Sendai Girls made their UK debut at Academy One in Manchester this past weekend, James Truepenny gives you a match review.
I’ve been to the Academy hundreds of times before and still managed to get lost. Thankfully Fight Club Pro who were organizing this event set the bell time at 4 pm knowing full well that I am actually a child which meant I didn’t miss a thing.
The opener was everything it actually needed to be. Mixing well-known veterans, Viper and Isla Dawn with less well-known wrestlers showcased everyone and set the tone for the rest of the show. Jody Threat especially impressed with her character as did Gisele Shaw whose smooth babyface work has a lot of opportunities to develop in different directions. It did degenerate into a spot fest at times, but that is the point of these kinds of matchups. However, this was pure fun entertainment.
Honestly, the perfect booking, Moth, from the flats, mother of 89, versus a ghost. Martina was terrified but was told by the referee “Just bare in mind she is already dead!”. The silliness ensued from there. Actually the parallels between these two wrestlers, both master technicians that had to change their characters to catch on, only bolstered the narrative. Yup it was silly, yes it may well go against the grain of what Sendai Girls is about, but I was genuinely excited to see what these two would do and they didn’t disappoint. Having been chased off by Aiger, Moth returned with a rather dilapidated Henri vacuum cleaner, a favorite of school caretakers everywhere, whilst the Ghostbusters theme blasted over the PA. Sadly for Martina, it was not to be, Aiger rallied to take the win.
One of two genuine dream matches on this card, it would be the last before the interval. DASH has made a name for herself in one of the best tag teams in women’s wrestling ever with her now-retired sister Sendai Sachiko and then as a brawler tagging with KAORU in a rein of violence that cornered the Sendai Girls tag titles for a very long time. She makes up for her lack of inches with a stunning technical ability, speed and a unique sense of what to do with a chair. Kay Lee Ray’s rise to the position of Hardcore Daredevil came through matches in ICW, Stardom, Pro Wrestling EVE and other British indies, a reputation she won the hard way. This match had the added bonus of it not being able to happen in Japan. Stardom hasn’t worked with Sendai Girls for quite some time so whoever won this would be big news back in Tokyo. The put in a blinder kicking off the violence from the get-go, liberal use of chairs, tables, and bars for launching yourself off of where the order of the day. These two were made for each other and we got the full go of their daredevil tactics. DASH won, but they shook hands as greatness recognized greatness.
Killer Kelly was sadly injured leaving the hard-hitting Valkyrie opponent less, never fear though where disappointment and misery collect, Schadenfreude are never far behind. With Kid Lykos howling the orders and accompanied by Kyle Fletcher, Brookes turned up to his usual level of nuclear heat. A dab hand at the intergender match, he took it to Valkyrie from the get-go, but the Irish mat technician who has some of the best strikes in European wrestling was after it and despite a ton of interference took the win. Brookes never fails to impress, having just landed from Tokyo after six weeks wrestling for DDT, he turns up and has a corker as a substitute. Valkriye’s growing reputation gains a new chapter to its legend.
Medusa Complex has gone from being the annoying kid sisters of indie wrestling to an all-out attack monster in a very short period of time. Chihiro Hashimoto and Yuu were going to have their work cut out to keep up, but the non-regular partners proved worthy opponents. Yuu has been in the UK on a self-imposed excursion and her time here has been a true learning experience. “I learned a new phrase; F*** the police!” after teaming against the No Fun Police on Friday, but this match was serious business. Because Mckenzie and Evans said it was. They look and act like superstars, and wrestle as their lives depend on it. It is very reminiscent of The Crush Gals, an all-business intensity that will stand them in good stead. Chihiro Hashimoto got her chance to shine too, the former Sendai Girls World Champion has been their top draw for the last two years and the gutsy powerhouse showed off her unique approach to wrestling. An outstanding effort.
This night and this match meant a lot to Meiko Satomura. She first came into the British consciousness nearly 20 years ago via the BBC Documentary GAEA Girls, a film that inspired the name of her own company Sendai Girls. Her wrestling heroes come from Lancashire, there was a no better place than this could be and as “Rock the Night Away” died down the greatest professional wrestler on earth set to work against the WWE NXT UK Women’s Champion, Toni Storm in another dream match that wouldn’t be on the cards in Japan. While it wasn’t perfect, the faithful didn’t care, they had come to worship at the House of Sendai. Meiko Satomura leads by example, she lost here, but she has faith in the youth of the industry because she has done her level best to prepare them for the next stage of women’s wrestling. Bare this in mind; the first company to come to the UK from Japan was Ice Ribbon, then came Stardom and now Sendai Girls each debut has been in a bigger and bigger venue. NJPW will probably take the attendance record at the Copper Box later in the year, but it was the women who led the way and the true matriarch of Joshi, Meiko Satomura finally got to do things her way this night. Joshi Puroresu as it was meant to be, on the Oxford Road, in Manchester. We have come a long, long way.
In next month’s print edition there will be a full feature story on Sendai in the UK so subscribe now!
Pictures courtesy of Fight Club Pro, Sendai Girls, and James Truepenny.