Any regular visitor to Joshi City knows that I am rarely at a loss for words. Normally I can drone on forever about anything related to Joshi, as I enjoy talking about it on the website and online with fellow Joshi fans. But as I sit here in front of the computer, there is so much that I want to say but I’m struggling on getting any words out. The sudden and shocking death of Hana Kimura has left her family, friends, and fans around the globe heartbroken.
There will be many many articles and tweets and posts on Reddit about the cause of her death, and how it could have been prevented. Those are 100% valid issues to discuss, and I encourage everyone that needs help right now to seek it out, whether it be with a trusted friend or a professional. But if you’ll allow me, for this article I’d like to focus on all the happiness that Hana gave fans over the last four years, and the positive impact that she had on more people than she probably knew.
Hana Kimura grew up around wrestling, as her mother Kyoko Kimura was a popular wrestler for over ten years in JWP, WAVE, NEO, Stardom, and many other promotions in Japan. Hana officially debuted on March 30th, 2016 at the age of 18. Even though her mom was still an active wrestler, Hana did not just ride her coattails as she completed training in WRESTLE-1 under the tutelage of Kaz Hayashi. Once her training was completed, she wrestled in WRESTLE-1 and also participated on shows with Kyoko Kimura, sometimes in her own matches while also teaming with her on occasions. Hana immediately showed she had the “it” factor, as she demanded attention whenever she was on the screen. She had the rare combination of a great look along with a mean streak in the ring, and fans gravitated to her as she wrestled in different promotions and gained valuable experience.
Hana won her first title just three months into her career, as she won JWP’s Princess of Pro Wrestling Championship. The title is designed for younger and less experienced wrestlers, but it was still a big moment for her as she had three successful defenses before losing the title later in the year. Still officially affiliated with WRESTLE-1, Hana was a regular in JWP as well and had her first matches in Stardom in late 2016 as she teamed with her mother as part of Oedo Tai. She even produced her own show in the summer of 2016, facing her mom in the main event. Hana didn’t officially join Stardom until 2019, but was a fan favorite well before then. She was no one trick pony however, as while she was an “evil” heel as part of Oedo Tai in Stardom, she was a bubbly babyface in JWP at the same time, taking on a different role depending on where she was wrestling that day. Even though she was only 20 years old and wrestled mostly in the midcard, her fan base was growing as she mastered the on-screen personalities she practiced on a nightly basis.
After seeing success with ASUKA as the team FloÜrish, Hana Kimura officially signed with Stardom in 2019 and made the promotion her home. As her mother Kyoko Kimura had retired in early 2017, Hana was on her own now but had proven her value and had taken full advantage of the boost her mom gave her. By 2019, Hana had broken away from her friends in Oedo Tai and soon created her own faction, called Tokyo Cyber Squad. TCS was built around bright colors, happy chaos, and about being your true self as everyone is special the way they are. Tokyo Cyber Squad didn’t fall easily in the heel/face dynamic, as while they sometimes used dubious tactics the faction was full of fan favorites and were a fun-loving free spirit bunch more than anything else. With TCS, she twice held the Artist of Stardom (Trios) Championship, and was in the mix at the top of the promotion.
In January of 2020, Hana Kimura wrestled at New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom event at the Tokyo Dome, a huge deal for both Stardom and for Hana. As Stardom recently had been purchased by Bushiroad, there was new interest for Stardom as a whole and Hana specifically, as she was poised to be pushed to be one of the leaders of the promotion. In her last wrestling match, she went to a Draw with who was set to rival for many years to come, Mayu Iwatani. Tragically, Hana Kimura passed away on May 23rd, 2020, at the age of just 22 years old. In under four years, Hana had accomplished so much but she still had a long career and life ahead of her, and there aren’t words to express how devastating her death is and the impact it will have on everyone that knew her or had the chance to be entertained by her.
On a personal note, Hana Kimura has been one of my favorite wrestlers since she first debuted, and even at a young age she had great matches against Mika Iwata, Kagetsu, Bea Priestley, and many others. But beyond her skill as a wrestler, she was so much more than that. I had the chance to meet Hana back in 2018, when she wrestled (as part of Oedo Tai) in Fairfax, VA for Ring of Honor. All the Stardom wrestlers were very nice and polite, but Hana went the extra mile to make sure every fan was happy. Her meet and greets were not rushed as she talked to everyone (in English), signed everything put in front of her, and made a connection with her fans. I’ve never heard a story of someone having a bad experience with Hana, she was a literal bright light in an industry that sometimes can feel cold and distant.
As a Joshi fan, I am used to wrestlers retiring early. That’s the norm. But there is no way to prepare yourself for a 22 year old young woman taking her own life, and I am still not sure how to process it or how I am going to cope with it. I, like thousands of others, am heartbroken but not because she won’t be in a Stardom ring, but because Hana was an incredible person that deserved so much more, and society as a whole failed her. This is the hardest a wrestling-related real life incident has impacted me, and I need to step away for a few days. Honestly, I don’t even want to watch wrestling right now or be on social media until I figure out how to process what happened. But I encourage everyone to please, reach out if you need to, and also celebrate all that Hana Kimura brought to the world before her life tragically ended way too soon. Hana Kimura was a beautiful, wonderful, caring soul that we didn’t deserve, and the impact of her death will be felt by all for many years to come.