- text by Mugiko Ozaki
- translation by Dana Maier
This year on March 7th, in Jacksonville Florida, Itoh made a surprise appearance at a PPV event for the American wrestling company AEW. Her popularity in America skyrocketed. Today she has over 130,000 followers on Twitter.
"I don't know whether or not the appeal of Maki Itoh is that I would do like, the Lip Lock with Danshoku Dieno and stuff like that, but now I feel like that isn't the Maki Itoh the people worldwide want to see. I want to do stuff that can make everyone happy when they watch, you know? Being bad at actually wrestling and that sort of thing, I've done enough of that. I want to do the kind of pro wrestling that won't leave anyone feeling down."
photo by Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestlingこの記事に関連する写真を見るThis year on April 17th, she had a Princess of Princess title match against Rika Tatsumi. Rika said something on the mic. "Maki Itoh has lost her edge, I'll make her get it back."
"I don't think there's any denying that compared to what I was like before I have mellowed out, but when Rika said that to me I thought, "Why does it seem like I've lost my edge?" and I started thinking about it again. And that was when I realized I don't think I actually need that edge any more. Even if I don't have that edge, there are still lots of good things about me."
That may come across as overconfident. But she worked hard to build that confidence. "I can definitely say I like myself as I am now" she said, along with a bit of an embarrassed laugh.
It feels like times have changed. When she did the Lip Lock, somewhere in her heart she was feeling "I want to get on TV", "For the sake of getting on TV I have to do things others won't, stuff like throwing away my womanhood, or I won't make it." But that's not how it is now.
On May 3rd 2019, at TJPW's Korakuen Hall show, Itoh fought Aja Kong. After the match on the mic she confessed that she had spent 800,000 yen [~$7000 US] getting facial reduction surgery that nobody had noticed.
"Because I couldn't get results in that match, I relied on my mic work. But nowadays I don't want to overuse the mic. Now it's like how much less can I use it, you know?"
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