Marvelous have quietly amassed an impressive slate of storylines. There is the prominent Road To GAEAISM, which once again headlined this show, but underneath that, we’ve got Hibiki’s rampage and Rin’s trial series, both of which feel worthy of being the company’s sole focus. It’s an exciting time to be a fan of Marvelous, so let’s stop wasting time and get into the review.
Hibiki defeated Mei Hoshizuki
It’s not often that Mei Hoshizuki walks to the ring with a serious look on her face. She’s usually bright and bubbly, delighted to be there, but no-one can blame her for being a little bit pissed off. On the last Marvelous show, a three-way between her, DASH and Hibiki ended when Hibiki wrapped her hands around Mei’s throat, pinning her to the mat and keeping her there until Referee Tommy was forced to call for the bell. It was an almost unsettling sight, Mei struggling in vain to get her bigger and stronger opponent off her as her grip tightened.
Not that Hibiki was going to play any fairer this time around. Right from the start, she was out to troll Mei, hiding in the ropes before refusing to lock-up and dropping to the floor. Then, when the fight got going, she wrestled like a bully. Hibiki easily overpowered Mei at every turn, dragging her to the outside and slamming her on the hard mats. Marvelous is a promotion that feels joyful. You get the impression these wrestlers love competing against each other, but there was none of that from Hibiki. She was here to beat Mei up.
Mei took that beating brilliantly. She’s a wonderful underdog, occasionally flaring to life with a frantic flurry of moves as she tried to get a foothold in the match. Hibiki never let her sustain it, though, and when Ref Tommy ate an accidental dropkick, she took the violence to the next level, taping Mei to the ropes and pounding on her. By the time Tommy was back in the ring, there wasn’t much Hoshizuki could do. A couple of Lariats were enough to see her off.
These two weren’t looking to put together a brilliant match. This was all about putting over Hibiki and her new character, which it did to perfection. She feels dangerous, like someone who could explode at any moment. As I said before, that feels so out of step with the rest of the Marvelous roster, which only makes it better. I can’t wait to see where this is going and to watch someone eventually unleash hell on Hibiki for all she’s done.
Verdict: Perfect Character Work
Hibiki’s post-match ranting pissed off Chigusa, who picked something up and threw it at her before grabbing a weapon from under the ring, Takumi leaping in at the last second to prevent her from dishing out some personal justice. It was still enough to distract Hibiki, which gave Mei the chance to get some revenge of her own, grabbing her megaphone and smashing it to pieces. Interestingly, Hibiki’s response to that was almost pathetic, scrabbling around on the mat, frantically picking up the bits before carrying them to the back. I’ve no idea if that was the intention or not, but it wasn’t the rage-fuelled response you might have expected.
ASUKA & KAORU defeated Sakura Regina Hirota & Mikoto Shindo
The day I get bored of Hirota’s shtick is the day I stop watching wrestling. She was on fire before the match had even begun as whatever she was saying to ASUKA and KAORU was causing Mikoto no end of anxiety. Then, during the match itself, she was so desperate to push an unwilling ASUKA into doing her headbutt routine that she did a fantastically silly sell from a forearm to drop herself into position. ASUKA then became perhaps the first person to go through the bit and end it with a Springboard Moonsault.
While Hirota was having fun, ASUKA and Mikoto took on the bulk of the serious stuff, Shindo showing some fire before being murdered via Powerbomb. It was a shame that she flubbed an attempted Springboard Dropkick on the closing stretch, needing a second go at it and taking the momentum out of the sequence. It didn’t kill the match, but it left ASUKA in the awkward position of having to stand and wait for her to recover. Still, it’s a rare mistake from the youngster, and aside from that, she was great.
It all added up to a very enjoyable tag. I’ve not even mentioned KAORU, who makes me a little bit sadder about her retirement every time I watch her. Before the match, she was making belt gestures at Hirota, so I hope we get to see that in the months ahead.
Verdict: Hirota >>> Everything
Nene mugen D.a.i. defeated Leo Isaka and Koju Takeda in a three-way match
Random fact for you, Koju Takeda was in the first match I saw live at Korakuen Hall. There is nothing more to that snippet. I just felt like sharing.
Anyway, Takeda and Nene mugen D.a.i. (who I’m not aware of, but was working an exotico gimmick) are 666 wrestlers who seemed rather unconcerned about Leo. The start of the match saw him excluded from their games, left to lean against the ropes while they grappled. Then, when he forced himself into the action, they teamed up on him! How rude.
It set the tone for a match that balanced the line between gentle comedy and enjoyable action well. I tend to be harsh on Leo’s outings, as I struggle to get emotionally invested in them, but the guy is a nice wee wrestler, and these are always at the very least decent. The 666 pair bringing that little bit of extra character gave this a flavour that they sometimes lack. Plus, we got to see Tommy giving Takeda a slap on his exposed arse after his trunks got pulled down in the home stretch, so that alone was worth the entrance fee.
Verdict: I Enjoyed It
Tomoko Watanabe defeated Rin Kadokura
Poor Rin is having a bit of a rough time with this trial series and Tomoko wasn’t about to be the one to make it easy for her. There was a significant power gap in this match, and the veteran was happy to make that count.
As with any trial series, though, that’s kind of the point. So far, the three wrestlers Rin has faced have all been around longer than she’s been alive. While she’s obviously trying to win, the important thing is that she learns from these matches. That she’s able to go out there and absorb the knowledge that these wrestlers have.
And I think we began to see bits of that here. Rin has been out-gunned in the previous matches but has shown fire, forcing her opponents to put her down hard. While that was true again, we also saw her begin to get a bit smarter. At one point, she took the fight to the outside, hitting a stomp off the stage to Watanabe. She’s never going to be stronger than a Tomoko or an Ito, but she doesn’t have to be.
It did mean that it followed the series’s pattern of being an interesting match rather than a great one. However, I have no issue with that. Rin is already an accomplished wrestler, but she’s going somewhere new, and that’s exciting.
Afterwards, it seemed like Watanabe cut a respectful promo towards Rin, but I’m going purely off tone. ASUKA then came out, and their tone was, well, slightly less respectful. Either way, it seems they’re up next in Rin’s series, and that one should be a great match.
Team Sendai Girls (Chihiro Hashimoto, Manami and Yurika Oka) defeated Team Marvelous (Mio Momono, Maria and Ai Hozan)
The Road to GAEAISM is paved with brilliance.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone by now that this ruled. Whenever wrestlers from Marvelous and Sendai Girls get in the ring together, you are guaranteed a good time. Every match has this underlying fire to it, Mio and Maria making their feelings clear as they dragged Ai back from her attempted handshake. They all seem determined to prove themselves the best, a feeling that I suspect extends beyond kayfabe. It gives every match a real urgency, so it doesn’t matter if it’s Hash vs Mio or Yurika Oka vs Ai Hozan, everyone brings it when you shove these companies together.
On the Sendai Girls’ side, I came away incredibly impressed with Oka. She’s seventeen, and the only matches of her I’ve seen have been part of this feud, but she looks a real prospect, something that’s been backed up by the booking making sure to highlight her. She’s still got that rookie enthusiasm, but it’s resting on a base of strong, patient technical wrestling, which is a combination you don’t see that often, as rookies tend to push the bluster to the front rather than the ability.
Speaking of bluster, this was our second chance to see Ai, as she got introduced to big Hash, which went about as well as you’d expect it to. Thankfully, she survived and we got to see more of that wilful streak that I talked about in my Assemble review. Here, it came out when Maria ignored her shouts and refused to tag her in, at which point she took matters into her own hands and entered herself into the action. Of course, this being her second-ever outing, we all know how that ended, but she looked good before Oka tapped her out. The most important thing at this point in her career, is that she was in that ring with a lot of talented wrestlers, and while she was clearly the baby of the group, she didn’t look out of place.
It says a lot about this match’s strength that I’ve barely even mentioned Mio, one of my favourite wrestlers, but at this point, we know what to expect from the likes of her and Hash. They’re brilliant, the animosity from their previous encounters carrying over and giving everything an edge. Sendai Girls and Marvelous are having the best feud in wrestling right now, and I’m already excited for the next chapter.
Verdict: Give us more!
Maria and Oka had words for each other afterwards, grabbing each other’s hair before Hashimoto seemed to dish out some harsh looking advice towards Ai. The feuds within the feud continue to grow, and it’s awesome.
I’m running out of words to praise Marvelous with. Their shows are consistently brilliant, as they continue to build the various storylines they have bubbling away while also delivering some outstanding wrestling. If you’re not watching this company, I highly recommend you fix that because it’s been incredible recently.