Pro wrestling is a unique form of entertainment. A form of entertainment that allows a story to be told through a variety of ways such as dialogue or in ring. Dialogue can be done through promos and angles. Similar to how TV shows and movies tell a story.
Wrestling also allows a story to be told with the wrestler’s bodies. Similar to how ballet tells stories. Some wrestlers specialise in the dialogue storytelling, through their promos that they do and will use their mic time to further the story that they are trying to tell. Whether that be hyping up an upcoming match or dishing out verbal jabs towards their opponent.
Others specialise in telling a story in-ring. Whether that be doing callbacks to matches that they have had with their opponent before or using a previous injury to enhance the story or targeting a limb and working on it. Those are just a few examples of in-ring storytelling. Some of the best wrestlers can do both well and can engage the crowd in the stories they are trying to tell. Today, I take a look at one of the best storytellers in all of wrestling, in my opinion, Tam Nakano.
Beginning to notice
When I first watched Stardom, Tam wasn’t one of my favourites. I didn’t dislike her by any means; I thought she was a solid wrestler. My mind changed when I started to pick up on all the little things that she would do in the ring.
Her rivalry with Arisa Hoshiki was for me the best rivalry and pieces of storytelling of 2019. When Arisa won the white belt, Tam gave a look of disgust towards her.
She would give glares when Arisa wasn’t looking and used her face to really show her hate towards Arisa, progressing the story based on looks alone – no promos or angles.
Even in multi people contests, Tam was able to make her story with Arisa a major part of the match. Even though they were tag team partners. Just via looks, you can see the tension that was there. Obviously later in the rivalry, things would get physical, leading to one of the best matches of the year in 2019.
In my opinion, that rivalry was the best of 2019. And while Arisa was a big part of this, Tam was the standout in the storytelling. This made me recognise her ability – not only in the ring but as a storyteller. She made it look so simple. Mainly because the stuff she was doing was simple. For example, just ignoring Arisa in pre-match interviews they were in together. Giving Arisa looks filled with disgust. Really simple things but you can see the story there – she simply doesn’t like her. Even after their match, they were still continuing to further the rivalry through their interactions. For me, this rivalry put me on the Tam Nakano train and opened my eyes to how good she really is and maybe even underappreciated for what she does
Developing the story
Even in multi women tag matches on Stardoms smaller shows Tam looks for ways to develop the stories with her opponents. Whether it be in the pre-match promos or in the ring, she always tries to forward the story. It may be against old rivals so they both show that they know each other very well telegraphing each other’s moves or knowing their patterns. Maybe it’s laying the seeds for a future rivalry with someone with facial expressions, being more aggressive towards one person. Her charisma really is able to shine through in these matches as well. With all her interactions and the charisma that she shows, it really helps keep engagement. It makes sure that people are watching. Most of her actions in these matches fit into the story that she is involved in, or even a future story that she will be involved in.
Tam’s in-ring storytelling is very good. If Tam is in a big match high up on the card, you know that you are going to be seeing a great story based match. Her selling is great and really helps the match. Her selling of opponent’s signature moves is really impressive she does her best to make the move look as devastating as she can. She also uses facial expression a lot during the match to great effect. Whether they are being used to convey shock, anger, pain etc. They are used very well and never distract from the match instead it usually enhances it. Which is something that can easily be done wrong and detract from a great match. Another sign of Tam’s high wrestling IQ
Improving in ring
Tam Nakano has also improved in the ring massively as well. She has added to her moveset. Her range of kicks and suplexes are good. She also has some high risk moves in her arsenal although those are usually saved for big matches to increase the drama and tension. She has vastly improved in ring.
Tightening up all of her offence and like I said before adding to her moveset so its unique and no one in Stardom has a similar moveset. With multiple signature moves and a new finisher in the Twilight Dream Suplex Tam can end the match in many ways.
The best storyteller in stardom
Tam Nakano has been able to become the best storyteller in Stardom, in my opinion. She always tries to forward the story. Most of the actions she does fits into the current story she is involved in. Her rivalry with Arisa was incredible due to the interactions they had for over a year. Most of that was non-physical. That’s a testament to their storytelling skills. Even her final match with Kagetsu had Arisa crying at ringside. She wasn’t even apart of the match she was just seconding Tam. While not the best in-ring performer in Stardom, every big match she is in is must-watch because you know you’re going to be taken on a journey of emotions. The little things can take a wrestler from good to great. For me, Tam Nakano is one of the best at the little things.