Are you ready to get emotional? I feel like I’ve already said goodbye to Kagetsu at least a couple of times, but this is the actual last chance we’ll get to pay our respects to her before she goes on her way. Christ, that makes it sounds like she’s dying. In reality, she’s twenty-seven and is probably off to live an awesome life, but I’ll be sad all the same.
Yuu, Syuri and Leyla Hirsch defeated Oedo Tai (Natusko Tora and Natsu Sumire) in a Handicap Match
Jamie Hayter was supposed to be in this, but had to pull out. Rather than scrambling for a replacement, they turned it in a handicap match, as Kagetsu presumably had faith in her Oedo Tai besties to get the job done.
Not that they were really alone. This was Kagetsu’s show, so not only were Starlight Kid and Utami on ringside duties but a familiar face in a baseball cap who is supposed to be retired. It didn’t take long for Hazuki to revert to type, dragging Yuu to ringside and introducing her to the front row before getting out their old friend the elastic band.
As wonderful as it was to see Hazuki again, there was one thing everyone watching this match wanted, and we got it soon after, Natsuko vs Yuu. Those two quickly got down to beating on each other, hossing it out in the centre of the ring. There was a slightly awkward moment where Tora struggled to get Yuu up, but they recovered nicely, and it was the kind of mistake that didn’t take anything away from the action.
Natsu was given plenty of shine in the home stretch, looking good for it. In the end, though, the numbers game would prove too much, and Yuu hit the Last Ride to put her away. Although judging by Yuu and Natsuko’s post-bell interactions, those two wouldn’t mind getting another chance to rumble somewhere down the line.
As opening matches go, this one was pretty great. Everyone got their moment in a fast-paced contest that was entertaining from start to finish.
Verdict: More Yuu vs Tora, Please
AZM defeated Mei Suruga and Kaho Kobayashi
Kagetsu spoke about wanting to use her retirement road to highlight some of wrestling’s younger talent, and this match was the perfect example of that. If you put AZM and Mei Suruga’s ages together, they would still be younger than the oldest person on this card by a good sixteen years while Kobayashi is only twenty-seven which, as a twenty-eight-year-old, is very very young. Practically a baby.
That age difference would play into the story too, as the early action revolved around Kaho’s struggles to keep up with her younger opponents. She’s an energetic wrestler herself, but AZM and Mei seemed determined to run her out, and it was a mission they were successful in.
It was the set-up for what was a joyous match. These three are brilliant and whether they were paired up or putting together spots as a threesome, every moment was a shitload of fun. I don’t think there was a second where they stopped moving while the clash between Mei and Kaho’s enthusiasm and AZM’s grizzled veteran hood was always going to draw smiles.
The final minutes were particularly stunning, Kobayashi taking an insane bump to the outside as she crashed and burned on a Tope. That left Sugura and AZM to dance between pinning combinations, each looking like a potential match-winner until the AZM Sushi proved the decider. Afterwards, the two youngsters seemed to come to an understanding, offering their hands to Kobayashi only to shove her over and make a run for it. Damn kids.
Kagetsu defeated Saya Iida
Kagetsu has described Saya Iida as the child of her and Hazuki, and it’s been clear from day one that Gori-chan held a special place in her heart. Therefore, it was no surprise to see her on this show, and while you could laugh at the idea of Kagetsu booking herself as the mystery opponent, it made all the sense in the world.
It also clearly meant everything to Wee Saya, who was fighting back the tears from the second she stepped through the ropes. That probably wasn’t aided by Kagetsu coming out flanked by Oedo Tai (Natsu, Tora, Hazuki and Nao) and performing the dance together one last time. Christ, it certainly didn’t help my emotional state.
And while Kagetsu would obviously go on to have a longer and more typically ‘great’ match than this one, I honestly think this is the one I’ll remember. On her final night, on a show that was all about her, Kagetsu went out and gave the rub to a young wrestler. Sure, she won, but she also ate a metric shit tonne of Dropkicks, bouncing around for Gori-chan and inviting them in. Christ, she even had Oedo Tai interfere, using them to set-up the finish.
It’s that kind of thing which makes Kagetsu such a brilliant wrestler. Her attention to detail and willingness to give the ball to younger talent is wonderful, and you can bet this was a moment which Saya Iida will cherish for the rest of her life.
Gaina, Jinsei Shinzaki and Zeus defeated Dyna Mido, Kamui and Kazuki Hashimoto
Every match on this card made perfect sense to me apart from this one. Is there a link between these six and Kagetsu that I’m unaware of? Either way, the Samurai broadcast had cut it down a lot, so there wasn’t enough there to give it a proper review. It looked alright from what we saw, but that wasn’t much.
Verdict: Who Knows
Meiko Satomura defeated Kagetsu
Doing the thing that you do for the last time must be terrifying. Since she was sixteen, Kagetsu has been a wrestler. For eleven years, she has gone out to a wrestling ring and put on a show, becoming one of the very best in the process. So you have to wonder what was going through her head as she walked that walk for the last time. Was she excited? Scared? Was there a part of her that wanted to take it all back, to pretend it all never happened and keep going?
I’ll tell you one doubt that Kagetsu must have never had, whether Meiko Satomura was the right final opponent. Every time I see Satomura in a ring, I am reminded quite how extraordinary she is, and as the woman who trained Kagetsu, well, this was perfect. She wasn’t going to let one of her star pupils go out without a fight, and as she lashed out with a kick to Kagetsu’s leg in the opening seconds, you could already tell we were in for something special.
You’d be right to think it too, as these two bottled up magic together one last time. This truly felt like a war, as even when they were grappling there was a constant battle happening between them, blows being thrown into sides or elbows shoved into faces. There was no pretty dancing between moves, but two hard as nails women trying to end a rivalry that has raged for years. Kagetsu had never beaten her teacher in singles action, so you better believe she wanted to go out with that achievement notched into her belt.
And there might be some teachers who would take it easy in that spot, who might let their kids go out with a bang. Not Meiko, though. Her attitude was summed up when Kagetsu spat water in her face. A single step back before she slapped the taste out of her mouth. At that moment you can only imagine Meiko wasn’t looking at a retiring wrestler, but an impudent trainee who needed put in their place.
It built to as epic a conclusion to a career as you will ever see. In the final minutes, Kagetsu and Meiko went back and forth, thunderous blows combined with every high-impact move you can think of. There are matches where those same kick-outs and fighting spirit spots might have felt silly, but this was Kagetsu’s last ride. You believed that she was going to pull herself up time after time because when she stayed down, it was over. It gave every two-count an emotional resonance that few matches will ever have because it meant her career was going to survive a second longer.
All great things must come to an end, though. Meiko dropped into her bag of tricks and pulled out Scorpio Rising, her boot crashing into the back of Kagetsu’s head and putting an end to this chapter of her life. It was brilliant and beautiful and my God, what a career she had.
Verdict: That’s How You Go Out
Afterwards, Meiko shared some words, and you didn’t have to speak Japanese to get the gist of them. However, I did stumble upon a translation of one bit, Meiko telling Kagetsu she was a good disciple, and Kagetsu replying she was a good teacher. Fucking hell, can they please stop making me cry?
The retirement ceremony that followed was also perfect, with beautiful little moments like Kagetsu patting Starlight Kid and Iida on the head or Hazuki ignoring the handshake to grab a big hug. I’ve said it before, but you can tell that everyone who knows that woman loves her. In the end, she was carried out by Oedo Tai, leaving the arena as the queen she is. We’ll miss you, Kagetsu. Thank you for everything.
I feel like I’ve said it all above, but this was pretty perfect. Kagetsu went out on an incredible high, and the whole show was a joy. It’s not often that you can genuinely say that a wrestler has gone out on top, but Kagetsu’s pulled it off and I hope that she gets everything she deserves in whatever it is she does next.