Manami Toyota 30th Anniversary – Retirement to the Universe
November 3 2017. Aired on GAORA TV November 22 2017.
We’re in Yokohama, Japan to celebrate the career of Manami Toyota, arguably the greatest women’s professional wrestler of all time. To celebrate the occasion she’s going to be wrestling for nearly three hours against an assortment of opponents.
Manami Toyota vs. Mayumi Ozaki, Yumi Ohka, Maya Yukihi & Alex Lee
Alex Lee was in Florida for WWE’s development at one point. Ozaki is one of the women who’s grown up around Manami. Just to ensure this is a big old celebration of Toyota’s career they have a man run in and hit her with a chair in what is already a four on one. Japan is fucking weird. I don’t think I’ll ever ‘get it’. They brawl out into the crowd, making sure the locals get their moneys worth and Toyota gets counted out while one of the women stays in the ring. Ha. Oh. The dickhead with the chair refuses to shake Toyota’s hand, even after everyone else already has. She’s fucking retiring pal, there’s no feud to be had!
Final Rating: DUD
Manami Toyota vs. Tequila Saya
Saya is in his second year as a wrestler and normally works for Ice Ribbon. Toyota is no mood for her shit. She smacks her in the top of the head, hits a missile dropkick and finishes with a moonsault. 37 seconds on the clock. Cagematch actually has Saya winning, which I can confirm is wrong.
Final Rating: NR
Manami Toyota vs. Mochi Miyagi & Hamuko Hoshi
These two like a dance party and Manami, because fuck it she’s retiring, joins in.
The two challengers want Toyota to do some “sexy poses”. She busts them out but it causes Hoshi to wretch. Oh come on now, it wasn’t that bad. You punk kids are so mean. They pile on to pin her!
Final Rating: NR
Manami Toyota vs. Meiko Satomura
Oh shit! Business is picking up. Of course there is a 60 second time limit so don’t go expecting an epic or anything. I wish they’d just had this match on and given it like 20 mins. Not that Toyota can go anymore. Meiko hits like one spot and the time limit expires. Meiko looks shocked so I don’t think they told her the match was only a minute long.
Final Rating: NR
Manami Toyota vs. Emi Sakura
Emi is in floods of tears before she even gets out here.
Of course it’s a ruse! This is Emi Sakura! Sakura gets caught in a Camel Clutch and submits while Manami makes ‘cute’ faces.
Final Rating: NR
Manami Toyota vs. Rina Yamashita
Yamashita is a real prospect. She might not be that well known outside of Japan yet but that could change soon. She manages to put an insane amount of effort into getting over a simple pin-fall and kick-out scenario. Rina spends a little too long shaking the ropes to psyche herself up and the time limit expires.
Manami Toyota vs. Tsubasa Kuragaki
Kuragaki looks like she fell out of Dynasty Warriors. She batters Manami for a while until the bell rings. Toyota only has another 43 of these!
Manami Toyota vs. AKINO
AKINO decides that Toyota must be quite tired so she lets her have a sit down in the corner for a minute and proceeds to give her the face washes for the rest of the minute. What a fucking bitch!
Manami Toyota vs. Risa Sera
Sera is the Ice Infinity Champion. She looks like a teenager, given her schoolgirl gimmick but she’s actually 26. All the Ice kids get to run in here and one them plants a kiss on the retiring Toyota. Better than a face wash I guess. Risa spends too long hitting spots and the time limit runs out.
Manami Toyota vs. Drake Morimatsu
Drake you might known from GUTS World. She comes in with a baseball bat so you know she’s trouble. She also refuses to let Manami off lightly and actually has the temerity to pull her up on pins. Manami has so much bullshit to deal with during this show she probably won’t remember it.
Manami Toyota vs. Cherry
Cherry works for DDT so she’s a familiar face. She’s cute as a button, when she wants to be, and therefore demands a test of strength. She pays for it and had the bell not saved her she’d have been pinned after a back hander.
Manami Toyota vs. Aoi Kizuki
This is more subterfuge masquerading as cuteness. Kizuki really struggles to take Queen Bee Bomb but she stays down regardless. Score another win for Toyota!
Manami Toyota vs. Yuki Miyazaki
Manami gets kissed again. This time for an uncomfortably long time ahead of a superplex. I’m sure she’d rather take kisses all night than superplexes to be fair. Miyazaki tries to get a submission but the time expires.
Manami Toyota vs. Bolshoi Kid
Argh, what’s happening? Manami gets conned again. This time throwing sweets into the crowd and Bolshoi rolls her up for the win. No wonder Manami is retiring. She’s too gullible for modern wrestling.
Manami Toyota vs. Manami Toyota & Manami Toyota
Argh. What? What’s happening? So this is Sakura Hirota in Toyota cosplay and GAMI, also in Toyota cosplay. It’s ridiculous state of affairs because all they do is mimic her moves, as she’s doing them. Toyota has an extremely hard time not bursting out laughing the whole time they’re in the ring. Imagine Travis Banks’ retirement matches having one against Keir. That’s where we’re at.
Manami Toyota vs. Kaori Yoneyama
Yoneyama tries the same ‘do my gimmick thing’ to distract. Only Toyota kicks out of the roll up and gets her own pin.
Manami Toyota vs. Sonoko Kato
It’s another electric sixty seconds. Kato is again the victim of showboating and Manami, clearly upset, gives her a rolling cradle for her troubles.
Manami Toyota vs. Leon
Leon is the one from Japanese women’s wrestling rather than Jean Reno in the Professional but then you knew that right? I was kinda hoping Manami would start giving everyone the rolling cradle but that would probably make her puke after 15 minutes let alone the near two hours left on this show. This also ends in a draw after Manami hits a brainbuster.
Manami Toyota vs. Yuu Yamagata
How many people did Toyota want to wrestle on her last show I wonder? And how many did she add in because she felt bad they didn’t make the shortlist. It’s ok to be selfish on your retirement show mate! This is another 60 second epic draw.
Manami Toyota vs. ASUKA
Not the WWE one. ASUKA is only 19. She also has no common sense. Launching herself off the top rope in the opening second of the match and inserting a goddamn springboard dive to the floor. As if Manami needs that in the middle of her last night. It’s not the only spot to the floor as ASUKA hits a missile dropkick as well for good measure and almost kills herself. We’ll call it a count out.
Manami Toyota vs. Kaho Kobayashi
Kaho holds the CMLL-REINA International Junior Heavyweight belt, which is an active title in Mexico. She has certain lucha sensibilities. Like starting the match with a dropkick. Manami gets off the Ocean Cyclone and pins Kaho clean in just under a minute. Timing!
Manami Toyota vs. Hikaru Shida
Shida is pretty great and actually does a pre-match show of respect without it resulting a sneak attack or a dropkick. Admittedly she gets one of her seconds to shove a tin foil covered object up her butt but at least she didn’t sneak attack.
Manami Toyota vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto
Oh hi, it’s me Hiroyo from Stardom. I’m sad but my dinosaur is still smiling. This is another match I could easily go for an extended look at. Matsumoto is one of my favourite wrestlers in Stardom, and anywhere she wrestles. The match finishes with Toyota on the top rope so Matsumoto is all ‘just hit me with the fucking missile dropkick, I don’t give a fuck’ and she does. Lovely.
Manami Toyota vs. Ayako Hamada
Toyota is still looking surprisingly sharp, although the bump she takes on a DDT is reflective of how tired she must be at this juncture. Hamada makes a point of working balls out for the whole sixty seconds, which must be brutal for poor Manami. She looks proper shattered afterwards.
Manami Toyota vs. Chikayo Nagashima
I’m tired just watching this. Chikayo, miserable little bitch that she is, decides to give Toyota the rolling cradle for the entire minute. They nail the finish by having the three count go down at 59 seconds. A loss for Manami and Nagashima actually celebrates the fucking win! What a goof.
Manami Toyota vs. Ikuto Hidaka
Yep, we’re into the men folk. Manami starts this herself with a dropkick, just to take the piss. She beats poor Hidaka up for a minute until the bell rings. This is yet another emotional scene as Manami is in tears after the bell. This must be one hell of an emotional rollercoaster for her.
Manami Toyota vs. Papillon Akemi
As far as I can tell Manami is wrestling a video game character here. Akemi gets the rolling cradle treatment for a satisfyingly long period of time. Sadly the time limit expires before the pin.
Manami Toyota vs. Gabai Ji-Chan
Gabai Ji-Chan! I love the old man gimmick.
Manami yells abuse at him for being too fucking slow getting to the ring. Come on, motherfucker, Meiko Satomura only got 60 seconds out here, hurry the fuck up. The ref gets bored and starts the match with him still miles from the ring. Toyota rolls him into the ring but Gabai Ji-Chan pushes her off the apron with his cane and wins on count out.
Final Rating: ****1/2
Manami Toyota vs. Kanjyouro Matsuyama
They quite happily stand in the middle of the ring and slap each other. It’s all very silly but then the tone of this show stopped being serious some time ago. Toyota hasn’t stopped smiling for the past four matches. Matsuyama attempts at rope walk but the time limit expires and he falls off with Toyota laughing at him.
Manami Toyota vs. KID
This guy has the worst ring gear I’ve ever seen. It’s basically a jock strap. Toyota big boots him for the win in seven seconds.
Manami Toyota vs. Antonio Inoki
This isn’t the actual Antonio Inoki. He’s a little vertically challenged compared the real deal. Basically everything is smaller on this guy. Even the chin. If it was the real Inoki this wouldn’t have a 60 second time limit. It’d be 4 hours long and take place on an island. Toyota actually cracks up when taking the Enzuigiri. Her career is over, she doesn’t care at this point.
Manami Toyota vs. Alexander Otsuka
Otsuka, former shoot fighter and thong wearing baldie! Toyota, who’s already finding it hard to keep it together, is again chuckling before anything happens.
Otsuka gets disqualified for exposing his rear end, which is hardly his fault…although that never would have happened if he’d worn something more substantial.
Manami Toyota vs. Isami Kodaka
The Union Pro Max Champion in the house! Kodaka takes this too seriously, hitting a tope early, so Manami kicks him in the balls and hits the Ocean Cyclone for the pin. Beautiful.
Manami Toyota vs. Ryuji Ito
Erm, steady on! I certainly didn’t come into this show expecting a barbwire board. There are moments in this where I fear Manami is going to get seriously hurt. She does take a slam on barbwire, for fuck’s sake, and Ito finishes with a frogsplash. Now untangle her from the barbwire, you fucking dipshit. Japan, going from cute to sexy to barbwire at 150mph.
Manami Toyota vs. Carlos Amano
Instead of wrestling they pull out two chairs and have a Talk Battle. Which must be preferable to being put through a barbwire board. They’re certainly covering all bases during this show.
Manami Toyota vs. Mima Shimoda & Etsuko Mita
Mita & Shimoda were a pretty darn good tag team from the All Japan Women’s promotion. Shimoda in particular had a stellar rep. They shared plenty of time with Toyota in the distant past. Shimoda’s pose in front of Toyota before they start shows that history and respect. They do their minute and another slice of Manami history is in the books. Shimoda looks great for a 46 year old.
Manami Toyota vs. Itsuki Yamasaki
The name might not be familiar but you’ll have heard of the tag team she was in; the Jumping Bomb Angels. Imagine a Japanese wrestler whose career effectively took off and peaked in WWE? The last time Yamasaki wrestled was five years ago and that was against Toyota in a time limit draw. They do a quick pose outside the ring as Toyota struggles to not burst into tears. Holy shit, this show is ridiculous.
Manami Toyota vs. Bull Nakano
Holy shit! Bull hasn’t wrestled since losing to Madusa in WCW in 1996.
She looks completely different because she’s not on a bodybuilder or anything. She’s lost a tonne of weight. She opts for wearing a leather skirt and assaulting Manami with nunchucks so Toyota rolls her up for the pin in half a minute. This was lovely.
Manami Toyota vs. Chigusa Nagayo
I honestly thought Nagayo had retired. She’s in her fifties. Nagayo basically falls over here and allows Toyota to pin her. It’s a nice moment. One of many on this show.
Manami Toyota vs. Jaguar Yokota
Yokota trained Toyota to be a wrestler so it’s only fitting she’s here at the end too. For a moment it looks like she’s going to test her student out one last time. Jaguar only gets a minute to prove her superiority but finishes by kicking Manami in the kidneys.
Manami Toyota vs. Mariko Yoshida
Another wrestler I thought had retired. Yoshida is looking good for her advanced years. She’s blubbing like a child before we get underway and shows a level of emotion so extreme I worry about them holding it together for one minute of wrestling. Only in wrestling can you get really upset your friend is retiring and also kick them in the face. Yoshida is 47 years old and yet has an ironing board stomach and buns of steel. Yoshida herself retired just weeks after this. No wonder she was so emotional.
Manami Toyota vs. Nanae Takahashi
Takahashi is heading toward 40 but is having a primo year for her in-ring. She wants to have a violent sixty seconds with Toyota. Or less as it turns out, she pins Manami in 56 seconds and fucks her up in the process. This was arguably the best match of the night. It was a youthful (relatively) punk going after the old lioness and making damn sure she killed her before she died of old age. Again, this is something I would have loved to have seen over 10-15 minutes rather than one.
Manami Toyota vs. KAORU
KAORU, as Kaoru Maeda, is another throwback to Manami’s best days in All Japan Women’s Wrestling. KAORU brings a piece of wood with her, which she throws at Manami with reckless abandon. Poor Toyota is going to be sore for weeks after this show.
Manami Toyota vs. Kaoru Ito
These two had themselves a classic feud back in the day. Ito doesn’t have a reputation on Toyota’s level but she’s a name in Japan at least. Or she was. She gets Yoshida to do most of the work here before dropping a double stomp with her enormous weight behind it for the win. That was mean! I don’t care how big that bunch of flowers is missus!
Manami Toyota vs. Tomoko Watanabe
Another star of AJW’s heyday and another woman who’s in tears before she hits the ring. Manami Toyota is important to a lot of wrestlers. Watanabe pulls her phone out so they can get a selfie…after the bell has rung.
The fans chuckle along as she puts her phone down and hits a clothesline. Wrestling. There is nothing like it. This goes to a draw.
Manami Toyota vs. Takako Inoue
You know the drill. Inoue was an AJW star. Many of her best matches were against Toyota in various tags. This ends up a draw too.
Manami Toyota vs. Yumiko Hotta
We’re basically running through all of AJW’s roster at this point. Toyota has an ice pack on her head between matches. This must be tiring. She’s been out in the ring for nearly two hours. The temptation must be there to lie down and take a pin, which she does but at 56 seconds.
Manami Toyota vs. Kyoko Inoue
The other half of Double Inoue. Kyoko was the better of the Inoue’s and had a few belters against Toyota. Pretty sure Meltzer gave them ***** at least once. If you’re reading this and you’re unfamiliar with AJW and the classic shows they put on in the 1990s, you might want to check them out. Niagara Driver would finish but the time limit expires. Poor Manami had to take another kicking here. I’m starting to want the show to end so she can get some rest.
Manami Toyota vs. Tsukasa Fujimoto
So this is Manami’s actual retirement match. They let her get changed for it. Aja Kong is her flower girl! Fujimoto is a wrestler heavily influenced by Manami and has adopted her Ocean Cyclone as a finisher. This match means business from the start as Fujimoto clocks Toyota with a dropkick right in the face at the bell. Toyota looks very tired here. Maybe the important match should have happened first? Anyway, Toyota is so tired she sits in the middle of the ring and Fujimoto kicks her for a while. It’s downright mean. She’s been out here for two fucking hours young lady. Some of the spots and kick-outs are downright sad but this is a retirement match. Fujimoto tries to go up top and gets picked off with the Ocean Cyclone. Toyota wins her retirement match!
Final Rating: **1/2
Manami Toyota vs. Tsukasa Fujimoto
Toyota yells at Fujimoto to have another pop at her so she does. Despite double stomps and other such viciousness the pinfalls in this are downright huggy. Fujimoto hits her own Ocean Cyclone and Manami isn’t done yet. She kicks out. Well, she rolls the shoulder. Kick-outs are a thing of the past. Fujimoto eats a vicious Queen Bee Bomb and Toyota wins again!
Final Rating: **1/2
Manami Toyota vs. Tsukasa Fujimoto
We restart again with Toyota screaming that Fujimoto has to force her into retirement! One last glorious moment where Toyota hits a dive to the floor, kneeing Aja Kong in the head in the process. This is the final fall with Fujimoto finally getting Toyota to stay down by hitting her own move on her. Ocean Cyclone finishes and Manami Toyota is officially retired.
Final Rating: **
Post Match: Toyota thanks Fujimoto and awards her the Ocean Cyclone. The move passed down from the retiring wrestler to the younger grappler. Then some stylists come out and give her a haircut. That’s so she doesn’t get hair in her eyes watching clips of her career. I’m sad that Japanese women’s wrestling got so fragmented after AJW. Imagine there being one awesome promotion for joshi in Japan instead of four decent ones?
This whole show was an emotional rollercoaster. It’s over two hours of Manami Toyota reliving her wrestling career against a vast array of opponents, ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. For someone who’s well into their 40s it’s quite the achievement to wrestle for more than two hours straight. She looked tired by the end but also happy. She was made to laugh and cry many times over during the course of the evening. The sheer number of awesome talents that showed up shows how well regarded she is in professional wrestling. The likes of Bull Nakano making rare appearances about sums up her popularity. If you didn’t get the chance to see Toyota in her prime I recommend that you do so with utmost haste. If Misawa was my favourite male wrestler of the 90s then Toyota was my favourite women’s wrestler but she was running the AJPW men close and they were world beaters. On her best day, of which there were many, Toyota was a top 5 worker in the world. Not just ‘top 5 women’, she was top 5…full stop. This was a bittersweet goodbye but for those who got the chance to see her, you’ll never forget Manami Toyota.