Tomoko Kitamura (北村 智子 Kitamura Tomoko, born July 28, 1963) is a Japanese retired professional wrestler better known by her ring name Lioness Asuka (ライオネス 飛鳥 Raionesu Asuka). Along with long-time tag team partner Chigusa Nagayo she formed The Crush Gals, known for their mainstream popularity in the 1980s, and for being one of the most successful women's tag teams of all time.
Lioness Asuka in 2006
|Birth name||Tomoko Kitamura|
|Born||July 28, 1963|
|Professional wrestling career|
|Ring name(s)||Lioness Asuka|
|Trained by||All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling|
Born Tomoko Kitamura (北村智子 Kitamura Tomoko) on July 28, 1963, Asuka joined All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling (AJW) in 1980, and had her professional debut on May 10 of that year. She was an immediate success, winning her first title, the AJW Junior Championship, the following year, and the AJW Singles Championship in 1982. In 1983 she formed a tag team, called the Crush Gals, with Chigusa Nagayo. The Crush Gals were huge stars for the (AJW), in the mid-1980s. They feuded with Dump Matsumoto and the Jumping Bomb Angels. Thanks to their fame, AJW's weekly television broadcast consistently brought in ratings over 12.0. Their fame also carried over into other media, including recording top ten singles.
In the late 1980s, the Crush Gals broke up, and Asuka began a lengthy feud with Nagayo, which culminated in her achievement of the WWWA World Single Championship in 1989. She retired later that year, but came out of retirement in 1994 and formed the Rideen Array, a faction consisting of fellow freelance wrestlers Jaguar Yokota and Bison Kimura. She subsequently wrestled for many of the new women's promotions that arose at that time, such as Jd' and Arsion. In 1998, she made a significant move when she joined GAEA Japan, the promotion run by her former partner, Nagayo. Asuka began her GAEA career as a top heel, feuding with Nagayo, and, in one storyline, winning control of the organization from her and eventually creating the Super Star Unit (SSU), a faction composed of veteran stars such as Akira Hokuto, Aja Kong, and Las Cachorras Orientales, among others. However, near the end of 1999, Nagayo and Asuka united against a common rival, the Mayumi Ozaki-led faction Team Nostradamus, and, the next spring, reformed the Crush Gals. The storyline was huge news in Japan, and GAEA's show of April 4, 2000, featuring the debut of the reunited team, now called CRUSH 2000, was the biggest in the promotion's history.
Due to a neck injury, Asuka announced her retirement on November 3, 2004. Her retirement was made official on April 3, 2005 where she and Chigusa Nagayo teamed up for the last time to defeat Chikayo Nagashima and Sugar Sato at GAEA's tenth anniversary show.
Championships and accomplishmentsEdit
- AJW Championship (2 times)
- AJW Junior Championship (1 time)
- Unified Global Championship (1 time)
- WWWA World Single Championship (2 times)
- WWWA World Tag Team Championship (4 times) – with Chigusa Nagayo
- Japan Grand Prix (1985)
- Tag League the Best (1987) – with Chigusa Nagayo
- AJW Hall of Fame (Class of 1998)
- TWF World Women's Championship (4 times)
- LLPW Six Woman Tag Team Championship (2 times) – with Eagle Sawai and Shark Tsuchiya (2)
- NEO Japan Ladies Pro Wrestling