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RAW Women’s Champion Bianca Belair Talks Equity and Obstacles During Virtual Summit Panel for Front Office Sports

June 2021 PWI

RAW Women’s Champion Bianca Belair Talks Equity and Obstacles During Virtual Summit Panel for Front Office Sports

June 2021 PWI
Belair’s first solo PWI cover, June 2021

WWE SUPERSTAR BIANCA Belair took part in Front Office Sports‘ “Trailblazing Pros On Breaking Barriers” panel on Thursday, June 23. The panel was one of several introduced as a part of this year’s “Title IX: The Next 50 Years” virtual summit hosted by the media brand. With Sports Innovation Lab CEO and co-founder Angela Ruggiero and Just Women’s Sports Content Strategist Haley Kopmeyer, who was also the acting moderator, Belair gave her thoughts on a number of topics, including the biggest obstacles she’s faced upon becoming a WWE Superstar, equity, and her future goals.

Below are the current RAW Women’s champion’s thoughts on those and much more:

When asked how she became a WWE Superstar:

“I was a collegiate hurdler at the University of Tennessee. (I finished up at the University of Tennessee.) After that, I missed that competitive atmosphere. I got into CrossFit, and I was really just expressing myself with wearing crazy outfits and outlandish outfits. Hall-of-Famer Mark Henry discovered me and said, ‘Hey, you have everything it takes to be a WWE Superstar. I see it in you. I can get you a tryout, but I can’t get them to hire you.’ It took me two tryouts, and now I’ve completely fallen in love. I never imagined myself being a WWE Superstar, but now I can’t imagine myself being anything other than that now. It was just a perfect fit.”   

When asked what was the biggest obstacle she’s had to overcome:

“I think there were two for me. Initially, it was coming into [the] WWE [without] any knowledge of what I was getting myself into. I didn’t really watch wrestling growing up, and I came in with zero experience. I’ve played sports since I was five years old, and I was able to pull from almost [every] sport to go into the other sport. With WWE, I just had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know the culture. I didn’t know the history. I felt like I was just constantly playing catch up and having to prove myself that I belonged there. For a while, I felt like I was stealing someone else’s dream that had maybe dreamed of being in the WWE since they were a kid, and that wasn’t me. My biggest obstacle was just really starting from zero and feeling like I had to prove myself and dealing with imposter syndrome throughout the way.”

“My second obstacle—I think that I came into WWE [at] an amazing time where women were beginning to get these amazing opportunities … I was in that time where we were having all of a sudden the first-ever women’s match for this occasion, the first-ever women’s match for this occasion, the first-ever women’s main event. I was having to rise to the occasion and [was] dealing with all that pressure and feeling like, Okay these moments aren’t just about me, it’s about representation, and it’s not just about letting myself down, but letting other people down. It was really just living up to the expectations of—not just my own expectations, but the expectations of others—and proving that women do belong in these spaces.”

When asked about her thoughts in regards to pay equity and improved facilities for women in the present and future:

“We’ve come a long way, but I still feel like we have a long way to go. With WWE, we’ve done amazing things along the way with women where we have grown so much. In WWE we’re at a time now where … we’re main-eventing on a weekly basis throughout our shows. We’re main eventing at WrestleManias. I was one of the first Black females to main event at WrestleMania, and that led to winning an ESPY. I feel like it’s now becoming where we’re celebrating women for doing these unprecedented moments, but I want it to get to a point where it’s now the norm. The conversation is shifting from, ‘That was the best women’s match I’ve seen, of all-time,” to, “That was the best match that I’ve seen, of all-time.’ We [WWE’s female superstars] have been able to go to Saudi Arabia and perform. In 2019 we had the first-ever women’s match in Saudi Arabia, and I was able to be a part, in February, of Elimination Chamber. So we’re always focused on it’s great for little girls and women to see us in these positions, but push the conversation that it’s even more important for little boys to see us in these positions and to see women represent in this way. Because, a lot of times, there’s a lot of men that make the rules or that open the doors and allow these opportunities, and we just need those opportunities. I just want the conversation to continue shifting from ‘What more do women need to do to have equal opportunities and equity?’ to [where] we don’t need to do anything more. We just need those opportunities because we always show up and we always shout out. We’ve just seen that with Amanda Serrano and Katie Taylor, where they were able to main-event and headline in Madison Square Garden. It was amazing. I was able to be a part of that. It was considered the biggest women’s boxing match of all-time. But I can’t wait till it gets to the biggest boxing match of all time.”

When asked how WWE is currently supporting women and building the next generation of superstars:

“The amazing thing about WWE [is] any woman can watch and they will find someone on television or on the roster they can relate to. That’s what I love about [the] WWE. We don’t just put women in one box. We’re in a space [where] we’re comfortable to be ourselves and we represent what being a woman means to us. We’re putting women in prominent storylines. We’re all about storytelling—that’s how we reach our consumer, and that’s how we reach our audience, through storytelling. We’re continuing to push women out there. We have women that embrace their femininity. We have women that embrace their strength. We have women that come from all different backgrounds. We have women that have just had children and are coming back and showing that you can have it all. We’re really just continuing to push women in that direction and changing the conversation—that women can do just as amazing things as men sometimes and even … better.

A [recent] tweet that really touched me was from a mom that brought her son to a show, and her son said, ‘Look, Mom, look at Bianca Belair! She’s doing all the things that the men are doing!’ The mom responded, ‘Yes she is, and even better.’  

We have an NIL [Next in Line] program … where we’re able to recruit women and help them develop themselves into future potential superstars in WWE. For me, I kind of had to figure it out on my own. It took me a couple of years after being a collegiate athlete to get into WWE and find my way. Now, WWE has a clearer pathway for women to find their way into [the company].

It’s amazing. And I feel like, especially as a woman after college and [for] collegiate athletes, I feel like we don’t always have as many opportunities as the men in high-profile sports organizations or have a lot of higher pay. Having this clear pathway into WWE, I think, is an amazing thing, especially for women coming out of college.”

Thoughts on the best advice she’s ever received:

“I feel like I’ve gotten so much advice. [laughs] A lot of good advice. I think, for me, the one thing that sticks with me is a quote. ‘Don’t just learn history, but create history.’ I think we all, especially us women, go through the history of how far we’ve come. And I think that it’s great, and we need to know what people have done … the women, what they have done before us to pave this road for us. But also, be a part of that history. Create your own history. Be comfortable with trying. Try everything, because you may not know what you may be good at. I tried WWE. I had no idea that I would be good at this. But, because I tried it, I was able to discover a new part of myself. I’m all about being ‘The EST,’ and that’s what I represent when I walk into WWE. Being ‘The EST’—being the strongest, the fastest, the roughest, the toughest, the quickest, the greatest, the best—it’s just about being the absolute best version of yourself and trying and starting over every single day.  

You’ll eventually get to where you need to get to. Especially as a woman, you need to show up as your authentic self. You don’t have to choose one part of yourself to present. You don’t have to place yourself in this little box. You can be everything that you want to be. When you do that, people are able to relate to you and grasp onto that. Every woman needs to be able to look at the screen and see someone that they can relate to and that inspires them to just be themselves.”  

On what’s next for the WWE Superstar:

“For now, I am the RAW Women’s champion. For me, it’s just all about … finding my ‘why.’ My ‘why’ is to inspire people. I know my role models changed the whole trajectory of my life, so I just want to give that back to everyone else and inspire them and just continue to change the perspective of [the] female wrestler. We are everything. We’re not just wrestlers. We are athletes. We are performers. We are activists. We are representation.” 

Bianca Belair is scheduled to defend her RAW Women’s championship against Carmella, on Saturday, July 2, at Money in the Bank.

Please credit Candace Cordelia Smith/Pro Wrestling Illustrated for any use of the above transcribed text.

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CFF22 Special Interview DDT

CyberFight Festival '22 Official Poster

CFF22 Special Interview DDT

Dramatic Dream Team’s Yuki Ueno and Naomi Yoshimura are leading the charge in the battle for DDT supremacy at CyberFight Festival. This DDT Pro eight-person match will feature some of the biggest names and most wildly popular wrestlers on the company’s roster. With a mixture of power, speed, high-flying acumen, and great senses of humor, could this match be the sleeper hit of the entire event?

Yoshimura teams with HARASHIMA, Masahiro Takanashi, and Chris Brookes, while Ueno tags with MAO, ASUKA, and Shunma Katsumata. With a representative from each side present, get ready to learn more about DDT as the only thing they both agree on — is how much many people are underestimating DDT.

Karen Peterson: Many PWI readers are still learning about DDT. Please start with a short self-introduction.

Yuki Ueno: I’m Yuki Ueno. I’m in a faction named The 37 KAMIINA alongside Konosuke Takeshita [currently on an international excursion in AEW], Shunma Katsumata, MAO, and Toui Kojima. We’re the hottest, trendiest, and most fun group in all of Japan! DDT is the best wrestling company in the world, because it’s a treasure chest of powerful and entertaining wrestling!

Naomi Yoshimura: My name is Naomi Yoshimura. I belong to the DISASTER BOX faction, and I work in DDT Pro-Wrestling.

Peterson: What does CyberFight Festival mean to you? What are your feelings about this big annual show with all your sibling promotions?

Ueno: This is a solid opportunity to show people the heart of DDT. Many say that [DDT] is child’s play and a goofy circus, but I think that is due to a lack of knowledge of the [depth and ability of those] of our company. It isn’t about comparing DDT to other promotions, but about the individuality of DDT. The challenge about every promotion coming together in an event like this is finding balance—because there are clashes of pride. The key aspect is making the climb and elevating the entire company together, not tearing one another down. This once-a-year event really lights the fire under all of us in CyberFight.

Yoshimura: CyberFight Festival is our once-a-year celebration where all four companies—DDT, Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling, Ganbare ☆ Pro-Wrestling, [and NOAH]—come together as one. Honestly, I cannot wait! Personally, I think DDT is the most interesting of the four. When it comes to levels of entertainment, strength, fun, and awe, DDT is consistently at the top in all of these categories. I want to show that to our audience!

Peterson: What are you most looking forward to with your match at CFF ’22? Which match (that isn’t your own) are you most excited to watch?

Ueno: This match is a collection of wrestlers who work exceptionally hard and compete against one another on a regular basis. Everyone is very familiar with each other’s moves, and we’re prepared to take everyone to another level with our performance in this huge match. As our match is solely DDT wrestlers, we can truly highlight the very best of DDT and prove who is the cream of the crop in our company. I can guarantee you’re going to want to keep your eyes on everyone in this match because everyone wants to win. The other match I am looking forward to is (Toui) Kojima’s because he’s the last member of 37KAMIINA*. I have high expectations for Kojima, especially after the way he showed his resolve at the press conference. I believe that with a strong frame of mind, one bolsters their physical performance, so I want him to keep that in mind during their fight. I want to see [Kojima and Koroku] show the world what they are made of!”

[*Kojima teams with Yuya Koroku against NOAH’s Okada & Fujimura]

Yoshimura: Both HARASHIMA and Takanashi are veteran wrestlers in DDT. And, paired with Chris (Brookes) and myself, we’re four guys who joined DDT with great respect for the company. We’re teaming up to face The 37 KAMIINA’s Ueno, (Shunma) Katsumata, and MAO—three guys who represent present-day DDT—plus VENY (ASUKA), who is active all over the world. I believe our match at CyberFight Festival is the best way to truly experience what DDT has to offer. We will showcase the wide range of wrestling in DDT. It will be bright, fun, fierce, and hard-hitting, too! The three matches [on my radar] are Kenoh vs. Daisuke Sasaki, DDT (Endo, Akiyama, & Higuchi) versus NOAH (Nakajima, Kotoge, & Inamura), and Okada & Fujimura (NOAH) versus Kojima & Koroku (DDT).

Peterson: After CFF, what are your goals for the rest of the summer?”

Ueno: I want to win the KO-D (King Of DDT) Tournament and become the strongest in all of DDT. After which, I’d like to challenge for the KO-D openweight championship. I think the greatest obstacle, though, is my physical strength. Winning such a challenging tournament would be a great way to prove to everyone how much I’ve grown.”

Yoshimura: After CyberFight Festival concludes, the next big thing is the start of The King of DDT. I’ve had some success as a tag team wrestler, but I have yet to break through as a singles wrestler. So, this year, I’m going to do my best to win. We also have Wrestle Peter Pan on August 20, which is one of our biggest events, so I want to focus my attention there, too.

Peterson: Do you have any interest in wrestling abroad? Where would you like to go? Who would you like to have as an opponent in the future?

Ueno: Honestly, I don’t have a strong desire. I developed as a wrestler in DDT, and I want to become the top, so that is where my focus is currently. I am willing to do whatever it takes to make DDT a household name and throw all my energy into making this a reality. One day, I would like to face HUB [veteran Japanese freelancer]. He’s the wrestler I’ve aspired to be most like. I find him to be the ultimate in strength and coolness factor!

Yoshimura: I’ve had matches in L.A., Ohio, Chile, Canada, and South Korea. There’s a creative and interesting approach to wrestling abroad. I would love to revisit matches with previous opponents, and also invite them to come and wrestle in Japan. If I am looking at domestic opponents, the one who stands out in my mind is my mentor, Zeus [formerly of All Japan, now president of Osaka Pro Wrestling].

Do you have any special messages you’d like to send to the international fans?

Ueno: DDT’s greatest power is our strength and ability to truly have fun! I hope more people will take notice of DDT and me! I hope you’ll support us, too!

Yoshimura: I want to showcase all the fun we have in DDT—not just within Japan, but I want it to reach everyone all over the world. We have so many wonderful wrestlers in DDT. Just give us one try and find out for yourself!

A full event CyberFight Festival 2022 report will be available at POST Wrestling after the show concludes, and a feature in the November 2022 Issue of PWI will be available in August.

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CFF22 Special Interview with Go Shiozaki

CyberFight Festival '22 Official Poster

CFF22 Special Interview with Go Shiozaki

Ahead of CyberFight Festival 2022, several wrestlers from the CyberFight promotions are inviting everyone reading PWI to watch this special showcase event! After an outstanding run throughout 2020 and into early-2021 as GHC champion, Go Shiozaki would miss the inaugural CyberFight Festival as he required surgery. On November 28, 2021, he announced his return after the dual GHC heavyweight and GHC National championship match, which KONGO’s Katsuhiko Nakajima and KENOH wrestled to a sixty-minute time limit draw.

In the main event of CyberFight Festival 2022, Shiozaki will defend NOAH’s GHC heavyweight title against New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Satoshi Kojima. Shiozaki and Kojima will square off in a battle of chops and lariats, as GHC champion Shiozaki tries to smash the breaks on Kojima’s aspirations to complete the triumvirate of top Japanese titles (IWGP, AJPW Triple Crown, and GHC heavyweight titles). With an exceptionally tight schedule, Mr. Shiozaki kindly provided a short interview about his upcoming match against Kojima and his responsibilities as he leads the charge for NOAH at CyberFight Festival 2022.

Karen Peterson: Unfortunately, due to injury, last year you were unable to participate in CyberFight Festival. What does it mean to main event such a large company showcase as GHC champion?

Go Shiozaki: I am honored to participate in this year’s CyberFight Festival as GHC heavyweight champion and honored to be in the main event as champion. I feel great, and I feel responsible at the same time. I am absolutely the 38th GHC heavyweight champion, and I believe this is a great opportunity for me to show that “I AM NOAH” to the world.

Peterson: What has been your biggest challenge since returning to NOAH at the Nippon Budokan on January 1 at NOAH’s The New Year 2022?

Shiozaki: Until I won this GHC heavyweight championship back, I had numerous challenges since I returned on January 1. But I can tell you that I never thought of giving up. I believed in myself and kept looking forward to recapturing this championship, and I did that on April 30.

Peterson: In the lead-up to this match, you’ve faced New Japan’s Satoshi Kojima in multiple tag matches, something which has really brought NJPW fans’ attention to NOAH. Did you ever expect to defend against someone like Kojima, who is looking to close to the loop on Japan’s “Big Three” championships, having previously held NJPW’s IWGP heavyweight championship and AJPW’s Triple Crown championship?

Shiozaki: While I am with Pro Wrestling NOAH, I didn’t expect to defend this title against New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Satoshi Kojima. But, when he appeared as “X” [surprise participant] at our Ryogoku event, I understood that a wrestler like Kojima—who has experience of being a champion—would pay attention to the GHC heavyweight championship, as this is a prestigious and valuable championship. He has held [both the] IWGP heavyweight championship and Triple Crown championship, however, I have no intention of giving him an opportunity to have this GHC heavyweight championship.

Peterson: What are your goals as GHC champion in 2022? Do you have any interest in defending the GHC championship abroad?

Shiozaki: “My goal is to put more value on this GHC heavyweight championship as the champion. I need to focus on the immediate goal, which is defending this championship against the upcoming challenger, Satoshi Kojima. And, of course, I have an interest in defending this championship around the world in the future, to make it more valuable.

Peterson: With CyberFight Festival being the biggest event of the year, and it being broadcast around the world, do you have a special message for the international fans?

Shiozaki: I hope more people know about NOAH, its competition, and the competition over the GHC heavyweight championship. I understand it is still difficult for our international fans to come to Japan and watch our live event. However, I hope all of you join our event through WRESTLE UNIVERSE and watch what is going on right now. Pro Wrestling NOAH and I will keep moving forward.

Bonus Round!

Peterson: Lately, you’ve posted lots of K-pop-related content on social media! What are your top three favorite BTS songs? Do you like any other K-pop bands?

Shiozaki: My top three favorites BTS songs are “Permission to Dance,” “NO MORE DREAM,” and “Outro: WINGS.” So far, my favorite K-pop band is just BTS.

Time to add these Mr. I AM NOAH x BTS track recommendations to your Arm Day Workout Playlists, Everyone!! – K.P.

A full event CyberFight Festival 2022 report will be available at POST Wrestling after the show concludes, and a feature in the November 2022 Issue of PWI will be available in August.

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CyberFight Festival 2022 Preview

CyberFight Festival '22 Official Poster

CyberFight Festival 2022 Preview

CyberFight Festival 2022 will be broadcast live on WRESTLE UNIVERSE on Sunday, June 12. CFF ’22 will emanate from the Saitama Super Arena starting at 2 p.m. (Japan local time) and boasts a massive 13-match card including title matches, individual promotion exhibition matches, battles for company pride, a special announcement from Keiji Muto, and a festival atmosphere with a variety of matches to enjoy!

This special CyberFight Festival coverage will be available in part on POST Wrestling and in Pro Wrestling Illustrated. I will be covering the event for both outlets, with a full event report over at POST Wrestling after the conclusion of CFF ’22 and an additional write-up in the November 2022 issue of PWI.

Full Announced Match Card

[Numbers in parentheses represent the number of falls and time limit, respectively.]

  • Opening Match KICKOFF: DDT Tag Team Match (1/15): Muscle Sakai & Yukio Naya vs. Soma Takao & Kazuki Hirata
  • Opening Match 2: 10-Woman Tag (1/15): Hyper Misao, Yuki Aino, YuuRi, Pom Harajuku, & Haruna Neko vs. Nao Kakuta, Mahiro Kiryu, Moka Miyamoto, Arisu Endo, & Kaya Toribami
  • Opening Match 3: DDT vs Ganbare☆Pro-Wrestling (1/15): Yukio Sakaguchi, Saki Akai & Hideki Okatani (DDT) vs. Ken Ohka, Yuna Manase & Mizuki Watase (GanPro)
  • 1st Match: NOAH vs DDT (1/20): Kinya Okada & Kai Fujimura (NOAH) vs Toui Kojima & Yuya Koroku (DDT)
  • 2nd Match: TJPW 6-Woman Tag (1/20): Miyu Yamashita, Maki Itoh, & Julia Nagano vs. Hikari Noa, Suzume, & Yuki Arai
  • 3rd Match: DDT 8-Man Tag (1/30): Yuki “Sexy” Iino, Danshoku “Dandy” Dieno, Yumehito “Fantastic” Imanari, & Akito vs. Sanshiro Takagi, Kendo Kashin, Shinya Aoki & Yumiko Hotta
  • 4th Match: Princess of Princess Championship Qualifier 4-Way Match (1/30): Rika Tatsumi vs. Mizuki vs. Yuki Kamifuku vs. Miu Watanabe *The winner of this match will challenge for the Princess of Princess championship at the Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling Ota-ku Sogo Gymnasium at Summer Sun Princess (July 9).
  • 5th Match: NOAH 10-Man Tag (1/30): Takashi Sugiura, Kazuyuki Fujita, Masa Kitamiya, Daiki Inaba, & Shuhei Taniguchi vs. Michael Elgin, Hijo de Doctor Wagner Jr., Rene Dupree, Simon Gotch, & Timothy Thatcher
  • 6th Match: DDT 8-Man Tag (1/30): HARASHIMA, Naomi Yoshimura, Chris Brookes, & Masahiro Takanashi vs. Yuki Ueno, Shunma Katsumata, MAO, & ASUKA
  • 7th Match: NOAH 6-Man Tag (1/45): Rob Van Dam, Yoshinari Ogawa & HAYATA vs. Kaito Kiyomiya, Daisuke Harada, & YO-HEY
  • 8th Match: NOAH vs DDT (1/45): Tetsuya Endo, Jun Akiyama, & Kazusada Higuchi vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima, Atsushi Kotoge, & Yoshiki Inamura
  • 9th Match: NOAH vs DDT (1/45): Kenoh (NOAH) vs. Daisuke Sasaki (DDT) *This match will have a Hardcore/No-DQ stipulation.
  • Semi-Main Event: TJPW Princess of Princess Championship (1/30): Shoko Nakajima (c) vs. Yuka Sakazaki
  • Main Event: NOAH GHC World Championship (1/60): Go Shiozaki (c) (NOAH) vs. Satoshi Kojima (NJPW)

As a special preview for CyberFight Festival, several wrestlers have sent special messages to PWI readers. Stay tuned to find out who will be dropping by!

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CFF22 Special Interview DDT vs. GanPro

CyberFight Festival '22 Official Poster

CFF22 Special Interview DDT vs. GanPro

Ahead of CyberFight Festival 2022, several wrestlers from CyberFight are inviting everyone reading PWI to watch this special showcase event. As Dramatic Dream Team’s (DDT) Hideki Okatani and Ganbare Pro-Wrestling’s (Gan☆Pro) Yuna Manase prepare to square off in a clash for company pride, they took some time to sit down and answer a few questions!

Okatani and Manase will participate in a six-person tag match. Their match is part of a long-standing rivalry between the companies, and will also feature Yukio Sakaguchi & Saki Akai from DDT and Ken Ohka & Mizuki Watase from Gan☆Pro. The match will be the third opening showcase match on the extensive 14-match card!

Peterson: Many PWI readers are still learning about Gan☆Pro and DDT, please start with a short self-introduction.

Yuna Manase: My name is Yuna Manase and I belong to Ganbare Pro-Wrestling! My favorite wrestling moves are the lariat and the brainbuster. It’s a pleasure to meet everyone!

Hideki Okatani: I’m Hideki Okatani from DDT, and I belong to the unit Eruption. DDT has a wide range of wrestling spanning from comedic to very serious. We also do matches in unique locations [like the Tokyo Dome Baseball Field, local zoos, and waterparks].”

Peterson: What does CyberFight Festival mean to you? What are your feelings about this big annual show with all your sibling promotions?

Manase: If I don’t show everyone the power of Ganbare Pro-Wrestling here, I don’t think there will be another chance. I want to prove to [CyberFight] that we’ll keep fighting, and our fight against wrestling society starts with Eruption!

Okatani: [CFF22] is a great opportunity for us to mix with wrestlers in CF’s other promotions. I’m thrilled to see all the inter-promotional matches and rivalries! This is a prime chance for new fans to discover us, as well.

Peterson: What are you most looking forward to with your match at CFF ’22? Which match (that isn’t your own) are you most excited to watch?

Manase: Previously, Gan☆Pro fought against Eruption two years ago, but that was before I was a member. For us, this is a match we need to win. Not only do I want to defeat Eruption, but so much so that we’re the winners of CyberFight Festival.

Okatani: I really want people to see how deep the competitive bad blood runs between our companies! Aside from our match, the competitive DDT/NOAH six-man match [Tetsuya Endo, Jun Akiyama, & Kazusada Higuchi vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima, Atsushi Kotoge, & Yoshiki Inamura] features wrestlers who truly symbolize each promotion.”

Peterson: After CFF, what are your goals for the rest of the summer?

Manase: I have some unfinished business with Stardom’s Unagi Sayaka. Recently, she dropped by Gan☆Pro unannounced and said a few cheeky things. We have a match at WRESTLE SEKIGAHARA on July 10. I am also the Ice Ribbon International Ribbon tag champion with Totoro Satsuki.

Okatani: I intend on entering and winning the D-Oh Grand Prix*. 

[*The D-Oh Grand Prix is DDT’s annual round-robin tournament. Its winner receives the opportunity to challenge for the KO-D Openweight championship. The current champion is Tetsuya Endo.]

Peterson: Do you have any interest in wrestling abroad? Where would you like to go? Who would you like to have as an opponent in the future?”

Okatani: “I definitely have an interest (in wrestling abroad). I’ll go to literally any promotion in any country in the world that invites me! I have a particular interest in Orange Cassidy.”

[Note: Ms. Manase was not asked this question, as she was provided a different set of questions during her interview.]

Peterson: With CyberFight Festival being the biggest event of the year, and its being broadcast around the world, do you have a special message for the international fans?”

Manase: I live in Japan, and it’s an island country, so I cannot see you very easily! I want to meet everyone and speak together in person. In the meantime, I’ll keep doing my best. I’ll be waiting for you!

Okatani: For those who are unfamiliar with DDT, please consider watching and check us out! I guarantee you’ll become obsessed with DDT!

Keep an eye out for this Saturday’s POST Dream Slam Weekly for an exclusive audio interview with Yuna Manase prior to her match at CyberFight Festival! A full event report will be available at POST Wrestling after the show concludes.