Road trip! Marvelous travelled north to spend their weekend in Sapporo, delivering a couple of shows while they were at it. That means we’re getting a rare back-to-back Marvelous treat, which sounds like a lovely old time to me.
Maria defeated Ai Houzan
The tone of our opener was established when Ai responded to Maria refusing to shake her hand by grabbing hold of her and forcing the matter, screaming よろしくお願いします into her face in the process. These two have little in common, with Maria the epitome of effortless cool and Ai of unashamed bluster, but that only added to their chemistry as Maria attempted to contain this increasingly violent pest.
And Ai chose to funnel a lot of that violence into Maria’s hair. Early on, she twisted it around the top rope while pressing her foot into Maria’s face in the corner (a lovely little add-on to a situation that often feels like people going through the motions). However, that was only the beginning as Houzan later went fully feral, gleeful attempting to rip out clumps of it. Unsurprisingly, Maria was less into that than she was.
It did work as our hook, though, as Maria spent the match trying to get Ai under control. That wee rookie is a relentless force, never seeming to stop and breathe, but Maria was happy to force a particularly painful rest upon her. As the match progressed, she was able to lock in a variety of submissions, and she finally twisted Houzan up so tight there was no way for her to escape.
It made for a great wee opener, which provided entertaining moments and was wrestled logically. We know that Maria is a step or two above Ai right now, but we got to see the rookie shake her through that relentless bluster, which Maria had to adapt to. It made sure that both of them came out of this looking good and left me excited about all the matches we’re going to see between them in the years to come.
Verdict: A Great Start
Noriyuki Yoshida defeated Leo Isaka
Yoshida is a big lad (at least compared to everyone else in Marvelous) who either doesn’t work that often or has spent his career in companies Cagematch doesn’t cover. They have him down as having wrestled 58 matches over 13 years, which is not a lot.
Either way, he was able to chop the shit out of Leo. He zeroed in on those stinging strikes in a performance where he kept things simple but effective. It positioned Leo as the underdog as he tried to survive a bigger lad attempting to cave his chest in.
It made for a classic bully heel vs underdog babyface outing that didn’t stray into the spectacular but was pleasantly watchable. Leo is good at getting beaten up and has the kind of offence that excels in opportunistic flurries. Unfortunately, they weren’t enough, but Isaka won’t have to wait long for his chance at revenge. They were doing this again the next day, so he got a second tilt at the beast. Let’s hope his chest heals up quickly.
Verdict: Unspectacular, But Solid
Riko Kawahata defeated Itsuki Aoki and Yurika Oka in a three-way
Itsuki Aoki’s general state of being has her turned up to eleven, so saying she was being particularly rambunctious might not seem like a big deal. However, she was definitely more hype than usual. From being so into firing up the crowd that she hadn’t noticed Riko and Oka had started wrestling behind her to helping Tommy out by loudly questioning if Maria wanted to give up in a Yurika Figure Four (seemingly unbothered that would result in her defeat), she was having a lovely time.
It was a key part of a match that stumbled into some classic three-way pitfalls. A lot of this had one person selling on the outside as the other two went at it, and while I understand falling for that temptation, I am always more intrigued to see what the three of them can come up with together. Oka, Riko and Aoki are talented young wrestlers, and I would have liked to see them stretch their creative muscles a bit further.
However, that shouldn’t be taken as me saying this sucked because it didn’t. In fact, it was really good. With Kawahata warming up for her tag title shot, we got a little preview of her vs Ituski, while Oka is so consistently solid that I forget how young she is. I wanted to see more of every pairing in this match, so my complaints are minor at best. Ultimately, this was about giving Kawahata another win and ramping up Itsuki’s frustration in response, and it did both those things well.
Verdict: Flawed, But Still Good
Rin Kadokura defeated Chie Ozora
Rin has got herself a fancy new entrance robe, so you know she’s levelling up. We also got my favourite version of her as she was a bit of a dick to Chie. I’ve said before that Kadokura will reach the next level by honing that edge, and when she was standing on Chie in the corner, we saw a bit of that.
As for Chie, she’s slowly winning me over. I’ve generally believed she was alright – nothing special, but not a disaster. However, with some strong performances in the Future Block of Catch the Wave and a good showing here, I might be starting to reevaluate that. It feels like she’s emerging from her shell, showing a bit more flair and managing to stand out. She’s got a bit to go before she’s on the level of some of the best young wrestlers in the scene, but she’s not even been doing it two years yet, so there is plenty of time.
Of course, she wasn’t going to win this one, but she went down fighting, giving Rin something to think about before being put away. It earned her some warm words and a shake of the hand from Kadokura afterwards, and fingers crossed that Chie keeps heading in the right direction so that next time these two face off, it’s even better.
Verdict: Two Impressive Performances
Takumi Iroha & Tomoko Watanabe defeated Chikayo Nagashima & SAKI
The start of this match felt like four people on their holidays. It wasn’t bad, but it had a house show vibe as they leaned on gentle comedy and crowd-pleasing spots. Thankfully, I am a fan of both those things, and everyone involved is ridiculously charismatic, so watching them mess around is a pleasant way to pass the time.
Plus, as we went along, things started to ramp up, particularly between Takumi and Chikayo. They’re mid-feud, and they couldn’t stop themselves from getting serious and showing off their blossoming chemistry. Marvelous lacks viable contenders for Takumi right now (although Mio’s imminent return helps with that), and while I’d be stunned if Chikayo was to beat her, she has enough of a veteran’s edge to throw the question out there.
If I were to complain, I’d have liked a bit more between SAKI and Takumi, and I wouldn’t have ended the match with Iroha pinning the COLOR’S leader. She feels like she would be a perfect challenger somewhere down the line, and while this doesn’t prevent that from happening, it does give the chances of it a bit of a kicking. Either way, COLOR’S continuing presence in the promotion is something to be excited about, and I hope that relationship only strengthens.
With all that in mind, this was an enjoyable main event but not one you need to go out of your way to see.
Verdict: A Good Time Was Had
My summary of the main event extends to the show as a whole. This had house show vibes, with Marvelous delivering the hits for the Sapporo crowd. However, it was very watchable, and I’d suggest going out of your way to see Ai vs Maria (I might be biased). Then again, if you’re picking and choosing this weekend, I suspect show number two (which has the tag title match) will be the one to spend your money on.