Hidden in the back of an inconspicuous alley, multipurpose storage halls are lined up against each other. Next to the entrance to one of them, a sign informs visitors of what to expect behind the sliding doors – “Sendai Girls Pro Wrestling”. Upon entering, the largest part of the field of sight will be dominated by the imposing ring, fit neatly into the far end of the storage space turned training hall. It is joined by an array of weights and exercising machines. A young woman pops her head out from the secluded office space on the left, brown hair with blonde tips. “Welcome! Come on in!”
The warm welcome was given by DASH Chisako. At 28, she is already a veteran, even though her entrance into the ring was more of a coincidence rather than a calculated step. She started taking on the world of pro wrestling when she was 17, driven by her rebellious attitude to pursue a different path from the usual Japanese Dream that is characterized by going through university and, consequently, countless job interviews in a black suit. With no prior connection to the sports world, the idea to join Senjo came to her spontaneously. She did however perform in a band, and this experience most likely facilitated slipping into “entertainment mode”.
Answering the call from a friend, she also explored the world of regular work once, only to find out that the nice-to-six office life was not doing it for her. After being turned off by the experience, she says, her motivation to pursue pro wrestling only increased. She was able to tackle the tough training – which even drove her to the point of almost abandoning her ambitions, altogether, at one point – and can now look back on an impressive track record. She sports fans from Japan as well as the USA, thanks to the matches she fought overseas together with the rest of the gang. One of the events – a brawl between both male and female fighters – can be checked out here. In the match, she also attempts to land her signature move, the so-called Hormone Splash, where she gets on top of one of the posts and jumps into the face of her opponent sideways.
The group was founded back in May 2005 by Jinsei Shinsaki and the female pro wrestler Meiko Satomura. It was a revolutionary undertaking, considering the fact that it was the first organization of its kind to be founded outside of Tokyo. Recently, Shinsaki gave up his spot as president of the organization, also known as “Senjo” or “Sendai Girls”, putting Satomura on top.
Recruiting of members started immediately. In October of the same year, three athletes became the first representatives of the new club: Shuri Okuda, Chisako Kaneko and her sister Yurie. Out of the three, only Chisako is still active in the club. Before Yurie left, the two of them entered the ring as a ninja team with fitting moves and even costumes. Today, the Sendai Girls consist of four members in total, and they are currently looking for new faces.
In the early days, they had their training base in Ayashi, a 30-minute train ride from Sendai, but they have since moved into the heart of the city. Practice includes strength workouts as well as sparring session that get very heated very quickly. After all, pro wrestling is also about the presence on stage. One essential part of this has to be the spoken intro and outro aimed at getting people going. Chisako admits that she isn’t too confident in her mic performance, which is why she is currently reading lots of literature on public speaking. Another fighter disagrees, accentuating the living-in-the-moment aspect of this part of a match. There seem to be very different approaches to a match.
In any case, the girls emit an extremely strong presence, both vocal and physical, during sparring. If it wasn’t for the different attire, spectators might just mistake it for the real deal.
Unfortunately, a recent change in priorities has forced the girls to cut down on their practice time. The reason? They have started taking care of the entire business by themselves – this includes the makeup of tickets and the design of posters and merchandise such as T-shirts or towels.
The second fighter of the gang, Cassandra Miyagi, is an evil spirit that possessed Michiko Miyagi, a worthy host in this realm. Judging from the talks with her, Michiko actually seems to be pretty okay with this, considering she has always been more fascinated with the antagonists in movies, books and manga. Coincidentally, she also has a knack for drawing and designing, which is why she is in charge of putting together the posters for every event.
Cassandra had the chance to get in shape during her time in high school, where she was a member of the volleyball club. The after-school club culture in Japan, as some of our readers might already know, is very intense, with multiple training sessions a week that help to get participants into the right mindset. Her decision to join the wrestling club when she entered university and was approached by her seniors seems like a logical next step on her path of self-improvement.
The 23-year-old demon/non-native Sendai resident likes to finish its opponents off with a pile driver. When asking whether that’s the move that Zangief from the popular fighting video game “Street Fighter”, uses on his opponents, she smiles. “Yes, exactly.” She dreams of pile driving pro wrestlers all over the world onto the bouncy ring mat, in order to get closer to her goal: the extermination of mankind. Muhahaha…
The two newest members of the Sendai Girls are Chihiro Hashimoto, the two-time Sendai Girl World Champion with a background in wrestling and Mika Iwata (stage name “Shirahime Mika”), a former kick boxer. Their upbringing is neatly reflected by their signature moves: Chihiro sends her opponents flying overhead onto the mat with a German suplex, while Mika channels her kick boxing experience for a mighty high spinning kick. She calls it the “Neck Slicer” – loosely translated, of course.
When asked about the charm of pro wrestling, Chisako does not have to think long. She enjoys the interaction with the audience, who cheers her on and supplies her with props such as rods or chairs. As a veteran, she always thinks about how to appeal to the viewers, waving her hair or turning her head to offer a nice shot to the Senjo fanclub, the “Red Friengers”. Every Sendai Girl is responsible for her own costume, giving them many opportunities to express themselves and impress those watching.
To anybody whose curiosity might have been tickled: The Sendai Girls will be making an appearance at the Kizuna Festival held in Sendai on the weekend of June 10 and 11. Together with the male fighters from “Michinoku Pro Wrestling”, they are going to give a free-of-charge showcase of their skills in the Nishikicho Park starting from 2pm on Sunday - check out the location below. It shall be a great party. See you there?