Malia Hosaka retires from wrestling
Former NWA World Women’s Champion Malia Hosaka has decided to hang up the boots after close to 25 years in the business.
Making the announcement on her Facebook page, the 42-year old Hawaiian said:
It has been a great 25 years, and I am grateful to all the fans who have supported me thru the years! but I am officially retired from the wrestling industry as of today. Thank you to all who supported/employed and believed in me thru the years!
This presumably means that the proposed triple threat match with Malia taking on Cheerleader Melissa and Mickie James in Traditional Championship Wrestling on April 7 will be scrapped, considering the retirement has already started.
Hosaka leaves behind a huge body of work, dating back to 1987 when she was trained by Killer Kowalski and former NWA United States Women’s Champion Misty Blue Simmes, before debuting on August 7 of that year, teaming with Simmes against Mad Dog Debbie Irons and Linda Dallas in Holyoake, MA. Speaking to us last year on one of our most frank Women Of Wrestling Podcasts ever, Malia discussed how she perceived wrestling before she started training:
I think I knew that the end was fixed – I didn’t know if the moves were actually real.
She would learn.
While taking on the veterans, she learned the tricks of the trade and made it to the Ladies’ Professional Wrestling Association in the early 1990s, which differed from the Gorgeous Ladies Of Wrestling promotion in that it featured more wrestling, and no comedy skits. Malia told us that she didn’t respect GLOW as a format because she felt it was a parody of wrestling and disrespected it.
As well as LPWA, Hosaka also ended up wrestling two dates for Eastern Championship Wrestling in 1993 just after Paul Heyman took over as booker, defeating Molly McShane at NWA Bloodfest on October 1 and taking on the late Sherri Martel at November To Remember on November 13 as a substitute for Madusa Miceli, winning via DQ.
In 1996, Hosaka reached the peak of her career when she won the NWA World Women’s Championship on May 9, defeating Debbie Combs in Johnson City, TN, but dropped it back to her the very next day. The reason that was given was that Malia had unsuccessfully challenged for the belt on so many occasions that it would make sense for her to gain the title, and then drop it back on the second of the pair of shows in the state.
As well as regular indie bookings across the US and further afield (in all, she was wrestled in more than 40 countries), Malia also found herself working in the newly-formed women’s division in World Championship Wrestling in that same year, set up when Madusa returned to the company after leaving the WWF (with the title belt, and you probably remember what happened with that). Essentially a vehicle for Madusa, Malia was managed by Sonny Oono and wrestled frequently on Monday Nitro and Worldwide against the likes of Leilani Kai, Akira Hokuto and Madusa herself. She competed in the tournament to crown a WCW Women’s Champion, but fell in the first round to Zero (Chigusa Nagayo), and never really got a sniff at the belt after that. In our interview with her, Malia explained her theory on why she never really got a push:
Madusa had such a poor rapport with all the girls that a lot of the girls didn’t want to work with her, and she didn’t want to work with a lot of the girls. She wanted Japanese girls, Japanese girls, she was huge on the Japanese girls, and [WCW] were like ‘She’s Japanese, you can work with her!’… I knew that Madusa wasn’t necessarily pulling for me to be a part of the company – she wanted the Japanese girls. Terry Taylor didn’t think I was an effective heel because Madusa was very aggressive and I wasn’t very heel-like at the time. I got my foot in the door and this was what it was, and I can’t really say that it was going to be any more than it was.
One other wrestler who Malia worked with around that time was Starla Saxton, who went on to become Miss Madness, Mona and later Molly Holly. The pair wrestled in WCW, traded titles in New Dimension Wrestling and saw Hosaka act as a mentor to the newcomer. However, their relationship broke down after Malia alleged that Molly had betrayed her to get ahead in wrestling, and when we spoke to her last year, you could tell that she was still pretty hurt:
I don’t she’s as nice as she wants everyone to believe that she is. She’s very religious, church every Sunday, and she holds onto her religious beliefs and I don’t fault her for that… but I think that if you’re truly the Christian that she says that she was, things would not have gone in the direction that they did between the two of us.
In 1999, Malia signed a WWF developmental contract, with the gimmick being that she was going to debut on TV in an open challenge against the new Women’s Champion Ivory, be defeated and then be shown to improve as a wrestler until she reached the top of what was the embryonic stages of a Divas division. However, the WWF nixed the plans when on her debut on June 28, fans recognised her as a former WCW wrestler, and the angle was pulled, as the writers were after someone who they thought was an unknown. No further ideas were put her way and after a year of sitting at home with a developmental contract, she was let go.
While she was there, the subject of breast implants came up, and Hosaka made it clear that she was willing to discuss the matter, but there was no way she was putting up the money for them:
I was told more than once when I was at the WWF and prior to getting my contract that if I went and got my boobs done that I’d be under contract and on TV every week. My reply was ‘I’m broke from spending 12 years in the business and if Vince want them, he can pay for them’.
While back on the indie scene, Hosaka wrestled for NWA: Total Nonstop Action, making her one of just a few people who can say that they have wrestled for WWE, WCW, ECW and TNA. She was defeated by Trinity at the promotion’s 1st anniversary in a dark match. Her next big exposure would take place in February 2006, where Malia joined the roster of SHIMMER: Women Athletes.
The “Modern Day Moolah”, as she would become known, lost her debut against Lorelei Lee on volume 3, but then proceeded to set up the first real tag team force in the promotion, teaming with Lexie Fyfe to form The Experience – a tandem that went undefeated for more than a year until falling to the team of Cheerleader Melissa and MsChif on volume 12. Inbetween then, Hosaka also competed in the SHIMMER title tournament, defeating Allison Danger in the first round on volume 10 but was beaten by Daizee Haze in the quarter final.
After Lexie retired from wrestling, Malia carried on with a drawing of her former tag team partner on a stick, and became the veteran gatekeeper of the promotion, taking on the younger talent and more often than not defeating them, sending back the challenges of the likes of Rayna Von Tosh, Tenille Tayla and Leva Bates, but came unstuck at the hands of Jamilia Craft on volume 32 – her final match in the promotion.
While competing in SHIMMER, Malia also worked at Women Superstars Uncensored, taking on the likes of Rain, Amber O’Neal, Miss April and Cindy Rogers before being inducted into the promotion’s Hall Of Fame by Alere Little Feather in 2009.
Most recently, Hosaka had been working shows for Tulalip Championship Wrestling as well as Traditional Championship Wrestling, but has reduced her bookings over the last couple of years.
We at Ringbelles would like to thank Malia Hosaka for her contributions to wrestling over the years. Her heel act in SHIMMER never failed to be entertaining, she had a great knowledge of how to work a crowd, make her opponent look as good as they could dream of looking and was a damn fine wrestler. She was known as the Modern Day Moolah for a reason – she was a name from a generation that is slowly disappearing, where women found it tremendously hard to be taken seriously, had even more stigmas placed against them and had fewer places to work and gain that mainstream exposure. Sure, she never made it big in one of the big promotions, but she leave footprints all over the world thanks to her international travel and entertaining the troops, as well as on all the younger talent who have blossomed over the years. Without Malia Hosaka, we may have had no Molly Holly, for example.
Thanks Malia. Enjoy retirement. You’ve earned it.
- Lee Burton