Things have not been well in the world of Marvelous recently. With three people suddenly leaving (Mei Hoshizuki, Mikoto Shindo and Hibiki) for reasons that vary depending on the source (I’m not going to get into it), an already small roster was suddenly looking depleted. Throw in an injury to Mio Momono, and things have been a bit chaotic over there. That might explain why their last two shows weren’t available to watch outside of Japan, making it kinda hard for me to talk about them. But thankfully, they are back, and a joint event with WAVE to celebrate Referee Tommy’s 40th Anniversary is the perfect way to return.
Rin Kadokura & Itsuki Aoki fought Maria & Ai Houzan to a time-limit draw
Ai was in full rookie terror mode here, walking right up to Itsuki and trying to out よろしくお願いします her. She would later gnaw her way out of a submission and boot poor Rin between the legs, as she’s quickly living up to the lineage of great Marvelous goblins. Sure, it was behaviour that meant she probably earned her beating from Rin and Aoki, but she also seems to be wrestling with more confidence, expanding beyond that rookie base.
While Houzan tried hard to steal the show, this match was mainly about Maria’s welcome return after four months out. The final act, in particular, seemed designed to highlight her and Rin, really letting them go at it as the time ticked away. I might be reading too much into this, but with the two of them needing to be dragged apart after the bell (they did eventually hug and make up), it felt like a slight elevation for Maria. There are a lot of gaps in the roster now, and giving her some shine would make a lot of sense.
It all made for a really entertaining opener. People whine about draws, and while they can be poorly done, I feel that they make a lot of sense in matches like this. People should be hard to beat, and while the finish suggested Rin was about to take control and probably go onto win, the fact Maria managed to see it out fresh off an injury gave her a little rub.
Verdict: Lovely stuff
Shunma Katsumata defeated Leo Onozaki
Watching this, I think I finally clicked as to what makes a great Leo outing. He nearly always pulls out a good performance, but so many of them pass me by, making little to no effect on me, and that’s because they lack personality. Most of his bouts are one-offs, unlikely ever to be repeated and if they are, probably not with any storyline backing. So, if it’s going to be something more than just another alright match, he needs an opponent who will bring their own spin to it.
And Shunma is without a doubt that opponent. The guy is infectious. From his poppy entrance music to his love of saunas, he is bursting with personality, making watching him wrestle fun. It also helped that he seemed to be working his arse off, the two of them going into overdrive for the final act, including an amazing sell from Shunma for one of Leo’s Bicycle Knees. They were trying to impress, and they pulled it off, making sure this won’t be one of the many Leo matches I watch and forget before the show is over.
Yuki Miyazaki defeated Hibiscus Mii 12-9 in what I assume was an Iron Woman Match
If you’re expecting me to know what was going on in this one, then you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Yuki and Mii have had a summer of nonsense, and it wasn’t going to stop here. At some point, this became what I assume was an Iron Woman, but why that came about I don’t know.
What you do need to know is that Yuki and Mii are very funny people, and the two of them running through basic wrestling drills and tapping out/being pinned at every opportunity was a bit that didn’t get old. It was one of those jokes that starts funny, loses its charm a tad in the middle and then starts getting funny again. That the final score of the ten-minute match was 12-9 tells the story better than I could.
Afterwards, they shared a hug, Mii seemingly unbothered that during the action both her trousers and pants (thankfully she had on two pairs) had ended up around her ankles. These two and Hirota have been facing off for months now, each outing getting that little bit sillier than the last, and if they do it for the rest of their careers, I’ll be very happy. Imagine how good it must be if you have a clue what’s happening?
Yumi Ohka defeated Sakura Hirota and Tomoko Watanabe to win the Pro-Wrestling Diana Queen Elizabeth Title
You can’t show the twins excitedly watching their champion mother head to the ring and then have her lose. That shit should be illegal! In fact, taking titles off Hirota should be illegal. There has been far too much of that happening recently.
Injustices aside, this was a nice wee veteran match-up, as they balanced the line between comedy and serious wrestling really well. Anyone with a brain knows how good Hirota is, but I do love it when she goes out and starts pulling off the spectacular, not only nailing the big dive but pulling out a beautiful Momoe Latch style move. Sadly, that would be her last gasp as she’d run into an Ohka Big Boot, and that was lights out.
It made for an enjoyable showing that did feel a bit too light and fluffy to be essential, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Hirota losing aside, it made me smile, and that’s never a bad thing.
Verdict: Inessential Fun
Takumi Iroha and Nagisa Nosaki fought to a time-limit draw
Takumi was supposed to be facing Big Hash on this show, but Marvelous decided to hold off on it after everything that’s happened. You don’t have to be a genius to realise they see that as a huge match, and while I want to watch it ASAP, I think it’s a smart decision to delay it until they have their feet underneath them again. In the meantime, Nagisa vs Iroha is a pretty good replacement.
There was a moment in this after they broke apart from some early grappling that caught my attention. Now, usually, this is a spot where you stop and savour the audience’s applause, but Takumi must have got her finger trapped or something because she bounced to the corner, shaking her head and grimacing. Rather than waiting for her opponent to regain her composure, Nagisa followed her in, seeming to legit catch Iroha off-guard and connecting with a big boot to take control. It was a moment that maybe was planned, but it looked improvised and felt like a perfect example of the difference between a good wrestler and a great one. They showed an ability to think on the fly and adapt to even the smallest of accidents. While it’s unlikely to be what this is remembered for, it’s one of those things that makes sure you still care when they get round to trading bombs.
If you are more interested in those big blows, then don’t worry, this wasn’t a match built around hurt fingers. By the final act, Nagisa and Iroha were laying into each other, those vicious kicks of Takumi’s sounding violent as hell. It might not have been the main event, but they acted like it was, raising the stakes with every sequence. With both of them have a real physicality to their wrestling, it makes everything they do look sore. They even pulled off a brilliant double countout spot, the way they were going at it on the outside convincing me we were about to get the draw earlier than we did.
Eventually we got there, though, a frantic final sequence seeing them both go for broke but unable to be separated. Once again, it was a result I had no problem with, mainly because this match fucking ruled, but also because it felt earned. Takumi and Nagisa were inseparable, and if that means we get it again for the Regina, it can only be a good thing.
Verdict: That ruled
I’m not sure what was going on in the aftermath, but it ended with Takumi and Nagisa holding hands. That, in turn, devastated Yuki and Mii on the outside, both of whom have been chasing Iroha’s affections. Whether that was the forming of a team or a promise to do it all again, I’ve no idea.
Chikayo Nagashima & Sonoko Kato defeated Kaori Yoneyama & ASUKA
ASUKA and Yone are an inherently funny tag team. On the one hand, you have the effortlessly elegant ASUKA, leaping to the top rope with ease and towering over everyone in the ring. Then you have Yone, short with her wild red hair and crazy plans. Don’t get me wrong, they’re both incredible wrestlers, but they don’t have much in common.
It kind of made them the perfect fit for this main event, which slotted nicely into the crowd pleaser category. They kept the pace up for the whole thing, putting together a nice selection of comedy and fun, fast-paced action. Tommy even got to have a couple of moments to celebrate her 40th anniversary, posing with Sato and Chikayo on the ropes and having a wee hug with ASUKA.
And it pleased me too. There was no deep story here or set up for the future, but it was an easy watch that flew past. Put three veterans and a prodigal talent in the ring, and there is little chance of it failing to deliver, so only the grumpiest will have a problem with it.
Verdict: Fun And Easy
Rightfully, the aftermath saw Tommy take centre stage, first posing with everyone involved in the main and then being showered by gifts. She even got some big novelty 40 glasses. That’s a hell of a long time to be in the wrestling industry, by the way. To have stuck around for that many years and still be welcome in so many promotions says a hell of a lot about Tommy’s character. Congrats to her!
That was a brilliant show which gave me a little bit of everything I could want from wrestling. We got pest rookies, comedy, a brilliant singles match and a fun main event. Plus, Tommy got to have a moment, and if there is anyone who seems to be universally beloved in the joshi scene, it’s Tommy.