Since returning from injury, Natsumi Maki has been determined to prove herself. She might not have gone after the biggest dogs in the yard, but she definitely went after those who kick the hardest. Up first, was her close friend Sareee, with whom she had a fantastic match based on mutual respect. Maki lost, but she came out the other side feeling like she’d taken a step forward and was emboldened to challenge The Mega Champ, Miyu Yamashita.
Unfortunately, Yamashita had no interest in respect. While Maki still showed all the fight in the world, it wasn’t enough. Miyu cut her down and afterwards declared that she’d been disappointed in her opponent. That she thought she had more. It was a statement which stung Natsupoi, pushing her to demand a second chance as she set Miyu Yamashita up as a mountain that she had to conquer.
And those words must still have been ringing in Maki’s ears as she charged across the ring to Dropkick Miyu just after she’d stepped through the ropes. This time Natsupoi was not going to be pushed around, and she was making sure everyone knew it. Yes, Yamashita was still brilliant, cutting away at her with those vicious kicks, but Maki kept coming, and every time it looked like Miyu was about to settle her rhythm, Natsumi pushed herself forward once more.
It was a dynamic that kept me on the edge of my seat, desperate for Natsumi to get the win. At one point, Yamashita caught a Thrust Kick aimed at her face, throwing it away, but the effort of doing so forced her to pause, and Maki followed up instantly with a second one, her boot connecting with Miyu’s chin. She wasn’t just trying harder, but she was wrestling smarter, taking the opportunities that she might have missed before.
With all that in mind, the easy ending, the fairytale one, would have been Maki getting her win back. She would have leveled things up and proved she was Miyu’s equal. Except, that’s not true. She’s not Miyu’s equal. Yes, she gave her a fight, at one point causing a smile to spread across Yamashita’s face as they exchanged elbows on the floor, but Miyu Yamashita is Miyu Yamashita. While you can give her a fight, that is a very different thing from being able to beat her. In the end, a German and one of those beautiful Reverse Roundhouse Kicks sent Maki to sleep, and this was over.
However, what makes wrestling brilliant is that unlike other ‘sports’ wins and losses are always going to be secondary to the story. People will claim differently or tell you that it shouldn’t be the case, but it’s true. A well-told tale trumps even a perfect win/lose record and Natsumi Maki failing to beat Miyu Yamashita is a well-told tale. Post-match Miyu grabbed Maki by the hand and dragged her to her feet, smiling as she indicated they could do this one more time. Through defeat, Natsumi Maki had gained her respect, and while that wasn’t quite a victory, it’s one step closer to her climbing that mountain.
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