Joshi Spotlight: Crane Yu

SUSPICIOUS TUMBLR ā€” Dump Matsumoto & Crane Yu with Shiro Abe (1985)

Crane is on the right, Dump Matsumoto on the left.

JOSHI SPOTLIGHT- CRANE YU:
Real Name: Yukari Honjo (aka Masked Yu, Dynamite Jack)
Billed Height & Weight: 5’8″ 220 lbs.
Career Length: 1980-1989

-So on the famous Atrocious Alliance bouts of the 1980s, you’ll see a pretty wild assortment of punk rock girl characters backing up the legendary Dump Matsumoto. Most notable of these is a baby Bull Nakano, but there’s also this HUGE, muscular woman with curly hair, and one that’s effectively a “Clone Buddy” of Dump (like how WWF would add Typhoon to Earthquake and Phineas to Henry Godwinn). That’d be Crane Yu, the former “Masked Yu”, who continues to befuddle Westerners as to the naming theme of the group, as according to our own Manjiimortal, they are named after CONSTRUCTION VEHICLES, not animals- Dump Truck, Bulldozer and Crane. So the “Crane” in her name isn’t the animal, nor is Bull’s “Bull”. That there is a Grizzly on the team confuses this further, though.

What I’ve seen of her in the ring is pretty standard-issue brawling and power offense, akin to most of AJW’s “Monster Heels” of the era- she had a lot of height (she’s noticeably taller than Dump) and is a big, solid girl (Dump was portlier- Crane is more stocky). To modern eyes, it’s pretty basic stuff, but most of these women were good at the “pick them up and toss them” form of ’80s offense. She held up her end in tag matches, but tends to be the one who takes the fall in tag bouts. Most of the Alliance were simple brawlers (though Dump had good technical skills that she had to hide for the gimmick).

Evito-X Puro (BOD poster & YouTube rarity-poster) suggests “Mostly, she was Dump Matsumoto without the heat, though she was a more willing bump taker, and mostly notable for being Dump’s tag partner before Bull, being a referee and her most iconic moment was being Dump’s body double in the hair match.” (referring to Dump coming down to start the famous Hair vs. Hair Match against Chigusa in disguise to play mind games, with Yu as “Dump” to start the introductions… though Manji says this is Kaoru Kage).

AJW Retro Classics #6 Review

The Aja/Crane team.

CAREER TRAJECTORY:
-Crane Yu debuted in 1980 for AJW, fighting on the undercard as Yukari Honjo. She lost the Rookie of the Year to Yukari Omori (a future WWWA Champ), and appears losing for the next couple of years. Within a few years, she joined Devil Masami’s “Devil Corps” stable, putting on a mask and calling herself “Masked Yu”. Eventually, in a dramatic six-woman match, her & Dump’s cheating and slicing up their opponents infuriating Devil so much, she disbanded the Corps and turned babyface, thus setting off Dump to form the Atrocious Alliance! In the Alliance, she went from Masked Yu to Crane Yu, taking off her mask, but still acting as a chief subordinate of the boss and her partner in tag matches.

Her only title win comes in Feb. 1985, as she & Dump unseat the Crush Gals for the WWWA Tag Titles, holding them for about a month before they’re stripped of the gold after a rematch descends into chaos. According to the Joshi City website, Yu is kicked out of the Alliance, retired, and made the Special Guest Referee of a Gals/Alliance match (with Bull swapped in for Crane), and the Gals win them back in a triumphant pin while Crane is held out of the ring by Dump, but manages to slap her hand on the mat three times to give the Gals the belts.

Manjiimortal indicates she did have a comeback in 1988, competing as the masked Dynamite Jack and forming a splinter group from the Alliance, named “Dynamite Gundan”. “It consisted of Dynamite King (a masked Kaoru Kage), Dynamite Queen (who I’m 98% sure was Drill Nakamae), and Dynamite Bear (originally Kumiko Iwamoto, but she was quickly replaced by a young Noriyo Toyoda, the future Combat Toyoda), with King being added later, now adding a “playing cards” theme to the group. She teamed with Bull for the Tag League The Best ’88, and was unmasked during it. She retired for good after that.

Nearly everything I see of her features her losing to top stars in these tag bouts, marking her as kind of a JTTS, I think- an Alliance member who can lose. She’s usually seen out there with Dump, too, freely interfering in her matches.

Crane retired soon after losing the tag titles to become a referee, and left AJW for good in 1989, four years after her last belt, right around the time the group’s junior, Bull Nakano, hit her stride and became WWWA World Champion.

MOVESET:
Running Body Attack, Cheating, Delayed Vertical Suplex, Torture Rack, Flying Sit-Down Splash

THE MATCHES:

2/3 FALLS:
THE ATROCIOUS ALLIANCE (Dump Matsumoto & Crane Yu w/ Bull Nakano & the masked girl) vs. LIONESS ASUKA & JAGUAR YOKOTA:
(June 1984)
* Two babyfaces ally against the Alliance, Chigusa sitting this one out. Jaguar’s in yellow & Asuka’s in blue- the Alliance are in black swimsuits.

FIRST FALL: The Alliance attacks immediately, but Jaguar hits a whirling cross-body and Asuka adds a Giant Swing to Dump! She tries a karate punch but eats a body attack, Crane coming in for her own. They toss and grind Asuka & Jaguar around for several minutes, whipping them into chairs outside, but Asuka comes back with headbutts and hits the karate punch on Crane. Jaguar adds a butterfly suplex & slam, but Crane fights out on Asuka and they beat her up again, Dump hiding a spike and Crane using what looks like a soda can. Crane flies off with a whoopie cushion for two, then Dump hits a butterfly suplex- Asuka ducks a lariat, but a second one catches her for the three (8:22). Well that was kinda out of nowhere.

SECOND FALL: Dump hits lariats & a double lariat on the faces, but Crane misses a 2nd-rope whoopie cushion on Jaguar, takes a Thesz Press to the face, then eats a Flying Clothesline from Asuka and a Flying Cross-Body/Backdrop for the three (0:52)! Quick fall!

THIRD FALL: Dump tries a cheap shot on Jaguar, but takes rollups and ass attacks, and soon Crane’s taking a beating until Dump comes in with the bucket. Asuka hits her feet from a fireman’s toss and enzuigiris Crane, then hits the sharpshooter. Dump lariats her out of it adn they brawl outside, Dump using the chain to choke Jaguar… and it’s a Double Count-Out at (3:20).

Boo, this one wasn’t very good. Just lots of aimless brawling and the last two falls were quick and we got a DCO ending.

Rating: ** (meh)

2/3 FALLS:
THE ATROCIOUS ALLIANCE (Dump Matsumoto & Crane Yu w/ Bull Nakano & the masked girl) vs. THE CRUSH GALS (Chigusa Nagayo & Lioness Asuka):
(Dec. 1984)
* Chigusa has some kinda bowlcut/mullet hybrid here, and that’s not really a great look. It’s another Tag Title match between the two groups. The doughy heel ref is here, and Asuka’s already scrapping with him. Blue & red swimsuits for the Gals, black swimsuits for the Alliance.

FIRST FALL: The Alliance IMMEDIATELY have chains in their hands, easily pounding away on the Gals. But Chigusa comes back with a punch flurry and both Gals grab the chains and lash away, Chigusa even hitting the REF, then choking Crane- both Gals do hangman’s chokes and the ref calls for the bell at (1:10). Okay I’ve seen some fucked up shit get a pass from AJW officials, so this guy is clearly mega-biased, lol.

SECOND FALL: We’re actually wrestling now, and the Gals absolutely tee off on Crane, both dropping elbows like nuts- Chigusa kicks at the ref again, but eats a body attack. Dump tosses both Gals around and mauls Asuka with a stick/club- Asuka’s selling is just great, writhing in agony with each blow. Dump holds Asuka just out of tag reach, but when the ref blocks the tag and then misses a blind tag, Chigusa actually BEATS THE SHIT OUT OF HIM, tearing his shirt and tossing him! Asuka comes off a whip with a clothesline and mounts a dropkick-filled comeback, but Dump clobbers her with a metal pail and we’re back to ass-kicking. Crane uses it on Chigusa when she runs in, but the heels try a double-belly-bash and hit each other, and Dump turns around right into a flying bodypress! Asuka hits a flying move and a Giant Swing on Crane for two, then it’s an outside brawl- Crane is tossed in for a spinkick from Chigusa for three while Devil Masami, at ringside, actually chokes Dump out using the ringpole and a chain (6:24)!

THIRD FALL: The referee, thankfully, now has a shirt on. Dump runs in early and hits a piledriver for two. The crowd goes nuts for Chigusa, and she pays it off by tripping up Crane and hooking a sharpshooter- Asuka prevents Alliance interference and sharpshooters a subordinate! Devil runs in again, but the ref gets rid of her while Dump hammers away with the stick again. Crane overdoes the beating on Chigusa and gets caught by Asuka (who’s legal), who hits a ton of huge headbutts and a VERY dangerous-looking piledriver. They beat her up outside, but Dump & Chigusa fight in the ring and I guess are legal. Dump uses the stick on Chigusa again, but Asuka backdrops her… the ref stops counting at “1”, which Asuka disputes (Dump kinda shuffled- the ref declared her shoulder up), so Asuka crushes him with headbutts and slams him into the ringside table! Chigusa hits a cross-body- no ref obviously- and scores a big kick, but Dump hits a lariat out of the corner, and another one gets three (5:58).

More of a brawl than a classic “match”- good heat but not the hysteria I usually find with Crush Gals matches for some reason. The fans are excited, of course, but I’m used to full pandemonium with these. Most of the Alliance offense was with weapons and the Gals used wrestling for comebacks here and there.

Rating: **1/2 (good enough- not really “wrestling” so much as “fighting” but okay)

WWWA WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES:
THE ATROCIOUS ALLIANCE (Dump Matsumoto & Crane Yu w/ Bull Nakano & the masked girl) vs. THE CRUSH GALS (Chigusa Nagayo & Lioness Asuka, w/ Jaguar Yokota & Devil Masami):
(04.02.1985)
* Yes, the mega-feud of the ’80s scene continues, with Dump and her elite goon as the Tag champs, up against the Gals they dethroned months before. Dump makes sure to use her staff to smash up one of the commentators’ mics and threaten to bop some people in the stands. The crowd is somewhat biased, I would note. They react poorly to the announcement that Evil Fat Ref will be officiating the contest, for example, and bury the wrestlers under streamers when the Gals are announced. Dump & Crane are wearing matching striped swimsuits, here. Both Alliance members have hair pretty much like my mom did in the 1980s, which is pretty freaky.

FIRST FALL: The Alliance attacks right away, but Chigusa comes back. Asuka gets caught in double-teams and cheating, but lands on her feet from a fireman’s toss and kicks Crane down- Chigusa adds the karate punch as the fans go nuts. She does a hold, but Dump comes in with the staff and jams it into her throat while just WRENCHING on it, horrifying the fans- Asuka comes in, but Bull drags her off and the AA beat on her while Dump continues her assault, eventually her & Crane just cranking on it together. Chigusa does her BEST “I’m dying- this is the end of me” selling while Jaguar Yokota jumps onto the apron and gets involved, too. Delayed suplex gets two. Chigusa bridges out of a test of strength, so the AA just double-squash her. Chigusa finally escapes with flash pin attempts, but Asuka gets double-teamed right away and now SHE’S hurting- they hit a weird torture rack slam into a Banzai Drop, then Dump adds a piledriver and lariats Asuka (who does a full 450 on the sell), the ref fast-counting for the pin (7:19).

SECOND FALL: They double-team Asuka again, but she clotheslines out and hits a Giant Swing, then Chigusa adds a leg lariat & sharpshooter- Dump interferes, so Asuka tosses HER in one, triggering a full brawl in the ring between all the seconds! Dump tosses in weapons just as that’s cleared up, and now Crane is using nunchucks and a chain to choke Nagayo down- Asuka uses a weapon too, but gets taken away by the ref- he finally stops the weapon-usage, and Chigusa kicks the shit out of Crane and escapes. Asuka runs right into a body attack, however, and they hit an assisted 2nd-Rope Legdrop… and a Doomdsay Device WITH A BUCKET. Chigusa stops that pin with elbows, so Dump just forces the tag and they brawl it out! This ends up with everyone outside, at which point DEVIL cheats, holding Crane for an Asuka dive, then Asuka holds Crane for a plancha! Assisted Missile Dropkick in the ring, and a Superplex finishes Crane at (5:38).

THIRD FALL: Dump goes wild with her staff, but Asuka is straight-up handed a belt by Devil, so she chokes Crane out. Chigusa grabs the staff and breaks it over Dump’s ass and the ref calls for the DQ (1:00), thus keeping the tag titles away from the Gals. Asuka has to be dragged away from the AJW President while Dump throws a tantrum and even swats Bull with her staff, and we’re out.

Wow, very impressive match, actually! The Alliance’s bouts tend to be more “wild fun” that traditional wrestling contests, but this one was quite varied and had a lot of momentum shifts. The cheating was frequent but never an “Entirely Cheating” match like Alliance ones can be, and the Gals gave as good as they got at points. That was quite a series of highspots in the second fall’s ending. Plus, when else are you going to see a Doomsday Device Bucket to the Head?

Rating: *** (one of the better matches of this type I’ve seen, with AA cheating and the Gals selling- the Gals fought back!)