Joshi Spotlight: Dump Matsumoto


Pic by our very own Bob Dahlstrom!

“Matsumoto actually pioneered the gimmick that the Road Warriors would later use to great fame in the United States, of being face-painted bikers with bizarre haircuts and monster heels who sold very little, if at all, for the smaller, under matched babyfaces. […] Matsumoto’s impact was so great that she often brought crowds literally to tears with her villainous tactics, and when she would merely walk down the street in any major city, people would scatter in fear”
-Dave Meltzer

Dump’s amazing theme song.

Dump Matsumoto Autograph Photo (8x11) | Princess zelda, Photo ...

Real Name: Kaoru Matsumoto
Billed Height & Weight: 5’4″ 201 lbs.
Career: 1980-1988

Dump Matsumoto is what would happen if you threw a character from HBO’s OZ into pro wrestling.

The legendary Crush Gals/Atrocious Alliance feud is usually the only thing talked about regarding 1980s Joshi by most Western analysts, and for good reason- as much as Devil Masami & Jaguar Yokota were better workers (Lioness Asuka was great, too, but those two are as good as it gets), this feud was AWESOME and is the most fascinating stuff you’ll find when diving into pre-90s Joshi stuff. The fan reactions to the Gals surpass anything I’ve ever heard in wrestling before- unrivaled adoration for the babyface duo, and soul-crushing hatred for the vile heels. The Gals’ teenybopper fans just SHRIEKED when the Alliance destroyed their heroines, cutting them up and cheating their way to victory.

You think you know what drawing heat is? DUMP will show you what drawing heat is. As a worker, she was PRETTY good- her peak of credibility featured a straight-up ugly brawling style, usually with weapons- nothing fancy about it- but she could do power & technical stuff okay. But heat? I’ve seen people get reactions before, but this was otherworldly- just walking up and spitting water in Chigusa’s face before a match started got a NUCLEAR reaction from the fans. It was like everything Japanese schoolgirls could hate and fear combined into 5 feet, 4 inches of raw malevolence. There’s just this… raw savagery to her- the greatest “heel sneer” I’ve ever seen, wild makeup (frequently employing swastikas, and I don’t think they’re the nice Buddhist kind), dyed hair (a sure sign of evil to 1980s Japan!), and a sheer glee at causing pain rivaled only by Jake Roberts at his worst. I’ve seen people abuse officials before, but stabbing them in the face with scissors before the friggin’ bell even rings?

P.S.: Ever watch a Bull Nakano match and wonder “why is the ref just letting her use nunchucks?”. Bull’s mentor was Dump Matsumoto. There is an established precedent for members of her stable stabbing referees in the face with scissors. THAT is why nobody stops Bull from using nunchucks.

People tell of watching Dump matches or just walking down the street and seeing the crowd part like the red sea whenever she drew near- this wasn’t just some bad guy. And to think she was never even made the company’s champion! Yes, during her legendary run as “Top Heel”, the #1 wrestler was Devil Masami, then Yukari Omura, then Chigusa & Asuka. I mean, I guess if you have a legit top-tier Ace like Masami around, and a top heel like Dump, why consolidate them? Spread the love around and you can get TWO main events instead of one!

Dump’s legacy was very, very large. Her top subordinate in the Atrocious Alliance was Bull Nakano, who became the company’s Ace after both Crush Gals retired. Another stable-mate, Aja Kong, would be the Ace after Bull was unseated. Both had obvious links to her style- the entire Alliance had “Regular Name + Scary Name” concepts, they were all brawlers, etc.

Proof that Condor Saito, Dump Matsumoto and Bull Nakano can make ...

The Atrocious Alliance. On the right is a very young Keiko “Bull” Nakano.

-Kaoru Matsumoto debuted under her real name for AJW in 1980, and appears in 1983 as a somewhat-hefty, dominant midcard heel, pushing around young rookies. On Jan. 8, she beat Lioness Asuka for the low-tier AJW Title, holding it for 144 days before losing it back that June. Eventually, a true rivalry would form, as Kaoru changed her name to “Dump” (from “dump truck”, actually!) and joined Devil Masami’s “Devil Gundan” heel group. However, in 1984, Devil grew fed up with Dump’s heeling and broke up her group, turning babyface in the process (Dump Matsumoto: So evil a woman with “Devil” LITERALLY IN HER NAME couldn’t stomach her)- Dump took the remnants of the stable and formed Gokuaku Doumei, anglicized with the absolutely incredible name “The Atrocious Alliance”. Masked Yu became “Crane Yu” and baby Keiko Nakano was rechristened “Bull Nakano”, then we added Condor Saito. Later additions would include Drill Nakamae, Aja Kong & Bison Kimura. Notably, almost none of the women looked particularly like the brutish animals they were named for- particularly Grizzly & Bison.

With Chigusa’s top-tier star power (she just had “It”- schoolgirls LOVED her) and Dump’s omega-level heel act, the feud was a smash hit, selling out arenas all over Japan and drawing huge ratings on TV. These matches were brutal, bloody, violent mayhem, with Dump typically blasting away on Chigusa all match long, using fists, weapons, and other Alliance members to beat Chigusa half to death, either winning or falling to the occasional roll-up or flash pin. The matches I’ve seen kind of go both ways, and Chigusa’s wins are typically all by fluke or by Dump’s arrogance costing her- they’re not really matches you watch for the snowflakes; this is stuff you see just for the insane spectacle.

Their twin Hair (vs) Hair Matches form the perfect story- in the first, an evil, sneering Dump reacts with joy as a bawling, bloodied Chigusa is shaved in the center of the ring while legions of schoolgirls cry. The next year, Chigusa gets her revenge as Dump is undone, but the heel defiantly sits there with her arms crossed, refusing anyone her dignity as her head is shaved.

Gaze upon this scintillating Sega Master System gameplay.

Dump even got her own VIDEO GAME in 1986, as she appeared in Gokuaku Domei Dump Matsumoto (released in some Western countries as Body Slam or Pro Wrestling, which replaced the female cast with male wrestlers), an honor only given to Cutie Suzuki (and boy, you’re not gonna find two more different wrestlers). You could play her, Yu, Saito, Bull, Chigusa, Lioness, or either of the Jumping Bomb Angels.

Dump & Yu won the WWWA Tag Titles from the Crush Gals on Feb. 25, 1985, but vacated two months later when Yu retired; after this, Bull became Dump’s top subordinate. Dump lost to Devil Masami in a match to determine the new WWWA World Champion that December. Finally, Chigusa defeated her to win the vacant All Pacific Title in April 1986. She & Bull made a brief foray into the WWF of all places as “The Devils of Japan”, then won the WWWA Tag Titles back (with Bull as a partner) that August, defeating Asuka and Kazue Nagahori (subbing for an injured Chigusa). They would vacate their titles the following year, and Dump would even drop her feud with the Gals.

Dump announced her retirement in 1988, wrestling the Crush Gals one last time (alongside Yukari Ohmori), and then deciding to team with CHIGUSA for her next match, in a great bit of business. Her final match was against Bull & Condor.

Dump has, unlike most of her top-tier contemporaries, largely stayed retired, coming out only for the occasional special (edit: And apparently a long stretch in the dying days of AJW, reforming the Atrocious Alliance and making a go of it before the company finally closed in 2005). It’s a bit of a stand-out, since Chigusa, Asuka, Devil, Jaguar and others all came out of retirement in the early 1990s that Dump elected to stay away. She did a few exhibition matches, appeared in Chigusa’s GAEA Japan promotion a few times, and even ran her own show in November 2007. She appeared in a few movies like the Crying Freeman series (playing Bái Yá-Shàn) and others. But for the most part, Dump stayed silent- her legacy remains her fantastic run in the mid-1980s.

Dump Bull.jpg

Pretty much what you’d expect Dump Matsumoto to look like today, and the last thing you’d expect Bull Nakano to look like today.

Brawling, Lariat, Sit-Down Splash, Hitting With Chain, Hitting With Scissors, Hitting With Spike, Hitting With (Insert Weapon Here), Stabbing the Referee, Sharpshooter, Waiting Until Opponent Bleeds To Death for a 10-Count (… finisher?)

* This little set here is from a bunch of YouTube videos Manjiimortal showed me, surrounding the eternal feud between Chigusa Nagayo & Dump Matsumoto.

* Baby Chigusa versus Baby Dump! This is from WAY early in their careers- both are only a few years in at this point, with Dump in particular looking completely different than she’d later appear. Hefty, but slimmer compared to her 1985 self, she has pretty normal hair and no wild makeup or anything, plus a pretty generic black swimsuit for gear. She does some “Earthquake Stomps” in the corner to applause, which you would NOT hear in her career for long. Chigusa has big hair and a “Jobber Swimsuit” on, but has already settled on red for her gear.

Matsumoto easily tosses the rookie around, and responds to some dropkicks by Vader Attacking Chigusa and stretching her out while pulling the hair, then John Tenta-ing her when she tries a bridge, impressing the crowd. It’s so weird seeing Chigusa trying comebacks and my eardrums NOT being blasted away by thousands of shrieking teenagers. The commentators are barely even paying attention while Kaoru tears off the kneepad and rips into it with casual glee. The crowd even laughs when she trips the referee! She continues to pick on him while Chigusa sells the leg outside, then stuffs Chigusa’s comeback with lariats. But a third attempt gets her a sunset flip… and the referee fast-counts her down at (7:14)!! A pissed-off Kaoru tosses him and leaves in a huff while the crowd claps.

Rating: *1/2 (just a one-sided Jobber Match with some decent comebacks until the end. Proto-Dump’s “smug heel” act is on point already, though)

DEVIL GUNDAN (Devil Masami & Dump Matsumoto w/ Masked Yu & Keiko Nakano) vs. THE CRUSH GALS (Chigusa Nagayo & Lioness Asuka):
* ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh SHIT. Here comes Dump already formed into her later persona- Evil Girl Bangs, dyed-red hair, eyeshadow, and a punk-rock leather jacket with no sleeves and lots of chains. Her swimsuit outfit is the same but has bright lines scattered across it, and Devil’s in purple. The two are part of the Devil Gundan- the “Devil Corps”- Masami’s evil heel stable that includes subordinates Masked Yu & Keiko Nakano- both would be better known later as Crane & Bull, so this is historic as hell. Asuka’s in blue, while Chigusa’s in red & blue.

Fall One: The heels beat the Gals’ asses to start, and I note that they’re much more popular here, but nowhere near as much as they’d be later. The Gals keep going for rollup comebacks, but the heels just throw their weight around (literally) to reverse. But finally Chigusa scores a head-kick on Dump and the Gals go to work on her! Asuka scores a running jump-kick and a helluva slam, but Dump lariats Chigusa and the Gals get tossed around outside, then choked by Masami in the ring. Asuka knocks Devil off the top, but misses a splash and takes a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker- Devil locks on a Surfboard for the submission win at (7:39).

Fall Two: And things get wild immediately, as Dump starts off with Chigusa, but grabs a spike out of her top and stabs Chigusa with it repeatedly! Running stab to the chest! Even Devil runs in like “hey, what the fuck?” and demands the weapon like an angry mother, but Dump’s like “I dunno?”, playing dumb with great body language. Devil’s all “okay…” and takes over, but Dump uses the weapon again outside and it starts a squabble out there while Masked Yu beats up the Gals. Devil has to bite Dump’s arm to get the spike, and tries to fight fair, but now Dump has a CHAIN and attacks the Gals again- this distracts Devil enough that the team get locked in Stereo Sharpshooters, but that draws in YU with a chain, and then she’s openly interfering while Devil looks on in disgust. Chigusa lands a spin-kick to come back, Asuka flying clotheslines Dump, and double-spinkicks put her down, allowing Asuka to hit a Backdrop Superplex for the pin (5:19)!

Fall Three: Asuka starts kicking Dump’s ass and hits the Giant Swing, but now Yu has a goddamn BUCKET and takes out both Gals and the referee! Devil just can’t even with this bullshit and kicks Yu’s ass and throws her out of the ring before headbutting the Gals down! Dump takes over, but Yu slips her a metal spatula or something and she takes out the Gals while Yu charges the ring again, and Devil & Dump brawl as the referee calls for the bell (2:16). An incensed Devil then gets choked by Dump and beaten on by her team before fighting back with a stick while Dump beats up the referee, then gets on the mic, talks shit on her team for all this cheating, and disbands the Devil Corps then and there, turning babyface and setting the stage for the Golden Age of Joshi!

Rating: *** (as a match, it’s mostly the Devil Corps treating the Gals like jobbers and earning a couple comebacks, but it’s a wild spectacle overall, with some incredible cheating and dishonesty, leading to the great moment where even a HEEL can’t put up with this nonsense anymore)

(June 1985)
* So all the hatred between these two comes to this- the most humiliating match stipulation in pro wrestling (especially for women). Dump is now in full regalia- leather cap, goulish makeup, and more, plus that wicked punker (I hate punkers) theme song. Oh man and both groups have those goddamn samurai banners bearing their allegiance and stuff- that’s so metal.

Dump of course attacks before the bell and smashes Chigusa into the ringposts and chokes her with a chain while the crowd goes insane with “CHI-GU-SA!” chants. A simple test of strength is treated like a defining moment in the lives of the audience. But then Dump gives ’em something to REALLY worry about by stabbing their hero with a goddamn kitchen knife. She LOLs out of an abdominal stretch, then puts her in Chigusa’s own Sharpshooter presumably just to be evil, but the brawl outside turns in Chigusa’s favor when she grabs a metal box and dents it repeatedly over Dump’s head. NOW CHIGUSA’S GOT THE KNIFE, but the referee blocks her from using it, so Dump takes over again, stabbing BOTH with a pair of scissors.

And then she gets several big wind-up stabs, setting off absolute pandemonium in the arena while Chigusa staggers around and bleeds- and since the fans are squeamish about their heroine dying, Chigusas makes sure to hit every side of the ring so that everyone can see it. PRO MOVE. Chigusa promptly trips Dump up and throws on the Sharpshooter for the best possible shot of her bloodied face, but Dump no-sells and blasts away with the arena microphone. That turns into a massacre to the point where Asuka has to be held back by the ring girls and I think someone throws in a towel, but Chigusa REFUSES that and throws it back, but eventually gets taken down with a chairshot and the ref counts her down for a TKO ending at (11:57). Dump wins!!!

The fans are naturally mortified (though the volume level has been the same for ten minutes), but then the real chaos begins- all the ring girls, Gals allies and Alliance members storm the ring, Chigusa & co. protest this garbage to the President of AJW, and then Crane Yu drags Chigusa into the ring and they sit her on the chair. Asuka runs in and tries to cover Chigusa’s head with her own, but is dragged off, along with Devil Masami. And now Chigusa has a chain around her neck while Bull & Crane hold her down, and Dump gleefully takes hack after hack through her hair with electric clippers. And… THERE’S the fan reaction shots! Schoolgirls are seen throughout the arena, convulsing in tears, absolutely bawling as Chigusa has her head shaved by the sneering, evil villains. Oh god, now Dump pulls her up to the ropes so that the audience can REALLY see, then the babyfaces collapse in the corner and cry, Chigusa desperately trying to cover her head until Devil puts a jacket over it. Finally, Dump saunters off in triumph and we close it out.

Good LORD what an angle. The match itself was just weapon-based stabbing with all of two comebacks, and not even that long, but this is of course all about the angle, which is ***** all the way. If you can create those kinds of emotions in your audience, then you’ve succeeded.

Rating: **1/2 (just a one-sided massacre in the ring; the story is more important here)

* This is for the vacant All Pacific Title, and Dump looks like the most evil person ever, decked out in all-black samurai armor, rainbow-colored hair and a skull drawn onto her cheek, followed by a ninja and a punk rocker (Bull). But Chigusa, to the mandatory wild crowd reaction, also has a sword around her belt, so I guess they’re even. They even brandish the swords at each other during the introductions, but then a bunch of GODDAMN NINJAS attack Chigusa like this is WMAC Masters or some shit.

Chigusa shrugs off the ninja attack, and it’s a big stand-off so the crowd can freak out some more, at which point Dump throws a fit over their reaction and bludgeons Chigusa with a wooden sword. She breaks it over the ringpost and Bull runs in, then Dump just stuffs Chigusa’s attempts at wrestling and overpowers her. A pair of sharpshooters last two minutes straight and the fans never shut up, and they absolutely ROAR when Chigusa tries for a German- they fight over that dramatically but Dump tortures the leg, tossing off Chigusa’s kneepad, then hitting her OWN German. That gets two, but Chigusa reverses to a Sharpshooter… and that draws Bull and Grizzly into the ring, and they not only beat up our hero, but they hit a DOUBLE SPIKE PILEDRIVER, which is absolutely insane for 1986. The referee refuses to count that pin (a semi-common thing with refs when cheating is involved), so Dump takes out her aggression by using a metal box on Chigusa outside the ring. She then makes a pile of ring girl corpses by sharing the love with it. Dump is amazing.

Chigusa makes it in at “19”, so Dump smashes her into the ringposts and takes another count, arguing with the fans and covering her ears to block out the deafening “CHI-GU-SA!” chants. Chigusa’s finally in with a comeback, but Bull slips the boss a spike and Chigusa gets the shit stabbed out of her while Dump plays sleight of hand with the referee (quite well, I might add). That goes on for like, a MINUTE, but Chigusa does a “Fuck YOU!” bridge out of a falling splash, then it’s a vicious brawl until they fight over pins like it’s an AWA/NWA match in a fun bit, then Chigusa knocks Dump out of the ring with a great roundhouse kick. Dump & Bull do a sandwich attack in the ring, but Chigusa DUCKS, sending Bull out in a cartoon bump, while Dump gets her arms tied in the ropes! And then, in a beautiful moment of poetic justice, Chigusa just ANNIHILATES her with a steel chair.

Chigusa beats Dump’s ass remarkably well, but the Alliance hits the ring with a steel oil drum of all things, and Dump beats on her with that, until a shot in the corner misses! Stunned, Dump gets picked up by Chigusa with a Backdrop Suplex for a double-pin- 1… 2… and Chigusa pulls her own arm up for the three (19:01)! Chigusa wins the All Pacific Championship! The fans are completely enraptured here, clapping and throwing streamers around, and the AJW President’s announcement that the pin counts (I think that’s what it was) causes them to become unglued while Dump just beats on the ref with a stick and kills some more ring girls.

God DAMN- I was expecting this to be much like their other fights, but making it extra-competitive and more well-timed actually made this a match I enjoyed on its own merits, not just for the tremendous crowd noise! The timing here was just SO good- Chigusa gets her big comebacks, but then the Alliance acts dishonestly, someone blatantly interferes, or Dump pulls out a spike and Chigusa’s back to selling. Fighting over a German ended up being a fun spot in the middle (who expected THAT in one of these brawls?), they fought over basic pin-reversals to show their desperation, and we even got a Double Spike Piledriver halfway through the match. I dunno, I loved the hell out of this.

Rating: ****1/4 (probably my favorite of all the Chigusa/Dump matches, actually)

* This is the final bout between these two legends- Dump wasn’t going to be done for half a year or so, but the feud had probably run its course around this time. So much so that Dump actually SHAKES HANDS with Lioness Asuka before the match starts. She scares the hell out of the commentators in the front row just by walking nearby, and plugs her ears during the intros, but then she VOLUNTARILY GIVES UP HER WEAPON before the bell rings, then shakes hands with her opponent. Seriously, doesn’t even gouge her eyeball out with a spike or anything. I don’t know what to believe in any more.

Dump does a dropkick (!!) but gets caught in a Fujiwara Armbar, and then they CHAIN WRESTLE of all things, with Dump doing backslides and inside cradles! Chigusa works the leg, but Dump turns it into a Surfboard, then a Sharpshooter. Abdominal stretch, but Chigusa slips out of a cradle and works the arm. I can’t believe I’m typing all this. A pair of spinning heel kicks knock Dump around, but she hits a lariat and collapses for a Double-KO spot while the crowd goes INSANE. Dump gets out of a Sharpshooter and does a pair of ’80s-style Karate Punches, but Chigusa fights back and they trade suplexes. Chigusa hits a backdrop for two, then her own karate punch and a tope suicida- they trade pins for two-counts, then a Chigusa piledriver & missile dropkick get two. Flying cross-body gets two, but she goes up one too many times and gets superplexed off. That gets two, and a lariat does the same, but she misses a splash and they fight for a bunch of stuff until Chigusa dodges an attack and rolls her up for the three (11:37). Dump is shocked, but honorably shakes hands and even raises Chigusa’s arm in victory, the old hated rivals finally making peace.

Well hell, that was a nice surprise! A short, but very well-wrestled match, almost done in a “Catch-Wrestling” style, with all their best shots reversed, and every move fought for, until Dump finally got got. Seeing her hit inside cradles and do things fairly is one of the most shocking things I’ve ever seen, but I guess she was going “soft” as she neared retirement.

Rating: ***1/2 (actually really good for an 11-minute match- with all the basics done very well)