With the success of Assemble, I’m feeling particularly warm and fuzzy towards the old-guard of joshi. The sight of Chigusa and Akira Hokuto hanging out and having a lovely old time has kept me happy during a period where everything else has been a bit shit. So, a chance to go back and spend time with their younger versions is not to be sniffed at. All the matches on episode 11 of AJW Classics came from the same show as we were in Osaka on the 20th of March 1986.
Bull Nakano, Sureima (?) and Chera Sarasa (?) defeated Devil Masami, Mika Komatsu and Kanako Nagatomo
Bull had long blue hair and how the fuck does she keep getting cooler? I feel bad saying this, but I can’t for the life of me work out who her two partners were. I suspect they’re Mexican (purely because most of the foreigners they bring in are) and the katakana translates literally to Sureima and Chera Sarasa. If anyone can figure those out, feel free to let me know.
Not that it matters too much. They are essentially there to be fodder for Devil, swarming her at the start only to be fought off relatively easily. With their matching gear, neither one does much to stand out as Masami makes short work of them.
Much more enjoyable is Nakano taking on Mika and Kanako. Those two show a lot of fire when taking the fight to Bull, even if they look massively outgunned in their generic stripey swimsuits and are eventually sacrificed on her altar of violence.
Ultimately, not being able to figure out who the other people in this match were didn’t matter much, it was designed to be a showcase for Bull and Devil (who had no real interaction with each other in what we saw), anything else was just a bonus.
Verdict: If Bull’s Partners Read This, Sorry
Hisako Uno defeated Condor Saito to win the AJW Junior Title
In a company where 99% of the roster would qualify as junior heavyweights, the AJW Junior Title had nothing to do with weight classes. It was, originally, for wrestlers under the age of twenty before later being changed to include anyone with less than two years of experience. Here, we have Gokuaku Domei’s Condor Saito taking on Hisako Uno who, as has been mentioned in a previous review, is a young Akira Hokuto.
Unfortunately, the match had been heavily clipped, so it’s hard to play the ‘can you see the legend she will become’ game. It starts frantically, the two of them almost losing control at one point, but then almost goes straight to the finish.
Said finish is interesting, though, Uno winning almost through pure will power. She gets Condor’s shoulders down, and refuses to let her kick out, the final pin coming with Saito’s back arched but her shoulders still pinned to the mat. I’m a huge fan of stuff like that as it gets across the idea of a pin being a struggle between two people rather than someone weakly lying on their opponent till they half-heartedly lift their shoulder. It’s just a shame we didn’t get to see the rest of it.
Verdict: Loved The Finish
Yumi Ogura and Kazue Nagahori fought to a time-limit draw
Unless the time limit on this match was five minutes, it had been heavily edited.
These edited draws are probably the hardest to get a handle on. That leap from the opening interactions to two people who are barely able to stand throwing everything into the home stretch is stark, making it feel disjointed and weird. However, that’s not a valid criticism because you’re missing twenty-odd minutes of action, which is going to make anything feel a bit disconnected.
What we saw was enjoyable, a battle between two babyfaces, neither of whom is willing to quit. Again, it made me sad that we didn’t get to see the rest of it.
Verdict: Give Me More
Dump Matsumoto and Yukari Omori broke down into chaos and was ruled a no-contest.
Dump came out in full samurai gear, and somehow that’s not the image that will stick in my mind from this match.
For there is a shitload going on here, not all of it involving Omori. Right from the start, Dump’s in a fighting mood (when is she not?) screeching into the microphone as she beats on her opponent. When it spills to the floor, she gets into it with Jaguar Yokota (present in her role as a trainer) and The Crush Gals, harking back to the infamous hair match as she goes after Chig’s hair once more.
That’s not the image that will stick, though. The image that will stick around is when Dump slides those scissors into Omori’s arm. We’re not talking your standard wrestling stabbing either, fist wrapped around the blade. No, they go deep, Dump leaving them sticking out of the wound for everyone to see. I have rotted my brain on a pretty heady concoction of horror films and deathmatches over the years, but that moment made me yelp, presumably leaving Omori wishing Dump had stuck with just cutting her hair.
And yet, I’d be lying if I claimed to dislike it. This served as a perfect summary of why I love Dump. Her matches are wild, unhinged displays of violence, each one somehow more shocking than the last. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but you need only listen to the reaction in Osaka that night. They yell and cry and scream, feeling every second of the torture she puts their heroes through.
Verdict: Dump Rules
The Crush Gals (Chigusa Nagayo and Lioness Asuka) defeated Jumping Bomb Angels (Itsuki Yamazaki and Noriyo Tateno) in a Two out of Three Falls match to win the WWWA Tag Titles
I’m honestly not sure it should be physically possible for these women to move the way they do. From my limited knowledge, it’s our increased understanding of things like diet and exercise that has allowed athletes to get stronger and faster. Did no-one bother telling these four they weren’t supposed to be able to do that shit yet.
What makes it work, though, and doesn’t just turn it into a wild, uncontrolled mess, is that you always believe in the struggle. Even as they do these incredible things, every move feels like it requires effort and every second sees them pushing for the win. People talk about wrestling looking effortless, that someone like Ricochet almost glides across the ring, but that’s never the case with these four. They fight for every second, the fans screaming them on.
It makes for a match that is truly thrilling. By the time Chig and Tateno are battling it out in the dying seconds you are breathless, knowing the end is near, but not quite sure which way it’s going to turn. It takes a perfect suplex from Nagayo to seal the deal and my god these teams are good.
Verdict: Lovely Stuff
The first three matches on this show were all snippets rather than full meals, but each one still had something to give. It was the final two that really caught the eye, though. I am a full-blown Dump apologist, so her going around stabbing folk is right up my alley. Then you’ve got the Bomb Angels vs The Crush Gals, and if you need me to say more than that, you’re probably in the wrong place.