Preview of Hana Kimura Memorial Tribute Event
If 2020 was one of the most heartbreaking years on record, one of the saddest moments was the passing of Japanese wrestling star Hana Kimura, the victim of cyber-bullying, which lead to her death by suicide on May 23rd of that year.
Now, a year later, stars from across the spectrum of professional wrestling in Japan will assemble to compete in honor of Kimura, paying tribute to a shining star on Sunday May 22nd. FITE is honored to be broadcasting the first ever Hana Kimura Memorial Show "MATANE" live from Tokyo's legendary Korakuen Hall at 10 PM EST.
While the live event's card has still yet to be completely revealed, the event will feature a Rumble style Battle Royal. Hana Kimura's ring gear will also be on display as part of the evening's ceremonies paying tribute to a truly unique, special talent.
Kimura was a second generation star, her mother is the legendary Kyoko Kimura. She debuted in 2016 and immediately showed a ton of charisma in the ring competing for STARDOM, where she held the Goddess of STARDOM title and was a two-time Artist of STARDOM Champion.
Growing up around the pro wrestling world, Kimura would travel every weekend to shows with her mother, who suggested Kimura try pro wrestling after Kimura's own interest in dance waned in High School. Kimura initially turned down the idea, but later reconsidered, looking at professional wrestling as a possibility after visiting at a show her mother was working and became inspired by WWE NXT's Io Shirai's work in the ring. At that point, Kimura decided to try because she wanted to see what it would be like working in the ring.
Kimura stated in interviews later that the training to learn wrestling was harsh but she had promised her mother she would give it three years and at times, talked about wrestling for nine years before getting out of the ring. She was four years into her career when she passed away, coming off a banner year where she was one of a rare breed of performers able to boast that she competed in Madison Square Garden and the Tokyo Dome in the same calendar year.
Kimura had become the centerpiece of STARDOM's Tokyo Cyber Squad stable last year and won the promotion's 5 Star Grand Prix tournament last year. She had also toured the UK with the Pro Wrestling EVE promotion. Beyond STARDOM, she had also appeared quite a bit for JWP in Japan, holding multiple titles there as well as smaller promotions such as WRESTLE-1, Sendai Girls and AGZ.
Even more amazing, although she did not officially become a wrestler until 2016, Kimura even captured the DDT Ironman Heavymetalweight Champion several times in 2005 when she was just seven years old.
In the United States, Kimura competed for Ring of Honor. ROH's Ian Riccaboni and The World Famous CB will be joining Fumi Saito to head up the English-language announcing team for FITE for the Hana Kimura Memorial Show.
Hana was one of a kind," Riccaboni said to FITE. "She was sweet, kind, and caring, always a joy to see at Ring of Honor events. She was the type of person that remembered little things about everyone she met even if she only saw them a few times. We miss her smile and laughter, which lit up a room. She left us too soon and I'm honored to be part of this event to honor her and her memory."
Ring of Honor's World Famous CB will also be part of the FITE broadcast team for the Hana Kimura Memorial Show. Having extensively toured Japan, CB (fka Cheeseburger) spent time with Kimura on the road both in Japan and Stateside in the United States.
Hana was legitimately the sweetest person I've ever met, " CB tells FITE. "From the first time we were introduced to each other we clicked right away and connected. She had insane charisma both inside and out of the ring. Whenever she walked into a room you couldn't help but take notice, this translated so well into her wrestling character.At such a young age she showed superstar potential in both America and Japan. She was surprised to learn how popular she was in America already when she first came over. The English fans gravitated to her natural personality instantly. She was a once in a lifetime talent, and once in a lifetime person. She is greatly missed."
MATANE will feature a litany of stars from all corners of the Japanese wrestling world appearing, including the legendary Super Delfin, HUB, Yuko Miyamoto, Munenori, Sawa, Kaori, Yoneyama, Cherry, Hanako Nakamori, Yuki Miyazaki, VENY(ASUKA), KAGETSU, Mio Momono, Mika Iwata and many more.
Hana Kimura was only 22 years old at the time of her passing, but her influence will stand immortal forever.
FITE is honored to play a small part in keeping her legacy alive and we invite everyone to join us in paying tribute to Hana Kimura on May 22nd.
Mike Johnson is the lead reporter for PWInsider.com and has been writing about professional wrestling since 1996. He can be found on Twitter @MikePWInsider and MikeJohnsonWrites.com.