Chikara's JoshiMania in Everett, Mass.: Hamada vs. Aja Kong, Sara Del Ray vs. Tsubasa Kuragaki, "The Handicapped Hero" Greg Iron vs. Ophidian, Iron discusses his WWE aspirations with a Dot Net reader
Chikara's JoshiMania NIght 2
Report by Dot Net reader Zack Zimmerman
I was excited for my first chance to see Chikara live, but I wasn't sure what to expect considering the card was stacked with Joshi wrestlers and just sprinkled with Chikara mainstays. 150-ish in attendance. Chikara taped the show for a DVD release but their style is SO much more suited toward a live crowd environment.
1. Uematsu and Gami beat Cherry (not of WWE fame) and Shimono with a dragon suplex. The match dragged a bit long and saw the women repeating spots two and three times at points. Rough open, not a sign of things to come however.
2. Ophidian submitted "The Handicapped Hero" Greg Iron with a bridging cobra clutch. The crowd was SO behind Iron and was in the middle of a lengthy "please don't tap" chant when he did. Iron is quite impressive in the ring. He is obviously a natural sympathetic babyface and then works a style that fits his disability, which makes him quite entertaining and very fun to watch and cheer on.
3. Kaori Yoneyama defeated Hanako Nakamori. Yoneyama won with a Busaiku Knee Kick from the top rope.
4. Mayumi Ozaki pinned Mio Shirai. Ozaki won with a shining wizard-style "Ozakick."
Intermission. All of the Joshi stars and Chikara wrestlers who worked the first half of the show, as well as Chuck Taylor, worked the merch stands and signed autographs. $5 got me a Gregory Iron print which he signed. That turned into a brief but down to earth chat. He said that he doesn't really ever expect to be a player in WWE long term. But he said it's his dream just to get there and he is doing his best to get a shot and see what they're willing to do with him. If you're reading this, maybe go sign the dude's Royal Rumble petition.
5. Sara Del Ray defeated Tsubasa Kuragaki after the Royal Butterfly. Hands down match of the night. 15 minute match with a "this is awesome" chant. Del Ray hit a summersault plancha landing at my feet and celebrated with those of us close by when she got up. Cool moment
Del Ray is more impressive than words can say. Even on an Indy show, she brought a big time feel with her. She appears to have slimmed down slightly and gained really good looking muscle since I last saw her on TV. Not only is she the best female worker I've seen, she is quite beautiful as well. Not by WWE Barbie Doll standards but by real world standards. She certainly looks enough the part on top of her stellar work, WWE needs to sign her... Imagine Kharma vs Del Ray on a WWE stage. Wow.
6. Manami Toyota, Mike Quackenbush, and the Colony (Red and Green Ant) beat Team F.I.S.T (Chuck Taylor, Johnny Gargano, and Icarus) and Portia Perez. Toyota won for her team with her Ocean Cyclone Suplex on Portia. Good match, men worked women and vice versa at times, which made for some very entertaining spots. Mad respect from the crowd toward Toyota and Quack. Red Ant is a hell of a worker who wins the crowd with an exciting high-paced style.
FIST, and most notably Chuck Taylor are fantastic as well. Next to house-show-mode CM Punk, Taylor is the most entertaining live performer I've seen. He yells things like "KARATE!" and "Hiyah" and "KILLYOU!" when he strikes opponents and is a constant crap talker to the crowd. Most of the time he gets great laughing responses, which if you know the Chikara product, heel laughs are equal to heat.
7. Aja Kong beat Hamada with her spinning backfist. Shorter match than I expected but these two put on a hard hitting power packed match. The two larger built women were able to pull off some incredible looking offense and some unexpected high spots as well. Good match.
Final Thoughts: What a fun time! Best experience I've ever had at a wrestling show live. The Chikara guys were great fun and had good matches as usual. They weren't the stars of this weekend however.
Though none of the 12 Joshi stars spoke English, they were still able to connect with the crowd and elicit reactions. Some were funny, some were sexy, and some were just plain brutal and scary, but they all entertained. YouTube if you're curious, they won't disappoint. Every match went over 10 minutes and these women certainly have a much more impressive style than we're accustomed to in the U.S. Hard hitting contests filled with stiff slaps, chops, and kicks in addition to incredible suplex varieties, piledrivers, and high-spots. A fantastic experience that gave me the only chance I'll have to see some of these wrestlers.
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