Marvelous’s busy September concluded with a trip to Chiba, the hometown of one Mio Momono. Would the place of her birth inspire her to turn her recent dodgy form around? Well, let’s find out.
Hajime defeated Leo Isaka
Hajime is an unusual chap. He brought a creepy mannequin head with him to the ring, which he then used to terrorise some poor child in the front row. Unsurprisingly, Leo appeared more than a little perturbed by the whole thing.
With that in mind, I was a tad disappointed by how uninventive this match was. It wasn’t bad, Hajime worked a slower style and worked over Leo’s leg, which he did an alright job of selling, but they quickly forgot the spooky stuff. Once we’d gotten past the opening act, Hajime became another decent Japanese indie wrestler, doing the kind of stuff all decent Japanese indie wrestlers do.
I guess you could accuse me of reviewing the match I wanted rather than the one we got, but fuck it, the one I wanted would have been better. Leo is at his best when people take him out of his comfort zone, and I was hopeful that would be the case here. Sadly, I was to be left unsatisfied.
Verdict: Fine, But Could Have Been Better
Hibiscus Mii defeated Takumi Iroha and Yuu in a three-way
Hibiscus Mii in this match was the wrestling equivalent of when someone tries to assist you in the kitchen and ends up mainly getting in your way. Despite repeatedly insisting to Takumi that she was helping, every attempt to do so only made things worse for her poor Mezzoforte partner.
Stuck in the middle of those bickering friends was Yuu, who was her usual reliable self. She’s perfect for matches like this, giving off an air of bemusement but never losing the threatening aura that makes her feel like she could pin anyone. If you’re comfortable trading strikes with Takumi and messing about with Mii, you’ll usually get the thumbs up from me.
Then, incredibly, Mii only went and pinned the Ace. In a moment I didn’t see coming in a million years, a roll-up exchange after a missed Swanton ended with Mii getting Takumi’s shoulder down for the three and what had been a fun mess around pulled the rug out from underneath everyone by having the champ take the fall. I am now willing to ditch any long-term build towards Mio winning the AAAW Title to put it on Mii and shall be taking no questions as to what makes that a good idea. She’s in control of the kitchen now, and her meal will be beautiful.
Verdict: A Fun Mess Around With A Shock Ending
Riko Kawahata defeated Ai Houzan
I enjoy watching wrestlers who don’t usually get to play the veteran give it a go. Kawahata has been put through the wringer a few times herself, not least by her mentor Yumiko Hotta, so this was her chance to do the same to Ai. The only acceptable cycles of abuse are in kayfabe.
And Riko had a couple of great moments here, including stepping to the side when Ai came off the top rope with a dropkick and then booting her on her way down. If you’re going to dismantle a rookie, you need to do more than just beat them up. I want you to have a bit of swagger, and the casualness with which she pulled that off was perfect. That she followed it up by leaning back and pulling Ai’s hair while holding her in a crab, inflicting just a little more damage, made it all the better.
Houzan, meanwhile, continues to be an utter delight. I love the simplicity of her offence, as things like her resorting to slapping Riko’s leg, which she’d been working over all match, earned a big cheer from me. She still has a limited arsenal, but she gets everything she can out of it, making up for her lack of fancy moves with a tenacious pest-like nature. Of course, she would go on to lose, but as we’ve come to expect, she left her mark while doing so, and this was a lot of fun.
Verdict: I Had A Blast
Itsuki Aoki defeated Maria
Maria’s hair has gone back to what I assume is its natural colour, and I don’t think I would have recognised her if she hadn’t been wearing her gear. It also seemed to bring out her babyface side, as she spent the time before the match becoming friends with a baby in the crowd, which, unsurprisingly, was a surefire way to win the fans’ hearts.
Thankfully, once the match got going, the Maria we know and love quickly rose to the surface. Perhaps emboldened by her new fan, she was a total menace in this match, repeatedly driving Itsuki’s head into the mat while grinning from ear to ear. Even when she was trading stiff blows with Aoki, she was constantly getting up in her opponent’s face, trying to wind her up that little bit further.
And while they initially played Maria’s attitude for laughs, it proved to be the building blocks of an outing with some bite. Itsuki had a power advantage and tried to brute force her way through the action, but she couldn’t stop Maria from chipping away at her arm. Each blow was a bit softer than the last, and you could see Aoki wondering how she would get out of there with the win.
In the end, a little bit of extra guile was what it took, as Itsuki rolled through a spear into a flash pin and got the three. However, this match continued the recent trend of Maria getting closer and closer to beating those above her in the pecking order. This time, Itsuki Aoki had enough to win, but it won’t be long until one of these goes Maria’s way, and if the matches continue to be this entertaining, then I imagine she’ll have charmed a few more people before she does.
Verdict: Maria’s Getting Closer.
Chikayo Nagashima & Tomoko Watanabe defeated Mio Momono & Rin Kadokura
There was much hilarity before this match when Mio marked her homecoming by entering wearing Takumi Iroha’s trousers. It turned out that she’d forgotten the bottom half of her gear but wasn’t actually going to wrestle in Takumi’s (which were far too big for her) because she had some of Rin’s on underneath. I’m delighted to report that Chigusa Nagayo found all of that very funny.
In the ring, I thought Chikayo and Tomoko were fantastic. They might not be as young and nimble as Mio and Rin (although Nagashima gives it a go), but they have years of experience behind them, and they used every day of it. There were moments where they were bullying their younger opponents, Chikayo holding Mio in a submission just out of reach of a tag, to the point where Rin fell over the ropes as she desperately reached out for Momono’s hand. Then you had the much simpler tactic of Tomoko booting Mio in the shin, leading to some brilliantly over-the-top selling. Mio vs Pom, when?
When Mio wasn’t rolling around holding her shin or being laughed at for having forgotten her gear, she was delivering another outstanding performance. I’m enjoying the storyline Marvelous is telling, as she’s struggled to find form since she returned, but it is slightly undermined by how good she’s been outside of kayfabe. Whether it’s bumping around for Watanabe or having lighting-fast exchanges with Nagashima, you would never guess that she was out with a possibly career-threatening injury not that long ago. The only thing missing is the wins, as she once again found herself on the losing end after failing to put Nagashima away. She’ll get there eventually, but if watching her lose continues to be this entertaining, I’m willing to wait a while longer.
Verdict: No Matter The Gear, That Mio Is Quite Good
My expectations for Marvelous are always high, but that show smashed through them. The Leo vs Hajime match aside (and even it wasn’t bad), this was full of fun wrestling and pleasant surprises. On top of that, there was a lovely atmosphere in the room. From Maria befriending babies to everyone laughing at Mio’s gear, it felt like people were having a wonderful time, and when that happens, it’s hard not to get swept up in it.