The AAAW Tag League continues, with Marvelous taking their Colorful World to Osaka. It’s the show where the big guns will enter the fray as our future champions, Mystic Young Fox, start their campaign. On top of that, we’ve got a certain Dump Matsumoto making an appearance, who I’m sure will be very calm and not at all violent.
Hibiscus Mii defeated Itsuki Aoki
Mii is still in super rookie mode, but she’s starting to develop a bit of an attitude. She refused to shake hands with Itsuki before later bursting into tears to lure her in and punch her in the gut. Then, when Aoki tried the same trick, Mii shut her up by kicking her in the head.
Despite all that, Hibiscus Mii did lean less heavily on the rookie shtick and more on her usual comedy shenanigans. That meant we got the missed crossbody from the top, a wee mid-match chat (both of them perched on the ropes) and shouting exchanges taking precedence over striking ones. Anyone who has been paying attention will know I’m a fan of that stuff, so unsurprisingly, I had a lovely time, especially as Aoki proved a good foil for Mii to bounce off.
Despite that, it is worth saying that this was hardly essential. There wasn’t much new here, as they played the hits, and while the hits are great, you’ve probably seen them elsewhere, and some of them are more effective if you speak better Japanese than I (I have no idea what the mid-match chat was about, for example). However, if, like me, you believe in Mii’s genius and will laugh no matter how many times you’ve seen it before, you’re going to go home happy.
Leo Isaka defeated Kikutaro
History suggests that the Leo outings I enjoy the most are those that see him face off with someone who has the personality to make it feel like more than just another match. So I was hopeful for this one, as while you can throw many accusations Kikutaro’s way, a lack of personality isn’t one of them.
And, as you’d expect, this got very silly. There were loads of ball shots, some very light chops and a whole section where Kikutaro was nattering away in Japanese that I couldn’t follow. So, I turned to my newly invented comedy barometer, which is how much does it make Chigusa Nagayo laugh. I can report that it was getting mild chuckles, nowhere near the level of making one of her pals lose to a rookie, but much better than the ball shots, which barely earned a giggle. I feel this scale could very quickly become the international standard.
I also suspect my opinions aligned quite closely with Nagayo’s. This was a nice easy watch, but it didn’t get half as many laughs as the Mii stuff did, even as someone less familiar with Kikutaro’s shtick. I’ve always blown a bit hot and cold on how funny I find him, and while watching someone be hit in the balls will rarely fail to make me smile, it lacked the inventive chaos that creates the best nonsense wrestling. On the other hand, I did think Leo played his part well, as he tried desperately to have a serious match only to be dragged into the madness. So, overall, it gets a passing mark and a solid five out of ten on the soon to be patented Chigusa Nagayo laughometer.
Dump Matsumoto, Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe defeated Takumi Iroha, Rin Kadokura & Maria
All I wanted from this match was for the bell to ring and Dump Matsumoto to go straight at Takumi, treating Chig’s star pupil how she treated her for so many years. Thankfully, I was rewarded. Before five seconds were up, Iroha had already been introduced to Dump’s cane, and history was repeating itself.
And yea, Matsumoto makes Ito and Tomoko look like sprightly young rookies, but that doesn’t take away from her aura. She carries herself with a bristling menace, gleefully beating the shit out of her younger opponents, even if she can’t do it quite as ferociously as she once would have. Sure, the usual idiots will moan that older wrestlers should exist purely to lose to younger ones, but getting a kicking from Dump should be a rite of passage for any joshi rookie, especially one trained by Chigusa Nagayo.
Plus, Dump’s limitations simply allowed Tomoko and Ito to step up. Watanabe is always more than happy to bump around for the younger wrestlers, but Ito was especially great here, having a fantastic back and forth with Takumi and some really strong interactions with Maria. For all that Dump went straight for Takumi, this whole thing was set up as a trial by fire for the youngest member of Team Marvelous, having her take a beating and show all the plucky spirit while fighting from underneath. Maria may have eventually gotten flattened by an Ito double stomp, but she went down fighting, which was easily the most important thing. Well, that and the fact this match was a load of fun.
Verdict: I Had A Lovely Time
If you want an example of the power Dump holds, you need only watch her post-match promo, in which she had the fans eating out of her hand. She even got Chig in on the action, calling her into the ring to hold court and have a wee hug. Then, incredibly, that whole exchange ended with Nagayo trying to teach Dump a bit of the Team Yellow dance routine. Honestly, this show is worth watching for that alone.
Yellow Bee (Chikayo Nagashima & Ancham) (0-0-1) fought Team Ganbare (Yuna Manase & YuuRi) (0-0-1) to a double countout
Okay, so this match has to be split into two halves because things went off the rails a bit towards the end, but let’s start with the good stuff. I’ve been enjoying YuuRi’s plucky rookie act in Ganbare, and she continued that here, looking fantastic as Nagashima and Ancham bullied her (at one point, they were scrubbing her face with a toilet brush). She’s a natural at drawing sympathy, forcing you to root for her even as she gets beaten up. On told of that, Ancham and Yuna worked a lot of the early going, and I enjoyed the contrast of Ancham’s more technical wrestling and Manase’s fiery bluster. They were a good pairing, which I wouldn’t mind seeing a bit more of.
Sadly, we now have to talk about the rougher parts. This match ended on a double countout because Nagashima decided to go for a run around the venue while Yuna chased her. Meanwhile, poor Ancham and YuuRi were left wondering what the hell was going on as these supposed veterans ran down the clock before failing to make it back to the ring in time. What I suspect happened is that a spot where Yuna had tied her partner to Yellow Bee didn’t go to plan. It quickly became apparent that it wasn’t working, so they gave up on it, Ancham breaking free. Unfortunately, that meant they were forced to improvise and set up a final dash that made everyone look a little bit silly.
Still, there was some good stuff in this match, and I’m not inclined to hold the finish against them too much. If my theory is correct, I think they were right to ditch the original plan. It’s just a shame that the improv which followed fell flat.
Verdict: Good Wrestling, Bad Finish
Mystic Young Fox (Yurika Oka & Ai Houzan) (0-0-1) fought to a time-limit draw with Gohkai Red (Yuki Miyazaki & Riko Kawahata) (0-0-1)
Team Yellow recruited Dump! Halfway through this match, Miyazaki got taped to a ring post, and Dump emerged from the back, wielding her cane and an evil grin as she went to work. How do you make Mystic Young Fox even better? You back them up with Dump fucking Matsumoto, that’s how.
Anyway, onto the meat of the match, as twenty-seven years into her in-ring career, Yuki Miyazaki is having an outstanding 2022. Whether it’s engaging in nonsense with Hibiscus Mii or providing a veteran boulder for Mystic Young Fox to bounce off, she’s knocking it out of the park every time. Even something as simple as her repeatedly blocking Oka and Ai’s attempts at a drop toe hold, only for the two of them to come together and finally force her to the ground was judged to perfection.
It also did nothing to blunt my love of Mystic Young Fox. They are relentless, the kind of wrestlers who always seem to be coming forward, chipping away at their opponents. They started the second Miyazaki and Riko walked through the curtain, Ai and Oka cutting off their fancy new entrance before it could get going by jumping them from behind. From there, it was their usual swarm of dropkicks and crossbodies, a flurry of attacks that I never get bored of.
And this match would also end in a draw, but there was none of the kerfuffle that accompanied the last one. This was all about Mystic Young Fox, with a little helping hand from their evil pal, managing to stand up and take a beating. The final exchanges between Ai and Miyazaki were fantastic, Houzan desperately going for roll-ups before surviving a run of Yuki offence. When the final belt went, I jumped up in celebration, as they made this draw feel like a victory for this unconquerable rookie pairing. Christ, I’ve barely even mentioned Riko. She was awesome too. What a match!
That was probably one of the weaker Marvelous shows of recent times, but I still loved the main event and the six-person tag, so that’s more down to the incredibly lofty standards that they’ve set. Any show that has Dump doing a dance and then aiding a couple of young rookies by being incredibly evil is going to get my love.