December 25, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan
Between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day I was lucky enough to see three Christmas shows, all with some celebratory elements. First was Gatoh Move at Itabashi Green Hall at 1 pm on Christmas Eve, and later that night was Ice Ribbon at the IR dojo in Warabi. On Christmas day I headed to Shin-Kiba First Ring for the last of the three, from Chigusa Nagayo’s Marvelous promotion.
The show started off in festive fashion, with Chigusa coming out dressed as Santa and her core roster joining her in various costumes. The highlight was Takumi Iroha as a Christmas Tree (which I sadly didn’t get a good pic of). My meager Japanese skills didn’t catch the meaning of the longish promo / exchanges between the wrestlers, but it seemed well received.
The opener, Mio Momono vs Mika Shirahime, was great, and if not the match of the night certainly neck and neck with the main event. Incredible instincts and craft shown by both rookies, who built drama expertly through the 15 minutes encounter and had the crowd going crazy at the end. There were a couple awkward spots, such as an instance from each where they essentially forgot to roll up their opponent, forcing the other to kind of roll herself up and wait for the other to get in proper position. But otherwise this was smooth and well executed. And even in the places I mentioned the ability of the other wrestler to adapt and keep things on track was impressive, particularly given their experience.
I was at Mio Momono’s debut in New York, and it’s wonderful to see her capitalizing on the potential she showed even then. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for this extremely talented youngster.
The show slowed down quite a bit from there. Another Marvelous rookie, Rin Kadokura, wrestled freelancer Konami in the second match. While Konami has a fair amount of experience from wrestling in several different promotions, she’s only been in the business a couple of years herself. Both were fine here, leading to the perhaps expected decent but basic match.
Aki Shizuku came to the ring festively attired to the crowd’s delight, which I unfortunately have to admit was probably the best thing about her match with Yuiga. I understand the style they were using, but there was just way too much stalling that made this match seem much longer than it was. While nothing was really wrong from a technical standpoint, the pacing was way off and it didn’t come together for me.
Kaoru vs Yako Fujigasaki vs Chikayo Nagashima vs Hamuko Hoshi vs Mochi Miyagi was a reasonably fun match, with lighthearted taunting and antics early on giving way to more competitive sequences as the match progressed. Ice Ribbon’s Lovely Butchers looked good here, and mostly worked together despite the 5-way format. Yako was the target of the other combatants for most of the match, and a specific underlying rivalry between her and Kaoru got a strong focus towards the end. Kaoru’s favorite foreign object, the wooden board of doom, of course became involved. Felt like the underdog should have gone over here, but it appears the feud is still building / ongoing.
Tomoko Watanabe didn’t know quite what to make of the eccentric Cassandra Miyagi as their match began, and I don’t think things were any clearer for her by the end. This was my first time seeing Miyagi, who I’d heard a bit about, and she certainly has a unique and rather captivating charisma to her. The match was fine, but did feel like it could have been better and the structure led to an anticlimactic feeling when Miyagi lost.
I’d been extremely impressed with Takumi Iroha in her appearances at Marvelous USA’s New York shows, and was happy to see her get this main event opportunity against veteran Kyoko Kimura. I’d seen them interact before as part of an intergender tag team match at Marvelous USA’s third show, so this encounter was a nice followup to that.
This played out as would be expected, with Kimura largely dominating and Iroha toughing it out and fighting from behind. The formula worked well, and Iroha got to show some of her incredible power at points. Solid main and a nice spotlight for the up and comer.
Chigusa and the core roster came back out after the main to thank Kimura, talk some more, and raffle off a few things to the audience as part of the Christmas celebration.
Middle of the road show overall I think. It had a different feel from the rest of the promotions I saw, with a somewhat more traditional sense of build throughout the card and in the matches. It was great when it worked and cooled the crowd significantly when it didn’t. The things that didn’t excel here were more bland than bad, but it was half the card. That said, the high points were great and they started and ended with the best of the night.