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DeMarco: What The Wrestling Business Lost In Hana Kimura

I look at the wrestling side of the death of Joshi sensation Hana Kimura.



Hana Kimura Chairshot edit

Greg DeMarco looks at the wrestling side of the death of Joshi sensation Hana Kimura.

It seems weird to sit here and type this article on Hana Kimura–but I am going to do it. I’ll explain why in a moment. But the world is a really screwed place right now. Truth is, the world has always been a screwed up place, it’s just at the forefront right now. Regardless of states “opening up” and some areas even seeing wrestling show, we are still dealing with COVID-19 and the Coronavirus…with no end in sight. But that’s been going on for 3 months now. Add in the deaths of Larry Csonka (who gave me my start), Shad Gaspard (who you won’t hear a bad word about), and today Danny Havoc, and wrestling has been rocked lately.

But the death of George Floyd has brought back up an issue that has no end in sight, but the beginning is far out of sight as well. #BlackLivesMatter is a real thing, because black lives matter! White people, especially in America, control far too much of the money, opportunity, and future to pretend that black people haven’t been oppressed for pretty much our entire existence as a nation. And because of the money, opportunity, and future I listed above, it’s time for the silent majority to stop being silent. That includes me, and it’s very likely–just based on the demographics of wrestling fans online–that includes you as well. And the fact that far too many white people are trying to divert any attention to businesses that are being looted and riots that are out of control proves my point. Stop trying to address the symptoms and address the real problem. Peaceful protests don’t work, because we keep saying “…but not like that.” It’s time for a systemic change, and it’s not coming from the government. It has to come from us.

That is another column for another time. This is about Hana Kimura, a beautiful soul taken from the world of professional wrestling far too soon.

You’re likely either puzzled or intrigued by the title of my article, because I am not looking at the personal side of a death, I am looking at the business side of it. I am but a very casual fan of Joshi at the most, and that’s probably giving me too much credit. I can never give the passing of Hana Kimura the justice it deserves, but Andrew Balaz did just that last week, in an article you can (and should) read here.

Writing about the business side is my wheelhouse. It’s what I do. I promote wrestling events (another thing impacted by COVID-19), so I look at the business differently than many of you. So for me to put the passing of Hana Kimura into perspective (and perspective is what we, as writers, offer), I have to do it from the business side.

At the time of her passing, professional wrestler and reality TV star Hana Kimura was 22 years old. She had been performing in Stardom in Japan (along with multiple appearances in the United States, notably for Ring Of Honor and AEW), and was also a part of the Stardom showcase match that took place in the Tokyo Dome before WrestleKingdom 14 in front of over 40,000 people. She took her own life due to harassment related to her involvement not in professional wrestling, but as a member of the cast of Terrace House, a reality putting six people in a house together and creating dating scenarios for them to encounter. Reports later surfaced that she tried to get out of the show back in December, but was unable to do so. Thus, she continued to meet her obligations to the show on which she was contracted to appear.

Hana Kimura was trained by the Wrestle-1 University, but her mother is Kyoko Kimura, who wrestled from 2003 to 2017. Hana was born in 1997, meaning she was 6 years old when her mother debuted as a pro wrestler. Hana saw every bit of her mother’s career…the wrestling business was literally in her blood.

Hana only had 4 years of wrestling experience, but had become one of the most well known performers outside of the United States, with her in-ring acumen growing exponentially during that time. As I said, I am a casual Joshi fan at best, but if you said “Stardom” to me and asked me who comes to mind, you’re getting two names: Kagetsu and Hana Kimura.

At her young age, the potential she had in the business was unlimited, especially when you add in her look, charisma, and popularity. That’s where the title of this article comes into play: Hana Kimura could have been one of the biggest stars in the wrestling business–male or female.

As I mentioned, Hana Kimura was 22 years old when she passed away last week. Let’s take a look at the ages of the biggest female stars in WWE today:

  • Becky Lynch, arguably the biggest women’s wrestling star in the world when she left to start a family, is 33 years old
  • Charlotte Flair is 34
  • Sasha Banks is 28
  • Bayley is 30
  • Ronda Rousey, currently inactive, is 33
  • Shayna Baszler is 39
  • Asuka is 38
  • Alexa Bliss is 28
  • Io Shirai is 30
  • Rhea Ripley is 23
  • Candice LeRae is 34

Let’s fast forward 10 years, when Hana Kimura is a 14-year veteran of the business at age 32. It’s entirely conceivable that the only person on this list still active is Rhea Ripley. there is a chance that Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss, at 38, are also active. But for all intents and purposes, we would be into the second wave of female talent atop WWE, and if she chose to come over, Hana could be the leader of the pack.

It’s very possible that Hana Kimura wouldn’t go the Shinsuke Nakamura route in wanting to prove himself on American soil, instead taking the Kazuchika Okada route and carrying the Japanese product on her shoulders. Stardom has been purchased by Bushiroad, the parent company of New Japan. According to my conversation with the aforementioned Andrew Balaz, the whole reason Hana went on Terrace House was to spread the joy of Joshi and Stardom.

But it would take a cultural shift for Japan’s focus on women’s wrestling to match what we see here in the States. If I am placing a bet, I could see WWE aggressively signing more Stardom talent in the coming years. I would expect Hana Kimura to be one of the prime targets. I don’t know how strong her English was, but there would have been plenty of time for her to pick it up. And if how fast she picked up the wrestling business is any indication, she had it in her to become really strong in English.

To be blunt: in 2029-2030, it’s 100% reasonable to see Hana Kimura at the level in WWE that Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair are in 2019-2020. Hana Kimura vs. Rhea Ripley could easily have main evented WrestleMania 45m and we could easily throw Becky Lynch in as the special referee. Kimura would be a media darling in America, carrying the flag with Charlotte Flair and Bayley rooting her on via social media. She could be retiring Sasha Banks and/or Alexa Bliss, she could be singing the praises of Triple H and the impact he’s had on her career.

When you look at the facts, it’s more than reasonable to say this could happen. Add in Hana’s ability, charisma, and age, and it’s damn near probable. But because of some coward fanboy keyboard warriors, none of it is going to happen.

Well, it will happen…with someone else. But it’s fair to say that if Hana Kimura wanted it, it would have been hers for the taking. Instead it was taken from her, and it was taken from us. It was taken from wrestling.

The world is a crazy, and sometimes scary, place right now. It largely always has been, and probably always will be. We can make a difference. Be a good person, stand up for what’s right even if you’re not the one being wronged, and let’s make this a better place. Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay good to each other.

Greg DeMarco is a life-long wrestling fan who has been providing analysis and perspective online since 2010. He’s also worked for various wrestling promotions including the NWA and Ring Of Honor, and currently promotes IZW Wrestling in Arizona.

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AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?



With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass

Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed

The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!

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King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!



Jeff Hardy WWE Smackdown

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.

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