Welcome! This is a weekly insight into the world of joshi pro wrestling, discussing the shows, the best matches to watch, what wrestler stood out, and a look ahead at what’s to come. It goes hand-in-hand with the Five Star Joshi Podcast, which you can listen to every Friday on the Fight Game Media Network!
THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK
It was the “calm before the storm” this week in joshi wrestling. Everything felt rather quiet outside of the Ice Ribbon’s 15th Anniversary show that isn’t viewable until this coming weekend. The news poured out of that show while Stardom completed their 2021 Goddess of Stardom Tag League. Both were prominent shows but nothing in comparison to what begins this coming week. Stardom, TJPW, and Sendai Girls will all be running pay-per-views in the coming week with major matches to go along with them. Utami Hayashishita vs. Maika, Yuka Sakazaki and Mizuki vs. Miyu Yamashita and Maki Itoh, and the long-awaited singles match between Chihiro Hashimoto and Takumi Iroha. These are just the main events of all these shows yet it is undeniable that it will be a special two-week stretch.
And really when you look at the year in review, it has been like this time and time again. All these promotions provide their best of the best in matches that are sure to get the fans talking. After what felt to be a quiet month outside of Kawasaki Super Wars, this is a welcome sight for all and should be one of the more special stretches we see in joshi all year. The excitement for this column is that picking the best of the best, the joshi of the week, and simply what to feature will be challenged more than ever. If you are a joshi wrestling fan or want to become one, this is the week for you. It’s pro wrestling at its very best.
One final thought is the following Utami Hayashishita vs. Maika, the world will finally know if the Hayashishita vs. Syuri matchup is meant to be at Ryogoku Sumo Hall for Stardom Dream Queendom. As Queen’s Quest prepares for faction warfare in the final PPV stop before Stardom Dream Queendom, a win for Hayashishita over Maika would confirm the World of Stardom Championship main event. Time will tell if this will be the reality but many can agree that there is no doubt that it will be.
Let’s get to the best of the best from this past week.
MATCH OF THE WEEK: Momo Watanabe & AZM vs. Hazuki & Koguma in the Goddess of Stardom Tag League Finals (Stardom Goddess of Stardom Tag League, 11/14/21)
Hazuki and Koguma with their Tag League 2021 championship rings. pic.twitter.com/QWu5JNAkfy
— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) November 14, 2021
Three weeks of doing this column and three weeks of Hazuki being a part of the “Match of the Week.” Tag team wrestling can deliver some of the best matches of the year and that’s what we saw in the Goddess of Stardom Tag League finals. Last year’s winners, Momo Watanabe and AZM, managed to get into the finals with a win against Mayu Iwatani and Rin Kadokura right before the main event. Hazuki and Koguma had to compete in two different matches to make it to the finals. First, they defeated Saki Kashima and Fukigen Death before heading into a tournament playoff with AphroditE. Hazuki was able to roll up Saya Kamitani with the Hazuki-stral to steal the win and move FWC onto the finals. It all led to what ended up being one of the best Stardom tag matches all year long.
Korakuen Hall, despite its size limitation, was a frenzy as the urgency and importance of this final match were felt from the opening bell. Watanabe and Hazuki traded blows so hard that you’d think they were trying to end the other’s career. Big props, however, go to AZM in this one. Her performance from bell to bell was one of her best all year. Whether it was the diving crossbody to the outside where she sprung herself off the second then third rope for the impact or her ability to fight to the final bell, she was on the top of her game. She’d try to capture the win for MOMOAZ via Azumi Sushi, much like their prior match to win their block, but it was rolled through.
The end was near as Hazuki would hit her Vertical Drop Brainbuster on AZM before Koguma followed it up with her Everest-like German Suplex, connecting with a bridge to get the pin and the win. All a fan could ask for in a tournament final. Each competitor went bell to bell with meaning, impact, and a determination to get the win.
- Saya Kamitani & Utami Hayashishita vs. Himeka & Natsupoi (Stardom Goddess of Stardom Tag League, 11/14/21)
JOSHI WRESTLER OF THE WEEK: Tsukushi Haruka (Ice Ribbon)
— アイスリボン《公式》 (@ICERIBBON_jp) November 13, 2021
It has happened: At Ice Ribbon’s 15th Anniversary show in Ota Ward, Tsukushi Haruka won the ICExInfinity Championship by defeating her Dropkickers partner, Tsukasa Fujimoto, in the main event. While there was no way to watch this match yet unless you were in the building that night, Haruka gets the honors due to the road she has taken back to the top. The last time she held the title was back in 2013. Her fantastic ability inside the ring is in the conversation with anyone in Joshi and now she gets her chance to make a name for herself that much more as ICExInfinity Champion. Now, at 24 and the best she’s ever been, it goes without saying that the upcoming title reign will get her back in the “Joshi Wrestler of the Week” spot countless more times.
Just looking at the crop of potential challengers, a matchup with Suzu Suzuki jumps off the page. A rematch with Fujimoto makes sense down the road. And a hard-hitting affair with Maya Yukihi certainly seems to be in the cards as well. The possibilities are endless. It’s only the beginning but Tsukushi Haruka as ICExINFINITY Champion should be something very special.
Here are the notable shows this week:
- TJPW It’s Time To Go (Notable: Miyu Yamashita, Maki Itoh, Miu Watanabe, Yuki Arai & Nodoka Tenma vs. Yuka Sakazaki, Mizuki, Hikari Noa, Rika Tatsumi, & Shoko Nakajima)
- Ice Ribbon 15th Anniversary airing
- Stardom in Osaka (Notable: Momo Watanabe, AZM & Utami Hayashishita vs. Mayu Iwatani, Hazuki & Koguma)
- Stardom in Aichi (Notable: Saya Kamitani & Utami Hayashishita vs. Konami & Saki Kashima)
- Sendai Girls at Korakuen Hall (Notable: DASH Chisako & Mika Iwata vs. ASUKA & Saki Akai)
- Ice Ribbon in Yokohama (Notable: Akane Fujita & Tsukushi Haruka vs. Miku Aono & Suzu Suzuki)
- TJPW All Rise (Notable: Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki vs. Miyu Yamashita & Maki Itoh)
- SEAdLINNNG (Notable: Tag Team Tournament Finals — Kaori Yoneyama & Yuu vs. ASUKA & Makoto)