Chikara's King of Trios three day event this year was known for a lot of things. It saw the Spectral Envoy break through to win, allowing UltraMantis Black to "win the big one" for the first time in his career. Mike Bennett showed he was better than what Ring of Honor had allowed him to be. Old favorites like Tito Santana, 1-2-3 Kid and Demolition shared the stage with the established stars and up-and-comers like Eddie Kingston, the Young Bucks and Mark Angelosetti. There was serious competition and there was great comedy.
While hard to pick out one standout performer, there were two women whom I thought made a more than lasting impression on the
Tsubasa Kuragaki and Meiko Satomura may not be names that mean much to most wrestling fans, but to the ones who have seen them, especially ones who are already experienced in watching joshi, they carry a lot of weight. In Kuragaki's case, that weight is both figurative and literal.
Let's start with her. She first came over to Chikara during JoshiMania at the end of 2011, where she amazed crowds with her feats of strength, including her finisher, a torture rack that looked as painful as any variation of the move performed by Lex Luger.
As with any wrestler, her actual size was more impressive in person. She's not a musclehead, nor is she fat or exceedingly tall. She has an impressive frame, one that made her hulk over both her tag partner, Commando Bolshoi, and both her opponents, the incomparable Manami Toyota and Kaori Yoneyama, in their Night 3 tag match.
Her size and strength were punctuated with an exclamation point with her penultimate move in the match, the torture rack delivered to
As strong as Kuragaki showed herself to be, Satomura, a stalwart of the Sendai Girls promotion, showed both technical flair and the fire of a Champion. Satomura made her Chikara debut earlier this year during Aniversario Weekend, when she teamed with Kagetsu against the brash young sisters, Dash Chisako and Sendai Sachiko in
She and her partners, her opponents from the first Aniversario night in Easton, won the crowd over all weekend long with their stellar display of aerial pyrotechnics and hard-hitting strikes, but Satomura herself showed why she was worthy of every ounce of praise she received at the end of the opening match on Night 3.
As her partners lay prone on the outside, Satomura fought off each member of Team ROH, Bennett and both Young Bucks, as if she were a Ninja Turtle, taking out random grunts of the Foot Clan with relative ease. She basically put on a clinic on how to overcome the odds, one that John Cena would be better off for by watching. Of course, she didn't end up winning. She ate three superkicks and the Bucks' finisher en route to taking the loss. Still, it was not an act of valor that was expected.
Joshi superstars for the entire existence of the subset in wrestling have been about defying expectation. Women weren't supposed to be tough in wrestling, and if they did, they had to look like Fabulous Moolah. They weren't supposed to be innovative. They weren't supposed to be the best in their field. Yet, for thirty years, joshi wrestlers have taken every societal norm associated with their gender and wrestling and smashed it. It's no wonder why wrestlers like del Rey and Rachel Summerlyn fell in love with those women, even though they were thousands of miles away from them instead of right there in their arenas and on their television sets.