The Future of Joshi series is an effort to highlight the best, young talent in Joshi pro wrestling for fans to keep an eye on in 2023 and beyond. Led by Scott Edwards, a number of Joshi podcasters, writers, and fans took part in hyping up the best young talent from the scene as 15 wrestlers will be highlighted as well as honorable mentions.

It would be unfair to limit this list to just 15, so an effort has been made to highlight some who may not be at the level of must-follow right now but will be in due time.

Here’s a look at the honorable mentions for the Future of Joshi.


Juria Nagano (TJPW)

The Future of Joshi kicks off with Juria Nagano of TJPW, who is celebrating one year in pro wrestling after debuting last year for TJPW. In quick fashion, she’s become a must-see name for fans and a prospect who gets better with every match she participates in. Partnering up with Moka Miyamoto has been the blessing maybe no one knew she needed, but it’s allowed the two Karate Girls to show what they’re made of with Nagano being the clear star of the duo.

If you’ve watched her since her first match, then you know that her improvement has come with the force behind her strikes. Not so shockingly, the Karate Black Belt has impressive, flashy strikes with insane speed, but the force behind them wasn’t always there. Now that she’s gotten comfortable with the pro wrestling side of things, her strikes are hitting louder and success is coming with that. The reason the Karate Girls got to the semifinals of the Max Heart Tournament was because of revelation for Nagano, who could be a champion within the next year and no one would bat an eye.

The excitement when it comes to TJPW has mostly been for Yuki Arai but within a year, Nagano has shown she has all the potential to be better and do so a lot sooner.

Nagano has all the tools. Once she puts them together (and if she commits to wrestling all the more) then she’s a guaranteed superstar for TJPW and the world of Joshi.

Actwres girl’Z Roster

The Actwres girl’Z roster has started to make people take notice with big names like Act Yasukawa leading the way. And while we implore you to check out any of their full shows to get a sense of what they’re bringing to the table since their revival in 2022, we have three wrestlers in the Future of Joshi series that all should be focusing on this year and beyond.

KOUKI

While work rate often speaks to wrestling fans more than anything these days, there’s no doubt that charisma can catch anyone’s eye if they have “it.” KOUKI is the one in Actwres girl’Z that contains all the charisma you could ask for and more. As Alex writes below, there’s no doubt that KOUKI is going to make it whether it’s for Actwres girl’Z or elsewhere. If you’re looking for a name to be a fan of the moment you jump into the promotion, she may be the one.

The death, revival, and un-death of Actwres girl’Z is one of the most interesting things to happen in Joshi wrestling in some time. Their new wave of talent is filled with prospects that could carry the flag for many years to come, none are more equipped for that role than KOUKI.

KOUKI is the kind of wrestler that grabs your attention every time she’s on screen. She’s tall, she’s got charisma, and she’s also an idol on the side so making a connection with the audience is second nature to her. While she hasn’t fully put it together in the ring she has the full confidence of Actwres to blossom into a top star as they are already putting her in important positions.

If everything goes right, KOUKI is going to be a top name in a pro wrestling company down the line, get on the bandwagon now so you don’t miss out on the next big thing in Japanese women’s wrestling. – Alex Richards (@LWOSPWAlexR)

CHIAKI

CHIAKI has that fire to make anyone believe in her. With Actwres girl’Z bringing together idols and pro wrestling into a single promotion, there’s no doubt you’ll have some who shine on the charismatic side like KOUKI and then there’s someone like CHIAKI, who delivers inside the ring every chance she gets. Tim notes that she can be a future ace, so if that doesn’t get your attention then nothing will.

Actwres girl’Z has produced a lot of rookies over the past year. At the top of the food chain sit KOUKI and Natsuki, who are being positioned as the future aces, and deservingly so, but I feel CHIAKI should be right there with them.

Besides professional wrestling, CHIAKI is also a dance coordinator and a stage actress and began her career after being recruited by fellow AGW wrestler Maru (who owns her own theater company). CHIAKI made her wrestling debut in November of 2021, but only wrestled a couple of matches before focusing on the ACTRING (theatrical plays held inside the ring) side of AWG. In June she would return and become a full-time wrestler. As of this writing she only has nine matches under her belt, but exudes confidence and has a swagger that is surprising for someone with as little experience as she has, and is already showing signs that she might be the best in-ring worker of the bunch. Likely due to her dance background, her matches have a much more deliberate pace and flow more smoothly than many of her peers. As for her actual moveset, it is understandably very rudimentary at this point but incorporates Katsuhiko Nakajima’s chest/back kicks, and Meiko Satomura’s cartwheel knees.

What really separates CHIAKI from her peers is her babyface fire and fighting spirit, which I firmly believe you need to be a true ace of a promotion, especially in Japanese pro wrestling. On Oct. 30 in Korakuen Hall, that fire was on full display, as she teamed with Mii and Marino Saihara to take on Mari, KOUKI, and Nene Arahata. The match was structured around CHIAKI and Mari (which says a lot since KOUKI was in the match) with Mari pummeling CHIAKI with brutal kicks, and CHIAKI refusing to die. I can’t quite call it a breakout match, but it was a good sign that CHIAKI is someone you need to keep your eye on. – Tim Teresi (@Tim_dawg_)

Nagisa Shiotsuki

The final name to be highlighted from the Actwres girl’Z roster is none other than Nagisa Shiotsuki. A good hand on the roster, Shiotsuki provides quality to the roster as one its better workers no matter the situation. Here’s what Tim had to say about someone he believes could become the best in-ring worker in the class.

Nagisa Shiotsuki is what I call a “lunch pail wrestler”, someone who metaphorically packs a lunch every day, clocks in, does a hard day of honest labor, and clocks out. In wrestling terms, this would be someone who likely isn’t charismatic enough to be a top star, but you can rely on them to give you a very good to great, hard-fought match every time. Wrestlers like Christian, Roderick Strong, Tommy Rogers, or since this is a Joshi article, Suzuka Minami, all classify as “lunch pail wrestlers”.

Like everyone in AWG, Nagisa does have a certain charisma and charm about her, but she comes off as the down-to-earth, girl next door rather than a wrestling superstar, almost like she’s the Pam Beesly of Joshi. It’s not impossible to become a star with that type of personality, but unless she comes up with some kind of character(and I personally hope she doesn’t) or develops some kind of overwhelming charisma, I don’t necessarily see her having main event-level potential.

Where Nagisa does excel is in the ring, consistently having good performances, particularly towards the back half of 2022, and carrying that momentum into 2023. Around the same time, the voice actress turned wrestler began teaming with her shoot job co-worker Sakura Mizushima, both joining up with veteran wrestler Mii and Asako Mia to form the babyface unit UPDATE+. At AWG Step 13 on Jan. 29, Nagisa had her best showing to date, lighting up Chika Goto’s chest with violent chops(her main weapon) in trios action, and showing some very impressive athleticism as well.

Whether it’s singles, tags, or trios, the future is bright for Nagisa Shiotsuki. If she can continue to make the chop the main focus of her arsenal and wrestles a slightly more aggressive style, I see no reason why she can’t become one of if not the best in-ring worker of a very impressive Actwres girl’Z rookie/sophomore class. – Tim Teresi (@Tim_dawg_)

Tsuruhimeka (Ehime Pro Wrestling)

An unknown to many fans who are even deep into Joshi, Tsuruhimeka is someone quietly coming onto the scene. Her most notable singles matches have come against the likes of Miyuki Takase, Tomoka Inaba, and Joshi legend Kyoko Inoue. As a member of Ehime Pro Wrestling, she has a home to try and establish herself while participating in other promotions. Wide Screen Joshi provided some more information on the 19-year-old, giving us all a reason to keep tabs on her in the future.

Rookies that come from or work in areas outside of the greater Tokyo area are rarely talked about as much as their counterparts. The talent pool just isn’t as deep and footage for a lot of companies is inaccessible at the very best. However, occasionally there comes along a trainee who truly deserves attention, and Ehime Pro Wrestling’s Tsuruhimeka is one such example. Having only celebrated her first anniversary in December, the variety and cleanliness in execution that she shows in her moveset, even in the limited footage that exists, defies every expectation of someone with her experience. Add in a wealth of instantly apparent charisma and you have the recipe for a special kind of talent. Bookers have seemed to take notice, giving her big opportunities against Takase and Inaba recently, it only seems to be a matter of time before she will get a proper opportunity to shine. – Wide Screen Joshi (@WidescreenJoshi)

Miya Yotsuba (Gatoh Move)

Gatoh Move’s latest trainee comes in the form of Miya Yotsuba, who was trained by the promotion’s top star Mei Suruga. The 24-year-old rookie had the chance to make her in-ring debut against none other than Emi Sakura at Gatoh Move’s 10th Anniversary ~ Phoenix Rises show, which only highlights what kind of talent they believe she can become over time. With so many Gatoh Move stars making waves in pro wrestling these days, it shouldn’t be shocking that Yotsuba is worth mentioning here despite so few matches to her name.

Below, Jamie Goulding and Juan Nunez provided us with some words about Yotsuba, including comments from Suruga about Yotsuba.

Having debuted Sep. 15, 2022 against Emi Sakura, Gatoh Moves “Lucky Charm” Miya Yotsuba has only just begun her career as a professional wrestler and yet her trainer (Mei Suruga) is absolutely convinced Miya has an incredibly bright future ahead. During an exclusive interview with VOW, Mei told us: “In all the years of Gatoh Move and everyone that has been trained through Darejo, Miya has the biggest potential to become a mainstream Ace. She is a lifelong athlete that embraces the challenges and rewards of hard work as well as being a natural leader behind the scenes and in front of the camera. Throw her in any situation and she will thrive.” Despite only having a few months of experience under her belt Miya has been going toe to toe against industry veterans such as Kaori Yoneyama and Cherry, impressing everyone with her fiery determination and fighting spirit well beyond her years. – Jamie Goulding and Juan Nunez (@Void_of_Opinion)

Nao Ishikawa (Ice Ribbon)

Ice Ribbon’s incredibly talented young roster will be highlighted more than once in the top 15 but it would be wrong to not include the leader of KISSmeT Princess, Nao Ishikawa.

After her ICExInfinity Championship match with Saori Anou, it has become clear that she is the fourth name to help carry Ice Ribbon into the future. Her babyface persona is why she’s so easy to connect with and as Abid says below, it’s very possible she herself could be an ace someday down the line.

Trained by Mio Shirai and former ace of Ice Ribbon, the retired Tsukushi Haruka. She made her debut during the pandemic on May 4, 2020. Within these two years, she’s improved so much as an overall performer. She has her own faction, an idol unit named KISSmeT Princess which features two other future stars in A~min/Rina Amikura from COLOR’S and Misa Kagura from JUST TAP OUT. Ishikawa had the best match of her career in Nov. 2022 when she challenged Saori Anou for her ICExInfinity Championship. Although she failed to win, by the end of the match, she had shown how much she’s improved since making her debut in 2020. So much so, she earned the respect of Saori Anou who thanked Anou for their title match. Asahi, Ibuki Hoshi, and Kaho Matsushita are the favorites to lead Ice Ribbon into the future and as future aces. However, I also believe you should keep your eye on Nao Ishikawa. She is constantly growing as a performer. I believe that she will be a future champion, and an ace one day. — Abid (@abid5706)

Ayame Sasamura (2AW)

Ayame Sasamura is the oldest wrestler on the Future of Joshi list and if she were any younger, she likely would have gotten her own spot after the strong 2022 she had. Her best work came in Sendai Girls, Marvelous, and SEAdLINNNG last year with her best overall match coming as she teamed with tag team partner Riko Kaiju against ASUKA and Makoto for the tag team titles. That match was not only brilliant but highlighted why Sasamura has a bright future if she keeps getting opportunities.

“I have been waiting for Ayame Sasamura to break out for a few years now, but it just hasn’t happened yet. She has the skill and is a terrific entertainer. She is only 27 years old, so there is still time. When you watch her matches with awesome talents like Takumi Iroha or Ayako Sato, Sasamura clearly belongs in the ring with that caliber of opponent. Being part of 2AW may limit her a bit, but she gets on enough cards for other promotions to be able to be seen. With the next cycle of early 20-somethings emerging in Joshi wrestling right now, Sasamura will need to breakout 2023 or may be left behind.” – Eric Howard (@TheJoshiPod)

As Eric says, 2023 is the year she needs to shine. She has all the build to be a solid part of any roster in Joshi. The power she has, which you can especially see with her devastating forearms, makes up the best part of her game. It’s no sure thing as to whether or not she will get her shot but as long as these three promotions keep giving her a shot, she has a good chance to breakout rather than fall behind the rest of her peers.

“Ayame Sasamura is one of those few Joshi wrestlers who do not quite have the “expected” trajectory, making her first steps in wrestling through Taka Michinoku’s Kaientai Dojo (now known as 2AW). Quickly, the Joshi scene opened its doors to Sasamura and she gradually made her mark both in her home promotion and outside of it, winning the SEAdLINNNG and Diana tag team, as well as the Sendai Girls Junior titles respectively these last few years. She even challenged for the top prize in 2AW, in what is one of 2022’s hidden Gems against Kengo Mashimo.

“Entering her sixth year in wrestling, the dynamic, resilient, and ever-cheerful Sasamura shall continue making strides in the future, especially in SEAdLINNNG within the Las Fresa de Egoistas faction, climbing the ranks and mentoring the resident super rookie Riko Kaiju as part of the promising Little Twin Berries tag team.” – Val (@NanaeismCultist)

Yurika Oka (Sendai Girls)

To wrap up the Honorable Mentions of the Future of Joshi series before jumping into our top 15 is Yurika Oka of Sendai Girls. The firey Oka has impressed for a few years now with 2022 featuring some of the best matches of her career, specifically her match with Miyuki Takase at the start of the year.

What she lacks in size, she brings in her fighting spirit and passion every time she heads out there. At only 19 years old, she has a 245-day reign with the Sendai Girls Junior Championship that Tomoka Inaba stopped. 2022 didn’t end up being as good a year professionally as it could have been due to an eye injury that held her out for over three months, but what she managed to accomplish in the time that she did compete is why she makes the list.

The Sendai Girls roster is small but Oka has as good a chance as anyone to rise up the ranks and be a true star for them and in the world of Joshi. She still hits as many dropkicks as any wrestler possibly could like a rookie but, as we noted, it’s that fighting spirit that makes her a key part of Sendai Girls moving forward. 2023 should be exciting.

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