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AJW News: Manami Toyota set to retire in November of 2017

Later this year, another legend of the 1990s is set to hang up her boots forever...

The legendary Manami Toyota, arguably the female version of Shawn Michaels.

What’s the story?

Manami Toyota, the legendary joshi (women’s) wrestler of the 1990s and one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, regardless of gender, announced that she will be retiring later this year.

In case you didn’t know...

Manami Toyota is one of the greatest wrestlers to ever set foot into a wrestling ring. As far as technical ability was concerned, she was the female equivalent to a Shawn Michaels or a Ric Flair. She wrestled mainly for All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling (AJW) throughout the 1990s, though she has made some excursions to the United States during the late 2000s.

Toyota made a name for herself as one of the best wrestlers during the 1990s due to the revolutionary kinds of matches she was taking part in during that decade. She has won numerous accolades, including at least eight Women’s Championships throughout her career, of which four were reigns as WWWA World Heavyweight Champion (this was the original women's world championship created by Mildred Burke back in 1937).

She was also voted by the Wrestling Observer’s readers as the greatest women’s wrestler of all time in 2009. Her WON accomplishments also speak volumes of her abilities: Match of the Year in both 1993 and 1995, Most Outstanding Wrestler in 1995 (the only woman ever to win this award), and 14 matches rated 5-Stars.

The heart of the matter

News of Toyota’s retirement was first revealed by the Wrestling Observer on March 17th. 2017 will mark Toyota’s 30th anniversary as a professional wrestler and will be a fitting opportunity for her to retire. Though she hadn't made many high-profile appearances since a brief stint in Chikara in 2012, she has still been semi-active on the wrestling scene in Japan.

Her retirement comes due to the extreme and high-risk style Toyota used during her career. It was very similar to the King’s Road style of wrestling made popular in All Japan Pro Wrestling during the 1990s: multiple high-angle suplexes, stiff kicks and forearms, legitimate wrenching submissions, and many aerial manoeuvres, that would put immense pressure on her body.

Even worse, Toyota was already a certified wrestling veteran by the age of 25. She had debuted in 1987 at the age of 16 and was putting on classic matches by the time most of today's WWE Superstars graduate basic wrestling school.

What's Next?

Toyota’s final match will take place on November 3rd, 2017, at Yokohama's Saisan Bashi Hall. So far, her actual opponent has not been announced.

Author’s take

If there’s one women’s wrestler that should be an inspiration to today’s female fans, it’s Toyota. She accomplished so much in wrestling in Japan and was revered in the 1990s as one of the best in the world at the time.

She, along with her rivals Kyoko Inoue, Aja Kong, Bull Nakano, Bison Kimura, and a few others, set a new standard for women’s wrestling around the world. For the first time in history, women’s wrestling was being accepted and praised by male wrestling fans on an equal level as men’s wrestling.

In some cases, Manami Toyota was considered as either equal to or better than many of the top wrestlers of the 1990s, which was a major accomplishment for someone like her.

If WWE was to do a women’s tournament composed of women from around the world like they did with the Cruiserweight Classic, it would be foolish for them not to include Toyota. Even though she’s 46, it would be an incredible sign of disrespect towards the true trailblazers of modern women’s wrestling for WWE to exclude someone like Toyota.

Even though it is coming to an end, her career will live on forever thanks to the internet. All you need to do is search her name on YouTube and the results will include many breath-taking matches the likes of which have yet to be replicated in the field of women’s wrestling.

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