Tagged: Nanae Takahashi

Ayumi Kurihara: Thank You For Everything


Sonny was on hand for Ayumi Kurihara’s retirement show earlier this month. Ayumi’s final act as a pro wrestler may have been her most heroic; she defeated Aja Kong. As Sonny reports:

The main event was Ayumi, Mika Iida and Akino versus Tomoka Nakagawa, GAMI and Aja Kong. It was a great match, lots of fun moments. The best parts were everyone on both teams ganging up on Aja and posing with her, and everyone ganging up on Ayumi. They whipped her into the corner, and the enter roster proceeded to do an attack on her, even Stardom’s Nanae Takahashi, Io Shirai, Natsuki Taiyo and Fuuka joined in.

Ayumi seemed to have a lot of fun and let it all out in this match. At one point she gave Aja 8 missile dropkicks in a row (it took 6 to get Kong off of her feet). The match was a fitting way to send off Ayumi and the torch was definitely passed to Mika Iida, who was super impressive here and in her singles match against Ayumi that opened the show.

And on the closing ten bell salute:

Her closest wrestling friends each rang the bell once, and some of the gongs were a little weak, which caused fans, and Ayumi herself to laugh. I can’t recall the order they were in, but you can tell when it’s GAMI’s turn because she deliberately pauses.

You can read the full results here, and see our photos below of the last of Ayumi Kurihara. Thanks for everything.

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STARDOM: Golden Age 2013 Gallery

As you can see from the above video, STARDOM’s June 2nd show was the best. Aside from Hailey Hatred dropping disgusting lariats on idols, there were three stellar singles titles match (Natsuki*Taiyo versus Kaori Yoneyama only narrowly better than Yuhi versus Dark Angel), a great performance from super rookie Takumi Iroha against Nanae Takahashi, Su Yung becoming the first person to twerk in Korakuen Hall, and the Kimura Monster Army causing a near riot.

One fan had to be dragged to the back after a shouting match with Kyoko. I couldn’t hear the words exchanged (and they were cut from the TV broadcast), but I’m just going to assume he was mad that she and Christina Von Eerie cut up Rossy Ogawa’s suit. This was STARDOM’s first big show without Yuzupon on the roster, but she still showed up at the end to greet fans and sell off her still massive stack of merch.

Photos below, results here. More STARDOM pics from earlier this year coming soon.

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Stardom: 5★Star GP2012

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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 TakahashiNatsuki*Taiyo, and Fuka herselfkicked, 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:

Stardom: 5★Star Grand Prix Tournament

September 17th, 2012 – Shin-Kiba 1st Ring

  1. Hiroyo Matsumoto defeated Yuuri Haruka & Natsumi Showzuki
  2. Miho Wakizawa defeated Kairi Hojo
  3. Io Shirai vs. Yuhi went to a 15 minute time limit draw
  4. Natsuki*Taiyo vs. Saki Kashima went to a 15 minute time limit draw
  5. Yoshiko defeated Act Yasukawa by referee stoppage due to a Mata Leon
  6. Dark Angel Sara Stock defeated Kyoko Kimura 
  7. 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!

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  1. 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.
  2. The “Red Belt” was the famed WWWA title of AJW, the Stardom title pays tribute to its legacy.
  3. I ran into Nanae at Manami Toyota’s anniversary show and mentioned that I attended this event. Her reaction, “I lost.” I immediately apologized.

Spotlight: Meiko Satomura

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).

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  1. See Meiko’s debut match vs Sonoko Kato here.

Hailey Hatred: The Dirty Dirty Sheets Interview

Hailey Hatred is one of the most important women in wrestling. She appeared in some of the earliest Chick Fight events and the formative bouts of the influential IWA-Mid South women’s division. She was also in the first women’s match for AIW, a rising promotion with a strong women’s roster. She even helped put Beyond Wrestling on the map with her barrier-shattering inter-gender matches against the promotions top talent. She’s won titles in both the US and in Japan, her current place of residence where she is again opening doors for women. She’s one of the most talented diverse wrestlers in the world. Hailey has done it all from lucha libre to kickboxing to hardcore to Joshi Puroresu.

All this, and yet Hailey Hatred does not even have a US Wikipedia page. With this interview we hope that more people get to know and appreciate Hailey’s truly ground-breaking career. We caught up with her a few days before her biggest match yet, as on June 26th she will face Leon for the JWP Open Weight Championship, the most prestigious women’s title in Japan, if not the world. If she wins, Hailey would be making history yet again as she’d be American to hold the title. Hailey’s TLW and IMW titles will also be on the line, and the match will also decide the winner of the J-1 Grand Prix Tournament. Matches don’t get bigger than this. Wrestlers don’t bigger than Hailey Hatred. Enjoy.

Photos courtesy JWP and Aoikougei. Sonny contributed to this article.

You always said it was your goal to wrestle in Japan, and you accomplished that years ago. Now you’re not just on a tour but, as you put it, you own furniture there. Did you ever think that you’d become one of the few foreigners given a regular spot in a major promotion?

I’m always confident in my abilities, but it really all comes down to opportunity. When I first started coming to Japan, I was wrestling for various independent groups. Then I started wrestling for JWP in tag-match capacity. It wasn’t until Yoneyama and I had our Triple Title match that I feel I really got noticed there. If I wasn’t holding two championships [at the time] myself, I may have never gotten that chance.

An influx of foreign wrestlers have come to the Joshi scene recently, especially for REINA, which you are a part of. What can you tell us about REINA and some it’s foreign talent?

REINA is still finding its niche. It has all the means to be a cool, unique company, but everyone is still learning, from the wrestlers to the staff. I am hoping it succeeds and can continue to invite an interesting group of wrestlers to Japan from various countries. Its been a long time since Japanese fans have had the opportunity to see foreign women wrestling live!

Before paving the way for a resurgence of foreign female wrestlers in Japan, you similarly were there at the beginnings of the current women’s wrestling renaissance in the United States. You were even in the first match that IWA-MS female ace Mickie Knuckles ever had. You two also participated in AIW’s first women’s match ever. Tell us about your rivalry with her.

I really enjoy getting the chance to wrestle Mickie. She’s very versatile, she knows her way around the mat, with striking, and of course with hardcore matches. One of the toughest girls out there. The last time I wrestled her, I stabbed her in the head with a dart, then yakuza kicked it in deeper. If that puts our rivalry into perspective =)

Also in AIW, you had a series of matches with John Thorne. It began with a no ropes barbed wire match, an intergender first, and ended with an “I Quit” dog collar match. You got slashed with scissors, driven into barbed wire, pounded by chains until your face was covered in blood. The matches were very brutal and very emotional. What did they mean to you?

That’s the perfect description: brutal and emotional. It’s always up in the air how things will go the first time you have a match with someone, let alone the first match being such an extreme stipulation, no ropes barbed wire. I’d never done anything like that before. I couldn’t even think about how it would feel to get cut up by the barbed wire, all I could focus on was the match itself.

Things escalated to the “I Quit” dog collar match, which was actually more brutal than NRBW. I got beat up pretty bad that match, I was sore for weeks afterwards. I didn’t really take into consideration how heavy the chain would be or how much punishment it would provide. I lost a lot of blood, by far the most I’ve lost in my life. That match is really one of my favorites of my career though, the perfect end to a feud. It was very intimate, not in a creepy weird way, but to be that close to your loathed rival, and the only way to make it end is to say that you quit.

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