All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling

Last updated
All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling
Style joshi puroresu
Headquarters Japan
Founder(s)the Matsunaga brothers

All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling (全日本女子プロレス, Zennihon Joshi Puroresu), nicknamed Zenjo (全女: 全 meaning "All", 女 meaning "Woman") was a joshi puroresu (women's professional wrestling) promotion established in 1968 by Takashi Matsunaga and his brothers. The group held their first card on June 4 of that year. For many years, it had a TV program on Fuji TV.



Bull Nakano Bull Nakano.jpg
Bull Nakano
Aja Kong Aja Kong.JPG
Aja Kong

The All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling Corporation, established in 1968, was the successor to the All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling Association, which had been formed in August 1955, to oversee the plethora of women's wrestling promotions that had sprung up in Japan following a tour in November, 1954, by Mildred Burke and her World Women's Wrestling Association (WWWA). These promotions included the All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling Federation, and the All Japan Women's Wrestling Club, started in 1948, which was the first women's wrestling promotion in Japan. For a time the Club pushed female wrestling as a legitimate sport, booking sporting arenas.

By the mid-1960s, the association had fallen apart, due to infighting between the member promotions, and female wrestling was relegated back to being a sideshow act in strip-tease theaters. In 1967, another attempt to organize the sport of women's professional wrestling was made with a new All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling Association. This time the Fabulous Moolah, the NWA Women's Champion, came across from the United States and traded her title with Yukiko Tomoe, to lend legitimacy to the promotion. The new Association broke up later that year. Finally, Takashi Matsunaga, who had been the promoter for All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling Federation, formed the All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling Corporation (AJW) with his brothers. The promotion held its first card on June 4, 1968, and got a television deal with Fuji TV in the same year.

In the fall of 1970, AJW, which had been contesting the American Girls' Wrestling Association Championship since the previous year, hosted Marie Vagnone, new holder of Mildred Burke's WWWA World Single Championship which had been revived in a WWWA tournament earlier that year in Los Angeles. On October 15, 1970, in Tokyo, Vagnone lost the WWWA title to Aiko Kyo, and AJW had a new world championship singles belt. The next year, AJW acquired the WWWA World Tag Team Championship as well, when Jumbo Miyamoto and Aiko Kyo were made the first champions on June 30, 1971.

During the early 1970s, AJW's championship booking was dominated by the traditional trading between a Japanese face and a foreign (usually North American) heel. The tag belt, for example, was traded fifty-six times between 1971 and 1975, each time between a Japanese team and an American team. This pattern began to change in 1975 with the new stardom of Mach Fumiake and the Beauty Pair (Jackie Sato and Maki Ueda). On March 19, 1975, Mach Fumiake won the WWWA Championship from Jumbo Miyamoto, breaking the pattern in the singles division. After that, only three non-Japanese women ever won the belt, the Canadian Monster Ripper, on July 31, 1979, and March 15, 1980, the Mexican La Galactica, on May 7, 1983, and the American Amazing Kong, on June 4, 2004.

On July 6, 1980, the promotion had enough popularity to run more shows throughout the country, which resulted in AJW splitting into two teams. Team A featured wrestlers such as Jackie Sato, Jaguar Yokota and Mimi Hagiwara while Team B featured Nancy Kumi, Lucy Kayama and Chino Sato. This lasted until June 1981. [1]

During the 1980s, AJW continued to feature extraordinarily talented and popular female wrestlers, including Wrestling Observer Newsletter (WON) Hall of Famers, Bull Nakano, Jaguar Yokota, Devil Masami, Dump Matsumoto, and the Crush Gals (Chigusa Nagayo and Lioness Asuka). The feud between the pop culture sensations, the Crush Gals, and the heel stable, Gokuaku Domei, led by Matsumoto, was possibly the most popular angle in all of Japanese wrestling during the 1980s, bringing very high ratings to AJW's weekly television program which caused the show be aired during prime-time. This also resulted in record numbers of girls wanting to become wrestlers with the 1984 auditions having 2,000 candidates. [2]

Up until 1986, AJW had been the only major women's wrestling ( joshi puroresu or simply joshi) promotion in Japan. Then, on August 17, 1986, Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling (JWP) was started, by former AJW stars Jackie Sato and Nancy Kumi, as well as boxer Rumi Kazama and others. As All Japan Women's popularity cooled off after the Crush Gals retired, the promotion's television show was moved to midnight.

While AJW remained the top promotion through the early 1990s, due to talent including Akira Hokuto, Aja Kong, Manami Toyota and Kyoko Inoue, the number of joshi puroresu promotions kept increasing, with Ladies Legend Pro-Wrestling and JWP forming in 1992 after the collapse of Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling. This created an unprecedented era of co-operation between the various companies which resulted in many inter-promotional shows including Big Egg Wrestling Universe, the first ever all women's show at the Tokyo Dome. Competition increased again as Gaea Japan formed in 1995 and JDStar formed in 1996 with both promotions having former All Japan Women's stars including Chigusa Nagayo, Akira Hokuto, Lioness Asuka and Jaguar Yokota.

1997 would prove to be a nightmare year for All Japan Women as the owners of All Japan Women's went bankrupt after losing money in real estate, the stock market and other business ventures. Due to this, they lost 14 wrestlers from July to September 1997. Kyoko Inoue, Etsuko Mita, Mima Shimoda, Chaparita Asari, Yoshiko Tamura and others left to form NEO Japan Ladies Pro-Wrestling. Toshiyo Yamada left for Gaea Japan. Aja Kong, Mariko Yoshida, Reggie Bennett, Yumi Fukawa and Rie Tamada left to form Arsion. In October 1997, the promotion's building which held the AJW office, the wrestler dormitories, the training area, the garage (where small events were sometimes held) and a restaurant where the younger wrestlers worked was handed over to creditors. [3] In October, they also lost their television show on Fuji TV which they later regained in July 1998.

In 2002 AJW lost its television spot again, and the promotion closed its doors in April 2005 after 37 years, making it the longest-running promotion in Japan up to that time (New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling for men have since reached 49 years as of 2021).


The most notable annual events in AJW were the Japan Grand Prix and Tag League the Best . The Japan Grand Prix was held each summer, from 1985 to 2004, and was a tournament to determine the number one contender for the WWWA World Single Championship, similar to the G1 Climax or Champion Carnival in the men's major promotions. Tag League the Best was held each fall, also from 1985 to 2004, and was a tag team tournament.

AJW also held several regular annual events during the 1990s. The first was Wrestlemarinpiad, which was held in the fall or spring from 1989 to 1997, and for the last time in 2000. Also prominent was Wrestling Queendom, held from 1993 to 1997, the first held in November and the rest in the end of March.


World Women's Wrestling Association

ChampionshipFinal champion(s)ReignDate wonPrevious champion(s)
WWWA World Single Championship Nanae Takahashi 1 March 26, 2006Kumiko Maekawa
WWWA World Tag Team Championship Aja Kong and Amazing Kong 1
(5, 1)
October 6, 2004 Vacant
WWWA World Martial Arts Championship Fumiko Ishimoto 1 March 21, 1995 Vacant
WWWA World Super Lightweight ChampionshipChaparita Asari4May 5, 2003Ai Fujita
WWWA World Midget's Championship Little Frankie 3 August 27, 2002 Vacant
WWWA World Midget's Tag Team ChampionshipPretty Atom and Little Frankie11982Amakusa Umibozu and Mr. Pone

All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling commission

ChampionshipFinal champion(s)ReignDate wonPrevious champion(s)
AJW Championship Saki Maemura 1 January 3, 2004Hikaru
AJW Junior Championship Rena Takase 1 December 22, 2002Mika Nishio
AJW Tag Team Championship Takako Inoue and Tomoko Watanabe 1
(3, 2)
October 6, 2004Tannie Mouse and Yuki Miyazaki

International Wrestling Association

ChampionshipFinal champion(s)ReignDate wonPrevious champion(s)
IWA World Women's Championship Kyoko Inoue 2 January 20, 1997 Takako Inoue

American Girls' Wrestling Association

ChampionshipFinal champion(s)ReignDate wonPrevious champion(s)
AGWA International Girls' Championship Yukiko Tomoe 1March 31, 1969Barbara Owens
AGWA International Tag Team ChampionshipAiko Kyo and Jumbo/Yoshiko Miyamoto5
(9, 5)
June 20, 1971Masked Killer and Masked Lee
AGWA United States Girls' ChampionshipMiyuki Yanagi11969 Yukiko Tomoe

AJW Hall of Fame

The AJW Hall of Fame had its first inducted class enshrined on November 29, 1998, at the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan. This was at AJW's 30th anniversary event. All but two members of the Hall of Fame (indicated with a ) were inducted at the initial ceremony.



Rookie classes

Notable rookies by year

  • 1974 – Mach Fumiake
  • 1975 – Maki Ueda, Jackie Sato, Yumi Ikeshita
  • 1976 – Nancy Kumi, Victoria Fujimi, Little Frankie
  • 1977 – Jaguar Yokota, Mami Kumano, Tomi Aoyama, Lucy Kayama
  • 1978 – Mimi Hagiwara, Devil Masami, Jumbo Hori, Chino Sato
  • 1979 – Noriko Kawako
  • 1990 – Numacchi
  • 1991 – Kumiko Maekawa, Chikako Shiratori, Rie Tamada, Michiko Omukai, Debbie Malenko
  • 1992 – Chaparita ASARI, Yuka Shiina
  • 1993 – Yumi Fukawa
  • 1994 – Yoshiko Tamura, Misae Genki, Tanny Mouse, Yoko Takahashi, Saya Endo, The Bloody
  • 1995 – Kayo Noumi
  • 1996 – Momoe Nakanishi, Nanae Takahashi, Miho Wakizawa, The Scorpion
  • 1997 – none
  • 1998 – none
  • 1999 – Hikaru

See also

Related Research Articles

Puroresu (プロレス) is the predominant style of professional wrestling that has developed in Japan. The term comes from the Japanese pronunciation of "professional wrestling" (プロフェッショナル・レスリング), which is shortened to puroresu. The term became popular among English-speaking fans due to Hisaharu Tanabe's activities in the online Usenet community. Growing out of origins in the traditional US style of wrestling, it has become an entity in itself. Japanese pro wrestling is distinct in its psychology and presentation of the sport. It is treated as a legitimate fight, with fewer theatrics; the stories told in Japanese matches are about a fighter's spirit and perseverance. In strong style, the style most typically associated with puroresu, full contact martial arts strikes and shoot submission holds are implemented.

Chigusa Nagayo Japanese professional wrestler (born 1964)

Chigusa Nagayo is a Japanese professional wrestler best known for her mainstream popularity in the 1980s as a member of the tag team The Crush Gals with long-time partner Lioness Asuka. She was the founder of the GAEA Women's Professional Wrestling organization. She briefly competed as alter-ego Lady Zero in GAEA. Nagayo appears in the 2000 documentary Gaea Girls made for the BBC by Kim Longinotto and Jano Williams. Nagayo has been called "the most popular woman wrestler of all-time".

Manami Toyota

Manami Toyota is a retired professional wrestler, best known for her work with the All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling (AJW) promotion. She is considered to be one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time.

Mayumi Ozaki Japanese professional wrestler (born 1968)

Mayumi Ozaki is a Japanese professional wrestler.

Kyoko Inoue Japanese female professional wrestler (born 1969)

Kyoko Inoue is a Japanese female professional wrestler. She has held the WWWA World Single Championship three times, and is the first woman to win a men's title in Japan.

Jaguar Yokota

Rimi Yokota is a Japanese professional wrestler and later wrestling trainer, who wrestled under the name Jaguar Yokota (ジャガー横田). She is widely considered one of the greatest female wrestlers of all time, and, during her heyday in the early 1980s, was considered one of the best wrestlers in the world, irrespective of gender.

Lioness Asuka Japanese professional wrestler

Tomoko Kitamura is a Japanese retired professional wrestler better known by her ring name Lioness Asuka. Along with long-time tag team partner Chigusa Nagayo she formed The Crush Gals, known for their mainstream popularity in the 1980s, and for being one of the most successful women's tag teams of all time.

Jackie Sato

Naoko Satō, better known as Jackie Sato was a professional wrestler from Yokohama, Japan. In the 1970s, while wrestling for All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling (AJW), she formed the tag team, the Beauty Pair, with Maki Ueda. Following in the steps of Mach Fumiake, the Beauty Pair was part of an important shift in the culture of Japanese women's wrestling, attracting more female fans by becoming pop icons. In their mainstream success, Satō and Ueda paved the way for the even more popular team, the Crush Gals, of the 1980s.

Nanae Takahashi Japanese professional wrestler (born 1978)

Nanae Takahashi is a Japanese professional wrestler. She has wrestled for prominent Japanese promotions All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Sun, and is a two-time women's world champion in major professional wrestling promotions.

Toshie Uematsu Japanese professional wrestler

Toshie Uematsu is a female Japanese retired professional wrestler best known for her popularity in the 1990s and 2000s. She was one of the members of the first class of wrestlers trained by Chigusa Nagayo when Nagayo formed the GAEA Japan promotion. Uematsu finished her career in 2012, working for the Pro Wrestling Wave promotion. After her retirement, Uematsu continued working as a trainer for Pro Wrestling Wave.

Takako Inoue Japanese professional wrestler (born 1969)

Takako Inoue is a Japanese professional wrestler. She wrestled primarily for the All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling promotion, and held several championships, primarily in tag team wrestling. She was well known as one-half of the tag team Double Inoue, which she formed with fellow wrestler Kyoko Inoue.

Shinobu Kandori Japanese politician and professional wrestler

Shinobu Kandori is a retired Japanese wrestler and politician of the Liberal Democratic Party, a member of the House of Councillors in the Diet. A native of Yokohama, Kanagawa, she ran unsuccessfully for House of Councillors in 2004 but was allowed to join the house in 2006 when Heizo Takenaka, a member of the house, resigned.

Masami Yoshida is a Japanese professional wrestler best known for her appearances in All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling, GAEA Japan and JWP Joshi Puroresu under the name Devil Masami. She is a member of the All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, being inducted in 1998.

Etsuko Mita is a retired Japanese professional wrestler. She formed a successful tag team with her partner Mima Shimoda as Las Cachorras Orientales and Toshiyo Yamada as Dream Orca. She is credited as the innovator of the Death Valley Driver. Mita retired on November 1, 2009, defeating former tag team partner Makoto in her final singles match and teaming with Mima Shimoda in a loss against Kyoko Inoue and Nanae Takahashi in her final tag team match.

Leon (Japanese wrestler) Japanese professional wrestler (born 1980)

Rena Takase is a Japanese professional wrestler, better known by the ring name Leon. Trained by Hyper Visual Fighting Arsion, Takase made her debut for the promotion in March 2000, working under her real name. After a change in management, Arsion was renamed Major Girl's Fighting AtoZ in 2003, and Takase received a new ring name, Leo-na. After quitting AtoZ in 2005, Takase became a freelancer, now working under a mask and the new ring name Toujyuki Leon. After two years of working for several independent promotions, including JDStar, M's Style and Oz Academy, Takase made JWP Joshi Puroresu her new home promotion in January 2007. In January 2010, Takase's ring name was shortened to just Leon and the following year, she won JWP's top title, the JWP Openweight Championship, while also becoming the leader of the Shishi no Ana stable. Takase remained with JWP until the promotion's folding in April 2017.

JWP Joshi Puroresu Japanese professional wrestling promotion

JWP Joshi Puroresu, also known as JWP Project or simply JWP, was a Japanese joshi puroresu promotion, founded in 1992 as a splinter promotion of Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling. Celebrating its 25th anniversary at the time of its folding in 2017, JWP was the oldest joshi puroresu promotion in Japan and its Openweight Championship was the oldest championship in all of joshi. Command Bolshoi, who had worked for the promotion since the beginning, served as the final president of JWP. The promotion's slogan was "Pure Heart, Pure Wrestling".

Yumiko Hotta Japanese professional wrestler and mixed martial artist

Yumiko Hotta is a Japanese professional wrestler and mixed martial artist. Hotta was trained by and started her career in the All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling (AJW) promotion in June 1985. She worked for the promotion until 2003, becoming a three-time WWWA World Single and WWWA World Tag Team Champion. In June 2003, Hotta took over the Hyper Visual Fighting Arsion promotion and renamed it Major Girl's Fighting AtoZ. Under Hotta's leadership, the promotion lasted only three years, before folding in 2006, after which Hotta became a freelancer. In January 2011, Hotta joined the new Universal Woman's Pro Wrestling Reina promotion, but just sixteen months later she announced that the promotion was folding. Afterwards, she affiliated herself with the World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana promotion, becoming the leader of the villainous Bousou-gun stable. She resigned from Diana in July 2016 to once again become a freelancer. Since 1995, Hotta has also fought several mixed martial arts matches, mostly at events put together by joshi puroresu promotions.

Mima Shimoda is a Japanese female professional wrestler, who is working for the Mexican professional wrestling promotion Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) and Japanese promotion World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana. She is most well known for being half of Las Cachorras Orientales with Etsuko Mita.

Momoe Nakanishi

Momoe Oe, née Nakanishi (中西), born July 7, 1980 is a Japanese retired professional wrestler, better known by her maiden name, Momoe Nakanishi. Nakanishi made her debut for the All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling (AJW) in July 1996 at the age of sixteen and during the next seven years, won all of the promotion's top titles, including the WWWA World Single Championship and the WWWA World Tag Team Championship. In 2003, Nakanishi quit AJW to become a freelancer and went on to win the AtoZ World Championship later that same year and the NEO Single and NWA Women's Pacific Championships in 2004. Nakanishi retired from professional wrestling on January 7, 2005, at the age of just twenty-four. She now works as a trainer at the U.W.F. Snakepit gym.

The Tag League the Best was an annual professional wrestling tag team tournament, founded by All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling (AJW), which held it from 1985 to 2004. After the folding of AJW in 2005, the tournament was adopted by its one-time rival and later associate promotion, JWP Joshi Puroresu, which held it annually from 2011 to 2016.


  1. "【長与千種連載6】デビュー戦に負け泣く私に「そんな涙はいらない". Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). Tokyo Sports. December 16, 2014. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  2. "女子プロレスにも美熟女旋風 井上貴子は43歳で体重10キロ減」". (in Japanese). October 26, 2013. Retrieved March 16, 2019.
  3. "空前絶後のプロレス団体、全日本女子プロレス④目黒女子プロレス砦(前編)". Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). Tokyo Sports. May 21, 2011. Retrieved March 21, 2019.