We’re finally there! The title match that Ice Ribbon has been building to for longer than they planned (thanks COVID) and which I’ve been dancing around for an extra month because I’m so far behind. Sadly, being far behind apparently makes it impossible for me to watch this via niconico’s PPV gimmick (feel free to point me in the right direction if I’m wrong), so I had to find the Samurai version. That means a couple of matches were clipped, but it’s nothing too egregious.
My limited Japanese (plus what I could see with my eyes) leads me to believe that Ice Ribbon had a new ring mat. They let the fans decide whether it should be Maya or Hamuko who took the ceremonial first bump with Hamuko, like during the IW19 tournament, proving incredibly popular. Unfortunately for her, we all know how Suzu reacts to new ring mats, and she shoved Ham out the way to steal the moment for herself. What a terror.
Maika Ozaki and Yappy defeated Hiragi Kurumi and Akane Fujita
Kurumi is awesome. She’s one of those wrestlers whose age I find myself checking every time I see her, confirming that she is that young and that talented. What is it Sakura-san is feeding these ten-year-olds she takes under her wing? They all tend to turn out rather good.
This was one of the matches that were subjected to a wee clip, but as far as I could tell, we only lost a few minutes off the start. What we got was a crowd-pleaser, worked at a speedy pace and designed to warm everyone up. In other words, a perfect opener.
I like all four of these wrestlers, and they proved that my affection is not misplaced. There wasn’t much about it to sit and pore over, but I enjoyed it all the same.
Verdict: Fun Opener
Satsuki Totoro and Ram Kaicho defeated Joint Army (Tae Honma and Matsuya Uno)
This match appeared to have been cut down even more than the opener, so it feels a bit unfair to give it a proper review.
I will say that I liked both these pairings. Joint Army are fucking cool, and I’m a big fan of the grab a limb and start twisting approach to wrestling. Totoro and Ram, meanwhile, had a nice odd-couple vibe, Totoro looking to slam Ram onto an opponent at one point only for her small pal to slip out and use a Drop Toehold to reverse the fortunes.
Totoro would end up getting an impressive victory and had a wee chat with Honma afterwards. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that back and forth included a challenge for the Triangle Ribbon Title. A flick through future cards would certainly suggest that was the case.
Verdict: What I Saw Was Good!
Chon Shiryu defeated Mochi Miyagi
Mochi spent a lot of this match whipping Chon, which I’ve no doubt will please somebody out there.
Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t a particularly serious affair. There was a running gag with Miyagi trying to throw Shiryu across the ring by his hair, but failing because he doesn’t have any hair. That led to him and the ref, who was also follically challenged, having a wee brag about it, so she went to get the whip again.
When things settled down a bit, Miyagi looked good, taking the fight to Chon. Unfortunately, it just took one moment for that to twist on its head as he slipped into a Gory Special Bomb and followed up with a vicious looking Double Stomp for the win.
Fun match, nothing special, but I enjoyed it while it was on.
Verdict: I Chuckled
Tsukasa Fujimoto defeated Nao Ishikawa
Giving Nao this match was a lovely touch by Ice Ribbon. Ishikawa was denied a debut in front of fans making this her first official bout with an audience. Having it be against the Ace in a decent spot hopefully blunted some of that prior disappointment.
Not that Fujimoto was going to give her a nice easy welcome. She was happy to torture the wee rookie, a big grin on her face as she did so. Nao was being introduced to the big bad world, and it was trying to find out how bendy she is.
Of course, this was a joshi rookie match, so we know how it went. She got her moment, Tsukasa getting a bit too into ramming her head into the turnbuckles and giving her a chance to fight back. I’ve praised Ishikawa consistently since her debut, and that’s not going to stop here. She’s nae perfect, her wrestling still feeling scrappy, but her selling is strong and draws sympathy, pulling this audience behind her as she tried to survive Fujimoto.
Despite that flurry, she’ll have left this match in a fair bit of pain, Fujimoto hitting a particularly murderous Dropkick into the corner. However, I reckon Nao could also go home happy. In many ways, the chance to work without fans may have taken the edge of those nerves, letting her show what she can be. I’m pretty confident that what she’ll be is a damn good wrestler.
Verdict: Well Done, Rookie!
Tsukushi, Risa Sera and Ibuki Hoshi defeated Hamuko Hoshi, Thekla and Banny Oikawa
Look, it’s a frantic trios match with Tsukushi in it, anyone who has read any of my writing on Ice Ribbon will know I had a good time. If you’re new, I had a good time.
Tsukushi was on peak-goblin brat form too, stamping on Banny’s fingers before plucking away at fluffy parts of her costume. She still hasn’t forgiven Hamuko’s victory in the IW19 tournament either, flying in with some vicious blows. Tsukushi isn’t the only one either, Ibuki’s issues with mother dearest continuing. Unless the Hoshi family just have an unusual way of showing affection.
Outside of that, it was a jolly old time. These are the matches I struggle to review the most because so much happens that zeroing in on one thing is difficult. Still, lots of good things can be added up to give us one even better thing, so we shan’t complain.
Verdict: Very Enjoyable
Having picked up a big win, Ibuki showed Mum even more affection by grabbing the mic and calling her the fuck out. Not going to lie, Hamuko looked delighted by the whole situation (which probably didn’t help her daughter’s anger), and they’ll be facing off for the IW19 title.
Maya Yukihi defeated Suzu Suzuki to retain the ICExINFINITY Title
The build to this match was perhaps not what Suzu wanted it to be. After her wee foray into the wilderness, she returned with a huge victory over Fujimoto, setting her up to make this challenge. Then, worldwide disaster struck, and she’s spent the last few months yelling at people as that momentum slipped away and frustration took its place.
That frustration would end up being her downfall. Suzu was brilliant here, the prodigal talent she’s proven herself to be, ducking and dodging Yukihi’s attack, but Maya was also able to push every button. She poked and prodded Suzuki, mocking her at every turn. Where Suzu was burning passion, Maya was calmly waiting for her, ready to quench that fire and put her away.
It made for a fascinating contest, Suzu at times looking like maybe that unleashing of frustration would be enough. She stood toe to toe with Maya, exchanging blows and even coming out on top. Ultimately, though, Yukihi was just too good. She was able to step back from the onslaught, take a second, and turn the match back in her favour with the perfect counter at the right time. In the end, a murderous Tiger Driver came at the end of a series of moves and gave the champ a decisive victory.
Before everything that’s happened in the last few months, I’d have been pro switching the title here. As it stands, I think this was the right call. Suzu’s moment will come, and this match told the story of her being great, but not quite good enough. It gives her a chance to build back towards the belt and, hopefully, makes the moment when she wins it all the sweeter.
Plus, Yukihi is fucking awesome.
Verdict: Lovely Stuff
Maya and Suzu did exchange some words afterwards, Maya speaking calmly and Suzu unable to stop herself getting emotional. I’ve no idea what she said, but it sounded passionate.
She wasn’t the only one with something to say. It might have been forgotten because she picked up a belt at the same time, but Hamuko holds a victory over the champ, so she came out to make herself known. At least I assume that’s what she was doing, perhaps she just wanted a chat.
You know what, that was a damn good wrestling show. I’d put the main event and perhaps Fujimoto vs Nao as the only can’t miss matches, but they were all worth a watch. With Ice Ribbon running shows throughout lockdown, I was intrigued to see how their momentum would hold-up in a world with fans. Thankfully, judging by this, they won’t have any issues.
Watch Ice Ribbon on niconico: https://ch.nicovideo.jp/iceribbon