Emi Sakura has had a hell of a year, and it’s been well documented here at Ringbelles. Her success since leaving Ice Ribbon has included setting up her own promotion in Thailand, having it migrate to Japan, winning the JWP/Daily Sports Tag Team Championship, securing the services of Kaori Yoneyama then having her take her side in some sort of Stockholm Syndrome scenario, forming a team to invade JWP and then taking hold of the promotion’s crown jewel by winning the Openweight Championship. In addition, she defended the belt in the UK for the first time in its history and won the Pro Wrestling: EVE Championship on the same night. Indeed, it has been one hell of a year for the 36 year old. However, it seems as if 2012 is going to end on a mildly disappointing note.
Yesterday, 17-year veteran dropped the Openweight Title in the main event of Climax 2012 at Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall after 57 days – the second shortest reign in the title’s 20 year history (for the record, the shortest was Devil Masami’s 32 day run which ended when the title was vacated for unknown reasons). She was beaten by current Tag Team Champion Arisa Nakajima, who has also enjoyed a tremendous 2012.
The 23-year old returned to action at the promotion’s 20th anniversary event on April 22 this year after being away for the last three years. She was sidelined by JWP after her match against Saki Maemura on April 19, 2009, with the reason given being “poor health”. Six weeks later, she announced her retirement, but didn’t completely close the door on wrestling. Nakajima re-emerged on the scene on December 23 last year, saying that she intended to return to JWP.
Since her return, she has seen the bulk of her success in the tag team ranks, forming successful tandems with Manami Katsu – who she teamed with in both JWP and REINA x World – and also with Ice Ribbon’s Hikaru Shida, which saw the pair unite for the JWP/Ice Ribbon JRibbon events on July 28, where they advanced to the tournament finals but fell at the final hurdle to Maki Narumiya & Hanako Nakamori.
Despite not racking up any titles or trophies, her work did not go unnoticed, and in August she was recruited to be part of the team which would stand up to Sakura’s interlopers – but was defeated by Emi at the start of the programme. Nakajima rallied back though, and alongside Command Bolshoi, the pair defeated Sakura and Yoneyama to win the JWP/Daily Sports Tag Titles, and hold them to this day, defeating Sakura’s Heart Move Kei Reform teammates Nakamori and Morii along the way. She also displayed her guile by being the only member of JWP’s Seikigun who was not eliminated in a Captain’s Fall match against HMK on October 7.
After Sakura won the Openweight Title on October 28, Nakajima immediately challenged her for the belt, and earned the right to go for the title by winning a four woman tournament, which brings us to the match which took place yesterday.
As for the match itself, fan accounts and photos of the contest indicate it was a war. As you can tell from the headline picture (courtesy of Youji Kawauchi), Nakajima was bloodied during the proceedings, apparently from a strong headbutt which she delivered to her opponent. In the end, it was a Dragon Suplex which scored the pinfall, making her the second youngest Openweight Champion in history.
The age point is significant, as during her victory speech, the new titleholder said she wished to defend the belt against wrestlers of her own age. Considering the older guard seems to be facing challenges from the younger generation – for example, with Hiroyo Matsumoto leading the charge in OZ Academy against the likes of founder Mayumi Ozaki – it seems as it change is really on the horizon. Matsumoto seems to be on the verge of something great, Nakajima has reached the pinnacle of her career in a hugely impressive comeback from being benched three years ago due to “poor health” to winning the promotion’s top title a year and a day after announcing her return.
Former Openweight Champion Hailey Hatred also made an interesting Facebook post last night, which may or may not be connected to the subject, saying:
Today was an incredible day for women’s pro wrestling. JWP and STARDOM [which held a show in the evening at Korakuen Hall] really brought the goods, both skilfully and emotionally, to the Korakuen Hall ring. Too frequently we fantasize about the past, or how things “used to be” …today, I am extremely proud to be a wrestler in this era.
At the start of the year, I wrote about how the future of joshi may be upon us, highlighted by the fact that Bull Nakano selected Yuzuki Aikawa v Hikaru Shida for the main event of her EMPRESS retirement show as she wanted to showcase what was to come. Around two weeks previously, Arisa Nakajima had told everyone she was coming back and skyrocketed to the forefront. No doubt, it is an interesting time to follow joshi, with so many young faces getting their opportunities to push to the front of the line. In 2013, we are likely to see where all the chips may fall.
There were a few announcements on our Christmas episode of the Women Of Wrestling Podcast. SHIMMER promoter Dave Prazak announced that Madison Eagles and Amazing Kong will make their returns on volume 53 in New Jersey, and New Zealand starlet Evie will make her debut too. nCw Femmes Fatales head Stephane Bruyere revealed that the top three matches at Femmes Fatales 11 will be Kalamity defending the International Title against Mercedes Martinez, while LuFisto and Sweet Saraya will square off after their run-in at FFX, and in a titanic battle, Cheerleader Melissa will face Jessicka Havok. WSU owner Drew Cordiero is hoping for another match at An Ultraviolent Affair between Kalamity and Leva Bates after their match at Full Steam Ahead, and also discussed the prospect of a match featuring a WSU and Combat Zone Wrestling name. Click here for more on all of those items.
It’s a fun 90 minutes with the trio, where they discuss booking former Knockouts and Divas, the pros and cons of iPPV, and go over our picks for the 2012 awards.
Veda Scott won Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Rookie of the Year award, which technically counts, as 2012 was her first full year in the ring – ECCW’s Sammy Hall was the 3rd runner up. The victory marks the first time since 1988 that a woman has won the honour, succeeding Madusa. It caps off a great year for Miss Scott, who still holds the Absolute Intense Wrestling’s Tag Team Championship after defeating Josh Prohibition & Matt Cross at the promotion’s End of the World show on Friday.
In the Woman of the Year section, AJ Lee won, followed by Gail Kim, Eve Torres and Sara Del Rey. Elsewhere, Miss Tessmacher was 1st runner up in the Most Improved category, and Layla was 3rd runner up in Best Comeback.
This is the 100th edition of the Ringbelles Roundup, which is pretty damn cool, considering that we never even knew if it would be useful when the idea was first thought up.
The reason why the Roundup exists is because didn’t want to make an article out of every single piece of news we came across – it would flood the site, bury the things we wanted to highlight (such as the WOW Podcasts) and be far too much work for a couple of guys who also hold down full-time jobs as well as writing and interviewing. As a result, I suggested that we would throw anything that wasn’t going to work as a full article or we couldn’t formulate strong feelings about into one big weekly newsletter. We were not sure if it would work, or if anyone would want it, but we were still in the beta testing of the site, so if it didn’t work, it didn’t matter.
The first Roundup was headlined by rumours about Michelle McCool getting preferential treatment because of her relationship with The Undertaker, Eve Torres winning the Divas Championship in a 4-way at the Royal Rumble, the Wrestling Observer Awards which saw Vickie Guerrero win her second Best Non-Wrestler of the Year and Kaitlyn v Maxine winning Worst Match of the Year. Close to two years on, McCool is a WWE memory, Guerrero is still probably the best non-wrestler that WWE has, and Kaitlyn has gone from being in a four finger stinker of a match to being on the verge of winning the Divas Championship.
At the time, Roundup #1 was a shade under 2,000 words, and I thought that was a lot. These days, a Roundup is hovering around the 4,000 word mark, which means a lot of writing every week. This may seem like a complaint, but it’s really not. It’s a testament to the hard work female wrestlers are putting in all over the world, giving us all newsworthy things to cover, discuss and react to. It’s because of the rising profile of women’s wrestling – which has been evident to fans who have been following its growth – that the Roundup has swelled to the point it is, where it has to be around 4,000 words every week in order to encompass all the great things women are doing. Hell, earlier this year, on recommendations from readers like yourself, the Best of the Rest section was separated into the two big promotions of WWE and TNA, with other subsections for different continents.
This isn’t meant to be self-indulgent – rather, a round of applause to women who step into the ring to entertain us. The audience numbers may be small, or large, but they regularly go out there, put their bodies on the line and give us all something to support and follow. This Roundup is just one way of supporting what they do. So thanks to every one of you who laces up a pair of boots – or slips on a set of kickpads – without you, this Roundup would not have got to 100 editions. I look forward to how you’ll help us fill the next 100.
In the last week, we have completed the 2012 awards by giving Allysin Kay our Breakout Star of the Year, while the Wrestler of the Year moniker was given to Ayako Hamada. As we mentioned on our Twitter, the award for Kay was the one of the three we gave out (the other being Kimber Lee winning Discovery of the Year) which required the least discussion. While there were other names in the frame, we kept returning to Kay as the woman to beat. Nobody did.
As for Hamada, it was an unconventional choice due to her lack of drama and how she often goes unappreciated for what she does – and what she does is better than anyone else. Other names were in the frame, but the former SHIMMER Tag Team Champion was given the award because she has metronome consistency with her great matches.
Elsewhere on the site, we have three new videos – a Retro featuring Sara Del Rey v Kellie Skater from 2008, Sara-Marie Taylor v Erin Angel from ICW Fierce Females, and the entire debut Bombshell Ladies Of Wrestling show. They may break up the time over the Christmas period.
Got any news, results or upcoming events that you want to tell everyone about? Are you a female wrestler looking to tell us about upcoming bookings? Are you a fan who went to a show and saw a match, and would like to tell others about it – what you liked, what you didn’t and would like to encourage others to check it out for themselves? Send us an email!
Meanwhile, if you want one of our t-shirts, click here and pick which shop is best for you. We have stores for the US/Canada (which also ships to Australia) and one for the UK and mainland Europe. Check out the latest Wrestling Yay, SHIMMER Like A Girl and No Limits 2.0 designs, as well as the new Evielution shirt, which we are selling at cost price.
The best of the rest
Kaitlyn’s challenge for Eve Torres’ Divas Championship ended with her winning via DQ on Tuesday’s live SmackDown after the titleholder grabbed hold of the referee’s legs to save herself. She gained a measure of revenge on last night’s Raw when she pinned Torres during an 8-woman tag team match… AJ Lee explained on SmackDown that John Cena toyed with her heart, and that’s why she turned on him. She also revealed that she is now involved with Dolph Ziggler, and Big E Langston is someone who deals with anyone who calls her crazy. Miz found that out to his cost… Vickie Guerrero retweeted a very questionable message to her on Tuesday night. It read: “Hmm… @WWEAJLee won Diva of the Year? I think that was meant to be Slut of the Year… #NoOffenceButStickToOneDick Dont U agree @ExcuseMeWWE”… Michelle McCool did an interview for her website where she claimed Kelly Kelly will go down as one of the most over babyfaces of all time. She said this with a straight face. She also said the rumours about her trying to tutor Natalya was crap, and she fought to make sure Natalya got the glory in her match with LayCool at TLC in 2010.
Tara defeated Mickie James on Impact Wrestling’s Championship Thursday last week… There’s a documentary on Tara in the works too.
Rachel Summerlyn will defend the ACW Heavyweight Championship against Darin Childs at Guilty By Association 7 on January 20… Sassy Stephie and Christina Von Eerie face each other for the first time ever at Remix Pro’s show on April 27… One big feud will come to a head at SHINE 6 on January 11 when Reby Sky wrestles Jessicka Havok, while the other big match will see Amazing Kong substituting for Jazz) face Mercedes Martinez. Elsewhere on the card, MsChif will team with Christina Von Eerie to fight Made In Sin in a rematch from SHINE 2 while Leva Bates meets Kimberly after the latter atacked Leva after they lost a tag match to Made In Sin at SHINE 5. Kimber Lee and Leah Von Dutch will also make their SHINE debuts… Tickets for the next SHIMMER tapings in Berwyn, IL (volumes 54-57) go on sale on January 6… The match at Women Superstars Uncensored’s An Ultraviolent Affair with Sassy Stephie & Allysin Kay v Kimber Lee & Annie Social in February will be for the WSU Tag Team Championship… Athena will be part of the Ring of Honor TV tapings on January 5 in Baltimore. She’ll be wrestling MsChif… LuFisto is scheduled to be part of the Edgy Women 303 event in Montreal in March. She will take part in a “creative wrestling match” called Edgy Lucha against Belgian theatre artist Marijs Boulogne.
A mere nine days before her retirement (which is this Friday when she faces Hamuko Hoshi on a special edition of 19 Pro), Sayako Obihiro won the combined Ice Ribbon International Ribbon and REINA x World Tag Team Championships with Kyoko Kimura from Hailey Hatred and Hoshi… Yuzuki Aikawa’s decision to retire is based on a nagging injury to her waist… Emi Sakura’s first defence of the Pro Wrestling: EVE Championship ended with her and Hiroyo Matsumoto going to a time limit draw, meaning she retains the belt. Also on the card, Kay Lee Ray and Riho were defeated by Hailey Hatred and Kaori Yoneyama. KLR got her first win at the JWP show yesterday, teaming with Leon to beat DASH Chisako and Sendai Sachiko… In fact, the Climax 2012 show was a bad show for HMK. Not only did Emi Sakura lose the Openweight Championship, but Kaori Yoneyama lost to Command Bolshoi, and Morii and Hanako Nakamori lost to the £s tandem of Hiroyo Matsumoto and Misaki Ohata… Cherry is getting on Mio Shirai’s nerves, accoring to reports from Dramatic DDT. She made a “huge” announcement at UNION yesterday that she was learning English – Shirai is annoyed that Cherry is wasting everyone’s time with trivial announcements.
Holly Rocamora has been added to the lineup for new UK promotion HXC Wrestling in Manchester – promoting itself as the city’s first over 18’s outfit. More women are expected to be added to the roster… The Blossom Twins were all over the UK’s media on Thursday ahead of the premier of TNA’s British Bootcamp on January 1. Their story featured in no less than four UK newspapers and Holly was also interviewed on national radio station talkSPORT… Alpha Female will be part of TNA’s Gut Check in Nottingham, England next month. It’s her second tryout with the promotion.
During a Twitcam interview, Taya Valkyrie wished Ivelisse Velez well in her debut for Perros del Mal on January 1. She also claimed that female wrestlers are more valued in Mexico than in WWE… Amapola looks set to challenge Estrellita for the CMLL Mexican National Women’s Championship in the new year… Princesa Blanca defeated Marcela on Sunday, then indicated that she wants a shot at her opponent’s CMLL World Women’s Championship… QPPC winner La Jarochita told the Noventa Minutos website that she did not expect to win the competition. Despite winning on December 9, she still hasn’t signed a contract with AAA or discussed any salary.
December 18: WWE SmackDown (Pittsburgh, PA) – Kaitlyn b Eve Torres via DQ
December 18: Diana (Kitazawa, Japan) – Mima Shimoda b Sareee; Jaguar Yokota b Yuiga; Kaoru Ito b Mask de Sun; Yumiko Hotta & Keiko Aono b Kyoko Inoue & Piyota Mask
December 19: Ohio Valley Wrestling (Louisville, KY) – Jessie Belle b December
December 19: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Tsukasa Fujimoto & Shoko Hotta b Hikaru Shida & Risa Sera; Miyako Matsumoto v Yuki Ishikawa went to a time limit draw; Mio Shirai & Neko Nitta b Maki Narumiya & Meari Naito; Sayaka Obihiro & Kyoko Kimura b Hamuko Hoshi & Hailey Hatred to win the International Ribbon & REINA World Tag Team Championships
December 20: Gatoh Move (Itabashi, Japan) – Hanako Nakamori b Sareee; Emi Sakura v Hiroyo Matsumoto went to to a time limit draw; Kaori Yoneyama & Hailey Hatred b Kay Lee Ray & Riho; Nanae Takahashi b Morii
December 20: TNA Impact Wrestling (Orlando, FL) – Tara b Mickie James
December 21: Absolute Intense Wrestling (Cleveland, OH) – Veda Scott & Gregory Iron b Josh Piscura & Matt Cross; Allysin Kay b Kobald
December 21: CMLL (Mexico City, Mexico) – Amapola, Princesa Sugheit & Tiffany b Dalis la Caribeña, Estrellita & Silueta
December 22: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Hamuko Hoshi b Akiko Hotta; Hikaru Shida & Kurumi b Hailey Hatred & Risa Sera; Kiyoko Kimura & Sayaka Obihiro v Tsukasa Fujimoto & Tsukushi went to a time limit draw; Mio Shirai & Nasa Kawasa b Maki Narumiya & Neko Nitta
December 23: WAVE (Osaka, Japan) – Yuu Yamagata b Aya Mizunami; Yumi Ohka b Moeka Haruhi; Ayako Hamada b Aya Yuki; Misaki Ohara & Tsukasa Fujimoto b Apple Miyuki & Kyusei Ninja Ranmaru; Ayumi Kurihara, Kana & Mio Shirai b Cherry, Shuu Shibutani & Tomoka Nakagawa; Sawako Shimono b GAMI
December 23: CMLL (Mexico City, Mexico) – Princesa Blanca b Marcela
December 23: Gatoh Move (Ichigaya, Japan) – Emi Sakura & Kaori Yoneyama b Kay Lee Ray & Riho
December 24: UNION (Tokyo, Japan) – Ken Ohka b Mio Shirai; Mio Shirai b Ken Ohka
December 24: JWP (Tokyo, Japan) – Manami Katsu b Rabbit Mito to win the JWP Jr/POP Championship; LEON & Kay Lee Ray b Sendai Sachiko & DASH Chisako; Nana Kawasa won a battle royal; Misaki Ohata & Hiroyo Matsumoto b Morii & Hanako Nakamori; Command Bolshoi b Kaori Yoneyama; Kayoko Haruyama & Tsubasa Kuragaki b Meiko Satomura & Hailey Hatred; Arisa Nakajima b Emi Sakura to win the JWP Openweight Championship
December 24: Stardom (Tokyo, Japan) – Hailey Hatred b Yui Yokoo; Miho Wakizawa & Eri Susa b Mayu Iwatani & Kellie Skater; Kairi Hojo & Natsumi Showzuki b Saki Kashima & Act Yasukawa; Kyoko Kimura b Io Shirai; Natsuki*Taiyo & Yoshiko b Hiroyo Matsumoto & Yuhi; Nanae Takahashi b Yuzuki Aikawa
December 24: WWE Raw (Pittsburgh, PA) – Alicia Fox, Kaitlyn, Layla & Natalya b Eve Torres, Aksana, Tamina Snuka & Rosa Mendes
December 27: Wrestling New Classic (Tokyo, Japan) – Syuri v Nagisa Nozaki
December 28: 19 Pro (Saitama, Japan) – Hamuko Hoshi v Sayaka Obihiro
December 28: Italian Championship Wrestling (Lugano, Switzerland) – Laura Wellings v Lady Lory
December 29: Wrestling Is Fun! (Allentown, PA) – Saturyne v Jaka
January 5: Ring Of Honor (Baltimore, MD) – Athena v MsChif
January 5: Crossfire Entertainment (Nashville, TN) – Cheerleader Melissa v Jillian Hall
January 11: SHINE 6 (Ybor City, FL) – Christina Von Eerie & MsChif v Allysin Kay & Taylor Made; Leva Bates v Kimberly; Jessicka Havok v Reby Sky; Amazing Kong v Mercedes Martinez
January 12: Acclaim Pro Wrestling (Greely, ON, Canada) – Courtney Rush & Jody D’Milo v Vanessa Kraven & Addy Starr
January 12: Pro Wrestling Alliance (Toukley, Australia) – Evie v Shazza McKenzie
January 18: Preston City Wrestling (Preston, England) – Carmel Jacob v Mad Man Manson
January 19: Rad Pro Wrestling (South Shields, England) – Frankie Sloan & Nikki Storm v Rubix Roach & Kirsty Love; Jainus Centurion & Kay Lee Ray v Sam Adonis & Rhia O’Reilly
January 20: Anarchy Championship Wrestling (Austin, TX) – Rachel Summelyn v Darin Childs
January 26: Zero 1 USA (Mattoon, IL) – Serenity v Angelus Layne
February 2: Pro Wrestling: EVE (Preston, England)
February 2: Destination 1 Wrestling (Charlestown, IN) – Kimber Lee v Crazy Mary Dobson
February 9: Women Superstars Uncensored (Voorhees, NJ) – LuFisto v Mercedes Martinez; Annie Social & Kimber Lee v Allysin Kay & Sassy Stephie
February 9: Bombshell Ladies Of Wrestling (Metuchen, NJ) – Sumie Sakai v Katarina Leigh; Sienna Duvall v Missy Sampson; Amazing Kong v Amy Lee; Shelly Martinez v Amber O’Neal; Niki Nitro v Silvie Silver; Tracy Taylor v La Rosa Negra
February 16: Family Wrestling Entertainment (Brooklyn, NY) – Maria Kanellis v Angelina Love; Gail Kim v Katerina Leigh; Ivelisse Velez v Reby Sky
March 30: nCw Femmes Fatales XI (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) – Kalamity v Mercedes Martinez; Cheerleader Melissa v Jessicka Havok; LuFisto v Sweet Saraya
April 6: SHIMMER: Women Athletes (Secaucus, NJ) – Sweet Saraya v Cheerleader Melissa; Athena v Ayako Hamada
April 13-14: SHIMMER: Women Athletes (Berwyn, IL)
April 27: Remix Pro Wrestling (Marietta, OH) – Sassy Stephie v Christina Von Eerie
May 4: ICW: Fierce Females (Glasgow, Scotland)
June 23: Anarchy Championship Wrestling American Joshi Queen of Queens (Austin, TX)
July 6: nCw Femmes Fatales XII (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
– Lee Burton