Marvelous AAAW One-Day Tournament Preview

Credit: Marvelous

I don’t tend to do previews, but with Marvelous gearing up for a one-day tournament to crown a new AAAW champion on the 4th of December, it felt like it was time to brush off my prediction skills. Who do I think is going to pick up that belt and take the place of the injured Takumi Iroha? Read on to find out.

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Ai Houzan

Would I book Ai Houzan to become the new AAAW Champion? Yes, without a second thought. Sadly, no one has yet entrusted me with a wrestling company, and there might be a good reason for that. I love wee Ai and believe she is a future star, but she will lose in the first round. Still, it’s a chance for her to have a match with Mio that means something, and I am excited to see how she handles that pressure. At this stage in her career, her performance is 1000 times more important than the result.

Chances: Sadly, None

Mio Momono

Mio is, in many ways, the easy winner of this tournament. She’s not only Marvelous’s best wrestler but one of the best in the world, and in the company hierarchy, she sits right behind Takumi. It would be the easiest decision in the world to put the belt on her, and I don’t think anyone would blame Marvelous for making it.

And yet, I don’t think they should. In fact, I’m pretty adamant about it. Mio is in the middle of a journey, and it ends with her winning that AAAW Title, but if she does it on December 4th, she will have taken a massive shortcut. Since her return from injury earlier this year, Marvelous have been telling the story of Momono struggling to refind her form, battling to draws with less experienced wrestlers and only managing to gain momentum in fits and starts. It all felt like a slow, scenic build to her eventually beating Takumi one-on-one, and I can’t help feeling that if they decide to abandon that to put the belt on her, then they would have missed an opportunity that won’t come around again. She can’t win it for the first time twice.

If Mio wins the title on December 4th, I will be delighted. She deserves it, and I can’t imagine a world where I wouldn’t want to celebrate such a victory. However, I will also be left thinking, ‘what if?’ What could have been if Mio’s journey to the title had gone as it was supposed to, a battle to earn the right to face and finally beat Takumi Iroha? I think that’s too good a story to throw away, and I hope Marvelous agree.

Chances: High, But Should They Be?

Queen Aminata

December 4th will be Queen Aminata’s first match in Marvelous since January 2020. In the nearly three years since she last appeared, she’s been making a bit of her name for herself, wrestling around America and becoming a regular member of the AEW YouTube show roster. She already reunited with Mio earlier this year, stepping in when Debbie Malenko was injured to wrestle her at West Coast Pro, but this is her chance to catch up with the rest of the roster, and it’s great to see Marvelous bringing wrestlers over again.

However, there is no chance of Aminata winning this tournament. Okay, maybe that’s harsh, she’s got better odds than Ai, but that’s about it. It sounds harsh to say she’s coming over to fill out the numbers because I’m sure they are delighted to have her back, but they’re not about to put their title on her. Still, seeing her in a Marvelous ring again will be a treat!

Chances: Better Than Ai, But Not By Much

Maria

Maria is an interesting one. I don’t think there is any chance of her winning the title, it’s a bit too early in her career for that, but I think she could pull off an upset or two. 2022 has been all about her knocking on the door, threatening to level up, with her recent tag match victory over Rin Kadokura showing how close she is to bursting through. Throw in that she and Mio have been at each other’s throats in recent months, and I don’t think it’s a massive leap to see her as the banana skin that Momono slips on.

Two things make me doubt that prediction. The first is the boring one, Aminata has come a long way, and Marvelous may want to use her AEW connection to try and draw some eyes (is she a big enough deal for that to apply? Someone who knows more about American wrestling would have to tell me). Having her compete twice is a good way to do that, and losing to a foreign talent will do Maria no harm, so all of this could come tumbling down at the first hurdle. The more exciting reason is that Maria has another match on this show, teaming up with Yumiko Hotta to battle Riko Kawahata and Chigusa Nagayo. That means there is a decent chance her trainer beats the shit out of her, seeing her off with a Running Three. If you need an excuse for losing, getting your ass handed to you by Chigusa Nagayo is a good one, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Marvelous played that card.

If there is going to be a shock run deep into this tournament, my money would be on Maria. She could easily make it to a semi-final (or even the final) and lose, which would put her over big and get people excited about a major upset. I’m not confident enough to bet everything I have, but if it does happen, you know I’ll be screenshotting this for everyone to see.

Chances: Of Winning? Low. Of Making A Run In The Tournament? Pretty Good

Unagi Sayaka

The Eel is the wildcard, and not just in this tournament. Since going freelance, Unagi Sayaka has been turning up everywhere, challenging everyone and generally making a menace of herself. The Gyan Period has gotten off to a brilliantly entertaining start, and she’s quickly establishing herself as a cult favourite with a hefty fanbase. It’s also clear that one of those fans is a certain Chigusa Nagayo. Marvelous’s owner finds everything Sayaka says hilarious and has put her front and centre since she wandered into the company demanding a match with Takumi (to the extent that everything she does goes up on YouTube for free). If Iroha hadn’t gotten injured, she would have headlined this show against Unagi.

Does that mean she’s going to the final, though? Perhaps, but I don’t think it’s a guarantee. Unagi doesn’t need to win matches. Her appeal is her character work, not her wrestling, and I think she’s 100 times more valuable when she’s making a nuisance for herself and demanding to assess people than she is as the company’s champion. However, that temptation still has to be there. Marvelous see Unagi as a way to bring in new fans, both in Japan and abroad (there is a reason those YouTube videos are going up with English titles), and belting her up would definitely get lots of attention. The chance to get more fans through the door might override any worries about Unagi’s weaknesses.

Despite all that, I don’t think The Eel is winning this tournament. Unagi’s on the easier side of the draw, so a win over Tomoko puts her straight into the semi-final, and I could even see her going to the main event, but that’s as far as it goes. Unagi is coming into Marvelous to be a supporting character, not the star, and while she’ll be wonderful, she’ll do it without the belt.

Chances: She’s A Contender, But I Don’t Think She’s Winning It

Tomoko Watanabe

Tomoko is an easy wrestler to love. Thirty-three years into her career, she’s happy to go out there and make youngsters look good while being the butt of every joke, and because of that, I would quite like her to win this tournament. It would be a lovely final note to her career, and I think she could easily keep that belt warm with a couple of fun defences before Takumi returned and took it back off her. However, it’s not going to happen. Her first-round match with Unagi screams Watanabe somehow contriving to lose while Chigusa roars with laughter on commentary, and honestly, that’s how it should be. Let Tomoko have fun in the midcard, and other people can deal with the stress of carrying the big one.

Chances: Minimal

Riko Kawahata

If the draw had gone differently, Riko might be the dark horse I was predicting to go on a run in this tournament. However, she’s been paired up with Rin, and I can’t see Kadokura dropping out in the first round. When you combine that with the fact Kawahata will have Hotta beating the shit out of her earlier in the show, I think Riko’s run will be short and sweet.

Despite that, it is worth pointing out that this match has the potential to be the pick of the bunch for the first round. Kawahata has been having a fantastic year, and Rin is as reliable as they come, so I expect they’ll gel nicely. They’re probably not going to have all the time in the world, but that could be a good thing, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do together.

Chances: The Draw Has Done Her Dirty

Rin Kadokura

As I mentioned in Kawahata’s section, I think Rin is a safe bet to get through the first round. After that, however, I’m not so sure. Kadokura’s successes have come as a tag wrestler, and when she’s by herself, she’s firmly behind Takumi and Mio in the Marvelous hierarchy. However (and this sounds like a backhanded compliment, but I don’t mean it as such), Rin is Mrs Reliable. You can trust her to go out and have a good match, possibly even a great one, with everyone. Marvelous have had a bad few years with injuries, so maybe putting the title on Rin and letting her be good wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world?

On the flip side, it doesn’t feel like Rin should be winning that title right now. It’s not that she isn’t good enough, she is, but since losing the tag belts, she’s been spinning her wheels a bit (and getting married), so to become AAAW champion would feel like it came out of nowhere. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but much like with Mio, you only get one chance to have Rin get that big win, and this probably isn’t the moment. If she is to reach the top of the card, I’d like to see the whole journey, not jump straight to the end. That means she’s going in as my third favourite, sitting behind her likely opponent in the second round (more on her later) and Mio. Her odds are good, but in the end, she’s going to fall short.

Chances: She’s Got A Shot, But I Don’t Think It’s Her Year

Chikayo Nagashima

Every tournament needs a favourite, and for this one, it’s Chikayo Nagashima. Unlike Rin or Mio, Marvelous aren’t building Nagashima for the future, so they’re not throwing away a moment by putting the belt on her at short notice. However, she’s also been on a great run of form recently, regularly putting on impressive matches, so she could more than hold her own if she’s called upon to headline some shows. Perhaps more importantly, there is a ready-made story for Takumi’s return, as they already hold the tag team titles together. If you’re looking for who ticks the most boxes, Nagashima is the one.

On top of that, there is an emotional edge to this. Chikayo was planning on hanging her boots up and moving on, but coming out of the pandemic, she realised she was having too much fun to give it up. What better way to celebrate her continuing her career than for her to win the belt she last held just over twenty years ago? Winning that title now would bring her career full circle and reward her for decades of brilliance.

Ultimately, I think it may come down to that second-round match between Rin and Chikayo. If I’m right about Mio, and there is every chance I’m not, the winner of that will win the whole thing, and right now, I’m leading towards Nagashima being the one to do so.

Chances: She’s The Favourite

Yuna Manase

I feel a bit sorry for Yuna Manase. She’s a ball of enthusiasm who everyone loves, but if I haven’t already made it clear, I don’t think she’s getting past this first match. Even if Chikayo isn’t winning the whole thing, she is going over in this match, and Yuna will have a shorter afternoon than most. Still, she is always great fun to watch, so I’m glad she’s there, even if her job will ultimately be to make up the numbers.

Again, you can buy a ticket to watch the show here.

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One thought on “Marvelous AAAW One-Day Tournament Preview

Add yours

  1. I don’t think Aminata’s current tenuous-at-best connection to AEW (she’s a somewhat stalwart of AEW Dark and just worked a quick enhancement match on Rampage against Shida, but I don’t believe she’s ever won or gotten much ring time) is going to really pop any sort of Western draw or rating. Maybe that West Coast Pro show where Will Hobbs showed up is a sign of something imminent, though. She’s good.

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