The 🤼 プロレス thread! Learning Japanese through pro wrestling

I linked a couple essays on Stardom stories in the second post above (under “further reading”), but they’re a little out of date at this point, unfortunately! If you’d like to read more, my friend @ItsDanaNow has a blog where she writes about Stardom and translates interviews and press conferences and such, and the interviews are a great way to get some insight into a few of the performers if you’re looking for a more in-depth introduction.

She has translated interviews with Mina Shirakawa, Tam Nakano, Mayu Iwatani, and Utami Hayashishita. If your Japanese is good enough, or if you just want some reading practice, you could also read the original Japanese text for these interviews, haha!

I think randomly watching clips can be a great way to discover a performer that you really like! I tend to be an essay person myself, so reading articles and interviews does a lot to get me invested, but I did get really into TJPW after becoming obsessed with one tag team that I just really liked watching, so I’ve had it happen that way, too.

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One way to get to know a lot of wrestlers is the big round-robin tournaments (everyone separates into two blocks and fights everyone else in those blocks to accumulate points - people with the most points fight each other in the final; winner gets a shot at a title) that a lot of the promotions hold every year, and Stardom’s, the 5 Star GP, just ended.

So you might be able to find 5 Star GP 2021 previews (like this one ) or reviews that would double as a Stardom preview since most of the roster is in it, and the final show is on Stardom World with English or Japanese commentary and might not be a bad place to start if intrigued enough to spend money (it’s a lot of singles matches, but it’s a good way to see how each wrester’s styles differ).

Otherwise, this free manga chapter is funnily enough, a good introduction to the factions and their vibes (albeit a slightly out of date one).

My Own Quick Stardom Overview

Stardom, like NJPW, is divided into fairly loosely collected factions that usually determine who a wrestler is going to team up with in preliminary tag matches (which are often lead-in matches to the headlining story-driven matches). the factions are:

Stars
Your straightforward heroes, your Stardom vanguards. Mayu Iwatani is definitely the one to watch here - she’s great, has a mean suplex and gets called a zombie for taking a lot of punishment in a match but always rallying. She’s the “icon of Stardom”, and has been with the promotion since the beginning, outlasting stars who headlined previously but left or retired. She used to be a 引きこもり, and I would say projects an endearing air of lack of confidence. One consistently fun thing is before her matches she throws an armband into the crowd pitcher-style, and it’s shot in such a way that you can only tell how good of a throw it was (or often wasn’t) by her facial expression.
She’s also currently struggling to keep the heavily depleted Stars ranks from being stolen away by the next faction…

Oedotai
Your jerks! Your villains! If anyone’s gonna hit someone with a chair or get disqualified for choking somebody with a chain, it’ll probably be them. Tora Natsuko is the current leader but I believe she’s out with an injury.
The one to watch right now would be Starlight Kid - she was Mayu’s sidekick basically in Stars until losing a match with a convoluted stipulation that meant she had to join Oedotai, and she’s very much embraced her new role and look, immediately seeming much more confident and composed and converting that into a title victory and strong momentum. Mayu and Starlight had a match in the finals I linked, and while I haven’t watched it yet - I very much want to, as it’s having gone from this:


to this:
image
is certainly the makings of a good wrestling story.

Queen’s Quest
Queen’s Quest are proud warriors, a great well of talent who mainly do their own thing and don’t really feel like villains or heroes.
Momo Watanabe is the leader, and she’s great, but the one to watch here now would be Utami Hayashishita, because she’s the current world champion for the company. She unseated Mayu after last year’s 5 Star GP, and she’s certainly earned her reign with some great matches. Also apparently as a kid she was on a reality show about her dad that was very famous in Japan. She’s still quite young and new, not an icon like Mayu, and her championship matches tend to get upstaged by Giulia’s attention-grabbing antics, so she’s determined to prove she deserves the title and spot she has through strength.
As the top champion, whoever wins the 5 Star GP finals is probably going to get a match with her as a reward.
image

Donna Del Mondo
Donna Del Mondo is run by Giulia, who would be a great one to watch… but she’s injured and had to drop out of the tournament. Giulia’s brash and attention-getting, to the point that she’s possibly the biggest rising star Stardom has right now, and having come off a reign with the second-tier belt, she may be well-positioned to go after the top championship soon. Also - her hair is slowly growing back having lost it in a hair-vs-hair match.
DDM is small and relatively close-knit, so all its members stand-out and seem (natsu)poised for cool stuff, but Syuri might be the one to espeically watch right now because a heated rivalry is developing between her and Hayashishita.

Cosmic Angels
The newest faction, run by Tam Nakano, holder of the white second-tier championship belt (“Wonder of Stardom”). They’re more like, beauty and fashion oriented than most other Stardom wrestlers, but they’re just as rough-and-tumble as all of them. Tam Nakano especially seems to seek out painful hard-hitting matches, especially against her rival Giulia.

Also, while technically not affiliated with Stardom (she runs a different promotion, Marvelous), Takumi Iroha is great and shows up in Stardom pretty frequently lately. A match of hers with Iwatani is one I like to link since it’s a full long match that’s officially on youtube.

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Almost forgot to post this, but this is the free match NJPW made available this week! Warning, these expire every Monday (Japan time), so you only have a few days to watch it.

This week’s match is Yoshi-Hashi vs Kazuchika Okada from July 27, 2018. I actually haven’t seen this one haha, but I think I can give a little background:

Summary + links

Kazuchika Okada is widely considered to be one of the best wrestlers in the world. He had an incredible record-breaking nearly two year run as IWGP Heavyweight Champion, and had the title so much, that for a time, he was practically considered synonymous with it—until he lost it to Kenny Omega on June 9. This was right before the start of NJPW’s most important tournament of the year, the G1 Climax.

Okada, uh, did not cope very well with the loss of his belt. He dyed his hair, started bringing balloons to his matches, and started wearing long pants (famously dubbed the “long boys” by his factionmate Trent).

The G1 is a round robin tournament that consists of two blocks: the A Block and the B Block. Each wrestler in each block has to fight every other wrestler in their block. A win nets you two points, a draw one point, and a loss zero. The block finalists face each other at the end of the tournament, and the winner wins a briefcase that contains a contract allowing him to challenge for the IWGP belt at Wrestle Kingdom on January 4, NJPW’s biggest show of the year.

It’s a very competitive tournament, and the matches in it are famously very high-quality. It’s also a tournament that frequently pits two friends against each other in block matches. Such is the case here: Okada and Yoshi-Hashi are both in the same faction, Chaos. They’re also both in the same block in the G1.

Yoshi-Hashi and Okada have been factionmates and good friends for a long time, but their career trajectories could not be more opposite. Okada is possibly the most decorated champion of all time in NJPW. Yoshi-Hashi has yet to win a singles title—or, at the time of this match, any title (he has since won the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship, in the year 2020, 12 years after his debut).

Despite this, Yoshi-Hashi remains incredibly loyal to Okada, and Okada still respects and values him as a friend and partner. They’re going into this match as friends, not as people who are feuding with each other. But their friendship doesn’t change their determination to win and get those vital two points in the tournament.

Basically, this dynamic is NJPW’s most winningest champion (albeit in a bit of a slump) vs NJPW’s biggest underdog.

If you want to watch this match, you have two options! It’s available with English commentary or Japanese commentary. If you’re very new to wrestling and your Japanese listening comprehension isn’t very good, I might suggest watching with English commentary so that you get more of the background and explanation. But if you’re primarily looking for listening practice, the match will be very exciting on its own, so you won’t be missing a whole lot even if you understand none of the commentary.

If anyone has any corrections or additions to this explanation, feel free to add them, haha. This was before my time :sweat_smile:

Also, if you enjoy Yoshi-Hashi, there is a fantastic essay about him linked in the second post in this thread under “further reading.” His character has often been unpopular with western fans who don’t appreciate him because of his tendency to lose, but in my opinion, that’s exactly what makes him compelling.

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Also, as of today, the new Wrestle Universe streaming service is up! I updated all the links for TJPW, DDT, NOAH, and Ganbare so they link to the new website. The new website is substantially friendlier to international fans.

As I mentioned above, a Wrestle Universe subscription is currently free until January 4 (with the condition that you will have to pay the monthly fee for January)! It’s a great opportunity to check out any (or all) of those four promotions. If anyone springs for a subscription and wants match recommendations, there are so many I could give :sweat_smile:

Sincerely, thank you so much for explaining wrestling in itself. Before, when I watched TV wrestling ads or ,even when I watched Glow (Netflix), I could never understand wrestling as an entertainment/art form (it is all fake!). From now on I will respect it as I do with ballet or kabuki.

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For a while I’ve been reading 週刊プロレス magazine and summarizing my takeaways in the extensive reading thread but I suppose I’ll move them over here, if only so I don’t have to keep tagging @fallynleaf !

It’s one more very tangible way pro-wrestling can help with learning Japanese (I remember Koichi in an article talking about kendo magazines as study material and that stuck with me), and this year it’s certainly helped me get used to reading (and skimming) non-fiction material pretty quickly - probably more than I realize. And getting to know both the voices of wrestlers I already care about, and glimpses of wrestlers I might want to follow more than I do has been pretty rewarding.

Plus there’s a maybe unearned pride in like, just subscribing to something and picking it up each week, like “HA see I OFFICIALLY can read - I have a SUBSCRIPTION” even if I am lagging behind still… I’m subscribed via Kinokuniya as a fun excuse to use more of what that store has to offer, but when that runs out I might be prudent and switch to the electronic versions.

My own interest in pro wrestling definitely started as “huh there’s a whole weird world out there I don’t know anything about, go figure” so if anyone enjoys these summaries even as mild idle curiosity I’ll selfishly be pleased - but mostly they’re just to help motivate me to churn through them!

週刊プロレス No. 2128

The issue opens with Kota Ibushi interview about his upcoming title shot in the Tokyo Dome :grimacing: this is the one he’ll have to drop out of due to a sudden illness, but as of yet it seems like there’s no indication of that.
He mentions that comparatively, Takagi is 波のない while he’s 波がある, I think meaning that Takagi is stable and controlled while Ibushi has big ups and downs, and boy he sure turned out to be right about that huh.

Tanahashi talked in his column about how the back pain from being put in a Boston Crab is nostalgic since that’s something young lions feel all the time. It sounds like to make up for dojo grads not really being able to go on excursion in the same way, they’re having series of matches with veterans, which is why Tanahashi got put in a Boston Crab recently.

Especially before I got into Stardom, I felt a lot of trepidation around all the “Cinderella” branding, because I wasn’t sure how seriously the company took the wrestler as athletes. Nowadays I’m much more confident that they are taken seriously that way, and I gotta admit - I’d be motivated to win a wrestling tournament for the chance to wear an elegant dress as much as the title shot.


Asked about how it felt to win the Cinderella tournament and wear the dress, Saya Kamitani talked about how it reminded her of her idol background in a positive way, because then no matter how hard she worked she was always put to the side but now finally she’s managed to take center stage. She also talks a lot about how in the singing/dancing/idol part of show business, it felt like she had to always be striving for perfection in an unhealthy way, but with pro-wrestling, showing flaws can be part of your appeal and so it sounds like she accepts herself a lot more. She also talks about how if it weren’t for Tam Nakano she wouldn’t have come across pro-wrestling, so she considers her 師匠, which informs why she’s chosen to challenge for Tam’s white belt rather than the red belt.

Kenoh talks about facing the Great Muta and how Muta’s strength is presence. He references a 1996 match of Muta’s vs. Hakushi where Hakushi was able to match Muta’s presence and go toe-to-toe with him, so Kenoh implies his secret plan to beat Muta is to do like Hakushi and write sutras all over himself. But then the interviewer points out in a column last year Kenoh apparently already revealed that same plan: 「ムタ戦が決まったら、四国八十八ヵ所を巡礼する。そしたら、体中にお経が浮き出てくるかもしれないぞ。名前は”拳使無双”だ!」 and reminds Kenoh that because of the pandemic it would be a bad time to make the Shikoku 88 temples pilgrimage.

There’s a big interview with Naomichi Marufuji about his recent NOAH title win - they talk about the match with Mutoh and whether or not Marufuji is a NOAH icon. He says something along the lines of like, he’s never going to surpass people like Misawa, Kobashi, or Mutoh, but now he knows it’s not about surpassing the icons of the past, but being your own star to the point that you’re that unsurpassable figure to the next generation of wrestlers.

The magazine’s hiring! So if you fit the description of 週プロで働きたいというやる気とプロレス愛に満ちた方, feel free to apply! :slight_smile:
The accompanying picture is kind of interesting:


I guess all those match recaps are written live in a dedicated press area? I never really thought about it before come to think of it…

Giulia in her column talks about that great match between Utami Hayashishita and Syuri (which I believe Giulia was on commentary for), and she heaps a lot of deserving praise on it, comparing them to greek gods. One part, about the beauty of emotion, I thought was especially well put:

明るく、激しく、美しく。スターダムのスローガン。
「美しく」は普段、華やかな選手がたくさんいるってトコで使われてたような気がする。でも、あの試合の後のボロ雑巾みたいな2人の姿が、私を感動させてくれた。美しいって、こういう事だよなって。
全てを出し切って、思考力ゼロの死んだ魚みたいな目をした林下は美しかった。
その横で、ベルトが獲れなくて子供みたいに泣きじゃくる朱里。実力者の朱里は余裕があって、いつも何があってもニコニコしてて、練習でゲロ吐いてる私達の横でも笑ってる。あの朱里があんな悔しそうに泣くのを見て、私は見惚れた。朱里が流した悔し涙も、とにかく美しかった。

She also says what she likes about Stardom is everyone pushing each other to be the best - for example, she thought she thought her match with Tam would get best bout, so now she’ll have to step up her game!

There’s a feel-good Andre the Giant story in the history column - who doesn’t love those?!
It sounds like Andre was a big star in Japan in the early 70s appearing in 国際プロレス, and when the promotion was in serious trouble of losing television rights due to low ratings (or something like that) in 1974, Andre came back to Japan for shows with them and took a much reduced payment for it out of gratitude to the promoter, Isao Yoshihara. Mighty Inoue is quoted here as saying about why Andre did that: 「彼は日本人以上に義理を大事にしていた男ですから。」

There’s an interview with Meiko Satomura about her NXT UK championship win. She describes it as a highlight of her career (though admits that she’s the type to forget about past achievements and focus on the now), and she talks about wanting to transition into coaching and raising the next generation of wrestlers.

Takumi Iroha talks about returning from injury soon, faster than expected! (in the present, she already has, but hey still nice to see).

There’s going to be a series of interviews with SEAdLINNNG wrestler Nanae Takahashi in the next few issues. I confess I mostly know her from her cute dog in that “wrestlers and their pets” column a while back, but it sounds like she’s had a really storied career, stretching back to AJW. This column talks about the last days of that promotion and how she decided whether to stay or go as it started to fold.

Rina Yamashita talks about Risa Sera, and how the latter’s deathmatch determination in the face of online criticism and the like is what’s produced this sort of deathmatch renaissance in Ice Ribbon. If there’s any two wrestlers I’d like to see wrestle more often than I get the chance to, it would likely be these two. Maybe I should look back into that Ice Ribbon niconico channel…

In Mutoh’s column, they make an interesting off-hand comparison between Japanese and American wrestling - talking about how generational rivals are a special characteristic of Japanese wrestling, where in America they tend to build up disposable wrestlers for feuds (I suppose alluding to how WWE tends to build around one big star like Hogan or Cena or Reigns and then build up and feed a cycle of lesser monsters to them) - Mutoh jokes that that wouldn’t be possible in Japan because even if you threw away a wrestler you’d have to recycle!

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I also felt similarly! It didn’t help that I learned about TJPW right at the same time, so there was a lot of “princess” theming happening, and the presentation of both of those companies differed a lot from, say, NJPW, which was my first exposure to wrestling.

I will say, I do wish other joshi promotions that are less idol-based in terms of aesthetics were as accessible for non-Japanese speakers as Stardom and TJPW are. I’m hoping to eventually get to a point where I can expand my own horizons. I actually tried to include SEAdLINNNG, Ice Ribbon, and Marvelous in the original draft for this thread, but had to cut them because I didn’t know enough about them in order to describe them.

That said, in a vacuum, I do really enjoy Stardom’s Cinderella tournament, and TJPW’s whole vibe, simply because they’re fun! I’ve written several fics re-imagining TJPW storylines with various magical elements woven into them just because the stories themselves lend so well to that (one is a Revolutionary Girl Utena AU, another was planned to be an Alice in Wonderland AU based on the Magical Sugar Rabbits photobook, but I scrapped the concept in favor of re-envisioning the feud by having it swap places with a NOAH feud instead of sending the characters to Wonderland). I really enjoy how the TJPW roster often feels like the characters came right out of a video game, or a magical girl anime, or a fairy tale.

One of my favorite TJPW things, actually, is pairing it with NOAH just because the overall tone and style of the two promotions could not be more different. I loved the entire lead-up to CyberFight Festival, as well as the show itself, just because it was so awesome to see Miyu Yamashita standing next to Jun Akiyama and Keiji Mutoh, and their three championship belts were treated as equal.

In TJPW’s Wrestle Princess show last year, I also loved a couple spots from that main event that were quite literally moments right out of Pro Wrestling NOAH. I guess part of what’s so cool about pro wrestling is that princesses and dresses can exist in the same space as violent athletic performances, and neither invalidates the other, and they’re actually part of the same shared history and community.

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Oh, I forgot to mention this earlier, but the NJPW show happening tonight (it starts in, uh, just over an hour from now, 18:30 JST) is free to watch without a subscription! I think the VOD will still be free if you can’t catch the show live? It’ll be up at NJPW World.

It’s a G1 Climax show, which I would normally highly recommend, since it’s usually the most exciting time to follow NJPW during this tournament, but this year has been more underwhelming. If you want a couple hours of listening practice, though, it’s a good candidate. Both English and Japanese commentary are available.

They made the September 24 show available for free as well (here’s with Japanese commentary, and here’s with English). I’m bummed they keep making the B Block shows free and none of the A Block shows, because I like the A Block a lot better this year :sweat_smile:

Honestly the idol aesthetics in Stardom seem all but vestigial at this point since it seems like they’re focusing on straightforward athletics these days. For the others though there was one magazine I recapped a while back that had a rundown of lots of women’s promotions that might be somewhat useful.

I think Ice Ribbon would definitely be one to include - they were listed second under Stardom in that list, and my impression from watching some shows was a bit of a “super indie” vibe - like a smorgasbord of different sides of wrestling - from major feuds, to your idol types, to deathmatches, to mixed tags, to martial arts focused matches, Ram Kaichou from 666 was in there, etc.
They also have a niconico channel that’s subscribable like nicopro, so it’s accessible at least in some form even if it’s not nearly as straightforward as Stardom or TJPW. I was briefly subscribed to both and my impression was that the Ice Ribbon channel was a back catalog of prior shows while nicopro was new shows on timers, and I found both a bit stressful to navigate and hard to tell what exactly I would have access to (especially not knowing how to buy additional niconico points overseas…). Now that I’ve accumulated some amount of Ice Ribbon matches I’d like to have watched from the magazines though - it might be fun to resubscribe and see if I can’t track them down.

As for SEAdLINNNG (every time I type that name… what a name!) and Marvelous, I’m not sure the best way to get into them (since I haven’t yet)… shows might show up on niconicopro, I think?
But my impression is they’re both small promotions guided heavily by a couple of veterans running them - in SEAdLINNNG’s case, Yoshiko and former Stardom founder Nanae Takahashi (in my recap a couple posts ago I should have remembered THAT’s who that was not just mentioned the cute dog), in Marvelous’ case, former Crush Gal Chigusa Nagayo and Takumi Iroha.

I suppose it’s a wiki so I could update it huh :sweat_smile: (though I’m not sure I know enough to fill in “style” without just cribbing heavily from shupro)

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Both NJPW and DDT put up free matches this week that contain one of my favorite wrestlers! They’re extremely different matches, which show two very different (but equally enjoyable) sides of him.

NJPW’s free match this Monday is Kota Ibushi vs Jay White from the G1 Climax 29 Final on August 12, 2019. Remember, you only have until next Monday (Japan time) to watch this one! Since it will vanish, I’ll put the full description under a cut. I originally watched this match live as it aired, and I was very nervous, haha, because so much was riding on this one.

Explanation and links

This match is pretty straightforward: Ibushi is the babyface hero desperate to achieve his dream, and Jay is the slimy heel desperate to win whatever it takes. Ibushi isn’t always such a pure babyface—he has a very cruel side (often dubbed “murder Ibushi”) that tends to come out when his opponents provoke him too much, but Jay delights so much in tormenting him, it’s easy to root for Ibushi here.

The G1 Climax is NJPW’s most important tournament, and this is the final, so winning it is a pretty big deal. For Ibushi, winning would get him one step closer to his dream of winning the IWGP Heavyweight belt. For Jay, winning it would mean he’s the second ever gaijin wrestler (after Kenny Omega) to win this tournament. The prize on the line is a contract granting the winner the right to challenge for the IWGP belt in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom, NJPW’s biggest show of the year.

There’s a deeper narrative thread also running beneath this match, and it’s the main reason why I was so invested in it, even though the commentary never acknowledges it. Winning the IWGP Heavyweight belt was so important to Ibushi, it was the reason why he chose to sign with NJPW instead of following Kenny to AEW. The Golden Lovers didn’t want to tell another story about one of them feeling overshadowed by the other.

There are echoes of this story throughout this G1 final. In 2018, Ibushi also made it to the finals, but even with Kenny in his corner supporting him, he wasn’t able to win. This year, Ibushi walks out alone. This is in stark contrast to Jay, who brings the entirety of Bullet Club out with him, including Kenta, who freshly joined the faction earlier that night after turning on his “wrestling soulmate” Katsuyori Shibata (wrestlers betraying their soulmates is a bit of a theme for Bullet Club). In 2018, Ibushi was sort of peripherally part of Bullet Club for a time (at least, he effectively married into it), but here, they’re fully his enemies.

I don’t know if this match will be nearly as compelling to anyone else, but I was desperate to see Ibushi win, both because I wanted him to be able to achieve his dream, and I wanted him to show to the world that he was on Kenny’s level and that the two of of them are truly the best in the world so that when the Golden Lovers do reunite, they can finally team up without ambition and jealousy eating away at them. (Kenny actually did watch this match, and the end of it affected him, too, but that’s a story that was told in a different company in a different country).

If you want to watch this match, it’s available with English commentary or Japanese commentary! It’s a decently long match, so just remember that it will disappear on Monday (Japan time)!

The other free Kota Ibushi match this week is very different! It also has a lot of stakes to it, albeit a very different kind.

Here is Kota Ibushi defending his KO-D Championship against Yoshihiko (a wrestler who is a blow up doll) in DDT Pro Wrestling on March 21, 2015, four years before the match linked above.

This match is rather infamous. Some clips from it went a bit viral a few years ago, and some wrestling fans absolutely loathe the existence of it because they think it’s “killing the business” by exposing that pro wrestling matches aren’t actually real fights. Personally, I love it because it’s 1) extremely funny, and 2) extremely cool. There are some genuinely awesome stunt fighting moments in this, and it takes a lot of athleticism and skill to essentially wrestle an entire match by yourself!

If you enjoy Yoshihiko and want to see more of him, here’s a very recent match of his from September 26, 2021. This one has Japanese commentary, so it’s an excuse for some listening practice if nothing else, haha!

Part of the thrill of this match is Yoshihiko’s tag partner: Jun Akiyama. Akiyama is a very established wrestling legend who is known primarily for his work in respectable promotions like AJPW and NOAH. He’s in DDT now, though, and during his KO-D title reign, he fully solidified himself as representing DDT, comedy ridiculousness and all (I wrote about this transformation in several posts on my gif blog because there’s nothing I love more than serious wrestlers doing ridiculous comedy stuff).

Believe it or not, there’s a bit of a story leading into the match linked above, though nothing too involved. Akiyama first appeared with Yoshihiko at the very end of the CyberFight Festival supershow in June, and a photograph of Akiyama with Yoshihiko slung over his shoulders made the cover of 週刊プロレス that week.

A couple months later, they announced that the two of them would be tagging together in an upcoming match. Akiyama made a surprise appearance in a match in September, coming to Yoshihiko’s aid disguised as Yoshihiko’s handler (sometimes a person dressed all in black participates in the match to help Yoshihiko execute certain moves, but this person sort of both exists and doesn’t exist at the same time in kayfabe). The post match comments for this one were really funny, haha. If your Japanese listening comprehension isn’t good enough to catch them, a translation is in here.

Akiyama and Yoshihiko’s opponents are Harashima, the ace of DDT, and Kazuki Hirata, who is known more for his dancing in the ring than his wrestling ability (in kayfabe, at least). He is a very skilled wrestler, though, and really proves it in this match. Some moments here are really special.

Yoshihiko and Hirata are going to have a singles match soon. On October 12, I think? But I don’t know if that match will end up on youtube or not.

Also, sort of an interesting side note: apparently half of the people accessing the new Wrestle Universe streaming service so far have been overseas fans, which is amazing for a company that produces almost entirely Japanese content with almost no subtitles! It just goes to show how much of pro wrestling transcends language. Takagi is promising to add more English content to the service, so DDT, TJPW, and NOAH will likely continue to become even more accessible if your listening comprehension isn’t quite there yet.

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Tomorrow/today (the 9th in Japan) is TJPW’s biggest show of the year, Wrestle Princess! Last year, I wrote up a preview for it to help catch new fans up on the storylines, but this year I ran out of time :sweat_smile:. It should be loads of fun, though, and it would probably be a good entry point for the promotion if you’re curious about it and are willing to try out a Wrestle Universe subscription.

In anticipation of the show, TJPW uploaded a few relevant matches to youtube.

The first one is the match that actually got me into TJPW! It’s a tag team title match between the Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki and Mizuki) and NEO Biishiki-gun (Sakisama & Misao) on June 8, 2019. (No commentary for this one, sorry).

I knew Yuka a little bit from AEW, but the other three wrestlers were new to me. As soon as I saw NEO Biishiki-gun, I was utterly entranced. My lesbian heart was smitten; I needed them to win the tag titles. They’re the only true heel faction in the entire company, and they’re beautiful and evil, and I wanted them to have everything their hearts desired. If you watch the match linked above, here’s Sakisama’s entrance music (since the video cuts out the entrances, I’m guessing due to many wrestling themes being extremely copyrighted).

In the months to follow, I had just enough time to get extremely attached to Sakisama and Misao’s tag team before things started to go wrong for them. Misao’s story that year was incredible and emotional, so I can’t really complain about her leaving NEO Biishiki-gun, but it broke my heart a little when she split from Sakisama at the end of 2019.

In 2020, Sakisama found a new tag partner. As the story goes, Mei Saint-Michel was drawn to the sound of Sakisama playing the flute in the woods, and she followed after Sakisama and asked her to train her to be her maid. Not long into 2021, NEO Biishiki-gun were once again tag champions.

Yuka and Mizuki hold a grudge against them because NEO Biishiki-gun ended both of Yuka’s tag title reigns previously. My own allegiances have actually shifted over the past year, and as much as I still love NEO Biishiki-gun, I’m cheering for the Magical Sugar Rabbits all the way in this one. It’s rather poetic, because Yuka and Mizuki actually faced each other in the main event of Wrestle Princess last year, but this time, they’re trying for the tag belts together.

Pro wrestling in general tells a lot of stories about love, but TJPW in particular tends to really reward your investment in these stories, which is part of why it’s my favorite company.

The main event of Wrestle Princess this year is also a story about love. It’s another battle between tag partners, this time between Miyu Yamashita, TJPW’s ace, and Maki Itoh, once a failed idol, now an international superstar.

The match that arguably propelled Itoh to the level of fame that she currently has is this one that TJPW just uploaded: Maki Itoh vs Miyu Yamashita in DDT’s one (and so far only) show in the US on April 4, 2019. (This match actually had Patrick Gill doing English commentary, but I believe the version with commentary is only available if you purchase the show on Fite.tv)

This is a short match, and it’s not their best one, but Itoh was amazed by how popular she was in America, and it inspired her to work on improving her English. Eventually, she got her heart set on appearing in the American company AEW (a goal that she achieved in 2021!).

Maki Itoh is rather infamous in the English-speaking wrestling world for her notoriously abrasive personality and her frequent use of profanity and English slang on twitter. Her account is pretty entertaining, if you’re looking for some Japanese reading practice on your twitter feed, haha!

Itoh has crossed paths with Miyu again and again throughout her career, always at pivotal moments for her character, but only in 2021 did they become tag partners. Itoh doesn’t have a great history with her tag partners (she’s insecure and afraid of being overshadowed), but somehow, she and Miyu made it work. And now Itoh is about to challenge Miyu for her title once again, and this time, she might actually finally win it.

Wrestling has a way of bringing things full circle. I love how much it rewards your investment, but it can make it difficult to just jump in, because it feels like you’re always entering in the middle of the story. I hope these posts help at least one person :sweat_smile:

NJPW’s free match this week features the wrestler who got @rodan into wrestling! It’s Shinsuke Nakamura vs Tetsuya Naito from April 14, 2011. I haven’t seen this match, but it’s a G1 final, so it’s probably incredible. Naito is also a really compelling character, but this is an era for him that I’m very hazy on, so I’ll let the match speak for itself (if you want to know more about him, I linked a couple essays about him in the “further reading” section in this thread).

If you want to watch this match, it’s available here until next Monday (Japan time). Japanese commentary is your only option for this one!

In other wrestling news, Wrestle Princess was fantastic! One of my top three shows of the year across all promotions.

If you want a taste, TJPW uploaded part of one of the matches to youtube! This match is Aja Kong & Moka Miyamoto vs Miu Watanabe & Yuki Arai from October 9. The version uploaded to youtube has Japanese commentary. When I linked this initially, I thought it was the full match, but it looks like they only included part of it, sorry!

Aja Kong is a joshi wrestling legend. She has been wrestling for decades. In this match, she’s teaming up with Moka, who is one of TJPW’s rookies. Their opponents are two wrestlers who are also idols: Miu (in pink), a member of the Up Up Girls who debuted a few years ago, and Yuki Arai, a member of SKE48 who is one of TJPW’s newest rookies.

There are a couple main plot threads in this. One of them is the rivalry between Moka and Arai, who each have a win over the other person (and have yet to win against anyone else). TJPW actually streamed the singles match between them as part of the pre-show before Wrestle Princess (there’s even Japanese commentary, and they didn’t mute the entrances, haha). The other story of the match centers around Miu’s determination to do her Giant Swing move on Aja Kong.

Previous to this match, Miu managed to do something that no other wrestler had ever done: she did a Giant Swing on two people, holding one in each arm (the spot went mildly viral on wrestling twitter). Afterward, Miu vowed that she would Giant Swing Aja Kong, a feat that no other joshi wrestler had ever managed to accomplish. Aja warned her that she weighed as much as three people, not two, but Miu’s determination did not waver.

It’s a fun match! The post-match comments are really nice, too (here’s a link to the translation if you need it).

Also, this week, DDT streamed part of their October 12 show live! Loads of listening practice here, because you get three dark matches, the announcements in the venue, and the first two matches on the main card of the show (sadly, you don’t get to listen to the entrance themes). There’s also a live youtube chat that might offer some reading practice, but I can’t vouch for the quality of the chat because I watched the show on Wrestle Universe.

It would take way too long to give context for all of these matches, but if you do want to watch all or most of the stream, here’s Mr. Haku’s live translation thread, which offers more information and some translations for things said in-ring.

Kazuki Hirata vs Yoshihiko is in this! I’ve timestamped the start of that match in the link to the stream below. It was really fun, so I recommend checking out at least that one match. Yoshihiko does some awesome submission wrestling, haha.

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I don’t know that much about that time either, but in broad strokes I know plucky babyface “Stardust Genius” Naito being upstaged by Chaos-leader Nakamura would end up being a big part of what made the former Ingobernable, so that match seems like an interesting look at the roots of the characters they’d both be most famous as later on - weird now to see non-tranquilo Naito and a Nakamura who’s got some of the mannerisms (and hair) but not all of them! (and boy again… I forgot how loud the audience used to be from start to finish in climactic matches)

Meanwhile it took me a lot longer than I should have to realize that the shift to the new Wrestle Universe involves registering separately on the new site, and if you keep going to the old one nothing will appear strange except new shows aren’t uploaded :sweat_smile: Was wondering when Wrestle Princess was going to show up…

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I was amused to see an official NJPW-themed introductory English-learning book up for pre-order. Guess @fallynleaf isn’t the only one actively advocating for wrestling as a vehicle for language learning! I might have to try the Bookwalker version when it comes out next month just out of curiosity…

Turns out the pitch at the top of this thread could have been a lot more succinct just by swapping 日本語 into the following equation :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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Omg, that’s incredible! Thanks for sharing!

I’ve actually heard a couple Japanese wrestlers talk about how they learned English through watching WWE, haha! Shota (wrestler for DDT and Ganbare, not the NJPW young lion Shota Umino) said that’s how he originally learned English.

And of course, plenty of wrestlers are also motivated to learn English primarily so that they can connect better with their English-speaking fans. Miu Watanabe gave a funny anecdote where she talked about not bothering to learn English because she didn’t think she’d ever need it, and then of course she became a pro wrestler, and now has lots of international fans. She really struggles with English more than many TJPW wrestlers, but I honestly find it really inspiring that she tries anyway. Here was her attempt to write her own name in romaji on twitter.

When I see things like that, it makes me feel better about my own limited ability to communicate in Japanese, haha, because it’s a good reminder that even if you make mistakes, it’s not the end of the world, and most people will find it endearing that you at least tried.

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Sharing the NJPW match of the week a little late today, sorry! It’s been kind of a stressful week for NJPW :cold_sweat:.

This is another one I haven’t seen! It’s another G1 final, this time Yuji Nagata vs Keiji Muto from August 12, 2001, long before I got into wrestling. Both men are actually still wrestling, and despite their age, both of them have had some huge moments this year (Nagata got a nice showcase match in the American company AEW, challenging Jon Moxley for the IWGP US title (a NJPW belt, sorry for all the acronyms). Muto is in Pro Wrestling NOAH now, and he actually was the GHC champion for several months).

I believe the match linked above happened when both of them were in their prime, so it should be pretty exciting! The match has Japanese commentary. You have until Monday (Japan time) to watch it, etc.

DDT’s free match of the week is also an exciting one! It’s Sanshiro Takagi vs Minoru Suzuki in the empty Tokyo Dome on June 1, 2017. (If you want to watch the beginning with unmuted entrances, since muting 風になれ is a crime, this version of the match has them, though that video doesn’t have the full match).

Admittedly, I still have yet to actually sit down and watch this one :sweat_smile:. It’s just enough before my time that I haven’t had the chance to get around to it yet, though I’ve been meaning to for over a year. DDT uploading this one now was a topical choice; Minoru Suzuki has been on a tear lately, wrestling some notable opponents in America. He’s in his early 50’s, which is pretty old for an active wrestler, but he’s still able to put on incredible matches, and his character work is amazing. He’s genuinely terrifying, and you get a sense for who he is immediately.

Sanshiro Takagi is… very different, haha! He’s the president of CyberFight, which includes DDT. He loves doing ridiculous comedy, and he named DDT’s biggest show of the year “Peter Pan” because he never wants to grow up and wants to remain immature and childish forever.

This match is an early predecessor of AEW’s stadium stampede match, which was born out of necessity during the early months of the pandemic when wrestling shows could not have crowds. This one was planned this way by design, though. It’s one of DDT’s 路上(ろじょう) shows, or street wrestling, where the show happens outside of a wrestling ring.

Ironically, the 東京ドーム, where this show is held, is one of the most famous wrestling venues in the world. It’s where NJPW holds their biggest show of the year (Wrestle Kingdom), and it can seat over 40,000 fans. I believe this match was DDT’s first time running the venue. But, being DDT, they had to be different, haha, so they did a Tokyo Dome show without an audience.

The match goes all over the place. It’s a very nontraditional match, and since the commentary is only in Japanese, it might be a little bit chaotic and confusing. This blog contains a breakdown of the match and some explanation of the story going into it, though the first paragraph spoils the result, so you might want to start reading after the second photo.

TJPW’s free match of the week is one from last week’s show: Rika Tatsumi & Hyper Misao & Nodoka Tenma vs Kamiyu & Mahiro Kiryu & Suzume, on October 16, 2021.

There’s no commentary available for this one, though Misao does speak on the mic at the beginning, haha (this is typical for her). It’s a pretty straightforward match with a very light-hearted plot. The main story of this one is that Misao (superhero cape and mask), Rika (in white), and Nodoka (steampunk-ish gear) just faced each other in a match at Wrestle Princess the week before.

In that match, Misao was so excited that Rika was back that she tried to get them to turn the match into a singles match between her and Rika (Misao is in love with Rika, who is in love with Mizuki, who is in love with her tag partner Yuka, who is the only person in this chain of unrequited love who actually reciprocates). At the end of it, Rika was mad that her return got upstaged by Misao’s shenanigans, and Nodoka was mad that everyone ignored her even though she won the match. So, even though Misao claims that they bonded after their 3-way match, I’m not sure it’s that simple :sweat_smile:.

That’s everything I have to link this week! I’d love to also link stuff from other companies, but I’m not caught up on Stardom, and I’m patchy with keeping up with NOAH and ChocoPro, so you’ll have to check their channels on your own.

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I receded a bit away from wrestling in the last month, I think as a sort of calm before the storm knowing that I’m gonna need to start reading a whole lot of wrestling magazines if I want to catch up with 週刊プロレス by the end of the year (which I do).
Well - the storm may have arrived. I’m gonna try to go for it and cook through 'em, without sacrificing too much of my willingness to actually read and retain what’s in the magazines.

I’m experimenting with not hiding stuff under “Hide Details” as much… It’s on topic in the thread, after all. I guess let me know if you have any opinion one way or another.

週刊プロレス No. 2129:
This one I remember feeling light, mostly just pictures of wrestling matches I would have liked to have seen (but probably won’t get around to watching), namely:

Miyahara, Aoyagi, and Lee fighting for the vacant Triple Crown championship back in AJPW:

Yamashita and Sera doing their thing in Ice Ribbon:

Nakajima and Kitamiya in a hair vs. hair cage match:

That’s too bad! Nakajima’s curly hair made him immediately stand out to me.

And, naturally, Kenoh getting misted again:

The theme of Giulia’s column was 体と心のメンテナンス, and she mentions she got paid by her wrestler-oriented insurance 2万5千円 for stitching up her forehead when it got split open in that Cinderella tournament match with Maika, and she recommends her insurance to her uninsured colleagues.
That makes me wonder more about the insurance situation with wrestlers in Japan, but I feel like I lack any context from like several angles so I can’t even begin to speculate.

There’s a “Champ Talk” column with 沙希様&メイ・サン=ミッシェル from TJPW that I remember being quite fun.

Mina Shirakawa has an interview that tries gamely to inject the dramatic possibility of a Cosmic Angels riff into her (then) upcoming championship match with Tam Nakano. There’s too strong a sense of mutual respect for that to really happen though.

The costume column is about Kenoh’s ring attire. Did you notice it features some red??? He claims to not fuss over his weird haircut, he just likes that he can go to his hair dresser and not say anything and keep it the same way.

週刊プロレス No. 2130

There’s an interview with NJPW young lions Yuya Uemura and Yota Tsuji and is it just me or does Tsuji really pull off this look??


They’re in a weird position since usually young lions go on excursion to another country before returning with a new gimmick, but it’s not exactly the best time for that these days… Sounds like Tana told Tsuji he could get a new costume but he says he doesn’t want to just go out and buy his individuality, he wants to develop it and demonstrate it in the ring.

Giulia’s column is about 地方巡業 and being in tourist mode while traveling with Stardom (there’s also a few pages of photos of Stardom wrestlers on a ferry in the Tsugaru strait). Makes me pretty jealous after not having traveled in so long! She talks about being shown around Fukuoka by Maika’s family, getting too drunk and falling asleep at the airport and being carried to the plane by staff, going on an onsen trip with all of Donna Del Mondo in Atami, visiting the Atami 秘宝館 (turns out this is a sex museum), and eating crab and seeing the “100万ドルの夜景” in Hakodate.

I don’t know anything about Dragon Gate, but these guys seem pretty fun:

the costume column is about 星月芽衣 from Marvelous, who I think has shown up lately sometimes in Stardom. In my head I’ve remembered Marvelous wrestlers in Stardom as “the one in the rainbow-camo swimsuit style gear” - but it sounds like that’s actually the Marvelous equivalent of the young lion trunks in New Japan, and Mei’s graduated from those. So hopefully this’ll help me do a better job learning her name properly.

Mutoh’s column is about the moonsault he did at the Cyberfestival, after his moonsault long having been disused for the sake of his (extremely long-suffering) knees. It sounds like his doctor and wife were NOT happy about it, and even many fans expressed concern for his knees. He talks about wrestling being an art with a physical cost.

The magazine staff express confusion at longtime indie wrestler (and former columnist) Hideki Suzuki’s ringname in WWE/NXT apparently being “Hachiman.” Giulia jokes that it must be because his ギャラが月8万円 (geddit? はちまん円…)

Apparently there’s a live show featuring wrestlers called Batman Ninja?

週刊プロレス No. 2131

Naito’s column drifts into the subject of the olympics, and he talks about having no interest or drive to root for Japan in it, not even in baseball, since the national team is a mix of various teams not just the one he supports and he’d prefer they focus on the league itself. He says his only strong memory of the olympics is when they lit the torch once with a bow and arrow, not anything from any of the competitions.

Starlight Kid has an interview about her new look. I’m still so impressed that she went so quickly from plucky sidekick to maybe the coolest look in wrestling - but then, a masked wrestler with a lot of purple who still somehow incorporates a Superman logo in there somehow is definitely gonna be up my alley.
She talks quite frankly about putting the look together, including extensions and contacts and pants instead of shorts, and it’s a pretty interesting look behind the scenes.
She also talks about how while she doesn’t hate Stars now, there’s a freedom in Oedotai she appreciates. The interviewer points out also that with Tora injured, SLK might already be the closest thing Oedotai has to an active leader at the moment.
Apparently also Tora is SLK’s kouhai by one year?! Goes to show I have absolutely no idea how old or experienced anyone is - I feel like I assume the faction leaders are the most experienced but with Stardom that doesn’t seem to be a given.

I’ve noticed there’s almost zero ads for anything not directly wrestling-related in the magazine, but when there is, for some reason it’s always for papayas:


I don’t think I’ve ever had a papaya.

Apparently Onita is still out there somewhere doing his thing - this match’s full tile is apparently a “有刺鉄線電流爆破+バリケードマット地雷+電流爆破バット+電流爆破テーブル~地獄のデスマッチ~”
The man has a flair for names.

I think this is my new favorite example of non-literal furigana:

Giulia’s column is about her tag team with Syuri, which is going by the name “Alto livello KABALIWAN” now, or アリカバ. Sounds like it’s a mix of Italian and Filipino to show their respective roots, with the intended meaning being モノが違う狂気. She talks about characteristically being individualistic and interested in singles wrestling, but how with Syuri told her they’re like Picasso and Beethoven teaming up, two great artists with individual visions coming together as something unique.
image

The staff column at the back is about 誹謗中傷 - it sounds like what happened to Hana has not stopped abusive comments, and there’s comments from Tam and Giulia about how they deal with abuse directed at them online. Giulia recommends liberally blocking and muting them and remembering that as much as they’ll say they’re speaking for everyone, they’re demonstrably a small, venomous fraction of the total audience.

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Thanks as always for sharing these! I was going to post some more match links last week, but was too busy! This week is looking to be even busier, so we’ll just have to see how things go :sweat_smile:

I like the posts being not hidden, personally! Makes it easier to browse their contents at a glance, which is handy because pro wrestling is such a variety show.

I miss his hair, too! Though, I did laugh when he lost that match, haha! As fond of him as I am, he definitely deserved to get his comeuppance there. I was trying to explain the context of that cage match to a friend, and it was fun to explain that even though Nakajima was the betrayee in this particular situation and not the betrayer, he was still not exactly a sympathetic character.

Regarding Kenoh’s haircut, I love that detail! His hair is very strange, but it’s such a part of him at this point, I truly can’t imagine him any other way.

Also, agreed on Tsuji’s look! Though it is quite strange to see him in just regular clothes when I’m so used to seeing him in a basic t-shirt or just black trunks, haha.

And yes, the rainbow-camo swimsuit gear is the Marvelous trainee gear! I think they’re the only joshi promotion I’ve seen that actually has a specific outfit for all of their trainees. In TJPW and Stardom, trainee wrestlers get to have their own unique look, which is nice, but there’s also something special about a wrestler graduating from trainee status and suddenly becoming their own person.

I actually just watched a recent match with Maria in it, and it was cool to see how different she looked now that she has graduated from being a trainee! I first saw her in the very first Assemble show last year (did you hear about Assemble? It’s a very cool project that unfortunately seems like it isn’t getting continued).

And yeah, Mutoh’s moonsault… I was a little terrified when I saw him do it during that show, but at the same time, I understand why he did it. It almost felt like there during that match, on a stage as important as that one for those three companies, he was okay with that match potentially being his last match ever, if doing that move had killed his knees.

I love Starlight Kid’s new look and overall character direction! She has absolutely had one of the coolest stories in 2021

Onita actually recently came to the US! An indie promotion flew him in so that he could help them with their explosions (they learned from AEW’s mistakes). I didn’t watch this show, but here’s a gif from it (warning, this is from a deathmatch, so it’s a little gnarly).

Onita has certainly been keeping busy in Japan, too. His new promotion did an Independence Day show on July 4, and I found it extremely amusing that a Japanese promotion did a show themed around American Independence Day, but I suppose the main allure of the holiday was the theme of fireworks and explosions, haha!

One thing that’s fun to me is that the American wrestler Jon Moxley started using Wild Thing as his theme, inspired by Onita (both of them use the same version of the song), and there was one day a few months ago where I watched AEW, where the last match began and ended with Wild Thing playing, and then just a few hours later, I watched DDT Peter Pan, where one of the pre-matches began and ended with Wild Thing playing. Just a cool connection between two completely different people in two completely different countries.

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週刊プロレス No. 2132

I’ve forgotten most of the details of what’s in the beginning of the magazine (mainly a long Naito/SANADA interview and the regular columns), because that’s all overshadowed by what to me at least is far and away the most interesting thing in the issue:

A big long overview, history, and celebration of Ice Ribbon in honor of its 15th Anniversary!

Like the one for Stardom’s 10th anniversary earlier in the year, this was a really interesting read that filled in a lot of gaps for me. It also makes me think I should consider resubscribing to the Ice Ribbon niconico channel now that I’ve got far, far more context than I did when last I gave it a shot.

Here’s the gist I took away history-wise:
Ice Ribbon began in 2015 when Emi Sakura, then working for 我闘姑娘, went looking for strategies to increase the number of shows they could run, settling on… getting rid of the ring.


By putting on mat wrestling shows, they could run at more and smaller venues, and running more shows meant more money, so Ice Ribbon started as an avenue for that, before the original parent promotion folded and Ice Ribbon became its own thing and branched out into more usual kinds of pro-wrestling.

Emi Sakura led the promotion and was lauded, but decided to leave, with two wrestlers set to take over for that loss: Tsukasa Fujimoto and Hikaru Shida. Fujimoto would go on to take over running the wrestling side of the company (including the match-making), and would be lauded with the same industry prize Sakura won before her, while Shida would decide she would prefer to see where the skillset she’d gained could take her instead and is now a former champion in AEW.
Other stars like Risa Sera and recently Suzu Suzuki have been built up, and with from the beginning a willingness to try new things, build stars, and stream on the internet, the promotion may be well positioned to weather the corona crisis.

There’s an interview with Fujimoto and the guy who I guess runs the parent company (Hajime Sato), and it sounds like according to him at least, Sakura’s departure was mainly just because she wasn’t as interested in the business management side of things as the company grew and that led to disagreements. It sounds like Fujimoto handles the wrestling side of things and the booking but finds the latter stressful (and apparently they’re often late in getting show cards to the magazine reporters). They float an idea for as the number of shows increases, delegating booking responsibility to different wrestlers on different days to relieve some pressure and get different people experience (but I don’t know if they try this).

There’s a list of 5 大事件 (positive and negative) from Ice Ribbon’s history:

  1. Sakura and Fujimoto winning the 女子プロ大賞 9 years apart
  2. Sakura suddenly leaving
  3. Tsukushi arrested - Tsukushi is a wrestler for the company who was originally a kid’s wrestler (an unusual joshi wrestling thing where teen or even younger trainees sometimes wrestle at shows), and while this just says she “トラブルで逮捕,” I looked it up and apparently she may have tried to stab Kagetsu?! Geez. I guess it didn’t amount to anything seriously more than teen trouble that’s now in the past, though. That type of thing being (however mildly) in the public eye seems like a not great aspect of that part of wrestling.
  4. Giulia’s scandalous departure - this was covered in Stardom’s history too, but it sounds like Giulia leaving Ice Ribbon without warning via tweet really made waves.
  5. Suzu Suzuki getting a solo shupro cover at 17 (I feel like it’s maybe a little self-indulgent of the magazine to make the cover spot sound THAT important… even if wrestlers do seem to talk about it a lot…)

And they picked out 5 memorable matches:

  1. Emi Sakura vs. Nanae Takahashi at Ice Ribbon’s first Kourakuen show, 2009.8.23
  2. Tsukushi vs. Kurumi - main eventing Kourakuen Hall as middle schoolers?? 2013.3.31
  3. Tsukasa Fujimoto vs. Arisa Nakajima - two presumptiva aces battling twice for two championships on the same card, 2014.12.28
  4. Risa Sera in an iron woman deathmatch gauntlet, 2017.11.14
  5. Maya Yukihi vs. Suzu Suzuki for the ICEx∞ championship - plucky young Suzu as a glimmer of hope in the midst of Corona, 2020.8.9

As well as a list of 5 major championships:

  • ICE×∞ - the promotion’s top championship. Apparently originally it was the Icex60 championship with the idea it would be a jr. belt for wrestlers under 60キロ, but it later got opened up to everyone, hence the name. Helpfully, the magazine provides the reading: 「アイ・シー・イー・クロス・インフィニティ」. That… is not what I had guessed.
  • トライアングルリボン - a singles championship, not a trios belt, but you can only defend it in triple threat matches! No gender or weight restrictions.
  • IW 19 - a belt defended only during online streams, regardless of whether there’s a live audience or not. The match time limit is 19 minutes and the count-out time is 19 instead of the usual 20. Currently used as the belt for P’s Party, their regular livestream.
  • インターナショナルリボンタッグ - the tag team belt. Intergender and men’s tag teams can challenge for it too.
  • Fantast ICE - a belt where the champion gets to decide the match rules. Risa Sera achieved V10 (10 defenses) with it in a variety-filled reign. Apparently the ICE here is an acronym too - 「ふぁんたすと・あい・しー・いー」 (I wonder if there’s any reason they gave this reading in hiragana but the other in katakana??)

There’s a bunch of other interviews (including a short one with Shida reflecting on her time in Ice Ribbon), pictures, fun profiles of various wrestlers, and basically an ad for the Ice Ribbon dojo in Warabi, Saitama, complete with Yuuki Mashiro showing you how to get there from the train station. Sounds like they run regular small dojo shows, and there’s a lot of description about signing up for training, with one of the referees as the head coach and Suzu and Yuuki subbing in on set days. Seems like it would be a nice place to have in the neighborhood.

There’s an interview with Suzu and Risa talking more about deathmatches and how Suzu was inspired to do them from watching Risa. I love how Suzu’s wearing a lizard shirt:
image
… since a previous issue documented her love for her pet lizards:

There’s an interview with ガチャ王国, which seems to consist of two extremely tough wrestlers (Rina Yamashita and Akane Fujita) whole-heartedly supporting Yuuki Mashiro because she’s so cute and nice. Seems like a really fun dynamic (even if I’m still a bit confused how the ガチャ part fits in exactly). They insist it’s an 王国, not a ウニット.

And finally, a magazine editor writes about how Fujimoto has great leadership and especially is a fantastic scout for talent, using Giulia as an example of the latter. Rookie Giulia looks so strange in the included photo with Fujimoto:

Apart from all that, Giulia’s column is about using social media as a wrestler, and she talks about how it’s part of the job to rile things up on there, but there’s some fans who get way too caught up in it and it’s a big problem. She compares that kind of fan to a child picking up a loaded gun - not realizing the danger in the tool they’re wielding.

I’ve always wondered about Stardom’s constantly giving huge trophies to extremely tired wrestlers after winning matches, but come to think of it I don’t think I’ve ever seen what’s actually written on them. I don’t know what I expected.

There’s a fun interview with Mizuki and Yuki Arai about the then upcoming princess tournament in TJPW - with Mizuki having won the previous 2 in a row, and Arai a plucky newcomer entering her first tournament ever (she says she got third in a tennis tournament in school but it was just a really lucky seed she didn’t actually win any matches).

There’s a showcase of male wrestler’s new wrestling T-shirts. Not gonna lie… they all just look like wrestling t-shirts to me…
There’s some commentary about what’s selling well, and apparently the strength of 絆 makes LIJ merch and Dangerous Tekkers merch do well. And also O-Karn sells well, apparently due to his effective social media use?
Takagi’s shirt says “GOIN NA MY WAY” on the back, which is supposed to convey “強引なMY WAY” sure…

The costume column is about AZM, and her costume is meant to look near-futuristic, and is inspired by Neon Genesis Evangelion (although apparently she’s not an intense fan of the anime or anything like that) - and y’know, I hadn’t noticed but now it seems really obvious with that color scheme. Similarly, I hadn’t noticed the logo that spells her name.

Mutoh’s column is more about moonsaults (did he do another one??). Apparently his doctor said after he used the move again 「男と男の約束破ったな」and he really really shouldn’t do tons of them since it risks not being able to walk again given just how messed up his knees are.
He talks about how he started doing it originally just because it was something simple and impressive that only he could do, as especially in America when he was wrestling there, no one else was doing them. And I think he says he didn’t do body slams because it’s not a move you take without trust that he hadn’t accumulated yet as someone just passing it through in a way.
He felt like he’d saved up enough like, good knee power, to break it out this once or twice. And he says that while a good showman doesn’t say “please don’t look forward moonsaults from me for my sake” he can say “I will have matches where that don’t need moonsaults.”

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週刊プロレス No.2133

Kenoh talks a bit about pro-wrestling t-shirts in his column - sounds like nWo shirts were just as big in Japan as America, and one Japan-specific well-selling shirt is Hulk Hogan “一番” shirts.

Giulia’s column is about the 5 Star GP, and she talks about each of the competitors. It’s a fun rundown! Really too bad she had to drop out from injuries.

The history column is about a singles match between Inoki and Terry Funk on the latter’s first trip to Japan in 1970. I was kind of curious if I could find the specific match, but no luck. 50 years ago is a long time!

There’s an interview with Utami Hayashishita talking about her then upcoming match with Takumi Iroha. The main thing I remember is a remark that they’re probably the wrestlers with the most female fans…

There’s a women’s counterpart to the men’s wrestling shirt rundown from last issue. All the Stardom one’s are tied to factions or events, oddly.
I like Suzu’s shirt that’s just her dumping thumbtacks on her head (and that 15th anniversary Ice Ribbon shirt is nice too):

週刊プロレス No.2135 (2134 is a special issue about the Dome show that wasn’t included in the subscription and isn’t on Booklive either)

I really like this picture of Mayu selling a headbutt. Showcases really well why everyone calls her a zombie, and everyone’s facial expression is great:
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This is maybe the most dramatic picture and tagline yet! Can you tell what it says? ぐ・れい・とう・む・た・狂騒曲 → グレート・ムタ 狂騒曲 (協奏曲)-> ~“Great Muta Manic Concerto”
(warning: blood)

Giulia’s column is about training. My main takeaway was that Milano Collection AT (who also does a lot of color commentary for NJPW) is/was a major trainer for Stardom. I feel like I heard that before but didn’t really connect the dots before.

Apparently if you’re uncomfortable going to a crowded wrestling show, you can pay Michinoku Pro to come to your house and wrestle in it. They quote prices (十万円 as the base price for a singles match and up) so I guess it’s a real thing you could do If you have the space??

There’s an interview where Suzu talks with famous retired deathmatch wrestler Mr. Danger at his steakhouse, ステーキハウスミスターデンジャー, for advice for her upcoming summer-themed deathmatch with Rina.
It says the steak is “脂ギッシュじゃない” but from the picture I feel like that must only be true before the huge glob of butter is put on it?? I wanted to look at the restaurant’s webiste but it’s down… Google Maps makes it look like a pretty cool place though.

In another ice Ribbon article, Tsukasa Fujimoto returns to where she debuted (or just wrestled at a long time ago), 千本桜ホール. They recount a story, called the 松本浩代事件, where another wrestler, 松本浩代, wrestled Fujimoto and one other newbie wrestler at once in a handicap match, and completely dominated, saying 「お前らみたいなのがいるからプロレスがダメになるんだ」, meaning that wrestlers like Fujimoto who were former idols were ruining the business (and they way they talk about it, it sounds like it wasn’t wholly a storyline). Anyway, now 12+ years later, that wrestler and Fujimoto are a tagteam!
There’s also a fun bit where the conversation turns toward 恋, and Fujimoto’s asked how it’s going on that front. And she asks back what day it is - it’s her birthday. And when they set up the interview after not being able to schedule one with the other tag team, what did she say? She said she’d be open to it, but it was her birthday, so she hoped she’d have plans. And was she able to do the interview? - so there’s your answer.

Speaking of 松本浩代, Hiroyo Matsumoto is in the costume column, and I mostly just include it to put a face to a name in the story above, but also it’s a bit interesting her colors in the costume are the way they are out of hometown pride - they’re the colors of the 東海道線, and she’s from 平塚市
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Muta comes across a bit like an old man in his column… he’s asked about tag partners and abruptly changes the subject to talk about how he watched the olympics and the rules in the judo competition were really easy to understand, so pro wrestling tag matches should follow the rules more closely, it’s too difficult for a spectator to understand the rules at a glance with so many double team moves.

I dunno though, I feel like spectacles like this shot of Chaos in a six-man tag are part of the fun!

There’s a brief column about Yuka Sakazaki’s impressions comparing American wrestling with AEW and Japanese wrestling - I think it was the usual notes about how hearing the crowd again is extremely refreshing, and also you have to be much more conscious of the TV cameras and timing.

週刊プロレス No.2136
I posted so many pictures of mists, here’s a shining wizard too just to balance it out.

There’s a page of lucha information from Mexico. One infrequently appearing page is better than nothing I guess!

Tam Nakano has a risque photobook out called “Twilight.” Sounds like it’s geared heavily towards simulating you being idyllically married to Tam Nakano, so if you want that… go buy the book I guess. She says she wants both men and women to look at it.

Giulia’s column is about body image, and she says that while different people have different looks and different preferences, for her body type and her preferences, a thin look is the best way she can project that admirable pro wrestler fantasy, and she says it isn’t true that you need bulk to wrestle safely.
She also talks about how with corona she was motivated to put together a home gym and really push it as much as possible, but that after losing her championship she’s intentionally reverted to a less intense and more sustainable regimen.
As much as I like ultra-cool ripped champion Giulia, her current look sounds way better on the whole just from a livability standpoint. A reminder (along with Tanahashi constantly expressing body anxiety in basically every column) that wrestlers have a lot of the same body image maintenance problems and expectations movie stars do.
It also includes this picture of her in 4th grade, the intense intangible early 2000s-ness of which was a sudden weird reminder that I’m the same age as Giulia. Usually the school uniforms mask it, but she was in Italy at the time and just looks like any of my classmates. I even basically had the same glasses.
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The history column is about a 1967.8.14 match between Giant Baba and Gene Kiniski that Baba apparently always called his best match. I’m gonna link it because it’s from 54 years ago.

I wasn’t sure what a summer-themed deathmatch would look like… I guess like this, huh. Suzu said in the previous interview she wanted to do stuff she’d never done and nobody had ever done - looking at this I feel like probably she managed it.

Shoko Nakajima has an interview and she poses with her Gamera figures, which makes her a definite babyface in my book!

週刊プロレス No.2137

NOAH announced a show for January first (pity イッテンイチ doesn’t have the same ring to it), and Kenoh has a running bit where, since that’s his birthday, he calls it Noah’s first birthday show, and proclaims it the first of what’s sure to be an annual tradition, 「ABEMA presents信念だよ、拳王大生誕祭vol.37」(geddit, 信念/新年?). It’s a pity we don’t get to see the conversation live. He plays the bit straight the entire way through and watching him say it all with a straight face would be a lot of fun.

Learning a bit about Japanese history and interacting with media set when clans were important has made me wonder about mon when I see them, and so I was curious about the one Marufuji wore for announcing the New Year’s show. At first searching in English on my phone I thought maybe it had something to do with Asano, but predictably Japanese sources seem much more informative, and I found a page with a lot of detail. Still don’t really know at all if it has particular meaning in this case (and if so what meaning), or if nowadays you just go with whatever mon when you need to dress up or what, but it’s interesting at least.

Giulia’s column is about making rivals, and she says it’s the same as finding a romantic partner, you shouldn’t be quick to dismiss someone just because you don’t think you’d have chemistry. You gotta fight the urge to put on a polite face, and bear your heart in the ring until you find a rival you can smash that heart into a bunch and get the fans excited and make a bunch of money.

Ah, to gently caress the face of a Stone Pitbull…
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There’s a match briefly mentioned from 2011 where apparently as a “昭和の洗礼,” Yuzuki Aikawa, then a new wrestler/idol and star for Stardom took on famous heel Dump Matsumoto. Sounds like another interesting clash between two different eras.

The industry column at the back talks with a TJPW official, and it sounds like they think Cyberfight made a very big impact, and they plan to make TJPW the number one women’s wrestling promotion in Japan. It mentions last year they had 3 wrestlers leave and go to Stardom - I guess this is talking about Unagi Sayaka, Mina Shirakawa, and Natsupoi? - and it sounds like they want to scale up and avoid that kind of thing in the future.


Otherwise, I did resubscribe to the Ice Ribbon niconico channel. I should add to the wiki about Ice Ribbon in general. The principal downside with the channel is it seems like they upload shows to it 6 months after the fact. So unless you have, say, a giant pile of wrestling magazines, you aren’t going to have any context for anything that’s going on and you can’t just jump in and watch what’s happening right now (except maybe if you catch them as live events or on niconicopro).

But the last few magazines especially have motivated me to more actively sprinkle wrestling into my day, and to start watching from Suzu’s IceX∞ win on, since there’s a lot of matches I would have liked to see since then. So Ice Ribbon joins the fog of promotions I’m vaguely keeping track of but not doing a great job staying perfectly up to date with, along with Stardom, AEW, NJPW, TJPW, NOAH, DDT, and historical/defunct promotions…

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