JWP’s year-end show was more shocking than most. The two big stories leading up to the show were the JWP Open-Class Championship match between Hailey Hatred and Tsubasa Kuragaki, and the retirement of Kaori Yoneyama. Hailey’s been fairly unstoppable this year, but Kuragaki absolutely wrecked things on her US tour, and that usually translates to success back home. The looming retirement of Kaori, though, put a bit of a damper on things going into the show. After all she’s young, healthy, and one of the very best in the world. Her retirement would surely be a major loss to both JWP and the wrestling world…or would it?
JWP Climax 2011
December 23rd, 2011
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
- ma-su-me & Nana Kawasa defeated Aoi Yagami & Moon Mizuki at 6:51
- Blue Star Cup Final Match: Manami Katsu defeated Rabbit Mita at 10:03
- Dump Matsumoto, Hanako Nakamori & Jaguar Yokota defeated The WANTED?! (KAZUKI, Morley & Sachie Abe) at 10:02
- Yoneyama Battle Royal: Abdullah Kobayashi defeated Emi Sakura and GAMI and GENTARO and Great Kabuki and Kaori Yoneyama and Misaki Ohata and Ran YuYu and Sanshiro Takagi and Sayako Obihiro and Takashi Sasaki and Tetsuhiro Kuroda and The Great Kojika and The Winger and Toshie Uematsu at 20:20
- Pure Hard: Kyoko Kimura vs. Leon – No Contest Double KO at 12:46
- JWP Open-Class Title Match: Tsubasa Kuragaki defeated Hailey Hatred (c) at 17:20 to become the new Champion
- Kayoko Haruyama defeated Kaori Yoneyama at 18:48
After winning the Blue Star Cup Tournament, Manami Katsu called out JWP Jr. and POP champion Sawako Shimono to challenge for those titles. The altercation ending in a few shoves and slaps.
During the 6 Woman tag Dump Matsumoto found Bull Nakano, who was attending the festivities, and tried to get some nefarious double team work going with her former tag partner. Bull, however, declined. Jaguar Yokota also spent much of the match attempting to rein in Dump’s weapon usage, to limited success.
The Battle Royal was pretty light-hearted, which put GAMI in her element. She came very close to winning but was finally eliminated by the winner, Abdullah Kobayashi.
Arisa Nakijima, former promising young Joshi star, announced that she had begun training to make her return to wrestling after her sudden retirement a few years ago.
In what was advertised as a “Pure Hard” brawl, Kyoko Kimura and Leon tried to end one another, and came pretty close to succeeding on multiple occasions. Referee Tommy put a stop to things after they simultaneously downed one another with savage strikes.
The title match was, as expected, amazing. Hailey Hatred and Tsubasa Kuragaki, two beloved, top-level Joshi stars waged war in front of a split crowd. Hailey survived a devastating Metal Wing while Tsubasa managed to kick out of a top rope Exploder and a running Lyger Bomb. Tsubasa was forced to pull out a new S-Rank Michinoku Driver variation to win the JWP title for a second time and end Hailey’s historic six month reign.
Retirement matches are never as good as they need to be. One match can never capture all the years of hard work and passion a wrestler has given or fill the void of all the matches that might have been. Still, Kayako Haruyama gave Kaori Yoneyama a great final match, worthy of following the preceding epic. Kayako bested Yoneyama in an emotional contest. Yoneyama fought as if she didn’t want her final match to ever end. That was, perhaps, to be expected. However, what happened post-match legitimately shocked everyone.
After the gifts were passed out, the career retrospective was shown, the “Thank you, goodbye,” letter was read and all the tears were shed, Yoneyama stood in the ring, alone, waiting out her Ten Bell salute. Around the 7th bell she rushed to the mic and, in tears, stated she was not ready to retire yet. She begged everyone’s understanding, forgiveness, and permission to continue. Some of her fellow Joshi gave her a bit of hell, but in the end they were delighted she’d be sticking around. Bull Nakano even asked Yoneyama to participate in her own retirement show this January. A surprising, but all-in-all positive turn of events. Kaori’s decision was not without controversy, to say the least, but any fans unhappy with the non-retirement can receive a refund.
A great show with a happy ending. Here’s to more JWP and less retirements!