Wrestling: All Japan Womens Pro Wrestling
Victory Through Guts
Better known in the native language as "Zenjo", All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling (AJW) was a Japanese Women's Professional Wrestling
, often shortened to just joshi
) promotion that was founded in 1968 and folded in 2005. AJW was the largest promotion during the glory days of joshi
in the 1980s
It was also the last surviving of the joshi
federations that had sprung up in response to Mildred Burke's World Women's Wrestling Association tour of Japan. It stayed afloat by securing continued bookings of WWWA and American Girls' Wrestling Association wrestlers.
The first major stars of AJW were the "Beauty Pair" of Jackie Sato and Maki Ueda in the 1970s
. These paved the way for the stars of the 1980s, including Jaguar Yokata, the Crush Gals (Lioness Asuka
and Chigusa Nagayo), and the Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki, who also appeared in the WWF in the 1980s). The Crush Gals in particular gained massive popularity, and their feud with mega-heel Dump Matsumoto and her gang generated nuclear levels of heat, packing arenas with screaming schoolgirls (some of whom would go on to become the next generation of joshi wrestlers).
During this time, AJW had a policy that all of their wrestlers had to retire once they reached the age of 25 (they were also the only joshi
promotion in Japan until JWP was formed in 1986). This meant the Crush Gals retired in 1989, which was a huge blow to AJW's popularity. However, it also cleared the way for a new generation of stars, including Manami Toyota
(now a practically-certified joshi
legend), Aja Kong
, Akira Hokuto, Kyoko Inoue, Takako Inoue, and LCO (Las Cacchoras Orientales), Mima Shimoda and Etsuko Mita.
By the mid-1990s, there were several joshi promotions, and the "retire at 25" policy was abandoned, allowing the Crush Gals (among others) to return (ironically, given their famous feud with Dump Matsumoto, as monster heels that beat up the new generation of cute, young faces). However, this meant AJW had the same problem as many other wrestling promotions: the veterans wanted to hold onto their spots at the top of the card, and they weren't willing to give them up to newer wrestlers. This, combined with financial mismanagement by the owners and the general decline in the popularity of pro wrestling in the early 2000s
, led to AJW losing its TV deal in 2002, and eventually folding in 2005. However, its legacy of housing arguably the greatest women's wrestlers - and some of the best women's wrestling matches - in the history of the industry remains.
All Japan Pro Wrestling
is a wholly separate organisation.
Tropes associated With All Japan Womens Pro Wresting:
- Action Girl or Dark Action Girl: The entire roster.
- Christmas Cake: The "retire at 25" policy.
- '80s Hair: Surprisingly tame, but there were enough noticeable cases during the 1980s, such as Dump Matsumoto, as well as Mexicans Irma González and Irma Águilar.
- Foreign Wrestling Heel: Relied pretty heavily on using WWWA and AGWA women in this role for the early years of its existence, though use of them started to decline as their own stars, such as the Beauty Pair, became established.
- Garbage Wrestler The Dump Matsumoto and the FMW migrants
- Japanese Delinquents: Dump Matsumoto and her gang.
- Lovely Angels
- Many in the tag team division.
- The Beauty Pair served as the inspiration for the Dirty Pair.
- Serial Escalation: From about 1991 to 1996 the whole promotion managed to continually not only top itself but the rest of the industry in ways not even previously conceived.
- The Dreaded: When FMW established a women's division, the wrestlers it employed became feared by all but the bravest of Zenjo.
- The Verse: The WWWA and AGWA titles from the United States and the IWA Women's title from Canada were regularly defended in AJW. The former two were later revived as AJW's title belts after the promotions went under.
- World of Action Girls