Here’s a rarity, an Ice Ribbon review of a show that happened relatively recently. This went out on Samurai TV, giving me a chance to watch it before it gets too out of date and also providing us with more wrestling to beat away those Corona blues.
A wee reminder before I get started that this is only the third Ice Ribbon show I’ve watched, so don’t expect me to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the promotion. If I make mistakes/miss anything important or obvious, please let me know. I like learning about things.
The Joint Army (Syuri, Tae Honma, Matsuya Uno and Rina Shingaki) defeated Miku Aono, Thekla, Yappy and Banny Oikawa
The Samurai broadcast does mean that certain things get trimmed for time, and this was one of them. From what we saw it looked like a fun match, with Yappy getting a good run of offence against Uno before ultimately being tapped out for the win.
It felt like a showcase for Joint Army, putting over their submission prowess, which is no bad thing. They’re a group that certainly seems to have some potential and look fucking badass.
Verdict: From What We Saw, Twas Good
Tsukushi and Maika Ozaki defeated Lovely Butchers (Hamuko Hoshi and Mochi Miyagi)
Our second match had also been in for a trim, but we got a lot more of it than we did the opener.
Trimmed or not, I came out of it impressed by Tsukushi. She has what I’ve referred to in the past as wiry wee fucker energy. It’s what makes her entirely unafraid of starting fights with people bigger than her and you get the impression that if you smacked her with a brick, she’d smile and come back for more. There was a great spot in this match where she’d bundled Mochi over with a Rana and kept leaping out of the pin to hit Double Stomps before dropping back down into it. I was a huge fan of that.
Throw in some enjoyable comedy from Lovely Butchers, who seem like a team I am going to fall in love with, and this ticked my boxes. I will be happy to watch all four of these people wrestle again.
Verdict: Lovely Stuff
Aja Kong defeated Ibuki Hoshi
You know what you’re getting with Aja Kong in 2020 and sending her out with a sixteen-year-old is good booking. Ibuki was there to provide the movement, bumping around for Aja while showing a barrel-load of fire. Most of her strikes bounced off the legend, barely registering, but the fact she kept trying was more important.
As for Kong, well, she’s Aja Kong. Even now, she has an undeniable presence. She gave the kid a lot, letting her get her blows in and grab a few two-counts. At one point she even took a bump off the second rope, allowing Hoshi to pull her to the ground. Underneath that intimidating aura is someone willing to give a youngster the rub.
In the end, it was only going to go one-way, though. Aja did do a bit of cheating to get there, smashing a box over the youngster’s head before hitting a Brainbuster which she kicked out of. That was the last gasp rather than the comeback, though, as the Kong Elbow Drop followed and with it the three.
Verdict: Masterfully Done
Post-match, Kong grabbed the mic and cut a promo which presumably put Hoshi over. Again, that’s a perfect way to use Aja Kong and it must have been a cool moment for the sixteen-year-old. It also took seeing Hamuko Hoshi crying at ringside for me to realise Ibuki must be her daughter, which made it all the better.
Suzu Suzuki defeated Tsukasa Fujimoto
Suzu Suzuki has had an interesting month. Having retired Chirin Chirin, she seemed to go a bit crazy, vanishing into the wild, before turning up to torment Fujimoto and steal the ceremonial first bump on the Ice Ribbon Dojo’s new ring canvas. On top of that, she was leaving cryptic notes saying things like ‘leg’ (in Japanese, obviously). In response, Fujimoto set a reward for anyone who could find her, and there was a great moment in the video package where we saw her going out and raking through leaves, looking for the youngster. I can only recommend you seek as much of it out as possible because it’s been a shitload of fun.
And it was all done to set-up the rebirth of Suzu Suzuki, as the change in her was clear the second she stepped through the curtain, sporting new black and red gear. I’m in less of a position to talk about whether her wrestling has altered, as I’ve only seen a handful of her matches, but she certainly put in an impressive performance.
It was a match built around the idea of Suzu not necessarily being better than Fujimoto, but being able to hang with her. She grew into the action as it went on, catching a couple of PKs to hit Dragon Screws and leaping from the top to the floor. While Tsukasa still felt like the veteran wrestling and the one controlling a lot of the match, Suzuki was right there with her, never faltering.
And towards the end, she took a beating, a hailstorm of Penalty Kicks crashing in, only for her to keep kicking out. She’d even survive Infinity, getting her shoulder out at the last second. Then, when she was hoisted up for the Ocean Cyclone Suplex, Suzu struck, twisting out and bundling Fujimoto up in a new hold which was the perfect counter to that famous move.
That was a great match designed to put Suzu over and succeeding in that design. They managed to negotiate the tightrope of having her win, but not going all out with it. On this day, she wanted it more than Fujimoto and, if anything, that only makes the potential for a rematch down the line all the more exciting.
Verdict: New Suzu!
Rina Yamashita and Risa Sera won a Four-Way Ladder Match for the right to face-off for Ice Ribbon’s new title
Another match that had faced the chop, leaving us with what felt like all the big spots involving ladders. Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, people doing cool things with ladders is fun, but if the match had any flow, we weren’t treated to it.
There were some interesting moments, my favourite of which was Rina and Totoro closing the ladder while Ram and Risa were climbing it. That left poor Ram perched halfway up a ladder which was leaning on the ropes, screaming in distress as Totoro ran into them and caused her to bounce up and down.
We also got a death-defying finish as Risa claimed the second slip hanging above the ring with a Diving Double Kneedrop from the top of the ladder to Totoro. It set her up to face off with Rina, who got the first one, for Ice Ribbon’s new title, which I actually don’t know the name of. I do, however, know that it’s similar to DDT’s Extreme Title, in that each match will take place under a different gimmick.
There might have been a decent match hidden away in this, but the editing made it hard to tell. What we got was fine, but a couple of spots aside, it was nothing special.
Maya Yukihi defeated Hiragi Kurumi to retain the ICExInfinity Title
Our main event was a classic battle of power vs technique. Kurumi came out hot, hitting a Package Tombstone on the apron before introducing Maya to the ringside seating. Unfortunately, she also made a mistake, going for a forearm in-front of the ring post. When the champ moved, her arm crashed into it, leaving Yukihi a well-lit path to victory.
Not that it instantly spelt the end for the young challenger. She was still able to hurt Yukihi, fighting through the pain to deliver her high-impact offence. I was incredibly impressed when I saw she was nineteen, only to realise she’d pulled the old joshi trick of being a nineteen-year-old with nine years experience. Still, her work selling the arm was great, never letting us forget it was hurting even as she came forward.
In fact, towards the end, the youngster would snap, fed up of being chopped away at by Yukihi, Hiragi unleashed on her with a flurry of stomps. It felt like an attempt to bulldoze her way to the title, gritting her teeth and fighting through the pain to hit a Lariat, but finding it wasn’t enough. Even a second Package Piledriver, followed by a German Suplex Hold couldn’t put the champ away.
For as good as Hiragi was, the story here was that Yukihi was better. She not only ate a shitload of damage, but she dished it out too, going after that injury like a pro. It was a tactical performance, one that would make sense in any sporting world. She’d detected a way to take away Kurumi’s biggest threat, and she used it to her advantage, eventually forcing that arm back and getting the submission win.
I enjoyed that a lot. It was that rare example of a limb match that stuck to the story, working an injury that happened in the opening minutes into every asset of the action including the finish. The challenger looked like a badass who made one mistake while the champ looked like the smartest person in the room, what more do you want?
Verdict: Damn Fine Wrestling
Maya and Kurumi had a chat afterwards saying, well, I don’t know, but I’m going to assume it was pleasant (as Maya turned heel on the previous show it’s perhaps unlikely). The big news, though, was Suzu coming out to make her challenge in a rather forceful manner. My expert pointing translation tells me that will go down on April 5th, so if the world hasn’t burned down by that point, we’re gonna have a lovely time.
I think that’s my favourite Ice Ribbon show yet. Part of that is probably down to me starting to get a handle on the wrestlers and who everyone is, but I still think it was a strong showing from start to finish, even with the Samurai cuts. Fingers crossed they will continue to impress me going forward.
Watch Ice Ribbon on niconico: https://ch.nicovideo.jp/nicopro