Having already put on numerous preview events, mainly taking place on what appeared to be a slightly padded bin bag (which I loved), it’s finally time for Prominence to go big. For their first show proper, they were in Shin-Kiba, and have called on some friends to help them fill out the card. How exciting!
Ryo Mizunami & Yukari Hosokawa defeated Itsuki Aoki & Miyako Matsumoto
The random assortment of wrestlers chosen to open their debut show tells us a lot about Prominence. On the one hand, they had seasoned freelancers like Aniki and Itsuki, who have wrestled anywhere and everywhere over the last few years. Then you have two Emi Sakura trained weirdos (said with all the love in the world) in Miyacoco and Yukari Hosokawa (the artist formerly known as RinRin). It’s a bizarre but intriguing combination.
Sadly, I don’t think we got enough of the weirdos, particularly against each other. I’m fascinated by Yukari leaving Gatoh Move to join a company with a slant towards shoot style (GLEAT), and you can already see how it’s shaping her wrestling. She’s not as openly eccentric as she once was and proved a good fit for facing off with Itsuki. However, we all know that this is the lass who was a rapping sumo radio engineer, and I suspect she and Miyacoco could have a lot of fun together. Instead, most of the shenanigans in this match were led by Miyako, who played some of the hits.
Still, even without a full unleashing of the nonsense, we got a solid opener. Everyone involved knew that they were the starter of this particular meal, so they kept the pace up and had some fun before Aniki put Miyacoco away convincingly. It’s nothing you need to go out of your way to see, but if, like me, you’re a fan of all involved, it’s worth a watch.
Verdict: Fun, But Inessential Fare
Toshiyuki Sakuda defeated Orca Uto and Super Hardcore Machine in a three-way hardcore match
As we move into the hardcore section of the show, Risa has been doing her husband a favour and got him a spot on the card. I may have recognised Uto, but I’ve no idea who Super Hardcore Machine was. Perhaps it would be obvious to someone more knowledgeable of the Japanese deathmatch scene than I, but I’ve got nothing. Whoever was under the mask was having a good time, though, ramping every gesture and movement up to eleven.
Despite all that, it wasn’t Orca nor Hardcore Machine who caught the eye. That honour went to Sakuda. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen him wrestle before, but the blending of hardcore with some cool high-flying is a great mix. It makes everything feel extra reckless, and the match was structured for him to impress. Judging by his performance, I can see why.
It was also an easy gateway into the violence. They stuck mainly to chairs and chains, with no one bleeding or going particularly extreme, which makes sense on a show where everything from this match onward has some hardcore element. It whetted the appetite but didn’t overindulge, which is what you want from this spot on the card.
Verdict: An Impressive Performance From Sakuda
Takayuki Ueki defeated Mochi Natsumi
Mochi has rebranded, changing her last name from Miyagi to Natsumi. She’s also still coming to the ring armed with a bazooka, which might be a tad extreme, but then Ueki dressed as a (quite unusual) cop, so all the power to her.
Much like the last match, this was more hardcore than deathmatch (which I suspect will be the norm for Mochi), but it also focused more on the story. Mochi was being put to the test by Yuki, who started off as if he were going to play for laughs but was convinced to get serious. In response, Natsumi showed him how painful getting a laugh can be, shoving weapons up his arse and planting him, legs spread, on that wooden horse thing. In other words, I think she passed the test.
It also felt like Prominence showing off another string to their bow. I don’t think it’s likely that we’ll see Mochi taking part in bloodbaths, but she is a consistently entertaining veteran wrestler who is perfect for this kind of match. Hardcore wrestling has always relied as much on the funny side of shock as the gruesome, and Mochi firing a bazooka into Ueki’s arse, causing him to crotch himself on the top rope, is very funny.
Verdict: A Lot Of Fun
Takashi Sasaki defeated Risa Sera in a Fluorescent Light Tubes Deathmatch
I find the psychology of deathmatches fascinating. On the one hand, it tends to rely on simple ideas. The opening of this match, for example, was built entirely on suspense. They didn’t go straight to the light tubes but danced around them, teasing who would be the first to draw blood.
It’s when that suspense is gone that it gets interesting. With the tension of who gets the first blow exploding in a puff of glass, you have to find a new way to up the ante. The obvious route is to make it more violent. To spill galloons of blood and use ever more inventive weapons, which has been done well but is difficult to balance. Instead, for true greatness, I think you need another hook. Something like Risa Sera trying to prove she can stand her ground against someone bigger, stronger and more experienced than her.
That idea has been at the heart of most of Risa’s intergender deathmatch career. However, that doesn’t mean that it has stopped working, and this was a great example of the genre. Takashi had every advantage, at times strolling around the ring while planning his next display of violence, but Risa refused to make it easy for him. The longer it went on, the stronger she seemed to get, even as blood cobwebbed across her body, escaping from who knows how many wounds.
And that’s the part of deathmatch psychology that always draws me in. Because I feel like it, more than any other form of wrestling is about proving how tough you are as much as it is winning. If you go through that pain, bumping in glass and getting whipped with barbed wire (a snippet came free from Risa’s cane, meaning every blow brought an extra badass whip), the result becomes irrelevant. People will remember what you did long after Cagematch logs the winner.
And it’s also why I’m always going to tune into Prominence. Because watching someone like Risa perform as she did in this match blows my mind. On Prominence’s first show proper, she delivered their first great showing, and this is one that you have to see.
Verdict: Fucking Awesome
Suzu Suzuki & Jun Kasai defeated Akane Fujita & Violento Jack
Of course, the other fun that comes with deathmatches is from embracing the chaos. It took less than five minutes of the main event for Suzu to be bleeding heavily from her forehead, and we all know that’s exactly how she likes it.
That did mean this match didn’t have the emotional hook that the semi-main did, but it didn’t stop it from being a lot of fun. Kasai is an obvious choice to bring in for something like that, but there is a reason for that. We’ve seen, time after time, that he excels in this environment, getting the crowd laughing, but also happily sawing away at Akane’s forehead. I’m less familiar with Violento Jack, but he seemed to be similarly suited to proceedings, joining Sakuda on my list of people to check out.
More importantly, though, they allowed Suzu and Fujita to shine. Suzuki has very quickly become a master of chaos, bumping around for opponents while bringing her own innovative approach to weapons (including, of course, at least one knee to the balls). Akane, though, doesn’t get the credit that she deserves. She has a remarkable tolerance for pain, soaking up blows that look genuinely gruesome. On top of that, she dishes it out hard. Fujita might never sit at the top of Prominence, but she will be a vital part of making it all work.
It all made for something that didn’t quite live up to what came before but was still entertaining. We got blood, some sick bumps and Suzu Suzuki being Suzu Suzuki, which will always leave me happy. You know what? I think these lasses might be onto something.
Verdict: Not As Good As The Previous Match, But Still Very Good
Afterwards, Kasai got on the mic and was clearly very nice because Suzu was struggling not to get emotional. I believe Suzu and Risa then set up a deathmatch between them, although I didn’t pick up any details beyond that, and may have misunderstood.
I’ve enjoyed all of Prominence’s preview shows, but this was a big step up. More than anything, it felt like Prominence setting out what they could be, blending comedy hardcore, epic deathmatches and chaos. Yes, it all springs from the same source, but each part has something unique, and that is the key to making this work. It fills my little heart with joy to watch these women go out and live their dreams by creating something new and exciting, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do.