Welcome to the first review of All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling Classics! AJW Classics is a television program that airs on SAMURAI TV in Japan. There are several different series within the AJW Classics name, I will be reviewing the series starting with the “Retro Hour” AJW Classics that first aired on August 7th, 2007. They are still airing to this day and are currently up to #141, so this will be a long journey.
AJW Retro Hour Classics #1 is special in that all the matches came from the same event. Most Classics are a compilation of matches from the same time period, but not usually from the same day. This was a massive show however at the Kawasaki City Gymnasium with thousands in attendance, featuring a mask vs. hair title match in the main event. The following matches are featured:
5/7/83 – All Japan Women Jr. Championship: Noriyo Tateno vs. Hiromi Komatsubara
5/7/83 – Mimi Hagiwara vs. Monster Ripper
5/7/83 – Devil Masami and Tarantula vs. Dynamite Girls (Jumbo Hori and Yukari Omori)
5/7/83 – WWWA World Championship, Mask vs. Hair: Jaguar Yokota vs. La Galactica
(c) Noriyo Tateno vs. Hiromi Komatsubara
This match is for the AJW Junior Championship. If you have been a wrestling fan for a long time or watch older wrestling, you have probably seen Tateno as she was one half of the Jumping Bomb Angels in the WWF. This match took place before that, when she was only 17 years old, but she already held the AJW Jr. Championship which she won from Chigusa Nagayo on August 10th, 1982. Komatsubara is a bit of an unknown, as I couldn’t find any information on her, which does not bode well for her chances of winning this match. Please note this is not a “Jr. Heavyweight” Championship but a “Junior” Championship, it was meant for younger wrestlers.
Normally I would complain about a title match being so short and basic, but this belt was designed for wrestlers still training so I will cut them some slack. They did get into it very quickly as they bounced each other off the ropes, and the mysterious Komatsubara controlled the early portion of the match. Tateno goes for a tackle that epicly fails as Komatsubara catches her arm, and she focuses on that arm for the next several minutes. Komatsubara doesn’t let up and she elbows Tateno in the corner, but Tateno finally kicks her back. A few shoulderblocks by Komatsubara sends Tateno back down, but Tateno rolls her to the mat and delivers a dropkick. That is a high spot for them by the way. Headlock by Tateno which Komatsubara rolls out of, Tateno back bodydrops Komatsubara and bodyslams her for a three count! Tateno wins the match and retains the title.
Tateno held onto the championship until losing it back to Chigusa Nagayo on January 8th, 1984. The AJW Jr. Championship was a belt that never had much prestige, many future stars of AJW held the title but it was early in their careers and before they had fully blossomed. Both of these wrestlers looked solid, there were no awkward moments, however the strikes were weak and the match ended with little fanfare. It is fun to watch Tateno so early in her career knowing she became a success in the WWF, but this was more like an opener match than a title match.
Mimi Hagiwara vs. Monster Ripper
Monster Ripper had a long career in wrestling that reached several countries (and continents). American fans may remember her best from her ill-fated run as Bertha Faye in the WWF, but she also wrestled in Stampede, AAA, WCW, and of course AJW. She played the part of giant evil gaijin brawler, and while she was pushed too quickly early in her career she did play the role well. Hagiwara is not as well known but had multiple title reigns and was also an accomplished actress as well. Beautiful and popular, she was the perfect wrestler to feed to Ripper.
Ripper sets the tone early with brawling while Hagiwara is tossed around like a rag doll. Ripper has the classic monster offense, filled with punches and body bumps with an occasional slam for extra emphasis. Ripper throws Hagiwara out of the ring and into the crowd, and back in the ring she continues her assault. Hagiwara finally gets some help from ringside and drops a knee onto Ripper’s head before jumping down on her back and applying a chinlock. Ripper effortlessly gets out of that and suplexes Hagiwara, kneedrops by Ripper and she tosses Hagiwara to the mat. She tries to do it again but Hagiwara hits a hurricanrana for a two count! She goes off the ropes but Ripper hits a bodyblock, slam by Ripper and she military presses Hagiwara. Ripper is pulled out of the ring and double teamed on the floor, they get back in and Ripper is dropped with a double back bodydrop and a double vertical suplex. Double backdrop suplex to Ripper, Hagiwara goes up top and hits a diving crossbody, but Ripper slides out of it and hits a lariat. Military press drop into a backbreaker by Ripper, she hits another military press drop and covers Hagiwara for the three count! Monster Ripper wins!
I am sure that Ripper deserved it but it is unusual to see the monster heel being cheated against and not the other way around. It did help put her over a bit more that she in essence defeated two wrestlers, and her strength was impressive. I think this one accomplished its goal, Hagiwara didn’t go down easy but was no match for the Monster Ripper, decent for what it was. Mildly Recommended
Devil Masami and Tarantula vs. Dynamite Girls (Yukari Omori and Jumbo Hori)
This match was to help determine the next the WWWA Tag Team Champions, as the belt was vacant. The two teams were in the midst of a “Best of Three” series with the first team to win two matches becoming the new champions. Going into this match, the Dynamite Girls were up 1-0, so Masami and Tarantula needed a win. Jumbo Hori and Yukari Omori were a relatively new tag team, as both had already won the tag team championships in the past but with different partners. Masami and Tarantula were the previous champions and were looking to win their titles back.
The Dynamite Girls attack first as Masami is isolated, and the Dynamite Girls start working on Masami’s arm. The arm work is good but not overly diverse, Hori kicks Masami but they are really light strikes that are probably barely making contact. Masami tags in Tarantula, she immediately brings Hori out of the ring with her and tosses her around the floor. Back in, Masami has returned but Hori pulls her out of the ring and they take turns throwing each other into the crowd. Masami suplexes Hori back into the ring and tags in Tarantula, but Hori throws her to the ground and hits a powerbomb. Omori comes in and they drop Tarantula with a double suplex, Masami comes in and throws Hori out of the ring while Tarantula attacks Omori with the bell hammer. Back in, Hori is double teamed but the Dynamite Girls regain the advantage. Tarantula runs into the corner and does a crossbody onto Masami, Masami catches her and throws Tarantula over her head onto Hori, and Tarantula picks up the three count pinfall! The series is now even 1-1.
This was a bit structure-less, if I saw this match in a vacuum I would have idea which was the heel team since neither were really playing fair. Not long enough to get excited about but the action kept up and it was fun to watch. With a bit more meaning (i.e. not the second match in the series) this may have been better but the match was fast paced and both teams did a good job showing the match was important. Mildly Recommended
(c) Jaguar Yokota vs. La Galactica
This match is for the WWWA World Championship, and is a Mask vs. Hair match as well. Yokota won the belt back on February 25th, 1981 against Jackie Sato and was one of AJW’s biggest stars. La Galactica is better known as Pantera Sureña (she actually lost her mask in 1977), and she only wrestled under the name “La Galactica” in AJW. This was one of the biggest matches in her career, not only trying to dethrone Yokota but take her hair as well. She was accompanied to the ring by Monster Ripper, and they had no intentions of making this a fair fight.
After some introductory limb and mat work, business picks up as Galactica gets in control and drags Yokota out of the ring. Galactica throws Yokota into the ring post and the crowd before choking her on the apron and throwing her into the post again. Ripper takes over at that point, throwing Yokota into the stands, and back in the ring Ripper continues to help her friend while Yokota applies a leglock. Figure Four Leglock by Yokota, Ripper runs in but the referee gets her back out before she can do much damage. Hip attacks by Yokota and she hits a double underhook bridging suplex, which brings Ripper back into the ring. Tombstone Piledriver by Yokota, but Galactica is into the ropes. Galactica rolls out of the ring but returns after a moment and Yokota begins to stretch her, backdrop suplex hold by Yokota but Ripper breaks it up. Ripper slams Yokota and pulls her out of the ring, and she begins cutting her hair. Yokota gets away and takes the scissors as she begins to cut at Galactica’s mask, they get back in the ring and Yokota hits a bridging suplex for two. Yokota gets a steel chair and starts hitting anyone with it that walks within range, jumping forearm and a dropkick by Yokota but when she goes for the plancha suicida she completely misses. Ripper gets back in the ring as Galactica gets on the top turnbuckle, Ripper slams Yokota in the ring and Galactica hits a diving senton. Diving body press by Ripper, Galactica covers Yokota and she gets the three count! La Galactica wins the title and Yokota loses her hair!
The next five minutes are intense, as Yokota is incredibly not happy about losing her hair. After fighting Galactica and Ripper she finally sits down and allows her hair to be cut, while glaring at anyone that walks by. This was a big deal at the time, as Yokota very rarely lost and she was one Japan’s most popular female wrestlers. So seeing her hair being cut while she struggled really was a powerful image, leading to a few fans throwing things into the ring. The main issue with this match is that La Galactica is simply not anywhere close to Yokota’s level, so when Yokota was on offense it was great but all Galactica brought to the table with Ripper. It worked in this case for the most part, it kept the atmosphere electric and when Yokota snapped it really put over how out of control the match was. More of a spectacle than a wrestling match, but it was a hell of a spectacle and Yokota was perfect both during the match and in the post-match activities. Recommended
This was a great way to ease a new fan into old school AJW. All four matches are different styles: a rookie-style match, tag match, monster heel match, and then an epic hair vs. mask match. As the matches were at least slightly clipped, nothing on this airing reached the highest level of recommendation, but every match accomplished what it was going for and the main event was a sight to see. Overall a fun show and one worth watching.