Meltzer’s Classics: Manami Toyota vs Toshiyo Yamada, 15/8/92

Meltzer loved 90’s Joshi, didn’t he? We’re back in AJW where Manami Toyota and Toshiyo Yamada are facing off for the IWA World Title with the added stipulation of it being a Hair vs Hair match. It was the blow-off to a long-running feud which grew out of the two having previously teamed together.

There are two distinct sides to this match. First off, we’ve got the tactical stuff, where Yamada is trying to negate Toyota’s high-flying ability by attacking her legs. She deals out some vicious kicks and works an awesome looking Stretch Muffler. It’s the more methodical section of the action, and it serves in direct contrast to what surrounds it.

For when it hits top speed, this two are insane. They’re beating the hell out of each other with suplex after suplex after suplex. This is two people who have perfected the art of dropping someone on the back of their head.

On top of that, they keep throwing themselves off the top rope. Toyota hits a series of Missile Dropkicks that is Hiromu Takahashi like in its insanity. Then, she goes on to top it as she not only moonsaults from the top into the ring but also springboards to the outside. This is in 1992. Lita was being hailed as an innovator for doing similar eight years later (although knowing Lita, she will have been well-aware of Toyota). While Yamada was slightly less elegant in her style, she was willing to fly too, leaping to the outside.

In among all that there is a constant series of roll-ups as they desperately counter each other in an attempt to get a victory. It’s here that their years of history come to the fore as they both seem to have an answer to everything thrown at them. The feeling begins to build that this is going to come down to that one big move. Whoever hits it first will walk out the champion.

A feeling that proves to be startlingly accurate. Toyota hoists Yamada up for the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex before bridging into the pin and gaining the three. It was an incredible looking finish and a perfect ending to an unhinged twenty or so minutes. The drama wasn’t quite over, though.

As Yamada waited for her hair to be cut Toyota stood across from her and symbolically cut off a chunk of her own hair. Both women then bowed to each other before Toyota suddenly attempted to prevent the stipulation being enacted. It took multiple people to hold her back as Yamada sat and accepted her head being shaved.

That moment is the perfect cherry on top of an already wonderful cake. It wonderfully encapsulates the respect these women have for each other and Yamada’s honour in going ahead with getting her hair shaved despite her opponent wanting it to stop. It’s something that could only work in the tradition-based world of Japanese wrestling and pushes this match into legendary status.

If you haven’t guessed, I loved this. I joked about Meltzer and his Joshi, but the more I watch of it, the more I understand. This stuff bears more than a passing resemblance to the modern style and is a constant delight. I’m going to be going back and watching the rest of this feud, I suggest you do too.

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