Meltzer’s Classics: Jaguar Yokota vs. Lioness Asuka, 22/8/85

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It’s safe to say that Jaguar Yokota was cool as fuck.

After the discovery of a whole bunch of 5-star matches that we missed the first time around, Meltzer’s Classics has now dived back into 1985 and to the regular setting of Japan. This is our first women’s match to feature on the list as Jaguar Yokota defends her WWWA Championship against Lioness Asuka. Being honest, I hadn’t heard of either of these women, but a bit of research tells me that they are highly respected in Japan, if not in the West.

It quickly becomes clear why. After the customary streamers (which suggest Asuka is the favourite) we are underway and fuck, I can’t keep up. This is chain wrestling performed at a million miles an hour and they are transitioning from pins to submissions at a rate which is impossible to call. It’s genuinely fantastic and the first five minutes of this match are breathtaking.

An actual GIF from the match, I spoil you sometimes.

They go down to the mat for a bit as Yokota starts to work over Asuka’s legs. She follows this up with a huge Lou Thesz press and a Frankensteiner into a pin. Asuka comes back with a fancy roll-up of her own followed by a powerslam and it’s her turn to work over the lower half of Yokota. Both of them work submissions like Zack Sabre Jr and never sit in them. They grind their opponent, shifting around to make it look as painful as possible. Asuka switches to an armbar which Yokota has to escape by kicking her opponent in the head before going back to some submissions of her own.

This is when the pace of the match changes. Yokota takes control and, apart from a brief period where they come to their feet and Yokota hits a Jackhammer for a one, the two women are on the mat battling it out in submission holds. If you are a submission fiend, it might work for you, but for most people, this is going to get a bit dull. It’s the moment where this exciting match grinds to a halt for a good ten minutes.

Yup, definitely cool as fuck.

It was also the moment where I thought they’d lost their way. I am a fan of submission wrestling, but when you sit in the same hold for five minutes, it’s hard to retain that tension. Why should the crowd believe the person is going to tap on minute five when they didn’t on minute two. However, I was wrong about this match, because the finishing stretch is incredible.

It’s when Asuka is in control that it speeds up again as she hits a lovely delayed suplex for a two and we are back to them trading cool roll up attempts. It all leads to Yokota delivering a vicious looking kneeling double under-hook piledriver. It’s not the end though as Asuka bridges out and hits a running sit-out tombstone of her own. But back in the old days, big moves always finished matches, didn’t they?

A later example of that swing I was talking about.

Asuka follows up with a collection of kicks to the head and a big swing that makes Cesaro’s look positively tiny. Yokota then takes an insane bump as Asuka lifts her in the air and front suplexes her out of the ring and onto the floor. Somehow, she dodges Asuka’s follow up dive and you have to assume they are both dead.

This isn’t set to be one of those infamous Japanese double count-outs. I have no idea how, but both women make it back to the ring and Asuka is still in control. It’s not for long, though, as in a fit of desperation Yokota hits a straightjacket suplex and takes Asuka to the top rope. It’s a momentary reprieve, as once again Yokota is caught with a front suplex. This time it’s only to the mat which is slightly less mental I guess. She’s not dead yet, however, as Asuka misses the follow-up knee drop and walks into a fisherman brainbuster for Jaguar Yokota to pick up the win.

What a fucking match. Even with the slow section in the middle, this is incredible and is worked in a style that would fit in on any indie show in the world right now. I’d love to sit down everyone that complains about the lack of selling from modern wrestlers and show them this because these two hit each other with everything and keep getting back up for more. This is undeniably a five-star classic and if you’ve never seen it, I implore you to search it out today.

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