With GAEAISM in the books, it’s arguable that the real challenge for Marvelous starts now. They’ve built up a lot of momentum over the last six months or so, and having it all peter out in the aftermath of what was an incredible show would be a real shame. They need to keep going, and this is their first chance to convince people to stay invested in one of the best companies going.
Hibiki defeated Mikoto Shindo & Ai Houzan in a Three Way Match
If anyone was hoping DASH had beaten some sense into Hibiki, then they are going to be disappointed. I haven’t seen it yet, but I believe the day before this, on the Sendai Girls show, she aligned herself with Andras Miyagi, which seems like a pairing designed for chaos. More importantly, she’s got herself an even bigger megaphone, which had Chigusa marking out on commentary. I still don’t think it’s reached its full potential, though. Hibiki shouldn’t rest until she’s matched the giant tuba, Big Carl (give it a Google).
Before she gets to that, Hibiki had a few other things to worry about. These matches do a great job of putting over her current character because they make it clear that everyone fucking hates her. I’m not sure Mikoto and Ai even touched each other, so focused were they on putting a beating on Marvelous’s manic child. Shindo was particularly aggressive with it, raining forearms on a downed Hibiki as the two of them worked the bulk of this match. It got to the point where I was worried Ai was injured, but thankfully she returned to the ring looking fine.
Even more important than putting over the roster’s feelings for Hibiki is how these matches get over how smart she is. Yes, she’s a fucking weirdo (in the best way), but she’s also a step ahead of everyone. Throughout this, she was constantly able to separate Ai and Mikoto, opening up opportunities for herself. It actually caused the match to fall back into the classic trope of one person selling while two wrestle, but here it was by design. Hibiki was working to create one on one opportunities, and that’s what allowed her to pin the rookie. That’s good wrestling, no matter how you look at it, and as she sauntered to the back with her megaphone, she can be pleased with a job well done.
Verdict: The Smartest And Weirdest In The Room
Shiori Asahi defeated Leo Isaka
I can’t pretend to know anything about Shiori Asahi, but Cagematch tells me he’s a former Kaientai Dojo guy who now works for 2AW and bounces around the Japanese indies. He’s also an eighteen-year veteran, so he has a fair few matches under his belt.
Asahi being the veteran, dictated the pacing of this match. He was looking to cut Leo off, slow him down and grind away at him with submissions. It was all designed to build to Leo firing up and putting a string of moves together, and they did a decent job of it, providing a well-worked slice of wrestling that made sense.
However, it was also a bit boring. There were moments, Asahi had a cool move where he pushed Leo into the air with his feet and kicked him as he came down (he also did a variant of it using the ropes), but they were the exception rather than the rule. Asahi’s veteran approach slowed everything right down, taking the sting out of what Leo can do. It left us with a match that I respected but never loved and which I probably won’t remember this time next week.
Verdict: Everything Was Done Well, But It Was Boring
ASUKA & Nagisa Nozaki defeated Mio Momono & Mei Hoshizuki
The challenge facing Mio and Mei was made clear when ASUKA and Nagisa walked over to stand imperiously in front of them before the match. When it came to size and power, this one was only going one way, and it wasn’t towards the Marvelous’ pair.
Lucky for them, they happen to be two of the best goblins in the game, so cutting people down to size is what they do best. This match was hard work for the two of them, ASUKA and Nagisa throwing them around, but Mei and Mio are a fucking nuisance. It didn’t matter how hard ASUKA Powerbombed Mio or slammed Mei because they would not stop coming, like that annoying fly that won’t piss off out of your room no matter how many windows you open. Every tiny mistake was an opening for the goblins to take off, flying across the ring or bundling their opponents up into pins. ASUKA and Nagisa never really lost control, but you also felt like they could slip up at any moment, tumbling on a banana peel created by their opponents.
It goes without saying that ASUKA and Mio’s interactions were fantastic, they’re two of the very best, and one day, we’re going to get a world-class match from that pairing, but Mei and Nagisa also proved to have good chemistry. The final act was left to them, Mei taking a beating but refusing to die, desperately going for pins in an attempt to scrape out with the victory. Sadly, it wasn’t to be, Nozaki proving to have too much for her to handle, but Mei made sure she had to work for it. While the two goblins may have been out-gunned, they still managed to bloody their opponent’s noses, and sometimes that’s enough to make sure you go home content.
Verdict: The Goblins Fought Hard
Kyoko Inoue defeated Rin Kadokura
Rin finishes off her trial series by taking on the rather formidable might of Kyoko Inoue. If Mio and Mei were complaining about the size disadvantage they faced, then Rin just trumped them as she was faced with the tough task of finding a way to cut the legend down.
And it speaks to Rin’s continuing elevation that she got a fair amount of offence in. It wouldn’t have been that surprising if Kyoko had steamrolled her here, but Rin was always in contention, managing to hit some big moves and hold her own. Kyoko was also generous with her selling, letting Rin take her off her feet repeatedly and putting over her strikes. The story of this trial series has been Kadokura slowly getting better and better at bringing the fight to the legends she’s faced, and that culminated nicely here.
I also have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how well Kyoko was moving around the ring, even taking a Super Hurricanrana. As someone who only catches bits and pieces of Diana, I don’t think I’d quite realised that she is still as good as she is, able to do a lot more than some of her peers. Sure, she’s not about to wrestle thirty minute epics, but she worked hard to make Rin look good, and it made for an enjoyable match.
Verdict: Generous Legend
W-Fix (KAORU, Chikayo Nagashima & Megumi Yabushita) defeated LEVEL5 (Tomoko Watanabe, Yuu Yamagata & Sakura Maki)
It would be very easy to be cynical about this main event. There is no denying that it was incredibly self-indulgent and was essentially a group of old mates hanging out in the ring and making each other laugh. If you’re going in expecting a work rate classic or for the match to resemble their old feud, you’re probably going to come out disappointed.
However, I’d also suggest that you’re coming in looking for the wrong thing and need to chill out a bit. KAORU’s retirement tour has been somewhat defined by her having a good time, and how can anyone begrudge her that? Watching these six (plus Pandita!) have a blast while Chigusa Nagayo cracked up on commentary, roaring with laughter, you’d have to be a right miserable bastard to have an issue with it. Christ, Hirota was in Poi cosplay! And, as she always does, she absolutely smashed it. After entering the ring, she did a little skip that was so Poi I had to rewind it to make sure I wasn’t imposing my own expectation on it.
Look, this isn’t really a match that needs reviewing, and if you haven’t seen much of these teams before, you’re probably not going to love it. However, as someone who has dug into it a bit and has an unashamed fondness for watching people goof off in, I had a lovely time. Take it for what it is, rather than what you might want it to be, and you’ll appreciate these brilliant wrestlers having a laugh and providing some nostalgia for their fans.
Verdict: They Earned It
KAORU and pals had a wee chat afterwards, but I can’t pretend to know what was said. It was all very gentle and amusing in tone, with some laughs appearing to come at the expense of Sakura Maki.
The big news came after that as we got a bunch of match announcements for Iroha’s return show, starting with the fact that she’ll be facing Hibiki (something Hibiki wasn’t too pleased about as she spied a kicking in her future). On top of that, we’re getting Rin vs Mayu Iwatani, giving her a chance to face one of her heroes, and Mio and Starlight Kid vs Mei and AZM. Oh, and the new rookie is debuting too. Now, that’s a hell of a card! Marvelous going all out to mark Takumi’s return makes sense, but fuck, I didn’t expect them to go that deep.
If I’m honest, the first Marvelous show post-GAEAISM felt a little bit like filler. It was enjoyable and had a few good to great matches, but all the monumental stuff that they set up for the future happened not in the ring but as part of Takumi’s promo afterwards. Still, those good matches are worth your time, and I stand by my assertion that KAORU has earned the right to do what she wants before she retires.