ShuPro 2020 Wrestlers to Watch: Manami

Image from Weekly Pro-Wrestling #2050

Even if you mention the name of Manami from Sendai Girl’s Pro Wrestling it seems that she is still not well-known in the world of wrestling, so first I will review her career – she debuted in the first year of middle school. It was one month before her 13th birthday.

Every week Sendai Girls’ runs the ‘Senjo Circle’ at the dojo, a workout for ordinary people under the direction of the wrestlers. For Manami, who loved pro wrestling and joined in the 4th year of junior school, it was in order to acquire full-fledged training with the aim of becoming a pro wrestler. She ultimately made her debut in July of 2017 against the legendary 40-year veteran Jaguar Yokota.

After her debut match Manami said that her aim was “to become a strong wrestler,”  but since she was still physically maturing it was only natural that the defeats kept coming. It was at that time that an immediate goal of hers became the establishment of the Sendai Girls’ Junior Title.

The first title match took place at Sendai Sun Plaza Hall on the 14th of October 2018, but Manami lost to Ayame Sasamura of K-DOJO (at the time). The failure to win the belt of her own promotion, and the result of the match against a wrestler who had a similar career to her own (her debut was three months before Sasamura), was a crushing loss.

She was overwhelmed by sadness, the likes of which she had never experienced in her life, and backstage she collapsed to the floor unable to move. She didn’t speak to anyone. Next to her, a glowing Sasamura spoke about how happy she was, and it was such a contrasting scene that Manami remembers it even now.

Naturally, Manami has not forgotten the regret she felt on that day. She wanted to avenge that loss and although she was given three shots to win the title she failed to do so, until finally Meiko Satomura announced that it was “the last chance”, which came to be on October 13th 2019 at Sendai Sun Plaza, a year after the disappointment of losing to Sasamura.

Finally, she captured the title from the champion Shindo Mikoto, who she had repeatedly been unable to beat. It took one year for her tears of frustration to change to tears of joy. “Repeatedly losing gave me a lot of things to reflect on, and I think there’s a link between that and my win today,” she clearly had not wasted her days of continuous losses. Winning her first title was her crowning achievement of last year.

On January 12th in Sendai she had her first title defence against Yurika Oka, who debuted in September 2019.  There are also trainees in the dojo. Manami has an awareness of being a senpai, and what is probably even more important, the competitive spirit of not wanting to lose to her juniors has made Manami improve as a wrestler. In fact, “everyone has their own unique characteristics – since Oka has more stamina I feel really strongly that I can’t lose to her,” she explained.

She is preparing to graduate from middle school in March, but her intention is not to go to high school but to focus completely on pro wrestling. “Right now I’m wrestling and going to middle school, but focusing on both is difficult, and I think if I go on to high school it will get even more difficult. So I think it’s better to focus on the thing that I love, and I love pro wrestling.”

Until now she has prioritised school work, but that attention will be turned to pro wrestling. The number of matches she has should increase, and as she fights strong opponents she wants to become strong herself. She wrote “I will fulfil my dreams” on her paper. First that means “becoming the best joshi wrestler in Japan,” then “the best in the world.” Finally, Manami’s dream is “to be the best in the galaxy.”

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