Dangerous Queen Ketteisen: Akira Hokuto vs. Shinobu Kandori
Hatred made this a classic - the classic - women’s singles match. No female was ever better than the 1993 version of Hokuto, and you could make a strong case that no male was either. She was the real total package – psychology, selling, drama, intensity, ability to elevate any opponent, work, charisma, etc. She could have found a way to have an excellent match with Kandori, who rarely if ever had excellent matches, because Hokuto was just that good at this time. This was on a whole different level though. It was a fight. No, it was a war.
The formula for the great interpromotional match was already in place from the 11/26/92 Yamada & Toyota vs. Kansai & Ozaki classic. However, Hokuto wasn’t going to simply repeat it, she tweaked it to meet the needs of her opponent. Kandori’s notoriety is based upon being the baddest hemale in the land. She not only has the tough woman bad attitude, but as a 3 time All Japan judo champion at 66kg and 3rd place finisher in the 1984 World Women’s Judo Championship, she possesses the legit background to back it up. The match had to look legitimate anyway because being “real” is the key to interpromotional matches in Japan, and the best way they could make it look real was to beat the crap out of each other and use credible moves. I don’t want to make it sound similar to a UWF style match, it was closer to an unsanctioned battle, a street fight.
Once again, the opening was the key to the whole match. By establishing an atmosphere and creating an aura initially, they would prove the “legitimacy” of the match. That would put the crowd in the palm of their hands, thus freeing them to sneak in some completely illegitimate spots for entertainment.
They were practically snarling at each other before the match. They couldn’t agree who would come toward the other, showing their “non-cooperation”. They both started toward each other slowly, and when Hokuto was in range she laid Kandori out with a right hand. This was a wicked blow, one you could hear. It was shocking. It was something you aren’t supposed to see in any wrestling, much less women’s. It was “legit”.
Kandori sat on Hokuto’s back and tried to rip Akira’s arm out of the socket. She left it in hammerlock position. That isn’t truly dangerous, but it wasn’t for the squeamish because they made it come across as if it had been dislodged and now it was simply stuck there. Hokuto did these little screams that actually sounded similar to what you hear from someone who is truly hurt, and had to have her shoulder reset and sprayed by the seconds.
The first three minutes essentially consisted of one move by each woman. Obviously that doesn’t sound like much, but it set the tone for the entire match, showing they were more than happy to injure their enemy. The press conferences leading up to the show had made them like each other that much, and they were now willing to do whatever it took to shut the other up, or down. It was sheer brutality, but what made it special was they showed the consequences.
Hokuto’s selling was nothing short of amazing. There were long gaps between the action, which added to the match. Hokoto showed the pain her shoulder was causing her not by giving herself a method crutch, but by adjusting the whole of her movement to reflect the “broken wing”. Of course, she had to use the arm sometimes, but this wasn’t the usual I’ll grab the appendage once in a while when there’s nothing going on stuff. In addition, she had a whole arsenal of noises to support her actions.
Kandori deserves credit for her selling as well. With Kandori, everything comes down to her respect for her opponent. If you are a nobody, you’ll be treated as such, but if you are also a star she’ll find ways to put you over. She might not necessarily sell often, but her selling instills into the audience the feeling of an accomplishment on her opponent’s part. Kandori isn’t the world’s greatest actor, but she always remembered to stay down long enough, and didn’t pull that sudden rejuvenation stemming from the opportunity to do a move crap we get from Super Koji and friends.
The style they wrestled was a mix of brawling and submission that was credible enough. They did submissions the easy way, basically just applying one when someone was down. Kandori is lousy at maneuvering and transitioning on the mat, and Hokuto doesn’t usually get into such things, so this was actually for the better even though it was a simply style.
Hokuto’s understudies Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda were in her corner for support, as usual. They definitely took note of Hokuto’s brawling through the crowd. Shimoda was actually a notable part of this series even though she didn’t do any fighting. She was so emotional it almost seemed the matches meant more to her than the workers themselves, acting as if it was real and her hero might die.
Outside of the opening, the key spot was Kandori reversing Hokuto’s attempt to tombstone her on the table and putting a dent in it with a tombstone of her own. The early portion was a desperate hyper scramble, but Hokuto got a wicked cut here that wound up turning most of her outfit from white to red. Kandori soon bled too, but her nick, one of those Shoji Nakamaki jobs that’s just kind of a line above the nose, really paled in comparison to Hokuto’s massive gash. Wally Yamaguchi, the ref on the outside, was in charge of the mutilation because they weren’t experienced self-mutilators.
The moves didn’t matter much, it was the intent behind them. The damage was adding up big time with Hokuto’s blood loss increasingly becoming more of a threat than her bad arm. Kandori mainly worked on the arm, which makes since because Hokuto grew closer to passing out the longer she refused to submit. Hokuto’s selling was so good you believed she could pass out at any moment. She seemed to be continuing on willpower alone.
Once again, Hokuto had succeeded in using bad health to make herself the underdog. This allowed Kandori to be on offense most of the match, which she believes is her divine right anyway. The crowd was for Hokuto, and she’s good at giving them moments of hope, for instance when she turned Kandori’s powerbomb into a corbata, in between making them fear for her life.
Similar to the original Yamada & Toyota vs. Kansai & Ozaki, they used more and more holds as the match went on, relying on the early portion to have proven it was on the level. They did cheat at times, but you never felt like they were cheating. Everything was plausible because you believed they were so injured they might not be able to avoid it. One highlight was Kandori setting up a slingshot suplex, but instead throwing Hokuto over the top rope instead of bouncing her off it, then shockingly following with a pescado. Hokuto made a few attempts to fly that Kandori would quickly thwart, it wasn’t until both could barely stand that she sneaked in a few for the highlight reel.
The crowd erupted when Hokuto delivered her northern lights bomb finisher. I loved Kandori’s kick out. She tried to do the traditional double leg kick, but couldn’t find the energy, so it was kind of a weak jerk and a turn that was just enough to get her shoulder off the mat. Kandori then blocked a second northern lights bomb and debuted one of her own. It was a nice touch that Kandori nearly beat Hokuto with her own move, but I didn’t like the timing. Hokuto’s move should be protected more than having someone else just up and do one that’s somehow supposed to be just as good.
What they were doing with the ending was showing their will was steadfast, but their body was finally finished. They slowly struggled to their feat three times. The first two times one decked the other, just like Hokuto at the opening. Finally, they both clocked each other at the same time. This variation of the Rocky 2 finish saw Hokuto able to crawl a few feet to lie on Kandori for the win. Everyone stood and chanted “Hokuto”, seemingly for quite a while as they were just finishing after her song ended (apparently they cut the songs to avoid paying royalties). Kandori was in pretty good shape walking around in the back, but Hokuto never falls out of character or forgets what she’s out there to accomplish. She had to be held up by both refs, and still she collapsed while they held her arms up in victory.
Few matches totally alter your idea of what wrestling can be, but for women’s wrestling this was one of them. It took toughness to a whole new level, making just about everyone who saw it forget they are “only women”. 30:27. *****