Many of you will know that Bull Nakano wrestled for the World Wrestling Federation in 1994 and 1995, winning the Women’s Championship from Alundra Blayze in November 1994 and losing the belt back to her in April 1995. Many of you will have been watching at the time. In 1994, Bull Nakano had been wrestling for 11 years and was secure in her character and wrestling style. However, Nakano also wrestled for the WWF back in 1986, less than three years after her debut…
Back then, Nakano was teaming with her mentor Dump Matsumoto, who won the All Japan Women Championship in 1983, three years after her debut. By the time this week’s Retro matches rolled around in March of 1986, Nakano was the AJW titleholder, having won the championship from Itsuki Yamazaki the previous July. Billed as the Devils of Japan, Matsumoto and Nakano only wrestled two matches in the WWF in an eight day span, with the contests taking place in two of the most historic arenas in the United States.
The first took place in the Boston Garden on March 8, where Bull and Dump took on Velvet McIntyre and Dawn Marie (no, not that one), then faced McIntyre and new partner Linda Gonzalez in Madison Square Garden in New York. (more…)
Legendary Bull Nakano returns on her 44th birthday to finally bid farewell to her fans, and shines a light on the current stars of joshi puroresu
1. Ayako Hamada beat Aja Kong (15:14) with an AP Cross.
2. Guillotine Drop Match: Kayoko Haruyama & Ryo Mizunami beat AKINO & Maki Narumiya (13:34) with a Diving Guillotine Drop from Mizunami on Narumiya.
3. 50s & 40s & 30s & 20s & 10s: Dump Matsumoto, Kyoko Inoue, Leon, Sawako Shimono & Tsukushi defeated Jaguar Yokota, Manami Toyota, Tomoka Nakagawa, Natsuki*Taiyo & Cherry (16:15) with a Powerbomb from Inoue on Cherry.
4. Kana beat Kagetsu (11:23) with the Kana Lock.
5. Nanae Takahashi, Meiko Satomura & Emi Sakura beat Ayumi Kurihara, Yoshiko & Tsukasa Fujimoto (21:41) with a 450 Splash from Sakura on Fujimoto.
6. Yuzuki Aikawa beat Hikaru Shida (15:11) with a Yuzupon Kick.
7. Bull Nakano Retirement Ceremony
• Ayako Hamada and Aja Kong go from headlining at JoshiMania the previous month to opening the show here. Not that these two toned anything down for an opener.
• The Guillotine Drop match was four women (each from a different promotion) who all use the legdrop, as per Bull herself. Sendai Girls’ Mizunami eventually hit a top rope version on ICE Ribbon’s Maki Narumiya for the win.
• The concept for the ten woman tag match is genius. Each team has one competitor in their 50s, one in their 40s, one in their 30s, one in their 20s and one in their teens. Cherry is a bit of a cheat on her team, as she’s portrayed as a teenager, but otherwise the gimmick works very well.
• Kana vs Kagetsu was a total change of pace – a grappling and striking clinic early, leading to suplexes and submissions later. Stuck between two multi-women tags, it’s a bit of an unsung gem.
• The six woman tag in the semi-main slot was my most anticipated match of the card, and it was the one I ended up enjoying most. Emi Sakura pinned Tsukasa Fujimoto to win, but more about this match below.
• The positioning of a match between Hikaru Shida and Yuzuki Aikawa as the main event on the show (or at least the last match before the extended Nakano retirement) showed a lot of faith in these two. Aikawa is limited in experience, while Shida has only just moved to the top of ICE Ribbon cards. That being said, they did a phenomenal job in delivering a quality main event, with Aikawa eking out the win.
Click through for observations, match of the night and overall impressions (more…)
When I looked at the card for the Bull Nakano EMPRESS retirement show, I was surprised at what I saw. Not the card itself, which looked very appealing, but the order in which the matches would take place. Unlike American shows which have a card, but barring the main event, you probably won’t know the exact order of the matches. When it comes to Japan, the match listing is usually the order in which those contests would take place. Surprisingly, the singles match featuring veterans and legends Ayako Hamada and Aja Kong would OPEN the show, while the final match on the card would be between two women with comparatively little experience – one had just three years under her belt, while the other had debuted just 15 months ago.
Having said that, the match between Ice Ribbon’s ICEx60 and International Ribbon Tag Team Champion Hikaru Shida and Wonder Of Stardom and one half of the Goddesses Of Stardom Yuzuki Aikawa put forth a hell of a contest, and proved that they were worthy of headlining the card. Even more surprisingly, 28-year old Aikawa won the match in front of 3000 fans at the Tokyo Dome City Hall – though that could be indicative of the potential influence that she could have on joshi in the future…
Despite being trained in taekwondo for ten years, Aikawa made her living before becoming a wrestler as a bikini model and a singer in a girl group, selling picture books, DVDs and CDs, mostly down to her beauty and curvy figure. However, she packed it all in just over two years ago to make the transition to becoming a professional wrestler – funny, in the western world, it usually works the other way around. A year after making the switch, she debuted on October 31, 2010 as part of her own card which she produced, taking on Nanae Takahashi. You would imagine that considering that it was her own card, it was her first match and that she is a pretty woman, she would be eased into the situation by a veteran of the business.
No such luck. Takahashi defeated her, and as part of the deal, beat the shit out of her. (more…)
This week’s Roundup is a little different, as it’s a bit more personal. There’ll be the news information as usual, but it’s not as clinical as it tends to be.
The past week has seen a number of ‘goodbyes and good lucks’ in women’s wrestling, but all on varying levels. The first was last week when Britani Knight (Saraya-Jade Bevis) left her home in Norwich, England to head to Tampa, FL to report to Florida Championship Wrestling.
In a way, it was a great, and yet poorly kept secret. Yes, most people had knowledge that she had agreed a deal with World Wrestling Entertainment to wrestle for it. However, reports of when she was starting varied all over the place, which is why we at Ringbelles kept quiet until every single hoop that WWE had put in front of her had successfully been jumped through. For the same reason, it is also why we have not reported on who (if any) tried out for WWE during the last European tour in the autumn – after seeing how many potential mines there are to tread on, it’s better to not enter the minefield.
While Stew wrote a personal piece about Britani’s career as he has a stronger friendship with her, I can’t let her departure slide by without saying something about it myself. (more…)
As mentioned in last week’s Roundup, despite having not wrestled in more than a decade, Keiko “Bull” Nakano officially retired from wrestling today at the end of her EMPRESS show at the Tokyo Dome City Hall in front of 3,000 fans (a Super No Vacancy Full House).
In a curious twist, the main event of the show featured up-and-comers Yuzuki Aikawa (currently the Wonder Of Stardom Champion) against Hikaru Shida (the reigning Ice Ribbon ICEx60 titleholder), while legends Aja Kong and Ayako Hamada competed in the opening match in a rematch from their battle on night 2 of JoshiMania, of which you can read a review here.
Featuring more than fifty different stars coming together from a range of different promotions like SMASH, JWP, WAVE, Diana, Ice Ribbon, Sendai Girls, Stardom and UNION Pro, it saw rising joshi grapplers tangle with veterans and legends, and even featured an appearance from Dump Matsumoto, despite dealing with a terminal illness that doctors say may claim her as soon as this summer.
Click after the jump for the results: (more…)
This Sunday sees Bull Nakano issue her official goodbye to pro wrestling as part of her EMPRESS retirement show on her 44th birthday at the Tokyo Dome City Hall. So far, only two matches have been announced, though the former WWF Women’s Champion has spent the last few months visiting numerous joshi promotions, offering blue envelopes to wrestlers, ostensibly inviting them to be part of the show.
As well as handing out invitations like she’s on an episode of My Super Sweet 16, Nakano has also been preparing herself, putting on weight and growing her hair so she can become the image that she was when she was wrestling – 230lb with hair spiking straight up, and blue veins etched onto her face. It is a big change from a couple of years ago, when as a professional golfer, Keiko Nakano’s weight had dropped weight all the way down to 130lb – partly to ease the pressure on her injured knees that had taken a battering during her hard-hitting 14-year career between 1983 and 1997 (though she returned for one more match in 2001). For that reason, it is unclear if Nakano will wrestle on the event, though nothing should be ruled out. (more…)
JoshiMania is in the history books, and is already available to buy. Click here to take a look.
In the week leading up to the three nights of action, there had been a lot of buzz concerning the event. With joshi talent from a number of different promotions in Japan, female wrestling there had largely stopped (Ice Ribbon carried on as normal, and WAVE also held a card), as many of the top stars had crossed the Pacific and international datelines to wrestling in Philadelphia, PA, Everett, MA and Manhattan, NY for the CHIKARA promoted cards.
The shows main focus – other than showing off some of the great Japanese female talent – seemed to be to provide a platform for CHIKARA talent Sara Del Rey, who won both of her main events against her idol Aja Kong on night one – in a match that she reportedly dominated – and against Ayako Hamada on night 3 in a match which was said to be equal to (or greater than) their SHIMMER volume 28 outing two years ago. Considering Hamada was brought in as a late replacement for the injured Meiko Satomura, she made a strong impression, and also showed TNA what they missed out on by having this woman on its roster, not using her, mismanaging her and letting her go. (more…)
Friday, December 2 will be a big day in Sara Del Rey’s life, as she finally get the chance to wrestle her hero.
“Something I grew to understand about her was her idolisation of Aja Kong,” said CHIKARA’s Mike Quackenbush when discussing Del Rey in the latest Women Of Wrestling Podcast. It is due to the 31-year old’s continued great body of work and the first opportunity to have them in the same place at the same time which has led to Del Rey and Kong facing each other in the main event of the first of three days of JoshiMania shows spanning the northeast of the United States.
Their paths have never really crossed during Del Rey’s tours of Japan, and there has been no chance of Aja being on the same card as her in the US, as she hasn’t been in the country since late 1995 when she was working with the WWF and was set to challenge Alundra Blayze for the Women’s Championship before the titleholder jumped to WCW, taking the belt with her – Sara didn’t debut until 2001. However, their paths WILL cross on Friday with one of the best joshis of her generation meeting one of the best female wrestlers in the world at this moment. It should be a titanic encounter, and while Del Rey may be all intense on the outside, you can expect her to be a giggling mess inside, and who can blame her? I know that Skye felt the same way when she wrestled her idol Daizee Haze at ChickFight VII back in 2007…
Del Rey also gets the chance to repeat her epic match with Ayako Hamada that took place at SHIMMER Volume 28 in late 2009 on the third and final JoshiMania show, while the second evening’s main event will complete the round robin with Hamada taking on Kong – not bad on Hamada’s part, seeing as she was brought in as a late replacement for the injured Meiko Satomura, who will still be there as part of a training seminar, but isn’t cleared to wrestle. She’s been announced as a participant at Ice Ribbon’s Ribbonmania on December 25, so here’s hoping she’s given a clean bill of health before then. (more…)
Very WWE heavy at the top of this week’s Roundup, as I take a look at the last three shows the promotion has presented on TV, and how the writers have made a complete balls-up of the Kelly Kelly v Divas Of Doom storyline. Personally, I’d have produced things a different way, so I’m going to list what happened, my grievances with it and what I would have done instead. Bear in mind, this is just one man’s opinion, and I’m sure many will disagree with what I say, but I believe that this is logical, and not just the rantings of some fanboy.
On the go-home episode of SmackDown in Toronto before Night of Champions, Beth Phoenix defeated AJ, then delivered a promise to defeat Kelly at the pay-per-view. And that’s it.
Considering hometown girl Trish Stratus was on the show, it was a wasted opportunity. Stratus was only featured in backstage segments with Edge, Christian and Zack Ryder, and had no interaction with the girls. The chance was there for Trish to use some of the superstar status she has to give Kelly the rub (take your heads out of the gutter, you filthy people) and maybe get some heat for Beth at the same time. On goes my fantasy booking hat… (more…)
Earlier this week, Ringbelles found out about a show taking place on January 8, 2012. We knew nothing about it except that it was taking place at the Tokyo Dome CIty Hall and would be called Bull Nakano Produce “EMPRESS”. And that’s all we knew… until Dave Meltzer furnished us with more information as part of this week’s mammoth Wrestling Observer.
Keiko “Bull” Nakano will be appearing – but not wrestling – on her retirement show on her 44th birthday. Barring a very brief nostalgia comeback when she teamed with her mentor Dump Matsumoto in 2001, Nakano has had very little to do with wrestling since retiring in 1997 at the age of 29 due to injuries suffered because of her hard-hitting style and weight, which was around 220 pounds at the time.
After her retirement, Nakano dropped a shedload of weight – last year, she was reportedly down to 130 – and took up professional golf in 1998. The learning curve turned out to be very steep, and finished 250th place of 251 in a LPGA Futures (essentially a farm system for rising golf stars) Qualifying Tournament in November 2004, and didn’t fare much better the following year when she finished 261st out of 271. However, she managed to make it into Futures in January 2006 a couple of weeks after her 38th birthday. (more…)
OK, the title is probably a silly question, but there is always a chance.
If you have never seen Alundra Blayze (AKA Madusa) v Bull Nakano from SummerSlam 94, you HAVE to take 11 minutes out of your life before tonight’s pay-per-view to watch this. The match came about after the late Luna Vachon had failed in trying to wrest the WWF Women’s Championship from Blayze’s grasp, so decided that if she could not do it, she would bring in someone who could – the 220lb Nakano, who had fought with Blayze when she was predominantly wrestling in Japan earlier on in the decade. (more…)
November 20, 1994 was a big day for women’s wrestling. More to the point, November 20, 1994 was a LONG day for women’s wrestling. All Japan Women presented Big Egg Wrestling Universe – a ten hour show in front of more than 42,000 fans in Toyko’s Egg Dome. You read that right – TEN HOURS, and FORTY TWO THOUSAND FANS. Featuring women’s wrestling matches from competitors across the world, it pulled in a record $4 million, unheard of for an all-girls show.
Most of the show was dedicated to the Five Star tournament which was won by Akira Hokoto, but the second to last match featured a contest which was shown on WWF TV – that’s because the WWF Women’s Title was on the line, and even changed hands, in what may have been the final WWF/E title change that didn’t take place on a WWF/E show.
Alundra Blayze and Bull Nakano had been feuding for months – not as hated enemies, but as competitive rivals, both believing that they were the best and fighting to be WWF Women’s Champion. Blayze held the title, and had beaten Nakano in their highest-profile match up to that point at SummerSlam 94. The rematch took place at Big Egg Wrestling Universe. (more…)