Episode nine of AJW Classics has four matches from the same show as we’re going back to December 12th 1985. There are two big titles showdowns and a retirement to get through, so let’s not waste any more time.
Akemi Sakamoto defeated Hisako Uno in the Rookie Tournament Final
We kick things off with the finals of a rookie tournament and, wait a second, I recognise her…
Yes, while Akemi Sakamoto has seemingly been lost to history (aka I can’t find much about her online), Hisako Uno is hard to forget. We’re looking at a young Akira Hokuto, someone who we’re going to see a lot of over the years.
At this point, though, she is very much a rookie and spends most of this (trimmed) match being roughed up by Sakamoto who appears to have already been taken under Dump’s villainous wing. She has a brief flurry, teeing off with Crossbodies and Dropkicks, but Akemi is too strong. In an interesting finish, she essentially forces Uno’s shoulders to the mat, keeping her down for the three with brute force. It’s a cool wee twist to put an end to an alright rookie match-up.
Verdict: The Best Is Yet To Come
Bull Nakano defeated Yumi Ogura to retain the AJW Championship
Bull had won the title in July of ’85 and would go on to hold it for a long old time. She’s still only eighteen at this point, so she’s doing alright for herself.
And, in its edited form, this feels like a showcase for Nakano. We see a bit of Ogura, but she’s made to feel pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of things as Bull picks up the win after using her nunchucks to get an advantage.
It’s a fine wee match, nothing special, but certainly not bad. As people watching along on Classics, it’s a nice chance to see Bull outside of the tag environment, but not much more than that.
Jumbo Hori and Yukari Omori fought to a time-limit draw in Jumbo Hori’s Retirement Match
It’s time to say goodbye to Jumbo Hori as she marks her retirement by going one on one with her Dynamite Girls’ partner, Yukari Omori. Unfortunately, this was is another clipped matches, or at least I assume it was, otherwise it would have been a roughly six-minute time-limit draw.
What we did see, though, felt like these two putting everything into it. Within seconds Jumbo was throwing Omori from her shoulders, slamming her into the ground. The best retirement matches, the ones that stick in your mind, have the feeling of someone going all out for the last time. As Jumbo and Yukari slapped each other across the face while the time-limit expired you got a hint of that magic.
Jumbo was, unsurprisingly, emotional during the retirement ceremony. This wasn’t actually the end for her, though. While she would be out of wrestling for roughly twenty-years, she would return for another run in 2005, bouncing around the joshi indies until her second retirement in 2012. Still, at this moment, it wasn’t a bad way to say goodbye as she was carried triumphantly to the back, the camera following her as she went.
Verdict: Bye, Jumbo!
We got an extended look at Jumbo backstage, crying her eyes out and saying goodbye to everyone (she wasn’t the only one crying either).
Devil Matsumi defeated Dump Matsumoto to win the WWA Championship and retain the All Pacific Championship
Incredibly, Dump and Devil shook hands before the bell, Matsumoto handing over her kendo stick as she did so. I didn’t know she had it in her!
Any hope that Dump had reformed was quickly extinguished, though. However, in the early going she was at least trying to hide it. There is a cool spot where, having stabbed Devil repeatedly with a fork, Dump slips it into the back of her outfit, moving up against the ropes so Bull can grab it out. Then, when the ref goes looking for it, there is nothing to be found, Nakano having scurried away with it on the floor.
It leaves Masami in a rough old spot. Not only does Dump work over her back, but she repeatedly attacks her eyes, leaving her blinking and struggling to see. That is a hard old thing to sell, which is probably why we don’t see it very often, but she pulls it off. There are moments where she is hobbling around the ring, unsure of where Dump is and struggling to stand. It could be silly, but Masami never lets it get there.
She’s also brilliant when she comes back into the action. There is never a feeling in this match that Masami is down and out. Instead, you get the impression she is merely waiting for her moment, and when it comes, she unleashes. Devil’s not an underdog in the vein of Nagayo, but a champ who knows she can beat Dump. Even when she’s blinded and beaten down, she plans on leaving with those belts.
Which she does, leaping up from Bull’s interference as The Crush Gals and Jumbo decide they’ve had enough, rushing the ring to help her even the odds. They hold Dump in place on the ropes as Masami slips underneath her before falling backwards with an Electric Chair. When she leaps after with a Splash, she connects, walking out with both the WWA and All Pacific Titles around her waist.
I’ve been reading a lot about this time in AJW, and the general consensus is that Dump is nothing special or was even outright bad. It’s a view I couldn’t disagree with more. Is she some super-worker? No, but she doesn’t need to be. She’s this evil badass who people have to conquer, and when they do, it’s brilliant.
Verdict: Lovely Stuff
That was another episode of AJW Classics that hit the spot. As usual, the clipping down of the earlier matches did have an effect, but I really enjoyed the main event and even with the editing Jumbo’s farewell was nice. These shows are all an hour long and it’s going to take a real dip in quality (which historical opinion suggests ain’t going to happen anytime soon) for me to dislike any of them.