December 31, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan
RibbonMania is Ice Ribbon’s big year end show, and one of the events I was most looking forward to. The biggest deals for me were Neko Nitta’s retirement match and ceremony and a tag tittle match involving three of my favorite wrestlers.
In addition to the usual bringing out the roster, the show started with a singing performance by Best Friends that fired up the crowd nicely.
Hiroyo Matsumoto, Makoto and Maruko Nagasaki vs Cherry, Hiroe Nagahama and Mika Iida was a fun opener with some nice six person spots, and an effective way to use numerous non-regular roster members to fill out the card. Yuuka vs Sareee was a nice spotlight on two young wrestlers with a lot of potential. Yuuka in particular really impressed me in her matches during my trip.
The second musical performace of the show preceded the next match via Miyako Matsumoto’s band Black DPG. I enjoyed it and being only one song it was effectively just a longer than usual entrance for Miyako.
Miyako and Jun Kasai vs Antonio Honda and Mochi Miyagi vs GENTARO and Yuji Hino was a great mix of Miyako’s unique and amusing antics and wild brawling. Although being her band remained ringside throughout and it was essentially no DQ they really should have gotten involved at some point.
I was unfamiliar with Buribato (SAKI and MIZUKI) before my trip, but will definitely be keeping an eye on them going forward as they’re great both individually and as a team. Their Number 1 Contendership match here against the likewise impressive Azure Revolution (Maya Yukihi & Risa Sera) was good, but the exchanges seemed awkward when Maya was in the ring and I feel these teams could do much better against each other.
For her last match Neko Nitta chose to team with 235 against Akane Fujita and Kyuri. This was a decent send off for Neko and it was nice to see her highlight the younger talent during her farewell to her short career.
The ceremony was a treat to be at live. I feel honored to have been there to say goodbye and wish her well. More thoughts on that here.
While Tsukushi vs Ayako Hamada wasn’t quite the blow away encounter I expected, it was still extremely good. Hamada’s shoulder was taped and whether from injury or not it seemed she’s lost a step since I last saw her a couple years ago. No complaints overall though, as she and Tsukushi put on a solid match here regardless.
I consider Tsukasa Fujimoto one of the best wrestlers in the world today and am likewise a huge fan of Misaki Ohata and Arisa Nakajima, so was VERY excited for the Best Friends (Fujimoto and Nakajima) vs Avid Rival (Ohata and Ryo Mizunami) Tag Title Match. It didn’t disappoint, and this is neck and neck with Best Friends vs Jumonji Sisters as my favorite match of my entire trip.
I hadn’t seen Mizunami much before, but she fit in perfectly and this was just fantastic. Neither my memory nor words can do this proper justice. See it yourself if you get a chance.
The main event saw another favorite of mine defending her IcexInfinity Title as Aoi Kizuki (c) faced Hamuko Hoshi. I honestly am pretty “meh” on Hoshi, who had been just ok in previous matches I’d seen and had blown a couple spots I wouldn’t expect from someone of her experience. So I wasn’t thrilled with the outcome here, although with Aoi’s subsequent announcement of going freelance retaining wouldn’t have made sense.
Personal preference aside this match was a good main event. It had an unusual structure as they traded signature moves and attempted finishers early, which made things feel different and intense. Nice trick to use every so often. Hoshi looked like a monster by the end, largely due to throwing a billion lariats that Aoi sold like molten death. I hope we see more of this Hoshi and less of the one I saw on earlier shows as her title reign goes.
When the biggest criticism I have of a show is that given the talent involved I know a few matches could have been even better I’d say things went well. Overall this was one of the best shows I saw, and a great year end spectacle for IR.