There is a theme to episode five of AJW Classics. All three of these matches took place in April of 1985 during the Fuji Cup and all three feature tag team partners facing off. We’ve got Dynamite Girls, Gokuaku Domei and Crush Gals imploding! Okay, maybe only one of these matches falls into the imploding category, but there is definitely some violence.
Jumbo Hori defeated Yukari Omori (2/4/85)
For the first few minutes of this, it looked like we were going to have a fast-paced, but friendly battle. Then, Omori got Jumbo up on her shoulder, bouncing up and down to torture her back. Seconds later, she was ripping at Jumbo’s outfit, drawing attention to the bandages that were already wrapped around said back and which, you’ve got to presume, her friend and partner, knew all about.
From there, the physicality of this one began to ramp up. Yukari was determined to wreck Hori, and in return, Jumbo started to attack her leg. It was two people who know each other almost too well, focusing in on the injuries that a life on the road brings with it.
Towards the end, there was a moment of awkwardness, Yukari struggling as she clambered to the top, but it was nothing major and would have played into the leg injury if not for Jumbo having to stutter on the spot awkwardly as she recovered. The finishing sequence made up for it, though. Hori hitting a beautiful stalling Piledriver before dumping her partner with a Backdrop Suplex which had Yukari go so far over that the following bridge was useless because she’d landed on her head, not her shoulders. Thankfully, the German that followed was more effective.
This is what I want a battle between tag partners to be. These two started clean, but eventually threw that to the wind, giving off the impression that they were working out their frustrations through violence. How can you not love that?
Dump Matsumoto beat the shit out of Crane Yu until the bell rang, who knows what the official result was (26/4/85)
There was trouble in paradise for Dump and Crane at this point in 1985. They’d lost the tag titles not long before, and with a young Bull Nakano now part of the unit, Crane’s position as Dump’s number two was in jeopardy. It was certainly made clear very quickly that their friendship wouldn’t save Crane from Gokuaku Domei’s usual antics, Bull getting involved at every opportunity and Dump choking her partner at ringside.
If the last match turned into an unleashing of frustrations, this became a bloody message. Dump beats the shit out of Crane, stabbing her with a fork and leaving her face stained red. The violence becomes so intense that the fans move into Crane’s corner, screaming her on as she gets her moments of defiance. There is no doubt about who is in the ascendency here, but she refuses to go down without a fight, giving everything she can as Dump’s tactics overwhelm her.
In the end, the bell is called for although I couldn’t figure out whether it was a DQ, a double-countout or just the ref deciding enough was enough. Whatever it was, it left both unhappy, and Crane had to be dragged away afterwards. Not long after, she’d retire, making this match the moment the role of number two passed from her to Bull. If that was its goal, it’s one it achieved perfectly.
Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo to a time limit draw (6/4/85)
I was intrigued as to who the fans would favour in this match, but that turned out to be irrelevant. They dealt with the question of who to cheer by keeping up the screaming for the entire thing.
The opening was grappling heavy, but it was fucking intense. There was a real snap to it, the kind of grappling that feels like a fight and both women grabbed opportunities to rain kicks down on their partner, forcing them to curl up and avoid the blows. They would prove inseparable, neither Crush Gal able to get and maintain an advantage.
That’s a fact that would become the story of this match because when they got off the mat not much changed. The only difference was that rather than grappling, they were suddenly dropping each other with suplexes and Piledrivers. It was quite the switch, and felt a little bit forced, but it was still great fun. Plus, with the crowd screaming for every moment, it’s hard not to get hooked on the action.
Ultimately, though, they remain inseparable. As the time ticks away, they start trading wild kicks before desperately trying for flash pins, but neither was able to force through to the three. They remained locked together indefinitely, partners with barely an inch between them, but both brilliant in their own right. Incredibly, the post-match hug only served to make the fans scream louder.
Verdict: Tied Together
Three very different matches, all of which had, at their root, the same seed. Tag team partners facing off is a wrestling story that will never grow old, and this show proved why. It’s great.