It has been quite some time since I watched 1980's AJW. After getting a taste of a few of the classic matches of the 90's from a couple Best of the 1990's compilations, I was bit by the Joshi bug. I wanted to see what all of talk was about with Crush Gals. I have always been partial to wrestling from the 80's and I wondered some 14 years ago if it was as good as the stuff from the 90's.Well hells yeah it is! Just as wrestling changed for men's wrestling so did women's wrestling 90's. So as long as you know that then, you'll have a blast. Well, for as much as I loved it I got knocked out of its orbit. I was pretty much getting DVDs exclusively 6-7 years ago and didn't want to get burned with getting a defective DVD or 3 again. So anyhow, I have been meaning to watch some of the matches below for a long time and thank goodness people have posted them online. Perhaps its because AJW is defunct but there's a lot out there! (duh grandpa)... Anyways let's get started!
Crush Gals vs. Devil Masami & Jaguar Yokota (09/04/84): A frenetic match with a frenetic camera. Maybe that's just how they shot TV AJW at the time. It was a little hard to follow but this was fun. I wonder if this is one of the classic matches of the 80's. I can't agree with that. They just did everything so fast and with little rhyme or reason and they never had any downtime to let anything have much meaning.
Crush Gals vs. Devil Masami & Jaguar Yokota (09/26/84): Now this is more like it! Camera work is still not my favorite but its nowhere as crazy. That aside, this is a great match. I definitely think that the 2/3 falls format helps tremendously. They can go full speed ahead and it works. What's cool here is that each fall seems to be equal in length. Most times fall #2 is super quick and almost a formality. So this is a fireworks match that could just as easily taken place in 1994 or even 2004...they were so ahead of their time in terms of speed, athleticism and moves. I can still say they did rush through things a bit more than I would have liked. I would have liked some hot tags and those things. This was just a pedal to the metal fireworks extravaganza.
Dump Matsumoto & Bull Nakano vs Crush Gals (Tag League The Best '85 Final 10/10/85):
Great wrestling as theatre match. It's chaotic from the moment Dump and her crew make their entrance. Chigusa and Asuka are assaulted by all of the crew (who are all wearing masks and matching black outfits). Eventually they get things a little settled and Dump herself makes herself known and the match can start in earnest. 2/3 falls format makes this even better as each fall functions as a chapter in a larger story. Now this isn't a great "moves match" or even a great brawl but the hate and determination really is off the charts. A very very simple match but a great one.
Crush Gals vs. Jumping Bomb Angels (09/14/1987): Wow! This was a classic fireworks extravaganza match. Bell to bell action that was perfectly executed. I'm not sure if there was a larger story or what but, the Angels really showed that they were on the Gals level here. There are little touches that you'd see in a slower fights like Asuka re-trying pins right after a kick-out. Unlike the Devil/Jaguar match (09/14), I felt they allowed moves time to sink in and allowed drama to build with their respective Ricky Mortons in danger (Tateno and Chigusa). The girls with pompoms chanting all match was electrifying as well. I'm sure this is one of the best pure work rate matches of 1987.
Crush Gals vs. Jumping Bomb Angels (05/15/1988): Yeah there's a camera man that loves doing a super quick close up to where its fucking blurry and then immediately doing a fast zoom out that is fucking giving me a headache. It like a little kid with a camcorder. I bet he thinks he's avant garde but its annoying. People want to watch the match on TV not feel like they are in a carnival fun house. That's probably the producer/director telling them to do that. Once that scrap stops, I can actually pay attention to what's going on. And this is a good match. It's not as good as the above bout but it has its moments. I think they lose track of the legal participants towards the end and the one woman has one shoulder up facing the camera on the pinfall. I dislike that more than the legality stuff. So many refs don't even see the shoulders and start slapping the canvas because it is close enough. These are the same people who don't count even when someone's shoulders are down while locked in a hold!? Similarly, the person applying the hold also must keep their shoulders off the mat for a 3 count as well. I'm ranting...Joe Higuchi was one of the best at understanding the importance of these things. So this was kinda sloppy from the crew and not really the wrestlers. It was good and full of action but held back by these distractions.
Liones Asuka & Chigusa Nagayo vs Bull Nakano & Delta Dawn (04/1989): Delta Dawn did not wrestle in the match. She basically just carried a giant boa constrictor around. That's ok because Bull wrestled both Gals along with an assortment of weapons and a crony referee. That referee actually got the shit kicked out of him by the Crush Gals and they eventually got disqualified. That didn't stop the mayhem. By the way the ref no sold head kicks and chair shots like Ultimate Warrior. This was all kinds of fun!
Lioness Asuka & Chigusa Nagayo vs Akira Hokuto & Suzuka Minami (04/27/89): I rarely spoil a finish but I am going to. I'll say this was a pretty good match all in all.** spoiler alert** I think the structure of the third fall was a little bland as it featured dueling sleeper holds/chin locks. I think all 4 wrestlers applied the move as well as had it applied to them. It starts to pick back up like they are working towards a big finish especially when Lioness hits Hokuto in the face with a couple kicks then tags Chigusa back in and finishes it with a really crappy northern lariat. Joshi lariats are never really awesome as at very best they are like a good clothesline. Well this is not that good, it's anemic as if Chigusa was like I'm supposed to win, I wanna go home, this will do. I think a bulldog would have been cool instead. What was interesting is that this is close to Chigusa's compulsory retirement from AJW and she seems in a foul mood. The school girls are chanting like her & Asuka are baby faces but she's seems like she is not happy and is going to take it out on The Marine Wolves...especially in fall #2. This doesn't look like part of the story as like the third fall finish and maybe the whole sleeper hold stuff, she was just over it. Like "we're doing sleeper holds until I say we're not, got it?" Lioness spices it up with sick Dragon sleepers at least. Chigusa is like "we're going to get the school girls freaking out with the least amount of work...do some suplexes, and then I'll figure out a finish." I had high hopes for this as its something I wanted to see for probably more than 10 years now but it didn't live up to the hype.
I can't end it like that though...
Crush Gals vs Akira Hokuto & Devil Masami (GAEA 05/14/2000): Gaea 5th anniversary main event. Nostalgia? Yes, I'll take it. This was a great match even without it though. Devil & Akira are cheating heels, this is 2000's Joshi so from its pretty close to 80's Joshi...weapons are pretty much allowed in moderation As an ECW fan at heart, I can never say no to a couple chair shots thrown in for good measure. Crush Gals are bleeding but they won't go down without a fight. Tons of great moves, very chaotic in a good way... tons of charisma as well. I really liked this and am happy to end this on a more positive note.
This started out as a 3-4 match quickie project but I kept finding stuff that looked interesting. That really says something about how great the Crush Gals were. They excelled in a variety of styles with a variety of opponents. And I only touched upon them as a tag team. They were fantastic singles wrestlers as well but that's for another post.
Everything above is available online so if something strikes your fancy, do yourself a favor and check it out! This was a super fun project. Glad to revisit 80's AJW & I hope do it again soon.
Thanks for reading!