This Saturday at the Berwyn Eagles Club, just outside Chicago, one of the most important wrestlers in Japan will be making a momentous American debut. Contrary to what one might be thinking, that person is female. Kana, the most highly-regarded wrestler of any gender in Japan right now, will be touring America for two weekends. This Saturday and Sunday, she will be wrestling for SHIMMER Women Athletes for their next set of DVD tapings. Then, next weekend, October 7 and 8, she will wrestle for Chikara Pro in Burlington, NC and Bristol, TN respectively.
In case it’s not readily obvious from the first paragraph, this is a huge deal. In the past, the best female wrestlers from Japan never really caught on over here, despite initial success with the Jumping Bomb Angels in the 1980s. Bull Nakano and Aja Kong were rare exceptions on their WWF excursions against Alundra Blayze. Kong’s never panned out as Blayze was fired before their big singles match at the Royal Rumble in 1996 could happen. Manami Toyota, highly regarded as one of the best women ever to lace up the boots, didn’t make her American debut until September of 2010, when she also wrestled for Chikara. It’s safe to say that while it’s rare for any puroresu superstar to make their way across the Pacific, the women have been rarer than the men.
So, when a wrestler with the name cache of Kana comes over to SHIMMER and Chikara, right away, she’s lending those promotions some pretty heavy-duty emotional capital and star power. Remember, in America, women’s wrestling still has a long way to go. While promotions such as Chikara and SHIMMER are doing their best to fight for gender equity, WWE has booty-popping sunscreen models on top of their Divas division. While WSU and ACW promote women in wrestling the right way (both in their own way), the indie leader ROH is busy removing Sara del Rey and Daizee Haze from its roster page.
However, people shouldn’t go to Berwyn, Burlington or Bristol to see Kana wrestle because of social justice or gender equity. No, people should go see Kana because she’s one of the best in the world at what she does. Granted, I’ve never seen her wrestle before. I, like many of you, are in the same boat. I’m excited to see her mainly because of the intrigue. However, I have high hopes for her because some people that I trust very much in the ways of wrestling gush about her. Namely, those people are John Hyperion of the Dirty Dirty Sheets and Brandon Stroud of With Leather. If they tell me that she’s the goods, I believe them.
Furthermore, I had Hyperion on my podcast last week, and he talked Kana up as a strong-style striker with kicks that could take the paint off a barn. That right there makes her worth seeing to the average indie wrestling crowd that holds wrestlers like Fire Ant, Low Ki and Davey Richards up in high regard. Her opponents for this weekend have not been announced yet.
If you’re anywhere near where Kana is competing in the next two weeks, you owe it to yourself to check her out. Not only that, but both SHIMMER and Chikara have reputations for putting on awesome shows, and you’d be supporting independent wrestling at its very core. These two promotions are doing their best not only to promote women’s wrestling but to promote wrestling in general.
And for all her mystery and intrigue, there’s one thing for certain about Kana’s first visit to the United States; it’s going to be a historic event, yet another in a year where wrestling has seen something of a resurgence with several noteworthy events. This is certainly not the least of them. Kana coming to America is a big deal, and if you don’t believe me, go see for yourself.