Welcome to the wonderful world of Joshi! Since I get a fair amount of emails and tweets requesting information on how to get into Joshi, I decided to write a simple guide that I hope will assist new fans.
First, a quick background on me, as I have a lot of experience diving into new promotions. Even though I accidentally became a “Joshi Expert,” I did not actually start watching Joshi until January of 2014. I was very familar with Japanese wrestling as a whole, but previously I had only watched men’s promotions. I had taken 2013 off from watching wrestling in general, so when I started again in 2014 I decided to watch everything I could find to see what “stuck.” I am a hardcore type of wrestling fan so I dove right in, watching every show I could find until I discovered the promotions and wrestlers that I loved. It worked for me, but doesn’t work for everyone. So I hope this guide helps get you over that first hurdle that is often the most difficult one to overcome.
A few bullet points to cover my most frequent beginner questions:
- “Joshi” is not a style. One common misconception that people get is that there is a “Joshi style” of wrestling. Usually this happens after someone watches a few of the more famous/epic matches in Joshi history and thinks all the matches are like that. In reality, Joshi has the same range of styles as the men promotions do. Joshi has comedy, shoot-style, strike battles, hardcore, grumpy veterans, power moves, high flying, mat based battles, and everything else you can think of. While it is not uncommon for Joshi to be a bit more fast paced, there are promotions like Dragon Gate that have fast paced action too, so that isn’t something that Joshi wrestlers specialize in. The style of Joshi Puroresu is basically the same as all other Puroresu, with the only major difference being the gender of the wrestlers.
- Joshi events are readily available. There was a time period after AJW and GAEA folded where Joshi was hard to find. The Joshi promotions didn’t have TV deals, and online streaming wasn’t popular yet. Those days are past us, as just from 2018 over 100 Joshi shows are readily available online if you know where to look. Some promotions (such as Stardom and Tokyo Joshi Pro) have online services, while many other promotions air on Samurai TV! or Nico Nico. Some promotions are still stubborn (looking at you, Diana), but most promotions are able to be watched with minimal effort.
- You don’t need to know Japanese. This is by far the toughest hurdle. I feel you, its hard at first to watch wrestling without promos and commentary that you understand, everyone that watches Japanese wrestling has had to get used to that and it can take time. One of the better things about Joshi Puroresu is 90% of the time, the “storyline” is simply “I want your belt, and I am challenging you for it” or “I don’t like you, let’s fight!” Most Joshi promotions don’t have long promo battles, so either matches have no backstory, are part of a long feud, or they are for a championship. As far as commentary goes, you may be surprised how much you don’t miss English commentary, I am to the point now I wish WWE had an option to cut off commentary so I can just listen to the crowd. Between still understanding the emotion of the commentators to hearing the crowd’s reactions, soon you won’t even notice. It can be hard at first since you won’t know the wrestlers, but I recommend beginning with “bigger” events anyway where there is information online to guide you. That is why for my reviews I do a quick paragraph explaining why the match is happening and who the wrestlers are, to help beginners.
- You can start almost anywhere! A very common question I get is people asking what event they should start at to get into Joshi, but there is no right answer to this question. Feuds are always changing, titles change hands, wrestlers leave, there isn’t really one point that all feuds end and the new feuds start on the next show. I usually recommend just starting with the most recent big event for the promotion you have your eyes on and staying ‘current’ from there, as if you go back six months to catch a ‘big moment’ you may never catch up to the most recent event.
- Ignore the Classics (for now). There are some fantastic matches from the 1980s and 1990s, but if you are at the ground floor and trying to get into the current scene, watching those events won’t help you. Its hard enough to keep track of all the modern wrestlers if you are learning them one by one, but also keeping track of the older wrestlers could make your head spin. There will be more than enough time to hop back later to watch some old AJW, but focusing on one era at a time will make your life a lot easier starting out.
Now that we got that out of the way, here are some tips for watching Joshi if you are new to the niche of a niche of a niche:
- Make your first Joshi event a good one. When choosing your first Joshi event to watch, it is important to watch an event that has people “raving” so to speak as I can personally testify to the fact that there are bad Joshi events. Just awful ones. Like any wrestling, not all Joshi wrestling is good, and you don’t want the first show you pick to happen to be a bad one as it may turn you off of watching more Joshi. Of course I have reviews here, but Twitter can be handy to see what people are talking about and there are other review sites as well. Picking a “big” event from one of of the larger promotions is generally a safe bet.
- Find a wrestler you enjoy and follow her. Not in real life, don’t be creepy. I always recommend this to anyone getting into Japanese wrestling, it makes the process so much easier if you seek out a certain wrestler. For example, when I got into Puroresu 10 years ago, I loved Kobashi and Mutoh. So I watched lots of Kobashi matches, which helped me discover Kawada and Misawa. Then watching Mutoh matches, I discovered Chono and Hashimoto. Soon I found more wrestlers I liked, followed the promotions, and I was good to go. In 2014 I did the same thing, as when I first got into Joshi I already loved Kana and Io Shirai from watching random matches. Kana led me to Syuri and Hikaru Shida, while Io led me to Mio Shirai and Kairi Hojo. Once you have wrestlers you enjoy and you watch events they are on, you will learn new wrestlers and promotions while at the same time knowing there will be something on the show you’ll be familar with. It is much easier this way than grabbing a random Joshi show, knowing none of the wrestlers, and hoping for the best.
- Any questions, ask! I am a very friendly person, I know some in the wrestling community seem to push away new fans but I welcome everyone. There are no dumb or silly questions when you are learning something new, and besides myself there are many others on Twitter that will be happy to help. Diving into anything new will lead to questions, especially when that something new is in a different language, so don’t be shy.
- Know your resources. If something that doesn’t make sense happens on an event, or you don’t know a wrestler, there are websites that can help:
- Cagematch – Catchmatch is a well known website but I still have to recommend it just in case. They have one of the largest wrestling databases on the Internet and have basic information for just about any Joshi wrestler. I visit the site any time I review a show just to make sure I don’t mess up anything, solid for both results and wrestler profiles.
- Puro Love – In German, but has lots of results for Joshi promotions in an easy to find format.
Here is a very brief summary of the active Joshi promotions (as of March, 2019):
- Founded in 2011
- Biggest stars are Momo Watanabe, Mayu Iwatani, and Kagetsu
- Where to watch – Stardom World, Samurai TV!, and Nico Nico
- Ice Ribbon
- Founded in 2006
- Biggest stars are Tsukasa Fujimoto, Risa Sera, and Hamuko Hoshi
- Where to watch – Nico Nico
- OZ Academy
- Founded in 1998
- Biggest stars are Mayumi Ozaki, Sonoko Kato, and Aja Kong
- Where to watch – Nico Nico and GAORA
- Tokyo Joshi Pro
- Founded in 2013
- Biggest stars are Miyu Yamashita, Maki Itoh, and Yuka Sakazaki
- Where to watch – DDT Universe
- Pro Wrestling WAVE
- Founded in 2007
- Biggest stars are Ryo Mizunami and Yumi Ohka
- Where to watch – The WAVE Network (currently no longer running) and Nico Nico
- World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana
- Founded in 2011
- Biggest stars are Sareee, Jaguar Yokota, and Kyoko Inoue
- Where to watch – Nowhere, sometimes on Occupation of the Joshi Indies in very clipped form
- PURE-J (spawned from JWP)
- Founded in 2017
- Biggest stars are Command Bolshoi, Manami Katsu, and Hanako Nakamori
- Where to watch – Nico Nico
- Gatoh Move
- Founded in 2012
- Biggest stare are Emi Sakura and Riho
- Where to watch – Nico Nico
- Sendai Girls’
- Founded in 2005
- Biggest stars are Meiko Satomura and Chihiro Hashimoto
- Where to watch – SendaiGlobal and Nico Nico
- Founded in 2015
- Biggest stars are Nanae Takahashi and Yoshiko
- Where to watch – Nico Nico and Samurai TV!
Please note I am only mentioning what channel the promotions air on to help in tracking the shows down. Samurai TV!, Nico Nico, and GAORA are not easily available to watch in the United States however those shows are frequently uploaded online. Finally, here are some of my personal favorite wrestlers, many of whom you can find matches for over on my Recommended Matches page. You can click on their name to go to their profile page here on Joshi City.
- Arisa Nakajima – Former Ace of JWP, currently wrestling with SEAdLINNNG
- Syuri – Legitimate MMA fighter and badass, currently is a Freelancer
- Hikaru Shida – Wrestles in various promotions, currently teaming with Syuri
- Sareee – Young wrestler and one to keep an eye on, currently a Freelancer
- Konami – Very young wrestler that debuted in 2015, trained by Kana
And there you have it! If you have any questions or ideas for other things that should be in the guide, I can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.