I was Kirin Fuyuno. Now I’m Hyper Misao.

This article, written by Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling’s Hyper Misao, originally appeared in Japanese in volume 5 of the poetry journal Nemuranai Ki. The accompanying photos did not appear in the magazine and were taken by yours truly at TJPW events on January 4 and 5, 2020.

Translator’s note: Tanka is a traditional Japanese poetic form with 31 syllables, typically divided in a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable pattern. Tanka are written in one continuous line in Japanese, but commonly broken up into five lines in English translation.

This past February, I posted a tweet that sent a tiny murmur through poetry circles.

Wingèd Pegasus,
White steed of Bellerophon
Now up among the stars,
Will surely be kind to me
And kill you where you stand

—Kirin Fuyuno, age 18

That bit of tanka verse was published in Hiroshi Homura’s serial “Tanka, Please!” column in Da Vinci magazine. I am Kirin Fuyuno, or rather, I was; nowadays, I’m known as Hyper Misao, a professional wrestler. Five years after my wrestling debut in 2015, I decided to share that poem with my followers on Twitter, figuring it would be a fun fact for wrestling fans. I tweeted out a few photos of my present-day self wrestling, along with the cover of a “Tanka, Please!” compilation book that just so happened to have that poem of mine featured on the obi insert.

Continue reading “I was Kirin Fuyuno. Now I’m Hyper Misao.”

ChocoPro: Wrestling for an Online Age

(This article, written by Norihiro Hashimoto, originally appeared in Japanese at Yahoo News via Sports Graphic Number under the headline “Minoru Suzuki fought at the debut event! Introducing ChocoPro: Wrestling made for online broadcast”)

Chocolate Pro Wrestling—ChocoPro for short—is a new promotion, founded on March 28, 2020 by Emi Sakura, head of Gatoh Move. The promotions also share a venue: Tokyo’s Ichigaya Chocolate Square. Where ChocoPro differs from Gatoh Move is that all of its events are exclusively broadcast on YouTube. In fact, ChocoPro has never had a single audience member in attendance.

During ChocoPro events, Ichigaya Chocolate Square is completely empty, save for the wrestlers and a few staffers. But Sakura refuses to think of these as “no-audience” shows: “There’s definitely an audience,” she says. “They’re just on the other side of the camera.”

Continue reading “ChocoPro: Wrestling for an Online Age”

No Joke: Gake no Fuchi Joshi 1.4 Report

(This article, written by Norihiro Hashimoto, originally appeared in Japanese at Yahoo News via Abema Times under the headline “Bamboo Skewer Bash-up: A wild 1.4! Gake no Fuchi presents a fierce intergender match.”

Photos accompanying this translation were taken by yours truly at the event. If you’re interested, you can find more in this Twitter thread.)

Gake no Fuchi Joshi Pro Wrestling (GKPW) is a one-woman promotion, run by freelance pro wrestler Miyako Matsumoto. Originally established during Matsumoto’s run in Ice Ribbon, Gake no Fuchi lay dormant for several years, until it was revitalized in late 2019 when DDT “Big Boss” Sanshiro Takagi purchased the promotion.

Matsumoto kicked off the latest chapter of GKPW history in a remarkable match against Jiro “Ikemen” Kuroshio on December 24, 2019. Their match was the only one billed on the card, but as you’ll soon see, derailment and derangement is on-brand for GKPW…

Following up on Christmas Eve, Matsumoto wasted no time in announcing her next show: 5 PM on January 4, 2020, at Itabashi Green Hall. Yes, directly opposite a certain major event at Tokyo Dome. But as far as Matsumoto is concerned, the Tokyo Dome event ran opposite GKPW. Her audacity was rewarded with a nearly packed house of fervent fans from Japan and beyond.

Continue reading “No Joke: Gake no Fuchi Joshi 1.4 Report”

Sanshiro Takagi pays out of pocket for the wild genius of Gake no Fuchi Pro

(This article, written by Norihiro Hashimoto, originally appeared in Japanese on Abema Fight Times.)

Sanshiro Takagi, president and “big boss” of Dramatic Dream Team (DDT), has taken up a new business venture with an unexpected wrestling promotion.

On November 11, Takagi held an event to commemorate the recent publication of his book, Growing a Small-Fry Five-Million-Yen-a-Year Wrestling Promotion into a Subsidiary of a Major Publicly-Listed Company. Part of the festivities included a press conference with a surprise announcement.

Attendees were told beforehand that the announcement “might shake the pro-wrestling world to the core” – and nothing else. Amid the ensuing atmosphere of intrigue, Takagi called on freelance wrestler Miyako Matsumoto to join him.

Continue reading “Sanshiro Takagi pays out of pocket for the wild genius of Gake no Fuchi Pro”

MAO: When to Hit Your Boss with a Van

(This interview originally appeared in Japanese in Rolling Stone Japan under the headline “Why did pro wrestler MAO hit Sanshiro Takagi with a car?”)

Employing several dozen wrestlers across multiple sub-brands, Dramatic Dream Team has reached the point where it’s hard to call it an indie promotion. One wrestler who stands out among their roster is 22-year-old wunderkind MAO. One half of the graceful, acrobatic tag team Moonlight Express (along with Mike Bailey), MAO carved out his place in professional wrestling in DDT’s infamous Street Wrestling events – an off-the-wall format that fits him to a T.

Some fans call MAO “the second coming of Kota Ibushi” for his physical prowessand also his affinity for nonsense. Why is it that he prefers such a bizarre style? We caught up with MAO as he prepares for DDT’s Wrestle Peter Pan 2019 event, coming soon to Tokyo’s Ota City Central Gymnasium.

Continue reading “MAO: When to Hit Your Boss with a Van”

666’s Ram has “no intention of playing along” with joshi wrestling

(This article originally appeared in Japanese on Battle News under the headline “A singles match between Ram Kaicho, former elementary school heel, and ‘underclassman’ Tsukasa Fujimoto!”)

The Japanese indie promotion Pro-Wrestling Of Darkness 666 held their 90th event on June 6 at Shinkiba 1st Ring. This event, which celebrated the fifteenth anniversary of wrestler Shinobu’s debut, also featured wrestlers from 666’s Shinjuku Nichome Pro Wrestling sub-brand. The event came with a surprising announcement: 666 wrestler Ram Kaicho (“Chairperson Ram”) will soon have a singles match with Ice Ribbon‘s Tsukasa Fujimoto.

Ram made her wrestling debut in 2005 and, being in elementary school at the time, immediately captured media attention as the youngest wrestler in Japan. She’s been called “the O.G. child wrestler.” Despite her young age, Ram retired in 2009but not before facing Riho, who made her own debut as an elementary schooler in 2006, in a famous match in Ice Ribbon.

After her retirement, Ram kept her distance from professional wrestling. That is, until 666 founder The Crazy SKB fell ill, and then-president Kana left the promotion to join WWE (where she now wrestles under the name Asuka). Seeing her home promotion in a pinch and hoping to help out, Ram returned to the ring in 2016.

Continue reading “666’s Ram has “no intention of playing along” with joshi wrestling”

Minoru Suzuki: “Don’t listen to what your parents or teachers think.”

(This article originally appeared in Japanese on Tokyo Sports under the headline “Minoru Suzuki: A wicked morning meeting with the innocent children at his old school.”)

Minoru Suzuki (49), known to pro wrestling fans as “the man with the worst personality in the world,” returned to his original elementary school, Hiranuma Elementary in Yokohama, on May 21. During his visit, he revealed one of the ideas behind his upcoming “Great Pirate Festival” event (June 23-24, at the Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse). This event celebrates Suzuki’s 30-year wrestling career.

Suzuki appeared as a guest at the school’s regular morning meeting, where he offered advice to nearly 600 students on how to make their dreams come true:

Continue reading “Minoru Suzuki: “Don’t listen to what your parents or teachers think.””

Kagetsu to Mayu Iwatani: A Final Threat

(This article originally appeared in Japanese on Tokyo Sports Web and Yahoo Japan.)

Kagetsu (age 25), the leader of Stardom’s heel stable Oedo Tai, issued an ultimatum to Mayu Iwatani (age 25), the promotion’s icon, on May 14.

At Korakuen Hall on May 23, Oedo Tai (Kagetsu, Hana Kimura, Sumire Natsu and Hazuki) will face Iwatani’s stable STARS (Iwatani, Saki Kashima, Tam Nakano and Shiki Shibusawa) in an eight-woman tag match. In an unusual move for Stardom, it’ll be a three-fall match with a 30-minute time limit. Kagetsu had this to say… Continue reading “Kagetsu to Mayu Iwatani: A Final Threat”