Joshi Watch: Tokiko Kirihara

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Tokiko Kirihara
Photo / Twitter @KiraRi_1104

If there’s one lesson to be learned by watching Gatoh Move Pro Wrestling wrestler Tokiko Kirihara, it’s that it’s never too late to take a new path. At the age of 45, Kirihara is the oldest of the talent within the purple-and-yellow promotion. Nonetheless, she brings a wealth of experience from a previous form of hand-to-hand combat, immediately setting her apart from the crowd. In fact, it will be this experience that makes her that much more formidable of an opponent.

Prior to entering professional wrestling, Tokiko Kirihara was involved in mixed martial arts. More specifically, she was a legitimate kickboxer, having participated in the sport for years beforehand. Given the time spent in kickboxing, Kirihara’s entry into wrestling is that much more surprising. Despite this, the then 44-year-old fighter entered Gatoh Move, headed by Emi Sakura, in 2019. She trained at the promotion’s training facility, Daredemo Joshi Pro Wrestling, also known as Darejo Project.

Tokiko Kirihara
Photo / Twitter @KiraRi_1104
Kirihara made her unofficial Gatoh Move debut in the summer of 2019, wrestling in a series of exhibition matches.

These matches served to introduce Gatoh Move fans to the promotion’s newest class of wrestlers. Alongside Kirihara, the class in question included Chie Koishikawa, Sayaka, Sayuri, Rin Rin, and Lulu Pencil. Kirihara performed relatively well in said matches, picking up a singles victory over Lulu Pencil and winning an eight-person tag team match alongside Koishikawa, Rin Rin, and Gatoh Move stalwart Mitsuro Konno.

On August 28th, Kirihara made her official Gatoh Move debut at Shin-Kiba 1st Ring. It was here that she faced Mei Suruga, another featured star in the promotion. Though she ultimately lost, Kirihara utilized her MMA training, executing techniques such as an armbar, a judo throw, and a series of kicks. Kirihara was pitted against a fan favorite but held her own in defeat. From there, Kirihara worked with both promotion regulars and freelancers, the latter consisting of names such as Antonio Honda. In November, Kirihara picked up her first official singles victory against fellow newcomer Sayuri.

Tokiko Kirihara
Photo / Gatoh Move Pro Wrestling
2020 may prove to be even brighter for Kirihara.

In addition to her continued work in Gatoh Move, she recently branched out into other promotions. To be more exact, in February, she made her debut for Pro Wrestling HEAT UP. This promotion was founded by TAMURA, who makes Gatoh Move appearances from time to time. In her HEAT UP debut, Kirihara teamed with KIMITO in a losing effort against Konno and the mysterious Prince Kawasaki.

Though Tokiko Kirihara is still early into her professional wrestling career, her matches exhibited tremendous potential. She was able to parlay her experience in mixed martial arts into professional wrestling, developing a style of offense that reflects both forms of athleticism. Kirihara can also be looked at as a positive role model. Whether size, gender, or age, there is nothing that should stop one from pursuing their dreams. It will be interesting to see where Gatoh Move’s kickboxing star goes from here.

Recommended Matches:

Tokiko Kirihara vs. Mei Suruga (August 28, 2019)

As stated earlier in this column, this was Tokiko Kirihara’s debut match. Here she faced Mei Suruga, who got the jump on her early from. From there, Kirihara utilized her superior power and MMA background in order to hang with the bubbly “Mei-chan.” This match was solid and it provided Kirihara with a stage to prove what she could do. For someone who got into the business late in life, compared to most wrestlers, it’s safe to say she impressed in this first official go-around.

Sayaka and Mitsuru Konno vs. Yuna Mizumori and Tokiko Kirihara (October 22, 2019)

In this match, the newcomer Tokiko Kirihara was tested in the field of tag team action. This match saw her team with Yuna Mizumori, one half of the Asia Dream Tag Team Champions, against another rookie and veteran pair in the form of Sayaka and Mitsuru Konno. Though Kirihara was on the figurative ropes early on, her submission game would soon come into play. She would even have Mizumori’s signature move lent to her in a comedic spot appropriate for Gatoh Move. This is an easy watch for those that wish to see more of Kirihara in action.

Mitsuru Konno vs. Tokiko Kirihara (November 17, 2019)

By this point, Tokiko Kirihara was a few months into her Gatoh Move career and proved her capabilities. These would be tested further when she faced Mitsuro Konno, one of the pillars of the promotion. Kirihara found herself being played at her own game, Konno using grounded holds early on. Eventually, Kirihara turned the tables, focusing on not only Konno’s arms but her legs as well. This is one of the most recent Gatoh Move matches that have been submission-heavy. For those that enjoy such a style of wrestling, this is worth checking out.

Check out past Joshi Watches and discover more stars from Japan!

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can watch Tokiko Kirihara at Gatoh Move on YouTube and via the Gatoh Move Experience.

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