PURE-J Bolshoi Retirement ~ Thank You!! on 4/21/19 Review

Event: PURE-J Bolshoi Retirement ~ Thank You!!
Date: April 21st, 2019
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 1,530

One of the neat and sad things about Joshi is that when wrestlers retire by their own choice (i.e. not counting the AJW forced retirements), they generally mean it. When a Joshi wrestler sets up a retirement show and goes through the whole ceremony, there is a pretty good chance the wrestler will never participate in another match, aside from maybe a farewell battle royal for another retiring wrestler. Command Bolshoi is a legend that first debuted in 1991, which made her one of the longest tenure Joshi wrestlers still on the scene. Since most Joshi careers seem to last 4 to 7 years (at best), having a 27 year career is monumental and the fact she stayed in JWP/PURE-J for her entire run makes her even more special. Last year, Bolshoi announced her plans to retire so she has done a farewell tour in 2019, with this event being her official retirement show. Here is the full card:

This event was shown on Nico so there won’t be any match clipping. All wrestlers above have profiles on Joshi City, you can click on their names to go straight to it. I know the PURE-J roster page needs a hug, I’ll get it updated this weekend.

Aiger, Arisa Nakajima, Bolshoi Kid, Chihiro Hashimoto, Emi Sakura, Giulia, Jaguar Yokota, Kyoko Inoue, Makoto, Moeka Haruhi, Saori Anou, Shinobu Kandori, Tsubasa Kuragaki, Yumiko Hotta, and Yumi Ohka
Battle Royal

We kick off the show with a big Battle Royal! Bolshoi Kid will be in this match, which is the more playful version of Command Bolshoi. It isn’t unusual for a wrestler with multiple gimmicks to have a “final” match with all of them, so this is the final match of Bolshoi Kid. The rest of the wrestlers range from current stars (Chihiro Hashimoto), legends (Jaguar Yokota) to young wrestlers (Giulia). Battle Royals aren’t as serious in Japan as they are in the US so this will likely be a pretty lighthearted match.

The match starts with roughly half the wrestlers already in the ring, Bolshoi Kid is schoolboyed by Emi Sakura but the pin is broken up. They all kick at Emi for trying to pin Bolshoi Kid so early in the match, they make a knucklelock chain and Bolshoi walks the ropes with all of them tied up, but she gets pulled back off the ropes and they all start elbowing each other. Everyone jumps Kyoko Inoue and dumps her out of the ring, and Kyoko Inoue is eliminated. Yumiko Hotta is attacked by the wrestlers in the ring while she is in the corner, Ohka and Anou then boot Sakura but Ohka then boots Anou. Sakura puts Ohka in a Mexican Surfboard but Bolshoi covers Sakura while she has the move applied and picks up the three count! Emi Sakura is eliminated. At the moment only Hotta, Anou, Bolshoi, and Ohka are in the ring, Ohka tries to boot Anou but Anou holds down the top rope and Ohka tumbles out of it, so Yumi Ohka is eliminated. The majority of the rest of the wrestlers join the party so now the ring is quite full, Giulia and Anou get into it until Kuragaki, Bolshoi, and Haruhi start posing together.

Kuragaki and Hashimoto trade shoulderblocks, lariats by Kuragaki in the corner but Hashimoto knocks her down with a shoulderblock. Kuragaki and Hashimoto are attempted to be pinned with no luck, and things break down when Aiger finally gets in the ring. Giulia and Anou are so scared of Aiger they bail out of the ring, so Giulia and Saori Anou are eliminated! Hotta isn’t scared of her and they have an exchange, Aiger gets a chain and gives Hotta one end of it. They start a tug of war but all the other wrestlers help Hotta, they then all cover Hotta and pick up the three count! Yumiko Hotta is eliminated. Hotta is annoyed at Aiger for causing her to get pinned and faces off with her, Aiger wants none of it and runs out of the ring, taking herself out of the match. Aiger is eliminated! Everyone remaining creates a headscissors chain, Shinobu Kandori finally joins the festivities and she breaks up the chain. Kandori squares off against everyone but they wait to engage while Jaguar Yokota joins the match as well. Bolshoi shakes hands with both of them and they pose for pictures, but all three get schoolboyed from behind for their troubles. None work, Haruhi charges Kandori but Kandori puts her in an armbar and Haruhi quickly submits! Moeka Haruhi is eliminated. Makoto goes after Yokota, but Yokota slaps her in a Cobra Twist and Makoto taps out as well, Makoto is eliminated!

Arisa Nakajima and Bolshoi trade strikes, Bolshoi wins the battle and then armdrags all the wrestlers left in the ring. And the referee. Bolshoi kicks Nakajima and hops on Kuragaki’s back, directing Kuragaki around the ring as she lariats everyone. Bolshoi jumps on Kuragaki’s shoulders and delivers the Limelight, and she gets the three count! Tsubasa Kuragaki is eliminated. Nakajima drop toeholds Bolshoi into the ropes but she botches the Tiger Feint Kick (as a homage to Bolshoi), she lands on the apron and Hashimoto knocks her off to the floor! Arisa Nakajima is eliminated. We are down to Bolshoi, Hashimoto, Yokota, and Kandori. They attempt to knock Bolshoi off the apron and onto the floor, but both times wrestlers are ringside catch her and push her back onto the apron until Bolshoi is able to return to the ring. All the eliminated wrestlers return to the match so they can hit running strikes on Bolshoi in the corner, cover by Kandori but the cover is broken up. Nakajima goes up top and dives off, but lands on Kandori, Hashimoto, and Yokota on accident. The eliminated wrestlers run in and cover all three of them, Kuragaki sits Bolshoi on top of the pile and the referee counts to three! Shinobu Kandori, Chihiro Hashimoto, and Jaguar Yokota are all eliminated. Bolshoi Kid is the winner!

As I mentioned at the top, these are lighthearted affairs and not intended to be taken seriously. There were a lot of cute spots throughout and they kept the match quick enough that the shenanigans never got old. Everyone working together to help Bolshoi Kid win was a nice touch, and its always fun to see legends like Kandori and Yokota mixing it up with their old friends. A nice way to kick off the event and since retirement shows tend to get sad it was a good idea to start with a fun and easy-going match.  Mildly Recommended

Manami Katsu, Mari Manji, and Yako Fujigasaki vs. AKARI, KAZUKI, and Rydeen Hagane

This match is just to give the regular PURE-J wrestlers a bit of a chance to shine without being stuck in the Battle Royal. It is a PURE-J show after all. We have a pretty even spread of young wrestlers to veterans, with each team having someone on each end of the spectrum. Manami Katsu is perhaps the wrestler with the most potential in this match but KAZUKI and Rydeen are very hard to pin so the winning team is certainly up in the air.

Yako and Rydeen begin the match, Yako gets Rydeen into the ropes but she gives a clean break. Yako goes for a crossbody, Rydeen catches her but Yako’s teammates kicks her over and stays in the ring to triple team Rydeen. Eventually Rydeen’s team helps out and they shoulderblock their opponents over before Rydeen tags in AKARI. Yako armdrags AKARI but AKARI returns the favor and hits a pair of dropkicks, Yako comes back with a hard shoulderblock and she tags in Manami. AKARI elbows Manami but AKARI connects with a jumping shoulderblock, she puts Manami in a backbreaker but it gets broken up. Manami gets AKARI up and hits a Samoan Drop, superkick by Manami and she covers AKARI for two. AKARI tags Mari, elbows by Mari and she covers AKARI for a two count. Mounted elbows by Mari but AKARI puts Mari in an armbar, La Magistral by AKARI but Mari kicks out. Dropkick by AKARI and she tags in KAZUKI, Rydeen comes in too and they triple team Mari in the corner. Backbreaker by Rydeen and KAZUKI kicks Mari in the head, but Yako and Manami run in to even the odds. Team KAZUKI stays in control, they stack all three of their opponents across the ropes in the corner, and KAZUKI hits a reverse double kneedrop on them all. KAZUKI goes up top and hits a reverse double kneedrop on Mari, cover by KAZUKI but it is broken up. KAZUKI grabs Mari but Mari hits a back bodydrop, she applies an Octopus Hold (mostly) while her partners keep everyone else at bay, cover by Mari but it only gets two. Mari tags in Yako, hip attacks by Yako to KAZUKI and they trade knees to the midsection.

Deadlift bridging suplex by Yako, but KAZUKI kicks out. Yako goes up top but Rydeen comes in and elbows her before she can jump off, Rydeen grabs Yako and press slams her onto KAZUKI’s knees. Somato by KAZUKI to Yako, but Yako gets a shoulder up. Rydeen stays in, lariats by Rydeen to Yako and she hits a backdrop suplex. Rydeen goes for a Reverse Splash but Yako moves and hits a hip attack, Mari and Manami come in and assist on beating down Rydeen. Tiger suplex hold by Yako to Rydeen, but KAZUKI breaks it up. Manami stays in the ring and trades lariats with Rydeen, with neither wrestler going down. Rydeen finally knocks down Manami, sliding lariat by Rydeen but Manami kicks out of the cover. Rydeen gets on the turnbuckle but Manami grabs her from behind and hits a powerbomb, she goes up top but KAZUKI grabs her from the apron. Rydeen elbows Manami and joins her, superplex by Rydeen and AKARI hits a diving footstomp off the second turnbuckle. KAZUKI follows with a diving kneedrop, Rydeen then nails a moonsault but her cover is broken up. Rydeen picks up Manami and slams her to the mat, but again her cover is broken up. Rydeen positions Manami while KAZUKI goes up top, but Mari and Yako interrupt them before they can complete a move. Rydeen lariats both of them for their trouble, she goes back to Manami but Manami nails a backfist. Another backfist by Manami, she picks up Rydeen and she hits a hammerlock German Suplex for a two count. Manami goes up top and hits a jumping elbow strike, she quickly goes up again and nails a diving elbow drop for the three count! Manami Katsu, Mari Manji, and Yako Fujigasaki are the winners.

A little rough at times but overall fine. Not all of these wrestlers are “quality wrestlers” to put it nicely, the recent versions of JWP/PURE-J haven’t really churned out great wrestlers as they are so small it is probably hard for them to attract talented athletes. So we get wrestlers like Manami, Yako, and Mari who try hard but don’t have the natural ability to make everything look smooth. Rydeen and KAZUKI are both pretty good power wrestlers and the match was solid when they were in the ring, but there were other segments that just fell flat. Probably the right winner and I know they want to try to build up Manami, but she still isn’t quite there yet and there is no way of knowing for sure if she ever will be.

(c) Leon vs. Hanako Nakamori
PURE-J Openweight Championship

This championship has been in a bit of a hot-potato situation so far in 2019. Hanako started the year with the belt but lost it to Command Bolshoi in February. Bolshoi lost the title to Leon in March, and this is her first defense of the championship here in April. So Hanako Nakamori is looking to win the relatively new title for the third time. With Command Bolshoi retiring, PURE-J will likely lean pretty heavily on Hanako Nakamori to lead the promotion going forward as she is eight years younger than Leon, so even though she is the challenger she comes into the match as the favorite to regain her title.

Leon works a headlock to start but Hanako gets away, they trade wristlocks until Hanako knocks down Leon with a kick combination. Leon chops Hanako into the corner but Hanako avoids her spear attempt, Hanako goes to the opposite corner but Leon connects with two running shoulder tackles. Leon goes up top, Hanako avoids her charge but Leon hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Leon gets Hanako on her back and applies a stretch hold, she lets go after a moment and the two trade strikes. Leon dumps Hanako out of the ring to the floor, she goes up top and dives down onto Hanako with a plancha. Leon tells the crowd to move out of the way to give her running room and she spears Hanako against the apron. Leon slides Hanako back in the ring and hits a missile dropkick, cover by Leon but it gets two. Texas Cloverleaf by Leon but Hanako gets to the ropes, Leon charges Hanako but Hanako moves and kicks Leon in the stomach. Hanako goes off the ropes but Leon catches her with a tilt-a-whirl slam, she goes up top but Hanako gets her feet up on the Frog Splash attempt. Hanako boots Leon over the top rope to the floor, she goes out to the apron and hits a jumping knee down to the floor.

Hanako slides Leon back in and delivers the Shining Wizard, cover by Hanako but it gets a two count. Hanako goes up top but Leon avoids her diving knee, she ducks Hanako’s kick attempt in the corner and joins Hanako on the top turnbuckle, but Hanako boots her into the Tree of Woe. Kicks by Hanako, she pulls Leon back up and hits a Fisherman Buster for a two count. Hanako returns to the top turnbuckle and nails the Destiny Hammer, cover by Hanako but Leon gets a shoulder up. Hanako goes for the Capture Buster but Leon pushes her away and hits a release German. Leon goes up top but Hanako kicks her before she can jump off, Hanako joins Leon but Leon spears her down to the mat. Spear by Leon, she covers Hanako but Hanako kicks out. Leon picks up Hanako and kicks her in the head, she goes off the ropes but Hanako hits a head kick of her own and both wrestlers are down on the mat. They slowly get back up and start trading elbows, spinning kick by Leon but Hanako hulks up and kicks Leon in the head. They trade kicks until Hanako knocks down Leon with a step-up kick, and again they are both down. Leon goes for a spear but Hanako moves, head kick by Hanako and she delivers the Chikonka Driver but Leon gets a shoulder up.

Hanako goes up top but Leon shakes the ropes before she can jump off and eventually joins her, headbutt by Leon and she tosses Hanako to the mat with a Spider German. Leon turns around and delivers the Frog Splash, she goes back up top again and hits the diving footstomp but Hanako kicks out of the cover. Leon drags Hanako up and drops her with the Capture Buster, but again Hanako manages to kick out. Leon goes off the ropes but Hanako knees her when she goes for the spear, Leon goes for another Capture Buster but Hanako blocks it. Leon reverses the block into a cradle, but it gets a two count. They both go for quick pins with no luck, Hanako goes for a kick but Leon ducks it and hits a German suplex. Leon goes off the ropes twice and levels Hanako with a spear, but Hanako rolls out of the cover. Leon picks up Hanako and goes for the Capture Buster, Hanako blocks it and catches her with a Chikonka Driver, but Leon rolls through it for a two count. Head kick by Hanako and she delivers a kick combination, La Rojo by Hanako and she picks up the three count! Hanako Nakamori is the new champion!

Leon may be 38 years old but she can still go. This match far exceeded my expectations, Hanako Nakamori and Leon knew this may be the biggest crowd that PURE-J is ever in front of and they really brought it. Even though it went 15 minutes the action was non-stop, as they went at the fast pace that Joshi wrestling has become known for. Leon wrestled like the underdog as I figured she would, and really threw everything at Hanako, but once Hanako kicked out of her big moves she was in trouble. My only complaint is I wish that Hanako had to do a bit more at the end to put Leon away since Leon had such a long segment of big moves, but the Chikonka Driver/head kicks/La Rojo is a killer combination so it still didn’t feel like an “out of nowhere” win. I don’t say this often about PURE-J but this is a must-see match.  Highly Recommended

Command Bolshoi Retirement Series Gauntlet Match
Singles matches vs. Mayumi Ozaki, Kaori Yoneyama, and Hanako Nakamori

To end Command Bolshoi’s career, she will have a gauntlet match against wrestlers from three different decades of her career. Each match will have a five minute time limit. Command Bolshoi and Mayumi Ozaki were both major wrestlers for JWP back in the 90s, and had many matches against each other. Since then they have met a few times in OZ Academy or JWP/PURE-J, including Mayumi Ozaki winning the JWP Openweight Championship from Command Bolshoi in 2015. Bolshoi and Kaori Yoneyama have a similar history but a decade later, as they frequently wrestled in JWP from 2005 up through 2013. Finally, Bolshoi ends her career against current PURE-J ace Hanako Nakamori, who debuted for JWP back in 2006 and has been wrestling with and against Command Bolshoi ever since. For a final match, Bolshoi did a solid job of getting wrestlers from three different phases of her career, highlighting different parts of her own journey from undersized comedy act to one of the most respected wrestlers in Joshi.

Command Bolshoi vs. Mayumi Ozaki – They circle each other to start before locking up, Ozaki gets Bolshoi in the ropes but she gives a clean break. Ozaki stomps on Bolshoi’s foot and scoop slams her, she gets her chain and hits Bolshoi in the head with it. More chain strikes by Ozaki but Bolshoi grabs her arm and applies an armbar over the top rope. Armbreaker by Bolshoi but Ozaki quickly puts her in a sleeper hold, Bolshoi struggles but eventually makes it to the ropes for the break. Ozaki puts Bolshoi in the ropes so that other members of the Ozaki Army could assist her as they pose for the crowd. Irish whip by Ozaki but Bolshoi slides away and hits a palm strike. Bolshoi rolls Ozaki to the mat and applies a kneelock, she reverts it into a modified figure four but Ozaki gets to the ropes (with some help) to get a break. Bolshoi picks up Ozaki but Ozaki gets her back and tosses Bolshoi to the mat. Ozaki gets her chain again and hits Bolshoi with it, but Bolshoi comes back with a palm strike as they trade blows. They fight over the chain until Bolshoi runs in with a Piko Knee Smash, cover by Bolshoi but it gets a two count. Bolshoi picks up Ozaki but Ozaki hits a backfist followed by a jumping kick, but her cover gets two as well. Bolshoi puts Ozaki in a modified Dragon Sleeper, but the bell rings as the five minutes has expired. The match is a Draw.

Command Bolshoi vs. Kaori Yoneyama – Yoneyama is crying as the match starts but it turns out to be a ruse as she quickly schoolboys Bolshoi for a two count. She tries a few more flash pins but they don’t work, she charges Bolshoi but Bolshoi puts her in a Fujiwara Armbar. Yoneyama tries to roll out of it but fails in her first few attempts so Bolshoi switches to a cross armbreaker and then into a seated armbar. Yoneyama gets into the ropes for a break, she begs off Bolshoi and Bolshoi allows her to get up. Yoneyama asks for a knucklelock but she steps on Bolshoi’s foot, Mongolian Chops by Bolshoi and both wrestlers punch each other in the stomach. Bolshoi and Yoneyama trade strikes, waistlock by Yoneyama but Bolshoi slides away. Northern Lights Suplex by Yoneyama, but it only gets a two count. Mounted elbows by Yoneyama, she goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails a diving senton, but Bolshoi kicks out of the cover. Knees by Yoneyama, she goes off the ropes but Bolshoi hits a knee of her own followed by an uppercut and a Tiger Feint Kick.  Bolshoi-shiki Wakigatame by Bolshoi in the middle of the ring, Bolshoi switches it into a cradle but the bell rings before the referee can complete her three count as time expires. The match is a Draw.

Command Bolshoi vs. Hanako Nakamori – They circle to start, kicks by Nakamori but Bolshoi catches one and applies an ankle lock. Nakamori gets out of the hold and applies a waistlock, but Bolshoi kicks out of it and palm strikes Nakamori in the face. Bolshoi goes off the ropes but Nakamori catches her with a fisherman buster, head kick by Nakamori and she goes up top, but Bolshoi recovers and elbows Nakamori from the turnbuckle down to the floor. Bolshoi gets out on the apron and hits an Asai Moonsault down onto Nakamori, she rolls her back in but Nakamori blocks the tiger suplex attempt. Palm strikes by Bolshoi but Nakamori fires back with a head kick, Bolshoi gets Nakamori in the ropes and hits the Tiger Feint Kick followed by another palm strike for a two count cover. Bolshoi nails Nakamori with the Piko Knee Smash, but Nakamori gets a shoulder up on the cover. Bolshoi picks up Nakamori but Nakamori blocks her suplex attempts and hits a Michinoku Driver. Nakamori drags Bolshoi up but Bolshoi quickly hits a Fisherman Buster, cover by Bolshoi but it gets two. Tiger suplex hold by Bolshoi, but that gets a two count as well. The two trade strikes on their knees before returning to their feet, palm strikes by Bolshoi and she knocks down Nakamori for two. Bolshoi picks up Nakamori but the bell rings before she can do anything else, as the time has expired. The match is a Draw.

Gauntlet matches are not an uncommon method for a wrestler to go out when retiring, but this one was set up a bit differently. Generally I really enjoyed it, the five minutes gave the wrestlers a bit more time to get something going so it wasn’t just a one minute sprint, and even though there was no winner I liked that Bolshoi was on the cusp of winning in all three matches so it felt like she could have won with just another minute or two. I wish that Yoneyama had wrestled more of a straight match, I know in YMZ and Stardom she has been more playful for awhile but for a retirement match I wouldn’t have complained if serious Yoneyama had shown up for one last run. Still, this was a fun walk down memory lane and Bolshoi was given a chance to shine against a nice variety of former opponents to close out her career.  Recommended

At the conclusion of the show, we have the retirement ceremony for Command Bolshoi, which is shown in full. Wrestlers can look very different in street clothes so I won’t try to identify all the wrestlers that came into the ring to wish Bolshoi a happy farewell, but some of those in attendance included Manami Toyota, Jumbo Hori, Yukari Omori, Dynamite Kansai, Cuty Suzuki, and many others. We also got a video message from Devil Masami, which shows how special Command Bolshoi was as Masami doesn’t show up very often at wrestling functions these days. Finally we get a photo montage, Bolshoi gets one final salute, and she is carried off into the sunset.

Final Thoughts:


Rating retirement shows is hard but I really enjoyed this one. The six woman tag was really the only unneeded filler as all the rest of the matches served a purpose. The title match will probably be PURE-J’s best match of the year, a great match that was a pleasant surprise as I went into the show really just expecting to enjoy the retirement matches. The opening Battle Royal was harmless fun that gave us a chance to say goodbye to Bolshoi Kid, and the Gauntlet Match was fitting as well. Its always a bit sad to see our favorites retire but Command Bolshoi certainly has earned it and she put on an entertaining final show to go out on a high note.