I have no idea why I decided “hey I should watch the first IBUKI show”, but here we are. I hadn’t seen any of the promotion before and I didn’t know too much of what to expect, other than that the promotion was run by Mark Yoshida and the first show was in Shin-Kiba 1st RING.
Other than that, it was a five-match show, but it was clipped in order to fit under an hour (I assume for TV, but I’m not sure. There were also brief interview clips between the matches. However, I don’t know much Japanese beyond basic counting, so I couldn’t tell you much of what was going on there.
But I can tell you what was going on in-ring, and while I don’t plan to get too in-detail (just go watch the match yourself if it seems like your kind of thing), I’ll give some thoughts along the way.
With generic introduction #74 out of the way, let’s hop in.
Shuu Shibutani vs. Nene Kimura
Don’t know a ton about this two. Kimura’s career was only about one year long, and this appeared to be her only match in IBUKI, however. Most of her matches were in JD Star, alongside a few months in APW (Hayward, California). I’m more familiar with Shibutani, who had a much longer career, including working in IBUKI each year of its existence. She was a mainstay in WAVE for the second half of her wrestling career and retired in 2015.
Anyhoo, this match was a totally fine rookie match. Neither looked like a future star but neither looked totally hopeless. I suppose you can’t expect too much more than that from an opening match that was also clipped for time.
Natsuki Head vs. Yuka Shiina
Hey, it’s that referee from SEAdLINNNG!
Natsuki Taiyo (or in this case “Natsuki Head” for some reason) was a couple years into her career already. She wasn’t quite yet the GOAT of the NEO/Stardom high speed division, but she had her expected speed and agility on full display. I feel like Taiyo is one of those wrestlers you could show to a casual fan, and they’d have an opinion made right away. Hopefully a positive one.
At this point in Shiina’s career, she was a mainstay in NEO and nearing eventual retirement at the end of 2006. She matched up well with Taiyo’s seemingly natural pace and this was my kind of quick fun match. Of course, I’m a sucker for a solid high speed match.
Kaoru Ito vs. Atsuko Emoto
Man, this thing starts off with Ito getting charged on by Emoto (a.k.a. Bullfight Sora) as she’s trying to enter the ring. Ito’s career is long and well-documented, so I won’t bother going into a quick overview, other than nothing that she bounced around a lot in the few years between the death of AJW and the birth of Diana. Emoto’s career was much shorter, but she had the DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Title almost a dozen times.
This thing was my kind of match. Two big wrestlers hitting each other really fast and really hard, appearing to want to hurt each other. Give me one or two of these matches every show, and I’ll walk away happy.
Leon vs. Nao Watanabe
I love Leon. Even now, almost 25 years since her debut, she’s still one of my favorite active wrestlers. In 2005, she appears…slightly less physically intimidating, but a heck of a lot swifter (and I’m not even suggesting she’s not swift now, because that would be a massive lie). Per Cagematch, Watanabe had thirteen matches in her career, and this would be number three.
I wouldn’t have guessed that by watching her, though. Watanabe didn’t come off as someone a few years into her career, but she looked good in this match and seemed very confident, which can certainly make up for some shortcomings.
Leon was great in this one and Watanabe looked like a rookie with a ton of upside. I want to say it was my favorite match on the program to this point, but it’s hard to compare it to the Ito/Emoto match, since they were crazy different.
Even with the TV (or video release?) clipping, these past two matches were both wonderful and worth seeking out if they sound like your kind of thing.
Special Rules Match: Mariko Yoshida & Megumi Fuji vs. Ayumi Kurihara & Kyoko Kimura
Let’s get this out of the way first: Kyoko Kimura is well-known among internet joshi fans, be it for being Hana’s mother, or her crazy hair, or the whole weed thing. Kurihara’s career is less known but she had a very respectable run bouncing around promotions like NEO, WAVE, and OZ Academy. Yoshida may very well be underappreciated by a lot of western fans, and I suggest that because she doesn’t get talked about nearly as much as a lot of the other AJW legends from that era. Perhaps rightfully so, but I’m not so sure.
And then there’s Megumi Fuji, who had a wonderful MMA career, and had a whopping four pro wrestling matches. This was her second one, the first being over two years prior in ARSION (she lost to Yoshida in an MMA Rules match for some reason).
The “special rules” for this match were a little beyond (I think it’s a first-to-three falls match). But Fuji got beaten down by Kimura to start the match and locked in…uh…some sort of leg-heavy choke, which was pretty cool. That seemed to be the whole goal for Fuji—go for a bunch of submissions. I can’t even knock it, because she looked good doing it. It took a while for Yoshida to get involved in the match, but when she did, everything really hit the next gear. Yoshida’s stuff with Kimura was the highlight of the match.
Also, seeing Kyoko Kimura wear actual pro wrestling gear is a bit of a shock to my system. My mind thinks of her and goes straight to 2015 or so.
For the first show of a promotion running Shin-Kiba 1st RING, this was a promising display. My favorite match of the lot was probably Ito vs. Emoto, but each of the last three matches had a lot of strong points. I’m a bit disappointed that the show was clipped for time to stay under an hour. At the same time, I’m one of those weirdos who insists that one hour is the ideal time for a weekly pro wrestling TV show, so if you look at it from that point of view, I didn’t really mind some clippage.