My journey through AJW’s history hits episode 13, and at this rate, I reckon we’ll be finishing this up by around 2080. So, I hope you’re all in for the long haul because I ain’t stopping yet!
The Crush Gals (Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo) defeated The Red Typhoons (Kazue Nagahori and Yumi Ogura) in a Two out of Three Falls match to retain the WWWA Tag Team Titles (8/4/86)
Having watched Chigusa and Asuka go to war time after time, being beaten up by all and sundry, it was somewhat refreshing to see them play the dominant team. Red Typhoons came into this as massive underdogs, and the match almost slipped into the classic rookie vs veteran structure (despite the Typhoons not being rookies).
For the Typhoons may have been struggling to get anyone to bet on them, but they weren’t willing to be steam-rolled. They flew out the traps, launching forward to throw kicks at The Crush Gals and doing everything they could to be fucking pests. You almost felt like they knew they were going to lose, but they were determined to take a chunk out of their highly decorated opponents before doing so.
It made for a fun little match, one that had been edited a bit, but which gave us what we wanted. Interestingly, it was also a rare example of someone taking a 2-0 win, something I’m not sure we’ve seen before. While I wouldn’t expect that to happen all the time, it slots that idea into fans’ heads, and thanks to their battling performance, the Typhoons don’t lose much despite taking the two straight falls.
Verdict: The Typhoons Did Well
Yasuko Ishiguro defeated Hisako Uno to win the AJW Junior Title (26/5/86)
If you’re new here, Hisako Uno is Akira Hokuto who, well, I’m going to assume you’ve heard of. Sadly, Ishiguro is not the younger iteration of a future legend, but a wrestler who would stick around for a couple of years before retiring.
And despite losing her title, I think this was the most impressive performance we’ve seen from Uno so far. It seemed like she’d started to flesh out her style, flipping out of a couple of moves as she began to instil some flair to game. She also hit a particularly vicious crossbody which isn’t something you can say often.
Ishiguro, meanwhile, looked pretty good. She felt like a lot more of a rookie that Uno, but used her superior strength nicely, picking up the win by refusing to let a struggling Uno get her shoulder up on a pin. That’s been a recurring theme in these rookie matches, and as I believe I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of it. It’s refreshing to see the final seconds of a match feel like an actual fight.
Verdict: Decent Wee Fight
Bull Nakano defeated Kazue Nagahori to retain the AJW Title (24/7/86)
I was a big fan of Bull’s match with Nagahori’s tag partner, Yumi Ogura, on the previous episode of Classics, so I was intrigued to see if she could step up to the same level.
Sadly, we’ll never know as Bull was in no mood to let her. Perhaps she was still pissed that Yumi had dared to get a draw off her for she took Kazue to the cleaners. Whether it was dragging her to the ground or beating her with those damn nunchucks, it’s safe to say that this was a one-sided affair.
Which I’m not going to complain about. Partly because Bull is terrifying and partly because a one-sided Bull Nakano match is still better than most things, and there is a lot of pleasure to be found in watching her beat the shit out of people. Plus, she really is amazing with those nunchucks. Fuck, how is she that cool?
Verdict: Badass Bull
Yasuko Ishiguro defeated Mika Suzuki to retain the AJW Junior Title (24/7/86)
Mika Suzuki is better known as Suzuka Minami and would wrestle until 1995. She was still a fairly fresh-faced rookie here as she faced off with the newly crowned Junior champ.
And this was very much a joshi rookie match, which meant we had a plethora of dropkicks. Thankfully, a lot of them were very nice dropkicks, so if you’re a fan of that, give it a watch. I know that wrestling training isn’t just learning how to hit a dropkick, but are we actually sure that isn’t the main focus of these dojos? Who was the last rookie not to have a lovely dropkick? How many times have I said the word dropkick?
It was a solid match (although like all these ‘undercard’ matches it had been for a trim) and again finished with a fierce battle over the pin. There was nothing particularly spectacular about it, but it was far from bad, and you won’t regret giving it some time.
Yukari Omori defeated Chigusa Nagayo to win the Japan Grand Prix (22/6/86)
It maybe shouldn’t be a surprise considering who the two people involved are, but this was a classy wrestling match. We know these two can go and right from their entrances (the fans doing their usual screaming themselves hoarse for Chigusa) you felt like you were in safe hands.
That classiness can be captured by three separate German Suplex that came towards the end of the match. The first started with Yukari holding Chigusa with a waist lock on the mat before slowly pulling her up, Nagayo desperately reaching out for the rope, but unable to grab it and being brought over despite her best efforts. Chig would get revenge, hitting two perfect Germans of her own. Sadly for her, one saw Yukari land with her feet in the ideal spot to fall weakly onto the ropes while the other had her not so much kick out as rollover, Nagayo exhausted enough that it broke the bridge.
Those are small but wonderful examples of what made this so great. In other wrestlers’ hands, those moves would be as impressive as ever, but also as forgettable as they have been the other one million times I’ve seen them. With these two, they were made to mean something, to give us an insight into how the match was going. They also made Yukari the winner of the Japan Grand Prix, earning her a shot at the WWWA Title and that massive trophy you can see above. There were no hard feelings, though, the two sharing a hug afterwards. What did I tell you? Classy.
Verdict: Good Wrestlers Have A Good Wrestle
A lot of episode thirteen of AJW Classics felt a bit inessential, as we got a but of solid but unspectaculer matches. However, the main event made up for that and even the worst thing on this show was still very watchable. These shows don’t really do bad, or at least they haven’t so far, so while it’s easy to complain when it’s not mind-blowing, that’s coming from a place of delightful privilege.