2019 has seen the Joshi scene gain more international attention than ever. With Mayu Iwatani performing at Madison Square Garden, All Elite Wrestling not only showcased Joshi performers regularly on their product but Riho has become one of their big stars and went into the history books as their first-ever women’s champion, and Bushiroad purchasing Stardom leading to a lot of hype around the company’s future it is clear that 2019 has seen the Joshi talents show the world what they can do. While Riho and Mayu Iwatani are definitely talented that doesn’t even scratch the surface of the number of talented individuals currently operating on the Joshi scene. This article will take a look at some of our favorite Joshi wrestlers from 2019, and just know we had a very hard time narrowing this down.
Marvelous‘ ace and new CEO Takumi Iroha has had a career year in 2019. The former Stardom wrestler has excelled since leaving the company to train under Chigusa Nagayo and is now one of the best wrestlers in the world. This year saw her capture the Beyond The Sea and Regina Di Wave titles as well as main eventing Marvelous’ two trips to Korakuen Hall. In-ring she exploits her height advantage when necessary but often relies on her lethal strikes to get the job done. This year has seen her take on the role of the antagonist to Marvelous’ crop of rookies and she has played this role to perfection to deliver some fantastic singles matches against Mikoto Shindo and Mio Momono.She has also had cross-promotional clashes with Nanae Takahashi, Yoshiko and Ryo Mizunami in high profile match ups.
2019 has been the year of Sareee. For most of Sareee’s career she was only pushed in her home promotion of Diana who rarely put matches online. This year saw Sendai Girls get behind her and make her into one of their big stars. She was given big ins at Korakuen Hall over Meiko Satomura and Chihiro Hashimoto which established her as a top player in the promotion. Whether a tag team main event on a smaller show or a big singles match Sareee delivered every time out in Sendai Girls. She also took part in good matches in Marvelous and Ice Ribbon, the Ice Ribbon match being a big cross-promotional battle with Tsukasa Fujimoto. She’s been linked with WWE for months now and for anyone that has seen her wrestle this interest isn’t a surprise thanks to her talent.
Arisa Hoshiki was a Stardom OG and was hotly tipped to be a success from early on. She stopped wrestling in 2012 but six years later she made her return to wrestling. Initially, she looked promising but there was clear ring rust. 2019 has seen her knock off the rust and become one of Stardom’s best wrestlers and biggest stars. She is one of the best strikers in the game and has continuously added to her arsenal of knees, kicks, and strikes to become one of the most exciting performers in Stardom. She isn’t yet the finished product as a performer but she has put on great matches with an array of opponents.
The Lady Destroyer Hiroyo Matsumoto has had a really good year as a tag worker in Sendai Girls and SEAdLINNNG. You can always rely on her to deliver whether a tag match or a singles match as she can work at a fast pace and strike with the best of them. Her tag team with DASH Chisako has been one of the highlights of Sendai Girls this year as they never fail to deliver an entertaining match. Her tag team with Yoshiko has been on top of the SEAd tag division for the second half of the year and they have done a good job having matches with a variety of opponents.
No one has benefited from Riho going to AEW more than Mei Suruga. This allowed her to take her place as the new face of Gatoh Move at a time when they were gaining more and more attention from the wrestling world. Mei has been really impressive this year as she has not only stepped up and become one of Gatoh Move’s main players but she has also had great matches with their new wave of rookies in fresh matches. Outside of GM she also made her Pro Wrestling: EVE debut at the She-1 event and impressed the EVE faithful in her first trip to Europe. She has also been a staple of high speed matches in SEAdLINNNG which are some of the most innovative matches you will see anywhere in the world and has had a tag team with Mei Hoshizuki that has been consistently entertaining.
The 23-year veteran Nanae Takahashi shows no signs of slowing down even as she turned 40. Her work in her home promotion of SEAdLINNNG is enough to get her on this list as she had a fantastic title matches with ASUKA and Takumi Iroha earlier in the year and ended the year with an intense hair vs hair match against Arisa Nakajima that most people have tipped as the Match Of The Year. She also had some really good matches in Marvelous this year as she was often involved in hard-hitting main events. Nanae is as good now as she has ever been and her top-level singles matches are as consistent as anyone thanks to her violent, stiff matches that few can replicate.
Chihiro Hashimoto is sometimes an underrated performer as most fans are tired of seeing her on top of Sendai Girls, she’s been world champion for almost 900 days in her four-year career. Hashimoto deserves her spot on top of Sendai Girls though as she consistently delivers in big matches, as evidenced by her three-match series with Sareee this year, and outside of Sendai Girls she has been a standout performer whenever she’s appeared in DDTPro. Some of her best matches this year have actually been in Marvelous where she has been involved in some awesome tag team matches. Hashimoto can work a faster-paced match when necessary but she is also one of the hardest hitters in Joshi and no matter who she faces she can have a great match.
Mikoto Shindo, Maria & Mei Hoshizuki
The “Marvelous Rookies” have been standouts across multiple company’s. 2019 has seen them develop their own distinct personalities while still mostly being restricted to rookie attire and movesets. In Marvelous Shindo and co. had a notable match against Sareee, Nanae Takahashi, and Takumi Iroha as they battled against three aces in a fight to prove they belong. Hoshizuki has found a niche in the SEAdLINNNG high speed division and also as Mei Suruga’s tag partner. Shindo spent part of the year forming an entertaining team with Yoshiko and Maria has spent the past few months being an antagonist for Takumi Iroha. Both in Marvelous and in other companies these three have grown into three of the best wrestlers in the scene. 2020 will be exciting as these three are sure to continue their war with Takumi Iroha in Marvelous.
Note: The match below is a clipped, free version. The full version can be found on Marvelous’ Freshlive Channel
Being a great comedy wrestler takes more skill than most wrestlers will ever have. Sakura Hirota not only is one of the best comedy wrestlers this writer has ever seen she can also wrestle a normal match just as well. One of Hirota’s standout matches this year was against fellow comedic master Antonio Honda where she used her infant children to make the crowd cheer for her. Her comedy works best against serious characters like Yoshiko and Mayumi Ozaki. She also had a serious match earlier this year against Hashimoto that showed off her wrestling abilities.
Stardom’s MVP of 2019 Konami has had a breakout year. She committed full time to Stardom earlier in the year and from that point on they have set about pushing her as one of their top stars. She’s become the clear no.2 in the popular Tokyo Cyber Squad faction and was a finalist in both the Cinderella and 5 Star Grand Orix tournaments. She has had a variety of really good matches this year whether that be in trios matches, as part of her title-winning tag team with Jungle Kyona or in singles matches against a variety of opponents like Kagetsu, Mayu Iwatani, and Arisa Hoshiki who she has had great singles matches with this year.
The Hardcore Queen DASH Chisako has been a big reason why Sendai Girls has been so good this year. Her tag team with Hiroyo Matsumoto, the Reiwa Ultimate Powers, have delivered really fun main events on smaller shows and when called upon to have singles matches she has knocked it out of the park with her sprint against Sareee being one of the best matches this year and even her hardcore match with Kay Lee Ray from Sendai UK was notably violent. DASH is a consistently good performer that can do it all when needed and has been a really key part of why Sendai Girls has been one of our favorite promotions this year.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. Be sure to check out more from each of these Joshi wrestlers by joining Stardom World, Marvelous’ Freshlive channel, Gatoh Move’s YouTube channel, NicoPro and Sendai Girls’ YouTube channel.