Manami Toyota is the Greatest Pro Wrestler of All Time, but it’s easy to overlook that she’s still one of the best right now. It’s a mistake no one who watched her the 25th Anniversary: Flying Angela show could make.
I saw it live last September with 600 other Toyota fans in a legit sold out Shinjuku FACE. On that night Manami put on the single greatest performance I have ever seen by any wrestler, anywhere. As she did on her 20th Anniversary show, Toyota chose to wrestle in every match on the card. She wrestled every match on the card, as if it were the last match on the card. Through five often grueling, always competitive matches Toyota grappled, brawled, kicked, screamed, suplexed, and got suplexed, slammed, and beaten. She never faltered, never tired, never stopped flying from the top rope at her opponents.
I’d never seen anything like it, and I don’t think I ever will again. At least not until Manami’s 30th anniversary show.
The first match was the toughest. Two of Toyota’s eternal rivals, Aja Kong and Kyoko Inoue, teamed with recent adversary Tsubasa Kuragaki. On Toyota’s team were ICE Ribboners Tsukasa Fujimoto and Tsukushi. whom Manami chose because they have excellent dropkicks as a counter the other team’s size.
This strategy seemed to be working as Team Manami kept Team Destroy Manami off balance and out of killing range for a while. Then pint-sized Tsukushi tried to bow and arrow death-sized Aja Kong, and it did not go well. Tsubasa, as she had done earlier in JWP and CHIKARA that year, crushed Manami. She torture racked all three of her opponents at once, and finished off Toyota with a sick Metal Wing. Post-Match: Kong gave an angry, heart-felt congratulations to Manami for surviving twenty five years as her kicking bag.
In a friendlier encounter, Toyota faced fellow former AJW alum Miho Wakizawa. Wakizawa was one of the stars of AJW during it’s final run and retired around when the company closed. She only just returned in 2011 with the opening of STARDOM. Wakizawa is often known for laughs, but this turned out to be the most technical match of the night. After all, she took 10 years off and was facing her senpai who kept at it the entire time. Wakizawa fought like she had something prove. She made a very strong showing, but Toyota eventually won with a Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex Hold. Continue reading →
Just in case you didn’t get enough of the Prince yesterday, here’s an amazing press conference from tday where Devitt points out: he’s the best Junior Heavyweight in the world, he’s not relinquishing the junior title, he wants the fans to boo him, Taguchi faked his injury because he’s a “washed up, beat up chump,” Bullet Club interfering in his matches to help him sweep the tournament was merely a figment of our collective imagination, he doesn’t “give a fuck,” he will beat Tanahashi CLEAN at Dominion, and he’s coming for the IWGP Heavyweight title.
Prince Devitt! After running the table in his bracket, Devitt defeated Kenny Omega in the semi-finals and Alex Shelley in the finals to win New Japan’s Best of the Super Junior’s tournament.
Before even receiving the trophy, Devitt put Hiroshi Tanahashi on notice. The former IWGP Heavyweight Champion is next on Devitt’s kill list. After that? Rumblings are Devitt will forfeit the IWGP Jr. Title he currently holds and enter the G1 Tournament in order to eventually challenge for the Heavyweight title.
With an aggressive attitude, hot and fashion Armani Exchange gear, and just a bit of the help of his Bullet Club mates, Devitt has put himself in the hottest streak of his career. Respect the Shooter.
It was a dream match that many thought would never happen. But it did, and it was glorious. Mixed Martial Archie vs. Davey Richards. Alone, the epic battle would have been worth the price of admission, but there was also an excellent match between Heidi Lovelace and Miss Natural, an entertaining “Hoopla Uncensored” with Truth Martini and Joey Eastman, an awesome display of action between the teams of ACH/Michael Elgin & Richards/Kyle O’Reilly, Sami Callihan and Shane Hollister beating the shit out of each other. Perhaps most significantly, Eddie Kingston, arrived in AAW and put the entire roster on notice.
This May 17th show is already available for purchase: VODDVDMP4
I’m sure the full match will find it’s way to you soon, but until then here’s a Vine clip of Ice Ribbon’s Hikaru Shida after her war with Mayumi Ozaki in Oz Academy. Ozaki, with the help of Mika Nishio and Police, brutalized Shida with chairs, chains, and anything else she could get her hands on. Shida tried to even the odds with her signature kendo stick, but was eventually overwhelmed.
Shida remains one half of the Oz tag team champions, one half of the ICE Ribbon tag team champions, and a complete and utter bad ass who pours her heart out for wrestling.
Today’s MF is brought to you by Joshi Queen and post-punk aficionado Hailey Hatred.Hatred has usually rocked something from The Mars Volta catalog as her theme throughout her career. However their last few albums haven’t had to many Pro Wres entrance friendly tracks. So when it came time to pick a new tune for her stint in Stardom 1, she went to TMV’s previous incarnation, At The Drive-In and picked out this sick, sick song.
At The Drive-In reunited, then dissolved again in 2012. Then The Mars Volta called it quits as well. Devastated and distraught, Hailey Hatred deleted her social media accounts thereafter (they were her favorite band after all). Well at least we can still see her and hear them in Korakuen every month.
Being part of a mostly foreigner Monster Army, she needed something that had English lyrics to replace Shonan no Kaze, ↩
Some serious shit went down at CHIKARA’sAniversario iPPV last Sunday. I’d suggest reading Thomas Holzerman’s full live report here, but in summary: nefarious private military contractor Condor Security was called in by the equally nefarious multi-national conglomerate that owns CHIKARA during the main event of the show. Condor rushed the building causing the match, a pivotal title tilt between Eddie Kingston and Icarus, to end in a no-contest. They then dismantled the set and forced fans out of the building ending the show, and seemingly ending CHIKARA as a company.
This gritty finale was a massive departure from CHIKARA’s typical comic book and science fiction influenced story lines. Private Military Companies doing the dirty work of shady corporations and secretive government agencies have been a go-to plot point TV shows, films, and video games for some time, so it was inevitable for them to make their way into Pro Wrestling. We see PMC’s as the hired guns of mustache twirlers from The A Team to24 to Metal Gear Solid to Batman: Arkham City and now CHIKARA. Why are they so infamously popular in recent years? It’sthanks in large part to the journalistic work of Jeremy Scahill.
Dirty Dirty Sheets brings you another selection of some of the world’s finest wrestling, handpicked for your enjoyment on this wonderful Saturday morning.
NJPW: Prince Devitt vs. Pac
New Japan’s Best of the Super Junior’s tournament is in full swing now. PrinceDevitt is killing it even more than usual, thanks to his attitude change and formation of the Bullet Club stable. Here’s a match from last year’s tourney with the Real Rock’n’Rolla versus Pac. Respect the shooter.
AAA: Hector Garza vs. El Brazo
Wrestling fans we were recently shocked by the passing of Lucha Libre standout Hector Garza. See a young Hector take on El Brazo in a Hair versus Hair match.
World Of Sport: Johnny Saint vs. Mick McManus
Also, British Wrestling legend Mick McManus passed away at the age of 93. Here, see “The man You Love To hate” against Johnny Saint. Also be sure to read The Guardian’s obituary for McManus, it’s in depth and incredibly informative.
Beyond Wrestling: Jarek 1:20 vs. Darius Carter
Back in America, Beyond Wrestling has been making a number of big moves from a partnership with Yahoo Sports, to a special name your own price show, and it’s upcoming massive Americanaevent. They’re bringing in Steen and Cabana but the heart of Beyond has always been the guys who hadn’t quite made a name for themselves nationally, yet. The Debonair Millionaire Darius Carter is just about to blow up to that level. See him against Jarek 1:20 (who is well on his way to being an international star, in magic). Continue reading →
Babs of AwesesomeWisdom.com has been writing a series articles analyzing the complex story lines and characters of CHIKARA. Given the promotion’s alleged impending Doom, we thought this piece by her was very timely.
Wrestling is often compared to other forms and methods of art and entertainment, from popular culture, like sitcoms to sophisticated culture, like ballet. So why not compare it to Ancient Greek Theater? Today, those ancient works are perceived as the dry, boring domains of academics; however at the time the plays were a popular and enjoyable type of entertainment. The plays examined the human condition through entertaining tales of love, lust, friendship, betrayal, revenge, and violence. Sound familiar?
There were three types of Ancient Greek plays – comedic, satyr, and tragic, which is our focus here. In tragedies the protagonist is a man of importance and status who experiences some misfortune, usually caused by his own actions and behaviors. The hero’s suffering is attributed to a flaw in his character, most commonly hubris or an inability to cope with the consequences of his mistakes. Tragedies often invoke the concept of fate: the hero can’t prevent making the mistake that begins his misery, even if he tries. The aftermath of the hero’s mistake and it’s effect on everyone around him drive the plot of the tragedy to its conclusion. Most tragic plays end with the hero in pain and misery, but there are some that have happier endings.
Although Ultramantis Black often claims to be the most devious villain in pro wrestling, I view him as a tragic hero of CHIKARA. Consider his feud with Delirious. Mantis made two tragic mistakes that set the feud in motion. The first occurred when he decided to obtain the Eye of Tyr back in 2008. He gained the Eye of Tyr by nefariously learning to apply the technico-only CHIKARA Special and teaching it to Chris Hero, in exchange for him wrestling for Dr. Cube in Kaiju Big Battel. In return for Hero’s services, Dr. Cube gave Mantis the Eye.
Black’s second tragic mistake was using the Eye to control Delirious. He could have used it on anyone, but Black chose the violent and unpredictable Delirious in order to destroy the Incoherence faction, as it was led by his former partner Hallowicked. Using great power to exact petty, personal revenge is, of course, a recurring theme in Greek tragedy.
There are two caveats that come with using the Eye. If the user gains it by underhanded methods, like Mantis did, bad luck and tragedy will befall them. Those things will also occur to any user who does not give away the Eye of Tyr after using it. Mantis decided he didn’t believe in the curse and did both. He was smart enough to get the Eye, but foolish enough to ignore the dangers and consequences. This is Mantis’ tragic flaw, his hubris. Mantis’ stubbornness and overconfidence in his own cunning made him feel invincible. He was wrong and he wasn’t the only one to suffer because of it.
While Mantis eventually realized the error of his ways and turned technico, his actions had already set a course of events in motion. Bringing the Eye to CHIKARA led to the BDK’s formation and invasion. Ares claimed that the Eye had been stolen from his family and vowed to get it back. When he did, the BDK used it to gain control over Delirious and turned him into a weapon. While the havoc wreaked by the BDK was not directly Mantis’ doing, but for his actions none of it would have happened.
Mantis made it his mission to fight the BDK, but those efforts brought more bad fortune, as it eventually unleashed the Dark Army. Mantis won the Eye back from Ares at High Noon. However when he destroyed it to give Delirious back his free will, Delirious vowed to make him suffer for two years for the abuse he experienced.
While Ultramantis Black and The Spectral Envoy were able to win King of Trios, they have spent much of the time since the first High Noon fighting Delirious’ army of The Batiri and Ophidian (it was Mantis’ staff that was The Catalyst for Ophidian’s transformation into The Serpent Spirit.)
Since destroying the Eye of Tyr, Ultramantis Black has been in multiple wars, almost de-masked, injured bad enough to miss the beginning of this Season. There still may be time for Delirious to gain more revenge against Mantis and make our tragic hero suffer further. Or maybe Mantis will be lucky one of those lucky heroes that gets a happy ending. Maybe he finally defeats Delirious and his army. But with the potential end of CHIKARA looming, maybe it’s already too late.
Finnish alt-rockers Disco Ensemble had the good taste to feature Starbuck and Jessica Love in the video for their “Eartha Kitt” track. The Falls Count Anywhere On The Planet Intergender Hardcore Match makes for a pretty stellar music video. It’s also going to be a documentary, according to the video’s description:
Spandex Sapiens is the story of Michael Majalahti aka Starbuck, a lonely son of a Canadian preacher man who becomes the striving pioneer of professional wrestling in faraway Finland, only to find himself contested both physically and ideologically by the young transsexual wrestler Jessica Love, who even follows him to Japan on her big break.