Take This Torch: Hana Kimura and Kyoko Kimura

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In January, Hana Kimura sat down with major publisher Shueisha to discuss here wrestling career and her appearance on Terrace House. Of her career, she mentioned getting into wrestling because dance wasn’t going to pay the bills and upon recommendation from her mother.  

She had wrestled twice before in 2005 in comedy matches with her first match being a losing effort against her mother Kyoko Kimura. 

Hana Kimura Follows In Her Mother’s Footsteps 

When Hana entered the business, it was through training in WRESTLE-1 with joshi veteran Lin Byron—who wrestled as Ray before her death in 2018 at 36—and former New Japan Jr. Heavyweight champion, AKIRA. Hana Kimura had her first official match in March 2016. 

While Stardom has blown up joshi wrestling for an international audience, the scene around women’s wrestling is still smaller than it used to be. There are several promotions that have been around for decades but it doesn’t share have the same spotlight as it did in the 90s where all companies could thrive and company loyalty was expected.  

Instead, you’ll see a lot of the same wrestlers appearing in multiple promotions. This was the joshi wrestling scene an 18-year old Kimura came into. She came at the right time as things were stirring and Stardom was picking up steam. 

Family Ties In The Ring 

Throughout her short career, Hana Kimura would have several with her mother. In their first match as a team resulted in a loss. As 2016 rolled on, they would achieve success together in tag and six-woman action.  

The mother-daughter tandem would win the Artist of Stardom Title with partner Kagetsu in October 2016. Not even a full year in the business and Hana Kimura had claimed three titles, having picked up gold in the Ice Ribbon promotion a couple of weeks later in the now-defunct JWP promotion. 

This first brush with Stardom gold would be the first of three championship wins in the company and the first two reigns with the belt. The tandem would be a major part of the Oedo Tai faction in Stardom. 

I also felt that my true professional wrestling life would begin after my mother retired.” 

While they would regularly team up in, the two of them had a couple of matches against each other. Their first competitive showdown was a losing effort for the younger Kimura less than three months after her debut at her August 2016 Produce show. She put on a strong fight going over 15-minutes with Kyoko.  

It would be business as usual with tag action afterward but there was still unfinished business for Hana Kimura. Whether in trios or tags, the Kimura family was doing well throughout 2016. In October 2016, she finally managed to score a victory over her mother in tag team action. However, it wasn’t a concrete victory as she defeated her mother’s partner in the bout. 

Kyoko Kimura was now 39-years old, 2016 was closing out, and she planning to retire in January. If Hana wanted to get a landmark win her career, this was it. The torch was waiting to be passed but Hana had to take it. January 22, 2017, Kyoko Kimura’s retirement show.

With her step-father and MMA fighter ISAO as their partner, the Kimura family lost in a trios contest against the trio of Minoru Suzuki, Aja Kong, and Meiko Satomura. Afterward, Hana got her match against Kyoko Kimura and would defeat her with her mother’s Big Boot move. 

Take This Torch: Hana Kimura and Kyoko Kimura
Pictured: Hana Kimura (right), Kyoko Kimura (mother, left), ISAO (step-father, middle)

Potential To Burn 

As she predicted, her 2017 was eventful after sealing her mother’s career. Hana Kimura’s own career would be short but it had an explosive first year. Kimura was constantly progressing and became a star in joshi wrestling during a period when stars heading to the U.S and signing contracts wasn’t unusual.  

The younger Kimura’s death at 22 punctuates that she had potential to burn and was still just ramping up. Who knows what role she could’ve played in women’s wrestling in Japan, the U.S, or Mexico? Had her star continued to rise, she could’ve been a sensation in either of those major markets for wrestling. 

It’s evident that she thought so as well. In that same interview with Shueisha, she said (translated via Google): 

I think that 2020 should be the year of Hana Kimura. The reality is that I haven’t worn my belt as a single yet, and I haven’t been able to get good results just by winning the league match once. I’m keenly aware of that, so in 2020 I’d like to leave an absolute nail mark, such as strength and belt acquisition, no matter what happens!” 

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