WWE’s History of Japanese Women

By NightOwl | March 22, 2017 5:54 AM PDT | Articles, WWE

Asuka (WWE NXT)

There has been a sudden rise as of late in regards to Japanese wrestlers in the realms of WWE as we can clearly see with the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura and Hideo Itami but today we are delving deeper while taking a look back at the history and the future Japanese women of wrestling.

Asuka is a name you are probably familiar with and respectfully so as she has taken NXT by storm, making headlines with her winning streak that may well overtake the reigning holder, Goldberg. But, WWE hasn’t stopped there with its Japanese recruits as they have recently signed former Stardom competitor, Kairi Hojo, and looks to sign fellow Stardom superstar, Io Shirai. The two would make a great asset to the company and will bring a lot to the table in the midst of the “Women’s Revolution”.

Standing in the Shadow

Leilani Kai, Noriyo Tateno, Itsuki Yamazaki, Judy Martin (WWE Network)

However, this is not the first time we’ve seen this unique brand of talent being promoted inside of a WWE ring. We were introduced to the Jumping Bomb Angels (Itsuki Yamazaki and Noriyo Tateno) in mid-1987, a remarkable tag team who competed against the likes of “Sensational” Sherri Martel, Judy Martin and Leilani Kai. The duo plastered their name in WWE’s history books at the very first Royal Rumble Pay-Per-View where they were able to capture the Women’s Tag Team Championships in a 2 out of 3 falls match. In addition, The Jumping Bomb Angels were the two remaining wrestlers in the first ever Women’s Survivor Series bout. Before the brief cancellation of WWE’s women’s division, we also saw a two additional Japanese tag teams surface which included the likes of; Lioness Asuka and Chigusa Nagayo and also Dump Matsumoto and Bull Nakano.

Bull Nakano, Alundra Blayze (WWE Network)

Bull Nakano in a match against Alundra Blayze

Bull Nakano is a name you should be familiar with as she was the first female to knock off the reigning WWE Women’s Champion, Alundra Blayze, and managed to keep the belt in her grasp for a total of 134 days. In addition, she also won the Slammy Award for “Most Devastating” in 1994 after her brutal beat-downs on the very few women who stepped in her way throughout her stay from 1994-95. Upon her departure from the company, WWE rebranded the entire Women’s Division and called in a variety of Japanese wrestlers to spice up the said-lacking portion of the show. To do this, they had hired Chaparita Asari, Kyoko Inoue, Sakie Hasegawa, Tomoko Watanabe, Lioness Asuka and Aja Kong.

Outshining and Surviving

This new brand of women, along with Alundra Blayze who recaptured her gold, were setting the standards high on what Women’s Wrestling should be by showcasing their high-flying ability and hard-hitting manoeuvres that even had them upstaging WWE’s top talent at that time. There were very few televised matches including this batch of competitors as yet again, Vince McMahon killed off the Women’s Division by late 1995. But before doing so, they put on a memorable showing of events which included a bout between Chaparita Asari and Aja Kong which saw Kong break the nose of Asari, and the second Women’s Survivor Series match where Aja Kong broke through as the sole survivor from her team.

Lioness Asuka, Aja Kong, Betha Faye, Tomoko Watanabe

Until today, this was the only vision we had seen from female Japanese wrestlers, but we were introduced to two women who were programmed for the sole purpose of becoming a valet for a specific Superstar. In mid-1998 we were presented with a Mrs. Kyoko Yamaguchi-San, wife of Mr. Yamaguchi-San, who later had an affair with ladies man, Val Venis. After her short stint we fast-forward a few years to 2004 where audiences were being adapted to a woman known as Hiroko Suzuki. While the name may not sound too familiar, you may remember a short feud between her and SmackDown poster girl, Torrie Wilson.

Of course, the margin for Japanese Women’s Wrestling in an English-speaking federation is going to be limited but it is great to see the progression into incorporating all kinds of talent to help benefit and produce the best product WWE can be. Only time will tell if Asuka’s name will shine even brighter or if we will soon be introduced to newly-recruited Kairi Hojo and the NXT hopeful, Io Shirai.

読んでくれてありがとう(Thank you for reading)

6 responses to “WWE’s History of Japanese Women”

  1. Vandante says:

    Gail Kim?

  2. VenusFlytrap says:

    Awesome article! I really enjoyed Bull Nakano’s work back in the day. Hopefully we get to see Io and Kairi in WWE sooner rather than later.

  3. gloomydeath says:


    Thank you !

  4. Ari says:

    Not to be racist but they have too many asians in their roster.

  5. V says:

    Hiroko Suzuki now that’s a name I haven’t read in a looooooong time

  6. hypeslug says:

    Interesting look at the past. My thoughts: Japanese women wrestlers, no matter how insensitive it is to say, will have it easier than men. Asuka doesn’t need to do 20 minute promos if she gets pushed to the main roster. Nakamura needs to if he wants to be a serious main event talent.

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