Being a pro wrestling fan for MANY, MANY years, I have seen many things...some good, some bad...and some quite unique. I never expected to become such an advocate for women's pro wrestling but, after being introduced to Japanese women's wrestling...better known as Joshi...in the mid-1990s, via videotapes & DVD, I got hooked.
First off, the Japanese are very serious about their wrestling, especially the women!! Don't expect any "T&A crap" like they do in the WWE! The woman in the photo is Megumi Kudo, one of the most popular wrestlers ever in Japan & one of the most beautiful! She is also my favorite female wrestler of all-time, though she retired in 1997 at the age of 28, and I never got the chance to see her wrestle live. Her nickname was "Evil Princess" & was famous for participating in vicious, bloody " death matches" that would leave her face a "crimson mask"...and a main reason she retired so young.
However, Megumi Kudo was much more than a beauty queen who bled. She was a very solid wrestler...though, not the best of all-time...and won her share of titles in her career, had great in-ring presence & charisma, and was incredibly popular...more than most of the male wrestlers!!
The purpose of this article is not a career perspective on Megumi Kudo but a perspective on why women's pro wrestling is so popular & well-respected in Japan but not in the USA. It's not like there isn't talent in the USA...Gail Kim, Awesome Kong (who made her name in Japan), Cheerleader Melissa, just to name a few...but they are so woefully "used" that it's almost criminal. One would think that the INCREDIBLE feud between Gail Kim & Awesome Kong from late 2007 to mid-2008 would've totally taken women's wrestling to a new...and more respected...level in the USA but, sadly, judging by what is happening to Gail Kim's career in the WWE now, nothing has changed.
The truth is that the Gail Kim-Kong feud was the most dominant feud of that time period in ALL of wrestling IMO...and that includes the men...and had everything that made Japanese women's wrestling so fascinating to me, when I started watching it! The crowd heat, the storylines & the action was so intense & great that you couldn't help but get into it!! Unfortunately, the end came quickly, as Gail Kim was "low-balled" by TNA & their female owner when her contract was up for renewal and, shockingly...at least, to me...went to where she started her career in the WWE...lead by the man who "destroyed" women's wrestling in the USA by turning it into T&A fodder...Vinnie Mac!!
I know "Sex sells" but, as Megumi Kudo proved in the 90s in Japan...among many other Japanese female wrestlers...and Gail Kim proved v Awesome Kong in TNA, there are beautiful women wrestlers who can "throw down" with the best men & still look GORGEOUS & SEXY!! Unfortunately, wrestling fans in America...especially, men...have been "brainwashed" into thinking that women can't wrestle & are only good for "T&A" and "Bra & Panties" matches and, while McMahon isn't the only wrestling promoter in the entire North American region, he is the biggest & most influential. Nevertheless, his complete contempt for women's wrestling...as evidenced by the lack of airtime, character-building & general push for the best female wrestler in the USA...and his continued use of "model-types" who might look good but can't wrestle their way out of a paper bag, shows how little respect he has for serious women's wrestling & its fans!!
McMahon had a golden opportunity to show he had changed his thinking, when he signed Gail Kim away from TNA, and could've started changing American men's perceptions about women's wrestling...by showcasing the best female wrestler in America & giving her a solid platform to show her amazing skills! But alas, he FAILED & I now fear for the future of Gail Kim's career. I hope that she gets the chance to have a major program with Beth Phoenix or Mickie James but have grown increasingly frustrated & dismayed at the little progress shown by Vinnie Mac & the WWE!! It appears that he only paid Gail, to get her away from his main rival, TNA, instead of "pushing" her in the manner she deserves & has earned!!
I wonder if women's wrestling will ever be respected or as popular in the States as in Japan...Gail Kim's feud with Awesome Kong in TNA in 2007/2008 had me thinking it was possible...but, once again, I'm left with a "what might have been" feeling! At least, I still have Japanese women's wrestling to whet my appetite for serious women's wrestling, that includes very attractive women who can fight, and I do plan to visit Japan & attend many shows, in person!!
In the meantime, I will continue to watch videotapes & DVDs of Megumi Kudo & Gail Kim...my two favorite female wrestlers of all-time...and hope that the day will come, when my fellow North American wrestling fans will realize & come to appreciate the beauty of serious women's wrestling, as much as I do and the way the Japanese do!
Next up, I plan to list my favorite female wrestlers of all-time!! Expect a large number of Japanese wrestlers, LOL!!