The Meiko Satomura Story Pt. VIII - Best In The World
By James Truepenny
Posted On 16-07-2016 11:38 GMT
Tags: Meiko Satomura, Joshi

1995 was the year that Meiko Satomura made her debut for GAEA. That ever smiling rookie spent the next two decades travelling the world and as GAEA folded she took her place as a high priestess of Joshi. She spread the word like a evangelist, she presented women's wrestling in the best way possible, just as she had vowed was her lifelong ambition in the GAEA Girls documentary. However in 2015 it had been 11 years since she had won a recognised major championship. With the formation of a Sendai Girls World Title meant she was hot favourite to raise a championship by the end of the year, but the story of her title chase began in 2013. The World of Stardom title was a main focus that year and would continue to be through to 2015. Big Red, the title that is philosophically tied to the legacy of All Japan Women, was in the sights of GAEA's greatest disciple. The title chase would begin a title change that didn't involved Meiko, but would turn Stardom on its head, and create an ungodly title reign for Io Shirai.

As explored in our last episode, Triple Tails had long been a storyline thorn in Satomura's side. A triple threat of Joshi created by Kana, Io & Mio Shirai. When they broke up, Io Shirai signed on with Stardom as it's rising main event star. When Nanae Takahashi lost her World of Stardom title to Alpha Female, she would become a top contender. She would up end Europe's finest ever Joshi in a surprise victory. She then set out a task for herself; she wanted to be considered a true company Ace and register the prestige of the title much higher than it had ever been considered before. To do that she challenged more wrestlers from outside of the company, and challengers from within the company would have to be of the highest caliber. Her first defence would be against Yoshiko, Stardom’s baby monster. Then a rematch with Alpha Female, both of which left her victorious and still reigning champion. Then the former champion Takahashi got a title shot and took her to the thirty minute time limit in a breath taking bout, and pinned her with one second left in the match.

Next up would JWP Openweight Champion Arisa Nakajima, at the end of 2013. A time limit draw meaning that both champions went home with their belts, but the prestige of her title reign and the prestige of the title itself was growing day by day. Natsuki☆Taiyo Neo High Speed champion would challenge next, then Cheerleader Melissa, representing Shimmer would be her next successful title defence. She reached the one year anniversary of her reign by defending the title in Mexico City against Starfire, making it a true World of Stardom. When she returned to Japan, she would have one more defence against Alpha Female and rising Joshi star Takumi Iroha. She had truly made the belt special, but her undefeated run had one blemish; Meiko Satomura. Satomura had defeated her on a Sendai Girls card in April, a non title match it had great importance to this ongoing narrative.

After the Iroha match, Io put in a call to Sendai. No kidding, right there in the middle of the ring she rang Meiko Satomura on her cell phone and gave her a title shot. Meiko graciously accepted. On July the tenth 2014, Io Shirai would make her tenth defence of the World of Stardom Championship against Meiko Satomura. Red Dawn would challenge for Big Red.

Thanks to Shirai's impeccable work ethic as champion, and Satmoura's aura as the veteran warrior, this looked and felt like a big money match. In the pre match promos Shirai looked pensive, she knew this would be a big test of her title reign. The video presentation also showed Satomura's aggressively dominant side, she was portrayed as a serious threat to the championship. While Stardom's fans respected her, they understood what that meant for their own champion and it added intriguer to the pair's already powerful drawing dynamic. It also showed how strong Shirai was too. She could get you with aerials, the Moonsault Footstomp, with mat wrestling, the Majistral Cradle and Bridge, and with a surprising power based offence, with moves like The Arm Trap Avalanche German Suplex.

As all rounders go, Io Shirai had spent 2014 showing she could take on all comers and beat them, and arguably the best wrestler anywhere in  the world that year, having taken the responsibility of Ace very seriously indeed. This was fixing up to be a classic encounter. Satomura looked calm, and ready for Shirai. She oozed a quiet confidence in contrast to Shirai's apprehensive look. As well she should, Satomura had seen them all come and go. Shirai's skills were awesome, but Satomura had experience on her side. It was bell time.

The pair shook hands with steely looks of determination in their eyes. Much like the Kana match ups, the press where there in force to cover it. The crowd were behind the champion fully, as you would expect on home turf, as the wrestlers locked up the crowd chanting Io’s name, but it would be Meiko who had the power advantage backing the champion to the ropes. Io would turn on the power next, it was clear that both were willing to take their time and wait for mistakes. It would be a long night. Satomura took the fight to the floor, jostling for position then pulling in a tight headlock, but when it got back to a vertical base, Io took advantage, drop kicking Meiko to the floor and called for a dive, the crowd egged her on. Satomura had her scouted though, and before Shirai got through the ropes she would eat a Forearm to the face. Meiko would then Forearm her opponent into the corner, whip her across the ring and follow up with another leaping Forearm, showing her strike superiority.

Shirai had to use her incredible speed and agility to escape, making the use of the ropes and eventually arm drag her way out of trouble, Lucha style. However a Mutoh style Handspring Back Elbow was caught by Satomura who turned it into a One Armed Power Bomb. The momentum shifted to the Challenger.

Shirai was getting desperate and managed to get Satomura to the floor in an effort to get some distance and use her aerial arsenal, but was caught mid Asai Moonsault, and Satomura dragged her knee first into the apron. Seeing her chance to finish the champion, she went after her knee. Driving in those deep hard Muay Thai kicks that she had developed to such a peak of aesthetic beauty. It didn't look beautiful from where Shirai was sitting, on the floor in pain. Back in the ring Satomura was relentless, swinging her leg as hard as she could into Shirai in an attempt to set her up for a submission. Shirai got her back to the floor, and landed two Dropkicks, on regular one Ring Post assisted. Meiko got up and backed away when she saw the champion climbing the ropes for another Moonsault attempt, she beckoned her to the outside, but Shirai was smart enough to stay put and clobbered her with forearms when she got back in the ring, but Satomura took out her weakened leg with a kick and sunk in a Knee Bar. Io screamed in pain, as Satomura added an Ankle Lock to the submission, doubling the Champions problem. She made the ropes to a round of appreciative applause, but once she made the break, Satomura was back on her feet and on the offensive. Shirai slowed her momentum by catching her in submissions, but she still looked worried about the knee, shaking it off to try and get life back into it.

The aura of the sporting contest this had started out as had gone out of the window, as Shirai refused to break the hold when Satomura reached the ropes. She followed up with an attempt at a Double Knee in the corner, a favourite move, but Meiko got out of the way and was right back on the knee. She went back to the Knee Bar and levered back hard. Shirai was lost in pain and was nearly counted for a pin. This was a gripping match.

Shirai got the break, but Satomura was picking her spots. More kicks to the leg, stiff hard thunderous shots. Then a Rewind Kick to the head, and a Backdrop Driver to set up for the Frog Splash, but Shirai came too and landed a Springboard Dropkick to Meiko who was stood on the top rope. Shirai aimed to fly but Satomura cut her off, delivering a Pele Kick on the apron, leaving Io gutted over the turnbuckle. Satomura picked up the indignant heap of Shirai on the floor and Fireman's Carried her specifically to the Parque flooring away from the mats to deliver a Death Valley Bomb with double the impact. Satomura screamed at Shirai to get back to the ring. She wanted to finish the job. When she did she was met with another Death Valley Bomb, but only got a two count.

Shirai would regain momentum and take the victory in twenty four minutes and twenty seconds, a close run thing that had put the champion into serious peril. Though that first challenge would end in a loss, it did raise the bar for World of Stardom title defences. Shirai's ludicrously high paced championship reign added lustre to the title, though Satomura remained one step away. She would go back to her spoiler roll in Stardom, the ultimate test for any rising Stardom wannabe. But she would not be out of the title picture entirely.

Io Shirai would drop the title to Yoshiko after an incredible championship run. Yoshiko's title reign would be short lived however, cut short by what has become universally known as "The Yasukawa Incident.". In a title match between Yoshiko and Wonder of Stardom Champion, Act Yasukawa, Yoshiko who had had a long term dislike for Yasukawa, decided she would end the argument there and then. A much bigger and much tougher wrestler, Yoshiko attacked Act's surgically repaired eye. Having beaten her senseless, she continued to attack in what seemed to be a calculated attempt to end Yasukawa's career. Yoshiko was suspended and eventually retired from Stardom and stripped of the title. Yasukawa would take nearly a year to recover and then have only a few matches before announcing her own retirement. It was an incident that should never have happened, the backlash against Stardom was palpable.

The management acted, fining themselves for allowing the incident to happen in the first place and suspending Yoshiko. Nanae Takahashi, leader of the Stardom Dojo soon resigned too, after all Yoshiko was her protégé and the leadership of the locker room was her responsibility as company president and Ace. Act Yasukawa was an incredibly popular wrestler even though she was a heel. It left the company in a total bind. With two former World of Stardom Champions leaving the company and its rising star on the shelf for at least a year, they turned their attention to the other rising star Kairi Hojo. At Stardom's premier event The Highest, on March 29th 2014, she defeated former champion Io Shirai to take the title in the final of a four woman tournament. Her first title defence would come against Mayu Iwatani at Stardom Gold in May. Then at Stardom Galaxy in June she would make a defence against that “Starkiller” Meiko Satomura, but it wasn't the first time they had met.

At the Fortune KK event, Fortune Dream 2 at Korakuen Hall the previous December would be the first time the pair would hook up. As always, first time match ups lay the foundation for a wider narrative, and though it would be six months till this story paid off, it was well worth the effort.

With Kenta Kobashi on colour commentary this was an important show to all the companies involved, with wrestlers from all over Puroresu involved. Hojo kicked off proceedings with a dropkick from the bell. Eager to impress with a non Stardom crowd. She laid in thick forearm attacks in the corner and reversed an Irish Whip into the corner Johnny Saint style and drove home with a Spear. Unfortunately for Kairi, Meiko stood firm and stopped her dead in her tracks slowing her down with a Forearm Uppercut to the approval of the K Hall crowd. Hojo decided, wisely, that the straight ahead attack was a mistake and went to the mat. She then found herself the victim of endless wrist lock variations. Hojo was getting nowhere fast until she opened up with strikes, taking Satomura to the corner with Double Handed Chops. Hojo has an unorthodox style, she seems to be all limbs that flail around, but with purpose. Long legs and arms on an overall small body give her a certain unique grace which she applied with a Top Rope Forearm. She got cute though and attempted a Death Valley Driver only only to be hit with a stiff forearm from Satomura. As they exchanged blows the veteran took the lead yelling out to the crowd who roared back with approval.

The overpowering strikes kept Hojo down, but she eventually managed to land her Spear. She followed that up with a Single Leg Boston Crab that had Satomura looking for the ropes. Seeing she had the advantage she went to the top rope and dropped her Elbow, which is one of the most beautiful sights in wrestling today. Aiming for Satomura's lower back, it only garnered a two count. She continued the assault on the back, but Satomura bided her time for an opening and when Hojo missed a Sliding Forearm, Satomura went to the heavy, heavy kicks.

The Springboard Double Knees hit the spot as Satomura looked out at the crowd with a grim look of satisfaction, but she missed the follow up Frog Splash. Hojo took the momentum. Until she ran straight into a kick to the face. A Rewind Kick brought a two count, the crowd got firmly behind Kairi at this point. The youngster's infectious charm and incredible effort bringing the crowd firmly into the match. She tried to build momentum, but Satomura took everything and pulled her Sleeper hold in tight. It would get another two count. Hojo managed on last reversal of a DVD attempt, but was met with a Pele Kick and finally Satomura landed the Driver and took the win.

What had we learned? Firstly that Hojo was more than tough enough to deal with Satomura's hellish strikes. Secondly that Satomura could dominate, so when it came down to their title match in June, Hojo would be the underdog despite being champion. Hojo would keep her title. Just. She held Satomura to a time limit draw, which necessitated rematch. On the 26th of July, they would meet once again.

She was however incredibly popular. The invading force of Satomura was not going to get an easy ride on this one. Though the match started in sporting fashion with genuine handshakes. Then the fight was on. The pair opened up with Forearm shots, clearly intent on driving their arm through each other' cheek bones. Jostling for position on the ropes, tempers were getting frayed, even this early. They went back to center ring an Hojo took the lead hooking in a headlock, but this was all about the strikes. Satomura laid in he kicks hard and heavy, Hojo caught one and retaliated with a slap. Big mistake. The sign of disrespect lit a fire in Meiko and she proceeded to lay in her heaviest shots, leaving the champion a crumpled heap on the floor. After a prolonged onslaught, Hojo rolled to the floor. Satomura held her visibly swelling jaw, as she waited for her opponent.

When she got back to the ring, Hojo took the momentum, levelling Satomura with chops and a Spear. Going to the top rope she hoped to follow up, presumably with the Big Elbow, but was met with a Straight Front Kick instead. This match was proving to be brutal. As if to prove it Satomura used the ropes for a Pescado Foot Stomp, Hojo looked to be in serious trouble. An STF put her in more of a predicament, the ropes behind her the consummate ring general Satomura had her in the perfect position. When she did break free, she couldn't get things going. Satomura was taking her apart piece by piece. Everything Hojo tried was on the counter attack, Satomura bided her time for mistakes. Eventually Satomura would drag Hojo up the K Hall steps as the action tumbled to the outside. Hojo would land the first major blow though slamming Satomura on the concrete. She made a mistake in trying to follow up with a Spear. Taking a long twenty yard run up Satomura stopped her dead in her tracks as she had done before and pounded her back with forearms. Hojo regained control and climbed to the top of the K Hall Entrance way on the north side of the Hall and jumped delivering a huge forearm that floored Satomura.

The risks in this match were calculated, but the impact was huge. The near sellout crowd formed as one behind Kairi as the other Sendai Girls pulled their leader together. She regained her composure and took the fight to Hojo. She came unstuck trying to deliver a Crescent Kick to her, but Kairi dodged and she kicked the ring post instead. Hojo finally had her opening. When they got back in the ring, Hojo went into overdrive on the power offence delivering the Spear and a Sliding Forearm in the corner, corner, follow that up with with forearm from the top rope, but she could not put Satomura away. Carrying a heavily marked up face, and an obvious frustration, she went to submissions. When that didn't work went straight out Yakuza kicks and foot stomps. Once again Meiko' Crescent Kick landed squarely when Hojo dropped her guard. A Rewind Kick set up the Back Drop Driver. Then it was Satomura's turn to go to the mat. A Cross Arm Breaker mid ring put the champ in serious peril. She lost her momentum when a Frog Splash went awry, and she took Hojo’s boots to the gut. After another counter exchange Hojo, still feeling the effects of the arm, pulled her Cross Legged Boston Crab out of her arsenal, slowing the pace again. Eventually, Hojo felt it was time for the Big Elbow, but recovering quickly, Meiko climbed to the top rope and applied another Cross Arm Breaker, glaring at the Ref as she broke on four.

Hojo managed to manoeuvre herself into a better position and scored with a foot stomp while Satomura was hanging from the top rope. This match had pushed both participants to the limit, and there was so much more to come.

Another Sliding Forearm gave Hojo a two count, but again she couldn’t finish Satomura off. She went for her most graceful of finishers, the Big Elbow, and she hit it with pinpoint accuracy, only for Meiko to lock it into another Cross Arm Breaker in a breathtaking exchange. Hojo was in trouble even when she made it to the ropes. Satomura placed her for the Frog Splash, hit it perfectly but Hojo snuck out on on two count. A sleeper also led to a two count. The crowd rallied behind Hojo again but were silenced when Meiko kicked her straight in the chest with devastating force. Hojo sat up for more with every strike, but Satomura just kicked harder. You could physically see Hojo's back muscles vibrate after each blow sent her crashing to the mat. To her credit, Hojo fought off a Death Valley Driver attempt, but took a straight right hand for her trouble.

Hojo finally got some momentum back with a series of spinning Back Fists enough to drop the Elbow from the top rope. Encouraged she went for a second but found floor instead. Satomura wasted no time and applied the DVD for a two count. Hojo managed to sneak in roll up, but she was powerless to not get hit by the ever vigilant Pele Kick, which set up Satomura's closing sequence; two Death Valley Bombs in quick succession. Satomura had won a major title again at 36,  As Mayu Iwatani, Io Shirai and Chelsea tended to the no former title holder, Satomura took the microphone and was in exultant mood. Happy and confident, she looked every bit the champion that lifted the AAAW title some fifteen years before, the uncrowned champion of Joshi finally had a title after a long wait.

So she had taken Big Red, and she would go on to lead a Sendai Girls invasion of Stardom, which culminated in a six on six gauntlet match between the two rosters later in the year. It helped solidify the whole Sendai Roster in the public eye, which was great for both companies, but especially important for Sendai as the were about to form their first World's Championship. The two contenders to decide the title would meet at the appropriately titled Sendai Girls Womens Wrestling Big Show in Sendai, Meiko Satomura's 20th Anniversary Show on the 11th of October 2015. Her opponent would be a career long nemesis; Ayokyo Hamada. A lot had happened to Ayako Hamada since she had torn the house down with Satomura some fifteen years before. While Satomura had become a matriarch of her own promotion, Hamada had become the biggest name Ronin of her generation. As a biracial, tri lingual and multi style wrestler she was equally a home in Japan or in Lucha Libre. She was difficult to pin down. Thanks to her ARSION run she had also fashioned a reputation as a supreme brawler, and that deep seated wrestling culture that her father and Aja Kong had fostered in her training, a nodal point between aerials, brawling and shoot style that was a perfectly rounded as Satomura’s own background. She was the perfect opponent to showcase the kind of competition that Sendai Girls wanted to offer.

Ayako Hamada's Flamenco tinged theme filled the Sendai arena. Her serene presence giving off an aura of calm as she always had in the big moments. Like Satomura, she is a well trained main event force, and knows all too well how to get the best out of the big moments. After twenty years of practice, Satomura looked calm, confident and beautiful. Her preening best, showing all the poise and dedication all that experience gave her. As sponsors handed the combatants flowers, the commentary team sounded calm and almost reverential. They were trying to portray what a big moment this actually was, and doing a fine job of it.

The crowd was a full house, but this being Sendai, they were awfully quiet. Not that they didn't enjoy it, but the further away from Tokyo you get the more respectful the fans are, and therefore quieter. Compounding that seriousness, Sendai Girls President, Jinsei Shinzaki, solemnly announced the championship details for the match.Hamada versus Satomura is a big match anyway, but it demands the right presentation, and in this case both participants received it with respect and aplomb. With an almost ceremonial zeal Shinzaki presenting the title to both wrestlers. The formalities out of the way, the pair took up positions for the ring announcements. The quiet moment of reflection was over, it was now game time. Satomura was drowned in streamers, and the other Sendai Girls cleared the ring of streamers, the match, finally, was on. These two had faced each other before, many times, but essentially this was the match driving Sendai forward, there were no higher stakes than this for Satomura. They shook hands and the bell rang.

They knew each other too well to take big chances early, Satomura's kicks swung wild, and Hamada's Lucha style leg picks didn't work. Eventually they settled into the most basic of exchanges; a Headlock from Satomura that set up a series of chain reversals that ended with Satomura on top. The pace may have felt glacial slow when you know what both wrestlers are capable of, but this was all about the slow burn. A staple of Puroresu’s approach in the men's version, it suited this match well. The pair went into kicks exchanges of high velocity, which Hamada got the better off. She truly took advantage when she laid in heavy headbutts, a trademark strike that paid tribute to her father's striking offense Hamada, brought it back down to the ground with an STF. She then went into a beautiful series of strikes whilst holding on to a wristlock. A double Knee Drop to the chest set up a pin attempt. Then the strike started in earnest. Chops, slaps and kicks rang out around the building, the animosity of earlier encounters having its influence. A roundhouse and a Rewind, set up the backflip double knees for Satomura. When that didn't get the pin she was after she hooked in the Cross Arm Lock, Hamada rolled through, but she was on the receiving end of Satomura's offence for some time.

She regained the momentum when Satomura ran at her and she sent her crashing to the floor. Satomura held her jaw and took Hamada back to the ring but Hamada regained her advantage with a DDT on the apron. It lit a fire under Satomura, but she couldn't get the momentum back. Every offensive flurry was met with a big move Hamada. Hamada, the consummate brawler, took Satomura outside, a countout would take the newly created title. When Satomura came back to the ring however, she was met with a Top Rope Moonsault. Hamada's ludicrously stiff Missile Dropkick hit the spot, but only garnered a two count. Another, and another two, another and another two. Satomura was close to done, as Hamada called for the end, but then Satomura saw her chance and landed a perfect flying leg lariat. Hamada tried to cut her off at the top rope, but Satomura dragged her to centre ring and applied the sleeper. It was Hamada's turn to look out on her feet. Gaining some bearings the exchanged strikes until Hamada landed the perfect Superkick.

A Hamada Superkick is a thing to behold and one of the must brutal sights in Joshi that only the very strong recover from, but Satomura had landed too far from centre ring to make a cover work. Hamada rose to her feet calling for a Power Bomb, but Satomura safely backdropped her out of the way and went back to her hellacious kicks that had served so well, driving her instep into Hamada's lower back. Thinking she had softened her opponent enough she went back to the Sleeper. Hamada made it to the ropes, and holding her chest in pain called for the finish but as she got to her feet, with the crowd roaring approval, Hamada cut her off with a Driver. Hamad went to the ropes, but Satomura cut her off with a Pele Kick. A Death Valley Driver garnered a two count, as did a sleeper. The pair were clearly exhausted at this point. Hamada got her Driver again, but again it was only a two. A Spin kick led up to a moonsault, but again it would only garner a two. Satomura went on the defensive reversing everything Hamada had, but eventually she ended up in a Power Bomb that ended in a Back Stabber. They were now making up offence as they went along, and using moves they never had before or hadn’t in a very long time.

A strike exchange gave Satomura the advantage and she landed another Death Valley Bomb, picking up her opponent she shook her head and wagged her finger at the crowd, who roared in response. Hamada took another ride to Death Valley, then another. The finally she made the cover, one, two, three and Meiko Satomura, had become the first Sendai Girls World's Champion. After twenty years in the business she sat atop of Joshi, a double champion; the Best in The World.

Jinsei Shinzaki made the presentation, in once again, reverential tones. The other Joshi companies may thrive on song and dance routines and modelling calendars, but Sendai Girls is serious business. Satomura looked exhausted, but when the belt was handed over she smiled with pride, as the crowd quietly applauded her. The press of Japan took their pictures, as they had done so many times before. This time it was different though. Satomura had pulled Sendai Girls as a company together and driven it forward, with the help of Shinzaki and a talented well trained roster.

So this has been the story of how she got to be the Best in the World, of course in all in my own humble opinion. However I have yet to give my reasons, beyond the facts and accounts of matches over the last 20 years. So the next and final chapter in this series will look at the aura of Satomura, what makes her so great in the final episode of this series. The Meiko Satomura Story Pt. IX -  Here to Stay.

Tags: Meiko Satomura, Joshi




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