Dream Slam Weekly Vol 2: Tsukushi Haruka Retires from Pro-Wrestling

Originally published at Dream Slam Weekly Vol 2: Tsukushi Haruka Retires from Pro-Wrestling - POST Wrestling | WWE NXT AEW NJPW UFC Podcasts, News, Reviews

Dream Slam Weekly (vol. 2)!

By: Karen Peterson

Ah, Golden Week (GW). Literally, the one time of year people within Japan actively travel during the weekdays because of a succession of national holidays strung together, so they can take off work, guilt-free! When I lived in Japan, this was one of my favorite times of the year, but it was also one of the most hectic travel times because everyone has the same idea: vacation mode! It seems like the wrestling scene as a whole decided to all run shows this week to provide fans from around the country to watch as much wrestling as possible!

In Japan, April tends to be the beginning of the new fiscal year, so with it, the new academic year starts, and new employee orientations or delayed retirements happen as well. Much like the fleeting cherry blossoms, I’m reminded of how short careers in wrestling can be and how heartbreaking farewells can be. You may think I’m being a little overdramatic, but as someone who had to hear farewell speeches annually, as teachers were transferred to different schools as well as having to give a few in my time as well, the retirement speeches always get me.

In volume two, we’re diving straight into results and news highlights, but should you need some background on the promotions, consider checking out DSW Volume 1! I hope you enjoyed Golden Week as much as the scene in Japan did because there was SO. MUCH. WRESTLING. Yes, there are promotions that have mixed gender cards and intergender matches. I was surprised to see how intertwined the scenes can be, especially in the smaller promotions!

BIG EVENT/NEWS

I wanted to take a moment to celebrate some departures. It almost makes me feel like I started this endeavor entirely too late as these were names I had previously heard about but was too intimidated to start exploring other promotions. In the dizzying collection of GW shows, two promotions had two very big send-offs for members of their roster. I’m going to chalk this up to being exceptionally late to the party, but I definitely want to go back through their catalogs and learn about them.

  • TJPW – Reika Saiki (29) had a final exhibition match retired on May 3rd. Previously, her Muscle JK Strikers tag partner Marika Kobashi (20) graduated on April 17th.
  • Ice Ribbon – Tsukushi Haruka (24) retired & Tsukasa Fujimoto (38) indefinitely suspended her in-ring activities on May 4th. Fujimoto has indicated that she will still be involved in IR in an administrative capacity.

There is a little more information about both of these shows below.

International Excursions & Adventures

Summertime seems to be tournament season, not just in Japan, but around the world, and more and more announcements of surprise entrants and guests are cropping up the closer we get to June!

Highlight: Pro-Wrestling EVE! {@ProWrestlingEVE | Event Tag: #SHE1}

EVE just announced Marvelous’ Takumi Iroha for the SHE-1 on June 18th & 19th in London, England. She joins ASUKA/VENY, Alex Windsor, Skye Smitson, Charlie Morgan, RHIO, and six yet-to-be-announced participants!

After successfully defending the AAAW title against our own YUU, Takumi Iroha has impressed & earned their way into the 2022 #SHE1 @229london over June 18/19

Iroha joins VENY, @HailWindsor, @CharlieMorganUK, @SkyeSmitson & @Rhio2020 with 6 spots left!

🎟https://t.co/hSAIIPt8ee pic.twitter.com/fR0c5PiuRD

— EVE Riot Grrrls of Wrestling – May 7 in London (@ProWrestlingEVE) May 2, 2022

International Appearance Schedule

Introductions & Round-up (alphabetical)

DIANA {@W_W_W_DIANA |#ディアナ }

May 3rd at Itabashi Green Hall (Tokyo)

  • Singles Match: Haruka Umesaki defeats Miran (8:40)
  • Tag Match: Ayame Sasamura & Nagisa Nozaki defeat Himiko & Nanami (16:45)
  • Three Way: Jaguar Yokota defeats Kakeru Sekiguchi and Rina Amikura (6:58)
  • Tag Match: Hanako Nakamori & Miyuki Takase defeat Deborah K & Kyoko Inoue (14:40)
  • W.W.W.D Singles Championship: Ayako Sato (c) defeats Madeline (12:50)

Next Show: May 15th (as part of their 11th Anniversary Celebration) at Posto di Amistad

  • Haruka Umesaki vs. Himiko
  • Ayako Sato vs. Miran
  • Jaguar Yokota vs. Madeline vs. Deborah K
  • Kyoko Inoue vs. Nanami

Gatoh Move & ChocoPro {@GatohMove | @GatohMove_JP | #ChocoPro #gtmv}

I’m quickly learning that GMCP is another great hub to learn about not just women’s wrestling in Japan, but the independent scene as well. These promotions feature a mixture of wrestlers, so there is also intergender wrestling. It is not for the faint of heart because the level of wholesome, soul-cleansing fun they have is quite nice. Plus, they have lots of free content on their YouTube channel, like their shows, so if you’re curious check them out!

Gatoh Move ChocoPro #225 (May 3rd) Ichigaya Chocolate Hiroba, Tokyo

  • Baliyan Akki & SAKI defeat Masahiro Takanashi & Shin Suzuki (12:26)
  • Antonio Honda & Mei Suruga vs. Chie Koishikawa & Yuna Mizumori – Time Limit Draw (20:00)

Gatoh Move Returns (May 4th) Itabashi Green Hall, Tokyo

  • Three Way Tag Team: Antonio Honda & Trans-Am Hiroshi defeat Chon Shiryu & Sayuri and Hagane Shinnou & Toru Owashi (7:56)
  • Sayaka defeats Tokiko Kirihara (9:25)
  • Ken Ohka, Sayaka Obihiro & Yuna Mizumori defeat Chris Brookes, Masahiro Takanashi & Shin Suzuki (12:38)
  • Baliyan Akki vs. Hikaru Sato – Time Limit Draw (15:00)
  • Haruka Umesaki & Mei Suruga defeat Chie Koishikawa & Kaori Yoneyama (19:47)

Girls’ Pro-wrestling Unit COLOR’S {@GPU_COLORS | #GPU_COLORS }
SAKI & Co are truly cropping up everywhere from Stardom, WAVE, and Ice Ribbon to PURE-J, YMZ, and DIANA, they are working and working HARD. They’re definitely making a name for themselves as indie queens.

Next Event: COLOR’s ☆Festival (May 15th)

  • Opening Match: Yuko Sakurai vs. Riko Kawahata (T-HEARTS) (1/10)
  • COLOR’s Championship: SAKI © (COLOR’s) vs. Kakeru Sekiguchi
  • Announced Talent: Yuna Mizumori (GMCP, with SAKI as TropiKawaild), Hikari Shimizu (COLOR’s), Mii (ActWres Girl’Z, with Amikura as MiiA-min)

GLEAT {@LIDET_ENT | #GLEAT #GPRO #LIDETUWF}

On G ProWrestling vol. 23 (April 20th), GLEAT’s Michiko Miyagi and Yukari Hosokawa teamed up against freelancers Nanae Takahashi and Ryo Mizunami. While GLEAT typically has only one or two women’s matches (because they only have two contracted women on their roster), they still push to make sure women are represented on their shows. Hosokawa recently tagged with Mizunami, defeating Itsuki Aoki and Miyako Matsumoto at Prominence’s Inaugural Show: The Beginning of the Red Flame (April 24th). Currently, they have not scheduled her for any upcoming G ProWrestling shows.

Michiko Miyagi Versus…

  • LOSS! Defeated by Akane Fujita (Prominence) – G ProWrestling vol. 24 (May 3rd; Umeda Stella Hall, Osaka)
  • NEXT! Dash Chisako (Sendai Girls) – G ProWrestling vol. 25 (May 18th; Korakuen Hall)

Upcoming GLEAT Shows

  • G ProWrestling vol. 24 (5/3) – Umeda Stella Hall, Osaka
  • G ProWrestling vol. 25 (5/18) – Korakuen Hall
  • G ProWrestling vol. 26 (5/22) Tenbusu Naha, Okinawa; Card TBA
  • G ProWrestling vol. 27 (6/11) Umeda Stella Hall, Osaka; Card TBA
  • G ProWrestling vol. 28 (6/19) Sapporo ii-ONE Stadium; Card TBA
  • GLEAT v.3 Anniversary Show (7/1) – Tokyo Dome City Hall; Card TBA

Ice Ribbon {@IceRibbon_eng |@ICERIBBON_jp}

Tsukushi Chooses Her Successor! (link; April 30th) With her retirement on 5/4, Tsukushi started preparing in a special way, by selecting the successors of her signature moves. She selected veteran Hamuko to inherit her Harukaze (Spring Wind) as a reward for working hard on her diet (to get under 50 kg* roughly 111 pounds). She gave it with the promise that Hamuko takes care of her health and makes sure that she doesn’t rebound because she worked so hard.

A Sudden Surprise Return & Life Update (link)! On April 30th, Kyuri participated in IR’s Korakuen Show. She had been absent largely due to completing her education. When Fujimoto announced her retirement, it seemed to motivate Kyuri back to the ring, and while she has no current plans to retire herself, while she was away, she also got married and had a child! While it is unclear as to if or when she could return full time, I am glad that she was able to get in one final match against Tsukasa before she ceased in-ring activities.

Tsukka’s Special Menu Pre-Show Menu

Best Friends’ Tag Team Partners (Tsukasa Fujimoto {IR} x Arisa Nakajima {SEAdLINNNG}) produced back-to-back final shows together on the same day with each of them participating in two matches on each card. If Fujimoto was going to suspend all of her in-ring activities indefinitely, it seemed she wanted to get in as much wrestling as possible with all her peers as possible. I really want to find these matches, particularly the main event in the evening session against Hiroyo Matsumoto and Yoshiko!

Ice Ribbon at Yokohama Budokan II Results (5/4) (Match Card Video)

  • 6-Woman Tag (1/20): Nao Ishikawa, Rina Amikura (COLOR’S) Misa Kagura (JTO)defeated Cherry, Hiroyo Matsumoto & Kiku (10:05)
  • Tag Match (1/15): Bunny Oikawa &Yappy defeated Sumika Yanagawa (JTO)& Saran(5:29)
  • Tae Honma Return Match 6-Woman Tag (1/30): Maya Yukihi, Yuko Sakurai (COLOR’S) & NATSUMI (Cho Hanabi with Ram Kaicho (666) defeated Tae Honma, Saori Anou & Maika Ozaki (11:35)
  • Special Single Match (1/20): Aja Kong (OZ Academy) defeated Kaho Matsushita – In celebration of five months of Matsushita’s debut. (9:28)
  • Triangle Ribbon Championship (1/15): Yuki Mashiro © defeated Rina Yamashita and Makoto (13:23)- The second defense for the 44th Champion
  • International Ribbon Tag Match (1/30): BIG☆DEKAI Satsuki Totoro (Ice Ribbon) & Yuna Manase (Ganbare☆Pro) defeat Galaxy Punch! SAKI &Hikari Shimizu (COLOR’S) © (14:20) – The second defense for the 55th Champions; NEW CHAMPIONS!!
  • TRIPLE MAIN EVENT: ICE CROSS INFINITY Championship (1/30): Tsukushi Haruka © defeated Asahi (17:02) – The seventh defense for the 33rd Champion & retires as champion
  • TRIPLE MAIN EVENT: Tsukasa Fujimoto (In-Ring Hiatus) Memorial Tag Match (1/30): Arisa Nakajima (SEAdLINNNG)&Hikaru Shida (AEW) defeated Tsukasa Fujimoto & Ibuki Hoshi (18:34)
  • TRIPLE MAIN EVENT: Tsukushi Haruka Retirement Memorial Tag Match (1/30): vs. Hamuko Hoshi & Nanae Takahashi defeated DROPKICKERS Tsukushi Haruka & Tsukasa Fujimoto (29:22)

Tsukushi Haruka Retires from Pro-Wrestling

Tsukushi’s biggest goal in electing to retire was to do it smiling and as the ICE cross Infinity Champion. From what I’ve seen from the photos of the Yokohama Budokan show, she did precisely that with the entire Ice Ribbon roster and all her friends behind her. I don’t know how I’ll manage it, but I definitely want to find this show because it seems like one that truly exhibits the scope of Ice Ribbon. One of her biggest reasons seems to be that she wants to try many things that she can’t necessarily do while working full-time as a wrestler. I wish her the best, and I hope she has many wonderful dreams become reality in the future. If I am able to watch this show and experience her retirement speech, I would like to write about it further, but without seeing it, I can’t fully reflect on the scope of her career. However, the more photos I see, the more I wish I could have been there!

https://twitter.com/Tsukushi_HRKZ/status/1522136609638195200?s=20&t=BW7c7buK2GcPphZ99KeT-w

Fun Costumes Notes:

Injury Announcement: ASAHI

https://twitter.com/IceRibbon_eng/status/1522916391896383488?s=20&t=BW7c7buK2GcPphZ99KeT-w

JUST TAP OUT {@JUST_TAP_OUT |#pw_jto}

Friday, May 6th, TAKA Michinoku/JTO held TakaTachi Mania 2.5 (roughly $24 for the iPPV) with the support of NJPW World & co-produced by Suzuki-gun’s own Loveless Emperor, Taichi. This iPPV included women’s matches featuring all of the JTO Girls. I have yet to watch the iPPV, but the response I’ve seen has been quite positive overall, and not just about the Jun Kasai/Tomoaki Honma vs. El Desperado/DOUKI hardcore match.

Sumika Yanagawa & Risa Kagura defeated Yuu Yamagata & rhythm (9:47) and Aoi and Madoka defeated Suzu Suzuki and Akane Fujita (Prominence) (11:27). Inaba and Suzuki will meet in a singles match on May 21st, revisiting their match from November 11, 2020, where Suzu defeated Inaba.

  • Stardom: Tomoka Inaba & Aoi (JTO) vs. Hanan & Hina (Stardom) (New Blood 2; 5/13)

Marvelous {@Info_Marvelous |@MarvelousInter |#Marvelouspro #マーベラスプロレス}

Happy Sixth Anniversary, Marvelous! May 1st at Korakuen Hall

  • Shigehiro Irie & Shoki Kitamura defeated Junya Matsunaga & Leo Isaki (8:14)
  • Ancham, Chikaya Nagashima & Makoto defeated Ai Housan, Miyako Matsumoto & Yurika Oka ( 14:17)
  • Maria & Riko Kawahata (T-HEARTS) wrestled to 10-minute draw
  • AAAW Championship Match: Takumi Iroha defeated Yuu (20:20) her first successful defense
  • AAAW Tag Team Title Match (Vacant): Itsuki Aoki & Rin Kadokura defeated Tomoko Watanabe & Kaoru Ito to become the 17th AAAW Tag Team Champions. In her victory address, Rin announced that she got married… and her mother-in-law is… Akira Hokuto & Kensuke Sakaki!! Congratulations, Rin!!

皆様へ

リング上で門倉本人が発表した通りです。
今後も変わらずら門倉凛として戦い続けますので、リングを降りた一人の女性としての門倉はあたたかくお見守り頂けたらと思います。

長与千種のまな弟子、門倉凛が佐々木健介&北斗晶夫妻の息子と結婚- Yahoo!ニュース https://t.co/dZEltu8OSn

— マーベラスプロレス Marvelous (@info_marvelous) May 1, 2022

OZ Academy {@INFO_OZAcademy|#OZアカデミー }

Learning about companies outside of Stardom has been personally satisfying, especially when it comes to seeing how names I’ve heard about or seen in passing start fitting together in the larger picture of the women’s scene. OZ is one of the current promotions with the longest history. While the company itself was established in 2006, its roots go further back to 1996 when Mayumi Ozaki established OZ Academy in GAEA as a heel stable, which later evolved into her running a training school!

Rina Yamashita takes on the Company President….’s Proxy: X?!

Yamashita seems intent on challenging the patience of the Beautiful Company President, Mayumi Ozaki! Currently, Yamashita is half of the OZ Academy Tag Team Champions with Hiroyo Matsumoto. With a 6-woman main event against, Ozaki and her teammates Mayu Yukihi and Saori Anou, Yamashita and Matsumoto were slated with a mystery partner, the infamous “X”. As punishment, Ozaki is tasked Yamashita with paying the appearance fees for the mystery participant, too! It would be later revealed that on May 8th, Hikaru Shida in her first match in OZ Academy in over two and a half years, and was slated to be Yamashita & Matsumoto’s partner!

Prominence {@Prominence2022 | #プロミネンス #PROMINENCE}

Recent

  • TakaTachi Mania 2.5:Aoi & Madoka Inaba (JTO) defeated Suzu Suzuki and Akane Fujita (Prominence) (11:28)
  • SenJo: Risa Sera & Mochi Natsumi vs. Reiwa ULTEMA Powers – see below

5-on-1 versus Bull Nakano?! (link)

Prominence are not only making their names known, but they are making the rounds both in the ring and outside of the ring. The group dropped by Nakano’s YouTube Channel, which was really cool to see, and seeing a wrestling legend like Bull sharing her platform to elevate the current generation of women’s wrestlers, is truly a treat. The second half of their interview is scheduled to be released May 9th at 7PM (JT).

Next Big Show: Kuen Ranbu, (5/29; ShinKiba 1st Ring) Risa Sera and Suzu Suzuki will face one another in a match.

Upcoming Appearances

  • Stardom: Suzu Suzuki (Prominence) vs. Mai Sakurai (DDM) (New Blood 2; 5/13)
  • World of Stardom Championship: Syuri © (Stardom) vs. Risa Sera (Prominence) (Flashing Champions 5/28)

PURE-J {PUREJ-PRO | #PUREJ}

Wanted☆Warriors Presents ~PASSION~ GW Itabashi 3-Day Festival Results (Day 1; 5/3)

  • Megumi Yabushita defeats KAZUKI (13:06)
  • Leon defeats CREA (12:59)
  • Captain’s Fall Match: Kaori Yoneyama, Makoto & Kakeru Sekiguchi (YMZ) defeat Chie Ozoea, AKARI & Hanako Nakamori (PURE-J) (17:02)
  • WANTED (Rydeen Hagane & Momo Tani; PURE-J) vs. SAKI & Rina Amikura (COLOR’S) (14:27)

GW Itabashi 3-Day Festival (Day 2; 5/4)

  • Kaori Yoneyama defeated AKARI (7:32)
  • Rydeen Hagane defeated Kakeru Sekiguchi (9:18)
  • Crea & Hanako Nakamori defeated Kazuki & Momo Tani (15:45)
  • POP Championship: Haruka Umesaki © (DIANA) defeats Chie Ozora (PURE-J) (8:24)- Umesaki’s first singles championship (first defense)
  • PURE-J Openweight Championship: Leon © (PURE-J) vs. Yuu (Freelancer) (18:57) – This is her third reign, sixth defense

GW Itabashi 3-Day Festival (Day 3; 5/5)

  • AKARI defeated Crea (10:42)
  • KAZUKI defeated Chie Ozora (6:58)
  • Yuu defeated Momo Tani (10:29)
  • SAKI defeated Rydeen Hagane (13:35)
  • Kaori Yoneyama & Leon defeaed Hanako Nakamori & Makoto (13:38)

SEAdLINNNG {@SLINNNG | #SEAdLINNNG }

Best Friends’ Final Singles Match – Arisa Nakajima defended her BEYOND THE SEA Single Championship against Tsukasa Fujimoto on April 30th at Ice Ribbon’s Korakuen Show (link). This was Fujimoto’s final singles match before her indefinite suspension of in-ring activities. The pair held a pair of final cards on May 2nd (see Ice Ribbon above).

Golden Moment Results (4/29; Korakuen Hall)

  • Captain’s Fall 8-Woman Tag Elimination Match: Yuu*, Hanako Nakamori, Itsuki Aoki & Rina Yamashita defeat Ayame Sasamura* (2AW), Hiroyo Matsumoto, Miyuki Takase & Yumiko Hotta (19:27)
  • High Speed 4-Way Match: Tsukushi Haruka defeats Chikayo Nagashima, Nao Ishikawa & Yurika Oka (14:55)
  • Singles Match: Rico Kaiju defeats Riko Kawahata (T-HEARTS) (12:19) – After the match, Rico (who defeated T-HEARTS Riko Kawahata) declared her desire to challenge.
  • Semi-Final: Arisa Nakajima vs. Tsukasa Fujimoto
  • SEAdLINNG BEYOND THE SEA Tag Championship: Las Fresa de Egoistas (ASUKA/Makoto) defeated Yoshiko & Ryo Mizunami (20:21) – This was their first championship defense since winning the titles from Hiroyo Matsumoto and Nanae Takahashi at SEAdLINNNG 2021 Final Battle (Korakuen Hall; 12/29/21).

Next Big Match (5/13) – Shinjuku FACE | {Tour Date Calendar}

  • Opening Match (1/20): Makoto vs. Misa Kagura (JTO)
  • 3-Way Match (1/20): Itsuki Aoki vs. Riko Kawahata vs. Chie Ozora
  • Tag Match: Ayame Sasamura (2AW) & ASUKA vs. Rina Yamashita & X
  • Semi-Final 6-Woman Tag Match: Ryo Mizunami, Yuu, & Yoshiko vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto, Miyuki Takase & DASH Chisako
  • Main Event SEAdLINNNG BEYOND THE SEA Single Championship: Arisa Nakajima © against Rico Kaiju (1/30m). This will be Nakajima’s third defense as the 7th Champion.

Sendai Girls {@SendaiGlobal|@senjo2006 |#仙女 #sendaigirlspro }

While SenJo tends to have only a couple of shows a month, what I love is seeing that their talent is actively working in other promotions to help elevate the women’s division as well as the overall image of Sendai Girls.

SenJo Battle Cry (5/6) Results – ShinKiba 1st Ring

  • Singles Match: Yurika Oka vs. Kanon defeated Yurika Oka (10:45)
  • Tag Match: Reiwa ULTEMA Powers (Dash Chisako & Hiroyo Matsumoto) defeated Ayame Sasamura (2AW) & Maria (Marvelous) (15:57)
  • Semi-Final Tag Match: ASUKA & Saori Anou defeat Team 200KG (Chihiro Hashimoto & Yuu) (15:19)
  • Main Event SJ Tag #1 Contenders Match: Mika Iwata & Miyuki Takase defeat Ryo Mizunami & Manami (16:37) – Iwata/Takase (Kakusei ‘Awakening’) will challenge Team 200KG for the tag championships on June 16th.

SenJo Battle Cry (5/7) Results – ShinKiba 1st Ring

  • Singes Match (1/10): Ayame Sasamura (2AW) defeated Yurika Oka (8:46) with Sasadango
  • Singles Match (1/10): Miyuki Takase defeated Manami (9:54) with a Brainbuster/Pin
  • Singles Match (1/10): Mika Iwata vs. Yuu (10:00) Timelimit Draw
  • Semi-Main Tag Match (1/20): Ryo Mizunami & Tomoka Inaba (JTO) defeated Chihiro Hashimoto & Kanon (16:28) with Inaba submitting Kanon with a leg lock.
  • Main Event Tag Match (1/30): Reiwa ULTEMA Powers (Dash Chisako & Hiroyo Matsumoto) and Risa Sera & Natsumi Mochi (Prominence) (26:34) – Double Countout – post-match Sera suggested a rematch with hardcore rules.

DASH is GLEAT! Dash Chisako will face GLEAT’s Michiko Miyagi on their May 18th G-ProWrestling Card at Korakuen Hall.

Summer 2022 Shows Matches TBA

  • ~The Sky is The Limit~ ShinKiba 1st Ring (June 16)
  • ~The Sky is The Limit~ Miyagino Ward Cultural Center (June 19th)
  • ~SenJo Chronicle~ Korakuen Hall (July 10th)
  • ~SenJo Chronicle~ Miyagino Ward Cultural Center (July 15th)

Autumn-Winter 2022

Stardom {@We_Are_Stardom | @WWR_Stardom | #STARDOM #スターダム}

No Forbidden Door Jumping… Yet Last week, Dave Meltzer at the Wrestling Observer expanded on the potential involvement of Stardom in the NJPW x AEW: Forbidden Door show. The article also mentions a Ryogoku Sumo Hall on December 30th, meaning the potential return of Stardom Dream Queendom (or under a new name) could close out the 2022 calendar. Last year, Queendom was announced at the Finals of the Five Star Grand Prix, but it is possible that it might be announced earlier.

Konami’s Golden Week Fight Tour Concludes in Osaka

It was a brief but wonderful thing to see Konami back in a Stardom ring. I love that her limited return started in her hometown of Hiroshima and concluded fighting OedoTai in Osaka. She was able to have a great set of shows, including participating at Fukuoka Goddess Festival on May 5th. In her closing remarks, she thanks everyone for supporting her return, and gave a rub to MIRAI, wishing her the best of luck in her Wonder of Stardom Championship challenge against Saya Kamitani. She didn’t say goodbye, but she did say “NEVER END,” so it seems she’s propping the door open for now.

Mai Sakurai Scores an Upset!

She left Cosmic Angels to follow Giulia in DDM, where Sakurai has started seeing the intended results in her choosing to be a wrestler and not a dancing idol who wrestles in Cosmic Angels. In Osaka, she pinned Koguma, current Goddess of Stardom Tag Champion in an 8-woman match. Afterward, Sakurai challenged Fukuoka Double Crazy, indicating she wanted Giulia to be her partner. It is worth noting that Giulia previously challenged Black Desire with Thekla, so this could make things complicated if Giulia is prioritizing winning championships over the interpersonal dynamics of DDM.

Flashing Champion’s Match Announcements (for May 28th; Ota Ward Gymnasium)

  • Future of Stardom Championship: Hanan (STARS) © vs. Ruaka (OET)
  • Artists of Stardom Championships (1/30): Donna del Mondo (Maika, Himeka, & Natsupoi) vs. OedoTai (Saki Kashima, Starlight Kid & Momo Watanabe)
  • Wonder of Stardom Championship (1/30): Saya Kamitani © (Queen’s Quest) vs. MIRAI (God’s Eye)
  • World of Stardom Championship (1/30): Syuri © (God’s Eye) vs. Risa Sera (Prominence)

Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling (TJPW) {@tjpw2013}

Before I get to the results, I want to celebrate Reika Saiki’s retirement. Having Brookes, Akki, and Arai on English commentary really helped fill in the gaps for someone who is new to TJPW.

Reika Saiki Bids Farewell to Her Muscle Idol Era

While the main event of the match was Nakajima’s second defense of her Princess of Princess Championship, one of the key moments was the brief yet triumphant return of Reika Saiki. She had been sidelined with an injury for quite some time and during her time away from the ring, she elected to retire from professional wrestling. TJPW put together a heartwarming video highlighting her career and her evolution as a wrestler and entertainer as the Muscle Idol. Her achievements include winning the 4th Tokyo Princess Cup, Princess of Princess Champion & Princess Tag Champion. Her key rivalries included Miyu Yamashita and Meiko Satomura.

Saiki chose to have her final match in her original gear, and despite choosing to separate herself from her Muscle Idol persona, she is radiant, healthy, and still very muscular. She had a three-minute exhibition return match with Arisu Endo, who was a member of the same idol group. The entire roster came out to ringside to show their solidarity and watch Saiki’s final match. After the match ended, they immediately moved to the retirement ceremony, starting with Miyu Yamashita presenting Saiki flowers on behalf of the entire roster. Yuka Sakazaki presented her with signed message boards.

“This is possibly the shortest three minutes of my life. It felt like it wasn’t enough, but I was happy that I could remember how to wrestle. In my heart, I am still a pro-wrestlers. You aren’t the same Arisu I remember from Cheer-1…you’ve become an incredible wrestler, Arisu Endo. I came here with the intention of retiring, but then… I realized how fun this was… but I remember this was my decision to retire and I’m sticking with it. This wasn’t an easy choice for me. My time as a wrestler was short, but most of it was here in TJPW. Even when I was away, many of you (wrestlers) checked in on me, and I haven’t forgotten that love. I will always love all of you. Thank you so much for this chance to say one final goodbye to Reika Saiki, the professional wrestler.” – Saika

The ceremony closed with a ten-count on the ring bell, a shower of streamers, hugs and well wishes from the girls, and the roster forming an arch for her to run under as she exited Korakuen Hall for the final time.

Yes! Wonderland 2022! Results (5/3; Korakuen Hall; Match Archive on Wrestle Universe)

    • Princess Tag Team Championship: Magical Sugar Rabbits © (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki) defeat Free WiFi (Hikari Noa & Nao Kakuta) (13:53) – normally this would have been the semi-main event, but they opened the show since Sakazaki needed to leave. (see below)
    • Reika Saiki and Arisu Endo Draw in Exhibition Match (3:00) – Saiki’s first and last match in two years and eight months!
    • Reika Saiki Retirement Ceremony
    • Tag Match: Mahiro Kiryu & Yuki Kamifuku defeat Haruna Neko & Kaya Toribami (10:09)
    • Singles Match: Suzume defeats Juria Nagano (5:46)
    • 6-Woman Tag: Yuki Arai, Miu Watanabe & Rika Tatsumi defeat Raku, Pom Harajuku & Yuki Aino (13:41)
    • Tag Match: Maki Itoh & Miyu Yamashita defeat Moka Miyamoto & Hikaru Shida (15:02)
    • Princess of Princess Championship: Shoko Nakajima © defeats Hyper Misao (14:29)

Yuka Sakazaki Spirited Away to AEW – On April 30th, TJPW announced that Sakazaki would be absent from the May 3rd Merch Signing and would miss her scheduled appearance on May 5th in Osaka due to a last-minute request from AEW. Tuesday May 3rd, AEW’s Tony Khan announced that Sakazaki would face Riho in the Owen Hart Foundation Women’s Tournament Qualifier on Rampage (see AEW below).

WAVE {@P_W_WAVE |#wavepro}

I am incredibly fascinated by the CATCH THE WAVE Tournament, but also trying to wrap my head around the rules is almost dizzying (see below). This feels like a complete Rennaissance Woman Jane-of-All-Trades Wrestling Challenge with its variety of match types.

Phase 2 Reboot 3rd NAMI 1 (5/1) Results

  • Challenge WAVE: Suzu Suzuki, Riko Kawahata & Haruka Umesaki defeat Yuki Miyazaki & Kyusei Sakura Hirota (17:30)
  • Chaos WAVE Martial Arts Match: Risa Sera & Miyako Matsumoto (11:52) draw due to count out
  • Four-WAVE: Ayame Sasamura vs. Itsuki Aoki vs. Miyuki Takase vs. Yuu ends in a Time Limit Draw (15:00)
  • 6-Woman Tag: Kohaku, Nagisa Nozaki & Yumi Ohka defeat Chie Ozora, Hanako Nakamori & Kaori Yoneyama (21:00)

CATCH THE WAVE League Rules:

  • Each match has one fall and a 15-minute time limit.
  • Hardcore Block matches employ hardcore rules.
  • Comical Block matches will go into ‘slow-motion’ for one minute starting at the 13th minute.
  • The ring-out count is limited to 10 (Hardcore Block matches have no count-outs).
  • Win = 2 Points, Draw = 1 Point, Loss = 0 Points
  • The Winners AND Losers of each of the four blocks (8 Participants) will compete on July 1st-3rd in a second round of league matches with the finals on July 17th (Korakuen Hall) being for one fall with no time limit.
  • The Victor will be the next challenger for the Regina Championship and get a one million yen cash prize.

CATCH THE WAVE Stops – participants, matches, and details to be listed at a later installment

  • NAMI1 July ‘22 (7/1) – Shinjuku FACE
  • Osaka Rhapsody vol. 55 (7/2) – Azarea Taisho, Osaka
  • Nagoya WAVE vol. 23 (7/3) – Nagoya Naka Sports Center
  • CATCH THE WAVE 2022 FINALS (7/17) – Korakuen Hall

WAVE 15th Anniversary ~CARNIVAL WAVE~ – Shinjuku FACE

  • August 13th (2 Shows) 2 PM & 6 PM
  • August 14th (3 Shows) NOON, 3 PM, & 6 PM

They do have other tour stops and shows in between these dates, so tracking this one, especially with all the match types and results will be fun, but maybe a *little* exhausting!

WAVE 5: ~CATCH THE WAVE 2022~ (5/5) Opening Round

  • Kicking (Shūgeki) Block (1/15): Nagisa Nozaki defeated Hikari Shimizu (COLOR’S) (9:03)
  • Hardcore Block (1/15): SAKI (COLOR’S) defeated Yumi Ohka – Hardcore Rules Permitted (12:12)
  • Future Block (1/15): Kohaku and Suzu Suzuki (Prominence) draw (15:00)
  • Future Block (1/15): Riko Kawahata defeated Chie Ozora (9:39)
  • Strong Arm (Gōwan) Block (1/15): Itsuki Aoki defeated Miyuki Takase (7:09)
  • The Comical WAVE ~The CHAOS (1/No Time Limit) ~ Yuki Miyazaki & Kyusei Sakura Hirota vs. Hikaru Shida & Miyako Matsumoto

YMZ Gokigenna ProWrestling {@YMZpro | #YMZ}

Truly a freelancers’ paradise and a hub for small promotions, YMZ brings together wrestlers in matchups, you likely cannot see elsewhere in Japan.

  • Haruka Umesaki(DIANA) defeated Nanami (DIANA) (8:20)
  • Kengo Mashimo defeated Daichi Sato (9:03)
  • Baliyan Akki, SAKI (COLOR’s) & Yuna Mizumori (Gatoh Move) defeated Hikaru Sato, Kaori Yoneyama & Makoto (w/Matsuzawa-san) (12:16)

Meanwhile in North America…

WWE (WWE RAW; May 2nd) – Asuka returned to in-ring action, teaming with Bianca Belair and Liv Morgan to defeat Becky Lynch, Rhea Ripley and Sonya Deville (15:15)

Quick Catch-ups

  • Anna Jay & Kris Stadtlander defeat Nyla Rose & Emi Sakura (with Vickie Guerrero) (AEW Dark; ep 61) – A fun, little match. Loved the David vs. Goliath feel it had.

Personal Aside: I know the goal is to get everyone to check out who will appear on Dark & Elevation (and potentially the recently acquired Ring of Honor), but what I would give for timestamps to know how many matches could be teased on any given show. With all the wrestling out there, sometimes a girl just wants to skim through and earmark matches for later. There’s simply too much wrestling out there. AEW needs to work with their partners and develop a singular streaming platform and incorporate a feed to their YouTube channels into it, to house everything together. It is a little exhausting trying to weave everything together.

  • Ivy Nile & Tatum Paxley defeat Sarray & Erica Yan (NXT LVL UP; May 6th) – I’m still a little confused as to why Sarray is seemingly working in reverse from being heavily featured on NXT proper when she arrived, to this complete reconstruction of her character. She seems to be the one in the match with the most in-ring experience, more than the other three competitors combined, so I am wondering if they’re leaning on her as the veteran to lead these matches.

In All Fairness: I wish Peacock had a better interface. I might watch NXT 2.0 and its related programming more if it wasn’t so infuriating. Again, it just feels easier to go through WWE’s YouTube channel for highlights, and also they need to work on rounding up their corporate partner’s YT channels. I shouldn’t have to go to WWE and WWE on Fox or other places to piece everything together because of separate broadcast contracts.

AEW (AEW Dynamite; May 6th) – Riho defeated Yuka Sakazaki in The Owen Hart Foundation Women’s Tournament Qualifier. (9:18) This was their first singles meeting. Riho broke her collar bone in January, and this was her first match since the injury. I really liked this intro video for their match, but I feel like I don’t remember seeing it on the broadcast. I love that AEW is bringing TJPW talent back over, but they should be receiving the same coverage on their YouTube channel as well, not just in Twitter clips. I also hope she crops up on the AEW Elevation or Dark tapings because I would hate knowing they flew that girl across the world for a single match when there is a complete women’s roster in AEW based in America.

Independent Scene Spotlights for May 2022

May 2022 Big Event Calendar

  • GLEAT: G-ProWrestling (5/13)
  • SEAdLINNNG: at Shinjuku FACE (5/13)
  • GPU COLOR’s: COLOR’s ☆Festival (5/15)
  • Prominence: Kuen Ranbu! (5/29)
  • Stardom: New Blood 2 (5/13) and Flashing Champions 2022 (5/28)
  • TJPW: With Yes! Wonderland 2022 this past week, it seems all paths will lead to CyberFight Festival on June 12th as their next big event

Summer 2022 Events

  • TJPW: CyberFight Festival 2022 (June 12, 2022; 2:00 PM) – Saitama Super Arena (a DDT, NOAH, & Ganbare Pro supershow)
  • SenJo: The Sky is the Limit (June 16, 2022) – ShinKiba 1st Ring
  • SenJo: The Sky is the Limit (June 19, 2022) – Miyagino Ward Cultural Center
  • Stardom: Fight in the Top 2022 (June 26, 2022) Nagoya International Conference Center
  • WAVE: NAMI1 July ‘22 (July 1, 2022) – Shinjuku FACE
  • WAVE: Osaka Rhapsody vol. 55 (July 2, 2022) – Azarea Taisho, Osaka
  • WAVE: Nagoya WAVE vol. 23 (July 3, 2022) – Nagoya Naka Sports Center
  • TJPW: Summer Sun Princess (July 9, 2022; 2:00 PM) – Ota Ward Gymnasium
  • WAVE: CATCH THE WAVE 2022 FINALS (July 17, 2022) – Korakuen Hall
  • TJPW: 9th Annual TJPW Princess Cup 2022 (July 16-August 14, 2022) – The series has seven scheduled event dates throughout this period.
  • Stardom: Five Star Grand Prix (5★GP) 2022 Opening Weekend – (July 30-31, 2022) Ota Ward Gymnasium
  • Stardom: Five Star Grand Prix (5★GP) 2022 Finals – (October 1, 2022) Musashino Forest Sun Plaza’s Main Arena (Chofu Ward, Tokyo)

Weekly Match Selection

With the second Hana Kimura Memorial Show, BAGUS! happening later this month on May 23rd, I wanted to feature a tag match that would help highlight several key players in the Tornado Tag Battle Royal match. While Takase, Hashimoto & Iwata will be on Bagus, there are still several TBAs listed on the card. Takase is also on the events committee for NOMAD’s Freelance Summit, a women’s freelance show, which will take place on May 20th at Shinjuku FACE. Yuu was one of the first talents announced for this show outside of the “core four” event committee members.

I love that this is a mix of SenJo wrestlers and freelancers. Team 200KG have been stealing hearts and riceballs, and I can’t get enough of them. With Takase, her ability to get Iwata to cut loose and have fun is the sort of energy I really needed this week. Also, Yuu chopped Miyuki halfway across the ring. WOWZA!

Sendai Girls (SenJo) Pro-Wrestling Official YouTube

  • Promotion: Sendai Girls
  • Show: Spring Easter (April 14, 2022)
  • Competitors: Miyuki Takase & Mika Iwata vs. Team 200KG (Chihiro Hashimoto & Yuu)
  • Venue: ShinKiba 1st Ring, Tokyo, Japan

As this journey continues, I hope I can find more ways to learn about these promotions because– in the last two weeks alone– I am realizing the scope of women’s wrestling in Japan is far wider and deeper than I could have possibly imagined! The more crossover I keep seeing with all these promotions, the more I want to watch all of it! I am sure the calendars are incomplete, but the more information I come across, the more I’ll fill it out! Thanks for reading!