AJW Throwback: AJW Classics Episode 10 Review

Legend.

You’d think I’d be better at dealing with joshi retirements by now. They’re hardly a rarity and the one on this show happened thirty-four years ago. And yet, well, you’ll see when we get there. It’s AJW Classics Episode 10, and we’re saying farewell to one of the greats.

The Jumping Bomb Angels (Itsuki Yamazaki and Noriyo Tateno) defeated Gokuaku Domei (Bull Nakano and Condor Saito) in a Two out of Three Falls match to win the WWWA Tag Titles (5/1/86)

Our opener had been for a pretty extensive trim as we went straight from the bell to the Bomb Angels winning the first fall.

However, what we did get told a pretty important story. The second fall saw Bull turn things around, using those nunchucks to level proceedings up. After that, though, the Angels snap. Suddenly, they’re the ones grabbing weapons, beating Condor and Bull with anything they can get their hands on. Having faced nothing but abuse at the hands of Gokuaku Domei, they’re dishing up some revenge.

It doesn’t completely turn things in their favour, Bull hits a sickening Piledriver not long after, but it still feels like a pivotal moment. For the first time (at least in the matches we’ve seen), the Angels are able to take the fight to them, and their confidence seems to grow from there, leading them right to those belts.

Verdict: Well Done, JBA!

The Jumping Bomb Angels (Itsuki Yamazaki and Noriyo Tateno) defeated Gokuaku Domei (Bull Nakano and Dump Matsumoto) in a Two out of Three Falls match to retain the WWWA Tag Titles (9/1/86)

If at first you don’t succeed, try hitting them with a barrel. Wait. What?

Yup, having lost their first attempt against The Jumping Bomb Angels, Gokuaku Domei were back, this time with Dump leading the charge. As detailed above, the first match was hardly nonsense free, but this one takes it up a notch. Bull and Dump lose the first fall when, yes, they are disqualified for beating the Angels with a barrel.

Dump is awesome in this match. I’ve complained before about the widespread belief that she was a bad wrestler, but how you can watch this and think that I don’t know. There is a moment where Itsuki Dropkicked her and she doesn’t even flinch, mockingly brushing away the move while laughing to herself. If that doesn’t leave you screaming for the Angels to take her down, what will?

By the third fall, JBA are battered and bruised, Itsuki hopping around on one leg. Bull and Dump think it’s over, cockily celebrating while she’s being strapped up on the outside. However, the champs will not die. This fall feels like it’s about them coming together, proving that as a pairing they are just as formidable as Dump and Bull. There is even a moment where they grab Bull’s nunchucks, staring her down with her own weapon.

It made for a match that caught me hook, line and sinker. Once again, I fully invested in the Angels and their refusal to be bullied. In the aftermath, with Tateno carrying Yamazaki from the ring, exhausted in victory, I found myself getting emotional. They faced off with the devils and came out still standing. Now that’s the kind of tag-team you can get behind.

Verdict: I’m A Jumping Bomb Angels’ Guy

The Red Typhoons (Yumi Ogura and Kazue Nagahori) defeated Gokuaku Domei (Bull Nakano and Condor Saito) to became the inaugural AJW Tag Team Champions (15/2/86)

With tag team wrestling such a cornerstone of AJW at this time, the decision to bring in secondary titles must have made all the sense in the world. They had the red and white belts for singles, so why not for tags too? The battle to be the inaugural champs would see Gokaku Domei face-off with another pair of plucky babyfaces, but this time it was The Red Typhoons stood across from them.

The Typhoons are fantastic in this match. They instantly flurry around Bull, kicking away at her legs. It sets up their tactic for a bout that is surprisingly straightforward. Yea, the nunchucks and a chain come out, but this is not a wild brawl. In fact, the weapons end up hurting Bull and Condor more than their opponents, the Typhoons getting their hands on them and proving they can play dirty too.

Like most AJW Classic matches, it has had a slight trim, while there is also a moment where it looks a lot like a ringside doctor is popping Condor Saito’s shoulder back in. It’s entirely possible it was a work, but the way he’s yanking and pushing her arm while looks pretty real. She also comes back into the match with little fanfare which is what made me think it might have been a shoot. Popping your arm back into its socket and returning to war without a complaint isn’t exactly the act of a dastardly heel. It is a pretty good claim to badassery, though.

Either way, I enjoyed the short blast we got. Ogura and Nagahori were an exciting pairing and watching Gokuaku Domei get their comeuppance never stops being satisfying. It failed to hit the emotional peaks of the previous two matches, but so do most things.

Verdict: Rough Show For Bull And Friends

Jaguar Yokota and Devil Masami fought to a time-limit draw in Jaguar Yokota’s Retirement Match (15/2/86)

I watched 59-year-old Jaguar Yokota wrestle a match just a few days ago and still be awesome, yet I am absolutely gutted to see her retiring back in 1986. She was 24, but a shoulder injury forced her to hang up her boots before she’d even hit AJW’s mandatory retirement age.

Not that Jag looks like someone ready to retire. She and Masami go at it, pulling out all the stops in a match that sees Yokota trying to cram as much into her final minutes as she can. Jaguar’s incredible, but you’d expect nothing less and as the bell goes for the time limit draw she’s on the offensive, hitting a Straitjacket German for what was, at the time, one final near fall.

The aftermath is perhaps even more interesting as Lioness Asuka hits the ring in her tracksuit. She’s there for a fight, and an impromptu showdown breaks out between the two, the old rivals facing off one last time. It eventually burns out in an exchange of slaps and the yelling of heated words. Who knows what was said, but it read like Asuka was angry that Jaguar was daring to retire before they were done with each other.

As usual, the actual ceremony served up all kinds of emotions, drawing tears even from those blessed with the benefit of hindsight. There were only bits and pieces of Jag in these ten episodes, but she cemented herself as one of my favourites. While she was about to go and train the generation of joshi that everyone talks about, don’t doubt for a second that she was every bit as good as them all. Thankfully, her closing promo is cut with a smile on her face, a reassuring sight as the fans scream. I am very glad I know this is not the end, or I suspect it would have broken me.

Verdict: One Of The Best

Overall Show

Ah, excuse me while I wipe away the tears. Retirements kill me, folks. I seriously can’t deal with them. Anyway, that was another good show. If you’re nae a fan of Gokuaku Domei shenanigans, then you might want to skip at least the first two matches, but I am, and I loved them. Devil vs Jag obviously rocks, but they could have done the bare minimum, and it still would have felt special because of the emotion in the air. While it’s a shame we won’t see any more Yokota for a while, she’s still out there kicking ass, so at least we have that.

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

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