December 19, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan
Bit of a surreal experience for me, as I’m making my first ever trip to Japan and this was the first show I saw once I got here. I’d heard a lot of great things about Ice Ribbon and had seen the fantastic Tsukasa Fujimoto in Shimmer so was extremely excited for this. It lived up to expectations and then some.
Ice Ribbon Dojo shows are really interesting. The atmosphere is unlike anything else I’ve been to. It’s a small venue but packs a decent crowd. Seating is open but the earlier you bought a ticket the earlier you get to choose your seat. After the show everyone comes back to the ring for a “roundtable discussion” where they all give thoughts on the show and share their upcoming schedule and matches. Not speaking Japanese I obviously didn’t understand this portion, but I still got the general idea and it was still interesting to be at. Photography isn’t allowed at the dojo shows so I don’t have any match / action shots, but I will share pics of the awesome souvenirs I was able to get. The entire roster is available after the show to meet fans and sell merchandise, and they were all very friendly and approachable.
One interesting thing about the shows I’ve been to so far over here is they have all been 3-4 matches long, which is much shorter than what I’m used to in the US (I know I’ll be at some longer shows later in this trip). They have all felt like full shows though, with great matches that are allowed to develop as needed and they definitely didn’t FEEL short. Pretty awesome.
The opening match was a six-woman tag featuring The Lovely Butchers (Hamuko Hoshi and Mochi Miyagi) and Pantera Rosa vs. Akane Fujita, 235 and Kyuri. This was a fun all-out war, with Pantera Rosa playing a full blown dismissive heel and really working over and antagonizing Akane and 235 during the match. It’s going to take me a while to get used to refs ignoring cheating and foreign object over here and train myself not to constantly mentally ask why the faces don’t retaliate with weapons sooner, but it did pay off late in the match here with Rosa finally getting nailed with her own chain (although she later snuck out the win regardless). The Butchers are an odd act. They have an over-the-top dancing entrance that’s great and get a lot of cheers, but wrestle like heels. Akane Fujita left the strongest impression on me here. Everything she does connects with the force of a freight train. She seems to be an amazing power wrestler so far. Great match to serve as my introduction to wrestling shows in Japan.
Up next was Maruko Nagasaki and Miyako Matsumoto vs Risa Sera and Maya Yukihi. Heard a lot about Risa before coming over so was nice to finally get to see her wrestle. Great showing from all four. Miyako is officially an instant favorite of mine. She’s not a technical wizard in the ring, but her act is pitch perfect. She’s shameless about doing what’s best for her at the expense of her partner, celebrates the least little thing (even such as being picked up for a slam) with hilarious flourishes and posing, in general was just amusing as hell as a quasi-coward, full of herself heel. Wrestling needs various styles, and she’s the epitome of hers.
Hamuko made a second appearance of the night in a preview of sorts for her upcoming title match in Aoi Kizuki and Tsukushi vs Yuka and Hamuko Hoshi. Honestly Hamuko is ok but seemed the weakest of the bunch in both matches to me so I’m really hoping she shows more in said impending title match. Yuka and Tsukushi were both impressive, with particularly smooth reversals. I’m a big fan of the champ so far too. Aoi’s “swivel” diving moves (splashes and body presses when she rotates horizontally instead of vertically) are something I’ve never quite seen before and make for great visuals as signature & finishing moves.
The show ended with Neko Nitta defending her Triangle Ribbon Championship against Tsukasa Fujimoto and Kyuri. Excellent main event. Kyuri played a great role as the totally overmatched youngster trying to hang with the two veterans, Tsukasa was just as amazing as I remember from Shimmer, and it was real treat to see Neko before her impending retirement on 1/3. Neko’s character and mannerisms are great, and she’s a phenomenal wrestler to boot.
As I mentioned earlier the roundtable to close out the show was interesting even though I couldn’t understand what was being said. The wrestlers shook hands with fans at ringside afterwards and everyone hung around for quite a while afterwards. I love the opportunity to get polaroids with the wrestlers, as it provides a nice memento in general but you can also get them signed (unlike having pics taken with my own camera). The opportunity here to get a polaroid in the ring with the ENTIRE ROSTER was cool in ways I can’t properly describe.
My first Ice Ribbon show was everything I had hoped and the perfect way to kick off my Japan trip. Right up there with Shimmer in terms of enjoyment. Really can’t recommend this promotion enough.