If the original Triple Tails members of Kana, Mio & Io Shirai were to hold a party and bring along their biggest accomplishment, Io would be last to arrive, but would be sporting the shiniest trinket. That’s because the 22-year old claimed the World Of Stardom Championship from Alpha Female at the promotion’s Ryogoku Cinderella show at Sumo Hall in Tokyo, Japan in front of a reported crowd of 5,500 paid fans (though some reports say that may have been inflated). Using a rolling cradle, Shirai put down the massive German for the pin, claiming her first singles championship, and a prestigious one at that.
While Kana held the SMASH Divas Championship on two occasions, the belt is now defunct and she never managed a successful defence in either reign, and Mio Shirai’s run with Ice Ribbon’s ICEx60 belt was more successful than Kana’s SMASH stints, it isn’t as prominent a championship as her sister’s current hardware – which is a big sign that the nightmare of last year is well behind her… (more…)
Io Shirai, Dark Angel win major titles and Yuzuki Aikawa retires at historic “Ryogoku Cinderella” event
It was a historic day today at the fabled Ryogoku Kokugikan (Sumo Hall) in Tokyo as Stardom presented Ryogoku Cinderella – their most ambitious card to date – in the hallowed building, and it was a day of change, as three of the promotion’s titles changed hands while the curtain came down on the career of Yuzuki Aikawa. Attendance was announced at 5,500, though it seems from live reports that the actual attendance was quite a bit smaller than that (inflated attendances are fairly common in wrestling worldwide, but especially in Japan – although reports last week suggested 3,000 tickets had been sold), which while impressive for a joshi crowd in 2013 appears disappointing given the size of the venue and the hopes/expectations Stardom had to have had for the event.
In title changes, Io Shirai won the World of Stardom Title (aka “The Red Belt”) from Alpha Female, who drops the title that she won last month from inaugural champion Nanae Takahashi. Alpha’s transitional run lasted just 43 days, but you have to imagine Shirai is now going to be considered Stardom’s “ace” going forward. It was a bad day for Monster-Gun, as the recently dominant stable lost the Goddesses of Stardom (Tag) Titles also, as Kyoko Kimura & Hailey Hatred fell to the team of Hoshow Tennyo (Kairi Hojo and Natsumi Showzuki) when Hojo upset Hatred. The other new champion in Stardom is Dark Angel (aka Sarah Stock), who won the decision match against Act Yasukawa to determine only the second ever Wonder of Stardom champion. That title had been vacated earlier this month by inaugural champion Yuzuki Aikawa ahead of her retirement.
Speaking of Aikawa, she fought one of her toughest rivals one last time – finally losing to Yoshiko in her farewell. During her retirement ceremony, the ring was bathed in yellow streamers. The win for Yoshiko sets her up as the first challenger for Io Shirai’s World of Stardom title – with that match announced for Stardom’s June 2nd show back at Korakuen Hall. Click through for full results. (more…)
Sitting in the Tokyo ward of Sumida, Japan, Ryōgoku Kokugikan is primarily a venue for sumo wrestling, hence the alternative name of Sumo Hall. Hosting tournaments throughout the year as well as three special events in January, May and September, the 28-year old building holds a lot of tradition for sports other than sumo. The building also hosts boxing, concerts and professional wrestling. However, when it comes to joshi, Sumo Hall may well have been in Narnia, as there has not been a show there since Ladies Legend Pro Wrestling held an event there on February 12, 2007.
The show featured the semi-finals and final of a 10-woman All Star Tournament with Shinobu Kandori pinning Meiko Satomura to win the whole shebang. Attendance numbers are disputed, though the reported figure was about 5,800, which is less than half of the 13,000 that the building can hold.
Since then, there has not been a joshi show held there, though that will change next Monday, when Stardom presents its biggest and most ambitious show in its two and a half year history with a stacked card which features wrestlers from a number of different joshi promotions. (more…)
Not making it to Bellatrix 5 in Norwich, England on Sunday may have been unfortunate, but it did provide me the opportunity to utilise the option to watch the show on iPPV. Considering a lot of the changes from Bellatrix 4 last November were being done because of this one being broadcast live, it was interesting to be able to assess if those changes were successful.
Improvements to aesthetics like giant wall hangings of the roster, an improved entranceway, ringside barriers and more attention paid to start and running times were coupled with the venue being a purpose-built TV studio with full-scale lights and sound systems, the Epic Studios in Norwich looked vastly different to 5 months ago. The benefit of it being a proper studio also made it easier for the show to be streamed online, as the facilities to broadcast were all there, and had been tried and tested with previous unrelated shows. As a result, Bellatrix 5 was one of the slickest women’s wrestling iPPVs produced to date. (more…)
Opportunities. Some have them, enjoy success and then they are lost; others don’t get them when they feel they’ve been patient, done all the right things and are continually overlooked. One WWE Diva has left the company due to a lack of chances, while one TNA Knockout has also departed after seeing herself slipping down the ladder after being the most decorated women on the roster.
The first one to leave was Maxine (Karlee Perez) who has spent the bulk of her WWE tenure in either Florida Championship Wrestling or on NXT, where she debuted as part of the all Diva season 3 run, or on NXT Redemption, which was the show that would never end. While I was never that impressed with her on season 3, her antics on Redemption involving the love triangle with Johnny Curtis and Derrick Bateman showed that she had some range as an entertainer. As a wrestler, she was really nothing to write home about, but she had potential as a manager or authority figure – like she was in FCW, before she was relieved of her duties. (more…)
Back when it was still in single figures, we interviewed LuFisto for the Women of Wrestling Podcast. Among the mass of topics which were discussed, including her changing an Ontarian law which prevented men wrestling women and competing in brutal and bloody deathmatches, she pointed out one ambition which she held dear – one which has yet to be accomplished.
The last thing I would love to do is have one match with TNA. Just one. Dark match, whatever – I don’t care. I just want to experience what it is.
Considering she has been wrestling her entire adult life in numerous countries (and spilt blood in many of them – either her own or someone else’s) it sounds like a modest request. Debuting at the age of 17 in 1997, the Montreal native has broken barriers for women in her home country of Canada, competed and won championships in Combat Zone Wrestling, hanging with the guys there along the way, won deathmatch tournaments (one of which saw a piece of broken fluorescent bulb glass lodged in her back for around four years), and also proven that she’s not a one-trick pony by wrestling in SHIMMER without the benefit or distraction of weapons. Much like Mick Foley’s transformation from Cactus Jack and cellar dweller Mankind to the cuddly guy who is everyone’s happy uncle, LuFisto transitioned from a violent, partially masochistic maniac character to one which is based around Japanese anime and peppered with fun and happiness. LuFisto is a pioneer for women’s wrestling who has been trying for a number of years to get a foot in the door at either WWE or TNA, with the usual response being that she doesn’t have the “look” that they are after. However last Saturday, on the 15th anniversary of her debut, she got the opportunity she’s been after for years, when she got a chance to wrestle in a TNA ring as part of its Gut Check before the card in Oshawa, Ontario. (more…)
It’s the end of an era as far as Women Superstars Uncensored is concerned on Saturday. At the conclusion of the Uncensored Rumble V iPPV from Deer Park, NY, the WSU founder Sean McCaffrey will hand over the reins to another group, described to us as a promotion which is as major as an indie promotion can be.
A month ago, WSU made the announcement that it had been sold to an “independent buyer”, but the initial buyer was said to have fallen through, with other options being explored. Clearly, one of those options paid off, as everything has been sorted out ahead of the Uncensored Rumble, where we will all find out just who has acquired the promotion.
It is an uncertain period though, as there is no guarantee that the new owners will share the same vision of WSU. There is a possibility that things will progress as planned, but there is also a chance that whoever Is taking over will have new ideas and suggestions for storylines and talent, so there could be some shake-ups to come too. WSU’s outlook may change over time, but it is unlikely that if there will be any alterations, they won’t happen immediately. After all, the fans are the ones who finance things in the long run, and to make changes immediately and in a big fashion could be too jarring to the WSU faithful and possibly drive them away. Much more likely would be a subtle movement in direction to enhance what already exists.
Following her arrest over being arrested for narcotics possession last week, Io Shirai was indefinitely suspended by her home promotion, Stardom. The official statement refrains from making a comment on the current legal situation, but did distance itself from the former Triple Tails member, and apologised to fans. Io’s sister Mio did the same thing in a blog post, saying that their relationship had been strained recently, and Io had distanced herself from her family. She also pointed out that she heard about the arrest in the same way everyone else did – via the media.
Shirai’s suspension should not come as a surprise. Drugs are a serious no-no in Japan, and any wrestling organisation would want to disassociate itself with anything that may trouble or dissuade sponsors.
22-year old Shirai and her boyfriend NOSAWA Rongai were arrested at Narita Airport after returning from Mexico, after a total of 75 grams of marijuana was found hidden in the frames of two paintings given to them from fans. In somewhere like the US or UK, 75 grams is a small amount of cannabis – but this Japan, which has ferocious anti-drug laws to discourage people from smuggling, selling, cultivating or selling them in the country. For example, because caught with weed could result in a five year prison sentence which also incorporates hard labour. That’s a stiff penalty, and really not worth the risk.
At the moment, both Shirai and Rongai (who deny the allegations) are being held in a detention centre where the prosecutor will prepare in indictment. If that happens, the chances of being acquitted is very slim. (more…)
In news coming out of Japan in the last few hours, joshi star Io Shirai was arrested for narcotics possession at Narita Airport. She was arrested alongside NOSAWA Rongai as the pair returned from the Lucha Expo in Mexico this past weekend after customs officials found marijuana hidden in two picture frames. From the amount recovered (75 grams, listed as a street price of Y450,000), it appears to be an amount for “personal use” rather than for distribution. From Western sensibilities, a pro-wrestler having a relatively small amount of marijuana for personal usage is hardly a news story… but unfortunately for Shirai and Rongai, Japan is far less forgiving than the West with regards to marijuana.
The Cannabis Control laws passed in 1948 offer stiff penalties to even those caught with a simple possession charge – which can draw five years in prison with hard labour. Again, regardless of your personal position on drug usage or whether you think Japan’s stance on this is ridiculous or not, these are the laws of the country. According to a blog post on 420magazine.com, it’s highly likely that both Shirai & Rongai are currently in a detention centre, and are likely to remain there for the next 10 (and possibly up to 20) days while the prosecutor prepares an indictment. If indicted, the poster suggests that “…it is highly unlikely that you will be found innocent.”. For their part, Shirai and Rongai are denying all knowledge of the drugs, and are reportedly saying that the picture frames were given as gifts in Mexico. The fact that they were subsequently arrested indicates that the authorities were not buying that defence. (more…)
So, Jessicka Havok ascended to the top of Women Superstars Uncensored’s mountain on Saturday night by winning the promotion’s top championship from Mercedes Martinez at the 5th Anniversary Show, making her an undefeated Champion and putting an end to Martinez’ reign four days shy of the three year mark. In a match that was a wild brawl of a war more than a technical affair, it was unconventional, but successful. The pair fought all over the building and took some crazy bumps along the way – the Fisherman Buster from the apron through the table to the concrete floor being the height of the lunacy. No doubt, Havok was given the best springboard that she could possibly get for the start of her reign, and Martinez pulled out everything to give her that launch.
The ending was somewhat of a head-scratcher, with both going through a table from the top rope but Havok managing to get the pin, but I imagine the idea is that it shows just how evenly matched the two are and a draped arm was the only thing that could separate them. However, having a slightly more decisive match-ending move may have sweetened things slightly – though at this point I’m splitting hairs on what was a great main event, and also an early contender for Match of the Year.
Many have described the 5th Anniversary show their best iPPV to date. Having seen most of them, it would be hard to disagree with that. When it came to aesthetics, things went well – most of the direction was good, the cameramen were in the right place for most of the stuff (barring a couple of incidents, which I’ll get to) and the graphics and editing went well. As a TV product, it was the sharpest yet. And there was a boob toss. Nothing more to be said about it really, but I felt it just HAD to be mentioned. (more…)