After a very successful trip to Ota City, Ice Ribbon returned to Korakuen for the first of Tsukushi’s title defences. In a nice role reversal, she faced the person she provided the first defence for last year, Suzu Suzuki. That also happened to be one of 2020’s best matches, so there were rather large expectations on their shoulders. Let’s see if they could live up to them.
Totoro Satsuki & Miku Aono defeated Asahi & Kaho Matsushita
It did not take Kaho and Asahi long to convince me that we have a potentially exciting tag team on our hands. Their opening salvo saw them run around Miku for a bit before doing simultaneous forwards and backwards rolls over her. It felt like the kind of move two high school friends would have come up with during lunch and were now getting the chance to unleash for the first time. In other words, it was great.
Kaho wasn’t only impressive as part of the pairing either. You can tell she’s come through the same training school as Yuuki Mashiro, as she’s already nailed the screaming while being beaten up aspect of wrestling, but that wasn’t the only personality we got from her. She’s bursting with enthusiasm, which, while not always conducive to successful offence, is always going to appeal to me. There was one slight flub on an attempted suplex to Aono, but thankfully, no one was hurt, and they recovered nicely.
Outside of the rookie, this was an entertaining match. Miku and Totoro make for a fun powerhouse pairing, and Asahi seemed to relish teaming with her pal. They also kept the pace high and put together a nice blend of action and comedy. Essentially, it was everything that I could want from an opener, so there will be no complaints from me.
Verdict: Exciting Rookies
Cherry & Kiku defeated Banny Oikawa & Saran
Perhaps it’s particularly noticeable because I’ve been dipping in and out of Ice Ribbon this year, but Saran has improved a lot, as she’s looking significantly more at home in the ring. Of course, she’s still far from the finished product, but she’s also twelve years old, so it’s hard not to be impressed.
On the other end of the rookie scale, this was also a more polished performance from Kiku. Again, there is no getting away from the fact that she’s green, and she’s definitely a step or two behind Kaho, but for someone with only a few matches under their belt, this was a good showing. Plus, does anything sum up the ideology that’s defined Ice Ribbon since day one as much as a twelve-year-old rookie and a forty-two-year-old rookie having a strike exchange? That’s what the company is (and should be) about.
Around them, Banny and Cherry did a good job of playing the veterans, holding the match together and dishing out lessons in equal helpings. It made for one of those outings that are hardly revolutionary but are very enjoyable.
Verdict: Rookies Of All Ages Are Improve
Tsukasa Fujimoto & Miyako Matsumoto defeated Makoto & Yuuki Mashiro
There were so many elements of this one that I was destined to love. Miyacoco and Tsukka! Makoto and Yuuki! Yuuki vs Miyacoco! Look, I think you’re starting to get the picture. This was like Ice Ribbon had plucked an idea out of my head and put it on in Korakuen Hall, and I am grateful to them for doing so.
It lived up to my expectations, too. From the second Yuuki and Miyacoco slipped into the ring to pose next to their partners after a particularly slick sequence (which they had played no part in), we were in my happy place. Christ, just the interactions between Miyacoco and Tsukka were enough, Fujimoto getting increasingly frustrated with her weirdo teammate’s attempts to help. Meanwhile, Mashiro vs Miyako was everything I could have wanted, two awkward yet overly confident oddballs finding magic together.
If you’re only interested in the wrestling part of wrestling, then they even had something for you, Tsukka and Makoto taking over for a section to make sure you got your thrills. Really, though, this was a match for people like me. People who just want to find out what happens when you throw some oddballs together and let them loose. In that sense, it was wonderful.
Verdict: I Loved It
They even gave the weirdos some mic time afterwards! As usual, I couldn’t keep up with what they were saying, but I think we’re getting Yuuki vs Miyacoco? That might be the greatest thing that has ever happened.
Rebel X Enemy (Maika Ozaki & Ram Kaicho) defeated Akane Fujita & Yuko Sakurai
They made the wise decision in this match to give plenty of time to Akane and Maika. It’s a simple formula, but watching them bash into each other, hossing it out, is never going to be a bad thing. Sometimes wrestling needs to be complicated, and sometimes it needs to be simple. When those two are involved, simple is best.
The match also felt like a little bit of a test for Sakurai. That’s maybe me imprinting my knowledge of what’s going on in AWG onto proceedings, but we saw her work character moments with Ram and her flurries of middle fingers before trying to trade strikes with Ozaki. There was a hint of putting her through her paces, and while I don’t think she will have blown anyone away, she did look solid.
Add it all up, and they gave us some decent tag-team action that was only ever so slightly let down by Ram’s winning crucifix pin not looking as smooth as it could have. It wasn’t bad enough to be a total disaster, but it was a shame that the last move of the match wasn’t perfect. Still, while this was perhaps the least eventual thing on the show so far, it was far from a flop and still had plenty to enjoy.
Verdict: Solid Enough
Azure Revolution (Maya Yukihi & Risa Sera) defeated Lovely Butchers (Hamuko Hoshi & Mochi Miyagi) to retain the International Ribbon Tag Titles
Lovely Butchers are here! Yup, everyone’s favourite drunk aunts have rocked up to the wedding and started a fight with your pals from uni as you try and figure out whether it’s serious or just a bit of fun. The hats and the dancing suggest a good time, but aggressively hitting someone with your belly is not normal behaviour.
Funnily, after that description, the word I feel most describes this match, and Lovely Butchers, in particular, is professional. Yes, they’re out there having a great time, but underneath that, it’s easy to forget that Mochi and Ham are two talented wrestlers who play their roles well. In this match, that role was to make Azure Revolution look good, and while they made sure to get a few impressive moments themselves, that was what they did. You could point to the flaw that I never thought they would win, but I also enjoyed watching them try.
It helps, of course, that Risa and Maya don’t need a whole lot of help to look good. They’ve been great recently, and I think they have that perfect tag team blend of working together brilliantly and also bringing a lot to the match individually. Plus, it feels like they’re having a lovely time, and the hugs they shared with Lovely Butchers afterwards backed that up. If this is Risa’s final run, you can’t ask for much more than that, can you?
Tsukushi Haruka defeated Suzu Suzuki to retain the ICExInfinity Title
Tsukushi took her title by unleashing the full wrath of her goblin violence, and it turns out her defences will be no different. She set the tone for this match with not a cheap shot but a cheap German, throwing Suzu onto her head and making it clear that she was giving no quarter. Somehow, that was only the start.
Because when Skoosh gets violent, Suzu follows. These two had one of the best matches of last year, and they seemed determined to one-up it, as the levels of aggression here were extraordinary. By the end, Suzu was busted open, presumably from when she headbutted Skoosh, but it honestly could have been numerous spots. There was even a moment where Suzu launched Tsukushi off the apron, drawing a yelp of terror from me as they paid off a spot that is usually only teased. Yes, there were people there for Haruka to land on, but they were kept just off-camera in the build-up, and their sudden appearance didn’t stop it from looking terrifying.
They even managed to blast past the one worry I had coming in. I never expected this to be anything other than great, but I didn’t believe Suzu would win. Tsukushi hadn’t battled back to that title only to lose it at the first time of asking. And yet, towards the end, when Suzu slipped into a flash pin, they got me. The execution was so flawless, and the timing of Tsukushi’s kick-out was so perfect that I was hooked. It was the second yelp of the match, but not the last.
And that is the sign of something extraordinary. When you’ve stopped thinking about what you know and are totally caught up in the moment. Suzu and Skoosh did that, and it’s not the first time they’ve done it either. It gave Tsukushi the perfect start to her title reign, and while I will always be rooting for Suzu, her time will come around again. We’re in the devil child’s world now, and if it’s going to look like this, we’re in for a whole lot of fun.
Verdict: Welcome To The Devil’s Reign
The devil has a wee goth stepping up to her next as Ram came out to make a challenge. That’s not a title match that I would have predicted, but it’s one that could be a lot of fun.
That was a very enjoyable show. The main event was the clear standout, closely followed by the battle of the weirdos, but the whole thing was an effortless watch that came in at around two and a half hours. I haven’t watched Ice Ribbon live a lot this year, so it was nice to have that chance again, and I should try and do so more.
Watch Ice Ribbon on niconico: https://ch.nicovideo.jp/iceribbon