The Ice Ribbon Kizuna Tournament has quickly become a yearly tradition and a fun one at that. With the winning team awarded a wish each, it’s a hefty prize and something worth the tough day’s work getting said victory means. I’ve been a bit lax on covering Ice recently as, to be brutally honest, I haven’t had enough money to justify buying their PPVs. However, I decided to treat myself to these two shows, so it seemed the perfect time to jump back in.
Tsukka is having a baby! She announced that she will have a wee girl in the spring but is still planning to return afterwards. Congratulations to her.
Mashiro Ishikawa (Yuuki Mashiro & Nao Ishikawa) defeated Strong Mother (Hamuko Hoshi & Kiku)
I did not expect to come out of this tournament as the world’s foremost Strong Mother fan, but that might be the case. When they coerced their somewhat reluctant children into taking part in their entrance, they had me on their side. When they started smacking folk with pans and got Tsukka over to join in with shouting ‘Strong Mother’, they had my heart. That was particularly impressive as they were coming up against my sentimental favourite, the rookie generation of Nao and Yuuki, who were getting a chance to team before Mashiro’s retirement.
It did help that Mashiro and Ishikawa were the perfect foils for that level of chaos. Not only are they fantastic reactors to nonsense, able to make anything funny, but they added to the madness when their long rivalry occasionally rose to the surface and bickering commenced. However, I don’t want to put it all down to them, as Ham and Kiku more than held their own. That’s not surprising from Hoshi, but Kiku’s improvement this year has been noticeable, as she looks a hundred times more comfortable in the ring. She’s unlikely to bother the top of the card, but she’s carving out an entertaining spot for herself in the lower middle.
In the end, Mashiro Ishikawa managed to get on the same page for long enough that Yuuki won a battle of the roll-ups against Kiku to earn them the win. But while it was a fun performance from them, it’s Strong Mother that I’ll remember, and I hope those two get a few more chances to team up in the future.
Verdict: Strong Mother Forever
BuriPuri (Maya Yukihi & Misa Kagura) defeated The Kids (Ram Kaicho & Saran)
Ram’s sweary influence on Saran will never stop delighting me, so this pairing of wee goth and other wee goth is perfect. They had more in common than BuriPuri, where Yukihi did not seem in the mood to embrace her inner princess, despite Misa trying everything to get her to do so.
In fact, Yukihi spent a decent chunk of this match being irritated by those around her. When it wasn’t Misa, it was Saran bursting into ‘tears’ and tricking Maya into apologising, a scam that she was rightly annoyed about when Saran revealed it by smacking her across the face. She did feel a bit like the one sane person in the room, surrounded by tiny goths and mad princesses. Thankfully, that’s basically a perfect setup, so I had zero complaints about the situation.
Sadly, no amount of Ram taught swearing could save Saran from a Misa lariat, and BuriPuri would go into the second round, but this was another blast of an outing. Like the opener, the wrestlers were free to express their personalities, which is all I really needed.
Verdict: A Lot Of Fun
Makoto defeated Kaho Matsushita and Maika Ozaki in a three-way
The only non-tournament match on the show had everyone involved in costume. Kaho was Nao, Maika had a Snorlax onesie, and Makoto was wearing that revealing sweater I’ve seen people wear in YMZ, which I always assume is a cultural reference I don’t understand. It’s the one Shida and Hikaru Sato are wearing in the match with a few million views.
With all that in mind, it’s perhaps not surprising that this wasn’t the most serious match. Kaho, in particular, was very committed to the bit, constantly pulling out her impression of Nao’s pose. She was presumably quite good at it, as the real Ishikawa got involved in the match when Ozaki threatened to wipe Matsushita’s makeup off, perhaps forgetting it wasn’t really her. There was also some stuff involving Matsuzawa-san on the outside, which I couldn’t keep up with, but I assume it was hilarious.
And while I always love a bit of silliness, it is worth pointing out that there was also some good action, particularly in the final few minutes. These three worked well together, stringing together some impressive sequences which kept everyone involved. It made sure that while this was in the fluffy nonsense camp, it was very enjoyable fluffy nonsense.
Verdict: A Nice Time
Yellow Checkers (Ibuki Hoshi & A~Min) defeated TotoKyure (Totoro Satsuki & YuuRI)
After some character-heavy matches, this one brought physicality to the party. A~Min and Totoro have had some hard-hitting interactions before, but I particularly enjoyed them bouncing off each other here. Then there is Ibuki and her love of chopping the shit out of everyone she gets in the ring with, which is always a good time. Everything in this match had a bit more weight behind it as the action moved up a gear from what we’d seen before.
If I were to nitpick, it would be that Totoro spent a decent chunk of the match in the ring, selling and bumping for Yellow Checkers. Totoro isn’t bad in that role, but she’s a hoss and is at her best when she’s dominant. It was doubly unusual because it left the sympathy drawing machine YuuRI on the apron, a wrestler that has made getting beat up her calling card.
On the upside, that did mean we got to see YuuRI and Ibuki get into a nice back-and-forth, which left me hoping we’ll get that match somewhere down the line. It was just one of those decisions that perhaps prevented this match from hitting its ceiling, but it was still a solid slab of action that left me satisfied.
Verdict: Let’s Get Physical
Mega Sunrise (Asahi & Yuko Sakurai) defeated 1991 (Saori Anou & Sumika Yanagawa)
Big news, Anou and Yanagawa did a dance as part of their entrance, which I think means they’re the best team now. Teams that dance together win together, as I always say. Or at least I will always say it now, after this match in which they lost.
Having talked about Kiku’s improvement earlier, I would be remiss not to mention Yanagawa’s. She’s come on leaps and bounds in the last year, transforming from someone who looked unsure of themselves in the ring to a solid prospect. She didn’t look out of place teaming with Saori, picking up her natural streak of arrogance and running with it. As I mentioned, they did go on to lose, but Anou would still be a perfect person for Sumika to model herself on.
The centrepiece of this match, however, was Asahi vs Anou, a showdown that I expect we’ll be seeing for the big belt someday. Those two looked fantastic together, as Asahi showed her ability to keep up with the champion but not get the better of her, the whole thing eventually ending with them both lying on the mat. I would guess that Asahi eventually takes that title from Anou, but this match made it clear that if she’s going to, she’s still got a bit of work to do.
However, it also showed how far she’s come, as she worked the whole final act of the action, taking some big moves from Yanagawa and surviving due to a combination of resilience and a helping hand from Sakurai. The same would be true of the finish, Yuko setting her up to tie Sumika up in a submission and get her team the win. This may have been a tag match, but it had one and a half eyes on making Asahi look good, a goal in which it succeeded.
Verdict: Great Match, Great Performance From Asahi
You could tell this was the first of two shows on this day, but not necessarily in a bad way. People weren’t taking it easy so much as choosing to focus on character rather than high-octane action. However, when we hit the main event, that idea was out of the window, and they just delivered a great match. If you’re picking one thing, make it that, but it’s all worth a watch.
Ice Ribbon have a new PPV service where you can order shows: https://iceribbonlive.ctpfs.jp/
Or you can watch old Ice Ribbon shows on niconico: https://ch.nicovideo.jp/iceribbon
Or you can become a member of Club Ice Ribbon on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/iceribbon/featured.