Friday, September 30, 2011

Team Rosters for Sendai Sponsored FLASH Multi-Promotion Tourney

Meiko (right) kicks Syuri

Fanboy has cobbled together the 5-person rosters for the first round of the Sendai FLASH Tourney at Korakuen Hall on October 27.  This reminds me of the old Grand Prix and Big Egg Universe Shows in the early 1990's that pulled various promotions together to feature dream matches between their stables.  Then, of course, the joshi world had fewer promotions:  AJW, JWP, and LLPW.  Later FMW, NEO, Jd' Star, Arsion, GEAE, and others fragmented the joshi promotion scene.  Today the landscape is even more splintered.  This format is different too.  The old tournaments featured singles and tag matches in a standard form.  This tournament features a team of five wrestlers (quarter finals), in the next round triple tags (semifinals), and tag teams in the Finals.

Promotion Leaders in front of Flash Banner

The teams will be subject to change, but here's what I've cobbled together. Keep in mind that organizations with more than 5 members can "substitute" others in in case they make the semifinals or finals.

Team #1 JWP: Command Bolshoi, Kayoko Haruyama, Kaori Yoneyama, Leon, Hanako Nakamori

Team #2 WAVE: GAMI, Toshie Uematsu, Yumi Ohka, Shu Shibutani, Moeka Haruhi

Team #3 Sendai Girls: Meiko Satomura, DASH Chisako, Sendai Sachiko, Kagetsu, Yoku Morino (Misaki Ohata). Ryo Mizunami & Hiren are "on the bench" but I'm sure they will appear in the semis and/or final.

Team #4 Ice Ribbon: Emi Sakura, Hikaru Shida, Tsukasa Fujimoto, Hikari Minami, Tsukushi, Riho (not sure who is sitting out-I think they'll use all the kids to annoy Meiko)

Team #5 STARDOM: Nanae Takahashi, Natsuki*Taiyo, Yoshiko, Yoko Bito, Mayu Iwatani (surprised at no Yuzuki Aikawa or Io Shirai, but maybe they will be used later)

Team #6 REINA: Yumiko Hotta, Aki Kambayashi, Saya, Aoi Ishibashi, unnamed foreign wrestler (Mia Yim has identified herself as this wrestler)

Team #7 DIANA: Kyoko Inoue, Kaoru Ito, Keiko Aono, others (presumably drawn from Sareee/Jenny Rose/Annie Social/Sumie Sakai; the latter three are now all listed on the DIANA roster as well-not sure if Sumie is returning to Japan permanently or temporarily)

Team #8 Freelance: Sakura Hirota, Jaguar Yokota, Manami Toyota, Mio Shirai, Nancy Mari (Team "Random"-I'm sure the rookie from the Nagoya indy Nancy Mari is there to take the fall)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Just Plain Evil Interview

Just Plain Evil in a contemplative mood

Recently, I had the chance to interview the grand dame of New Zealand women's wrestling, Just Plain Evil (JPE).  She has been in the ring for eleven years in a country where wrestling has not been a well known sport.  A single mom committed to raising her two children and a woman who suffers from Asburger's Syndrome, JPE is nothing short of remarkable for her commitment to wrestling.  Recently she has been the super-heel-mother-hen-draped-in-black for some fine young talent coming up in Kiwi Country -- I'm talking about Britenay, Megan-Kate, and Evie.  These four NZ wrestlers took a big trip earlier this month to Australia where they wrestled in a PWA and PWWA shows.  It was one of the highlights of her 11 year career.  I hope you enjoy this close-up look at New Zealand super heel, Just Plain Evil.

DF:  For many fans that are just discovering you and NZ wrestling, how long have you been wrestling and what piqued your interest?

JPE:  I have been wrestling for 11 years on and off, mostly on.  I watched WWF as a child and always loved the drama of it.

DF:  Who did you train with and for how long before your first match?  Tell us about that first match.

JPE:  I trained first with a sport-fighting coach, then a stunt man, Steve Hodgenson.  I learned a lot from Charles Warner, The Machine, along with IPW male wrestlers.  My first match was on an all-female card.  I was totally nervous till I walked out of that curtain and then realized "This was what I am supposed to be doing!"  It came naturally after that.

JPE in action earlier this month in Australia

DF:  How did you discover your ring character – Just Plain Evil (JPE) – and what is her most frightening attribute?

JPE:  Since I have had the same name for 11 years, back when I first started, i was a troubled angry person so being evil and mean just seemed to fit.  It was in a way the person I was then, but I could enhance it tenfold!  It gave me an escape in a way.  Most frightening attribute would just have to be my glare; it has scared kids, and even intimidated adults.  My nasty, hard-hitting performance in the ring is pretty frightening to watch as well -- especially for fans of my opponent, muaw-ha-ha.

DF:  Playing a super-heel looks like so much fun!  Do you enjoy your work?

JPE:  It is amazing fun!  I could not imagine being anything but a heel.  It’s nice to know you do your job well that people end up legitimately hating your character.  I enjoy it immensely!  It’s why I have carried on wrestling even through bringing up two kids on my own.

JPE just being her nasty self

DF:  Can you ever imagine yourself doing a “face” turn?

JPE:  I have tried it in the past against male opponents.  It always feels weird.  I guess if the moment was right then maybe I’d try it -- I'd give it my all and make it work anyway!

DF:  In the IPW promotion in New Zealand’s relatively small wrestling scene, you see a lot of Britenay, Evie, and Megan-Kate.   How do you make matches fresh for the audience when you have worked each other so many times before?

JPE:  It is small, very small. As far as trying to make matches fresh:  personally I keep seeking out new material, trying to make up my own stuff.  I have a core group of moves that I don’t change; I don’t need to -- they do the job.  I guess the fact it is mixed up a bit helps mixed tags, triple threats, etc.  Adding new element to my character every few shows can help too.

"You talkin' ta me?"

DF:  The fact that you four NZ girls got to travel to PWWA in Australia must have been a thrilling professional moment.  What was the highlight of that trip for you?

JPE:  It was an honor.  It was definitely meeting new people.  That’s a thing which I admit, personally, is very hard for me – someone who suffers from Asburgers Syndrome.  It makes it very difficult for me to know how to act in social situations despite being a wrestler and performing regularly.  The person behind the Just Plain Evil character is amazingly shy, which sometimes may be mistaken for rudeness. The matches were a highlight being able to work with new amazing talent was fantastic! Everyone was very welcoming.  I received great feedback on my matches from various male talent on the brother promotion so that was lovely.

DF:  Do you see yourself traveling to Australia and beyond in the future to wrestle?  If so where would you most like to go?

JPE:  I am not sure to be honest.  I am a single Mum as mentioned before.  I’ve been around 11 years, so if the opportunity arose, sure, I'd give it 10000%!  If not, maybe moving down the line here in New Zealand and giving it a go down there maybe, the future is a wide open space full of opportunities. I am definitely aiming for Brisbane, Australia early next year though.  If I win lotto, I'd try USA.

JPE lowering th boom on an Aussie girl

DF:  Do you see the New Zealand wrestling scene expanding and growing in the near future?  What does women’s wrestling in NZ need in order to be on par with the Australian, Canadian, or European women’s wrestling scenes – is it just a numbers game (more girls needed)?

JPE:  Definitely, more girls are needed!  Our girls are just as talented as overseas wrestlers so it would be nice to showcase that more. As for expanding, who knows?  New Zealand is small and the scene is small, but huge progress has been made already so I see future success.

DF:  Your country must be going crazy right now hosting the Rugby World Cup.  I happy to see that the All Blacks are off to a good start in the tournament.  Can anyone pay attention to wrestling during the next month will rugby is king?

JPE:  Well, yes, the Rugby World Cup is huge to New Zealand.  We are the rugby nation, really.  Sure the focus may be off wrestling a little bit, but it could also encourage overseas visitors to pop along.  So we will see if wrestling gets a bump in attention from so many outside visitors in NZ.

Young Evie does not look too confident with this cover on JPE

DF:  How important is it for wrestlers to keep an online presence through Facebook, Twitter, websites, etc?

JPE:  I think it's important especially in NZ where you are relatively unknown.  I have a few sites I like to keep updated, (!/profile.php?id=100002476327965 ). I have a demand for it so I supply it; if that dried up I'd stop.  Sometimes it can work against you also so it's a balancing game.  I enjoy promoting various wrestling pages and wrestlers, we’ve got to stick together and look out for each other in this business.

JPE logo poster

DF:  What wrestling event in the next four months are you most looking forward to?

JPE:  Definitely Aussie next year, looking to travel there more.  Always looking to travel in order to improve and learn.

Thank you for taking time to do this interview.  Best of luck to you (and the All Blacks) this autumn. 

Kiwis are cheering their beloved All Blacks rugby team this month in the World Cup (NZ hosts)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Inter-Promotional Flash Tournament: October 27, Korakuen Hall

All major Joshi Promotions are involved in the Sendai Sponsored Flash Tournament at Korakuen Hall next month.

K-Hall tourney Bracket


 A. JWP vs. Prowrestling WAVE

 B. Ice Ribbon vs. Sendai Girls

C. REINA vs. Stardom

 D. Diana vs. Freelance


 Winner of A vs. Winner of B

 Winner of C vs. Winner of D

It's a little unclear as to exactly how this exciting tournament will be structured (reminiscent of the old Grand Prix Tournaments that brought AJW, JWP, and LLPW together in the early 1990's).  It appears that each promotion will put forward a predetermined number of wrestlers from its stable to take on workers from the other promotion in their bracket.  It's still unclear whether this will be all singles matches or if tag teams will also work.  Above you will see the brackets for the first round.  It appears that promotional teams will advance and not merely individuals.  Some of the potential match-ups with this format are tantalizing.  I suppose the LLPW and OZ wrestlers that qualify will work under the "free" banner.  Mia Yim intends to return to Japan to be a part of the REINA roster for this event. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mia Yim Remains Belt-less

Aki Kambayashi defeats Mia Yim to keep her TLW title

Photo by Mr. Takehisa Aoikougei Kashima

Today in Osaka at REINA 16, Aki Kambayashi defended her TLW title against challenger Mia Yim.  After a long a passionate battle on both sides, Kambayashi retained her title and Mia Yim fails again to win her first wrestling strap.  I predicted it would be the other way, and was hoping Mia would join her friend Athena by bringing a shiny new (prestigious) belt to SHIMMER next weekend.  Oh well, Mia must soldier on filled with the faith that she is improving and the hope that a belt -- and for her, a Japanese belt -- will someday be earned in a hard fought match. Aki Kambayashi is a solid professional and passionate about defending her title on home turf.  It makes all the more powerful the accomplishment of Hailey Hatred to win the JWP strap and three others too!

Photos below by Nobuya Iwatsubo

Ref Tommy holds the TLW belt:  The Stakes

Mia settles in to a headlock on Kambayashi

Forearm Smash to Mia's face

Aki found a use for Mia's ponytail

Penalty kick sequence:  Mia eyes her target

Penalty Kick Sequence:  The approach

Penalty Kick Sequence:  The Follow through

Mia:  The Kick Machine

Aki rolls Mia up for the finish

Mia's dejected pose

Much respect between Mia and Aki

Saturday, September 24, 2011

SHIMMER Is One Week Away!!

I cannot wait for next Saturday!  See you all in Berwyn!!

REINA 15 Photos

REINA 15 show on Saturday in Yokohama saw a bevy of great matches including Mia Yim defeating Aoi.  Also Sara Del Rey/Ray defeated Hotta/SaYa.  The Main Event and match of the night was the North American battle for the REINA tag belts where Mexico's team (Zeuxis/La Commandante) defeated Canada's Ninjas (Perez/Matthews) in an epic match.

Photos by Youji Kawauchi

Mia getting focused

Aoi Ishibashi is tougher than she appears

Mia is merciless

Aoi with a big dive on Mia

Mia said her pecs still hurt after these kicks

Mia Yim covers Aoi

The team of Sara Del Rey and just plain Ray :)

SDR works Hotta's injured leg

SaYa with chinlock on Ray

Two bruising women exchange blows

Sara Del Rey pins SaYa

A confident and relaxed team from Canada

Zeuxis with Missile drop kick

Spinning Portia

Zeuxis with full twisting plancha

Prediction: Mia Yim will win TLW belt

Zeuxis and La Commandante:  REINA Tag Champs
Photos by Youji Kawauchi

REINA has had a big weekend of events beginning with their tag belt tournament on Friday that culminated on Saturday with the Mexican team of Zeuxis/La Commandante defeating the Canadian Ninjas. 

REINA has three belts and two have been awarded after major tournaments during the past two months. 

International Jr. Championship = Ray (Japan) -- defeated Zeuxis on Sept. 10.
Ray is International Jr. Champ

REINA Tag Championship = Zeuxis/La Commandante (Mexico) -- defeated Canadian Ninjas (Perez/Matthews)

La Commandante and Zeuxis deal with Nicole Matthews

REINA TLW belt = Mia Yim ?

Mia Yim ready to earn her belt

Aki Kambayashi (current holder) will defend against Mia Yim.  I predict that the increasingly popular Mia Yim will win her first belt and will do it in Japan -- a fairy tale ending for her.  If this happens today at REINA 16, then REINA will have established itself as the most international promotion in Japan with three belts in the hands of wrestlers from three nations Japan, Mexico, and USA.  Those nations have had the major representation in REINA and in that order (1) Japan (host nation of the promotion) (2) Mexico (co-host CMLL) and semi-permanent roster members like Silueta, Zeuxis, La Commandante, Dama de Hierro, and others are fixtures at every REINA event (3) USA with Mia Yim, Luscious Latasha, Sara del Rey, and others making trips to Japan.  Mia has been the most committed and the most improved.  It is time to reward her by seeing her win a belt.

Lovely Butchers + One

Photo taken at the REINA 15 show today in Yokohama. 

Photo by Mr. Takehisa Aoikougei Kashima

Mia Yim with Lovely Butchers Hamuko Hoshi (left) and Mochi Miyagi (right)

Friday, September 23, 2011

REINA Tag Championship is a North American Battle -- with no USA

The Canadian Ninjas' Japanese Debut:  Portia Perez and Nicole Matthews

Of the two semifinals today for the new REINA tag belts, the result that was least surprising was the Mexican team (Zeuxis/La Commandante) over the Japanese team (Kambayashi/SaYa).  The tougher match to call was the Canadian Ninjas (Perez/Matthews) vs Sara Del Rey/Mia Yim (USA team).  It was only harder to call because of the prestige of SDR and the popularity of Mia Yim.  In the end, the right thing happened -- the Ninja's won.  You do not bring a team to Japan for the first time -- perhaps the most famous tag team in women's wrestling -- and not get them through to the final.  So the Ninjas advance after about a ten minute match with their Funky Cold Medina finisher -- Matthews' german suplex on Yim.  Enjoy the wonderful photos of Youji Kawauchi.  Tomorrow the Ninjas will face a daunting Mexican team.  I give the edge to the Mexicans, though I expect a 20-minute war.  It's refreshing to have a North American wrestling event that does NOT feature the USA.  Well done, REINA!
All photos by Youji Kawauchi

Mia seems to enjoy watching Sara work on Portia

Nicole Matthews tastes a Yim stiff kick

Portia works on Mia

SDR with a boot for Portia

 . . . and another kind of boot

Mia with a running knee to Nicole's face

Nicole returns the favor with a missile drop kick


Nicole Matthews finishes Mia with a German suplex

The Ninja's celebrate their victory