As was mentioned in this week’s Roundup, SHIMMER had hinted that its joshi talent for this weekend’s DVD tapings in Berwyn, IL may include the likes of Mayumi Ozaki and Kaori Yoneyama. As it turns out, that was accurate – though there were more who crossed the Pacific to be part of the occasion.
Ozaki’s addition certainly brings up an interesting prospect, if SHIMMER’s tweet announcing her arrival in the US is anything to go by, as it says “Mayumi Ozaki is in Chicago and ready to kick Saraya Knight‘s ass this Saturday.” Considering their cumulative experience – a total of 49 years of ring time between them – a confrontation between Ozaki and Knight could be very interesting, and may elicit a lot of violence, considering their respective histories with hard-hitting, weapons-based affairs.
Yoneyama has enjoyed a second-life as it pertains to her career. After not retiring in December 2011 despite announcing her intentions to do so, she has been a fixture in Stardom and is 1/3 of the reigning Artist of Stardom Champions. In addition, she became Union‘s first Fly To Everywhere Champion and has also spent a lot of time working with Gatoh Move. While her debut in SHIMMER won’t be her first matches in the US – that happened for CHIKARA in 2011 for the JoshiMania weekend – her appearance at SHIMMER will likely be a memorable time when you consider her speed and 15 years of experience.
You may notice from the photo above that there are more faces than just Yoneyama, situated in the bottom right. Tomoka Nakagawa should be a face you recognise – she’s winding down her career ahead of her retirement at the end of the year and is still one half of the SHIMMER Tag Team Champions with her Global Green Gangsters partner Kellie Skater – and in the top right is another wrestler who was part of CHIKARA in 2011.
Reigning ICEx∞ Champion Tsukasa Fujimoto wrestled at the Chikarasaurus Rex: King of Sequel weekend but was not part of JoshiMania weekend a few months later. However, she continued with her travelling that year as she competed at the Pro Wrestling: EVE v Ice Ribbon weekender in Nottingham, England and made a big impression on this writer. Since then, she has become the matriarch of Ice Ribbon after founder Emi Sakura‘s departure and Hikaru Shida also going it alone, and is seemingly in charge in the promotion. Her debut at SHIMMER follows her former Muscle Venus tag partner Shida who arrived in the group last year and made a big impression, but won’t be at this weekend’s events.
Rounding off the new faces is a woman who up until last week was the Openweight Champion in Ozaki’s OZ Academy promotion. AKINO dropped the belt to Tsubasa Kuragaki last week after around 18 months of holding the title, racking up seven successful defences. She can also boast success with her training, as she was responsible for teaching former SHIMMER star and retiree Ayumi Kurihara. A late starter to the biz, her first match was at the age of 24 but now has 16 years under her belt.
That brings up an interesting point. Traditionally, SHIMMER tends to recruit joshis who are in their relative youth. This time around, the four debutantes are all over 30 and two are in their 40s – Ozaki’s 46th birthday is at the end of the month and AKINO turns 41 next week. It’s veteran’s weekend in Berwyn this weekend.
Photos by SHIMMER