Episode seven of AJW Classics is all from the same show, and it’s a biggy. This was AJW’s Summer Night Festival in Budokan, an event that features at least two legendary matches. It went down on the 22nd of August 1985 and it’s time for us to dive in.
Monster Ripper defeated Jumbo Omori
Omori had no interest in slugging it out with Monster Ripper (which, if I haven’t mentioned, is a ridiculously cool/cheesy name). The bell had barely rung when she flew across the ring, throwing Dropkicks desperately in an attempt to end this as quickly as possible. Unfortunately for her, Ripper survived.
That led to a match clearly designed to establish Ripper as a dominant heel, but because of clipping, it ends up feeling a bit like we’ve been short-changed. They are settling into their groove, about to give us something interesting when bam, there is your finish.
Still, Ripper looked like a tough brawler and putting a beating on a popular babyface will always make you look good, so it achieved what it wanted. It’s just a shame the match we got is rather skippable.
Gokuaku Domei (Dump Matsumoto and Bull Nakano) defeated Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno & Itsuki Yamasaki)
ACAB, but you can’t deny that Bull and Dump’s police-inspired gear is pretty cool. Plus, they’re the villainous bastards, so it’s accurate.
They were living up to that title too, as this match took the formula they’d been working with The Crush Gals and brought it over to the Jumping Bomb Angels. It ain’t complicated, but it fucking works, and the fans were more than happy to accept Noriyo and Itsuki as their heroes.
Despite the fans enthusiastic support, what we saw of this was little more than a squash. Dump and Bull were presented as utter badasses (which they are), blasting through the Angels and picking up the victory. It meant this was basically an upgraded version of the opener, a match that was aiming for a goal rather than for incredible in-ring action (although it is still a hell of a lot of fun to watch).
Verdict: Job Done
Devil Masami and Chigusa Nagayo fought to a draw, so Devil Masami retained the IWA Championship
Chigusa climbing the turnbuckle to stare down at Masami as she made her entrance was awesome. She is stone-faced at the start of this, not even flinching when they exchange slaps before the bell.
And there is a feeling that Chigusa is trying to prove herself here. We all know she’s tough as fuck, but at this point, she was still primarily known as a tag-team wrestler (although a particularly beloved one). This was her chance to prove that she was just as powerful by herself as she was with Lioness Asuka by her side.
She goes all out to show it too, twisting out of an early lock-up to hit a German. There is a sense of controlled brutality to her wrestling as she goes big, fast, showing Devil that she can beat her at any second. Everything she does feels planned as if she’d walked into that ring with every move mapped out in her mind.
Unfortunately, this has been clipped for time. Fortunately, you can find the rest online if you want to. In this form, it leaps from the early going to the late, making the sight of the two of them staggering around, wildly swinging feel a bit jarring. However, it doesn’t take away from how exciting it is. The fans are rabid, and it feels like two big heavyweight fighters, both dead on their feet, but refusing to go down. There’s a tangible sense that either one could get the win at any second.
Of course, neither does. Three incredible kicks from Nagayo send Masami to the ground, but she’s unable to follow-up, her legs collapsing underneath her and the ref’s ten-count sending this to a draw. It’s a hell of a battle before we get there, though, and well worth your time in either form.
In the aftermath, both women were emotional and barely able to stand which, again, felt a bit strange after the shortened version of the match we saw. I do highly recommend checking out the full thing, it takes a bit of digging, but it’s out there.
Jaguar Yokoto defeated Lioness Asuka to retain the WWWA World Title
With her partner falling just short before her, it was now Lioness Asuka’s turn to go for a belt. Across from here, was the Ace, Jaguar Yokota, someone who through the course of watching these old shows is becoming one of my favourite wrestlers.
This battle is iconic, holding the dubious honour of being the first AJW match to receive five-stars from Dave Meltzer. It also takes place in front of a rabid crowd, a point I’m not even sure I need to make any more, but is worth bringing up just in case anyone forgets.
It’s a hell of a fight two, these two being separated by a hair’s breadth for the vast majority of it. Early on, Yokota slows Asuka down by going after her leg. It’s a sound strategy, but one that is quickly cut-off when Asuka decides to do the same straight back to her. Any advantage that is gained is quickly negated, neither one of them able to pull away.
Which leads to one hell of a closing stretch as this match gets downright dangerous. Asuka hits a Running Piledriver that looks like it should have killed Yokota before later launching her out of the ring and following up with a terrifying dive. Each of those moves looks like it should be the end, but this is Jaguar Yokota, and it’s going to take more than that to keep her down.
As is so often the case, it’s a single mistake that turns things. You’d think tossing someone from the top rope with a Front Suplex would leave them safe to Splash, but Yokota sees it as an opening, rolling out of the way of Asuka and grabbing her chance. A Leg-Trap Backdrop Suplex has the Ace survive, and damn, it’s one hell of a match.
Despite that, it’s not perfect. The selling is inconsistent, to say the least, but it’s one of those matches that blasts through that with pure excitement. They go hell to leather, and if you aren’t caught up in it, then you might want to check you’re not dead.
The first two matches on this show are incredibly skippable, but the next two are downright incredible. Even in its cut form Ripper vs Nagayo is well worth your time while the main event holds up brilliantly. This is one you’ll want to see.