They say sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. While that may be true, it is best to be lucky AND good. As good as rising indy wrestling star Mia Yim is, she is very lucky to be stepping into the ring next Sunday, May 28, with arguably the greatest joshi wrestler of all-time Manami Toyota. Toyota was wrestling in front of hundreds, sometimes thousands of fans in AJW, when Mia Yim was born in April of 1989. It's kinda like some rookie NFL quarterback, who grew up watching Brett Farve, finally playing a game against him. It would be as if LeBron got to play against Michael Jordan, his idol. Mia grew up watching Lita on television and wanting to be a wrestler, while halfway around the world, Manami Toyota had built an massive fan empire by fighting epic battles against Toshie Yamada, Akira Hokuto, Aja Kong, Bull Nakano, Mita and Shimoda, Hotta and Takako, and many other stars of the early 1990's golden age of joshi puroresu.
Toyota was also both lucky and good. She was in her athletic prime, her early 20's (the age Mia Yim is now) during the great heyday of All Japan Women's Wrestling (AJW). Furthermore, she was dynamically athletic and fearless -- some would say crazy. Her uncanny and deceptive core strength (incredible ab, leg, and back strength) allowed her to compete and often win against the dominant big women in the joshi scene at the time: Kong, Nakano, Devil, Hotta, Chigusa, Lioness Asuka, etc. She also had dynamic peers with similar athleticism and recklessness: Hokuto, Yamada, KAORU, Shimoda, Yoshida, Takako, Watanabe, Ozaki, and others. Every match had the possibility of being an epic 30-minute time-limit draw with blood spilled and rails banged as Toyota flew around inside and outside of the ring. Through the years she spawned countless emulators like Azumi Hyuga, Ayako Hamada, Kaori Yoneyama and Ayumi Kurihara who have carried joshi puroresu through the first decade of the new millenium.
Top Ten Moves of Manami Toyota
Over the next several days, leading up to the REINA 3 event, I will post a number of my favorite Toyota matches on this sight. Mia Yim needs to be studying the recent stuff, but I love to rewatch the incredible matches from the early 90's. I'll throw in some of each. Enjoy!
REINA 3 May 28, 2011
Tokyo Edogawa Friendship Hall
1. Aoi Ishibashi vs Natsumi Kawano
2. Mika Iida vs Roxie Cotton
3. Senri Kuroki vs Hiroyo Matsumoto
4. Aki Kanbayashi & Mia Yim vs Manami Toyota & Hailey Hatred
5. Tomoka Nakagawa & Silueta vs A*YU*MI & Zeuxis
Manami Toyota Hailey Hatred