She was one half of the Crush Gals, perhaps the greatest female tag team of all time, but she is hailed for her individual brilliance and her huge impact on the sport of professional wrestling.
Real Name: Tomoko Kitamura
Stats: 5′ 7″ 170 lbs.
Born: July 28, 1963
Lioness Asuka, born as Tomoko Kitamura on July 28, 1963, in Kanagawa, Japan, was drawn to professional wrestling early in her life. Although detailed information about her childhood is limited, it is known that she trained at the All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling (AJW) dojo.
Asuka made her professional wrestling debut on June 28, 1980, at just 16 years old, competing against Chigusa Nagayo, who would later become her tag team partner. They formed the highly successful tag team known as The Crush Gals. During her time at the AJW dojo, she was trained by notable wrestlers, including the legendary Jaguar Yokota.
Asuka quickly gained recognition for her high-flying moves, strong strikes, and technical skills, which helped her establish a reputation as one of Japan’s most talented female wrestlers. Throughout her early career, she participated in various singles and tag team matches, accumulating experience and solidifying her status in the wrestling world.
Lioness Asuka received her training at the All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling (AJW) dojo, which was known for producing many of Japan’s top female wrestlers. The dojo provided a rigorous training environment for aspiring wrestlers to learn the fundamentals, master techniques, and develop their in-ring abilities.
One of Asuka’s most notable trainers during her time at the AJW dojo was the legendary Jaguar Yokota. Yokota was a highly accomplished wrestler in her own right and was renowned for her technical prowess, aerial maneuvers, and innovative moves. As a trainer, Yokota played a significant role in shaping Asuka’s wrestling style and honing her skills.
Under the tutelage of Yokota and other experienced wrestlers at the AJW dojo, Asuka refined her striking abilities, grappling skills, and high-flying moves. This intensive training prepared her for a successful career in the professional wrestling world, ultimately leading to her becoming one of the most talented and respected female wrestlers in Japan.
Lioness Asuka’s early career began when she made her professional wrestling debut on June 28, 1980, at the age of 16. She faced Chigusa Nagayo, who would later become her tag team partner in the iconic duo known as The Crush Gals.
In the early stages of her career, Asuka competed in both singles and tag team matches, rapidly gaining experience and honing her skills. Her athletic ability, high-flying moves, and strong striking skills helped her stand out as a promising talent in the world of Japanese women’s wrestling.
As she continued to develop her skills and reputation, Asuka began to capture titles and accolades. In 1981, she won her first championship, the AJW Junior Championship. This early success marked the beginning of her rise to prominence in the Japanese wrestling scene.
The turning point in her early career came when she formed the tag team The Crush Gals with Chigusa Nagayo. The duo quickly gained popularity due to their charisma, in-ring chemistry, and exceptional wrestling abilities. The Crush Gals became a major draw for the All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling promotion throughout the 1980s. They held the WWWA World Tag Team Championship multiple times, engaging in memorable feuds with other prominent tag teams like The Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki) and The Glamour Girls (Leilani Kai and Judy Martin).
During her career, Lioness Asuka had several rivalries that helped shape her legacy in professional wrestling. Some of the most notable rivalries include:
The Crush Gals vs. The Jumping Bomb Angels:
The Crush Gals (Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo) had an intense rivalry with The Jumping Bomb Angels (Noriyo Tateno and Itsuki Yamazaki). The two tag teams faced off in numerous matches throughout the 1980s, competing for the prestigious WWWA World Tag Team Championship. These matches showcased the incredible athleticism and skill of all four wrestlers and helped elevate women’s wrestling in Japan.
The Crush Gals vs. The Glamour Girls:
Another prominent rivalry in Lioness Asuka’s career was against The Glamour Girls (Leilani Kai and Judy Martin). The Glamour Girls, an American tag team, competed against The Crush Gals in the late 1980s for the WWWA World Tag Team Championship. The matches between these two teams featured a clash of styles and cultures, with The Crush Gals representing Japanese wrestling and The Glamour Girls representing American wrestling. This rivalry helped to further solidify Asuka’s status as a top-tier wrestler in the international wrestling scene.
Lioness Asuka vs. Chigusa Nagayo:
Although Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo were tag team partners as The Crush Gals, they also had a rivalry as singles competitors. The two wrestlers faced each other in several high-profile matches, often competing for singles championships. This friendly rivalry between Asuka and Nagayo added depth to their partnership and showcased their individual abilities as top wrestlers.
These rivalries played a significant role in shaping Lioness Asuka’s career and contributed to her becoming a prominent figure in the world of professional wrestling. The intense matches and memorable feuds with her rivals helped to elevate both Asuka and the entire Japanese women’s wrestling scene.
There is limited information available about Lioness Asuka’s personal life, as she has maintained a relatively private life outside the ring. It is known that her real name is Tomoko Kitamura, and she was born on July 28, 1963, in Kanagawa, Japan.
Outside of wrestling, Asuka has occasionally appeared in Japanese media, including television shows and movies. For example, she appeared in the Japanese movie “Kessen! Minami no Shima de Supponpon” (1990) alongside other professional wrestlers.
Awards & Titles
Throughout her illustrious career, Lioness Asuka has won numerous championships and accolades. While it is difficult to list every single achievement, some of her most notable awards and accomplishments include:
AJW Junior Championship:
Asuka won her first championship in 1981 when she captured the AJW Junior Championship, an early indication of her rising success in the world of professional wrestling.
WWWA World Tag Team Championship:
As one half of the iconic tag team The Crush Gals, Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo won the WWWA World Tag Team Championship multiple times, solidifying their status as one of the most successful and popular tag teams in Japanese women’s wrestling history.
WWWA World Single Championship:
Lioness Asuka also achieved significant success as a singles competitor, winning the prestigious WWWA World Single Championship on several occasions. This title win showcased her prowess and skill as an individual wrestler.
AJW All Pacific Championship:
Asuka captured the AJW All Pacific Championship, further establishing her as one of the top female wrestlers in Japan.
Tag Team of the Year (1985):
As part of The Crush Gals, Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo were awarded Tag Team of the Year in 1985 by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. This accolade recognized their impact on the wrestling world and their exceptional in-ring performances.
Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1997):
In recognition of her contributions to the wrestling industry, Lioness Asuka was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1997, cementing her legacy as one of the most influential and accomplished female wrestlers of all time.
These awards and accolades highlight Lioness Asuka’s remarkable career and her impact on the world of professional wrestling.
Lioness Asuka officially retired from professional wrestling on April 29, 2005. She held a retirement ceremony at the Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan, where her final match took place. In her retirement match, Asuka teamed up with her longtime partner Chigusa Nagayo as The Crush Gals, facing the team of Aja Kong and Amazing Kong.
The retirement event was a celebration of Asuka’s long and successful career, and it included several notable wrestlers from the Japanese wrestling scene. The match itself was a fitting conclusion to her in-ring career, as she was able to share the ring with her legendary tag team partner one last time.
After retiring from active competition, Asuka remained involved in the wrestling industry, primarily focusing on training and mentoring the next generation of wrestlers. She also made occasional appearances at wrestling events and conventions, engaging with fans and maintaining her connection to the world of professional wrestling.Retirement
Frequently Asked Questions
Lioness Asuka, whose real name is Tomoko Kitamura, was a renowned professional wrestler from Japan. She gained fame as one half of the legendary tag team “The Crush Gals” and made significant contributions to women’s wrestling both as a tag team wrestler and as a singles competitor.
She began her wrestling journey at a young age, debuting in professional wrestling on June 28, 1980, at just 16 years old. Her debut match was against Chigusa Nagayo, who later became her tag team partner in The Crush Gals.
Lioness Asuka achieved numerous accomplishments, including winning the AJW Junior Championship in 1981, capturing the WWWA World Tag Team Championship multiple times as part of The Crush Gals, and securing the prestigious WWWA World Single Championship on several occasions.
Lioness Asuka had intense rivalries that helped shape her legacy. Notable ones include:
- The Crush Gals vs. The Jumping Bomb Angels: Intense matches against the Jumping Bomb Angels elevated women’s wrestling in Japan.
- The Crush Gals vs. The Glamour Girls: The rivalry showcased a clash of styles between Japanese and American wrestling.
- Lioness Asuka vs. Chigusa Nagayo: Their friendly rivalry as singles competitors added depth to their partnership.
Lioness Asuka’s impact on women’s wrestling was immense. Her technical prowess, high-flying moves, and charismatic presence helped elevate the sport. She played a significant role in popularizing women’s wrestling and leaving a lasting legacy in the industry.