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. Our latest name to join the series is Riko Kawahata.
It’s rare that a wrestler can go from one of the rest to one of the best but that’s exactly what Riko Kawahata has done over the past year. A year ago, she showed some signs but almost felt like she was too raw of a prospect to turn into what she is now. Her arsenal featured a questionable Moonsault and nothing like the kicks we see from her now. Kawahata had the energy, the feel, and the heart that are all so important to rise to the top — but it came down to the in-ring aspect and she has that now too.
As someone who has followed Kawahata, she’s a truly special talent. Her addition of kicks (and improvement of them) has led to her rise as they not only pack a punch but are so fast that they have become the most important part of her offense. As a babyface going against some of the hardest hitters on the Joshi scene, they’re needed to fight her way out of trouble.
From her dance during her entrance to her great babyface in peril work, Riko Kawahata draws you into her matches in a way few do. You really feel her energy of wanting to try her best in every match she is in, and when you mix that with her stiff move set, and a willingness to take as many hard bumps as possible it really feels like you are witnessing one of the great Joshi talents of the future in development.
Kawahata right now works mostly freelance but can almost be considered a regular in SEAdLINNNG, WAVE, and Marvelous. That’s a spot that fits her but she needs that one company that she can call home before she can get the main event run I truly believe she will be ready for it in a year or two. – Sondre Bjorn (@SondreBjorn)
As Sondre notes, a main event run can be in her sights sooner rather than later. She’s kicked off 2023 about as well as you can for a freelancer on the scene these days and that was with a match against Arisa Nakajima for the Beyond The Sea Championship in SEAdLINNNG. Not only was it her biggest match to date, but it was also her very best. She showed all that she learned but combined that with the never-say-die attitude needed to compete against someone like Nakajima. She lost, ultimately, but it was the match you build off of and one day can lead her to be champion for SEAdLINNNG and others.
Alex, who has seen a fair share of Joshi wrestlers who have succeeded (and failed), pains the picture as to why Kawahata is so exciting.
There are few wrestlers in Joshi wrestling today with all the tools of Riko Kawahata. Thanks to her background as a dancer the former Actwers girl’Z wrestler has always had the ability to jump off the page. Her entrance is filled with enough pizazz and energy that it’s difficult not to at least pay attention whenever she makes her way to the ring.
Lucky for us, she more than backs things up in the ring. While at first, she was relatively limited in what she was allowed to showcase she has been coming out of her shell more and more as time goes by. She continues to add to her arsenal of moves, now incorporating an array of kicks as well as her loud forearms.
As she continues to grow her offense she shows more confidence in the ring and is ready to hang with some of the top dogs on the Joshi indie scene. Her versatility is a real asset to the companies she appears in, not only can she operate as a babyface against a pushed wrestler, but she can be a slightly more dominant wrestler against those on or beneath her level.
If I had more faith in smaller Joshi groups I would be confident that Kawahata will be a titleholder sooner rather than later, but fresh faces being put into prominent positions is a rarity in the wider Joshi scene lately. If any company does take the risk on her, and it appears SEAdLINNNG will, then they could have a bonafide difference maker on their hands. If given the ball to run with, Kawahata could unleash her full powers and go on one of the most interesting tears the Joshi indies have seen since Sareee in 2019. – Alex Richards (@LWOSPWAlexR)
Part of what has also made Kawahata so great is her tag team with Maria of Marvelous. Known as Magenta, the duo has come together in the last year after being rivals against one another to quickly become the best team in Marvelous and one of the best in Joshi. They have both learned from one another and really mesh perfectly. They have similar styles in that they’re energetic and hard-hitting, but Maria’s technical work mixed with Kawahata’s striking is what makes them a perfect match.
2023 and beyond can be huge for Riko Kawahata. She has the talent to make it happen. Time will tell whether or not the rest of the scene recognizes it.
So far, so good.
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