The Marvelous roster has had a busy old month bouncing around Japan (and they’re not done yet), but they were back in the more familiar territory of Shinkiba for this show and in front of an audience who were permitted to make noise. It’s funny that such a simple thing is now capable of making me so happy, but it is a delight watching wrestlers hear people shout their name again (Mio particularly milked it), and it had this show in my good books before it had even started.
Momo Tani defeated Ai Houzan
Ai has new music, and I think I’m a fan, as the change compliments her moving on from her rookie gear. Talking of such things, Momo Tani does a brilliant job of presenting herself as a star. I haven’t seen much of her since she moved to Pure-J, but her theme, gear and even the way she holds herself is impressive. Not that we should be surprised that someone who came through in AWG would have a good grasp of that stuff. I’d be more shocked if she didn’t.
Tani then backed up her pleasing aesthetics with a solid showing against Ai. You can see the Pure-J influence in her style, as she does all the simple stuff well, and when combined with that flair, it makes for a potent brew. On paper, I didn’t picture her as a natural veteran figure to try and push Houzan, but she played the role well, firing up the rookie and inspiring her, in classic Ai fashion, to throw herself into the action head-first.
In the end, Tani would have too much for Ai, closing out the action with a Somato, but not before they’d both impressed me. The match let Ai show off some of that unquenchable fire but also left me wanting to see more of Momo Tani, and you can’t ask for more than that.
Verdict: Good Stuff
Hibiscus Mii & Bryan Ishizaka defeated Tomoko Watanabe & Leo Isaka
Young love is tough, isn’t it? One minute, Hibiscus Mii plans to spend her life with Leo (his plans were less obvious), and the next, she’s bringing a massive spanner to the ring with the intent of causing him bodily harm. Why do such beautiful things have to hurt so much?
There were almost two different matches going on here. You had the silly one where Tomoko countered Bryan’s attacks by hugging him while Mii sought revenge on her love, but then you had the one where Leo and Bryan ran through some flashy sequences, showing off what they could do. They never managed to successfully combine those competing ideas, but I’m also not sure they needed to. Hibiscus Mii is so adept at this nonsense stuff that she can drop it in pretty much anywhere, and the tonal shift didn’t produce too much of a whiplash effect.
And honestly, I preferred the nonsense, as I think this used a bit more of Mii chasing Leo around with a spanner. The two lads are decent wrestlers, but Mii is a hard person to overshadow, and they never managed to draw my attention away from her. Sadly, though, the spanner was kept to a minimum, but Mii had some other tricks up her sleeve, offering a handshake to Isaka only to strike when he accepted. It was the moment that seemingly brought their feud to an end, as after the match, they managed a proper handshake and agreed to work together as part of Team Red in the future. I guess young love also tends to be fleeting.
Verdict: Needs More Spanner
Mio Momono & Ayame Sasamura fought Magenta (Maria & Rin Kadokura) to a time-limit draw
I don’t know if there was a plan to make Mio and Ayame a regular tag-team when Marvelous first paired them up, but now that they’ve done it a couple of times, I hope one has formed. Not only do they have a similar infectious energy, but they both qualify for the wee tank descriptor, combining incredible speed with surprising power. Throw in a vicious streak a mile wide, and it’s hard not to fall for them.
And we saw a lot of what makes them work here. Little moments like Mio walking across to ruthlessly stamp on the back of Riko’s head while Ayame had her in a submission made them feel more like a veteran team than a recent pairing. It also allowed them to stop Maria and Riko from showing off their ever-growing chemistry. Ayame and Mio fought to keep them separate for the bulk of this match, Magenta only putting together a string of combined attacks toward the end, which was the point where they came closest to getting the win.
For the final act, however, Maria and Mio took centre stage, continuing their recent displays of fantastic chemistry. It allowed Maria to play the defiant underdog, refusing to give Mio the satisfaction of a win. In turn, Momono got increasingly desperate but couldn’t quite find the series of attacks that would get the job done. It was a gripping watch not only because it was exciting but because it played into two concurrent storylines: Maria’s continual improvement and Mio’s struggle to get back to full power.
It also all made for a hell of a match. I have a lot of time for Maria and Riko as a team and was a bit worried that they would take the loss here, but this did a fantastic job of elevating them while continuing Mio’s arc and giving us another taste of her and Sasamura. The more of all of that, the better.
ChikaTaku (Takumi Iroha & Chikayo Nagashima) defeated Rin Kadokura & Itsuki Aoki to win the AAAW Tag Titles
Rin and Itsuki are a great tag team. From the day they paired up, it felt right. They have natural chemistry, complement each other’s in-ring styles, and were the perfect choice to be the first team to hold the AAAW belts since GAEA closed down. Calling them a safe pair of hands sounds like damning with faint praise, but it’s also the truth. You can rely on those two to go out and have a good match with anyone.
Takumi and Chikayo are not a great tag team. They’re good, at times very good, but they don’t mesh quite as perfectly as Rin and Itsuki. What they are, though, is two brilliant, experienced singles wrestlers, and that was the difference in this match. Don’t get me wrong, Rin and Itsuki are no slouches on their own, and they might get to Takumi and Nagashima’s level someday, but right now, they’re a step or two behind.
And that was the difference in the critical moments of the match, where Takumi and Nagashima’s individual brilliance played a big part in winning the day. Whether it was a last-ditch counter from Nagashima or Takumi booting people around the ring, they were always there to prevent Rin and Itsuki from flying up the gears and taking control. It meant that even when they did misfire, like when Takumi Powerbombed Nagashima onto someone who was no longer around, they were able to rally and recover, taking back the initiative and eventually combining to take the titles for themselves.
It all left me feeling sorry for Rin and Itsuki. I like them both a lot, and I think their title run has been consistently good, but on this day, they were out-gunned. Sometimes being great isn’t enough, but I really hope it’s not the end of them as a pairing. They went down fighting, delivering a cracking match in the process, and still have a lot to give individually and as a team.
The first half of this show was solid, but the second half was brilliant. Marvelous are making a habit of delivering outstanding tag matches, and this was no different, with the semi and main event both smashing it out of the park. It’s also left me intrigued about where they go next. Takumi is perched on top of the company, carrying two belts, and the question is whether anyone can knock her off. I have an idea of who it might be, and I am excited to see if it comes to pass.