We’re into August of 1986, and a few changes are coming in the world of AJW. It’s not so much a changing of the guard, as a shifting of it, but it leads to some interesting things down the road, so it’s probably worth getting excited about. Anyway, onto episode 14!
Leilani Kai defeated Chigusa Nagayo to win the All Pacific Title (21/8/86)
Leilani Kai is one half of the Glamour Girls, a tag-team that was at the peak of the tiny bubble that was American women’s wrestling at this time. She was signed to the then WWF and would feud with the Jumping Bomb Angels when they worked in America.
Here, she’s going up against Chigusa and, honestly, it’s a bit of a flat match. Well, as flat as a Chigusa match at this time can be when you take into account the fact the fans are going crazy. However, there is a feeling that everything has had to be slowed down a notch, Chigusa ducking and bobbing around Leilani only to put the brakes on when it came time for the momentum to switch. It made for a lot of submissions with little or no feeling of jeopardy.
The finish didn’t exactly click either, although the top rope dropkick that Kai hit in the build-up was great. Unfortunately, the suplex which got the three was scrappy at best, and with Chigusa kicking out even as the ref’s hand hit the mat, it felt like we were being left with a big old question mark over this particular victory.
Still, as much as I’ve kinda shit on it there, it’s worth pointing out that this is still a Chigusa match in the 80s. She fucking rules, and with the fans as wild as they are, it’s hard not to enjoy it even with its flaws. While it won’t be placed alongside the best of her catalogue, it’s still worth a watch.
Verdict: Alright, But Nothing Special
Gokuaku Domei (Dump Matsumoto & Bull Nakano) defeated Chigusa Nagayo & Kazue Nagahori in a Two out of Three Falls match to win the WWWA Tag Titles (23/8/86)
Lioness Asuka was injured around this time and before the match announced that Nagahori would be standing in for her. This was a pivotal moment for The Crush Gals, as it essentially ended their first run. From here on out, Asuka and Chigusa will be going solo, which is a hell of a call to make when you consider how popular they were.
It also put Nagahori in a hell of a spot. Stepping in for Lioness Asuka to defend the tag titles is, well, a bit of a promotion and she starts this in the worst possible way. Within ten seconds, Dump had lariated her into 2020, pinning her before the match had even begun. It was also the catalyst for what was an outstanding performance. From that moment on, Nagahori was defiance personified. Dump and Bull beat the shit out of her, but she keeps getting up, throwing dropkicks for all her worth and doing everything she can to survive.
It also marks a bit of a shift for Chigusa. Let’s not pretend she isn’t still being beaten up, that’s what Chig does when she’s in the ring with Bull and Dump, but with Nagahori beside her, she pivots towards being the veteran. Suddenly, Gokuaku Domei seems nervous of her, stalling and trying to stay away from those vicious kicks. It’s not a huge difference, but it’s an important one, as we are well on the path to her and Dump going face to face once more.
It goes without saying, but Dump and Bull were fantastic too. If you need two people to beat folk up, then they’re your pair, and this was yet another wild encounter. The Crush Gals might be stepping aside, but there is plenty of excitement to be found.
Verdict: Mon Yersel’, Nagahori
Yukari Omori defeated Devil Masami to win the WWWA Title
I have conflicting feelings about this match. On the one hand, it is brilliantly wrestled. It sets Ogura up as the powerful underdog, perfectly capable of pummelling Devil, but unable to get her hands on her. The veteran is too quick and too smart, an evil grin spreading across her face as she repeatedly manages to escape Ogura’s hold, at one point even gnawing her way out of a submission.
Unfortunately, it all feels just a tad too stretched out. They have their story, but they almost double and then triple down on it, really pushing it home. It’s not something that makes the match bad, but with a little tightening or a tad more pressure on the accelerator, it could have pushed this to the next level.
Thankfully, the finish is fucking awesome. In a brilliant display of cool as fuck, but dumb as hell wrestling, Yukari punches a steel chair out of Devil’s hands, blood trickling down her arm in the aftermath. From there, she’s suddenly in control, sending blow after blow raining in as Devil can’t escape and can only pull herself up to meet another fist. The whole match turns on that moment, Ogura bringing it home and grabbing herself some lovely gold in the process.
Verdict: Overall, It’s Pretty Great
That wasn’t one of my favourite Classics episodes. The opener was fine while the closer was flawed, leaving Dump and Bull beating the shit out of folk to steal the show. That’s amazing, and I love it, but we can’t pretend it’s much new. Still, there is more than enough here to make it worth your time, and if you’re making your way through the series, I certainly wouldn’t recommend that you skip it.