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Q&A with Tae Honma

8 months ago

Q&A with Tae Honma

Tae Honma talks about becoming a freelancer and her ambitions to wrestle abroad

By: Jeff Brown

Tae Honma is an actress who is also one of the most in-demand freelancers in Joshi today. She wrestles for a variety of promotions, including World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana, Sportiva Joshi Pro, Ganbare Pro Wrestling (Yuna Manase was her original trainer), Gatoh Move, and Pro Wrestling Wave. Teaming with Maika Ozaki as SPiCEAP, she spent a lot of the spring at Diana. Then, at YMZ’s Gokigen Spring Camp 2023, the duo captured the World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana Tag Team titles and held them for 81 days. She has recently wrestled for STARDOM and is making her debut in America for Kitsune. She often sings herself to the ring and is somehow getting better with every match in her storied career. A versatile performer capable of high-caliber main events, exciting tag team action, or fun comedy matches, Honma never disappoints and always delivers. In 2023 and beyond, she has her sights set on the entire world to perform in front of.

Her entry into Joshi was in 2015 via the original AgZ, which later became known as Actwres girl’Z. Part of the inaugural roster, she was the one constant, arguably the heart and soul of the company, or at least the Beginning sub-promotion, whose enthusiasm and love for the business were infectious.

Tae was instrumental in the formation of the side promotion ARG, or Action Ring Girl’Z, which stages fantasy-based productions that contain elements of wrestling and usually take place in a wrestling ring. Honma was present when the company splintered into the Beginning and COLOR’S groups and saw it through all the way to the shutdown at the end of 2021.

The era closed with the show entitled Final Act in Osaka, which ended with a heartbroken and injured Honma walking back to her ring, quietly placing her hands on the canvas one last time, and saying goodbye.

The goodbye was to her fans, the company she built, and the friends she was leaving behind as she struck out on her own as a full-time freelancer. Up until 2021, Honma had a steady and solid home base in AWG and put a lot of her time and creativity there, including recording her own entrance music and the AWG music EP, on which she sang and played guitar.

With all that in the past, going out solo, Honma was learning to fly all over again and was completely in control of her artistic directions and aims. Whilst her tenure in AWG was similar to an ensemble cast, her new venture was akin to a one-woman show with only herself to be counted on.

While others in Japan post-Covid shutdowns sought to form collectives or groups like Girl’s Pro Wrestling Unit COLOR’S (GPU COLOR’S) or NOMADS, Honma, a participant in said groups, is essentially a solo artist these days. With AWG behind her and off her schedule, Honma has become more active in visiting other Joshi companies in addition to her stage play work, which is a hallmark of Actwres girl’Z past and present.

Honma has also been a regular in both the aforementioned NOMADS and COLOR’s Produce shows. COLOR’S participation is of significance because the SAKI-led freelance unit comprises Joshi, who also departed AWG at the shutdown due to the new exclusivity or closed door policy.

Ice Ribbon in general has been a stronghold for Honma going back to 2017, and that’s where she got her first title, the Triangle Ribbon Championship. She had a 232-day reign, dethroning Tequila Saya before losing it herself to Ram Kaichow. As is tradition, CMLL visited Japan for a run of shows that featured Honma, who started in a joint Ice Ribbon show before finishing at the CMLL Lady Ring event. Honma also participated in the CMLL International Women’s Grand Prix 2022 in October and was among other Joshi, including Mei Suruga and AWG alumnus Hikari Shimizu. She even took part in the Day of the Dead celebration, where she and Shimizu wore traditional skeleton face paint for the occasion. YMZ is another independent promotion that would feature Honma in 2022 as well as Oz Academy, Diana, and SEAdLINNNG, and she was a highlight each and every time with some of the most brutal submissions in Joshi.

Even though she struck out on her own, Honma would often find herself with fellow freelancer, AWG alumnus, and longtime partner Maki Ozaki. The two best friends would rekindle their longtime SPiCEAP tag team on many occasions in 2022. Near the end of that year, her solo adventure hit another unfortunate roadblock as she was sidelined with surgery to remove a pin from her knee.

This was done with the hopes of improving and making Honma better than ever. In early 2023, she was back in circulation and ready to fight all comers. Honma participated in SAKI’s 10th anniversary celebration by taking part in a battle royal. Color’s My Way, volume 5, was held in February 2023, and Honma was in a three-way tag-team match.

Monthly Puroresu witnessed her live at ChocoPro 300 as she had an all-out firefight with Sayaka Obihiro that saw both competitors relentlessly chop and forearm one another into a bruised and bloody mess. Both had an extra crispness to their violence and seemed determined to have the best match possible for all of March, which they did in 10 minutes. They also placed themselves firmly in early contention for match of the year for those with their ears to the ground for lesser-known bouts.

While striking out and leaving a base behind is daunting, many other Actwres girl’Z have shown that there is a great big world for an independent spirit if they have the will to soar into the great wide open of the freelance market. While she was the strength and lifeblood of AWG, the post-shutdown has shown that even without a home, Honma can always look inward to the undeniable mettle and spark that stayed with her when she said goodbye to the AWG ring in December 2021. She went from the last holdout to a nomadic tour de force at a point when many would consider retirement by learning to succeed her own way (to borrow a phrase from GPU COLOR’S).

Tae Honma was very kind to give Monthly Puroresu some time out of her incredibly busy schedule to bring our readers her thoughts on wrestling in Japan and internationally, life as an artist, and so much more.

Tae Honma and Maika Ozaki (SPiCEAP) as tag team champions.

Monthly Puroresu:
How early did you know of the direction change in AWG? SAKI said she was informed in March of 2021.

Tae Honma:
I was told that they were thinking about things around the beginning of 2021, and I officially heard about it around the same time as SAKI did.

Monthly Puroresu:
Seeing you say goodbye to the Actwres girl’Z ring at Radiant Hall was an extremely emotional scene, with you being the heart and soul of AWG. Do you believe you will stand in the AWG ring again someday?

Tae Honma:
I would like to see a future where every company can meet each other in all rings, not just Actwres girl’Z.

Monthly Puroresu:
You’ve had a few injuries in your career. What keeps your spirits high and determined when rehabbing?

Tae Honma:
Because I’m in love with professional wrestling and because I am proud of my life with pro wrestling, and I have friends and fans who recognize and support me, which I think helps a lot.

Monthly Puroresu:
How did you decide to focus on submissions? The Tae Lock is a brutal move.

Tae Honma:
It was when I got injured. I wasn’t able to run or jump around the ring like I’m used to. I think my injury helped me evolve a lot. I love submission moves. You can only evolve when you have an opponent, and the Tae Lock was born out of being in a tough situation. The Tae Lock is the best thing that came out of my time battling with my injury.

Monthly Puroresu:
How did SPiCEAP become a tag team? What does the name mean?

Tae Honma:
Maika Ozaki and I teamed for the first time in the 2020 AWG Tag Team Tournament. We wanted to “spice things up” and make it more interesting every time we step into the ring as a team. We want our opponents as well as the audience to feel the same way, and that’s why we chose the name SPiCEAP.

Monthly Puroresu:
Did teaming with Maika Ozaki help you transition into being a freelancer with a good friend by your side?

Tae Honma:
I made my own choice and decision to become a freelancer and of course there was a lot of anxiety about it. However, I was somewhat reassured by the presence of Ozaki, and my classmate and friend, Saori Anou, who was an active freelance wrestler at the time.

Tae Honma at ChocoPro 300. c/o Richard Moses

Monthly Puroresu:
You played in a band during AWG; is that something you wish to continue?

Tae Honma:
My entrance music and tag team entrance music are original pieces; I sing my own solo entrance and tag team entrance songs, as well as doing live music performances

I would love to continue performing in the same way in the future.

Monthly Puroresu:
You play a Les Paul; do you have a dream guitar?

Tae Honma:
Honestly, I don’t think I have a dream guitar that I would want.

Monthly Puroresu:
Did any particular guitarist inspire your playing?

Tae Honma:
I’m not a huge expert on guitarists but I have been watching and listening to Takahiro Matsumoto’s performance since I was a student and I thought he was cool.

Monthly Puroresu:
Who are your musical influences? I noticed from your YouTube videos that you are fond of GO!GO!7188 and Mihimaru GT.

Tae Honma:
I like music in general. Among my influences were Ayumi Hamasaki and AAA, who I still listen to often.

Monthly Puroresu:
Being in Mexico for Día de Muertos seemed like a special experience. Do you enjoy learning about other cultures and their customs?

Tae Honma:
Yes, I did and I loved it. I want to go to Mexico again this year, and I want to experience a lot of things I have never seen, landscapes I have never seen, and feelings I have never felt.

I want to be in every place in the world, with every wrestler, I want to be able to communicate a special language in the ring.

I have never been to the United States, so I especially want to go to the U.S. and compete there. That is my number one goal right now.

Tae Honma at CMLL’s Dia de Muertos show. c/o Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre

Monthly Puroresu:
What inspired you to become an actress?

Tae Honma:
In the beginning, I hated acting jobs so much, but then I started liking it more and more, and then I realized that I was laughing. I guess I realized the fun and pain of living someone else’s life.

Monthly Puroresu:
Are there any roles or characters you would like to portray as a stage actress?

Tae Honma:
A role that is not an inhuman or God-like person. A role as a character from my favorite anime Fushigi Yuugi.

Monthly Puroresu:
Where do you get inspiration for your costume design? Do the color choices have a strong meaning?

Tae Honma:
For me, my costume is like armor, it’s like a switch: It helps to raise my spirits, which is the most important thing.
I tell the designers what comes to my mind and they’re able to give life to my ideas. So, it evolves from time to time.

Monthly Puroresu:
Art – whether it’s acting, music, or wrestling – breaks through language barriers. Do you have any theories on why it’s such a universal language?

Tae Honma:
I think it is “energy”. There are emotions that seem to be on fire. Some feelings are burning, whilst others are in danger of fading away. Energy is necessary to deliver all kinds of feelings and emotions to others.

I think it would be great if such energy could lead to someone’s energy for tomorrow, and I believe that everyone has that power.

This interview first appeared in Issue #12 of Monthly Puroresu.