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…)
In yesterday’s Ringbelles Roundup, we led with a preview of next Monday’s Stardom show at Tokyo, Japan’s Sumo Hall. Ryōgoku Cinderella‘s card is headlined by the final match of model-turned-wrestler Yuzuki Aikawa, who held both the Wonder of Stardom and Goddesses of Stardom titles during her short career.
Short, indeed – she debuted in October 2010 with much fanfare, and started with a baptism of fire to prove that she wasn’t going to just rely on her beauty in the hard-hitting world of joshi puroresu. She did so by taking on veteran Nanae Takahashi in a contest which was designed to show that she could take the lumps, earn her stripes in quick order and make it clear that she was not just going to coast through or just leech from the profession to boost her own profile.
For someone in their first ever match after just five months training, it’s a minor miracle of a contest, and despite it not being that far in the past, it is this week’s Retro. Watch the kicking commence after the jump. (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…)
Last week, I repeated my previous assertion that two championships would change hands at NCW Femmes Fatales XI in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on Saturday. Lo and behold, that’s what happened – with the Bellatrix World Championship and the Femmes Fatales International Titles being won by Courtney Rush and Mercedes Martinez respectively.
Martinez’s victory over Kalamity is only part of her story in the show. She continued her cross-promotion feud with LuFisto following her defeat to the Super Hardcore Anime at Women Superstars Uncensored’s An Ultraviolent Affair in February by attacking her foe during LuFisto’s challenge for the SHIMMER title against Saraya Knight. The steel chair attack to LuFisto’s head was enough for Knight to lock in the Bridal Rocking Horse for the stoppage and retain the belt, meaning that no matter what happened with Mercedes’ challenge to Kalamity, the Martinez/LuFisto programme would continue.
As it turns out, the programme will likely feature the International Championship, as the Latina Sensation used a Fisherman Buster onto a steel chair to gain the pinfall and bring The Oncoming Storm’s 17-month reign to an end. (more…)
Ringbelles Roundup (29 January 2013) – Trish Stratus, National Pro Wrestling Day, Pro Wrestling: EVE & more
It was announced during last night’s episode of Monday Night Raw that Trish Stratus would be inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame this April as part of the WrestleMania XXIX weekend. As expected, the wave of congratulations came from wrestlers past and present like Lita, Mickie James, Beth Phoenix, Layla, Gail Kim and more, as well as personalities both inside and outside of the business like Jim Ross, Lilian Garcia and Snooki. Indeed, there are a lot of supporters of the Torontarian, and she was quick to react to the announcement:
I still can’t believe it. I’m just so honored to be taking my place alongside WWE’s greatest, as a wrestling fan – I’m kind of blown away! It’s simply amazing.
The 37-year old joins the Fabulous Moolah, Mae Young, Sensational Sherri, Sunny and Wendi Richter in the Hall, and is the most modern Diva to be inducted, though this provided a sticking point for some who felt that while she was worthy of going in, it was ahead of others who they felt should go in first – Leilani Kai, Bull Nakano and Madusa were names which cropped up, as well as Lita, whom Stratus’ career ran parallel with for damn near the entirety of their runs.
Now, while I’m not the biggest Stratus fan in the world, I’m fair – and without a doubt, Trish deserves to be in that Hall of Fame, and as far as the criteria of this particular one is concerned, is more worthy than the others. If we were discussing the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame or the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Amsterdam, NY, then Stratus would get nowhere near the ballots, but for WWE’s version, all you have you do is get the green light from one Vince McMahon – and when it comes to that element, Stratus was always inevitable, as she was a model WWE employee. (more…)
She may not have had much of a run in wrestling, and she may be retiring in mere months, but model-turned-wrestler Yuzuki Aikawa got stuck in. Even though she only debuted in 2010, she announced her impending departure in mid-December, saying she will go after Stardom‘s event on April 29, citing injuries she has incurred, including one to her waist which was too great to realistically overcome.
The match we have for you this weekend shows how she could take a licking and keep on ticking against Ayumi Kurihara in the main event of her own show, using the snappy title Yuzuki Aikawa Produce Yuzupon Matsuri 3 ~ Birthday Eve on May 15 last year – and as you can tell from the photo to the left, both of them properly went for it. Enjoy. (more…)
2012 Diva of the Year (named by both WWE Magazine and the WWE fans via the Slammy Awards) AJ Lee is about as far away from WWE’s idea of what a Diva should be as you can imagine. Short, quirky, geeky, lacking the body shape that others have had in the past, she comes across as the person you would be more likely to meet over an Xbox Live session of Call Of Duty Black Ops 2 than at an awards ceremony or a fancy bar. She’s your friend, your buddy – she’s not what WWE would perceive to be the ultimate in femininity.
But scratch beneath the surface, and she may be more woman than anyone else on the roster. She’s independent, driven, and has forged a path which she was never meant to go down – and in doing so, forced WWE to take notice.
After all, at the start of this year, she was Daniel Bryan’s put-upon girlfriend – the one who was the foil for him to turn heel, and saw her end up being verbally abused and put in harm’s way. If anything, at the time she was another version of the antithesis of a Diva – meek, helpless and unable to take care of herself. However, when their relationship ended on the post-WrestleMania SmackDown following Bryan’s loss of the World Heavyweight Title – which he blamed on her – she went off at the deep end. It gave her character a chance to have an edge, and she ran with it. (more…)
Ringbelles Roundup (11 December 2012) – Divas future, intergender wrestling part 2, Portia’s tweets, Fierce Females DVD review & more
WWE knows the Divas division is in tatters at the moment, and seems intent on asking us what we want to happen to it, so the promotion has been contacting focus groups asking about the future of the women. PWInsider reports they were sent out to ask fans what they think of the Divas in the past, what they are like now, and which women they liked. Another question which was reportedly on the list is what role they wanted to see them in – be it as valets/managers, dancers, wrestlers, love interests and more.
This could be the opportunity that fans of women’s wrestling have been waiting for. If the data comes back in the way which we would hope for, it could see a resurgence of in-ring action for the Divas in 2013, along with some proper storylines with episodic character development, culminating in big matches at pay-per-views. It could see them take more prominent roles on the TV shows, and have their segments played out in front of interested, active crowds who care about what is going on. It could also see an injection of new talent into the ranks, possible gimmick revamps to make them more interesting, and having more options of big matches all as part of the quest to snare the Divas Championship.
Oh yes, it could be the start of something beautiful.
But what if it isn’t? (more…)
Allysin Kay, Santana Garrett, Ryo Mizunami, Heidi Lovelace, Thunderkitty, Su Yung, Shazza McKenzie, Angelus Layne, Sweet Cherrie, Mary Lee Rose, Deziree, Missy, Medianne, Xandra Bale, Leah Von Dutch, Jewells Malone, Serphentina, Angie Skye & Pink Flash Kira all share a common thread with me in relation to all the wrestling I’ve seen in the last few weeks – seven shows since October 26, and two more to come this weekend, where I can add Kaori Yoneyama and Angelina Love to that list. They are all wrestlers who I have seen live for the first time, and I think that’s a massively important thing to be excited about.
While at SHIMMER, the discussion took place about Lexie Fyfe’s announcement as part of the heel team for the elimination match which headlined volume 50, with the assertion that if you merely read the results, or even saw it on DVD, it would not generate the same reaction or experience as watching it live. At the Berwyn Eagles Club, RPM by Sugar Ray hit and there was a wave of excitement as the recognition sunk into fans’ heads, realising that Fyfe would be wrestling her first SHIMMER match since May 3, 2009, where she and Malia Hosaka fell to Ariel and Nikki Roxx. It was a nice throwback to a previous generation, and provided a lovely nostalgic feeling. Had you just seen the result on paper, or knowing that it was going to happen, it may not have garnered the same buzz. (more…)
“SOOO who’s ready for EVEN MORE changes to Bombshell Ladies Of Wrestling ? Well heck it wouldn’t be a 24 hour day without some now would it!
“Stay tuned as we’re sure to serve up even more random stuff from the wacky world of Bombshell Ladies Of Wrestling in the morning. Perhaps we should start doing contests like Guess The Next Girl To Drop Off ? Gotta love it.
“PS – not one single change to the loaded PWS lineup on Friday.”
That was one of the posts which Pro Wrestling Syndicate posted on its official Facebook page last week ahead of the debut Bombshell Ladies Of Wrestling show on Thursday. As it happened, the show managed to fulfil its promise of presenting 8 opening round matches for its Sweet Sixteen tournament, though the lineup was a million miles away from the card which it originally posted. Reports from the show say it was a lot of fun, so it appears the fans went home from the Rahway Recreation Center in New Jersey happy, and by the sounds of the post above, the promoters of PWS breathed a sigh of relief. (more…)
“I don’t think there’s a better female wrestler in the world right now.”
Not my words – though I agree with them – but the words of WWE Champion CM Punk, who confirmed that Sara Del Rey has been employed as a trainer for the company and will be working in its developmental facilities in Florida.
We have stayed deathly quiet over Del Rey’s signing with WWE since we found out, as they notoriously hate their private business affairs being discussed openly, and would not want to jeopardise the position of anyone signing a contract with them. For that reason, we wait until the ink is dry and they appear in WWE facilities. That happened on September 28 when Bill DeMott sent out a Tout video of Joey Mercury, Norman Smiley and Del Rey in NXT trainers’ shirts offering a small pitch for wrestlers to come and try out. A photo of the trainers soon followed, and then came the confirmation from Punk at the Ohio Comic Con on September 29.
“We recently hired Sara Del Rey to train our future Divas. I know a lot of people will be like, ‘Oh, that sucks, Sara should be on television’ and maybe you’re right, but I’ve talked to her about it. This is her dream job. She gets to wrestle everyday and she gets paid for it.” (more…)
We are coming up to the time that the winner of the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Female 50 is revealed – though the magazine itself will not be released until mid to late November. Since its launch in 2008, the second week of September is when the winner’s name comes out, so I’ve been having a think about who PWI could possibly select as the woman who will sit atop the heap.
Now bear in mind that PWI still bases the criteria for the winner in the way any legitimate sport could be judged, so victories, title wins and lengths of reigns come way above match quality or column inches, so whoever you may think would win may not necessarily be the same as who PWI has in mind. When we asked the question on who you would think would win on our Facebook and Twitter, AJ Lee‘s name popped up a couple of times, with the reasoning being that she is the WWE Raw General Manager and has been embroiled in the WWE and World Championship pictures this year. However, she is unlikely to win the PWI editors’ pick because as an in-ring performer, she has only wrestled a handful of times, and hasn’t won any championships. Likewise, Sara Del Rey is probably an outside bet to win – despite placing in the men’s PWI 500 due to her victories over men in CHIKARA – as she doesn’t have many championship wins or reigns to speak of, and has lost quite a bit recently. (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…)
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…)
While it’s been a great year for independent wrestling, it has taken its toll on a number of the biggest stars. Serena Deeb is currently walking a razor’s edge as far as her career is concerned following a concussion that she suffered at SHIMMER in October, LuFisto is taking some time out to let her troublesome back heal and had also had heart surgery this year, while Madison Eagles has a racked up shoulder and a dodgy knee that is currently sporting a massive brace. And now, Mercedes Martinez is getting over her own concussion issues following the War Games match at Breaking Barriers 2 on November 19 – a match in which she suffered temporary paralysis after suffering a stinger.
Women Superstars Uncensored announced last Tuesday that their champion would not be defending her title against Jennifer Cruz on January 21 in Stirling, NJ, as had been originally planned, due to her not being allowed to fly. Instead, her next match will be against Jessicka Havok on March 3 at WSU’s 5th Anniversary Show in Deer Park, NY.
Speaking exclusively to Ringbelles, The Latina Sensation explained what happened and the health issues that followed, immediately and days afterward… (more…)
I’ve been struggling with this week’s Roundup, as I wanted to write something about the Slammys, and the words just aren’t coming. Partly because there is nothing to say. What started as anger and frustration towards WWE has changed to a huge chunk of apathy – and that’s the worst feeling I could have towards it. At least with dislike, there is an emotion there. These days, I think a Vulcan could have more feeling towards WWE than I could. A real shame, considering that I wouldn’t have become a wrestling fan if it wasn’t for the WWF back in 1991.
I guess something cracked after yesterday’s Raw, when it became patently obvious that the Divas have had an utter stinker of a year. When WWE chose to go with Divalicious Moment of the Year instead of the usual Diva of the Year award, you could tell that they were screwed, mostly because nobody had a defining run this year, and Kelly Kelly’s Divas title run was the thing that could be most celebrated, and that was a disappointment, barring a couple of weeks leading up to SummerSlam’s match with Beth Phoenix. Even the appearance of Lita on the show was muted, as absence has not made the heart grow fonder in the eyes of the fans. Meanwhile, the appearance by Phoenix and her Pin-Up Strong teammate Natalya was also something that you could easily glaze over. Nothing matters. Nothing has an effect. Sure, Phoenix is the best Divas champ that WWE can have right now, but her alliance with Natalya blew up on the launchpad and has been a massive disappointment – partly due to there being no direction for the gimmick, and partly because she has precisely zero credible challengers for the belt. (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…)