Monday, March 4, 2024

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Shanna vs. Emi Sakura at AWW Breaking Point 2013

Free Match Friday is a weekly feature from Diva Dirt. Every Friday, we’ll spotlight a great indie match available to watch for free online. Some of the best wrestling in the world is happening in high school gyms and sports bars and even, occasionally, in an appropriate venue for a wrestling match. This week, our free match is a legendary bout between Shanna and Emi Sakura at AWW Breaking Point 2013.

One of the things that makes wrestling such a magical art form is that, in the hands of its most skilled performers, an all-time great match can be turned out at the drop of a hat. This match was originally supposed to be Shanna vs Kay Lee Ray, but Ray was sidelined with a last-minute injury. Emi Sakura happened to be in England that weekend for a title defense at EVE, and she graciously agreed to fill in for Ray in what ended up as one of the best independent women’s matches ever.

I know that’s a big claim, but I defy anyone to watch this match and tell me this isn’t two masters of the craft at the height of their powers. Lots of wrestlers sacrifice some precision to deliver moves with more speed and therefore more brutality. But both performers pull off a litany of devastating moves with perfect form at breakneck speed. Sakura absolutely wrecks Shanna early in the match with a swinging neckbreaker that would be the highlight of most women’s matches in any of the major promotions. But it’s just a taste of what’s to come.

Emi Sakura is rightly considered a living legend of women’s wrestling, and she’s on incredible form here, from the biggest spots to the smallest details. She kicks out of a pin like it’s life or death. Shanna is almost as brilliant, at least enough to look credible against Sakura. Her ring awareness is astounding, as demonstrated in two nail-biting rope breaks, and she lays out her opponent with a discus forearm off the ropes at one point that looks a million bucks.

But I don’t want to give away too many spots. Half the fun of this match is how dynamic and spontaneous it feels, how the spots grow organically out of the flow of the match, yet still manage to surprise. (Also, not to veer credit away from the wrestlers, but the ref does an amazing job counting what feels like the closest near fall in history. It’s really something else.) This Wolverhampton crowd clearly had no clue who Emi Sakura was at the top of the match, but by the end, both performers get a standing ovation, and rightly so. I can’t praise this match highly enough. Just watch it.

Check back in with Diva Dirt next week for another great free match from the world of independent women’s wrestling. You can find even more matches AND support independent women’s wrestling over at ClickWrestle.

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