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

I finished translating TJPW’s January 19 show! This one was less than half the length of the last one, which is what you get when you don’t give Itoh and Miyu the mic :sweat_smile:.

The Max Heart tournament continues! First up, we had Shoko and Misao vs Kaya and Haruna, which… had a rather foregone conclusion. The comments for this whole show were a little odd, but what baffled me the most is that for some reason, shupro didn’t have a complete transcript for these. What shupro had is only slightly more than what was in the twitter captions, so my translations here are a bit incomplete.

Shoko and Misao:

Misao: “We won! They’re our juniors, so I thought we could relax, but they’ve been growing.”

Nakajima: “I felt their growth when they didn’t come at us from the front. Having that response is a victory.”

Misao: “I can’t believe they gave me a pink bald head…”

Nakajima: “I thought you changed your costume!”

Part two:

Misao: “It was unexpected!”

(About your next opponents)

“We’ve never fought AA Cannon before, so I wonder how that would go.”

Nakajima: “We lost to Daydream in the tournament last year, so I want to get our win back. The two members of AA Cannon are an odd pair. I’m curious how that might go.”

Haruna and Kaya:

Neko: “It was cool that Tori-san saved me in the middle of the match when I was in a tight spot. I thought we had their number, but they were so strong and had a lot of coordination…”

Toribami: “We still have a long way to go as a team…”

Neko: “I thought it would be good if the two of us could grow together.”

After that, for some reason, TJPW started doing something new with the comments, which is uploading a transcript of them in images on twitter, in addition to the video. From what I can tell, the transcript is pretty much the same as what shupro has. This is awesome for us because it means we all have access to the full transcripts! I do wish, though, that the text wasn’t in an image, and that this was located somewhere more permanent and archival, like their actual website, but, well, baby steps, I guess?

The next tournament round was Daisy Monkey vs Juria and Moka, which had another surprising upset! I was really sad for Daisy Monkey, but did get reassured by their comments. I think when they do finally get their moment, it’ll be a big one :smiling_face_with_tear:.

Juria’s and Moka’s comments were straightforward:

Miyamoto: “We somehow managed to get past the second round. Winning and advancing with Juria-san makes me so happy. But there’s still another round left… Next is One to Million, Itoh-san and Yamashita-san. They’re really strong, but I want to keep winning with Juria-san.”

Juria: “I never thought I’d be able to win in the second round with Moka-san. Our opponents’ teamwork was really good, but I’m so happy we were able to win. However, there’s still the next round. Our next opponents are also really tough, so I want to fight them with everything we’ve got and get the win.”

(Do you feel that your connection is deepening?)

Miyamoto: “Yes, I do.”

Juria: “Even when we aren’t training, we always talk to each other so that we can get closer and become an even better tag team.”

(Have you gotten used to the tag team wrestling style?)

“Yes. Before this point, I’d just get ripped to shreds every match, but just having Moka-san there is really reassuring. I can stand in the ring with my chest held high.”

(What is your impression of One to Million?)

“They’re a bit of a crazy team. I’ve fought both of them before, and every single one of their moves hurts a lot. But I want to win as a team with Moka-san.”

Arisu and Endo’s were pretty straightforward?

Endo: (with tears streaming down her face) “I’m sorry. I told all the fans that Daisy Monkey was going to win the tournament, and I made them expect a lot from us. Yet again, I wasn’t able to live up to their expectations… Even though I was able to do the tournament with Suzume-san, I lost again, just like last year. I’m so, so sorry…”

Then Suzume said, “なんか、こうやって負けてばっかりとか言うけど。私にとって有栖はホントにめっちゃキラキラで、私にはホントにもったいないなって思うパートナーなんですけど.” That second sentence was a bit tough, haha!

Suzume: “You’re always saying stuff like this about losing. But for me, Arisu is a truly dazzling partner who thinks she’s not worthy of me. But I don’t want her to stop being by my side. I want her to always fight together with me, for the next match and the next and the next.”

Endo: “That’s my line!”

Suzume: “There will be a next match, so let’s win that one for sure!”

Endo: “Yes!”

Suzume: “Thank you!”

Endo: “Please let me stay next to you!”

Suzume: “Of course!”

The main event was AA Cannon vs Daydream, and I was admittedly rooting for Daydream to get revenge for Raku and Yuki and take AA Cannon out of the tournament, so I did cheer for Daydream winning here, haha (though they have to lose the next one).

I had a little help from Mr. Haku on the post-match stuff.

Tatsumi: “We did it! I didn’t think they’d be easy opponents to get past, but they were a real pain! Thank you!”

Miu: “Thank you very much!”

Tatsumi: “But, now that we’ve secured this very important win, our goal is… yes, back-to-back tournament wins!”

Miu: “Yay! We’re the only ones who can do it!”

Tatsumi: “That’s right! We’re the only ones, and our next opponents are… who?”

Then Miu said, “いまなんか言ってた…でも、分かんない。カクカク順なのかな?” What on earth is “カクカク”?? I could not figure this out at all, haha!

Miu: “She was saying something just now, but… I didn’t catch it. Is it in カクカク order?”

Tatsumi: “I dunno. Well, it doesn’t matter who it is. Bring it on!”

Miu: “Yeah! We’re just gonna win.”

Tatsumi: “We’ll beat anyone! There’s still that ahead of us, and the tournament is still going on, so please keep supporting us! Well, it’s the first time in a long time that Daydream is closing a show. Yay!”

They closed with,“Daydream, let’s do our best!”

Rika and Miu’s comments were a little harder:

Tatsumi: “What a relief! But we can somehow keep aiming for the back-to-back victory! Yay, yay! I’d wanted it to end like that, but I didn’t think it’d go that way!”

Miu: “Yes! Our opponents were former champions too, and AA Cannon are really beautiful; they were formidable foes.”

Tatsumi: “If it was just Yuki-chan, we’re her senpais and we could just take control without having to worry about a thing, but, well, Akai-san was there, too. She was really a thorn in our sides, and she kept breaking us up and breaking us down.”

Miu: “She kicked us.”

Tatsumi: “It was hard! But we managed to get a win, so we’re OK… You want to get another belt soon, right?”

Miu: “Yes! A pink one!”

Tatsumi: “At any rate, I want to win the tournament, get the trophy again, and hold it close. Then, there are the tag belts, which have slipped away from us.”

Then Rika said, “私たちの元からいなくなった時点でずっと流出してるので、取り返さないとなって思っております.” I think I understood the Japanese, but struggled with how to put it into English, haha. From what I understand, 流出する is typically used to refer to a belt slipping away to outside wrestlers/promotions?

“Not only did we lose them originally, but they’ve left TJPW as a whole, so I think we have to take them back.”

Miu: “Yes.”

(Your next opponents are Kyoraku Kyomei)

Tatsumi: “Oh that’s right! It’s already set, isn’t it? I don’t like that!”

Then Miu used that word I don’t understand again, haha: “やだ! え、カクカク順でももう決まった?”

Miu: “That’s not good! Even though it’s in カクカク order, it has already been decided?”

Tatsumi: “I guess so. Kyoraku, huh? I don’t know what they’re going to do.”

Miu: “They’re scary!”

Tatsumi: “I want us to work on our tricks, too.”

Then Miu said, “そうかもしれないです”, which I just couldn’t quite figure out, haha. I also wasn’t quite sure about Rika’s response: “得意分野です。いける未来しか見えないです!”

Miu: “We could…” (laughs)

Tatsumi: “It’s their area of expertise. I don’t see a future for us unless we get good at it too!”

I don’t think I have specific questions on AA Cannon’s comments?

Arai: “I lost today… I’m so disappointed that even though I was able to do the tournament together with Akai-san, it all ended here… I wasn’t strong enough. I’ll get stronger, and if I can participate in the next tournament, I want to win.”

Akai: “This was my first time participating in the tag team tournament. Today, as with the first time I teamed up with Yuki-chan, as I stand next to her, I can see that her strength is steadily growing. We wanted to take back with our own hands those belts that we let slip away, but for wrestlers, timing and luck are everything. It just so happened that today, Daydream managed to seize the right time, and we didn’t have timing or luck on our side. I think wrestlers pull such things toward themselves and make them their allies and turn them into a strength. My tag team with Yuki-chan will continue, but since we lost the belts, I don’t know when we’ll be able to work together again. I want to team up with her. By the next time, we’ll each have gotten more powerful, and I’d like you all to see an AA Cannon that is even greater than before.”

And that’s it for that show! The next one is like a week away, so I’ll finally have some time to translate some stuff from the BJW Shakespeare deathmatch shows, hopefully! There’s some cool stuff from those that I’ve been meaning to share. I’m hoping to finally actually watch one of them soon, haha!

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The ちょークレイジー here is クレイジー not ちょっとクレイジー

I would say the こうやって負けてばっかり part is less “stuff like this about losing” and more, like, “we keep just losing” / “if we keep going like this we’ll just keep losing” that kind of thing. こうやって → 負けて (ばっかり)

I would say rather Suzume is made to think 私にはホントにもったいないな by how dazzling Arisu is - she’s still complimenting her (in a self-deprecating way).
Uhhh I’m not really sure how to phrase why though.

As a solution to my problem of wording it, I googled “おいしいと思うパン” and got plenty of hits including this one with a convenient example sentence:

パン職人が本当においしいと思うパンは、さぞかしおいしいに違いありません。

It’s not the bread thinking おいしい, you know what I mean? :sweat_smile:

Suzume’s describing Arisu from her perspective, and to her Arisu is a “partner” who she thinks “私にはホントにもったいないな” (~ I’m not worthy of her) about

Someone in the audience and a commentor I saw repeat what she says while laughing, so I think it comes across as silly/confusing to native speakers too :sweat_smile:

I think she means:
image

you know, カクカク順. Doesn’t it look カクカク-y? All those 角 and all…

This is one sentence, with both exclamation points part of the kind of mood she wanted to go for, like: でもなんかもっと(連覇だ!イェイイェイ!)みたいなかんじ
She’s saying like, she kinda wanted to finish it with more of a peppy “back-to-back victory! Woohoo let’s go yeah!!” kind of feeling. (like with an easy victory)

Also, I suppose this is maybe a bit picky but the そいうわけ in そいうわけにはいかなかったですね is the way she had wanted to go / just talked about picturing it to go. As in, she wanted a confident victory on their march to a back-to-back victory, but そいうわけにはいかなかったですね - as in like, “but it didn’t work out like that did it” that kind of thing.

it didn’t make it into the transcript, so up to you if you buy it or not.
but I feel like she says “華も(つよ)すごいし” which seems like it would make more sense as something to say here to me - like they’re a total package, elegant and strong. googling around for if that’s viable grammatically and such it seems like at least similar to something people have maybe said about fictional characters and such.

I don’t think you’re wrong about 流出する being used that way, but I think in this case she’s just talking about it 流出する’ing from them, not the promotion, and her second use of 流出 is restating/clarifying her first.
私たちの元からいなくなった時点で → ~ from the point in time when it left us,
ずっと流出してる → ~ It has been this whole time 流出してる’ing

It hasn’t been outside the promotion that whole time, but to Rika, it’s been away from its home in another way.

image
私たちの元からいなくなった (gestures that the belt is gone)
(私たちの元 here is like “by our side” / “with us” that sort of thing, not “originally”)

Ha! The twitter transcript includes a helpful note that confirms my interpretation earlier :smile:
(⇐たぶん山組みのこと)is a note in the transcript clarifying for Japanese readers what the heck she’s on about.
山組み doesn’t appear to be the most widely used itself… but it does appear to mean like, the tournament bracket.

Interestingly – there’s one other small detail that it looks like I agree with the twitter transcript a little bit more than the Shupro one I assume you’ve pasted!
I think
カクカク順でもう決まった
(twitter transcript)
is slightly more correct than
カクカク順でもう決まった
(pasted transcript)
(neither are word for word because of understandable readability cleanup)

Like, I think she’s saying, like, (in a far sillier way than this) “the tournament bracket has progressed far enough that it’s already been decided who our next match will be against?”
not “even though it’s a tournament bracket, it’s already been decided?” I don’t think she’s that confused about how a tournament works… Perhaps the shupro transcriber was more confused about the カクカク順 than, I guess, the separate new TJPW transcriber? :sweat_smile:

I’d say it’s like – slightly nervous agreement
image

Like, roughly literally “I agree maybe!”
I think “You might be right!” would be a good natural way of translating it.

I think I would say Rika’s saying it’s a 得意分野 of theirs (her and Miu’s),
and いける未来しか見えないです would be like… “I don’t see any possible outcome where it doesn’t work out!” :sweat_smile: (as in she only sees the future where things work out / they manage it)
whatever 享楽共鳴 is planning she’s already playing the comic foil for it well

“Nothing can possibly go wrong!” might be a good natural English translation, if it’s not too removed literally?

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I wrote out my impressions from the various holiday shows I watched around new year’s – pasted here directly from my notes.
(so there aren’t marked spoilers, the paragraph breaks are unhelpful, and the trains of thought are probably less composed)

Stardom Dream Queendom 2022

Of the shows around new years, this is the one I was most looking forward to by far, and I’d definitely say it delivered!
I did a good job of avoiding spoilers between when it was held and when it was uploaded to Stardom World, and amusingly, the one slip-up was I looked at twitter for a half a second once and caught and anguished-but-vague tweet from Dana – which made me think 7Upp might have actually beaten Meltear for the tag championships! But then my faith in Meltear probably winning was such that when Mina Shirakawa turned on Unagi that must have been it surely, and I went back to thinking Meltear was probably winning again… so I confess I did laugh when no yeah, 7Upp did win the championships. Good thing enough bad things happened to Cosmic Angels to throw me off the scent amirite! Never doubt a promotion co-founder I guess! I assume Meltear will be sticking together anyhow. I don’t think there’s any possibility of Club Venus being “for me” but coming back from injury to lead a (sub?)faction should be interesting for Shirakawa.
I really don’t like it when they include Kikutaro in the Stardom rumbles with the groping gimmick (Amasaki’s pretty young!! I guess good thing she went over I guess??) and when a mutual asked me for Stardom recs and I mentioned the last big show I had to go back and remember that might not be a great first impression – maybe skip to the Highspeed… but! Super Strong Stardom Machine and “Super Strong Stardom Giant Machine” joint-winning was a very good bit and I would 100% not mind seeing those two completely unidentifiable, unusually shaped wrestlers tag a bunch more together.
I didn’t know anything about Hikari Shimizu before the Highspeed match (and still basically don’t) but man, a highspeed championship match with AZM has to be one of the best spotlight spots in the business, if not the best (along with being a wrestler visiting TJPW).
KAIRI and Utami drawing makes sense – obviously KAIRI wasn’t losing, and this preserves Utami’s cool entrance from the “whoever loses has to run to the ring in your debut gear” unofficial stipulation, which I feel half-relieved and half-disappointed by.
Haruka Umesaki has been on my radar since that “Harukamania” article in Shupro, and her impact in Stardom has been interesting so far with that Karma business in New Blood (but I don’t specifically remember this Wonder of Stardom match).
And the main event!! I was really excited for Giulia’s (very not improbably) victory!
The part of the match that stands out most strongly in my memory now is after the match, I absolutely loved how nice they were being to each other! With Giulia being extremely complementary of Syuri - I loved her phrasing on 朱里はバケモノ級にぶっ強くて、バケモノかってくらい、真面目で、バケモノ級になんか超優しくて (which didn’t sound nearly as good in the English subtitles), and Syuri putting on Giulia’s belt for her… I had noticed that Syuri uses :pleading_face: a whole lot on twitter when people give her (deserved) compliments, so it felt especially fun to see the real thing in such a big moment! :sweat_smile: My immediate thought afterwards was for Syuri to take a rest!! She has so much テーピング! But then like the first thing she did was challenge Chihiro Hashimoto which seems like the opposite of taking a rest to me… but that’s professional wrestlers for you I guess.
I haven’t really been watching Stardom in the time since, due to being satiated from all the new year’s shows, but it seems like some cool stuff has been happening at the same busy rate it always does these days there! Putting my thoughts down on these shows should hopefully lead to that pause thawing and some catching up, or at least looking forward to the next big show in early February (OH RIGHT WHICH HAS GIULIA/SUZU SUZUKI FOR THE RED BELT YEAH I AM EXCITED ABOUT THAT).


NOAH "The New Year" 2023

I did watch the whole show, and enjoyed all of it plenty well. In particular I was curious if Jake Lee would turn up at any of these shows, and hey! He did, with a pair with Jack Morris being potentially the start of something super cool, with Morris being a promising but (self-admittedly in that shupro article) pretty much completely fresh talent who could potentially benefit a lot from a more fully formed star from another promotion like Lee. All Japan’s loss I guess! Sugiura and his olympic slam + Marufuji and his Shiranui are two wrestlers I grew to appreciate a lot more watching all those old Tokyo Dome shows last year, so I also especially liked that match (poor Kojima seemed tired though…). I also enjoyed Kiyomiya/Kenoh – you know, Kenoh’s kinda got a point about Kiyomiya’s hair ripping him off, huh! How… up… it gets though is I think juuuust on the right side of the line between “fun and cool” and “kinda dorky”!
But I mean come on obviously the match I’m here for is the Shinsuke Nakamura one. “The Rising Sun” will never quite mean as much to me as “Subconscious”… but I gotta admit it sure does make for a hell of an entrance! And aura-wise, neither the song nor Nakamura have lost a step since the first time I heard it, extremely excited for his debut, watching NXT TakeOver Dallas… The commentary team were talking up Nakamura and Muta a ton as larger than life figures and gods, to a point that would be silly with pretty much any two other wrestlers, but even if Muta’s aura has faded a bit more than Nakamura’s (at least to my history-uneducated eyes), it rang true here. I had caught on twitter that the sucking-out-the-mist-via-kiss spot was gonna happen at some point (and it’s happened before) but it’s one match where the Moment of it was more important than the suspense of what was going to happen, so I was plenty on cloud nine anyway.
I was hoping a little for an “一番スゲェのはプロレスなんだよ!”from Nakamura or other markers (like the name “boma-ye”) of the pre-WWE career of his I familiarized myself with recently, but I’d say on the whole he was still definitely WWE Nakamura paying a visit – which is fine! Since I mean… that is who he is…
I originally parsed Muta’s backstage comments as “[Muta says something unintelligible]” but took a second, clearer listen after fallynleaf alluded to it being homophobic and…! Yeah he sure does say that! I confess my reaction was to laugh rather than to be like, appalled, just because of the absurdity of the whole situation (trying to calculate out how to feel about what a crass nWo-flavored mystical ghost character (?) who started in 1989 WCW and I have to imagine can shoot and work speak nearly no English ended up saying amidst the ol’ pro wrestling homoeroticism did my head in). But it is certainly an unfortunate detail of an otherwise very cool occasion, and he shoulda said something other than that. Shupro’s ‘transcript’ similarly made me laugh a lot rather than decide more deeply how I feel about that particular choice


Wrestle Kingdom 17

The way I remember watching all these – I believe I watched Stardom and NOAH earlier on as part of a longer break from work (interspersed with a couple work days), and then I took January 4th off (but worked the day before), so things were starting to turn back into work at this point. I decided to give up alcohol for the new year, so I was trying out non-alcoholic beer during these shows (which it turns out is just demonstrably better than regular beer – since the trouble appears to have been I like alcoholic drinks despite not actually liking being intoxicated, fortunately instead of the other way around) and finally picked up a pizza I had been hankering for (after they were closed when I was watching the other shows) for Wrestle Kingdom! I may not be keeping up super well with New Japan these days, but that all made it feel suitably like a proper holiday!
I was worried going in that watching all those older Wrestle Kingdoms might make this one’s failings stand out way more starkly. But nope! Rather the opposite - it’s a Wrestle Kingdom all right! Toe to tip and all that. The exact same structure of New Japan Rumble → various matches intriguing enough to be interesting and potential showstealers, with titles and guests from other promotions etc. → big-feeling secondary and primary belt singles matches at the top of the card. The specific belts might be different, and the specific matches, but ultimately, that’s a Wrestle Kingdom. Even Karl Anderson is there like always…
Oh, and! I was 100% wrong when I speculated they’d stopped saying “cerulean blue” – it was like the VERY FIRST thing the commentator said! And I counted at least 6 total mentions of the fabled “cerulean blue mat.” Go figure! The things that standout with a little better comprehension and a little more context…
I was happy to again hear my color commentary top lineup of Milano+Liger+Motoi, but they swapped out commentary constantly over the course of the show. I hope Motoi in particular graduates to a less swap-outable position over time. she has a spanish-learning book that I bought… I just think it’s neat!
Lio Rush bleeding was rough but memorable!
KAIRI/Tam I remember being good but… short and not really with any build or suspense (although to be fair I accidentally spoiled for myself that Mercedes would show up and challenge KAIRI from a youtube video)… and I’m gonna try really hard not to gripe about that kind of thing since I am genuinely glad to be mostly rid of that kind of cynicism after dropping WWE… but one specific thing that actually bugged me a lot is the confusing English wording around what this whole venture is, people were saying variations of “New Japan and Stardom’s Women’s Division” which doesn’t make any sense to me at all because New Japan doesn’t seem to have a women’s division and Stardom definitely doesn’t have a women’s division! For me, they should handle this IWGP Women’s Championship business exactly like when any other promotion shows up with a title that’s defended at Wrestle kingdom, like all those GHC Heavyweight matches I saw on older Tokyo Dome shows. I guess they’ve burned that bridge already by naming it IWGP, so it’s not like Rossy Ogawa is out there holding up a star-shaped belt before matches, so it’s hard to pitch it as a Stardom championship. But I dunno, they should say like “IWGP partnered with Stardom to sponsor this championship in New Japan” or something and treat it like an “interpromotional championship.” Which is what it is, not a “division.” Unless I guess Mone (and… KAIRI…?) are like, signed to New Japan now? I suppose it wouldn’t be the first wrestling promotion with a “women’s division” consisting of exactly one wrestler!
Anyway – ultimately I’m just griping about a semantics issue that doesn’t really matter, probably mostly just caused by English wrestling terminology defaulting to describing it how American promotions have done it, and Bushiroad wanting to be as palatable to that mindset as possible. But I do hope over time they work out something that works fully smoothly and is cool. I want more people to watch Stardom because it’s neat and I hope this does end up a path that gets people to do that.
I got distracted in the tag team championship match and didn’t pay attention because I was trying to figure out Cash Wheeler’s tattoo – I think it says “夢 力量”, but with 力量 clumped together in one character slot for some reason? Seems maybe slightly fishy to me, but hey no harm done!
I recall liking ZSJ/Ren Narita – Narita could end up really really cool and it was super nice to see both ZSJ and Tama Tonga win singles championships here. Wasn’t sure how to feel about the TMDK join, but commentary mentioning their history in NOAH made it make sense.
I liked Hiromu’s eyeball suit.
The US match went probably the best way it could have! With most of the runtime involving Omega doing very painful-looking things to Ospreay, and then Ospreay’s comeback not being successful and an ending that made me cheer very loudly because I knew how happy it must have made fallynleaf. Can’t ask for much more than that! It was interesting seeing blading in the match (and I felt pointlessly smug for being like “boy they’re sure making sure to block line of sight to his head – is he blading?” right beforehand) – I feel like I don’t remember in all those Tokyo Dome matches I watched recently much of that after that one shocking Nagata/Sasaki in 2004 (although I’m probably forgetting a time or two). Also, finally, this is petty but one thing I’ve genuinely really enjoyed about switching to almost entirely Japanese-based wrestling coverage, is the vague sense that I had to pay attention to Dave Meltzer’s opinions finally evaporated, and I’m using cagematch to jog my memory about these cards and seeing his rating for this match for the first time there is very amusing. Honestly even just the concept of one critic’s idiosyncratic opinions being exclusively prominent enough to be featured prominently in a reference database feels even weirder looking in from the outside now.
And you know… there wasn’t anything wrong per se about the main event… Like I’ve been saying, it was totally in line with the format I’ve come to expect from these shows… But I found it hard to pay attention. Especially since I was a lot more interested at that point in checking in on reactions to the previous match. I think ultimately the issue is that Okada, and the “WRESTLE KINGDOM MAIN EVENT” format works incredibly well for me in situations like Okada/Tanahashi, where it feels like two potentially equally-matched titans… and less for me when it’s more the “vanquishing hero” kind of feeling (although I suppose that may be appropriate for an Inoki memorial show), and I don’t think Jay White (to my eyes/knowledge at least) has gotten nearly as much build up as that kind of equal as Omega got – he’s pretty much been in full annoying heel mode from what I’ve seen. Although I was positively surprised at the crowd cheering for him too. Tanahashi is a character I would root for to see win just for the fun and good vibes and air guitar even if it were a foregone conclusion. But with Okada it just makes me feel like it’s gonna be a really long match and I bet they’re gonna do each other’s finishers and stuff and there’s gonna be some nearfalls that totally get me for a second, and it’ll be fun by the end but in the moment at the start of the match I don’t really care. I dunno, it does feel like the kind of thing where just tweaking my perspective slightly I’d appreciate it more though, and I don’t feel like I’m ever giving Jay White enough credit.


東京女子プロレス '23

And finally, Tokyo Joshi’s January 4th show! I really liked it! It was really fun! And a lovely last morsel for the holiday feast.
I love 享楽共鳴 (surely the official tag team of this thread) and enjoyed their match a lot, especially Shoko meticulously setting up the pointiest kaiju before trying to superplex Misao into them.
I think I did see Mizuki would make it to the title challenge beforehand (while verifying that yes, the Golden Lovers contingency did indeed enjoy the finish to the US title match), but I suppose it only makes sense in retrospect anyway! Year of the rabbit and all. I’ve enjoyed all the Magical Sugar Rabbits matches I’ve seen so I’ll certainly look forward to that title match. As I enjoyed Yamashita’s shot! (though yeah – painful!)
And TJPW really does remain a great spotlight for visiting wrestlers! I wonder how exactly Wasteland War Party will eventually be defeated?

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Ugh, yeah, I haven’t… been exactly a fan of how all of that has been handled! I quit watching Stardom at the end of 2021 for a combination of reasons, some of that being their booking style not really grabbing me, but the biggest reason was having a really upsetting thing happen in one of my friend communities that badly triggered basically every anxiety I had surrounding being in wrestling fandom, and it was unfortunately very tied to Stardom, making it really hard for me to engage with Stardom stuff after that :pensive:. I didn’t have enough of a personal connection to the company’s storytelling to fight past that, so I gave it up. It was kind of sad timing because I missed Syuri’s entire run with the belt, despite supporting her from afar, but, well, I don’t exactly have a shortage of fave wrestlers :sweat_smile:.

I’ve talked plenty about why I don’t really engage with NJPW anymore (outside of rare exceptions, like a handful of shows this year and crossover events), but naturally the labor exploitation issue has been on my mind, too, and I guess I’ve basically been worried about all of the negative things about NJPW spreading to Stardom the closer the two work together…

The sense I’ve gotten is that NJPW is unfortunately sort of copying American promotions like WWE and AEW here, and their attempts at including women are inspired by American wrestling. I could be wrong about this! But it just really stood out in a bad way when I compared this year’s Wrestle Kingdom to, say, the CyberFest shows, or even DDT Ultimate Party 2019 in Ryogoku Kokugikan, which I’ve probably talked about before, because it was a pretty seminal show in the first year of my wrestling fandom, and it made a HUGE impact on every single TJPW wrestler who was in that show (Which was all of them! They fit every single one of them on that card! And Yuka and Shoko for the PoP title was the third to last match, and Miyu and Riho were in the semi-main). The TJPW wrestlers STILL talk about that show!

Both CyberFests so far have essentially treated the PoP title as on par with the DDT KO-D title and the GHC belt. No, the PoP title has not main-evented (yet!), but they explicitly explained that the match order for the triple main event was selected based on the length of the wrestlers’ careers.

It’s just frustrating because I feel like CyberFight’s overall model is just so much better than Bushiroad’s here, and it blows AEW and WWE completely out of the water. I wish NJPW would try to copy their direct competitor a little more, rather than copying American wrestling, which is like two decades behind.

And now I’m starting to worry that (vague NOAH spoilers) NOAH might try to implement something in the same vein as NJPW, since the wrestlers in their first women’s match made comments backstage about wanting a women’s GHC title… I didn’t really like the sound of that, especially if Nomads basically ends up getting subsumed by that…

Anyway, yeah, all of that is to say that I agree with your complaining, and I have also been bothered by this! I felt so mad on Kairi and Tam’s behalf for that match, and it really ruined any lingering faith I might have had about how NJPW will handle integrating Stardom specifically, and women’s matches in general.

And don’t even get me started on NJPW adapting American wrestling’s very stupid “no intergender” mixed tag match rules… Honestly, I feel like so many of the problems ultimately boil down to wrestling companies having an aversion to intergender wrestling. If women aren’t seen as being capable of performing on the same level as men, it always seems to end up resulting in the women getting shafted…

This is one of those situations where I’m sorry to be so cynical, but I would truly love for a company to prove me wrong! Just for once!

cheese_kota

I’m glad that you thought of me, haha! Yes, I did like that ending a lot :see_no_evil:. Sometimes love is ugly vengeance :smiling_face_with_tear:.

Ugh, yeah, Meltzer is a constant thorn in my side. I feel like I’ve mostly managed to keep my complaining about him to a minimum, but he was legitimately one of the reasons why I decided to take the TJPW translations public, because he published stuff based on that one machine-translated Yuki Arai article and contributed to spreading misinformation…

He actually just got called out recently for falling for a hoaxer and publishing wrong information about Dragongate. Lots of damning stuff in there.

My opinion is that 1) he really shouldn’t be covering Japanese companies without being able to speak the language, and 2) trying to be a one stop shop for global wrestling news requires such a massive quantity of work if you want to do your due diligence on every bit of reporting, I don’t think it’s humanly possible for one person to do it. I think that heavily incentivizes cutting corners on the stuff he cares about less (so, Dragongate, TJPW, DDT, etc.), which leads to shoddy reporting that is unfortunately still taken seriously by many other people due to his reputation.

But, yeah, those are just some of the many problems of pro wrestling not having real reporters…

As far as his star ratings go, yeah, they bother me a lot, too. I do really like some of the matches that he also likes, but it’s incredibly subjective, and Meltzer is only really good at rating a certain type of match (NJPW main event style wrestling). The closer a match gets to that style, usually the better it does in his ratings. Kenny is really good at wrestling that style, so his matches of that type get high ratings (I do take some small pleasure in pointing out to people how so many of the so-called best matches ever have a decade and a half long gay love story deeply interwound all throughout them. As far as I’m concerned, the sole benefit of Meltzer’s ratings is so that I can push this agenda :smiling_imp:).

But it constantly frustrates me how he consistently underrates a lot of other match styles, like he’s clearly not a fan of a lot of women’s wrestling (unless the matches are close to the NJPW main event style), and he also doesn’t really appreciate comedy wrestling.

Plus, I hate Ospreay for a number of shoot reasons, but I also agree with Kenny’s criticism of him that he has all these 5 star matches, and none of them are actually memorable (unfortunately Ospreay now has one single memorable match for me…). He just doesn’t really do wrestling in a way that I can personally connect with at all. There’s just no real emotional core to his work, imo. It’s all flashy athleticism with none of the, like, actual reason to want someone to win. So even if his matches are athletic masterpieces, I would personally dock stars for not giving me a reason to care.

I’ve cried over a bunch of Misao matches that were utterly unforgettable matches to me, but which would probably be lucky to get 3 stars (if Meltzer actually followed TJPW) because they don’t fit into the style box that Meltzer had decided is the “best wrestling”. Also, hey, this is an area where I think a lack of fluency really hurts, because that personal investment in the characters and stories drives so much of what makes a match good, and if Meltzer doesn’t have that, of course he won’t get the full experience.

But all of that is just to say I completely agree about not paying attention to Dave Meltzer’s opinions! May we one day all be so free!

Don’t worry, haha, I think this was the overall consensus! I came into the show pretty out of the loop of current NJPW story happenings, and I got filled in a bit by people who had been paying slightly more attention, and, yep, the general opinion is that Jay vs Okada was a pretty cold feud, at least in comparison to the Kenny vs Ospreay stuff :sweat_smile:.

The match was, like, solidly Good, in the way that an Okada WK main event is always Good, but I feel like I’m just at a point where good wrestling alone just doesn’t do it for me anymore. I watch so much wrestling every month, good matches are kinda a dime a dozen :sweat_smile:.

I do like Jay and wish his reign had gone better than it apparently did, but yeah, I was pretty checked out for that match. I think his comments afterward were stronger and more interesting than the entire match, but, well, I really like seeing Jay break down and have real emotions and have to deal with the consequences of some of his past actions.

YES!

misao_shoko_let_s_do_this_fair_and_square

:sweat_smile:

Hmm, I wonder who might have been tweeting about both of those things…

ohgeezkota

I wonder this, too! They’re certainly unprecedented, as far as TJPW stories go. Some part of me wants to see them have a very long reign and then Pom just so happens to get another shot at the tag belts…

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I definitely agree on Okada v White being cold. It’s what made me so happy when I seen Kiyomiya kicked him in the face lol he was so fired up.

I’m worried Jay White has hit his ceiling in NJPW

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I forgot to include a line I was going to say making the same comparison :sweat_smile:: “At CyberFight Festival they don’t message it as ‘now here’s NOAH and TJPW’s women’s division’ or ‘here’s NOAH and DDT’s weirdo division.’”

No, I think they’ve been explicit about it! :sweat_smile: based on the shupro coverage and stuff, my impression is the main goal driving the IWGP Women’s Championship is indeed to make New Japan more palatable to American/international expectations, since if Americans know anything about Japanese wrestling, they know the name “New Japan”, and it’s true I have in the past (albeit probably before Bushiroad acquiring Stardom, for at least the comments I’m thinking of) seen New Japan criticized for not having a women’s division (regardless of whether or not that’s a valid criticism, which I think is a whole separate tangled subject). So on some level it does make sense to try to rectify that criticism while keeping the focus on the one brand everybody definitely knows (rather than pivoting to a new umbrella “Bushi Fight” or something).
… but it definitely reads pretty grossly for now at least as New Japan leeching from Stardom to make itself look better. I hope it works out better in the future (the Sasha Banks stuff at least has some interesting promise, and one benefit of it being a separate belt so disconnected from Stardom is at least it’s easy to keep enjoying separately what Stardom’s still doing).
And I hope your negative associations with Stardom fade over time! It’s definitely more violence ‘n’ round robin driven than TJPW, but I really like it a lot. God’s Eye’s a great faction!

additional thought addendum: I wonder if part of the branding problem is worry that “Stardom”/the star-shaped belts with the corny names, etc. would have potential negative connotations to wider audiences if emphasized too much, similar to like how WWE was calling the women’s title the “Divas Championship” for so long and it was awful. If so (and it’s just speculation) I do honestly think that’s maybe kinda fair - since it was part of the initial barrier of entry to me at least, not being sure what the tone of the promotion was going to be like (although it’s the kind of concern that feels completely silly looking back on it once you are fully invested). I’d be curious if there’s a solution that maybe even includes revamping some of that stuff in Stardom… I wouldn’t necessarily inherently be opposed, as long as the promotion itself and the wrestlers are presented with respect, and it isn’t just subsumed into New Japan to make everything nice and masculine-coded.

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I don’t think he has, personally. But finding something interesting for him to do might take more bravery and creativity than NJPW really has as a company. I’d like to see Jay have to really face his insecurities, and maybe lose his position in Bullet Club, or something!

Okay, I laughed at “DDT’s weirdo division” haha. Maybe they should make that one real. They could do a “give weirdos a chance” campaign!

Yeah, I think I might’ve talked before about having a similar experience with Stardom and with TJPW, too, when I was first exposed to them. I came at wrestling from such a strange direction: DDT → NJPW → AEW → TJPW/Stardom, so when I watched joshi wrestling for the first time, my conception of what pro wrestling looked like was defined pretty heavily by the presentation of men’s wrestling (and specifically プロレス). I remember feeling pretty turned off by the idol stuff in TJPW, and just the way that Stardom’s entire presentation worked, because it felt to me like women’s wrestling as a whole was treated with much less gravitas than men’s wrestling.

My impressions changed as I got deeper into both companies, of course. I think the big turning point for TJPW for me was DDT Ultimate Party 2019, honestly. I’d just started to really get into TJPW by that point (thanks to Misao and Sakisama haha), and I was just so charmed by all of the TJPW parts of that entire show, and stuff like Kenny respecting Miyu so much that he wanted to fight her himself, that went a long way. I feel like CyberFest probably serves a similar purpose there, showing that TJPW is a bit of an oddball company, yes, but it’s no less legitimate than DDT or NOAH.

Honestly, with Stardom, I’m not sure how I feel about the thought of changing the belts, haha. I think you’re probably right that it would improve the global perception of them, though.

I guess the main problem to me is that if Stardom is going to present itself as the number one women’s wrestling company in the world, there’s kind of a certain… responsibility, I guess, that’s inherent in that. And Stardom doesn’t exactly have the greatest track record with some of that, like the bikini fights (and bikini photobooks…), which are honestly bigger turn-offs for me personally than whimsical belts. I don’t mind individual promotions doing heavily sexualized stuff (I mean, I’m a DDT watcher haha), but I do get bothered by the thought that women’s wrestling can’t succeed without including that stuff, so in that sense, I wish there was less of a disparity between Stardom and NJPW.

That said, though, NJPW could step up with sexualizing their male wrestlers haha and it could solve that problem from a different angle, I think :sweat_smile:. That’s sort of how the DDT and TJPW dynamic feels to me. Like, yes, TJPW has photobooks and portraits and such, but their stuff is either exactly on par with what DDT puts out (they literally hire the same photographer), or DDT takes it a step further (Endo’s nude photobook, basically any Pheromones match, etc.). So it doesn’t feel like any of that is happening because TJPW is a woman’s promotion.

Even with the idol stuff, my opinion of that in TJPW evolved into me wishing more men’s wrestling promotions had more singing and dancing haha. Wrestling is a performance, after all, and I think it’s fun to combine it with other performance arts. I also wish that men’s promotions would incorporate more of the whimsy and magic that’s in TJPW. DDT sometimes gives me my wish there, but I feel like NOAH would benefit from this, too… I swear this argument is not driven entirely by my “give us a TJPW/NOAH crossover” agenda. But if I can put Mizuki and Yuka into NOAH, and Go Shiozaki and Katsuhiko Nakajima into TJPW, and write a 30k word novella about it, then I think there’s enough common ground between the two companies to make this work.

I guess really what it comes down to for me is that instead of wanting women’s wrestling to become masculinized in order to stand on even footing with men’s wrestling, I want men’s wrestling to take some inspiration from women’s wrestling, too. Wrestling is increasingly becoming distant from the old hypermasculine big guy vs big guy stereotype, and I think letting it be more feminine is honestly super healthy for the development of the medium, and would bring in many more new fans (especially fans who aren’t men) than it would turn away.

Pink frilly Riho gear Kenny forever!!

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Yeah, I think to some extent it’s an unavoidable experience of getting into this kind of thing (specific subsection of an already niche interest, primarily in a different language), where you just aren’t gonna know what the context or the vibe is until you’ve actually invested some time into it. Without any information, suspecting a women’s wrestling promotion could turn out to be condescending or exploitative is… probably a pretty reasonable concern! And what, if any, red flags there are are a lot more distracting when you aren’t familiar with the good parts yet.

I feel like similarly – I have a hard time recommending 龍が如く or getting takers on those recommendations, because stuff like the – at best, weird – integration of the sex industry into minigames, or the handful of disappointing moments of transphobia, are much bigger turnoffs when you’re still kind of expecting the series to be like, a hypermasculine GTA-tinged crime game, instead of an extremely good-hearted game about goofy dudes being buds.

Like – the process of figuring out if uncomfortable elements are the main tone, or just occasional lapses takes a frustratingly non-zero amount of time, is I guess what I mean.

The biggest thing about Stardom that makes me personally at this point safely conceptualize its uncomfortable bits as overlookable/outlier type things rather than main distractions (and it’s worth mentioning that I get the impression Stardom has changed drastically since just before I started watching in 2020), is that at the end of the day, I don’t think any aspersions can fairly be cast at how seriously and importantly the competition itself in Stardom is presented. Like the sheer scale and prestige of just this last year’s 5 Star GP for example (26 participants! Big shows with commentary! Packed Korakuens!) surely is unique to Stardom among the current women’s promotions and divisions of the world as far as I know.

While there are still elements of the presentation that can make me uncomfortable sometimes (those spots in the rumbles sometimes, the occasional “Cosmic Rules” matches, I still don’t really know quite what to make of Rossy Ogawa and his prominent role) and I can understand why newcomers would be additionally wary of those things - when the entire rest of the card is killer big-deal women’s wrestling, it’s easier to look past it for me than it ever was when there were issues with how the women’s divisions in WWE were handled when I was watching those. Just from the sheer volume, if nothing else. I still maintain that rather than being fast-paced per se, Stardom these days more accurately just has a ton of stuff going on at all times. Which itself is certainly at least something I never experienced watching women’s wrestling in American promotions!!

I would say though… at the very least, they certainly know what they have with Mr. Tanahashi :smile:. A big percentage of their ads are just “hey if you buy NJPW merch, Tanahashi might smile at you!” And I guess the sexualization varies by participant but there is the Concurso… I do like that New Japan seems more aware of WWE at least of the idea that the audience might fairly find the male wrestlers attractive (whether or not that’s quite the same thing as “sexualization” per se).
(oh yeah – and come to think of it I just remembered the プ女子 episodes of the New Japan variety show, which are very weird in their own way, but basically just amount to a full show of women ogling the male wrestlers and talking about what makes them hot)

I think the gap between New Japan and Stardom on this particular front isn’t quite as big (again, at least these days) as it can seem when not actively watching Stardom’s actual full shows. They both do ultimately feel primarily like “check out this variety of charismatic athletes!” to me, which is at least in principle, fair, and sorta inseparable from pro wrestling whether it’s acknowledged or not.

Mildly interesting side note I thought of – I remember when I started my Shupro subscription, there was a slightly off-putting regular feature each week where there’d be a page of a gravure modeling type shot of a different female wrestler. I remember that being another one of those initially off-putting “I’m not sure about this” type of elements but it’s been gone for a long time. I wonder if it was a temporary thing I just happened to catch the tail-end of, or if the recent surge in women’s wrestling popularity has helped it be replaced with actual coverage.

I definitely agree about this! I think the ideal outcome for me to bridge that barrier of entry problem would be for these big media companies to trust the product and its appeal enough to let it earn enough fans and respect naturally that the feminine-ish elements that today can trigger “uh oh maybe the powers that be aren’t taking this seriously” fully just become accepted and a fun part of wrestling, and more and more of the need for self-consciously “gritty!!” “tough!!” presentation fades away.

like I remember being (and still maybe am) uncomfortable with Stardom’s Cinderella Tournament concept, where the winner wears a fancy dress and tiara and gets a “cinderella wish” – but I thought about it and honestly in a vacuum that’s a really fun stipulation! and if it were dropped a small something would maybe be lost – whereas if the men got a similar (or… the exact same…?) stipulation, perhaps something would be gained…

I dunno! I guess it’s no surprise that the intersection of famously complicated things, gender and professional wrestling, would be itself complicated :sweat_smile: especially when these two countries have weirdly completely different systems around it fraught in completely different ways, with incompatible terminology.

I tell ya though – back when I had the WWE Network, I tried to watch “Attitude Era” shows and WOWEE despite watching a shocking amount of 80s and early 90s wrestling and enjoying it pretty well that year, I just couldn’t do it once like, Val Venis and D-Generation X started showing up and I stopped completely. There was some stuff in there I saw that I would truly say personally was outright show-poisoning garbage… We really do have it better now than it used to be (for what low a bar that is).

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Yeah, I think Japan in general is more, I guess, aware of and willing to market to this audience regardless of gender (which is both a good and a bad thing!). Photobooks don’t really exist in American promotions in the same way, though I bet they would sell quite a few of them if they made them, haha.

But I do think that the concurso differs a lot from Stardom’s bikini stuff, for complicated reasons concerning audience gaze and identification. There are a few DDT products that I do think are comparable to the bikini photobooks, though. Like the nude photobook with the infamous fabric (link contains a, uh, borderline NSFW Kota photo, fyi!) that Kenny’s house show tights were made out of.

If NJPW starts having wrestlers start feuds in their underwear or having matches where that sort of thing is an actual stipulation, though, then yeah, that would totally be on par, haha.

There was a podcast interview with Kenny from I think 2019, maybe with Don Callis or Dave Meltzer or someone like that, where the interviewer asked Kenny about the increase in women fans that NJPW had gotten in recent years. Apparently it was, at least at the time, nearly 50% women fans, which is obviously a way higher percentage than fans in the west!

I do think that NJPW does a fair amount of catering to this audience, hence why they’re successful there, but there were definitely things on the shows themselves that I found incredibly offputting at first, like Miho Abe and Pieter. I’d be fine with that stuff if it wasn’t so… well, obviously designed around the idea that the audience is a (heterosexual) man :sweat_smile:. Like, fanservice aimed at lesbians is a thing that also exists, but that’s… not really what’s happening here. But if one of the wrestlers had a scantily clad male valet who does provocative poses, then I’d let them have Miho Abe and Pieter without complaint, haha. But as it stands, there are still just all these little reminders that they do have a particular audience in mind for their shows, and that audience is not me.

I honestly have some complicated feelings on the sexualization aspect just in general, but that’s largely due to being asexual. For the most part, I’m okay with people doing whatever they want as long as everyone is comfortable. What worries me is that there is a certain pressure, particularly on women, to exist as sexual objects in addition to being athletes, and that there are much more limited paths to success in the field if the women don’t want to go down that route.

Ok yeah the New Japan Cup would extremely be improved if the winner gets to wear a fancy dress and a tiara at the end!! I probably still wouldn’t get back into watching, haha, but I would tune in to see the winner’s outfit at the end…

Yeah, pretty much :sweat_smile:! Also, I don’t know if you ever read this, but there’s actually a really interesting interview with Effy where he talks about wrestling and drag. Here’s a quote that particularly stands out to me:

“Literally, wrestling is drag! It’s over-the-top exaggeration. Obviously for [queens], it’s exaggeration of femininity and on our end it’s masculinity. Where I’ve taken my character, I’ve played with both ends of that. They say, ‘Oh, here’s this boy in fishnets’–and then I beat people’s asses.”

This is actually something that gets further complicated when you add in Mexican wrestling and the whole concept of exóticos, which exist within a completely different cultural framework, and are in many ways sort of a direct reaction to Mexico’s culture of machismo. I’ve spent a lot of time sort of trying to grapple with the concept. Is it a positive or a negative stereotype, is it empowering LGBTQ people and issues or holding them back, etc., but truthfully it’s a situation where I don’t think there are a lot of clear-cut right or wrong answers! It’s positive and empowering for some people, and also unfortunately restrictive for others, since there isn’t really an existing framework for luchadores to be openly LGBTQ outside of that specific model.

It’s something I’m hoping to be able to do more research on when my Spanish gets better, because so far, I’ve mostly just read English language research, which is fairly limited! I have a feeling that I’ll find a lot more nuanced articles and essays on the subject being written in Spanish by people with a more direct connection to the culture…

Sorry for rambling! I have a lot of interest in the subject and have also thought about it a lot, so I have a lot to say! :sweat_smile:

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週刊プロレス No.2208 (from October, the end of the 5 Star GP)

This one’s a supplemental issue not included with the subscription, focusing exclusively on the 2022 Stardom 5 Star GP. I went ahead and bought it since I loved that tournament so much!
My impression (not having read it yet but I mean if I end up disagreeing by the end I’ll just go back and edit this out so) is that it’s not unmissable by any means, but it seems like a pretty fun souvenir of sorts if you care about the event covered.

The first big section is a page for each of the 26 tournament entrants, ordered by point total by block, with a summary of how they did across the tournament, and their personal story it tells.
I think these are neat! So I tried to summarize them.

Red Stars

  1. Tam Nakano (1st place)
    After losing the white belt in 2021, Tam was stalling with failed championship shots and injury, but fully recovered and bounced back particularly with her celebrated matches with Natsupoi and subsequent acceptance of same as a new member of Cosmic Angels, as well as a great match challenging for Syuri’s red belt. Her path through to the tournament file was marked by stopping other wrestlers’ hot streaks (as both Himeka and Maika lost to her when they had momentum), and the final with Giulia shows why that feud and Tam in particular are evergreen attractions (ロングセラー) for Stardom.
  2. Maika (2nd place)
    Maika notched impressive wins coming out ahead in rugged confrontations of attack and defense, incl. between her “fated rival” Utami Hayashishita and her former stablemate Syuri. Her Michinoku Driver II is a powerful weapon, but Tam stopping her momentum, a shocking loss to Momo Kohgo, and she and her tag partner Himeka’s first singles match together in the final ending in double KO meant she was out of the tournament. Maika certainly has the ability, now if she can only capture a belt, the Maika era will arrive.
    (P.S. they don’t mention it, but a notable memory I have of Maika in this tournament is when she got very very sunburned in the middle of it…)
  3. Himeka (2nd place)
    For Himeka’s summary, they emphasize heavily the first singles match between her close friend, tag partner, and stablemate Maika on the final show. They also talk about how after reaching the semifinal of the tournament in 2020, her singles momentum stalled (apparently in part due to back pain), but the match with Maika and an impressive red belt challenge have only deepened the expectation of big (jumbo?) things from Himeka (ひめか待望論)
  4. Risa Sera (2nd place)
    As the invading leader of Prominence, Sera surely found enjoyment in wrestling for Stardom in the tournament, based on the extremely painful looking things she did to the other wrestlers: particularly the Giant Swing on Momo Kohgo that ended with throwing her directly into the audience’s chairs (which yes, I remember!). She broke out that technique a couple of times after that, and also made (the very light) Saki Kashima look like a crash test dummy with unparalleled speed in the Giant Swing.
  5. Koguma (5th place)
    Koguma’s the type to have fun in her matches, and her tendency to either persuade or force bear poses and kuma chants out of her opponents was a memorable throughline in the tournament. Her nickname of “Highspeed Genius” was born out in victories over AZM and Utami Hayashishita however, and after lots of success in the tag team division with fellow un-retiree Hazuki as FWC (Fukuoka Double Crazy), her first singles title since returning to wrestling can’t be far away.
    (come to think of it, I’m honestly shocked she hasn’t been highspeed champion since then)
  6. Utami Hayashishita (5th place)
    Utami’s reign with the red belt across 9 defenses made her synonymous with big matches in Stardom and won her the 2021 Tokyo Sports Women’s Pro-Wrestling top prize, and so for her this tournament was an opportunity to regain that spotlight. An early match with her rival Syuri was sure to be a draw, since they had fought for 43 minutes in the past with no conclusion (30m draw + 13 minute extension ending in double KO), so how could 15 minutes be enough? Utami defeating Syuri just before the bell marked the start of that revival she was hoping for… however point-wise the end result of the tournament can only be a disappointment.
  7. AZM (5th place)
    AZM’s won technique or special achievement prizes in all her 5 Star GP appearances since her first in 2019, and she held her own in a difficult and powerful block with speed and skill, not ending at the top, but having sped ahead (さすが) and been at the top of the block standings for a long time. Her winning combination of canadian destroyer into her pinning “Azumi sushi” won victories and showed absolutely that the Highspeed Champion can hang at the top of Stardom’s competition.
  8. Syuri (5th place)
    Syuri won the 2021 5 Star GP, but actively defending the red belt during the run of the tournament may have made the path to a second consecutive victory even more difficult, and after a loss to rival Utami, and a loss to Saki Kashima’s 起死回生 despite Saki being actively Syuri-phobic, although Syuri was able to keep the possibility of advancing open to the end, she wasn’t able to see it through.
  9. Saki Kashima (9th place)
    This tournament was in a way, Saki Kashima’s blooming into a true entertainer. Her long-relied on surprise rollup move 起死回生 led her to upset victories, and her ingenuity and varied moves (like the Shoryuken she does) and storylines like overcoming her fear of having to fight Syuri, meant that although she’s a heel, she’s become very popular. Spapapapaan!
  10. SAKI (10th place)
    An outside wrestler from the independent unit COLOR’S that’s allied with Cosmic Angels, SAKI’s had a 10 year career, and despite the many matches she’s had, the tournament provided many first-time opponents and experiences, and although point-wise she didn’t end up with as many points as expected, she’s nevertheless grateful for that experience.
  11. Mai Sakurai (11th place)
    First wrestling for Stardom in 2021 after a roughly 1.5 year career prior to that, Mai was briefly in Cosmic Angels before deciding to join Giulia in Donna Del Mondo (thanks to Giulia’s inexplicably successful “attack the rookies in horror masks” plan). Shupro says she showed the most growth out of anyone in the tournament and I agree! I’m surprised it doesn’t mention her very bold goal of – I think it was just 3 or 4 losses? – that she made to her mentors Giulia and Hideki Suzuki. And while she didn’t net enough victories to avoid all three of them having to dogeza in apology, she got a lot closer than I was expecting!
  12. Momo Kohgo (12th place)
    Momo’s entry into the tournament was as a replacement for Thekla who had to drop out due to injury, with Momo earning the spot from doing next-best below the qualifying line in the rookie preliminary tournament beforehand. She fought hard, but wasn’t able to accrue a hugely surprising number of points, with two victories, against Saki Kashima and most surprisingly, Maika. She formed plenty of rivals to revenge herself on though, particularly fellow former Actwres Girl’Z member Mai Sakurai. Shupro says she has a “hurricanrana-like move” as a finisher that is continuing to be polished.
  13. Unagi Sayaka (12th place)
    Unagi shined in 2021 including with a 5 Star GP performance that won one of the special achievement awards, so her drop to last place this year is a harsh blow that suggests there may be an obstacle she needs to breakthrough to find success again.
    (She has since been traveling around freelancing quite successfully in other promotions - to such an extent that I’m not really clear on what if any direct ties she still has with Stardom other than still being a Cosmic Angels member)

Blue Stars

  1. Giulia (1st place)
    Two motivations drove Giulia through the tournament: making up for last year (when she had to drop out partway through due to injury) and her long-awaited first singles match with Suzu Suzuki since they both left Ice Ribbon (three years apart) in the final. Her first two matches were losses, but after successive victories, especially her memorable match with Starlight Kid, her confidence and form were in full force. The summary also calls out her dramatic victory over Saya Kamitani, her and Mayu Iwatani “once again” not reaching a conclusive end with a draw, and her tagging with Rina Yamashita midtournament at Stardom in Showcase.
  2. Mayu Iwatani (2nd place)
    Mayu is the wrestler with the longest Stardom career, and has become an undeniable living “icon” of Stardom, but although the 5 Star GP has been held since shortly after the promotion started (and Mayu’s been there since the beginning), she didn’t enter until 2014, after falling through entrance-deciding matches in '12 and '13. After winning the Cinderella Tournament in 2015 and 2016, she won her first 5 Star GP in 2018. And since no one has ever won the tournament twice so far, she was gunning to be the first. But being an icon also means being a target. Opponents like MIRAI and Saya Kamitani alluding to her “icon” status heavily in speech after beating her shows that although she didn’t manage 5 Star GP V2, Mayu’s synonymy with Stardom remains fully intact.
  3. MIRAI (2nd place)
    MIRAI hasn’t been long in Stardom and already won her first Cinderella tournament, and now came one step away from winning the 5 Star GP. The sheer force of her left-handed lariat made a huge impact, along with her catchphrase ”魂込めて" (“putting my soul into it”, let’s say). What’s next for MIRAI’s mirai*? Singles? Tag? Both?
    (*Translator’s note: mirai means future)
  4. Suzu Suzuki (2nd place)
    Suzu has been very active freelancing and with Prominence, and won a singles championship in Wave but also missed time due to a shoulder injury, and then entered this tournament late after testing positive for COVID. She went in with Giulia as the sole target in mind due to Suzu’s grudge against her for abandoning her when Giulia left Ice Ribbon with no warning. Although she insisted she wasn’t having fun after initial losses, by the end of the tournament as victories accumulated, it seems that Suzu couldn’t help but enjoy fighting Stardom’s wrestlers and accumulated many future rivals in the process. She may have entered only for Giulia, but by the end of the tournament Suzu certainly made her mark on all of Stardom.
  5. Hazuki (5th place)
    Hazuki played a prominent role in the tournament with 7 straight victories meaning she sped out ahead of the competition with a vertical falling brainbuster (垂直落下式ブレーンバスター) as her finisher… but then that was followed by 5 successive losses. From all appearances though, this was due less to Hazuki losing momentum herself, and more all of Stardom leveling up, she was just a forerunner of that growth.
  6. Saya Kamitani (5th place)
    While last year around the 5 Star GP, Saya leaked the identity of “X” and no one will let her live it down, this year she enters the tournament as a prestigious white belt champion, and although KAIRI saying the white belt was crying (as build to a postponed match) may have thrown her off her game, Saya made a strong showing and accumulated a number of additional challenges for her belt…
  7. Starlight Kid (5th place)
    After her turn to Oedotai the year prior gave her a huge boost in popularity and shook off the image of a lower card sidekick, SLK entered the tournament with big expectations behind her despite her small size, since her self-presentation is so strong. She’s motivated by a chip on her shoulder and a long list of wrestlers to revenge herself on. Some of that revenge might have been successful, and she’s become something of a major barrier to overcome for the younger wrestlers, but one new target for revenge was certainly created as well in the form of Suzu Suzuki…
  8. Natsupoi (8th place)
    Natsupoi is on a hot streak after betraying Donna Del Mondo to join Cosmic Angels and tag with Tam Nakano and “start a revolution,” and while she didn’t win this singles tournament, the revolution wasn’t built in a day after all, and there is surely very high expectations for Natsupoi and Tam in the tag division soon…
  9. Momo Watanabe (8th place)
    It’s the first 5 Star GP since joining Oedotai for last year’s semifinalist and (for now anyway) record holder for most white belt defenses, Momo Watanabe. She brought plenty of “Oedotainess” to the table in the form of a wrench (or spanner if you prefer), plenty of interference from the seconds, etc., seeming to show complete disregard for winning or losing.
  10. Ami Sohrei (10th place)
    Entering the main tournament having won a clean sweep of the preliminary tournament, Ami Sohrei made a very big impact for a wrestler so early in their career, particularly with her new move 雷の如く (“Like a Thunderbolt,” with the Like a Dragon echoing definitely 100% intentional). She may well be a candidate for a 5 Star GP victory in the near future.
  11. Mina Shirakawa (11th place)
    Another candidate for the wrestler showing the most growth in this series, what she may not have gained in victories, Mina showed in gain in style and ring psychology. Shupro describes her style here as a unique, classical flavored one, mentioning moves like her Figure 4 or 吊り天井 (“drop ceiling”, known in English as the Romero Special), which let her make an impact despite not placing highly. Once that impact is paired with pinfalls, singles gold will surely follow.
  12. Saya Iida (10th place)
    This is Iida’s second 5 Star GP after entering last year’s as a replacement and this year entering via the preliminary rookie tournament. The “Macho Gorilla” faced a reset in momentum after being out for injury a long time, and while she found a couple of victories with her new pinning move, a modified version of her “Iida Bridge” called the “Iida New Bridge,” further success remains a little down the road. Her most striking victory was stopping Hazuki’s momentum. A fellow member of stars, Hazuki was also something like a trainer to Iida, and so she had hoped to beat Hazuki with her teacher’s own finisher, the vertical falling brainbuster, but ultimately won with the Iida New Bridge for now.
  13. Hanan (12th place)
    Hanan went into the tournament as Future of Stardom Championship, but faced successive losses through almost the entire tournament. Showing impressive strength of spirit at just 18 though, she was able to at last get two victories in the last two matches of the tournament, and in the end was glad to have seen it through.

Next there’s a rundown of every show in the tournament. I’m not reading or summarizing all that, but they include some comments from a winner of one of the shows (probably from the post-match or backstage promo?) some of which are interesting.

  • MIRAI says she’s no icon of Stardom after beating Mayu once, but she’ll put her soul into it and become an ace of Stardom.
  • SLK characteristically pesters Saya Kamitani after beating her, saying she’s got “nerves of tofu” (豆腐メンタル) torn to shreds after KAIRI’s comments.
  • Mayu says she thinks Hanan might be a future icon of Stardom but she can’t let her be one just yet (after a match where I remember being particularly impressed at Hanan’s gumption in attacking Mayu before the bell)
  • Saki Kashima addressed her hometown crowd after a victory in Shimane
  • SLK sincerely expresses encouragement to Hanan after beating her, as they both debuted as kids wrestlers (a year or two apart), and as a former Future of Stardom champion who lost on her 5th defense, SLK knows best out of anyone how impressive Hanan’s being on her 8th defense is.
  • “I’ve grown out of Arita haven’t I?” Himeka asked former Actwres Girl’z senpai SAKI after beating her, referring to her (Himeka’s) former ring name.
  • Risa Sera helpfully points out to Koguma that she is not in fact a bear but a human.
  • Suzu Suzuki calls Iida a shit gorilla. (but acknowledges she is very strong)

The last feature in the issue is SLKの天罰完了日記, a diary of Starlight Kid’s days during the tournament. It’s pretty surface-level, but kinda fun to hear about the circumstances around a tournament like this, with mundane details like what breakfast she likes (banana + yogurt + honey + protein), an Oedotai party around her birthday, “YoungOED会inHOTEL,” a movie she saw on Hulu and recommends (竜とそばかすの姫, or in English, the much less memorable title “Belle”) or what her sleep levels on any given day were like. That kind of thing.
One wrestling-related detail I especially liked was she describes complicated feelings behind her match with Iida, because Iida was out injured when SLK was forced into Oedotai originally, so there’s mixed feelings where Iida has a hard time recognizing that Kid has changed and left Stars, and Kid was stuck both glad to see Iida return and defiantly not wanting to lose to a Stars member.
She also talks about the match with Suzu Suzuki that was postponed and that Kid ultimately lost, and she says she was looking forward to it and it was violent as expected and Suzu’s extremely aggravating but she loves that kind of person (こーゆー奴大好きなんだわ) and is already looking forward
to the inevitable rematch down the line.

Assorted pictures:






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4 Likes

Thank you for writing this up! As someone who surely consumed more of the 5 Star GP than is good for a person, I still enjoyed the look back. Just to quickly respond to your wondering about Unagi’s status, she herself has said her relationship with Stardom now is deliberately vague, in order to keep things “exciting” and to keep people talking about her, because “if people are wondering about it they’re paying attention to me, and that’s a good thing, right?” So the answer to that one is a big fat shrug emoji for pretty much everyone who doesn’t work there. Anyway, thanks again!

2 Likes

I finally watched 大日本プロレス リア王 (BJW’s King Lear)! This show happened on August 7, 2008, so it is quite old at this point, but I really enjoyed it! As I think I already mentioned, BJW did a series of Shakespeare deathmatch shows from 2008-2011 (there were three: King Lear, Romeo vs Juliet, and then two showings of Macbeth). These shows are not available anywhere online, as far as I have been able to find, so I bought the DVDs secondhand and had them shipped from Japan!

I’ve been trying to translate as much stuff as I can find about these shows so that I can share them with my friends and also hopefully get more info about them out there so that Shakespeare enthusiasts can know that they exist!

King Lear is the one I have the least info for (the Romeo vs Juliet DVD came with what appears to be the original program for the show folded up inside, and Macbeth has a guidebook, which I had a friend buy secondhand for me and just got in the mail!), but the back of the DVD has a lot of good stuff on it, so I translated it with the help of a friend who was also super interested in these shows, and who helped me buy them.

I’ll include the original Japanese, and then my translation under it so that you can choose which to read haha.

The introduction on the back of the DVD:

リング云う舞台、そこはロープと言う結界が張られて居た。

前評判は、「一体どんな物なんだろう・・?」「レスラーがやる演劇なんてどうせグダグダの学芸会だろう・・」「シェイクスピアなんてプロレスラーが出来る分けないだろ・・」と様々な憶測が飛び交っていた「大日リア王」。

しかし、会場を日の当たりにした時、全てが余計な心配だったと言う事が解った。横浜赤レンガ倉庫ホールは、普段の大日本プロレスの試合会場ではなく完璧にリア王の宮殿・・リアパレスであった。

そして、宮廷人を従えてリングの上に現れたリア王付きのバイオリニスト!、そして、リア王を先頭に登場したリア家のレスラー達!!。

全ての空気は、まさにしプロレスを身に纏ったシェイクスピア劇であった。そして物語は、コーデリアの追放。王様の眼前で繰り広げられる御前試合。

そして、裏切り、仲間割れ、追放、反逆、絶望と・・雪崩式に押し寄せて来る悲劇の数々・・。その一つ一つが全てレスラー達の肉体に因る「プロレス」で完璧に表現されていたのであった・・・。

レスラー達の肉体表現に闘いを挑んだ役者達も又、四角いリングと言う結界の中、表現者としてのプライドを賭けてレスラー達に挑んで行った。

演劇でもない、プロレスでもない、しかしリングの上で起こった事は全てがプロレスであり、人間が肉体と英知を使って表現をした物は全てが芸術である。

その企画は、プロレスラーに因る、芸術に対する冒涜ではなく、挑戦状であるのかも知れない。日本のプロレス界の長い歴史に於いて、初めて表現されたシェイクスピア。それが、初演から400年の歴史を経て初めて本物の血と汗を流して闘った、男達の熱い物語であった事を、シェイクスピアは雲の上から見ていた事であろう。

紛れも無く、男達はプロレスと演劇の歴史と観客の心に深く名を刻んだのである。

My translation:

The stage was called a ring, and it was bounded by ropes.

Before the show, sentiments like: “What on earth is this?” “A play performed by wrestlers would be like a boring school play anyway…” “There’s no way professional wrestlers could do something like Shakespeare…” and various other assumptions floated around “Big Japan’s King Lear.”

However, when I saw the venue that day, I realized that these concerns were utterly uncalled for. The Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse was not the usual venue for a Big Japan Pro Wrestling match, but it was the perfect abode for King Lear—it was Lear’s Palace.

Then King Lear entered the ring with his royal attendants, accompanied by a violinist! And then came the wrestlers portraying Lear’s family, with King Lear at the helm!!

The atmosphere was entirely that of a Shakespeare play dressed up as professional wrestling. Cordelia’s exile was the story. Before the eyes of the king unfolded the contest.

And betrayal, friends turned to enemies, exile, treason, despair… countless tragedies which descended upon us avalanche-style… Each and every one of them was perfectly expressed in the “pro wrestling” that is conveyed in the bodies of the wrestlers.

As the wrestlers physically expressed the drama, so too did the actors bring the challenge to the wrestlers to stake their pride as expressive artists within the boundaries of the so-called squared circle.

It was neither theater nor pro wrestling, but everything that happens in the ring is pro wrestling, and everything expressed by human beings using their bodies and minds is art.

Because of pro wrestlers, this project is not a blasphemy against art, but maybe a formal challenge. For the first time in the long history of Japanese professional wrestling, Shakespeare was expressed. This was the first time in the 400 years of history since the show was first performed that it was fought with real blood and sweat flowing, and Shakespeare must have gazed down from above the clouds and seen the passionate tale presented by these daring men.

Without a doubt, these men have carved their names and left a deep impression in the history of pro wrestling and theater, as well as in the hearts of the audience.

It was fun translating the list of tragedies: 裏切り、仲間割れ、追放、反逆、絶望と・・ I was like, “Hey, I just learned 仲間割れ from the Wrestle Universe chat!” Overall, I did better than I thought translating this, or at least my friend had relatively minor fixes, haha. I made a few errors when transcribing the text from the DVD, but I think I caught them all when translating it.

Something that was kind of funny to me was that there were a lot of words here that were taught to me as: “this can be written in kanji as [ ], but you’ll always see it in kana.” Well, they were in kanji here! Including our old friend, 又. I thought maybe it was done to save space (they didn’t exactly have a lot of real estate on the back of the DVD), but one of my friends suggested that maybe they used more kanji to sound more ~Shakespearean~. That is also a possibility!

I found that whole thing really fascinating because, well, I’m obviously obsessed with pro wrestling, but I’ve also loved Shakespeare for a long, long time, so I sort of have one foot in each world here. It’s unfortunately wholly unsurprising to me that this show received the reaction that it did when it was first announced, because I think that gets at the high/low culture dichotomy, and the fact that most people place Shakespeare on one side of that, and pro wrestling on the exact opposite end of the spectrum. I have actually sort of done a lot of research on that, too, haha, because I focused a lot on fan studies in undergrad and in graduate school, and the high/low culture issue came up a lot! :sweat_smile:

In any case, this is the kind of show that is made for an audience of me (my inability to watch deathmatches notwithstanding…), so I was very excited about it! I would love to see more of this kind of thing in wrestling! It’s honestly similar in many ways to Hiragana Muscle, though Muscle is a comedy and this is a tragedy.

Also, the card for all of these shows is incredible! I love the match names!

Here is the card as it was printed on the back of the DVD:

序章 バイオリン 松田麻由美

第1幕 グレート・リア王より開催の御挨拶

第2幕 ドランカープリンスタッグマッチ 30分ー本勝負

バックス宮本 アプロディタ忍
VS
ゴネリル谷口 オールバニ弁慶 with オズワルド勘九郎

第3幕 200ポンドマッスルハードコアタッグマッチ 30分ー本勝負

マルス関本 ハーデース黒田
VS
リーガンWX コーンウォール小林

第四章 狂気

第五幕 追悼バトルロイヤル

コング桑田 ✕ 八代進一・谷山知宏組 ✕ 黒天使 ✕ ボクデス・スカンク組

ローズ&蛍光灯祭壇デスマッチ 時間無制限1本勝負

エドマンド佐々木 エドガー葛西 黒天使
VS
コーデリア伊東 フランス帝王 ケント井上

My translation (I added the actual names of the performers in italics)

Prologue: Violin Mayumi Matsuda

Act 1: A Greeting from the Great King Lear

(Great Kojika)

Act 2: Drunkard Prince Tag Match (30 minutes, one fall)

BACCHUS Miyamoto APHRODITA Shinobu
VS
GONERIL Taniguchi ALBANY Benkei with OSWALD Kankuro

(Yuko Miyamoto & Shinobu VS Yuichi Taniguchi & Daikokubo Benkei with Kankuro Hoshino)

Act 3: 200lb. Muscle Hardcore Tag Match (30 minutes, one fall)

MARS Sekimoto HADES Kuroda
VS
REGAN WX CORNWALL Kobayashi

(Daisuke Sekimoto & Tetsuhiro Kuroda VS Shadow WX & Abdullah Kobayashi)

Act 4: Madness

Act 5: Mourning Battle Royal

Kong Kuwata (storyteller) ✕ Shunichi Yashiro・Tomohiro Taniyama ✕ BLACK ANGEL ✕ Bokudesu (pastor)・SKUNK (guitar)

(Kong Kuwata ✕ Shunichi Yashiro ・Tomohiro Taniyama ✕ “Black Angel” Jaki Numazawa ✕ Masahiro Kohama ・ Tatsuo Sunaga)

Rose & Light Tube Altar Deathmatch (no time limit, one fall)

EDMUND Sasaki EDGAR Kasai BLACK ANGEL
VS
CORDELIA Ito FRANCE Teioh KENT Inoue

(Yoshihito Sasaki & Jun Kasai & “Black Angel” Jaki Numazawa VS Ryuji Ito & Men’s Teioh & Katsumasa Inoue)

Most of the wrestlers were pretty easy to find via google if I just typed in the kanji and added 大日本プロレス, but a few of the non-wrestlers gave me more trouble, haha. ボクデス in particular was a headache to find (what a name, lol)! My friend had to do the google sleuthing for that one, but he did manage to find him (he’s a performance artist, as it turns out). And スカンク was helpfully listed on the back of the DVD as “ギター”. That was beyond my investigative skills, too, but my friend somehow managed to figure out who it was.

I also had a bit of trouble with the katakana names of some of the characters who aren’t actual characters in King Lear. I’m pretty sure they’re meant to be Greek/Roman gods? Sort of? It’s complicated! I was confused when initially translating the names, but when I actually watched the show, I think it clicked why they chose to go with that.

This is the third adaption of King Lear that I’ve seen/read. The first was a regular performance of the play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and the second was the novel A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley. Both were very good! I’ve also read the play twice. It’s honestly not my favorite Shakespeare play, but I did get pretty heavily influenced by the eye-gouging scene in the OSF production and wrote something similar into a D&D game I was running at the time, haha, and then my mom and her siblings had a King-Lear-esque falling out over their inheritance after my grandmother died, so I ended up becoming pretty well-acquainted with the story whether I liked it or not…

But, well, here are some of my impressions after watching BJW King Lear:

I wasn’t able to understand terribly much of the dialogue, haha, but I got the basic gist of the story, thanks to my King Lear knowledge. It appeared to be King Lear told through a wrestling setting instead, so I don’t think it’s really full of direct Shakespeare quotes or anything (I caught plenty of wrestling words, at least, haha), but I dunno. I did notice I caught a lot more of the dialogue when going back through the show afterward to get screencaps. There is (Japanese) commentary for the matches, which helps convey some of the story beats. That in itself was an interesting stylistic choice.

The matches themselves are actually pretty enjoyable just as matches, I think. They fit into an overall story, but the wrestlers work them like they’re regular matches, so even if you don’t fully get what’s going on, you can still enjoy the narrative of the matches individually. Only one of the matches was a true deathmatch, and that was the main event: the Rose & Light Tube Altar Deathmatch. I was able to watch more of it than I thought I would, haha, because the vibes were simply off the charts.

Here are some screenshots of the show, plus some more specific comments:

Great Kojika played the “Great” King Lear! I’m not normally a BJW watcher, so I had no idea who he was until I looked him up, but apparently he co-founded the promotion and is the oldest Japanese wrestler as well as the one with the longest career, and is also the oldest active wrestler in the world (at age 80!). Legitimately extremely fitting for this role, actually!

I really liked the way he wore the two belts around his neck like this. This is from the scene where Cordelia gets exiled.

From the Drunkard Prince tag match.

Regan and Cornwall had a bit of a 仲間割れ during their match. Not a good way to impress the king!

I hadn’t seen much of “Black Angel” Jaki Numazawa’s work before this (I’d only seen him in the last BJW X DDT crossover show, I think), but he left a pretty strong impression on me in this! His character work as (I’m assuming?) the Fool character was pretty great!

The music in this show also ruled. I loved the violin at the beginning, and the guitar they had going on during the battle royal act was fun! They also had this incredible altar setup, with bunches of roses and light tubes on the apron…

Tajiri was also here for some reason? I don’t remember seeing his name on the back of the DVD, haha.

Jun Kasai was fantastic in this! Honestly, all the wrestlers were great! I have no idea why he decided to kiss Numazawa’s character here, but, well, they decided to do that! I guess it’s a bit of a preview for the main event of Romeo vs Juliet, which is the next show…

The altar turned out to be made of light tubes, which is extremely pro wrestling, and of course someone crashed through it. I didn’t even realize what it was made out of until partially through this match. There were some other pretty incredible light tube/barbed wire/rose weapons, which of course broke spectacularly.

At one point, they scattered roses all over the ring and did a rolling cradle on top of the roses and the broken glass from the light tubes… I could only watch scattered pieces of this last match, but boy did it have a lot of striking imagery…

All in all, I loved it! I’m very excited for Romeo vs Juliet next, whenever that is able to happen! (It depends on when there are lulls in the TJPW translation workload, haha). I already got started translating the program, and I hope to get most of it done before watching the show so that my friends and I have as much context as possible.

With King Lear, I’m considering trying to translate shupro’s recap for it, since it goes more in depth about the plot (I didn’t look at the recap before watching because I didn’t want to spoil it), and then maybe making a huge blog post with everything I have translated for the show so that English-speaking fans (of wrestling and/or of Shakespeare) can know that it exists. Because I think it’s an incredibly cool work of art that really transcends genre boundaries in both directions.

I’d also love to properly gif it at some point, though who knows when I’ll get around to that, haha. Not that there’s really any particular rush, though… :sweat_smile:

Someday, when my listening comprehension is better, I’ll definitely rewatch all of these shows to get the full experience.

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A couple translation suggestions (if you don't mind!)

The どうせ here I would say is like, “any way you slice it, the outcome is definitely gonna be X”
Whereas the “anyway” used here reads to me like a softer “ehh I was thinking of going but it’ll probably be X anyway so why bother” kind of anyway.
I would try to ramp up the derision - here’s my own attempt:
“A play put on by wrestlers? There’s no way that doesn’t end up just like a mind-numbing school play!”

A couple things:

  1. you’ve got 日の当たり here but it sounds like you translated based on 目の当たり so that would be a transcription to doublecheck.
  2. I don’t feel great about the first-person narrator materializing for just this sentence. I don’t think 目の当たり and 解った necessarily imply a personal narrator describing their own experiences here (although it makes sense why it would feel more natural to translate it that way…). I’d say the subject in that sense is still the general, collective opinion.
    My attempt:
    “But at first sight of the venue, all such qualms were found to be needless concern.”

This is really picky, but I would say the original order matches the structure more: “The story was Cordelia’s exile”
空気は…そして物語は → The atmosphere… The story.

This one is hard because there’s a two part structure with very similar ends, and it’s easier to intuit what they’re probably saying than figure it out exactly. Assuming the transcript is exactly correct though, I think what’s happening is it’s describing the deepness of the challenge posed to the pro-wrestlers by re-emphasizing it.
レスラー達の肉体表現に闘いを挑んだ役者達も ~ the actors who challenged a fight towards the wrestler’s physical expression.
又 ~ also, furthermore
四角いリングと言う結界の中、表現者としてのプライドを賭けてレスラー達に挑んで行った。~ they went to the wrestlers’ home turf and challenged the wrestlers’ very pride as performers within the bounds of the so-called squared circle.

I think you mistook the structure here. I would say the second comma is separating two things modifying 冒涜:

(プロレスラーに因る、芸術に対する)冒涜

roughly “a blasphemy against the arts perpetrated by pro wrestlers”

Yeah I wouldn’t say they’re being over the top with it here, but pretty much 100% of those “usually written as kanji” cases you will see as kanji if you read literature that’s a notch or two older or more serious/formal. I don’t know exactly what generates those messages in jisho and such but I assume it’s there mainly as a “write this one in kana when you use it yourself” type of thing, not a “this kanji is so rare as to be unusual in all situations” type of thing.
Here I would say it’s dialing up the gravity a bit, as appropriate for a Shakespeare play about a royal court. Kanji has a bit more weight, after all! に於いて for one doesn’t save a lot of space :slightly_smiling_face:

Thanks for sharing so much about that show!! It looks like a really neat thing :eyes:

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How about: “A play put on by wrestlers would definitely be like a mind-numbing school play at best…”

I thought I’d already double-checked this one, but I looked again, and sure enough, you’re right, haha, it is indeed 目の当たり! Curse you small text!! I had a fair amount of trouble with this one, and I think only sort of accidentally ended up at the correct interpretation, haha, because that was what made sense!

How’s this? “However, at the sight of the venue, all such qualms were found to be needless concern.”

This one was honestly super tricky! I had no idea what it was even saying, haha. The version in the translation I shared here was actually my second attempt at that line. Here was my first:

“The actors who challenged the struggle expressed by the physical bodies of the wrestlers also challenged the wrestlers to stake their pride as expressive artists within the boundaries of the so-called squared circle.”

My friend read it a little differently, hence my second attempt, haha. I think my own interpretation is a little closer to yours, though, now that I compare them.

That does make sense! I think I was reading it as modifying both 冒涜 and 挑戦状, but I think rewording the sentence conveys that sense better, too: “This project is not a blasphemy against art perpetrated by pro wrestlers, but maybe a formal challenge.”

Honestly, it makes me wonder if a lot of the noise people make about it here on this forum is a bit overblown :sweat_smile:. People complain about WK teaching this stuff as if it’s such a rare use case, there’s no point to a general audience even learning it so early in our studies, but honestly if I can find it on the back of a pro wrestling DVD, I think most people are likely to come across it much sooner than they might expect…

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(The alternate translations you asked about seem fine!)

Yeah I went back and forth on it myself… it could always be I suppose one of those situations where the copywriter got a little turned around themselves and didn’t notice. I feel like the 役者達も又 makes you expect something like “and the pro wrestlers did too” to line up the contrast grammatically, and then that just doesn’t turn up.
As-is my hesitant conclusion was the contrast between 挑んだ and like, 挑んで行った was the emphasis being made. Like the main point I think is that they not only laid out a challenge but went to their territory to have them put it on the line.

With your original I would have quibbled that I think in “challenged the struggle expressed by the physical bodies” the 闘いを挑んだ I think means like, “challenged to a 闘い.” Like this cat I found trying to fight drowsiness.

I think probably interpreting it as modifying both is right, but yeah the impression I got from your original was that you were interpreting it as modifying like, the verb / whole sentence, like “Because of pro wrestlers, this project is…” Sounds like it’s just a chair-rearranging issue though!

Yeah… :innocent:

I think what bugs me about that kind of complaint is the implicit assumption that like, your horizons won’t be widened over the course of learning, so limiting yourself strictly to what you’re currently interested in or expect to encounter at the moment should be sufficient. Like if you’re sure you’d never check out a pro-wrestling version of a Shakespeare play then it doesn’t matter one way or another what forms of words are on the packaging or not, it’s completely irrelevant.
But that seems like a bummer when widening horizons seems like, the main point of language learning (and will definitely happen to one extent or another as you progress), so might as well lean into it.

For what it’s worth in my own anki deck I always include a card for whatever the dictionary has as the primary kanji variant, and then additionally have separate lists I can add them to to import for making cards for a no kanji variant, alternate kanji variant, or alternate no kanji variant, based on if I encountered the word one of those ways. And while that makes a lot of cards (~30k so far with ~10k new and unlearned), and some are definitely like, obscure plant varieties that I don’t drill particularly strictly, I’ve never felt like, “ugh what a useless word” since I mean… I read it once somewhere or it wouldn’t be in there. And it’s not like I’ve been unearthing ancient texts or divining the hidden secrets of the stars either…

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