Akira Hokuto in WCW Retrospective


I have a bit of a special feature today. Joshi Legend Akira Hokuto wrestled over a dozen times in WCW from 1995 to 1997, with the most activity coming after WCW and GAEA entered into a working relationship in late 1996 (which didn’t very long). During that period, Hokuto helped establish the first ever WCW World Women’s Champion (she was the only person recognized by WCW to ever hold the belt).  I have tracked down every televised match that I can find, so hopefully even if I missed one this is a good representation of her stay in WCW. Please note I am watching the matches in the order they aired, not were recorded, as that is how fans at the time saw the matches. Here are the matches I will be watching:

  • November 26th, 1995 on WCW World War 3 Akira Hokuto and Bull Nakano vs. Cutie Suzuki and Mayumi Ozaki
  • November 27th, 1995 on WCW Nitro – Akira Hokuto and Bull Nakano vs. Cutie Suzuki and Mayumi Ozaki
  • November 4th, 1996 on WCW Nitro –  WCW World Women’s Championship Tournament Quarter Final: Madusa vs. Reina Jubuki
  • December 8th, 1996 on WCW Pro – WCW World Women’s Championship Tournament Quarter Final: Akira Hokuto vs. Meiko Satomura
  • December 29th, 1996 on WCW Starrcade – WCW World Women’s Championship Tournament Final: Akira Hokuto vs. Madusa
  • January 12th, 1997 on WCW Worldwide – WCW World Women’s Championship: Akira Hokuto vs. Madusa
  • January 19th, 1997 on WCW Worldwide – Reina Jubuki vs. Sonoko Kato
  • February 9th, 1997 on WCW Worldwide – Akira Hokuto and Kaoru vs. Madusa and Meiko Satomura
  • February 23rd, 1997 on WCW Worldwide – Akira Hokuto and Kaoru Maeda vs. Meiko Satomura and Sonoko Kato
  • March 31st, 1997 on WCW Nitro – WCW World Women’s Championship: Akira Hokuto vs. Debbie Combs
  • April 6th, 1997 on WCW Spring Stampede – WCW World Women’s Championship: Akira Hokuto vs. Madusa
  • June 9th, 1997 on WCW Nitro – WCW World Women’s Championship: Akira Hokuto vs. Malia Hosaka
  • June 15th, 1997 on WCW The Great American Bash – WCW World Women’s Championship: Akira Hokuto vs. Madusa

Even though its a lot of matches, most are going to be really short so I’ll try to fill the space when necessary with some backstory on why the match is taking place.

Hokuto made a splash with her first ever WCW appearance, wrestling live on PPV at World War 3. During this time period, Hokuto wrestled in AJW with Nakano, while Suzuki and Ozaki wrestled for JWP. Technically this was not the first match Hokuto had on an event at least partially sponsored by WCW, as she also wrestled in the NJPW/WCW Collision in Korea shows, but this was her first appearance live on United States television. This was more of an Offer Match than anything else, which fans of Japanese Wrestling are familiar with as its a common practice in Japan. On the show, Mike Tenay explained the match was booked so WCW could bring the top stars of Japan to WCW, but I have no idea what the story was behind the scenes. Fans at the time may have been familar with Bull Nakano, since she had just the WWF a few months prior, but the rest were unknown in the US to the casual non-tape trading fan.

Akira Hokuto and Bull Nakano vs. Cutie Suzuki and Mayumi Ozaki
WCW World War 3 on November 26th, 1995

hokuto1To establish immediately which team was good and which was bad, Nakano and Hokuto attacked before the bell. The crowd was silent at first, but nothing makes a crowd react more than seeing something they didn’t expect, and soon Nakano had them going oooooooohhhhh in surprise each time she did something brutal to Ozaki. The event took place in traditional WCW/NWA Territory, my hometown area, so those watching that were mostly WCW fans hadn’t seen women wrestling like this. Who knew just throwing a wrestler down by her hair could get a crowd reaction? Hokuto comes in the help Nakano even though she clearly didn’t need it, Ozaki tries to fight back but Nakano simply clubs her in the face. Nakano finally does tag in Hokuto but Hokuto promptly eats a DDT and Suzuki is tagged in. The crowd surprisingly comes alive when Suzuki and Ozaki both apply crab holds, Heenan is being his usual slightly racist and misogynistic self but he’s been worse. Suzuki and Ozaki try to double team Nakano but it immediately backfires as Suzuki knocks Ozaki off the apron. Nakano goes for a moonsault, but she misses, leading to Suzuki and Ozaki hitting repeated diving footstomps much to the fan’s bewilderment. Nakano suplexes, both Suzuki and Ozaki but she is dropkicked out of the ring, Hokuto is put on the top rope but Nakano gets back in and helps Hokuto hit a diving crossbody. Suzuki and Ozaki come back with double hurricanranas, they go up top and they both hit diving lariats. Tequila Sunrise by Ozaki on Hokuto, but it only gets a two count. Hokuto suplexes her back and tags in Nakano, Nakano misses a double lariat but Hokuto delivers a double diving missile dropkick. Suzuki and Ozaki go outside the ring but Hokuto sails out onto both of them with a somersault plancha. Back in, Nakano gets Ozaki on her shoulders and Hokuto hits a diving lariat. Bull Nakano finally ends the match, as she nails Ozaki with the Diving Leg Drop for the three count. The AJW team wins!

The best thing about this one was just listening to the crowd. They also got plenty of time (compared to most WCW midcard matches) as they had almost ten minutes. The aspect I enjoyed quite a bit in retrospect, which I doubt most fans at the time thought about, is that the heel team won clean. In mid-90s WCW, it was incredibly rare for the heel team to win without any cheating, course that was more the Japanese style but the point is nothing about this match fit into WCW at the time. Just women wrestling wasn’t very WCW, but wrestling competitively and hitting big moves to wow the crowd certainly wasn’t. This was actually a damn good match by any measure, all four of these wrestlers are great, but its one of the more unreal moments in WCW history which says a lot.

Since they were already in town, they wrestled again the very next night!

Akira Hokuto and Bull Nakano vs. Cutie Suzuki and Mayumi Ozaki
WCW Nitro on November 27th, 1995

Same teams too! Course they couldn’t mix and match since they were from different promotions, imagine Nakano teaming with Cutie. The Japanese newspapers would have exploded. No real additional story was given, but again Hokuto and Nakano got out to an early advantage. Hokuto chokes Ozaki and throws her down before choking her some more in the corner. Nakano throws Ozaki around by her hair while looking insane, Hokuto goes up top and helps Nakano slam Ozaki to the mat. Hokuto returns but Ozaki manages to tag in Suzuki, face crusher by Ozaki and Suzuki hits a dragon suplex hold for a two count. Suzuki goes for a crossbody but Hokuto catches her and hits a fallaway slam. Nakano goes for a Diving Leg Drop while the crowd gets ready, but Suzuki moves out of the way and Nakano is hit with a double diving footstomp. Nakano comes back with a double vertical suplex, she tags in Hokuto who comes in the ring with a double diving body press. Ozaki sneaks in a hurricanrana but Suzuki accidentally hits her with a dive off the top, allowing Hokuto to hit a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Nakano comes back in and sits on Suzuki, but Ozaki saves her teammate. Nakano goes up top but she is knocked to the floor, Ozaki then goes up top but Hokuto pushes her down with Nakano before sailing out of the ring with a somersault plancha. Nakano lariats both Suzuki and Ozaki, double missile dropkick by Hokuto and she murders Suzuki with a Fisherman Buster for the three count! Hokuto and Nakano win again!

hokuto2I loved the crowd reaction to the finisher, I think its important to remember that to the casual WCW fan this was way beyond anything they’d seen before. In a promotion that at the time was promoting things like the Dungeon of Doom and other silly things, you had four women killing each other with moves many people were seeing for the first time. I was watching WCW back in 1995 and while I don’t remember these matches, I am sure they left me in awe, of course I was familar with Bull Nakano but not with any of the others. A really fun sub-five minute match, not a lot of substance but tons of sizzle.

After that, Akira Hokuto did not appear again in WCW for almost a year. In fact the only Japanese wrestler that was still active in WCW during the first part of 1996 was Bull Nakano, but she was gone from the promotion before Hokuto returned. The reason Hokuto returned was by the end of 1996 she was wrestling in a promotion called GAEA. GAEA was a very popular Joshi promotion that ran from 1995 to 2005. In 1996, GAEA and WCW entered into a working agreement where GAEA wrestlers would come to WCW and participate in an eight wrestler tournament (well, seven) to crown the first ever WCW World Women’s Champion. Then in theory the belt would be defended in both promotions.

I mentioned it was really seven wrestlers, well that is because Akira Hokuto participated in the tournament twice, once as herself and once under a mask. This of course was not acknowledged on TV and I doubt the average viewer noticed a difference, Hokuto had not been seen in WCW for a full year and while the above tag matches were fun it is doubtful anyone retained which wrestler was which and their styles after so much time passed. I am not sure why Hokuto wrestled twice, but wrestling is a strange place. Here were the brackets:

courtesy of www.prowrestlinghistory.com

Sony Onoo suddenly appeared as representing the GAEA wrestlers and will be representing Hokuto here on out as her manager, which feels silly but he is someone that WCW fans knew and would automatically make anyone he managed a heel. Onoo was Eric Bischoff’s legitimate behind the scenes liaison to Japan, so it wasn’t a stretch to think he probably did have something to do with the GAEA deal. We’ll jump right into the tournament, with the first match being a masked Hokuto against her future #1 rival – Madusa.

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Madusa vs. Reina Jubuki
WCW Nitro on November 4th, 1996 – WCW World Women’s Championship Tournament Quarter Final

hokuto3Before we can even get started, Tony Schiavone is talking about Nick Patrick, but luckily that talk dies down as the match starts. Jubuki attacks the match starts and chokes Madusa before biting her fingers. Zero suddenly walks down to ringside, Zero is Chigusa Nagayo with face paint and is one of the most popular Joshi wrestlers ever. Luckily Tenay is on commentary and says who she is, not that the fans likely had seen Nagayo before but at least they acknowledged it. Zero is also in the tournament, wrestling Hosaka in the first round. Back in the ring, Jubuki stays in control before Madusa headscissors Jubuki off the top turnbuckle. Jubuki comes back with a Northern Lights Suplex, she goes up top and she delivers a missile dropkick for a nearfall. I’m too in love with Zero at ringside to pay too close of attention, but Madusa suddenly hits a German Suplex and gets the three count! Madusa continues in the tournament.

Hokuto wrestling and losing under a mask is really confusing on a few levels. They could have found another female wrestler in the US or Japan to be in the tournament, so it wasn’t a last minute thing where they were short. Going into the match, Hokuto as Jubuki was the CMLL World Women’s Champion but was stripped due to losing this match (I have no idea if she intended on going back to CMLL anyway but its still an odd way to lost the belt). Anyway, this was a really unusual match and not satisfying in any way, these two would go on to have good matches but this wasn’t one as Jubuki dominated until Madusa suddenly won with the German suplex. No harm done since no one knew it was Hokuto, and it got the tournament some airtime on Nitro, but nothing much to it.

Zero and Kaoru both won their respective tournament matches, leading us to Akira Hokuto as herself wrestling against Meiko Satomura. Satomura debuted in 1995 for GAEA, and was trained by Chigusa Nagayo. She is mostly in this tournament as a jobber (spoiler!) as obviously a wrestler as inexperienced as her was not going to defeat a legend like Akira Hokuto. Sony Onoo is out with Hokuto as he would be for the rest of her stay in WCW.

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Akira Hokuto vs. Meiko Satomura
WCW Pro on December 8th, 1996 – WCW World Women’s Championship Tournament Quarter Final

Satomura shows that she has fighting spirit as she elbows Hokuto right as the match starts, but Hokuto isn’t phased and tosses the youngster to the mat before choke hanging her in the corner. The studio crowd is pretty excited by all this as Satomura sneaks in a crossbody and some dropkicks, missile dropkick by Satomura and Hokuto falls out of the ring. Baseball slide by Satomura and she stays in control back in the ring with a series of running elbows. Satomura goes up top but Hokuto avoids the diving body press, missile dropkick by Hokuto and she hits the Northern Lights Suplex for the three count! Hokuto continues in the tournament.

hokutosatomuraNot a very long match, but matches on Pro and Worldwide generally weren’t. Hokuto needed a strong win since she was entering soon into a feud with Madusa (another spoiler), whom happened to be the only American wrestler that was any good in WCW. Too short to be offensive but too short to be memorable, aside from Satomura’s crazy arm waving elbows.

I wasn’t able to locate Hokuto’s second match in the tournament against KAORU, so we are skipping straight to the tournament Finals against Madusa. Madusa defeated Zero in her next match, after Zero and Onoo had a miscommunication, leading to Hokuto being the only wrestler that he still represented. The Finals of the tournament had a big stage, as it took place on WCW’s biggest pay per view of the year. Starrcade 1996 was a massive show, with Hogan vs. Piper main eventing and it also had the first ever match between Jushin Thunder Liger and Rey Mysterio Jr.. Kensuke Sasaki accompanied Akira Hokuto to the ring even though he was a ‘good guy’ and she was a ‘bad guy’, and the commentary crew acknowledged that they were married.

It was explained at some point that the reason that Hokuto wore a oxygen mask in WCW was so that she would be in peak shape when the match began. It sounds silly but it is a different concept at least, and there is some science that would support it. Downside is that it made her look like a cyborg.

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Akira Hokuto vs. Madusa
WCW Starrcade on December 29th, 1996 – WCW World Women’s Championship Tournament Final

hokutostarrcadeHokuto attacks Madusa before the bell even rings and flings her around by the hair, taking the early advantage. Onoo trips Madusa from the floor, which Kensuke Sasaki doesn’t seem to agree with. They had to do that to a degree, since Sasaki was not a heel they couldn’t have him cheering on each time Onoo cheated. Hokuto does her usual WCW spots, including choking Madusa in the corner while Madusa does her usual spots including the headscissors off the top turnbuckle. They take the time also to discuss Nick Patrick, who was by this point a full-fledged member of the nWo. USA chants break out, Madusa was quite popular with the crowd after her run against Bull Nakano the previous year, and they come alive as Madusa slams Hokuto into the mat. Hokuto chokes Madusa (no real transitions to speak of), Northern Lights Suplex by Hokuto and she applies the cross armbreaker (crowd didn’t react to that, hadn’t been given the heads up that the cross armbreaker was a finisher in Japan). Madusa comes back with a sloppy DDT but Hokuto hits a German suplex hold for a one count. Tornado DDT by Madusa and she nails a powerbomb, but Hokuto gets a shoulder up. She goes for another powerbomb but Hokuto lands on top of her, but Madusa comes back with a German suplex hold. Madusa gets on the second turnbuckle but Hokuto joins her, hitting a superplex Hokuto gets on the second turnbuckle but Madusa dropkicks her out of the ring, which gives Onoo time to sneak up on Madusa and hit her the United States flag. Missile dropkick by Hokuto and she nails the Northern Lights Bomb for the three count! Akira Hokuto is the first WCW World Women’s Champion!

If you can tune out the commentary crew, which alternated between talking about the match and discussing the nWo, this wasn’t a bad match. It didn’t feel like the epic it could have been but it was still on the undercard on a WCW PPV, they weren’t going to get but so much time. Plus while Madusa was popular, by late 1996 she was not in Hokuto’s league and there were a few mistakes in the match. It was still very historical however, as Hokuto became the first champion and beat a popular wrestler in the process, course we didn’t know at the time that the championship would fade out of existence on WCW TV in six months.

In those six months however, Hokuto was certainly a fighting champion as GAEA’s partnership with WCW continued into the summer. Due to the interference in the match, and also the fact she was the only female American wrestler on the roster, Hokuto’s feud with Madusa continued. Next we will watch their non-title match which aired two weeks later on WCW Worldwide. The reason it was a non-title match was because it was filmed back in November, so she did not have the title at the time anyway, but it did give Madusa an ‘immediate rematch’ after the screwy ending at Starrcade.

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Akira Hokuto vs. Madusa
WCW Worldwide on January 12th, 1997

Hokuto jumps Madusa before the match and chokes her before slamming Madusa to the mat. Madusa makes her comeback very briefly until Hokuto goes back to choking her in the ropes, Madusa slides out to the apron and he comes back into the ring with a sunset flip for two. Madusa dropkicks Hokuto out of the ring and goes out after her, slamming Hokuto onto the floor. They keep battling and ignoring the referee’s count, leading to them both being Counted Out. The match is over but the feud continues.

hokutomadusawwThis was more of a house-show style match, a quick one for the syndicated show to get a few new eyeballs but while giving away nothing of interest. All it really did was confirm that they were still feuding.

The next few matches were also taped on November 10th, 1996, which is why we are seeing wrestlers that haven’t been in WCW since November. For example, Sonoko Kato did not fly back to the United States just to have a match on Worldwide. This was a good idea of course, as it gave WCW a handful of matches with the champion to keep her on television without her having to keep coming back to the United States. In fact, Hokuto did not have any live appearances in WCW between Starrcade and her match on Nitro in late March. All her matches shown in January and February took place the previous November but with new commentary so they could talk about her being the champion (although one that never carried her belt).

Course, her next match was under the mask so they couldn’t even acknowledge it was Hokuto, which makes it an interesting choice to air at all. Kato was still a youngster at this point, not the star that she is today in Oz Academy, so it was more ‘small show filler’ than anything else.

Reina Jubuki vs. Sonoko Kato
WCW Worldwide on January 19th, 1997

jubukikatoJubuki attacks before the match starts, naturally, and easily dominates the first portion of the match. Kato didn’t stand much of a chance here as she is thrown around by the hair and choked, stretch hold by Jubuki and she bites on Kato’s fingers. Kato comes back with a sunset flip and a dropkick, another dropkick by Kato and she hits a scoop slam for a two count cover. Jubuki bites Kato again and puts her in an armbar, but Kato comes back with a face crusher. Bulldog by Kato and she gets on the second turnbuckle, but Jubuki avoids the missile dropkick. Diving body press by Jubuki and she picks up the three count! The mysterious Reina Jubuki is the winner.

Not much to that one, even though it is fun seeing a really young Kato wrestling in WCW. So we can skip right to the next match, with Madusa teaming with Satomura (I guess Madusa decided which one was the least evil to team with) facing Hokuto (back wrestling as herself) and KAORU. This match was actually the main event of the show, which demonstrates the popularity of Madusa and her battle against the evil foreigners.

Akira Hokuto and Kaoru vs. Madusa and Meiko Satomura
WCW Worldwide on February 9th, 1997

hokutokaoruHokuto and Kaoru attack before the bell rings (a definite theme), with Kaoru staying in as the legal wrestler against Satomura. Satomura gets the advantage but Hokuto quickly comes in and helps her young partner take back over. Kaoru tags in Hokuto, she taunts Madusa but Satomura hits a crossbody and tags the American in. Hokuto tags Kaoru but Madusa lariats both of them, Madusa picks up Kaoru and double teams her with Satomura. Madusa and Satomura are tripped by Onoo, Kaoru then goes up top and she hits a seated senton on Satomura. Madusa goes after Onoo while Hokuto hits Satomura with a missile dropkick, Northern Lights Suplex by Hokuto and she picks up the three count! Hokuto and Kaoru win the match.

This was more about Madusa hating Onoo than anything else, Onoo was also the manager of Nakano when Madusa battled her so they had a long history together. Course as soon as she was distracted, Satomura was no match for both Hokuto and Kaoru so the match quickly ended. But this is what the syndicated shows were good for, a quick match that continued the bigger storyline of Hokuto vs. Madusa without any real harm being done, even if it was a really quick match.

One more of these, and then we get back to new content. The next tag match was done at the same recording as the past few matches, which again is why Hokuto does not have the title with her. Madusa wasn’t even in this one, as its an all Japanese affair with only one wrestler (Hokuto) that was still an active part of the promotion. Definitely filler.

Akira Hokuto and Kaoru Maeda vs. Meiko Satomura and Sonoko Kato
WCW Worldwide on February 23rd, 1997

Kaoru and Hokuto attack Satomura and Kato before the match starts because that is how Hokuto rolls, and they keep the double teaming up for several minutes. Kaoru and Satomura stay in the ring but Hokuto comes off the top with an ax handle to Satomura. Hokuto and Kaoru take turns attacking Satomura, Kato comes in but she eats a missile dropkick from Hokuto. Brainbuster by Kaoru to Satomura and she nails a moonsault for the three count! Hokuto and Kaoru win.

hokutokaoru2That was basically a squash, as they continued attacking after the bell rings. That brings out Madusa, she gets in the ring to face off with Hokuto but Onoo keeps them apart. They eventually get to each other and trade strikes, but its a stalemate and Madusa leaves with Kato and Satomura. This angle was just done like everything else the last few weeks, to keep in the public eye their simmering feud.

That was the last Worldwide taping with the Japanese wrestlers present so we didn’t get to see more of Hokuto until she returned to Nitro over a month later. But when she did return on March 31st, she returned with a bang as her match kicked off the second hour of Nitro. Debbie Combs was put over a bit by Mike Tenay on commentary, referring to her as a second generation star. She started wrestling in 1975 so she is definitely a veteran of the ring. This is the first time we’ve seen of Hokuto holding the title coming down the ramp, and she no longer has the oxygen tank or the headpiece. In fact she is noticeably more “Japanese” now as she is wearing a kimono and fanning herself with a fan with the Japanese flag on it. It is interesting that she went from having a unique look to being more stereotypical, perhaps they were afraid she would get cheered and wanted to emphasize her nationality more. Can’t say I am a fan of the change, hopefully her in-ring work is the same as it was before.

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(c) Akira Hokuto vs. Debbie Combs
WCW Nitro on March 31st, 1997 – WCW World Women’s Championship

hokutocombsHokuto attacks Combs before the match so at least she hasn’t stopped doing that, and she chokes Combs against the ropes. She poses on Combs in the ropes and Onoo helps from ringside, as if Hokuto needed it. Hokuto goes off the ropes but Combs hits a version of a gutwrench suplex, jumping crossbody by Combs but she gets a two count. Hokuto boots Combs and hits a German suplex hold, picking up the three count! Hokuto retains the championship.

After the match they interview Madusa (they refer to her as ‘prior title holder’ which isn’t true) but Hokuto interrupts it and they battle in the entrance until they manage to be pulled apart. Course this was just to set up their match the following week, but why in the world they had Combs in for this match I have no idea. She wasn’t familar to the crowd but she wasn’t really of the right age for Hokuto to throw her around and impress anyone. The issue wasn’t just that it was short but Hokuto didn’t get much of a chance to really show off which should have been the point.

But that led straight to Hokuto defending her title against Madusa the following week on WCW Spring Stampede. The match didn’t need much set-up considering their history, however Madusa did defeat Malia Hosaka two weeks prior on Nitro which was her first appearance on Nitro or PPV since Starrcade. With how much WCW had going on at the time with nWo, it wasn’t unusual for the other storylines to get pushed aside (or to Worldwide) until there was a bigger match to promote. Madusa came out fully decked out in USA attire, as they wanted to emphasize the America vs. Japan aspect of the match.

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(c) Akira Hokuto vs. Madusa
WCW Spring Stampede on April 6th, 1997 – WCW World Women’s Championship

Hokuto does not technically attack before the match starts but still gets an early advantage on Madusa, while the crowd chants “USA!” in support of their hero. The commentators are still talking about Scott Steiner two minutes into the match but they finally stop as Hokuto keeps pounding on Madusa. Madusa comes back with punches but Hokuto takes back over and chokes Madusa in the corner. Hokuto slams Madusa, Madusa bridges out of the cover however and repeatedly slams Hokuto’s head into the mat. Hokuto gets on the second turnbuckle but Madusa hits a headscissors, Hokuto bites on Madusa’s leg while Onoo attacks Madusa from the floor. Madusa smacks him back but Hokuto keeps biting her, roll-up by Madusa as they go back to talking about Scott Steiner. This was WCW in a nutshell at the time, talking about the nWo regardless of what was happening in the ring. Madusa slams Hokuto and hits the German suplex hold, but Hokuto barely gets a shoulder up. Onoo gets on the apron but Madusa kicks her off to the floor, Madusa goes for a powerbomb but Luna Vachon comes down to ringside and kicks Madusa in the leg. This gives Hokuto a chance to cover Madusa, and she picks up the three count! Hokuto is still the champion.

hokutostampedeFunny how just a few months have passed but the quality has dropped so much. The Starrcade match was short but at least the commentators talked about the match and Hokuto didn’t win in such a weak manner (she still got help, but it was done better than it was here). It was hard to concentrate on this match and it felt like nothing important, rather than the first defense of the title on PPV since December. A step down from their other matches and it felt more like filler.

After this match, Hokuto got a bit of a break. Madusa had to take care of Luna Vachon, which is a match that took place at the next PPV, and WCW wasn’t capable of having multiple women feuds going on at the same time. Hokuto went back to Japan, wrestling for GAEA, and was not seen again in WCW until June. In the meantime, WCW and GAEA were still working together fairly well as they had a four woman tournament to crowd the first ever WCW Women’s Cruiserweight Championship, which was won by Toshie Uematsu. Besides that though not a lot was going on, as Akira Hokuto was the only GAEA wrestler with any type of presence on the more watched programs in World Championship Wrestling.

Akira Hokuto made her return to Nitro the week before her big match against Madusa at the Great American Bash. Just to give the crowd a bit of a reminder on who she was. She faced off against the veteran Malia Hosaka, who had participated in the WCW Women’s Cruiserweight Championship. Oddly enough, Hokuto is back to her old attire for this match, wearing the headpiece and oxygen mask as she had when she returned to WCW in November of 1996.

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Akira Hokuto vs. Malia Hosaka
WCW Nitro on June 9th, 1997

Hokuto politely requests a handshake before the match but attacks Hosaka when she falls for the trick, Hokuto lariats Hosaka in the corner and throws her down by the hair a few times. Hokuto gets Hosaka’s arm in the ropes and bites her fingers, Hosaka kicks Hokuto and goes up top, hitting a diving crossbody. She is distracted by Onoo, Hokuto grabs Hosaka and annihilates her with a Northern Lights Bomb for the three count!

hokutonlbAfter the match she hits another one on Hosaka and poses over her, out runs Madusa from the back and she hits a German suplex on Hokuto. Another German suplex by Madusa and she hits a third, but Onoo manages to get Hokuto out of the ring. This was just to hype up their match at the Great American Bash, which it did a decent job in doing as the crowd popped pretty good when Madusa came out and hit the German suplexes. I had forgotten until I re-watched these matches how popular Madusa was, the fans definitely enjoyed watching her.

The set-up for the next match is that in order to get another title shot, Onoo forced Madusa to put her career on the line to make it a Title vs. Career match. If Hokuto lost she wouldn’t have to retire, she would just lose her belt, so the pressure was on Madusa to pick up the win. Up to this point, Madusa had been in WCW regularly for a year and a half, and while she was the only regular female wrestler during that stretch they always managed to find her competition. Up to this point, Madusa had never beaten Hokuto in WCW, but with her career on the line that was sure to change here, right?

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(c) Akira Hokuto vs. Madusa
WCW Great American Bash on June 15th, 1996 – WCW World Women’s Championship vs. Madusa’s Career

hokutomadusabashHokuto spits on Madusa and slaps her in the face as the match starts before throwing down Madusa by the hair. That is how you start a match. I have to give the commentators credit since I trashed them earlier, they completely focused on this match while it was happening and discussed the seriousness of Madusa putting her career on the line. Even Heenan was on his best behavior and respectful of both wrestlers, watch it on the WWE Network for only $9.99 if you don’t believe me. Hokuto controls the first few minutes of the match and even busts out a jumping piledriver, putting some extra effort into killing Madusa. Madusa comes back with some missile dropkicks but it doesn’t last long, and Hokuto goes back to controlling the match with various chokes and strikes. Hokuto starts on Madusa’s leg and bites her foot, kicks by Madusa and she dives off the top with a double ax handle, but she hurts he leg when she lands. Kneebreaker by Hokuto and she puts Madusa in a surfboard, she releases the hold and hits a Northern Lights Suplex for a two count. Hokuto gets on the second turnbuckle but Madusa headscissors her off, powerbomb by Madusa but Hokuto kicks out of the pin. Her knee starts hurting again, Hokuto puts her up top and she hits a superplex to the mat. Cross kneelock by Hokuto but Madusa gets to the ropes, Hokuto goes up top but Madusa avoids the missile dropkick. German suplex hold by Madusa but Onoo grabs her leg to trip up the bridge. Hokuto stands and stomps on Madusa’s leg and punches it, she goes up top but Madusa gets her knees up on the diving body press. Lariat by Madusa, she picks up Hokuto but she can’t hit the backdrop suplex. Northern Lights Bomb by Hokuto, and she picks up the three count! Hokuto retains the championship and Madusa must retire.

After the match, even though Madusa was now forced to retire, Hokuto kept beating on her anyway just for giggles. This was my favorite match of the set and a good way to end their feud. First, as I mentioned, the commentators all did a good job putting over what was going on and giving them respect, which wasn’t always the case during Hokuto’s run (to be fair, they were better than I remembered throughout). The match had a story, with Madusa’s knee being the focus, and Onoo didn’t have as much of an impact. It is still rather shocking that Madusa lost, the crowd didn’t seem to know what to think as the obvious story was the injured fan favorite coming back and winning to save her career and win the belt. But that didn’t happen, as Hokuto pinned her in the middle of the ring and Madusa is done forever.akirachampion

And that was it, Akira Hokuto never appeared in WCW again, nor did the WCW World Women’s Championship. I am not sure why the partnership between WCW and GAEA ended but that was the last match with any GAEA wrestlers in the promotion. Devil Masami won the suddenly vacated championship while in GAEA but it was not recognized by WCW, and in 1998 the belt was referenced as still being held by Hokuto. Madusa really did retire, at least for two years, which is probably the longest a “Loser Must Retire” stipulation has ever been honored.

When you think about it, it is pretty amazing that Hokuto had over a dozen matches in WCW and she never lost (wrestling as herself). She came in and battled the best female wrestler that WCW had and not only beat her, but forced her into retirement. Then left like it meant nothing, one could even kayfabe that she left WCW because there was no more competition there since she retired the only great wrestler they had. Normally, it always appears that the larger company ‘gets over’ on the smaller company, but here that was certainly not the case as Hokuto was the clear victor in the GAEA/WCW partnership.

After leaving WCW for good, Hokuto continued wrestling in GAEA until 2002, when she retired from wrestling (aside from a few quick comeback matches, of course). WCW never got serious about a women’s division again, as this would be the only women’s title that the promotion ever had (I’m not even counting the Women’s Cruiserweight since it was forgotten by WCW even faster than Hokuto’s title was), making Akira Hokuto the most accomplished woman wrestler in the history of WCW. Looking back it is very unusual but Akira Hokuto’s stay in WCW was definitely memorable, as she showed the WCW fans a side of wrestling they had never seen before and left the promotion undefeated. In the end, WCW was just another promotion that fell to the immortal Danger Queen.