A quick reminder that this is only the second Ice Ribbon show I’ve reviewed, so I’m still not attuned to the promotion. If I make any unforgivable mistakes or miss out on anything major, please let me know in the comments as I am here to learn. That aside, let’s watch some wrestling!
Ryo Mizunami, Kyuri and Banny Oikawa defeated Yappy, Thekla and Asahi
I love a wild opener, and Ice Ribbon delivered exactly that. Even with my lack of experience insuring that I had to keep reminding myself who various people were, it was hard not to enjoy a match that was wrestled at pace and mixed in a handful of cool spots.
It was evident that a few people here are still young and/or green as we got the odd awkward interaction or moment that seemed to happen for the sake of it happening, but none of it was particularly egregious. When you’ve got six people constantly tagging in and out, making sure that there is always something going on, it’s easy to forgive the mistakes.
The moments that stood out were Yappy turning Banny into a human jump rope, spinning her around while Thekla and Asahi leapt over her. Asahi also got an enjoyable final run against Ryo, taking a beating and showing a lot of heart before finally falling to a head-remover of a Lariat.
Verdict: A Fun Opener
Tae Honma and Matsuya Uno defeated Rina Shingaki and Maika Ozaki
Tae Honma impressed me a lot in this one. She did an excellent job of selling her leg, foregoing the over the top dramatics that most wrestlers resort to and favouring the occasional shaking out of it or brief pause before moving onto the next moment. They were actions that were much more reminiscent of someone who is actually playing through the pain.
It set-up a great final exchange with Shingaki, as Rina went after that leg and Honma replied by going for Armbars. There were some well-worked transitions into their respective moves, Tae at one point realising Rina was about to kick out and instantly switching to attack the arm while Rina had a lovely takedown into a heel hook. It was the kind of wrestling that’s logical and entertaining.
In the end, Honma’s Armbar would get the win, proving a death move when she managed to lock in on properly. However, both of them can come out of this one with their heads held high as they played the central roles in an entertaining tag.
Verdict: Rina and Tae Shine!
Minoru Tanaka & Hiragi Kurumi defeated Orca Uto & Risa Sera and Hamuko Hoshi & Tank Nagai in a Three Way Tag Team Match
There was a pre-match video that presumably explained the context of this match, but my lack of Japanese foiled me again. I am attempting to learn the language, by the way. At my current rate of picking it up, I’ll be fluent about a hundred years after I die.
Hamuko Hoshi and Tank Nagai quickly established themselves as the stars of the show, combining wonderfully as a hoss/comedy pairing. They both got to show off an absolute barrel load of charisma, getting plenty of laughs and even hinting at amorous feelings between them.
The final stretch would hand that baton over to Kurumi who would look awesome as she picked up the win. Truthfully, there were some storyline moments to this that went over my head (the ref got involved at one point), but I enjoyed it even without that context. It was a well-blended slice of comedy and action, which I’m always down for.
Himeki Arita defeated Satsuki Totoro
Time for a big girl off as Totoro and Arita quickly got down to the ancient art of running into each other and seeing who falls over first.
It was a great way to establish something that felt like a fight, as these two did a brilliant job of hitting simple moves in a way that looked sore. There was the occasional moment of flash, like Arita getting Totoro up in an Argentine Backbreaker, but even that’s a move that you can look at and instantly see is painful.
That extended into the finish as a Running Knee crashed into Totoro’s skull. If you want wrestling that looks sore, this will tick all your boxes.
Verdict: Simple Wrestling Done Well
I think Fujimoto came out to set-up a future showdown with Arita afterwards, but that’s mainly an educated guess (that’s usually why wrestlers come out post-match).
Suzu Suzuki defeated Miku Aono
Suzu Suzuki announced before this show that she would be retiring Chirin Chirin, the bicycle inspired move that has become an essential part of her character. She came in clearly determined to see it out in style, setting it up within the opening seconds.
Aono, though, had different plans, flying across the ring to cut her off with a Dropkick. From there, Miku took control, looking bigger and stronger than the youngster as she dominated her with kicks. There was a sinking feeling that Chirin Chirin was going to say goodbye with a loss.
However, as the match went on, Suzu began to find openings. At the start, they were only small, wee glimpses of hope, but those glimpses turning into more. Suddenly, they were on an equal footing, the Chirin Chirin coming crashing in once and twice, turning the match decisively in her favour and setting her up for the Bridging German and the win.
Post-match, Suzu held an emotional retirement ceremony for her bike bell, a moment that could only happen in wrestling. Thankfully, it went out on a high and set Suzu up for an interesting month, which I’m sure I’ll talk about more in the future.
Verdict: Cheerio Chirin Chirin
Dropkickers (Tsukasa Fujimoto and Tsukushi) defeated Rina Yamashita and Ram Kaicho
It took me a while to get into this match. The opening seemed to be telling the story of Dropkickers having Ram and Rina’s number, as they continually foiled their plans. First, they went after Rina’s hair, even tying it to the ropes at one point. Then Tsukushi figured out the best way to respond to Kaicho giving her the finger was to start stomping on her hands. It was an intriguing way to start a title match, and the work was decent, but the occasional memorable spot aside (Tsukushi dropkicking Ram off her partner only to land on top of her and cause more damage was great), it wasn’t gripping me.
However, that changed when Rina was unleashed, as she proved pivotal both in the ring and in my perceptions. Suddenly, it almost became Yamashita vs Dropkickers, the two of them having to work together to cut down this hoss. Just as I thought that was peaking, though, they transitioned to a straight-up contest between Fujimoto and Rina, pushing things to a higher level as the two of them had an awesome back and forth. There were several moments where I thought one of them had sealed the win, and we got perhaps the best counter to a Sliding D I’ve ever seen as Tsukasa booted Rina away with near-perfect timing.
Sadly, the final stretch didn’t quite live up to that, as Tsukushi and Ram had a couple of awkward moments (including one where Tsukushi managed to hit a move that mainly seemed to involve spiking herself on her head). Still, it was decent enough as Dropkickers overcame a handful of chalk to roll Ram up for the three. They’d proven their dominance, although not without becoming very close to being knocked off their perch along the way.
Verdict: Brilliant In Parts, Alright In Others
Maya Yukihi defeated Akane Fujita to retain the ICExINFINITY Title
Yukihi vs Fujita is one of those fascinating occasions where I’m not quite sure how I feel about what I’ve watched. Let’s start with the positives, shall we?
I loved the opening to this match. In the first exchanges, these two looked equal, neither woman gaining any advantage. Then, Yukihi went for a Running Knee while Fujita was leaning against the bottom rope, only for the challenger to roll out of the way and the champ’s leg to go crashing into said part of the ring. She may as well have drawn a big red X on that limb, as we seemed to have set up the story of the match.
On top of that, we got an absolutely fantastic strike exchange, which seemed to bring the vicious side out of the champion. Maya went after Akane with a cold look in her eye, raining blows in, but eventually getting carried away and running into a Michinoku Driver. It was great wrestling and the kind of thing that gets you out of your seat.
The final brilliant moment was in the closing seconds, where a desperate Fujita grabbed the champs ankle as she tried to create the distance to put her away. It was the last act of someone who was beaten but wasn’t quite ready to accept it. A desperate final gasp that only delayed the inevitable. I will never fail to get excited about stuff like that. They’re the moments that, in a fake sport, feel so incredibly real.
Unfortunately, the bits in-between those brilliant flashes never quite grabbed me. The two of them never settled into their roles, as the champ was inconsistent in her selling of that leg and the challenger’s offence sputtered and coughed. It wasn’t a long match, but I found my mind drifting, and I suspect outside of the moments I detailed above, I won’t be able to bring to mind a lot of what went on.
Still, a match does not need to be perfect to be enjoyable, and this was still that. There was enough here to make it worth a watch, and I suspect that these two have another match in them that eclipses what they put together here. It’s also entirely possible that my lack of knowledge meant I was missing out on some key ideas that would have helped me click with it. So, if you’re a fan, or even if you’re not, I’d still highly recommend you give it a watch.
Verdict: When It Worked, I Loved It
Post-match Miyaki let Fujita have her say before calling out Yamashita and Ram to form a new alliance (at least I think that’s what happened). That was then interrupted by Kurumi, who was presumably challenging for the title. I know for a fact that match happened at their latest Korkauen, so I’m also going to go out on a limb and say the champ said yes.
Is there anyone out there who translates Ice Ribbon or has put together a beginner’s guide? I’m enjoying these shows, but with the limited number that makes it to tape, it’s not as easy to dive into and get a handle on as a company like Tokyo Joshi or Stardom. I want to know more and establish a deeper understanding of exactly who these wrestlers are and what makes them tick. That aside, this was an enjoyable show even as someone who hasn’t quite got a grip of the company. I’m sure if I can enjoy it, then fans will get even more out of it.
Watch Ice Ribbon on niconico: https://ch.nicovideo.jp/nicopro