NEO Women’s Wrestling Carnival 2009 on 12/31/09 Review

Event: NEO “Women’s Pro-Wrestling Carnival 2009”
Date: December 31st, 2009
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 976

NEO Ladies was a Joshi promotion that had many re-starts but was running in some form from 1998 to 2010. Originally it was a break-off promotion from All Japan Women, and the name was supposed to be Nippon Women’s Wrestling but they had a trademark issue with New Japan Pro Wrestling.  So they went with NEO Ladies instead. Kyoko Inoue was the Ace of the promotion, but over the years other wrestlers made their name in NEO including Natsuki Taiyo, Nanae Takahashi, Hiroyo Matsumoto, Ayako Hamada, and many others.

This show took place towards the end of NEO’s run, but they still had a great roster. A bit of everything is here, including a title match, some comedy, some legends, a debut, and Kenny Omega in an Intergender Match. Here is the card:

  • Aya Yuki vs. Natsumi Kawano
  • Fuka and Asami Kawasaki vs. Hikaru Shida and Tsukasa Fujimoto
  • Dump Matsumoto vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto vs. Miyako Matsumoto
  • Kenny Omega vs. Natsuki*Taiyo
  • Mima Shimoda, Kyoko Kimura, Atsuko Emoto, and Tomoka Nakagawa vs. Makoto, Mio Shirai, Io Shirai, and Yukari Ishino
  • Emi Sakura vs. Kyoko Inoue
  • NEO Tag Team Championship: Nanae Takahashi and Kana vs. Yoshiko Tamura and Ayumi Kurihara

I am skipping one match since it is a battle royal against West Gate Pro Wrestling, a promotion I am not overly familiar with and it was more of a comedy match anyway. Since the event was squeezed down to two hours, some matches will be clipped.

NEO12.31.09-1
Aya Yuuki vs. Natsumi Kawano

This is Natsumi Kawano’s Debut Match. Don’t feel too bad if you are not familiar with these wrestlers as they are a bit obscure. Yuki actually still wrestles today, although not frequently and she mostly stays in smaller promotions, if you are a Stardom fan than you will know her better as Hatsuhinode Kamen. Kawano had a very short career, this was her debut but she later retired from NEO, she re-appeared in REINA but retired from REINA due to an injury in 2012. As far as I know she hasn’t been seen since.

NEO12.31.09-1Yuuki pushes Kawano to the ropes to start, Kawano fires back with an elbow but Yuuki throws her around by her hair. Kawano sneaks in a schoolboy but it doesn’t work, dropkicks by Kawano and she covers Yuuki for two. Scoop slam by Yuuki, she picks up Kawano and boots her in the chest before posing to the crowd. Shoulderblock by Yuuki and she hits a second one, a third shoulderblock by Yuuki and she covers the rookie for a two count. Running elbow drop by Yuuki, but again Kawano kicks out of the cover. Yuuki chokes Kawano and throws her to the mat, rolling fireman’s carry slam by Yuuki and she gets the three count! Aya Yuuki wins!

Even though it was short it was actually more even at the beginning than I was expecting. Either Yuuki is ranked even lower than I thought or they had some hopes for Kawano, as the veteran took it pretty easy on her. Kawano didn’t show anything here to make you think she’d be a star, her dropkicks wouldn’t have passed the Meiko Satomura Test, but it was only her first match after all. Nothing much to it.

NEO12.31.09-2
Fuka and Asami Kawasaki vs. Hikaru Shida and Tsukasa Fujimoto
Super Dimension Encounter ~ Athtress vs. Muscle Venus

I feel I should explain, Athtress was a term made up by Joshi promotion Jd’ Star, which as it appears was a combination of “athlete” and “actress.” Basically it was wrestlers that were also attractive, with the idea that they would able to also have careers as actresses or models. Jd’ Star was gone before this match started, but the name stuck around for a bit and Fuka was arguable the most successful Athtress from the Jd’ Star days. Hikaru Shida and Fujimoto ironically were actresses at the time, as the “Muscle Venus” stable name came from the television series sharing the same name.

NEO12.31.09-2Kawasaki and Shida start off the match but both are promptly jumped from behind, Shida and Fujimoto isolate Fuka but Kawasaki returns to help her partner out. Fuka and Kawasaki both hit knees to the chest but things settle back down, judo throw by Shida to Kawasaki and she hits a second one. Kawasaki kicks Shida in the back but Shida ducks the PK, another judo throw by Shida and she tags in Fujimoto. Fujimoto hits a rebound crossbody on Kawasaki but Kawasaki levels her with a boot to the face. Northern Lights Suplex by Kawasaki, but it gets a two count. Fujimoto sends Kawasaki into the ropes but Fuka kicks her from the apron, giving Kawasaki time to recover. Kawasaki tags in Fuka, kicks by Fuka to Fujimoto but Fujimoto hits a tilt-a-whirl headscissors. Sunset flip by Fujimoto but Fuka reverses it and they go back and forth with quick pins. Tiger Feint Kick by Fujimoto, she covers Fujimoto but Fujimoto bridges out of the pin. We clip ahead to Shida being in the ring with Fuka, lariat by Shida and Fujimoto hits Fuka with a Tiger Feint Kick. Shida picks up Fuka but Fuka kicks her, Kawasaki comes in but Kawasaki kicks Fuka in the head by accident. Shida picks up Fuka and hits a delayed vertical suplex, but Fuka kicks out of the cover. Kawasaki walks over and hits Shida with a heel drop, Fuka picks up Shida and she delivers the Fisherman Suplex Hold, but Fujimoto breaks up the cover. Fuka picks up Shida and hits the F Crash for the three count! Fuka and Kawasaki are the winners.

I am not sure if this is a sacrilegious thing to say but I have never been really impressed with Fuka in-ring. Very attractive, apparently a solid trainer, but her strikes never had a lot of impact and the F Crash is not a good finisher since it looks weaker than what we expect from wrestlers in Japan. Its a WWE-looking finisher if you will. I am not too familar with Kawasaki but she looked good here, solid kicks, and Shida is always a treat. A short match made shorter by clipping, a few fun moments but that is about it.

NEO12.31.09-3
Dump Matsumoto vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto vs. Miyako Matsumoto
Matsumoto #1 Decision Match

The battle of the Matsumotos! This was just done for fun of course. Dump Matsumoto was still fairly active in 2009, wrestling as a Freelancer in a variety of promotions. Miyako Matsumoto was (and still is) a mostly comedic Ice Ribbon wrestler while Hiroyo Matsumoto is also a Freelancer that today wrestles primarily in OZ Academy and Stardom.

NEO12.31.09-3Dump goes right after Miyako and levels her with a lariat, body press by Dump and she kicks Miyako out of the ring. She turns to Hiroyo, Hiroyo tries to knock over Dump but Dump absorbs her blows. Hiroyo tries to pick up Dump but can’t, Miyako returns and tries to help Dump but Dump shoulderblocks Miyako back to the mat. Dump flings Miyako by her hair and Hiroyo dropkicks Miyako, Miyako keeps sliding to the apron to escape but Dump pulls her back in so that Hiroyo can hit another dropkick. Hiroyo dropkicks Dump but it has no impact, release German by Dump to Hiroyo but Miyako has returned and tries to elbow Dump. Meanwhile Hiroyo goes up top and hits a missile dropkick on Dump, finally knocking her to the mat. Miyako dances around while Hiroyo holds down Dump, Dump eventually gets up and gets her kendo stick, hitting both Hiroyo and Miyako. Miyako rolls out of the ring but Dump goes out after her and throws her into the stands. Miyako runs away from Dump and returns to the ring, she celebrates but Hiroyo grabs Miyako from behind and hits the backbreaker into a gutbuster for the three count! Hiroyo Matsumoto wins and is the best Matsumoto.

As I mentioned this was more goofy filler than anything else, Dump Matsumoto does a lot of ‘comedy matches while still killing people with weapons’, it is almost one of her things these days. I always enjoy seeing Dump and Hiroyo is great, but just a short match with limited valuable aside from a few possible laughs.

NEO12.31.09-4
Kenny Omega vs. Natsuki*Taiyo
High Speed Alternate World

If you asked the average fan online which wrestler was best known for Intergender matches in Japan, they’d likely say Omega. Not because he has the most, but he has the most famous when he had a match against 9 year old Haruka in Stardom. But it is a match style that Omega is clearly comfortable with as he has faced off against many Joshi wrestlers over the years. Here he is against Taiyo, who looks like a child but was 25 at the time the match took place. Taiyo was a regular in NEO, she later went on to star in Stardom before retiring in 2014. Currently she is affiliated with SEAdLINNNG, acting as their director and occasionally a referee.

NEO12.31.09-4Omega tosses Taiyo to the mat after the bell rings and poses, Omega applies a wristlock but Taiyo reverses it before Omega throws her to the mat again. Armdrag by Taiyo and she hits another one, Omega applies a front necklock but Taiyo gets onto the ropes to force a break. The referee tries to step in but Taiyo pushes him away, armdrag by Taiyo and she hits a dropkick. Taiyo kicks Omega into the corner, Irish whip but Omega flips away from her. Omega goes for a hurricanrana but Taiyo reverses it into a powerbomb for a two count. Kicks and slaps by Taiyo but Omega comes back with a jumping kick of his own, Aoi Shoudou by Omega but Taiyo kicks out of the cover. Headbutts and another jumping kick by Omega, he goes to the apron and hits a swandive dropkick to Taiyo’s back. Snap dragon suplex hold by Omega, but Taiyo gets a shoulder up. Omega picks up Taiyo, slaps by Taiyo but Omega hits a release snap dragon suplex. The referee starts a ten count, Taiyo tries to get up but he can’t, and she gets counted down. Kenny Omega wins by KO.

This was too clipped down to recommend, since the match went almost ten minutes I assume that Taiyo got in a bit more offense than this. As it was, the point was for Taiyo to show how tough she is and she did, kicking out of several of Omega’s moves and almost making the ten count at the end. Omega has never minded selling for much smaller wrestlers since he is one of the few that understands it helps everyone to make your opponent look good, and everything they showed was crisp. In full this may have been a match worth hunting down, but not so much in this abridged form.

NEO12.31.09-5
Mima Shimoda, Kimura, Emoto, and Nakagawa vs. Makoto, Mio Shirai, Io Shirai, and Ishino
Shimoda and Amandora Blitz Union

I’m excited for this match, just knowing how all of the wrestlers on the “young” team turned out to be such quality wrestlers down the road. The Shimoda team are the bad guys in this match, as Shimoda generally was, although none were officially affiliated with NEO. The other team was not just some of the best young wrestlers in 2009 but they turned into the future stars of Joshi, with Makoto and Io Shirai the current Aces of their promotions (REINA and Stardom, respectively). Mio Shirai was one of the top Freelancers in Joshi before retiring last year, and Ishino is better known as Kagetsu, a current champion in Stardom. At the time of the match though none had reached near that level of success and were looking for an upset against the veterans.

NEO12.31.09-5Shimoda and company attack before the match starts and there are still streamers everywhere, Shimoda stays in with Io and she kicks her in the chest. Shimoda chokes Io in the ropes and throws her down by the hair, her teammates come in the ring and they all post on Io. We clip ahead to Io hitting a missile dropkick on Shimoda, giving her time to tag in Makoto. Armdrag by Makoto and she kicks Shimoda in the chest, jumping kick by Makoto and she covers Shimoda for two. Makoto goes for a double underhook but Shimoda gets out of it, roll-up by Makoto but it gets two. Shimoda’s teammates keep trying to help but it backfires each time, Io sails in with a missile dropkick on Shimoda and Nakagawa and they all stomp on Shimoda. The young underdogs take turns attacking Shimoda in the corner, handstand kneedrop by Makoto and she hits a second one for a two count. Makoto picks up Shimoda and nails the cross arm fisherman suplex hold, but Shimoda barely gets a shoulder up. Makoto’s friends return but they all miss dropkicks, then Shimoda kicks each one of them in the head. German suplex by Shimoda to Makoto and she hits a heel drop for a two count. Shimoda picks up Makoto and hits a tiger suplex hold, but Io breaks up the cover. Shimoda’s friends clear the ring while she puts Makoto on the top turnbuckle, avalanche suplex by Shimoda and she gets the three count! Shimoda and friends win the match.

As is a recurring theme on this show, it was just too clipped to get a real feel of the action. The only legal wrestlers we saw the entire match were Shimoda, Io, and Makoto, which is disappointing when there were five other wrestlers around (I am assuming in a 15 minute match that there were more tags than that). It was fun to watch, a few things were silly like everyone waiting for Shimoda’s heel drops and not everything was smooth, but I always enjoy seeing Joshi babies. Not great since Shimoda was the focus but not bad either.

NEO12.31.09-6
Emi Sakura vs. Kyoko Inoue
Joshi Puroresu MVP

In 2009, Emi Sakura was voted as the Joshi MVP by both Tokyo Sports and Nikkan Sports. I couldn’t find the complete results, so I can’t say for sure if Inoue also placed in the polls or she just challenged Sakura to show she was the real MVP. Emi Sakura at the time was the leader of Ice Ribbon, both as a wrestler and as the owner/head trainer, while Inoue was one of the founders of NEO.

NEO12.31.09-7Sakura dropkicks Inoue right as the bell rings which sends Inoue to the floor, Sakura gets on the top turnbuckle and sails out onto her with a plancha suicida before sliding back into the ring and hitting a tope suicida. Sakura gets on the top turnbuckle and hits a moonsault down to the floor, making three dives by Sakura in the first 20 seconds of the match. Sakura puts Inoue on a table at ringside and goes up to the top turnbuckle, she hits the Nyan Nyan Press but the table doesn’t break, probably making it even more painful for both. Sakura doesn’t care and gets back in the ring, Inoue joins her and Sakura hits a somersault senton for a two count. Sakura goes up top again but Inoue has had enough and clubs her in the head, Inoue joins Sakura but Sakura hits a sunset flip powerbomb for a two count. Sakura goes up top again but again Inoue joins her, and this time Inoue delivers a superplex. Lariat by Inoue, she picks up Sakura but Sakura chops her in the chest. Inoue absorbs the blows and floors Sakura with a hard elbow, Sakura gets back up but Inoue hits a lariat. Big powerbomb by Inoue, but Sakura kicks out of the cover. Inoue picks up Sakura but Sakura slides away and applies La Magistral for a two count. Lariat by Inoue, she waits for Sakura to get up but Sakura ducks the lariat attempt and hits a low flying crossbody for the three count! Emi Sakura wins!

This match wasn’t clipped, it was just a short match. Sakura sure knows how to get the most out of a match that goes less than five minutes, hitting half a dozen high spots within the first 30 seconds of action. It was an entertaining heavyweight sprint, a spotfest for sure but it came across as a special attraction match between two veterans. Inoue getting beaten like this shows the respect she had for Sakura, since technically she was the founder of a rival promotion. I actually enjoyed it for what it was, as I like seeing Sakura fly around the ring, but not long enough to get too excited about.  Mildly Recommended

NEO12.31.09-7
(c) Nanae Takahashi and Kana vs. Yoshiko Tamura and Ayumi Kurihara
NEO Tag Team Championship Match

Takahashi and Kana, part of a stable called Passion Red, won the tag team titles from Hiroyo Matsumoto and Kyoko Inoue on October 10th, 2009 when Takahashi pinned Inoue. This match is their second defense of the title, after defeating their friends Taiyo and Passion Ray on November 22nd, 2009 in NEO for their first defense. Tamura was one of the lead wrestlers in NEO and had already won the title twice before, but up to this point the young Kurihara had never won a championship in her career. This match has to deliver, since the other matches on the show were too clipped and nothing has really stood out up to this point.

NEO12.31.09-8aKana and Kurihara begin the match and immediately trade strikes, Kana jumps on the second turnbuckle but Kurihara dropkicks her out of the ring. Kurihara goes up top and dives out of the ring onto both Kana and Takahashi, she slides Kana back in where Tamura is waiting and they both attack Kana in the corner. Double cutter to Kana but Kana avoids the double vertical suplex only to eat a STO. Takahashi has also come in the ring, they are tied together on the mat and both are dropkicked in the head. Tamura stays in with Kana and hits a bridging vertical suplex, picking up a two count. Kana fights back with elbows and kicks but Tamura blocks one and hits a DDT. Suplex by Tamura, she picks up Kana but Kana slaps her in the face and kicks her in the chest. Kick to the head by Kana, and she covers Tamura for two. Kana tags in Takahashi, lariat by Takahashi in the corner but Tamura avoids the next one and delivers a high kick. Kurihara runs in and dropkicks Takahashi, Takahashi lariats out of the ring while Kana knocks Tamura out as well. Kana hits a hip attack off the apron onto Tamura, Takahashi gets a running start in the ring and sails out onto both of her opponents with a tope suicida. Kana waits while Tamura is slid back in and hits a diving hip attack onto Tamura off the top. Takahashi then goes up top and hits the Refrigerator Bomb, but Tamura gets a shoulder up. Takahashi goes for a backdrop suplex but Tamura lands on top of her and then hits a backdrop suplex of her own. Takahashi quickly comes back with a backdrop suplex but Tamura then hits another one. A final backdrop suplex by Takahashi ends the series as both are slow to get up, both wrestlers elbow each other until Takahashi hits a lariat for a two count. Tamura blocks the next lariat attempt and rolls Takahashi to the mat, fancy inside cradle by Tamura but it gets a two count. Tamura picks up Takahashi but Takahashi drives her back into the corner, neckbreaker by Tamura and she goes up top, but Takahashi joins her. Avalanche side slam by Tamura, Kurihara goes up top and Tamura helps her hit a somersault senton. Cobra Clutch Suplex by Tamura and she covers Takahashi, but Kana breaks it up.

NEO12.31.09-8bTamura tags in Kurihara, Kurihara goes up top and she hits a missile dropkick. Double knee by Kurihara in the corner and she slaps Takahashi to the mat, dropkick by Kurihara but Takahashi kicks her back and slaps her hard in the face. Cutter by Takahashi, but Kurihara kicks out. Takahashi goes for the reverse splash but Kurihara gets her knees up and hits a Codebreaker. Dropkick by Kurihara while Takahashi is against the ropes, Kana runs in to kick Kurihara and she trips Kurihara while Takahashi hits a lariat. Takahashi goes off the ropes but Kurihara sneaks in an inside cradle for two. Kana comes in but she kicks Takahashi by accident, Tamura then comes in and she elbows Takahashi. Dropkick by Kurihara to Takahashi, but the cover gets two. Kurihara goes off the ropes but Takahashi levels her with a lariat, Takahashi kicks Kurihara in the head but Tamura breaks up the cover. Takahashi tags in Kana, Kana picks up Kurihara and kicks her into the corner. Kana kicks the shit out of Kurihara for a bit but Kurihara catches one and slaps Kana in the face. German suplex hold by Kana, but Kurihara gets a shoulder up. Takahashi comes in and they both hit running kicks to Kurihara, punt kick by Kana and she hits a second one, but Tamura breaks up the cover. Kana goes off the ropes but Tamura intercepts her with an elbow, Takahashi tries to help but she lariats Kana by accident. Uranage by Kurihara, but Takahashi breaks up the pin. Jumping kick to the back of the head by Takahashi to Kurihara, then she hits a Blue Thunder Driver on Tamura. Spinning backfist by Kana to Kurihara, but Kurihara barely kicks out of the cover. Kana goes for a high kick but Kurihara ducks it and hits a uranage, she then drops Takahashi with one as well. Kurihara picks up Kana and hits another uranage, Tamura comes in and they nail the Tamashii wo Hitotsu Ni (Kudo Driver/Back to Belly Piledriver) that I’ve never seen done in my life. Cover on Kana, but Takahashi breaks it up. Kurihara waits for Kana to get up and nails an elevated running double knee strike, and she picks up the three count pinfall! Your winners and new champions are Yoshiko Tamura and Ayumi Kurihara

tamurakuriharachampions

I mentioned this match had to deliver, and God did they. This was just as stiff as you may imagine, but what was more impressive was that they just went non-stop from bell to bell while keeping the action smooth. I loved that the younger/less experienced wrestlers got the chance to shine by leading the final stretch of the match, and while Tamura was towards the end of her career here her skills had not diminished. The match had everything I could ask for – high flying, Kana kicks, suplexes, “Holy Shit” moments, and suspense. A high end tag match for sure, it is no surprise that Kurihara and Kana’s success and popularity continued to grow after this, both were great in this match. Definitely worth tracking down.  Highly Recommended