January was an uncertain period for Ice Ribbon. After the departure of founder Emi Sakura, there were a lot of questions as to the future of the promotion, how it would react and adapt, and which wrestlers would fill the void that Sakura had left. At the same time, Tsukasa Fujimoto was also in a state of flux. Having lost the ICEx60 Championship to Hikaru Shida on December 25, she was also facing an uncertain future. However, the following six months would see the 28-year old former actress rack up the wins and amass a shedload of championships in the process…
So let’s look at the list of titles that she has won since January, as it is a pretty impressive list:
In her home promotion, Fujimoto has won two International Ribbon Tag Team Championships with her Dropkickers partner Tsukushi, and has also claimed the IW19 Championship from Kurumi following coming out on top in an 8-woman tournament to become the top contender – making Fujimoto the only wrestler in the promotion’s history to have held all four of the titles on offer. She still holds both the tag and IW19 title at the moment, but her heavy bag of belts didn’t end there.
On her travels, she and Shida became the first REINA x WORLD Tag Team Champions a month ago by winning another tournament, set up after the original REINA promotion folded, and has even managed to win and hold onto the craziest belt in puro, the DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship on three occasions – and even better, successfully defended it twice before dropping it at the end of June. At one point, the Sendai native held four belts at one time – not bad for someone who was somewhat directionless at the start of the year.
But belts aren’t everything – new opportunities have also arisen, and Fujimoto has been given the opportunity to make a real mark outside of Ice Ribbon. For example, she has debuted in Pro Wrestling WAVE, main-evening their February 1 event in a loss to Toshie Uematsu, who was in the throes of her retirement tour. After spending more time in the promotion, she was entered into the annual Catch The Wave league as a representative in the promotion’s heel Black Dahlia faction’s group, but came straight out of the blocks by defeating the group’s leader Misaki Ohata, which is a massive shot in the arm for an outsider. The league portion of the competition ended just last week, with Fujimoto taking on Yumi Ohka to see who would advance, though she fell to her opponent – finishing her league run with two wins, one draw and one loss.
Back at Ice Ribbon, Fujimoto seems to have assumed the matriarchal position on the show, directing proceedings in the post-show promos like Sakura used to do – probably because she is one of the most senior members of the roster and because she is also older than pretty much everyone else who is there. One could assume that she may have more swing behind the scenes to pick up the slack, and may add a little skepticism on whether she booked herself to win the International Ribbon and IW19 titles. There is always that possibility, I suppose – but you cannot argue her accomplishments in WAVE and REINA x WORLD, where she has excelled and expanded her profile. In fact, as you read this, Fujimoto and Shida are in Mexico to work in CMLL as a result of them being the REINA x WORLD tag champions, which is another first for her passport – which already sports stamps from the United States and the United Kingdom.
While many are purporting ICEx60 Champion Hikaru Shida as being the future of joshi, it has left the horizon clear for Fujimoto to forge her own path, free of the lofty expectations put on her Muscle Venus partner. If anything, losing Ice Ribbon’s top singles title has freed up Fujimoto to pursue other options without the shackles of having to preserve the value of the championship, while still being able to have a home base to return to, which provides her with a load of security. From having just lost Ice Ribbon’s top title at the start of the year to accruing seven title wins in six months – five of them in the past four weeks – you could say that Tsukasa Fujimoto is doing pretty well for herself.
- Lee Burton