A brief introduction to myself, I am often referred to as Manda Panda and I have an affinity for wrestling. From corporate promotions to the independent scene. In the western world when the topic of wrestling is brought up the general public recollects the names of Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage to The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin also known as the guy with the beers to John Cena and CM Punk, all with successful lengthy careers. Then you have those who like wrestling a little bit more and they bring up names such as AJ Styles, The Young Bucks and the Briscoe brothers to Blue Demon and El Hijo Del Santo to Antonio Inoki, Kenta Kobashi, Liger and Ultimo Dragon.
I’ll focus on Japanese wrestling or as it’s properly titled Puroresu and bring back classics from New Japan Pro Wrestling to now defunct All Womens Pro-Wrestling. The wrestlers offer a diverse style from high flyers, technickers, grapplers, strong style, luchadore and the MMA infused with their style of wrestling. Of all the Wrestlers and Joshis one individual stands out the most, since her professional wrestling debut at the age of 16 she rose quickly through the joshi ranks and became a beloved female wrestler in Japan. Her name is Manami Toyota, she was beyond talented in her prime with her unique moves, the story telling in her wrestling, most notably with her rivalry with Toshiyo Yamada and her respect for the business and co-workers spoke volumes about her character and just pure heart for wrestling. During her rivalry with Yamada whom they later become a tag team, they had a hair vs hair match. Both women not wanting to have their hair shaved off put on a great match but the title was at stake as well and going for the win meant tremendously more. Manami took the win but after the match she stated that she did not want Yamada to shave her hair off, this showed the amount of respect she has for her opponents. For a woman to have her hair shaven off is humiliating on its own. Another factor that Manami possessed was her unique move list of signature moves and finishers. From aerial attacks, her many ocean suplexes and the insane Manami roll she would execute so perfectly, she’s easily an entertaining wrestler to watch. Toyota seemed invulnerable she had matches where her opponent would try and obliterate her but she seemed super human being able to counter and go hard on the offense. She prevailed even when she did not come out victorious. To me she really stands out in women’s wrestling, there are other women of her caliber such as Akira Hokuto their wrestling match was brutal (Fun fact: Akira wrestled a match with a broken freakin neck) but Manami always had that little extra something. If you want familiarize yourself with Manami Toyota I suggest this one match to fall in love with: Manami Toyota vs Kuoko Inoue and I won’t describe any part of it, this is a journey you must take on your own and learn.