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Q&A with Thekla, her mindset in Ice Ribbon

2 years ago

Q&A with Thekla, her mindset in Ice Ribbon

Thekla Talks Ice Ribbon, and Being the Hardest Working Joshi in the Game

By: Thom Fain

Editor’s Note: This article was published in Monthly Puroresu’s Fall 2021 Edition, just before STARDOM Executive Producer Rossy Ogawa tweeted a photo of the magazine to his ardent Twitter followers. Fast forward a few months later, and Thekla – who is rumored to be helping with English production in STARDOM – has left her competition in Ice Ribbon to fight new rivals in STARDOM.

A modern-day Renaissance Woman, Thekla considers herself to be the “hardest working Joshi in the game,” and her resume would entail just that – she holds a Master’s degree, plays in a punk rock band, and designs a lot of her wrestling apparel.

Oh, and Thekla still finds time to kick ass.

The “Toxic Spider” has a mindset akin to the similarly venomous “Black Mamba” – the late, great NBA player Kobe Bryant. Her mentality for excellence is relentless. Thekla’s work is not finished once a match ends; she’ll head straight to the gym and work out in the weight room to improve her physique.

Incredibly bright and creative, Thekla’s 2021 campaign in Ice Ribbon has been nothing short of brilliant. The underground promotion is one of Joshi wrestling’s worst-kept secrets, with PPVs and on-demand streaming available through NicoPro (visit for how to watch). Earlier in the year, she won her first title for the promotion: the Triangle Ribbon Championship. Next up? Perhaps, the ultimate prize: Ice Ribbon’s ICE Infinity Championship. In between touring and chasing championship belts, Thekla sat down with Monthly Puroresu for a generous, in-depth look at living in Japan, developing her talents and training with the Joshis.

Monthly Puroresu: For new fans, let us know about that moment you decided to give it a “full go” in pro wrestling!

Thekla: Living in Austria the first two years of my career as a wrestler I only did a handful of shows a year. I was doing a bunch of different things at that time like going to art school, touring with my bands, drawing comics, printing shirts, all sorts of creative stuff. I enjoy variety in what I do but wrestling was quickly starting to become my number one main interest.

Thekla: Then in summer 2019 I went to Japan for a six week Ice Ribbon tour and that was kind of a game changer. After that I was super pumped and all I could think about was getting back there. Early 2020 I finished university and got my masters degree, freed myself of any responsibilities that tied me to my hometown and went straight back to Japan for another six weeks. And then suddenly Covid hit and that’s when I just thought ‘Ok fuck it, I’m staying in Japan. Wrestling is my true calling and I’m going all the way with this’. To me the pandemic was really a blessing in disguise.

Monthly Puroresu: Were you already aware of Ice Ribbon, and was it a goal of yours to wrestle there? Or when did you become a fan of Ice Ribbon?

Thekla: At first I didn’t know much about the different Joshi promotions; I just wanted to go to Japan, live at a dojo and have the time to focus completely on training and learning the Japanese wrestling style. 

Thekla: One of the other girls from my home promotion was sent to Ice Ribbon shortly before me and had only nice things to say so I decided that’s where I wanted to go as well. Technically I could have probably also gone to Marvellous or another promotion but I think Ice Ribbon was a good choice because the moment I stepped into the dojo I felt like I was right where I belonged.

Monthly Puroresu: In talking to Heidi Katrina — Sendai Girls first dojo-trained Gaijin — I understand it’s an honor and a rarity to train alongside the Joshis. Can you give us insight on when you were accepted into Ice Ribbon? 

Thekla: Basically it just comes down to being respectful and putting in the work. I really went in there like a wet sponge; I wanted to learn EVERYTHING. It’s true that the Japanese have a very particular set of rules and I guess it can be hard for outsiders to understand and adapt to that so the Japanese have become kind of ‘picky’ with whom they’re letting into the club and become one of the Joshis. But yeah, once you get used to the intense training, the language barrier, the complicated hierarchy and rules of compliance, it’s really fun! (laughs)

Rina Yamashita vs Thekla in Korakuen Hall for PPV FantastICE Title match, “Chain Attack Only Hardcore.” Photo by Youji Kawauchi

Rina Yamashita and Thekla square off at Korakuen Hall in a PPV FantastICE Title match, “Chain Attack Only Hardcore.” Photo C/O Youji Kawauchi

Monthly Puroresu: Two things you and I share are a love for music, and the athleticism that comes with the squared circle. What’s it like being both an athlete and a musician?

Thekla: Oh man, there are loads of similarities between music and wrestling, I could write an essay on that topic! One thing is that once you get deeper into the meat of the matter you realise that wrestling’s all about rhythm and timing and people who are into music tend to also have a better sense for these things in the ring. Tension and release, just like a good song.

Thekla: Playing gigs with my bands has really toughened me up for being a wrestler. Being on tour with a crazy punk band is great but you have to be able to withstand a lot of stress; the wild live shows, the partying and the road life can be heavy, both mentally and physically. As a Joshi wrestler you’ve got to be tough like that but it’s relatively harmless compared to what I’ve experienced in the music scene (laughs). But whether it’s being on stage with the band or having a match in the ring, the energy of the crowds and the outpour of adrenalin are very similar. The roaring of the audience, that’s what I live for.

Monthly Puroresu: I’ve seen videos of your work on NicoPro — but some people call Ice Ribbon “hipster Joshi” in that it’s still very underground. Do you relish in that aspect of it?

Thekla: I’m definitely hearing the term ‘hipster Joshi’ for the first time but I guess I can see what the people mean. I come from the underground scene, whether it is wrestling or D.I.Y. culture, for me it’s always been the underground and I love that. But at this point I think it’s kind of a shame that only a few are getting to see the top quality wrestling that we’re performing with Ice Ribbon. I wish more people would have access to our stuff because it’s really good.

Monthly Puroresu: What was the fan reception in Japan of Thekla in your debut vs. how they treat you now?

Thekla: At first it wasn’t so easy because my skills weren’t that developed yet and I didn’t speak Japanese. So I came up with these peculiar comedy skits that I performed after the matches and that – most likely because of my broken Japanese – were highly entertaining to the fans. That quickly got some attention. At that time I was wrestling as a heel but was told in a roundabout way that it would be great if I could ‘smile a bit more’. That was kind of shocking to me but I got the message. I changed my style and tried to resemble the other idol wrestlers but after a while that made me fairly unhappy. So once I had caught up with the others in terms of technical skills, I decided to do things my way again and I became like a crazy, multi-faced heel character. 

Thekla by HawK1026

Thekla has developed a style unique to her own, immediately recognizable C/O twitter/HawK1026

Thekla: Now that I’ve had some well-received matches and good angles I think that the Japanese fans, who are hyper-aware of the art of professional wrestling, have started to appreciate me. Also my Japanese skills have helped me immensely in connecting with the fans.

Monthly Puroresu: Who’s the primary trainer for the younger Joshis and who leads the pack from a training perspective?

Thekla: Mio Shirai is our main trainer. I’ve learned a lot from her and even inherited some of her moves, which I consider an honour since I really love her work. Right now she’s on pregnancy leave so Tsukushi and Suzu have taken over, which is cool because they are both fantastic wrestlers and good teachers with different styles.

Monthly Puroresu: I’ve heard you design all your own art for t-shirts! The Ice Ribbon aesthetic and style is truly cutting edge; it’s amazing. Do you have to enter a different sort of headspace when you make artwork or what’s that like?

Thekla: I studied sound and media art in university but I also did some illustration and graphic design; I designed all the album cover art and shirts for my bands and I also for other musicians. I design my wrestling merch, gear and gown myself.

Thekla:  I guess wrestling has a lot of creative aspects but in the end its main focus is a physical one so being by myself and designing or drawing stuff is really the complete opposite. I enjoy that diversity a lot, it’s relaxing and it keeps my mind busy. I also really love a cool shirt and I’ve got a huge collection of wrestling and band shirts at home so I’m proud I get to create some stuff that other people enjoy wearing as well

Monthly Puroresu: What’s a maneuver you utilize in the ring you’re very proud to have mastered — and who’s your favorite opponent you’ve tried it on?

Thekla: That would be my favourite finish, the ‘Spider web’. It’s an original standing submission manoeuvre that I like to use on bigger opponents. I made Sera Risa tap out to that one when we had our First Blood rules match for the Fantast ICE Championship title. Good memories.

Ice Ribbon ICE Infinity Championship Belt Monthly Puroresu Promotional Artwork

Monthly Puroresu: Looking up and down the Ice Ribbon roster, is there someone you see yourself working with long-term a la Kota Ibushi / Kenny Omega, or would you prefer to sort of be a lone wolf?

Thekla: After the heated feud I had with Tsukushi earlier this year I thought we might make a good tag team since we both have a very vicious fighting style and good chemistry in the ring. I’ve had offers to join fractions and teams but nothing really felt suitable to me. We’ll see if I ever find my Ibushi but for now prefer to be a lone wolf.

Monthly Puroresu: Favorite aspect of living in Japan? I’ve heard dojo’s take really good care of their gaijins.

Thekla: I loved living at the dojo but a few months ago I sort of  ‘graduated’ and got my own place, which is fantastic but also feels like a commitment that I’m not used to, as I like to be able move around freely. But living in Japan is amazing; right now I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Japan’s a place full of contradictions and surprises; it’s very exciting getting to know the culture and the people and slowly integrating myself into this scene. Of course the greatest aspect of being here is that I get to do what I love and wrestle at a very high level on a regular basis. 

Monthly Puroresu: And finally, what are your wrestling goals to close out the year and prepare to make your mark on 2022 when this pandemic finally comes to some closure?

Thekla: So far, 2021’s been a really good year for me. I had some of the best matches of my career and I think I managed to catch the attention of the Japanese fans. In the past there have been a few male wrestlers who have really managed to get over with the crowds; Stan Hansen, Bruiser Brody, Dynamite Kid, Kenny Omega… Someday, when someone is thinking of female foreign wrestlers that have managed to make a real impact in Japan, I’d like them to think of Thekla. It’s going to be quite a task but I’m on a roll.