In the past, we have created several alternate covers that we’ve released for exclusive digital download. The most popular of these, by far, was the 2021 Lulu Pencil cover, which lionized the #500 wrestler from that year’s PWI “500” ranking. Given Ms. Pencil’s sense of humor, charisma, and loyal fan base, there was quite a bit of interest in a cover bearing her likeness.
This year, in addition to Syuri nabbing the coveted number #1 spot, the “Women’s 150” saw another prominent joshi wrestler come in at 150: that being TJPW superhero, Hyper Misao.
Given our past history of creating alternate covers, there has been a call from social media users (like the one below) asking for an official variant featuring Hyper Misao.
Whether or not you have purchased your copy of our latest “Women’s 150” edition, you can download the alternate cover FOR FREE at the link below. The PDF file follows the exact same specs as our print mag, meaning you can easily affix it to the front or back of your magazine. Our many thanks to PWI Contributing Photographer, Issa Marie, who took the cover photo for this design, and our Art Director, Laura Brubaker, for bringing this cover to life.
YUKI UENO’S FIGHTING SPIRIT: The DDT Universal Champion On Konosuke Takeshita, Cara Noir, And Upcoming Title Defenses
Text & Photos by Issa Marie
“ALL YOU HAVE to do is watch my matches to know exactly who I am.”
So says two-time DDT Pro-Wrestling Universal champion, Yuki Ueno.
The 37KAMIINA standout successfully defended his title against Cara Noir at DDT’s Who’s Gonna TOP? 2022. That match, which we highly recommend every reader to go out of their way to watch, perfectly embodied Ueno’s fighting spirit.
Headed into a first-time showdown with the former PROGRESS Wrestling champion, Ueno’s attitude was one of enthusiasm. “I am excited to be able to have a match with Cara Noir,” he told PWI. “We have some similarities in our styles, and our physiques, but we come from two different worlds, and that adds a greater level of enjoyment when you wrestle someone who is not familiar to you.”
That is very much not the case for his next title defense against Koju Takeda. This current version of Ueno’s former partner is full of Pheromones!
Yuki Ueno will face “Shiningball” Takeda on October 23 at Korakuen Hall. (Make sure to subscribe to WRESTLE UNIVERSE, taking advantage of that two-week free trial, to watch what should be an essential battle.)
When asked what made him unique, Ueno turned the question back around to your truly. What did I think made him so unique? I responded: “Your Fighting Spirit!” Surprised by my answer, with the biggest smile, Ueno agreed.
From his debut match against current KO-D champion, Kazusada Higuchi, in 2016, Ueno has captivated the fans with his spirit—his ability to “turn raw emotions into power” (his words). “Regardless of the size or experience my opponents have, every time I step into the ring, I give it my all,” he said.
And he has done so consistently. Indeed, one need look no further than Ueno’s epic matches against 37KAMIINA ally Konosuke Takeshita or last year’s feud with Daisuke Sasaki. Ueno’s personal favorite bout happens to be the 2021 D-Oh Grand Prix final against Takeshita. “Having the opportunity to wrestle Take, my classmate, in a setting where we both were on equal terms at the time, the A-Block winner going against the B-Block winner was truly special,” he recalled. “I hoped that at the end of Who’s Gonna TOP? 2022, Take and I would stand side-by-side as champions.”
Unfortunately for Ueno, Takeshita was not able to overcome Higuchi in his final DDT match before embarking on another U.S. tour.
There are no immediate plans for the Universal champ to travel abroad. However, if given the opportunity, he wants to defend his title as much as he can. Though he does not have an explicit list of opponents, he would like to take his “Fighting Spirit” to Thailand and England.
2022年9月25日で行われたDDTプロレスの「Who’s Gonna TOP 2022」後楽園ホール大会でカーラ・ノワール選手に王座防衛に成功しました。あの闘志溢れる上野選手の姿を是非読者の皆様に見て頂きたいものです。
Ho Ho Lun’s Mission To Show The Beauty Of Wrestling Across Asia
Text & Photos by Issa Marie
HONG KONG NATIVE Ho Ho Lun began wrestling in 2009 … as a hobby! It wasn’t until a visit to the UK, two years later, that he made the decision to make it a career. Unlike most prospective wrestlers, who set their sights on being world champions, Lun knew that his niche was not the wrestling itself, but the behind-the-scenes work that goes into making a great show.
As the first non-Japanese Asian-born wrestler to compete around the world, Ho Ho Lun wanted to create opportunities for others like him. “Japan dominates the wrestling market in Asia; However, pro wrestling in Japan was difficult to access due to language barriers,” Lun told PWI. “And you know as well as I do that not all the streaming services are easy to navigate, as the English option is something that has [only recently] been available. So, I thought, why not bring Japanese talent for a tour in Asia to allow the fans to experience it firsthand? I watched Dragon Gate growing up, and I would order the DVDs from the U.S. My DVDs would be of wrestling in Japan, purchased in the U.S., and traveled across the world, just so I could watch.”
While at NXT, Lun took a chance that not many would by choosing to leave the company after receiving an offer to produce shows in Macao. This, along with his current work in Dragon Gate, further solidified his true purpose in the world of pro wrestling.
“I wanted to bring the best live wrestling, world-class wrestling, to Asia, working with the next generation of talent,” he said. “I love wrestling, but my heart and soul are in the foundation of building a great show and enhancing the undiscovered talent of Asia.”
Lun has worked to expand the wrestling markets in China, Malaysia, and, as a consultant, in the Philippines. During Dragon Gate’s Hong Kong tour in 2018, he made the decision to take his talent and vision to Japan, joining the company as a wrestler and one-half of the English commentary team.
Despite his trailblazing efforts, Lun’s approach is a familiar one to many promoters. He said: “My philosophy, to expand and garner a greater interest in pro wrestling, is to pair up a well-known wrestler and an up-and-coming talent.”
Indeed, this is the advice he gives to all the wrestlers and promotions he encounters in his travels. This answer piqued my interest, as I had seen that business model in Singapore at SPW’s Klash of Kings. I wondered: If Ho Ho Lun could establish his own promotion anywhere in the world, where would he do it, and whom would he bring to wrestle? “Singapore,” Lun immediately answered. “Singapore has the most supportive fans, language is not a barrier, and they have some amazing talented wrestlers. Thailand interests me as a future project. And, as to who I would bring? Jacky Funky Kamei and, of course, the Kung Fu Masters.”
In addition to wrestling and providing English commentary, Ho Ho Lun also manages Dragon Gate’s talent bookings in the U.S. If you are interested in having Dragon Gate wrestlers take part in your show, feel free to email him at email@example.com or DM via Twitter @hoholun719.
ON HEELS: Zicky Dice, Silas Mason, Dominik Mysterio
TEXT BY POLLO DEL MAR
SOMETIMES IT’S BEST to recognize you’re fighting a losing battle. Zicky Dice should have remembered this when our paths crossed recently in Connecticut.
On Sept. 22, Best Trivia Ever collected a mixture of today’s brightest talent and legends like Scott Steiner and Scotty 2 Hotty for SLAM 2, an unforgettable night of pro wrestling action in Milford. Seeking revenge for his humiliation at a SLAM event a year prior, Dice had the temerity to direct his anger toward me to begin the show.
The IMPACT Wrestling star’s callous and unwanted disruption turned me from the night’s emcee into an impromptu “general manager” and matchmaker of sorts. The grave error of threatening me if “appropriate opposition” was not offered did not end well for “The Outlandish One.”
Dice fell into a trap far too many do: underestimating the cunning and calculated “Manager Of Champions.” He also failed to recognize just how far my connections extend in the wrestling world.
Some 90 minutes later, when he returned to the ring to menace and intimidate, it was my turn to surprise. You should have seen Zicky’s expression when the music hit and Eddie Kingston came through that crowd!
Tonight @ZickyDice threatened to kick my ass if I didn’t find “appropriate competition” for him at #BTESlam2. Careful what you ask for, Zicky…Now THAT’s outlandish!
Fresh from devastating Sammy Guevara the night prior during an AEW Rampage taping, Kingston was all-too-ready to avenge that disqualification loss. Though I find no joy in siding with fans, I, like everyone in attendance, rejoiced as Eddie thoroughly trounced the former National Wrestling Alliance Television champion.
Yet again, Dice’s big mouth was temporarily silenced—thanks to my new buddy Eddie. Now that is “Outlandish”!
IT’S A THRILL RIDE!
Being forced to acknowledge one of the all-time great fan favorites galls me to no end. However, when Ricky Steamboat is right, he’s right—and the National Wrestling Alliance’s new “Steamboat Proclamation” is very, very right!
Returning for Season 10 of NWA Powerrr, the former World’s heavyweight champion immediately convinced NWA owner and president William Patrick Corgan to expand title opportunities for everyone in the company. That resulted in, among other things, a single elimination tournament to determine the #1contender to The Great Cyon’s National heavyweight title.
The Hall-of-Famer Steamboat hand-selected 12 competitors of varying NWA tenure to compete for a title shot at the November 12 Hard Times 3 pay-per-view in New Orleans. With gentle persuasion, “The Thrillbilly” Silas Mason joined the likes of Jax Dane, “Magic” Jake Dumas, and more!
To the shock of apparently all except me, Silas “upset” former National champion Anthony Mayweather in the opening round. We then went on to face that demon-worshipping Judais in the semi-finals. I ran interference as that devilish garden gnome Father James Mitchell tried some shenanigans, allowing Silas to take “The High Priest Of Punishment” on a Thrill Ride he could not survive!
Soon, “The Thrillbilly” will face Chris Adonis and relative NWA newcomer Dak Draper in three-way finale. Adonis is a two-time National champion and Draper is a former Ring of Honor Top Prospects Tournament winner. However, neither has faced someone like Silas Mason—and certainly not with “The Lovely” Pollo Del Mar at his side.
Stay tuned to NWA’s weekly programming—NWA Powerrr every Tuesday on FiteTV and NWA USA Saturdays on YouTube—to catch this must-see match-up. Silas Mason’s ready to take the entire NWA on a Thrill Ride straight into New Orleans!
Poor Rey Mysterio! The man simply can’t control his family.
First, daughter Aaliyah seemingly strayed amidst his ongoing feud with Seth Rollins. Now, son Dominik has stabbed him in the back to join The Judgment Day.
Sure, becoming the first father/son team to hold WWE tag gold was cute, but did Rey expect that to satisfy Dom forever? How long could Daddy reasonably expect Dom to ride his coattails, treating him like a child when all he wanted was to his own man? Little Dom finally stepped from his father’s shadow—and all it took was Rhea Ripley’s encouragement.
As the nephew of a legend himself, surely Rey knows the pressures of following an icon’s footsteps. To ever be seen as more than “Rey Mysterio’s son,” Dominik needs to establish himself individually … and could never do that under his father’s thumb.
Now Dominik shows dastardly depth and determination at the sides of Finn Balor, Damian Priest, and Ripley. He’s turned the page, and his back, on the past to forge his own legacy. And it’s clear fans like it no more than Rey does.
A recent Raw audience in California nearly booed Dominik and company of San Jose. Still, the smile on Dom’s face said it all. For perhaps the first time in his young career, he’s eliciting a crowd response entirely his own—and that’s presumably all he ever wanted.
U.S. FANS WILL BE STANDING WITH THEIR YAMATO SPIRIT
Text & Photos by Issa Marie
DRAGON GATE’S ACE, the record-setting five-time former Open the Dream Gate champion, and certified food coordinator, YAMATO will be making his GCW, AAW, Garden State ProWrestling, and Prestige Wrestling debuts, as the“Gates” have now been opened.
Recently, I had the pleasure and privilege to discuss the upcoming tour with YAMATO, who acknowledged that Dragon Gate’s visibility has waned a bit in the States.
“It has been seven or eight years since I last represented [Dragon Gate] in the U.S., back when Dragon Gate U.S.A. had a strong grasp of the fan base and was recognized as a staple of pro wrestling. Due to the years of absence, I am aware that most people are not as familiar with DG, and some only remember DG U.S.A. Therefore, I am the best advocate to remind the fans what Dragon Gate is all about.”
During the days of DG U.S.A., YAMATO was part of the younger generation of wrestlers. In October 2022, he will be returning as an established veteran, personifying the professional progression one can experience wrestling for the company.
Rest assured: The issues between his unit, HIGH END, and GOLD CLASS will not be distractions during his time away from Japan. “Going overseas, I have to think big, so I am leaving all the baggage and issues at home,” said YAMATO. “Dragon Kid and Kagetora can handle whatever there may be left to resolve. I am focused on what I want to accomplish in the U.S.”
And what exactly does that mean? “If YAMATO is in it, YAMATO is winning it,” he said. That includes his upcoming participation in AAW’s Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament, October 14 and 15; and his Prestige Wrestling heavyweight title bout against Alex Shelley on October 30.
YAMATO’s confidence is well-earned. But will it continue in his eventual return to Japan? “That is tough to answer right now,” said YAMATO, even after the current Open the Dream Gate champion, Yuki Yoshioka, let the world know he has his sights set on the “Almighty.” “My aim is to increase the spectrum of DG fans [in the U.S.] and show them what Dragon Gate is all about. However, as a five-time Open the Dream Gate champion, I have the right to challenge on prestige alone. If all goes well in the U.S., and I return motivated and inspired, I will go after the goals I have yet to accomplish.” During YAMATO’s Homecoming Show in Iwate, the Open the Dream Gate Championship Match was decided for Gate of Destiny–YAMATO vs Yuki Yoshioka.
For the fans that may remember him—and for those that do not know him—the “Ace” has some words. “I am confident that I can make a huge impact, and I will show you what YAMATO and Dragon Gate are all about,” he said.
Whether he is embracing his darkest desires or full of emotion admitting he has not always behaved as he should, YAMATO has proven time and time again why “He Is Justice,” and that being “Omniscient & Omnipotent” comes with his territory.
Above all, everything he does in and out of the ring is for the rectitude, for the respect, for benevolence, for the courage, for the loyalty, for the honesty, and at the end of the show, every single fan will be standing there with their YAMATO Spirit!
YAMATO’s U.S. Schedule (as of September):
October 8 vs. Tony Deppen
October 9 vs. Mike Bailey
October 22 vs. Jonathan Gresham
October 23 vs. Blake Christian
October 29 TBD
October 14 vs. Zachary Wentz
October 15 TBD
October 30 vs. Alex Shelley
YAMATO vs Minoura Kota, Dangerous Gate 2021
YAMATO vs KAI No Ropes Match
Tag Team Cagematch (YAMATO & KAI vs SB KENTo & Dragon Kid)
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