Thursday, August 15, 2019

[AgZ] Beginning 8/14/19

The Beginning roster of AgZ returned to Tokyo on August 14 for pro-wrestling action, and it was another eventful night. At the conclusion of the exciting evening, a great champion's reign came to an end after a hard fought battle, and the reign of a new champion began, as AgZ prepares to go to another level.

In the first match, Kakeru Sekiguchi & Miku Aono defeated Ayumi Hayashi & Momo Tani in a good showing by all four wrestlers, especially Sekiguchi. She has mostly been wrestling in tag team matches as of late for many different promotions and seems to be comfortable in them, so it is very likely that when she eventually captures a title, it will be tag team gold.

In the second match, Kaori Yoneyama defeated Noa Igarashi. Yoneyama had quite a busy schedule this week- on August 11 she wrestled for PURE-J, and on August 12 her attention was on her own promotion, YMZ. Noa Igarashi likes to give out treats to members of the audience- I received two.

In the third match, HIROe defeated Himeka Arita. HIROe, who usually wrestles for WAVE, was a very good opponent for Arita, who is one of the stronger wrestlers in AgZ. HIROe is very strong as well, and was able to withstand Arita's power moves and deliver some of her own. Hopefully they will face each other again sometime in the future.

In the fourth match, Hanako Nakamori & Tae Honma defeated Miyuki Takase & Yumiko Hotta. Very good showing by all four, and things were especially interesting whenever Nakamori and Hotta faced off. Whenever Hotta was in the ring with Honma, she used her decades of experience to outwrestle her. Whenever she encountered Nakamori however, it seemed like Hotta's MMA instincts kicked in (she has a 5-5 record in MMA), because she would intensely attack Nakamori, even fighting her outside the ring and into the audience at one point. Nakamori is tough enough to handle it though, and a one-on-one match between the two would surely be interesting.

And then it was time for the main event. Saori Anou began her career in AgZ and has been with them from day one of the promotion. After also making appearances in Stardom, AJPW, WAVE, FMW, JWP, DDT, and PURE-J (where she is Princess Of Pro Wrestling Champion and the longest reigning Champion in the history of the championship), Anou became AWG Champion in AgZ in November 2018 and one of the main talents in the promotion, turning away challenges from Giulia (who has appeared in ZERO1), Miyuki Takase, Kakeru Sekiguchi, and Tae Honma. Her skills and showmanship are proof that she earned her place at the top of AgZ.

On this night, Saori Anou was facing her toughest challenge for the AWG Championship yet- Reika Saiki. Although not well known outside of Japan (most likely because she has not wrestled outside of Asia yet), she is well known to fans of the Japanese pro-wrestling scene for her appearances in DDT and other Japanese promotions. With her youth, power, and unique look, it's only a matter of time before she is well known to fans outside of Japan as well.

Reika Saiki dominated the match early, overwhelming Saori Anou with her strength.

But Saori Anou, a fighting Champion, took every opportunity she could to comeback with a quick and aggressive defense. Those were Anou's advantages in this match- while Reika Saiki is the stronger of the two, Anou is faster and is slightly more experienced in the ring. And she made the most of this.

The comeback was short-lived, as Reika Saiki again took control, attempting to make Saori Anou submit with a half crab and then a Torture Rack.

Refusing to submit, Saori Anou made a final attempt to win and retain her AWG Championship.

In the end, Reika Saiki's superior power proved to be too much to overcome.

After sixteen minutes of action, Reika Saiki became the new AWG Champion.

Reika Saiki becoming AWG Champion will definitely be a boost for AgZ. She is a bigger name than all of the wrestlers on the AgZ roster, so Saiki as Champion will bring more attention to the AgZ product, and having Saiki as part of the AWG Championship lineage will be a positive for the promotion in the future as well.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

[YMZ] Summer Festival 2019 8/12/19

I attended YMZ', "Summer Festival 2019" event on August 12 in Tokyo. YMZ is a small Tokyo-based promotion that began in 2013 and is owned by Kaori Yoneyama. She has been a very successful wrestler throughout her career, holding championships including the AJW Championship, the High Speed Championship, the JWP Openweight Championship, and the Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship.

YMZ is a comedy-style promotion, and the comedy matches are funny, which unfortunately isn't always the case with comedy in pro-wrestling. And at annual, "Summer Festival" events, the wrestlers who are at the event and fans participate in a Bon dance after all of the scheduled matches take place.

YMZ doesn't have a talent roster (although they do have a staff of course, which includes Masaki Arita, who is in charge of music and video for YMZ), so the specific wrestlers who are at each YMZ event varies from one show to the next. There are some wrestlers who are at YMZ events often however, including Makoto, who has been seen in many notable promotions, including PURE-J where she is currently a Daily Sports Tag Team Champion.

Along with the wrestlers who are at YMZ events often, there are also occasional appearances by very notable talents. At the August 12 event, the main event was a mixed six man tag team match that included Hikaru Shida and Rina Yamashita. I have covered Shida's career before, and currently, she is preparing for the next stage of her career as she moves to United States this fall to wrestle full-time for AEW.

Rina Yamashita began wrestling on YMZ events this year, but she has been wrestling for the past 5 years, and has appeared in notable companies such as NOAH, AJPW, WAVE (where she was Regina Di WAVE Champion), Sendai Girls, JWP (where she was Princess Of Pro Wrestling Champion), PURE-J, and DDT. Yamashita is not well known outside of Japan, most likely because she has not wrestled outside of the country yet. Whether it is a match with the main focus being wrestling skill, brawling, or comedy, Yamashita can do it all, so it is only a matter of time before she makes a big name for herself in Japan, or even outside of it as well if Yamashita decides to branch out.

If you enjoy comedy-style wrestling, you should definitely check out YMZ. And even if don't enjoy comedy-style wrestling, give YMZ a chance, because they might change your mind. The comedy style adds to the entertainment of a match when it is performed by wrestlers who can wrestle. The talents at YMZ events definitely fit that definition.

[ZERO1] JUMP UP ~ Fly To The Future 8/12/19

I attended ZERO1's, "JUMP UP ~ Fly To The Future" event on August 12 in Tokyo. A big part of this show was the further utilization of the relationship between ZERO1 and BJW. There was a ZERO1 vs. BJW event in April, then there was another one earlier this month, and at "JUMP UP ~ Fly To The Future", there were two ZERO1 vs. BJW matches.

The first was a tag team match, in which Kohei Sato and Shinjiro Otani (both who have been NWA Intercontinental Tag Team Champion in ZERO1) defeated Hideyoshi Kamitani & Yuji Okabayashi (both who have been BJW Tag Team Champion) in one of the best matches of the day.

In the second ZERO1 vs. BJW match, BJW's Daisuke Sekimoto successfully defended the ZERO1 World Heavyweight Championship against ZERO1's Towa Iwasaki in another great interpromotional match. Sekimoto has held the Championship since capturing it in November of 2018, and him being Champion is of great significance for both ZERO1 and BJW. In BJW's case, they have earned bragging rights for bringing a true World Championship into their camp. Not only has the ZERO1 World Heavyweight Championship been defended in Japan, but in the past it has been defended in the United States as well.

In ZERO1's case, it benefits them greatly to have Daisuke Sekimoto as a part of their World Heavyweight Championship's lineage. He has been very successful in Japan- the BJW Heavyweight Championship, BJW World Strong Heavyweight Championship, NWA United National Heavyweight Championship, and KO-D Openweight Championship all being on his resume, along with this being Sekimoto's second reign as ZERO1 World Heavyweight Champion. Even when his reign eventually ends, ZERO1 will be able to state that Sekimoto is a part of their World Heavyweight Championship's legacy.

Those who have seen pictures of the ZERO1 World Heavyweight Championship may wonder why, "AWA" is written on it. The reason why is that the lineage of the Championship began in 1996 when a promotion named AWA Wrestling Superstars Live was founded. Many recognizable names have held the AWA WSL World Heavyweight Championship (originally known as the AWA World Heavyweight Championship), including former WWE star King Kong Bundy. In 2004, ZERO1 became an affiliate of AWA Wrestling Superstars Live (I was the publicist/columnist of the main governing body that year). After stripping the previous AWA WSL World Heavyweight Champion of the title, ZERO1 was sanctioned to be the site where the new Champion would be decided. Takao Omori of ZERO1 (who has also been an NWA United National Heavyweight Champion in ZERO1) was the winner of the tournament. ZERO1 was an AWA affiliate for almost three years, and during that time period, most of the wrestlers who held the AWA WSL World Heavyweight Championship were members of the ZERO1 roster (Omori, Shinjiro Otani, Masato Tanaka). ZERO1 was the biggest AWA affiliate, and was the organization most responsible for the popularity that AWA Wrestling Superstars Live was quickly gaining. ZERO1 severed ties with them in December 2007, and Tanaka was AWA WSL World Heavyweight Champion at tt time. The Championship was then renamed the ZERO1 World Heavyweight Championship, with Tanaka being the first Champion.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

[Michinoku Pro][PREVIEW] 2019 Tokyo Conference Vol. 5 8/24/19

Join Michinoku Pro on Saturday, August 24th at Shin-Kiba 1st Ring in Tokyo, for 2019 Tokyo Conference Vol. 4! Michinoku Pro is an Iwate-based promotion that has existed since 1993, and primarily has events in the Tōhoku region. However, they also occasionally have events in Tokyo, and when they do, they also present the Kantō region with a roster of talent that consists of names that fans in that region know, as well as ones they SHOULD know. The card will be as follows:

Koji Kawamura
Dinosaur Takuma

Jinsei Shinzaki
Kikutaro (former Open The Owarai Gate Champion)

Chiba Six Man Tag Team Championship match
Yapperman 1 (Chiba Six Man Tag Team Champion)
Yapperman 2 (Chiba Six Man Tag Team Champion)
Rasse (Chiba Six Man Tag Team Champion)
The Great Sasuke
Brahman Shu (former Yokohama Shopping Street Six Man Tag Team Champion)
Brahman Kei (former Yokohama Shopping Street Six Man Tag Team Champion)

MUSASHI (Michinoku Pro Tohoku Junior Heavyweight Champion)
Kaji Tomato

Taro Nohashi
Rui Hyūgaji
Ayumu Gunji

Don't miss this event! Tickets are available at Lawson Ticket, e+, Tickets Pia, Michinoku Pro ticket reservation- 019 (687) 2431, Korakuen Hall 5F office- 03 (5800) 9999, and champion- 03 (3221) 6237.

Reserved seats are 5,000 yen (5,500 yen on the day). All other seats are 4,000 yen (4,500 yen on the day).

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

[ZERO1] ZERO1 vs. BJW 8/5/19

I attended ZERO1's, "ZERO1 vs. BJW" event on August 5 in Tokyo. This event pitted members of the ZERO1 roster against members of the BJW roster. This was a great event, and most likely one of the best ones that I will be attending this summer. The results are below:

BJW: Takuya Nomura & Yuya Aoki defeated ZERO1: Shoki Kitamura & Towa Iwasaki

BJW: Daichi Hashimoto and ZERO1: Yoshikazu Yokoyama battled to a No Contest

BJW: Hideyoshi Kamitani & Yasufumi Nakanoue defeated ZERO1: Kohei Sato & Tatsuhito Takaiwa

ZERO1: Shinjiro Otani defeated BJW: Kazuki Hashimoto

BJW: Akira Hyodo & Yuji Okabayashi defeated ZERO1: Yuji Hino & Yuta Suzuki

BJW: Daisuke Sekimoto defeated ZERO1: Shogun Okamoto

The biggest takeaway from this event is that it further proves that Japanese pro-wrestling companies have a close relationship with each other that American pro-wrestling companies should consider emulating. Both ZERO1 and BJW are major promotions in Japan, and although they are competitors, all egos were put aside with the main goal being to put on a great event. Management and representatives from ZERO1 and BJW were in attendance to represent their individual companies, both with their own areas to sell merchandise of their company. Before the show and during the break, BJW representatives made rounds through the venue to sell merchandise and advertise upcoming BJW events. ZERO1 vs. BJW will take place again this December, and it surely will be an event to not be missed.

[Real GUTS Army] We Are Real GUTS Army Vol. 2 (8/4/19)

I attended Real GUTS Army's, "We Are Real GUTS Army Vol. 2" on August 4 in Tokyo. The promoter of Real GUTS Army is Guts Ishijima, who may be familiar to fans from his appearances over the years in promotions such as WAVE and DDT. Ishijima was previously the owner of a different small promotion, Guts World. Although it was short-lived, Guts World sometimes drew big crowds for a promotion its size. Guts World had the potential for big things, and the same can be said for Real GUTS Army.

Along with its own roster, Real GUTS Army utilizes freelancers and talent from a variety of Japanese promotions, the most notable ones at this event being Kenichiro Arai from Dragon Gate, and Fuminori Abe and Shuhei Washida from DDT. There was also a lot of international flavor at this event. Zombie Dragon from China's Middle Kingdom Wrestling faced TORU for the vacant CCW Canadian Heavyweight Title. Although he was unsuccessful in his attempt to win the title, Dragon definitely left an impression on everyone at the event. He posed a tough challenge against TORU, and on a personal note, Dragon stole my soda during the match.

It may sound strange to you that a Canadian title is now in a Japanese promotion. The CCW Canadian Heavyweight Title is one of the most prestigious Canadian titles in pro-wrestling history, and there is an interesting story regarding how it made its way to Japan and Real GUTS Army.

In the late 1990's, the CCW Canadian Heavyweight Title was won by Okumura (who currently wrestles for CMLL). He was a member of the Tokyo Pro Wrestling roster and unsuccessfully defended it at a TPW event in February 1998 in a match against Bad News Allen, who is better known from his time in WWE as, "Bad News Brown". TPW went inactive not long after this match, the title becoming inactive along with it.

It was revived in Japanese independent promotion Pro Wrestling Alive in 2017 with the beginning of a tournament for the title, which was won by Shuo Fujiwara at the beginning of 2018. He defended the title in both Japan and China, and was defeated for it by Guts Ishijima in December 2018, therefore bringing the title to Real GUTS Army. He vacated the title due to injury, which led to the match between TORU and Zombie Dragon to decide the new champion.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

[AgZ] Beginning 7/31/19

I attended AgZ', "Beginning" on July 31 in Tokyo. AgZ stands for "Actwres girl'Z", which is a small promotion based in Tokyo and presents shows there on a regular basis. This was my first time attending an AgZ event, and it definitely will not be my last. AgZ has been active for only four years, there is a lot of room for growth, and I see many ways that they can attain it.

AgZ is split into two rosters: Beginning and Colors. This was a Beginning event, but I had the opportunity to finally meet Mari of the Colors roster, who helped me in reserving a ticket for this event (thanks, Mari!). Although she was been wrestling for AgZ since last year, Mari's career began three years ago and she has wrestled for many other promotions in Japan, including PURE-J. I hope that I have the opportunity to see Mari in action as a part of AgZ' Colors brand in the near future.

In the first match, Himeka Arita and Misa Matsui faced each other in a match that was short yet still enabled both of them to show what they are capable of. Arita has only been wrestling for one year yet in that short span of time has wrestled for notable promotions such as ZERO1, AJPW, WAVE, PURE-J, and DDT. Matsui has not been wrestling as long but she too has wrestled for WAVE. At only 19 years old, Matsui has a lot of speed and energy in her favor, but it wasn't enough to overcome Arita's strength and advantage in experience, which led to Arita being the victor in this match.

The next match was a display of how AgZ utilizes experienced talent to help new talent as Cherry & Momo Tani faced Miyuki Takase & Momo Kohgo. While Tani and Kohgo are not very experienced, Cherry and Takase have impressive resumes, with Cherry bringing 15 years of experience wrestling in many companies all over the world, including CMLL, AAA, Stardom, WAVE (where she was a 2-time WAVE Tag Team Champion), SHIMMER, Sendai Girls, FMW, JWP, BJW, and DDT. While Takase has only wrestled for two years, she has appeared in AJPW, WAVE, JWP, and PURE-J. Tani and Kohgo having the opportunity to work with two wrestlers who have accomplished as much as Cherry and Takase have will help them learn what to do and not to do in the ring as the continue to progress in their careers. Takase & Kohgo were the winners of this match.

The next match was between Kakeru Sekiguchi and Maika Ozaki. Although a member of the AgZ Beginning roster, Sekiguchi has also appeared in other promotions such as WAVE and JWP. Quick, agile, and skilled, she is one of the Beginning standouts. As for Ozaki, she is a talent that who is not well known but SHOULD be, and has the potential to be a major part of the pro-wrestling scene. Young and powerful (she has a background in powerlifting), Ozaki is very impressive after having had wrestled for only 4 years so far. It is clear to me that she can take her career in any direction that she chooses, especially after Ozaki becomes better known and everyone sees what she is capable of and the potential that Ozaki has to become even better as her career continues. Ozaki was the winner of this match.

Next was another example of AgZ properly utilizing experienced talent, as Ayumi Hayashi & Yumiko Hotta went against Hanako Nakamori & Riko Kawabata. Hayashi and Kawabata have wrestled for less than one year. Meanwhile, Hotta brings over 3 decades of experience to the AgZ ring. Nakamori has been wrestling for 13 years and is a major part of PURE-J, where she is the current and 3-time PURE-J Openweight Champion. It was a learning experience for Hayashi and Kawabata as they both had the opportunity to wrestle the two veterans as well observe them wrestle each other. Nakamori & Kawabata were the winners in this match.

In the main event, Miku Aono & Reika Saiki faced Saori Anou & Tae Honma. All four women are talented, and the two standouts in this match were Saiki and Anou. Saiki is very powerful. She has wrestled for a variety of promotions in Japan, and at only 27 years of age, she will surely make a big name for herself on the pro-wrestling scene before her career ends many years from now. Anou is the current AgZ Champion and is also the current Princess Of Pro Wrestling Champion in PURE-J. With her speed and wrestling skill, she can do it all in the ring, and Anou is also the best at showmanship on the Beginning roster. She & Honma were the winners of this match.