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[1985-08-22-AJW] Chigusa Nagayo vs Devil Masami


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AJW 8/22/1985 - All Pacific Title - Chigusa Nagayo vs Devil Masami


I did a full review on this here:



Some shots from the match:





My review of it:

They had went to a double knockout draw at 36:52 when neither could answer the ten count. Epic match. The first half was all about the selling and the second half was about Chigusa working the sharpshooter, while they stood toe to toe and brawled like boxers.They didn't do a ton of fancy stuff here and there weren't that many crazy moves, but they fought for everything and made it look like a fight all the way through. I loved the various sections with Devil boxing vs Chigusa's kicks, the suplexes were all good and the crowd carried this match all the way through. Both sold and made big enough facials to reach the peanut seats and this is the closest you can get to a heavyweight boxing fight in wrestling. I never had to say to myself "gee that looked fake" or "aren't you going to sell that?". It was just classic wrestling and there's a lot today's workers could learn from this. Anyone could have done this match, but this was a match where you had to have the basics down, and they did here. Great match that is really different from anything else you are going to see just for how real they were and how it mirrored a boxing match at times and it's definitely worth a look. I know the big question is going to be - was this better than the 4+ star Asuka/Yokota match from the same show and I'd have to say overall it was. That had selling issues and this didn't. Now I really want a Chigusa/Yokota match and a Masami/Yokota match. Also have to add that Devil looked straight out of an anime comic with her wild and crazy eyes while Chigusa looked like the female Rocky Balboa here. Rating:*****

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  • 1 month later...

This is more like a classic title match. It's all about the struggle over holds and building to the big throws, making the simple work here very compelling. I just love the first nearfall for the surfboard hold. There is some meandering, but Chigusa knew to sell when it was on the money, and Devil looked like a devil. The fact that there's no choreographed spots, making it all feel like it was made up on the spot, adds a ton to the match too. My favourite bit may have been Devil blocking a Sharpshooter, taking out the leg and then both of them going into a greco lock up. Just a great battle of attrition. Chigusa isn't always on point but her UWF offense here was a lot of fun and because she is a megastar she added a ton of heat to the match. Then you have those fucking punches and huge exhaustion in the last couple minutes pushing this into EPIC territory. Magnificient match.

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  • GSR changed the title to [1985-08-22-AJW] Chigusa Nagayo vs Devil Masami

Double knock out finish that adds to the match as both wrestlers are too exhausted from the action to continue.  Tremendous wrestling contest that really picks up at the 16 minute after Masami struggles to kick out of a superplex.  The crowd are totally into this with Chigusa challenging for Masami’s All Pacific title.  Devil’s facial expressions are awesome, as is the spot where she has to use a stick to help her get to her feet and for a brief moment it looks as though she contemplates using the stick as a weapon (Nagayo had Masami in a scorpion deathlock, she reaches the ropes and then crawled to the outside to try and recover, only to be hit by a Nagayo tope.  She uses the stick to help her get back to her feet and then onto the ring apron only just beating the count).  The match ends with both girls being counted out in the ring for the double KO, Masami crawls over to Chigusa, they embrace, and then the seconds help both to their feet and from the ring.  Excellent, excellent match.

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  • 3 months later...

The match was clipped so I didn't get everything but I got 20 minutes of fantastic wrestling and that's all I need to an enjoy a match with these two. Great heat and emotion from this. Some fantastic selling by both and some slick wrestling where they combined loads of different styles into one. It was great. ****1/2

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  • 1 year later...

This has a big fight feel and the crowd are firmly behind Chigusa Nagayo. Everything about Nagayo screams babyface. I'm seeing Devil Masami for the first time and she stole the show for me here. Her facial expressions are top notch. She makes some menacing faces when things aren't going her way. She also has some neat offence such as her kneeling piledriver and the double underhook backbreaker thing she did a few times.

Unfortunately I can't say I loved this as much as everyone else. The first 15 minutes felt directionless and slow, and I found that the momentum shifted all over the place with little rhyme or reason during the next 20 minutes. Nagayo really needed a longer face in peril segment for their finishing stretch to hook me. I really liked their intense boxing spots as none of those shots looked fake, but the double knockout finish bugged me. It is the 80's, so non-finishes are to be expected. This is still a good match in my eyes, just not as epic and amazing as it's reputation will have you to believe. 


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  • 2 weeks later...

Re-watched this again via AJW Classics so we get the full match.  I still love it, everything is such a struggle.  The surfboard, the figure four, the sharpshooter, they made everything look like they were equal to each other.  It also helps that Nagayo is one of the best technics and Devil Masami's facial expressions are awesome.  Fantastic title match, there are some imperfections, so it is about a ****3/4 range.

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  • 9 months later...

Alright no more putting this off. I've watched I think every match these two are in up to this point now so it's time to do my big write up of why this match is so great. Now naturally I can't really do this without spoiling how it all goes down so... Go watch the match!

First, let's set the scene. This is not the first time these two have wrestled each other. This is a rivalry that goes back all the way to Chigusa Nagayo's TV debut in January 1981, where our hero put in a valiant effort but is severely outmatched and barely lasts 7 minutes before succumbing to Devil's ferocious onslaught. [1] For Devil, the 16 year old Chigusa was probably just another rookie off the conveyor belt for her to abuse and squash, this period of AJW TV is full of similar 'Devil squashes a rookie' matches, probably none as historically significant in retrospect though.

Fast forward to 1985, Chigusa is now the most popular wrestler in the company, which is entering another boom period and is running Budokan Hall for the first time since 1979. The big selling point of the show is each of the WWWA Tag Champions the Crush Gals are going for AJW's top singles belts. Lioness Asuka is challenging Jaguar Yokota for the WWWA Singles Championship (aka 'The Red Belt') in the main event, meanwhile Chigusa is challenging her old tormenter Devil Masami for the All Pacific Championship ('The White Belt') in the semi-main.

Chigusa has had many matches with Devil Masami by this point, and has lost all of them. Just in the last year the Crush Gals were defeated in the 1984 Tag League Finals by the team of Devil Masami and Jaguar Yokota, [2] and Chigusa was pinned by Devil two months previously in the 1985 Japan Grand Prix. [3] Earlier in the show the Crush Gals come out to perform their single 'Tokyo Explosion Girls', and Chigusa makes her intentions known to the audience:



The entrances are both fantastic. Chigusa gets a Goldberg-style entrance being flanked by several cops and fans screaming CHI-GU-SA in time with her entrance music. You need to watch it with the sound up to appreciate how awesome and unique an atmosphere it is. Devil comes out second with the most stern mean face ever and is carrying a purple sword like a Disney villain, but Chigusa stares her down from the second turnbuckle and seems to never take her eyes off her, as if to signal how serious she is in taking her down this time. Worth noting at this point that Devil isn't as clear cut a heel at this point as she was in previous years. The top heel spot in the company has been taken by Dump Matsumoto, who previously was a member of Devil's very authoritarian stable the 'Devil Corps', but went off her own way to start a totally different heel group of rule-breaking hooligans, leaving Devil on her own.



We then get a few minutes of talking from the commissioner and the ring announcer and Devil handing the belt over. There's a great contrast in body language before the match even starts. After a brief staredown, Devil's fairly chill about the whole thing. She takes her time walking around to her corner undoing her hairband, getting out of her entrance outfit and then does some stretches, this isn't that big a deal to her. Chigusa on the other hand is completely still throughout this whole thing. She just stands there in the middle of the ring staring at Devil all through the pre-match ceremonies like she's not even aware they're happening. 100% focus. This contrast in mentalities is a narrative thread that'll develop throughout the match.

The match starts with the wrestlers circling each other, trying to find an opening. Chigusa is a bit more feisty and goes for some kicks, which don't really land properly as Devil just evades them and then successfully hits the first big takedown of the match. Chigusa gets to the ropes quickly and isn't really damaged by it, but it's not the best start for her. She cockily kips up and goes straight back to circling Devil, projecting that she's unphased by what just happened. She then hits a takedown of her own and neatly grabs a hold of Devil to try lock in her signature Scorpion Deathlock. It doesn't work, Devil blocks being turned over and slowly drags her way to the ropes. This starts another narrative thread that'll develop throughout the match, Chigusa targetting Devil's shoulder to weaken her attempts to block being turned over into a Scorpion Deathlock.



The next section is almost all matwork with Devil dominating. Even though Chigusa is able to score a couple more takedowns, she can't really capitalise on them because Devil's able to break out/reverse any hold applied to her and just grind Chigusa down on the mat. Her holds looks really vicious and gritty and she also has some of the best facial expressions in wrestling ever here. All Chigusa's able to do to stay in this is find openings to escape the grappling and back off. She can never actually gain an advantage. Part of the psychology here is that the point of the holds isn't just to target a body part, they're an attempt to gain an advantageous leverage position in order to hit a suplex/throw, which are treated as big bombs that can potentially end a match so they have to be avoided. About five minutes into the grappling, Devil twists and turns Chigusa into position to hit a double arm underhook suplex, she manages to half-lift her to horrified screams from the crowd before Chigusa blocks it by flailing her feet around. People should note that scream from the crowd, these schoolgirls totally get the psychology and that that was a dangerous moment.


Devil's just wearing Chigusa down now, trying to find that opening to turn her nasty limb-wrenching matwork into bomb-throwing. After a few more minutes of this we get a neat transition when Devil maybe gets a bit impatient and pulls Chigusa up to try hit a vertical suplex when she hadn't really maneuvered Chigusa into position for it this time. Chigusa blocks the suplex attempt with relative ease, Devil realises she's not gonna be able to hit it so tries to surprise Chigusa with a flash-rollup, but for the first time in the match Chigusa manages to successfully counter Devil on the mat and goes straight to work on that shoulder to set up the Scorpion hold. She knows what her gameplan is.


Chigusa is able to keep hold of Devil's shoulders for a good couple of minutes now wrenching them in and out. She even manages to hit a throw after Devil tries to power her way out of this but opens herself up to the suplex in the process. This is the first time in the match she's really been trouble, in fact I'm pretty sure she's never been worked over on the mat by Chigusa like this in any of their matches to date. In a sign that she's now feeling a bit threatened, Devil does something illegal for the first time in the match by biting Chigusa's wrist to try force her to break the hold. Chigusa loudly protests and the referee counts her, Devil then gives this lovely look of disdain. Devil then brute forces herself up, spins Chigusa around and kicks her in the back of the legs knocking her forward and breaking the hold, another nice logical transition.


There's an added venom to Devil's offense now as she regains control of the match. She's now mixing in the holds with a flurry of kicks and stomps, just pounding Chigusa into the mat. This goes well until she decides to get extra mean and tries thrusting Chigusa face-first into the ring post, but Chigusa blocks it, runs Devil's face into the opposite ring post and then unloads on her with a flurry of kicks and stomps of her own in a really cathartic comeback. Devil covers up after the first couple of hits land, with shocked facial expressions expressing that she wasn't expecting Chigusa to retaliate with such viciousness. Devil's still a bit stuck in seeing Chigusa as the young girl she could abuse for fun in years prior and is learning the hard way that her opponent has it in her to get pretty vicious too. Chigusa then drags Devil out of the corner and goes right back to grinding down that shoulder and has an even more ruthless look of determination on her face now as she pulls back on it with Devil noticably in a lot of pain.


Chigusa really keeps wrenching that shoulder into all kinds of awkward angles while Devil tries various rolls to try and get out of this predicament of Chigusa's legs being wrapping around her head while hyper-extending her arm. After another minute she manages to escape by rolling Chigusa over to her front and pulling herself free from underneath her in the process. Now, this is the one transition in the match I'm not entirely happy with. It looked a bit too easy for Devil to escape like that, even if she is established as the superior matworker. Devil then does a nice little sell of the shoulder work for the benefit of the audience (Chigusa can't see her do this, which is a plus) while keeping a hold of Chigusa's legs. I need to take a break to remind everyone now that this crowd is HOT and is shouting CHI-GU-SA for her to get out almost as loud as they were during her entrance.


Devil realises that Chigusa's close to the ropes and about to reach them, so she pre-empts this by pulling Chigusa up and hitting her with some more kicks and knees to the gut. But Chigusa fires up and throws some kicks and then a big knee to the gut of her own! We have our first straight strike exchange of the match. Again, it's Chigusa directly retaliating and Devil being caught by surprise that she would react like that. She covers up with her arms again and has a slightly shocked expression while trying to block Chigusa's flurry but is unable to hold it back. Chigusa then makes a mistake though. She drags Devil up and appears to go for a piledriver, but Devil hasn't been weakened up enough for a move like that to work so she just counters by brute forcing Chigusa up and drops her to the ground before retaking the advantage by hitting a piledriver herself and gets a two count. Skip forward a couple of minutes though and Devil makes a mistake by easing up on a hold to punch Chigusa's back in, but this gives her a chance to escape and spins around quickly into an abdominal stretch. Chigusa later grounds Devil and just boots her in the back then repeatedly knees her head in. Devil is then dazed enough for Chigusa to hoist her up and finally hit her with that piledriver for a two count. Game on. Chigusa so often retaliating by hitting Devil with the same offense sends the message that they are close to equals now.


Chigusa's unloading on Devil now with some really strong kicks. Devil catches one of them attempts to counter into a Figure Four, but Chigusa catches her foot on the way down and places it behind her own head to stop Devil locking it in. What a weird way to counter a Figure Four! But it seems to work for a while. Now, while they're in the Figure Four Devil again does something really clever with her selling. When Chigusa is facing her, she stares her down with eyes of steel locking in the hold. The very second Chigusa turns her face to the mat and isn't look at Devil anymore, Devil grabs her hurt shoulder and sells the damage. She wants the audience to know it's hurt, but she doesn't want Chigusa to see she's hurt! How many people have the wits to sell like that? It's stuff like that which is why watching this match multiple times is so rewarding, it has so much depth and richness to it you'll spot new details every time.


And we've all seen Ric Flair NWA Title defences so we know where this is going! I still think it's neat they got this spot into an 80s Joshi match though; in fact there's a whole bunch of stuff here that feels like it was influenced from elsewhere but doesn't feel shoehorned in at all. Chigusa gets to the ropes after turning Devil over and the referee forces a break. Devil is not finished with that leg though, and she's going to up the ante. For the first time in the match we now go outside the ring as Devil brutally punches Chigusa right in the knee from the outside and then throws her over the announce table and just kicks the hell out of her while she's all tangled up. This is Devil falling back into her older tactics when she was a straight heel. Look back to that 1981 match and you'll see one of her trademarks was taking the match to the outside and beating up her opponent around the announce table. Chigusa makes it back into the ring at the count of 17 (20 for a count out), only for Devil to grab her by the head and bounce it off the ring post again. Either she's so pissed off at Chigusa successfully fending her off for so long she's decided to regress into outright abuse, or she's going for a cheap count out victory. Maybe both! She then does a dive to keep Chigusa from getting back in the ring.


AWA King Of The Mountain Devil Masami coming through, heh. Chigusa does eventually get back in the ring, battered and exhausted though and unable to stop Devil from hitting more offense, now targetting her back. Most of Devil's offense is targetting the back throughout the match actually, but she occasionally goes for the leg instead. It's all the back now, she's pinning Chigusa down and just hitting her with punches, knees, anything she can get in and whenever Chigusa tries to escape, Devil uses her momentum against her to hit a backbreaker. There's a psychology here that the more 'convoluted' moves are more damaging, but there's a risk in going for them as it's easier for your opponent to escape and counter them. Devil gets a bit too ambitious and allows Chigusa to slip out, and to the absolute delight of the crowd she pulls off the same takedown from the opening moments of the match and tries to lock in the Scorpion Deathlock. Such a great babyface. But alas! Again, Devil is still not worn down enough to stop her blocking it. This is such a good version of a hope spot.



Chigusa gives up on the Scorpion and we have a bit of a reset. Both wrestlers seem to decide that they need to hit some more bombs, but they're both wrestling defensively so we're not actually going to see many get hit. There's an awesome struggle over a backdrop which goes on for like 30 seconds, and then we have both wrestlers squaring off and they both agree to go for a knuckle lock which lasts a minute, and you can see what's happening is both wrestlers are trying to leverage themselves into a position to quickly hit a big suplex. And the crowd is LOUD for all of this. They are loudly chanting CHI-GU-SA for a minute long knuckle lock spot! And then scream in excitement when it's Chigusa who manages to quickly switch into a German suplex for a two count. This is a decisive moment in the match as taking that big throw seems to knock the wind out of Devil and she's a lot more weak in struggling against Chigusa's next suplex (all the suplexes are a struggle in this match!) and can barely defend herself from the strikes that follow. We then get a big climatic moment as Chigusa flying spin kicks Devil to the ground, grabs her foot and finally on the third attempt and 25 minutes into the match, she locks in that Scorpion Death Lock!


The Scorpion doesn't win Chigusa the match though. It's not a finisher (in fact finishers don't really exist in 80s Joshi) just a signature move, but it's a done Devil a lot of damage before she crawls to the ropes, after which she's just laid out of the floor twitching in pain. Chigusa is feeling ruthless though, she kicks Devil right in the back until she knocks her straight out of the ring. And then in an incredibly audacious move, she takes a page out of Devil's playbook and hits a dive on her to the outside and goes back in for the referee to count Devil out! Seriously, the cheek! Devil's not gonna lose to that, she beats the 20 count and climbs into the ring. Nah that's not quite what happened. She STABS HER PURPLE DISNEY VILLAIN SWORD INTO THE APRON AND PULLS HERSELF UP WITH IT WITH IT WEARING A FACE OF PURE MURDER !! "DO YOU KNOW WHO I FUCKING AM!? HOW DARE YOU PULL THAT SHIT ON ME!?" This is just so awesome. Devil's turned super Satanic now just with facial expressions like she's trying to terrify Chigusa into regretting what she just did. But Chigusa just stands there right in the middle of the ring and bravely stares Devil down the whole time just like she did before the match started. Devil then cuts a sad figure. She looks so dejected that her going into Satanic Sword-Wielding mode didn't have the desired effect on this little shit, and just meekly hands the sword back to a second. She seems diminished all of a sudden. She's such a great actress.


Of course she's not beaten though. She just goes through a big change in attitude after this moment, and now we get another reset with Devil taking Chigusa more seriously than ever before. She approaches very cautiously now with her hands blocking her face like she's in a boxing match, as if to say "you are indeed a worthy foe." Devil's now focused as Chigusa was from the beginning, not keeping her eyes off her opponent. Chigusa's got her hands up too. They're actually going to start throwing hands now, we're almost 30 minutes in and we haven't even got to the boxing sections of the match yet. Memphis here we come!


We've just passed the 30 minute call now and we're now in absolutely epic territory. Both wrestlers are exhausted. The struggles over the holds to gain leverage now are a lot shorter as they barely have the strength to prevent the other from hitting big moves if they're caught now, so they're just keeping away from each other and throwing a quick bomb attempt whenever they spot the opportunity. A big advantage of this style not having finishers is nothing feels like it SHOULD end the match yet, but still plenty of things feel like they COULD be the finish. They're both so wobbly legged you can't see them surviving much more. Their standard offense now is just throwing punches rather than anything more elaborate as we saw earlier, and it totally suits the mood. Both wrestlers realise now there is serious pride on the line. Devil will not be humiliated losing her title to this upstart who she went into this thing underestimating, and Chigusa will not let slip this opportunity to beat the woman who's been bullying and stomping all over her since literally her first televised match.


And that's it. All they have left from this point on is punches and kicks, and even if they land one they're expending so much of the energy they have left it's like it's hurting them too. Just nothing but pure determination left until their bodies fail them. Chigusa lands the last blow knocking Devil down, but Chigusa also collapses to the mat in exhaustion. She crawls over a few paces, presumably to attempt a cover as Devil appears totally out of it, but she falls down too and the referee starts a 10 count. Chigusa looked to be closer to making it to her feet, but neither wrestler beats the count so we get a double knockout. As satisfying a double KO as there could ever be.

At least Chigusa kept her promise and didn't lose today.

In the post match, after several minutes recovering on the ground being given water by their seconds, Devil asks for the microphone. She says "Today... we both got knocked out so I keep the title but..."


The ending is kinda corny but I don't care, it's touching. Chigusa just gave everything to physically destroy this woman, but all it takes then is for Devil to say probably the first nice thing about her ever, and Chigusa is overwhelmed with emotion and respectfully bows before her senior, and Devil acknowledges her. That's a win. I'm sure Chigusa left Budokan Hall with no regrets. Devil Masami left a babyface (this match also achieved a successfully executed turn!), and just a few months later would wrestle Dump Matsumoto for the WWWA Championship with the crowd 100% behind her.

This match is a beautiful piece of art. Such a riposte to the notion that Joshi was all about Manami Toyota style go go go athletic movefests with no real narrative.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U76QECxeTzA
[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxbL7JUQ1_Q
[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTOjfdnEZUw


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