AJW Throwback: AJW Classics Episode 8 Review

Has anyone ever mentioned that Bull is really cool?

We’re onto Episode Eight of AJW Classics, so we’ll definitely get to the end at some point in 2050. It’s another Crush Gals vs Gokuaku Domei heavy show, but we’re not about to complain about that, are we?

Dump Matsumoto defeated Chigusa Nagayo in a hair vs hair match (28/8/85)

When you strip it all away, wrestling, like nearly all art, is designed to elicit emotion. It can be joy, surprise or even hate, but that should always be its end goal. If you accept that basic premise, and I struggle to see how you couldn’t, this match has to go down as a masterpiece.

For Nagayo vs Matsumoto is a fight that has every fan in that arena on their feet screaming. It’s a sound that I’ve got used to watching The Crush Gals, but somehow, yet again, they found a way to one-up themselves in their battles with Gokuaku Domei. With Nagayo and Dump’s hair on the line, this becomes more than just a match. It becomes a matter of pride and honour, something that has always connected with a Japanese audience.

The match itself is a war, but, interestingly, might be the cleanest we’ve seen Dump compete in. That, of course, has to be put in context as she has a chain wrapped around Chigusa’s throat roughly two minutes in. However, for the most part, this is a straight battle between these two. Yes, Dump busts her open, stabbing her repeatedly in the forehead with a pair of scissors, but it’s only when the action spills to the floor that anyone else gets involved.

Sadly, while that might be the case, it doesn’t make it any less of a brawl, and it being so plays right into Dump’s hands. She’s able to brutalise Chigusa, throwing her around the ring and bashing her with whatever she can get her hands on. Nagayo is brilliant as that underdog babyface, leaping into openings and refusing to stay down, but Dump is relentless. Every time it looks like the match may turn in the Crush Gals’ favour, Matsumoto is there to bring her crashing back to Earth.

By the end, Chigusa’s faced is painted in her own blood, and she’s barely able to stand. However, she doesn’t give up. It’s left to the ref to end it, calling for the bell when it’s clear she can’t keep going. In the aftermath, Lioness Asuka throws herself onto her partner, trying to stop the inevitable, but Dump has earned her bounty. They chain Nagayo to a chair, shaving her head while laughing in response to the tears of the fans.

It’s an incredible match with an iconic final image. Wrestling doesn’t get much better than this, and if you haven’t seen it, well, what are you waiting for?

Verdict: Incredible

Gokuaku Domei (Dump Matsumoto and Bull Nakano) defeated The Jumping Bomb Angels (Itsuki Yamasaki and Noriyo Tateno) (10/10/85)

On the previous show, Dump and Bull made quick work of the Jumping Bomb Angels, seeing them off with relative ease. In theory, this was their chance to improve on that performance.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. I’m assuming this has been heavily clipped because there is nothing to it, but it once against presents Gokuaku Domei as dominant. Early on, it looks like Itsuki has the right idea, going for a hit and run tactic, but it doesn’t work for long.

What we do see isn’t particularly great, an awkward edit breaking the flow and there not being enough of it for them to win me back. Still, who knows what happened in the moments left on the cutting room floor, so I’m unwilling to be too harsh.

Verdict: Not Enough There To Know

Gokuaku Domei (Dump Matsumoto and Bull Nakano) defeated The Crush Gals (Chigusa Nagayo and Lioness Asuka) in a two out of three falls match (10/10/85)

At this point, the word feud doesn’t quite cut it when talking about these women. They are incapable of getting into a ring together and not having full-blown chaos break out within seconds. There are moments in this where things slow down, and we get what comes close to being a straight match, but they are fleeting. Every time it feels like someone wrestles control Gokuaku Domei are there to unleash the crazy again.

And I keep waiting for it to get old. For the nonsense to go too far and for me to crave something a bit more restrained, but it’s yet to happen. These matches are fuelled by emotion, genuine hate seeming to boil off both sides, and it drives them constantly forward, making sure the bullshit never overwhelms. It helps, of course, that those involved are incredibly talented, working these crowds into a fever pitch.

And the final act of this one again puts Nagayo centre stage. With Asuka taken out in the second fall, Chigusa is left alone, defiantly continuing an impossible fight as Dump and Bull overwhelm her, attacking her leg. Asuka eventually recovers enough to throw herself over her partner, trying to protect her from their abuse, but she’s dragged off and spiked with a Piledriver, the beatdown continuing until The Crush Gals entourage floods the ring, checking on their team. Even then, though, Chigusa refuses to stop, blood pouring from her nose as people desperately try to prevent her from going after her hated opponents.

The match does continue, but Nagayo can barely stand, leaving Dump and Bull to pick her off, destroying her leg. While she’s defiant to the end, the fans screaming her name, it’s all just too much. Asuka is too broken to help her, leaving the ref no choice except to call for the bell and, once again, have Chigusa fall victim to her greatest foes.

Assuming you’ve been following along with this series, you know the drill by now. I love these matches. They’re unhinged, but you can see why The Crush Gals remained the hottest thing in wrestling. Nagayo and Asuka get the shit kicked out of them and yet they keep coming, refusing to die. How can you not fall in love with that?

Verdict: They Did It Again

Overall Show

This is Nagayo’s show. Her defiance drove on the two big matches and, honestly, I think that hair vs hair spectacle is a near-perfect slice of wrestling. If you’re a Chigusa Nagayo fan, I assume you’ve already seen all of this, but if you’re not, it’s time to become one.

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

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