Or maybe the producers at the Alternative Press awards are the best for putting this together.
Billy Corgan and CM Punk spit some lead at the inaugural APMA’s last night in Cleveland. The former ROH World Champion presented the current Resistance Pro creative director with the Vanguard Award, in honor of Corgan’s 25 years of head-kicking, hipster-smashing, status-quo-disrupting alternative rock and roll.
Punk and Corgan are two of the best and most controversial talkers in the respective fields, so of course they avoided the usual awards show fluff and went with expletive laced insights. Punk and Corgan also directly addressed some of the criticism Billy faced throughout the years, namely that The Smashing Pumpkins were “careerists” i.e. band that tried to treated the music business as an actual business. The 90’s were a weird time.
The Smashing Pumpkins are spit-shining the last bits of their next album, a process Billy has documented in informative hilarious detail on smashingpumpkinsnexus.com. CM Punk is anxiously awaiting the next season of The Walking Dead.
Originally Published in Fair to Flair Quarterly Issue 4
“Of All Time” – CHIKARA – 2011-04-16 – The Arena – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Manami Toyota is the greatest wrestler of all time. Here is a photograph of her wearing a T-Shirt stating that she is the greatest wrestler of all time. There are no caveats about gender here; Toyota is better than any man, woman, or child to set foot in a wrestling ring. She didn’t have much choice in the matter. She joined All Japan Women’s Wrestling at the height of its popularity, meaning that, if she didn’t perform, there were 10,000 other teenage Japanese girls dying for the chance to take her place on one side of the ropes, and a couple dozen all-time greats on the roster ready to dropkick her teeth in on the other.
The back of the shirt is Toyota’s rap sheet: Ten Wrestling Observer rated “Five Star” Matches. Two “Match of the Year” awards. Outstanding Wrestler of the Year 1995. A record four wins of AJW’s WWWA Title (the most prestigious title in women’s wrestling history) as well as a reign with the top titles of other major promotions like JWP, GAEA, and Oz Academy. Reading between the lines you see a woman who has spent an astonishing 25 years in the rigorous world of Joshi Puroresu, most of it in the main event against the likes of Aja Kong, Bull Nakano, Kyoko Inoue, Mayumi Ozaki, and the rest of the 90’s crew that took Joshi Puroresu to new heights both commercially and artistically.
It’s impossible to overstate how important Toyota has been, hence the unapologetic T-Shirt. I gave it to her on her second tour for CHIKARA. Toyota was, of course, the first Joshi wrestler the company brought in. The second night of her debut she mainevented a sold-out show in Manhattan. Fans were chanting her name before she even made an entrance. It didn’t matter that she was Japanese and had never wrestled in America. It didn’t matter that her heyday was some time ago. It didn’t matter that she couldn’t speak English. It certainly didn’t matter that she happened to be a woman, because her career has transcended all of that.
She is one of the most important and influential figures in the sport. So, I gave her this T-Shirt. She liked it very much. Continue reading →
I came to Japan to watch pro wrestling. I’d been a fan of the American version of the sport all my life, but I’d lost interest by the time I’d reached college. The World Wrestling Federation (WWF) had become as obnoxious, sexist, racist, boring, and unintelligent as its detractors had claimed. However through the still developing magic of the internet I discovered ‘puroresu’, the Japanese art of pro wrestling. The contrast between ‘puroresu’ and its American equivalent was stark.
Mainstream US pro-wrestling companies had long dropped any pretense of athletic competition, and the events often had more talking than they did wrestling. ‘Puroresu’ was all about the wrestling, and featured more innovative, more athletic, and all around more interesting competitors. Gone were the immobile body builders and untrained models that clogged up American TV. ‘Puroresu’ was filled with former kick-boxers, amateur wrestlers, and judo practitioners. Wrestlers like Kenta Kobashi, Mitsuharu Misawa, and Shinya Hashimoto told their stories inside the ring. Continue reading →
This was your 4th tour of Japan. How does touring now differ for your?
My first tour for Japan was just a fly by trip. I only worked two shows for REINA as a SHIMMER representative. Now I represent S-Ovation as a freelancer and I can work for a few different companies, and I get to train in many places. I also understand more Japanese now, and understand the train system. So I can freely wander around without fear of getting lost!
This time around you wrestled in Nagoya, Sendai, Osaka, Fukushima, and of course Tokyo. Did you get to do any sightseeing?
Usually when I am travelling around I don’t get much of a chance to sightsee. We did get a pretty good view of Mt. Fuji from the bullet though, and I ate wonderful food in Sendai!
I explore Tokyo a lot. The temples are my favorite part. I go to Sensoji temple each year on New Years Day. I have visited quite a few temples and have loved each one. The girls and I spend way too much time in Harajuku; and Roppongi, of course! Continue reading →
Written by Leslie Lee III
Conducted by Sonny Gutierrez and Leslie Lee III Translation by Yoshiko Naoe, Pumi Boonyatud, and Melchor Hernandez Jr. Additional Photography courtesy Resuner (3), Kenji Nuruki (5, 6), Pumi Boonyatud (2,7,8)
‘There was a lonely girl whose dreams were impossible. She was sick. She was bullied. She was lonely. She had no one to talk to about her problems. No one who would listen. No one who would help. She took a bottle of toxic cleaner and drank it, hoping to end her life…’
This was the story Sonny scribbled on a notepad for me to read prior to meeting up with Act Yasukawa. He and Yoshiko gleaned it from an article about Act’s life in Weekly Pro Wrestling magazine. I was floored; although I was already a fan of Yasukawa’s as a character and wrestler, I had little idea about how gripping her personal story was. I wanted to find out how that sad, troubled girl became the brash, cocky Stardom Joshi pro wrestler.
Act told us the whole story over dinner at her favorite restaurant, an Italian eatery in Tokyo called NICE. This was DDS’ most in depth interview. We hope you find Act’s story as engrossing was we did.
We walked past Act on our way to the restaurant without noticing. Aside from the cherry red streaks in her hair, Act looked like a typical young Tokyo woman on the way home from work or to the bar. “My image in the ring is very cool and masculine and I have many female fans, but they’re surprised when they see me outside the ring as I’m very feminine.” She apologized for dressing so casually, and informed us, “Now, you are just talking to Yuka Yasukawa,” That’s the name Act goes by outside of wrestling or Act’s twin older sister, depending on your level of imagination. She had come to the interview straight from a hard day training with Stardom, “I got slammed a lot.”
Act ordered a glass of white wine, though she said she was taking it easy on drinking since she had a title defense coming up. After a kanpai, we started her story from the beginning:
Act was born in Aomori Prefecture on the northern tip of Japan’s main island. Her relationship to Aomori is “complicated,” as her family moved around for her father’s work in the Self Defense Force.
As a child, Act was a “tomboy” with a vivid imagination. “When I was growing up I watched a lot of samurai movies and action movies.” Abarenbo Shogun was her favorite series. “I used to play with a walkie-talkie and I could hear transmissions from a US military base. I’d go to a storage shed and pretend to be an action hero!” Continue reading →