After Marvelous treated me to Mio Momono vs Ai Houzan on their last show, they decided to keep the good times rolling by having Ai’s next opponent be Miyako Matsumoto. What does that match look like? I have no idea, but I definitely want to see it, so let’s get on with the show!
YAKO defeated Ancham
Cagematch tells me YAKO hasn’t been on a Marvelous show since 2018, although I don’t entirely trust them to have got that right since they tend to miss at least half of the shows Chig puts on. However long it’s been, I thought she brought something out of Ancham. YAKO had a size and power advantage over her, which seemed to fire Ancham up as she refused to get bullied and threw some mean-looking strikes in retaliation.
Which shouldn’t be taken as me suggesting I’m not usually an Ancham fan. In fact, I think she doesn’t get half the credit that she deserves for her steady improvement over the last few years, particularly when you remember she had to take time out because she had fucking cancer. How she’s developed her submission game has been incredibly impressive and has seen her transform into an accomplished grappler. If anything, it hinted that the rest of her repertoire could catch up with what she does on the mat.
Unfortunately, impressive performance or not, it wasn’t her day, as YAKO used a bit of that power to catch an oncoming Ancham in a bridging suplex that stunned her long enough for the three. It was sudden enough that it felt like Ancham had been caught off-guard and left me thinking that I wouldn’t mind seeing round two sooner rather than later.
Verdict: A Strong Start
Sakura Hirota defeated Tomoko Watanabe
One of my favourite Marvelous match-types is Chig sending two of her friends out to mess around. It sometimes feels like she puts these together purely because they make her laugh, which is probably the best reason to book anything. Watching Tomoko and Hirota mess around while Nagayo chuckles to herself on commentary is one of life’s great pleasures.
And to give you a peek behind the curtain, I watched this straight after the latest slice of Elite melodrama at All Out, and I can’t think of a bigger contrast between any two matches. On the one hand, you have a load of self-serious twaddle held together by frustrating wrestling that had been reverse-engineered to create the situations they need to fit said twaddle in. On the other, you had absolute nonsense held together by two people who can put on a good wrestling match in their sleep. Hirota deciding to walk solo along the top rope made more sense than some of the stuff that went down in that match, despite having zero meaning beyond an attempt to get a giggle.
I appreciate that all of that was a rather random comparison, and I’d try to justify it further, but let’s face it, none of the people who are likely to get annoyed by it will read this, so why bother? Instead, I’ll stick to saying that the brief Team Eccentric reunion we got in this match was better than anything The Elite has ever done, and I had a lovely time.
Verdict: Better Than The Elite
Miyako Matsumoto defeated Ai Houzan
Ai Houzan recently had a couple of testing singles matches, as she was slowed down and kicked by Takumi before being shown how much she has left to learn by Mio. When sharing the ring with Miyako Matsumoto, she had a very different challenge on her hands. This particular senior wasn’t stronger or faster than her, but she is a fucking weirdo, and that can be just as big a challenge.
I say that with all the love in the world because no one is a better weirdo than Miyacoco. Mio and Takumi may be leagues ahead of Ai, but she at least knows what to expect from them. When facing off with Miyacoco, she was as likely to be tricked into corpsing as kicked in the head, and because of that, Ai couldn’t quite get a grip of proceedings. When there is no logic to what your opponent is doing (or at least that logic is one of their own creation), it’s hard to decide how to respond.
Eventually, Ai did concoct a plan, and it was a classic, as she bombarded Miyako with dropkicks before trying to bundle her up, even pulling out a pretty great counter to the Miyacoco clutch. However, the veteran wasn’t to be defeated, and when Miyacoco dived into her own bag of tricks, Houzan couldn’t keep up, allowing the second clutch to do the job. As I said at the top, Miyacoco might not be stronger or faster, but hidden in her weirdness, is a touch of genius, a lesson we can only hope Ai learned.
Verdict: Ai Will Find Her Weirdness One Day
Mio Momono & Rin Kadokura defeated Takumi Iroha & Maria
If you’ve ever wondered where Maria gets her vicious streak from, it might be from coming through under Mio, who seems to delight in throwing her around the ring by her hair. The two of them got into a mini-battle of who could do a better job at hurrying the other towards baldness, which all looked ridiculously painful.
That running battle speaks to why a match like this will always be good. These four have lived, trained and wrestled together for countless hours, and it shines through when they get in the ring. They’re so comfortable with each other that every strike can be a touch snugger because they know there will be no hard feelings. Or perhaps it’s because Rin knows that if Takumi boots her really hard in the chest, she has plenty of chances to get her back. Either way, it’s working for them.
With all that in mind, it’s probably not surprising that this match ended up being better than good. It felt a bit like it split into two warring pairs, Mio vs Maria and Rin vs Takumi, which I imagine was a deliberate attempt to limit Mio and Iroha’s interactions at this point. Thankfully, both those pairings are pretty damn great, so you’ll hear no complaints from me, as these four delivered a gem of a showing.
Verdict: Great Stuff
Leo Isaka & Shoji Ono defeated Takahiro Katori & TA☆KU
It’s not often Leo earns himself a main event, but with this show coming from his hometown, he got to head up the card with three guys who I don’t know a lot about, but all appear to wrestle for Eagle Pro-Wrestling, a company that I, well, also don’t know much about. Leo has previously faced off with Katori and Ono, but I can’t find much about TA☆KU.
And if I’m honest, I struggled to get into this. It wasn’t bad, but it felt like it had been parachuted in from a different show. Usually, these matches are designed to highlight Leo in some way, and while there was a bit of that, you also had three guys with their own history and storylines. It left me feeling a bit like I was only getting half the story, which isn’t always an issue (I’m a big boy who can figure things out), but when it’s the main event in my favourite promotion, it’s hard not to be a bit disappointed.
On the upside, Katori (who came out wearing a terrifying bunny mask) and Leo had some exciting interactions, as those two clearly have strong chemistry. Wisely, they worked the home stretch together, finishing things off with Leo hitting the Shooting Star Press for the win. It was a decent finish to a match that didn’t do much for me but that I’m unwilling to call bad.
Verdict: It Was Fine
If you swapped the last two matches around, I think that show would have been great. Unfortunately, the main event falling flat for me did leave it on a bit of a sour note, but to be honest, that wasn’t a massive issue. Everything else was a lot of fun, with Mio & Rin vs Maria & Takumi hitting great. I may not have loved the main, but you can’t begrudge Leo getting that spot in his hometown, so I’ll get over it quickly enough.
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