Time for another trip down memory lane. Well, not my personal memory lane, I was not alive when these matches happened. History lane! Shut up, Stuart, talk about the wrestling.
The Crush Gals (Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo) fought Gokuaku Domei (Dump Matsumoto and Crane Yu) to a no-contest in a two out of three falls match, leading to the WWWA Tag Titles being relinquished (2/4/85)
Let’s throw a bit of confusion into the mix, shall we? Match one of episode six of AJW Classics happened before the matches on five. In fact, this is essentially the catalyst for Dump’s destruction of Crane on that show as Gokuaku Domei were forced to relinquish their titles.
It’s also been giving a substantial trim, putting it down to around eight minutes and skipping large parts of the action. That makes it hard to review, but what we see is what you’d expect. These teams have a formula, The Crush Gals playing the defiant babyfaces and Gokuaku Domei the bastard heels. It’s not complex, but it works.
More importantly, this was the start of Crane’s time in Gokuaku Domei coming to an end. There are a couple of key moments where she messes up, standing on the apron and having Dump crash into her for example. Said mistakes might have been forgivable once upon a time, but with a young Bull Nakano already in prime position to replace her, they would prove disastrous for poor Crane.
Chaos eventually breaks out, leading to the ref calling for the bell and the titles being relinquished. Of course, this feud was far from over as the fighting continued long after the ref had thrown it out. In fact, we’ll see the rematch that this outcome made inevitable very soon.
Verdict: More Story Than Action
The Crush Gals (Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo) defeated Lola Gonzalez and Rosa Maria in a two out of three falls match (12/5/85)
We’re flying halfway across the world for matches two and three as AJW come to Arena Mexico. For The Crush Gals, that meant they were separated from their adoring fans, although as their opponents attacked them during their entrance, things weren’t too different.
That lead to the weird set-up of the home town team playing the heels. It might partly explain the rather muted crowd, although they do seem to favour The Crush Gals when they make some noise. Sadly, it’s also nothing special as a match as it’s been clipped down and all comes across a bit disjointed.
On paper there isn’t much wrong with it, all the things we’ve come to expect from them are there as Chigusa even ends up bloody and brawling on the outside, but the recipe is slightly off. Whether it’s the lack of those wild fans or maybe lousy editing, I was left feeling wholly unsatisfied. If you’re picking one Crush Gal match to watch, don’t make it this one.
Jaguar Yakota defeated Pantera Surena to retain the WWWA Title
Surena is not a new wrestler to us, but an unmasked La Galactica. That means this is a continuation of the feud we’ve already seen take place in Japan.
Unfortunately, the change of location apparently sucked the fire out of their war. It had faced the shears, but I’m not sure that explains the flatness of some key moments. Watch Jaguar levelling up the scores with a Figure Four and the way that Surena submits, talking to the ref as if she’s ordering a milkshake. It took me rewinding it to realise that she had indeed given up.
That heat does flood into the match for the home stretch, a Surena Tombstone reversal suddenly seeming to wake everyone up and leading to a cool final few seconds. However, too much of this felt like two people going through the motions.
The Crush Gals (ChigThe Crush Gals (Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo) defeated Gokuaku Domei (Dump Matsumoto and Bull Nakano) to win the WWWA Tag Titles (16/5/85)
Told you we’d be getting to that rematch soon and any heat that was missing for the last match was turned up to eleven here. It’s Crush Gals vs Gokuaku Domei once more, but with Bull Nakano rather than Crane Yu. The twist? Domei’s heel ref Shiro Abe is out and in his place is Yu, the woman Dump left a bloody mess when she removed her from the faction.
Not that Crane has much success keeping control. There is a moment in this match when Bull Nakano is twirling nunchucks around, so Chigusa wanders off to grab a chair to combat it. Poor Crane can only shrug her shoulders and accept it’s happening. Or at least that’s what she can do when she’s not being beaten up herself as both Dump and Abe grab every chance to go after her.
Meanwhile, the action is what we’ve come to expect from these teams, a wild brawl fuelled by a rabid crowd. I love it, as there is a brilliant sense of uncontrolled chaos about it, bodies tumbling across the ring as everyone and their dog gets involved. It’s a style that is often badly done, but these four have mastered it – the confusion working to make you scream all the louder for the Crush Gals.
It also features an incredible finish. Crane, who just a month before was unceremoniously destroyed by her former friends, dragging herself under the bottom rope, Dump hanging off her but unable to prevent her from counting the three, handing the belts to The Crush Gals and metaphorically spitting in the eye of her former boss. She gets a kicking for it, but it’s a job well done.
Verdict: Now That Was Exciting
Honestly, this was a bit of a one-match show and, unless you’re a completionist, I’d skip to the main event. Thankfully, it’s a hell of a main event as we get something approaching a pay-off from the months-long battle between the Crush Gals and Dump’s army. That’s one you won’t want to miss.