Marvelous have been all over the place recently, bouncing around Japan to catch up with the fans they haven’t been able to visit over the last few years or, as was the case on this show, ever before. It was their first-ever trip to Oita, and with all their other travels having delivered some lovely times so far, it seemed unlikely this would buck the trend, but hey, let’s find out.
Leo Isaka defeated Kyoya Okazaki
I didn’t watch this show live, so I’m not sure if they had technical difficulties, but the VOD kicked-off seconds before the end of this match. That obviously makes reviewing it impossible, but Leo got the win, and Okazaki is a 21-year-old who wrestles out of Pro-Wrestling FTO. Cagematch tells me they have a wrestler called Battle Shark, so he’s now my favourite.
Verdict: Imagine The Unseen
ASUKA defeated Tomoko Watanabe and Yuko Sakurai
The technical gremlins were persisting, with ASUKA’s music refusing to play. That led to some on-the-spot improvisation, and Chigusa Nagayo (with the help of the fans) chanted her down to the ring. Hey, it’s unique, if nothing else.
Once they managed to get the match started, it was a short, sharp blast of action. It can’t have gone much over five minutes, but they got a lot of stuff into that time as they focused on being as entertaining as possible. Whether it was Tomoko trying to give a speech only for the other two to completely ignore her and start wrestling in the background or Sakurai being Frankensteinered off the top onto Watanabe by ASUKA, it was all great fun. Of course, with ASUKA, that’s no longer surprising. She is effortlessly incredible, and everything she does has a touch of magic at the moment. Her interactions with Yuko were particularly intriguing and left me feeling like she could have a fantastic match with the ever-improving Sakurai.
There probably wasn’t enough here to make it something I would recommend you go out of your way to see, but if you’re looking for something short and snappy, you could certainly do worse.
Verdict: A Lovely Time
With this being Marvelous’s first-ever show in Oita, they got the works, which, as any Marvelous fan knows, means as much Chigusa Nagayo as possible. They got the classic in-ring chat, but on top of that, Chig belted out a couple of tunes, which was obviously great. If more people watched Marvelous, it’s the kind of thing that would lead to some idiot on Twitter moaning that Nagayo was taking time away from younger wrestlers, which would show a total lack of understanding about what Marvelous is. The chance to see Chigusa Nagayo sing a couple of songs and have a chat is probably why a decent number of people were at that show, and quite frankly, it would be enough to get me through the door too. (I appreciate I invented someone to get angry at there, but it’s worth saying in case anyone is new.)
Maria & Hikari Shimizu defeated Yuna Manase & Ai Houzan
I’m not sure two wrestlers have ever been summed up more efficiently than when Maria put Ai in a submission that involved her nonchalantly sitting on poor Houzan’s back as Yuna Manase watched on, getting louder with every passing second. If you’d never seen either wrestle before, Maria’s smug little grin and Manase’s increasingly passionate shouts would tell you everything you needed to know about them. Plus, you then got the excitement of Yuna hitting the ring with all that pent-up frustration ready to be unleashed.
And Yuna spent so long on the apron because Hikari and Maria proved to be a surprisingly effective pairing. Before the match, I expected tension to spark between them, as Maria’s slightly heelish side clashed with Shimizu, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, Hikari almost took a step or two in Maria’s direction, enjoying isolating Ai and laying into her with kicks. They were tentative steps, but there was a sense that Maria was rubbing off on her, and if they didn’t both already have excellent partners, I’d be calling for this team to become something more permanent.
When you threw in Manase’s penchant for being a perfect buddy to plucky young rookies (she and YuuRI are always fantastic together), this quickly became something worth your time. With a sizable chunk of the action built around Ai getting worked over, Maria and Shimizu did an impressive job of never letting it get boring. Meanwhile, the moments where Ai escaped and Manase managed to bulldoze her way into the ring were predictably great. In fact, all of this was, as these makeshift teams over-delivered with a sneaky wee banger of a match.
Verdict: Really Good Stuff
Takumi Iroha & Chikayo Nagashima defeated Mio Momono & Rin Kadokura
I loved the moment in this match when Chikayo Nagashima walked across the ring to her and Takumi’s corner while holding Mio Momono in a Crab. When she got there, she managed to stop in the perfect spot to make it as awkward as possible for Mio to reach the ropes. Not only was that quite funny, but Mio sold it to perfection, with her yells growing more panicked as she realised the only way to escape was to call Rin over to her rescue.
As much as I enjoyed that, it would be somewhat overshadowed by the final act, where Takumi and Mio took centre stage to give us a satisfying chunk of wrestling. Marvelous has been drip-feeding us confrontations between the two of them since Mio’s return, and this was the most sustained taste yet. Unsurprisingly, they reminded us that they’re basically a perfect pairing, with Takumi as the hard-kicking, powerbombing warrior and Mio as the relentless pest trying to take her down. It works so well because no matter what Iroha does, you always feel Mio could catch her off-guard, bundling her through into a three. Not that she managed it on this show, as Takumi would come out victorious, proving Mio still has a bit to go before she’s ready to come for the Ace.
Next to all that, Chikayo and Rin somewhat faded into the background, but they were far from anonymous. I think there’s a real art to being the tag partner in a match like this, as you are there to support that final battle, but you also don’t want to step to the side completely. Nagashima and Kadokura excel at stealing little moments for themselves (like the above submission) but are also generous enough to know when it’s time to stay out of the way. Takumi certainly rates Nagashima as they’re pushing ahead with the tag title shot that COVID previously denied them. They’re perhaps the first challengers I could see taking the belts from Rin and Itsuki, so that’s one to get excited about. Sadly, Mio will have to wait a bit longer before she can challenge Iroha for the big one, but you know that’s what she’s aiming for, and there is no doubt that she’ll get there eventually.
Verdict: Takumi + Mio = Magic
I wasn’t sure I would be able to recommend this show after the first half. Yes, I enjoyed the three-way, but with it going roughly five minutes and the Leo match missing from the tape, it was looking kinda skippable. Then, Chig stepped up to the mic, delivered a couple of hits and inspired her wrestlers to deliver a standout second half and see us home safe. On top of the good matches, we got the next wrinkle in the Takumi vs Mio story, which I think everyone suspects will be Marvelous’s next big play. It looks like it will be a while till we get it, but from what we saw here, we can already start getting excited.