Interview with Tsukasa Fujimoto: Talking Ice Ribbon’s Future, Her Break, Manami Toyota & More

Tsukasa Fujimoto has been one of the best wrestlers in the world for a long time now. She has been at the top of the Joshi promotion, Ice Ribbon, for the majority of her 15-year career and has helped make it one of the premier women’s pro wrestling promotions in the world. Fujimoto is a seven-time ICExInfinity Champion (Ice Ribbon’s top championship) and has had tag team title runs with Tsukushi Haruka, Arisa Nakajima, Hiroyo Matsumoto, and AEW’s Hikaru Shida. While her accolades and work in the ring speak for themselves, she is taking on a different role nowadays.

On May 4, 2022, following the Yokohama Budokan show, Fujimoto went on sabbatical from in-ring action due to her recent marriage and wanting to take some time to rest her body. Luckily, Fujimoto remains working behind the scenes in Ice Ribbon and continues to help develop and train their young roster. This presented a great opportunity to talk with Tsukasa about her break from wrestling, what makes Ice Ribbon special, and so much more!

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Here’s what Tsukasa had to say!

Q: How has your break been from in-ring competition?

Tsukasa: 体を休めています。でもやっぱり早く試合がしたいです!

Translation: My body is getting some rest. But it turns out that I’m itching to fight matches again, after all!

Q: What in your opinion makes Ice Ribbon such a special place to learn and perform? What makes it different from other wrestling promotions?

Tsukasa: 先輩後半関係なく、物は両手で渡すなど礼儀を大切にしています。道場とちゃんこがあるので、いつでも練習とからだ作りができる環境。

Translation: Regardless of rank and seniority, we value being courteous to each other; for example, politely handing items with both hands. We have our own dojo and provide the wrestlers with chanko (wrestler meals), so you can and practice and work out anytime.

Q: There are a lot of wrestling fans in the United States who want to check out Ice Ribbon. Where would you recommend they start? Whether it is a match or a show.

Tsukasa: 2009年8月23日アイスリボン初の後楽園大会からみてください!そこからアイスリボン10周年横浜文化体育館大会を経て、2019年横浜文化体育館大会と2022年横浜武道館大会のつくし引退大会はみてほしいです。あと各選手のデビュー戦と初凱旋大会はオススメです。

Translation: Please start from our first Korakuen Hall show on August 23rd, 2009! From there, I’d recommend the 10th Anniversary show at the Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium, then Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium in 2019, and finally Tsukushi’s retirement show at the Yokohama Budoukan 2022. I also recommend watching each wrestler’s debut match and their first homecoming show in their respective hometowns.

Q: From your debut in 2008 to now in 2022, what are some changes that you have noticed within the Joshi wrestling scene?

Tsukasa: 海外に行き来できるようになったことと、インターネットの普及により、見たいものをライブですぐ見られる環境になったことで、プロレスがより身近になった。

Translation: Now that we are able to go abroad, and also with the help of the internet, it’s now possible to watch the wrestlers you want to see perform live. So now people have become more familiar with Joshi Wrestling.

Q: You have a close relationship with Manami Toyota, where you were hand-picked by Toyota to be her successor and she picked you and Ikuto Hidaka as the only people to use her Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex, can you tell newer fans who are familiar with Toyota about your close relationship with her?

Tsukasa: 私の婚姻届けの証人になってもらいました。豊田さんは私のことを娘と言ってくれます。私にとってもプロレス界の母親であり、もっとも尊敬する人です。

Translation: I asked her to be a witness at my marriage registration. Toyota-san refers to me as her daughter. In the wrestling world, I consider her my mother, and I admire her more than anyone else.

Q: Tsukushi Haruka recently retired from pro wrestling. Can you tell fans a little bit about your relationship with her as well and how special her retirement show was at Yokohama Budokan?

Tsukasa: 妹のような、合わせ鏡のような存在です。でも引退したなんて、未だに信じられません!

Translation: She’s like a sister to me, and we are very alike. However, I still can’t believe that she has retired!

Q: How special was it for you to face two of your best tag team partners in Arisa Nakajima and Hikaru Shida prior to your break? And why did you choose Ibuki Hoshi to be your partner for such a special match?

Tsukasa: 私のプロレス人生でなくてはならない存在の2人でした。この2人とタッグを組んだことで、プロレスの格が上がった。いぶきを選んだのはこれからのアイスリボンを頼んだよというメッセージです。いぶきなら大丈夫と思いました。

Translation: They were the two people who were indispensable to my life in pro wrestling. I chose Ibuki to send a message that I was leaving Ice Ribbon in her hands. I thought, if it’s Ibuki, then things will be okay.

Q: You handed down your wrestling gear to Kaho Matsushita -- how accomplished do you believe she will be in her career?

Tsukasa: 楓歩は、プロレス界で一番好きなコスチュームだと言ってくれました。そんなに好きと言ってくれるなら、楓歩にあげたいと思った。いつ着てもいつ着なくてもいいので、楓歩なりに色付けしてほしいです。器用で何もできるタイプですが、粗もなくそつなく全てできてしまうように見えるので、もし小さくても悩みがあったら気付いてあげたいです。彼女はそのうちベルトを巻くでしょう。

Translation: Kaho said that in the pro wrestling world, that set of gear is her most favorite. Because she liked it that much, I thought I should give it to her. She doesn’t have to wear it all the time, and I want her to bring her own self into it. She’s very versatile and it seems like she has the ability to do anything, so if she has any problems at all, no matter how small, I’d like to be the kind of person who can tell if she needs help. She will wear a belt someday.

Q: Who would you like to see win the ICExInfinity Championship tournament and be at the top of Ice Ribbon in this new era?

Tsukasa: あえて若手ではなく星ハム子選手をあげます。シェイプアップして今がいちばん体調がいいので、やる気もアップしてほしいです。後輩たちに見せつけて!

Translation: Instead of a young member, I would give it to Hamuko Hoshi. She’s in her best physical shape right now, so I want her motivation to rise up as well. Show your juniors what you’re made of!

Q: What’re you looking out for in this new era for Ice Ribbon?

Tsukasa: 次のスターは誰なのか。専門誌の表紙を飾ってほしいです。

Translation: Seeing who will become the next star. I want them to grace the cover of a magazine.

Q: Is there anyone you still hope to face in your career that you have not faced before?

Tsukasa: これから新しくデビューする選手と試合したいです。復帰戦はそのときに一番ノリにのってる選手と試合したいです。

Translation: I want to have matches with newly debuted wrestlers. When I have my return match, I want to fight against the one who shows the most enthusiasm.

We want to thank Tsukasa Fujimoto for taking the time to answer these questions and help wrestling fans get to know what she and Ice Ribbon are all about. We’d also like to thank Ice Ribbon’s Yappy for helping make this happen and helping with the translations as well.

This is the first entry as part of an Ice Ribbon interview series so be sure to keep an eye out for more to come.

If you want to check out Ice Ribbon for yourself, here’s where you can find them:

Nico Video: https://ch.nicovideo.jp/iceribbon?player_icon

Club Ice Ribbon: https://www.youtube.com/user/iceribbon

And you can follow both @ICERIBBON_jp and @IceRibbon_eng on Twitter to keep track of all of their happenings and upcoming shows.

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