Marvelous’s anniversary is fast approaching, and with it, the final of the AAAW Tag League. This show, therefore, was about figuring out who would be facing off for those belts as we bring the group stage to a close. If my maths is correct, both blocks still had at least two potential winners coming in, so there was plenty to play for. ‘Mon the Mystic Young Fox!
Leo Isaka defeated Bryan Ishikawa
Before this began, I tried to research Bryan Ishikawa and discovered that not only has he wrestled Leo before, but I reviewed it. That led to the depressing realisation that my introductory paragraph back then was nearly identical to the one I was already putting together in my head based on his Cagematch. So much for making any growth in the last fifteen months. Anyway, you might as well go read that if you don’t know who he is.
As for the action, it was fairly formulaic. We got the opening feeling out process followed by a dive to the outside from Bryan. Leo’s comeback then built to a forearm exchange and a back and forth of moves until Isaka bundled Ishikawa up for the three. You wouldn’t have to be a hardened wrestling fan to have predicted every beat before it happened.
Although, I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing, as long as there is something else to it. Sadly, this was one of the more characterless Leo matches. It felt like two guys who don’t know each other particularly well, competing in a vacuum with no sense that victory or defeat meant much of anything. While they seem to be decent wrestlers, I’ll probably end up googling Bryan Ishikawa next time he turns up and doing this all over again.
Verdict: It Was Okay
Yellow Bee (Chikayo Nagashima & Ancham) defeated Black Swallowtail (Kaoru Ito & Tomoko Watanabe) by countout
For two people who are thirty-odd years into their career, Ito and Watanabe have worked their arses off recently. Of course, there are limits as to what they can do (particularly Ito), but that hasn’t stopped them from brilliantly playing the role of hulking veterans.
It was a role that served them well in this match, as they outmuscled Yellow Bee at every turn. That forced Ancham and Chikayo to get creative, using their technical skills and Nagashima’s experience to try and find a way around their powerhouse opponents. Then, when that didn’t work, they turned to Ito and Watanabe’s bickering, with the two of them never being more than a few seconds away from falling out and beating up each other.
The bickering ultimately proved more fruitful, as Yellow Bee kindled the flames of the argument, leading to Black Swallowtail falling out and not long after failing to answer the twenty-count on the outside. Said countout was a more successful version of the finish to Yellow Bee vs Ganbare Union (where it all went a bit wrong), but it was still a tad messy, as there was more than one occasion where someone could have easily rolled into the ring. However, I reckon I can forgive it because this was a fun wee match with a strong premise. It also kept the A Block alive as a Mezzoforte win in the next match would draw them level with Black Swallowtail (assuming that in the case of a draw, we get a play-off rather than it going to head-to-head).
Verdict: Fun Story
Nippon Ganbare Union (Yuna Manase & YuuRI) fought Mezzoforte (Takumi Iroha & Hibiscus Mii) to a time-limit draw
Ganbare Union tags have a formula, but it’s a good one that I have yet to grow tired of. YuuRI is the weak link, and when she’s in the ring, the opposition tends to be in control. Thankfully, she is also one of the best wrestlers around at drawing sympathy. She’s the perfect combination of determined and dumb, dropping to a seat to offer up her chest for Takumi’s kicks but then standing back up and trying to go blow for blow with Marvelous’s Ace. It’s impossible not to want someone like that to do well.
I also think Manase is an ideal partner for her. She’s also got all the enthusiasm, but it’s backed up by years of experience, and you can feel her willing YuuRI on to reach the next level. At one point, she leaned so far into the ring for a tag that she fell over the rope, and I don’t think it was intentional. She was simply that committed to helping out her young pal. It’s a pairing that leaves Ganbare Union undoubtedly unbalanced, but even against a team I like as much as Mii and Iroha, I couldn’t help willing them on.
And ultimately, YuuRI played a significant role in keeping Ganbare Union alive. The final confrontation came down to Iroha vs Manase, and it seemed Takumi had Yuna in her clutches. However, time after time, YuuRI threw herself into that ring to make the save. She refused to let this match slip through her fingers, at one point using being elbowed in the head to roll underneath Takumi’s legs and set Yuna up for a quick pin. That determination allowed the two of them to make it to the time limit, Manase surviving a last gasp Running Three by rolling onto her stomach and letting the clock run out.
This tournament has been a treasure trove of matches featuring teams desperately trying to survive to the end, and this was another one. I suspect that seeing it spoilt will ruin some of the thrills, but I’m still going to tell you to watch it because I thought it ruled.
That draw meant we have one of our finalists, as Black Swallow Tail will be the team to lose to Mystic Young Fox at Korakuen. What an honour that will be for Tomoko and Ito.
Rin Kadokura & Itsuki Aoki defeated Mystic Young Fox (Yurika Oka & Ai Hozan)
Sigh. The dream comes to an end, but thankfully, with a bang, not a whimper.
Mystic Young Fox have fought heroically throughout this tournament, desperately keeping themselves alive coming into this final match, but Itsuki and Rin were too much. My favourite menaces came up against someone who managed to take the sting out of their tails.
Not that Mystic Young Fox didn’t leave their mark. Whether it was Yurika slapping Rin around the face or Ai headbutting Itsuki, they never lost that edge. Their strength comes from their inability to accept that they are beaten and that they refused to falter as they kept coming forward with those swarms of dropkicks.
Unfortunately, they came up against reality, and the reality was that Rin and Itsuki were better than them. They’re not the flashiest pairing in the tournament, but they are one of the best, always managing to keep a step or two ahead of their opponents and avoid the temptation to slip into the chaos. Ultimately, they managed to do what no one else in B Block did, split Mystic Young Fox and isolated Ai to get the win.
And, of course, I am devastated about that. I am firmly in Team Mystic Young Fox, and that wasn’t going to stop here, but I’m still proud of my lasses. They fought well, and this was another great match. While they might not get their hands on those AAAW Tag Titles yet, I believe they’ll eventually take the position they so clearly deserve.
Sexual Violet (Makoto & Maria) defeated Gohkai Red (Yuki Miyazaki & Riko Kawahata)
With Mystic Young Fox’s defeat, B Block was quite simple. If Gohkai Red win, they go through. However, a defeat win would ruin their night and send Rin and Itsuki to the final.
You could have argued that that would leave Sexual Violet lacking motivation, but things are getting spicy between Maria and Riko. Those two have been butting heads recently, and tension threatened to boil over early on as they teed off on each other with slaps. That’s a feud I would happily watch run and run, and it brought a bit of extra fire to proceedings.
And while most of the tags on this show felt like they had a clear favourite going in, this one was more even. It was two teams made up of a veteran and a less experienced partner, who cancelled each other out for a lot of the action. In fact, it almost split down the middle, with both Maria vs Riko and Makoto vs Yuki coming to a stalemate, leaving it open to descend into a big old rammy at the end.
Amongst all that, Makoto showed that little bit more smarts, setting Kawahata up for a Maria big boot and then slipping her into position to meet a Miyazaki lariat before rolling her up for the three. That bit of tag experience (and I’ll argue till I’m blue in the face that Makoto is one of the best tag wrestlers in the world right now) made the difference and confirmed that we’re getting Itsuki and Rin vs Black Swallowtail in the final.
As for this match, I enjoyed it a lot but didn’t have the same emotional engagement as I did in the two that came before. However, that’s a me thing that isn’t reflective of its quality, and it was a really good main event.
Verdict: Not My Favourite, But Still Very Good
In the aftermath, Maria and Riko agreed to face off at the anniversary show, which has the potential to be very good. My assumption is that Chikayo will cash in her pinfall over Takumi for a title shot, but as far as I could tell, that wasn’t confirmed, so take my guesswork with a pinch of salt. Either way, it’s already shaping up to be an exciting card.
If you’re an infrequent Marvelous watcher, this would be a good show to jump in on. The end of the tournament meant that 80% of the card was made up of matches with something to fight for, which added a little spice to proceedings and gave us a lot of good action. Go on, give Marvelous your money. You know you want to.