5-Star Match Reviews: The Thunder Queen Battle In Yokohama, July 31st 1993
One of the reasons I keep reviewing and praising Japanese wrestling matches so much is because they respect their audience. They don’t oversimplify their storylines with boring promos and nagging commentary that basically asks the question ‘do you get it?’ while poking you over and over. Instead, the wrestlers tell their stories non-verbally. Their actions speak way louder than their words, and through their actions, you – the viewer – can draw your own conclusions. That’s what makes these old Japanese matches so satisfying; they draw you in with their actions and you can follow along without having to understand the Japanese commentary.
This match is one of the best examples of that philosophy. Even with my basic understanding of Japanese, I didn’t fully comprehend what was going on. Yet the wrestlers told the story through showing and the company used visuals to tell you what was happening.
That led to one of the greatest wrestling matches ever. One so wild and intense, that it helped cement Japan as the home of the greatest women’s wrestlers of all time.
As a reminder, I am reviewing Five Star wrestling matches as rated by Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. It goes back to the 1980s and I’m going to pick different matches from different eras to see how they look today. Check out previous entries in my 5 Star Match Reviews series right here.
Joshi (women’s) pro wrestling had its golden age from the mid-1980s to about 1996 Up until 1986, the only women’s promotion in Japan was All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling (AJW). That company enforced very strict rules on its performers. Not only were they restricted in what they could do outside of the ring (no drinking, smoking, or fraternizing with the opposite sex), but all performers had to retire by age 25.
Those restrictions led to other companies trying to enter the market to end AJW’s monopoly. One such a company was JWP Joshi Puroresu (JWP), which was itself an offshoot of Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling. But instead of being mad about new competition, AJW decided to help the newcomer with an interpromotional match to see which company had the stronger roster.
Thus, the fairly-young JWP hoped to make its wrestlers into true stars by having them face a team of outsiders. But they weren’t just any outsiders; they were among the best wrestlers AJW had to offer.
As a comparison, imagine if AEW’s Hangman Page, Luchasaurus, Rey Fenix and Pengaton, Jr. faced Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, Cesaro and Roman Reigns in a special tag match on AEW’s turf. That’s what we have with this contest.
This contest took place on July 31st, 1993.
This is a unique type of contest called a Thunder Queen Battle. It’s basically a 60-minute 8-woman ironwoman match with a twist. One wrestler from each team starts in the ring as the remaining three wait outside. At regular 5-minute intervals, each wrestler in the ring must tag out to someone that hasn’t been in the ring yet. This goes on until all four wrestlers from each side have been in the ring for at least five minutes. After that, it turns into a standard match. This contest has a 60-minute time limit, and whichever team scores the most falls wins. Falls can come from pins, submissions or a wrestler being unable to get up by the count of ten.
Representing AJW are the following women:
- Sakie Hasegawa is the one in the bathing suit with what look like raspberries on it.
- Takako Inoue is the one in the blue attire.
- Kyoko Inoue (no relation to Takako) is the one in bright yellow tights with red and yellow face paint.
- Aja Kong is the one in all purple who, judging from her actions, has a major ax to grind with someone from the other team.
Representing JWP are the following women:
- Hikari Fukuoka is the one in all black that looks like Manami Toyota.
- Cutie Suzuki is the one in all white attire.
- Mayumi Ozaki is the one in all red.
- Dynamite Kansai is the short-haired one dressed like a Power Rangers villain.
Part 1: 5-minute one-on-one matches (First Attack)
Round 1: Hasegawa vs. Fukuoka
A lock-up ends in a clean break and Fukuoka goes on the attack. She slaps the hell out of Hasegawa and whips her but misses a dropkick. Hasegawa takes her down and starts working the ankle. She continues working the leg with a Goldberg-style leglock then rolls into a single-leg crab. Fukuoka reaches the ropes, so Hasegawa whips her and charges, but she walks into a boot. But this doesn’t bother her because she drops Fukuoka with a spinkick. Hasegawa lands a type of gutwrench suplex and tries to go for the leg again. But Fukuoka catches her off guard and cradles her. She holds on for dear life as the referee counts one, two, three! There’s the first fall after 2:33!
Total Score: AJW = 0; JWP = 1
Fukuoka’s celebration is short-lived because she immediately goes after Hasegawa with a sleeper. Hasegawa fights out so Fukuoka dropkicks her hard. She goes for a pin but Hasegawa kicks out at one and applies a bodyscissors. Fukuoka then deadlifts Hasegawa but Hasegawa drop toe holds her to maintain control. Hasegawa lands a dropkick of her own but Fukuoka gets her hand on the rope. They dropkick each other and struggle for control until Hasegawa cradles Fukuoka for two. Fukuoka regains control with a leglock of her own. Hasegawa kicks her way out as the announcer calls for the women to tag out.
Round 2: Kyoko (Inoue) vs. Ozaki
Ozaki lands a lightning-quick frankensteiner for a two-count. She follows up with a running neckbreaker and two running DDTs. She goes for a third but Kyoko picks her up and tosses her hard. Kyoko lands a dropkick and starts hitting Mongolian chops on Ozaki. Kyoko puts Ozaki in the torture rack and throws her across the ring. Ozaki tries to fight back, so Kyoko punishes her with a brutal-looking Boston crab. The fans chant for Ozaki as she literally claws her way to the ropes. Kyoko releases the hold but drags Ozaki to the middle of the ring. She goes for a rolling Romero Special but Ozaki escapes. But she can’t do so a second time as Kyoko cinches in. Good God, that looks like such a painful submission hold.
Kyoko goers for a suplex but Ozaki escapes and goes for a victory roll. Kyoko kicks out at two so Ozaki goes for a bridging backdrop suplex. But again, Kyoko kicks out at two. Ozaki ascends the top rope but Kyoko catches her and throws her halfway across the ring. Kyoko teases the giant swing but Ozaki fights out of it with hard slaps to Kyoko’s face. She whips Kyoko but Kyoko reverses into a back elbow. She lands the giant swing with 11 full rotations before the announcer calls for the tag out.
Round 3: Takako (Inoue) vs. Suzuki
Takako and Suzuki shake hands to start. Takako whips Suzuki but Suzuki reverses into a huge German suplex for a two-count. Suzuki keeps Takako grounded with dropkicks and pins for a one-count. She lands a huge back suplex but Takako kicks out at two again. Suzuki applies a camel clutch then whips Takako, but she reverses into a butterfly suplex. Tombstone Piledriver by Takako! Then a second one! She pins but Suzuki doesn’t just kick out; she bridges out. Man, if the Undertaker saw that he’d lose his shit.
Takako applies a camel clutch of sorts of her own and talks smack to Suzuki while doing so. Takako whips Suzuki but she answers with a hard knee to the gut. She tries an attack but Takako reverses into a Perfectplex for a two-count. Takako tries to whip Suzuki, no, Suzuki reverses, no, Takako reverses into an electric chair, NO, Suzuki reverses that into a victory roll for a two-count. Amazing sequence.
Suzuki goes for a shotgun dropkick but Takako pushes her aside. She ducks a clothesline and lands a German suplex. Another great reversal. A second, bridging German suplex gets Suzuki another two-count. Suzuki stomps on Takako’s stomach and back for yet another two-count. Suzuki teases a dragon suplex but Takako reverses into a roll-up for two. Then Suzuki reverses the roll on her, for another two.
But Takako manages to reverse again into another roll-up for still yet another two-count. My God this is amazing. Suzuki applies a dragon sleeper but Takako reverses into a front chancery. The announcer calls for the final tag as Suzuki kicks out at two following a back suplex from Takako.
Now the last two women enter.
Round 4: Kong vs. Dynamite
Dynamite charges at Kong, but Kong ducks a kick and hits a MASSIVE spinning backfist!
Dynamite goes down in a heap!
Kong goes to pick her up but Dynamite isn’t moving. So Kong orders the referee to start counting.
The referee counts all the way to ten! Dynamite stays down.
With one move, Kong has evened the score at 16:34.
Total Score: AJW = 1; JWP = 1
Kong continues her assault with a backdrop suplex, but Dynamite kicks out at 2.5. Kong kicks the tar out of Dynamite, but she starts fighting back. She goes for a Boston Crab, but struggles to do so. Kong’s too heavy for her to keep in the Crab, so she transitions into a STF instead. That doesn’t last long because Kong reaches the ropes very quickly, crawling with another person putting her full weight on top of her.
Dynamite tries to fire back with kicks but Kong head-butts her away. So Dynamite fires away with chops and kicks but Kong just does not give a f**k. Then Dynamite tries to ground Kong with a headlock but Kong reverses into a chinlock of her own. Kong whips Dynamite, who ducks an attack and applies an octopus hold on Kong. Nice counter.
But Kong is too big and too powerful. She lifts Dynamite off her feet and throws her on the apron. Then Kong shows more brutality with a massive piledriver but Dynamite kicks out at 2.5, so Kong lands a second one. Dynamite kicks out once more so Kong drops her with a Backdrop suplex that gets a 2.8-count. And somehow, Dynamite bridges out and gets a second wind. She kicks Kong as hard as she can then lands a backdrop suplex of her own for yet another two-count.
The announcer calls the beginning of the second round as all six of the other women jump onto the apron.
Part 2: Ironwoman tag match
Now the chaos begins.
Kong does for a superplex but Suzuki and Fukuoka break it up. That causes both Inoues to attack them as Hasegawa knocks Dynamite from the turnbuckle. The action spills outside as everyone but Kong ends up brawling around the ring. The AJW women take control by smashing their JWP opponents into anything made of metal they can find.
Back in the ring, Kong slams Dynamite but misses a diving back elbow. This allows Dynamite to tag in Suzuki, who soars through the air with a flying crossbody. But Kong catches her in mid-air. It takes the combined effort of Suzuki, Ozaki and Fukuoka for Kong to go down.
But as soon as Suzuki lands, Hasegawa lands a diving splash of her own onto Suzuki. All the AJW women hold the JWP back in their corner as Kong lands a huge diving back elbow on Suzuki. Kong goes for the pin and the referee counts one, two, three!
There’s the next fall. AJW takes the lead at 23:06.
Total Score: AJW = 2; JWP = 1
Kong hits Suzuki with a Falcon Arrow slam and tags in Kyoko. Suzuki crawls to her corner but Kyoko holds her back as she’s fingertips away from her teammates. Kyoko lands a release torture rack slam on Suzuki and tags Hasegawa. Hasegawa jumps for a missile dropkick, but Suzuki moves and Hasegawa dropkicks Kyoko instead. Suzuki reaches her corner and tags in Fukuoka. Now the same two women that started the match are back in together.
Hasegawa whips Fukuoka and hits a spinkick for a two-count and tags in Takako. She too whips Fukuoka, but Fukuoka handsprings out of the way and dropkicks Takako before tagging in Dynamite. She kicks Takako as hard as she can and nails a vertical suplex for a two-count.
Ozaki tags in and lands a sweet top rope somersault senton for a one-count. She whips Takako and hits another huge DDT for two and applies a dragon sleeper. Ozaki tags Fukuoka, who locks in a sleeper hold with bodyscissors. This goes on for a while until Fukuoka tags in Dynamite.
Dynamite hoists Takako up for the Splash Mountain (a version of Roman Reigns’ sitout Powerbomb), but Kyoko rushes in to stop her. Takako escapes and tags in Hasegawa, but she walks right into a flurry of stiff kicks from Dynamite. A piledriver from Dynamite gets her a two-count. Dynamite punts her in the back and tags in Ozaki.
Ozaki whips Hasegawa but Hasegawa blocks her attack and drops her with a bulldog. Kyoko tags in and whips Ozaki but Ozaki counters with two running neckbreakers. Kyoko ducks a third and nails a massive running dropkick. In comes Kong who plants Ozaki in the corner with a running Dominator. Kong’s partners take turns holding Ozaki in place as Kong whips the other two into Ozaki with incredible force. Suzuki tries to stop them but Kyoko swats her away like a fly. Finally, Kong charges in like a bulldozer and smashes Ozaki into the turnbuckle.
Kong lands a delayed vertical suplex and pins but Fukuoka breaks it up. Kong follows with a package piledriver, but this time Dynamite breaks it up. Then Kong decides to follow Kyoko’s work from earlier by applying a Romero special Dragon sleeper. Wow, Ozaki’s getting bent in half.
Kong wrenches the hold, and it takes three women all attacking her to make her release the hold. Aja Kong is such a beast. And she shows more of that brutality by bitchslapping Fukuoka so hard she crumples to the mat.
Kyoko tags in and lands a spinning crucifix backbreaker to Ozaki and applies a camel clutch. As she holds Ozaki in place, Takako comes in and kicks Ozaki in the face and chest. Then Kong comes in and soccer kicks Ozaki as well. Damn, that kick was loud.
Out of sheer desperation, Ozaki crawl to her corner and tags in Dynamite. She and Kyoko have an amazing strike exchange that goes back and forth until Dynamite drops Kyoko with a lariat. She pins following a backdrop suplex, but Kyoko kicks out at two. Sharpshooter by Dynamite, but Kyoko reaches the ropes.
Suzuki tags in and lands a diving stomp right into the small of Kyoko’s back. Man, even though Suzuki looks tiny, that looked painful. Suzuki follows with a single leg crab but Kyoko knocks her away. Kyoko smashes Suzuki into her corner and the duo of Kong and Takako double clothesline her as Hasegawa tags in.
Hasegawa lands six consecutive snap butterfly duplexes for a two-count. Then Hasegawa slingshots Suzuki, who goes flying into a clothesline from Kong. Great double-team move. Ozaki breaks up a pin as Suzuki tries to escape. But the AJW women are all over her as Takako tags in and applies a camel clutch. Then Kong does the same as she did earlier: she just punts Suzuki in the chest. And yet somehow, Suzuki still has the strength to kick out.
Takako applies an underhook lock and tags in Kyoko, who Irish whips Suzuki. Suzuki escapes a Kyoko slam attempt with a go-behind, but Inoue reveres, but then Suzuki reverses that into a victory roll. But she doesn’t go for a pin; instead she uses the forward momentum to roll to her side and tag in Dynamite. Great move.
Then Suzuki gets a sweet bit of revenge as she applies a camel clutch and Dynamite punts Kyoko in the chest. The look on Kyoko’s face as Dynamite charged with her kick was absolutely priceless. In fact, she liked it so much she did the same spot again.
Then Fukuoka comes in and does the same, with Dynamite punting Kyoko hard in the chest a third time. Yet despite all those hard kicks, Kyoko kicks out at two. Dynamite lands a sweet bridging northern lights suplex but Kyoko gets her foot on the rope. Dynamite slams Kyoko and tags Ozaki, who lands a diving splash for yet another two-count. Hasegawa tags in and gets clotheslined by Ozaki for two.
Ozaki lands a bridging back suplex for another two-count and tags Fukuoka. She lands a shotgun dropkick which sends Hasegawa flying back to her side of the ring. This allows her to tag in Kong, who fires off a volley of slaps to Fukuoka. Kong’s on fire and she drops Fukuoka with body blocks and a massive Backdrop Driver. She pins but both Ozaki and Dynamite break it up. Fukuoka tries to fire back in any way she can, but Kong stops giving a f**k once again. Fukuoka even tries the classic ‘wind-up punch’ but Kong isn’t fazed at all. She head-butts Fukuoka and pins with one foot on Fukuoka’s chest, but Fukuoka kicks out.
Takako tags in and stomps the hell out of Fukuoka in the corner. She lands a butterfly suplex for two and starts pulling Fukuoka around the ring by her hair. Kong tags back in and lands a trio of sickening piledrivers and a running splash. She pins but again Ozaki and Dynamite break it up. Kyoko tags in and whips Fukuoka into a corner, but somehow Fukuoka has enough strength to flip over a charging Kyoko, land on her feet and nails a European clutch for a pin. But she doesn’t have enough strength to keep Kyoko down as she kicks out, so Fukuoka tags in Ozaki.
Ozaki comes in and lands a sick powerbomb on Kyoko but Takako breaks up her pin. So she lands a second one but this time Kong breaks it up. Kyoko tags in Takako, but Ozaki drags her to her corner and tags in Dynamite. Takako tries to whip Dynamite but Dynamite won’t let go of the top tope, so she slaps her hard in the face. Takako whips Dynamite, who reverses the whip and chops the hell out of Takako’s chest. She repeats this five more times but Takako ducks one of the chops and teases a German but Dynamite elbows her way to freedom. That strategy doesn’t work the second time because Takako ducks again and lands a sweet German suplex, only for Dynamite to kick out at two.
Hasegawa tags in and tries to chop Dynamite down to size, but Dynamite overpowers her with kicks. As Dynamite drops Hasegawa with a piledriver, the camera cuts to Kyoko’s who’s bleeding hard. After Hasegawa kicks out at two (story of the match thus far), Suzuki tags in and lands a perfectplex for another two-count. Then the camera pans to Ozaki’s whose left eye is swelling shut. Casualties of war, I guess.
Suzuki applies a dragon sleeper as Hasegawa tries to escape. When Hasegawa escapes that move, Suzuki tags in Fukuoka, who throws Hasegawa across the ring before targeting Kyoko as she tags in. Kyoko tries to whip her but Fukuoka reverses into a sick tilt-a-whirl headscissors. Fukuoka starts directing traffic as she whips her partners into a cornered Kyoko one by one. But as Dynamite, the last one, charges, Kyoko bursts out and ducks Dynamite and charges Fukuoka. But Fukuoka also ducks and lands a rolling cradle that goes on forever. When it finally ends, Kyoko kicks out at 2.9.
Ozaki tags in and she and Fukuoka try to set up a double-team diving move, but Hasegawa knocks Fukuoka away. Dynamite charges in and slams Kyoko as Ozaki flies through the air with a senton splash and Suzuki follows with a diving foot stomp. All of this happens while Dynamite stands guard to block any of Kyoko’s partners from interfering. Great tag team psychology here. Then Dynamite herself climbs the top rope and lands a diving foot stomp. How has Kyoko’s sternum not broken through from all of that impact? This is absolutely insane.
Ozaki, Suzuki and Dynamite form a wall as Fukuoka lands a sweet moonsault on Kyoko. That wall holds long enough as team AJW charges to break up the pin. They break it up at the last possible second, saving their advantage. Incredibly exciting near-fall sequence.
Ozaki and Suzuki whip Kyoko, but she lands her springboard double back elbow to knock them both down. Kyoko slams Ozaki and looks like she’s going for a diving move, but as soon as she reaches the top turnbuckle she dives out of the ring onto Dynamite and Suzuki instead. Meanwhile, Hasegawa comes flying out of nowhere with a body splash onto Ozaki, but Ozaki takes Hasegawa down and she and Fukuoka dropkick Kong off the turnbuckle. Ozaki knocks Takako away and Fukuoka goes flying from the top turnbuckle onto Kong with a plancha to the floor below. This is madness!
In the ring, Ozaki charges for a suicide dive but both Hasegawa and Takako kick her down. Takako charges for a suicide dive, but Ozaki moves causing Takako to eat the floor instead. As the chaos erupts ringside, Dynamite suplexes Kong on the floor and Kyoko lands a bridging German suplex on Ozaki in the ring for a two-count. The fans erupt in cheers for Ozaki, which makes sense given that they’re a JWP audience.
Kyoko goes for a Niagara Driver but Ozaki escapes with a backslide for a two of her own. Hasegawa tags in and goes for a spinkick but Ozaki reverses it into a bridging back suplex for yet another close two-count. Ozaki slams Hasegawa and goes for a Twisted Bliss-style splash, but Hasegawa escapes at the last moment. Ozaki sees Hasegawa trying to escape but plants her with a bridging German suplex instead. That gets another two-count, so Ozaki tags Dynamite, who signals the end. She drops Hasegawa with two backdrop suplexes but Hasegawa still kicks out at two.
Dynamite goes for Splash Mountain but Takako knocks her down, which allows Fukuoka to tag in. She nails Hasegawa with a German suplex and charges, but Hasegawa cuts her off and teases an exploder. Fukuoka cuts her off with a DDT and then nails her with a top-rope Shelton Benjamin-style T-Bone suplex. She pins, but Kong breaks it up as the crowd boos loudly. Fukuoka goes for another moonsault but Hasegawa gets her knees up at the last second. Hasegawa lands a Bexploder-style suplex and tags in Kyoko who goes for the Niagara Driver again, but Fukuoka reverses into a Yoshi Tonic. Fantastic counter.
Kyoko kicks out at 2.5 and tries the Niagara Driver again but Ozaki kicks her in the stomach. Fukuoka tags in Dynamite, who whips Kyoko but Kyoko jumps onto the ropes and dropkicks Dynamite out of nowhere. She goes for the Niagara Driver yet again but gets cut off. Dynamite tries her own powerbomb finisher but Kong breaks that up, so Dynamite knocks Kyoko down with a lariat as Fukuoka and Suzuki take down Kong.
More chaos ensues as Hasegawa takes down Dynamite and Ozaki and Suzuki take out Kong. Dynamite escapes another Niagara Driver attempt by Kyoko, clotheslines Takako and hoists Kyoko up for Splash Mountain. Outside the ring, Suzuki and Fukuoka hold Kong by the legs so she can’t save her partner. Ozaki knocks Takako down as the referee counts one, two, three!
There’s the next fall! It’s all tied up at 50:09!
Total Score: AJW = 2; JWP = 2
Dynamite gets right to work punting Kyoko to maintain her momentum and goes for another Splash Mountain, but Kong charges in and decapitates her with a lariat. Dynamite tags in Suzuki, who tries to keep Kyoko down with kicks, but Kyoko starts hulking up. Ozaki tags in and whips Kyoko, but Kyoko holds onto the ropes and avoids a dropkick.
Ozaki pulls Kyoko away from her teammates and drops her with another sick sitout powerbomb for like the one hundredth two-count of the match. Fukuoka tags in and nails two DDTs on Kyoko before tagging in Suzuki. Ozaki gives Kyoko a quick kick to the stomach as Suzuki drops her with a bridging dragon suplex. Takako saves Kyoko and the fans boo very loudly.
Kyoko manages to tag Hasegawa who kicks Suzuki hard. But Suzuki ducks the third kick and brings Hasegawa to her corner to tag in Ozaki. Ozaki lands another perfectplex for two and applies a sleeper hold. Hasegawa escapes and tags Takako, who double teams Ozaki alongside Kong. They drill her with a double-team clothesline but Ozaki still kicks out at two. Takako lands another butterfly suplex for two and Ozaki tries to crawl back to her side but again Takako cuts her off. She sends Ozaki into her corner and tags in Kong, who lands a double shoulder tackle alongside Kyoko.
Kyoko knocks the other three JWP women down as Kong drops Ozaki with a backdrop suplex and a chokeslam. She pins but Suzuki makes the save. A superplex by Kong also gets two as Ozaki bridges out. My God, what are these women made of?
There are five minutes left as Kong places Ozaki on the top turnbuckle. Avalanche backdrop suplex! The AJW women all rush to keep the JWP women away as Kong goes for the pin. But Suzuki breaks through their wall and saves Ozaki. Excellent save.
The fans are on their feet cheering for Ozaki. Kong puts her on the top turnbuckle again and drops her with a suplex into a powerslam! This time Dynamite makes the save and Ozaki bridges out. Kong whips Ozaki but she reverses into a sunset flip, only for Kong to sit on her Rikishi-style. Damn, that’s gotta hurt. And yet Ozaki still has the strength to kick out. Wow, just wow.
Ozaki tags Dynamite who goes to absolute war with Kong. She slaps, kicks and clotheslines the shit out of Kong but only gets a two-count. She lifts Kong up…but Kong fires back with the Uraken! Spinning backfist! Out of nowhere!
In comes Hasegawa with another Bexploder and some running spinkicks. After taking four of those, Dynamite kicks out at two. Takako tags in and lands a bridging back suplex for two. Hasegawa comes back in and whips Dynamite but eats a kick from her instead. Here comes Fukuoka with a bridging German suplex but Takako breaks it up.
Suzuki tags in and whips the now-legal Hasegawa, but Hasegawa grabs the ropes and dodges Suzuki’s dropkick. Kyoko tags in and goes for the diving back elbow but Suzuki moves out of the way. Another dragon suplex from Suzuki with Ozaki’s help followed by another save by Takako. She follows that with yet another bridging dragon suplex but Kyoko kicks out at 2.9.
Suzuki goes for another, but Kyoko reverses and teases her own dragon suplex, but Suzuki reverses that into a victory roll…no, Kyoko had her scouted and threw her backwards instead. They’re reversing things that happened earlier in this very match. This is unbelievable.
Kyoko tags in Kong who lands her own bridging German suplex but Dynamite makes the save. Kong elbows all three of Suzuki’s opponents and tags in Takako. Another bridging back suplex gets two as Suzuki tags in Ozaki. They have a cool reversal sequence that Takako wins by slamming Ozaki backwards for a two-count.
Then Takako lands what appears to be a Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex. Shades of Manami Toyota! All three of her teammates rush to the other side and pile onto the JWP women. The ref counts one, two, NO, Ozaki escapes at 2.999. The fans are on their feet.
Takako whips Ozaki, who reverses it with a go-behind into her own bridging dragon suplex. The referee counts one, two, THREE! There’s the next fall. The tie is broken at 59:55!
Total Score: AJW = 2; JWP = 3
There’s only five seconds left. The clock runs out. The match is over!
Winners of the Thunder Queen Battle in Yokohama: Team JWP (Hikari Fukuoka, Mayumi Ozaki, Cutie Suzuki and Dynamite Kansai)
WOW! That was, without question, the craziest wrestling match that I have ever seen. It was chaotic, exciting, wild, unpredictable, explosive, tense, I could go on. This is a must-watch match for any wrestling fan.
These eight women did something absolutely incredible: they managed to wrestle at a blistering pace for an hour. But there wasn’t a dull moment at all. It was nonstop action from bell to bell, and yet the match never felt overwhelming. I can’t help but compare this match to the Dragon gate 6-Man which was very similar to this one in structure. That match had the fastest pace in a wrestling match that I’ve ever seen and it was too much. This match had a fast pace, but still slower than that 6-man, making this one more digestible. Crazy things happened yet there was enough time between big moments that things didn’t get too confusing.
But one thing this match does lack is proper selling of big moves. That was visible throughout the entire match, as most women would take a high-impact move, and would then run around the ring with the same level of speed and stamina as before. Now, normally a lack of selling guarantees that a match goes from being a classic to a clusterf**k. But these eight women made that wrestling style work through sheer force of will.
What they lacked in selling and realism they made up for with airtight tag team psychology and fantastic storytelling. Team AJW was especially good with this, as they rushed the opposing corner as one of their members was going for a pin.
So not only was there great anticipation over whether that pin would succeed, but there was an equal amount of tension on whether that wall of bodies would hold or if someone on the opposing side mustered enough strength to break through to save their partner that was being pinned.
The opening bits allowed each wrestler to shine and tell multiple stories. The two most notable ones were the respectful rivalry between Takako and Suzuki and Aja Kong being an absolute monster. That latter story was the most obvious and best-executed. She dropped an equally-fresh opponent with one Uraken and that was enough for the referee to count to ten. And it was Kong that scored both falls for her team.
Team JWP knew how dangerous she was, which is why Suzuki and Fukuoka held her by the legs to stop her from breaking up a pin attempt. Of the four AJW women they could’ve done this to, they focused on Kong because she was easily the biggest threat. That’s how you get someone over as a major threat without their presence becoming overbearing and therefore hurting the match.
Not only were those stories told well, but these eight women had an absolute masterful understanding of how to make each pin believable. I lost count how many suplexes, piledrivers, dropkicks and pins were executed here. But these women didn’t sell each head spike like it was death or causing them real pain, which is the mark of great sellers like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels or the Four Pillars of All Japan. Instead, these women soldiered on no matter how many times they got dropped on their necks. If anything, they made each other look even more badass by upping the ante with each passing head spike. How many wrestlers – male or female – can you name that can take such a brutal collective shitkicking (and in some cases get busted open the hard way or have their eye swell shut) and still continue?
But most importantly, this match simply had great wrestling and counter-wrestling. These women came up with reversals and grappling sequences that were both creative and logical. These women had phenomenal chemistry with each other and knew how to make the most out of their actions. Big moves were ducked or blocked, finishers were made out to be a very big deal, and all of these women knew how to create a sense of desperation and urgency. The constant pin break-ups, go-behinds and dragging someone away from their corner as they reached in vain for their partners all made this into something of a dramatic masterpiece.
What I also loved about this match was how stuff that happened earlier on in the same contest wasn’t forgotten and was actually built upon. In an earlier exchange, Suzuki escaped a big suplex by reversing Takako into a victory roll. Kyoko saw that happen to her partner, and when she found herself in the same position, she adapted on the spot and reversed it into a suplex of her own. That’s a prime example of smart wrestling; you keep the fans guessing, so that they have no idea what’s going to happen next.
Final Rating: *****
This isn’t just a perfect, five-star wrestling match. It’s in contention for the title of greatest wrestling match of all time. These eight women set the standard so high that I don’t think this match will ever be duplicated, much less surpassed. They created one of the most intense, unpredictable, and exciting wrestling matches in history. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that this is the best 6-or-8-person tag team match ever. I cannot recommend this enough. This is something you can watch without knowing what’s being said on commentary and you’ll still have a fun time watching.
Check out previous entries in my 5 Star Match Reviews series right here. Thanks for reading.