Puroresu, and wrestling in general lost a great wrestler earlier this week. Mathew Sarpraicone gives us some highlight matches of his career. RIP Atsushi Aoki.
I originally had something else in mind but due to what happened earlier in the week, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about him.
On June 3rd, AJPW wrestler and now former World Junior Heavyweight Champion, Atsushi Aoki has passed away due to a motorcycle accident, he was only 41-years-old.
It’s a real tragedy to hear about someone you’ve been currently following pass away, especially when he just wrestled the night before and recently won the title a couple of weeks ago on top of that.
So I would like to talk about my top five matches in his career as he’s had a memorable thirteen years in the business and I’m not gonna waste any more time and just get right into it.
5. Atsushi Aoki vs. Koji Iwamoto (AJPW Super Power Series 2019 5/20/2019)
His last singles match before his tragic death as he fought the current AJPW World Junior Heavyweight Champion, Koji Iwamoto for the championship and the two would just have a clinic of a match. Aoki was coming in hot from his matches at the Champion Carnival and was fighting someone who would be considered a future ace of that division while Aoki still held onto that title. They had another great match last year but I thought this was the one that was the better of the two. Aoki would defeat Koji to win his fourth World Junior Heavyweight Championship and now it would also be considered his last one as well. Aoki really has shown in 2019 how much of a reliable guy he is and how good he was in the ring for someone at his age. Solid fifteen-minute match and a proper conclusion for it at the same time to top off his last big match.
4. Atsushi Aoki & KENTA vs. Roderick Strong & Eddie Edwards (NOAH Autumn Navigation 2010 10/30/2010)
This was the finals of the Nippon TV Cup Junior Heavyweight Tag League as Atsushi Aoki teamed up with the legendary KENTA to take on two familiar people, Eddie Edwards, and Roderick Strong. This was when we started to see Aoki shine like a star in the junior heavyweight division in his professional career and teaming up with one of the best NOAH had to offer along with a younger Roderick and Eddie just made a great junior tag match. A lot of stiff shots, athletic ability, the last few minutes where they would really bring it home. When Aoki and KENTA won the tournament at the end of it all, I believe this was when more people were starting to buy into Aoki after being in the business in five years. This match would show that he’s got a bright future ahead of him and years later, he definitely did.
3. Atsushi Aoki & Kotaro Suzuki vs. Naomichi Marufuji & Taiji Ishimori (NOAH The Navigation in June 2012 6/13/2012)
This one was another classic junior tag match for NOAH as this was during their 3rd annual Mitsuharu Misawa Memorial Show and had the GHC Junior Tag Team Championships on the line with Aoki and Kotaro defending again current NJPW star, Taiji Ishimori and one of the all-time greats in Japan. Naomichi Marufuji. Thirty minutes of great wrestling and seeing Marufuji and Kotaro having an amazing sequence at the beginning of the match, you knew what you were going to be in for. Taiji was the star of this match-up and most of them were as well as all four of them did a great job entertaining the crowd in what was considered a mediocre show. Aoki and Suzuki were able to retain the titles to prove why they were the best junior tag team NOAH had to offer and it was the right call in the grand scheme of things. Very enjoyable match and definitely worth the half hour of your time.
2. Atsushi Aoki vs. Ultimo Dragon (AJPW Super Power Series 2014 5/29/2014)
This was a big moment for Atsushi as this would be the beginning of his rise as a singles competitor in All Japan Pro Wrestling. Out of a mediocre show, this was one of the silver linings of it all as he would fight the AJPW World Junior Heavyweight Champion and one of the greatest of all time, Ultimo Dragon as the two would fight for the championship. I like this one mostly for the fact that this was his step as a future junior ace and to do that, he would have to take the belt away from the legend. It might not be the greatest match of all time for some people but I enjoyed it for what it would lead to in the long run. Aoki would defeat Ultimo to win his first singles title in his wrestling career and he would hold the title for 302 days with five successful title defenses as this was the first step of being their ace of the junior heavyweight division. Solid match and a great story that leads to more for the winner of the match and I’m sure it’s something that he’ll never forget.
Before I get to the number one match, here are the honorable mentions that I really enjoyed but didn’t make the cut for the final five.
- Atsushi Aoki vs. Seiki Yoshioka (AJPW Excite Series 2019 2/7/2019)
- Atsushi Aoki vs. KENTA (NOAH 10th Anniversary New Navigation 2010 8/22/2010)
- Atsushi Aoki vs. Kento Miyahara (AJPW Champion Carnival 4/4/2019)
- Atsushi Aoki & Kota Ibushi vs. KENTA & Taiji Ishimori (NOAH Summer Navigation 2009 (7/12/2009)
- Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato vs. Isami Kodaka & Yuko Miyamoto (AJPW Giant Series 2015 10/23/2015)
1. Atsushi Aoki & Jun Akiyama vs. Daisuke Harada & Takashi Sugiura (NOAH Naomichi Marufuji 20th Anniversary Show, Flight 9/1/2018)
What else can I really say about this one except for the story, great wrestling, and just the history behind this match was enough to make me wanna fall in love with it. On January 26th, 2013, both Jun and Aoki would leave Pro Wrestling NOAH as they would jump ship to join All Japan Pro Wrestling, leaving Daisuke and Takashi to stay in NOAH as they would try to help revive their promotion. Both Aoki and Daisuke were able to become the aces of their respective junior divisions while Jun and Takashi were able to help carry their companies into newer heights and away from their dark ages, but there was still a lot of bad blood that needed to be let out and how would you do that? Beat the ever loving crap out of each other. All four of these men did not hold back on each other and that was the way it should be to help sell the emotion of the match and pretty much what exactly they bottled up just for this moment over the past five years. Best part about it was that there was no winner as it ended in a time limit draw of thirty-minutes and it was the right call to do since it didn’t really need a clear winner, but more of they needed it to express their feelings in that ring and that’s one of the great things about professional wrestling since you just express those emotions to create art in a match like this. My favorite match involving him and just so much was told in the time frame that they used as it was all worth it. Part of me wished that Jun and Aoki has one short run in NOAH to fight Takashi and Daisuke in singles action, but I’m content with what we got at the end of the day.
I hope you all enjoyed this little countdown as I’m sure there were better matches on here that he has had in his career, but these were ones that I personally enjoyed. If you’re not familiar with him and wanna watch some of his stuff, then you’re in luck as someone on Twitter has made a google drive with just matches involving Aoki and I’ll even post a link so you all could watch other stuff that involved Zack Sabre Jr, Shuji Kondo, Bryan Danielson. Jun Akiyama, and just a few others but these are some to look out for. You can find more of his current stuff on AJPW TV if you subscribe to their streaming service and it’s well worth your time and money. Atsushi has had a wonderful career for the past thirteen years and while his time with us has been taken away so soon, he has left us with his art in that squared circle. Thank you, Atsushi Aoki, and may you rest in peace.
Thanks to @KENTAsleep for putting together this Google Drive Collection:
Here are 35 Atsushi Aoki matches all with links.
— Patrick (@KENTAsleep) June 4, 2019
(NOAH) WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.40 ~ 23RD JUNE 2019
NOAH is in a tiny transition between tournaments this week. Hisame brings us the updates in preparation for the Global Junior Tag League!
NOAH is in a tiny transition between tournaments this week. Hisame brings us the updates in preparation for the Global Junior Tag League!
In between “Global Junior Tag League” ending on the 13th June, and “Global Junior Tag League” starting on the 27th June, NOAH held a small interim tour of only three days. In the past these tours would have names like “Navigation with Spirits”, “Navigation to The Future” (or my personal favorite “Navigation on Stormy Seas”), but sadly LIDET have done away with these, and now all the interim tours are simply “NOAH The Spirit”.
It should be mentioned that all the tours have had excellent attendances with full houses each night, and this has given a tremendous morale boost to NOAH.
Yoshiki Inamura and his “rival” Kinya Okada faced off on the first night in Aizu, with the more experienced Inamura picking up the win. The rest of the tour was Inamura teaming with Kongoh, and Okada having matches with seniors like Daisuke Harada & Masao Inoue.
Junta Miyawaki faced his seniors (and lost to them) starting with Hi69 in Aizu on the 19th, Naomichi Marufuji on the 22nd and Atsushi Kotoge on the 23rd. Kotoge’s unanimated lack of expression and unusual calm demeanor is starting to scare people…
Miyawaki showed his first element of defiance, by refusing to shake hands with Marufuji. It’s rare for Miyawaki to act in this way towards his seniors (I can’t imagine this happening to Misawa had he asked Marufuji for one at that age and at that point in his career, then again 2001 was a very different world).
Hitoshi Kumano had his first singles match ever with Takashi Sugiura on the 22nd June in Nagano, and said that he was so happy about facing his hero, he couldn’t sleep. Nothing was going to mute this excitement, even the fact that he lost to him.
RATELS entered into their usual squabble about Global Junior League (this happens every year, with Tadasuke threatening to poison everyone last year, but this year he yelled out to whoever was listening, that he would win), with Daisuke Harada saying he was going to win in the backstage interview.
Naturally, this did go down well with the others, with Tadasuke walking off over it, and then coming back to point and yell at Harada that it was HIS victory that would happen.
On the 22nd June, YO-HEY lost to Yoshinari Ogawa, and Tadasuke became irate and started yelling. Harada got into the ring to try and calm the situation, but this only made Tadasuke angrier and he left (still shouting), although he later apologized and said he was disappointed.
RATELS seemed to have patched up their differences by the 23rd, but again no one wanted to trust each other, and in their post match interview, when they went to do their handshake they all jumped back into a defensive pose with their fists raised. Even HAYATA (who is in Block B), and was smirking at the others arguing with each other, joined in.
Kaito Kiyomiya, Shuhei Taniguchi (and various other partners) faced Kongoh each night. The record stands with Kiyomiya having two victories over the group in three nights, the third was when Kenoh pinned Hi69 following the foostomp.
On the final night of tour, Kaito Kiyomiya spoke on the microphone, and hinted that he and Taniguchi may team up together to take the tag belts. One of his dreams was to hold both championships.
Kenoh’s tri-weekly column was back to talk about the Misawa Memorial show, his rants against others, his shock at Atsushi Aoki’s death, and KENTA’S return to Japanese wrestling (albeit New Japan), or as he put it “that man has returned”.
Kenoh (who says he respects KENTA, despite his rant) says that he will make NOAH a place that KENTA will want to come home to, as well as making him regret that he ever chose New Japan over “his home”. Naturally, Kenoh wouldn’t be able to keep his ire at Marufuji supporting KENTA out of it, and said that Marufuji’s message of support to him was Marufuji saying “anything to be popular”.
Both Marufuji and KENTA responded to Kenoh in different ways.
In usual talkative style, Marufuji posted a picture of Kenoh’s article with graphics over it, with a message that didn’t really translate too well but basically saying there was nothing wrong with being supportive, and hinting at a secret (and for good measure he called him “Kenoh-kun”, which he knows will wind him up)
KENTA, in usual quiet style, made no comment, and simply posted a picture of the column to his Instagram story.
- GHC Heavyweight Champion: Kaito Kiyomiya
- GHC Junior Champion: Minoru Tanaka
- GHC Heavyweight Tag Champions: The Sugiura Army (Takashi Sugiura and KAZMA SAKAMOTO)
- GHC Junior Tag Champions: Stinger (Kotaro Suzuki & Yoshinari Ogawa)
~ Go Shiozaki got stuck in his jacket
~ YO-HEY wouldn’t let HAYATA leave during the post match interview in Aizu
~ Hitoshi Kumano said he is aiming to have a body that does not lose to the heavyweights, but would cause havoc amongst the juniors
~ Takashi Sugiura photographed Masao Inoue at the urinal (again)
~ Yoshinari Ogawa held a training session for the roster at Takaoka, Toyama before the event started. He taught Kaito Kiyomiya and the new trainee.
~ IPW have mentioned that Daisuke Harada will be defending the IPW Junior Heavyweight title, but have said that NOAH will make the announcement.
~ Naomichi Marufuji’s search for a tag partner continues.
~ In Aizu, AXIS wore t-shirts with “AIZU” on them.
~ Hitoshi Kumano can be considered the unofficial third member of AXIZ.
Riki Choshu’s Power Hall (featuring Go Shiozaki and Yoshiki Inamura) will be broadcast live on the 26th June on Samurai at 6.30pm
The opening night of Global Junior League (Thursday 27th June 2019, Korakuen Hall) broadcast at Friday 5th July on Samurai.
“The long days of summer are just around the corner: the stories behind the famous photograph of June 2000”
Global Junior League: Mini interview with YO-HEY
Global Junior League: Mini interview with Minoru Tanaka
The Mitsuharu Misawa Memorial Ten Year Event, and “The Future of Noah”, presented by 22 year old Kaito Kiyomiya
“It’s been ten years since Mitsuharu Misawa died” ~ Keiji Mutoh’s memories
PICTURE CREDITS: Noah GHC, KENTA, PKDX
GIF CREDIT: Noah GHC
Newsletter by Hisame
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.