AJW Classics #7: Jaguar Yokota vs. Lioness Asuka!

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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 #7 features Chigusa Nagayo and Lioness Asuka both going for singles gold! I know it has been awhile, so feel free to go back and read Classics #6 to catch-up. Much of the shows I have reviewed thus far have focused on the Crush Gals as a team, however here we will see them in singles action as they both aspire for their own championships as well. Don’t worry, we still have Gokuaku Domei matches also, as Bull Nakano and Dump Matsumoto team up. All four of these matches took place on August 22nd, 1985 at Tokyo Nippon Budokan. Here is the full listing:

  • Monster Ripper vs. Yukari Omori
  • Dump Matsumoto and Bull Nakano vs. Itsuki Yamazaki and Noriyo Tateno
  • All Pacific Championship: Devil Masami vs. Chigusa Nagayo
  • WWWA World Singles Championship: Jaguar Yokota vs. Lioness Asuka

There is a ton of potential here so I hope the bigger matches aren’t too clipped. Let’s see how it goes.

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Monster Ripper vs. Yukari Omori

We start off the show with something really simple – big heel gaijin vs. popular babyface. This is obviously not a new concept but has worked well in wrestling for 75 years so if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Monster Ripper was still pretty green at this point but was able to brawl quite well, she may be better known to American fans as Bertha Faye in WWF or Rhonda Singh in Stampede Wrestling. Yukari Omori is one half of the popular tag team Dynamite Girls, a step below the Crush Gals but still a good foil for the evil Gokuaku Domei.

ajw7-1Omori attacks Monster Ripper off the start but Monster Ripper immediately regains the advantage and throws down Omori by her hair. Omori gets Monster Ripper to the mat but Monster Ripper hits her in the throat and hits a scoop slam for a two count. Omori trips Monster Ripper and applies a crab hold, but Monster Ripper gets to the ropes to force a break. Monster Ripper takes down Omori and hits her in the throat again, lariat by Monster Ripper and she hits a second one, she goes for a third but Omori ducks it and hits a crossbody. Bodyscissors by Omori but Monster Ripper slams out of it and hits a jumping senton, body press by Ripper and she holds down Omori for the three count! Monster Ripper wins.

This was pretty basic, Monster Ripper was still young in her career and adapting to the style, and Omori alone isn’t skilled enough to carry a match by herself. I imagine it was probably clipped also but that wouldn’t have really mattered since it would have been more of the same. For ranking purposes this helped put over Monster Ripper as a dominate force, but not a very good match.

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Dump Matsumoto and Bull Nakano vs. Itsuki Yamazaki and Noriyo Tateno

Things now pick up a bit, as we have Gokuaku Domei vs. The Jumping Bomb Angels! The Jumping Bomb Angels are well known by American fans due to their run in the WWF in the mid 1980s, but they were stars in AJW as well. This was a bit early in their run as a tag team as they had no titles under their belt at this point, however their status in the promotion was growing. Dump Matsumoto was the evil leader of the Gokuaku Domei, and young Bull Nakano was her second in command.

ajw7-2If you thought this would be a calm and slow paced match, you must not watch much Gokuaku Domei much as they immediately took the action to the floor as they hit the Jumping Bomb Angels with anything they could find. Back in the ring, Matsomoto throws Tateno around by her chair. Yamazaki then gets her turn as Matsumoto chokes her with a chain, Matsumoto then throws down Yamazaki with the chain just so she can keep choking her. As if she needed it, Matsumoto gets help from other Gokuaku Domei members before they go back to the floor again so Matsumoto can find new things to choke Yamazaki with. A table is brought into the ring, but the Jumping Bomb Angels kick the table into Matsumoto and Nakano. They roll out of the ring and briefly Yamazaki and Tateno get the advantage, but again Matsumoto and Nakano take back over. They get back in the ring and Matsumoto lariats Yamazaki, she slams her in front of the corner but Yamazaki avoids Nakano’s diving leg drop. Crossbody by Yamazaki to Nakano, but it only gets a two. Matsumoto gets back in the ring with her paint can and hits Yamazaki in the head with it, body block by Matsumoto and she hits a body press. Matsumoto hits a Samoan Drop on Yamazaki and she then hits a backdrop suplex, but Yamazaki bridges out of the pin. Nakano gets on the top rope to help Matsumoto hit a spike piledriver, and finally Yamazaki stays down for the three count. Gokuaku Domei win!

It seems odd looking back, seeing The Jumping Bomb Angels basically squashed here (at least what they decided to air). At the time though, Gokuaku Domei was just running through everyone so no disrespect was intended, Yamazaki and Tateno just weren’t on their level. I liked the carnage but it was too clipped to get too excited about, even though young Nakano is always a sight to see.

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(c) Devil Masami vs. Chigusa Nagayo

This match is for the All Pacific Championship. The All Pacific Championship was the second tier singles title in AJW, however it did still hold quite a bit of prestige. Coming into the match, the 20 year old Nagayo was incredibly popular as half of the Crush Gals but was still proving herself in singles action in the heavyweight division. Masami was never one that was concerned with crowd support, while she was not in Gokuaku Domei she was no fan favorite, and she had a particularly straight forward and brutal method of putting away opponents. This was a big match in Nagayo’s career as she tried to show she was more than just a Crush Gal.

ajw7-3The crowd is so amped for this match, even during the initial lock-up they are cheering loudly for Nagayo. Nagayo hits the first big move of the match with a quick German suplex, she picks up Masami and she hits a dragon suplex hold for a two count. Irish whip by Nagayo and she hits a heel kick, Scorpion Deathlock by Nagayo but Masami crawls to the ropes and gets the break. Masami rolls out of the ring but Nagayo sizes up the situation and sails out onto Masami with a tope suicida. Masami returns to the ring after a moment but brings a metal pole with her, she drops it before using it however, hard punch by Masami and Nagayo crumbles in the ropes. Jumping back kick by Nagayo and she hits a tombstone piledriver, but Masami bridges out of the pin. Masami recovers and gets Nagayo on her shoulders before hitting an electric chair slam, rolling senton by Masami and she covers Nagayo for two. Nagayo avoids Masami’s next charge and hits a high kick, single arm suplex with a bridge by Nagayo but Masami kicks out. Hard punches by Masami, she just brutally punches Nagayo right in the face repeatedly, Nagayo then connects with three high kicks which sends Masami to the mat. Exhausted, Nagayo collapses as well and tries to use the ropes to get back on her feet, but neither wrestler can make the referee’s 10 Count. The match is a Draw and Masami retains the championship.

I have to give a disclaimer – this match went over 30 minutes and the full match is available, but this Classics series only showed the match in clipped form. So they suddenly went from trading shots to being really exhausted, which is what happens when 25 minutes of a match is cut out. Anyway, even in condensed form this was so much fun. The crowd is just beyond electric for Nagayo, I know the “Japanese fans are quiet” myth has been well debunked but the cheers for Nagayo went beyond what even I expected. Masami is so vicious here, her punches are extremely snug (to put it lightly) and nothing was held back. As it was shown it is still worth watching, but I do need to track down the full match as it may have been one of the best of the year.  Mildly Recommended (strictly due to the clipping)

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(c) Jaguar Yokota vs. Lioness Asuka

This match is for the WWWA World Singles Championship. In the summer of 1985, as popular as the Crush Gals were, it was Yokota that was the top wrestler. Yokota was notoriously tough and difficult to beat, with her only notable singles loss in the years prior being to La Galactica on May 7th, 1983. Lioness Asuka was half of the Crush Gals, perhaps not quite as popular as Nagayo but still easily the crowd favorite. This was the main event of the massive Tokyo Nippon Budokan event, and neither were going to hold back. The match is shown virtually unclipped, so unlike the last match we will be able to enjoy it as it was intended.

They get right into it with a fast sequence with snapmares and bridges until Asuka plants Yokota with a back kick. Asuka rolls up Yokota with no luck and after both try to get an advantage they square off face to face again. They go to the mat with Yokota working over Asuka’s leg, but Asuka gets out of the hold and hits a hurricanrana. Chop by Asuka and she hits a high kick before slamming Yokota to the mat. Yokota gets back and control and returns to targeting Asuka’s leg, Asuka gets into the ropes to temporarily get a break but Yokota puts her in a kneelock. Hip attack by Yokota and she puts Asuka in an Octopus Hold, but Asuka gets out of it. Yokota puts Asuka in the figure four leglock, but Asuka reverses it and puts the pressure onto Yokota’s leg. They end up in the ropes, Asuka stomps on Yokota’s leg and drops a few knees on it as Yokota writhes in pain. High kick by Asuka and she puts Yokota in a kneelock until Yokota inches to the ropes to force a break.

ajw7-4Asuka picks up Yokota and hits a delayed vertical suplex, but Yokota eventually has enough and gives Asuka a hard dropkick. Double underhook piledriver by Yokota, but Asuka bridges out of the pin. She goes for a tombstone but Asuka reverses it into a sit-down tombstone piledriver of her own. Kicks by Asuka, she gets Yokota on her shoulders and hits the airplane spin before tossing Yokota to the mat. Giant Swing by Asuka, she picks up Yokota in a suplex position but then dumps her over the top rope to the floor. Asuka goes for a tope suicida, but Yokota sidesteps her and Asuka crashes to the mat. Asuka still recovers first and hits a slingshot suplex, she picks up Yokota and hits a German suplex hold for a two count. Yokota ducks Asuka’s chop and hits a cross-arm suplex hold, picking up her own two. Yokota puts Asuka on the top turnbuckle, she picks her up in a suplex position and flings her to the mat. Asuka then dives off but Yokota moves, leg trap backdrop suplex hold by Yokota and she gets the three count! Yokota retains the WWWA World Singles Championship!

I am really glad they showed us this in full as it gave a much better picture than if they had just skipped to the high spots. Some would argue the leg work meant nothing but as I watched it, it more felt like it just wasn’t effective. Just as Yokota was getting good in Asuka’s leg, Asuka reversed the tide and worked on Yokota’s leg, so neither really worked on the leg long enough for it to be a major factor. Some of the the moves were just brutal, Asuka threw Yokota out of the ring with no semblance of concern for her health, and she tried to kill Yokota with a running K-Driller. Still though, the Ace of AJW found a way to win by capitalizing on one of Asuka’s few mistakes. Just a great match that would be exciting if it was held today, which is something you can’t say about a lot of wrestling from the mid-1980s. A must see.  Highly Recommended