When established Japanese Puroresu news outlets Tokyo Sports and Weekly Puroresu named Stardom’s Yuzuki Aikawa as the top Joshi in 2011, many foreign followers of the sport were a bit surprised. While Yuzupon gained lots of mainstream attention in Japan and helped make Stardom’s debut year a smashing success, looking purely at in-ring accomplishments there was a woman who stood head and shoulders above every other female wrestler in Japan in 2011. She won and defended multiple titles and multiple tournaments. She dominated her home promotion and conquered a growing list of outside companies. She had numerous great matches and was involved in some of the best feuds in recent Joshi Puroresu memory. She even made a highly successful excursion to the United States. This woman is, of course, Hailey Hatred. Or Kana, depending on who you ask.
Both Kana and Hailey have legitimate claims to being the best Joshi wrestler of 2011 (and the best wrestler in the world, period). 2012 begins with both eyeing more fame, more success, and more gold. It’s obvious and inevitable: these two women need to meet in the ring. In spite of wrestling in the same countries, and companies at times, Hailey and Kana haven’t crossed paths since 2009. As Aikawa enjoys her #1 trophies given to her by journalists, we hope to see #1a and #1b fight it out in the ring.
While Hailey Hatred is generally thought of as a power wrestler, in reality she’s always had a technical, multi-discipline martial arts basis. While in Japan she’s spent her time training extensively in one of the top MMA dojos in the world. Of course Kana has done much the same and her Fujiwara/BattlArts/Combat Sambo mash-up style is a most beautiful form of violence. When these two met back in August of 2009 on Vader Time 4, they stole the show with a 10 minute, non-stop, high-speed Strike/Suplex/Submission battle. Their technique made for a great bout then, but now both are harder, better, faster, and stronger.
What stands out most in that match is the constant aggression Kana and Hailey unleash upon one another. It wasn’t personal. They tried to end each other, for no other reason than the spirit of Joshi Puroresu competition. Since that time both Kana and Hailey have stated their respect for each others’ ability, and their desire to wrestle. However, recent events may have turned that professional admiration into some serious personal animosity.
Last December when Kaori Yoneyama chose to retract her retirement mid-ceremony, it caused quite a bit of controversy in the wrestling scene. Of course “controversy” plus “Joshi” meant that Kana would be involved. Kana used her weapon of choice, the keyboard, and wailed on both Yoneyama and JWP, going so far as to say actions like theirs are the reason she’s become the “Anti-Joshi.”
Besides being Triple-Crown Champion tag partners, Hailey and Yoneyama are extremely close outside of the ring. It’s safe to assume that Hailey did not take kindly to Kana’s harsh words for the woman she’s called her best friend, regardless of the reasoning. Even prior to that, Kana’s Triple Tails faction staged a brief, but successful, invasion of JWP while Hailey was champion. This did not go unnoticed. Although she’s technically a freelancer, there’s likely no person on the JWP roster with more motivation to defend the company’s honor from the Queen of Poison than Hailey.
Interestingly, Kana holds the Pro Wrestling WAVE Tag Titles with Ayumi Kurihara. This past weekend Ayumi became only the second woman to pin Hailey Hatred in Japan. Given that Hailey and Kaori possess the JWP tag titles (and seemingly every other tag title in the world), these are two teams that JWP and WAVE may want to face each other regardless of any other circumstance. The result of such a tag match could be the necessary kick-start to a singles confrontation.
If bias is a concern then perhaps SMASH could host the match as a neutral ring. SMASH has, contentious, ties to Kana but also worked extensively with JWP in the past, even hosting a JWP Open-weight title defense on their Happening Eve show in late 2010. Certainly Hailey would be a deserving challenger for the SMASH Women’s Title, now held once again by Kana. Hailey’s been looking for a replacement for the spot on her shoulder the JWP belt used to cover.
But given the scale of this match, the circumstances of their last encounter, and their combat sports backgrounds, Inoki Genome Federation would also be a suitable home. The hybrid Strong Style/MMA company could scarcely find a more appropriate choice for its first female match. Kana may even take matters into her own hands and use a big match with Hailey as the main event for her own Kana Pro or Triple Tails.S shows.
Consider last fall. Both Hailey and Kana shared a locker room for the SHIMMER: Women Athletes tapings. Kana was in several high-profile matches, but Hatred was only there for one day and did not quite have a full chance to show off why she’s a multi-crown champion. SHIMMER has made a habit of putting on Joshi Dream Matches that actual Japanese promotions let slip through the cracks, and if Hailey and Kana both find themselves in Chicago this year it would be a great opportunity for another coup.
Or all of the above. Joshi hold grudges, these two more than most. There’s no reason to think the personal or professional differences here would be sorted out in just one match. Any show with Kana and Hailey trying to demolish one another would be must see on a pure wrestling basis alone, but given Hatred’s aura as a near unbeatable foreign monster and Kana’s unmatched wrestling/promotional skills, any number of companies should see the commercial value in producing this match.
The recent Bull Nakano retirement show reminded the world of Joshi exactly what the good, long, bloody feuds used to look like. If Kana and Hailey find themselves in an extended, multi-promotional rivalry, it would have the potential to bring those bad old times back to life in the modern Joshi era.
While Kana has not shied away from more hardcore matches, Hailey definitely has more experience in outright wars. Dog collars, thumbtacks, barbed wire, she’s done it all. If the tension between the two escalates, we could see a return to the all-or-nothing days of bloody guillotine leg drops from the top’s of the cages and women having their heads shaved while an audience full of teenage girls wept.
All of this could happen. All of this should happen. 2012 will again be the year of Hailey and/or Kana, as they continue to lead the Joshi Puroresu resurgence. It needs to be the year where they finally settle who is really the dominant woman of Joshi Puroresu. The wrestling world would be wise to give Kana and Hailey a canvas upon which to paint the next the next wrestling masterpiece. Fans should demand to see it. Anger, violence, titles, cages, shaved heads, blood, tears, and greatness awaits.
Our last Dream Match article, Kana vs Sara Del Rey, garnered a huge response. A fan uprising led the match to happen, twice! Both bouts were stellar. The great thing about great wrestling is the companies are very responsive to fans. So, if you want to see Kana vs Hailey Hatred, tell your favorite promotions! Also, leave us a comment and let us know who you think would come out on top in this battle. Peace!