Sukeban has the wrestling world buzzing about women’s wrestling

TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 15: Bull Nakano speaks during the LLPW-X 'Rumi Kazama Memorial' at Korakuen Hall on March 15, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - MARCH 15: Bull Nakano speaks during the LLPW-X 'Rumi Kazama Memorial' at Korakuen Hall on March 15, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images) /

Several months ago, I wrote about a new U.S.-based Joshi promotion. Details were scant, but we knew that the legendary Bull Nakano was involved.

On September 1, Sukeban posted a video to their social media that was a mix of anime and women wrestlers. The music was loud and it certainly got people’s attention. The video announced the first show would be on September 21 in New York City. The tickets sold out in just two hours.

What is Sukeban?

Sukeban translates to “delinquent girl” or “girl boss”. The subculture grew out of response to American and British occupation in Japan during World War II. The women railed against being sexualized and conformity. They also committed petty crimes.

Over the last few weeks, Sukeban posted clips about the four factions that make up their roster: The Cherry Bombs, The Vandals, Harajuku Stars, and Dangerous Liaisons. Then, there’s Stray Cat. She is the rogue without a faction and the youngest woman on the roster. Sukeban posted videos with a little bit of info about each woman.

The first show aired exclusively on TikTok. That was a bit of a head-scratcher, but it also makes sense if they’re targeting a specific demographic. The intro video had 2 million views on TikTok alone. TikTok does have a desktop version of the app, which makes it easier to watch shows. Two days later, Sukeban uploaded the show to their YouTube channel.

Sukeban created a lot of buzz heading into their first show and they drew the likes of Emi Sakura to support them. The card had five matches in which the entire roster was showcased. There were some glitches in the stream during the opening of the show and during the second match. It may have been TikTok or the venue causing issues. One of the biggest highlights was Veda Scott and Sam Leterna on commentary. Later, it was reported that “Speedball” Mike Bailey was an agent on the show.

The presentation of Sukeban is much like a rock concert. The music is loud (theme songs ranged from Joan Jett to The Doors) and the lighting is dark around the ring. Some of the women wore bright clothes and makeup with bold hair colors and styles. In contrast, some women dressed in black and wore darker makeup, setting up contrasts visually and with their in-ring style. The matches were fast-paced and hard-hitting.

Before the main event, a video was shown with highlights of Nakano and it was revealed that she is the Sukeban commissioner. She came to the ring carrying a big, colorful title. The main event was a title eliminator match with the winner getting a shot at the championship at a future show. It has been rumored that the next show will be in December in Miami.

Sukeban is an exciting promotion with a fun first show. Having Nakano involved onscreen is a smart move as it legitimizes them immediately. They are showcasing new women to many fans, although the women wrestle in other companies and take on these characters just for Sukeban.

Doing sporadic shows feeds into the buzz and is a safe way to test a new market. Japanese wrestling has long been popular in the West and now the internet makes it easier than ever to watch a variety of promotions.

It will be fun to follow and see how the promotion grows and develops.

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