Following her unsuccessful challenge for the OZ Academy Openweight Championship earlier today, Tomoka Nakagawa announced her intention to retire from the wrestling business on December 4. The 32-year old made her intentions public after losing to AKINO in the promotion’s Korakuen Hall show.
The 9-year pro has enjoyed success on both sides of the Pacific and currently holds two different Tag Team Championships. She holds the doubles straps with Hiroyo Matsumoto in OZ Academy and is one half the SHIMMER title-holding Global Green Gangsters alongside best friend Kellie Skater – incidentally, they are the most successful tandem in SHIMMER history with ten defences of the belts since winning them in April 2013.
Click the jump to see how members of the wrestling community reacted to today’s surprise announcement:
Nakagawa grew up as a wrestling fan but was unable to train at the All Japan Women dojo because at 5’1″, she was an inch shorter than a minimum height. Instead, she trained to become a nurse but later pursued a career in wrestling. Debuting as part of the Kaientai Dojo in 2004, she stayed there for three years and wrestled under a range of names before electing to compete under her real one. From there, she went freelance – initially aligning with the Ibuki promotion which is produced by S Ovation, which runs the Joshi 4 Hope shows – and has worked in places like NEO, OZ Academy, Pro Wrestling WAVE, SMASH, Stardom, JWP, Reina, Ice Ribbon and more, amassing eight Tag Team Title reigns as well as one singles accolade as SMASH Divas Champion, defeating Kana to become the promotion’s second titleholder – though she dropped the belt back to her on her first defence.
The Asahikawa, Japan native made her first appearance in SHIMMER in April 2010, falling to fellow debutante Ayumi Kurihara and establishing herself as a dirty little cheater who would spit water in her opponents’ faces and would employ other sneaky tactics. She aligned herself with Daizee Haze and won her first SHIMMER Tag Team Title with her in March 2011. The reign would only last to the next set of tapings when the tandem would drop the belts to Kurihara and Ayako Hamada. Nakagawa would team up with buddy Skater on volume 51 in late 2012 to form 3G, and the pair won the straps the following April following a heated feud with the Canadian Ninjas.
Nakagawa weaselled her way into fans hearts at SHIMMER with her naughty tactics for which you wanted to hate her but couldn’t. Utterly adored and respected as a performer, she will certainly be missed. However, there is still six months of Tomoka to enjoy, which includes more SHIMMER tapings in October as well as much more action in Japan.