Marvelous have packed January with shows, with this being the second of the three they’re putting on. Not that you’ll get any complaints from me (or at least the part of me that doesn’t look at my bank balance), as so far they’ve been having a very good 2021. Can they keep it up? Let’s find out.
In among the pre-show chat, Takumi appeared to have a couple of rookies racing to see who could do their portion of the ring cleaning quicker. I’m not sure how much they were enjoying it, but she was having a lovely time shouting them on. Hey, she’s injured, let her enjoy herself.
Tomoko Watanabe and Masha Slamovich defeated ASUKA and Mikoto Shindo
Poor Mikoto was thrown to the wolves here. Not only did she have to deal with the formidable powers of Masha and Watanabe, but her partner was rather laissez faire about the whole thing. There was a point where she had to drag ASUKA into the ring, demanding that they join her in a double team move and earning a slap round the head for her efforts. Unsurprisingly, that would lead to Mikoto taking the pin, but she put in a big old shift beforehand. The youngster did a fantastic job of getting across a scrappy, trying to survive energy, but also her frustration at ASUKA’s lack of support. It feels like every time I watch her, my opinion of her goes up a little bit higher, as she’s proving to have it all.
The focus here was on Masha vs ASUKA, though, as Slamovich continues to take umbrage with ASUKA’s claim to be the Ace. As hinted at above, ASUKA didn’t seem to be in the mood to get too into it, but the snippets we got were enough to suggest that pairing has the potential to be great. Marvelous are giving ASUKA the star-treatment, and with the way they flew around the ring, hitting Lionsaults and sending Watanabe flying with a German, you can easily see why. There is a reason every promotion they step into shines a spotlight on them, and it’s no surprise to see Chigusa follow suit.
Verdict: Lovely stuff
Leo Isaka defeated Jun Tonsho
After his enjoyable outing against ASUKA, this was a return to normality for Leo as he had a perfectly serviceable match that had nothing for me to get my teeth into. Jun Tonsho is a former Wrestle-1 guy and has been bouncing about various indie promotions since they closed up shop. He looked like a decent wee wrestler, but the odds are that he’s here for this one show and next time Leo will be up against another random bloke who wanders the indies.
To give Leo some credit, he bumped his arse off. He not only rotated round to land on his face from a German but did a full flip off a Superkick too, making Tonsho look like he packed a hell of a punch. I guess he was throwing him a bone since he’d end up surviving that onslaught and bundling him up for the three.
I feel like I’m harsh on these matches, so I want to reiterate that they’re not bad, they just sadly lack the hook that turns a decent outing into a good one.
KAORU defeated Sakura Reigna Hirota
Hirota seems to have been enjoying her recent success as she’s renamed herself Sakura Regina Hirota and was making sure Chigusa got a real good close-up of that title during her somewhat elaborate entrance. As usual, I’m not entirely sure what she was saying before the match, but even I understood the repeated refrain of ‘I’m Regina’ while handing the belt to vanquished challenger Mikoto to look after was quite the flex. That she then spent the first minute of the action struggling to escape a KAORU arm wringer is par for the course.
That set-up this match to be everything I wanted it to be, aka two veterans of the game having a lovely time. KAORU and Hirota have shared a ring countless times, and there was a real feeling of two people just enjoying getting to mess around. We had them failing to get through the classic dropdown, leapfrog sequence (twice), kanchos galore and Hirota’s attempt at a Running Powerbomb which actually ended with her just carrying KAORU from one turnbuckle to the other.
If you called this match self-indulgent, you’d be right. You’d also be reading the wrong website. KAORU and Hirota went out there and had a blast, and I loved every second of it. Yes, it’s silly and Hirota at times goes off on monologues I can’t understand, but there is a warmth to it that makes me grin from ear to ear. As someone who watches a stupid amount of wrestling, my instinct is to overanalyse everything, but sometimes it’s not needed. These two made me smile, and that’s enough.
I didn’t understand the post-match promos either, but KAORU making the old belt symbol is pretty universal. After that, it was time for Chigusa’s chat, and she seemed to address why Hibiki had been pulled from the main event. Before this show, I was convinced that situation was a work. Between Hibiki not being required to enter the big gauntlet match and her taking the fall to a less experienced wrestler in the follow-up tag, it seemed a natural progression of what they were doing. However, some of Chigusa’s comments have made it feel like it might be real. Fingers crossed that’s not the case, and it is just a way to lean into the story, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Sareee defeated Maria
Sadly, the day has finally come where Sareee’s departure to WWE can be delayed no longer. She’s heading off within the next week, hanging around just long enough for a SEAd show (but not the Ice Ribbon one she was booked on) before going to do whatever it is people do when they sign for that company.
If Sareee was looking for a pleasant goodbye, then Maria wasn’t going to be the one to provide it. She is dripping with attitude, and I love it. Considering how hard Sareee hits, you have to be a brave one to get up in her face, but Maria had no qualms about it, showing not an inch of fear as she stood up to her. She even got a bit bitey, gnawing her way out of a submission when she presumably realised it would be quicker than crawling to the ropes.
It made for a fantastic dynamic, Sareee as the badass veteran and Maria the snotty rookie looking to make her name off her. The knowledge that Sareee is off was also enough to give you the hope that maybe Maria could pull it off. You wouldn’t expect Sareee to drop this fall, but if she was going to, it would have been in this match, right?
Sadly, that wasn’t to be, but Maria still came out of this was her head held high. Sure, she also got dropped on it, but you can’t have everything, can you. Honestly, it probably wasn’t a classic Sareee performance, as she seemed to be taking it a little bit easy (she probably doesn’t want an injury before turning up in America), but Maria did more than enough to make up for that.
Verdict: Keep That Attitude, Kid!
Mio Momono defeated Rin Kadokura and Mei Hoshizuki
Mio was somewhat perturbed to enter the ring and find Mei and Rin hanging out in the same corner. Her paranoia would turn out to be well-founded too. With Hibiki being pulled from the show, this was no longer a tag, but her opponents were quite happy to make it one. It was only through some clever Mio footwork that she was able to put an end to that, causing Mei to crash into Rin one too many times for her liking.
In many ways, this was similar to KAORU vs Hirota. These three haven’t been sharing a ring for as long as those two have, but they’ve put in the hours. Watching them wrestle, you can see the trust they have in each other, that faith that their peers will always be where they expect them to be. It allows the matches to be worked at a ridiculous pace, complex sequences flowing into each other and everyone wrestling to perfection. This is something you can relax into, safe in the knowledge that it’s going to be great.
What makes me love it, though, is the fact it also feels like these three are friends. They don’t only wrestle like they spend all their time together, but they bicker like it too. You have moments like Mio and Mei standing on each other’s toes, ending up with all four feet awkwardly bundled on top of each other because neither wants to give an inch. It makes you imagine the two of them in the dojo, pushing each other through the stubbornness of friendship and it’s hard not to fall for that. In theory, this match had no-more at stake than the Leo one I failed to connect with earlier in the show, but stuff like that is what makes me care. That bond which links these wrestlers together is enough to make it important.
Mio would eventually get the win, a typically dazzling Marvelous closing stretch seeing her pick it up as she continues to cement her spot at the top of the card in Iroha’s absence. Then, in the aftermath, KAORU challenged Rin to take on a trial series, positioning herself as the first opponent. Much like this match, that sounds like it could be very very good.
Verdict: Good Friends, Better Enemies
Marvelous have had a hell of a start to the year. I sadly still haven’t seen the Sendai gauntlet match, but I only hear good things, and their two shows have been brilliant. If they can keep this momentum up, they’re in for a stand-out 2021 and I, at least, would love to see it.