Beautiful Wrestlers

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Beautiful Wrestlers (1984) or Beautiful Wrestlers: Down For The Count is a Roman Porno film made at Nikkatsu studios. Beautiful Wrestlers was one of the earliest films made at Nikkatsu to be subject to the new restrictions of the Eiga Rinri KikĊ (Japan’s Film Classification and Rating Organization). Evidence of this new censorship is most readily apparent in Beautiful Wrestlers whenever the vaginal region might be seen and a blurry orb appears over this area of the female body. Restrictions such as these impacted the Pinky film drastically, causing the genre’s inevitable extinction.

With regards to narrative conventions Beautiful Wrestlers embraces the formula of the coming of age melodrama couched within the context of semi-professional athletic competitions. Nikkatsu starlet Natsuko Yamamoto plays Megu a virginal and virtuous first year at university who is coerced into joining the girl’s wrestling team The Delta Girls. Training for their annual wrestling competition includes arduous workouts, sexual humiliation and de facto prostitution. But Megu has a kind of super power which enables her to excel as a wrestler; when Megu inserts a tampon she becomes exceptionally strong.

Obviously veteran Pinky director Hiroyuki Nasu exploits every opportunity for nudity and close-ups of scantily clad girls. He also draws upon the popular motifs of the Rocky franchise to manufacture some training montages to original pop songs. As is the case with so many of these Nikkatsu films Beautiful Wrestlers seems torn between its conflicting aesthetics of drama and soft-core pornography. Matters aren’t helped by the fact that when one style of film intersects with the other it feels wildly inappropriate dramatically.

As an erotic spectacle Beautiful Wrestlers relies totally upon the spectator’s personal preferences to include a fetish for semi-nude women wrestling. It’s one of the oldest forms of erotic fantasy and, to his credit, Hiroyuki Nasu does imbue these scenes with some cinematographic ingenuity. But clearly Beautiful Wrestlers isn’t going to be for everyone. To most the film will probably serve as a kind of cultural snap shot of Japan in the eighties. And to a few it will be the pornographic response to ...All The Marbles (1981) they’ve been looking for.