Diva Dirt welcomes guest contributors Leslie and Hanan from our partner site, Dirty Dirty Sheets, who will be bringing us a series of articles looking at the incredible career of Manami Toyota, the 2011 Diva Dirt Legacy Award recipient.
Legacy Award series:
– Legacy Award Feature: A Look at Manami Toyota’s Historic Career
Manami Toyota has been in countless great matches and memorable feuds over her illustrious career. It would be impossible to talk about more than a fraction of them, but here is a sampling of some of her most important moments in the ring, with a focus on her classic run in All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling. After seeing her in action, it should be abundantly apparently why Diva Dirt has chosen to award her with its second annual Legacy Award at this weekend’s Joshimania.
Manami Toyota vs Bull Nakano – WWWA Title Match – July 21st, 1990 | First, let’s look at a match from early in Toyota’s career against a name many female wrestling fans are quite familiar with. In only the 3rd year of her career, the 19 year old Toyota made her first attempt at capturing AJW’s WWWA Championship, hell then with an spiked iron grip by Bull Nakano.
Manami went on offense early, hoping to take the fight to the champ, but her attacks failed to faze the more experienced and incredibly powerful Nakano. Toyota didn’t stand a chance, a fact she refused to acknowledge as she put forth a grand effort in this losing battle. One of Toyota’s greatest traits as a wrestler is her ability to survive almost any punishment and there’s plenty of that on display here.
Manami Toyota vs Toshiyo Yamada – Hair vs Hair, IWA Title Match – August 15th, 1992 | Next we have one of Toyota’s most famous matches, due to it’s heart-wrenching ending. Here Toyota faced her friend, partner, and rival Toshiyo Yamada. Toyota and Yamada joined AJW on the same day and were linked constantly throughout their careers. This match represents the emotional high-point of their relationship. In this pivotal match in the Yamada/Toyota rivalry, Toyota agreed to put her hair on the line for one more shot at Yamada’s IWA Title. Yamada put her hair on the line as well.
The action was absolutely non-stop. Yamada put her vast arsenal of martial arts kicks and throws against Toyota’s aerial techniques and various Japanese Ocean suplexes. Neither held the advantage for long in this fast paced, back-and-forth match.
While neither woman wanted to lose their hair and both wanted the title, there’s seems so much more at stake. The extremely emotional end makes that clear. Toyota weeps upon victory, tries to stop the cutting ceremony, and even shears off some of her own here in solidarity with Yamada. Easily one of the greatest matches of all time.
Toshiyo Yamada & Manami Toyota vs Dynamite Kansai & Mayumi Ozaki – 2/3 Falls – November 26th, 1992 | In her prime, Toyota took on all comers from both inside and outside of AJW. She was at the forefront of the interpromotional feud with rival JWP. In this first of three amazing tag team encounters, Toyota teamed with Yamada to take on the hard hitting Dynamite Kansai and noted bad girl, Mayumi Ozaki (Ozaki will also be appearing at Joshimania).
Both teams were determined to prove which promotion is the strongest. With neither willing to give an inch we see plenty of bruising action, and as always Toyota was often the victim of it. The greatest of all time was undeterred and after three hard fought falls scored the victory for her team and promotion.
Manami Toyota vs Akira Hokuto – September 2, 1995 | As we said in our last article, Manami Toyota’s climb to the top of AJW was all the more amazing because of the numerous other all time greats she had to compete with. There was perhaps no greater rival star than The Dangerous Queen, Akira Hokuto. As you see Hokuto enter wearing the black veil and Toyota enter wearing an all white dress, you know immediately that these two women were vastly different, but equally important members to the AJW roster.
You can read our in depth career retrospective on Hokuto here (http://www.dirtydirtysheets.com/2011/09/21/spotlight-akira-hokuto/ ), but all you need to know before watching this match is that she is one of the most incredible performers to ever grace the ring. Many feel she was even better than Toyota and, of course, Toyota couldn’t have that. Perhaps that’s why she started the match by flying at Hokuto before she had even taken off her entrance attire.
Things got even crazier when the bell actually rang. Both women absolutely tried to destroy each other, which was difficult considering Toyota is invulnerable and Hokuto once wrestled a match with a broken neck. Two of the best at their best in a truly special match.
Manami Toyota vs Aja Kong – V*TOP Tournament – November 20th, 1994 | And then, of course, there is Kong. Toyota named Aja Kong as one of her best friends outside the ring, and one of her greatest opponents inside the ring. Their battles have spanned decades, and will continue this weekend at Joshimania as they are across the ring from one another in a six woman tag match.
This is their most famous match against one another, and it’s easy to see why. Toyota pushed the unstoppable monster Kong to her limits. Even after 17 years the moment Toyota unleashes the Victory Star Drop leaves people breathless, and that’s just a few seconds in a non-stop, total war between two of the all time best.
Manami Toyota (c) vs Kyoko Inoue – WWWA Title – May 7th, 1995 | And finally, THE match. The match that beat out Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon. The match that beat out Kenta Kobashi vs Toshiaki Kawada. The Wrestling Observer Match of the Year in 1995, Manami Toyota vs Kyoko Inoue.
What made this match so special? Itw as over an hour of continuous, energetic, relentless action. Yes, an hour where neither Toyota nor Kyoko seem to take more than a second to breath. Kyoko and Manami had many incredible matches against one another in both singles and tag team competition. This match was the biggest though, and both showed not only their incredible physical ability and endurance, but also their mental toughness and pure artistry as professional wrestlers.
No one had done anything like this before. No one has done anything like it since. This match embodies everything great about professional wrestling, and is a perfect illustration of why Manami Toyota is the greatest wrestler of all time.
We at DDS hope you enjoyed this look back at some of Toyota’s greatest matches and rivalries. We’ll have much more Toyota greatness coming to Diva Dirt soon, so stay tuned. Peace!
Image credit: Nami, Dirty Dirty Sheets