Friday, May 27, 2011

Does REINA Love Mia Yim? Hints on How to Read the Tag Match Tea Leaves

The great Manami Toyota at REINA 1

Penultimate Match Today:  Yim/Kanbayashi vs Toyota/Hatred

In about six hours, Mia Yim will step into the ring for one of the biggest matches of her career.  The young American will team with Japanese mid-card worker Aki Kanbayashi and they will take on Wrestling Icon, Manami Toyota and Hailey Hatred who has been chalking up the wins since she came to Japan almost one year ago.  The Joshi world obviously accords Hailey Hatred and the great Manami Toyota tons of respect.
Aki Kanbayashi

On paper this looks like a "squash match"; the more experienced, and I might add more powerful team (in terms of weight and physical strength) of Toyota and Hatred should destroy the younger, lighter, less powerful team of Mia Yim and Kanbayashi.  In that sense this match has no right to go ten minutes.  There is nothing on paper that would suggest that Toyota and Hatred can be put in any real danger by the underdog team of Yim/Kanbayashi.

Hotta and Toyota gang up on Hailey Hatred, REINA 1

If Yim was just another "journeyman gaijin" brought over to help fill a card and raise an eyebrow or two, then the match will go like this:  Americans work Americans and Japanese work Japanese, with joshi women getting two-thirds of the match time and Toyota pinning Kanbayashi after the requisite time was filled.  Should that be the case tonight, I will be disappointed.  It will illustrate a lack of imagination by the REINA team and a wasted opportunity to get some fan traction on a rising American star with talent and attitude.

Mia Yim delivers enzugiri to Hiroyo

Here's why I do NOT expect to see REINA waste their chance with Mia Yim.  They have given her a huge vote of confidence in bringing her over to Japan and giving her an opening match against the great young star Hiroyo Matsumoto.  Samarai TV reviews of Mia's performance were complimentary and the fans seemed to enjoy the 11:43 match -- Mia's carrer long for singles competition.  REINA took a risk on Yim and Mia delivered with a strong performance.  Mia has not been in the ring again until today.  For the past two weekes she has been training almost every day at the REINA dojo with lucha girls and joshi girls like Kanbayashi.  If REINA thinks that Mia has learned a lot in these past two weeks and if she has had the chance to train with Hailey (likely) and Toyota (unlikely) she will have a better shot at a polished and memorable match tongiht. 

Mia Yim with Joshi girls

These are some things to watch for as the match plays out tonight; if three or four of these points are true of the match, then REINA has high respect for Mia and will probably invite her back and build on her popularity and growing name recognition.  So watch for:
1) Does the match go 15 minutes or more?
2) Does Mia get to work Toyota as much as she does Hailey?
3) Does Toyota get the pin on Mia as opposed to Kanbayashi? (Hatred over Kanbayashi would also be acceptable, and much more probable).  Toyota pinning Kanbayashi or Hatred pinning Yim would be a disappointment.
4) Does Mia get 3 or more near-falls on Toyota?

Hiroyo makes Mia wince

REINA has already demonstrated trust in Mia to give her these amazingly high-profile matches against Matsumoto and then Toyota.  Mia delivered in match one.  The only way she will deliver in match two is if she is given the ring time.  Kanbayashi must look to shar the ring duties with Mia and give her a chance against Toyota.  It's new easy for American wrestlers to work each other because they are familiar with a style and can speak the same language.  The much harder road is to train enough during the week that you are ready to work across the style/language barrier.  In one sense Hailey is a huge assest to this match because she can speak Japanese and knows the joshi style after working in many promotions over the past year.  But if REINA is going to really test it's investment in Mia Yim, they need to get her ring time and see how credible she is with big Japanese stars and favorites.

Mia and her home girls

In a few hours we will see what faith REINA has about Mia Yim's joshi puroresu readiness.  This has been a dream fortnight for Mia Yim on her virgin voyage to Japan.  Could it end on the most amazing of all notes?  A 20+ minute tag match with Toyota and Hatred where Mia gets 10+ minutes of ring action against both Hailey and Manami . . . nears falls against Toyota . . . and takes the pin from Toyota?  If that happens, then REINA is bowing down to the young American and showering her, metaphorically at least, with kisses. 

Mia earned her jacket, but can she earn her stripes?

Let's not get our hopes too high for this.  Everyone knows that joshi promotions are big on hierarchy and making each worker earn her stripes.  I think they're gonna fast-track Miss Mia, however.  Only one thing can slows Mia's mercurial rise in Japan -- a Toyota missle drop-kick from the top rope.  That will leave a mark! 

Good luck, Mia Yim!  Good luck REINA 3, I hope you have a full house. 

Check back later to see a photo essay from the match!

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