Sendai Girls Big Show in Niigata
June 16 2018
We’re in Niigata City Gymnasium for Io Shirai’s final match for Sendai Girls. She’s recently been tied to the talent of Meiko Satomura so she’s going out opposite her in a tag match. The TV edit of this is a blessed 1h 54m. All the best shows edit down to less than two hours. This being a “big show” they have an attendance of over 2000. That’s pretty damn good for a small joshi. Especially with no title match on this show (Hamada was suspended and stripped of the title for drug use) and the major draw is the departure of Io Shirai.
Manami vs. Mio Momono
Surly veteran Mio, at age 20, going against plucky youngster Manami here. Manami is 13 years old.
This is literally child abuse. Manami has extraordinary potential. At her tender young age she already understands a tonne about selling and ring positioning that normally grown men struggle with. I like how her matches feel like genuine struggles too. When she’s dazed and about to be hit by the crossbody that finishes I believe it. I believe she’s confused and hurt. You wouldn’t get a pass on that as you get older but here it’s believable.
Final Rating: **1/4
KAORU vs. Mai Mizuochi
Mai is new on me. KAORU is not in the mood to take any of her shit. It’s a bullying performance from a total bitch. It’s a little sloppy with KAORU looking bemused at times and them doing a tonne of bad telegraphing. I see it as KAORU ensuring the match is safe first and accomplished later. KAORU wins, obviously, and we’ll call this a learning experience for young Mai.
Final Rating: *
Aiger vs. Sakura Hirota
Aiger is very gimmick heavy.
I mean look! She does a good job of concealing a lack of mobility with the gimmick. A bit like the Undertaker when he was injured. Hirota is also a veteran but has a good idea of how to work opposite a gimmick. She keeps crotching herself attempting springboards. Aiger on the other hand is very into health and safety and makes a point of moving all the fans herself before a Hirota dive, which she fucks up and crotches herself on. They do some good material around teasing count outs too and fuck around with the fans. It’s one of the daftest matches I’ve seen all year. If you’re going to do a ref bump then at least make it good or completely stupid. The ref bump in this is horrible…but in a good way. Splash Mountain finishes for Aiger and I had a nice time watching this.
Final Rating: ***
Aja Kong, Nyla Rose & Rydeen Hagane vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto, Manami Katsu & Ami Sato
Nyla is American but has been wrestling a lot for Sendai Girls. Hagane wrestles for PURE-J and JWP, proper Japanese undergraps. Katsu is also from PURE-J and they’re guesting in here. The main storyline is Ami Sato and how she’s battling to become established. At 20 years old she’s still in her first year in wrestling. All of Team Aja are pretty big but taking on Aja is the ultimate challenge for young Ami. It shows her inexperience that she goes along with the three woman pose on top of Aja. Up till that point Aja was just playing with her. After a show of disrespect it’s all business and clonking forearms. Matsumoto is clearly the stand-out wrestler in this match and she does a fine job of being beaten up by three large women.
It’s a little sad to see Aja Kong is starting to deteriorate as a wrestler but time takes its toll on everyone. She still gets to deliver a killer spinning backfist in this but her timing on kick-outs is gone and she can’t make Sato’s near falls in any way interesting. Aja obviously wins because the 20 year old Sato isn’t beating someone of Aja’s standing just yet. Brainbuster finishes.
Final Rating: **3/4
Sendai Girls Tag Team Championship
Cassandra Miyagi & Heidi Katrina (c) vs. Strong Style Rush (Mika Iwata & Alex Lee)
Miyagi is one of Sendai Girls biggest stars, who they’ve brought up from within. Meanwhile Iwata is one of their biggest hopefuls. Miyagi is only two years older and two years ago she wasn’t very good. She is now.
Strong Style Rush is an interesting concept as you’ve got young native talent Iwata paired with veteran gaijin Alex Lee, formally known as Leah West in WWE Developmental. If you lived in Tampa circa 2011 you may remember her battling the likes of Cameron, Aksana and Naomi. It’s almost a mirror of the champions only with lesser talents. Katrina, the Brit, is unknown in the UK but has made a name for herself in Japan. Cassandra Miyagi has gone from looking like an emu in the ring to having an entrance where she looks like a fucked up punk girl at last orders hitting the dance floor but becomes far more coordinated when the action gets underway.
Strong Style Rush come in with a bad-ass name and matching gear and promptly get beaten up from the bell. They’re more cutesy than championship material. Especially running head to head with Katrina who’s 5’10” 180lbs. Iwata is giving up 7 inches and 60lbs. SSR manage most of their success through double teams. Which has no long lasting effect on Katrina, the Amazon, nor Cassandra, the nutcase. Katrina is never someone I’ve considered to be a star, more a sideshow attraction, but she looks solid here. The potential her size has always given her is starting to take shape. Her style is clearly influenced by other Japanese wrestlers. I’d be interested in seeing her learn some British style to give her depth. Iwata shows some nice fire going after Miyagi and her kicks are cool but I never feel the champions are in peril. Maybe that’s intentional as they’re not ready for this big title shot. The implication is they need to go and plan better and come again. Or that Iwata needs a better partner. The Lee/Katrina sequences are relatively weak. I do love Iwata though. I’m intrigued to see her career unfold. She’s already had some tremendous matches with Hana Kimura. The worst elements of the match come from Katrina being out of position and the positioning flaws down the stretch are what kills this match. It’s not just Katrina, it’s basically everyone. Lee and Miyagi do a bizarre spot where Miyagi is supposed to be stopping Lee from interfering but instead they just stop and loosely hold each other while watching the match. We can see you! Katrina beats Iwata with the leg jam and this had potential but never quite got there. Iwata is one to watch out for.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Meiko Satomura & Chihiro Hashimoto vs. Io Shirai & DASH Chisako
Meiko is getting mileage out of being Fight Club: PRO champion, which is pretty cool to see.
This is all about Io but to a lesser extent about re-establishing Hashimoto as the Sendai Girls ace. Her being toppled as champion with no chance of getting her win back, with Hamada gone, it leaves her in the void. Meiko is in the mood to kick someone’s ass. I keep hoping that surly, ass-kicker Meiko will appear in the UK at some point. She’s been a happy-go-lucky babyface so far. Io is an interesting study here, clearly preparing for Florida and basking in what she’s achieved but also delivering the thrills and spills she’s known for.
The interactions between Meiko and Io are super intense even with Io winding it down and playing the hits. The effortless nature of her performance is easy on the eyes. It makes me realise how big a miss she’ll be and what a star she could potentially be in NXT, if not WWE as a whole. I’m hoping they throw out the Kairi vs. Io showcase match on a Takeover and let them blow everyone away. Chihiro takes over at the finish and puts DASH away. There was no escaping that DASH was here to take the pin. This really lacked the special feeling of Io vs. Meiko in singles and with Io winding down she clearly didn’t want to get hurt. Didn’t stop her hitting a tope and a moonsault to the floor.
Final Rating: ***1/2
After the main event Meiko waxes lyrical about the Biz and wishes Io all the best in Florida. And that’s the show.
Overall this was a decent show although there’s nothing to go out of your way for. For those who’ve not had their fill of saying goodbye to Io then they’ll want to drop in on this. Sendai Girls also doing a good job of building up the likes of Iwata and Ami Sato. I persist this promotion is worth keeping an eye on because any Meiko Satomura is better than no Meiko Satomura.