Sitting in the Tokyo ward of Sumida, Japan, Ryōgoku Kokugikan is primarily a venue for sumo wrestling, hence the alternative name of Sumo Hall. Hosting tournaments throughout the year as well as three special events in January, May and September, the 28-year old building holds a lot of tradition for sports other than sumo. The building also hosts boxing, concerts and professional wrestling. However, when it comes to joshi, Sumo Hall may well have been in Narnia, as there has not been a show there since Ladies Legend Pro Wrestling held an event there on February 12, 2007.
The show featured the semi-finals and final of a 10-woman All Star Tournament with Shinobu Kandori pinning Meiko Satomura to win the whole shebang. Attendance numbers are disputed, though the reported figure was about 5,800, which is less than half of the 13,000 that the building can hold.
Since then, there has not been a joshi show held there, though that will change next Monday, when Stardom presents its biggest and most ambitious show in its two and a half year history with a stacked card which features wrestlers from a number of different joshi promotions.
Ryōgoku Cinderella will see four of the promotion’s five championships at stake, and will also see the career of its hottest prodigy come to an end.
Yuzuki Aikawa was already a well-known entertainer by the time she decided to make the transition into wrestling. Having been a model and also releasing four albums, she was a recognisable face. However in October 2010, just 6 weeks after announcing her intentions to become a wrestler (and having been training for three months before that) she set foot into the ring in the main event of a show produced by Aikawa herself, taking on Nanae Takahashi… and she got battered. Royally battered.
With black eyes, fat lips and welts and scarring all over her body, the then-27 year old had certainly earned her lumps as part of her debut, and then she started to receive a huge push which saw her become the first (and so far only) Wonder Of Stardom Champion on July 24 of the following year. That was followed up in October when she and Yoko Bito won the Goddesses of Stardom Tag League, becoming the promotion’s Tag Team Champions in the process. With two titles, an impressive win-loss record (especially for a rookie), amazing looks and the willingness to take a battering, Aikawa’s reputation went skyward, and was exemplified by the fact that she and then-Ice Ribbon ICEx60 Champion Hikaru Shida were given the honour of being the main event of Bull Nakano’s retirement show in January of last year – a match which Aikawa won.
At the time, I wrote about how the pair were the future of joshi – for better or worse, depending on if you felt Aikawa was in the position she was because of who she was and what she looked like more than her ability or track record as a wrestler – but unfortunately, her ability to take a beating may have made for entertaining outings, but it was eating up her insides.
On May 3, the double titleholder was sidelined with a hip injury which kept her out for three weeks, which seems to have been the catalyst for her announcement on December 18 to retire from professional wrestling on April 29. Claiming that the lifestyle was too much for a body that was nearing 30 – and had received a baptism of fire in order to make her a star as quickly as possible because of the time frame which Stardom was working with – she carried on wrestling the schedule, knowing that an end was in sight. Never being defeated for a title – she and Bito gave up the Goddesses of Stardom belts because of Bito suffering a neck injury last summer and having to forfeit the Wonder of Stardom title due to her impending retirement – Aikawa has been protected to the end, so much so that nobody will receive the rub by beating her for the singles belt that she held for more than 18 months.
Her final opponent will he Yoshiko, her longtime rival the the woman she defeated to win the white belt in the first place. Don’t be surprised if Aikawa wins that match too – after all, has has – and may always be – Stardom’s golden girl. She has opened doors for the promotion, generated column inches and worked the media to get a huge amount of attention for the promotion and the roster. You could argue that without her, Stardom may not be in the position that it is in, days away from running Sumo Hall. Fittingly then, her match is the main event, though the penultimate match will see a huge encounter which could see history made…
Alpha Female captured the World of Stardom Championship in a bit of a shocking result on March 17, defeating inaugural champion Takahashi on a card where the Kimura Monster-gun stable dominated proceedings, with Kyoko Kimura and Hailey Hatred also claiming the doubles straps. After going to a 30-minute draw last year – with the clock ticking over while Alpha had the clear advantage to the point that there were rumblings that Takahashi should have surrendered the title as a consequence – the pair met again with no controversy this time around. An Omegaplex kept the titleholder down for three, and elicited gasps from the audience.
The gigantic German will defend the belt at Ryōgoku Cinderella against Io Shirai, who has come back from a nightmare 2012 which saw her arrested and held on suspicion of trafficking cannabis into the country – a very serious accusation which was dropped after it was proven that she was an innocent party in the whole deal. On March 24, a four woman tournament was held to determine the first contender for the title – Shirai defeated Kaori Yoneyama in the semi finals and then defeated Dark Angel (who herself had beaten Hiroyo Matsumoto) to earn the shot.
Although the match is for the promotion’s top title, it’s being positioned below the Aikawa retirement partly because of the participants involved. Had Takahashi been defending the belt, there could have been an argument that the promotion’s longest reigning champion should have main-evented – however, despite the immediate intrigue of the match because of the size advantage – Alpha v Shirai takes a natural step back from the main event picture.
As far as the other title matches are concerned, Kimura and Hatred defend their Goddesses of Stardom titles against Kairi Hojo & Natsumi Showzuki, Dark Angel and Act Yasukawa meet to determine the new Wonder of Stardom titleholder, while High Speed Champion Natsuki☆Taiyo puts her belt on the line against 17-year old prodigy Yuhi.
The rest of the card sees wrestlers from other promotions like Wrestling New Classic (Lin Byron, Makoto & Syuri), Sendai Girls (Meiko Satomura) and Ice Ribbon (Risa Sera, Rutsuko Yamaguchi & Tsukasa Fujimoto) take part, as well as freelancer Manami Toyota. In addition, Bull Nakano is set to appear as a guest to add a bit more prestige to the occasion.
Reports suggest that around 3,000 tickets have already been sold for the event, and the promotion is confident that it will boast an audience of around 10,000 on the day. Should that happen, it would be a massive boost for Stardom, and in a residual way, the other promotions which has wrestlers on the card. It could also be the next step in a big resurgence of joshi in Japan, though that certainly remains to be seen. Either way, best of luck to Stardom as they take a huge step forward.
Elsewhere on the site, we have had quite a few videos – including a Retro with TNA visiting ECW’s old home and a match between Lei’D Tapa and Mia Svensson – but also a video containing messages to Allison Danger that you should really go out of your way to watch, as there are both smiles and tears in there.
In addition, the latest Women Of Wrestling Podcast with Leah Von Dutch landed last Wednesday, with me sounding poorly sick with the infamous SHIMvirus. It’s worth a listen for Von Dutch’s amazingly sound principles, and my cough.
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 Evielution shirt which we are selling at cost price, and the brand new Ladies First shirt.
The best of the rest
STOP EVERYTHING: Alicia Fox won a match! She beat Aksana in a dark match before the SmackDown tapings last week… Rosa Mendes was sent home from WWE’s European tour for reportedly being drunk. WWE released an official statement saying she had “left the international tour for personal reasons”… Summer Rae has been working as Fandango’s dancer on the European tour… Naomi may have injured her knee during her match in Paris, France at the weekend… She may have a silly deluded dancing gimmick and has also been made out to have a clumsy character, but Emma is getting over in NXT… Entertainment channel E! has ordered a series following the personal lives of 5 current Divas – Natalya, Naomi, Cameron, Nikki & Brie Bella – and two new ones who were recruited as part of the latest NXT Diva Search – Jo-Jo Offerman and Eve Marie. Total Divas premieres on July 28 at 10pm with the build-up to WrestleMania – which presumably ends in a damp squib as the mixed tag team match was bumped, showing how much WWE cared about making sure their timings were right to get them onto the card. The concept was originally touted for the may-never-happen WWE Network… AJ Lee won a battle royal on Raw to become the number one contender to the Divas Championship. She clung onto the bottom rope and sandbagged everything before eliminating Layla to win.
Mickie James will challenge Velvet Sky for the Knockouts Championship on Impact Wrestling this Thursday after she defeated Miss Tessmacher in a top contender’s match last week… Mickie has also been added to WWE’s Alumni section… Tara inferred that she would be taking a few months off from the ring, but later clarified her situation. She’s on Impact this week… SoCal Val’s been explaining her role as a producer within TNA – a job that she has been doing for close to two years. She works to create the international greetings by the wrestlers for markets in different countries. She says she’s really happy with her job.
Former WWE Diva Kristal Marshall returned to the ring on Friday night. She teamed with Amazing Kong against Jillian Hall and Kasey Ray for Top Rope Promotions in Fall River, MA… Molly Holly (Nora Greenwald) was honoured by the Cauliflower Alley Club on Wednesday in Las Vegas where she talked about how insecure she was during her wrestling days. She was introduced by Lisa “Ivory” Moretti… Trina Thompson defeated Epiphany to win the OVW Women’s Championship last Wednesday… RESISTANCE’s next show on April 28 has all-gimmick matches. Melanie Cruise takes on Ashton Vuitton in an Evening Gown/Tuxedo Match, while D’Arcy Dixon & Nikki St John face Thunderkitty & Crazy Mary Dobson in a match where the winning team then take on each other in a singles match with the winner becoming the number on contender to Women’s Champion Amazing Kong… Saraya Knight, Jessicka Havok, Rain & Jazz all qualified for the SHINE Championship tournament taking place in July by winning their matches on Friday, with the standout match being Havok’s win over Madison Eagles. Four more women are due to join them after SHINE 10 next month. Elsewhere on the SHINE 9 card, Leva Bates won her feud against Kimberly in an Arkham Asylum Steel Cage Match and Kellie Skater was given a makeover as part of her teaming with Shazza McKenzie & Jessie McKay. She had her hair straightened and was wearing one of Shazza’s outfits… Leilani Kai stepped into the ring at the weekend, beating La Amazona on Saturday’s Battling Bombshells card… Nicole Matthews will challenge for the ECCW Canadian Heavyweight Title after winning a battle royal on Saturday… Ivelisse Velez won the PWR Women’s Championship from Alissa Flash (Cheerleader Melissa) on the World Wrestling Council iPPV on Sunday… Miss Natural won her 6th World League Wrestling Women’s Championship on Friday, beating Stacey O’Brien… Buggy Nova told the Greg DeMarco Show that she personally made the decision to go into rehab for an eating disorder, not WWE. She said she is focussing on her recovery, and has been offered sponsorship by an MMA company, should she ever want to go down that route… Su Yung has been announced as being on the card for Ice Ribbon’s show in Yokohama, Japan on May 4… ACW American Joshi champion Jessica James challenges Heavyweight Champion Evan Gelistico on May 19. Also on the card, Barbi Hayden takes on Angel Blue in an Evening Gown Match… WSU’s Queen & King of the Ring show on May 11 will see the promotion return to iPPV… Ella Waldek – a star of the wrestling scene between the 1950 and 70s – passed away last Wednesday. She was one of the subjects of the excellent Lipstick and Dynamite documentary, and worked as a store detective after stepping away from the ring. Ridiculously tough, she battled lymphoma as long ago as 1993.
Nikki Storm will defend the Pro Wrestling: EVE Championship against Hanako Nakamori on May 5… Speaking of Storm, she has been added to the Wrestling New Classic Women’s Championship match on Thursday, making it a 7-way. Makoto will defend against Command Bolshoi, Nikki Storm, Lin Byron, Syuri, Kayoko Haruyama & Arisa Nakajima… Kana and Mio Shirai won the WAVE Tag Team Championship on Sunday, defeating Misaki Ohata & Tsukasa Fujimoto. On the same show, Yumi Ohka made her first defence of her Regina Di WAVE Championship, defeating Yuu Yamagata.
Pro Wrestling: EVE says it’s redeveloping its format and structure starting with its Special Edition III show this Saturday, but will not be revealing the bulk of the card until the night itself… Meanwhile, Kasey and Leah Owens, Alpha Female & Blue Nikita have been added to next month’s EVE Queen of the Ring tournament. They join Emi Sakura & Leah Von Dutch… We’ve received an email that Bellatrix 6 on June 23 will be broadcast on iPPV.
April 15: FIGHT! (Toronto, ON, Canada) – Addy Starr b She Nay Nay
April 15: Cauliflower Alley Club (Las Vegas, NV) – Cheerleader Melissa b Shelly Martinez; Allie Parker, Sammy Bambi Hall, Tab Jackson, Andrea the Giant & Santana Garrett b La Rosa Negra, Raven Lake, Melissa Coates, Sexy Samantha & Kat Von Heez
April 16: CMLL (Guadalajara, Mexico) – Estrellita, Goya Kong & Silueta b Amapola, La Comandante & Zeuxis
April 16: WWE (Knoxville, TN) – Alicia Fox b Aksana
April 17: Ohio Valley Wrestling (Louisville, KY) – Trina Thompson b Epiphany to win the OVW Women’s Championship; Hannah and Holly Blosson & Jessie Belle b Lylah Lodge, Nikki St John & Taeler Hendrix
April 17: WWE (Rotterdam, Netherlands) – Kaitlyn, Cameron & Naomi b Nikki and Brie Bella & Tamina Snuka
April 17: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Cherry b Kurumi; Meari Naito b Raideen Hagane; Hikaru Shida & Miyako Matsumoto b Hailey Hatred & Risa Sera; Aoi Kizuki & Mio Shirai b Tsukasa Fujimoto & Neko Nitta
April 18: WWE NXT (Winter Park, FL) – Emma b Bayley
April 18: WWE (Belfast, Northern Ireland) – Kaitlyn b Tamina Snuka
April 18: WWE (Glasgow, Scotland) – Natalya b Alicia Fox
April 18: WWE Superstars (Greenville, SC) – Natalya b Tamina Snuka
April 18: TNA Impact Wrestling (Corpus Christi, TX) – Mickie James b Miss Tessmacher
April 19: WWE SmackDown (Knoxville, TN) – Natalya, Hornswoggle & The Great Khali b Rosa Mendes, Primo & Epico
April 19: WWE (Dublin, Ireland) – Kaitlyn b Tamina Snuka
April 19: WWE (Newcastle, England) – Natalya b Alicia Fox
April 19: World League Wrestling (Eldon, MO) – Miss Natural b Stacey O’Brien to win the WLW Women’s Championship
April 19: Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (Surrey, BC, Canada) – Jamie Diaz & Scottie Mac b Andy The Dreadful Bird & Nicole Matthews
April 19: WWE NXT (Starke, FL) – Charlotte & Emma b Paige & Sasha Banks
April 19: Squared Circle Wrestling (Rome, NY) – Christina Von Eerie b Eric M Timmins
April 19: St Louis Anarchy (Alton, IL) – Angelus Layne & Brandon Espinosa b Heidi Lovelace & Reed Bentley
April 19: Top Rope Promotions (Fall River, MA) – Amazing Kong & Kristal Marshall b Jillian Hall & Kasey Ray
April 19: Scottish Wrestling Alliance (Motherwell, Scotland) – Fiona Fraser b Bete Noire
April 19: SHINE 9 (Ybor City, FL) – Allysin Kay b Courtney Rush; Saraya Knight b Su Yung; Rhia O’Reilly b Brittney Savage & Solo Darling in a 3-way; Rain b Angelina Love; Kellie Skater, Jessie McKay & Shazza McKenzie b Mia Yim, Santana Garrett & Nikki Roxx; Jessicka Havok b Madison Eagles; Mercedes Martinez b Evie; Jazz b Ivelisse Velez; Leva Bates b Kimberly
April 20: Ice Ribbon (Saitama, Japan) – Miyako Matsumoto b Risa Sera; Amigo Suzuki b Ferist; Hikaru Shida v Hailey Hatred went to a time limit draw; Aoi Kizuki & Kurumi b Tsukushi & Tsukasa Fujimoto
April 20: Battling Bombshells (Deerfield Beach, FL) – Calypso b Cherry Layne; Solo Darling b Chelsea Diamond; La Morena b Mercedes Justine; Leilani Kai b La Amazona; Santana Garrett b Silvie Silver; Big Vito & Melissa Coates b Stevie Richards & La Rosa Negra; La Rosa Negra b La Amazona
April 20: Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling (Port Coquitlam, BC, Canada) – Nicole Matthews & Kc Spinelli b Sammy Hall & Reia Von Slasher; Nicole Matthews won a battle royal
April 20: Pro Wrestling Freedom (Corbin, KY) – Cash Flo, Scotty Vicious, Johnny Long, Jimmy Fletcher & Maxx Mizery b Mickie Knuckles, Kerry Awful, Alex Zane, Miguel Sanchez & John Noble
April 20: Squared Circle Wrestling (Watertown, NY) – Cherry Bomb & Pepper Parks b Christina Von Eerie & Jimmy Jacobs
April 20: Herts and Essex Wrestling (Braintree, England) – Skarlett b Penelope
April 20: WWE (Birmingham, England) – Natalya b Alicia Fox
April 20: WWE (Paris, France) – Kaitlyn, Naomi & Cameron b Nikki and Brie Bella & Tamina Snuka
April 20: Elite Pro Wrestling (Keyser, WV) – Kacee Carlisle b Brittany Force
April 20: AAA (Veracruz, Mexico) – Atomic Boy, Faby Apache & La Jarochita b Gran Apache, Sexy Lady & Taya Valkyrie
April 20: Supreme League of Wrestling (Mattoon, IL) – Jason v b Thunderkitty
April 20: Supreme League of Wrestling (Charleston, IL) – Thunderkitty b Allie Kat
April 20: Diana (Kitazawa, Japan) – Manami Toyota b Jenny Rose; Jaguar Yokota & Mima Shimoda b Sareee & Piyota Mask; Kyoko Inoue b Yuiga; Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe b Yumiko Hotta & Keiko Aono
April 21: World Wrestling League (San Jaun, Puerto Rico) – Ivelisse Velez b Alissa Flash to win the PWR Women’s Championship
April 21: TNA (Barre, VT) – Velvet Sky b Gail Kim
April 21: WWE (Sheffield, England) – Natalya b Alicia Fox
April 21: JWP (Tokyo, Japan) – Arisa Nakajima b Raideen Hagane; Sachie Abe, KAZUKI & Raideen Hagane b Leon, Rabbit Miu & Nikki Storm; Manami Katsu b Nana Kawasa; Arisa Nakajima, Hanako Nakamori & Morii v Kayoko Haruyama, Tsubasa Kuragaki & Command Bolshoi went to a time limit draw
April 21: WAVE (Sapporo, Japan) – Hamuko Hoshi & Ryo Mizunami b Moeka Haruhi & Cherry; Ayako Hamada b Hikaru Shida; Shuu Shibutani & Syuri b Ayumi Kurihara & Sawako Shimono; GAMI & Tomoka Nakagawa b Dump Matsumoto & Sakura Hirota; Kana & Mio Shirai b Misaki Ohata & Tsukasa Fujimoto to win the WAVE Tag Team Championship; Yumi Ohka b Yuu Yamagata
April 22: WWE Raw (London, England) – AJ Lee won a battle royal
April 24: OZ Academy (Tokyo, Japan) – Mayumi Ozaki v Ayumi Kurihara; Hiroyo Matsumoto & Tomoka Nakagawa v Aja Kong & Hikaru Shida
April 25: TNA Impact Wrestling (Indiana, PA) – Velvet Sky v Mickie James
April 27: Impact Pro Wrestling New Zealand (Auckland, New Zealand) – Evie v Olivia Shaw
April 27: AAW (Arlington Heights, IL) – MsChif v Nevaeh v Angelus Layne
April 27: Combat Sports Federation (Weston-Super-Mare, England) – Raquel Arijon v Pollyanna
April 27: Pro Wrestling: EVE (Sudbury, England)
April 27: Remix Pro Wrestling (Marietta, OH) – Sassy Stephie v Christina Von Eerie
April 28: RESISTANCE Pro (Willowbrook, IL) – Melanie Cruise v Ashton Vuitton; D’Arcy Dixon & Nikki St John v Thunderkitty & Crazy Mary Dobson
April 29: Stardom (Ryogoku, Japan) – Yui Yokoo & Sumire Yoshino v Risa Sera & Rutsuko Yamaguchi ; Miho Wakizawa v Manami Toyota; Mayu Iwatani, Lin Byron, Kota Ibushi & Gota Ihashi v Eri Susa, Makoto, Hikaru Sato & Michael Nakazawa; Takumi Iroha v Meiko Satomura; Act Yasukawa v Dark Angel; Natsuki*Taiyo v Yuhi; Kyoko Kimura & Hailey Hatred v Kairi Hojo & Natsumi Showzuki; Nanae Takahashi, Tsukasa Fujimoto & Mika Nagano v Kaori Yoneyama, Hiroyo Matsumoto & Syuri; Alpha Female v Io Shirai; Yuzuki Aikawa v Yoshiko
May 4: ICW: Fierce Females Luke, Who’s Yer Da? (Glasgow, Scotland) – Erin Angel v Blue Nikita; Kay Lee Ray v Rhia O’Reilly; Viper v April Davids; Crazy Mary Dobson v Bete Noire; Leah Von Dutch v Carmel Jacob
May 5: JWP (Itabashi, Japan) – Nikki Storm v Hanako Nakamori
May 5: Plymouth Wrestling Alliance (Plymouth, England) – Pollyanna v Erin Angel
May 11: Women Superstars Uncensored Queen and King of the Ring (Voorhees, NJ) – Jessicka Havok v LuFisto
May 11: Bombshell Ladies Of Wrestling (Metuchen, NJ) – Missy Sampson v Alexa Thatcher; Amy Lee v Amazing Kong; Santana Garrett v La Rosa Negra; Shelly Martinez v Serena Deeb; Sumie Sakai v Amber O’Neal; Amber Rodriguez v Alicia v Annie Social; Angel Orsini v Silvie Silver
May 17: Maximum Pro Wrestling (Sunderland, England) – Pollyanna v Sakura Lily
May 19: Smash Wrestling (Toronto, ON, Canada) – Seleziya Sparx v Vanessa Kraven
May 19: Anarchy Championship Wrestling: Jessica James v Evan Gelistico; Barbi Hayden, v Angel Blue
May 24: SHINE 10 (Ybor City, FL)
May 25: Pro Wrestling: EVE Queen of the Ring (Nottingham, England)
May 25: OMEGA (Wendell, NC) – Kacee Carlisle v Reby Sky
May 31: Girl Fight Wrestling (Charlestown, IN) – Candi Devine v Miss Dark Shadow; Miss Natural v Thunderkitty; Jessicka Havok v Leva Bates; Lil Naughty v Nevaeh; Crazy Mary Dobson v Jazz
June 1: Remix Pro Wrestling (Marietta, OH) – Katarina Leigh v Jessie Belle
June 1: UK Main Event Wrestling (Maidstone, England) – Pollyanna v Sakura Lily v Amazon Ayesha Ray; Rhia O’Reilly v Bacardi
June 1: East Coast Wrestling Association (Newark, DE) – Jessie Kaye v Veda Scott
June 2: Vicious Outcast Wrestling (Grindstone, PA) – Sera Feeny v Nevaeh
June 23: Bellatrix 6 (Norwich, England)
June 23: Anarchy Championship Wrestling American Joshi Queen of Queens (Austin, TX)
July 6: nCw Femmes Fatales XII (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
October 6: Bellatrix 7 (Norwich, England)
– Lee Burton
– Photos by Stardom, Kellie Skater, Kana, WWE
– Data collated from (but not limited to) Cagematch, joshifans.com, PuroLove, Dramatic DDT, Luchablog, Lords Of Pain, Wrestling Observer, Open The Puroresu Gate, PWInsider