AJW’s 1988 tour of Thailand was historic. It set a record for wrestling attendance in Thailand, as 10,000 fans filled an arena that only had 5,000 seats. Event organizers had to scramble for extra chairs, while most had to stand for the entirety of the show. That was how huge AJW was in Thailand.
The following article is a tour diary from one of the local Thai staff that helped AJW run the shows. It was originally printed in Joshi Puroresu Magazine, author unnamed. See Birth of a Lioness, and Manami Toyota: The First Interview for more classic articles from this magazine.
Friday, March 11th, 1988
It is the day after AJW’s flight landed in Thailand. They are staying at the Ambassador Hotel. This morning we invited the face wrestlers to come and visit the war veterans at Phra Mong Koot Hospital. We gave them time to prepare and eat breakfast before we left.
We traveled there with Chigusa Nagayo. There were many reporters waiting for arrival, from both Thailand and Japan. The veterans were waiting for us in private room that the hospital prepared. Chigusa is a very kind and polite woman. She answered all the reporters’ questions with a smile on her face. However, because we had limited time, Chigusa could only spend 10 minutes with them.
While the veterans were waiting in the room, the president of AJW gave a speech for all the soldiers and saluted their hard work. AJW’s entire face roster then came in and gave flowers to the soldiers to cheer them up.
However, there was some trouble. There was one soldier that got into accident and lost his legs, so he had to sit on wheelchair. The reporters from Japan and Thailand were trying to interview the wrestlers while ignoring this soldier. Then, his shoes fell to the ground but nobody helped him. Chigusa saw this and became angry. She asked all the reporters to stop and she went to that soldier, picked up his shoe, and put it on his foot.
Chigusa seemed confused about how the soldiers became injured. Some lost their hands, some lost their legs. Her face became more and more sad. But the AJW wrestlers did their best to make everybody happy. Besides the flowers, they gave the veterans t-shirts and autographs which made all the soldiers smile. The soldiers saw the wrestlers as world-famous superstars, the type of person that they didn’t have much chance of meeting. I think both the wrestlers and soldiers wanted to talk to each other, but because they spoke different languages they could only exchange their smiles.
After this event, we went to Central Ladprao [Famous Shopping Mall] by bus and more than 1,000 fans trying to tried to get on the bus!
The wrestlers had lunch there at Sakura, Japanese restaurant. There were many fans waiting in front of restaurant and some of them managed to get in. To be honest, I saw that the wrestlers were not happy because when fans saw them they took pictures without asking. The wrestlers told the fans that they had to maintain a certain character, and that if Japanese fans saw them eating lunch, it would be a problem. They don’t want people to see Bull Nakano eating Sushi with a smile on her face when she was top heel of the promotion.
Chigusa said she never saw this kind of fan behaviour in Japan before because fans in Japan respect the difference between public time and private time. She also got into a bad situation when a fan break through the guard and rushed to her for an autograph. She looked shocked and unhappy.
After lunch, the rosters went shopping and, as before, about 2,000 fans tried to run to them and take pictures. Finally, AJW staff came and yelled and fans, “SHOPPING! SHOPPING! SHOPPING!” indicating that the women needed some private time. I think it was the fans then that became angry then. The wrestlers shopped for 3 hours and then asked the staff to bring them back to hotel.
Saturday, March 12th, 1988
Today a trip to the Grand Palace was planned, but had to be changed due to some problems. The AJW wrestlers decided to go out instead of being stuck in the hotel. Chigusa went out alone near the hotel and found a sunglasses shop. Chigusa collects sunglasses and looked very happy. The price was 250 bath [about 8$] for one pair, but Chigusa somehow managed to buy two sunglasses for only 260 bath. Afterwards, she headed back to hotel to brag about the deal she got, but was shocked after the other wrestlers said they found the same kind of sunglasses on sale for 80 bath [about $2.50]! It looks like Chigusa is going to dislike my country.
In the evening, there was the press conference at the Hilton. Chigusa is having a match with a Thai wrestler named Sri Prai. Chigusa said she doesn’t want to fight Sri Prai, because their size is so much different. Also Chigusa is a professional wrestler, whom AJW promotes as the best in Japan, but Sri Prai is an amateur wrestler. [Because AJW was very famous in Thailand, two Thai woman were sent to AJW to train. One was Sri Prai and another is Nong Poo. Both can be seen on the poster above.]
Chigusa said she wants to win but she doesn’t want to hurt Sri Prai. So, Thai staff told Chigusa: “Sri Prai wants to be a wrestler and has dreamed of having a match with you for very long time. Please do your best with her.” Chigusa understood and looked a bit happier. After this press conference everyone went back to the Ambassador.
Sunday, March 13th, 1988
In the morning, AJW staff went to shopping at Central Chidlom with Yumi Ogura and Mika Komatsu. While they were walking in front of the mall. They heard Chigusa’s song playing. They saw the cassette on sale and were surprised by the price, because it was only 25 bath [less than $1]. So, AJW staff bought all of Chigusa’s album from the shop and gave them to wrestlers at the hotel.
In the evening, there were more than 2,000 fans waiting at the hotel as always, but today AJW wrestlers looked stressed out and didn’t want to deal with fans. They refused everybody who asked for photo or autograph and headed to the arena, The National Stadium of Thailand.
When they arrived at the arena. AJW didn’t allow anyone inside their room, as they have some secrets that they can’t let people know. They all looked stressed and much different from when I saw them at the hotel. At the last-minute, Sri Prai was pulled from the event and Chigusa had to wrestle against Drill Nakamae instead. In the first match of show, Drill wrestled under a mask for the “Dynamite” team.
Today’s show was very amazing with more than 10,000 in attendance and thousands outside! This was a very memorable experience for both staff and wrestlers.
Monday 14 MARCH 1988
Today the AJW wrestlers wanted to rest in the hotel before having their last show, but Chigusa and Yumiko Hotta had to do some shooting for a Japanese movie that’s filming in Thailand. The other wrestlers had to wait until Chigusa and Hotta finished before going to Bang Poo [A famous place in Thailand to eat crab]. They liked the food very much and ordered many dishes of crab.
At 5PM one half of the greatest tag team in history arrived in Thailand; Lioness Asuka of the Crush Gals. We had a welcome party for her at Pantip Mall along with a press conference for tomorrow’s show. We prepared many seats for reporters so they could interview the Crush Gals, but Thai reporters were mainly focused on Bull Nakano and Kumiko Iwamoto! The reporters asked many questions about them, but ignored the Crush Gals. They were only asked one interesting question. “When will both of you retire?” Chigusa answered, “When I’m not beautiful,” and Lioness answered, “When I don’t want to be a champion.”
Tuesday, March 15th, 1988
I won’t talk about on today show’s because we were not allowed in. [The matches from this day would air in Japan, so Thai TV was not allowed in, as to avoid licensing problems problem]. I will focus on what happen later this night.
After the show. AJW wrestlers didn’t want to go back to hotel. So, they asked the Thai staff to take them out to party without telling the AJW staff. This plan was made by Chigusa and Jaguar Yokota. They drank beer and other alcohol, and enjoyed themselves very much. All the wrestlers were dancing. Some of them tried to do traditional Thai folk dancing. Only Lioness and Jaguar didn’t dance: “We are old, so we will just watch.”
The AJW roster arrived back in Japan at 11 o’clock on March 17th, with many fans cheering them at the airport.
This is the story of AJW in Thailand. We all want to see this picture of Joshi Puroresu again. Please support us at Gatoh Move, and all good wrestling.