Category: Joshi Puroresu

Ice Ribbon: Ribbonmania and More

I first came to Japan in 2008 when Ice Ribbon was still using blue training mats for a ring. It seemed less a promotion and more an after school program where Emi Sakura set wayward tweens straight via teaching them dropkicks. Flash forward 3 years and the promotion has grown up in ways that could no one could have been predicted. It’s solidly one of Japan’s most popular Joshi companies, and has a cult international following that has lead to a TV run in Thailand and excursions US and UK.

The recent growth has not been without pain. Micro and popular young star Makoto left the promotion last year. This winter Emi Sakura, the company’s founder, trainer, matriarch and top star, also announced her intentions to depart. Some, prematurely, questioned if the promotion could or would survive the loss of Emi. Well before Emi’s announcement, the Ice Ribbon women spoke publicly about their desire to be less dependent on her to run the company. With this sort of foresight losing Emi will still be a huge blow, but there are a number of women who have the talent necessary to fill the gap and the promotion is conceptually independent of any one person.  Certainly, the four shows I attended gave no indication that Ice Ribbon as a group had lost any of its passion, desire, or love for wrestling.

RIBBONMANIA 2011


December 25, 2011 – 894 fans
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan

  1. Toshie Uematsu defeatedAoi Kizuki
  2. Maki Narumiya, Neko Nitta, and Meari Naito defeated Mochi Miyagi, Kurumi, and Dorami Nagano
  3. Ray, Sayaka Obihiro, and Hamuko Hoshi defeated Death Worm, Rubber Man, and Kappa Kozo
  4. Special Referee Minori Makiba – Riho defeated Seina
  5. Seina Retirement Match – Hikari Minami defeated Seina
  6. International Ribbon Tag Team Title – Emi Sakura and Tsukushi defeated Meiko Satomura and Sendai Sachiko to win the vacant title
  7. Makoto Oishi and Danshoku Dino defeated Hikari Minami and Ken Ohka, and Miyako Matsumoto & Jun Kasai
  8. ICEx60 Title – Hikaru Shida defeated Tsukasa Fujimoto (c) with a Top Rope Falcon Arrow to win the title

The first show was the biggest. Ribbonmania took place at Korakuen Hall on the largely irrelevant Christmas holiday in Japan. Upon entering the building fans were handed glowsticks. A Tiesto worthy sea of neon greeted the returning Aoi Kizuki, making her comeback at a crucial time for the promotion. Aoi faced Toshie Uematsu in the first match of the night and, considering how long she’d been away from the ring, she was golden. Aoi even managed to keep her trademark smile on the entire time, save when Toshie savagely facewashed her luminescent red cheeks.

Seina, first ICEx60 Champion, made her way back in the ring after an extended absence as well, but only to have her final match(es). She was scheduled to go out against younger sister Riho. However her good friend Hikari Minami, with tears and Riho’s help, tricked Seina into an impromptu mid-retirement ceremony match. The deception paid off and Minami won with a few seconds to spare. Makoto was there to give her well wishes to Minori Makiba, who special refereed Seina’s first match and was also leaving wrestling. They wept then synchronized danced to J-Pop. Continue reading

Oz Academy Archives

DDS photographer Nami was on hand for some recent Oz Academy events, supporting Manami Toyota as always. No one takes better pictures of Joshi than her. Enjoy the photos of Hiroyo Matsumoto and Tomoka Nakagawa‘s big tag team title win over veterans Sonoko Kato and Chikayo Nagashima. There’s also a bit of Mayumi Ozaki‘s bloody, brutal match with Aja Kong and KAORU where she won the Oz singles title. All that plus Ayumi Kurihara (with NEO belts) and the stoic beauty of Joshi Goddess Takako Inoue.


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WAVE – Happy Birthday Wave 2011

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January 4th in Tokyo is New Japan Tokyo Dome Show Day. It’s when skunk-haired  pretty boys retrieve title belts from grizzled outside challengers, for an audience way too small for the venue. It’s a tradition, but one which GAMI’s WAVE promotion has no respect for. Why? Because January 4th is GAMI’s birthday, dammit. And she must put on a show, main event it, and get her face shoved in a cake. This has also become a tradition, this being the 3rd straight year I skipped the dome and went for Joshi:

WAVE: Happy Birthday Wave 2011 (Results via Puroresu Representin’)

2010/01/04 – Shinjuku FACE

1. Sawako Shimotsuke 10 Match Series 1: Hiroyo Matsumoto beat Sawako Shimotsuke – 8:30

2. Six Women Lucha Libre Tag Match: Ayako Hamada, Tomoka Nakagawa & Sakura Hirota vs. Kana, Mio & Io Shirai went to a 20 minute time limit draw

3. TAKA Michinoku  beat Toshie Uematsu – 11:35

4. Yumi Ohka, Bambi, Misaki Ohata & Hiren beat Moeka Haruhi, Cherry, Ayumi Kurihara & Ryo Mizunami – 15:30 – Ohata pinned Haruhi

5. Meiko Satomura beat GAMI – 23:00

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NEO: Tamura’s Homecoming

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NEO’s 2nd to last show was held in Tamura’s home town of Edogawa. The venue was built more for Kabuki than brawling, with two small sections on either side of the stage, then a massive auditorium on the south Side. Interesting setting for what turned out to be some fairly interesting wrestling.

NEO 2010/12/27 – Edogawa East Friend Hall (Results via Representin’ Puroresu)

214 paid.

1. Sucking Blood Marine Witch Chibi Rats: Kaori Yoneyama beat Sucking Blood Marine Witch Chibi Rats in 7:12.

2. Policewoman Retirement Match: Sakura Hirota beat Policewoman in 14:03.

3. Misaki Ohata, Hiroyo Matsumoto & Kagetu beat Mima Shimoda, Cherry & Mika Iida in 17:03. Ohata pinned Iida after a diving body press.

4. Tanny Mouse & Yuki Miyazaki beat Kyoko Kimura & Tomoka Nakagawa in 16:20. Tanny pinned Nakagawa after Mission Possible.

5. Yoshiko Tamura & Aya Yuki beat Aja Kong & Ayako Sato in 13:07. Tamura pinned Sato after Mount Cook.

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Ice Ribbon Triple Shot

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Ice Ribbon began a few years ago when Joshi veteran Emi Sakura decided to save pro wrestling by taking in a ragtag band of tween Japanese misfits and putting them on the straight-and-narrow with non-stop wrestling training, or something like that. Anyway, it’s all gone well so far and in a short time Ice Ribbon has gone from having matches on blue gymnastic mats to running Korakuen Hall.

I saw three Ice Ribbon shows on this trip, but only two allowed fan photographs (you’ll have to scour the pro sites for photos of Miyako Matsumoto wearing a ball gag). Each show had multiple high quality matches featuring a mix of Ice Ribbon mainstays and visiting Joshi vets like Yoshiko Tamura, Nanae Takahashi, and Mima Shimoda.

Ribbon Mania 2010 – 12/26 at Korakuen Hall (via Puroresu Representin’):

889 paid

1. Hikari Minami & Tsukushi beat Riho & Kurumi in 6:50. Minami pinned Riho after Blockbuster.

2. Triple Threat: Danshoku Dino (DDT) beat Miyako Matsumoto & Chii Tomiya in a 3-way in 5:47 by Double STF submission

3. Mio & Io Shirai beat Mai Ichii & Jessica Love in 8:29. Mio pinned Ichii with a schoolboy.

4. SMASH Challenge Match: TAJIRI beat Makoto in 12:42 by Camel Clutch submission.

5. ICEx60 Singles Championship: Tsukasa Fujimoto beat Command Bolshoi (c) in 9:37 to win the ICEx60 Singles Championship for the second time.

6. NEO Singles & NWA Women’s Pacific Championship Title Match: Yoshiko Tamura (c) beat Hikaru Shida in 17:20 via Infinite Elbows of Death and Head Drop Finisher #878 to retain the titles.

7. Kazumi Shimouma Retirement Match: Emi Sakura, Hamuko Hoshi & Sayaka Obihiro beat Nanae Takahashi, Natsuki*Taiyo & Kazumi Shimouma in 22:32. Obihiro pinned Shimouma.

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NEO – Final Show – 2010-12-31

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NEO held it’s final show on New Year’s Eve in Korakuen Hall to a near sell out crowd. Tanny Mouse, Yuki Miyazaki, and Yoshiko Tamura all had their final matches on the show, which lead to a number of wrestlers appearing, including retirees like Fuka, Azumi Hyuga, Toshiyo Yamada, and Chapparita ASARI.

The show itself was good, but not great. Much like the final AJW show, felt a bit too small and rushed to capture all the history of the promotion.

NEO – Stage Door -December 31st, 2010

Korakuen Hall – 1,750 Fans

1. Kagetu beat Mika Iida in 7:34.

2. Emi Sakura, Hikaru Shida & Tsukasa Fujimoto beat Mima Shimoda, Nagisa Nozaki & Hiroyo Matsumoto in 10:11. Sakura pinned Nozaki.

3. NEO Machineguns Final Match: Tanny Mouse & Yuki Miyazaki beat Toshie Uematsu & Kayoko Haruyama in 25:03. Miyazaki pinned Uematsu.

4. Mio & Io Shirai beat Aya Yuki & Makoto in 8:37. Io pinned Makoto after a rider kick.

5. Tanny Mouse & Yuki Miyazaki Retirement Match: Tanny Mouse beat Yuki Miyazaki in 10:41.

6. Yoshiko Tamura Retirement Match: Ayumi Kurihara beat NEO Singles & NWA Women’s Pacific Champion Yoshiko Tamura in 27:14 to win the titles. Kurihara becomes the 23rd NEO Singles & NWA Women’s Pacific Champion.

7. NEO Dispersion Match: Yoshiko Tamura, Tanny Mouse & Yuki Miyazaki vs. Aya Yuki, Nagisa Nozaki & Mika Iida went to a 10 minute time limit draw.

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Ito Dojo Final Show – 2010-12-26

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Ito Dojo put on their final show for a near sell-out at Shinjuku FACE. Thankfully no one felt the need to retire in order to up the gate, and some form of the association will continue.

The lineup was dreamy: Ayako Hamada, Manami Toyota, Takako Inoue, and Aja Kong are the wrestlers that got me into Joshi in the first place.

ITO DOJO “FEELING-FINAL CHAPTER” December 26, 2010
Shinjuku FACE

1. Manami Toyota & Sonoko Kato beat Ayako Hamada & Takako Inoue via Queen Bee to Inoue
2. Kaoru Ito vs Tomoko Watanabe
3. Ayako Sato beat Aki Kambayashi
4. Climax! the Final Battle of Ito Dojo 2 out of 3 Falls: Kaoru Ito, Ayako Hamada, Aki Kambayashi, & Ayako Sato beat Yumiko Hotta, Aja Kong, Tomoko Watanabe, & Cherry

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Japan Day Three: LLPW

I went to this LLPW show for two reasons: 1. Visual evidence that LLPW actually exists (it’s nearly impossible to get video of their shows) and 2. Takako Inoue. The matches were very short and inconsequential, but the price was “Pay whatever you want.” The venue was pretty small so we got to be very close to the action, and they gave us tiny water bottles as a Christmas present.





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Japan Day One: Cherry Fantasy and New Japan X-Mas

I knew this trip would be epic when, 3 minutes into the first show, Kana was putting her heels into some guys chest. Cherry Fantasy Illusion show which featured that beat down, 3 forgettable cross dressers vs Joshi matches, and an amazing 60 minute Iron Man match between Cherry and Yuki Miyazaki. The match was really phenomenal as the women filled most of the time with intense mat work, but mixed it up with brawling that took them all over the venue, and outside it.


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