Art Attack spent a little time in the squared circle as a luchador, trained by the amazing Javio Flores Sr., and we're here to tell you that wrestling is freakin' hard. It hurts, a lot, and you spend months or years building up a tolerance for the holds, plexes, bombs and slams. Even just bouncing off of the ropes, something that looks painless and fun on TV, becomes a quick study in agony once you realize that the ropes are as tight as elevator cables and you have to hit them pretty hard to bend them.
It didn't take long for us to bow out of the big dream, mostly the product of a badly timed top rope stunt that ended in two fractured wrists, a concussion and a broken nose. Still, in that time we can tell you that we learned plenty of moves that would make mincemeat out of any but the manliest men.
Then, of course, we found out that most of them were invented by Japanese women, and that every one of them was capable of kicking our ass with both hands tied behind their backs.
Using a fireman's carry, you fall sideways towards the direction that your opponent's head is facing, dumping him hard on his upper back. It's a spectacular move that is easy to use even on larger opponents, the fireman's carry being specifically useful for moving unconscious people. You can easily adapt it to the top rope, and it's great for slamming an opponent through a table. As for the recipient, it rattles your teeth and can definitely put you down when applied with great force.
Saturn made the move famous, but everyone knows it was Louis Spicolli, who died on this day of a drug overdose in 1998, that was the originator of what ECW fans called the Spicolli Driver. Actually, the move came from recently retired Tag Team champion Etsuko Mita, a beautiful and brutal All-Japan Women's competitor. Not only did Mita invent the move, she spent the whole of her career revamping and perfecting it.
Powerbombs are generally deadly moves that involve flipping your opponent up into the air on your shoulders, then slamming them down on their neck and head. The gutwrench position that utilizes a side grab is great for speed and adding a little twist that can disorientate. Dr. Death Steve Williams was one of the most brutal users of a version that ended in a sitting position, enabling a pin on an already dazed opponent.
Dr. Death may have done it harder, but the move's inventor, Akira Hokuto, did it better. Hokuto, who competed in All-Japan Women and in WCW as the sole holder of that company's women's title, is a legendary warrior and master of the Dangerous Queen Bomb, as she calls it. She is apparently impervious to pain, having wrestled matches with cracked ribs, after having her knee torn open, and even finishing a match with a neck that was broken in a top-rope tombstone piledriver by holding her head in place with her hands. She wrestled bandaged up so much that they called her the Mummy, and her 1993 match against Shinobu Kandori is pretty much agreed to be the greatest women's wrestling contest ever.
The best part is...the gutwrench powerbomb wasn't even her finisher. Her preferred game ender was a scooping brainbuster that, last time we checked, you weren't even allowed to use in WWE.
The vertebreaker is a piledriver that is hard to describe and insanely dangerous. By bending your opponent over, then hooking your arms into his like some kind of human Jigsaw trap, you lift him so that he is held on your back, but inverted. After that, it's down you go right on the top of your head. This move is currently banned in WWE unless you agree to sign a waiver agreeing that you know it might paralyze you.
If you were following Gregory Helms back in WCW, he used the vertebreaker, and it's the finisher of longtime cult wrestling favorite Christopher Daniels. The move's originator though, is Megumi Kudo, who called it the Kudome Valentine. A lot of people believed that Kudo got to the top based on her looks, and she is, like, whoah, but she trained hard and rose through the ranks at Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, home to some of the most hardcore matches you'll ever see. She was known to wrestle with the ropes replaced with barbed wire, and her retire match was a, we're not making this up, "no ropes, 200V, double hell, double barbed wire barricade, double landmine, glass crush death match."
The goal of this article was to call attention to the innovators behind moves that stars here in the West have made famous despite the fact that they are all pretty much the work of incredible Japanese ladies. Truth be told, the only person we have ever seen using most of the moves you'll see in the above video is King from the Tekken video game series.
Toyota was a rival of Etsuko Mita, and personality-wise she was pretty dull and not in the least charismatic. When it came to speaking the language of pain, though, Toyota was a combination Oscar Wilde and Ultimate Warrior. None of the brilliant moves she developed make even the slightest bit of sense, and every one of them belongs in the "This might kill you" category. She's still going strong at 40, so make sure you show this article to anyone who bandies around the inventiveness of Kanyon, Tommy Dreamer, Taz, or any of the other men who don't have the right to scrub their blood out of Manami Toyota's sports bra.