Event: PURE-J Opening Battle
Date: January 8th, 2022
Location: Tokyo White Studio in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 53
Broadcast: PURE-J’s Youtube Subscription Service
PURE-J doesn’t get a lot of love with Western Joshi fans, but they continue to put on regular events that are available to a global audience. PURE-J switched their streaming service from Filmuy to Youtube to start the year, but are still providing the same quick uploads of their events. This is their first show of 2022, and is a very typical PURE-J card as every match is veteran vs. less experience wrestler with a clear winner (PURE-J doesn’t do a lot of upsets). Even with obvious winners, the action in PURE-J tends to be solid so I am looking forward to checking it out. Here is the full card:
All wrestlers on the show have a profile on Joshi City, you can click on their name above to go to it. As the event streamed on Youtube, all matches will be shown in full. Let’s get to it.
Chie Ozora vs. Kakeru Sekiguchi
The show begins with PURE-J’s least experience wrestler in Chie Ozora against former AgZ wrestler Sekiguchi. Actwres girl’Z officially shut down the wrestling portion of their promotion, leading to their members that still wanted to wrestle to find a new home. Kakeru is currently a Freelancer and will likely continue to be active in OZ Academy and YMZ as she has been for years. Chie has been wrestling for a year and a half, she has been fairly active since debuting as PURE-J runs several times a month but she hasn’t picked up that memorable big win yet. Beating Kakeru would be a step in the right direction, but this may be a little too much of a jump to expect her to make as the new year begins.
Tie-up to start and Kakeru applies a wristlock, Chie reverses it and the two trade holds. Side headlock takedown by Kakeru but Chie quickly gets out of it, kick by Kakeru and she stomps Chie to the mat. Snapmare by Kakeru and she applies a stretch hold, she lets go after moment just to put Chie in another one. Single leg crab hold by Kakeru, but Chie makes it to the ropes for the break. Kakeru throws Chie into the corner, Irish whip by Kakeru and she delivers a dropkick. Chie bridges out of the pin attempt and hits a dropkick of her own, another dropkick by Chie and she hits a couple more. Scoop slam attempt by Chie but Kakeru blocks it and hits one of her own for a two count. Crab hold by Kakeru, she lets go after a moment and stomps on Chie in the back. Chinlock by Kakeru and she pulls on Chie’s nose, elbows by Kakeru but Chie jumps on on the second turnbuckle and grabs Kakeru by the wrist. Chie walks the ropes before hitting an armdrag, dropkick by Chie and she applies a stretch hold in the ropes.
Chie lets go and dropkicks Kakeru in the back, she picks up Kakeru but Kakeru elbows her and the two trade blows. Kakeru applies a Fujiwara Armbar but Chie rolls out of it and applies one of her own, bridging hammerlock by Chie but Kakeru gets to the ropes for the break. Chie hits a missile dropkick off the second turnbuckle, but her cover gets two. Chie goes for a fisherman suplex but Kakeru blocks it, dropkick by Kakeru and she hits two more. Fujiwara Armbar by Kakeru but Chie wiggles to the ropes for the break. Kakeru sets up Chie in the ropes before going out to the apron, dropkicking Chie in the arm. Missile dropkick by Kakeru off the second turnbuckle, she then goes all the way up top and drills Chie with another missile dropkick for a two count. Kakeru goes off the ropes but Chie catches her with a dropkick, sunset flip by Chie but it gets two. Chie rolls Kakeru around the ring and cradles her, but that gets a two as well. Chie tries for more flash pins but Kakeru keeps reversing it, fisherman suplex hold by Chie but Kakeru barely kicks out. Chie goes off the ropes but Kakeru catches her with a judo toss, two more tosses by Kakeru and she covers Chie for two. STO by Kakeru, but Chie barely kicks out. Kakeru goes off the ropes and delivers a running STO, and this time she picks up the three count! Kakeru Sekiguchi is the winner!
This was a perfectly acceptable opener. Chie has the basics down pat but she does need to work on her presentation – with her current look it is going to be difficult to be taken but so seriously. That’s an easily fixable problem however, and its not unusual for wrestlers to get an attire makeover once they get more experience. Kakeru is a little too young and… good to get this spot, I’d rather have seen her in more than a “rookie” match but she’s always fun to watch. A pretty basic match but watchable anyway.
KAZUKI vs. Madeline
Next, we have the always delightful Madeline against the super veteran KAZUKI. Madeline wrestles out of Diana and has grown a pretty decent sized fanbase, mostly due to her charisma and unique personality. Her in-ring work has improved however so she is able to hold her own, even if she has no chance at beating KAZUKI. KAZUKI is a 25 year veteran with a dozen tag title reigns in her career, although oddly enough she has never won a singles title. All Madeline can hope to do here is hang tough, but KAZUKI is a pretty giving veteran so I am sure it won’t be too much of a squash.
Command Bolshoi is also in the ring in addition to the referee, holding a paper fan. I don’t know why and I’m not curious enough to scroll twitter to figure it out but the match “theme” is celebrating the Japanese New Year so probably connected. They tie-up to start, Madeline pushes KAZUKI into the ropes and the wrestlers at ringside draw on her face with a pen. This will be a recurring situation throughout the match. Wristlock by Madeline but KAZUKI reverses it, Madeline reverses it back and walks the ropes while holding KAZUKI’s wrist. Madeline drops down into an armbar, allowing the ringside wrestlers to draw some more on KAZUKI’s face. Madeline keeps on KAZUKI’s arm but KAZUKI rolls away and knees Madeline in the chest. KAZUKI goes for a crab hold and gets it applied, but Madeline eventually makes it to the ropes for the break, leading to her match getting drawn on. I am starting to think that if a wrestler gets into the ropes, their face is going to get some ink. Knees by KAZUKI against the ropes but Bolshoi hits her in the head with the paper fan. Madeline goes for a Triangle Choke but KAZUKI muscles out of it and hits a Codebreaker. Running double knee by KAZUKI, she picks up Madeline and hits a double underhook gutbuster.
Scoop slam by KAZUKI, she goes to the second turnbuckle and hits a reverse double kneedrop for two. KAZUKI goes up top but Bolshoi runs over and hits her with the fan again. This gives Madeline time to recover and toss KAZUKI to the mat, she gets on the second turnbuckle but KAZUKI pulls her back down. Madeline sneaks in a sunset flip before applying a cross kneelock, but KAZUKI gets to the ropes for the break. Both wrestlers are too close to the ropes so both of them get drawn on, as by now their faces are pretty decorated. Both wrestlers slowly get up, knee by KAZUKI but Madeline kicks her back as the two trade blows. Bolshoi hits both of them with the paper fan while they battle it out, Madeline gets the better of it but she isn’t able to hold down KAZUKI for the three count. Crucifix slam by Madeline, but that gets a two as well. Madeline goes off the ropes but KAZUKI catches her and dumps Madeline near the ropes so that she can be drawn on again. Double underhook by KAZUKI but Madeline slides away, Bolshoi hits KAZUKI with the paper fan but Madeline takes it from her so she can use it. She hits both KAZUKI and Bolshoi with it (and Tessy too for good measure), but Bolshoi takes it back and KAZUKI applies the Sarutahiko Hold for the three count! KAZUKI is the winner!
A little too silly for my tastes. A lot of random stuff going on, between the wrestlers outside of the ring and Bolshoi in it, which lead to constant action but didn’t really help the wrestlers get into a good flow as there were constant interruptions. I like Madeline a lot but just not a lot to this one, easily forgettable lower card fodder.
Crea vs. Leon
Certainly two wrestlers in different phases of their career, as Crea challenges the veteran Leon. Another wide gap in experience levels, as Leon has been wrestling for over 20 years while Crea has been wrestling for two. Crea missed about six months of action but returned last March and has been wrestling steadily since then, although she is struggling to move up the ranks as she is still on a similar level as Chie and below AKARI. She gets a chance here to impress against the reigning PURE-J Openweight Champion, however the title of course is not on the line.
Crea attacks Leon right from the front and goes for a few flash pins, but she doesn’t have any luck. Crea goes off the ropes and boots Leon in the face, but Leon rolls away from her cover attempts and gets out to the apron. Leon shoulder tackles her through the ropes and gets back in the ring, hitting an armdrag followed by a dropkick. Snapmare by Leon and she elbows Crea in the top of the head, she applies a bodyscissors and rolls Crea around the ring with it applied but Leon gets into the ropes to force a break. Leon throws Crea into the corner and delivers a dropkick, scoop slam by Leon and she hits a somersault senton for two. Leon applies a facelock but lets go after a moment, stomps by Leon but Crea chops her back and they trade shots. Crea chops Leon to the mat and goes for a cover, but Leon kicks out. Crea throws Leon into the corner and delivers a running boot, but Leon fires back with a spear. Double underhook by Leon into a sunset flip, but Crea reverses it and they trade flash pins.
Leon kicks Crea against the ropes but Crea blocks her running boot and applies an ankle hold. Leon gets out of it and hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, she gets Crea on her back but Crea rolls off and applies a schoolboy for two. Spear to the back by Leon and she applies a Texas Cloverleaf, but Crea gets to the ropes. Shoulder tackle to the back by ll, she goes to the top turnbuckle and delivers a missile dropkick for a two count. She tries again for the Texas Cloverleaf but Crea kicks her away, waistlock by Crea and she gets the ankle hold re-applied. She keeps it on while grapevining Leon’s leg, but Leon gets to the ropes for the break. Crea goes for a kneelock but Leon quickly rolls out of it and puts Crea in a single leg crab hold. Crea gets out of it and rolls up Leon, but it gets two. Takedown by Crea and they trade flash pins again, with neither getting the three count. High kick by Crea and she hits a bridging suplex for a two count. Crea goes to the top turnbuckle but Leon avoids her diving body press, spear by Leon and she jackknifes Crea for a two count. Leon goes for a suplex but Crea pushes her off, high kick by Leon and she levels Crea with a spear for a two count. Leon positions Crea and goes to the top turnbuckle, nailing the Mad Splash for the three count! Leon wins!
Even though they went a little heavier on the ‘flash pins’ than I’d prefer, this was still pretty good. Crea has come a long way in the last year but she didn’t get much of a chance to show it off here, aside from not looking out of place against Leon. I wish Crea had done a little work on the ankle prior to the ankle holds, but she was too focused on quick pins to really put a plan together. In spite of her lack of plan, the action was fluid and their reversals were well-executed so there was more good than bad, but it could have been a few levels higher if they had structured it in a more interesting manner. Mildly Recommended
AKARI vs. Rydeen Hagane
The trend of the event continues, as AKARI tries to upset the long-time JWP/PURE-J wrestler Rydeen Hagane. AKARI was one of the most improved wrestlers on the Joshi scene last year, as she really elevated her game to become one of the top younger talents in PURE-J. She has gotten past the other less experienced wrestlers, however PURE-J is really really slow to let their wrestlers pass the grumpy older generation, which to me is one of the faults of the promotion – an upset victory now and then wouldn’t hurt anything. Rydeen is a former PURE-J Openweight Champion as she held the title until July of 2021, which was her first major singles title reign of her career. This should be the closest match we’ve seen so far, but its still likely too big of a hurdle for AKARI to get over.
They trade waistlocks to start before ending up on the mat, but neither can get an advantage and they return to their feet. Irish whip by Rydeen and she hits a hard shoulderblock, Rydeen applies a modified camel clutch before letting her go and stomping AKARI in the back. Rydeen stands on AKARI’s back near the ropes, Irish whip by Rydeen but AKARI reverses it and hits an armdrag followed by a dropkick. AKARI goes for a scoop slam but Rydeen blocks it and hits a scoop slam of her own. Running body press by Rydeen, but it gets a two count. Rydeen picks up AKARI and throws her into the corner, Irish whip by Rydeen but AKARI avoids her charge and hits a back elbow. Rydeen tries again with no luck, AKARI jumps on the second turnbuckle but Rydeen tosses her to the mat. AKARI goes for a suplex but again Rydeen blocks it, AKARI then goes for Rydeen’s arm and finally gets Rydeen down in a Fujiwara Armbar. AKARI goes for the cross armbreaker but Rydeen muscles out of it, AKARI snaps Rydeen’s arm over her shoulder and delivers a Northern Lights Suplex for a two count. AKARI picks up Rydeen and hits a series of elbows, she goes off the ropes but Rydeen catches her with a Samoan Drop.
Rydeen picks up AKARI but AKARI wiggles away, she goes off the ropes but Rydeen catches her with a backbreaker. Crab hold by Rydeen but AKARI gets to the ropes for the break, stomps by Rydeen and she hits a lariat against the ropes. Spinning heel kick by Rydeen, which gets her a two count cover. Rydeen gets AKARI up on her shoulders but AKARI slides off and puts Rydeen in an armtrap crossface. Rydeen gets a boot on the ropes for the break, pump kick by AKARI and she hits the 619. AKARI clubs Rydeen in the chest and covers her, but Rydeen kicks out. Dropkick by AKARI, she goes to the top turnbuckle and connects with a missile dropkick. Kick to the head by AKARI and she hits another pump kick, but her covers gets another two. AKARI picks up Rydeen but Rydeen hits a superkick, she goes off the ropes but AKARI levels her with a lariat. AKARI tries to get Rydeen on her shoulders but its blocked, AKARI goes for a few cradle pins but none of them work. Elbows by AKARI but Rydeen knocks her down with a lariat, she picks up AKARI and nails a backdrop suplex for a two count. Rydeen positions AKARI and goes to the top turnbuckle, delivering the 100k Press (Diving Body Press) for the there count! Rydeen Hagane is the winner.
They tried to tell a long story in a condensed match, and while they somewhat pulled it off I probably would have gone in a different direction. The direction they went was “AKARI can’t do big moves to Rydeen, but overcame that and was able to hit the moves” but since the match was only ten minutes, the “struggle” section of the match wasn’t very long. AKARI struggled for maybe two minutes and from there it was a pretty normal power vs. technique match until the end. Which is a fine match structure as well but they would have saved a few minutes if they went straight to that. AKARI has come a long way but at some point she is going to have to pick up some wins or her progress will be for naught. Not a bad match as Rydeen is a solid hand, but with only ten minutes they were a bit limited in what they could do.
Hanako Nakamori vs. Momo Tani
For the main event, the Ace of PURE-J faces off against former AgZ wrestler Momo Tani. Like Kakeru Sekiguchi, Momo Tani left Actwres girl’Z when they ceased pro wrestling events and she later announced she was joining PURE-J. She wrestled in PURE-J a few times in 2021, so she was already familiar with the promotion and it appears to be a good fit for her. To celebrate signing with the promotion, she gets the main event slot against one of the top wrestlers in the promotion. Lucky her! Momo does a lot of back-focused work which I enjoy, and since this is the main event I expect them to put on a good show before Hanako gets the win.
They lock knuckles which is a battle Hanako easily wins, she throws Momo to the mat but Momo fires back with a dropkick. More dropkicks by Momo but Hanako doesn’t go down, Momo elbows Hanako in the corner but Hanako kicks her in the head. A dropkick by Momo finally sends Hanako to the mat, Momo puts her near the ropes and jumps down knee-first onto Hanako’s back. Hanako recovers and kicks Momo but Momo drop toeholds her into the second rope, running double knee to the back by Momo and she poses on Hanako’s back. Armdrags by Momo, she picks up Hanako but Hanako blocks the slam attempt and hits one of her own. Hanako sets up Momo in the ropes and kicks her in the chest repeatedly, she then puts Momo in the ropes on the other side and does the same thing again. Snapmare by Hanako and she kicks Momo in the back, Momo fires back with a knee however and slams Hanako to the mat. Knee drop by Momo and she applies a submission, but Hanako gets a foot on the ropes for the break.
Momo goes off the ropes and goes for a knee, but Hanako blocks it and pushes Momo to the mat. Kicks to the leg by Hanako and she applies a single leg crab hold, but Momo eventually gets to the ropes. Hanako throws Momo in the corner and chokes her with her boot, heel kick by Hanako but Momo avoids the next strike and slides out to the apron. Momo applies a choke before returning to the ring, pressing her knee into Hanako’s neck. Running jumping knee by Momo and she hits a double knee strike in the corner, neckbreaker by Momo and she covers Hanako for a two count. Hanako quickly recovers and trades strikes with Momo before sending Momo to the mat with leg kicks. Hanako drops Momo into the second rope and nails a running boot to the head, she goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick. Cover by Hanako, but Momo kicks out. Hanako applies the Stretch Muffler but Momo crawls to the ropes to force the break. Hanako picks up Momo, Momo pushes her away so Hanako kicks Momo repeatedly in the head. Hanako charges Momo but Momo avoids her boot and knees Hanako in the back.
Running double knee strike by Momo to the back of Hanako, she hits a knee from the apron before going up top, but Hanako cuts her off before she can jump. Hanako grabs Momo but Momo slides away, kick by Hanako but Momo knees her in the midsection. Codebreaker by Momo and she hits a running double knee to Hanako’s face, she goes to the second turnbuckle and delivers the diving jumping knee for a two count. Momo goes off the ropes but Hanako avoids the Somato and kicks Momo in the back. Hanako goes to the top turnbuckle but Momo joins her, this doesn’t work out well for her as Hanako chokeslams her down to the mat. Hanako picks up Momo but Momo sneaks in an inside cradle for two. Boot by Hanako, she goes off the ropes but Momo hits a Codebreaker. Cradle by Momo, but Hanako kicks out. Somato by Momo, but that gets a two count as well. Momo goes to the corner and hits a double kneedrop, she picks up Hanako but Hanako kicks her in the chest. High kick by Hanako, she nails the Shining Wizard and picks up the three count pinfall! Hanako Nakamori is the winner.
For a main event, there was just too large of a skill level gap to give Momo any chance of winning. That’s not to say that she didn’t try, and Hanako gave her plenty of offense, but for the last match on the card I’d prefer a more even match (even if the winner isn’t in doubt). I like Momo’s knee-based offense a lot, I’d like to see a bit more growth though and I am not sure if it will happen in PURE-J, which is one of the most “traditional” Joshi promotions in regard to maintaining the pecking order. Hanako looked solid as she always does, she rarely elevates matches unless in just the right situation but she can keep a match engaging. A typical solid but non-spectacular PURE-J match. Mildly Recommended
PURE-J is basically a developmental league, even if they aren’t an official feeder for any other promotion. The veterans they have are all very seasoned but mostly at the mid-card skill level (with the exception of Hanako Nakamori), and their younger wrestlers have to work too hard to get any respect. That being said, the wrestlers are clearly well trained and have all the fundamentals down, if PURE-J ever opens up a bit and gives their new blood a chance to shine they could really surprise people. But that probably won’t happen, so for now PURE-J will continue to be what it is – a promotion known for solid well-worked cards top to bottom but not much more than that.