All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling (AJW) is one of the biggest pro wrestling companies in the history of Japan. The all women’s promotion housed some of the biggest women’s stars in wrestling history. Legends Of AJW will take a look into the careers of some of AJW’s legendary talents. This edition focuses on the duo known as Fire Jets: Mitsuko Nishiwaki and Yumiko Hotta.
The late 80s saw a major shift for All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling. With competitors like Chigusa Nagayo, Lioness Asuka, and Dump Matsumoto all reaching their final years by the end of the decade, AJW was looking for new stars to live up to the legendary standards that their predecessors set for them throughout the years. This was specifically the case for the tag team division, where teams like the Crush Gals and the Jumping Bomb Angels made their names as icons of the sport. It was the job of teams like the Fire Jets to attempt to fill this hole.
Before The Fire
Mitsuko Nishiwaki and Yumiko Hotta both made their debuts in 1985, though they had very little in-ring contact during the early stages of their careers. Both women debuted at the age of 18, with Hotta traveling from Kobe and Nishiwaki traveling from Gifu to train hundreds of miles away from home at the AJW Dojo in Tokyo. Alongside fellow members Suzuka Minami and Hisako Uno – a woman better known by the name of Akira Hokuto – the 1985 class of the AJW Dojo would go down in history as one of the strongest in the companies history. Each woman was a stand out in her own right, with Hotta being the first to find true success in the company.
Yumiko Hotta’s status was instantly improved when, just a year after her debut, she teamed up with former Crush Gal, Chigusa Nagayo. Hotta would find her first major success with the help of Nagayo in the 1986 Tag Leauge the Best, as she and Nagayo would win the tournament after the AJW Match of the Year against Hisako Uno and Yukari Omari in the finals. While the duo wouldn’t last for much longer as 1987 came along, this was a huge accomplishment for someone of such a low experience level.
During this time, Hotta’s eventual tag team partner did not have the same levels of success in AJW. Save for a shot at the mid-card AJW Tag Team Titles in 1987, Nishiwaki was more or less a nonfactor in the All Japan culture during her first two years in the company. Yumiko Hotta, on the other hand, would continue to find success with other partners, as she would win her first championship in April 1987 alongside Hisako Uno. Their WWWA Championship win was quite remarkable considering their status as rookies was still present at this point. Therefore it did not come as much of a surprise when Hotta and Uno lost the belts to the more experienced Red Typhoons less than two weeks after their victory. This was also the match that saw Uno break her neck before the first fall, taking her out until 1988.
The Spark Ignites
Yumiko Hotta made her first challenge for a singles title against Bull Nakano soon after she and Uno lost the 3WA tag belts in the summer of 1987. Bull defeated Hotta with the AJW Title on the line, beginning a feud between Gokumon-To and the newly formed Fire Jets at the start of 1988. Challenging different combinations of the faction, the duo had nearly instant chemistry together as a tag team. On top of this, both Nishiwaki and Hotta were quickly becoming two of the more popular members of the AJW roster, with their match against the Jumping Bomb Angels for the WWF Women’s Tag Team Titles truly bringing them to another level as a team. This surge of momentum culminated in Fire Jets winning the 3WA Tag Team Titles together for the first time in July 1988 after defeating Bull Nakano and Grizzly Iwamoto.
However, the Fire Jets were far better at the hunt than at the carry, as they lost the tag titles just a month later to the Calgary Typhoons Mika Komatsu and Yumi Ogura. The Fire Jets persisted, though, as they made their way into their first and only Tag League the Best in late 1988, and boy did they show up. Ending the round-robin portion of the tournament with the best record of the tournament with 7.5 points, which translates to 7 wins, 2 losses, and 1 draw. This got them an immediate spot in the finals, but the team was unable to take home the victory as they lost to Mika Suzuki and the newly christened Akira Hokuto at the climax of the tournament.
— Jushin🌸Libre (@DdtShaggy) June 19, 2020
While Fire Jets freshman year of 1988 was undoubtedly a success, their sophomore outing was even better. This was largely in part due to their newfound rivalry with their fellow Class of ‘85 members, Akira Hokuto and Suzuka Minami. Hokuto & Minami, now referred to as Marine Wolves, were fellow members of the babyface Sekigun that was spawned as a response to Gokumon-To’s growing numbers. This meant that, while the two teams were feuding they would also spontaneously be put on the same team quite often against a more gruesome foe.
This did not stop the four women from going all out against one another, with their #1 Contendership match in the Spring of 1989 being a ruthless battle between the four peers, with Marine Wolves coming out on top and eventually winning the vacant 3WA Tag Team Titles in June of that year. They met once more just a few short months later, with Fire Jets once again winning the 3WA Tag Team Championships, this time via a Jaguar Driver ‘85 by Yumiko Hotta to put away Akira Hokuto for the three.
Fire Jets continued to set the Summer of ‘89 ablaze as Mitsuko Nishiwaki would shockingly win the Japan Grand Prix singles tournament in August, defeating Bison Kimura, Toshiyo Yamada, Bull Nakano, and Medusa to win the honors for the first and only time. Though this did not result in an immediate WWWA title shot due to the impending retirement of reigning champion Lioness Asuka. Nishiwaki followed up this win with another tournament win in the 1989 Tag Leauge the Best, but this time alongside her JGP opponent, Medusa. The tournament saw seemingly randomized pairings throughout with the split between Gokumon-To and Sekigun as the only honored alliances. Medusa and Nishiwaki’s win would have little impact on future events, as by December Fire Jets were defending their tag team gold once again.
With that being said, December 1989 could be considered the beginning of the end of the Fire Jets, as they would lose the 3WA Tag Team Titles once again to Gokumon-To, only this time falling victim to Bison Kimura and Aja Kong before the end of the decade. After an unsuccessful attempt at the vacant 3WA World Championship by Nishiwaki on January 4th, Fire Jets mostly tread water for the first half of 1990. In May, the duo competed in their final 3WA Tag Title match, once again against Marine Wolves. In a Match of the Year Candidate for 1990, both Fire Jets and Marine Wolves were on point in this match. When the match concluded, it was Akira Hokuto and Suzuka Minami who walked away victorious in the final match featuring all 4 members of the Class of ’85.
As the Summer of 1990 came to pass, Mitsuko Nishiwaki retired on October 8th in a match against her Fire Jets comrade, Yumiko Hotta. The duo had only met in singles competition once before, with Hotta defeating Nishiwaki just months prior in that year’s Japan Grand Prix, resulting in tension between the two partners leading into Nishiwaki’s farewell. By the end of the night, Nishiwaki got her win back over her tag team partner and would leave the wrestling ring for good – a rarity in the Joshi wrestling world of that time.
The Fire Rages On
Nishiwaki went on to settle down and Marry sumo wrestler Kaiō Hiroyuki in 1999, a rikishi highly regarded for his status as the longest-reigning Ozeki in sumo history. As for Yumiko Hotta, her career past Fire Jets and even AJW is one of the most legendary in the world of Joshi wrestling, spanning over three and a half decades of in-ring competition. Despite their relatively brief time as a team, the Fire Jets consistently impressed inside the ring and could be considered two of the pioneers of the 90’s tag-team style that is renowned today by fans and critics alike; For that, the Fire Jets will live on forever in the legendary history of AJW.
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