Legends Of AJW: The Crush Gals (Chigusa Nagayo & Lioness Asuka)

Crush Gals

All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling (AJW) is one of the biggest pro wrestling companies in the history of Japan.  The all women’s promotion housed some of the biggest women’s stars in wrestling history.  Legends Of AJW will take a look into the careers of some of AJW’s legendary talents.  This edition focuses on the two biggest stars to ever walk through AJW the Crush Gals (Chigusa Nagayo & Lioness Asuka)

The Crush Gals were arguably the biggest stars All Japan Women’s ever made.  If ever anyone tells you that Japanese crowds are quiet just show them videos of thousands of girls screaming their lungs out for Nagayo and Asuka as they made their way to the way.  Not only were the Crush Gals wrestling stars but they were genuine pop culture idols who released music, their first single sold over 100,000 copies.

Career in AJW

The Crush Gals most famous feud was with Dump Matsumoto’s faction Gokuaku Doumei, the Atrocious Alliance.  The Alliance was made up of vile, monstrous women who openly bent the rules and at times employed the use of a heel referee.  Matches often revolved around Nagayo and Asuka inevitably fighting back against the cheating to rapturous reactions as the fans willed their heroes on to defeat the evildoers.  This feud raged on for a year with these two teams doing battle on multiple occasions and often drawing big crowds and strong TV ratings.  One of the high points of the feud saw Nagayo vs Matsumoto in a hair vs hair match with Nagayo losing and being forced to shave her head, anyone that’s seen the match knows that pandemonium ensued following the finish as the babyfaces were enraged at Matsumoto’s cheating.  In the end, members of the Atrocious Alliance would hold Nagayo down and take her hair in front of a shocked Osaka Jo-Hall with many fans in tears seeing their hero lose her hair.

Nagayo and Asuka would gain some retribution for this loss just months later when they won the 1985 Tag League The Best by defeating the Atrocious Alliance in the final.  This would be one of the last big wins for the Crush Gals’ first run as they would cease teaming together in May 1986.  Both women would remain at the top of the company for years to come and met in singles competition multiple times in 5-star classics, they also sporadically teamed together on special occasions including for Dump Matsumoto’s retirement, as well as Nagayo’s retirement and won the WWWA tag team titles one last time in 1989.

In 1989 both women would retire as at the time AJW competitors had to retire upon reaching the age of 26.  This would be the end of the Crush Gals in AJW, they retired as 4-time WWWA tag team champions, Chigusa Nagayo left as a 2-time All Pacific champion, 2-time AJW Junior champion, and a former WWWA World Champion.  Meanwhile, Lioness Asuka retired as a 2-time WWWA World Champion, 2-time AJW Champion, and AJW Junior Champion.

Feud In GAEA & Crush 2000

Chigusa Nagayo would go on to found GAEA Japan in 1995 to continue her career.  In 1998 Lioness Asuka made her debut in GAEA but instead of teaming with her former Crush Gals partner, she became one of the company’s top heels.  Asuka won control of the company in storyline and founded a heel stable called Super Star Unit made up of other legendary names such as Akira Hokuto and Aja Kong among others.

Nagayo and Asuka wouldn’t be apart long as they would once again unite in 2000 to form Crush 2000 as they united against Mayumi Ozaki.  At GAEA’s fifth anniversary show Crush 2000 main evented the Ariake Coliseum and drew 9000 fans, proving once again that the team was a big draw.  At GAEA’s 10th anniversary the Crush Gals would team for the final team in front of 5,800 fans for Lioness Asuka’s retirement show.  GAEA Japan would close a week later and Nagayo would retire once again, although she still wrestles to this day.

From the beginning to the end the Crush Gals were two of the biggest stars in all of Japan and were something akin to Hulk Hogan as far as popularity goes.  Even 11 years after their peak they were still drawing big crowds for GAEA and their reunion was mainstream news in Japan.  There is no better place to begin this series than with the Crush Gals who were huge stars and defined an era of AJW where they mad tag team wrestling the center point of the promotion.

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