A Brief History of The Crush Gals

    As predicted, The Crush Gals (Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo) reunited at the December 27 GAEA Korakuen Hall show following the tag team main event where Nagayo and Meiko Satomura went to a no-contest with Asuka and Sonoko Kato following a run-in by Team Nostradamus.

    Putting the Crush Gals back together was a logical move because it allows new matches such as Lioness vs. Aja (Who I don't think have ever met in singles, at least not in this decade), Lioness vs. Ozaki, Lioness vs. Hokuto, and a rematch between Nagayo and Aja from the bout in May where Aja captured the AAAW title.

    The Crush Gals were formed in the early 1980s, Nagayo and Asuka qucikly became by far the most popular women's tag team since the Beauty Pair in the 1970's, and possibly the most popular ever. They drew huge crowds of teenage girls for their wars with Dump Matsumoto, a large woman who naturally was a heel, and arguably the best heel of all time.

    The Crush Gals first association with the WWWA Tag Team titles began on August 25, 1984 when they beat Dynamite Girls Jumbo Hori and Yukari Ohmori to win the belts. The reign ended exactly five months later when they were defeated by arch rival Matsumoto and her partner Crane Yu. After Dump and Yu were forced to vacate the titles, the Crush Gals overcame Dump and Bull Nakano in Ohmiya on May 16, 1985 to become two time champions. Nagayo and Asuka held the titles until December when injuries forced them to vacate.

    The famous hair match between Chigusa and Dump happened on August 28 1985. Chigusa was bloodied and eventually KO'ed by Dump, who proceeded to shave her head.

    The Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki) claimed the tag titles the Crush Gals had vacated, but only held them for two months before The Crush Gals became three time champions at their expense. A injury to Asuka prevented her from being able to wrestle in a WWWA Tag Team title defence against Nakano and Dump on August 23 1986 so Kazue Nagahori defended the titles in conjunction with Nagayo. Once again, Nakano and Matsumoto took the titles from them.

    On September 10 1986 Chigusa was singing in the ring when Matsumoto and friends ran in and attacked her, cutting her clothes up. The fans chanted for "LIONESS" to make the save. Several wrestlers eventually entered the ring, and Dump's gang left. This incident led to a second hair match being signed. At the press conference, Dump sliced a chicken in half. The match happened on November 6 1986. Once again Dump beat the hell out of Chigusa, but fell victim to a rollup and was pinned. Chigusa and friends took great delight in cutting Dump's hair after the match.

    The retirement of Dump Matsumoto in 1988 left the Crush Gals without a headline feud as a tag team. Matsumoto's retirement allowed the Crush Girls to contend for the WWWA Singles title on a more regular basis. During the summer of 1987, Asuka had failed to dethrone champion Yukari Ohmori, however on October 20 Nagayo used a moonsault to pin Ohmori for the title. On August 22 1988, Asuka defeated Nagayo in a great match to become the champion when the referee had to stop the match due to a shoulder injury. The inconclusiveness of the win led to Asuka refusing to accept the title.

    The big re-match between the best friends came on January 22, 1989. Asuka won the title cleanly here and held it through to her retirement. On March 4, 1989 the Crush Gals won the WWWA Tag Team titles for the first time in several years, overcoming younger rivals Mika Komatsu and Yumi Ogura. Having reached AJW's retirement age, Nagayo was forced to give up wrestling in 1989. Her retirement show on May 6 drew a huge crowd for an event where the Crush Gals performed a lengthy concert and wrestled just about everyone in the company. Indeed, Nagayo probably did more jobs in this one night than she would go on to do in the next ten years. Asuka retired later in the year, and for AJW, business took a sharp fall for several years.

    Asuka and Nagayo came out of retirement in the mid-90's, but kept away from each other until December 1998 when Asuka turned up at a GAEA Korakuen Hall show and walked straight past her former tag team partner to side with Mayumi Ozaki and Aja Kong. On April 4, 1999 the former Crush Gals met in the ring for the first time since their WWWA title match more than ten years ago. This time it was the presidency of Nagayo's GAEA that was on the line. After a strong match, albeit below the level of their 80's classics, Asuka took the win and became the president. A loss against Aja Kong a month or so later cost Nagayo further, as she lost the GAEA AAAW title, and her job with the company she founded.

    After several weeks "training at muscle beach", Nagayo returned to GAEA several pounds lighter and with a new attitude. In her first match, she crushed Etsuko Mita in 30 seconds. With Asuka's SSU heel group crumbling, a re-match between her and Nagayo was set for September 15 at the Yokohama Bunka Gym. Nagayo used Asuka's rulebreaking tactics against her here, throwing fire at her former partner to claim victory and regain control of the company. Following her win, Nagayo extended a hand of friendship. Asuka chose not to accept and left the ring.

    During the latter part of 1999 a new faction appeared in GAEA, Mayumi Ozaki's Team Nostradamus. This alliance consisted of former SSU members Ozaki, Akira Hokuto, Aja Kong, Sugar Sato, Chikayo Nagashima and Kaori Nakayama. Several tag team matches happened in the winter months with Nostradamus against Asuka, and Nostradamus against GAEA. For the December 27 1999 show, Nagayo and Satomura were matched against Asuka and Kato. After only 7:20 of action, Team Nostradamus jumped in to make the attack. After clearing house of the heels, the long awaited handshake to reunite the Crush Gals finally occured.

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