Let’s show some love to the Japanese promotions with less visibility. Andrew let’s us know who to put on your radar, outside of New Japan.
After doing this last year, I figured it would be fun to throw out some names that people aren’t familiar with.
If you see on last year’s list we saw Shingo Takagi join New Japan as a part of Los Ingobernables de Japon, Naomichi Marufuji won All Japan’s Champion Carnival and Katsuhiko Nakajima went through an entire personality overhaul with a couple GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Title reigns.
I mentioned those 3 names since Shingo is no longer available for this list and the other two didn’t quite make the Top 5, but there’s plenty of reasons why.
So new year, new list, just no one in New Japan. Let’s get to it.
5. Ben-K (Dragon Gate)
Now after the King of Gate tournament, I personally lost interest in Dragon Gate, but Ben-K has been the light in the darkness for me. Earlier this year he had a great match against then champion Masaaki Mochizuki for the Open the Dream Gate title, and seemed to be set up for bigger things. A heel turn towards the end of this year, joining R.E.D. (the same group as Eita and PAC), a decent showing in the King of Gate tournament, another failed Dream Gate shot at Masato Yoshino, as well as, holding the Open the Twin Gate title twice this year with Big R Shimizu, puts him in an interesting position.
With PAC as the current Open the Dream Gate champion, there’s a good chance he doesn’t see another title shot for a while. But being one half of the current tag champions and in one of the hotter heel stables…keep an eye out for him.
4. Zeus (AJPW)
This year was a big step for Zeus. Being primarily a “solid contender”, but never getting passed that moniker, he saw the most success of his career. Starting off strong with a failed attempt for the Triple Crown against then champion Joe Doering, but rebounding the next month to win the Tag Titles with his partner Bodyguard. Even though they dropped the titles right before the Champion Carnival, Zeus had a great showing barely getting edged out by Naomichi Marufuji on the last day.
That didn’t slow his resolve, since he got another Triple Crown shot in June, and this time he made the most of it. Finally defeating the Ace of All Japan, Kento Miyahara, Zeus won the Triple Crown to quite a resounding applause. He only had one defense, in a rather lackluster match against Shuji Ishikawa, before dropping it back to Miyahara in what is most likely All Japan’s Match of the Year (see below).
But after being so close for the last few years, Zeus finally got past his biggest road block, Kento Miyahara, on a few different occasions.
3. Shotaro Ashino (Wrestle-1)
Our first returning name from last year, helped his case immensely by showing more versatility and resolve. A few days before officially holding the belt for 1 year, Ashino lost the World Title to Manabu Soya in March. This however didn’t crush his spirit and just caused him to adjust. He teamed up with Kuma Arashi to win the tag titles, unveiled a new T-Bone Suplex as a finisher and won the Wrestle-1 Grand Prix.
So as with most tournaments, winners gets a title shot, and Ashino ended up winning the title back from Soya in September, and is still the current holder.So he went from 7 defenses and nearly a year title reign as only a 3 year pro. Now moving into his fourth year, another title reign, a new move, and a lot of future potential for this rising young star.
Naomichi Marufuji – Number 2 last year, he won the AJPW Champion Carnival, well-advertised match against Hideo Itami for his 20th Anniversary Show, and even won his block in the NOAH Global League. But injuries slowed him a bit, and we all should know how good he is. So I figured I’d give some of the younger wrestlers the spotlight.
Yuji Hino – An impressive showing in AJPW’s Champion Carnival where he lead A Block until pretty much the last day, along with debuting as the newest member of Hooligans in Pro Wrestling NOAH. The man is built like a house, with a resonating sarcastic attitude that tends to add a different element to many promotions. Currently half of the GHC Heavyweight Tag Champions, and sky’s really the limits depending on how long he chooses to stay in one spot.
2. Kaito Kiyomiya (Pro Wrestling NOAH)
Where to start with this boy? He returned to the company at the tail end of 2017 after a 6 month excursion in Border City Wrestling. Holding much respect and regard for Mistuharu Misawa and his legacy, he even started adopting more of Misawa’s repertoire and even green attire as his own.
He was the youngest winner of the Global Tag League and Global League in NOAH, he won the GHC Tag Titles with Go Shiozaki and eventually capped off his amazing 2018 with a surprise victory over Takashi Sugiura to become the new and youngest GHC Heavyweight Champion. At only 22 years old, he started off hot, the fans seem to appreciate his polite demeanor and reverence for Misawa.
It should be interesting to see how he evolves, but with the trajectory he’s on right now, it’s inevitable he’s going to make headlines for a while.
1. Kento Miyahara (AJPW)
Was there a doubt who number 1 was going to be? The Ace of All Japan, the franchise, Kento is everything you want out of a wrestler. He’s charismatic, children love him, he puts of great matches and always seems to be having fun. With knee strikes that make Kenny Omega’s look lazy (yes I said it), and a throwback move set since he wins most matches with a Shutdown Suplex Hold (arm capture German Suplex), he’s a great balance.
Beating Joe Doering and Zeus for the Triple Crown this year, winning the Tag Titles with Yoshitatsu, making it to the finals of the Champion Carnival and winning the Odou Tournament…this whole year just added to an already great resume. The only real negative that can be said, is that All Japan needs to start building around him since he’s the obvious Ace and eclipses everyone else.
This is done to bring some names to light that people may not know. Even if New Japan had a down year compared to 2017, there was more chatter and more eyes, but on only one company. Yes I understand trying to juggle streaming services or just following multiple companies is a big ask, and yes it would be more convenient if there was one hub for it all. But let’s not start treating New Japan like Japanese WWE.
By that I mean, let’s not clamor for wrestlers from other organizations to go there, and ignore any other place they may be or perceive it as less than, just because it doesn’t happen where you want it to.
Mathew’s Top 10 Joshi Wrestlers (Excluding Stardom)
Did your favorite non-Stardom wrestler make the cut? Check out Mathew’s Top 10 and find out!
Did your favorite non-Stardom wrestler make the cut? Check out Mathew’s Top 10 and find out!
I’ve wanted to do this one for a while and I’m gonna use this time to get to it.
You normally see me cover Stardom along with a few shows in the Joshi scene from time to time, but this countdown list is going to focus on the wrestlers that aren’t apart of the Stardom roster. Let’s be honest, if I did add Stardom on this list then that would be almost half and that’s not fair since there are so many talented Japanese women from various promotions and they deserve recognition.
I’m also going by active members instead of all-time to keep up with the current scene, so let’s get right to it as I talk about my Top 10 Joshi wrestlers.
10. ASUKA (Freelancer)
– No, not that Asuka, this is a different ASUKA. ASUKA was able to make history in the short amount of time she’s been around professional wrestling in her three-year career and it’s still going. Asuka was originally from Pro Wrestling WAVE until the end of 2018. She was the first transgender wrestler to main event their biggest show and also the first transgender wrestler to win their biggest title, the Regina Di WAVE Championship. She’s only twenty-years-old and has so much to offer as she represents her community while having the agility of a young Jushin Liger. I only knew her around 2017 but that was when she was also coming out of her shell in the wrestling world and what a big impact she has left so far. She definitely is someone worth keeping an eye on.
9. Takumi Iroha (Marvelous)
– Twenty-six years old and only six years in the wrestling business, Takumi really is something else. She comes from the Marvelous promotion and is considered their top star in the promotion and for good reasons too since she’s just dynamite. Amazing how she started in Stardom and years later, she would make a better name for herself wrestling in various promotions and winning different titles as well. She recently won SEAdLINNNG’s top title, the Beyond the Sea Championship when she defeated the first champion and owner of the promotion, Nanae Takashi. A very talented woman with some fantastic strikes to top it off as she’s someone you would wanna book for your promotion for a couple of shows.
8. Tsukasa Fujimoto (Ice Ribbon)
– The ace of Ice Ribbon and the only one to hold their top title, the ICExInfinity Championship for a total of six times and has had some incredible reigns as the champion. Thirty-five years old and wrestling for only ten years as she was trained by some of the best people like Nanae Takahashi, Manami Toyota, and Emi Sakura. Hardly sloppy in the ring, can work with most styles, these are great qualities to look for in a wrestler in general and Tsukasa is no exception to that.
7. Hikaru Shida (OZ Academy/AEW)
– While she is now considered AEW, she still left an impact in the Japanese scene and is also considered OZ Academy for the time being, so she counts to being on here. This ten-year veteran made sure the world knew who she was when she just performed globally, not bad from someone who started in Ice Ribbon back in 2008. She won major titles from Ice Ribbon, WAVE, OZ Academy, RCW, and Sendai Girls. She was also the one that got knocked out by Naomichi Marufuji on one of her produced shows in 2017 in under two minutes but she wanted a rematch a year later and while she lost, she took her punishment like a champion and still give the fans a great show on her 10th anniversary. Now that she has joined AEW, the fans overseas are sure to get something special with her around as she could be the top star of that division.
6. Hiroyo Matsumoto (Freelancer)
– Otherwise known as the Lady Destroyer and she might be the best Freelancer in the Joshi scene. She’s wrestled in almost every promotion for Joshi wrestling, became more noticed when she recently joined WWE’s Mae Young Classic in 2018 where she lasted until the second round. Hiroyo is strong, fast, technically sound in the ring, and has had many great matches in all of the promotions she’s worked for and you knew you were going to get your money worth since she was that talented. She may not look like much but believe me when I say that she’s an absolute monster and can just wreck you if she wanted to. Surprised nobody has snatched her up for an exclusive contract because she would be the top star in an instant, but I think she enjoys going to various promotions and performing on a high level that she definitely does make do with what she has, so nothing wrong with that.
5. Miyu Yamashita (Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling)
– The star of TJP and for good reasons. She only has about five years of experience with only a background in karate, but she was able to hold the TOKYO Princess of Princess Championship two times for a grand total of 746 days and during those times that she was a champion, she’s had great title defenses on top of it to make her a worthy champion of that company. She was also the SHINE Champion when she went to a title or title match during WrestleMania weekend. She’s like the Shotaro Ashino of TJP. just great in the ring and while not many follow the promotion, people would mostly keep an eye on her from how talented she is. I really hope she gets future opportunities to fight other people from various promotions soon because she would have a lot of dream matches built up that you’d be crazy not to do any of them. Great talent and somebody please get her some special bookings on the double, she’s worth your time!
4. Chihiro Hashimoto (Sendai Girls)
– Meiko Satomura’s prized pupil in Sendai Girls and that woman is Chihiro Hashimoto. If you look at her at first glance, you would think she would be a powerhouse but she’s also very technical in the ring. Chihiro has been wrestling for three years also and Meiko went full speed for Chihiro to make her the top star of her promotion and even be known as one of the best of the next generation of Joshi wrestlers. A four-time Sendai Girls World Champion with a combination of 777 days and each title defense would always leave you satisfied and wanting more of her at the end of things. With very little years under her belt, there’s plenty of room for her to grow in the upcoming years of her career and she might be another one that’ll be considered an all-time great when she does decide to hang it up. Powerful and wrestling-sound, Chihiro has the tools and can back it up at the same time and she’s just getting started.
3. Sareee (World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana)
– I’m gonna level with you on this one, I’m fairly new to her despite being in the wrestling business for eight years, meaning she wrestled since she was fifteen-years-old, but I was able to become a fan of her the moment I saw her. She’s currently wrestling for World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana and was known as an underdog of sorta. For about a year now, she was able to have big moments in her career when she defeated Aja Kong to become the promotion’s World Champion for the second time, defeating Meiko Satomura clean during a Sendai Girls show in an amazing match, and was able to defeat Chihiro in a title for title match to win the Sendai Girls World Championship, making her a double crown champion with two of the biggest belts in the Joshi scene. A lot of the veterans like Meiko and Nanae are high on Sareee and have faith in her being another won to be the future of professional wrestling as a whole. She has a lot more to prove and plenty of time to do it as this is now her time to shine from here on out.
2. Arisa Nakajima (SEAdLINNNG)
– Aside from Nanae Takashi, I believe Arisa Nakajima is one of the best that SEAdLINNNG has to offer. Arisa is both intense and physical in the ring and while not many have seen a lot of her matches, she always left a big impression on people that have watched her matches and gave them something memorable. While most will be known for their stiff kicks in the ring, she’s more known for her elbows and they’re just as deadly as any stiff kick that you see in most matches these days. Made her career in JWP and is now looking to stand out in her new home and hopefully a future Beyond the Sea Champion when the time is right. Killer instinct and a veteran in the business with thirteen years of experience, she’s someone that will amaze you in that ring.
Before I get to my final one, here’s a small list of honorable mentions down below.
– Nanae Takahashi (SEAdLINNNG)
– Emi Sakura (Gatoh Move)
– Mika Iwata (Sendai Girls)
– DASH Chisako (Sendai Girls)
– Aja Kong (OZ Academy)
– Yuka Sakazaki (Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling)
– Riho (Gatoh Move)
– Yuu (Freelancer)
– Mayumi Ozaki (OZ Academy)
– Saori Anou (Actwres girl’Z)
– Miyako Matsumoto (Ice Ribbon)
1. Meiko Satomura (Sendai Girls)
– I think it’s obvious that she would be at the top of the list for everything she has done throughout her career and still performs at such a high level. The creator of Sendai Girls, Meiko Satomura would go down in the history books as one of the greatest females and wrestlers in general of all time with her incredible wrestling ability and her contributions to the business as a whole. She was also the first female to win DDT’s top title, the KO-D Openweight Championship but that reign didn’t last long, unfortunately. She’s held big titles in her own promotion, Stardom, AAAW, and in Fight Club Pro. Meiko has been wrestling for almost twenty-five years and she still wrestles as if she’s half her age while also being lethal at the same time. She made a big impact in Japan, the United States, and just globally as a whole that she’s earned every accomplishment that she has received. My favorite Joshi wrestler and one of my all-time favorites. If you haven’t seen her before, then something is wrong with you.
Thank you all for taking the time out of your day for reading my list. I’m sure there’s quite a few that I’m missing on here but there are just so many talented women in the Japanese wrestling scene that it’s so hard to put them all in as they all deserve praise. If you have time in your day for more, definitely look up all of these women since they’re worth your time.
(NOAH) WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.38 ~ 9TH JUNE 2019
The busy week that was in NOAH! The first Misawa memorial show and thoughts on the KENTA situation!
The busy week that was in NOAH! The first Misawa memorial show and thoughts on the KENTA situation!
CURRENT TOUR RECAP
Global Junior Tag League 2019 held its final two nights before the big finals in Osaka, on the 8th June in Yokohama, and the 9th June in Tokyo (the 9th June being the Mitsuharu Misawa memorial show).
The RATELS seesaw bought Daisuke Harada and Tadasuke down with a bump, while at the other end of the scale rose, bringing YO-HEY & HAYATA up. On the 8th in Yokohama, Tadasuke fell to Hajime Ohara after ten minutes, and Daisuke Harada fell to Yoshinari Ogawa’s sneak schoolboy pin on the 9th. This now means that they are out of the league.
YO-HEY & HAYATA however, on the rising end, won against Hitoshi Kumano & Chris Ridgeway (and eliminating them in the process) and the following night, won against Hi69 & Minoru Tanaka (who despite this loss, have said that they will be challenging for the GHC Junior Heavyweight tag belts). The finals of Global Junior Tag League 2019 in Osaka will be Stinger vs YO-HEY & HAYATA.
The main event of the Yokohama evening was called “The Mitsuharu Misawa Memorial Pre-match” which pitted the veteran team of Naomichi Marufuji, Takashi Sugiura & Shuhei Taniguchi against AXIZ (Go Shiozaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima) & Kaito Kiyomiya.
As Shuhei Taniguchi is going to be Marufuji’s opponent on the 13th in Osaka, there were tensions between the two, although fans did report that there was tension between all the the vets.
During the match, Naomichi Marufuji worked on Go Shiozaki’s shoulder (Shiozaki was to be his opponent for the 9th June), while Shuhei Taniguchi concentrated on everyone else, and Takashi Sugiura against Kaito Kiyomiya in particular. Sugiura managed to destroy him, and later commented that he would be very disappointed if the title match turned out the same way.
NOAH held the first night of the Mitsuharu Misawa memorial show on June 9th (Misawa actually died on the 13th June, when NOAH will be in Osaka) in Tokyo. The memorials are always a moving event with the flower altar arranged for him where fans leave gifts of flowers, his favorite food, drink and even cigarettes, and the traditional ceremony when he is welcomed to the green ring as the GHC Heavyweight Champion while “Spartan X” plays. The event was sold out with even the standing room tickets going quickly.
Naomichi Marufuji had a singles match against Go Shiozaki.
This match was symbolic as Shiozaki has never ever beaten (until now) Marufuji in a singles match, but in a hard fought fight, he managed to get the win over him by a Gowan Lariat\Emerald Fusion combination. Marufuji slunk away to lick his wounds, while Shiozaki spoke in the ring, thanking Marufuji for keeping NOAH alive, and Misawa for creating NOAH. Marufuji, in the post match promo, swore to become “the wall that Misawa was”.
The GHC Heavyweight match started off civilly, with a handshake between the young champion and the veteran challenger, then all gloves were off, and Takashi Sugiura battered him for the best part of the match. Kiyomiya endured everything; the Olympic Slam, vicious elbows, the DDT avalanche, apron suplexed, speared, and that match finisher that has taken out other older, hardened and more experienced challengers, the front neck choke-hold.
The match finished after 33 minutes and 53 seconds, with Kaito Kiyomiya using the Tiger Suplex.
There was no immediate challenger after the match, (although both Kenoh and Naomichi Marufuji had hinted at a challenge), and Kiyomiya had no speech either, simply holding the belt up and pointing to the ceiling.
Elsewhere on the card that evening, Junta Miyawaki got his second win, and the biggest win of his career when he schoolboy pinned NOSAWA Rongai in the league, it was too late for either team to win, but the effects on Miyawaki’s confidence was immense.
It was hoped that KENTA would make his return to NOAH on this night, but instead he appeared at a New Japan show in Osaka, and announced he would be competing in the G1 Climax. NOAH fans are naturally disappointed, as it was hoped that he would come home to NOAH first. Naomichi Marufuji posted on Twitter (without directly naming anyone, but it was obvious who he meant), saying to the effect that on this day of all days, he chose to do this. He wished him luck, and said “don’t get buried”.
Post match promos ~ Hamamatsu City
ATSUSHI AOKI PASSES AWAY
It was announced on June 3rd that All Japan (and NOAH born) wrestler, Atsushi Aoki, had been killed in a motorcycle accident in Tokyo. His bike had failed to take a swerve correctly, and he had crashed into a side wall.
Although he was an All Japan wrestler at the time of his death (plus their junior heavyweight champion, and a trainer in the dojo), Atsushi Aoki had actually started his career in Pro-Wrestling NOAH. A friend of Takashi Sugiura from their days in the JSDF (Japan Special Defense Forces), he had entered the NOAH dojo after an introduction to Naomichi Marufuji in Aomori, and graduated on the same date as Shuhei Taniguchi, December 24th 2005. He stayed with NOAH until 2013 when he walked out to All Japan with his trainer, Jun Akiyama (alongside Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Kenta Kobashi, Go Shiozaki and Kotaro Suzuki) in protest over NOAH’s firing of Kobashi due to injuries. During his time in NOAH he had held the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team championship twice, once with Kotaro Suzuki and once with Naomichi Marufuji. Jun Akiyama called him one of his most talented students who had a remarkable capacity for remembering advice about technique and carrying it out, what you told him after one match, he would remember in another.
After the walk out to All Japan, Aoki would return to NOAH one last time in September 2018 when he faced Takashi Sugiura and Daisuke Harada, while teaming with Jun Akiyama at Naomichi Marufuji’s “Flight”.
He was forty-four years old at the time of his death.
NOAH held a commemoration service for him at Yokohama, with old dojo friend and fellow trainee, an emotional Shuhei Taniguchi holding his picture.
NOAH’S PHOTO EXHIBITION
Pro Wrestling NOAH have announced that another photo exhibition will take place on Saturday September 14th until Monday September 16th at the ROJI Gallery in Osaka. The exhibition will be known as “NOAH the BEST 2019”. There is no word as of yet whether another photo book will be released.
“COME AT ME YOU BASTARDS” ~ Kenoh’s column
Kenoh’s column this week dealt with one of his favorite subjects, not his hatred of Naomichi Marufuji, Takashi Sugiura or his hate\love\older brother relationship with Kaito Kiyomiya, or LIDET, but his beloved car.
“BEYOND MISAWA AND KOBASHI” ~ Interview with Go Shiozaki
Go Shiozaki gave an interview to “Weekly Pro” in which he speaks about AXIZ, Shuhei Taniguchi, Sugiura, the new NOAH and other subjects.
- GHC Heavyweight Champion: Kaito Kiyomiya
- GHC Junior Champion: Minoru Tanaka
- GHC Heavyweight Tag Champions: AXIZ (Go Shiozaki and Katsuhiko Nakajima)
- GHC Junior Tag Champions: Stinger (Kotaro Suzuki & Yoshinari Ogawa)
~ To hype the Sumo Hall show on the 2nd November (which I will be attending), NOAH have commissioned a truck with artwork advertising the event, to drive around Tokyo on a schedule in June. Fans have been asked to photograph it, hash tag it and put it on Twitter.
~ Takashi Sugiura got home from the event at Korakuen Hall and saw his two dogs play fighting, he took a picture, put it on Twitter and said, “I also lost today, and so did you”.
The 9th June show (the Misawa Memorial from Korakuen Hall, Tokyo and the second to last night of Global Junior Tag League) will be broadcast by G+ on Thursday 13th at 8pm JST.
The 13th June Mitsuharu Misawa memorial show from Osaka, will be shown on the 22nd at 10pm on Samurai TV. This will be the final night of Global Junior Tag League 2019.
Riki Choshu’s Power Hall (featuring Go Shiozaki and Yoshiki Inamura) will be broadcast live on the 26th June on Samurai at 6.30pm
PICTURE CREDITS: YO-HEY, NOAH GHC, PKDK
Newsletter by Hisame