It’s time. After stubbornly trying to catch-up for far too long, I have accepted defeat and sprung forward in time with Ice Ribbon. Quite frankly, people barely need my opinion on stuff happening in the here and now, never mind shit from a month ago, so it feels like the right decision and Ice Ribbon’s return to Korakuen seemed like the perfect time to do it. I will still be watching all those shows at some point, so if you want my opinion buy me a pint and I’ll happily fill you in.
HIRO’e defeated Mio Shirai in a Exhibition Match
Unless Cagematch has missed anything, this is Mio’s first match (well, it’s an exhibition, but same thing) since she retired in 2015. It was originally meant to be against White, the Ice Ribbon trainee, but she picked up an injury, so HIRO’e stepped in.
It meant poor Mio suddenly had a very different challenge on her hands. She played into her time away from the ring, hesitating on the top rope while HIRO’e encouraged her and looking uncomfortable at times. However, for someone who had been away for a fair while (although ‘away’ is probably not the right word as she’s still heavily involved), it was a good performance. Honestly, her original run was before my time, so I have nothing to compare it too, but this was a fun blast of a match.
Ultimately, she would fall victim to a Spear, her comeback ending in defeat, but she still seemed pleased with her efforts. If I enjoyed this despite not having an emotional connection to Mio, then I can only assume those who do will have a lovely old time.
Verdict: Welcome Back
Miku Aono defeated Nao Ishikawa
It’s not quite as long a lay-off as Mio, but this was Aono’s first match since March, so she was also shaking off some ring rust against Ice Ribbon’s impressive rookie.
That led to a pretty straightforward contest, Nao showing a lot of fire, but ultimately tapping. eWhile she’s been consistently impressive since her debut, this felt like it was about Aono and giving her a chance to stretch her legs while picking up a convincing win.
None of which stopped it from being an enjoyable match, it’s just unlikely to stick around in your mind. More importantly, though, it’s been revealed Nao is to miss the next show as she gets surgery for a ovarian cyst, so a speedy recovery and all the best to her!
Frank Sisters (Hiragi Kurumi, Mochi Miyagi and Akane Fujita) defeated Chon Shiryu, HIRO’e and Kaho Kobayashi
These are the matches that I struggle the most to write about. It was a fun trios match, built around these two teams coming up with some cool ways to get as many people involved in spots as possible. What it didn’t have was any great depth as it focused purely on putting a smile on faces. There is nothing wrong with that, not every match needs to be layered and complex, but it does make coming up with a few hundred words to spout about it difficult. So, em, let’s leave it there!
Joint Army (Syuri, Tae Honma, Matsuya Uno and Rina Shingaki) defeated Makoto, Thekla, Ram Kaicho and Yappy
Joint Army are one of my favourite factions because their matches have this brilliant, brutal simplicity. They are going to grab limbs and twist on them. It’s the Arjen Robben effect, you know exactly what they’re going to do, but that doesn’t mean you can stop them.
The rag-tag team thrown against them fought well, putting up some decent competition in an enjoyable wee match, but in the end, poor Yappy’s arm was the victim, Uno tapping her out for the win. Gotta love that Joint Army.
Verdict: Protect Your Arms
Ram had something to say to Honma afterwards, so I’m going to assume she was challenging for the title. I don’t know if I misunderstood this, but it looked like she asked Makoto to be their third, only to be turned down. Instead, Chon Shiryu was called out, giving us our trio.
Cherry defeated Banny Oikawa to retain the WUW Title
There was some really interesting mat work in this one. Cherry is one of these wrestlers who never sits in a submission as she’s always looking for a way to make it tighter or more deadly. At one point, Banny was blocking an Armbar, so she reached down to grab her leg too, hoping that the distraction would loosen up the arm to be tortured.
It was made even more enjoyable by Banny being out there to have a hardcore match. Cherry was going for heel hooks while Banny wanted to beat her over the head with a teddy bear and choke her with a chain. It’s two styles you very rarely see smushed together, but they made it work, playing off those differences.
Sadly, Banny’s newfound hardcore side would be used against her, the chain she’d wrapped around Cherry’s neck being slammed into her gut. That very nearly led to a knockout victory, but Cherry would eventually do it the way she’d been aiming for from the start, twisting from an Ankle Lock round to Banny’s arms and tying her up in knots for the submission.
Verdict: Really Cool
Uno came out to make a challenge for the belt as this obscure Austrian title is apparently now Ice Ribbon’s hybrid hardcore/grappling championship? Who saw that coming?
Rina Yamashita and Risa Sera fought to a time-limit draw
If you are into the idea of two people hitting each other very hard, then you are probably going to enjoy this match. They went to a draw, but managed to avoid telegraphing it too heavily, taking advantage of that nice fifteen-minute time-limit.
The thing I want most from matches like this is the feeling that it has been a slog. I want the two wrestlers to look like they are in pain, pulling themselves up to charge into each other again. Risa and Rina gave us that. There is a skill to knowing when to hit the accelerator and when to stop, slowing down to sell the agony and build anticipation. They nailed it throughout, timing each change in momentum to perfection.
The final minutes saw both get agonisingly close to the win, but neither was able to get it done, the time running out as Rina tried desperately to lift Risa into the air.
Verdict: Hoss Fight!
With their Fantast ICE title showdown ahead of them, Rina and Risa agreed to make it a ‘No Settlement’ match, meaning it can only end in a pinfall.
Arisa Nakajima and Tsukushi defeated Tsukasa Fujimoto and Maya Yukihi
It’s Tsukka’s birthday celebration, so she’s teaming with the champ to face her two regular tag-team partners, how nice.
Niconico was in full cunt mode during this match, and I still had a lovely time, so that should tell you everything you need to know about it. Fujimoto, unsurprisingly, took centre stage, the chance to face off with her two partners taking priority. If she was expecting them to go easy on her, though, she was in for a rough afternoon.
Obviously, it was all great. I mean, look at who was involved. Arisa and Fujimoto could sleepwalk through a match together, and it would at least be good, while Skoosh went full goblin on her pal. It was an unleashing of goblinness that would eventually get her the win, bundling her partner up for the three and a pretty huge victory. Now, does anyone have a copy of this that doesn’t rely on niconico?
Verdict: Great Match, Shame About The Platform
There were hugs for everyone afterwards, Tsukushi looking like she got a little bit emotional as Fujimoto shared some words with her.
Suzu Suzuki defeated Hamuko Hoshi, Ibuki Hoshi, Maika Ozaki and Satsuki Totoro to become the number one contender for the ICExInfinity Title
If you shove five people in a ring together, it always going to be difficult for them to put together a coherent match. There are so many pitfalls for them to fall into that it’s inevitable they’ll find one or two.
However, as that style of bout goes, this was a pretty good one. The early-going saw everyone team up to try and eliminate first Ham and then Totoro, going after the biggest fish in the pond. It was a nice touch and one that made perfect sense before they paired people off and got down to whittling wrestlers away.
The real story kicked in when we were left with Suzu, Hamuko and Ozaki. Suddenly the spotlight was glared onto Suzuki as she was given a chance to show what she could do. Particular focus was paid on her ability to bundle people into pins at lightning-fast speed, which was what proved effective in eliminating Ozaki. Sadly, the same tactic wasn’t working on Ham as she kicked out time after time, forcing Suzu to go to plan B and hit a Bridging German for the win.
This was a solid match with a lovely final act that saw Suzu go over strong. It sets her up for her third title challenge and, surely, this time she is taking home that gold.
Verdict: ‘Mon Yersel’ Suzu!
Alongside Maya vs Suzu being set-up, we also got Makoto challenging Hamuko as Ice Ribbon are stacking the card for that Yokohama show.
Niconico was winding me up all the way through this, and I still had a good time, so I imagine if you watched it without any technical difficulties, it would be brilliant. How is that platform as bad as it is? Oh well, at least we have Ice Ribbon to keep us happy.
Watch Ice Ribbon on niconico: https://ch.nicovideo.jp/iceribbon