There is something beautiful in the simple excitement that two promotions going head-to-head generates. It doesn’t even matter than more than a handful of these wrestlers regularly appear in Ice Ribbon or vice-versa, it’s a chance for new match-ups to be made and all the fun that comes with it.
Quick disclaimer, I watch a lot more Ice Ribbon than I do AgZ, so if I make any dumb mistakes, feel free to point them out in the comments.
Skoosh, Akane and Tae kicked us off in the ring as they announced the winner of the vote to determine the main event. It went the way of Tae and Suzu, Honma doing nothing to hide her delight. Tsukushi then revealed her new name, something she’s been pondering because of a wish to sound more grown up. From now on, she shall be Tsukushi Haruka.
Maya Yukihi and Mai Sakurai defeated Miku Aino and Nao Ishikawa
Noa and Miku would execute their returns to the ring very differently. Ishikawa slowly circling Mai before locking up, Miku tagging in and dropkicking her into next week. I was about to say they were both effective, but truthfully, one did more damage than the other.
Different approaches or not, both seemed to slip back into the swing of things quickly, with only a couple of moments hinting at their ring rust. That’s especially impressive for Nao, who had a mere 15 matches under her belt before being forced to take four months out. She looked like she was tiring towards the end, the forearms she threw at Yuki lacking bite, but I don’t think we can hold that against her.
On the whole, Aono’s interactions with Maya were probably the highlight, the two of them going at each other hard, but this was all enjoyable. Now we need to see if Ishikawa can work her way back to being Ice Ribbon’s number one rookie, or if the Gacha King has usurped that crown once and for all.
Verdict: Welcome Back, Nao & Miku
Yuuki Mashiro, Yappy, Yoshiko Hasegawa, Rina Amikura, Momo Tani and Ayumi Hayashi defeated Tsukasa Fujimoto and Hamuko Hoshi in an Elimination Handicap match
YUUKI! The Gacha King is on the march and dumping Tsukka out the ring as if it’s nothing. Okay, sure, she had a helping hand from seemingly everyone in the building that wasn’t Tsukasa Fujimoto, but that’s irrelevant. How many rookies can claim to have got one over her? Yuuki is coming for you, Suzu!
It was the perfect ending to a delightful match. Six vs two is a mental stipulation, even if it is rookies vs veterans, but they pulled it off. While I don’t know much about the AgZ talent, they all looked decent, approaching the match with enough enthusiasm to power a small city. We also got the pleasure of having Yappy and Yoppy on the same team. In fact, Yoppy was one of the wrestlers who stood out in the right ways, getting a fun back and forth with Tsukka before being eliminated.
Unsurprisingly, Yuuki was my highlight even before the finish. Whether it was Ham and Tsukka repeatedly throwing her under the bottom rope because they couldn’t be arsed dealing with her or the moment where she ran off to grab her belt so she could pose while her teammates tied the veterans up in submissions, she was on fire. She’s the only monarch I recognise.
Michiko Miyagi and Mochi Miyagi defeated Risa Sera and Misa Matsui
It took me at least a minute to realise that Michiko Miyagi is the former Andras Miyagi. She looks so different. Wow, it’s going to take me a while to get used to that one.
It’s not just the look that’s changed either. There were still elements of the over the top comedy that Michiko used before, mainly in her early bickering with Mochi, but she played this relatively straight. It’s going to be interesting to see how this works out for her, but I hope it pays off. Who knows what went down with her Stardom run, but something weird happened there.
She and Mochi would get the win, Michiko seeing Matsui off with a Tombstone in what was ultimately a bit of a throwaway match. It was perfectly enjoyable while it was on, but outside of my shock at seeing Michiko again, I can’t imagine I’ll remember any of it a week from now.
Verdict: Focused On The New Look
Team Ice Ribbon (Tsukushi Haruka, Hiragi Kurumi, Matsuya Uno, Satsuki Totoro and Ibuki Hoshi) defeated Team Actwres girl’Z (SAKI, Mari, Ami Miura, Hikari Shimizu and Kakeru Sekiguchi) in a Gauntlet match
The big inter-promotional showdown was worked as a gauntlet, with the winner of each fall moving on to face the next in line.
That meant there was a hell of a lot going on here as they went over 40 minutes. Importantly, though, it never felt like it. Part of that is because it wasn’t really a single match, the various cogs being repeatedly replaced. More importantly, it was all worked at a snappy pace, each section designed to get in and out as quickly and as entertainingly as possible.
What’s almost more interesting than the action in a situation like this is the booking. You can tell a lot by who gets some shine, and there were some obvious examples. First up was Kurumi who went through Hikari and Ami before going to a time limit draw with Mari. That final part was probably the best straight in-ring work of the whole thing, the two really going hard and both coming out looking great.
Elsewhere, SAKI was also kept strong, taking out Ibuki and Totoro while Skoosh was given the honour of bringing it home, christening her new name in style. Outside of Mari vs Hiragi, these were snippets rather than full meals, but all of them shone bright, so you’ll hear no complaints from me.
Verdict: Flew By
Miyuki Takase defeated Akane Fujita to retain the AgZ Title
Well, this match felt like a fucking fight.
Miyuki and Akane beat the shit out of each other. Right from the start, the blows were shuddering home, the two of them testing each other, seeing who could take the most. Takese is five foot two and Akane only a few inches taller, but anyone who has ever dismissed a short wrestler because they can’t take them seriously should be sat down in front of this and made to watch it.
What they nailed, was the sense of escalation. The violence of this ramped up and up, never resting purely on the swapping of forearms. Every moment was crafted on the back of the last, the two of them going all out as they built to a climax that saw them escalate to headbutts. I’m someone who is an unashamed sucker for this style, a lover of two idiots smacking each other until they can smack no longer. However, there is a skill to in. Anyone can stand in the ring and throw strikes for fifteen minutes, but the best make those strikes mean something, playing into them rather them blowing them off the second it’s time to take it home.
And Takase won because she threw the harder blows. It was close, but in the final act, she had that little bit more, that edge that pushed her to the three. Still, Akane certainly didn’t go down without a fight, and one can only assume that both these women are still wincing now, the damage they took leaving its mark.
Suzu Suzuki defeated Tae Honma to retain the ICExInfinity Title
Poor Suzu has had a stinker of a week, losing her title belt on a train and being faced with the terrifying sight of a disappointed Tsukka. That would be a horrifying situation for anyone but as the eighteen-year-old who has had Ice Ribbon place their faith in you? I think I would simply die.
Interestingly, though, that slip up might have brought an extra edge to this match. Suzu is not a dominant champion, her young age meaning the idea of her dropping the title sooner rather than later is always there. She’s also someone who has built a career on overcoming setbacks, the bicycle crash that curtailed her debut being the perfect example. To have her lose her title in every sense of the word in the span of a few days? That felt like a story Ice Ribbon could explore.
And Tae is a brilliant opponent for playing on that fear. Her submission-based style brings with it a million openings. There were moments in this where Suzu was on top, taking the fight to Honma, only for a twist a twist to see things flipped on their head. A leg or an arm would find their way into Tae’s hands and with it open up the chance of defeat.
It made for a gripping contest, the momentum switching wildly between the two, each moment feeling decisive. Tae at one point pulled Suzu off the top into an armbar, battling with her on the floor as she slowly tied up every limb, seemingly making it impossible for her to reach the rope. Somehow, though, she wriggled free, getting one leg loose and managing to drag them both across the ring through sheer willpower.
In the end, though, Ice Ribbon kept faith in their young champion, the Bridging German sending her home with, well, a belt, if not the one she originally won. Poor Suzu got a bit emotional afterwards, and who can blame her, she’s only wee. However, this was yet another fantastic main event, and while she needs to work on her title belt care, she’s nailing this wrestling stuff.
That was a whole lot of fun. I said it back at the start, but cross-promotion shows are great, and this was a high-quality example of the genre. More of that, please!
Watch Ice Ribbon on niconico: https://ch.nicovideo.jp/iceribbon
Watch Actwres girl’Z on their streaming service: https://actwresgirlz.net/app