Arsion - Hyper Visual Fighting (1998 - 2003)
Opened: November 1997 Debut Show: February 18th, 1998 Closure: June 28th, 2003
ARSION (also coined Hyper Visual Fighting) was formed in ’98 by Aja Kong. In its initial conception the major key figures in the company were ARSION founder, legendary wrestler Aja Kong (Erika Shishido), ARSION President ex- AJW businessman Hiroshi Ogawa, ARSION Manager ex wrestler Sakie Hasegawa, and ARSION trainer Mariko Yoshida ex AJW wrestler and one of the best submission mat wrestlers in professional wrestling.
ARSION started with a small roster using some of AJW’s young talent in the form of Rie Tamada and Yumi Fukawa. Both girls had been heavily pushed as the stars of the future in AJW but had failed to gain the loyal following of their predecessors in AJW. In 1997 when several key players left AJW due to not being paid for months due to AJW loosing money in the Japanese Real estate crash Rie and Yumi left to follow AJA Kong.
ARSION The Beginning
ARSION also secured the talent of Candy Okutsu who was one of JWP’s main star wrestlers before retiring from wrestling due to back problems.
Joining ARSION at it inception also were former LLPW wrestlers Mikikio Futagami and Michiko Omukai.
Their first event was entitled "Virgin." It was held on February 18th, 1998 Tokyo to a sell-out crowd. The show was sponsored by BADboy clothing company and as a result the pre-show featured the wrestlers modelling BADboy outfits.
The initial show also had two American wrestlers, Reggie Bennet and a newcomer to the sport that was billed as her sister “Jesse Bennet” although she was not really any relation of Reggie's outside of storyline.
The full card for the debut show was:
The 1st Memorial: Yumi Fukawa vs. Candy Okutsu
The 2nd Memorial: Futagami vs. Jesse Bennett.
The 3rd Memorial: Aja Kong vs. Michiko Omukai.
The 4th Memorial: Rie Tamada vs. Reggie Bennett.
The 5th Memorial: Aja Kong, Michiko Omukai & Yumi Fukawa vs. Futagami, Rie Tamada & Candy Okutsu.
ARSION on their debut introduced wrestlers by both their name and their ARSION license number. This licence numbering idea was presented in their marketing and on their website. Some of the license numbers that were issued to wrestlers as follows: 1. Aja Kong, 2. Mariko Yoshida, 3. Mikikio Futagami, 4. Rie Tamada, 5. Michiko Omuka, 6. Yumi Fukawa, 7. Candy Okutsu, 8.Reggie Bennet, 9. Jessie Bennett, 10. Mari Apache, 11. Fabi Apache 12. Lady Metal, 13. Naoko Kumagai Akino, 14. Ayako Hamada, 15. Natsumi Nakazawa, 16 Hiroumi Yagi, 17. Sakie Hasegawa, 21. Ai Fujita, 22. Chapparita Asari, 23. Linda Starr, 25. Mima Shimoda, 26 Etsuko Mita, 29. Bionic J, 57. Alda Moreno, 58. Kaori Yoneyama 59. baby A, 60. Debbie Malenko.
Arsion's wrestling style
ARSION aimed at creating a new style within Josh Puroresu. Arsion wrestlers trained every day and attend Pancrase's dojo every Monday, and Battlarts' dojo every Friday as a part of their routine. They learn pro-wrestling, Lucha Libre, and shoot style wrestling. The girls were taught a new stronger submission style grapple art. For smaller wrestlers who had a history of injuries from high risk moves and getting destroyed at times in matches from larger wrestlers the mat style meant they were able to work more competitively. Wrestlers that proved to adapt well to the style change and benefited from it included Candy Okutsu, Rie Tamada and Yumi Fukawa.
Mariko Yoshida as ARSION’s head trainer also was a strong influence over the direction in the wrestling style of the company. An AJW veteran before joining ARSION, Yoshida was well versed in the aerial manoeuvrers of Lucha, having previously won the Mexican CMLL World Women's Championship title. The combination of strong mat style technique, lucha-inspired submissions, aerial high flying and Mariko's new look “Spiderman” wrestling outfits strongly reflected the lucha inspired style that was to become ARSION.
Along with a technical style change more in line with traditional Joshi Puroresu in the 1970’s and 80’s was the inclusion of regular gaijin being used on the roster. Reggie Bennet and Jesse Bennet (the later repackaged as Bionic J) were wrestlers from America. Reggie was already well established in Japan after many successful years working with AJW. Wrestlers in Arsion also came from Mexico which complemented the directional style they had chosen. The Apache sisters Fabi and Mari became regular workers as did Ayako Hamada who made her Japanese wrestling debut under the Arsion banner on August 9, 1998.
Arsion started well with a sellout first show and developed a strong fan base in their initial shows. With the title belt on Markio Yoshida, their strongest submission wrestler, the promotion was in their prime. A lack of consistency in wrestling style amongst their wrestlers seemed to hurt the promotion as time went on.
In 1999 in an attempt to boost audience numbers ARSION formed a pop group called CAZAI. Consisting of AKINO, Ayako Hamada, Candy Okutsu and Ai Fujita ARSION hoped to cash in on similar success that previous AJW pop/ wrestling mixes the Beauty Pair and Crush Gals had. CAZAI did not have the same musical talent of the predecessors however and failed to gain interest prompting the promotion split them up.
In an attempt to re- gain an audience ARSION put the spotlight on CAZAI member Ayako Hamada, a half mexican half japanese rookie whose father was the legendary Gran Hamada. Ayako Hamada won the Queen of ARSION title beating Aja Kong in late 2000. By this time the style had changed to the more traditional fast work rate of Joshi puroresu elsewhere at the time. Ayako's title reign was unsuccessful in gaining back an audience.
In 2001 Aja Kong left ARSION after a disagreement with management over the direction Arsion was heading. Aja Kong successfully sued Arsion president Ogawa for false advertising when he promoted her as being on a show two months after she had left.
President Hiroshi Ogawa in June 2001 brought in Crush Gal Lioness Asuka as the promotions new booker. With ARSION still suffering from falling crowd numbers Asuka sought to boost the ailing promotion by pushing herself and close friends Etsuko Mita & Mima Shimoda into the major storylines.
With Lioness as booker the promotion switched to more story driven matches mixed with comedy relief as a way to try and reinvent itself. An example of the comedic influence in their wrestling increasing over the years was most prevalent in wrestler Futagami. Originally packaged by Aja as a new “Dynamite Kansai” with solid kicks and matching physique GAMI as she became known was primarily a comedy wrestler by ARSION’s closure.
Arsion in 2002
ARSION continued to struggle in 2002. New gaijin wrestlers Cheerleader Melissa & Taylor Matheny (runner up in WWE's Tough Enough) were brought into the promotion to create an American force with Bionic J. Another big blow for the organisation came in 2002 when Ayako Hamada left ARSION
Ayako Hamada, officially made it public that she would start working matches outside of ARSION to those in attendance to a show at Korakuen Hall on January 13th, 2002. President Hiroshi Ogawa then made an announcement about Hamada's resignation. Ayako left due to internal politics within ARSION. Hamada felt she had been blamed by ARSION management and some wrestlers as being the reason ARSION didn't draw crowds. She had been given a major push from 1999 -2000 without successfully establishing a large, loyal fan base. When Asuka took over the booking in June 2001 Ayako started to become a secondary player and felt she was being pushed out. Ayako moved on to work for GAEA where Aja Kong was also wrestling at the time.
ARSION continued to falter and were eventually renamed AtoZ in 2003 by Yumiko Hotta who took over the promotion.
Former members of ARSION that worked for the company at some stage included:
Aja Kong, Ayako Hamada, Candy Okutsu, Faby Apache, Lady Metal, Mary Apache, Michiko Ohmukai, noki-A, Reggie Bennett, Hiroumi Yagi, Ryo Miyuki, Linda Starr, Yuu Yamagata, Melissa Anderson & Yumi Fukawa.
The roster at time of closure were: AKINO, Ai Fujita, Atsuko Emoto, baby A, Bionic J GAMI, Lioness Asuka, Mariko Yoshida, Reina Takase, Rie Tamada.