Kana Special #2 DVD Review


Before Kana was the international superstar that she is today, she started building her career and fan base a decade earlier in Japan. After a brief break due to a health issue, Kana returned to wrestling in late 2007 and worked as a Freelancer in a variety of promotions. During this time period, a set of nine DVDs was produced by Kana of her matches from Pro Wrestling WAVE and NEO. The matches on the DVDs range from 2008 to 2010, and really show Kana’s growth from a passionate young wrestler with potential to one of the best female wrestlers in the world. I finally tracked down all nine DVDs from the set, so I figured since Kana is one of my favorite wrestlers it would be fun to watch and review them.

I’ll provide context before each match if there is anything noteworthy I can find, although of course not all matches in wrestling have a set purpose (especially with Freelancers like Kana). All the matches below took place in NEO during the summer of 2009.

All wrestlers on the DVD have profiles on Joshi City, you can click on their names above to go straight to their profile for additional information.

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Kana and Ayumi Kurihara vs. Kyoko Inoue and Hiroyo Matsumoto

Event: 
NEO “Summer Stampede 2009”
Date: July 5th, 2009
Location: Tokyo Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 748

We kick off the DVD with a pair of matches for the Mid Summer Tag Tournament in NEO. This was the first tournament match on the show, pitting Kana and her friend Kurihara (known as a team as KanAyu) against veteran Kyoko Inoue and young wrestler Hiroyo Matsumoto. Kyoko was one of the top wrestlers in NEO in 2009, and while Hiroyo was only three years into her career she already had several title wins so she was no slouch either. Kanayu started teaming in 2009 so they were still a new team, they would continue tagging until Ayumi retired in 2013.

Ayumi and Hiroyo start things off, Hiroyo tosses Ayumi into the corner before squashing her with her rear end. Inoue comes in and they double team Ayumi, but Ayumi gets away from them as Kana comes in to help. With Ayumi in control now, she Irish whips Hiroyo but Hiroyo hits a shoulderblock. Sidewalk slam by Hiroyo, and she covers Ayumi for two. She tags Inoue but Ayumi avoids Inoue’s charge in the corner, she goes for a double knee but Inoue blocks it. Ayumi drop toeholds Inoue into the corner, Kana runs in and hits a hip attack but Ayumi delivers a dropkick. Kana and Ayumi both try to suplex Inoue but Inoue reverses it into a double vertical suplex, Inoue throws Ayumi into the corner but Ayumi applies an armbar over the top rope. Ayumi gets on the top turnbuckle but Hiroyo grabs her from the apron, Inoue joins Ayumi and Inoue hits a superplex. Cover by Inoue, but Ayumi gets a shoulder up. Back up they trade blows, vertical suplex by Inoue but Ayumi quickly gets back up only to eat another vertical suplex. Big lariat by Inoue, she goes for a powerbomb but Ayumi slides away and hits a fisherman suplex. Ayumi tags Kana and Kana comes in with a diving hip attack, Seated armbar by Kana and she goes for a cross armbreaker, but Inoue blocks it. Kana goes for a triangle choke instead but Inoue slides out of it and kicks Kana. Inoue quickly applies an ankle hold but Hiroyo breaks it up, Inoue knocks Kana against the corner but Ayumi snaps Inoue’s neck on the top rope.

Hip attack by Kana, she goes for a German suplex on Inoue but Inoue blocks it. Ayumi elbows Inoue to help but Inoue still blocks it, both Ayumi and Kana attack Inoue but Inoue lariats both of them. Inoue picks up Kana but Kana blocks the powerbomb, knee by Kana but Inoue hits another lariat and goes for the powerbomb again. Ayumi breaks it up but Inoue hits a double lariat before tagging in Hiroyo. Hiroyo elbows Kana, body avalanche by Hiroyo to Kana but Kana kicks her in the stomach. Kana tags Ayumi, Ayumi cradles Hiroyo but it gets two. Double knee facebreaker by Ayumi, Kana runs in and hits Hiroyo with a hip attack. Dropkick by Ayumi, Kana hits Hiroyo with a German suplex and Ayumi delivers a missile dropkick for two. Ayumi picks up Hiroyo and hits another double knee facebreaker, hip attack by Kana but Inoue breaks up Ayumi’s cover. Inoue tosses Kana out of the ring, Inoue and Hiroyo hit a double shoulderblock on Ayumi, they pick up Ayumi and swing her down to the mat. Hiroyo goes up top and hits a missile dropkick, cover by Hiroyo but it gets two. Hiroyo picks up Ayumi but Ayumi slides away, Inoue lariats Ayumi and Hiroyo hits a body avalanche for two. Inoue puts Ayumi on her shoulders and drops her back-first onto Hiroyo’s knee, Argentine Backbreaker by Hiroyo and she flips Ayumi into a gutbuster, but Ayumi barely kicks out. Backdrop Suplex by Hiroyo, but Kana breaks up the cover. Hiroyo picks up Inoue and goes for a Liger Bomb, but Ayumi reverses it into a cradle for the three count! Kana and Ayumi Kurihara win and advance in the tournament.

For an early match on the card this was good, but Kyoko Inoue really brought the match down. Inoue is known for being a bit selfish and she was at her worst here, winning just about every battle with Kana and Ayumi and giving them nothing. For example, Kana teased the German suplex on Inoue, Ayumi even came in to help, Kana tried again, but Inoue just lariats both of them and never gives that rub back. So that was disappointing, but the other three were fantastic and I really enjoyed it when they were the ones interacting. Ayumi was a great wrestler that sadly retired before I really got into Joshi, but I love going back and watching her. Kana of course was Kana, and Hiroyo’s moves have so much impact. A quality match that was dragged down by an uncooperative veteran.  Mildly Recommended


Kana and Ayumi Kurihara vs. Yoshiko Tamura and Fuka

Event: 
NEO “Summer Stampede 2009”
Date: July 5th, 2009
Location: Tokyo Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 748

The next match on the DVD is part of the tournament on the same night as the previous match. In the Semi Final, Kana and Ayumi Kurihara face off against two of the better wrestlers in NEO – Yoshiko Tamura and Fuka. Tamura was the most successful wrestler in NEO history, with over 1,500 days holding either the singles or tag team championship. She retired when NEO closed on the last day of 2010. Fuka everyone knows today as the trainer in Stardom, she didn’t have the title success of her partner but gained a large following and produced many of her own shows. In the first round, Tamura and Fuka defeated Aya Yuki and Minori Makiba to reach the Semi Final.

Kana and Tamura start off, knees by Kana and they trade slaps back and forth. Kana gets Tamura to the mat but Tamura reverses positions with her, Kana gets Tamura in a headscissors and both wrestlers return to their feet to trade strikes again. Kana wins the battle and tags in Ayumi, dropkick by Ayumi and she elbows Tamura in the corner. Tamura elbows her back and they trade strikes, knees by Tamura but Ayumi puts her in an Octopus Hold. Fuka tries to break it up but Kana cuts her off and puts Fuka in a Scorpion Deathlock. Ayumi releases the hold after a moment, she goes off the ropes but Tamura catches her with a DDT and tags in Fuka. Fuka comes in the ring with a missile dropkick but Ayumi lands in her corner and tags in Kana, kicks by Kana to Fuka but Fuka kicks her in return and they trade blows. Kana wins that battle too and delivers a Buzzsaw Kick, she picks up Fuka but Fuka kicks her in the head for a two count cover. Fuka tags in Tamura, dropkick by Tamura to Kana and she hits a neckbreaker. Tamura goes to pick up Kana but Kana rolls her to the mat and hits a reverse DDT. Kana applies a choke but Fuka breaks it up, Kana goes for the German but Tamura blocks it. Ayumi runs in with a double knee facebuster to Tamura, and this time Kana is able to hit the release German on Tamura. Dropkick by Ayumi to Tamura, Kana follows with the hip attack but Fuka breaks up the cover. Kana picks up Tamura but Tamura elbows her off, Ayumi flies in with a missile dropkick but Fuka comes in and kicks both of them. Tamura takes out both Ayumi and Kana, Fuka comes in but she kicks Tamura by accident. Cradle by Kana to Tamura, but Tamura barely kicks out. Kana picks up Tamura but Tamura elbows her, Tamura swings Kana to the mat and rolls her up for two. Ayumi comes in but Tamura gets rid of her, Fuka grabs Ayumi while Tamura DDTs Kana. Tamura picks up Kana, Kana gets away but Fuka kicks Kana in the head. Running elbow smash by Tamura on Kana, and she picks up the three count! Yoshiko Tamura and Fuka win, advancing to the Finals of the tournament.

While this was a shorter match than the last one, it was certainly better. Tamura is the opposite of Inoue – those spots that Inoue wouldn’t do, Tamura actually did in this match even though she is the Ace of NEO. Kana won strike battles with Tamura and in general, Kana and Ayumi dominated the match. Tamura still showed that she was the best wrestler and overcame them to get the win, but it felt like a real battle, not like a veteran going through the motions. Fast paced with lots of solid strikes, everyone came out of it looking strong. Really entertaining match.  Recommended


Kana vs. Aya Yuki

Event: 
NEO “Summer Night Fire 2009”
Date: July 25th, 2009
Location: Itabashi Green Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 113

Jumping ahead 20 days, Kana opened the second night of the Summer Night Fire tour against Aya Yuki. Aya is better known to many fans as Hatsuhinode Kamen, a more comedic wrestler that was a regular in Stardom for a couple years. She had a quiet career with only two title wins, however she hold the NEO Tag Team Championship toward the end of the promotion’s run.

Kana and Aya immediately start trading elbows, kicks by Kana but Aya hits a shoulderblock. Hip attack by Kana but Aya blocks the second one and stomps Kana to the mat. Shoulderblock by Aya and she applies a headlock, Kana gets out of it and they jockey for position. Kana gets in the mount and applies a guillotine but Aya gets out of it, Kana stays in dominate position and goes for Aya’s ankle, applying an ankle hold. Aya tries to reverse it but Kana blocks it and goes back to Aya’s leg, applying a single leg crab hold. Aya gets out of it and goes for Kana’s leg, Kana blocks that but Aya gets into the mount and elbows Kana repeatedly in the chest. They finally return to their feet, elbows by Kana and she hits a hip attack in the corner. Aya comes back with a hard shoulderblock, another one by Aya but Kana avoids the third and applies a front guillotine. Kana rolls Aya to the mat and applies a short armbar, Aya gets out of it and tosses Kana down before hitting a second turnbuckle diving shoulderblock for two. STF by Aya but Kana gets a hand on the bottom rope, Aya picks up Kana but Kana hits her with a hip attack. Schoolboy by Kana, Aya kicks out but Kana drops her with a reverse DDT. A high kick by Kana is blocked, vertical suplex by Aya and she hits a rolling fireman’s carry slam for two. Kana snaps off a German suplex hold, they trade slaps back on their feet until Aya boots Kana to the mat. Another kick by Aya, she goes off the ropes but Kana blocks the boot and hits a hard elbow. Kana puts Aya in the Wakigatame, really pulling back on the arm and Aya has no choice but to submit! Kana wins!

A pretty simple match, lots of mat work that didn’t go anywhere but as the opening match that wasn’t too surprising. Some of the ground game was pretty awkward, definitely not the smoothest and I was happy when they returned to their feet. Kana looked the better of the two with crisper strikes and a more entertaining variety of moves, I wouldn’t call it a bad match but it was certainly lacking in some areas. Worst match on the DVD so far, and from looking at the matches coming up I assume it will stay that way.


Kana, Natsuki Taiyo, and Nanae Takahashi vs. Kyoko Inoue, Hiroyo Matsumoto, and Fuka

Event: 
NEO “Summer Night Fire 2009”
Date: August 8th, 2009
Location: Itabashi Green Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 165

The next night of the tour saw Kana teaming with Passion Red teammates Natsuki Taiyo and Nanae Takahashi. Passion Red formed in 2008 with these three as the founding members, they also promoted their own shows as well before Kana left the group in early 2010. They are against grumpy veteran Kyoko Inoue, the young but already impressive Hiroyo Matsumoto, and the striker Fuka. Since this was the main event of the show, I expect a bit more out of Inoue than we saw earlier and hopefully an entertaining match.

Kana and Fuka kick things off, they trade strikes and holds until Takahashi and Taiyo run in to help dropkick Fuka. Kana tags in Takahashi but Fuka gets Takahashi to the mat in an ankle hold, Hiroyo comes in and helps double team Takahashi. Inoue gets in on it too as Takahashi eats a double shoulderblock, but Takahashi grabs Hiroyo by the hair and throws her to the mat. They trade elbows, Irish whip by Takahashi and she hits a sidewalk slam on Hiroyo for two. She tags in Taiyo, dropkicks by Taiyo and she stands on Hiroyo in the corner. Taiyo goes up top and hits a missile dropkick, cover by Taiyo but it gets two. Hiroyo comes back with a lariat and a dropkick of her own, giving her time to tag in Inoue. Taiyo jumps over Inoue’s back and rolls up Inoue for two, she runs up the corner and goes for a crossbody, but Inoue ducks. Inoue stretches Taiyo but it gets broken up, Takahashi and Taiyo go to suplex Inoue but Inoue blocks it. Kana kicks Inoue from behind as Inoue tries to fight them off, Inoue avoid the triple dropkick and tags in Fuka. Fuka knees Taiyo but Taiyo dropkicks her and tags in Kana. Kicks by Kana but Fuka hits a pump kick, boot by Fuka and she covers Kana for a two count. Kicks by Fuka but Kana drop toeholds her into the corner before her teammates come in to help triple team Fuka. They leave after a moment, Kana goes for a hip attack but Fuka moves and kicks Kana in the head. Knees by Fuka but Kana catches her with a release German and tags in Taiyo. Running elbow by Taiyo, she avoids Fuka’s kicks and hits a leg sweep followed by a dropkick.

Fuka kicks Taiyo back, more kicks by Fuka before Hiroyo and Inoue both come in to beat down Taiyo. Taiyo is thrown in the corner but she avoids all three of her opponents, she knees Inoue before hitting an armdrag/dropkick combination out of the corner. Powerbomb by Taiyo to Fuka, but Fuka kicks out. Fuka comes back with a DDT, jumping knee by Fuka and she covers Taiyo for two. She tags in Hiroyo, missile dropkick by Hiroyo but Taiyo blocks the crab hold attempt. Taiyo spins away but Hiroyo hits a spinning gutbuster, crab hold by Hiroyo but Takahashi breaks it up. Elbows by Hiroyo, Taiyo tries to run over her back but Hiroyo briefly blocks it, Taiyo rolls her up anyway but it gets two. She makes the hot tag to Takahashi, Takahashi goes for a powerbomb on Hiroyo but Hiroyo back bodydrops out of it. Back up they trade elbows, hard shoulderblock by Hiroyo and Inoue comes in as they both hit lariats onto Takahashi. Inoue gets Takahashi on her shoulders and throws her back-first onto Hiroyo’s knee, gutbuster by Hiroyo and Inoue jumps on her back for a super double kneedrop. Hiroyo goes for a backdrop suplex but Takahashi elbows out of it, Fuka comes in and kicks Takahashi in the head, and Hiroyo delivers her backdrop suplex for a two count when the pin is broken up. Hiroyo tags in Inoue, Inoue and Takahashi trade elbows and then trade lariats, with Takahashi eventually lariating Inoue to the mat for two. Takahashi goes up top as Taiyo comes in but Inoue pushes Taiyo away and joins Takahashi. Superplex by Inoue to Takahashi, she goes up top as Hiroyo comes in the ring, but Takahashi fights off Hiroyo and joins Inoue, hitting a superplex of her own.

Taiyo then hits a diving body press onto Inoue, Takahashi follows with one of her own but Inoue barely kicks out. Inoue lariats Takahashi, she goes off the ropes but Kana runs in with a hip attack. Sliding Kick by Takahashi to Inoue, but her cover is broken up. Takahashi picks up Inoue and hits a backdrop suplex, cover by Takahashi but Inoue kicks out. Takahashi tags in Kana, diving hip attack by Kana and she schoolboys Inoue for two. Kana quickly applies an ankle hold but Fuka and Hiroyo break it up, Billiken by Kana but again the cover is broken up. Takahashi sails out of the ring onto Hiroyo with a tope suicida, while in the ring Kana puts Inoue in a choke. Inoue gets a toe on the ropes to break it up, Kana goes off the ropes but Inoue reverses the hip attack attempt with a release German suplex. Inoue picks up Kana but things break down as both teams run into the ring, Inoue and Kana are left alone and Inoue hits a lariat. Powerbomb by Inoue, but Taiyo breaks up the cover. Inoue picks up Kana again but Taiyo dropkicks her, Takahashi clears the ring and helps Kana with Inoue, Buzzsaw Kick by Kana to Inoue but the cover gets two. Kana picks up Inoue but Inoue hits a short range lariat, Inoue picks up Kana and nails the Niagara Driver for the three count! Kyoko Inoue, Hiroyo Matsumoto, and Fuka are the winners.

To give credit where credit is due – Inoue had on her working boots on this night (as much as she ever did at this point in her career) and bumped around quite a bit to help Passion Red look stronger. My main complaint about the match is a selfish one, as I just wish that Kana was in the match more since Takahashi did the bulk of the work. But I enjoyed much of what they did, Hiroyo and Inoue work really well together and had some quality sections, and Taiyo is always a bundle of constant motion. It wouldn’t have been a bad main event for a small show, but nothing really popped out as overly memorable even though it stayed entertaining from start to finish. A fun match from Passion Red.  Recommended


Kana, Nanae Takahashi, and Natsuki Taiyo vs.  Yoshiko Tamura, Mio Shirai, and Io Shirai

Event: 
NEO “Summer Night Fire 2009”
Date: August 15th, 2009
Location: Itabashi Green Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 163

Unlike the last match, this one was in the midcard, but still has some heavy hitters. Kana is joined again by her Passion Red teammates, but their opponents are quite different than the week before. Yoshiko Tamura was the undisputed Ace of NEO and their top wrestler, she was no spring chicken in 2009 but hadn’t lost a step. She is joined by two sisters that current Joshi fans may be familiar with – Stardom’s Ace Io Shirai and the legendary Mio Shirai. Well, legendary to me. This was pretty early in both of their careers, as they were still honing their skills. Anytime I get to watch young Io and Mio I am excited, and since the match got plenty of time I have high expectations.

Kana and Mio start the match and immediately trade kicks, Irish whip by Kana but Mio delivers a dropkick and tags in Io. Io dropkicks Kana a few times but Kana swats one away and kicks Io in the back. Dropkick by Kana and she tags in Taiyo, and Taiyo throws down Io by the hair. Taiyo slides out to the apron, Io goes for a Tiger Feint Kick around the ring post but Taiyo moves and kicks Io out of the ring. Back in the ring, Taiyo stays in control before tagging in Takahashi, Taiyo comes in too and they triple team Io. Snapmare by Takahashi and she puts Io in a camel clutch, she lets go after a moment and applies a crab hold instead. Mio eventually comes in and breaks it up, Irish whip by Takahashi and she hits Io with a hard shoulderblock. Suplex by Takahashi, but Io breaks out of the cover. Takahashi tags in Kana, Irish whip by Kana but Io hits a crossbody and tags in Tamura. Knees by Tamura, Kana fights back and takes Tamura to the mat, but Tamura puts her in an armbar. Kana manages to roll out of it and applies a guillotine, dropkick by Kana and she tags Takahashi. Takahashi stomps on Tamura but Tamura kicks her back and drops Takahashi with an Ace Crusher. Knees by Tamura and she tags in Mio, dropkick by Mio to Takahashi but Takahashi absorbs the blow and elbows Mio. Body Avalanche by Takahashi in the corner but Mio blocks her second attempt and kicks Takahashi. Takahashi catches one and the two trade blows, backdrop suplex by Takahashi and she covers Mio for two. Taiyo grabs Mio from the apron and Mio eats a triple dropkick, they all end up on the floor and Taiyo dives out onto the crowd with a triple jump plancha, but she ends up only landing on her own partners.

Io then goes up top and dives out onto Passion Red with a plancha of her own, Takahashi is slide into the ring and triple teamed until Tamura and Io finally go back to the apron. Tornado DDT by Mio out of the corner, and she tags in Tamura. Dropkick by Tamura and she plants Takahashi with a DDT, knees by Takahashi but Tamura knees her back and hits a cutter. Tamura charges Takahashi in the corner but Takahashi avoids her and hits a release German suplex, Takahashi goes for a backdrop suplex but Tamura blocks it. Lariat by Takahashi but Tamura fires back with an elbow smash, jumping kick by Takahashi and she tags in Kana. Kana kicks Tamura and applies a schoolboy into an ankle hold, but Tamura gets to the ropes for the break. Kana goes for an Irish whip but Tamura blocks it and applies a kneelock, Kana inches to the ropes and makes it for the break. Suplex by Tamura, she picks up Kana but Kana hits a reverse DDT for two. Elbows by Tamura but Kana returns fire with kicks, cover by Kana but Mio breaks it up. Kana drags up Tamura and hits a German suplex hold, she quickly applies a Wakigatame but Tamura gets a foot on the ropes. Io and Mio run in and kick Kana, Tamura picks up Kana and hits a DDT. Full nelson slam by Tamura, but Takahashi breaks up the cover. Tamura tags in Io, Irish whip by Io to the corner and Mio hits a jumping knee on Kana. Tamura hits a knee as well before Io follows with a Space Rolling Elbow and a face crusher.

Armtrap Crossface by Io, but Takahashi comes in and breaks it up. Kana slaps Io, Io slaps her back but Kana catches her with a hip attack. Another hip attack by Kana and she kicks Io repeatedly before pushing her against the ropes with her boot. Sliding hip attack by Kana, she covers Io but she gets a shoulder up. Kana tags in Taiyo, missile dropkick by Taiyo and she delivers the Iguchi Bomb for two. Taiyo goes for a kick but Io avoids it and rolls up Taiyo, Tamura snaps Taiyo’s neck on the top rope before Io hits a springboard body press. Swandive dropkick by Io and she delivers a Tiger Feint Kick for two. Io tags in Mio, kicks by Mio to Taiyo and she hits a STO for a two count. Kick by Mio but Taiyo avoids the next one, she goes for the Iguchi Bomb but Io runs in to help Mio block it. Mio and Io both slam Taiyo before Tamura dropkicks her, Mio picks up Taiyo and kicks her some more, but Taiyo dropkicks Mio in the knee. Heel kick by Mio in the corner, Kana goes up top and jumps off with a diving hip attack onto Mio. Jackknife cover by Taiyo, but Tamura breaks it up. Taiyo goes up top but Mio kicks her and pulls Taiyo back to the mat, Tamura elbows Taiyo and Mio follows with a high kick. Io comes in and they hit the assisted DDT, Tamura then goes up top and hits a somersault senton, but Takahashi breaks up Mio’s cover. Mio picks up Taiyo but Taiyo ducks the enzuigiri and cradles Mio for two. Thrust kick by Taiyo, but Io breaks up her cover. Kana and Taiyo get on the second turnbuckle and lariat Mio while Taiyo hits a powerbomb, diving body press by Taiyo and she picks up the three count! Passion Red win the match!

This one was missing something from the last match I can’t put my finger on, but it was still a good match. Young Io and Mio are always entertaining, they aren’t necessarily refined yet but all the pieces are there. I think the match just had too many parts where they appeared to not know what was next or they were filling time, lots of stomping/kicking sections that felt like filler. Not everything felt like it had a purpose, and parts of the middle dragged. But it really picked up by the end and I like that both teams worked together so well, like they were real units and not just randomly thrown together for a match. The wrestler quality was certainly there and generally the action was exciting, but it definitely felt more like a midcard match (which it was) than a main event.  Mildly Recommended