Hana Kimura Memorial Show 3: PINX! Event Report

Photo Courtesy: @HanaKimurapinx on Twitter

Everyone is Different. Everyone is Special.

Since May 2020, the 22nd and 23rd are forty-eight hours of complex emotions, as family, friends, and fans of Hana Kimura revisit the tragic loss of her life, but gather together to work through the lingering pain by celebrating her brief, but colorful legacy. For the last three years, wrestlers from all stages of Kimura’s career descend upon Korakuen Hall for an emotionally-charged, carnival full of raucous fun.  

Japanese Commentary was provided by Kengo Suzuki (play-by-play), Fumi Saito (color commentary) & Jungle Kyona (guest commentary). There was no English commentary available for this event. Housekeeping details were reviewed by Referee Keigo Yoshino (Hana Kimura Event Committee Representative), including a card change due to an unavoidable absence. Opening Remarks by Kyoko Kimura, Hana’s Mother. 

“Today is the saddest day of my year, but with everyone gathered today to celebrate Hana, I feel like I can get through it.” – Kyoko Kimura

Due to the further relaxation of COVID protocols, masks were optional at the show and vocal cheering was encouraged. Streamers were not permitted during any of the matches but were saved for the closing portion of the event. 

Kimura’s remarks were followed by Jungle Kyona, who led the crowd in Hana’s signature Tokyo Cyber Squad salute: “Everyone is Different. Everyone is Special! YES SIR!” to formally open the show. 

International Availability: FITE TV ($25 US) Hana Kimura Memorial Show 3: PINX!
Language: Japanese Only
Free Pre-show? The first ten minutes of the PPV stream were available for free, but that largely covered the show opening only. The first match didn’t even start until close to the twenty-minute mark. There was also no preview stream on YouTube or other streaming platforms.
Stream Quality: Video Poor; Audio Clear; Video choppy and cut out after 45 minutes. There were multiple hiccups and the live stream video quality didn’t get properly sorted out until nearly halfway through the show. I am hoping they resolve all the quality issues once the archive is available. It made the first half of the show increasingly frustrating to watch. 

Spoiler-Free Synopsis

There will be no match ratings for this event as to get the entire experience of the scope of the lives Hana touched, you should watch the entire show. While the matches were largely announced ahead of time, the order was revealed in real-time during the live stream. 

  • Special Singles Match: Saori Anou vs. Miyuki Takase
  • Battle Royal: Banana Senga, Tsutomu Ohsugi, Fuminori Abe, Mensore Oyaji, Hanako Nakamori, Chihiro Hashimoto, Hibiscus Mii & multiple mystery entrants
  • Special Singles Match: Kyusei Hana Kimura (Sakura Hirota) vs. X
  • Strongest ANIKI 4-Way Tag: Masao Hanabatake & X vs. Ryo Mizunami & Sonoko Kato vs. Yuko Miyamoto & Ram Kaicho vs. X & Kengo
  • Main Event 1: 6-Woman Tag: ASUKA (VENY), Natsupoi & Syuri vs. X, Rina & Konami
  • Main Event 2: Tag Match: Mika Iwata & Mio Momono (MARVELOUS) vs. Aja Kong & Sareee

Match Reviews

Special Singles Match: Saori Anou defeated Miyuki Takase

This was a great opening match for the show, as both Takase and Anou bring out the fire in one another. This match is a pure, no-nonsense wrestling match. Both had long-standing partnerships with Hana and were rivals in ActWres Girls. Watching this singles match made me want to do a deep dive into ActWres as well as further research the long history to pair have as freelancers. Their paths have consistently crossed in multiple promotions since 2017, including REINA, AJPW, PURE-J, SEAdLINNNG, Sendai Girls, COLOR’S and most recently at WAVE’s Jumbo Forever show as part of the Battle Royal for Himeka’s Retirement epilogue.

Pool Party Battle Royal: Jaguar Yokota defeated Banana Senga, Tsutomu Ohsugi, Fuminori Abe, Mensore Oyaji, Hibiscus Mii, Hanako Nakamori, Chihiro Hashimoto, Super Delphin, Kaz Hayashi & Kyoko Inoue

Pool floats and beach balls as well as summer sartorial mixed with wrestling gear, simply welcomed the oncoming of summer and the time of year when Hydrangea (Ajisai) start to bloom. For those unaware, Hydrangea wasn’t just the name of one of Hana’s finishing moves but is one of the core signature flowers of summertime. It is the one used most in the branding of all of the memorial shows and is the potted flower to the right side of Hana’s portrait at ringside. This entire match was just about wholesome, summer fun with some wrestling mixed in with a wide circle of friends of the Kimura family.

After the original announced eight entered the arena with a couple of extra friends, individual entrances were provided for Super Delphin, Kaz Hayashi (GLEAT), and Kyoko Inoue (DIANA). Another X would be Jaguar Yokota, who would pin Fuminori Abe to win. Her victor’s purse was a gift bag with Hana merchandise to commemorate the show. 

Special Singles Match: Minoru Suzuki defeated Kyusei Hana Kimura (Sakura Hirota) via Submission/Referee Stoppage

Just for the record, the DIY-Cosplay Prowess of Kyusei Sakura Hirota is one of my absolute favorites in wrestling. Three years ago, she turned heads in the Battle Royal at the first Hana Kimura Memorial Show: Mata, Ne with the debut of her TCS-era Hana Kimura cosplay. The costume was so silly that it made Kyoko Kimura laugh through her tears on such an emotional day, and everyone looks forward to seeing the evolution of this costume. Kimura even previously said, “The impersonation is so ridiculous that Hana would have loved it.”

Personally, when Kyusei Hana Kimura’s opponent was announced, I hoped that it would be KENOH (NOAH), but the moment “Kazu Ni Nare” hit, I couldn’t be the least bit disappointed. While Minoru Suzuki and Hana never met in singles competition, they did wrestle in a 6-person match at Kyoko Kimura’s retirement show: Last Afro. Suzuki tagged with Aja Kong and Meiko Satomura against Kyoko, Hana and ISAO back in January 2017. The most frustrating part of this match was the choppy video and FITE trying to troubleshoot the video, so it kept cutting out. 

“When Minoru Suzuki isn’t in the ring, the truth is that he has a really gentle side.” – Jungle Kyona 

Referee Yoshino stopped the match just before Suzuki delivered a Gotch-style Piledriver as Kyusei Hana Kimura tapped vehemently, begging for reprieve. After the match, Suzuki offered Hirota a handshake of sportsmanship that she turned into a big boot to the face! In a rage, Suzuki ripped apart the barricade, but the ref herded him toward the exit.

Strongest ANIKI 4-Way Tornado Tag: Ryo Mizunami & Sonoko Kato defeated Masao Hanabatake & Mayumi Ozaki, Yuko Miyamoto & Ram Kaicho, and Minoru Tanaka & Kengo with Mizunami pinning Yuko Miyamoto become the Strongest Aniki

What is an ‘Aniki’? Traditionally, it is a cooler older brother-type, who tends to use more macho language, but also is a term of endearment in various social circles, including roughnecks, biker gangs, and other organizations. In the social sense, more often than not it is a reference for someone who isn’t an actual older brother to the speaker, but more of a term of respect for someone who assumes that role in a casual setting or in certain situations. It generally isn’t used in a formal setting as a means of address. For Western fans, more likely than not, it’s associated with Ryo Mizunami as her nickname, and it’s been widely used in her AEW appearances. Those who watch anime or Japanese dramas would have likely heard this form of address, especially in gang or mafia movies or for those who love Bebop Tag Team: Hiroshi Tanahashi and Yano Toru in World Tag League.

The concept of this match is to prove who is the best Aniki archetype in an intergender setting with a lot of beloved veterans who could easily fit into the title of an “aniki.” The participants are veritable who’s who of wrestling anikis minus Shotaro Ashino, who had to miss this show due to injury. He sustained a fracture in his left arm during the finals of the All Japan Pro-Wrestling Champions’ Carnival, in which he defeated T-HAWK. Mayumi Ozaki (OZ Academy) replaced Shotaro Ashino to tag with Hanabatake.

I would like to personally thank Triple 6’s Yuko Miyamoto and Ram Kaicho for selecting “ONE NIGHT CARNIVAL” by Kishidan as their entrance music. This is very much one of the anthem songs associated with biker gangs, the apex of youth (seishun),  and a key hype song in any karaoke party. This match was the perfect storm of chaotic fun and showboating to see who will be the strongest one in the ring. There were some comedy parts, including Miyamoto trying to distract Mayumi Ozaki with a rather mint condition copy of her racy portrait book, “A la Carte” from 1995. Ozaki was unphased, even when he flashed a couple of pages to the audience. 

There were plenty of near falls, and tests of strength, and who doesn’t love a 4-on-4 brainbuster standoff? Very much like the Pool Party Battle Royal, this was an absolute blast. In the end, Ryo Mizunami pinned Yuko Miyamoto to win for her team. Shotaro Ashino made an appearance after the match to bestow a special pair of sunglasses to Mizunami as the Strongest Aniki. 

“When it comes to a cool aniki look, sunglasses are crucial! Mizunami is The People’s Aniki.” – Suzuki on commentary

Double Main Event

6-Woman Tag: ASUKA (VENY), Natsupoi & Syuri defeated Tokyo Cyber Squad (Death Yama-san, Rina & Konami) – ASUKA pinned Death Yama-san 

Kaori Yoneyama was announced as unable to participate at the beginning of the show, and she was replaced by one of the Tokyo Cyber Squad mainstays: Death Yama-san (for those unfamiliar Death Yama-san… is one of the many faces of Kaori Yoneyama in STARDOM). The many faces of Mick Foley have got nothing on the multiple personas of Kaori Yoneyama. 

Much like the two preceding years, this was the Tokyo Cyber Squad Reunion Special, including Jungle Kyona rushing over from commentary (post-surgery cane and all) for a TCS group photo op with Natsupoi mid-match. ASUKA, Syuri, and Natsupoi served as outstanding foils for Hana’s old crew, and this match was very much a perfect balance of everything I love about joshi wrestling paired with all the nostalgic comedy and beloved high spots. At the center was ASUKA, Hana’s best friend and tag team partner outside of STARDOM. At Mata, Ne (2021), she tagged with Syuri, Natsupoi & Mio Momono against Hazuki, Kagetsu, Konami and Death Yama-san and last year at BAGUS (2022), she and Syuri had a beautifully violent singles match.

Annually, ASUKA is at the press conference for the announcement of the next memorial show, which is one of my absolute favorite things.   

Main Event 2: Tag Match: Aja Kong & Sareee defeated Mika Iwata & Mio Momono – Kong pinned Iwata after a spinning back fist

Honestly, when Aja Kong’s letter was read at the press conference, she mentioned meeting Mercedes Mone at a recent event in the US, and I admittedly got my hopes up that Mercedes would be revealed as X. However, Saree was revealed closer to the event. This was the second match for Sareee since her return from her excursion to the United States to work for NXT. She had her return show less than two weeks ago. While Sareee seemingly never had a match against Hana, she did have several against Kyoko and heated rivalries against Mika Iwata and Mio Momono. 

This was another showcase of those closely linked to the Kimura family, with Momono, Iwata, and Sareee, all peers to Hana in age and experience, and the legend in Aja Kong to make the match spicier than expected. There was some fighting outside of the ring, with Momono and Iwata taking the worst of it all. The MVP of the match was truly Mika Iwata because while she got exceptional offense and plenty of near falls, that spinning back fist from Kong at the end of the match made me wonder if she would need to see a dentist first thing in the morning.

As if that spinning back fist from Kong wasn’t enough to take your breath away, her raw post-match promo delivered one stupendous gut punch.

Closing Ceremony

After the final match, a closing ceremony was held. The entrance gown that Hana had commissioned prior to her passing was placed on a mannequin with her pre-STARDOM pink and white gear underneath. The participants of the double main event joined Kyoko in the ring with the other show participants circled at ringside. The ring announcer read Hana’s height and weight (and billing from the red corner) before fans in attendance threw streams of pink, yellow, and light green.

There was a moving closing video full of participants who weren’t on the show including Dynamite Kansai, CIMA, Kris Wolf, Zoe Lucas, Holidead, Toni Storm, Cheeseburger, Rocky Romero, Will Ospreay, Mandy Leon, Mercedes Moné, KAIRI (with her dog, Cheese), and IYO SKY. The video closed with Kyoko Kimura with their cat. In the lobby, bouquets of flowers for Hana were displayed as well as Hana’s costume and Mercedes Mone’s tribute costume from her match with KAIRI at NJPW’s Battle in the Valley.

Mariah May posted several photos from the event entitled “A Gorgeous Show” and she’s a 10000% correct.

Just remember that “everyone is different, everyone is special” applies every single day, not just today. Until next year, “YES SIR!”

About Karen Peterson 113 Articles
Occasionally drops by wrestling podcasts, but remains rather elusive. Joined the Japanese wrestling fan scene in summer 2017, and continues to work on bridging the language gap between fans. Outside of wrestling, she’s a dog mom, perpetual Japanese learner, and when conditions permit, world traveler. Never skips dessert.