(Almost) 5-Star Match Reviews: Bull Nakano vs. Aja Kong – AJW Wrestlemarinepiad II (1990)
By Alex Podgorski on 19th November 2023
“The two coolest female wrestlers on the planet try to murder each other in a cage…honestly, what’s not to love?” – Joseph Montecillo
There’s no arguing that statement. Few women have ever done a better job at convincing people they were terrifying monsters not to be messed with than Bull Nakano and Aja Kong. From their ringnames, to their outlandish attires, to the sheer lack of f**ks they gave in the ring, these two gave the sport a serious edge that help it move away (to some extent) from its eye candy and pop idol-inspired roots.
These days it’s quite rare to see an actual monster in women’s wrestling outside of small indy federations, and the ones that do get featured don’t actually look or feel like the monsters they’re supposed to be. That’s why we have go to back in time to see women’s wrestlers actually trying to make their craft look legit, painful, and more than just a performance.
Previously I was writing for a site called TJR Wrestling and now this series is coming to Blog of Doom. For now you can check out the series in its entirety here.
For those unfamiliar with either woman you can find great breakdowns here and here. For the more impatient among you, let’s just say that Aja Kong was – and still is – the women’s version of Vader in pretty much every way while Nakano was like something out of a 1980s comic book or wild anime with a mean streak a mile wide. Both were genuine badasses that would rather look scary than pretty. Both were known for their toughness. And throughout their respective careers, both women proved that they could wrestle in more than just one type of match.
With so many similarities between them, the two were initially put together with the older Nakano serving as a mentor of sorts to the younger Kong. Nakano and Kong were stablemates during the period after the 1980s Crush Gals peak and the 1990s Toyota et al workhorses period. But Kong wasn’t happy playing second fiddle to anyone and wanted to prove that she was the bigger and better monster.
So after years of working together, they soon found themselves on opposite sides of the ring as Nakano and her Gokumon-to faction started a long rivalry with Kong, Bison Kimura, and the rest of the crew now going by the name Jungle Jack.
This rivalry escalated quickly and intensely, to the point that the first singles match between these two took place in a cage match. That was on a nondescript regular show, but both women wanted to up the ante with their version of a PPV event, which is why this second cage match would include a chain link to the stipulation.
This match originally took place on November 14, 1990. It was rated ****1/4 out five by the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer.
This is a Chain Link Cage Match for Nakano’s WWWA World Singles Championship. Kong comes out first looking menacing with her hair in an afro Mohawk as she carries two metal boxes. Nakano’s out next but Kong rushes her before she enters the cage. They brawl a bit and throw each other into some chairs, creating a mess among the stands, before finally entering the cage. The bell rings and both women wail on each other and immediately start using the cage as a weapon. At some point Nakano brings the hate by stabbing Kong with scissors, and not for the only time in this match.
Kong bites Nakano which busts her open but Nakano hits back and drops Kong with a pump kick. The lights go out for a few seconds as Nakano hits a mean clothesline and they come back on as she lands a vertical suplex. Nakano lands a top-rope facecrusher and goes for a second one but Kong cuts her off with an Uraken backfist that causes Nakano to fall between the ring ropes and the cage wall.
Kong follows with twenty more backfists but none of them keep Nakano down for long. One of Nakano’s seconds throws her trusty nunchakus into the ring as Kong tries climbing the cage. Nakano hits Kong as hard as she can but Kong hits back with a lariat. Kong sends Nakano into the ropes but Nakano ducks another Uraken and drops Kong with one of her own. Nakano follows with another lariat and more pump kicks and then hits a piledriver/facebuster/front slam. Kong blocks another attack with a lariat and motions for someone to throw her one of the metal boxes she came down to the ring with. But Nakano catches it first and whacks Kong in the head with it. Except Kong doesn’t move. Kong takes several metal box shots to the head yet she remains standing. She finally goes down so Nakano gets two sets of nunchakus. Nakano hits Kong with both of them until Kong starts bleeding as well.
Nakano lariats Kong once again and then drops all of her weight onto Kong’s chest. She tries dragging Kong’s face against the cage but Kong fights back with a barrage of head-butts. Kong follows with a piledriver and then does the corner punch spot that looks far more realistic than the “let’s-count-along” spot done stateside. Nakano fights out, lands a rope-assisted bulldog, a second-rope guillotine leg drop, and a second-rope enzuigiri. She follows with a top-rope diving knee and then starts climbing the cage wall but Kong pulls her down. Kong whacks Nakano’s left leg with one of the nunchakus and (what’s left of) the metal box but Nakano retaliates by stabbing Kong’s arm with those same scissors. Over and over again. Nakano asks the crowd if she should stab Kong some more and they cheer wildly. There’s your “polite Japanese audience” cliché evaporating before your very eyes.
Some of both women’s seconds start tussling ringside/cageside as Nakano starts poking/stabbing at other parts of Kong’s body. Madusa/Alundra Blayze reaches the top of the cage but Nakano knocks her down and then knocks Kong down with a swift punch to the arm. Another woman at ringside throws Kong a rope which she uses to choke/hang Nakano, as if with a makeshift noose. More women try and fail to enter the ring as Kong performs a literal hangman’s (hangwoman’s?) spot until Nakano escapes and ties Kong’s bad arm to the ring ropes. Nakano climbs the cage but Kong unties herself.
Both women knock each other from the cage wall like one of those early wrestling video games where one strike to the cage wall sends a climber falling back down. Kong whacks Nakano with her other metal box but then one of Nakano’s seconds throws her the namesake chain link. The interference from ringside grows as other women help trap Kong in place with the chain. Nakano hits Kong with the metal box and then wraps the chain around Kong’s throat and her arm. With that the chain connects to one set of ring ropes on one and the steel barricade on the other end, with Kong in the middle. Kong appears to be trapped as Nakano starts climbing the cage when suddenly Kong breaks free. Kong grabs the nunchakus and whacks Nakano with it just as she reaches the top. She goes after the same knee she targeted earlier which causes Nakano to sink down.
Kong lands a Jackhammer-style superplex and starts climbing. Nakano cuts her off with more nunchaku strikes and then lands what looks like a proto-Ganso Bomb. Kong dodges another diving guillotine leg drop and hits a big German suplex. Someone throws her a 2×4 with which she hits Nakano’s weakened left leg. Kong attempts a diving 2×4 shot but one of Nakano’s seconds stops her. Nakano hits another spike powerbomb-style move and then reaches the top of the cage. But instead of climbing down, Nakano jumps off with a diving leg drop. She hits the mat ass-first with such force that the momentum allows her to bounce to her feet.
Then, filled with adrenaline, Nakano climbs another part of the cage, gets to the top, and climbs down to win the match and retain her title!
Winner and STILL WWWA World Singles Champion after 20:59: Bull Nakano
First and foremost, this wasn’t a match, but a fight. It was an intense, hardnosed, bloody fight with a handful of wrestling moves used here and there to add to the carnage. There were maybe six or so actual “maneuvers” used throughout the match and most of them were as high-impact as can be. These women tore into each other with what looked like murderous intent. So much so that there’s simply no way a match like this could exist stateside on a major network given how violent it was. That’s one of the things that made this special: the lengths to which these two women went to tell their story and showcase their skills and grit makes this a unique and worthwhile watching experience.
Even though this was the start of a feud it felt like some kind of big conclusion, both Nakano and Kong pulled out all the stops to try and kill each other. They did everything they could to make each other look like the beater of worlds that would withstand all sorts of inhuman punishment. When it came to selling, both women chose to no-sell (or at least tank some brutal shots to the head without flinching) to show people how tough they both were. That made both of them look superhuman and showed that their menacing appearances weren’t just for show. A wrestler can dress themselves as crazily as they want; but if their actions in the ring don’t complement whatever statement they’re trying to make with their looks than all that effort ends up being for nothing.
The match had a simple psychology: beat the ever-loving hell out of your opponent until they can’t get up and you’re free to climb the cage without interference. To do that, both women brought in various implements since they knew that ordinary wrestling moves wouldn’t get the job done. These two women used things that no one would dare use elsewhere or in bigger companies. You’re not going to see women wailing on each other with nunchakus. You’re not going to see a woman hanged in a corner with a makeshift noose to try and make her pass out. You’re ever going to see a woman trapped in place with a chain like an elephant. And of course, you’re not going to see one wrestler stab another’s arm with scissors to the point that she’s left with a visible permanent scar.
And while one can debate the sanity of such vicious spots ad nauseam, we must remember that pro-wrestlers aren’t normal people. They put themselves through incredibly physical and psychological danger on a nightly basis. To them doing such things to the love of their craft and for the sake of the story is worth the pain and the long-term effects.
Speaking of long-term effects, this is the match that shortened Nakano’s career because, as I said earlier, Nakano dove from at least ten feet in the air and landed tailbone-first onto one of the hardest rings in the business. It was as insane a move as any you’ll ever see and it’s amazing that Nakano was still able to run to the other side of the ring moments later and climb out of the cage.
Final Rating: ****3/4
You simply don’t see stuff like this in today’s wrestling world. This was a violent and visceral war between two women that gave everything they had to make it look like they genuinely hated each other. It looked and felt real. The term “badass” gets thrown around so liberally at almost any display of physicality but this is one of the few matches that really deserved. How many wrestlers do you know of that can take multiple shots to the head from tin boxes without flinching, survive getting stabbed with scissors, and dive ass-first onto a thin layer of canvas overtop similarly-thin plywood without shattering their pelvis and still wrestle the next night?
This is a rare gem of a match that you should absolutely go out of your way to see.