Some serious shit went down at CHIKARA’s Aniversario 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 to 24 to Metal Gear Solid to Batman: Arkham City and now CHIKARA. Why are they so infamously popular in recent years? It’s thanks in large part to the journalistic work of Jeremy Scahill.
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.
You can read more of Babs’ work on the CHIKARA101 Boards and AwesomeWisdom.com, and follow her on Twitter at @FemmeJoMo. See the end(?) of CHIKARA this Sunday by ordering the Never Compromise iPPV here on Smart Mark Video.
And now, our favorite wrestlers from last year. Again we’re joined by our friends Thomas Holzerman from The Wrestling Blog, Jamie from Dramatic DDT, T.J. Hawke from Free Pro Wrestling, Ciara Reid of Angry Marks, Jae of iheartDG, Alyssa, Alex, Benjamin, and Senor Lariato. By Leslie, Greg, Chris C., Chris J., Sonny, Aoikougei, Sarah (and her brother), Steph, and Martin.
ACW, AAW, SLA, ROH, DGUSA, CHIKARA, Resistance Pro
Thomas: This man busted out of Austin in a big way this year. Dragon Gate USA only had the bright idea to book him at the end of the year. Ring of Honor had the chance to blow the doors off the arena in Chicago, but instead he was a sacrificial lamb for Kyle O’Reilly. I certainly didn’t love the treatment he got from promoters who apparently “know” wrestling, but this isn’t a gripe-fest. It’s a love-fest. What ACH was able to do this year was nothing short of revolutionize what wrestling was all about.
Whether as the standard bearer in ACW, a man who helped make Cleveland a destination for wrestling in AIW, or the forever-frustrated rival of Mark Angelosetti in Chikara, he did things only thought possible by dreamers who wrote matches for e-feds. Four-fifty splash from the second rope? Easy. Texas Cloverleaf big swing? Pfft, don’t trifle me with your doubts, son. He went 30 minutes with AR Fox, warred with Johnny Gargano, clashed with Willie Mack, and even helped put eyes on Kansas City through an excellent series with Jeremy Wyatt.
If ACH isn’t on your radar, you don’t watch enough wrestling, and if you watch enough wrestling and aren’t impressed by ACH, then good lord, man, you’re made of stone.
Photo Courtesy Joel Loeschman
Ciara: I can’t think of anyone else in Ring of Honor that has stood out for me in 2012 besides Adam Cole. Earlier last year, Future Shock disbanded with Kyle O’Reilly joining Davey Richards and Adam Cole aligning with Eddie Edwards. At ROH’s 10th Anniversary Show in March, Adam Cole scored an upset as he pinned then ROH World Champion Davey Richards with a Crossbody during a tag team match. Cole would go onto to defeat Kyle O’Reilly in a Hybrid Rules Match and defeat Roderick Strong for the ROH Television Championship in June. Cole has successfully retained his championship against Eddie Edwards and Mike Mondo and defeated Matt Hardy in a non-title match.
Adam continued his success over in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla as he won the 2012 Battle of Los Angeles Tournament to earn a shot at Kevin Steen’s PWG World Championship. In November, Cole defeated Caleb Konley for the Premiere Wrestling Xperience Heavyweight Championship. Adam has since won the PWG World Championship from Kevin Steen and formed the Dojo Brothers with Eddie Edwards and Roderick Strong. I was already aware of Adam Cole’s work in Combat Zone Wrestling, but this past year he has really stepped it up and became one of my favorites.
Dragon Gate, DGUSA, Evolve, CZW, Beyond Wrestling, AIW, ISW
TJ Hawke: AR Fox is the surest bet in wrestling for getting an entertaining match right now. I’ve watched him in a variety of promotions, on tape and in person, and he always kills himself to put on the best match possible. Putting AR Fox on a card automatically makes me interested in said show.
In DGUSA and Evolve, Fox stepped up and delivered some of the best matches of the year with some of the best wrestlers in the world. In CZW, he became one of their best pushed talents, having a series of great matches with a variety of opponents. In Absolute Intense Wrestling, Fox had two thirty minute Iron Man matches with ACH. Both matches received rave reviews for their excitement and innovation.
In 2012, Fox became one of the most exciting wrestlers in all of wrestling. Over the next five years, I expect him to grow so much that people start referring to him as one of the best wrestlers in the world.
Photo courtesy Marvin Cespedes
Leslie: Ayako Hamada is Wrestler of the Year, Every Year. It’s redundant to talk about how great she is at this point, you just need to watch her. Watch her in Mexico. Watch her in Japan. Watch her in in the states (especially her SHIMMER match against Kana). Watch her, year after year, effortlessly put on amazing matches. Ayako Hamada is an international treasure and the best of her generation.
Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi
Lariato: In the first half of 2012 especially, Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi marked themselves as one of the best tag teams on the planet with a series of amazing matches in AJPW and home promotion BJW. Both guys are freakishly strong and I never tire of watching them in matches against other heavy hitting teams like Get Wild of Manabu Soya & Takao Omori.
Click here to watch 5 hours of Sekimoto & Okabayashi matches.
Dash Chisako and Sendai Sachiko
Sendai Girls, JWP, CHIKARA
Sonny: The Kanari sisters slowly emerged from the humongous shadow of Meiko Satomura in 2012, showcasing their great tag team skills versus a wide variety of opponents.
In May they debuted in CHIKARA, and defeated The Bravado Brothers. On June 25, they defeated Manami Toyota and Kyoko Inoue. In September they teamed with Meiko Satomura in CHIKARA’s King of Trios to defeat Green Ant, Red Ant and AssailAnt. In round 2 they defeated Jigsaw, Manami Toyota and Mike Quackenbush. In round 3 they lost to the team of The Young Bucks and Mike Bennett in what may have been the best match of the entire weekend.
PWG, BJW, CZW
Alex: Drake Younger’s 2012 has been a powerful journey to be able to watch, one that made him one of the best wrestlers of the year. A resolution to clean himself up led to him getting in the best shape of his life. That then led to a renaissance for Younger as a wrestler. In 2012 he delivered some of his strongest matches, including wars with Sami Callihan, B-Boy, Rickey Shane Page, Roderick Strong, and MASADA, peaking with an awe inspiring Iron Man with Sami Callihan.
Moving out to Los Angeles and finding another home with PWG turned out to be a great move for him, allowing him to show new audiences what the Combat Zone faithful already knew: Drake Younger is one of the most well rounded wrestlers in the world, able to deliver with a wide variety of opponents. An inspiration, in ring and out, making him a clear choice for this write up.
Ben: Forget the broken glass and death matches, Drake Younger can do it all, and regularly does. To me, he is the definition of a hybrid wrestler, and I love the diversity this brings.
Having changed his life this year (in more ways than one), and moved to California, a whole new horizon has opened up for him, including PWG, where he continues to have increasingly fantastic matches to sit alongside 2012 classics such as 60-minute Iron Man vs Callihan.
As I type this, he is completing his 4th tour of Japan, and has already signed a contract for his 5th tour. Every time he returns to the States following one of these tours, he seems to have grown again. It’s a pleasure to watch someone so humble, positive and joyful about their chosen craft, and long may it continue.
Lots of stuff happened at Wrestlecon, most of which you can buy on iPPV at WWNLive.com and you can already download the CHIKARA show here at Smartmarkvideo. Greg was on-hand for plenty of it. Here are his pics from SHIMMER and CHIKARA, featuring the returns of Serena Deeb, Madison Eagles, and Amazing Kong, Ayumi Kurihara’s final US match, and Cheerleader Melissa taking back what’s hers. Oh, and a bit of Jyushin “Thunder” Lyger.
DDS ace photographer Gregory Davis was on hand for this year’s edition of CHIKARA‘s annual, massive, King of Trios weekend. 2012′s KOT was all about the Queens though, as seven Joshi came to CHIKARA and demolished preconceptions, gender barriers and, most enjoyably, Matt Classic. Tsubasa Kuragaki told me she’s looking forward to returning to America again soon. Until then you can enjoy Greg’s shots of three days of wrestling excellence. You can also order the shows via SmartMarkVideo.com.
Co-Authored by Leslie. Photos by Nami.
Meiko Satomura is one of the world’s most dedicated and respected Professional Wrestlers. Her career has spanned 17 years, across which she has held multiple titles and constantly set the standard of excellence for in-ring competition. As both a wrestler and a trainer she has been one of the most influential forces in Joshi for more than a decade.
Born November 17, 1979, in Nishi-Ku, Niigata, Japan, Satomura was gifted at combat sports from a young age. She grew up studying Judo and was prefectural champion for three straight years in junior high school. One day her sister took her to a New Japan Pro Wrestling show, and it was there that Meiko fell in love with pro wrestling.
She dropped out of school early to apply for an audition with a new Joshi Puroresu company, GAEA Japan. She was trained by Chigusa Nagayo, and at the age of 15, made her debut on April 15, 1995 at GAEA’s inaugural show. She defeated Sonoko Kato 1 via submission with a juji gatame. Satomura showed fire rarely seen in young wrestlers, and unleashed vicious strikes and blood-curdling screams on her fellow rookie. Satomura was immediately labeled as a future ace. She was given the color red for her singlet, to symbolize her being heir apparent to Crush Gal and GAEA head, Chigusa Nagayo (Kato was given blue, the color of Lioness Asuka).
Each night of CHIKARA‘s JoshiMania raised the bar. As good as Philly was, Boston was that much better and as good as that was, New York easily ranks among the best wrestling shows in the US in the past several years. The wrestling, the crowd, the atmosphere all contributed to an unforgettable night in Manhattan.
The build for JoshiMania began with a promo by Aja Kong claiming that CHIKARA made a grave error in presenting Manami Toyota as the representative of Japanese women’s wrestling. Last Sunday the good friends and bitter rivals were given a chance to settle the issue in Manhattan. Likewise Sara Del Rey and Ayako Hamada were scheduled to face each other in a rematch of what many consider the greatest SHIMMER match of all time. Take that, then consider this was the last chance for all the visiting women to astonish US crowds and it’s no wonder JoshiMania ended with a standing ovation.
CHIKARA JoshiMania Night Three
December 4th, 2011
Highline Ballroom – New York City, NY
- Los Ice Creams defeated Dasher Hatfield & Saturyne
- GAMI defeated Portia Perez with a Fisherman Buster
- Brodie Lee defeated Ultramantis Black with a Lyger Bomb
- Toshie Uematsu & The Batiri [Obaryon, Kodama, Kobold] defeated Cherry & The Colony [Fire Ant, Soldier Ant, Green Ant] with a Top Rope Splash from Uematsu to Cherry
- Mayumi Ozaki defeated Kaori Yoneyama with an Running Enzuigiri in 10:22
- Aja Kong, Tsubasa Kuragaki, & Mio Shirai defeated Manami Toyota, Sawako Shimono & Hanako Nakamori with the Metal Wing by Tsubasa on Nakamori
- Sara Del Rey defeated Ayako Hamada with a Piledriver
The card was filled with legends and established stars, but began with the debut of someone brand new to Pro Wrestling. Saturyne. She took the took the place of the absent Sugar Dunkerton and teamed with Dasher Hatfield against Los Ice Creams in her CHIKARA debut. The rookie flipped circles around the soft serve goons with a level of athleticism rarely seen. Given more experience the US could have a masked high-flyer of the same caliber as Japan’s Ray. She was very, very impressive in the losing effort.
GAMI found a way to go 3-0 this weekend. Even without her noisemaker she bested Portia Perez with a Fisherman’s Buster. Portia was likely still reeling from the previous night’s match with Toyota (Portia told us it was the hardest she’s ever been hit in her life). Advantage GAMI!
Brodie Lee delivered what was, I’m sure, the hardest Powerbomb in the history of the CHIKARA ring (it sunk at least a foot on impact), when he soundly defeated Ultramantis Black. After the match Brodie signaled that he wanted a shot at the CHIKARA Grand Championship. Current Champ Eddie Kingston will need to continue to channel the spirit of Aja Kong if he wants to hold on to that belt. Lee looked unstoppable.
Toshie Uematsu, in her final US appearance, wore the face paint of The Dark Army. In her full her Demonic Empress form, she lead her minions to victory over The Colony and Cherry (who definitely should have been given a Pink Ant mask).
Mayumi Ozaki, founder of Oz Academy, took on former JWP Open-Weight Champion Kaori Yoneyama in a rather significant cross-promotion singles match. It meant all the more knowing that, like Uematsu, this would be Yoneyama’s final match in the United States before her retirement. Kaori looked as fantastic as she had at every JoshiMania night. America was fortunate to have her even for this short time. Ozaki won without using her signature chain. Ozaki really showed she still had more good years left in her illustrious career and didn’t have to relly on the usual entourage and weapons she has in Japan.
Then, Tsubasa Kuragaki destroyed New York.
The six woman tag match seemed like it would be about Toyota and Kong going at it one more time. Instead, it was about all six
putting on a 30 minute epic. Far too mucfaceh went on to capture accurately in detail. Everyone in the match gave their all. The young Hanoko Nakamori and younger Sawako Shimono had their best JoshiMania performances. There were no other options as Kong and Toyota battled like it was 1995, stage diving, piledriving, and avalanching each other as if they were back in the Tokyo Dome. Mio Shirai was as “Dangerous, Cheeky, and Foxy,” as her T-Shirt advertised. Again, a total star.
At the end, though, it was Tsubasa Kuragaki who stood alone on top the pile of broken bodies and smoldering ashes that used to be the Highline Ballroom. The crowd gave her a standing ovation and begged her to return to CHIKARA once again. If Tsubasa wasn’t an elite level Joshi when she came to America, she is now1. The woman is totally amazing, and it’s probably safe to expect her back in the US at some point.
The 6 Woman Tag was not the main event though. Any normal wrestlers would have had an impossible task in following it. No worries for Ayako Hamada and Sara Del Rey, with their combined 23 years of experience, most of which they’ve spent as the go to main-eventer in their respective countries. The two had another glorious and vicious fight that kept the crowd high on adrenaline. Each used nearly everything in their arsenal: Hama-chan cutters, Del Reyzors, Axe Kicks, AP Crosses, Royal Butterflies and more had to be deployed before this could end. Sara narrowly gained her second win over Hamada with a cringing Piledriver, propelling herself to 3-0 on JoshiMania weekend. The Queen Reigned Supreme.
After the match, fans rose and thanked Hamada for her efforts. She invited all the other women at ringside and in the back to join her as fans chanted, “Joshi! Joshi!,” and “Arigatou!” to the women who made this amazing event possible. That included former Jumping Bomb Angel Itsuki Yamazaki, whom Mike Quackenbush has credited for being the brains behind the JoshiMania. A tremendous moment to end a tremendous weekend for Professional Wrestling.
JoshiMania exceeded all expectations. It delivered shows that impressed neophytes and veteran followers of Japanese women’s wrestling alike. The New York audience especially had several audience members who weren’t regular wrestling fans at all, but came because they knew of the cultural importance of an event featuring the likes of Manami Toyota and Aja Kong.
That’s something special. Joshi Puroresu is something special. We talk about it a lot here on DDS because the athletes deserve it, for giving us decades of fantastic, innovative, entertaining, and relevant wrestling to enjoy. Joshi is filled with some of the nicest, kindest, and most interesting people in the sport and we are happy to do our small part to support them.. We love Joshi Puroresu and couldn’t be happier that more and more people are starting to feel the same way. We give our thanks to the entire crew at CHIKARA, as well as Itsuki Yamazaki and our friends Shiori and Yama from M-Drop.com for helping to make this special event happen.
- We’ll be in Korakuen Hall on December 23rd when she challenges Hailey Hatred for the JWP Open-Class Title. Hailey’s had a fantastic 2011, but it looks like 2012 will be Tsubasa’s year. ↩
CHIKARA’s three-day dream slam of Japanese Women’s Wrestling, JoshiMania, had its first show last Friday at the historic ECW Arena. The event delivered an authentic Joshi Puroresu experience to American fans, with the added bonus of bringing stars from several different Joshi promotions. CHIKARA advertised this event as being a “Once in a Lifetime” opportunity for fans to see this sort of action without having to fly to Japan first. CHIKARA didn’t lie. Here’s how the weekend started:
JoshiMania Night One
December 2nd, 2011
ECW Arena – Philadelphia, PA
- Kaori Yoneyama, Hanako Nakamori, and Tsubasa Kuragaki defeated Archibald Peck and Los Ice Creams via submission as Kuragaki putting both Peck and El Hijo del Ice Cream in a Torture
- GAMI defeated Sawako Shimono with Top Rope Elbow
- Tim Donst defeated Green Ant with From Dusk ’til Donst
- Ayako Hamada and Cherry defeated Mayumi Ozaki and Mio Shirai via AP Cross from Hamada on Mio
- Manami Toyota defeated Toshie Uematsu via Japanese Cyclone Suplex
- Campeonatos de Parejas Title Match: FIST (Johnny Gargano and Chuck Taylor) (c) defeated The Colony (Fire Ant and Soldier Ant) 2 falls to 1
- Sara Del Rey defeated Aja Kong
The first thing, and perhaps only thing, you need to know about JoshiMania Night One is this: Tsubasa Kuragaki put Archibald Peck and one of the Ice Creams in a torture rack at the same time. The same time. Having the laws of physics challenged by one of the lesser known Joshi stars in the opening match set the bar fairly high for the rest of the evening. Japanese female wrestlers are known for their pride and competitive nature. The JWP women made it known from the outset they hoped to dominate this weekend (too bad the brilliant team of Peck and the Ice Creams were in the middle of that).
Of course, as everyone who has read our articles on her over at Diva Dirt knows 1, Manami Toyota is not satisfied unless she has put on the very best match on the show. That probably went double this Friday as Toyota was presented with the Diva Dirt Legacy award before her match with Toshie Uematsu. Toyota showed not only that she deserved the award for her past achievements, but also for her continuing performance and growth as a wrestler. Toyota has said that she felt invigorated by her trips to CHIKARA over the past year, and the new maneuvers she flaunted during JoshiMania were an example. Toshie, on her final tour of the US before her retirement early next year, was amazing as well. She showed once again that her larger than life character never overshadows her pure wrestling ability. It was an excellent match, perhaps the best either had had in the US.
Hoping not to be outdone by their guests, CHIKARA’s FIST and The Colony put on an exciting title bout. The ants showed off some JB Angels-esque fire while FIST resorted to L.C.O.-esque dickery. Dick won out, FIST retained, and Stargano remains a top champion in two of the United States’ finest wrestling promotions.
And then there was the much anticipated battle between Aja Kong and Sara Del Rey. As the most terrifying forces on their respective continents, the two death queens had been on a collision course for years. Somehow, Philadelphia managed to survive the inevitable crash.
Kong showed a lack of respect for Sara early on, refusing to shake hands. Sara returned the favor by barreling head first at her idol when the bell rang. The match was dark and unyielding. Sara kicked Kong as hard as she’s kicked anyone. Kong delighted in leaving handprints on the Death Rey’s chest, her thudding chops shaking the Queen to the core. After several minutes, but before either pulled out their MDK-level moves, Sara was able to dodge a Uraken and score a surprise pin on Kong to take the huge victory. A hard-fought battle for both, but each faced even tougher ones as JoshiMania went on.
It was the tag team contest between the team of Ayako Hamada and Cherry against the team of Mio Shirai and Mayumi Ozaki that proved to be the best of the night. While all women were familiar with one another,they don’t share any extensive history2. Still The beautiful and devious team of Mio and Ozaki worked very, very well together. The veteran Ozaki brought out her top shelf stuff this weekend, not that Ayako Hamada gave her a choice in the matter. Ayako was excited, and a bit nervous, about her CHIKARA debut. Of course, she performed to her usual standard of excellence.
The match also contained a revelation: Mio Shirai is a fucking star. Her mix of personality, style, humor, and sadistic violence won over the crowd. She helped make this semi-random tag flow gracefully. Mio showed she could keep up with two all-time greats in Oz and Hamada, and here’s hoping her success in the US pays dividends for her when she returns to Japan.
And that was Night One. A fantastic night of wrestling, no doubt, but JoshiMania was just getting started. You can already purchase the DVDs for all three nights at Smart Mark Video. While you wait on those to ship, enjoy the rest of the photos below the cut.
But just one more thing! Dig, if you will, this picture of The Beautiful One, Veronica, as she lays into a fan that she felt was a bit too bold. Maybe she’s just too demanding? She’s never satisfied with those in attendance. I took the photo as I wondered, “Why do they scream at each other?”
One of the less well-known companies featured on CHIKARA’s Joshimania this weekend will be Osaka Joshi Puroresu, or DAIJO. It’s top star and US representative will be Sawako Shimono. While most woman toil for years before any similar recognition, Sawako Shimono began her career by immediately debuting in a main event. That was less than two years ago and since then she’s had a number of highlights in her career, the most recent being winning the JWP Jr. and POP (Princess of Pro Wrestling) titles from Kagetsu. Joshimana presents Shimono an amazing opportunity to show her skills abroad this weekend, amongst all time greats like Manami Toyota and Aja Kong. We caught up with Osaka Joshi’s young ace for a brief interview as she prepares for her trip to America.
Photos by Mascara Amigos Flying Suihanki (@flying_suihanki) and Aoikougei.
Please tell us when you made your debut and against whom.
My first opponent was Kagetsu from Sendai Girls Pro Wrestling on March 21, 2010.
Prior to that, you were experienced in other sports, correct? Who trained you to become a pro wrestler?
I practiced judo for 12 years. I have a first degree black belt in it. I trained Puroresu at Osaka Pro Wrestling’s school.
Until my debut, Rie Nakamura [Bad Nurse Nakamura, formerly of FMW] trained me. Recently, I have studied under GAMI who is president of the Pro Wrestling WAVE, and also a forewoman of Osaka Joshi.
What made you decide to become a professional wrestler? Why have you chosen Osaka Joshi as your home as opposed to Pro Wrestling WAVE?
I was invited to join when I went to the Puroresu school. It was just in time, as I was wondering whether to quit the job and return to my hometown or start new work. I thought this life might be good, I decided.
I am referred to as a starting member of the Osaka Joshi. There was an absence of junior and senior wrestlers. I’m interested in the fact that we built it up from nothing.
What are your finishing moves.
Ebisu Otoshi, Raiden Drop, Nandeyanen!
Who are some of the wrestlers that you emulate and have inspired you? Your greatest rivals?
There is no wrestler I emulate.
The wrestler that inspired me is Tadasuke of Osaka Pro Wrestling. He is the wrestler who caused me to begin to look at professional wrestling. I think, my rivals are wrestlers from my same generation and Kagetsu.
One year and eight months after your debut, who is the most impressive wrestler you’ve faced? And what is your greatest match?
All of my the matches in my 10 Match Challenge series, that began in January 2011. Especially against Kaori Yoneyama that was my 1st anniversary match. And also, the final round of that series against Kagetsu. Also, my match against Aja Kong October 30, 2011.
You hold the JWP Jr. & POP title. How did it feel to become the champion? Moreover, are there any titles you aim to win next?
I was very glad and I can not express with words. At this time I am not challenging for other titles, as I feel a strong sense of responsibility as the JWP Jr. and POP champion.
You will be wrestling for CHIKARA in the U.S. soon. What do you think of this show? What do you hope to show American fans?
I’m very, very excited about the shows in the US! I have the least experience among the Japanese wrestlers, but I will do my best not hide among senior wrestlers.
What are your goals in your wrestling career?
My present goal is to continue to holding the JWP Jr. and POP titles and break the defense record.
Do you have any hobbies? And What is your favorite food?
My hobbies are cycling and visiting various cafeterias. My favorite food is white rice, strawberry jam and margarine bread.
Is there anything else you would like to say to your current and future fans?
Thank you for always giving me a lot of support. I will continue every day to face every challenge and then grow bigger as, “The face of Osaka Joshi Sawako Shimono.”
Thank you for replying to our interview today. We look forward to your future and wild rampage in the U.S.
Thank you very much!
Learn more about Sawako Shimono by following her on Twitter (@sawako_shimono) and her blog. Also check her complete match history, as organized by Flying Suihanki. Here is her JWP Jr. Title & POP Title defense against Nao Komatsu of OZ academy this past August at Korakuen Hall.
DDS: こんにちは。まずはあなたのキャリアをお聞かせください。 あなたがプロレスデビューした日はいつで、対戦相手は？
DDS: デビューまでにやっていたスポーツは？ どこでプロレスのトレーニングをつみましたかか？ デビューまでの、そして今のあなたのコーチは？
DDS: プロレスラーになろうと思ったきっかけは？ なぜ、WAVEではなく、OSAKA女子？
DDS: 目標とするレスラー、影響を受けたレスラーは誰ですか？ また、ライバルは？
DDS: あなたはJWP認定ジュニア&POP王座を保持しています、奪取したときの感想は？ また、次に狙いたいタイトルはありますか？
DDS: CHIKARA JOSHIMANIAにむけての意気込み、「下野佐和子のここを見てほしい」というところをおねがいします。
SS: とにかくアメリカでの試合が楽しみで楽しみで仕方ありません！ 日本から行くメンバーの中ではキャリアも一番下ですが・・・大先輩たちの中に埋もれてしまうことの無いよう、精一杯頑張りたいと思います。
Bonus video! Shimono’s appearance on Yomiuri TV in February 2011.