Firey Asian Barbie, Mia Yim!
JAPAN: REINA 2, Sunday, May 15, Shinkiba, 6:00PM
All photos by Youji Kawauchi and Takehisa Kashima
All photos by Youji Kawauchi and Takehisa Kashima
Hiroyo Matsumoto: "Live Happy!"
Mia Yim enters the REINA 2 ring as a fiery Asian Barbie. She is wearing her green gear with her new blonde hair accents all dolled up, Barbie-style. Hiroyo Matsumoto comes out with her orange and zebra-themed gear with the new tall white and black boots and knee pads. She wears a knee brace on her left knee "for added support" she told me at SHIMMER this past March. She also had her long black robe on for her entrance. She seems to think that Mia is a WWE "diva" with her Barbie poses. Hiroyo mocks the diva-Barbie with mock poses of her own. The girls shake hands; both are popular "face" type girls, but Matsumoto has the heelish streak in this match. Before the opening bell she gives Mia more of the Barbie mockery.
Eff your Barbie-ass poses, Mia!
As the bell rings, both girls move to the center of the ring where Mia, with a slight height advantage, offers her raised arm for a test of strength. They leverage back and forth, until Hiroyo gets annoyed. Mia strikes a model pose, Hiroyo kicks her and twists her arm into an arm ringer. Mia reverses the arm ringer and has the audacity to strike another model pose. Matsumoto has had enough; she wants to take this off the runway and onto the mat! She then punches Mia, and wraps her in a rough headlock. Mia breaks free and whips her off the ropes but she ends up flat on her back from a shoulder tackle. Each time she gets up, Matsumoto smashes her down with another shoulder tackle. This happens three times. Finally Mia calls for "time out" to fix her hair! Hiroyo has had it with this beauty bullshit. She grabs hold of Mia's hair, twists it, then tosses Mia across the ring by her hair -- ouch! Hiroyo had so much fun doing this that she decided to do it again! She then kicks Mia in the face in the corner then chokes her with her boot on the bottom rope. She drags Yim from the corner and wrenches her left leg into a submission, but Mia won't give. Matsumoto, in full destroy-mode now, drags Mia's face along the ropes, whips the American off the ropes, and lands a blistering dropkick. She jumps on top of Mia and twists her into another leg submission. Yim is tough and refuses to give up.
Japanese invented and perfected -- leg submission
Hiroyo drags Mia to her feet and prepares to whip her into the ropes again, but Mia stops her short, pivots and kicks her leg three times -- hard! The third time, she grabs Mia's leg and tries to dig her elbow into the pressure point above her knee, but Mia yanks free and kicks the Japanese fan-favorite in the chest. Mia then hits the ropes to set up her missle dropkick, but she misses when Hiroyo sidesteps her. Matsumoto goes for a leg drop, but Yim rolls out from under it, quickly gets to her feet and kicks Hiroyo in the back.
Let's get fired up!
Mia has taken some huge punishment and now, ascendant, she gets fired up, but celebrates too much, and gets grabbed from behind. Mia tries to wheel-barrel out of the hold, but Hiroyo, strong as a bull, picks the American up and drops her on her neck. After a few more kicks to Mia's back, the orange-clad destroyer whips Mia to the corner, and charges toward her. Quick-thinking Mia jumps on her back folds her into a Tarantula (a submission that uses the ropes for leverage). But Hiroyo is not about to give up in front of her home town fans. Mia releases the hold and ends up on the apron of the ring. Hiroyo escapes and then charges Mia with a clothesline that Mia blocks. The Fiery Barbie shoulders Matsumoto in the stomach through the ropes, then kips up over her back. When the Destroyer turns around, Mia kicks her in the gut, to set up her aptly named Barbie Makeover (a face buster to the knee followed by a super kick to the face).
That's gonna leave a boot print!
Mia races to the corner for a top rope missile drop kick, but Hiroyo cuts her off with a strike. The Japanese star is perched on the second rope and makes ready to give the tough American a suplex. Mia blocks the move; Hiroyo tries again. Mia blocks it again. Matsumoto pummels her with punches to soften her up and break her fighting spirit. Mia falls onto the ring apron. But Yim also finds the "heart" to punch her back; Mia grabs her head and knees her in the face. Once she falls back, Mia with her never-say-die spirit climbs to the top rope and hits an amazing missle drop kick -- this had the Kurihara Kowabunga, baby! It was one of Mia's best moments in the match. The Fiery Asian Barbie went for the pin, but Matsumoto kicked out on "two." Mia came back and kicked her in the chest three times, then attempted another cover. The Destroyer again kicked out.
Mia now is putting together a strong offensive sequence, she grabs the big Japanese athlete and suplexes her, this time arching into a bridge for the pin, a la Manami Toyota. But the "most pushed junior" on the Joshi scene kicks out at "two." Mia executes her time-tested finisher, the kick-me-goodnight, but Matsumoto blocks it! That gives you some idea about Matsumoto's strength. I have never seen an American wrestler, with the exception of Sara del Rey, block Mia's kick-me-goodnight. Mia has finished twenty opponents with that kick -- but not this one!
Mia finds the sweet spot between Hiroyo's shoulder blades
Mia then picks Hiroyo up, but she forces herself free and they fire up into a forearm exchange that gets vicious. Mia ducks Hiroyo's last forearm, and unleashes her a spinning-seoul-kick. But Matsumoto survives. Mia adds forearm pop to her chin then hits the ropes, but Hiroyo grabs her counterpart, picks her up and executes a back body drop. The Happy Destroyer goes for the cover, but Mia is not finished yet, with amazing heart and determination, she kicks out. Matsumoto now picks her up into a rack-stretch across her broad shoulders, but Mia manages to slide through and put the great Matsumoto into a sleeper hold. Through brute strength Hiroyo forces her way out of the hold and pushes Yim into the corner, chest first . . .damn! Agent Orange then charges her dazed opponent and hits her back with a body splash. Matsumoto wraps Mia in yet another submission hold that she converts -- after much frustration at Mia's no-give fortitude -- into a cover for the pin. But the amazing Mia Yim manages to kick out.
The rack again; Mia won't give!
Matsumoto now is firing up -- this has got to be over for the brash, American Barbie! She hoists Mia as if to stretch her on the rack again, but with creative ingenuity and the element of surprise she drops her, stomach-first, onto her powerful knee. Hiroyo again covers Mia, but the Korean-American beauty kicks out. She then clubs Mia in the back a few times, softening her up for her finisher, the backdrop driver, but Yim breaks away. As Mia attempts to escape her clutches, Hiroyo grabs Mia's tights and pulls her onto her shoulders again for the rack of pain! Matsumoto's strength and technique are such that she can just toss Mia up (and Yim is no 115 lb. weakling), but Mia twists and manages to land on Hiroyo for a cover. But the Live-Happy young ace kicks out.
Forearm pounding by Agent Orange, Hiroyo Matsumoto
As both beautiful but exhausted combatants get to their feet, the realize the fight is not over and they begin a dramatic kick/forearm exchange: Mia kicks Hiroyo and she returns a blistering forearm to Mia's face -- smack! slap! smack! slap! on it goes . . . Eventually Mia wins the exchange with a flurry of kicks. Matsumoto grabs Yim's left leg, but Mia counters with an enziguri. Both women are on the mat, breathing hard having been pushed to their limit. The match has gone for 11 minutes (and is therefore the longest singles match of Mia's career). They struggle to their feet.
Mia in a blind battle rage lunges for a clothesline, but the Japanese wonder-girl blocks it; Mia charges again with another "line"; Matsumoto is too strong and blocks it. Matsumoto, looking for some offense that will finish this courageous American once and for all, hits the ropes but Mia has charged right behind her with a driving knee to the back. Now Mia is in control and gets set to whip her opponent, but Hiroyo reverses. Mia somehow finds the strength to give her a hurricanrana! Yes! But the great Matsumoto kicks out. This has been near fall after near fall for the past five minutes! But things have built to an psychological zenith and someone has to crack!
Inventive, torturous, nameless (?) submission
Mia with the upper hand now hits the ropes, charging at The Destroyer, but Hiroyo stops her emphatically with a cross body splash. Matsumoto retreats to the opposite side of the ring to gather herself for the final push. Mia charges again with her wicked clothesline, but Hiroyo ducks it and puts Mia in an awkward, painful submission with her arms pretzeled across her throat. Mia still won't quit -- much respect from the REINA 2 crowd -- Hiroyo releases the stubborn, gutsy American, only to set her up again for her finish. Amazingly Mia kips through (jumps over her shoulders), ducks her clothesline, then hits the ropes with final purpose, but BANG! Mia gets hammered by Hiroyo's spinning elbow. She goes for the cover, but "Ooooo" the fans gasp as Mia kicks out at the last minute. But there is nothing left in the American's tank. Matsumoto, the rising star in Joshi Puroresu, picks Mia up off the mat and slings her into a backdrop driver finisher. Devastation! The Destroyer delivered! The ref hits the mat and counts it: 1 . . 2 . . 3! Official time of match: 11:42.
Matsumoto for the finish!
This was arguably the biggest moment of Mia's career to date -- as she closes in on two years in the ring. She got the invitation from Hotta to travel to Japan for REINA. She seized the chance. The dojo life suits her -- wake up and think wrestling all day long. Mia loves the gym (no gyms in Japan, apparently) and she loves training. But most importantly, she can take an give some stiff-shit hits in the ring and if she must get beaten down for fifteen minutes -- she does it with skill, moxie, heart, fighting spirit! Early comments from Japanese fans were that this was the match of the night! Knowing and respecting Hiroyo, they were skeptical about a young gaijin being able to deliver a grueling Joshi-style match. She impressed them -- big time! Mia said after the war with Matsumoto it was her "proudest match." She added later that she loves being in Japan and feels she "belongs here." Whether that will translate to longer stays on future visits, time will only tell. What all her fans can be grateful for is that she will extend her stay on THIS trip so that she can compete in the REINA 3 event on May 28. I can't wait to find out who her opponent is!
Mia with suplex on Hiroyo