Marvelous days are good days, so let’s not waste any time with an introduction and instead get right into the wrestling.
Mei Hoshizuki defeated KAORU & Tomoko Watanabe
There must have been some technical issues, as the VOD leapt from showing an empty ring to dropping us partway through this match. Thankfully, we can’t have missed too much, as we still got plenty of action.
It also came back before Mei found incredible new levels of goblin-like behaviour. She’s apparently figured out that running around the outside of the ring, grabbing the ankles of anyone who dares to run the ropes, is an effective strategy. If you’ve ever had nightmares of something snatching your leg as it dangles off the bed, it may well have been a wee Mei Hoshizuki, ready to pull you under.
Mei appeared to be rubbing off on her veteran opponents, as there was a lot of goblin behaviour in this match. Not long after Hoshizuki’s ankle grabbing antics, Watanabe decided the best way to deal with KAORU was to boot her in the shin, which, judging by the way she sold it, may well have been right. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her that distressed before. These three were in gloriously mischievous moods, seemingly having gone out there purely intending to have a lovely time, and they pulled it off masterfully.
Then, to cap it all off, Mei picked up a massive win, taking both veteran’s legs out from underneath them and bundling them over for a double pin. Sure, the match focused on the laughs, and she got some kicks in the arse for her impudence, but beating KAORU and Watanabe means something. It was also the perfect ending to a riot of an opener, and I loved it dearly.
Tetsuya Izuchi defeated Leo Isaka
Izuchi is one of the Heat-Up lads and previously teamed with Leo against Tamura and Raimu Imai. He’s only 21 but has already been wrestling for over four years and is a tall, well-built lad.
As tends to be the case with these Leo matches, this was a good showing that I don’t have a lot to say about. They are impressive wrestlers who worked stiff and fast, escalating the action well as they went. It felt like a showcase, a chance for them to go out and show off what they can do, and if that was the intention, I think they can both go home content with a job well done.
Maria defeated Hibiki
Hibiki matches bring the fun nerves to the surface, as you’re never quite sure where they’re going to go. I made this point before, but Marvelous have a roster who seem to enjoy wrestling each other. While they’re competitive, it’s always presented in a way that suggests fun is of equal importance. When Hibiki is out there, that’s gone. Instead, the air crackles with tension, everyone on edge as they wonder what she’ll do.
And a lot of the tactics that she used previously against Mei Hoshizuki repeated themselves here. Hibiki wants to slow things down and grind away at her opponents, rubbing her boot into Maria’s face before unleashing that power advantage. She even tried to repeat her trick of taping Maria to the ropes, only for Mei to leap to her aid and snatch away the tape before she could. Unlike Mei, though, Maria is happy in this style of match. While Hoshizuki was stifled and unable to pick up steam, Maria was comfortable competing at close-quarters. That impressive array of submissions caused Hibiki issues throughout, and even when it looked like she was powering to victory, they were always there in Maria’s back pocket, ready to flip the switch and pull a shock tap.
After Hibiki’s build, this seemed a bizarre loss. The post-match (which had Hibiki crying and begging various people at ringside, including Chigusa and Iroha) did shed some light on it, though, as judging by what I’ve figured out, it was to set-up Hibiki having to fight to get on the GAEAISM card. Take that with a pinch of salt, as I haven’t seen a full translation, but it looks like her next match is against DASH, which would certainly play into it. They also seem to be leaning into the more comedic, almost pathetic, elements of her character, which strikes me as a risky move. I get the idea of her being a total loose cannon, as likely to burst into tears as punch you in the face, but it could very easily go wrong. However, even as I say that, I realise that I’m invested enough that I’m willing to see where it goes.
It also influenced this match, as it was another Hibiki outing designed to play into her character. Whatever the booking ends up doing, I think both she and the roster members she’s interacted with have smashed it out the park with their performances, and this was no different. Everything about her feels weird and dangerous, which is not an easy idea to sell, so while this might not have been what people would describe as a classic match, it did everything it wanted to do.
Verdict: Weird Choices, But I’m Still On-Board
ASUKA and Rin Kadokura fought to a time-limit draw
With Rin’s trial series having seen her face off with three legends so far, it’s all felt a bit like joshi boot camp, and while the results haven’t been positive, her improvement across those matches has. On this show, she finally got the chance to wrestle someone closer to her own age and to see whether what she’d learned would help her against one of modern joshi’s best.
It did not start well. Rin managed to avoid ASUKA’s opening slap, but they quickly took the fight to the floor, and things started to go wrong. ASUKA’s physical gifts made this one-sided, as Rin was dominated, beaten with chairs and crashed into with a beautiful Moonsault from the top to the floor. It looked like this match was settling into a pattern, and it was one that Rin wasn’t going to enjoy.
Then, she snapped. We’ve seen violent Rin before, but this was a step further, cracking a chair over ASUKA again and again as she decided she’d had enough. Hurting her opponent and gaining that momentum then seemed to fill her with confidence, and when they returned to the ring, it was a much more even affair. That made for an incredible final stretch, where Rin not only refused to die (kicking out at one after a thunderous Powerbomb) but came close to grabbing a victory. When the time expired, it wasn’t ASUKA on top, but Rin, connecting with a Superkick as the bell rang.
It meant that she joins Leo as the only two people to get a positive result off ASUKA in Marvelous, even if neither of them managed a win. And while ASUKA kipped up after the time had expired, gloating and getting in Rin’s face, there was a hint of an act about it. They’d been rocked, and next time we see this match, I suspect ASUKA will come in knowing they’re going to get a fight.
Team Marvelous (Mio Momono & Mikoto Shindo) fought to a time-limit draw with Team Sendai (Chihiro Hashimoto & Manami)
What has made this Marvelous vs Sendai Girls feud so incredible is that while there is undeniably a focus on match-ups like Hash vs Mio, everyone who comes in contact with it comes out the other side looking awesome. It would be so easy to make this all about the big names, but Mikoto and Manami were as vital to this match as the two stars were. In fact, they may have had the moment that summed up the feud best, as they battled over an Irish Whip. It wasn’t your usual, choreographed reversal that we’re all so used to that we barely notice it, but an actual fight, two people grasping onto each other’s wrists and doing everything they could to be the one who sent the other across the ring.
Not that Mio and Hash were to be outclassed. There was also a moment where Hashimoto had Mio up on her shoulders, ready to bring her down with that incredible power. Momono was having none of that, though. She hammered away at Chihiro, desperately slamming her first into her head again and again until she had no choice but to drop to her knees, allowing Mio to flip her over with a ‘Rana. Every time that pairing touches, it’s magic, as that intensity combined with their incredible talent makes it a guaranteed homerun.
It all plays into the atmosphere that has helped this Sendai vs Marvelous battle become one of the hottest feuds of the year. The competitiveness is turned up to the max; every contest between them, no matter how important it might actually be, gets treated like it is the biggest match possible for those involved. It seems that they are focusing in on Mio vs Big Hash, and I have no doubt they will continue to be incredible, but at this point, I would watch any two wrestlers from these companies face-off because it’s going to be awesome regardless.
Verdict: God Bless, GAEAISM
Unsurprisingly, words were exchanged in the aftermath, as no-one appeared satisfied with a draw. Judging from what I saw, I suspect we’re going to get a Manami vs Mikoto match at some point, while Mio and Hash have started mentioning the AAAW Title in their war of words, which is all kinds of exciting.
The least intriguing match on this show was a solid showing from the token lads, as Marvelous continue to be untouchable. Seriously, between GAEAISM, Hibiki, and Rin’s trial series, there isn’t a better wrestling company in the world right now, so if you’re not watching, I suggest you get on it.