Merry Joshi Christmas 2017! Part 4: Marvelous 12/25/17 Live Thoughts

December 25, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan

I was lucky enough to see four shows themed about and/or on Christmas this year. First was an Ice Ribbon dojo show on the 23rd leading to a show of theirs at KFC Hall early on Christmas Eve. After that was Gatoh Move in Ichigaya, and here I’ll be talking about my Christmas Day show at Shin-Kiba First Ring by Marvelous.

Similar to last year this show had a lot of Christmas elements, in this case including some wrestlers in costumes and randomly inserted presents under certain chairs in the venue (such as towels, t-shirts, etc).



There was a heavy focus on teams and stables for this show, with matches often having leadership implications and or teammates facing off. For example in the opener of HENA-CENTRIC (Sakura Hirota & Miki Tanaka) vs Level 5 (Yuu Yamagata & Tomoko Watanabe) it seemed whoever obtained the pin would become the leader of their team, while whoever WASN’T pinned on the opposing team would gain that honor for theirs.

As to be expected with Hirota involved, this was almost all comedy, starting with her generally being as much on other team’s side as her own, and proceeding into things like Watanabe giving her a gift of  diapers for her twins which eventually were fought over and placed over Hirota and Tanaka’s heads. There are parts of Hirota’s humor I don’t care for, but a lot of it here was amusing and I enjoyed the match overall. The absolute highlight of the comedy involved something I usually don’t enjoy: “fourth wall” breaking. Hirota was trapped in a waistlock screaming and struggling to avoid a German suplex when she suddeny stopped and just stared at her partner in the corner for a second. She then apologized to Wantanabe, asked for a moment, calmly opened the latter arms and left her standing in that position. Hirota then walked over to her own corner, slapped Tanaka upside the head for still having the diaper on (a good five minutes after it was put on her), and ripped it off her head. Hirota then went back to Wantanabe, thanked her, and put herself back in the waistlock, complete with resumed screaming. It was absurd, and hilarious.




This was my first time seeing Tanaka, and she was a highlight here. She was decent in the action that happened and great in her role in the comedy, and her truculence at listening to Hirota and dealing with her was perfect, particularly given what it built to. Eventually Hirota and the other team all got in each other’s way, and the rookie no one was paying attention to or cared about jumps on the pile and gets the win on Wantanabe.

Everyone else as stunned and Tanaka’s gleeful jumping around in celebration was AWESOME (amusingly STILL in her snowman costume, even though Hirota had shed her Christmas tree one early on). She immediately lets her newfound power go to her head, bossing Hirota around, making her hold the ropes for Miki, etc. Can’t say it wasn’t deserved. 😉

One last phenomenal touch was Yamagata’s slow realization that things worked out for her. She showed disappointment at the loss, which gradually changed to a look of relief and then glee as she processed that she wasn’t pinned and thus was her team’s new leader. She treats Wantanabe much the same as Tanaka did Hirota as they leave.

The action was fine and the comedy was a mix of hilarious and meh, but the finish and story were fantastic.




While I didn’t understand what was on the line nor the full dynamics of the match pitting Rin Kadokura against Sumire Natsu, the general gist of Rin not having any patience for Sumire and Rin’s Wave Tag Team Championship partner Takumi Iroha somehow being in the middle of things was easy to pick up. Little things like Sumire mimicking Rin’s entrance dance behind her to Rin’s eventual displeasure and Iroha aiding Rin at points seemed like nice touches to the unfolding angle.

Sumire has improved over the last couple of years but is still just ok in the ring and more character than ringwork. The crowd didn’t seem to care much, which minimized that second point and held things back a little in general. On the other hand Rin is great (particularly for her experience level) and was able to fire everyone up when she took over offense, so this evened out to be fine overall.

To Rin’s frustration they wrestled to a time limit draw, and it was established that the victor would be determined by Rock-Paper-Scissors. They proceeded to draw several times, until Sumire demurred and seemed to grant Rin whatever they were fighting over with a self satisfied look and an expression of confusion from her opponent. Obviously there’s more to this than what I caught, but the high points of the story still seemed well conveyed even with my lack of Japanese language comprehension.




The third match saw faction W-Fix fight amongst themselves to determine a leader as DASH Chisako & KAORU faced Chikayo Nagashima & Megumi Yabushita. The referee immediately explained given the tendencies of the people involved she wasn’t going to bother with silly things like rules and this became no DQ.

I’m a huge fan of Dash in general so it’s always a treat to see her, and the remainder of the participants are other veterans capable of magic on the right night. This was certainly it. The match was incredible, with the teammates going all out in a war using all of their trademark heel antics on each other and just flat out trying to win, which had the crowd giving them all big face reactions if just for one night. It totally worked in a way that will let them go right back to being booed as needed on the next show. And any match that ends with Dash’s picture perfect frog splash (the “Hormone Splash”) is even better. 🙂 My match of the night, and one of my favorites of the whole trip.

The pinfall gives Dash leadership of W-Fix, but she immediately cedes it to her partner Kaoru. Karou then presents the team with matching jackets as Christmas presents. In gratitude they swarm her with a group hug declaring “Best Leader!” This whole sequence amused me to no end.





The tag team of Mio Momono and Maruko has expanded into a full faction called the “Outsiders,” and here each teamed with other members in another intra-faction Leadership match, Mio Momono & La Rosa Negra vs Maruko Nagasaki & Kyuuri.



I’ve written about Mio and Kyuuri as rising stars, and they’ve both become personal favorites of mine. Maruko is also right there with them as a phenomenal quasi-rookie talent. All three are much more skilled than their experience would suggest, and I was really excited for the opportunity to see them square off in various combinations. They delivered, as did the four competitor. Rosa did interject a lot of comedy into things here (mostly based around struggling with Japanese and not quite understanding things), but it worked well and her ring style was a good fit as well. I came out of this really excited about her being a part of this unit and seeing her in more matches alongside the others. Great stuff.



The match ended in the second draw of the evening, and after an extended sequence of getting Rosa to do RPS correctly, everyone throws the same thing… except Kyuuri, who becomes the Outsiders’ leader. Hopeful (and force of nature) Mio is NOT pleased, and Kyuuri herself seems reluctant. The other three actually pose without their leader, but then decide “maybe okay” and seem to agree to give her a chance. Lots of interesting ways to go with this.



The semi-main event was a men’s match pitting Leo Isaka against TAKU Iwasa. I don’t know if it was nerves or just being green, (at less than a year wrestling) but Leo was a bit off in the early going. Not horrible, but clearly not hitting things cleanly and being a bit off at times. The crowd was much more into him as the home grown talent than his visiting veteran opponent, which was understandable but hurt reactions a bit because the crowd didn’t care when Taku was on offense but because of the differing skill levels the match was actually much better whenever he was. Things did ramp up overall as the match went on though, and as mentioned the crowd was excited for Leo even in defeat.



Takumi Iroha, who I’ve also  wrote about as someone to watch in the past, also main evented last year’s Marvelous show and is clearly being groomed / built as the central star of the promotion. Here she got a one on one non-title opportunity with Sendai Girls’ Champion Chihiro Hashimoto.



This was my first look at Chihiro, and I was definitely impressed. It’s immediately easy to see why she holds Sendai’s title. This was an excellent, hard hitting contest with Takumi and Chihiro just beating the hell out of each other and throwing each other around. Iroha’s blend of power and high flying is just incredible.

They battled all the way to the third time limit draw of the evening, which wasn’t terribly surprising given the participants. I know there might be some criticism about half the matches ending that way (one I’d normally share), but each match it happened in unfolded differently, and logically, with varying post match implications and significance. So I was actually totally fine with it all myself.



Strong overall show from Marvelous, probably the best I’ve seen from them yet. Even the stuff that wasn’t quite to my tastes wasn’t bad, and the highlights were fantastic. This one’s an easy recommendation.

Farewell to a Legend

On November 3, 2017, in an hour long match with 50+ opponents, Manami Toyota ended her incredible 30 year career in professional wrestling.

Toyota is a innovator and standard bearer whose impact on the sport will be felt long after her retirement. I haven’t watched nearly as much as I want / intend to of Toyota’s older matches, but am of course well aware of her impact on professional wrestling.

As my own personal goodbye to her legendary career, I’d like to focus on the fortuitous opportunities I’ve had to see Toyota wrestle live.




The first was a complete surprise, and an incredible moment for me during my first trip to Japan. Toyota was not scheduled for any of the 12 shows I saw during my two week trip to Tokyo at the end of 2015.

On December 20 I attended a show by Chigusa Nagayo’s Marvelous promotion. The main event was a 6 on 2 handicap match featuring Chigusa, Aki Shizuku, Chikayo Nagashima, Mima Shimoda, Takumi Iroha & Tomoko Watanabe vs Dump Matusmoto & Yumiko Hotta. Chigusa’s teammates were largely cannon fodder for Dump to  to hit with a kendo stick and other objects over and over. Hotta arrived wearing numerous pairs of handcuffs all over her gear, so it was obvious where things were eventually going. After the brawl spilled throughout the arena Chigusa’s team was eventually incapacitated by being handcuffed to the ropes.

The heat coming from sections of fans for both Dump and Chigusa was incredible, creating an electric atmosphere. If possible it intensified even more when Manami Toyota came out as surprise help for Chigusa. For me it was a jaw dropping moment, and I felt incredibly privileged to get to meet Toyota after the show.


Fast forward a year and I was back for the holiday shows again, including a personal favorite of mine in Ice Ribbon’s annual Ribbonmania. Toyota’s match this time was particularly interesting, as she was one of the challengers for Ai Shimizu’s Triangle Ribbon Title (along with Maruko Nagasaki).  This was a straight up slaughter, which might not have made for the most interesting of matches from the perspective of an completely overmatched champion, but Toyota plowing through both opponents and winning the Triangle title with a double pin after her moonsault was a strong spectacle and nice moment all the same. Toyota commented/joked afterwards about her winning a title in 2016, and it was again an honor to get to greet her in person and congratulate her.

Her Triangle Ribbon championship reign was a quiet one, as she successfully defended the title only once during her six month reign before losing it to her heir apparent Tsukasa Fujimoto. But a final championship before she retired was well deserved.





My third opportunity to see Toyota wrestle live came during a shorter trip this past summer.  At SEAdLINNNG’s August 24 show she was again in a 3-way match with Maruko Nagasaki, this time under high speed rules with Kaho Kobayashi as the third participant. It was an amusing opener centered around the legend having some difficulty with the match concept (super quick counts and covers only valid after some sort of running move from what I could tell) and getting annoyed with special referee Natsuki Taiyo. She eventually adapted and outlasted the youngsters, picked up the win, then sold being exhausted from so much running. It was really amusing, particularly in watching Toyota’s protege Tsukka crack up at ringside at the various antics, and a fun format to see the veteran perform in. 




A few days later I saw what would be my final live Manami Toyota match at Ice Ribbon’s August 27 event. A somewhat poetic way to close things out, as Toyota was the opponent for the debuting Asahi. The rookie played the role of totally overmatched but determined underdog well against  the legend and the dynamic of the confident, somewhat dismissive Toyota acting more and more surprised at Asahi’s resiliency and the length she had to go to in order to beat the upstart was fantastic.




Tsukka and others cheering on Asahi excitedly each time she got a little edge on the veteran or survived a pin attempt added a lot to the atmosphere, and short of being in attendance for Toyota’s actual last match I couldn’t have asked for a better note to say goodbye on.




I appreciate everyone reading indulging me in my personal memories of interactions with one of wrestling’s brightest stars. I highly recommend seeking out anything and everything you can from her incredible career. Congratulations to Manami Toyota and best of luck with whatever’s next.

SEAdLINNNG 8/24/17 Live Thoughts

August 24, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan




During my first trip to Japan in 2015 my favorite match (well tied with one other) featured two incredible tag teams going full throttle competing for Ice Ribbon’s International Tag Ribbon Championships at Ribbonmania. When a best of three series of rematches (one hosted by each wrestler’s home promotion) was announced I was beyond excited, and ended up lucky enough to be able travel to see two of those three starting with here at my first ever SEAdLINNG show.

Although despite it being my first show under the SEAdLINNNG banner, I had previously seen all but two of the wrestlers live before, and that includes several personal favorites. On the other hand, one of the new to me in ring competitors is someone I have a large issue with watching/supporting and I feel I need to say something here. I had (and still have) mixed feelings about attending shows Yoshiko’s on, and I’m even more conflicted on her return to wrestling after eerily similar recent events with Sexy Star. There are a number of different angles and components that get into this (that I won’t expand upon here because it’d be longer than the review I’m trying to write), but for now I’ve chosen not to skip shows/matches she’s on in favor of supporting the other wrestlers on the shows (and for admittedly selfish reasons of not wanting to miss certain matches).


Alright, on to the show:


1) High Speed Match: Manami Toyota vs Maruko Nagasaki vs Kaho Kobayashi 



This was an amusing opener centered around the legend having some difficulty with the match concept (super quick counts and covers only valid after some sort of running move from what I could tell) and getting annoyed with special referee Natsuki Taiyo. She eventually adapted and outlasted the youngsters, picked up the win, then sold being exhausted from so much running. Amusing, particularly in watching Toyota’s protege Tsukka crack up at ringside at the various antics. 


2) Ultra U-7 Semi-Final: Yoshiko vs Mio Momono 



I hate to admit it given my previously mentioned personal bias, but Yoshiko was awesome here and this was easily the second best match of the night. She was a perfect monster for Mio attempt to outlast while just refusing to stay down under the larger, more experienced wrestler’s onslaught. The crowd was evenly split between heavy home promotion support for Yoshiko and visiting Marvelous fans (like me) going nuts for Mio. They went to time limit, then overtime where only a two count was needed. The heat for the nearfalls during that final portion was insane.

As I’ve previously gushed about, Mio is just incredible and shines even among the impressive crop of current Joshi rookies across all companies. Her timing, mannerisms, and technique are all well beyond normal for her experience level and she just keeps getting better every time I see her. Sky’s the limit if she keeps on this trajectory.


3) Ultra U-7 Semi-Final: Takumi Iroha vs Sareee 



The second semi-final also featured a Marvelous wrestler against a SEAdLINNG talent. Iroha’s incredible power eventually overwhelmed Sareee to send the former to the finals for another interpromotional match. This was quite good, but I do feel like they have a better match in them. I hope this rivalry continues and we get to see many more contests between the two.


4) TLC Match: Nanae Takahashi vs The Great Sasuke 



I found out about this match just a couple of days before the show, and what a treat it was to be there for. It exactly what it should have been: a spotfest featuring two honored veterans. I have to say even with all the crazy stunts and complicated ladder/chair spots, my favorite was a comedy one. Nanae was in the corner under a ladder and Sasuke essentially played whack a mole with a chair trying to hit her head whenever she poked it up between the rungs, only to have her duck back down and Sasuke hurt his own hands as the chair hit the ladder.


5) Best Friends (Tsukasa Fujimoto & Arisa Nakajima) vs Avid Rival (Misaki Ohata & Ryo Mizunami) 




So here we are – the reason for this trip. Going into this match Avid Rival was up 1-0 in this series of 3 (having won at Wave on 8/12 in a match I haven’t seen), and things were tied between the teams overall if the first match in 2015 was considered.



As expected, this was excellent. The lack of finish (time limit draw) and time spent on some comedy put this just a touch below the other match I had seen from them, but that’s mild criticism. Best of the night and exactly what I was hoping for from two of the greatest teams in all of wrestling.




Neither team was happy with the lack of resolution, and there was tension between the specific pairs of Ryo & Tsukka and Misaki & Arisa afterwards building to the final match at Ice Ribbon a few days later.


Main event) Ultra U-7 Final: Yoshiko vs Takumi Iroha




It was fitting to have this main, given Best Friends vs Avid Rival didn’t have a finish and how over Yoshiko is in SEAdLINNNG. Her essentially being a heel who plays to the crowd is so uncomfortable. Don’t know if it was because of how engrossing Mio’s matches are or just the general structure, but I found it harder to look past my personal feelings on Yoshiko in this one. They still put on a hell of a match though. Good showing for Iroha in defeat in a back and forth power match. I wish Iroha had won for a multitude of reasons, one of the most relevant of which is a young outsider taking the tournament seems like a better story. Strong finish to the tournament regardless, and a large portion of the crowd was thrilled.



Great show overall, and an extremely good first impression made for SEAdLINNNG. Of course my favorite parts involved outside talent (and the resulting atmosphere, due to the rabid support of the Marvelous contingent), but the core roster members are also great wrestlers and a solid base to build around. Will be interesting to see more in the future.


The Future is Now 5

I’ve done a number of The Future is Now blogs featuring developing wrestlers I felt had big things ahead of them. In my latest one I specifically featured some of the young Joshi stars that made huge impressions on me during my first trip to Japan at the beginning of last year. Professional wrestlers can start (much) younger in Japan than the US, and though they were all 20 years old or younger (at the time) the wrestlers in that column ranged in experience from 2 years to over 10.

In a similar (but somewhat reversed) vein I want to spotlight wrestlers from the trip I took at the beginning of this year, but in this case I’m going to focus on rookies. Though ranging in age from 18 to 33, everyone here had less than a year in wrestling when I saw them (a few months ago). They all showed great potential and devotion to their craft, and I’m extremely excited to see what the future holds for them.

Aasa Maika


The best way I can describe Gatoh Move’s Aasa is as a “pintsized powerhouse.” At first glance the 21 year old doesn’t seem suited to such a gimmick, but then she starts throwing herself at opponents like she’s Big Van Vader and it’s glorious.  The power style works surprisingly well for her, and the devotion to the gimmick and enthusiasm she brings to it give her a captivating presence. She really got a chance to shine during Gatoh Move’s Greenhall show on 12/24 in an interpromotional 6-woman match between Gatoh Move and REINA.

Mitsuru Konno


Another impressive rookie in the Gatoh Move promotion is the 26 year old Mitsuru. Though only 3 months from her debut when I saw her, putting her at the least experienced of this group, she already projects a distinct no-nonsense aura in the way she carries herself in the ring that is a nice compliment for the intense strikes and smooth holds that form the base of her arsenal.

Mitsuru’s my personal favorite of the new wrestlers I saw this trip, and I look forward to seeing her skills further develop and seeing what she can do in longer and more challenging contests in the future.

Mio Momono


Mio’s a special case here, as unlike the rest of this list I had seen her wrestle once before my trip. She made her wrestling debut in February 2016 in Queens, NY, which I was fortunate enough to be able to attend. She looked good in that first match, but even more striking is how far she’d come in just 10 months. Her confidence and comfort in the ring have clearly grown, and she was fantastic in both matches I had the opportunity to see her in this trip (a show stealing opener on Marvelous’ Christmas show and an incredible 7-way from Ribbonmania I’ll discuss more in a later entry).

From what I’ve seen, she’s the currently best of the bunch, which is high praise considering everyone on this list impressed in the few matches I’ve seen from each so far. At just 18 years old she certainly has a long, bright future ahead of her if she chooses to stick with wrestling.

Tequila Saya

The immediately striking thing about watching Saya is her infectious charisma. She seems to be having fun and excited about whatever she’s doing and there’s a engaging quality to her performances. Her expressions and body language are great in helping to tell the story of her matches, such as during Survival Ribbon when she entered the ring obviously confident and psyched up but crumpled in the corner in resignation when it was announced she’d be facing Ice Ribbon’s resident powerhouse in Kurumi. In 5 seconds with no words she completely put over the notion that Kurumi’s a monster. Saya’s decent in the ring if still a bit tentative (which is course perfectly normal at her experience level), but has a distinct style and personality that already make her a compelling performer.

Uno Matsuya

There’s something about the way Uno wrestles that thoroughly engages the audience. Little mannerisms, the way she sells, etc. She had the crowd absolutely rabid in support of her during the aforementioned 7-way at Ribbonmania, where she was thrown over the top and fought halfway around the ring apron valiantly trying to avoid falling to the floor and being eliminated. She showed similar ability to drawn support in the other matches I saw, which will be a huge asset to her going forward. Like Saya she’s still a little hesitant at moments and will benefit greatly from continued experience, but she’s already showing a very strong foundation.

Honorable mentions:

Model Nana Suzuki made her wrestling debut at Stardom’s year end show against Kairi Hojo and looked (perhaps surprisingly) great against the superstar, playing the “overmatched but determined underdog” role to perfection (and of course benefitting from being in the ring with someone the caliber of Hojo).

Mika Shirahime just barely missed the cutoff for this, being a tad over a year in the sport when I saw her wrestle Mio Momono in a the fantastic opener for Marvelous’s Christmas show I mentioned above.  Rin Kadokura is another good rookie wrestling for Marvelous. She honestly hasn’t gotten to show too much yet and is a little overshadowed by Mio, but has a solid foundation and a lot of potential.


That all for now. Hope I’ve brought a new wrestler or two to attention. Everyone mentioned is well worth checking out and, perhaps even more importantly with the rookies, keeping an eye on in the future as they continue to learn and grow as performers.

Merry Joshi Christmas! Part 3: Marvelous 12/25/16 Live Thoughts

December 25, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan

Between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day I was lucky enough to see three Christmas shows, all with some celebratory elements. First was Gatoh Move at Itabashi Green Hall at 1 pm on Christmas Eve, and later that night was Ice Ribbon at the IR dojo in Warabi. On Christmas day I headed to Shin-Kiba First Ring for the last of the three, from Chigusa Nagayo’s Marvelous promotion.




The show started off in festive fashion, with Chigusa coming out dressed as Santa and her core roster joining her in various costumes. The highlight was Takumi Iroha as a Christmas Tree (which I sadly didn’t get a good pic of). My meager Japanese skills didn’t catch the meaning of the longish promo / exchanges between the wrestlers, but it seemed well received.



The opener, Mio Momono vs Mika Shirahime, was great, and if not the match of the night certainly neck and neck with the main event. Incredible instincts and craft shown by both rookies, who built drama expertly through the 15 minutes encounter and had the crowd going crazy at the end. There were a couple awkward spots, such as an instance from each where they essentially forgot to roll up their opponent, forcing the other to kind of roll herself up and wait for the other to get in proper position. But otherwise this was smooth and well executed. And even in the places I mentioned the ability of the other wrestler to adapt and keep things on track was impressive, particularly given their experience.

I was at Mio Momono’s debut in New York, and it’s wonderful to see her capitalizing on the potential she showed even then. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for this extremely talented youngster.



The show slowed down quite a bit from there. Another Marvelous rookie, Rin Kadokura, wrestled freelancer Konami in the second match. While Konami has a fair amount of experience from wrestling in several different promotions, she’s only been in the business a couple of years herself. Both were fine here, leading to the perhaps expected decent but basic match.

Aki Shizuku came to the ring festively attired to the crowd’s delight, which I unfortunately have to admit was probably the best thing about her match with Yuiga. I understand the style they were using, but there was just way too much stalling that made this match seem much longer than it was. While nothing was really wrong from a technical standpoint, the pacing was way off and it didn’t come together for me.



Kaoru vs Yako Fujigasaki vs Chikayo Nagashima vs Hamuko Hoshi vs Mochi Miyagi was a reasonably fun match, with lighthearted taunting and antics early on giving way to more competitive sequences as the match progressed. Ice Ribbon’s Lovely Butchers looked good here, and mostly worked together despite the 5-way format. Yako was the target of the other combatants for most of the match, and a specific underlying rivalry between her and Kaoru got a strong focus towards the end. Kaoru’s favorite foreign object, the wooden board of doom, of course became involved. Felt like the underdog should have gone over here, but it appears the feud is still building / ongoing.


Tomoko Watanabe didn’t know quite what to make of the eccentric Cassandra Miyagi as their match began, and I don’t think things were any clearer for her by the end. This was my first time seeing Miyagi, who I’d heard a bit about, and she certainly has a unique and rather captivating charisma to her. The match was fine, but did feel like it could have been better and the structure led to an anticlimactic feeling when Miyagi lost.


I’d been extremely impressed with Takumi Iroha in her appearances at Marvelous USA’s New York shows, and was happy to see her get this main event opportunity against veteran Kyoko Kimura. I’d seen them interact before as part of an intergender tag team match at Marvelous USA’s third show, so this encounter was a nice followup to that.

This played out as would be expected, with Kimura largely dominating and Iroha toughing it out and fighting from behind. The formula worked well, and Iroha got to show some of her incredible power at points. Solid main and a nice spotlight for the up and comer.



Chigusa and the core roster came back out after the main to thank Kimura, talk some more, and raffle off a few things to the audience as part of the Christmas celebration.

Middle of the road show overall I think. It had a different feel from the rest of the promotions I saw, with a somewhat more traditional sense of build throughout the card and in the matches. It was great when it worked and cooled the crowd significantly when it didn’t. The things that didn’t excel here were more bland than bad, but it was half the card. That said, the high points were great and they started and ended with the best of the night.

Marvelous and DIANA 12/20/15 Live Thoughts

December 20, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan

It’s been interesting how different the three Joshi shows I’ve seen so far have been from one another. Marvelous has been the biggest surprise so far, because it was also VERY different from their USA shows.


The Marvelous show featured three matches, and struck me as “a bit of something for everyone.” Before the matches most of the roster came out and all had some time on the mic with Chigusa. Then they each signed a few foam balls and tossed them into the audience as they left the ring. I was lucky enough to be thrown one. Neat keepsake.


The opener, featuring Kyoko Kimura vs. Megumi Yabushita, had heavy comedic overtones and was decent for what it was. A mostly straight up tag match was next as Takako Inoue and KAORU faced Alex Lee and Ray. All four had slightly different styles but it meshed well and this was quite good. Big fan of Ray from her time in Shimmer so was nice to see her here. Sad I didn’t get to see her cartwhell bomb, but she’ll be at other shows. Alex Lee kept up well and I’d like to see more of her. Amusing side note for me was that she came out to one of my favorite songs, which I had recently remarked would make great entrance music for someone.

Takako and KAORU made a good heel team and were both about what I expected from their reputations. After the match Takako stayed behind and sang for the crowd.


Greco-Roman top-rope wooden board drop.

Intermission was a nice little break. Not many of the wrestler were out (that was after the show) but I did get to talk to Ray for a minute and it was great to watch Alex Lee and some other bring a bunch of the kids from the audience into the ring, let them run around a little, and do some simple “drills” with them.

After intermission was the main event, a 6 on 2 handicap match featuring Chigusa and 5 teammates against Dump Matusmoto and Yumiko Hotta. Yes, I’m glossing over the faces, but they were just there to be cannon fodder for Dump to hit with a kendo stick and other objects over and over. The only one who did anything noteworthy was the one who turned on Chigusa late in the match (whose name I don’t know). Hotta came to the ring with numerous pairs of handcuffs hanging off her gear, so it was obvious where things were eventually going. This was an ECW style weapons brawl that went all over the arena.

On the one hand this was disappointing because I saw Takumi Iroha wrestle in NY for Marvelous’ US show and she’s amazing. Was really hoping to see her in a traditional match where she could show what she could do. Instead I saw her handcuffed to the ropes and periodically beaten with a kendo stick. And these type of brawls aren’t exactly my cup of tea. On the other hand this was great for what it was. The heat coming from sections of fans for both Dump and Chigusa was incredible, and the mid-match surprise of legend Manami Toyota coming out to help Chigusa was fantastic.

All the wrestlers came out to meet fans and sell merch after the show, and the lines for both Dump and Chigusa were INSANE. Really glad I caught this, as it’s their only show while I’m here.

At night I went to DIANA. Cool venue on the 5th floor of a giant open shopping center.  I was seriously jetlagged by this point and had to walk around during intermission to try to shake it off, but still enjoyed the show.

The opener was already my third time seeing Hamuko Hoshi wrestle, here against Yuiga. Honestly I didn’t enjoy this match. Hoshi’s character doesn’t click with me and she did not sell pain AT ALL while in Yuiga’s submission holds. Totally killed the match for me. Really hope this was an anomaly, as I’ll be seeing a lot more of her on this trip.

In a great bit of luck I was able to see Jenny Rose vs Kagetsu in Jenny’s last match of her current tour of Japan before she heads back to the states. Both looked good here and Jenny is clearly making the most of her time spent in Japan. She recognized me and my friend from Shimmer shows and it was great to get to chat with her during intermission. I was excited to hear about the Aspire promotion she setting up in the PA / NJ area.

She was back out immediately seconding her CRYSIS seniors Jaguar Yokota and Yumiko Hotta vs Megumi Yabushita and Mima Shimoda. This was more of the one sided illegal tactics from the heels I’m still getting used to over here. Everyone looked good though, and watching veterans who are clearly masters of their craft against younger wrestlers is always a treat.

After intermission was the main event: Kyoko Inoue, Kaoru Ito and Meiko Tanaka vs. Chikayo Nagashima, Keiko Aono and Mask De Sun. Mask De Sun’s hair looks very familiar from earlier in the day. This was a high energy, chaotic main event with the heels doing everything they could to triple team and gain momentary advantages over the powerhouses that are Inoue and Ito. Kudos to setting up a countout finish that actually felt main event worthy, as the veterans trusted their 16 year old rookie teammate to get back into the ring after everyone was brawling through the crowd and concentrated on keeping the other team occupied. So with a single second left Meiko dives into the ring and wins for her team. Kyoko sells this as being a huge accomplishment and being extremely pround of Meiko, which made the moment effective.

Another fun pair of shows, and I’m thrilled to be starting my trip out with a good variety of match types, wrestlers, and promotions (except for too much Hammy).