Fans today may not realize that AJW was doing major annual shows on January 4th years before NJPW. In the case of AJW, these January 4th shows served the purpose of setting the stage for the rest of the year. Often featuring future main event talents in important matches, and a main-event match headlined by the biggest stars.
AJW yearly opening ceremony for 1983.
The show kicked off with a ceremony for the roster. The heels entered one side of the arena and the babyfaces from the other. AJW always kicked off their first show of the year with some sort of ceremony. The video cut off in the middle of the ceremony. What we saw looked fine.
Mimi Hagiwara performing her song "Sexy In The Night".
Next, the video moves on to the usual AJW introduction of the announcing team in this particular show. Followed by a Mimi Hagiwara musical performance. The song is called Sexy In The Night. She is wearing all the diamonds in the world. Mimi is a good singer with a lot of star power. I'm pretty sure this was a live performance based on the audio quality. It's impressive.
Yuriko Takagai on the left and Nancy Kumi on the right.
Next, we see a short clip of Nancy Kumi's retirement match in AJW. It's a double retirement match that ended in a draw Vs. Yuriko Takagai. Yuriko was a promising rookie at the time, but her run in wrestling was too short to accomplish anything notable. It's kind of a shame that Nancy's retirement didn't seem to be a bigger deal at the time. She had an outstanding long run with the company, and she was one of the best AJW wrestlers of the 1970s. Maybe the best babyface tag team wrestler in an era when the WWWA Tag Team titles were very important. Nancy came back to the ring later in the 1980s for the original JWP. Her and Jackie Sato were good friends outside of wrestling. According to the 1999 biography of Jackie Sato in the Wrestling Observer, Nancy Kumi was by Jackie's side when Jackie passed away. If I'm not mistaken, post-wrestling Nancy opened up a martial arts dojo.
Lioness Asuka in control of Chigusa Nagayo.
The future Crush Gals explode!
I gotta say AJW title is one of the most beautiful title belts ever. It was a secondary title for up and coming wrestlers with main event potential. There were a lot of future WWWA Singles champions in the AJW Title lineage.
Nagayo starts by being a jerk who tries to take the belt before the match begins. Told ya it was a nice looking belt. The match kicks off strong with a slap battle, and some nice brawling on the outside. The champion calms the action down and brings things back to the ring. The story of the match is that Lioness is the better wrestler, and Nagayo has more energy than the champion. During a grappling exchange, the challengers gets out of a head-scissors and takes control. Nagayo starts working Asuka's legs. Nagayo then takes the action back outside and leaves the champion in a heap outside the ring. The ref helps lioness with her leg injury. If you see a lot of 70s and 80s AJW, that was a common sight, and it always helps sell leg injuries. I wish more companies would use that trick today. A+ selling by Lioness Asuka.
Later in the match, Lioness takes control and starts to work the legs of Nagayo as well. The champion misses a top rope splash. A+ fiery comeback by Nagayo. Asuka retakes control via sunset flip. Asuka throws a mean slap. Signature Giant Swing by Asuka. There is a terrifying looking backdrop where Nagayo lands right on her face. Lioness holds down the challenger for the pin.
This is an excellent match. It's a very physical battle with rock-solid psychology, and a good story.
Dynamite Girls in control of the match.
The American tag team kickoff by beating up the smaller Yukari. Jumbo tags in. She's an equal size match for Leilani, and takes the momentum. Penny tags in. There is some nice brawling between Jumbo and Penny. This first fall is basically the American team beating up Yukari and Jumbo coming to the rescue. Penny and Leilani screw up a double team, which allows Yukari and Jumbo to take over and brawl on the outside. The first fall ends in a Double Count out finish.
Kai and Hori start the second fall with a test of strength. The match goes to the outside again, and Hori is almost counted out. I believe the announcers are saying that Kai calls herself Pineapple power. By this point in time, Leilani was a regular foreigner in AJW. She had several tours under her belt already. The Americans beat up Hori. Hori takes control and locks in a Boston crab on Penny. Kai tries to break it up, Yukari breaks it up. Hori gets the pin with a couple of bodyslams.
This was an average TV match for the time. Nothing special, but not bad. Hori is kept protected. She comes off looking the best at the end.
Devil Masami with a bloody face.
At this point in time, Jaguar was the top wrestler in AJW and WWWA Singles champion. Mimi was All-Pacific champion and one of the most popular wrestlers on the roster. Devil and Tarantula were fairly deep into their tag title run. So this was a huge match at the time.
This era of AJW had some amazing entrance gear. In this match, Mimi dressed as a literal Princess in a flowing gown. It's really something.
In a twist, the match starts with the babyface trying to take a 2 on 1 advantage and failing, which leads to an outside brawl. After things settle down Jaguar takeover on Tarantula and tags in Mimi. Tarantula fights back and feeds Mimi to Devil, who turns the match into a brawl on the outside again. Mimi gets back in the ring during the ref's count. Devil dominates her for some time. Mimi does an excellent job of keeping her fire and energy up while still taking a beating. Devil tags in Tarantula and she continues the beat down on Mimi. Devil tags in as the heels work over Mimi's hair. Jaguar makes a tag and tries to quicken the pace, but Devil cuts her off. I don't think anyone in the history of wrestling has been faster in a ring than 1983 Jaguar Yokota running at full speed. She could break land speed records. Tarantula tags in and prevents Jaguar from tagging out, but Jaguar manages to catch her off guard with some flips and a body press. Jaguar runs wild, and wins the first fall with a suplex. It's a good first fall to set up the action.
Jaguar and Tarantula start the second fall. Jaguar and Mimi take the advantage early. Tarantula makes it back to her corner and tags in Devil. Mimi is cautious. Devil takes over with roughhouse tactics and again takes Mimi to the outside for punishment. Devil Masami is a force of nature when she's beating down a babyface. “Devil” might be the most accurate nickname in wrestling history. On the other side of the arena, Tarantula and Jaguar are fighting with microphone cords. Devil grabs a mic as well and beats up Mimi with it. The heels are dominating this fall all the way. Tarantula brings the action back in the ring. The heels beat up Mimi 2 on 1. Devil takes the pin following a very cool backbreaker and a double team gutbuster. Great second fall with lots of mayhem. It really shows that the heels mean serious business.
Mimi and Jaguar are not happy with the ref. They start beating the ref with a table! Literally swinging the table at him and the heels. The babyfaces are giving the heels a taste of their own medicine. Mimi throws Tarantula at the announce team.
Meanwhile back in the ring, Devil has taken control over Jaguar and she Gorilla Press Slams Jaguar to the outside! Mimi comes into the ring. Devil throws her to the outside as well. Somewhere in the mayhem, Devil is busted open. The heels hit the babyfaces with a pair of stereo suplexes. They get the pinfall even though Mimi had her foot on the ropes. Jaguar and Mimi don't want to leave they have to literally be dragged out kicking and screaming by the rest of the roster. It's a great visual. We close the show with the heels holding up trophies.
This match was a lot of awesome chaotic mayhem. A lot of fun. Early AJW was one of the best promotions at doing wild out of control brawls that were totally safe, but still felt like a gang battle.
I'll give the show an additional 3 star rating for the non-match content for the opening ceremony, Mimi's musical performance, and the clip of the retirements. The show also moves along at a nice pace, and it doesn't feel too short or too long.
The show gets an average match rating of 3.33, and a total match rating of 10. The overall show gets an overall average rating of 3.25. By my rating system, that is a very good score.