Episode three of AJW Classics has us finish up 1984 and move into January of 1985. It’s also a very Crush Gal focused hour of television, with three of the four matches featuring them. That shouldn’t be surprising as they were massive at this point, so if you’re going to focus on anyone, they’re probably a good choice.
The Crush Gals (Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo) defeated La Galactica and Lola Gonzalez in a Two out of Three Falls Match (6/10/84)
I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the noise these crowds make when The Crush Gals come out. People talk about Austin pops or whatever, but fucking hell. It’s unique.
Our only newbie here was Lola González, a Mexican who did all the big companies there, the NWA and, of course, AJW. Brilliantly, she was still popping into the ring as late as 2018, Cagematch showing she did a trios match towards the end of the year.
Unsurprisingly, this follows the formula that I suspect we’re going to see a lot of with The Crush Gals. The Mexican pairing is heeling it up, even getting a helping hand from Dump and Crane who are at ringside and have no issue with getting their digs in. It’s a solid performance from them, but their job is made easy, every little discretion they make earning the fury of the fans.
Plus, they’re up against a team that is just really fucking good. The Crush Gals have perfected their role, taking their beatings like pros and holding off on their comebacks to the exact right moment. The reason these crowds are as hot as they are is that Asuka and Chigusa are leading them in that direction, drawing on their sympathy and their desperation to see their heroes prevail.
To add to that heat there are moments in this match where things feel like they’re on the verge of losing control as Asuka ends up a bloody mess and fans are throwing stuff at the heels. Normally, this kind of interference heavy shtick would turn me off, but that tension makes it impossible to look away. You get the impression that this is seconds away from becoming a riot and it’s only when The Crush Gals get the three that the tension explodes, an outpouring of relief and delight at their victory.
Fucking hell, I’m not sure my nerves can handle two more of these!
Verdict: Crush Gals Pop!
Itsuki Yamasaki defeated Yumi Ogura to retain the AJW Championship (6/10/84)
Itsuki Yamazaki is one half of the Jumping Bomb Angels, a team that will pop up regularly in our run through AJW history and made a few waves in America too. I can’t find too much about Yumi Ogura, but she seems to have had a solid career, retiring in 1990, so I suspect we’ll see her again too.
Yamazaki is the star of this one something backed up by both her performance and the crowd reaction. She’s got an air of cool, at one point taking her time to return to the ring, stopping for a casual drink as she’s seemingly unfazed by the action by Ogura.
It’s also a dominant performance, not quite a squash, but not far off it as Yamazaki retains her title easily. There wasn’t much to it, but it feels like a nice primer for what’s to come.
Verdict: Short And Simple
The Crush Gals (Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo) fought Dump Matsumato and Rosy Moreno to a draw in a Two out of Three Falls Match (5/1/85)
Rossy Moreno is another luchador, with Luchawiki (so, perhaps take it with a pinch of salt) proclaiming her one of the greatest of all time. Here, she’s the latest villainous foreigner to work alongside Dump in the hopes of bringing down The Crush Gals.
Like the first match, this was a wild brawl, with the added joys of a heel referee. Unlike that one, I don’t think it managed to maintain its structure while working that style. It was too all over the place and confused, the ref’s antics meaning we didn’t get anything even approaching normalcy. Throw in a Two out of Three Falls match ending in a draw after a double countout, and it’s hard to love it.
On the other side of the coin, it continues to work for the fans. We’ve moved into 1985, but Crush Gal mania is alive and well, as they screamed themselves hoarse. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever hate one of these matches because I’m just in awe of the passion they generate. It’s incredible, transforming something that I might have shit upon in normal circumstances and merely making it a bit of a mess instead.
The Crush Gals (Chigusa Nagoya and Lioness Asuka) defeated The Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki) in a Two out of Three Falls Match to retain the WWWA Tag Titles (6/1/85)
Told you the Jumping Bomb Angels were going to start popping up. This is a very different match for The Crush Gals, as for the first time on AJW Classics they’re not being dragged into a violent brawl. Instead, we got a more traditional set-up with both teams proving to be popular with the crowd.
Unfortunately, it’s a match that suffers in a couple of critical areas. The first isn’t the wrestlers’ fault, as it seems to have been given a substantial trim. That’s not uncommon on AJW Classics, it’s only an hour-long, but it’s the first time I’ve felt like it hurts the match. We never quite settle into a rhythm, bouncing around the place and missing vital chunks of the action.
The second problem comes from the Jumping Bomb Angels not quite being on the same page yet. We’re still early in their run as a team, and there are a few awkward moments between them where what they’re going for doesn’t quite come off. It stands out all the more in there with The Crush Gals, who are as smooth as you’re going to get.
All of which isn’t to say it’s bad because it’s not. It’s just not perhaps what you’d expect from two legendary teams. For the few minutes it was on, I had a nice time as they worked a fast-paced match in front of that wild crowd, but I doubt I’ll remember it when we come to the end of this run through AJW’s history.
Verdict: Good, But Not Great
That’s probably the weakest episode of AJW Classics so far, but if that’s it at its worst, I reckon we’ll be alright. It was still a load of fun, flashing by in a blur of frantic action and ridiculously loud crowds.