Marvelous’s first show of the year was ramping up the build to GAEAISM as Sendai Girls were in town. Our final two matches feature the two companies going head to head while we’ve also got an exciting proposition for young Leo. So, let’s stop blabbing and get into it.
KAORU and Masha Slamovich defeated Tomoko Watanabe and Itsuki Aoki
Itsuki Aoki does everything with enthusiasm, so much so, that poor KAORU looked worried she would lose her hearing before her retirement in August. Still, she got a measure of revenge, countering Aoki’s loudness with a bop on the head from her board.
Not that her head meeting wood stopped Aoki from putting on a good performance. She worked a lot of this match for her team, Watanabe seemingly content to leave her to it, and looked strong while doing so. Going for that over the top, shouty gimmick and balancing it on the line between fun and annoying is a skill, but she’s loudly pulling it off.
Despite that, the board would prove decisive. KAORU making sure everyone got a taste of it and setting Masha up for the win to see off a solid opening tag. Aoki would at least sneak in a final laugh, yelling in KAORU’s ear and making sure she’d be remembered by the tinnitus she’d undoubtedly caused.
Verdict: Fun Opener
ASUKA and Leo Isaka fought to a time-limit draw
Leo’s matches often feel like a minor diversion. He’s a young, decent wrestler, but he’s usually paired up with someone incredibly random, and, for obvious reasons, is never going to be the main focus in Marvelous.
That only helped to make this match stand out all the more as he and ASUKA went at it. With ASUKA having declared themselves the Ace of Marvelous recently, they and Leo were given full reign to go hard for the time they had. It was a match that started with shows of one-upmanship and eventually built to them taking lumps out of each other as they climaxed things perfectly around the time running out. It’s very hard to nail the pacing on something like this, to figure out when to push and when to pull back, but they did it.
And it’s no surprise that ASUKA can do that. They are one of the best big match wrestlers on the planet right now, so I’d trust them to pull it off in their sleep, but it was awesome to see Leo match them. It felt like someone being patted on the shoulder and handed a chance to show what they can do, an opportunity he responded to by putting out the best performance I’ve ever seen from him.
The one-upmanship continued into the post-match, the two of them kipping up before ASUKA delivered one final slap and headed to the back. Coming into this show, I wouldn’t have expected to be clamouring for this feud, but I’ll happily watch it.
Verdict: Smashed My Expectations
During the break, we got a recap of the seven vs seven, Marvelous vs Sendai Girls showdown from the last Sendai show. The clips we got looked great, although I haven’t seen the actual thing because I can only afford so many PPVs a week.
Sendai Girls (Yurika Oka, Natsuho Kaneko and Manami) defeated Marvelous (Hibiki, Maria and Mikoto Shindo)
Hibiki appears to have taken this inter-promotional battle to heart, charging to the ring and throwing herself at team Sendai. It perhaps wasn’t the smartest way to kick things off, her partners were lagging behind and there was three of them, but it was pretty badass, so I’m willing to forgive it.
It also gave this match an edge that was a lot of fun. The Sendai contingent are obviously all decent wrestlers (they’re Satomura pupils, that’s never in doubt), but they are inexperienced, and it showed at times. However, the fire that everyone brought made sure it never became a problem. From Hibiki’s charge to Kaneko and Maria grabbing each other round the throat, you bought that these trios disliked each other and that made up for any minor mistakes.
Combine that with some generally great wrestling, and it made for a very enjoyable showing. I will admit to being caught off-guard by the finish, as I just assumed the more experienced Marvelous’ trio would get the win, but I also don’t watch Sendai, so can’t speak for anyone’s level of push. Whatever the politics behind it are, Oka managed to dampen Hibiki’s fire by getting her in an armbar and forcing the submission. Although, I think it’s safe to say that fire will only flare back all the hotter as she did not seem impressed in the aftermath. I wouldn’t want to be the one to try and calm her down.
Verdict: Bring The Fire!
Marvelous (Rin Kadokura, Mio Momono and Mei Hoshizuki) defeated Sendai Girls (Dash Chisako, Chihiro Hashimoto and Mika Iwata)
The tension between the two companies didn’t drop between the semi-main and the main event, as even fun-loving Mio entered the ring, wrapped in her Marvelous flag, with a grim look on her face. Tommy had to get between the two teams before the bell rang, pulling them apart as they were desperate to get at it.
To the shock of no-one, the action would prove worthy of that aggressive set-up as these six clicked brilliantly. The thread running through the match was of the Sendai team being more suited to this hard-hitting style, be it Iwata kicking the shit out of Mei or Big Hash throwing Mio about the place. The Marvelous lot can dish out a mean strike, there is no doubt about that, but their advantage came when they picked up the pace, not when they tried to slug it out.
At least, that was the case for most of them. For this was a match in which Rin truly shined. She was the one being pulled away from Dash before the bell, and she fought with a real intensity throughout. I’ve always rated her very highly, but she brought an edge that I haven’t seen much of, and it really amped her game up. It’s something that I’d love to see her harness more often, bringing the fight to people in this style.
The finish was awesome too, Hashimoto seemingly fully in control as she murdered Mio with a Powerbomb. However, while that Sendai strength may have proved vital, it would be Mio’s brain that got the win, finding the resolve to twist through Hash’s legs and bundle her up for the three, making sure the night ended with both companies picking up a win.
Not that things finishing all-square saw the tension calm, as there were stern words from both sides in the aftermath. After the Sendai team had gone to the back, we also got a moment where it looked a bit like Mio was giving Hibiki a pep talk. My Japanese isn’t strong enough to know what was said, but Hibiki didn’t look like she was buying it, and I wonder if that’s heading somewhere.
Marvelous shows are interesting because there is rarely something that I’d hold up as a match of the year contender or even a must-see, but they’re always great. The wrestling throughout is fantastic, and the two matches vs Sendai and Leo vs ASUKA are well worth your time, which is 90% of the card. They’ve kicked off the year strong, and this GAEAISM show has the potential to be incredible.