Toyota Manami, aka Manami Toyota on account of Western naming
an old saying: "it's a marathon, not a sprint." Mostly,
it's used by people in struggling sports franchises as a way
to excuse their current sub-.500 win/loss record by pointing
out that there are enough games left to save the season. But
it can also be used to kind of say, "look, we got a long way
to go here, so if we go all out from the beginning, we'll have
nothing left by the end." And perhaps at some point in her
training on how to out together a wrestling match, someone
told this old saying to Manami Toyota. And maybe she took it
to heart for like 15 minutes or so. Who knows. But it's pretty
clear that at some point early on, she just kind of said "YO,
FUCK THAT NOISE, WE SPRINTIN" and spent the next several years
making a habit of just Usain Bolting the shit out of all
theoretical 26.2 miles of a wrestling match.
Seriously, prime early 90s Manami Toyota is some of the craziest shit you can see in a wrestling ring that doesn't involve exploding barbed wire or boxes of syringes or whatever. (More proof that the early 90s was the Best Time) It's like some serious Air Jordan shit, where world-class people ended up looking like backyards by comparison. Like that one Tom Cruise movie where he's all riding a horse in a land run so that he can win a better parcel of land than Greg from Dharma and Greg and win Nicole Kidman's heart as a result, and his horse is just so much faster than everyone else's, and you're super pumped, because that movie came out before you knew Tom Cruise was a maniac and you're not thinking about all the Indians who got murdered so that land would be available in the first place. You know, like that. Except better, because the WWWA title didn't murder no natives or worship any aliens. But anyway, she would just be flying around doing crazy shit with no stops in between because of mutant lungs, probably, but on the occasions when she was in the ring against someone on the same level (or above), like Akira Hokuto or Aja Kong, who would just smash her in the face and slow things back down whenever she'd get ahead of herself and be like "NOW IT IS TIME TO DO MY WRESTLING MOVES, YAAAYYY," the result is seriously some the best wrestling that has ever happened.
For real, if you don't understand why people get overly excited about what the WWE replacing all the old models who couldn't land an actual modeling job with actual wrestlers like Sasha Banks and Bayley, it's because of the faint hope that something like early 90s AJW might be the result. That shit was FIRE, and Manami Toyota might have been spitting the hottest fire of anyone at the time.
Yellow Machinegun - "Oh Die! Oh!! Choose Die!!!" - Look, this
has absolutely nothing to do with Manami Toyota or the rasslin' in any
way whatsoever, but I had to throw this in here as a warning of what
is to come. Because for some reasons my white American ass will never
understand, Japanese lady rasslers just scream like all the damn time,
and it's weird as hell, and Toyota does it worse than anyone probably.
Like she sounds like some sort of goddamn demon, and due to the quiet,
polite nature of the average rasslecrowd in the Land of Glorious
Nippon, it's mostly all you hear, and it can really fuck you up if
you're not ready for it. Another decent analog for all the
Toyotascreams would be Donald Tardy from
Obituary, but he probably has too much bass in his voice to
compare directly, and Yellow Machinegun was one of the radder bands
whose shit I illegally downloaded off Audiogalaxy in 2000. I got the
split 7" they did with S.O.D., and it's on clear yellow vinyl, and
it's pretty cool.
AJW, 8-15-92 - Manami Toyota vs. Toshiyo Yamada (IWA Championship, Hair vs. Hair) - Man, sometimes, I think Mexico is the only place that ever truly gets a hair vs. hair match right. anywhere else, you see the finish coming from a thousand miles away, like the time Edge put his perfect golden mane up against Kurt Angle's early-stage horsehoe male-pattern baldness, or when Jeff Jarrett showed up for the match with X-Pac with a head of limp, wet hair, displaying none of the shine and bounce that had defined his early career. Anyway, Yamada shows up with a chili bowl-ass refugee haircut and Toyota's clocking in at like a 0.5 on the Crystal Gale scale here, so there's no real suspense as to whose look isn't long for this world, but it doesn't matter because the match is ridiculous. As a personal anecdote, back in the day, I had a whole separate Tripod site dedicated mostly to trading wrestling tapes, and because I had a fancy Tv-capture card in my computer, (okay, not fancy; it was a Chinese bootleg from Ebay) I would have screenshots of my shit so people would know whether it was seventh-generation SLP bullshit, and there was a shot of Yamada getting her head shaved. (spoilers) Anyway, I started looking into the stats on the site for some reason, and found out that some head-shaving/bald lady fetish website had linked to the image. And I mean, I'm not gonna kink-shame anyone; you do you, you know? But hotlinking to the image and stealing my meager, precious bandwidth, instead of uploading the picture to their own site was a serious breach of internet etiquette, and WE ARE NOT ANIMALS HERE. So to teach them a lesson, I moved some stuff around and changed some filenames, and as a result, some dude wanting to pound off to pictures of bald ladies would end up having a picture of Captain Caveman all up in there, ruining his whole rhythm, for reasons he would never understand.
CHIKARA Pro Wrestling, 5-15-11 - Manami Toyota, Mike Quackenbush, and Jigsaw vs. The Amazing RED and Los Maximos - Oh man, it's Manami Toyota in the GOD DANG UNITED STATES OF AMERICA in a six-person tag match against a bunch of American dudes who just do flippity-floppity shit and try to emulate KEWL MOVEZ they saw on a video game once, and it looks like they're hurting each other for real, because they probably are, because they're mostly kinda bad at MOVEZ, honestly. There was probably a time in my nerdery when I would've pulled some internet elitist shit, all "why back in my day, we wore black wool tights and worked a headlock for 78 minutes" or whatever, but screw it. It's fun, and if they all end up crippled, they knew what they were signing up for. Buy the ticket, take the ride. Toyota kicks a dude square in the face like a 6'5" World Federated Wrestler HOSS at one point, and she's a tiny lady in her forties, and I probably couldn't hold my arm out and kick my own hand at this point, because I'm a goddamn sweathog. Sad.
AJW, 11-20-1994 - Manami Toyota vs. Aja Kong (WWWA Championship) - This isn't actually the match I wanted to put here; I wanted the one from the '95 Queendom show where Toyota actually wins the title, but for some reason, it's not on the internet anywhere, (there are videos that *say* they're that match, but are actually a different one from around the same period, which is just weird) and I'm too lazy to go find the tape and test out the shitty little $10 USB video capture thingy I got a couple days ago right now. Maybe this weekend? Who knows. Anyway, it doesn't matter, because all mid-90s Toyota vs. Kong matches are pretty much legendary, and I think this is the one Herb Meltzer gave the mythical 5-star rating to.
Anyway, another personal anecdote, about the match I couldn't find video of, but we already went through all that. This was probably around 2005, because I was still living with my brother as a roommate, but it was after the shitty little apartment we broke the lease on because it flooded, which itself was after spending like 4 months rooming with a faux-lesbian aspiring slam poet who basically got us evicted by spending her half of the rent money on a fancy Everquest computer and going to Canada to buy medicinal marijuana, despite having a 6-foot tall hydro plant in the living room closet. Long story, and I'll probably tell it in full someday. Anyway, it was 2005-ish and I did the cardinal sin that every fucking dork eventually commits, where you just kind of assume that all you have to do is show a normal(ish) person your dork shit and they will instantly be converted to your form of dorkery. So I'm sitting there, watching my tape, and my brother walks in, and I start pimping it as the greatest thing ever, just really giving him the hard sell on how great it is. Like just blabbering on and on, about how these are the two best wrestlers ever and how Toyota had chased the title for years while Kong was an insurmountable monster, and for fuck's sake, I'm pretty sure I even used the phrase "fighting spirit," out loud, in my actual life. Jesus. But anyway, I'm all ready for him to see the amazingness and see the shining light of rasslin' glory, when he does the following: He stops, looks at the screen for maybe thirty seconds, and then goes, "the chick in black needs to get naked," and just walks smooth the fuck off. It was like a serious "Bart Simpson rewinding the tape to show Lisa the exact moment when Ralph Wiggum's heart breaks" moment. Anyway, the WWE "Divas Revolution" was never going to work, and someday, we're all going to die.