Originally published at Hana Kimura Memorial Show Report: BAGUS!
Jungle Kyona vs. Kyoko Kimura © Issita Marie
“Everyone is different. Everyone is good.”
By: Karen Peterson
I can’t hear those words and not think of Hana Kimura. It’s been two years since the world lost Hana Kimura, one of the wrestling world’s rapidly rising stars. I still remember May 23, 2020. It was a Wednesday. I was working from home. It was early afternoon here on the US East Coast, but late, late night in Japan. The week that followed blurred completely together as the world came together to mourn the passing of the young, vibrant talent, gone entirely too soon. Last year, on the first anniversary of Hana’s passing, Kyoko Kimura with the assistance of her extended wrestling family, held the first Hana Kimura Memorial Show, Mata, Ne! (See you soon!). After an emotional celebration of Hana’s life, many wondered if it would become an annual event to bring the wrestling community together for continued healing and remembrance of Kimura.
Much like Mata, Ne! (See you soon!), BAGUS! (Great!) was a true celebration of the life and legacy of Hana Kimura. The show featured talent from multiple promotions across the entire country from Sendai to Okinawa, with multiple stops in between like Nagoya and Osaka. While the card only had five matches, they were packed with love, laughter, and overflowing emotion. Grab your water bottles, crying towels, and strap in because BAGUS! is an absolute emotional ride.
The show opened in Korakuen Hall with ringside remarks from Ken Suzuki (lead commentator), Fumi Saito (color commentary), and Shota (Ganbare Pro & Guest commentator). They were followed by an in-ring address by referee Keigo Yoshino, who is also a member of the event committee. A wonderful video package opens the show, complete with one of Hana’s old entrance videos.
“So much has happened over the last two years, that it’s hard to wrap my head around it all. Naturally, there were many negative feelings, however, whenever I think of Hana, all I can think about are the positive things. She was someone who was bright, funny, interesting and always had fun with everyone. That’s the person I want everyone to remember fondly. It is my wish that we can all celebrate her together by having a great (BAGUS) time together.” – Kyoko Kimura (opening remarks)
KAIRI joined Kyoko in the ring to formally open the show but requested a large round of applause for Kimura for putting the show together for a second time. All performers were called to ringside and everyone in the venue started the show by observing a moment of silence with the fans.
“All of us will work together as one to make today the best show ever.” – KAIRI
Opening Match: KENOH (NOAH) defeats Menso-re Oyaji (Okinawa PW) (7:06)
Returning for the second Memorial Show, Menso-re Oyaji pleaded his case for a match on the show during the initial press conference announcing the second show. KENOH would later be revealed as his opponent and would give a short video interview to Kimura, discussing his professional connection to the family. Last year, KENOH was unable to participate, so this was a special match for him as well. I wondered how their difference in styles would play out, especially with the funloving, beer-swigging, Oyaji as the foil for the business as usual, forever serious leader of KONGO.
If you’ve ever seen KENOH put up with Kendo Kashin or his dalliances in DDT, you know he can lean into the comedy, and come out looking like the most surprised in the room when it happens. Personally, I love seeing the more straight-laced, no-nonsense wrestlers getting caught up in the moment and comedy, but it’s extra special today because it’s not just for audiences around the world, but for Hana who just loved to laugh and make people laugh.
KENOH puts Oyaji away with The Professional Foot Stomp and takes the three count. I loved that KENOH called out Kyoko for a handshake, but she went in for the Mom hug instead. He also gave Oyaji a sportsmanship handshake on his way out of Korakuen Hall. If you weren’t a fan of KENOH before this match, I genuinely don’t know what to tell you.
Intergender Tornado Tag Team Battle Royal (27:16)
Battle Royal Rules
- Tornado Tag Team Format once all competitors have entered the ring.
- Pinfall, Submission, or Over the Top Rope Eliminations (OTTR)
- Tag Teams are eliminated once both competitors are eliminated
- When it gets down to the last four-five remaining participants, if their partners have been eliminated, they rejoin the match.
- Once the Finals start, the OTTR stipulation is removed from the match.
- Mika Iwata/Chihiro Hashimoto (SenJo) – Winners – Iwata pinned Kengo Tachibana
- Seigo Tachibana/Shotaro Ashino (AJPW) – Final Four
- Dash Chisako/Hiroyo Matsumoto (Reiwa ULTEMA Powers)
- Hanako Nakamori/Tsubasa Kuragaki (PURE-J)
- Banana Senga/Tsutomu Ohsugi (SOS) – Final Four
- Fuminori Abe/Munebori Sawa (BASARA)
- Shisa Oh/HUB (Okinawa PW) – Final Four
- Cherry/Masahiro Takanashi
- Super Delphin (Okinawa PW)/Miyuki Takase
- Yuko Miyamoto (PW666)/Yuki Miyazaki (WAVE)
- Ryo Mizunami/X
After the bell rang, I realized… Mizunami and her partner “X” were missing. Several minutes after the start of the match started, Aniki would make her entrance with… ANOTHER ANIKI in Koji Kanemoto! Much like last year, this match is just pure chaotic fun. If you’ve got beef with intergender wrestling, sit down, keep quiet, and just watch it… or don’t (but still keep quiet). This match is FUN. F-U-N. FUN. This match was a great way to get many of the people who loved Hana onto the card in a giant melee of comedy which Hana would have loved to watch but also be a part of. If you watch it and think “this isn’t for me,” that’s fine, but remember, more than anything, this show is for the people who loved Hana– fans and peers in the industry alike. For the performers in the ring, they lost a little sister, so let him have their fun.
With Kengo Tachibana and Chihiro Hashimoto remaining, their partners, Shotaro Ashino and Mika Iwata were able to rejoin for the final segment of the match. Tachibana would quickly get his comeuppance for tricking Iwata as repayment for her kicking him last year when he was seconding Ashino at Mata, Ne! Iwata and Hashimoto have a blast, tangling with various key players from Hana’s past. Give me more of Hashimoto vs. Ashino. I don’t know where or when, but power fights!! Tachibana’s plan to exact revenge on Iwata backfires when she slips out of Ashino’s hold and he winds up chopping his own partner, leading to Ashino feeding Tachibana to all the other competitors in the ring. After everyone gets a piece of Tachibana, Hashimoto and Iwata win the match.
Ram Kaicho presents the winners with a special prize: a selection of the event merch available for sale in the lobby: t-shirts, pamphlets, a calendar, and some small items. These items will also be available for purchase after the show on Kimura’s website.
Special Exhibition Match: Jungle Kyona defeated Kyoko Kimura (11:23)
I had misty eyes from the start of the show, but the moment Jungle Kyona stepped into Korakuen Hall wearing her Hana-inspired gear that she started wearing after she became the de facto leader of Tokyo Cyber Squad, I started sobbing into my coffee. This was the very same gear that she wore throughout the wake of Hana’s passing, the dissolution arc of TCS, and was she what she was wearing when she blew out her knee in her hometown of Nagoya on October 4, 2020 (her last match in Stardom). In her final match in Stardom, she tagged with Mayu Iwatani, so with a blue and pink stripe on one cheek, Kyona walked into Korakuen Hall as if she finally hit the “unpause” button on her wrestling career.
During her time away from the ring, Kyona required multiple surgeries for multiple injuries and even with a team behind her, the rehabilitation process took much longer than she had anticipated. Kyona shocked the wrestling world in September 2021, announcing her departure from Stardom and her declaration as a freelancer. As she worked toward getting back into the ring, she also had to evaluate her life, including what her options would be if she couldn’t make a proper return to wrestling. Since her surgeries, she’s been working at an advertising agency and slowly resuming public appearances and engagements.
When her special exhibition match was announced, it had two stipulations: a five-minute time limit and Kyona would select her opponent. Many (myself included) had hoped and wondered if Konami, having recently had a brief return to Stardom after an extended leave of absence, could be the mysterious opponent. Konami turning on Kyona to join OedoTai was the original story arc, Stardom used, to help put Hana’s legacy and faction to rest, and in her final match against Giulia at Dream Queendom in December, Konami wore her Tokyo Cyber Squad gear once final time, as opposed to her OedoTai colors. In last year’s Mata Ne! Main event, Kyona, Konami, and Death Yama-san (Kaori Yoneyama) made a point to do the TCS “Yes, Sir” salute together, so she seemed the obvious choice, but she wouldn’t be the one Kyona would eventually single out.
“Now, I will announce my opponent… Kagetsu… the person beside you… Kimura-san… No. Kyoko Kimura, More than anything, I want a match with you! I know you’re retired, but right now, you’re the only one I want to face.” – Jungle Kyona
Kimura protests, citing that the reason she had originally retired was due to the culmination of her own injuries from wrestling. The audience begins rallying behind Kyona, with thunderous applause. While Yu Ishino (FKA Kagetsu) performed in the main event last year, he selected a purely ambassadorial role this year. Kyoko eventually agreed but notes that she isn’t properly dressed and hasn’t trained in years, so it might be a short match. She passes the mic to Ishino, with zero prompting. Yu briefly reintroduces himself to the crowd who knew him as Kagetsu and does his best to kill the time while Kyoko changes for the match. KAIRI tags in on the commentary table this time as well.
The other surprise of the exhibition match was the dropping of the five-minute time limit for no time limit! The last time Kimura and Kyona faced one another was back in January 2017 with Kyona tagging with Mayu Iwatani and Shayna Baszler (yeah, you heard me) against Kimura, Kagetsu, and Sumie Sakai. The list of return opponents when paired with today of all days, I genuinely don’t know why I hadn’t thought of Kyoko Kimura as a possible option. Throughout the entire match you can see both fighting back tears, but smiling the entire time. This was truly a match-up each of them needed to have for one another and for Hana.
Even Ishino went back to his own OedoTai roots, tripping Kyona, dragging her out of the ring, and having a little bit of OedoTie-style fun outside the ring, complete with a couple of spots outside the ring as the surprise, secret second to Kimura! I love the throwback to the trio’s time in Stardom together. It reminds me of Mayu and Giulia’s battle on the same day last year, where there was a third participant in the ring the entire time: Hana Kimura. Personally, this match was my main event and match of the night, and I promise you I am not basing it on how much I cried throughout the match. The storytelling was purely their history and love for Hana, not that the other matches didn’t have it, but as the grieving mother and distraught close friend, this match was the most therapeutic. I think more than anyone else, Kyona and Kyoko needed this match for closure and healing.
Semi-Main Event: Kyusei Sakura Hirota reprises her Kyusei Hana Kimura (KHK) Cosplay for Special Handicap Match Series.
In last year’s rumble at Mata, Ne!, Kyusei (Maiden Name) Sakura Hirota made the world do a double-take when she entered the ring cosplaying at Hana Kimura. Before the camera zoomed in on her, I had goosebumps and very mixed emotions about seeing someone cosplaying as Hana at this event. It wasn’t until I did a little research and found out that this was one of the signature comedy acts Hirota was known for. In Japan, impersonation (monomane) is an exceptionally popular form of comedy. At first, I had thought Hirota had actually borrowed Hana’s old gear, until I remembered that they had her costumed displayed in the lobby It wasn’t until the camera zoomed in on Hirota as Hana, that you could see the charming DIY nature of the costume, including men’s briefs dyed to match as trunks. Fans aren’t the only ones who cosplay as wrestlers as several notable wrestlers, like Hirooki Goto, Keiji Muto, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Shinsuke Nakamura, have their own comedic doppelgangers!
At the press conference for BAGUS!, Kyoko Kimura confessed that the first glace at Hirota as Hana made her well up, and then start laughing because she knew that most of all, Hana would have loved the budget-friendly cosplay creativity that Hirota had put into the costuming for the event. When it came to including Hirota and her comedic chops in BAGUS!, Kimura elected to give her three opponents. Saori Anou, Kaori Yoneyama, and the ever-mysterious “X.” Last year, Hirota’s costume was the Tokyo Cyber Squad-Era Hana Kimura, complete with a pink wig. This year, she chose OedoTai Hana, with a black bob and yukata (light cotton kimono) entrance robe. What I loved about this choice that was Yu Ishino, joined her in the ring, wearing his Kagetsu robe and they did the OedoTai dance together (with some special Hirota liberties).
Kyusei Hana Kimura defeats Saori Anou and Kaori Yoneyama (6:25)
Anou would be the first to come out, and she and Hirota would square off in an endearingly comedic sexy pose-off with some light wrestling. Kaori Yoneyama would join the match, making it a handicap match for Hirota. KHK is truly someone I want to watch more of because she actively made an effort to include Hana’s moves, mannerisms, and voice to make it all more enjoyable. She also did a great… Keiji Muto impression.
X Revealed! Aja Kong defeats KHK… twice. (0:14 and 4:52)
With the first few notes of the music, KHK tries to escape the ring because she realizes who her third opponent will be. Ishino plays zone defense, trying to keep her from running away and cheering KHK on. Massive credit needs to be given to her, because if I saw Aja Kong casually strolling toward me, I would be struggling like a ferret in a pillowcase, desperately trying to get out. The bell rings, and KHK appeals to Kongo with, “It’s me! HANA!” …only to be met with a massive slap that knocks her to the ground. Kong covers her and the match is over in fourteen seconds.
As Kong, exits the ring and starts to leave, KHK grabs the mic and begs for a second chance! “Not in 14 seconds. I’m not letting that be the record! Come on back! Let’s try again!’ Hirota appeals, rallying the crowd with applause, in hopes that Kong won’t just leave her hanging. Be careful what you wish for because Kong obliged the request. What I loved about the rematch was that after a few failed offensive maneuvers, Kong puts KHK in a single leg Boston Crab, kneeling on her back. However, to keep her from giving up, Referee Keigo Yoshino grabs her wrist, cheering her on with, “Don’t you dare give up! You’re not allowed to!” Instead of asking her if she gives up, he starts coaching her, telling her to start reaching for the ropes, as Aja Kong sits down on her back entirely! Even Kyoko Kimura gets into the frame, reaching for KHK, trying to help her ‘daughter’ to safety! KHK gets one tap on the mat before Kong and Yoshino stop her.
When Kong calls Hirota our for her funny business, KHK decided to attempt Hana’s signature Octopus Hold… with a heavy emphasis on attempts. It’s so bad that it’s good. Even with all of Kong’s assistance, she just got dumped onto the mat. Kong apologizes, saying she’s going to finish the match, and Hirota goes for… a kiss?!
“WHOA. THAT’S STINKS!” – Aja Kong’s evaluation of the kiss… complete with faux nausea.
With three opponents finished, KHK is ready the depart the ring. While she’s taking her leave… Kong’s music stops and it’s quickly replaced with… Rina’s Stardom entrance music and Yoshino is replaced with Stardom Referee Barb Sasaki!
A New Challenger Appears! Rina (Stardom/OedoTai) defeats KHK (7:32) with Hydrangea
If you want a Stardom deep cut, Rina’s music hitting after KHK thought she was finished will definitely jolt you awake. Last year, with Stardom’s show in Yamanashi (roughly 60 miles; 98km outside of Tokyo), the bulk of Stardom’s roster could not participate in the show. For those newer to Stardom, when Hana was given her own faction, Tokyo Cyber Squad, she would be one of the last wrestlers drafted to Hana’s new group after Ruaka. Rina was 12 at the time.
With the emergence of TCS, Rina would inherit many things from Hana, including one of Kimura’s early cyberpunk costumes (neon green shirt, yellow skirt & fuzzy boots covers), but would also be handed down the Octopus Hold and Hana’s submission finisher: Hydrangea. After the dissolution of TCS in 2020, Rina would be adopted by STARS, but her time there would be short, as she would shortly thereafter defect to OedoTai, joining former TCS allies Konami and Ruaka. Upon joining OET, Rina retired her colorful TCS gear, opting for all black initially and later adding different colors to her costuming. While she kept Hana’s moves, she shed the clothing that served as a reminder of someone dear whom she had lost.
She entered the ring with a Tokyo Cyber Squad shirt and with fellow OET member, Starlight Kid, as her second. At 15, she was ready to send her own personal thank you to the Leader who took her in. Since joining OedoTai, Rina’s adopted many of their antics, and while there is light comedy when they get in the ring, KHK managed to get Rina to not take herself so seriously and let loose. I loved Rina getting the old-school OET treatment with Yu Ishino and Kyoko Kimura getting in on KHK’s photo op while Rina was tied up in the ropes. Rina repays the favorite to KHK with a little help from Starlight Kid, making sure they get those photo ops in. Like in her match with Kong, KHK attempts the Octopus Hold again only to fail miserably… again. They have a big of back and forth, but then Rina demonstrates not only how to properly do the Octopus Hold, but how to transition it into Hydrangea, forcing KHK to say she gives up.
“I will always, ALWAYS love Hana. When the time comes for me to become a champion, it will have been because of her.” – Rina (post-match mic)
For those discovering Kyusei Sakura Hirota for the first time– she’s the perfect storm of Kaori Yoneyama and Toru Yano all rolled into one.
Main Event: Syuri (Stardom) defeated ASUKA (VENY) with SyuSekai (19:09)
Last year, Syuri and ASUKA tagged together in the main event of Mata, Ne! with Natsupoi and Mio Momono against Kagetsu (now Yu Ishino), Hazuki, Death Yama-san, and Konami. Afterward, ASUKA would appeal to Kagetsu in the post-match, requesting a special singles match, and would emerge victoriously. This year, ASUKA made her intentions clear from the get-go: to close this year’s show against Syuri, the World of Stardom Champion. While they have teamed together and wrestled one another in the past (in Marvelous and SEAdLINNNG), they have never met in a singles match.
The entire card leading up to this match had its comedic and light moments. Unlike all the other matches on this card, this was purely a passionate battle between peers for a fallen friend. It was packed with hard-hitting spots, some high-flying, all the grappling one could possibly love and SO. MANY. KICKS. This match was purely a skill showcase between both ASUKA and Syuri with one common goal in mind: to put on the best match possible for everyone– but most of all– for Hana.
It felt like Syuri and ASUKA slipped into their own little world. After two hours of laughter and tears, the precision and focus of this match reminded me so much of Hana’s rivalry with Giulia back in 2019. Mutual respect blossomed from their fierce and violent rivalry, and while ASUKA and Syuri’s paths have crossed in the ring only a handful of times throughout their careers, this felt on the level with any one of Syuri’s World of Stardom Championship defenses or her other outstanding matches over the last few years. After this match, the bar for her future defenses has been substantially raised, so any future challengers may want to watch this match back because ASUKA, a decorated champion in her own right, is one hell of a dancing partner.
This match had a different emotional gravity compared to the rest of the card. When I think back to Hana’s Five Star Grand Prix victory and her match in the Tokyo Dome at Wrestle Kingdom 14, the bittersweet, wistful feelings of what could have been shine through in this match. However, I also see it as Syuri and ASUKA pulling double duty as they are fighting Hana’s portion, too. Hana may have showboated with the best of them, but when she got down to business, she was truly a force to be reckoned with. Much like Mayu Iwatani and Giulia at the concurrent Stardom in Yamanashi last year, and Kyona/Kyoko earlier in the night, this war was just as much about emotional reconciliation as it was putting on a memorable match. They left absolutely everything on the mat, as Syuri closed the first chapter of their potential forever rivalry with SyuSekai.
“I am so thankful and happy that I could wrestle you, Asuka, on today of all days (here on BAGUS)! Today, I wanted to send a message to everyone here, watching at home, and to Hana most of all, which is why I am standing here in this ring, tonight. HANA, YOU’RE WATCHING OVER US AREN’T YOU!? YOU’RE LAUGHING, RIGHT!?” – Syuri (post-match, in-ring promo)
Syuri’s promo reminded me of the one she gave last year when she won the 2021 Five Star Grand Prix. Part of me wants to believe that Hana watched tonight’s match with Syuri’s mom sitting right next to her up in heaven. The show closed with ASUKA, Syuri and Kyoko Kimura in the ring. All the wrestlers surrounded the ring for a 1-2-3-BAGUS! closing, followed by a one-minute round of applause. A video package played two popular songs, both entitled “Hana” (“Flower”)– one by ORANGE RANGE and the other by Kousuke Atari. The final song was “Remember Me” by Shishido Kavka and Tokyo Ska Paradise. The video closed akin to last year with friends throughout the industry and around the world saying “BAGUS!” (GREAT!).
If you haven’t already had the opportunity to watch Mata, Ne! (2021) or BAGUS! (2022), both are available on FITE TV. Both shows are worth more than a single watch as well. Each time I rewatch them, I notice something that I missed in the previous viewing. If you’ve been following Dream Slam Weekly, many of the names on these shows are ones you’ve been seeing all over the place, so if you’re looking for a great portal to dive through for the Japanese independent scene, the Hana Kimura Memorial Shows are a great place to start.
For those wishing to support Remember Hana, the non-profit organization set up in Hana’s memory by her family, more detailed information is available here.
As a personal aside, I would like to personally thank POST for permitting me the opportunity to review this show. For those interested in further background on why this show and its predecessor last year were so crucial in my development as a fan, I’d like to humbly offer up my recent appearance on POSTmarks with Bruce Lord & David Meyers over on the POST Wrestling Cafe (Patreon; It’s free!)
“Everyone is different! Everyone is good! Yes, Sir!” 🌸