Sareee Talks Mayu Iwatani, MARIGOLD, Giulia, Arisa Nakajima, More | Interview

For the past year, Sareee has made waves in her return to the Japanese wrestling scene. Whether it's been her Sareee-ISM events, competing in SEAdLINNNG, or her most recent match against Mayu Iwatani for the IWGP Women's Championship -- it's been made clear that "The Sun God" is one of the best in the world.

Recently, Sareee announced that she will be holding her next Sareee-ISM events -- Chapter IV and V, over the summer. She will also be in the main event of the first-ever DREAM STAR FIGHTING MARIGOLD show, Marigold Fields Forever, as Sareee teams with Bozilla to face Giulia and Utami Hayashishita on Monday, May 20th.

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Ahead of her major matches, Fightful's Scott Edwards had the chance to interview Sareee once again. They talked a number of topics including Sareee-ISM, her match against Mayu Iwatani, stepping into a Marigold ring to face Giulia, the retirement of Arisa Nakajima, Sukeban, and so much more.

Here's what Sareee had to say.

Edwards: It’s been a year since you made your return to competition in Japan. How do you reflect on this past year? Are you proud of what you’ve accomplished?

Sareee: "I think it's going well. I have set goals since my return and have accomplished one step at a time. I have set things up and prepared more last year so that I can explode more this year.

"I am proud but could of been better in various ways. I have to look for ways to improve myself constantly and get better and better. I give myself 70%. If I won the IWGP then maybe would of given myself a 100%."

Edwards: Your IWGP Women’s Title match at All Star Grand Queendom against Mayu Iwatani was your first time facing off with “The Icon” since your return to Japan and your first time meeting one-on-one. It’s been referred to as one of the best matches in all of wrestling this year. How do you feel Mayu has changed since your previous tag team encounter? How’d you feel about the match itself? Were you happy to finally have that match after four years, even in defeat? Do you want to see her down the line?

Sareee: "I think (Mayu) Iwatani changed since STARDOM changed a lot. New ownership and STARDOM has grown to be a big organization now and her being part of that. I also was able to experience WWE, the biggest pro wrestling organization in the world. I think the level went up for the both of us.

"Many great experiences and 4 years later at a big arena. I was happy that I was finally able to have this singles match on top of that being in an IWGP Women’s Title match. I know the fans were waiting. I was waiting for this also. But just one thing. Because I have a great respect to Mr. Inoki and strong style. I just wish I could of won that champion belt. I wanted that belt so much. But I do feel refreshed since that was on back of my head for several years. I think we both gave everything into the match. I am glad to hear great reviews from pro wrestling fans from around the world. I hope it's just the beginning with Iwatani. We both are 2011 debut girls and I have great respect for her and I think she is a great rival to have."

Edwards: The matches against and alongside Chihiro Hashimoto resemble a very old-school style of Joshi wrestling that truly embodies the struggle aspect of professional wrestling. Do you feel any sort of bond with Hashimoto because of your shared ability to wrestle this style so well?

Sareee: "(Chihiro) Hashimoto was my first opponent back in Japan. I had lost the match. But that loss made me realize and wake up the fighting style of pro wrestling that I have always loved and wanted to do. It made me find my true self once again. After that loss, I have prepared myself and felt confident that I got it back in me half a year later and I was able to have one of the toughest match and get my revenge. She is a great rival to have."

Edwards: At the first-ever Marigold show, you’ll be in the main event teaming with Bozilla against Giulia and Utami Hayashishita. It’s clear that you have long wanted to face her again, and this will be your first chance to do so since your return to Japan. What interests when it comes to facing Giulia? What are you looking forward to in the match? What do you expect from the match?

Sareee: "When I was living overseas and was looking at how Joshi pro wrestling was doing, I think Giulia had the most impact. She took it to the next level. So that created a big interest in me about her. We did have a match when Giulia was still a rookie but I don’t think that counts. She is a whole different person now. In my head, it's like having a match for the first time.

"It's a tag match but in my head, it's against Giulia. I want to win against Giulia for sure. Utami and Giulia are I believe the top two aces of Marigold. So I want to win against the top two at their first debut event. I think I will win no matter what. I can’t lose. Especially if my tag team partner Bozilla is like a real Gozilla and is like a powerful monster. I haven’t tagged with a foreigner since my return to Japan so I am very looking forward with that as well. We can’t lose."

Edwards: Since you’ll be competing in the first main event, what are your thoughts regarding the new promotion Marigold — in terms of the promotion itself and what it does for the Japanese wrestling scene as a whole? Do you believe the match at Marigold Fields Forever is just the beginning for you competing in the new promotion?

Sareee: "I know it's always better for the industry to have rival promotions and not just one big company. It will make it more interesting for the pro wrestlers, staff, and to the fans. So I think it will be better for the Joshi pro wrestling industry as a whole. To be honest, for me, it was personally more about the pro wrestler. I wanted to have a match against Giulia and Iwatani. It just happened to be that the timing became at two different promotions. I am also a freelance pro wrestler. So I would like to go to wherever there is an opportunity and interesting great opponents."

Edwards: While it's clear you and Giulia are on a collision course in Marigold, Utami Hayashishita has made it known she wants to get your attention as well. What do you make of your position as such a sought-after rival, and how do you feel about Utami Hayashishita as it currently stands?

Sareee: "I know Utami (Hayashishita) was one of the top girls at STARDOM as well so I was curious about her. I am looking forward to the match. I get to have a match against the top two aces of Marigold at once. I am very excited about this opportunity."

Edwards: One of your rivals, Arisa Nakajima, announced she would be retiring this year. How did you feel upon learning that you’ll be losing a rival? Furthermore, does that add any pressure to you as Beyond The Sea Singles Champion knowing that Nakajima cared so much about that belt and SEAdLINNNG as a whole?

Sareee: "I was very sad to hear about her retiring. I was there as her tag team when the incident happened when she collapsed during the match and was taken by ambulance. So I do understand. I didn’t like Nakajima at first but by having that title match and going against her, it really made me realize I was able to have that match because it was her. It was one of the toughest matches in my life. I thought I would die during the match. I was able to give everything because it was her. I really respect her after the match. I am really sad though that another person that I shared the fighting style of pro wrestling will be gone from the industry. There is no extra pressure as champion. I will accept and challenge by anyone who wants this champion belt. Unfortunately, SEAdLINNNG has a tough time arranging the title match after they have seen my match with Nakajima LOL."

Edwards: You teamed with Nakajima and Tsukasa Fujimoto in Arisa’s return match. The Best Friends duo seems to be facing the best of the best as Nakajima’s career winds down. Does a match against them interest you? If so, do you have a partner in mind?

Sareee: "Yes, a match against Best friends interests me. I wanted to actually do a tag team with Iwatani against them as soon as I heard about it but I guess they all had different thoughts. So maybe tag team with Natsupoi, my personal best friend."

Edwards: What is your assessment of the current landscape of Joshi wrestling? A lot of things are changing, and you’ve been lucky enough to be standing in the center.

Sareee: "Yes, a lot is changing. I think it's always better for the industry to have not just one but two top rival promotions. I just happened to be lucky. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. My interest in wanting to have a match against Giulia and Iwatani that couldn’t be done before happened to be all become possible now. All about timing."

Edwards: Has there been any younger wrestlers that have grabbed your attention, and you want to face or possibly help them get to that next level?

Sareee: "There are so many girls that have made their debut. I really want to have a match against them if there is an opportunity. Last year, I was able to get an offer to have a match against still rookie Chi Chi who I thought was very interesting. She had the strong will to practice and get better. She had a strong heart. I knew she was going to get better and have a bright future."

Edwards: You recently got to wrestle in your best friend Natsupoi’s return match, where you tagged alongside Chihiro Hashimoto against Natsupoi and Saori. What did it mean to you to be part of her return match? Are you planning to wrestler against her or alongside her again in the future?

Sareee: "It was a great honor. I am good friends with her. We go hang out together all the time even though we don’t work for the same company. So I know how much she thinks and loves pro wrestling. I know how much effort she put in and thought she had wanting to return into the ring so much. So it was a great honor to be selected by her to be that opponent. I had no reason to say no. I wanted to do it. A match with her or as her tag team, I am always ready and will definitely want to in the future."

Edward: You’re the first person to compete in a STARDOM ring and Marigold ring following the events that happened earlier this year with both promotions. Do you feel some sort of accomplishment knowing that both of these companies want you to compete in their rings?

Sareee: "It's always a great honor to get invited to perform at such important events. But for me, it is more of wanting a match with that pro wrestler. I wanted a match against Giulia and Iwatani, especially with that IWGP belt. I think that's part of my fighting style. I think that's what makes it interesting for the fans as well. It just happened to be all coming into this awkward timing."

Edwards: You’re currently Beyond The Sea Champion. You defeated current Sendai Girls World Champion Mika Iwata in a singles match last year. And you’ve of course faced Mayu Iwatani for the IWGP Women’s Title. Are you hoping to face Iwata for the SENJO Belt in the future? Do you have your eyes set on any other championships?

Sareee: "I personally find interest and my fighting spirit inside me rages even more when the opponent is tough, I want (Mika) Iwata to become that champion. It's not necessarily the belt itself but that wrestler who makes the belt shine. Like If Hashimoto were the champion, I definitely would want a title match against her. Definitely IWGP for sure. I wasn’t able to win before. But I hope to improve myself and become a challenger that is worthy and that the fans will want to see again."

In a post-interview comment, Sareee made it known that due to the similarities that the new Marigold World Championship has look-wise with the United National Championship Antonio Inoki won in his career, she'd like to win the championship. Surely, the title appropriately named after that -- the Marigold United National Championship -- may be in her sights as well.

Edwards: Sareee-ISM has become a fan-favorite series of shows following the first three chapters. You’ve mentioned to me before that you schedule the shows when the time is right. Are you planning to run another Sareee-ISM event soon?

Sareee: "What a great question. Your timing is great. The answer will be on my YouTube 'Sareee Channel.'"

Note: Sareee announced that Sareee-ISM Chapter IV and Sareee-ISM Chapter V will be coming over the summer. You can check out the video here.

Edwards: You’ll be making your return to America at the end of this year to face Maya Yukihi in Sukeban. How’d you enjoy your first experience as part of Sukeban? What should we expect in your second match as Sareee Bomb?

Sareee: "I enjoyed it but unfortunately there wasn’t much time to fully enjoy the great atmosphere of Sukeban since I had to go after a long flight from Japan straight from the airport to the arena and leave very early the next morning back to Japan. As soon as I arrived at the arena, I had to do the makeup and hair and then it was already the match. I hope that I can experience Sukeban more at the next event. It's always great to visit my second home, USA, and also see American pro wrestling fans. I look forward to the match against (Maya) Yukihi in a different character the same way I am Sareee Bomb myself with different costumes, hairstyle, makeup, and all. I look forward to the event."

Edwards: You’re now entering Year 2 of being back in Japan. We’ve just passed the anniversary of Sareee-ISM Chapter One. What goals do you have set for yourself for the upcoming year?

Sareee: "For Sareee-ISM events, I would like to bring in the best possible fighting strong style of Jyoshi pro wrestling into the events and build an interesting event for the fans. Do a dream card of what is the best possible. For myself, if I can continue to carry on the torch of the fighting spirit and Joshi pro wrestling and will try to continue to do my best possible. My first personal goal is to become a worthy opponent enough so that I can challenge the IWGP women’s title again one day."

Edwards: You’ve named wrestlers like Athena, Tiffany Stratton, and Toni Storm as those you’d like to face in the future. All three have been super successful since the last time we’ve spoke. What about each competitor interests you?

Sareee: "For Athena: The first time I saw her at WWE, I thought wow. She is great. Her character, her pro wrestling, in ring practice, everything I saw. I was going to have a match against her on NXT but was canceled at the last minute. I was so disappointed and was so looking forward to that match. We both went our separate ways. I hope that one day we can have a match somewhere. It's another match that has been in back of my head for years, that I still want to do it.

"For Toni Storm: Although I never had a match in Japan with her, I knew about her. She too was another person who I was scheduled to have a match against her at NXT but was canceled. I was very disappointed and looked forward to that match. I hope that I can have a match against her one day somewhere.

"For Tiffany: Ever since I saw her at NXT, I thought wow she is super. Her looks, character, her heart, her will, athleticism. Her pro wrestling improving so much so quickly. Everything, I respect her so much and I am so happy for her success in WWE. I am so honored and glad to be one of her first rivals. I hope that one day, I can have a match against her again."

Edwards: Is there anyone you haven’t been able to face in the past year besides Giulia that you’d like to in the coming months?

Sareee: "I haven’t had a singles match against my other rival (Takumui) Iroha (Marvelous). Another match that was scheduled but was canceled -- which was vs. (Meiko) Satomura. We were scheduled to have a NXT UK title match but was never rescheduled. She was my debut opponent and we had several matches in the past. I hope that we can have a match."


We'd like to thank Sareee and her team for taking the time to make this interview happen during her busy schedule.

If you'd like to check out more of what Sareee is up to, make sure to follow her new YouTube channel "Sareee Channel."

Sareee-ISM Chapter IV will take place on July 29th while Sareee-ISM Chapter V is set for September 2nd -- both at Shinjuku FACE. The events are expected to once again air live on sareeelive.com. The cards will be released in the coming months.

As noted above, Sareee will be in the main event of Marigold's first show, Marigold Fields Forever, on May 20th. She will team with Bozilla to take on Giulia and Utami Hayashishita. The show will air live on WRESTLE UNIVERSE.

"The Sun God" will also compete at this year's Hana Kimura Memorial Show "Terima Кasih" on May 23rd. She will compete in a three-way trios match, teaming with Mio Momono and Kaori Yoneyama. That show is available on TrillerTV. Giulia will also face VENY in a first-time-ever matchup.

For more from Sareee, you can check out her store at sareee-mania.com

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