WELCOME TO THE MAKI ITOH COLUMN MOTHERFUCKERS!
Whew, that’s out of my system (and hopefully not edited out by my editor who’s potentially grumbling at me). Today we are going to talk excessively about Maki Itoh! This is going to be so much fun! My editor should be glad I’m not writing this in song form as I originally planned on doing. (Song was going to be called either “It’s Hard Out Here for a Simp” or “Simp Juice” by the way. )
I do not pretend to be the biggest Maki Itoh fan, but I am undoubtedly a fan. I am not the most knowledgeable on the history, career, and achievements of Maki Itoh. My knowledge is minimal, but what I know is enough to be absolutely a fan of her’s. I know there are grumpy wrestling personalities who compare her to the Miz, Jillian Hall’s gimmick, etc, and whatnot. They tried to put a lance through our hearts and cause a storm about it, but who cares? Wrestling should be for everyone, and in order to attract as much of that every one you need a bit of everything to offer. Sugar, spice, superkicks spammed more than twice, and the occasional middle finger followed by singing. I understand there are legit complaints and critiques to be had, but truth be told I’m dismissive of them. I find myself entertained and amused by her antics far too much to concern myself with the critiques of more serious orientated mindsets out there. So below, we are going to have an abundance of appreciation for Maki Itoh. So if that’s not your thing, I don’t know why you are still reading. You have been informed.
There is a blatant absence of hard-hitting journalism in this column. This is not an analytical article nor a harsh breakdown and critique of Maki Itoh. That has already popped up through various media formats, and it’s boring, ho-hum, irrelevant. None of it changes one simple truth. Maki Itoh got over quickly in several weeks of AEW programming. She did it through the hype, word of mouth, and then delivering exactly what was anticipated. She sang she danced, she whined, she used her hard head, she failed (she’s very good at failing….. Except at winning our hearts) and in the end, she got over with the fanbase. In wrestling that’s one of the major objectives, getting over. If you can’t do it through your wrestling ability, you better have a character interesting and fun enough for the people to sink their teeth into.
Yes, Maki Itoh is not the greatest of wrestlers when it comes to in-ring ability. This was hammered home in critiques after her less than stellar microphone shots to Hikaru Shida. She’s capable, she’s fine, and with the right opponents you’ll get good matches, but she’s no ring general or master of the craft. I understand your valid complaints and respond by moving on with my life and not being concerned with them. She goes the next best route possible. She sings and she dances, she curses, she calls her fans simps, she throws middle fingers, and she’s comedic. She also has an impressively hard head that comes into play. Combine all of that together and it works, and it’s delightful. There is nothing wrong with this in pro wrestling. Am I slightly being hypocritical? You bet your ass, I have never hidden that reality in my writings. Gimmicks like Maki Itoh’s are something nine out of ten times doesn’t work with me. I understand their existence and respect it, but not my cup of tea. Maki Itoh has managed to be a rare exception. It clicked, it connected, and sometimes you don’t ask why or how you just go with the flow. I knew her mostly from gifs and twitter comments and that was enough to peak intrigue. I then moved on to sample a small bit of her work viewing TJPW. Then one day she tweeted in her profane and adorable way she was heading to AEW and we were off to the races.
No, her matches aren’t going to make many best of the year lists. Her matches were exactly what you expected them to be, although for my taste she works best in multi-wrestler scenarios. Put her in a six-person, eight-person affair and you can insinuate her positives, and yes she has positives, and hide her weaknesses. If place in a singles match, giving her a good opponent, like Riho, can go a long way to making the match better than it would’ve been. Maki Itoh deserves a spot at the table of pro wrestling. Go ahead, put her at the kiddies table where she’ll pout, scream, and complain, but she’s earned a place at that table. Bonus, she makes one particular wrestling legend and old curmudgeon eye’s bug out and come dangerously close to an aneurysm. How can I not be a fan of Maki Itoh?
I’m not going to convince you to magically become a fan of Maki Itoh. That is a head banging against the wall scenario and not the prerogative of this column. I’m also going to do my best to ground myself to a certain extent. I don’t want the lenses to be too rose-tinted. I may be playfully hyping and fangirling about her but I’m not going to pretend she’s this major main event talent or next big phenomena. She’s not. This article isn’t attempting to convert anyone or place unfair, unreasonable, and highly unlikely expectations on her career projection. While there can be middle grounds to be found, most of us won’t try to seek it here. You either love her or you don’t. I’m making it clear I love her. She is fun and entertaining in the spots she is given. On one Dynamite episode when her theme song hit and she started singing, while everyone else beat the shit out of each other, I laughed. Do I understand why Maki Itoh clicks, no, but I don’t understand why my medication works either? It does so I don’t question it. I just hope it lasts and I don’t have to look elsewhere for my needs/wants.
It is possible, and I don’t discount, the well will dry up one joyless day. That one day Maki Itoh will sing, dance, miss her headbutt attempt with her impressively hard head, and I’ll shrug. One day she’ll scream, cry, pout, curse, and it’ll be outdated to me. What’s new eventually becomes old. It is a legit reality that can come crashing at any moment. Now is not that time, and I do my best not to worry about it. For now, it’s Maki Itoh time, and on her time I take it all in stride. I take it all in the pure enjoyment that she has delivered. I’ve made a shortlist for how I felt her AEW time has gone. It goes a little like this:
- Come to America
- Get Over
- Irritate specific wrestler journalists/personalities
Time well spent. Alas, she has gone back to Japan where if you want, and I recommend, you can follow her in TJPW. If you enjoy Maki Itoh, go follow her there and let her be a gateway to even more amazing Joshi that can be presented for your viewing pleasure. I don’t watch nearly enough TJPW but it has never been a disappointment or waste of time. I guarantee you’ll enjoy yourselves.
Maki Itoh is what we need more of in wrestling.
Yes, I can hear you disagree over there. I can hear the gnashing of teeth in expressing that statement but it’s true. We got plenty of great wrestling and I won’t ever be against wanting more. That said give us a little something extra. Give us a spark of that personality, a dose of that energy, a shot of that charisma. Allow her to run amok in multi-person matches and let her bring the entertainment and shenanigans while the wrestlers around her will bring the work rate you, and I admittedly, crave. Give her a mini-concert that goes horribly wrong. Keep letting her appear on Being the Elite and having the Dark Order simp for her (You know what they say, Simpin’ Ain’t Easy).
I don’t try to understand why I like Maki Itoh. This fallen idol turned pro wrestler. A lot of other wrestlers that fit her mold have come and gone and barely made an impression on me. Maybe I see so much criticism and discourse on her that it fills me with a desire to see her achieve. Maybe, I see the eye twitching, arms flailing, and annoyance from various people in the wrestling industry and I get pleasure from it. Maybe I can be overdramatic and say seeing her constantly strive to achieve and fail reminds me of how I struggle to make it. Maybe I’m asking too many damn questions. I just find her enjoyable, adorable, and I hope she comes back to AEW again in the near future. I’ll just ignore any and all discourse when she does. To your credit, I’ve read your opinions and they are reasonable, but they way me none. I look forward to when her music plays up in AEW once more and she comes out and cuts a performance while Paul Wright vibes at commentary.
Current Mood. pic.twitter.com/tJJsjOncWD
— Chris Harrington (@mookieghana) March 16, 2021
Until that moment, I’ll end this article in a Maki Itoh-inspired way…….THANKS FOR READING AND FUCK YOU!!