, but limited to the confines of the cage it was so painfully apparent. Hotta hit Ito with a ladder, leaving Ito bloody before the match even began. Ito bled all over the place, but that was one of the only "highlights." The reason Ito is a good brawler, while ZAP I for the most part isn't is that Ito brawls with fire, flair, and charisma while I is just a masked goon that hits you with a stick 100 times. At least ZAP I has an excuse since AJW strapped her with this ridiculous gimmick and never even gave them any legitimate credibility. Hotta's brawling is just a joke though. She's expressionless and inert. A chain can be interesting, but not if you just lean around once you wrap it around your opponent's neck. Too look at Hotta wrestle these days, you have to think she considers it a chore. Anyway, the match was absolutely endless. If you like nothing but chains, ladders, and fire extinguishers this was an instant classic. As the match "progressed," they added climbing since it was the usual escape rules. Even the haircut at the end was unsatisfactory; Fujii's normal hairdo is about the same length. Ito did a decent job, but she had to sell way too much for it to be a quality match, and even when she was on offense there wasn't a lot she could do with such a flat opponent. *
MS: This match was not as bad as I was led to believe, but it wasn't that good either. 50 minutes (including the pre-match brawl) was WAY too long for either of them to be out there, and as a result both women were blown up 20 minutes in. The positives about this match though were that despite the repetition of escape attempts, both women worked their asses off and as a result the crowd was into the match when they needed to be. Both women took a lot of punishment here (especially Hotta landing on her the back of her head after being pulled off the top of the cage and the several brutal footstomps Ito gave her), which made the fact that they were blown up acceptable in that it put over the toll the match was taking on them. Flashing back 4-1/2 years, Ito did the footstomp off the top of the cage and while not as dramatic as when she planted Shimoda with it, it was still a very impressive and awesome spot. They did a nice tease following this where Ito's leg was caught in the chain and she initially couldn't get over the top of the cage but was eventually able to. The cutting of Hotta's hair following the match came off as anti-climatic, but the show of respect between them (though expected) was nice to see after the war they had just gone through. *3/4

1/4/02 Tokyo Korakuen Hall

2/3 Falls WWWA Sekai Tag Senshukenjiai: Tomoko Watanabe & Nanae Takahashi vs. Rumi Kazama & Takako Inoue. Watanabe hasn't been as good of late. She seems less motivated and more about self preservation, probably because her knee is pretty bad. This was a lot better than Watanabe & Takahashi's title match against MihoKayo, but still seemed kind of flat and lacking in emotion. Everyone was decent, but no one really stepped up. **1/4
MS: Although this match went too long for these 4 it really picked up midway through the 2nd fall. Surprisingly the first 2 falls were completely held in the ring and lacked any brawling or interference (which I'm certainly not complaining about). The work wasn't bad, but it was nothing special either as nobody really did anything noticeable here. The one exception to that was a pretty cool spot where Takako slid down the drapes by the high balcony which drew a decent reaction from the crowd. Otherwise it was a good, solid, match but nothing you'd be hurt by missing. **1/4

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