So that’s it. After announcing in March that she would be retiring, embarking on a farewell tour which would start in SHIMMER in April and making final appearances in OZ Academy, WAVE, Diana, Ice Ribbon, Gatoh Move and Sendai Girls, Ayumi Kurihara has made her final appearance as an active wrestler.
Despite citing nagging injuries for her reason for bowing out of her eight year career, the 29-year old certainly didn’t hold back or take it easy on herself as she did her farewell rounds. She made the promise in her blog where she revealed her intentions to walk away that she would “continue to fight with all her strength and all her heart until August 4th”, regardless of the damage that it could do to the clavicle injury which was forcing her out. As a result she took part in more than 40 matches in 5 months, including some hard-hitting contests with the likes of Mercedes Martinez and Mayumi Ozaki – something which earned her a recognition in our Good Half Year series last month. (more…)
I’m still buzzing after Insane Championship Wrestling’s Fierce Females show on Saturday, which culminated with Kay Lee Ray winning her first ever championship when she won the tournament to become the inaugural Scottish titleholder. Beating Rhia O’Reilly and Viper in two very different contests, she proved that she is versatile and dependable as a main event talent. However, it was more than just KLR who impressed, with her defeated opponents also impressing, along with Carmel Jacob, Bete Noire, Erin Angel and Blue Nikita putting together great outings, and North American talent like Leah Von Dutch and Crazy Mary Dobson also entertaining. In fact, those two elements got me thinking…
First off, women’s wrestling fans are doing themselves a disservice by ignoring Europe. While places like America, Canada, Japan and Mexico are places which get a lot of attention, there are now three major all-women’s indie promotions to speak of in the UK alone, and plenty of skilled women from all over the continent looking to make their mark, and they can make it in the likes of Fierce Females, Pro Wrestling: EVE and Bellatrix because of their differing standpoints. (more…)
On Sunday, I sat among 400 people in a hall in a small city in the west of England. The only reason why I had decided to go – well, apart from it being a 15 minute walk from my front door – was that it featured a women’s match that was pretty hyped up about. Unfortunately, the billed contest between Kay Lee Ray and Shanna had to be scrapped because of KLR suffering a broken toe two days previous, then wrestling for about 40 minutes on it the previous day – though as it turns out, her metatarsal had been broken for about a month, which was compounded by the broken toe. As a result, a suitable replacement was brought in to replace Ray, and it would more than compensate.
The fans at Alternative Wrestling World in Wolverhampton had no idea who Emi Sakura was. To them, she was a Japanese woman who wears a lot of fabric, doesn’t show much skin and visually, didn’t look like much to write home about. Around me, I heard some borderline racist jokes about the “Chinese” woman in the ring and some unfunny gags about ordering Chinese cuisine in a mocking Far Asian accent. Her opponent also got the heckles, with a guy yelling “get your tits out” to Portugal’s Perfect Athlete – as if that line has EVER worked. Needless to say, we were dealing with an audience with spectacularly low expectations for the contest, and more than their fair share of xenophobia and ignorance. I’m stunned that I didn’t see anyone get up to go to the bar or toilets. They would have regretted it if they had, as little did they know, but they were going to be treated to a showcase featuring one of Europe’s best against one of the best in the world… (more…)
ICE Ribbon present their year-end big show from Korakuen Hall, their first RibbonMania without founder Emi Sakura, and look to the future right from the opener to the main event.
1. New Wrestler Elimination Match: Risa Sera, Hiroko Terada (debut) & 235 (debut) beat Rutsuko Yamaguchi (debut), Eri Wakamatsu (debut) & Ayano Takeda (debut) (8:26).
– Takeda eliminated 235 with a Fisherman Suplex (3:46). Terada eliminated Takeda with an Anaconda Vice (4:31). Sera eliminated Wakamatsu with a modified Shubain (6:31). Yamaguchi eliminated Terada with a Heel Drop (7:16). Sera eliminated Yamaguchi via over-the-top-rope elimination (8:26).
2. Duel 120Kg!!: Jaiko Ishikawa beat Kuzira Oshima (4:31) with an Abdominal Stretch.
3. 4 Way Match: Makoto Oishi & Neko Nitta beat Cherry & Meari Naito and Hailey Hatred & Kurumi and Aki Shizuku & Shoko Hotta (8:21) with a Cross Kneelock from Nitta on Naito.
4. Yumiko Hotta vs. Hamuko Hoshi – Time Limit Draw (15:00).
5. Kazunari Murakami beat Miyako Matsumoto (5:19) with a Haraigoshi.
6. International Ribbon Tag Team Title & REINA World Tag Team Title: Aoi Kizuki & Tsukushi beat Kyoko Kimura & Sayaka Obihiro (c) (17:36) with a Denden Mushi from Tsukushi on Obihiro – New Champions.
7. Special Tag Match: Nanae Takahashi & Natsuki*Taiyo beat Hikaru Shida & Tsukasa Fujimoto (20:51) with a Taiyo*Chan Spanish Fly from Taiyo to Fujimoto.
8. ICEx60 Title: Maki Narumiya beat Mio Shirai (c) (13:28) with the You’ll Never – New Champion.
Emi Sakura has had a hell of a year, and it’s been well documented here at Ringbelles. Her success since leaving Ice Ribbon has included setting up her own promotion in Thailand, having it migrate to Japan, winning the JWP/Daily Sports Tag Team Championship, securing the services of Kaori Yoneyama then having her take her side in some sort of Stockholm Syndrome scenario, forming a team to invade JWP and then taking hold of the promotion’s crown jewel by winning the Openweight Championship. In addition, she defended the belt in the UK for the first time in its history and won the Pro Wrestling: EVE Championship on the same night. Indeed, it has been one hell of a year for the 36 year old. However, it seems as if 2012 is going to end on a mildly disappointing note.
Yesterday, 17-year veteran dropped the Openweight Title in the main event of Climax 2012 at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall after 57 days – the second shortest reign in the title’s 20 year history (for the record, the shortest was Devil Masami’s 32 day run which ended when the title was vacated for unknown reasons). She was beaten by current Tag Team Champion Arisa Nakajima, who has also enjoyed a tremendous 2012. (more…)
It’s been Golden Week in Japan, which has meant a slew of wrestling across the country. However, we have a brief history lesson first…
Golden Week starts at the end of April and runs through until May 5, and incorporates a number of Japanese public holidays, including honouring the birthday of the late Emperor Hirohito, Constitution Memorial Day, Greenery Day – which is to commune with nature – and Children’s Day, which does exactly what it says on the tin. It is also the longest vacation period of the Japanese year, and many people are given paid time off as many companies completely close during that period. For that reason, Japan has a lot of spare time – many people travel, and the west coast of the US and Canada sees a slew of Japanese tourists during that time, but others stay at home, and can entertain themselves during their leisure time by watching pretty much any wrestling promotion that they choose, as most of them hold a show, while some stage supercards. Here’s a rundown of some of the things that went down during Golden Week in the world of joshi:
Kurumi’s push in Ice Ribbon continues – she and Ribbon Takanashi won the Golden Ribbon Mixed Tag Team Tournament on Saturday, defeating Hamuko Hoshi & Hoshi Tango, Hikari Minami & Dynasty and Maki Narumiya & Masamune to win the whole shebang. As well as winning tournaments to win the IW19 Championship and to earn the right to become Manami Toyota’s tag team partner to challenge for the International Ribbon Tag Team Titles at Ice Ribbon March, 12-year old Kurumi is quickly becoming the tournament queen in the promotion. Don’t bet against her in the future – you’ll lose money if you do so. (more…)
Japan can come up with some amazing stipulations, and even better names to hype them. Here’s the background to this contest at Union…
Back in February, Cherry claimed had a big announcement to make, and it was that she wa moving the host site to her blog. To be fair, she’s “Forever 18″, and that’s a big deal for a teenager. However, Mio Shirai came out, saying that she expected that the announcement was going to be that Cherry was going to finally reveal her age – one of the best kept secrets in wrestling. She then challenged Cherry to a match at the March 18 show, where if Shirai won, Cherry would have to tell everyone how old she really is. Cherry ended up winning that contest, making sure her secret remained so.
However, GAMI stole her passport that she had brought along as a proof of age in the event that she lost, with GAMI saying that Cherry could only get it back if she won a match against her on April 8, but would have to spill the beans on her age if she lost. Cherry won – but it didn’t end there, as Shirai once again challenged Cherry, but the extra caveat was put on top so both had something to lose. If Shirai won, Cherry would have to reveal her real age, but if Cherry won, Shirai would have to remove all of her makeup and expose her bare face to the world.
In the week before the match which took place at Golden Union yesterday, Shirai had to pull out due to injury, but a replacement was found in new JWP and Daily Sports Tag Team Champion Emi Sakura, though the original stipulations would stand. Click after the jump to watch the match, where the price for losing for both Cherry and Shirai is horrendously high. (more…)
Nikki Bella won the WWE Divas Championship on Raw last night. There are a couple of issues that stem from this, so let’s deal with the Bella situation first.
First off, this title change has been on the cards for weeks, so it wasn’t a kneejerk reaction to the “twist” in the match. However, according to previous reports, the Bella Twins’ contract expires on Monday, and unless they have signed a contract extension – which we don’t believe has happened – they are set to go. Putting the Divas strap on Nikki is a curious choice, as it has to be a short reign – don’t be fooled, she won’t be taking the belt away with her like CM Punk did with the WWE Championship last June after winning it at Money in the Bank – so there are only three shows where she could conceivably drop it – SmackDown, Extreme Rules on Sunday, or the Raw the following day. Realistically, option 2 is the most likely, meaning a six day reign, and there is a prime candidate for winning the title, probably in some sort of open challenge…
I really hope that in one year, when I come back, you two will still be here.
That’s the parting words Kharma gave to the Bella Twins last May before taking a sabbatical following the announcement of her pregnancy. As has been reported, things tragically didn’t work out with that, but it seems that she is ready to get back onto the scene after being interviewed for a TV news piece about GLOW while she was at the Cauliflower Alley Club reunion in Las Vegas last week (more on GLOW later). Besides, if she wants to make good on her threat to destroy the Bellas, she has a window of a mere few days to get the job done, and the cherry on top would be taking the Divas Championship in the process. (more…)
We’re in that post-WrestleMania period where everything is supposed to kick off for the next year. Brock Lesnar is destroying John Cena and making him spit blood, the word “yes” is replacing “what” and “whoo” as the cool thing to say, and CM Punk is being drowned in alcohol. But there is nothing for the Divas Champion Beth Phoenix. In fact, there is less than nothing.
The only in-ring Divas action on regular TV (as NXT hardly counts) for WWE since WrestleMania is a sub-three minute affair between Nikki Bella and Phoenix, which Bella won after Beth was distracted by Kelly Kelly. Presumably, this would lead to a title shot for Nikki, as she had just pinned the Divas Champ. That may happen on the live SmackDown happening later (though it may be a foregone conclusion, as I’ll discuss later), or a continuation of Kelly v Phoenix from WrestleMania, even though it was Maria Menounos who got the pin on Beth. Either way, things are flimsy at best, and it hasn’t looked good for the titleholder for many months.
Barring a decent build and match against Tamina Snuka in February, Phoenix has hardly set the world alight in 2012. This may be a combination of forgettable matches, no storylines – including the fizzling of the Pin-Up Strong angle when it should have exploded – or no interest from any of the writers. Indeed, nothing has happened with the in-ring product involving WWE’s women for at least half a year, and it must be frustrating the Champion. (more…)
On Sunday at WrestleMania, WWE Divas Champion Beth Phoenix was pinned by Maria Menounos in the tag team match featuring Menounos and Kelly Kelly against Phoenix and Eve Torres. A showbiz TV host who it was announced had two cracked ribs and stress fractures in her feet; a woman who has had no more than a month’s total wrestling training in her life; a non-wrestler pinned the Divas Champion on the promotion’s biggest show of the year.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Menounos has pinned Phoenix – she had got a three-count against her with a sunset flip on last December’s Tribute To The Troops show. Now, I have no problem with that – or her victory on Raw in an 8 woman tag in 2009, as they are throwaway matches on shows that mean nothing in the grand scheme. However, for the woman who is supposed to represent the best in the division to be defeated by a TV show host makes a mockery of Phoenix, the title and women’s wrestling as a whole. WrestleMania is the show that casual fans may watch once a year, and they see that? It doesn’t sit well with me. (more…)
Seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day, how about a look at two of the romances running in WWE that involve two of the biggest storylines going on at the moment?
On Raw this week, the relationship between Zack Ryder and Eve Torres ground to a halt when Eve decided to kiss John Cena after he helped to rescue her from the clutches of Kane. Unfortunately, a crushed Ryder saw the whole thing, though Torres claimed it was a heat of the moment thing, then called things off with him, hoping that they can remain friends.
On the plus side, this storyline is the best opportunity that Torres has every had to show some personality in her near five year WWE tenure, even though it has caused her to experience derision from the audience for knowingly or unknowingly screwing over one of the favourite wrestlers in the promotion right now – someone who has captured the hearts and imagination of fans by standing up to his bosses with his YouTube Z! True Long Island Story, getting over in spite of his booking (or lack of it) and then being sucked into one of the most asinine and ridiculous storylines in years, that being Cena v Kane, by being the whipping boy who is the real life equivalent of Kenny from South Park being murdered on every show. By screwing over the guy who has the sympathy of fans, Eve is positioned as a heel… for now. (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…)
I sit here, having watched 21 matches as part of the three JoshiMania events which took place at the start of December 2011. As I watched the three DVDs, I jotted down notes of the big moments and key incidents in the matches. I now have EIGHT pages of bullet points to go through, and one thing because blatantly obvious: doing a match-by-match review of JoshiMania would be incredibly laborious, repetitive and dull for you, the good reader.
So instead of going through JoshiMania chronologically, what this review will be about is the best matches, the standout stars and moments, and which shows were the best if you absolutely, positively can only by just the one DVD…
The shows had a bumpy road leading up to the first event in Philadelphia on December 2. Meiko Satomura, Madison Eagles and Command Bolshoi all had to pull out due to injury, leading to replacements such as Ayako Hamada, Kaori Yoneyama, GAMI and Portia Perez and a fair bit of rewriting to the matches, as the trio who didn’t make it would likely have been part of the matches at the higher end of the card. Hamada was the biggest beneficiary, as she ended up in two of the three main events (against Aja Kong on night 2, and taking on Sara Del Rey on the final show).
However, nothing can take away from the huge amount of organisation that took place to bring JoshiMania to fruition. As Mike Quackenbush revealed to us on the Women Of Wrestling Podcast the week before the shows, the introduction of Manami Toyota to CHIKARA came about thanks to retired Jumping Bomb Angel Itsuki Yamazaki. From there, it was thanks in part to Toyota’s reputation and contacts that facilitated stars from across Japan to come together for the shows, effectively closing down the joshi scene while tars from promotions like JWP, WAVE, OZ Academy, Union Pro and more came together for a series of interpromotional contests. Indeed, a lot of potential issues were circumnavigated and resolved to come to the point that these shows even took place. So how were they? Well, let’s see… (more…)
Tonight (or this afternoon, to be more accurate, considering it’s a 4pm EST start) is the final JoshiMania card, emanating from Manhattan, NY. You can check out the results from night one and night two to see how things have gone down so far. In the final main event, Sara Del Rey - who so far has defeated Aja Kong and Tsubasa Kuragaki – will take on SHIMMER Tag Team Champion Ayako Hamada – who is 1-1 after teaming with Cherry to beat Mayumi Ozaki & Mio Shirai on night one, and was defeated by Kong last night.
Click after the jump for the matches that will be taking place, and keep hitting refresh to see the latest results… (more…)
Following a successful first night in Philadelphia, PA, JoshiMania rolls into Everett, MA for night two of the three day extravaganza. As with last night, bell time is 7.30pm EST, and we will be bringing you results as they happen, with the main event being joshi legends Aja Kong (who was defeated last night by Sara Del Rey) taking on current SHIMMER Tag Team Champion Ayako Hamada. Click after the jump for the results… (more…)
Good evening everybody, it’s Night 1 of Chikara‘s JoshiMania this evening at The Asylum Arena in Philadelphia, PA. Belltime is 7:30pm, and we’re hoping to bring you live results of the show as well as any news coming out of the shows. Click through to after the jump and keep refreshing the page for results as they come in. (more…)