If you’ve never heard of Manami Toyota before now, I don’t blame you. It’s hard enough keeping track of the male Japanese wrestlers who make waves in the wrestling world. Many wrestling fans’ knowledge of the Japanese scene comes from the imports they send over here.
If your knowledge is limited to the mainstream feds, you’ll only know guys like Keiji Mutoh, TAKA Michinoku, Ultimo Dragon, Yoshihiro Tajiri, Yoshi Tatsu and Masato Tanaka, among others. If you follow the indies though, your knowledge is a bit more broad. KENTA, Kenta Kobashi, Daisuke Sekimoto, Kota Ibushi and Takeshi Morishima have all made appearances in America for ROH and Chikara, with Morishima having won the ROH World Heavyweight Championship.
I apologize for burying the lead here, but Chikara is importing Manami Toyota, who is one of the best if not THE best female Japanese wrestler of all-time to make her first appearance Stateside ever. Toyota is to the joshi scene what Ric Flair is to American wrestling. She’s an innovator, a legend and a woman who is revered by anyone who gets into women’s wrestling looking to take it seriously. Toyota’s appearance has been hyped up since Chikarasaurus Rex in July, and of any of the American indie feds, it’s not surprising that if it wasn’t going to be SHIMMER, that Chikara would be the one to bring her over.
If you haven’t been paying attention, Chikara has been giving mad respect to women for years by allowing them to compete against the men. This has been no more prevalent than this year, when Sara del Rey and Daizee Haze have formed a very successful tag team, almost capturing the 3 points necessary to be able to challenge for the Campeonatos de Parejas (the Chikara equivalent to tag titles and the top straps in the fed) and then playing spoiler to Mike Quackenbush and Jigsaw, preventing them from accruing their third point in Reading last month at Young Lions Cup.
So it is very fitting that Toyota takes the stage for America’s premiere lucha libre/puroresu hybrid federation this weekend – Saturday in Baltimore and Sunday in Brooklyn, both new markets for the rapidly growing fed. On Saturday, Toyota will battle Haze in a singles match, and Sunday, she’ll team with Quackenbush to take on del Rey and Claudio Castagnoli. Both matches should be off-the-charts.
But if you’re into women’s wrestling, these are the cards for you. Tickets are still available – go to http://www.chikarapro.com to get information of how to purchase, or just show up at either event. You won’t be disappointed.
Especially with the women.
Tom Holzerman is a lifelong wrestling fan and connoisseur of all things Chikara Pro, among other feds. When he’s not writing for the Camel Clutch Blog, you can find him on his own blog, The Wrestling Blog.