If you think you’re done with wrestling this weekend, we have some good (or perhaps bad) news. You still need to watch Dream Slam. This week marked the 20th Anniversary of AJW’s amazing, multi-promotional Joshi extravaganza. It is definitely, possibly the greatest wrestling show of all time and features certainly, probably the greatest match of all time with Akira Hokuto versus Shinobu Kandori wild, angry, bloody brawl.
It also has one of my favorite wrestling moments of all time, with Manami Toyota breaking down in tears post-show following her amazing main event performance. I once asked Toyota about the show and why she cried, but she said she doesn’t remember most shows, as they had so many big ones back then.
If you’ve never seen it, or haven’t seen it in a while, take some time out to watch it again. You can thank us later.
Hikari Fukuoka & Plum Mariko vs. Kaoru Ito & Sakie Hasegawa
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.
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 Kato1 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.
A myth holds it that Zeuxis, the famed artist of Ancient Greece, could not find one woman beautiful enough to model for his painting of Helen of Troy, so he had to use the features of five different ones to complete the piece. Zeuxis, Puerto Rican born luchadora, only needed to see Marcela wrestle on TV to be inspire her to become an artista del ring. In the three years since her debut Zeuxis has worked her way through the independent ranks of Mexico and into CMLL, wrestling’s longest running promotion. She has also completed multiple tours of Japan for Pro Wrestling REINA, where she has garnered a loyal fan following. We recently caught up with Zeuxis to talk about her inspirations, the influence of Joshi Puroresu on her style, and what she thinks about US women’s wrestling.
Please tell us who trained you, and how long you have been wrestling.
I am 22 years old, my birthday is November 3, and I began training when I was 15. I started with amateur wrestling for two years, then I became a professional and wrestled independent promotions for 2 years, and now I work in CMLL, which is the best company in Mexico.
Who are some of the wrestlers that have inspired you?
I was always fond of Konnan and Perro Aguayo, they were my idols. The person I admire, that got me interested in joining the sport is Marcela, she is my biggest idol. I also look up to Ultimo Guerrero, whom I train under now, and Satanico and Virus.
One of your finishing moves, El Caballete, is an amazing submission hold! In Japan, you use the Sky Twister Press as your finishing move. Why the change?
In Mexico, El Caballete is totally different than anything that’s been seen1. But I’ve only been able to use it once in Japan. They say that everything has to evolve, so I am trying to develop my high flying style. I love it because it is so different, and I am trying to combine the technical aspect and the high flying together, to make a tougher style.
Who are some of your favorite opponents?
Going to Japan to wrestle for REINA made me a more mature luchadora, as I could face great legends in Japan such as Yumiko Hotta, Manami Toyota, Ayumi, and Ray among others. But also in Mexico, I was able to wrestle my idol Marcela, and tag team with rudas such as La Comandante, Princess Blanca and Amapola. I think that helped me to have more experience and demonstrate my qualites as a luchadora day to day.
Besides wrestling, what do you do with your time? Do you have any hobbies?
In addition to wrestling, I’m a paramedic and work at the Red Cross. Some of my hobbies are going to the movies, I love comedies and romance movies. My favorite actors are Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Ben Affleck.
You are one half of the REINA tag team champions with your partner La Comandante. Please tell us how you feel wrestling in Japan is compared to wrestling in Mexico.
I am happy to be tag team champions with one of the great rudas2. Mexican wrestling is more varied because it blends mat wrestling with high-flying, in comparison to the Japanese style, which is slower but much harder hitting. So far I think I have achieved my goal of making the fans happy with my style.
Do you have any interest in wrestling in the United States? Have you watched any US women’s wrestling shows?
During my stay in Japan, I have watched many matches from the United States, and it is completely different from Mexican style, but very similar to the Japanese style. I would like to experience wrestling the great fighters there. I saw the SHIMMER show where Matsumoto and Ohata won the tag team titles from the Canadian Ninjas, and I could see the quality of the women wrestlers in the company.
Who are three opponents that you have not wrestled that you would wish to face?
Ayako Hamada, Aja Kong and Hailey Hatred. Although I wrestled Hailey before, I would like to wrestle for one of her championships. She has knowledge of Mexican and Japanese styles, so I think she would be a great rival.
Please give us a few words on the following people:
La Comandante – An excellent ruda and a great companion in the ring, we are the perfect combination.
Yumiko Hotta – A legend and a great rival. I studied and trained to prove to her that I am ready. She is so much more, and a very forgiving person.
Ray – My worst enemy in Japan. She has a high-flying style that many aspire to, but I proved that I will not give up so easily and I will take her championship. (Ray is the CMLL-REINA International Junior Heavyweight Champion.)
Mia Yim – My best friend, I am able to share many things with her, and I think she has a great future ahead as long as she wants to excel.
The Canadian Ninjas – 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.
Ayako Hamada – One of the best fighters in Japan and Mexico, it would be an honor to work with her as a partner or as my opponent. I think her fighting style is excellent.
Do you have anything that you would like to say to your fans?
Follow the ascent of my career! I have a lot more to show you and will continue to work to keep your interest.
To learn more about Zeuxis follow her on twitter (@zEuXiScMLl) and like her on Facebook. Below, check out tag team action featuring Zeuxis and La Comandante taking on Joshi legends Manami Toyota and Yumiko Hotta. We’ve also footnoted some of the bouts and events referenced above, go to the bottom of this page to watch.
As we approach the historic Joshimania shows, presented by CHIKARA, Dirty Dirty Sheets will present a number of articles in hopes to increase fan awareness and knowledge about the women coming to Joshimania, and the history of Joshi Puroresu in general. Today we present a spotlight of one of Joshi’s most enduring icons, Bull Nakano.
Once you heard her music, you knew things were going to pick up, big time. Bull Nakano was one of the most feared wrestlers of her time. With her gargantuan hair and her intimidating face paint, you knew immediately upon seeing her that Nakano was not to be messed with.
Nakano made an impact quickly in the wrestling world, debuting at the tender age of fifteen for All Japan under her real name, Keiko Nakano in 1983. She won the AJW Junior Championship in September of the next year and held it for eight months. She joined the Gokuaku Doumei (Heinous Alliance) of notorious “Super Heel” Dump Matsumoto, shaved half her head, and transformed into the face-painted beast we know today. At this time she won the AJW Championship, the secondary singles title in AJW, and held it for a full three years. She also took over the stable, renaming it Gokumon-to, and over the years led women like Bison Kimura, Bat Yoshinaga, Aja Kong, and Kyoko Inoue.
In 1986 she had a short run in North America with Dump Matsumoto, who was her mentor. She also then won the WWWA World Tag Team title with Dump, who retired, leaving Nakano to hold the title two more times with two different partners (Condor Saito and Grizzly Iwamoto) after this she focused more on her singles career in which she briefly appeared in Mexico and won the CMLL’s first Women’s title in 1992.
In AJW, Bull was famous for her epic matches with and against Aja Kong. They were factios mates and a dominant tag team together, but it was Kong who Nakano dropped the WWWA title to her in a brutal steel cage match. This was after Bull had another historic, nearly 3 year-long reign.
She then returned to the US in 1994, this time with a bigger role. She was a main stay in the Women’s title picture feuding with Madusa Miceli. She lost to Madusa in the summer of 1994 but then went on to win it in her home country at the Big Egg Wrestling Universe event in November. She held the title for five months until she dropped it back to Madusa. Soon after this, she was released from the company. She then went on to wrestle for a rival US promotion where she continued her feud with Madusa, with Madusa winning their final match together. This was the last of Nakano in the USA and soon after Nakano left wrestling altogether.
Since then, Nakano spent time becoming a professional women’s golfer as well as writing books on cooking and weight loss. A few years ago she opened up her own restaurant, as retired Japanese wrestlers are known to do, though she closed it temporarily in order to find a larger location.
With her strong offense and her outlandish hair, Nakano stood out to me when I first started watching old wrestling tapes. When I found out she started at such a young age it was someone I felt I could relate to. Her passion stood out and that’s why I consider Nakano to be one of the best ever.
While Nakano left wrestling in 1997 (she never had an official retirement ceremony), her legacy and impact lives on through many wrestlers today, including Sara Del Rey who even uses Nakano’s entrance music. Countless other female wrestlers, in both Japan and North America, have listed her as an influence in their wrestling style and one of the reasons they chose to step in the ring in the first place.
For years fans and wrestlers have clamored for her to return to the ring, this January in Tokyo, Bull will produce a show which will finally include her retirement ceremony. As of now, she is not scheduled to wrestle on the show itself, though it is known that Aja Kong will appear.
As Bull walks away from wrestling for good, please look back at her career via the matches selected below. Nakano is a certified wrestling legend and we can thank her efforts for helping pave the way for the Joshi of today.
Bull Nakano vs. Jaguar Yokota
Bull Nakano vs. Aja Kong - WWWA Title Cage Match
Keiko Nakano & Yumi Ogura vs. The Jumping Bomb Angels
Keiko Nakano vs. Yumi Ogura – AJW Jr. Title Match
Bull Nakano & Aja Kong vs. Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada
Bull Nakano & Aja Kong vs. Harley Saito & Eagle Sawai
Mariko Yoshida had a storied career spanning three decades and several of the greatest Joshi promotions. She went from a beloved, high-flying mid-carder in AJW to a dominant shootstyle main eventer in ARSION. She had done it all in Joshi, including winning several titles, wrestling in the US, and even starting her own promotion, IBUKI, to train the next generation. As the years passed by, her pupils grew, and her injuries mounted, she quietly walked away from the ring having accomplished all there was to accomplish as a Joshi wrestler. Or so we all thought. Earlier this year Mariko Yoshida surprised fans, wrestlers, and promoters alike by making her return to the ring after a multi-year absence. She’s also recently joined twitter and started her own UStream channel, in hopes of connecting with her legions of longtime fans. We are proud to present to you our interview with the legendary Mariko Yoshida.
Please tell us why you chose to become a professional wrestler? When you started, who were some of the wrestlers that guided you?
I was attracted to wrestling by watching the Crush Gals. I wanted to be like them. It was my trainer, Jaguar Yokota, [that guided me the most].
You were injured in 1992, and didn’t wrestle for two years. During that time, you were still one of the most popular wrestlers in AJW. What was that period like for you?
I was really glad to have the people behind me, it was great. I had the support of everyone, and after my recovery I fought very hard for the fans.
You often teamed with and wrestled against Manami Toyota. What are your thoughts on her?
Outside the ring, she is a very gentle and kind person. But inside the ring, she has impeccable focus!
In 1997 many wrestlers left AJW. Why did you choose to go to ARSION?
At that time, I had fractured my arm and was out of action. ARSION invited me to join them and, when I was set to make my return, that is where I wanted to go.
In the early years of your career you had a high-flying style. However your wrestling became much more mixed martial arts based. Why did you make this change?
I changed companies, going from AJW to Arsion, so I wanted to change my image. I was very interested in different submission locks and techniques.
You were considered the “ace” of ARSION and were the first champion. What was that like?
Being in ARSION was very different from being AJW, as I had the responsibility of carrying the company on my back.
Ayako Hamada made her debut for ARSION as a new star. Please give us your thoughts on her and her career.
Ayako had been around the ring all of her life, and when she made her debut, she was completely different. Something new and cool! The moves she did, for being a rookie, were incredible.
You had many great battles with Aja Kong. What where those matches like for you?
Yes! Aja Kong is such a great wrestler. Being able to wrestle someone of her caliber, as many times as I did, made me very happy.
ARSION had many great wrestlers like Michiko Ohmukai, Azumi Hyuga, Lioness Asuka, and others. Who here some of your favorites on the roster?
Lioness Asuka. I was 15 years old when I first watched her, and that was when I said, “I want to become a wrestler!” When I had my first singles match against her, my heart was about to beat out of my chest!
In 2005 you started the Ibuki promotion, and trained many women like Misaki Ohata, Hiroyo Matsumoto, Tomoka Nakagawa, and Ayumi Kurihara. Why was training the new generation important to you? What do you think of their success?
By training younger wrestlers I have learned a lot of things as well. I am happy for their success and that they are making it on their own!
You wrestled Megumi Fujii a few times. After your matches, she went on to become the best female MMA fighter in the world.
Megumi Fujii is fast. If you give her the slightest opening, she will move on that chance and you could be in an armlock so quickly. Wrestling against her, I’ve never experienced that kind of tension in the ring before.
You previously wrestled for Chickfight in the US and became Champion there. What was your experience wrestling in America like?
The American fans cheered for me loudly, and it was a great feeling. I could raise the level of my game and I really enjoyed the matches.
How was Cheerleader Melissa as an opponent?
Melissa’s technique is so good, and she has power and stamina. She is a smart wrestler. I love Melissa!
Would you like to return to America and wrestle some day?
Yes, I want to!
What do you feel has been your greatest accomplishment in wrestling?
That I was able to meet so many people. That I was even able to go to America to meet the fans.
You took some time off these past few years, but recently returned to wrestling for Diana. Why did you leave? What made you decide to come back?
I took a break because my health wasn’t good, and my wrestling game wasn’t where it should be. While I was off, I started “core training” and my body was renewed! I heard that Kyoko Inoue had started DIANA, and I thought that I’d like to join, so I showed up. Also, I wanted to see the effects of my core training [on my wrestling], and how my body would feel now.
Besides training, what are some other things you like to do in your free time?
What I enjoy doing in my free time is just relaxing, daydreaming, and reading.
Please give your thoughts on Bull Nakano and Akira Hokuto.
Bull Nakano was very fierce and frightening inside of the ring; but she is so very kind outside of the ring.
Akira Hokuto was my senpai [senior colleague], and in my rookie days I was often her ring attendant. I learned more from her than any other veteran.
You wrestled at the highest point of Joshi in front of tens of thousands of fans. Do you think Joshi will ever return to that point?
If the way things are done are changed, then it’s a possibility. It is being planned right now!
In closing, is there anything that you would like to say to your fans in America?
I am very happy and touched to do this interview with you. Currently, I am planning a new venture involving stunt-people. We hope to show it to American fans in the near future! Thank you so much. I′m looking forward to seeing you some day!
You can learn more about Mariko by following her on Twitter (@mariko21585), her UStream Channel, and checking out her Official Website (yoshida-mariko.com) . Also, see below as we’ve put together and uploaded a compilation of some of Mariko’s greatest matches from her days in ARSION. It’s all amazing. Enjoy!
Nami has sent us some more, beautiful, photos. Her photos cover the 7/24, 8/14, and 8/21 Oz Academy shows as well as the 7/31 Wave show. These events feature some of the top talent in Joshi and, as always, Nami captures the action in the most beautiful way possible. Note that Kana, Manami Toyota, Yumi Ohka, Aja Kong, Tomoka Nakagawa, Hiroyo Matsumoto, and Meiko Satomura are on these shows and will all be making their way to North America in the next few months for SHIMMER, CHIKARA, and NCW:FF. It’s a great time to be a fan of Joshi!
From LPWA to FMW to JWP to AJW to ECW to ARSION, Reggie Bennett did it all as a female professional wrestler. The top foreigner during the very best years of AJW, Bennett cemented herself in the history books as one of the best during the absolute peak of women’s wrestling. We consider ourselves very lucky to be able to talk with this legend, especially now as a new age of women’s wrestling dawns in the US, due in no small part to the foundation Bennett and her colleagues laid out in AJW and ARSION. We hope all of our readers enjoy this special interview as much as we do.
Why did you decide to become a wrestler and how did you get started?
I was never a big fan of wrestling when I first started. As a matter of fact, the first match I saw I was in . It all started in Venice, California when I met Mondo Guerrero. He was training my now ex-husband for a wrestling movie. He asked me if I wanted to make some money with my body. At the time I was a Bodybuilder I thought he was propositioning me, haha. The next thing I knew I was getting my face and body rubbed all over the mat.
There was a big show going to Hawaii and then down the coast of California and they needed a girl to be in a 10 women Battle Royal because they were one short. Mondo taught me how to go over the top rope and that’s all I really knew. What a trip! We didn’t have much money as a matter of fact I lived for a week off a bag of change because they didn’t pay us like they said they would.
Welcome to the world of wrestling! I was bit. You have to understand, I’m one of 9 kids and I thought, “Wow! I can fight, get paid for it and not get in trouble? Whoo hooo!”
You wrestled in the Ladies Professional Wrestling Association (LPWA) in the late 80′s and early 90′s. Please share any thoughts on your time there.
In the late 80′s women’s wrestling was at an all time high here in the states with the LPWA. By this time I had gotten some training in with Mondo and went off to Las Vegas and met up with Brad Reinghans of Minnesota where they sent me and Terry Powers to train (god almighty damn it was freezing up there). We also met up with Dangerous Denise Storm, she is from there. We trained every day and it was great met a lot of the Boys up there.
Shortly afterwards, you went to Japan for All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling. How did that opportunity come about?
Back in LA I went out for a commercial that was being shot in Japan . I landed it. It was for a vitamin sports drink named DaDan1 when I went there I remembered that Despina Montagas was up there and she and I went shopping, and she took me to meet her husband Tarzan Tiger Goto with FMW Oh my god, that was some crazy shit. I had never seen more blood in a ring in my life, I worked with them for 2 weeks. On my first tour we traveled to Hokkaido . I couldn’t speak the language and the American guys on the tour didn’t talk to me.
Well, my commercial hit about the same time and it was a huge hit. I did every talk show, game show, newspaper; you name it and we did it . I became the Hottest thing in Japan (Rock Star status), and I kept being asked to go back. My commercial became the #1 commercial for 1990-91.
When you went to Japan, what was it like? Where did you stay? How did the wrestlers and promotion initially respond to you?
Needless to say everyone responded to me very well. I stayed in some really nice Hotels and everyone was so nice to me I really enjoyed Japan. I still miss my life over there. Everyone started a bidding war to get me to go to their company. Eventually I chose to start working for JWP so I could work on the same card with Terry Powers since we became fast friends at LPWA . After she left that promotion I went to work with AJW because they were a bigger company.
With so many all time greats, what was the AJW locker room like? Who were the leaders that you learned the most from?
AJW was great! Bigger shows and a lot of legends. Bull Nakano was impressive as well as Aja Kong , Akira Hokuto, Yumiko Hotta, Mima Shimoda and Etsuko Mita. But there was a language barrier so I didn’t get to know them as well as I would have liked, but we all ate together and partied when we went out with promoters. We did that a lot. Though when you don’t know the language, [it can] get a little boring when you don’t know what everyone is talking about.
You were part of some of the greatest Joshi Puroresu cards in history. What was in like being on those huge shows with tens of thousands of fans?
It was great, and a lot of hurry up and wait. Get dressed, take photos, meet and greet the fans, do interviews. Fumi Saito helped me through most of it. He became a great friend. It was nice having a friend that could speak English and translate everything to me and teach me the language. When I thought I would go crazy on the road I would call and talk with him. We would do 200 matches a year. Not a lot of down time.
Those supershows often had inter-promotional matches. In general, how did you and the other AJW wrestlers feel about the competing Joshi companies?
It was cool. They all knew each other, so it was like a family reunion, We watched each others matches to see their style . We felt that we had the best company because AJW has been around the longest.
You wrestled Chigusa Nagayo at the Big Egg Universe show. The two of you went toe-to-toe in a pretty violent battle. What were your feelings going into this match, knowing that you were facing arguably the most popular Joshi pro wrestler ever? How do you think she viewed you?
Chigusa Nagayo came out of retirement for that match and wanted to make a major comeback. That was a huge arena to do a show and the entire card lasted 12 hours . Just getting to the ring took no less the 6
minutes. Waiting for her to come out seemed to take forever. When she did, she started to put me and all American wrestlers down. I was not going to put up with that crap and neither were the fans and the press tore her up about that. After that match she got a lot of bad press because of her attitude. Did she like me? No, I don’t think so, and I wasn’t that impressed with her either! Manami Toyota, Aja Kong , Kyoko Inoue and most of our girls were 10 times better than she was.
Akira Hokuto was one of the bigger stars at the time and you two wrestled a bit. What were your thoughts on her?
I have a lot of respect for Akira Hokuto that woman was impressive we had a lot of matches against each other and as Tag Team partners. We even traveled to Korea and did some matches there. She had a lot of power for such a small woman. It was a blast working with her.
On May 15, 1995, you won the IWA Women’s championship from Manami Toyota. At that time, she was also the WWWA Champion. What do you remember about that win?? How did it feel that the promotion had faith in you to match you up with the top wrestler in the company at the time?
Manami Toyota was one of my favorites. She had style and grace in and out of the ring. To be put in for a title match against her was such a trip, I was ecstatic about it. I had been in Japan for 5 years and had paid my dues, so to speak. And when they offered, I took it! Turned out I won! Whoo Hoo!
Whom do you feel that you had your best matches with in AJW? Did you have a favorite tag partner?
I had great matches with all of them! Stand out matches though would have to be with Yumiko Hotta and Aja Kong. We were the big girls. As far as favorite Tag Team partner, Mariko Yoshida hands down.
1996 and 1997 saw many top wrestlers leave AJW. Toshiyo Yamada left for GAEA, Aja Kong left, and eventually Kyoko Inoue left. At the time, what were the thoughts of the lockerroom? Were there any meetings held by the promotion, or by the wrestlers themselves, to address the situation?
When all that went down I took a break from Japan. I wanted to come home to the States to try to get something started here . See, I really wanted to become famous here in America that didn’t pan out. Everyone knew that I had worked in Japan and they didn’t want to wrestle me. ECW gave me a bit of a try and I guess I could have worked with the boys, but I wanted to fight against women. So when Rossy Ogawa and Mariko came out to California and told me what happened they offered me a spot with ARSION.
So how exactly did you become involved with the first ECW pay-per-view “Barely Legal?”
I had met Raven in Japan like I did most of the Boys when they came out to do matches in Japan. He was nice enough to invite me to the show where I could see my buddy Terry Funk, whom I did Over the Top with, and used see whenever he was in Japan. They just worked me into that show. It was fun! How often do you get a chance to power bomb a legend?
Why did you ultimately choose to go to ARSION Hyper Visual Fighting?
It was fresh. The idea of pushing submission and ‘ultimate’ style fighting appealed to me. I had already done an ultimate tournament and placed 3rd, and that was done one month after dislocating my collar bone from my sternum.
You worked with Mariko Yoshida in both her AJW and ARSION days. Tell us about her and your matches together 2.
She was my best bud. We spent a lot of time on the road together and whenever we were on the road everyone would be crashed out. When we stopped at rest areas and there was a beach I would wake her up and we would take off and check it out. We were roommates on the road too.
Do you watch any current joshi wrestling? Have you seen any of the modern American women’s promotions such as SHIMMER or WSU?
No, I haven’t since I retired. I have lost touch with my wrestler-self. I’m sad to say this interview has brought out a lot of feelings that I thought I have lost. Wow. I didn’t even know that they had any all women companies in the states.
Thanks to the internet, recent years have seen an explosion in interest in Joshi Puroresu amongst American fans. In December, there will even be a “Joshimania” with women like Aja Kong and Manami Toyota coming.
Oh my god, that will be great! I would love to see that let me know when it will be and where! I want to come this, normal life is just boring!
After a lengthy drought of foreign talent, several American women have been brought to Japan recently. Based on your extensive experience, do you have any advice for these women?
Yes, I do.#1 Never give up your dream for anyone. If you want something bad enough go for it. #2 It will only hurt for a minute, sell the hell out of it. No pussy shots, make it snug!
Please tell us what you have you been up to since leaving wrestling?
Before and after I retired I bartended and was a bouncer in some of the best clubs in Tokyo. After that I started teaching English to Japanese pre-schoolers. I divorced my Japanese husband and moved back to New Orleans. I needed work so I managed a furniture warehouse. Needed insurance ,so I started working for The Home depot as a supervisor. Moved to Mississippi and bought a house. And I have now come to find out, I don’t like normal. I have done a lot of fun things in my life and you can too if you follow your dreams.
Do you still keep in touch with any of the people you worked with in Japan?
I just got back on-line and I’ve gotten in touch with a few friends and it has been great .
Is there anything that you would like to say to your fans, and is there any way that they can contact you, or write to you?
All my fans are the best! Thank you for all your support and you can reach me through Facebook or e-mail me (email). God bless all of you!
Thank you very much for the interview!
Thank you for this chance to do this. I didn’t know how much I needed to say this and how good it feels that people know who I am here. Please let me know more about the other companies here!
Check out this new upload of Reggie Bennett’s infamous match with Chigusa Nagayo below! Also, be sure to visit the LPWA’s AllWomenWrestling.com as they’ve uploaded a ton of their classic matches for digital download.
Aja Kong is a name synonymous with Women’s wrestling in Japan. Famous for her hard kicks, brutal power moves, and deadly Spinning Backfist (Uraken), Aja Kong is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.
Kong has been a main stay in Women’s wrestling in Japan for over twenty years, and has even dabbled in Intergender matches during her career (winning the HUSTLE Super Tag Team Championship with Amazing Kong in 2006). Dave Meltzer has rated two of her matches with five stars1, and has won countless titles during her career for promotions such as AJW and GAEA. She also branched out and started the ARSION promotion in 1997.
Kong had a brief stint in America back in late 1995 to early 1996, debuting in a PPV eight women elimination match and pinning all the members of her opposing team, which featured the then Women’s champion, Madusa Miceli. Kong was being built as the top contender to the title, and wrestled on TV twice more to hype up a future match it future match. It never materialized as Madusa changed promotions, and Kong did not appear again.
Kong appeals to me on such a personal level because, while she’s not the prettiest or the skinniest woman around, she shows that’s not what Pro Wrestling is about and has the actual skills to be the best. She is the epitome of what a wrestler should be. Plus, the face paint is just amazing.
When Kong hits her Uraken, or any one of her suplexes, you’re left in awe as these moves look like they could genuinely kill you. She has that presence about her and when the bell rings you know that you’re in for a great match. Kong never disappoints. Her smoothness in the ring along with her intimidation factor just makes her one of the best in the sport, even today. I’ve only been watching wrestling for twelve years and I don’t know everything there is to know about wrestling, but Kong’s performances speak for themselves.
Currently, Kong primarily wrestles for the Oz Academy promotion in Japan, which features some of the biggest names in Joshi ( including Manami Toyota, Mayumi Ozaki, AKINO and KAORU). Kong still looks and wrestles as she did 18 years ago. I hope in the near future that Aja makes a return to America, perhaps for CHIKARA or SHIMMER, so that even more people can be introduced to her greatness.
I hope after this article at least one person searches out Kong, you can see her classic matches in full on YouTube and newer work as well. In fact, below is a two hour compilation of some of her timeless battles from the All Japan Women’s promotion. Enjoy!
Aja Kong: Aja Classic
1. Aja Kong & Bull Nakano vs Manami Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada – 1993.01.24
2. Aja Kong & Bull Nakano vs Eagle Sawai & Harley Saito – 1993.04.02
3. Aja Kong vs Dynamite Kansai – 1993.08.25
4. Aja Kong vs Kaoru Ito – 1997.01.20
5. Aja Kong vs Kyoko Inoue – 1997.03.23