It’s not great for my bank balance, but Marvelous and Sendai are ramping up the shows, and I’m in deep enough that they all feel essential, no matter the size. We’re not quite onto the big stuff yet, Takumi’s return will kick that off on the Marvelous side, but this is still a fun-looking show that hopefully won’t create as much Twitter discourse as the last one.
Rin Kadokura defeated Ai Hozan
The quality of the wrestlers coming through in joshi in recent years is extraordinary. It feels like every company has at least one great young talent, while most have more than that. With Marvelous not being the most accessible promotion, it would be easy for Ai Hozan to be forgotten in the crowd, but she shouldn’t be. Because this kid is already terrific.
What I love about watching Ai wrestle is the relentlessness she brings to matches. You can already see her developing the goblin attributes that have made recent Marvelous trainees so good, as every passage of offence sees her throw everything in it. It’s never just one dropkick or crossbody, but a flurry of them, as she’s desperate to put down her stronger opponents. Even Rin, used to working with the likes of Mio, was having to be quick on her feet here, getting up just in time to meet the next move. Ai wouldn’t let her breathe, using every second she had to attack, which makes for an exciting match even as we all know where the result will go.
And, of course, it ended how you’d expect it to, Rin hitting a dropkick from the top to see the rookie off. However, this was probably the kid’s best performance yet, and I say that as someone who has been impressed with her since day one. She keeps this up, and we’re going to have another incredible Marvelous wrestler on our hands. Damn, that Chigusa Nagayo knows what she’s doing, doesn’t she?
Verdict: She Keeps Getting Better
One of the joys of hearing Chigusa on commentary is hearing her cheer on the wrestlers as they clean in-between matches. She’s been doing this stuff for how long? And she still seems to get a kick out of all the little things.
Leo Isaka defeated Kosuke Sato
Sato is one of the rare Leo opponents who I have not only watched wrestle but seen in the flesh. He had a brilliant rookie vs veteran match with Daisuke Sekimoto at the BJW show I want to when I was in Japan. Now, admittedly, that was about a year and a half ago, and I’ve seen nothing of him since, but it’s nice to at least have a reference point for someone they’ve brought in to keep Leo busy.
You can tell Sato has come through in that BJW Strong Division, as his offence consisted of simple moves done painfully. This never reached the heights of that Sekimoto match, but with Leo making sure to give him plenty of space to shine, you can see he’s developing into a strong heavyweight wrestler. He also sold the hell out of a couple of Isaka’s running knees, making them look deadly.
Like all Leo matches, this did somewhat suffer from the lack of stakes or consequences, but I’ve talked about that so many times that I’m not even sure it’s worth mentioning. Nevertheless, they had a fun, short showing, that while nothing special, was on the upper end of what we see from the token male representation on Marvelous shows.
Hibiki defeated Mikoto Shindo
Mikoto has proven herself to be a consistently great opponent for Hibiki during her wild run, as she’s small enough to be bullied but physical enough to bring the fight.
And that would prove pivotal to this match, as Mikoto didn’t let Hibiki settle into her bullying ways. Hibiki tried, tying Shindo to the ring post early on, but after a helping hand from Chig and Takumi, Mikoto returned to the ring and refusing to lie down to Marvelous’s wild child. She dropkicked her from the turnbuckle to the floor, choked her over the ropes and showed an ability to hang with her that few have in recent times. There was a period where Hibiki was really struggling, Mikoto managing to stay one step ahead.
The problem is that Hibiki is perfecting being an arsehole, and ahead of her big match with the returning Iroha, she would pull out one last annoying trick. With Mikoto attempting to bundle Hibiki up into a ball, she shifted her weight and turned the tide, trapping the youngster’s shoulders to the floor and sneaking out with a perhaps undeserved win. Not that she cared, her post-match megaphone-rant suggesting (at least by the tone of it) that Mikoto hadn’t earned her respect.
Still, I enjoyed this as a twist on the recent Hibiki formula. She’s been controlling most of her matches, making the story about her, but this was a chance to see her put on the back foot and throw in a wee reminder that she is perfectly capable of pulling a wrestling trick out of her sleeve. Plus, Mikoto looked good enough to lose nothing in defeat, meaning we can all go home happy.
Verdict: The Bully Sneaks Out
Tomoko Watanabe & Yuki Miyazaki defeated Mio Momono & Mei Hoshizuki
For the semi-main, Mio and Mei were in the unfortunate position of facing two grizzled veterans who are much bigger than them and want to ruin their careers (at least that’s what people on Twitter tell me).
Thankfully, I’ve never really worried about those two. Maybe it’s because one of them is being pushed as a future company Ace, and the other is a nineteen-year-old who, not that long ago, pinned Tomoko and KAORU at the same time, but I think they’re both going to turn out alright. Still, I decided to keep a close eye out for career sabotage here. Well, I tried, at least in the beginning. After that, I kind of got wrapped up in the action and forgot about it.
Because this was a load of fun with Tomoko and Yuki playing the amicable old veteran role wonderfully, spending as much time winding each other up as they did their opponents. There was a great moment where Yuki dragged Mei across the ring as Tomoko set up for a Big Splash, which then, unsurprisingly, barely made it a quarter of the way across. We also saw poor Mei having to desperately wrap her arms around her legs, doing everything she could to not be caught in Yuki’s embarrassing hold.
And yes, Mei and Mio did lose, and I’m sure some people will have problems with that, but taking the result out of context is to ignore, well, everything. They were great here, bringing with them that bubbly, goblin joy that they take into every match as they ran rings around the two veterans. Yuki and Tomoko didn’t beat them by lariating them into next week, but by reversing a pair of roll-ups, catching them off-guard by using their own game against them. I was left feeling like the experienced heads had escaped on smarts alone and that the days where they’ll be able to get results over these younger wrestlers are numbered.
I appreciate I’ve just spent a match review taking digs at a Twitter argument that most of you probably won’t have read (someone claimed Marvelous don’t develop their young talent), but I’m fed up with people acting like the result is the be-all and end-all in wrestling. Of course, wins and loses are important, but if you’re going to watch a pseudo sport, maybe you should consider that it brings with it the ability to play with more than just ideas of victory and defeat. Christ, even real sport does, as anyone who supports a shite team will tell you. Mio and Mei will be just fine, and I had a lovely time watching this match.
Verdict: Gotta Learn To Ignore Idiots
KAORU vs The Marvelous Roster ended in a hug
KAORU’s retirement tour continued with a match that can be summed up by Chigusa desperately trying to keep her product PG by shoving her finger in front of the camera when Yuki Miyazaki put KAORU in the Super Shy Hold on the stage. I’ve honestly no idea what the rules were (Team Marvelous seemed to be penalised every time they ran the ropes?), but everyone was having a lovely time, and so was I.
Well, I say everyone was having a lovely time, but there might have been some rough moments for KAORU. Not only did she get placed in a compromising position on the stage, but she went for several dizzying trips in roll-ups, spent a lot of time locked in submission holds and got pinned by basically everyone. Even young Ai grabbed the chance to work out some frustration, perhaps sensing an opportunity to get her first pinfall (which she would later get) or grabbing the chance to get revenge for some tough training. Joshi retirements often revolve around the retiree being beaten up by their friends, and this was no different.
And much like the main event of the previous Marvelous show, you will get from this what you bring to it. There was no attempt to maintain the illusion that this was a proper match, instead choosing to string together a series of skits with KAORU at the centre of them. If you’re going to insist on treating it seriously, then please don’t even bother watching it. You’re wasting all of our time. However, if you go in and take it for what it is, you’ll see a match that ended with a group of wrestlers holding KAORU in a long hug as she cried. If you can’t appreciate that moment, then, honestly, fuck you.
Verdict: Gonna Miss Her
In among the slightly emotional post-match chat, Takumi announced another match for her return show with KAORU, Nagashima and ASUKA taking on Tomoko, Yuki and Mikoto in what I think is a hardcore match, but I might have that wrong. It also looked like she was hinting at something for Ai, but I didn’t pick up what it was if it was announced.
As we build up to Takumi’s return, Marvelous have grabbed the chance to give KAORU the spotlight, and it’s a delightful thing to watch. She’s been doing this shit for a long time and has worked at a pretty incredible level for most of it, so she’s earned this goodbye, and I’m glad Chig is taking the time to give it to her.