How about that for a show name? Joshi has an abundance of incredible show titles, but Ice Ribbon has outdone them all there. It was a fitting moniker for what will probably be the last show we see from a Korakuen with fans in it for a while, as Tokyo heads back into lockdown. I’ve no doubt Ice Ribbon will see it out in style, though. Go forth maidens and fight!
Thekla, Ram Kaicho & Nao Ishikawa defeated Hamuko Hoshi, Banny Oikawa & Yappy
Ice Ribbon is perhaps the only company that can compete with Tokyo Joshi for fun multi-person undercard tags, a joy that comes from having access to such a wide and varied roster. This match alone had everyone from over the top, sexy mum Hamuko to violent weirdo Thekla. When you’ve got a batch of intriguing characters, putting them together naturally creates enjoyable moments, whether that be sexy pose offs or Thekla and Ram showing some impressive chemistry as a pairing.
It was also good to have Nao back, with this being her second match since she returned from a couple of months out. Sadly, it coincides with us losing Yuuki for a bit, as she took ill on a P Party show and is being held back to make sure she’s okay. The two rookies seem to have almost been taking it in turns to get injured, but fingers crossed that Ishikawa can stay fit and build some momentum. While she looked a tad rusty here, it was nothing that won’t be worked off with a few more matches.
All in all, it made for a watchable opener that left me with a smile on my face. You can’t ask for more than that.
Ibuki Hoshi defeated Miku Aono and Totoro Satsuki
Ibuki recently turned eighteen and celebrated by debuting new gear. Totoro and Aino then got into the spirit by singing happy birthday to her, making sure she had time to appreciate it by hitting her with a combo dropkick/shoulder block so she could listen from the floor.
A lack of respect for the youngster proved to be a recurring theme. Totoro and Aono almost seemed to want to get rid of her as they were more focused on fighting each other than Hoshi. It was left to the determined teen to demand their attention, firing off with a series of stiff chops and making sure they realised she was there. Then, in a move even more effective than the chops, she picked up the win, slipping through Aono legs and twisting her around into a flash pin. With the match only going four minutes, this was positioned as an upset, but Hoshi can still put it down as a lovely wee birthday present to herself. It does mean there wasn’t much to it, but for what it was, I had a good time.
Verdict: It Did What It Wanted To Do
Risa Sera vs Rina Yamashita vs Mochi Miyagi vs Akane Fujita was thrown out when a baseball game erupted in the middle of the match
Much like the opener, this benefited from an abundance of personality. It also had the added wrinkle of having lots of violent people involved, something poor Akane found out when the chopping circle they set up continually put her in the path of Rina. She even tried swapping positions with Mochi in an attempt to escape, which seemed a smart plan, but turned out to be an unsuccessful one.
Fujita wasn’t the only one having a rough day, as said violence threatened to bubble over, leaving Ref Mio surrounded by four armed wrestlers. She would manage to calm the situation, well, kind of. Because coincidentally, those same weapons ended up being the perfect set-up for a mini-baseball match (apart from Mochi’s whip, but we’ll ignore that), as Akane and Risa’s never-ending baseball rivalry flared up once more. Rina even had some cool sunglasses to wear as she watched on from her chair.
Sadly, that was enough for Mio, as she went full Tommy Lee Jones and decided she could no longer sanction this buffoonery, throwing the whole thing out. Not that anyone seemed particularly bothered, they’d had their fun, and I certainly had a lovely time. It says a lot about these wrestlers that they could go from Risa hitting Double Knee Drops off the top rope to baseball in the blink of an eye, and it felt like a perfectly natural move. You have to be good to have that mastery of nonsense, and these four are very good.
Verdict: Baseball And Violence, America’s Favourite Pastimes
Matsuya Uno defeated Cherry and Tae Honma in a three-way to retain the Triangle Ribbon Title
Three-ways aren’t a natural home for technical, submission-based wrestling, as it’s hard to tie someone up when another person is hanging around, making a nuisance of themselves. Then again, not every three-way features three members of the Joint Army, who are kinda good at this stuff.
I loved the way they worked this match, sticking to their style even in unusual conditions. All three of them improvised brilliantly, coming up with elaborate ways to tie up both of their opponents or use them being locked in a submission together to their advantage. It was Cherry who truly shone, though. She’s always had an evil streak, so every time Uno and Honma would get in a grapple, she’d be doing the wrestling equivalent of poking and prodding at them, taking advantage of every opening.
Sadly, the Nico stream froze as we headed towards the climax, not coming up again until Suzu and Takeda were in the ring. I can’t imagine we missed too much, but it put a bit of a downer on what had been a really interesting match, so fingers crossed we can get the full version at some point.
Verdict: Technical Issues Aside, It Was Brilliantly Done
Masashi Takeda defeated Suzu Suzuki in a hardcore match
Holy shit, Suzu. If those first two matches were her dipping a toe into the deathmatch world, then this was the moment she decided to dive right in. It didn’t take long for Takeda and his scissors to go to work on her forehead, leaving Suzuki’s face stained in blood for the first time. That wasn’t the only reason this felt like a step-up, though. Takeda was the first person to feel like he was giving Suzu everything he had, from dropkicking chairs in her face to stapling her forehead. That scary, scarred bastard treated her like an equal, grinning from ear to ear as he introduced her to all his toys.
And to Suzu’s eternal credit, she showed she was equal to it. Wanting to be stabbed in the forehead is a weird dream, but you can’t deny Suzu’s commitment to it, as she is proving herself to be tough as hell. She made sure Takeda picked up at least a couple more small scars, giving him some staples of his own and falling back on her new favourite move, a swift boots to the bas. Even more impressive than fighting through the bleeding was the way she bounced up from a particularly violent German, which came scarily close to landing her on her head. That lass is a badass.
I get why not everyone wants to watch this stuff (although I think anyone suggesting Suzu shouldn’t do it is an idiot at best and a piecce of shit at worst), but I love it. Suzuki is out there doing exactly what she wants to be doing, which gives the whole thing an air of triumph even as she’s coated in her own blood. It might not be an ambition I can ever imagine having for myself, but it’s awesome to see her achieve it and judging by the tone of Takeda’s post-match promo, he came away impressed. Keep going, Suzu. You’re fucking smashing it.
Verdict: Live That Dream, Suzu!
Post-match, we learnt that Suzu’s next two opponents are Jun Kasai and Isami Kodaka. Exciting!
Hiroyo Matsumoto & Hiragi Kurumi defeated RebelXEnemy (Maya Yukihi & Maika Ozaki) to win the International Ribbon Tag Titles
For all their brilliance, there is no puzzle to Matsumoto and Kurumi. They were never going to come into this match and shock Renemy with some incredible new tactic. They’re two tanks who are going to tank. Knowing that and being able to stop them are very different things, though.
And early on, it looked like Ozaki and Yuki were doing everything right. They weren’t going to win all the battles, but they’ve become an outstanding team, and Maya might be the most consistently excellent wrestler on the planet. She managed to outwork Kurumi, going after her leg and opening up that avenue of attack. Maika, meanwhile, was able to hold her own in the power stakes, facing them at their own game.
It was that which would become the central thread of this match. For as excellent as Yuki is, and perhaps because of it, this team has always been about Ozaki for me. It was a chance to centre her and give her opportunities to shine. She’s grabbed those chances admirably, stepping up to the plate and showing how good she is. Here, even in defeat, she brought the fight to her powerful opponents, proving herself to be at the level of these joshi powerhouses.
Sadly, it wouldn’t be enough. A missed top rope senton proving decisive in setting up the final act. Ozaki was able to match one of Matsumoto and Kurumi, but you don’t stand a chance when you’re fighting both of them. Still, Kurumi had to damn near kill her to put her away, a combination Package Tombstone and Wheelbarrow German providing the killing blow. It was a definitive end to a hell of a match and while Renemy’s title run came to an end, I think it did what it wanted to do.
Verdict: Great Stuff
Tsukasa Fujimoto defeated Tsukushi Haruka to retain the ICExInfinity Title
Tag team partners facing off always has the potential to be fascinating. Yes, you get the standard knowing how to counter each other’s move stuff, but that’s not the good shit. What’s much more interesting is seeing what they bring out of each other. The Dropkickers have a lot in common, but there is a big step between calm veteran Tsukka and violent goblin Tsukushi.
And that was on display as this match settled in. When Fujimoto was in control, she was precisely that, in control. Tsukushi, meanwhile, went straight for the kill, leaping off the top to double stomp Tsukka down onto the apron. She’s someone who wrestles with her emotions barely bubbling under the surface, as liable to burst into tears as explode in a rage of forearms.
As we went on, though, Tsukushi’s violence pushed Tsukasa to fight fire with fire. She’s not exactly a peaceful person, but we got to see a side of her that was distinctly Skoosh like. There was a moment where, after delivering a vicious forearm, Tsukushi took off to hit the ropes only for Fujimoto to boot her in the back, sending her sprawling to the floor. Then, when she was down there, the champ followed up by repeatedly stamping on Skoosh’s head, refusing to let her young partner up. I never felt like she lost control, but her wild side was bubbling over.
It made for a thrilling end to the match, as Tsukushi desperately tried to hold and get the win, a La Magistral making for a brilliant two count, but nothing more. The key proved to be Skoosh never managing to hit one of her big moves. Several times she set up for the Japanese Ocean Suplex Hold, only for Tsukka to escape. Then, with that failing, she tried her own version of the Tsukadora, which also fell short. When push came to shove, it was Tsukka who managed the big plays, a Venus Shooter not getting the win but proving enough to stun Haruka for the Japanese Ocean Cyclone and the three.
That match fucking ruled. I’ve thought all of Tsukka’s title matches this year have been fantastic, but not quite on the best of the year level that most others have. This is the exception to that. Fujimoto and Tsukushi put on a hell of a war, and it is one you have to see.
Damn, those maidens sure know how to fight. From Suzu being drawn deeper into the world of deathmatch to tag title hoss fights and finishing up with a stunning main event. I don’t get to watch every Ice Ribbon show because, quite frankly, I can’t afford it, but fuck, I love this promotion. If it’s the last show I see with fans for a while, then it was a hell of a way to go out.
Watch Ice Ribbon on niconico: https://ch.nicovideo.jp/iceribbon