After a short break from reviewing Marvelous shows (it wasn’t through choice, they were going through one of those periods where they don’t want my money), we’re back! And I couldn’t be happier. Yes, Marvelous’s erratic approach to making their shows available to foreign fans can be frustrating, but they’re still the best, so my forgiveness comes easily.
Tomoko Watanabe defeated Ai Houzan
Have I ever mentioned that I think Ai Houzan rules? Even her spelling it Houzan on Twitter, but Marvelous spells it Hozan everywhere else (meaning I don’t know which one to use), doesn’t blunt my enthusiasm for my favourite wee pest. Even better, she’s kicking off the show by fighting a tank of a veteran, which will always be a pairing I enjoy.
Because I think my favourite wrestling move is Ai screaming while ineffectually trying to attack a wrestler twice her size. Houzan may not yet be a perfect wrestler, but few can match the desperate manner in which she throws herself into battle. I’m not sure how effective a lot of it was (Tomoko didn’t seem all that bothered), but I love it all the same. Someone committing with all their heart to a fruitless task is my kryptonite.
Credit also to Tomoko, who played her role perfectly. She spent most of this match being an impenetrable brick wall but then, for a few seconds, let Ai make a crack, which was enough for me. I liked this an awful lot.
Verdict: Ai Rules
Yuki Miyazaki defeated Mochi Natsumi
Here’s a random observation. I live in Edinburgh, which means that every August, all the comedians (and a load of other folks) turn up for a month. On the whole, it’s a good time. Lots of my friends come to visit, and I drink an awful lot. However, it’s also wasted on me because standup comedy massively triggers my anxiety. I sit in those tiny dark rooms, worrying about whether the comedian will be funny or not. Why? Who knows, but it’s how I feel, and it makes going to a lot of these shows excruciating.
However, now and then, I will walk into one and, within five seconds, relax. Certain comics can step onto the stage and put me at ease because everything about them screams pro. They’re the type of people who can have a crowd dancing in the palm of their hands, making them laugh or scream at will, and when I realise that’s what I’m watching, the anxiety floats away. What’s all that got to do with this match? Well, it gave me a similar feeling.
Not because wrestling makes me anxious (that would be a problem, wouldn’t it?), but because Mochi and Yuki wrestled it like two old pros. The second Natsumi attacked Miyazaki during her entrance, they were off, darting between comic spots and nicely worked action. Was there anything particularly new or exciting about it? Maybe not, although Chigusa yelling ‘deathmatch’ while Miyagi used scissors to cut tassels off Miyazaki’s gear was funny, but I didn’t need anything new. I was happy to relax in the whirlwind of fun that they delivered. It’s not going to be mine (or anyone else’s) match of the year, but for the eight minutes and twenty seconds it was on, my worries melted away, and that’s always a nice place to be.
Verdict: A Lovely Time
Mochi and Miyazaki had a somewhat intense conversation afterwards that seemed to end with something related to Yuki’s gear. Couldn’t keep up with that one, but if anyone figures it out, let me know.
Bryan Ishizaka & Takahiro Katori defeated Hibiscus Mii & Leo Isaka
You miss a show or two, and suddenly Hibiscus Mii has got her nonsense so deeply embedded into Leo that they’re getting married. Well, she’s marrying him, but I’m not convinced he’s up for it. Although they have got matching shorts, and when she accidentally ended up in Bryan Ishikawa’s arms, Leo didn’t seem too happy about it, so maybe Isaka is more into the idea than he’s letting on.
If you haven’t guessed, a match that featured a lot of Mii making young men uncomfortable wasn’t entirely serious. Yes, those men did have some quick-paced, relatively enjoyable moments together, but Mii acted as a constant source of nonsense, always ready to interject at any point. And honestly? That’s what Leo’s matches need. They’re always well wrestled but a bit dry, so having Mii in there to be, well, Mii, was what I wanted.
Sadly for Mii and Leo, their young marriage hit a rocky patch, which was double trouble when they were in the midst of trying to win a match. Still, I’m rooting for those crazy kids, and I hope they work it out! If nothing else, it gave us a very entertaining piece of pro-wrestling.
Verdict: Bless, Hibiscus Mii
Judging by what Mii was shouting into the camera on her way to the back, they might be sorting it out in a No-DQ match, which is unorthodox but could work. That wasn’t the only excitement afterwards because Mio is coming back! Wrestling is better now.
Takumi Iroha & YuuRI defeated Team Yellow (Chikayo Nagashima & Yurika Oka)
Our first match back from intermission was a somewhat delayed sequel to Nagashima pinning Iroha back in March. At the time, I assumed Chikayo was getting the title shot that ultimately went to Yuu, but it seems we had to wait a little longer for the next chapter in that tale.
It was worth the wait, though, because this was great. These teams worked brilliantly, as Nagashima and Iroha battled it out both one-on-one and through their younger pals. I got so wrapped up in it that there were a couple of moments where I genuinely thought Oka was going to pin Takumi, her scrappy will to survive coming to the fore in the closing stretch. Meanwhile, YuuRI continues to be one of the most sympathetic wrestlers out there, her innate likeability making up for any inexperience.
However, the match continually returned to Nagashima and Takumi, and while Iroha levelled up the score (through tapping out Oka, not Chikayo), you got the impression it was not over between them. At one point, they were gnawing on each other, Nagashima dragging Takumi down into the goblin trenches. It’s not a showdown I would have pinpointed as something I wanted from the Iroha title reign, but the more I see it, the more intrigued I am, which is always a good sign.
Verdict: Great Stuff
Maria, Riko Kawahata & Ayame Sasamura defeated Rin Kadokura, Itsuki Aoki & Yuu
I named Ai’s screaming attacks my favourite wrestling move earlier, but a close second is Yuu and her big roll to the outside. It’s a genius twist on an established trope that always makes me laugh and looks like it would wipe you out. Five stars.
Anyway, our main event was one of those trios matches that it’s hard to dislike. You’ve got Maria and Riko taking the next step in their rivalry by teaming up, Sasamura amusingly deciding that she can take Yuu and a load of great wrestling on top. It’s the kind of all-action affair that roars along at a hundred miles an hour, never slowing down enough to let you think, never mind get bored.
Then, with Maria pulling out the upset at the end, we got the excitement of her and Kawahata challenging for the tag titles, which has the potential to rule. Itsuki and Rin haven’t put a step wrong since they got together, while Maria and Kawahata are on a steep upward trajectory. Throw in that everything we saw from the four of them in this match hinted at some sparkling chemistry (which Rin and Maria have proven many times before), and we’ve got something to look forward to.
Verdict: A Blast
I know they weren’t actually gone, but I missed Marvelous. For my taste, this show was a home run, every match delivering something I enjoyed and giving us a few exciting teases on top. Now, can someone convince them that every show has to be available to those of us who live overseas? Because I don’t want to go without again.