Posted 19 September 2014 - 11:48 PM
She's gotta make the list for me. Obviously the tag series with Ozaki vs. Toyota and Yamada. GREAT matches with Aja. Just all around one of the better joshi wrestlers I ever saw.
Posted 03 October 2014 - 08:59 PM
Man, the 12/26/97 Kansai/Ozaki match is not good. I think we can easily draw a line in the sand with Kansai where anything she did after the 4/97 Fukuoka match is for the hardest of hardcore fans only.
Posted 13 October 2015 - 12:29 AM
I'd put Dynamite Kansai above Aja Kong pretty easily. Would anyone else?
Posted 13 October 2015 - 11:21 AM
She has a shot to be my top-ranked Joshi worker. I don't know about easily better than Kong, but yeah, maybe.
Posted 14 October 2015 - 04:24 AM
I always liked her better than Aja because of JWP being The Little Promotion That Could and Kansai being the heart of that. I doubt you'll get many takers, though.
Posted 14 October 2015 - 02:27 PM
I think they're very similar. Aja's got more "standout" work, but Dynamite's style was probably a bit better to take in than Aja's, who was based a lot more around looking like a monster instead of running people over like Dynamite did. I'm an unabashed Aja mark, too.
The more I think about her, the more I want her higher up on the list for me. She's one of the most underrated workers ever.
Posted 06 February 2016 - 11:07 PM
She's one of the most underrated workers ever.
All of this.
Seriously, as a joshi novice, there were a bunch of names you'd hear pimped as the biggest joshi girls, and she was never really one of them. So it was only when I began really watching 90s joshi that I realised how awesome she is. How is she not pimped more?
She's great at basically everything - working "big" against smaller girls, getting her ass kicked by Kong, bossing shit in JWP and then being the outsider coming in for the Toyota/Yamada tags, she's good at dropping bombs, running around, holds, strikes. Her kicking the shit out of Yamada in those tags is as good as it gets.
She may be my second-highest ranked woman at the end of the day.
Posted 07 February 2016 - 06:25 AM
I don't think she was underrated at the time when we made the original list as we had enough Joshi fans to also run a Greatest Female Wrestler of All-Time list some months later. Joshi fandom has kind of fallen by the wayside since then (or branched off), and I kind of doubt there's people watching 1996 JWP in 2016. If you don't watch the JWP then she's just a face in the crowd and not the multi-faceted performer you've described. I think the JWP stuff is key.
Posted 07 February 2016 - 10:19 AM
I think there's a debate between Kansai and Aja when it comes to peak performances. But if you start factoring in post peak stuff, Aja just leaves Kansai behind. Aja can still be counted on to have a good showing, plus the great series with Meiko Satomura, while I wouldn't recommend anyone watch a single Kansai performance after the Fukuoka match.
Posted 16 March 2016 - 10:47 PM
I loved Kansai when I was a big time Joshi fan fifteen or sixteen years ago. She may have even been my favorite Joshi worker ever when I was first getting into the style. She just came across as such an incredible ass kicker (literally in some cases), with great fire, who was really excellent at building drama with in her matches. I just connected with her almost immediately and it's hard for me to think of Joshi even today and not immediately thing of her.
Having said that on re-watch I find myself pretty confused when I come in here and see people talking about having her above Aja Kong and rated higher than any other Joshi workers. I say this not because her stuff doesn't hold up at all, but rather because with 2016 eyes I have a much more tempered opinion of Kansai than I did when I was reacting her as a fanboy teenager.
The Hotta comparisons have been done to death in the Hotta thread, but I do want to touch a bit on the structure issue with Kansai. In the Hotta thread Jetlag criticizes Hotta for working strikes, lay on the mat, bombs as a sort of 1-2-3 punch. I think that is overly simplistic, but not completely wrong headed. Having said that watching tons of Kansai recently I came away thinking she was basically doing the same thing, but inverting steps 1 and 2. Given that a lot of Kansai matches have a pretty clear build to big spots and teases of the splash mountain, you could construct a narrative that Kansai was something of a genius deliberately working a slow building style. That said I generally felt like the matches lacked an early hook and as such I often struggled to become fully invested in Kansai singles matches even when they were against strong opponents.
I watched several Kansai matches v. Oz and Kong and I was fairly shocked to find that none of them felt like real classics to me anymore. The Kong stuff is great in it's own way, and I think seems better as a whole than it does on an individual level which is hardly a negative. I'm not sure I even like the Oz matches but I do appreciate Kansai's effort in them. I did love the Hotta match, and enjoyed several other singles matches, but that failure to initially grab me out of the gate was jarring.
I did end up liking Kansai more and more as I went on, but I think that's because I watched her in tags late. As a tag worker I think she's outstanding. The energy, fire, timing of her big spots, escalation of violence, dramatic flare, et. all seems to max out for her in a tag setting. The series with Oz v. Toyota and Yamada absolutely holds up, but she's really working at near that level in pretty much any tag match she's in. I think the real strength of her candidacy is as a tag worker, with the singles stuff serving more as an add on to the area where I see her as having been especially great.
It does bother me that she fell off in 97, because I'm not sure how many years as a high level worker she really had, and volume, consistency, and duration of quality work means more to me than it does for a lot of people. I also wish I could watch her career in a more structured way, but it's too late for that. She has a decent chance of making my ballot, but I can't imagine rating her higher than the bottom 20 or so at best.
Posted 01 April 2016 - 05:06 AM
I watched two Kansai matches I never really cared for in the past -- vs. Yamada (10/93) and vs. Inoue (11/93).
The Yamada match was WAY better than I remember it being. That change in perspective is probably due to a change in taste but for whatever reason I found the strikers' duel utterly compelling this time round. In fact, I'd go as far as to say it was one of the better non-shoot style striker vs. striker contests I've seen. Even the submissions, which I thought would be blatant down time, were short and focused. They didn't have any epic narrative in mind. They weren't going to the end of the line where both women gave it their all; it was a competitive singles bout that played to both their strengths and was well sold compared to Joshi stereotypes. The only critcism I had of it was that it was too short. Other than that, I thought each beat was great.
Kyoko Inoue wasn't a pure striker, but the pair had a great match based on what you might call "flash counters." You could run the rule over the bout and find instances where they didn't sell right, but it was the most engrossing styles clash I've seen in ages. The Inoue bout felt like Kansai was taking on a peer at her level regardless of the fact that Inoue couldn't kick or strike as hard as Yamada. There was a certain predictability to the finish of both bouts compared to other 90s Japanese bouts, but despite immersing myself in Joshi and getting back into the rhythm of the bouts, I found myself enjoying this bout more than any men's stuff I'd reviewed for the GWE. Kansai is such a brilliant seller, for example, that I was more engaged in these bouts than anything I saw from Muto, Chono or Hase. I'm not trying to upset anyone with that comment. I just got into a proper groove watching this stuff, and I think Kansai was a stellar pro-wrestler in singles and in tags.
Posted 02 April 2016 - 07:35 PM
I stumbled upon quite a short match she had with Bison Kimura in '96. The strike exchanges were as good as you'd expect and it had one of the most badass finishes I've seen in a long time, but I did notice this time that Kansai's early control section was kind of bleh. Not sure an 11 minute match needed the half crab. She'd also put on a lot of weight between 1993 and '96 and her rope running, which was never that graceful to begin with, looked pretty bad. Awesome transitions, though. Creative use of the tassels on Bison's costume and a brilliant finish that was as good as anything I've seen a strike based wrestler do during the entire length of this project.
Posted 03 April 2016 - 05:10 PM
The Cutie Suzuki matches were fun. There was a clear and obvious dynamic between the pair that was similar to the matches Kansai had with Ozaki. In fact, they aped a lot of the stuff Kansai did with Oz (or vice versa.) I'm not really seeing a problem with Kansai as a singles worker. She's formulaic, and repetitive in the sense that she always uses the same spots, but she's killer on offence and great at projecting her character. I realised watching this stuff that the selling issues don't matter to me. I care more about the ebb and flow than an adherence to selling and so I can live with quick switches from defence to offence if the stuff they're doing is cool. And I think in most bouts there's an overall selling of fatigue toward the end and all the emotions that come with that. The selling issues that bug people about Joshi bug me more about men's styles that are pushed as more fundamentally sound than women's wrestling but veer into the same territory, but I think that's a kneejerk reaction. Two things I do agree about with Dylan is that she had a short peak and she didn't work a lot of classics. My two favourite Kansai singles matches ('96 vs. Oz and '97 vs. Fukuoka) are matches that would no doubt be divisive in terms of whether people think they're four stars let alone a classic, but when you factor in the tag stuff she has to be top 10 for the 90s boom years. Possibly even top 5.
Posted 04 April 2016 - 06:08 PM
Posted 05 April 2016 - 04:05 PM
Next up is the Kyoko match from Big Egg Universe. I've always maintained that his show was a disaster and there's probably a bit of bias against it creeping into my thoughts, but really this was the most generic Kansai match imaginable. Perhaps it had to be that way to play to such a large audience, but for the discerning film critic type at home it wasn't up to snuff. I did wonder if I would have enjoyed it live. I mean I hated the giant swing on the ramp just as I hate all ramp spots, but if I'd been there live I probably wouldn't have had a bug up my arse about it. In any event, their Thunder Queen II match was way better.
Posted 06 April 2016 - 06:36 PM
The 8/94 elimination tag is a bout I've never been that high on. I watched it twice over the past few days. Once when I was having some drinks and again in the cold light of day. I liked the early part where Kansai and Hokuto got into it but sadly that felt like the height of their exchanges. I can understand why Kansai and Hokuto were kept apart in singles, but it feels like someone, somewhere missed the boat on a Kansai/Hokuto singles match. After some early strike exchanges and some fairly average submission work, this turned into a typical workrate tag. Some of it was good, some of it was bad. There was a bit too much Hotta in peril, but she was in the midst of a singles push and All Japan wanted to put the spotlight on her. She sold about as well as she could. It was kind of average but didn't detract from the bout or anything. At the same time, a compelling selling performance would have made this more than just a Joshi workout. Even Hokuto didn't dig that deep and it was supposed to be her match and her countdown. I guess my main criticism of the bout was that they didn't milk the drama for what it's worth. There wasn't the strong narrative focus of a Southern style tag and the individual personalities and match-ups were drowned out by cutesy double team spots and a clip of nearfalls. Aja's elimination felt gimmicky and wasn't set up well. The stretch run felt academic instead of exhilarating and one thing I noticed was that as good a seller as Hokuto was, and as capable as she was at creating drama out of her backstory and persona, she no-sold stuff at the same rate as any other girl going. Not sure why she gets a pass on that.
I was always kind of down on 1994 Joshi and that hasn't changed much. The bloom had fallen off the rose after a full on '93.
Posted 10 April 2016 - 06:02 PM
Kansai coasted a lot as though it was the regular season and I kind of saw Jetlag's argument about Devil too. The exception was when they worked with Cutie, who brought an exceptionally high level of energy to her boots and a ton of grit as well, which I wasn't expecting. She ended up impressing me more than Ozaki in the sampling I saw.
Posted 11 April 2016 - 05:20 PM
I think I'll revisit Thunder Queen before it's all said and done. That's something I've been meaning to do ever since Loss did a 180 on it.
Posted 14 April 2016 - 05:58 AM
I was kind of dreading the prospect of watching a Joshi broadway tag but the 6/93 Kansai/Ozaki vs. Hotta/Inoue tag ended up being an easy watch. Stylistically, it was more of a JWP tag than an All Japan one, which meant that the bulk of the match was slower than the typical All Japan tag but also less prone to excess. From the get-go it was transparent that one side would work the other over and vice versa. You could pick what would happen in each of these segments and every time the girls would make a miraculous recovery on the apron, but the bout was never boring which I think is a tremendous accomplishment for a 60 min bout. Takako reminded me of why I thought she had one of the all-time breakout years in '93 and Ozaki... I wanna talk about Ozaki for a second.The job she did here selling the top rope powerbomb was nothing short of extraordinary. It was actually kind of scary considering what later happened to Plum. I have no idea how someone could watch that and not think she's one of the all-time great sellers. Are they being disingenuous? Do they have an ax to grind? I have no idea. Of course she recovered her senses to continue with the stretch run and may lose points for that, but those moments where Kansai was checking whether she was alive, basically, were tense and heart stopping if you watched it in real time. Ozaki was carted off in the post-match interview because of how shook up she was, so if it bothers you that she recouped from the powerbomb at least she sold the bout afterward. Next up, Thunder Queen.
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