Quebrada #22

by Mike Lorefice (M.L.Liger@juno.com)

4/28/97

Kudos for Kudo

Megumi Kudo, icon of the FMW Women’s division, will retire on 4/29/97. Kudo is a true rags to riches story. She went from All Japan Women reject to the most popular women’s wrestler in the world. She went from someone pushed entirely on her looks to someone with the workrate to back up being the top star. She went from someone who worked entirely straight matches to the most hardcore woman in the sport. She went from someone in good condition to the best conditioned female in wrestling.

Kudo is someone that deserves a tremendous amount of respect. She always did what was best for FMW, not what was best for her. She was one of the only women that was willing participate in crazy gimmick matches. She took bumps that no one else was willing to take. She undoubtedly spilled more blood than any other female performer in the 1990's. Despite being the top star, she didn’t have an inflated ego. She consistently put over wrestlers that were so far below her level that it was a joke. Kudo was always willing to sell most of the match to get her opponents over, even if she was doing the job in the end.

When you look at Kudo’s career, you can’t just look at it from a match quality standpoint. She’s not someone that had off the charts matches. She’s not even someone who had a lot of great matches. However, she is someone who wouldn’t disappoint you with her match quality. You could always tell on paper if Kudo would have a good match based on her opponent. When she got the chance to wrestle a capable opponent, she produced a good match. Kudo’s typical opponents were the equivalent of female Sid’s. If Bret Hart wrestled Sid 300 times a year, it wouldn’t be fair to say that he wasn’t a very good wrestler would it? Sid is simply a terrible worker. On occasion, it’s possible to have a good match with him, but night in and night out it isn’t going to happen (unless you believe by doing the same "good" match 300 times a year you always carry your opponent to "good matches"). This is what Kudo had to deal with. This is what made her underrated and underappreciated.

Megumi Kudo was born on September 20, 1969 in Koshigaya City, Saitama. She auditioned for the All Japan Women’s rookie camp in January 1986. At this time, AJW was the hardest promotion in the world to make. The whole crowd was basically comprised of teenager girls. There were hundreds and sometimes ever thousands of young women in Japan that wanted to be like their idols the Crush Gals (Chigusa Nagayo & Lioness Asuka). If you didn’t have an impressive athletic resume, AJW wouldn’t even consider you.

Kudo made the cut and trained for about 8 months before turning pro. Nine other wrestlers also survived the 1986 AJW rookie camp. Aside from Kudo, there was: Erica Shishedo (Aja Kong), Nobuko (Bison) Kimura, Noriyo (Combat) Toyoda, KAORU (Kaoru Maeda), Mika Takahashi, Miori Kamiya (Cooga), Reibun Amada, Yachiyo Hirata & Darlene Ohashi. As you can see, this is a pretty impressive list of workers although only Aja and Bison had lengthy careers in AJW.

Kudo's pro debut was on August 8, 1986 vs. Kaoru Maeda in Tokyo. Kudo's year-and-a-half career with AJW was quite uneventful. Kudo wasn't an instant star like past trainees such as Chigusa Nagayo, Bull Nakano or Akira Hokuto were. Kudo finished in the upper ranks of an August 1987 one-night Juniors tournament at Korakuen Hall, but that was pretty much the only highlight of her AJW career.

In March of 1988, Kudo quietly left AJW. There were no retirement ceremonies or anything like that. I don’t think Kudo wanted to get out of the business, so I assume AJW got rid of her. If AJW dumped her, the decision was probably made because they thought she wasn’t showing enough potential. However, this is pure speculation rather than fact. Darlene Ohashi was out of AJW quicker than Kudo, so she would be the obvious bust of the 1986 class. The standards were so much higher back then. If they didn’t think you were going to be a great worker, they just let you go. AJW had the luxury of giving up on people because there were so many teenagers that were dying to take the spot of those not working on the level.

The unemployed Kudo joined the regular work force. She did some normal part-time jobs. Kudo then became a kindergarten teacher. Kudo planned to continue her teaching, but a new independent league known as Frontier Martial Arts Wrestling came on the scene in 1989. The original FMW women’s division consisted of 6 regular workers. There were 5 natives: Eriko "Shark" Tsuchiya, Kumiko "Tsuppari Mack" Matsuda, Miwa Sato, Yuki Morimatsu & Yoshiko "Crusher" Maedomari. The lone foreigner was a woman known as Witch Warrior. In case you couldn’t tell, this was an awful division. None of these women could be considered decent workers.

Kudo decided to leave her teaching job and return to the squared circle. In 1990, Atsushi Onita was looking to add wrestlers to the women’s division. Along with Kudo, two of Kudo’s AJW training classmates Noriyo Toyoda & Reibun Amada were also added. Toyoda had retired at the end of 1988 after an unsuccessful stint as the masked Dynamite Jack. She wasn’t all that good of a worker in AJW and mainly got by because she was larger than most of the other women. Amada experienced much more success in AJW as she was actually a mid-level star before leaving the promotion at the end of 1989. Amada and Miori Kamiya formed a regular tag-team during that period in the late 80s when many face tag-teams were formed in an attempt by AJW to find successors to the soon-to-be retired Crush Gals and Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno & Itsuki Yamazaki). Amada and Kamiya were somewhat overshadowed by the other face teams like the Firejets (Yumiko Hotta & Mitsuko Nishiwaki), Marine Wolves (Suzuka Minami & Akira Hokuto), Honey Wings (Mika Takahashi & Kaoru Maeda), Dream Orca (Toshiyo Yamada & Etsuko Mita) and Tokyo Sweethearts (Manami Toyota & Mima Shimoda) because they lacked charisma and didn’t have a gimmicky team name. Nevertheless, Amada and Kamiya did have a brief stint as All Japan Tag Champions. The team defeated The Honey Wings on 3/4/89 in Tokyo. They held the title for roughly three months, losing it to Dream Orca on 6/16/89 in Tokyo.

Kudo debuted in FMW teaming with Reibun Amada against Yuki Morimatsu & Miwa Sato on 3/13/90 in Niigata. Kudo and Amada formed a regular tag team in 1990 until Amada turned on her. Kudo was immediately the most popular female in the promotion.

From the start, Kudo was pushed as the top face in the women’s division, a role she's always had and will have when she retires on April 29, 1997. Her initial push was based on her tremendous looks rather than her workrate. The great thing about Kudo was that she wasn’t content being pushed in this manner and did develop into a very good worker. In times of increasing superficiality, it's rare to find anyone that develops their craft once they've achieved the "all important" goal of becoming a "star".

Toyoda was christened "Combat Toyoda" by Onita upon her return to the ring and was pushed as Kudo's top rival. Until her retirement last year, Combat was both friend and foe to Kudo and switched roles approximately once a year. Amada, who initially formed a regular team with Megumi, turned heel and was pushed as another rival for Kudo before retiring for good in January of 1991. Aside from Kudo, these two were the only good working women FMW ever had. Kudo’s first good matches were said to be in 1990 against Amada. Kudo mainly sold during this period, not that the later periods where much different, and it wasn’t until late 1991 to early 1992 that she legitimately became a good worker.

Combat became the first World Wrestling Association Women’s champion, defeating Beastie the Road Warrior in a terrible match for the newly created title on 11/5/90 in Tokyo. Kudo became the second champion, stopping Combat on 3/28/91 in Tokyo. Combat went on to win the title back from Kudo on 8/17/91 in Tokyo.

The first big money match of Kudo’s career came on 9/23/91 when FMW drew 33,000 fans to Kawasaki Stadium. Kudo’s opponent was Svetlana Gundarenko. Gundarenko is a huge 317 pound Russian woman who was an Olympic star in Judo and later went on to win the L-1 tournament (woman’s UFC). Kudo was destroyed in this match by Gundarenko, who was said to be an awful worker. The ref stopped the match when Kudo was KO’d.

1992 saw Kudo capture the WWA women’s title for a second time defeating Shark Tsuchiya on 5/24/92 in Tokyo. This time Kudo held the title for over a year before losing it to Combat on 7/24/93 in Kita Kyushu.

Kudo and Combat became big enough stars and good enough workers that other offices were interested in working with FMW and their otherwise wretched women’s division. From 1992-1994, FMW was able to work several interpromotional matches against AJW. Kudo & Combat would often team against the AJW women. Both proved their skills by more than holding their own with some of the top women in the sport. The major matches during this period came in 1993 when Kudo & Toyoda headlined AJW’s All-Star Dreamslam 1, which at the time was the biggest show in the history of women’s wrestling. The legendary show drew a sellout 16,500 fans to Yokohama Arena for an estimated $1.2 million live gate. Both figures were records for women’s wrestling at the time. Kudo & Toyoda met Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada in a match for Toyota & Yamada’s WWWA tag titles. They lost the match in 28:14, but earned respect for themselves and the FMW women because it was a very good match. Kudo & Combat also participated in All-Star Dream Slam II on 4/11/93 defeating Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda in another very good match.

The major FMW show of 1993 was the Kawawaki Stadium show on 5/5, which drew 41,000 for a $1.8 million gate. Kudo & Combat met Toyota & Yamada in a rematch from Dreamslam 1. Kudo and Combat avenged their loss defeating Toyota & Yamada in 22:17. The excellent match stood out much more on the major FMW show because you didn't have a dozen other excellent workers also having career matches.

Kudo got two chances to work major matches with her AJW training classmate Aja Kong in 1993. The first match took place before 25,000 fans at Nishinomiya Stadium. In this match, Kudo teamed with Miwa Sato to defeat Kong & Kaoru Ito in 18:25. This victory propelled Kudo to a shot at Aja’s WWWA title on AJW’s year end show at Tokyo Nippon Budokan. The show named "St. Battle Final" drew an 11,500 sellout. The match was third from the top behind 2 rematches from the Dreamslams (Toyota & Yamada vs. Ozaki & Kansai, Hokuto vs. Kandori). Though overshadowed by those two great matches, it was a very good match notable for a silly ref bump. Kong won the match in 22:34, but due to the ref bump Kudo actually avoided doing a clean job. The screw job shows that Kudo had indeed become a big star because it wasn’t AJW practice to have ref bumps occur during WWWA title matches. Though the later match was better because it didn't have Miwa dragging it down, both matches were good and showed how talented both workers are.

The WWA women’s title, which was last held by Crusher Maedomari was declared vacant in February of 1994. On February 25 in Tokyo, Kudo defeated Gaudy Girl Lei Lani Kai to win the vacant WWA Women’s title and become the first Independent Women’s champion.

Kudo put both belts on the line in a major interpromotional match at FMW’s major Kawasaki Stadium show on 5/5/94. Kudo successfully defended her belts defeating AJW’s Yumiko Hotta before a sellout crowd of 52,000 fans. Hotta was a major player in AJW, so this was a major win for Kudome.

All Japan Women ran the first and only women’s wrestling show at the Tokyo Dome on 11/20/94. The show drew 42,500 and a $4.3 million gate. This show was just awesome! The show featured a singles tournament known as the V*Top Women’s Tournament. I believe Kudo was supposed to be in this, but FMW didn’t want her doing an early job. In any case, Combat would up in the tournament. Combat really shined here not only wrestling the best match of her career, but upsetting Yumiko Hotta in the process. This was one of the stiffest matches you’ll ever see. Combat was defeated in the second round by Hokuto in a good short match. Kudo wound up in the idol wrestler match teaming with Hikari Fukuoka to defeat Takako Inoue & Cuty Suzuki when Kudo pinned Suzuki with her Kudo Driver in 14:04.

AJW got fed up with working with the other offices because their workers were superior, yet the smaller offices always wanted to win as many matches as they lost. AJW’s next major show was on 3/26/95 at Yokohama Arena and without any major interpromotional matches, the crowd dropped from 15,000 the previous year to 9,000. Without AJW to work with, Kudo was basically screwed. The FMW women’s division was as wretched as ever. Shark had formed the Mad Dog Millitary heel group which sold nothing, made all the faces look bad, and only survived by using objects on Megumi to get cheap heat. There was only one good worker in FMW other than Kudo and it was Combat of course. Combat almost had to be a heel. If Kudo and Combat were both faces, then there was no chance that either could have a good match. Both were very good workers, but only an elite worker would have a chance at carrying stiffs like Shark or Crusher to a good singles match. Even someone like Hokuto, who’s probably the best at getting good to very good matches out of those with questionable workrate would have a tough time pulling it off with Shark or Crusher. The reason is that those stiffs don’t sell anything. Hokuto always carried the questionable workers by doing a very intense high impact match with great selling. Maybe because Hokuto was a huge star AJW would make sure it was booked properly, but if she was an FMW worker, you can guarantee that Shark wouldn’t work the type of match required to make it good. Moreover, Shark and Crusher are terrible bump takers when they actually try to sell. This is what Kudo had to put up with, but she was the kind of person who always did what was best for the company.

Combat Toyoda regained the WWA Women’s Title and captured the Independent Women’s for the first time on 6/19/94 in Tokyo. Combat’s title reign was quite short as she lost the straps to Yukie Nabeno on 8/28/94 at Osaka Castle Hall. Nabeno was forced to vacate the strap on 12/12/94, which set up a Kudo vs. Bad Nurse Nakamura match for the vacant titles.

Dave Meltzer attended Yokohama Bunka Gym on 3/30/95 and this was what he wrote in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter about the Kudo vs. Bad Nurse title match. "Bad Nurse Nakamura captured the held up Independent Women’s Title & WWA Womens Title beating Megumi Kudo in 9:12. Nakamura is a terrible worker, but this was a really entertaining well booked match due to all kinds of outside interference by Crusher Maedomari, Shark Tsuchiya, & Tsuppari Mack (heels) and Combat Toyoda (face). Kudo is a very good worker so it was good when she was on offense. Nakamura’s offense was pathetic, but most of the time she was on offense there was interference. Total American style booking and match. ***1/4"

Kudo’s popularity in Japan should not be doubted. In Gong’s popularity poll based on 1994 (and possibly early 1995) Kudo was voted the 2nd most popular women’s wrestler. The rest of the top five were Hokuto-1st, Toyota-3rd, Takako-4th, & Kandori-5th.

Kudo put on a great performance before a sold out Kawasaki Stadium on 5/5/95 for Onita retirement. Kudo faced Bad Nurse Nakamura in a match for the WWA & Independent Women’s Titles. To show how awful the Mad Dog Military was, Bad Nurse had to be one of the ten worst working women (rookies excluded) in all of Japan at that time yet she was the best worker of the group. Kudo was really great here carrying the Bad Nurse to the match of her life. This wasn’t a great match by any means, but you have to remember who Kudo was dealing with. Kudo sold the whole way ala Onita, but made Bad Nurse look like a decent worker in the process. Eventually Kudo make a quick Onita-like comeback and won the titles from Bad Nurse.

The FMW women’s division continued to move from matches where they at least attempted to work to a more hardcore "garbage" style . The main reason for this was that FMW’s top star Atsushi Onita had retired and the promotion was desperately looking for his successor. Onita chose Hayabusa to be his successor, but he was a green Luchador with a fragile body and he was unable to hold up to the punishment the death matches required. Kudo, for all intents and purposes, became the female version of Onita. She would sell for most of the match, often getting sliced up by the heels, then finally make her comeback at the end and score a quick win. After the match, a tired and often bloody Kudo would scream on the house mic like Onita always used to. Again, Kudo always did what was best for the company. Unfortunately, there simply wasn’t enough intererest in the FMW women’s division for her to become a major draw. She was a decent draw though. I feel confident saying that the promotion would have went bankrupt and folded after Onita left if it wasn’t for Kudo.

Kudo began working in the crazy gimmick matches. In 1995, she participated in the first women’s bats on a pole match on 6/27/95. Kudo teamed with Combat against Shark and Bad Nurse in this match. Kudo took the sick bumps, being wrapped in barbed wire then pinned after Shark lariated down into a barbed wire board. Kudo also participated in the first ever women’s barbed wire match, teaming with Combat against Sato & Shark & Bad Nurse. Kudo’s faced was pressed into the barbed wire in this match causing hardway juice.

Kudo got what at this point was a rare chance to work a good match on FMW’s YEAR-END SENSATION '95 in YOKOHAMA on 12/21/95. This was a reunion of what turned out to be the four biggest stars from AJW’s class of 1986. They did no less than turn in one of the top 5 matches in the history of the women's division. Kudo’s team won the match when Kudo pinned Combat at 22:30. With the first reunion going over well, AJW decided to reunit the 6 remaining active women from the 1986 class on 3/31 on their Wrestling Queendom’96 show. Kudo teamed with Bison & KAORU against Aja, Cooga, & Combat. Kudo’s team lost the very good match when Cooga pinned Bison.

Shark defeated Kudo for the WWA & Independent Women’s Titles on 11/20/95 in Fukuoka. Shark’s title reign was deservedly short as Combat won the WWA Women’s title for the 5th and final time along with the Independent Women’s title for the 2nd time on 12/10/95 in Tokyo. FMW Women sold out Korakuen Hall on 12/22/95 for a Kudo vs. Shark no rope barbed wire match. This match was much sicker than Kudo’s previous gimmick matches. Kudo proved that she has a tremendous tolerance for a pain and will never shy away or ease up on a bump. Kudo juiced heavily, but eventually the Jadoh (evil) Princess prevailed.

Kudo’s popularity continued to rise. Kudo was named the most popular female wrestler in Weekly Pro’s 1995 year end poll. Kudo vs. Shark from 12/22 came in 4th for women’s match of the year. Kudo & Combat vs. Shark & Bad Nurse & Sato came in 5th for women’s tag match of the year, while Kudo & Aja vs. Bison & Combat from 12/21 came in 6th. Kudo also became a media personality getting a radio show known as Kudo Radio. No idea when this started.

Kudo met Combat Toyoda in the first women’s no rope electrified explosive barbed wire death match on 5/5/96 at Kawasaki Stadium. The match, which was for the WWA & Independent Women’s Titles, was also Combat’s retirement match. This really hurt Kudo because now there wasn’t even one decent worker in FMW to work with. This was one of the best FMW matches of any year, and for once we saw a garbage match where the gimmick spots were laid out to garner maximum meaning and reaction. Both women were exploded and both bled from the arm. It was somewhat crazy but they earned it rather than the typical overdoing it. Kudo defeated Combat in 21:26 to capture the WWA Women’s title for the fifth time and the Independent Women’s title for the third time. Kudo didn’t exactly get to celebrate the victory as she was carted off in a stretcher.

Kudo was named the most popular female wrestler for the 2nd straight year in Weekly Pro’s readership awards. The runners up were Toyota-2nd, Kandori-3rd, Kyoko-4th, Takako-5th. Nonetheless, Kudo’s road to retirement hasn’t been a great one. Kudo held a press conference where she said she wanted to wrestle the top stars from the other women’s promotions before she retired. AJW and Gaea won’t work with FMW anymore, so she didn’t get to face any of their wrestlers. No other leagues are giving her a retirement ceremony or anything like that. Her major interpromotional fued has been against LLPW’s Shinobu Kandori. Of course, Kudo had to put Kandori over twice just to get one win over her. The first match was on 12/11/96 on FMW’s major year end show at Tokyo Komazawa Olympic Park Gym. Kandori won that with a choke sleeper. Kandori defeated Kudo in the main event of LLPW’s 1/5/97 show. Kudo bled in this one. Kudo finally got her one win on 3/14/97, defeating Kandori in a no rope barbed wire death match. Both juiced.

Kudo’s other interpromotional matches in 1997 were: Kudo over Bison on 1/16 Jd’ show, Shark & Lioness over Kudo & Nakayama on 2/19, Shark & Asuka over Bison & Kudo in a bunkhouse death match on 3/28, Kudo over The Goddess Shiratori on 4/3 Jd’ show, Ozaki & Reiko Amano over Kudo & Rie on 4/8 JWP show, Kudo over Michiko Omukai on 4/15, & Kudo over Ozaki in a no rope barbed wire barricade double hell death match on 4/18. The two matches with Ozaki can hopefully be saviors. The death match was very bloody and sick, but is also supposed to contain a considerable amount of wrestling.

To prove her superior conditioning, Kudo competed on a tv show called "The Million Yen Challenge." This was some sort of fitness triathlon where each contestant had to do sit-ups, a type of back stretch, and push-ups for one minute each. Megumi faced another female wrestler and of course she was victorious.

Kudo dropped the WWA & Independent Women’s Titles to Shark on 3/21/97 in Sendai. Kudo’s retirement match is against Shark in a No Rope 200 Volt Double Hell Double Barbed Wire Barricade Double Landmine Glass Crush Electrical Barbed Wire Death Match. The match is for the WWA & Independent Women’s Titles, so if (better be when) she beats Shark, she gets to retire as champion.

A Megumi Kudo tribute video entitled "Anthology" was released in Japan today. The video contains highlights of Kudo’s most memorable matches. The tape includes Kudo & Combat vs. Toyota & Tamada, Kudo vs. Kong for the WWWA title, Kudo & Combat vs. Hokuto & Nakano, Kudo vs. Chigusa, plus much more.

I think the only question remaining is how will Megumi Kudo be remembered. I feel that I’ve said just about everything that needs to be said about Kudo somewhere in this essay. Her career should be able to speak for itself anyway. Her many fans in Japan know her true greatness.

Zach Arnold, a key contributer to this column, offered his thoughts on how she will be remembered by fans in the United States and how she should be rembered by fans in the United States. "Kudo will be remembered as a punching bag. Someone who never had a ton of **** matches. Someone who dealt with crap and like the idiots will say, "Instead of her going to GAEA or AJW to improve, she stayed in FMW." She will most likely be remembered for the Tsuchiya factor, which is awful."

"Kudo should be remembered as the most popular women’s wrestler in the world. Period. She was more popular, according to fans and many surveys, than Manami Toyota, for the past 2 years. She also was just as popular back in 1993, 1994, and 1995. Kudoh did the best she could for FMW . She did the death matches. What she should be remembered for is that SHE WAS THE SAVIOR FOR FMW when Onita retired. They couldn't draw crap. Without her and Combat fighting handicap death matches, that promotion would be dead by now. It's the truth as well."

"Kudo should also be remembered as one tough girl - Unlike Takako and the others, Kudo wasn't afraid to bleed to get Tsuchiya over a cheap-heat heel and Kudo wasn't afraid of damaging her looks by taking crazy bumps. Kudo was one of the most energetic wrestlers I've ever seen. Her main aspect in wrestling skill is her compatability to work with other wrestlers such as Combat, Oz, Aja, and Toyota."

"Kudoh was in a class of her own in FMW. She doesn't need to be associated with anyone else."

Special Thanks to Ramon Lores & Zach Arnold for their help with this column.

  Kudo Fest ’97

Being the big Kudo fan that I am, I thought it would be a good time to pull out her old matches. I figured I could make some observations and renew some interest in cool stuff that hasn’t been discussed much recently. I pulled out all my match lists, found all (or at least I think I did) the Kudo footage I had, and began watching in order from oldest to newest. Unfortunately, I don’t have any footage from her days in All Japan Women. Since I always get carried away, the Kudo Fest was born. I watched 10 consecutive hours in the first sitting and only stopped because I had to. Two days later, I came back with another 5 hours, making the entire Kudo Fest a 15 hour affair. Now let us look back at a porton of Megumi’s career.

FMW 4/19/90-Megumi Kudo & Reibun Amada vs. Miwa Sato & Keiko Iwama. Highlight form. Kudo had a USA stars and stripes outfit on that I didn’t remember existed (or maybe was trying to forget). Amada wore similar attire. Kudo also had a crummy paint streak in her hair back then. Even in highlight form, this wasn’t good. Kudo was most likely still rusty at this point since she’d only been back in action for a month and a half. The work was very green. Iwama was the most impressive here throwing some nice fast kicks. Kudo pinned Iwama at 14:01 after a sky high cross body. Kudo wasn’t impressive at all.

FMW 5/19/90-Kudo & Amada vs. Yuki Morimatsu & Sato. Highlight form. Kudo and Amada had already scrapped their USA stars and stripes oufits. Kudo looked pretty good in these clips doing the Misawa/Honaga jumping neckbreaker drop. Amada pinned Morimatsu in 12:53. After the match, they did an angle where Amada cut some of Morimatsu’s hair off. Amada wanted Kudo to join in the sheering, but Kudo wouldn’t do it. Amada slapped Megumi for not joining in the cutting. This was either Amada’s heel turn or the beginning of it.

FMW 8/4/90-Kudo vs. Combat Toyoda. This was from FMW’s Summer Spectacular show at the Tokyo Shiodome. Combat was much skinnier back then. This was way worse than you would expect. It was a crappy brawl with poor transitions. The sequences looked like they were in slow motion. The finish was poor. The workers seemed to be on different pages. Combat bled. The highlight of this suckfest was Kudo hitting a nice plancha. Combat pinned Kudo at 10:31 with a Thunder Fire powerbomb. When watching this match originally, I remember thinking that the only thing remotely good about it was that it came after an awful Magnificent Mimi vs. Miwa Sato match.

FMW 11/5/90-Kudo vs. Amada. Highlight form. Amada was now a heel. Kudo attacked Amada before the bell, signifying that this was a grudge match. This looked like a solid match. Amada was probably the best worker in the women’s division at this point. Kudo KO’d Amada with a backdrop at 11:58. It looked like Amada sustained a legit elbow injury.

9/1/92 FMW-Kudo vs. Combat for Kudo’s WWA title. Highlight form. I wish I didn’t have such a huge gap in this footage. This looked like a very good match. There were tons of near falls including Combat breaking the Kudo Driver (Tiger Driver). Kudo scored the pinfall at 12:25 with her Frankensteiner off the top rope. Both wrestlers had progressed tremendously since the 8/4/90 match.

9/19/92 FMW-Kudo & Combat vs. Akira Hokuto & Bull Nakano. Highlight form. Combat & Kudo made the perfect big woman/small woman team. Combat was one of the best of the larger women at working with the smaller women, while Kudo is one of the best of the smaller women at working with the larger women. This was the first match I have where Kudo had wore her princess attire to the ring. This match was obviously very good. Hokuto was really stiff with Kudo. Bull suplexed Kudo and Combat at the same time (1 in each arm) which was quite impressive considering Combat’s size. Kudo was the one that got stuck selling the whole match. She was basically destroyed then pinned by Bull following her guillotine leg drop off the top at 13:54. Execution looked real good and there were tons of high spots. I hope the version of this on Anthology is the complete match. Kudo and Combat both were playing on the level here and were not out of their leagues at all with Hokuto. By this point, both seemed to be good workers.

4/2/93 AJW-Kudo & Combat vs. Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada for Toyota & Yamada’s WWWA tag titles. This was the main event of one of the best shows of all-time, AJW’s All-Star Dreamslam 1. The show was the first women’s show to sell out Yokohama Arena (16,500). It set an all-time Japanese women’s record for both attendance and gate (neither record still stands). Toyota had a hard time working with the much larger Toyoda here. This surprised me since both are usually quite good at working with opposite sized women. Both Toyota and Yamada had trouble suplexing Combat. That was probably the one weakness with Yamada back then, no matter how large the women she was in with, she always tried to suplex her. Yamada could do the suplex, but it always looked pretty weak. Aside from a few bad suplexes, this was a very good. This match had super heat. Finish saw Toyota & Yamada giving Kudome their double back superplex with overhead flip. Yamada avoided Combat’s kick and Kudo would up taking the blow. Toyota used her Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex on Kudo for the win.

4/11/93 AJW-Kudo & Combat vs. Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda. This was part of Dreamslam II. I found this to be a better match than their Dreamslam match against Toyota & Yamada match, which is kind of interesting because Toyota & Yamada followed with one of the greatest tag matches their (and anyone else’s) lives in the main event of this show putting on a ***** match with Mayumi Ozaki & Dynamite Kansai. Behind the Toyota vs. Kyoko Inoue match from 5/7/95, that was the best women’s match I’ve ever seen. *The first Yamada & Toyota vs. Kansai & Ozaki is clearly the best, and I probably enjoy the third more than the second because I've seen it so much less and it has a better idea of what it wants to be than the second, though the second is a sentimental favorite because it changed my opinion of women's wrestling from a semi-porn joke to something potentially better than men's. Toyota vs. Kyoko isn't as good as any of the tags, though it's the greatest hour spotfest* You knew I couldn’t go too long without bragging about Toyota or Ozaki. Anyway, this match wasn’t as glamourous as Kudo & Combat’s Dreamslam 1 match with Toyota & Yamada, but this contained the more solid work. Kudo Kudo Drivered Mita on a table. Combat & Kudo gave Shimoda the sky high lariat (double impact), but Mita made the save. Kudo got a near fall with a huracanrana. Combat had Shimoda in Thunder Fire position and Kudo came off the top with a reverse DDT. Kudo took Mita out with her tope. Combat then powerbombed Shimoda for the win. Very good in the build and execution department. Excellent match.

5/5/93 FMW-Kudo & Combat vs. Toyota & Yamada. This Dreamslam 1 rematch took place on FMW’s big Kawasaki Stadium show. This match absolutely ruled! I would say that this was the best FMW match I’ve ever seen. Certainly, the best the FMW women’s division has produced. *Now I rank Kudo vs. Combat 5/5/96 higher. Toyota's match delivers more excitement, but Toyoda's is far more substantial and more of a one of a kind match whereas Toyota's is more or less as good as ten other tags Yamada & Toyota had from 92-93* This was slower paced then the Dreamslam match. The psychology and build was certainly superior to the Dreamslam match. Kudo was a very good worker by this point. Toyota sold a lot and Kudo and Combat looked really good beating on her. Yamada whipped so Toyota could do a missile dropkick off the top. Yamada immediately did a released German suplex. That was a very nice double team spot. Yamada did a plancha. Toyota followed with a super quebrada, but kind of missed it. Toyota & Yamada planted Kudo with a double side suplex drop. They followed with a double diving headbutt for a near fall on Kudo. Toyota missed her moonsault. Toyota and Yamada gave Kudo their double back superplex with overhead flip. Toyota hit a super-fast moonsault on Kudo, but Combat saved. Toyota got a near fall on Kudo with a Jaguar-like cross-arm German suplex. Toyota german suplexed Kudo, but Combat saved. Toyota tried her Japanese Ocean on Kudo, but Combat broke it up. Combat did a lariat, which Toyota took a wonderful flip bump on. Kudo and Combat gave Toyota a diving neckbreaker drop and Thunder Fire powerbomb combination. Combat held Yamada off, but Toyota kicked out on her own. Combat & Kudo gave Toyota the sky high lariat. Kudo did a sloppy powerbomb on Toyota for a near fall. Kudo then Tiger suplexed Toyota for the win. Excellent match. The second half was awesome with one great near fall after another. The build was excellent. It was very effective because it really looked like the favored Toyota and Yamada were going over, but Kudo was able to withstand all their top moves and then comeback and score the winning pin. After the match, Aja came in the ring and challenged Kudo.

8/23/93 FMW-Kudo & Sato vs. Aja Kong & Kaoru Ito. This was part of FMW’s major Nishinomiya Stadium show, which set an Osaka area record for live attendance (25,000). Miwa got crushed by Aja in this match. She took some really stiff kicks from Aja early on. Miwa finally came back with a DDT to Aja and tagging in Kudo. Kudo & Aja did some really nice small woman/big woman spots. Kudo ducked the uraken, but Aja punched her in the face on the way back up. Aja planted Kudo with a nodowa. This looked to shake Kudo up legit as Aja tried to pick her up, but Kudo wasn’t responding. Aja let her head down and the ref started a ten count. Kudo made it up at 9. Kudo avoided Aja’s uraken and Ito wound up getting hit with it. Kudo then used her Kudo Driver on Ito for the win at 18:25. Not as good as either of the Toyota & Yamada matches, but certainly a good match. Worlds better when Kudo was in than when Miwa was in. Aja and Kudo really work great together.

8/25/93 AJW-Kudo & Yukie Nabeno vs. Yamada & Ito. This was part of AJW’s Budokan Hall show which drew 14,500. The result was pretty obvious given that AJW had just let the FMW team go over on their major show 3 days earlier. Yamada still ruled at this time. She beat on Kudo with her typical kicks and awesome single underhook snap suplex. Kudo had Ito in a version of the Dragon sleeper. Yamada came in and swept Kudo’s leg to break it up, which brought boos from the crowd. Nabeno took some really stiff leg sweeps from Yamada. It was kind of like Yamada was trying to chop down a tree with them. Ito got near falls on Nabeno with 2 sillas and her rolling senton off the 2nd. Ito silla’d Nabeno off the 2nd. Yamada slammed Nabeno & Ito came off the top with her double boot stomp, but Nabeno avoided it. Kudo then hit the jumping neckbreaker drop. Yamada took Kudo out with a thrust kick. Ito superplexed then hit a series of double boot stomps on Nabeno for a near fall. Yamada slammed Kudo out of the ring then Ito came off the top to the floor with a deadly double boot stomp. With Kudo taken out, Yamada slammed Nabeno and Ito came off the top with her double boot stomp for the win at 14:23. Very good fast-paced match. Great heat. The selling could have been better and it was a bit sloppy. Although she was mainly the designated punching bag, Nabeno didn’t look bad at all.

9/23/93 FMW-Kudo & Sato & Nurse Nakamura vs. Shark & Crusher Maedomari & Tsuppari Mack. This was an elimination match. It wasn’t very good, since the other five women all suck. Kudo Tiger Drivered Crusher for the pin. Kudo was pinned when Shark reversed her bodyscissor victory roll. It came down to Miwa against Shark and Mack and Miwa actually won. I guess the most notable thing about this match is that it’s the only time I’ve ever seen Miwa Sato pushed ahead of Kudo in a match.

10/25/93 LLPW-Kudo & Sato vs. Kurenai Yasha & Noriyo Tateno. This was a good match when Kudo was in with Tateno. Unfortunately, they had to tag, so the match really had its ups and downs. Yasha & Tateno pinned Miwa with a nodowa/German suplex combination.

12/6/93 AJW-Kudo vs. Aja for Aja’s WWWA title. This was part of AJW’s Tokyo Sumo Hall show which drew a sellout 11,500. It's one of Kudo’s best matches. This match built with lots of matwork and submission holds. Kudo did good transitions into the cross arm breaker. Kudo ducked 2 urakens. Kudo did her tope. Kudo got a near fall on Aja with the German suplex. In a rare AJW screwjob, there was a ref bump when Kudo came off the top with a cross body. Kudo Frankensteinered Aja off the top, which in theory would have won the match and WWWA title, but the ref was still down. Kudo landed on her feet for the back suplex, but Aja caught her with the uraken. Aja gave Kudo 4 consecutive urakens. Aja tried to drag her up for a fifth, but the ref stopped her and began a ten count. Aja grabbed the house mic and screamed at Kudo to get up. Kudo made it up at 9. Aja tried her back body drop off the top, but Kudo turned it into a sunset flip powerbomb for a near fall. Kudo tried for her Kudo Driver, but Aja blocked it and urakened her for the win. Very good match. It showed that Kudo was indeed a major star at this point because AJW didn’t make a practice of running screw jobs in title matches. Kudo once again rocked working with a larger woman and Aja, as always, was excellent with a smaller woman.

12/8/93 FMW-Kudo vs. Takako Inoue. Highlight form. Kudo did a nice arm drag counter for Takako’s nodowa (chokeslam). Kudo won with her Frankensteiner off the top. It looked like a good match, but not as good as it should have been. There was no real build to the finish and Takako’s bump on the Frankensteiner off the top wasn’t good.

3/27/94 AJW-Kudo & Nurse Nakamura vs. Suzuki Minami & The Goddess Chikako Shiratori. This was part of AJW’s Wrestling Queendom II show, which drew 15,000 at Yokohama Arena (how times have changed for the worse). Minami & Kudo were/are very good workers, but they were strapped with not so good workers on their teams (nothing new for Kudo). This match was well booked though and they were able to make it an above average match. Basically, Nurse was just used for for the several double team spots. Shiratori actually looked like a decent worker here as she basically came in, did the spots she was good at, then tagged. Kudo got a near fall on Minami with her Kudo Driver. Minami then got a near fall on Kudo with her powerbomb. The finish was weird as Kudo had Shiratori in her dragon sleeper while Nurse held Minami off. Minami finally broke free and broke Kudo’s submission up, but the ref signalled that Shiratori had submitted. 16:32.

5/5/94 FMW-Kudo vs. Yumiko Hotta for Kudo’s WWA & Independent Women’s titles. This was part of FMW’s major Kawasaki Stadium Show which drew a sellout 52,000. As always, Kudo was able to take the stiffness. Hotta took a really lousy bump on Kudo’s Frankensteiner off the top. Hotta hit a released German superplex. Kudo landed on her feet for Hotta’s Pyramid Driver, but Hotta urakened her. Hotta went back to the Pyramid Driver, but Kudo turned it into a sunset flip for the win. Good solid match. As if you couldn’t guess, it was Kudo conforming to Hotta’s style rather than Hotta actually working to her opponent's strengths. Probably the biggest star AJW ever allowed Megumi to go over on.

7/14/94 LLPW-Kudo vs. Kurenai Yasha. This was part of LLPW’s Biggest Show, which drew 8,300 to the Tokyo Coliseum. Yasha jumped Kudo at the bell. This angered the Jadoh (evil) Princess, so she hung Yasha off the apron in a choke sleeper. This quickly became a brawl. Yasha avenged the earlier spot by hanging Kudo off the second in a choke sleeper with her rod. Kudo did a Super Underhook Superplex. Kudo got the win at 17:25 with her Kudo Driver. Yasha is better than the FMW women, but still a stiff. This match was below average.

8/24/94 AJW-Kudo vs. Infernal KAORU (Kaoru Maeda). This was part of AJW’s Budokan Hall show which drew a sellout 15,560. Kudo was once again able to have a very good match with a class of 1986 member. Kudo was very technical here, allowing KAORU to flash the hottest moves. KAORU did a Quebrada. KAORU was really getting up high on all her aerial spots. KAORU kicked out of the Kudo Driver 2 times in a row. KAORU tried her moonsault, but Kudo got her knees up. Kudo Tiger suplexed KAORU for the win. Infernal unmasked after the match. The set up and transition was very good. Both workers looked really good. The match built well. I wish it was a bit longer. One of the best matches in the Kudo Fest.

9/7/94 FMW-Kudo & Sato & Keiko Iwame vs. Combat & Shark & Crusher. Highlight form. Tsuppari Mack stiffed Kudo with that square shapped flat object she always used to use. Iwame juiced a gusher. Shark powerbombed Iwame at 21:20 for the win.

11/20/94 AJW-Kudo & Hikari Fukuoka vs. Takako & Cuty Suzuki. This was the beauty idol match on AJW’s Tokyo Dome show. Fukuoka is the best worker of the bunch, but the worst looks wise. Kudo would be the second best worker here. Fukuoka plancha’d Cuty. Takako tombstoned Kudo on the runway. Takako had Fukuoka up for the sky high lariat, but Fukuoka turned it into a victory roll just before Cuty hit her. Takako hit her Destiny Hammer on Kudo for a near fall. Kudo got the pin on Cuty with her Kudo Driver at 14:04. Transition between moves was kind of slow. Lots of near falls. Also lots of sloppy stuff like poor bridges. Not much build or psychology. Good match, but not good considering the event it took place on was one of the greatest of all-time. In the second half of the show, only Bull Nakano against the Semi Human Barbie Doll was a worse match.

5/1/95 FMW-Kudo & Combat & Yukari Ishikura vs. Shark & Crusher & Bad Nurse. Bad Nurse & Yukari were the designated punching bags in this one, so Kudo actually avoided that role for once. Kudo got a series of near falls on Bad Nurse, but couldn’t put her away. Shark and Crusher both had chairs in their hand, but Kudo came off the top with a missile dropkick (1 leg hit each). Kudo & Combat spike piledrivered Bad Nurse. Shark wound up pinning Ishikura with her powerbomb.

5/5/95 FMW-Kudo vs. Bad Nurse for Bad Nurse’s WWA & Independent Women’s titles. This match was on FMW’s major Kawasaki Stadium show drew another 50,000+ crowd for Onita’s retirement. This match was one of the high points of Kudo’s career. A true testament to her ability because she carried an absolutely terrible worker to the best match of her life. This was around the beginning of the period where FMW women’s wrestling became hardcore. Kudo bled early. The match had tons of outside interference from the Mad Dog Millitary. There were some hot near falls. Bad Nurse tombstoned Kudo on a chair. She followed by piledrivering Kudo on the chair for a near fall. Nurse got a near fall with a powerbomb. In typical Onita fashion, which became typical Kudo fashion, Kudome sold almost the entire way. Kudo finally came back by throwing powder in Nurse’s eyes. Kudo then urakened her with a chain. Kudo followed by Kudo Drivering Nurse for the win at 14:32. Kudo won the WWA & Independent Women’s titles. One of the only good matches Bad Nurse was ever involved in. Sad thing is, as bad as Bad Nurse is, she’s a much better worker than Shark or Crusher.

5/7/95 FMW-Combat & Kudo vs. Shark Tsuchiya & Bad Nurse Nakamura. Kudo did a lot of high spots and made it somewhat exciting. Shark wrapped Kudo in barbed wire and lariated her for the win at 14:11. Megumi made it much better than you would expect given from the fodder she was facing.

6/22/95 FMW-Kudo & Combat vs. Shark & Bad Nurse. Highlight form. Kudo Kudo Drivered Bad Nurse on a chair. Kudo made Bad Nurse submit to a combination headscissors and cross arm breaker at 6:59.

6/27/95 FMW-Kudo & Combat vs. Shark & Bad Nurse. First ever women’s bats on a pole match. Kudo Kudo Drivered Bad Nurse, but Crusher Maedomari interfered and broke up the pin. Bad Nurse hit Kudo with Shark’s barbed wire rod. Bad Nurse held Kudo and Shark tried to rod her. Combat hit the barbed wire rod with a baseball bat-knocking the rod out of Shark’s hand-thus saving Kudo. Shark wrapped Kudo in barbed wire. Bad Nurse then placed a barbed wire board in the middle of the ring. Bad Nurse tried to knock Kudo down into the barbed wire board by kicking Kudo, but Kudo stayed on her feet. Shark proceeded to lariat Kudo down into the barbed wire board for the pin at 11:15. What other woman would allow herself to be wrapped in barbed wire then lariated down into a barbed wire board? Just another day at the office for Megumi.

8/31/95 FMW-Kudo & Combat & Kaori Nakayama & Ishikura vs. Sato & Bad Nurse & Shark. Elimination match. Highlight form. Combat whipped Kudo for a tope on Sato & Bad Nurse. Kaori & Yukari followed with back to back planchas to Sato & Bad Nurse. Miwa pinned Combat out of nowhere with a lame roll up. Yukari & Kudo held so Kaori could deliver her moonsault to Bad Nurse. Nurse kicked out, ducked a clothesline, and pinned Kaori in a German suplex. Nurse kicked Kudo so Shark could back suplex her for a near fall. Ishikura was eliminated, but it wasn’t shown. Kudo did a nice DDT counter for Shark & Nurse’s double suplex. Miwa then entered the ring and Kudo applied her choke sleeper for the submission. Shark & Nurse choked Kudo with a chain. Kudo landed on her feet for a back suplex, but missed a lariat, and Shark back suplexed her. Shark used the barbed wire rod on Kudo. Shark Kudo Drivered Kudo for the pin at 17:15. Fast paced with some nice high spots. Bad match. Selling was awful as the recovery time was way too quick.

9/5/95 FMW-Kudo & Combat vs. Sato & Shark & Bad Nurse. Barbed Wire Handicap Match. This was the first ever women’s barbed wire match. Shark pressed Kudo’s face against the barbed wire causing hardway juice. Kudo whipped Nurse into the barbed wire then silla’d (hip attack/butt bump) her. Combat whipped Shark into the corner. Kudo was holding a barbed wire board, so Combat dropkicked the board into Shark’s head. Yeah, Shark actually took a hit with barbed wire. Kudo Northern Lights suplexed Shark onto the barbed wire board for the win. Pretty good for a Shark match. Shark actually took a few bumbs.

9/24/95 FMW-Kudo & Shark vs. Combat & Yukie Nabeno. Highlight form. Amazingly enough, Kudo & Shark actually did some nice double team spots. Kudo pinned Nabeno with Northern Lights in 16:31. They did an angle after the match where Combat was mad at Kudo for teaming with Shark and wouldn’t shake her hand.

9/26/95 FMW-Kudo & Shark vs. Bad Nurse & Sato. Shark saved Kudo from Miwa’s barbed wire rod use early. Sato & Bad Nurse whipped Shark & Kudo at each other. Shark turned on Kudo here by lariating her. Shark followed by powerbombing Kudo. Kudo was pinned by Bad Nurse’s German suplex. Afterwards, Sato & Bad Nurse choked Kudo with a chain. Shark then blew a giant fireball on Kudo.

12/21/95 FMW-Kudo & Aja vs. Combat & Bison. The class of 1986 got another chance to work with each other on FMW’s Yokohama show. A stiff, intense, high impact contest that caught you by surprise with it's consistent unified style. Aja high cross bodied both opponents. Kudo, who fought power with athleticism, tried her silla, but Combat caught her in the air and turned it into a released German suplex. Kudo hit the swinging DDT of the 2nd on Bison. Kudo did the nice DDT for suplex spot. Kudo held Combat so Aja could uraken, but Combat ducked and Kudo was hit. Combat then screw drivered Kudo for a near fall. Kudo scored the pin on Combat at 22:30 with a sunset flip powerbomb. Extremely solid match. It built slowly, and actually had a lot of big spots, it's just that the progression from stiffness to solid impact to bombs and drivers was so consistent you almost didn't realize they emptied the playbook. One of FMW's best.

12/22/95 FMW-Kudo vs. Shark. FMW Women sold out Korakuen Hall for this no rope barbed wire match. Kudo tried to whip Shark into the barbed wire, but of course, Shark reversed. Kudo took the deadly bump into the barbed wire. Of course, Megumi didn’t take this bump like some wussy, she ran real fast into it. Shark then pushed Kudo’s head into the barbed wire, opening up a cut on Megumi’s head. Shark used her barbed wire rod to Kudo’s throat. Kudome was bleading heavily by this point. Miwa Sato tried to hit Kudo with the barbed wire rod, but Kudo avoided and Shark got hit (not hard of course). Shark pushed Kudo stomach first into the barbed wire. Shark tried to powerbomb Kudo onto a table, but Kudo was too close and her foot kicked the table over on the way up. Shark redid the spot and the impact bent the unbreakable table considerably. Miwa assisted Shark in powerbombing Kudo onto the table. This time, the leg of the table gave out. Shark atomic dropped Kudo onto the table. Kudo came back slamming Shark onto the table, which finally broke the table. Shark got the Pogo sickle and used it on Kudo’s bloody head. Shark swung the sickle at Kudo, but Kudo blocked it with a piece of the broken table. Kudo gave Shark 2 shots to the head with a piece of the broken table. Kudo then whipped Shark into the barbed wire and silla’d her. Kudo did several not so stiff shots with the barbed wire rod then gave it to Kaori Nakayama. Kaori also delievered some lame shots to Shark with the rod. Kudo got the rod back. Shark ducked the rod and got behind Kudo, but Kudo did a go behind then choke sleepered Shark with the barbed wire rod. Kudo fisherman suplexed Shark for a near fall. Kudo tried her silla, but Shark moved and Kudo landed in the barbed wire. Shark powerbombed Kudo for a near fall. Miwa cut a strand of the barbed wire. Shark used the barbed wire to lariat Kudo 3 times. Shark covered, but Kudo kicked out. Shark tried to powerbomb Kudo on the barbed wire rod, but Kudo landed on her feet and DDT’d Shark (not on barbed wire rod of course). Kudo German suplexed Shark, but Crusher Maedomari came in and hit Kudo in the stomach with the barbed wire rod. Crusher tried to nodowa Kudo, but Kudo turned it into an arm drag. I think that’s the only spot Crusher can take a good bump on. Kudo then whipped Crusher into the barbed wire real fast. So, Crusher actually sold better and took better bumps in her 30 seconds of involvement than Shark did in the whole gimmick match. Kudo dropkicked Shark into the barbed wire then Kudo Drivered her for a near fall. Kudo Kudo Drivered Shark on a chair for a near fall. Shark ducked a clothesline an attempted her back suplex. Kudo landed on her feet for the back suplex and pushed Shark into the barbed wire. Kudo Kudome Drivered (reverse Gori especial bomb) Shark for the win. Below average match. Kudo was a bloody mess, but I couldn’t see one drop of blood on Shark. Shark is a complete stiff who gets cheap heat slicing up the beauty idol. Totally unenjoyable. I don’t know how anyone can get into this crap. These type of matches should be reserved for the talentless guys like Kojika, Nakamaki, Goto, Nagasaki, Yamakawa, Ishikawa, Kabuki, and that like. Shark fits the bill, but Kudo is way to good for this. It all goes back to how she always did what was best for the company though.

1/5/96 FMW-Kudo & Nakayama vs. Combat & Ishikura. Good fast-paced high spot fest. This is the type of match that I would like to see Kudo working every night. Not that it was a great match or anything, but it sure as hell beats juicing a gusher for a bunch of talentless no-sell stiffs. Kudo totally dominated the younger Ishikura. Kudo slammed Ishikura then held Combat in the corner so Nakayama could moonsault Ishikura for the win. 15:21. A pleasure to watch since it came after that Shark barbed wire match.

1/10/96 FMW-Kudo vs. Chigusa Nagayo. As usual, given a capable wrestler Kudo was able to produce a good match. The match started off really fast with Chigusa high kicking Kudo then hitting two of her leg lariats. Nagayo tried her Thunder Fire powerbomb, but Kudo turned it into a sunset flip. Kudo ducked a high kick and applied her choke sleeper. Kudo delivered two released German suplexes. Kudo then applied a choke sleeper and bodyscissor combination, but Chigusa made it to the ropes. Kudo hit her silla. Kudo tried another silla, but Chigusa caught her in the air and turned it into a released German suplex. Chigusa used a running powerslam. Chigusa went to the top, but Kudo dropkicked her, sending her to the floor. Chigusa wanted to German suplex Kudo, but Megumi rolled forward into an ankle lock. Kudo tried for her Kudome Driver, but Chigusa slipped out and applied the sleeper. Chigusa used a German suplex for a near fall. Chigusa got near falls with a Dragon suplex and backdrop. Kudo ducked the lariat and delivered a Northern Lights suplex. Kudo tried a jumping crotch hold, but she didn’t get up high enough. I guess that would be her one weakness as an athlete. Hands down she’s in the best condition, but she really can’t jump very high. Kudo gave the much heavier Chigusa a sloppy Northern Light for a near fall. Kudo tried a huracanrana, but Chigusa powerbombed for the win. 6:51. Good match. It was going great until the finishing sequence which was sloppy and came out of nowhere. Chigusa was a much better athlete then then she is now. She had little stamina, but she still had some quickness and athleticism.

2/23/96 FMW-Kudo & Nakayama & Ishikura vs. Shark & Bad Nurse & Crusher. The Mad Dog Military team was back to their old tricks here. Shark tried to strike Kudo with the sickle, but Kudo avoided and the damn thing got stuck in the canvas. Unfortunately, Shark quickly dislodged it. Shark blookied Ishikura with the sickle. Meanwhile, Crusher bloodied Kaori outside the ring. Shark & Bad Nurse tried to double suplex Kudo, but in the typical nice spot Kudo turned it into a DDT. I guess I keep repeating these good spots because there there are only a 1 or 2 spots that each Mad Dog Military member can make Kudo look good on. Hence, you see the same couple nice Kudo spots in each match against these stiffs and the few other bumps they take look like crap. Kaori was surprisingly able to work a good sequence with Bad Nurse. I guess that puts her in select company. Shark took some sloppy bumbs for Kudo. Shark got the usual good spot where Kudo lands on her feet for the back suplex, Shark ducks lariat, then Shark back suplexes for a near fall right. You would think by 1996 that Shark would have had at least 4 different good spots that she could work with Kudo, but I guess that’s expecting too much. Crusher took her requisite nice bump for Kudo on the arm drag for nodowa spot. Kaori did a plancha then Kudo toped the whole Military. Kudo and Bad Nurse did one of the only spots Bad Nurse can do right, the spot where Kudo ducks the lariat and Northern Lights her. Kudo ducked a double clothesline from Shark & Crusher then kicked Bad Nurse in the stomach. Kaori & Yukari held Shark & Crusher, so Kudo could Kudome Driver Bad Nurse for the win. Ok match. At least there were a few good sequences. The most notable thing is that Kudo actually escaped a match with blood without spilling any of her own. After the match, Combat came in the ring and rejoined Kudo, Nakayama, & Ishikura.

3/31/96 AJW-Kudo, Bison, & KAORU vs. Aja, Cooga (Miori Kamiya), & Combat. This match was part of AJW’s Wrestling Queendom 96 show at Yokohama Arena. It was billed as Reunion Wonder Six Women Tag because all where from the AJW rookie class of 1986. Kudo and Combat worked real well together. This match had lots of nice transitions between moves. Aja high cross bodied Kudo’s whole team. Cooga & Combat did consecutive plancha’s then Aja toped Kudo. Combat held KAORU so Aja could come off the top with the oil can. KAORU avoided though. KAORU canned Aja, but she no sold. KAORU then canned Aja 9 times in a row, but Aja no sold all of them and headbutted KAORU down. Aja then started headbutting the turnbuckle to show the fans how tough she was. Combat whipped KAORU into the corner and charged, but KAORU countered with a twisting sunset flip. Unfortunately, KAORU kind of overshot the move (or you could say Combat was too close to the turnbuckle) and her head crashed into the canvas. KAORU was legitimately shaken up, so they rolled her out of the ring. Kudo got near falls on Aja with her silla & swinging DDT off the 2nd. Bison sky high dropkicked Aja. They gave Aja a triple diving headbutt. Bison & KAORU gave Aja consecutive moonsaults for a near fall. KAORU brainbustered Aja. KAORU hit her springboard moonsault for a near fall. Kudo Frankensteinered Aja off the top. Kudo tried to Kudo Driver Aja, but Aja wouldn’t go up. Aja tried to uraken Kudo, but Kudo ducked and ran off the ropes. Aja caught on the way back trying her silla and gave her a released German suplex. Aja splashed Bison off the 2nd then Combat splashed off the top. Aja followed by superplexing teammate Cooga onto Bison for a near fall. Kudo toped Aja. Bison & KAORU followed with moves off the top to the floor. With Bison climbing the ropes, Cooga German suplexed her off the 2nd for a near fall. Cooga ducked Bison’s famous chop off the ropes and Aja urakened Bison. Cooga then German suplexed Bison for the win. Aja dragged the still shaken up KAORU back into the ring so they could have their reunion. A bit sloppy. Lots of nice spots. Very good match.

4/4/96 FMW-Kudo & KAORU vs. Combat & Chigusa. This was the main event of one of the few women only shows FMW ran. The first half of the match was pretty uneventful. The match really lacked heat, so maybe the first half was the reason. It really picked up in the second half and turned into a very good match. KAORU tried a urakenran, but Chigusa powerbombed. Chigusa hit her leg lariat on KAORU then Combat enzui lariated. Combat ducked a clothesline and tried to German suplex KAORU. KAORU tried to counter the German with a bodyscissor victory roll. Combat countered this by turning it into a wheelbarrel suplex. Nice sequence. KAORU ducked Chigusa’s leg lariat and Combat got hit. Kudo came in and hit 2 sillas. Kudo then slammed Combat and KAORU moonsaulted. Kudo & KAORU got a near fall with a double fisherman buster. KAORU Orihara moonsaulted Chigusa. In the ring, Combat got a near fall on Kudo following two back suplexes. Chigusa got up, so KAORU Orihara moonsaulted her again. Combat used her powerbomb on Kudo for a near fall. Kudo Kudo Drivered Combat for a near fall. KAORU tried her springboard moonsault, but Chigusa kicked the top rope, causing her to lose balance. Chigusa powerbombed KAORU for a near fall. Chigusa Death Valley bombed KAORU for a near fall. Chigusa tried her running Thunder Fire powerbomb, but Kudo broke it up. KAORU cross-arm German suplexed Chigusa for a near fall. Kudo slammed then KAORU moonsaulted for a near fall. KAORU brainbustered Chigusa for a near fall. KAORU tried a huracanrana, but Chigusa caught her in powerbomb position. KAORU was able to get free, but Chigusa immediately took her out with a super fast spinning leg sweep. Chigusa tried to Thunder Fire KAORU 2 times unsuccessfully. Combat lariated KAORU then Chigusa Thunder Fired KAORU for the pin at 22:19. Nice build and psychology.

5/5/96 FMW-Kudo vs. Combat for Combat’s WWA & Independent women’s titles. This was the first ever no rope electrified explosive barbed wire death match. It was also Combat’s retirement match. The match was part of FMW’s major Kawasaki Stadium show which drew 33,231 fans. Atsushi Onita was at ringside to see this historical match. This match was one of the more enjoyable gimmick matches because it was actually a wrestling match. The gimmicks were used, but they were only used sporadically. The sporadic use along with great timing of when to use the spots made each killer spot achieve maximum effect. After some great building to the use of the gimmick spots, Kudo forward rolled under a lariat, but Combat dropkicked her into the barbed wire for the first deadly explosion. They showed a closeup of Kudome’s arm and it looked burned up. Definitely discolored. Kudo’s arm was also bleeding. Combat used a screw driver, torture rack, and la tapatia (Romero Special/inverted surfboard). Kudo tried to whip Combat into the wire, but Combat reversed. Kudo slid, so she didn’t hit the wire. Kudo ducked a lariat and Combat hit the barbed wire for a big explosion. Combat’s arm was bloody. Kudo hit an enzuiguri then applied her Dragon sleeper. Combat lariated Kudo into the barbed wire. Combat ducked a lariat and German suplexed Kudo for a near fall. Kudo landed on her feet for a powerbomb then DDT’d Combat for a near fall. Kudo ducked a lariat and hit a Northern Lights suplex for a near fall. Combat got near falls with a backdrop, Ligerbomb, and Thunder Fire powerbomb. Combat Thunder Fired Kudo again for a near fall. Combat tried another Thunder Fire, but Kudo turned it into a sunset flip for a near fall. Both tried unsuccessfully to German suplex each other into the barbed wire. Kudo tried to silla Combat into the barbed wire, but Combat caught her in the air and both went into the barbed wire for an explosion. The camera cut to Onita, who had his head down as if he couldn’t bear to look. Both sold this explosion big time. Kudo’s arm was now much bloodier. Kudo used the Kudo Driver for a 2 3/4 count. Kudo powerbombed Combat on her head for a 2 9/10 count. The selling during the latter portion was phenomenal. Kudo delivered her Kudome Driver for the pin at 21:26. Both women sold huge after the match. Onita came into the ring to revive them. Onita got pissed at the face women because they gave him small water bottles to revive them with. Finally Onita got a bucket and dumped it on them. They still weren’t revived. Kudome was stretched out. Onita carried Combat out on his back. Eventually Combat was able to stand with Onita’s assistence and raise her hand to the crowd one last time. Very good match with great building and psychology. The timing of when to use the gimmick spots was excellent. Super selling from the last explosion on. If Kudo’s retirement match is done in this style, I will be a very happy man. Thing is, we are dealing with Shark, so it isn’t going to happen. It would be nice is Kudo can at least leave the ring without assistence.

8/1/96 FMW-Kudo vs. Shark & Crusher & Bad Nurse in a handicap match. This match took place on FMW’s Shiodome show. They had a penalty cage outside the ring that Kudo could lock the Mad Dog Military in and make it 2 on 1. It’s impossible to have any type of psychology in this situation. Crusher tried to nodowa Kudo, but in the usual spot, Kudo turned it into an armdrag. Shark tried her powerbomb, but Kudo turned it into a huracanrana. Kudo did the DDT counter for the double suplex. Kudo then planchad all three stiffs. Shark tried to use the barbed wire rod, but Kudo moved and Nurse got hit with it. Shark whipped Kudo into the penalty box and charged, but Kudo avoided and locked Shark in it. Now if only she could have had the penalty box brought to the Pacific Ocean and deposited in there...While Shark was in the penalty box there was some actual wrestling, but as soon as she got out the match was reduced. Shark tried to use the sickle on Kudo over and over until she finally got her cheap heat by slicing Kudo’s head with it. Shark continued to use the sickle on Kudo’s head until Kudo had the "Crimson Mask." Shark lariated Kudo with a chain. Shark and Crusher hit Kudo with cans. Shark locked Kudo in the penalty box and went to blow a fireball, but Bad Nurse saved Kudo. Kaori Nakayama held Crusher in the penalty box and Megumi locked both of them in there. They finally returned to the ring where Bad Nurse used a Northern Lights for a 2 3/4 count. Shark got back in the ring and yelled at Bad Nurse telling her to use the barbed wire rod on Kudome. Bad Nurse made like she was going to swing it at Kudo, but hit Shark with it instead (of course to the stomach and not hard). Kudo rolled Bad Nurse up for a near fall. Kudo Tiger suplexed Bad Nurse for a near fall. Kudo gave Bad Nurse the Kudome Driver, but instead of pinning her, she pointed to Shark. Kudo then used Shark’s powerbomb finisher to pin Bad Nurse at 17:06. After the match, Shark is blew a fireball at Kudo. It missed, but Kudo sold it huge anyway. She takes enought crap that I’m not going to complain about this. I wouldn’t no-sell it and encourage Shark to blow another one either. This was the start of Bad Nurse’s face turn, where she would become Rie. That is even worse for Kudo since Rie would sell and could do a little. Aki Kanbayashi, another terrible worker, turned heel and was given the pitiful Miss Mongol gimmick. Mongol has got to be at least 5 times worse than Rie and it seems to be pretty impossible to do anything decent with her.

8/13/96 AJW-Kudo & Nakayama vs. Bison Kimura & Yuki Lee. This was part of AJW’s two night disaster where they drew so poorly at Budokan that the combined attendance would still leave the building 1/3 empty. His was a tag tournament match where a star was pitting with a "New Heroine," or in other words a youngster they hoped would get over. Yuki Lee is a scrub that’s supposed to be one of the top stars in Jd’. She sold the whole way. Kudo did a couple of nice things with Bison including turning a back body drop into a DDT. It was a lousy, short match. Kaori looked pretty good. Lee did nothing but score the pin on Kaori.

9/16/96 FMW-Kudo & Nakayama vs. Shark & Mongol. Kaori did a nice handspring to avoid a clothesline ala Mariko Yoshida. Kudo toped Shark then Kaori plancha’d Mongol. Shark got a near fall on Kudo with her back suplex. With Kudo holding Shark, Kaori tried a cross body off the top, but Shark moved and Kudo got hit. Shark tried a powerbomb, but Kudo landed on her feet. Shark then tried a suplex, but Kudo DDT’d. Shark tried a wheelbarrel suplex, but Kaori turned it into a bodyscissor victory roll. Kaori ducked a lariat and gave Mongol a released German, but Shark saved. Kaori got another near fall on Mongol with a bridging underhook suplex. Kudo threw Kaori for a standing moonsault on Mongol. Kudo held Shark out of the ring so Kaori could slam and moonsault for the win. Average match. Notable because it was the only entirely straight match that Shark worked against Kudo in the whole Kudo Fest. Shark sucks big time, but she’s really lazy also. She wasn’t entirely awful here, but actually trying to work may be too strenuous on her or something. Mongol did almost all the selling for her team.

12/11/96 FMW-Kudo vs. Shinobu Kandori. This was from FMW’s year end show at Tokyo Komazawa Olympic Park Gym. I’m always shocked when I think a Kandori match is very good. The early portion was built around Kandori’s Wakigatamae. Kudo hit a tope. On the floor, both tried to use chairs and they wound up hitting each others chairs. Kandori swung a chair, but Kudo ducked it and the chair hit the ring post. Kandori tried a clothesline, but Kudo ducked this also and Kandori’s arm hit the ring post. Kudo hit a Tiger driver out of the ring. Back in the ring, Kudo got a near fall with a fisherman buster. Kudo hit a Tiger driver then went to the top for a flying move, but Kandori caught her arm in midair and turned it into yet another Wakigatamae. Their transitions into the Wakigatamae’s were quite good. Kudo back body dropped Kandori over the top, but Kandori landed on the apron and immediately applied the choke sleeper. Without releasing the choke sleeper, Kandori climbed to the top rope so she could get more leverage (idea is that Kudo’s feet would be off the ground). Kudo got away and Frankensteinered Kandori off the top. Kudo tried a German suplex. After several go behinds, she returned the favor by applying her choke sleeper. Kudo tried her Kudome Driver, but Kandori slipped out. Kandori immediately lifted Kudo up on her shoulders, but Kudo turned it into a sunset flip. Kandori got near falls with a lariat and a powerbomb. Kandori tried another powerbomb, but Kudo countered. Kudo ducked a clothesline, but Kandori immediately applied the choke sleeper for the win at 14:30. Kandori wasn’t too selfish here. Well laid out match. Very good psychology, set up, and transitions.

1/16/97 Jd’-Kudo vs. Bison. Both workers are retiring soon. Bison has declined way more than Kudo. Kudo jumped off the top with an arm drag then silla’d Bison off the apron. The match quickly turned into a brawl with Kudo ramming Bison into the wall. Kudo whipped Bison into the corner and hit her silla. Kudo tried it again, but Bison avoided and applied a choke sleeper. Kudo dominated the first 5 minutes. Bison then started no selling and came back with a uranage. Bison piledrove Kudo on a table, which cracked the table. The table was set up sideways and Bison started walking backwards. Not realizing where she was, Bison tripped over the table. Bison used some piledrivers. Bison got a near fall with a splash off the top. Bison set Kudo up with a tombstone then tried to moonsault, but Kudo kicked her off the top rope. Kudo tried a swinging DDT off the 2nd, but Bison countered with a sidewalk slam type of move. Kudo got near falls with a German suplex and Northern Lights suplex. Bison whipped Kudo into the ropes, but Kudo executed a fisherman suplex on the rebound. Kudo tried a huracanrana, but Bison powerbombed. Bison delivered 3 jackknifes. Bison powerbombed Kudo on a chair for a near fall. Bison missed a moonsault and hit the chair. Kudo countered an inverted atomic drop with a DDT. Kudo DDT’d Bison on the chair. Kudo tried the Kudo Driver, but Bison blocked then chopped Kudo for a near fall. Kudo tried for the Kudome Driver, but Bison powered out. Kudo ran off the ropes and jumped on Bison’s back taking her down. Kudo then pulled Bison up by the arms and hit her Kudome Driver for the win at 13:17. Average match. Pretty disappointing actually. Good for a Jd’ match as that league’s booking is just awful.

Megumi Kudo was one of the most memorable women’s wrestlers of all-time. Kudome was someone with a lot of heart. It didn’t matter who her opponent was, she always gave her all. She wasn’t one of the greatest workers of all-time, but few were more dedicated to their profession or to their promotion. She was someone that I could always get into watching.