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Chigusa Nagayo v Devil Masami


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Chigusa Nagayo v Devil Masami - 08/22/85 (AJW)


AJW matches in the 1980s have an atmosphere unlike any other era any other company era ever had. Chigusa Nagayo was essentially the biggest name in the history of pro wrestling. She wasn't on the level of Hogan or Rock in the United States; she was more on the level of Madonna, in that she was immersed in the pop culture of the time period. The Crush Girls were a wrestling promoter's wet dream, crossing over into just about every aspect of entertainment, and as a result, they attracted hoards of teenage girls. Hardcore fans of the time were often embarrassed or uninterested by AJW, and it was their loss, as matches like this were as good as anything going on in the world at the time, and possibly better. Teenage girls the nation over knew the score, however, and came to the matches in droves to scream -- loudly -- in support of their favorites. What's interesting (and disappointing) about this match is how it was buried for so long. It didn't really surface and becoming widely available until 2003, which is a shame, because for years, when fans referred to this card, it was synonymous with Lioness Asuka v Jaguar Yokota. For a match like this to play second fiddle to anything else is wrong enough, but for a match like this to lay dormant for 18 years is a crime against wrestling's very nature. Fortunately, the match is now more accessible and is getting much of the praise it deserves.


The match starts with a rather long and intense staredown. Unfamiliar with the storyline, I'm surprised to see a handshake to start the match, but I guess if I learned anything from this match, it's that Devil Masami is actually sort of an angel in disguise, wrestling with utmost conviction, but respecting her opponent enough to not give her any less than her most violent, her most aggressive and most focused. And that rings true for much of this match -- we're a third of the way into the match before Chigusa even starts showing signs of life and demonstrates the ability to stay competitive. Early on, she is outclassed by Devil on the mat, she is out-assaulted by her when she tries to pick up the pace, and she's overpowered by Masami when she finds herself on the losing end of a test of strength, a position she'd find herself trapped in three times before the match was over. Nagayo embodies the hope of the crowd though, and has enough heart to carry her through her darkest moments. She also never backs away, no matter how tough the road ahead looks, and even though she's most likely overmatched in skill, her spirit keeps the fire burning when her body fails her.


No moves are executed with ease on either side; there is a struggle for every strike, for every suplex, for every hold from the start of this until the bitter end. You won't find Nagayo, for example, applying a scorpion leglock without Masami fighting with everything she has not to let her opponent turn her over; you won't find it easy to punch Chigusa, as she blocks Devil's fists with her hands; you won't find Masami applying a piledriver without having to first reverse Nagayo's attempt at the move. The theme here is that nothing comes naturally when you have two competitors this determined, and that rings true for the entirety of the match. The match is put over beautifully by both competitors when it's over; the lack of a winner and loser would suggest that nothing was resolved, but in actuality, they both were better for wrestling this match, tougher for crossing each other's paths and humbled for learning the lesson that no matter how incredible they become at their craft, they will always have true peers. The embrace after the match symbolizes the respect earned by and for each wrestler.



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