Wrestling Universe: Story Behind The Historic Event, Look At The Opening Ceremony
Women Are Without A Glass Ceiling In Japanese Wrestling
Wrestling Universe is a multi-part series investigating the historic Big Egg Wrestling Universe event hosted by All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling on November 20, 1994, that stands as the highest-grossing wrestling event put together by a women’s wrestling promotion.
All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling (AJW) is without a question the most successful and prestigious Joshi (women) wrestling promotion of all time. Operating from 1968 until 2005, AJW rose to the top of the Japanese wrestling scene in the 1980s, outdrawing both All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) according to famed wrestling journalist Fumi Saito. By doing so, AJW was one of the best drawing promotions in the world during the decade.
The promotion eventually led to women in Japan being seen as equal if not larger stars than men in wrestling, breaking the proverbial glass ceiling that still exists in every other major wrestling market in the world. Every so often, conversations occur on social media questioning NJPW for not having a women’s division.
Several wrestling journalists based in the United States ignore the history of Joshi Puroresu within Japan, and why the vast majority of wrestling promotions feature a roster of the same sex. The success of AJW is the main reason the Japanese wrestling scene continues to exist in this manner, with domestic audiences accepting men and women on an equal level — a key factor in Bushiroad, owners of World Wonder Ring Stardom (Stardom) and NJPW pro wrestling aren’t considering combining the promotions, ensuring Stardom wrestlers continue to have a platform to grow.
No event was more representative of that than AJW Doumu Super Woman Great War ~ Big Egg Wrestling Universe (Wrestling Universe) on November 20, 1994, from the Tokyo Dome. According to the Wrestling Observer, Wrestling Universe drew approximately $4 million at the gate, with an additional $1.6 million in merchandise sales. It’s believed approximately 32,500 fans were in attendance.
The overarching theme of Wrestling Universe was to showcase multiple combat sports, professional wrestling styles, and present the one-night V*TOP Five Star Tournament, composing of the best women singles wrestlers from participating promotions.
The 23-match card saw wrestlers from AJW, GAEA Japan (GAEA), Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling (FMW), Ladies Legend Pro-Wrestling (LLPW), Michinoku Pro Wrestling (MPW), and the World Wrestling Federation (WWF).
During the opening ceremony, a band played a musical set leading the representatives from each promotion and fighting entity to the arena, ending with major AJW draw Bull Nakano, who at the time was a former WWWA World Single Champion with an outstanding 11 successful title defenses, a CMLL World Women’s Champion, All Pacific Champion, a 3x WWWA World Tag Team Champion, AJW Champion, and AJW Junior Champion, saying a few words to the crowd before her WWF Women’s Championship challenge against Alundra Blayze (Madusa) that night.