365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

I’ve waxed philisophic from time to time on my motivations for attempting this project. One of those motivations is the chance to see certain wrestlers before they “made it big.” Such is the case with the entry for January 25, where Hikaru Shida is in action several years before she made her way to America and became champion for All Elite Wrestling. In this one, Shida is defending the Reina di WAVE Title, for, appropriately enough, Pro Wrestling WAVE in this match against Sakura Hirota from 2015.

You can watch this match on Dailymotion, by the way.

The Context

The Reina di WAVE is the top singles title in Pro Wrestling WAVE and Shida was just the second champ in the history of this title. This marked her third defense since winning the title on August 24, 2014. Shida is 26 years old here and she’s about 6 1/2 years into her pro career. Her opponent, Hirota, has nearly two decades of experience.

The Match

There’s so much negativity about wrestling on the Internet, and I don’t want this to be just another voice adding to the din of rage and complaining. Besides, life is busy. I barely have time to watch the wrestling I want to (as evidenced by the fact I am about three weeks behind on these entries), so why would I waste time watching and writing about and thinking about wrestling I don’t enjoy?

All of that said… guys and girls, this was rough. For one thing, these two did not mesh particularly well. The work is sporadically sloppy throughout the match, with Hirota the bigger offender. This is my first time seeing Hirota wrestle, and I guess she goes for a comedy gimmick, but it didn’t come across to me. She goes for some big spots in the first half of the match, and the crowd certainly likes the end result, but the set-up in a couple of instances looks like she’s moving in slow motion.

Meanwhile, Shida comes across as the champion just looking to cut off the shenanigans and retain her title. Highlights include a superplex, which begins with Hirota standing on the apron outside the ring; and a fireman’s carry into a nasty-looking backbreaker. She also does her part to make her opponent look like a threat to the title, whether it be selling an open-handed slap to the abdomen that she takes on the run like she has been stabbed with a rusty shiv, or clutching at her arm after a few arm-related submission attempts chained together by Hirota, to varying levels of success in the execution.

And then there’s the referee… a few people who know way more about wrestling have the philosophy that if the referee in a match is good, you’ll never notice them. But if the referee is bad, he or she sticks out like a sore thumb. Watch enough Japanese wrestling and you’re bound to see an official with the occasional hitch in their giddy-up when making the two count and going for the three count, providing that extra little flash of time to build drama before the three count. This… is not one of those matches. I’m not sure who the official is but they take a pause following almost every two count in the match. These pauses just seem to get longer, to the point that the hesitation lasts for a full second in some cases before going for or, in the case of Shida’s running knee that finishes the match, finally counting for three. The prevalence of these long two counts took me out of the match completely. Every attempted three count feels incredibly telegraphed. As a result, none of these big moves or near-falls feel particularly special and by the time the match ended, I was honestly glad it was over.

Final Rating: 4.5

Both wrestlers work hard and the crowd is pretty into this but I can’t recommend watching this match, even if you’re a huge fan of Shida or joshi in general. At least I’m not pausing an extra second before explaining my rating. Can it get worse from here? There are 340 more opportunities to find out. I hope you’ll stick around for the journey.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

What’s Next

Let’s go to Georgia for an old-school classic featuring four mainstays of the 1980s.

Got a match you’d like me to watch as part of this 365 Wrestling project? Agree or disagree with my take on this match? Let me know by using the contact form on this site, or reach me on Twitter.

4 thoughts on “365 Wrestling, Day 25: Hikaru Shida vs. Sakura Hirota (WAVE, 1/25/15)

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