It’s Mio wrestling birthday which, knowing Mio, may well be more important to her than her actual birthday. This is the lass who has previously claimed she has no other hobbies because she feels it would be unfaithful to wrestling. Then again, other hobbies don’t tend to put you in the way of an angry Chihiro Hashimoto, so she might want to reconsider that.
KAORU and ASUKA defeated Rin Kadokura and Maria
KAORU does not need to crash and burn on that Valkyrie Splash half as often as she does. Christ, this match saw her missing the move to set up a finish where she tapped out Maria, which seems slightly masochistic. Maybe she enjoys it? It certainly looks cool.
She and ASUKA were a hell of a team too, dripping arrogance as they set about bullying Rin and Maria. However, it wasn’t entirely one-sided. Rin got her hands on KAORU’s board at one point, causing Referee Tommy, who must have seen KAORU bop a hundred people a hundred times over the years, to take a hands-off approach as Rin started dishing out some familiar medicine. It was her interactions with ASUKA that really stood out, though. They’re both about to be shoved in front of a much larger audience, and while there is zero chance of them facing off in an AEW ring (Rin being paired with Aja in the first round makes sure of that), this suggested they’d be a tasty pairing.
Ultimately, though, you could tell this was an opener. These four had a good match, but there is no doubt in my mind that on a bigger stage, they’d blow this away. You couldn’t point to someone and accuse them of slacking off, but they were holding back on what they could do, saving it for a more important day. Which, of course, is the right thing to do, and even with that being the case, this was still a fun opener.
Verdict: Fun, But Not Everything It Could Be
Sakura Hirota defeated Tomoko Watanabe
Hirota’s smoke machines got the better of her during her entrance, rather overdoing it and leaving her coughing. It’s one of the sacrifices you have to make if you’re going to make your way to the ring like a champion.
Last month we got Hirota mucking around with KAORU, this month it’s Watanabe, and while these two don’t have quite the same history (they’ve faced off surprisingly little considering how long they’ve both been around), it was still incredibly enjoyably. They almost ended up in a failing game of one-upmanship, both of them unsuccessfully trying to hit topes and having all their plans fall apart. Even Hirota’s drafting of Rin and KAORU for support was only successful for so long, her ingratitude eventually seeing them turn on her.
And as I’ve said before, I love these kinds of matches. Watching two people go out and mess around shouldn’t be as fun as this was, but it really is. Whether it’s Hirota encouraging Watanabe to do the rope-walking spot or the long build-up to Watanabe hitting a German, it all makes me laugh, which is what I want it to do. Obviously, if you’re coming in expecting serious wrestling, then you’re going to be disappointed, but if you’re doing that with a Hirota match, then you’re the one in the wrong.
Verdict: It Made Me Smile
According to the Marvelous International Twitter page, Watanabe was trying to convince Hirota to sell the title to her afterwards, a proposition she seemed to be open to. Hey, she’s a working mum, you can’t blame her for wanting to make a bit of extra cash.
Leo Isaka & Tetsuya Izuchi defeated TAMURA & Raimu Imai
Leo has brought all his friends along for this show! Izuchi and Raimu are both Heat-Up guys, so this was TAMURA turning up with his boys for a kickabout.
And like most Leo matches, it was an enjoyable showing. I always feel bad for treating these as being a bit throwaway, but the truth is, they are. The Heat-Up guys all knowing each other and presumably working together a lot brought a little bit of spice to the action, but even that was a sprinkle rather than real heat.
The Brainbuster that got the win was impressive, as it looked like Leo was struggling to get Raimu up, but managed to power through. It was one of those small mistakes that makes a move look better, the feeling that he had to work for it, making the payoff more satisfying.
Verdict: Decent Enough
Chigusa’s chat saw her bring a dog down to ringside and plug a doggy calendar. Marvelous being such a pro-dog promotion is one of the many reasons that I love them as much as I do. We also got a brief introduction to a person who I assume was Ai Tsukada, Marvelous’s newest rookie who will be debuting at the next Assemble show. Finally, Chig played janken against the crowd, which worked a lot better than it should have.
Hibiki defeated Mikoto Shindo
Hibiki has been allowed off the naughty step after she and Chigusa posted a Twitter video where she looked suitably contrite. Unfortunately, while Chigusa was willing to forgive (even suggesting that Hibiki’s concerns were valid), Mikoto wasn’t quite as willing to do so. It was her main event that Hibiki and her megaphone interrupted, so it was no surprise when she refused the pre-match handshake and went for the cheap shot.
Unfortunately, by going more aggressive, Shindo was kind of playing into Hibiki’s hand. Yes, in the opening minutes of the match, it caught her off-guard, causing Hibiki to roll to ringside to get away from her pissed off opponent, but a brawl is exactly what she wants. Hibiki is a bruiser who was more than happy to slug it out with Mikoto, as each blow of hers was worth at least two of her opponent’s. Shindo corrected course towards the end, attempting to speed things up, but by then, it was too late.
It made for the kind of match that I love, one in which you can clearly see both wrestlers’ strengths and how Mikoto’s mistakes led to her defeat. There would also be a wee wrinkle of interest in the aftermath, Hibiki leaning down to say something to Mikoto which, judging by her reaction, was probably not complimentary. She may have appeared ashamed of herself on Twitter, but I don’t think Hibiki’s done yet.
Verdict: Smart Match
Chihiro Hashimoto defeated Mio Momono and Mei Hoshizuki in a Handicap Match
Mio Momono celebrated her 5th anniversary as a wrestler (there is still a fair while to go before she retires at 100) by teaming up with her pal Mei to take on the formidable force that is Chihiro Hashimoto. Big Hash has had a few issues with these Marvelous kids, their tricky ways catching her out during their previous encounters. Unfortunately for Mio and Mei, that meant she was out for blood.
The story of this match was predictable, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. Hash is a monster, capable of murdering both Mei and Mio in a one on one situation, but they weren’t facing her one on one. By working together, they were able to open opportunities for each other, running rings around their powerhouse opponent and keeping themselves in the fight. It led to spots like the one where Hash was bending down to pull Mei to her feet, allowing Mio to slip in and hit a Code Red, catching her off-guard while her back was turned. I can’t think of many handicap matches that I’ve loved, so this may well be the first, as it perfectly got across the idea that Mio and Mei were fighting an impossible battle. They may have had the extra numbers, but Hash was a mountain that they were being forced to scale, and they had to work their arses off to make every step.
Sadly for the Marvelous pair, Hashimoto was in no mood for their antics. Eventually, she settled down and started committing murders, taking Mio out of the action and then destroying Mei with a brutal series of moves. It looked fucking awesome and was the perfect finish to a bout that I enjoyed the hell out of.
What was I saying about Hibiki? I have to admit I didn’t expect my prediction to come true this quickly, but before Hash could even start celebrating, she was back, hair turned blonde once more and wearing an incredible shirt as she ranted into her megaphone. I’m not entirely sure what was said, but Chigusa got involved and judging by this short translation, there is a decent chance we’re building to a match between the two of them. I hope that’s the case, as having Chigusa and Hibiki brawl it out could be awesome.
Marvelous shows are always great, and this one had the benefit of giving us a full main event before Hibiki made her mark. They have had a brilliant start to 2021, and with GAEAISM getting ever nearer, I would be shocked if that was to stop anytime soon.