AJW Throwback: Classics Episode 2 Review

Still queen.

Unlike episode one of AJW Classics, episode two does not take place over a single show. Instead, it spans most of 1984 as we get matches from April right through to September. Sadly, it features our first retirements, but we also meet some legends that I’m sure you’re heard of and follow on from our previous main event. Are you looking forward to it?

Mimi Hagiwara and Tarantula fought to a time-limit draw in their retirement match (1/4/84)

A rather upsetting part about this period in AJW’s history is the rule which said wrestlers had to retire when they reached the age of 25. It was a decision that led to matches like this one as two stars who could have been entering the prime of their careers were hanging up their boots. Thankfully, they were allowed to end it together, having teamed and faced-off throughout the few short years they had in wrestling.

And they were determined to go out in style. From start to finish this is wild, both women flying around the ring and seemingly beating the shit out of each other. Mimi starts by hoisting Tarantula onto her shoulder before dropping her to the ground. Then, later on, she wrenches on her arms while stamping on her back, driving Tarantula’s face into the mat.

Tarantula isn’t taking it easy either. She also wrestled as Wild Kazuki in her career and was equally fantastic here, showing off some lovely Head Scissors Takedowns and finishing the match with a flurry of Dropkicks. It feels like a classic examples of two friends being perfectly happy to throw everything they have at each other, well aware that no grudges will be held.

Obviously, I don’t know if they were happy to be retiring or not. The ceremony that follows is emotional, neither managing to hold back the tears, but there are smiles too, so perhaps they were ready to step away. However, you can’t help wondering how many more great matches they could have had if they’d been allowed to. It is two people in their primes, hanging up the boots and while that’s not exactly rare in joshi, it’s always sad to see.

Verdict: Brilliant, But Tinged With Sadness

The Crush Gals (Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo) defeated The Dynamite Girls (Jumbo Hori and Yukari Omori) to win the WAAA Tag Team Titles in a Two out of Three Falls match (25/8/84)

I’m going to assume most wrestling fans don’t need to be introduced to Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagoya. The Crush Gals were a big part of what got joshi to the size it was at this point, and if the fans had sounded loud on the matches we’ve seen before, they were on a different level here. It’s safe to say Asuka and Nagoya were a wee bit popular.

This was a big moment for them too as they won the WWWA Tag Titles for the first time, defeating The Dynamite Girls in the process. It’s also a fucking wild match. I’m never quite sure how much has been edited out of these, and it’s possible they did have moments where they stopped charging around the ring, but what we see doesn’t suggest so.

It is a speed that makes the final fall particularly incredible. You get the impression that every move could be the end, be it a flash pin or something bigger. The Dynamite Girls have a couple of close falls, getting within inches of getting the win only for it to be denied to the delight of the fans.

And I don’t think I’ve ever heard a reaction that I can compare to the one when Asuka gets the three, the high-pitched screams of the crowd proving the bulk of the people in attendance are female. They were clearly delighted to see their heroes get the belts and, off the back of this performance, it’s easy to see why.

Verdict: Wild

The Crush Girls (Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagoya) and Gokuaku Domei (Dump Matsumoto and Crane Yu) fought to a no-contest (17/9/84)

Are Crush Gals’ matches like buses? No, not at all, but we did get two in a row, and that was a delight. This one saw them take on their long-term rivals, Dump Matsumoto and Crane Yu, members of Dump’s villainous Gokuaku Domei. It was a feud that was front and centre of AJW at this time, and you can learn nearly everything you need to know about it by watching this match.

For it quickly becomes clear than Crane and Dump are a nasty pairing. They’ve no interest in fighting fair, preferring to brawl on the outside and be rather horrible. They even pull out a chain and a fork, using them to beat and stab the heroes. It’s simple heel-work, but it fucking works, the fans coming unhinged as they torment the Crush Gals.

Asuka and Nagoya are the perfect babyfaces too. They are plucky defiance personified and brilliant wrestlers. Whenever they’re able to take control, that comes to the fore, as they come incredibly close to getting the win. Yu and Dump aren’t better than them, but they are tougher and meaner, and that’s the thing that gives them the edge in this match.

It also leads to everything falling apart, forcing the ref to call for the bell as the Crush Gals snap, trying to match fire with fire. By the end, everyone is involved, whether they were part of the match or not, and it breaks down into a wild brawl. Normally that kind of stuff feels cheap, but they earned it in this one, the bastard heels getting a taste of their own medicine and keeping this feud alive.

Verdict: A War

Jaguar Yokota defeated La Galactica to retain the WAAA Title and win the UWA Women’s Title

We finish our second show with the same match that we finished our first with, although things have changed since then. For one thing, Jaguar got her belt (and her hair) back while La Galactica has picked up the UWA World Women’s Championship in Mexico. It makes this a title vs title match as we blow off the feud.

They earn that blow off feeling too. Jaguar and Galactica nail the story they’re going for, as the gaijin comes in and dominates the opening of the match. She’s been taking lessons from Dump and Crane as she’s properly evil, gnawing on Jaguar’s head and making her bleed as the fans make their disapproval obvious. There is nothing fancy about it, but it works, and it all builds up the moment where things turn in Jaguar’s favour.

Which isn’t to say that moment is fancy. In fact, it’s as simple as it comes with Yokota driving Galactica’s head into two of the ring posts and leaving her a bloody mess. That sets up a final showdown in the centre of the ring, both women staggering around barely able to keep their feet. It’s Jaguar who proves the tougher, though, not only managing to stand but unleash a final flurry of moves that seals her the victory.

Much like in the first match we saw between these two, Galactica is very good at playing the big bad, but Jaguar is the one who stands out. She’s astonishing, and while the blood adds a lot to the final scenes, the way she stands waiting for her opponent is also a huge part of it. Yokota looks like a warrior, barely able to stand, but desperate to see the job done. We’ve got a lot of AJW to watch in the future, but as things stand, it’s going to take someone special for me to place them above Jaguar Yokota in my rankings.

Verdict: My Queen!

Overall Show

We’re two for two on these shows, as AJW delivers big again. Episode two not only followed up with some of the wrestlers from episode one but introduced a few faces that we are going to see a lot of in this series. It’s exciting stuff, and I can’t wait to get into the rest of it.

If you enjoyed this review, please consider contributing to my Ko-fi, even the smallest amount is appreciated.

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