March 2020 might be the month the wrestling died, but there was still a remarkable amount of the stuff despite that sad state of affairs. There was certainly more than enough to make up my monthly top ten, and if you’re looking for something to pass the time, well, I guess you better read on because that might not be the case in April.
10. Tokyo Joshi’s Entire Spring Beautiful Tournament, Spring Beautiful One Day Tournament (1/3/20), TJPW
Is this cheating? Yes, it is. You can’t pretend an entire show is one match, but it’s not like you don’t have plenty of time on your hands! Plus, I can’t pick and choose from this bonkers and brilliant experience. From start to finish, it is an utter delight, with every match bringing a slice of the personality that makes Tokyo Joshi as wonderful as it is. People talk about wrestling being a variety show, by which they often mean that it has to have wildly different elements throughout. However, this is an example of what that should be. No two matches were alike, yet they were all firmly rooted in the same world. It’s perfect.
9. Miyako Matsumoto vs Chikara, ~MIYAKO HOUSE 2020~ (11/3/20), Gake No Fuchi Joshi Pro Wrestling
I wrote in-depth about this at the time, so I’d recommend giving that a read if you want to know more, as I’m running out of words to get across how galaxy brain I believe Miyacoco is. She produces the kind of wrestling that few (if any) are making, punching and pummelling until it becomes what she wants it to be. As a non-Japanese speaker, I’m not sure this has the same instant gratification that her insanity with Brookes did, but there is still something captivating about what she does. Her match with Chikara was a part farce, part horror, part love story, part whatever the fuck else you want to find in it. How can you not want to watch that?
8. NEO Itoh Respect Army (Maki Itoh and Chris Brookes) vs Miyu Yamashita and Antonio Honda, One Chance Sunday (1/3/20), DDT
Two of my favourite tag teams got the chance to face off in the DDT Dojo, and it somehow matched my lofty expectations. From Itoh drawing their opponents in by bursting into tears when Chris didn’t dance with her to Miyu and Honda constructing a Mega Gon, this had all the laughs you’d expect. Plus, we got a wee hint of what Yamashita vs Brookes might look like and learnt that while he’s a tall fucker, that wouldn’t stop her kicking his head off.
7. Mayu Iwatani vs Saki Kashima, No People Gate (8/3/20), Stardom
Mayu vs Saki got somewhat mixed reactions from the wrestling world at large, as some find the empty arena unsettling and the structure of the match off-putting. For me, though, this was about Saki (and Oedo Tai) making Mayu care. She’d shrugged her off for weeks, unbothered by her betrayal, but by the end of this fight, she unleashed, kick after kick crashing in before a cold and devastating Tombstone. By drawing out the killer inside of Mayu Iwatani, Saki proved that she did give a damn, and I think that was a huge part of why she wanted this match.
6. Miyuki Takase vs Nagisa Nozaki, AgZ Beginning Pro (15/3/20), Actwres girl’Z
I’ve only recently started watching Actwres girl’Z, so my knowledge of the company and its storylines is limited. However, I understood this match. Nozaki wanted to boot Takase’s head into the last row, and Takase wasn’t such a fan of the idea. Sometimes the simplest stories are the best, and this one was a pleasure to watch.
5. Momo Watanabe vs Starlight Kid, Cinderella Tournament (24/3/20), Stardom
My favourite match of this year’s Cinderella Tournament was the first as Momo and Kid put together a frantic sprint that was a shitload of fun. The highlights came in the final stretch (although it could be argued the whole thing was the final stretch) as the two started pulling out some brilliant counters, the best of which was Momo turning a Ki-Bomb into a B-Driver. A perfect example of how to maximise your time and transform a few minutes into something brilliantly memorable.
4. Baliyan Akki vs Minoru Suzuki, ChocoProLIVE! (28/3/20), ChocoProLIVE!
It might say Baliyan Akki vs Minoru Suzuki, but really this was Gatoh Move/ChocoProLIVE! vs Minoru Suzuki. This is another match that I wrote about at length, so I’ll keep it short, but the moment where Akki’s friends leap onto the mat, bringing the fight to MiSu, is one of my favourites of the year. I never thought I’d see the day where Lulu Pencil was throwing forearms at Murder Grandpa, but damn am I glad I did.
3. Maya Yukihi vs Hiragi Kurumi, Ice Ribbon #1029 (14/3/20), Ice Ribbon
Having turned heel on the previous show, Maya had a fiery young powerhouse trying to take her down. It was a set-up that turned into a battle of smarts vs brute strength, Kurumi trying to barrel her way through the champion while Maya went after her arm, taking advantage of a mistake to open her up to attack. It’s another match with a simple story, but one that’s brilliantly told.
2. Suzu Suzuki vs Tsukasa Fujimoto, Ice Ribbon #1029 (14/3/20), Ice Ribbon
The rebirth of Suzu Suzuki post-Chirin Chirin has been quite a sight and is well worth looking up if you haven’t seen any of it. It came to a head in this match, as she went up against the Ice Ribbon Ace, Fujimoto, and picked up a huge victory. What made this extra brilliant, though, was the way that they gave Suzu win without unleashing the entire arsenal. These two still have more to give, and when they next come face to face on a big stage, you know they’ll do something even better.
1. Natsumi Maki vs Miyu Yamashita, ~ HEART & BODY ~ (21/3/20), TJPW
My feud of the year’s third chapter once again saw Miyu and Natsupoi bring it. You see a lot of blabbering on about match to match storytelling in the wrestling world, but few have done it with the elegance and simplicity that these two do. The way they’ve built on the action, constructing the story of Maki getting closer and closer to beating Miyu has been handled to perfection, and if the day ever comes where she does get the win, you can bet I’ll be out my seat and dancing around the house.
If you click the various match titles, it should take you to the match in question. Unfortunately, some of these matches aired on NicoPro, meaning they may no longer be available. You should still subscribe to see that company’s future shows, though.
If you enjoyed my ramblings, then please consider contributing to my Ko-fi, even the smallest amount is appreciated.
Leave a Reply