A bit late on the write-up, but things be busy so let’s get it out there.
I didn’t watch Sareee-ism II. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because the first one didn’t grab me all too much. Quite frankly, I should really go back and seek it out–or at least go watch Mio Momono vs. Miyuki Takase.
But I decided to give Sareee-ism III a shot. I wasn’t blown away the prior meeting between Sareee and Hashimoto, but thought that perhaps the next go-around would do better. Plus, this show offered more Nanae Takahashi than the second card had. And we got Iroha/Takase, which is right up my alley.
I’ll get into the matches below, but my general thought seems to be this: We’re not getting anything mind-blowingly crazy from these shows (unless Momono/Takase is as insane as it could be), but it’s solid joshi pro wrestling shows and why not embrace it?
1) Tomoka & Azusa Inaba vs. Mio Momono & Riko Kawahata
As someone who’s followed Mio Momono’s whole career, it seems bizarre to me to be at a point where she’s the hardened veteran of a match like this. But here we are. An absoluter banger of an opening match. I’m not overly familiar with the Inaba sisters, but they both looked good in this one. Kawahata, of course, has really come into her own during her time in Marvelous, and I can’t shake the feeling that she’s on the cusp of reaching that next level of her career. I’m all in on that.
But like I said, this was the match where Mio called the shots and looked like a veteran well beyond her age. Mio’s been on a tear for the past couple of years, and even in what’s almost a throwaway opening match, she still comes out and has one of the best matches on the show.
2) Kizuna Tanaka & Chi Chi vs. Aja Kong & Jaguar Yokota
PRE-MATCH NOTE: Hmm, I wonder who’s gonna win this one?
Listen, Aja Kong at age 53 was only the second-oldest wrestler in this match, by about nine years. I don’t care how much potential Chi Chi and Tanaka have; this match really just existed for the two elders to beat the crap out of a pair of kids.
In fairness, I was thoroughly entertained at watching Tanaka keel over whenever Aja Kong whacked her.
3) Takumi Iroha vs. Miyuki Takase
I find it somewhat hilarious how there are three title belts between the two of them and none of those titles are from Japanese promotions. With that observation out of the way, I started to ponder how many times these two have gone one-on-one. After all, Iroha has been in the business for over a decade and Takase for around six years. They’ve worked in the same circles enough where I feel like they’ve had a fair few singles matches.
Nope. This was their second. First was won by Iroha in 2019 on an independent show.
I can’t say I recall that meeting. I might need to go have a refresher. Anyhoo, this was a solid go for the two, but it feels like—despite the decisive finish—that there was a lot left on the table for the two to have at it again. This wasn’t super long—just over ten minutes. And I suppose 10 minutes is a pretty good length for most joshi matches, but Iroha excels in longer matches and Takase is strong in any setting with the right opponent. Color me interested to see the two of them get the chance to go at it again (Bring Takase to San Francisco please, West Coast Pro!).
4) Unagi Sayaka & Hiragi Kurumi vs. Nanae Takahashi & Kaoru Ito
Listen, I love Nanae-ism. Takahashi’s style of pro wrestling is very much my favorite. The first few seconds of this bout had Takahashi going hard at Unagi, and Unagi quickly tagging out. Shortly after, we got Kurumi and Ito repeatedly plowing into each other, another trope I love.
But really, so much of this match was unagi vs. Takahashi—as it should be. I’m not nearly as high on Unagi as a lot of the western fans are, but I do need to hand it to her: When Unagi takes a beating, you can’t help but believe in it fully.
Kurumi was certainly one of my favorite Ice Ribbon wrestlers when I was watching. And while I don’t see a ton of her these days, she was a blast in this one. Matches up well with the similarly shaped Kaoru Ito.
Maybe it’s a case of wishful thinking, but the bulk of this match really felt like we were getting a Takahashi vs. Unagi singles match at some point down the line. Quite frankly, I don’t even care when or where, but I’ll take it. (Okay, I do care where—just make it at Sareee-ism IV and keep it easy).
5) Sareee vs. Chihiro Hashimoto
Admittedly, I don’t see a ton of Hashimoto these days. Some years back, it felt like Sendai Girls was on the cusp of becoming something special. And nowadays it feels like just another company that’s there. I really wish—especially in hindsight—that they went big on making themselves available to an international audience, because someone like Hashimoto (or Mika Iwata) I think would have a ton of appeal to a western fanbase.
With that griping out of the way, here’s the thing I often forget: While I do think western indy wrestling crowds would go bonkers for Hashimoto, I don’t feel the same way.
I believe I should feel the same. She checks all the boxes of what I want in pro wrestling, but for some reason, I’ve never been particularly grabbed by Hashimoto. Sadly, this wasn’t an exception.
I can certainly understand why people loved this, especially in the case of the finish—it was a great end to the match. I also enjoy any time Hashimoto does deadlifts and other feats of strength. We don’t get much of that in the joshi scene, especially these days, so it always feels fresh.
In the end though, I felt like this was good, but not great. Clearly, I’m wrong about that, if you consider dang near everyone else’s opinions online.