As the modern wrestling community debates whether the women’s revolution began in mid-2000s TNA or in NXT a few years back, many historians will actually point to the Japanese women of the 1990s as the true start of what would become a revolution in pro wrestling, and not just for women. The high flying aerial assaults, combined with technical wrestling and a flair for presentation, set a tone and aesthetic for a style of innovation that many male indie stars are only just beginning to implement.
One of the most influential women of that original Japanese era was Manami Toyota, widely regarded as one of the most important professional wrestlers of the past 30 years, male or female. Today, at the age of 46, Toyota officially retired from the ring at a special 30th Anniversary show in Osaka, Japan after running a gauntlet that saw her defeat 50 women in 51 straight matches, before losing her final match against rival Tsukasa Fujimoto.
Trained by All-Japan Women’s legend Jaguar Yokota, Toyota made her pro wrestling debut in 1987 at the young age of 16. She became one of the pioneers of All-Japan’s women’s division throughout the 1990s, before leaving for GAEA in 2000. After five years, she had a short stint with JWP before closing out the last decade with Oz Academy. Throughout her career, she also had runs with Ice Ribbon, CHIKARA, CMLL, Sendai Girls, DIANA and many other promotions throughout Japan.
Today ends one of the most important wrestling careers of all time, and the industry has already started showing their respects via Twitter. See some of the early tributes below, plus enjoy some of her work from a landmark career with some full matches on video.
All time great Manami Toyota retired today.
"I want to return to a body that does not hurt anywhere anymore"
— Allan (@allan_cheapshot) November 3, 2017
— Mike Quackenbush (@MikeQuackenbush) November 3, 2017