Welcome to another 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.
AJW Retro Hour Classics #3 features lots of Crush Gals goodness and two matches for the WWWA Tag Team Championship. Here is the full listing:
10/6/84 – WWWA World Tag Team Championship: Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo (Crush Gals) vs La Galactica and Lola Gonzalez
10/6/84 – All Japan Women’s Championship: Itsuki Yamazaki vs Yumi Ogura
1/5/85 – Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo (Crush Gals) vs Dump Matsumoto and Rosy Moreno
1/6/85 – WWWA World Tag Team Championship: Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo (Crush Gals) vs. Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki (Jumping Bomb Angels)
Let’s get rocking.
Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo (Crush Gals) vs La Galactica and Lola Gonzalez
This match is for the WWWA World Tag Team Championship and is a Two out of Three Falls Match. As I am sure most fans of wrestling are aware, the Crush Gals were one of the most popular tag teams of the 1980s in Japan, becoming pop stars on top of being fantastic wrestlers. Galactica had previously held the WWWA World Championship in AJW and was no slouch, and her tag team partner also hails from Mexico with two UWA World Women’s Champions reigns at the time of the match.
The Luchadoras attack as soon as the bell rings, and Gonzalez stays in the ring with Nagayo. This clipped ahead a bit as Nagayo is already getting beaten around the ring by both Galactica and Gonzalez, diving leg drop by Galactica and she applies a headscissors until Nagayo gets into the ropes. Dump and Yu are at ringside and help attack the Crush Gals, as the match breaks down to a significant degree. Asuka helps turn the tide, they return to the ring and Galactica is double teamed. Asuka suplexes Galactica, Nagayo is tagged in and after fighting through Gonzalez she suplexes Galactica, covering her for a three count! The Crush Gals lead the match 1-0. Nagayo goes right back at Galactica but Galactica claws her in the eyes before bringing her to the ropes so that Yu and Dump can help again. Dump ends up coming in the ring to beat Nagayo with a metal rod as the referee has lost control in typical fashion, but Nagayo gets Gonzalez up and hits a tombstone piledriver for a two count. Nagayo tags in Asuka and Asuka hits a diving elbow drop. Scorpion Deathlock by Asuka while Nagayo puts Galactica in a crab hold, but Dump and Yu run in the ring to cause carnage.
Nagayo is dumped out of the ring, Galactica picks up Asuka but Asuka fights off everyone while Nagayo recovers. Asuka goes for a diving lariat but hits Nagayo by accident, the Luchadoras slam Nagayo to the mat and hit a double vertical suplex. Avalanche belly to back slam, cover by Galactica and she gets the three count! The match is tied 1-1. Nagayo and Galactica stay in, but Nagayo gets away and tags Asuka. Piledriver by Asuka, Nagayo goes up top and hits a diving headbutt. Asuka is attacked by both her opponents and the ringside wrestlers while Nagayo is isolated in the ring, the Luchadoras put Nagayo in a submission hold but Nagayo doesn’t submit, so they go and get Asuka. Asuka is bleeding everywhere after being hit with scissors repeatedly, objects are being thrown in the ring as the match further breaks down. Other AJW wrestlers try to help and the ring somehow clears, Asuka tags in Nagayo and they take Gonzalez out of the ring so they can throw her into the ring post. They return to the ring with Gonzalez, punches by Nagayo and she applies the Scorpion Deathlock. Gonzalez gets out of it and goes for a move off the top, but Nagayo rolls out of the way and hits the heel kick. Another heel kick by Nagayo and Asuka runs in to give Gonzalez the giant swing. Full rotation backdrop suplex by Asuka, she covers Gonzalez and she gets the three count! The Crush Gals are still your champions.
My feelings like matches like these, watching them 30 years after they happened, are probably different from how they were viewed at the time. After watching years of nWo, whatever stable HHH is running, etc. I tend to not like matches as much that have constant outside interference. Within the context of this match it worked, the Crush Gals were fan favorites of an epic proportion and the cheating just made the crowd hate the gaijins even more, if that was possible. Then they won in the end so everyone went home happy. I enjoyed it, but just looking back at it from the current day I would have enjoyed it more with less blatant outside interference and constant interruptions in the action. Mildly Recommended
(c) Itsuki Yamazaki vs Yumi Ogura
This match is for the AJW Championship. The AJW Championship was actually the secondary title, not the primary title, even though it is the title that originated in the promotion and is named after it. Yamazaki won the title from Lioness Asuka on February 28th, 1984 against Noriyo Tateno, but she is probably better known by most as one half of the Jumping Bomb Angels. Ogura debuted in 1983 and up to this point had not won any titles, and wrestled much later as Hyper Cat.
Yamazaki is not the hand shaking type and they get right to the point, Ogura goes for a roll-up but Yamazaki catches her arm and applies an armbar. Back up, hard elbows by Yamazaki and she applies a bodyscissors, but Ogura gets out of it and throws her to the mat. Jumping Knee by Yamazaki and she delivers a dropkick for a two count. Armdrags by Yamazaki but Ogura knees her in the midsection and hits a scoop slam. Ogura takes Yamazaki out of the ring and throws her into the chairs before returning to the ring. Yamazaki joins her and hits a dropkick followed by a scoop slam. Yamazaki gets on the second turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick, double arm overhead suplex by Yamazaki and she gets the three count! Yamazaki is still the champion.
This match was basic, I mean really basic. Even Ogura taking Yamazaki outside of the ring felt forced and only lasted about 20 seconds before the match went back to dropkicks and scoop slams. Really not much to it, Yamazaki as a champion (and a three year pro) should have been capable of doing a bit more to make the match seem more like an important title match. Limited redeemable traits, besides that Yamazaki is extremely adorable.
Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo (Crush Gals) vs Dump Matsumoto and Rosy Moreno
This is a Two out of Three Falls Match. If the match from two months prior I just watched is any indication, this will be a bit of a brawl. The Crush Gals we discussed earlier, Matsumoto was the leader in the monster heel stable Gokuaku Domei and was the most hated wrestler in AJW. I couldn’t find much on Moreno except that she is a luchadora and clearly evil since she is teaming with Matsumoto. They appear to have a heel referee or just an extra incompetent one, just to annoy me.
As predicted just moments ago, this match is a brawl from the start as Matsumoto gets a kendo stick and starts whacking both Asuka and Nagayo with it. Asuka gets a strap and fights back with it, but the referee takes it away and Moreno knocks Asuka to the mat. Matsumoto comes in with the kendo stick and hits both Crush Gals with it, Crane Yu comes in the ring and helps Matsumoto with Nagayo. Nagayo hits a heel kick and covers Matsumoto, but the referee doesn’t count it and Nagayo is pulled out of the ring. This process continues as I am sitting here not amused. Nagayo does occasionally get in some moves as the crowd roars, but before long she is cut off by Matsumoto or another random wrestler from ringside.
Things suddenly turn normal for about a minute as Asuka hits Moreno with a diving elbow drop, diving headbutt by Nagayo and the referee counts to three! The Crush Gals are up 1-0. Matsumoto comes in with Nagayo, headbutts by Matsumoto and she hits a lariat followed by a piledriver. Another lariat by Matsumoto and she covers Nagayo for the three count! The score is now tied 1-1. Things get odd as they have a long discussion about something I am not aware of, but soon Matsumoto takes Asuka out of the ring with her and beats her on the floor. Back in the ring, Asuka drops Moreno with a giant swing and covers her for two. Nagayo comes in and dives out of the ring onto Matsumoto, where they grapple into the stands. Asuka goes out with Moreno too, the referee starts the count and counts out both teams, even though Asuka insists she made it back in time. I am guessing the match is a Double Countout.
So I didn’t like this. I don’t like heel referees, I don’t like lots of outside interference in matches, and I don’t like bullshit endings. I like the wrestlers, and the maybe two or three minutes of normal action was all fine as there was a lot of talent in the ring, but the constant stops and restarts just took me out of it. There would be many good Crush Gals vs. Gokuaku Domei matches, this wasn’t one of them.
(c) Asuka and Nagayo (Crush Gals) vs. Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki (Jumping Bomb Angels)
This match is for the WWWA World Tag Team Championship and is a Two out of Three Falls Match. This will be a nice change of pace from everything else on this airing, as these two will have more of a traditional match. The Crush Gals are well established at this point as being crazy popular and awesome, but this is pretty early in the Jumping Bomb Angel’s successful run as this is the earliest record I could find of them having a title challenge together. Yamazaki is still the AJW Champion at this point (a title she actually won from Tateno) but she is looking here to add another title to her waist.
The crowd is hot for this match and appear to like both teams, although obviously they prefer the Crush Gals. Yamazaki and Nagayo start fast but don’t accomplish much before they both tag out. We clip ahead to Asuka throwing Yamazaki around the ring before Nagayo hits a kneedrop off the top turnbuckle. Yamazaki fires back with a crossbody but Asuka hits a lariat off the top turnbuckle before slamming her in front of the corner. Yamazaki avoids the diving headbutt by Nagayo however, she kicks Nagayo out of the ring before sailing out onto her with a springboard plancha. Back in, Tateno catapults Yamazaki onto Nagayo, suplex by Yamazaki and she plants Nagayo with a piledriver for the three count! The Jumping Bomb Angels are up 1-0. We re-start with Nagayo and Yamazaki still in the ring, but Nagayo tags in Asuka who promptly suplexes Yamazaki. Tateno is tagged in and she hits a diving kneedrop, but Asuka drops her with a backdrop suplex as well. Club to the chest by Asuka and with Nagayo they hit an assisted diving elbow out of the corner. Heel kick by Nagayo on Tateno, she picks her up and nails a piledriver but Yamazaki breaks up the cover.
Missile dropkick by Asuka and she gives Tateno the giant swing for another two count. Asuka puts Tateno on the top turnbuckle and hits an avalanche backdrop suplex, and she picks up the three count! The score is tied 1-1. Time for the final fall, with both Crush Gals hitting suplexes on their opponents. The action spills to the floor, but the Crush Gals return to the ring and wait for their opponents. The Jumping Bomb Angels sneak in double sunset flips for a two count before throwing the Crush Gals into each other. Missile dropkick by Yamazaki to Asuka, but Asuka bridges out of the pin. Tateno goes up top but the missile dropkick misses, Asuka picks up Yamazaki and with Nagayo they hit a spike piledriver for a two count. Asuka tags Nagayo but Yamazaki throws her to the mat before hitting a suplex. Nagayo hits a quick enzuigiri, package German suplex by Nagayo to Yamazaki and she gets the three count! The Crush Gals retain the championship.
This unfortunately was not as good as I was hoping. The Jumping Bomb Angels had not completely gelled at this point as there were a few issues on that side of the ring, and the clipping didn’t do this match any favors as it made the already shady transitions seem even worse. When the Crush Gals were on offense the match was on point, as they were two of the better wrestlers in AJW at this point, but as a whole it was a step down from most of their ‘normal’ tag matches I have seen. Some good stuff sprinkled throughout, but too lacking in key areas to be a memorable encounter. Mildly Recommended
This is the first Classics event I have reviewed that I would consider a bit of a disappointment. Part of that is not AJW's fault, as a wrestling fan I am completely over heel stables that use outside interference and shady referees to win matches, and two of the four matches here had elements of that. I do like Gokuaku Domei and the crowd was really into what they were doing, but these matches had just a bit too much of that style of wrestling. The lone singles match was just really basic, what you'd expect from an opener, and the last match had some good parts but was too clipped and disjointed. Nothing here needs to be sought out as all of these wrestlers have had better matches against each other at other times. But stay tuned for next week, when we get to see a young Bull Nakano and more Crush Gals vs. Gokuaku Domei insanity.