REWIND: Jaguar Yokota vs Lioness Asuka
This one starts off mid-introduction of Lioness Asuka who is showered with a rainbow of streamers, completely flooding the ring for a moment. I mean it's just a shitload of streamers and, as streamers tend to do, they look great.
A handshake before the bell, the crowd begins to cheer, and the chain-wrestling is off to the races! Snapmare, cover, bridge out, snapmare, cover, bridge out, spin kick, cazadora, armdrag, cazadora, pin, I CAN'T TYPE FAST ENOUGH!
After getting tied up in the ropes from both wrestlers attempting an abdominal stretch, Yokota hits the ropes and comes back with a forward handspring to avoid a punch from Asuka. We're like 90 seconds in and this is already so much fun to look at.
Things slow down a bit with some more wrestling, each woman trying to play it slow and safe to try and gain the advantage after that initial burst. Yokota ends up with a leglock on Asuka in the center, the Champion comfortable as she shifts position and wrenches back on a single leg Boston Crab.
Suddenly, they're back on their feet and Asuka hits the ropes rebounding into a hurricanrana from Yokota for a two count. Asuka avoids a charge in the corner and wraps the champion in a backslide for another pin attempt before laying Yokota flat with a slam.
As much as these two are grappling on the mat, they also seem equally intent on speeding things up when they get too comfortable. Nobody holds an advantage more than a minute, each woman sliding out of submission attempts after a few moments and only staying down for a one-count in most instances.
Asuka settles into a cross arm breaker on Yokota, but Yokota is constantly fighting against it first by trying to keep their hands clasped to avoid the hyperextension and then with kicks to the back of the challenger's head. The kicks do the trick and Yokota is able to roll the hold over to begin work on Asuka's leg.
Still, Asuka shows no signs of slowing and is determined to get the hell out of this hold come hell or high water. She eventually reaches the ropes, but Yokota pulls her back and keeps the hold locked on while pain etches itself on the face of the challenger.
Wrestling back to their feet, Yokota briefly locks in an octopus hold with an elbow to the ribs for good measure. It's not wreaking enough havoc on the body for the champion's good, I guess, because she transitions into a jackhammer for another near-fall.
The name of the game here is grappling hell. Wrestling the shit out of your opponent, wearing them down to avoid feeling a doozy of offense like the one that was felt at the onset of the match. Halfway through the match, Yokota is winning this battle.
After forcing another rope break, Asuka is quick to her feet and kicks the leg (out of the leg) of Yokota. The heat is really on here as Asuka looks to do to Yokota what was just done to her – attack the leg and take away the mobility of her opponent. Rather than doing it through submissions, though, Asuka kicks and drops knees on the left knee of the champion before kicking her to the outside of the ring for some recovery time.
Back in the ring, Yokota has a momentary advantage on the mat before the two make it to their feet again. Asuka peppers the champion with a round of kicks before taking it to the mat once more, this time applying a submission to the damaged left leg of Yokota.
It's a familiar refrain as it's Yokota who reaches the rope to force a break this time, Asuka pulling her to her feet to hit a delayed vertical suplex. It's a near-fall with Yokota bridging out, but without the gusto we saw from a similar bridge earlier in the match.
After another pin attempt by Asuka, Yokota dropkicks her through the ropes and to the floor. Asuka catches her from the outside with a sunset flip for a two-count. Yokota once more turns the tables and locks on a double underhook. Suplex? Tiger Bomb? Nope, it's a nasty piledriver with the champion dropping to her knees rather than to a sitting position. Asuka manages to escape the pin with a bridge of her own.
Yokota pulls her up once more and sets up for a tombstone piledriver, but Asuka reverses. In one of the most insane to watch and disgusting things I've ever seen, Asuka backs into the rope still holding Yokota in a tombstone position and comes charging to the center of the ring with a sitout tombstone – the same kind that broke the neck of Steve Austin years later. It looks like Yokota's head gets fucking drilled here and I don't think it was just a magic trick of poofy 80s hair. I yelled "FUCK OFF" at the TV.
Asuka is in control now and she knows it, decorating the body of Yokota with a series of kicks for another near fall. Asuka catches the champion in airplane spin but that's not enough spinning, because a giant swing comes next! And the speed at which she spins is just off the chart. All of the dizzying offense is only good for a two count and that frustration begins to show for the challenger.
Asuka picks Yokota up for a vertical suplex and then just tosses her over the top rope to the arena floor. No rest for the weary, though, as Asuka charges off of the ropes and dives outside with a topé suicida – hitting nothing but the cold floor of the Budokan.
Asuka is back in first and pulls Yokota up to the apron, bringing her in with a slingshot suplex for another two. A high German suplex is good for another two before Asuka pulls Yokota to her feet. She whips the champion to the ropes and misses a wild swing, Yokota locking her challenger's fingers and twisting into a straightjacket German suplex for another close two!
Yokota deposits Asuka on the top rope and then ascends, locking her opponent up for a superplex. But no! Asuka fights back and lifts Yokota for a suplex of her own! I again shout profanities at my TV, "FUCK YOU!", as it looks like Asuka is going to suplex Yokota to the arena floor. Instead, she delivers a front-face suplex into the ring but misses with a follow-up knee drop.
Quick to her feet, Yokota locks in her Jaguar Back Suplex for the pin and the win!
Holy shit! I really don't care about star ratings, but it's easy to see why Dave Meltzer gave this 5 stars. Everything in this match is so damn good and would be just as good in any era of professional wrestling, including today. I also need to check out the rest of this card. I'm proud to wear my All Japan Women's "Victory Through Guts" pin on my jacket.
So far, through about a week and a half of doing these posts, I think this is my favorite match so far. I'm really using this whole series as an excuse to watch some things I've never seen before and less to re-watch old matches I already love, though I'm sure I'll do some of the latter at some point.
Lioness Asuka retired in 2005 due to injury, teaming with Crush Gals partner Chigusa Nagayo one last time. Yokota, on the other hand, did the wrestler's dance – retired in 1986, came out of retirement in 1995, retired again in 1998, then returned to the ring in 2004 and is still active today.
I was two-years-old when this match happened and it's dumb that it took me 38 additional years to actually see it. There's a lot from the later 80s and 90s joshi that I've seen, and I guess I've just been stuck in those eras more than the early/mid 80s. That's going to change fast. If I'm not mistaken, IWTV added a bunch of AJW stuff in the past year or two but I know there's also just a ton floating around on Youtube as well.
Go watch this match now. Victory Through fucking Guts. God damn.