Here’s our final gallery from the most recent SHIMMER tapings. This was the one where Allysin Kay, as she long ago prophesized, got in the ring with The World Famous Kana (although rumor has it she’s still looking forward to a one-on-one confrontation). Also, Athena continued making her case that she is the best by taking on the best in Ayako Hamada. All this, and lots of ninjas. Enjoy!
SHIMMER Volume 50 saw the cross-generational Joshi dream match of Kana versus Ayako Hamada come to American soil, in what is now largely considered, “the best fucking match ever.” There was also the welcome return of SHIMMER original Lexie Fyfe, who looked fantasticin the main event elimination match. Please enjoy our photos, volume 51 and 52 are coming soon!
Greg, boss that he is, attended yet another three day international wrestling summit with the AAW/SHIMMER Weekend. Here’s his wonderful photos from the first of the four SHIMMER shows. This was the one where Athena found herself in the main event, Courtney Rush lost herself in the past, and, delivering on months of trash talk, Portia Perez actually, finally, for real beat Kana. Enjoy!
On my last trip to Tokyo, several of my Joshi watching friends were a bit surprised that my show itinerary did not include Stardom. Apparently, the company was the new hotness on the Japanese pro wrestling scene, (“It is now so famous company,” as one put it). The promotion has developed a sizable following in a very short time due to savvy cross-promotion, guided by Rossy Ogawa of ARSION fame and Fuka of Fuka fame, as well as a stable of young, appealing women that vets Nanae Takahashi, Natsuki*Taiyo, and Fuka herself, kicked, chopped, and choked into wrestling shape.
Not wanting to be behind the times, I finally took in my first Stardom live at Shin-Kiba on September 17th. The event was the penultimate show for Stardom’s 5 Star Grand Prix Tournament, a massive undertaking where a dozen of Joshi’s best competed in a block style tourney. Besides Stardom regulars like Nanae Takahashi, Natsuki*Taiyo, Io Shirai, and Yuzuki Aikawa, they also invited Canada/Mexico’s Dark Angel, Zero-1′s teen sensation Yuhi, and freelance psychopath Kyoko Kimura. Here were the results:
Io Shirai vs. Yuhi went to a 15 minute time limit draw
Natsuki*Taiyo vs. Saki Kashima went to a 15 minute time limit draw
Yoshiko defeated Act Yasukawa by referee stoppage due to a Mata Leon
Dark Angel Sara Stock defeated Kyoko Kimura
Yuzuki Aikawa defeated Nanae Takahashi with a Tiger Suplex
The show started with the retired but loved Fuka in gold hot pants dancing with a pop group before taking on her role as ring announcer. In spite of the entertainment, Stardom didn’t forget that “JOSHIPRO” was on the marquee. Shortly after Hiroyo Matsumoto came out and smashed through a couple trainees before the tournament matches got under way.
Yuhi is a beast, for a 17 year old that is. She’s incredibly innovative and I’m pretty sure half her moveset comes from King of Fighters. The equally amazing Io Shirai, who has looked better than ever since becoming a singles star in Stardom, had her hands full with the teen dream. This ultimately went the time limit, which can’t be complained about since all 15 minutes were so good.
Saki Kashima vs. Natsuki*Taiyo was much less evenly matched, but went to a draw as well. As amazingly fast as Taiyo is, she was not able to finish this in 15. Saki’s frail frame somehow survived the worst of Natsuki’s arsenal towards the end.
Kyoko Kimura and Dark Angel, who are both looking pretty diesel right now,1 had an outstanding brawl that Stock narrowly won. Sarah had tons of crowd support during the show, and afterwards in the merch line. Having been to Japan a half-dozen times or so, an extended tour of Stardom for this tournament was certainly a good call.
The main event was likely the most anticipated match of the tournament. Nanae Takahashi, Alpha Joshi and holder of the “new red belt” 2 World of Stardom title versus the holder of the “white belt” Sky High of ARSION Wonder of Stardom Title, Yuzuki “Yuzupon” Aikawa.
Of all the women to join Nanae in Stardom, none has developed more as a wrestler or created more of a following than Yuzupon. She came to the promotion with a massive fan base due to her prior success as a gravure model, but she does much more than fill out a bikini. In her first match against Nanae she infamously had her chest welted and eye swollen shut from the brutal loss she sustained. Her reaction? Smile, pose, come back for more. Her beauty and her will-power brought her so much love that she was named Joshi of the Year for 2011, her first year in pro wrestling.
Yuzupon is a double champion in Stardom, as she won their inaugural tag title tournament with Yoko Bito. She was even given the honor of co-main eventing Bull Nakano’s retirement show against Hikaru Shida. However, she never avenged her first lost against Nanae. No matter how many accolades she received, her star always had that asterisk next to it.
It was debatable whether that would ever change. Pretty much no one beats Nanae nowadays. She’d gone 2 years without a singles loss prior to the September 17th show. But in front of 400 fans on the outskirts of Tokyo and, ironically enough, on Japan’s “Respect Your Elders” holiday, Yuzuki Aikawa finally toppled her mentor.
It wasn’t easy. Nanae, frankly, beat the shit out of Yuzupon, again. And, again, Yuzupon forced a smile through her bruised lips, posed with her welted chest, and came back for more, more, more. A blitz attack of multiple Yuzupon Kicks followed by a perfect Tiger Suplex was enough to keep Nanae down for exactly three seconds. Yuzupon’s supporters in the crowd erupted at the moment, but I doubt anyone was half as happy as her. She celebrated and thanked the fans on the mic to close out the show.3
As for the tournament overall, Yoshiko only needs to defeat Io this Sunday to punch her ticket to the finals from the Red Block. If she fails, then both Nanae and Yuzupon have a chance. In the Blue Block, things are little more open. If Stock wins then she goes, but if she loses or draws, Kimura could take the top spot with two wins on Sunday. You can run the numbers yourself in the chart below the gallery.
As for the show overall, I was very impressed with my first taste of Stardom. I think everyone knows how great Natsuki and Nanae are, but Io and Aikawa are absolutely amazing as well. Stardom has picked some excellent outside talent to bring in for this tournament, here’s hoping that’s a trend that continues past the tournament. Stardomn’s growth has already been a positive for the Joshi world and with their 2013 Sumo Hall, I hope the goodwill and excitement continues to spread.
Until next time, peace!
Kyoko also looks like she’s ready to team up with Kellie Skater again, as she’s ditched her braids for a mop top, and their gear is identical in form now. ↩
The “Red Belt” was the famed WWWA title of AJW, the Stardom title pays tribute to its legacy. ↩
I ran into Nanae at Manami Toyota’s anniversary show and mentioned that I attended this event. Her reaction, “I lost.” I immediately apologized. ↩
Aki Shizuku is not a name widely known to pro-wrestling fans in Japan, and almost completely unknown to even dedicated fans outside the country. That meant that it a came as a surprise when she was named the opponent for Kana on SMASH’s October 28th show. Kana handpicked Shizuku as an opponent, no doubt due to her outstanding history in amateur wrestling, unique physical ability, and keen mind. Known as the “Intelligent Monster” this hidden gem of Japan will have a huge opportunity to showcase her skills and reveal why her pro future is just as bright as her amateur past. We invite all our readers to learn more about the talented Aki Shizuku.
Please tell us when you made your debut, and against whom.
My first opponent was Midori on October 13, 2007.
I took a hiatus from pro wrestling in 2007, and returned in 2009. I have been wrestling professionally for 3 years.
Who trained you?
I trained at Ito-Dojo until my debut. After returning, I was trained in ground technique by Yuuki Ishikawa of BattlArts and had wrestling practice in Gaku-puro. [Gaku-puro is Japanese backyard pro-wrestling.]
You have a great track record in amateur wrestling, and were an All Japan Student Championship Finalist in 2009. Why did you choose to become a professional wrestler?
At first, I became a joshi puroresu fan, seeing AJW’s ATHENA TV show when I was a junior high school student. I wanted to become a pro wrestler. I told my mother and she said, “You should wrestle amateur, and learn the severity of winning and losing”, and I was tossed into the world of wrestling.
After your debut, you started wrestling in Gaku-puro. What did you learn by doing that? What is the difference between Gaku-puro and professional wrestling?
Gaku-puro wrestlers are not a professional and are not athletes. Their physical ability and strength is at the level of ordinary students. Therefore, it is most important that they use ingenuity and make characters that utilizing their own unique abilities. They are university students, so they have an academic approach to puroresu. “The first phase of puroresu is to introduce myself to the audience”, was the advice from a member of Temple Puroresu that affected me the most. I had experience in women’s professional wrestling organization and similar basic skills, but I had no skills to tell audience about my unique advantage. After getting that advice, I actively incorporated certain moves, leading to my own style now. If there was no encounter with Gaku-puro, the present version of myself would not exist.
You are a representative of the ”Temple Puroresu” promotion. Please tell us about it.
When Temple Puroresu puts on an event, instead of selling tickets, we solicit donations. The fundraising activities primarily contribute to an orphanage, but we also do volunteer events for the disabled, and we are giving support and guidance for a professional wrestling organization run by the hearing-impaired.
On October 28th at SMASH.22, you face the first SMASH Women’s Champion Kana. Why do you feel Kana chose you as an opponent? Please tell us about your feelings on this match.
In the past year I have gotten emails from many fans saying “Please fight against Kana.” There was also an organization which said, “Please fight against Kana,” before SMASH did, although it did not happen.
During this past year, when I did professional wrestling, the name of Kana was always mentioned. Kana and I both studied under Yuuki Ishikawa, president of BattlARTS. I think that there is a professional wrestling match which only Kana and I can express.
Do you have a more chance of fighting well? Is there anyone who you would want to face, Japan or abroad? And what are your goals in your wrestling career?
I would like to fight with all woman wrestlers of SMASH. A trainee of SMASH is in Temple Puroresu. I would like to fight him when he debuts.
My greatest target is Hailey Hatred. I would like to fight with her again. She is a wrestler whom I respect.
I never want to lose to other wrestlers. I want to be the strongest among those with this same career.
What are your thoughts on the current state of Joshi Puroresu?
Based on my experiences in Gaku-pro, we should focus on unifying wrestlers’ individuality. Individuality and character is not about personality nor appearance. It is a skill which each person is trying to gain and use. I love Joshi Puroresu. There is Puroresu which only women can do and we should have the spirit of inquiry.
Please give us your brief thoughts on the following wrestlers.
Serena Deeb – I am not acquainted with Serena, I’ve only watched her fights. She has a great body. Just watch her entrance and you can see that she is very strong
Hailey Hatred – She is my goal wrestler. I respect her as a player. I am training kicks, therefore, I do not fear her kicks. I was beaten by her in a singles match recently, but I have confidence that my ground wrestling skills in first phase of the match was better than hers. I studied it, and I would like to beat Hailey some day.
Syuri – Uses great kicks. She has something I don’t have, so I have a natural interest in her. We would have an MMA style fight. My style is based in amateur wrestling, Syuri’s is based in kicks. They seem similar, but they are surprisingly opposite styles. That is why she is also the best person for me to fight.
Makoto – I’m now involved in SMASH and I think she is an absolutely essential wrestler. I don’t want to be defeated by her.
Ray – Ray is good at the high flying style, a style that won’t by any means be done by me, so I think it’s fantastic. She does everything brilliantly, and is a beautiful wrestler. She previously participated in Joou-Bati* so I have interest in her. [Joou-Bati (女王バチ) means Women's BattlARTS/shoot style, as seen in Queen Bee.]
Hiroyo Matsumoto – I am interested in her as young heavy weight class wrestler. I would like to fight with her someday.
Is there anything else you would like to say to your current and future fans?
Proceeds of the merchandise sold in my shop will be donated to an orphanage.
Yes! You can also contribute to society by coming to see my fights! Laugh together through Puroresu. Let’s wish for people’s happiness together through Puroresu. Be happy together through Puroresu!
Learn more about Aki Shizuku by following her on Twitter (@shizukuaki0702) . See her in action in this epic open training session where she puts 8 guys through the ringer.
In 2010, Weekly Pro-Wrestling, the top Professional Wrestling publication in Japan, printed a “Joshi Manifesto” penned by Kana. Her blunt but substantive criticism of the Joshi Puroresu scene earned her scorn from many, but eventually proved to be a turning point in her career and one of the most notable moments in recent Joshi history. It is in that tradition that we offer this piece. We always give wrestlers the chance to speak their minds in our candid interviews, but we were surprised when we were contacted by a fighter who felt the need to deliver something more. A message. A warning. A manifesto.
Editor’s Note: The views expressed here by Kellie Skater do not necessarily reflect the views of Dirty Dirty Sheets or its staff. Photos by Greg.
I decided it was time that “The Rate Tank” Kellie Skater sets down some simple rules for all to follow. This is a necessity, as way too many people disrespect The Rate Tank, and mutantkind in general, for my liking.
Rule 1: Thou shalt not support the ideals of the Mutant Registration Act. We are Homo Superior and if we choose to be anonymous that’s our decision. We shall not become pawns for humankind. And registration leads to genocide. That’s just not cool. Every time I hear a fan yell, “Die Mutie,” it just proves the fact that Magneto was right1.
Rule 2: Thou shalt not accuse The Rate Tank of being on Roo-Roids or any other illegal substances. This includes chanting ‘Roo-Roids’, ‘steroids’, and ‘HGH’ during my matches. Or bringing signs stating this! It’s a nasty rumour started by Allison Danger! All allegations. I am a pure, albeit amazing physical specimen. In fact you might say I am the Ultimate Total Package.
Rule 3: Thou shalt not cheat if you accept an Open Challenge I set. Clearly way too many unscrupulous characters accept these challenges and cheat me!
Rule 4: Thou shalt always follow orders from the IG. The International Gangstas2 are going to eventually run the world anyway, you might as well get in quickly and obey us! This may save you an IG arse kicking.
Nicole Matthews may be the most hateful woman in wrestling. Whether she’s in Japan berating fans with her equally despised partner Portia Perez, or in her native Canada belittling every other woman who steps into the ring (including camera operators), or in SHIMMER spoiling memories for hundreds of screaming Melissa fans, Matthews uses the full force of her incredible talent to raise herself up by tearing everyone else down. Unfortunately, it’s working. After a historic reign as SHIMMER Tag Champion and an MVP-like year in the promotion in 2010, Matthews has gone on to add stamps from two new continents to her passport, dominate the women’s division of ECCW, and put herself firmly in the hunt for the SHIMMER singles title. All while letting everyone know how awesome she is and how much everyone else sucks. The scary part is, she sort of has a point. We caught up with Matthews to discuss in detail her recent “Lariat the World” multi-continental tour, her hatred for KC Spinelli and her love for streamers.
Thanks for joining us again Nicole. When we last spoke, it was in a joint interview with Jessie McKay and Madison Eagles, as you prepared for your September 3rd PWWA Three Way Dance for the SHIMMER title. Can you tell us about that experience? The wear and tear of the travel, the jet lag, your first SHIMMER title match. What are your recollections of the experience?
It was definitely in my top 5 favorite matches I’ve had. Something clicked with the three of us, and I hope everyone picks up that PWWA DVD, because it was a match that I feel wasn’t like a typical three-way dance. I don’t usually like that kind of match, but with the talent in the ring that night, something clicked, and we hit it out of the park.
The jet-lag and travel was something that I haven’t experienced to that extent before, but I learned to adapt fast since September was the month of travel for Nicole Matthews. I’m glad I didn’t feel jet-lagged for the SHIMMER title match, because I didn’t want any excuses for a poor performance for myself.
Being in a SHIMMER title match gave me a taste of being a main eventer. The expectation of delivering gave me such a rush. I can, and will, most definitely get used to it.
The match itself was great and the best on the show. Did you go into this match with a different outlook, considering that it was for the SHIMMER title?
I never expect anything less than the best out of myself, so that wasn’t really a different outlook than usual. Being in there with Madison Eagles, the best female wrestler in the world right now, did push me that much more. The last thing I wanted was to be outclassed by her, and I don’t think that was the case at all.
So you went to Australia, wrestling Madison Eagles multiple times, how did you unwind from that huge week when you came back home?
I did a whole lot of nothing when I came back! I tried to get back on my normal schedule, but it took a couple days to get back to it. I basically came home, regrouped, went to the gym, and went to training. After all, Australia was the first of three big trips for me that month.
Right, you received the call to go over to Japan and wrestle for Pro Wrestling REINA on their late September shows. Can you tell us how you found out and what your initial reaction was?
I was contacted about it some months ago, but didn’t want to get too excited or announce it because as everyone in wrestling knows, things change in a blink. When I got the plane ticket confirmed though, I was super excited. I don’t think I can properly express it on paper, but Japan has been my goal since I started wrestling. Who gets to do what they’ve dreamed of doing their whole lives and gets to achieve their #1 goal?
How was the trip overall? Did you have any time for recreation or sightseeing?
It was an amazing experience. There wasn’t too much time for sightseeing, but I wasn’t too concerned about that. Being able to share the experience with Portia and Sara really made the trip special too. I would love to go back.
What were your impressions of the REINA promotion? And the Japanese fans? We hear the Ninjas actually got streamers?
REINA was a great promotion to work for. They really made the experience a great one. The Japanese fans were awesome too. It was a bit of an adjustment working in front of a more quiet crowd, but I think we adjusted pretty well. And we did get streamers. I think it was mostly because on the first night, we were pissed that we didn’t when Mia Yim did, and let the fans know our displeasure.
What did you think of your matches in Japan?
I was really happy with our first outing against Mia and Sara. Weirdly enough, since I’ve been working at SHIMMER with both of them, it was my first time wrestling either Mia or Sara. We beat them, so what isn’t there to be happy about? Not many female wrestlers out there can boast a victory over Sara Del Rey, but now you can put Portia and I on that short list.
It was disappointing losing to Zeuxis and La Comandante, but we didn’t let them win the belts easily. It was personally my first time wrestling two wrestlers who wrestled the lucha style, so I’m not ashamed to admit it threw me for a bit of a loop. Not a good excuse to lose, but at least I’ll be more prepared next time.
My favorite match of the tour was our match with Hiroyo and Saya. I knew what Hiroyo would bring, but Saya was a mystery. For someone who is so new, she more than held her own. Even though the match was pretty back and forth, at the end of the day, the Ninjas came out on top. Plus, I got to do a snow angel in the streamers. WIN!
Zeuxis had this to say about the Canadian Ninjas in our recent interview: “Excellent team made up of two great fighters, but we were able to show that we were better. Hopefully we can have another match with them.”
I hope to face them again too. I want to take those titles off them!
And right after REINA you made your way to Chicago for SHIMMER. Did you have any time to prepare?
Usually for a couple of months leading up to SHIMMER, it is my main focus. This time, it was a bit different seeing how busy September was, so that threw me off a little. I had two days between getting back in Vancouver and leaving for Chicago, so it wasn’t much time. I did manage to get in the ring to try some moves and reversals out in those two days though, because I am a machine.
Let’s walk through SHIMMER weekend. On Volume 41, you lost to Hiroyo Matsumoto.
Super tough loss, but it was a good battle. I think me and Hiroyo have similar styles, and I would love to get back in there and beat her. She was just extra mad because I beat her in that tag match in REINA. Lesson learned: avoid pissing off a Joshi.
On Volume 42, you pinned Serena Deeb after Portia Perez interfered. Your skills speak for themselves, why do you continue to rely on short cuts to win?
Look, it’s not like I had a walkie-talkie telling Portia when to come out. I didn’t need her to interfere. But, she wanted to get into Serena’s head, and I totally support that. Tag teams are about compromise. If I had wanted to mess with Jessie McKay some more on Volume 41, Portia would have been more than happy to let me.
Besides, it’s not as if Portia hit her with a chain. It was still the Vancouver Maneuver that got the pin!
On Volume 43 you defeated Serena’s protege, Davina Rose. Any thoughts on this SHIMMER newcomer?
She has potential, yadda yadda yadda. Look, I’m not going to crap on her, because one day she’ll be really good. But why was I in that match? Third match on the card? Seriously? I should have been in the main event. I should always be in the main event.
You were interviewed by Amber Gertner on that show and stated that you wanted a SHIMMER title shot. Given your recent history, that’s a fair point. However, you were interrupted by Cheerleader Melissa. How did you feel about that?
I was pissed. Melissa’s arrogance is going to be her downfall, guaranteed. She pretended she didn’t even know who I was. Nothing gets me fired up more than getting disrespected like that. She obviously knows who I am, and she better be threatened by it.
On Volume 44, The Canadian Ninjas were defeated by SHIMMER tag team champions Ayumi Kurihara and Ayako Hamada. What happened here? Is it possible your head wasn’t in the game, since you were also focused other matters?
My head was in the game fine. You know what I wasn’t anticipating? Chairs! I’m pretty sure that’s illegal. Are there no rules in Japan over these things1? And even if there are not, are SHIMMER tag matches under Japanese rules all of a sudden?
Another thing! Why did it take so long for the Ninjas to get their rematch? We were both clearly in a singles mindset: we both went five volumes straight doing singles competition. Maybe if we had been in a tag team groove, things would have been different.
In the final match of the SHIMMER taping Madison Eagles faced Cheerleader Melissa for the title. Were you watching the monitor backstage?
Yes, I always watch my competition. I was impressed by the match, but I was also pissed that Melissa was, once again, getting an opportunity I should have been given. How many times has Madison faced and beaten her? Why was she being forced to have to face her again? It was agitating.
Of course a new SHIMMER Champion was crowned in Cheerleader Melissa. Everyone was ecstatic as she celebrated what many feel was a long overdue win. You then came from backstage and savagely attacked her, driving her into the ringpost, and laying her out in the ring. You forever tarnished what many feel was the high point of that SHIMMER taping, if not SHIMMER itself. What do you have to say about your actions?
Awww, did I ruin everyone’s special moment? Boo hoo!
There wasn’t a better time to make a statement. She’s going to disrespect me? I gave it right back.
More than that though, it was a message to the locker room and to the fans. The Nicole Matthews who faced Shark Girl and who drank out of Big Gulp cups no longer exists. It’s my time. It’s time for Melissa and some of the other SHIMMER ‘originals’ and ‘veterans’ to realize there’s a new breed coming up, and if someone like Melissa won’t give me the respect I deserve, I’ll take it from her.
I’m not here to amuse SHIMMER fans anymore. I’m here to be the best and to be SHIMMER champion.
It doesn’t seem like your concerned about any repercussions Melissa has in store.
Bring it on. I’m younger, faster, and smarter. In fact, I’m just plain better than her.
More immediately, you have an ECCW title defense versus KC Spinelli on October 28th. Any thoughts on this match? Spinelli impressed many at the last SHIMMER tapings and has been garnering a lot of support. This is in spite of you constantly bad mouthing her as a wrestler. Do you think there’s any chance you will leave Surrey, BC without the ECCW women’s title?
Spinelli doesn’t stand a chance. She never has, and she never will. The name of the game is wrestling. All I hear is how much passion and fan support Spinelli has. I must have missed when passion equaled talent. Oh, does she try really, really hard? That’s nice. She still isn’t the talent I am though. I’m not sweating Spinelli. She can fist pump her way down to the mat when I pin her again.
In closing, do you have any parting words for the fans? How about Cheerleader Melissa?
Fans: I don’t care if you like me, but stop praising mediocrity. Praise greatness AKA Nicole Matthews. Thank you!
Melissa: I’m going to ruin your title reign like I ruined your celebration. See you next SHIMMER taping.
To learn more about Nicole Matthews, follow her on Twitter (@nmatthewsninja). Also check out this match from ECCW featuring Nicole in a three-way against Veronika Vice and KC Spinelli.
There are actually not rules in Japan over these things. ↩