December 26, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan
After an exhibition dark match and some singing and dancing, the first official match was Rina Yamashita vs Aria Sapphire. Rina continues to shine in the outings I’ve seen her in, and looked good in a relatively straight-forward opener.
Hamuko Hoshi and Masa-ko Takanashi vs Haruka Kato and Koharu Hinata, and Saori Anou and Yuna Manasa vs Maki Natsumi and Tae Honma were a pair of fine tag matches, although the comedy spots in the former weren’t my cup of tea. Nothing spectacular, but decent work from all eight wrestlers.
I’d seen Hanako Nakamori and Makoto team at a JWP event, and have to admit they looked much better there than here vs Gabai-jichan and Yako Fujigasaki. This is where the presentation of REINA detracts from the matches, as Gabai-jichan’s general gimmick, him constantly trying to look up Makoto’s skirt, the costumes, the teddy bear attacks, etc all added up to too much nonsense and impaired the potential of the talents involved. I found some of it amusing, but as a whole this was disappointing.
Aja Kong vs Konami was a largely one-sided ten-minute affair. Konami got to show resilience and fire, but the outcome was never in any doubt and I’d like to see what she can do in a more even contest. Good for what it was.
I believe the REINA World Women’s Title Match between Tsukasa Fujimoto (c) and Maki Narumiya was originally advertised as the main event, and honestly should have been. Even the ring announcer seemed to be going off old notes, as it was announced as the main instead of the semi-final. Tsukasa Fujimoto is incredible, and easily one of my favorite wrestlers in the world. She can do comedy, but is at her best when going all out in no-nonsense competitive wrestling. Thankfully that’s what we got here, as she and Maki went to war for this title (after some early mind game attempts by the challenger). This was my first (and so far only) time seeing Narumiya, who definitely impressed. She kept up with Fujimoto and I’m psyched to see more of her work, particularly a rematch of this encounter. One of the best matches of my entire trip.
The main event featured a mixed tag of Hikaru Shida, Jun Kasai and Toru Owashi vs Syuri, Buffalo, and Mineo Fujita. Another decent battle held back by REINA’s dancing, mid-match posing, etc. The animosity was palpable but its impact repeated lessened by sideshow stuff. All six wrestlers looked perfectly good (and I’ve previously seen what Shida and Syuri can do), but this needed to be tightened up a bit and kept in the semi-main spot. Good match that could have been great.
Overall this was an ok show with one phenomenal match, a couple of good ones, and a whole lot of REINA getting in its own way. If the approach and presentation is working for the core fan base more power to them, but I personally think some tweaks are needed. There are a ton of great wrestlers on the roster, and I’d like to see them get a better platform to show as much in the future.