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Women's wrestling as an exhibition sport goes back at least to the 1930s. In post-Pacific War Japan, it developed a sufficient following to lead to the founding in 1968, within the All Japan Women's (AJW) Pro-Wrestling organization (itself begun in 1948), of the World Women's Wrestling Association (WWWA).
One of its major stars was Mach Fumiake, who, in 1974, became the youngest WWWA champion at the age of 16. She was also the first female wrestler to sing in the ring (establishing a tradition that continued for some time) and also to record songs.
The tag team that was to bring women's wrestling to still greater popularity was that of Naoko "Jackie" Satou and Maki Ueda, who called themselves the Beauty Pair. Their first professional encounter was as adversaries: Satou's debut match was against Ueda. As a team, however, they later became WWWA World Tag Team champions in February 1976. At the time, Satou was 18 and Ueda was 16. Satou had been a basketball player and could use her superior height and strength to deliver attacks such as the "Airplane Spin" and the "Brainbuster" against opponents.
In November of 1976, the Beauty Pair released their first song recording, which became a big seller. In addition to becoming wrestling superstars, they greatly enhanced the popularity of their sport. They enticed hundreds of teenage girls to try out for the AJW in that year alone. They also inspired the creation of a number of similar teams, with names such as the Golden Pair and the Queen Angels.
The end for this famous team came in February 1979 (the same month that the first Dirty Pair story appeared in print), when Satou defeated Ueda in a match requiring the loser to retire. After becoming WWWA champ again in her solo career, Satou herself retired from the ring in May of 1981.
Sadly, we learned that Jackie Satou had died of stomach cancer in August 1999 at the age of 41.
Interested in learning more about the world of puroresu (Japanese pro wrestling)? Visit The Great Hisa's Puroresu Dojo, maintained by Hisaharu Tanabe.
You can also find interesting information and photo galleries at James Phillips' site.
Women's Wrestling Illustrated is a 'Net magazine with extensive illustrated coverage of news and history around the world; there's a three-page section on the scene in Japan
Information for this page came from The Great Hisa's Puroresu Dojo and the obituary for Naoko Satou in the November 1999 issue of Manga Max.
The magazine cover photo was extracted from the "Dirty Pair Makeover" article in Animerica, 6, #5 (1998). The black and white pix are from the Puroresu Dojo with permission. The color photo is from James Phillips' site with permission.