January 3, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan
Like last year, my last Ice Ribbon event during my trip was their New Year’s show. The show itself though this year was a bit different, as I was lucky enough to see one of IR’s most interesting themed shows.
The opening segment set up this show as Survival Ribbon (YAY!), with teams led by Tsukasa Fujimoto and Ice Cross Infinity Champion Risa Sera respectively. It was pointed out to me by a friend that the teams were divided by time in Ice Ribbon, with Tsukka heading up the veterans and Risa leading the less experienced competitors.
So it split up as Tsukasa Fujimoto, Miyako Matsumoto, Hamuko Hoshi, Mochi Miyagi, Tsukushi, & Kurumi on one team and Risa Sera, Uno Matsuya, Tequila Saya, Kyuri, Maruko Nagasaki, & Maya Yukihi.
The rules were as follows:
- There would be six matches between randomly paired opposing team members.
- All winners would advance to the main event, which would be a tag match between whoever won the preliminary matches to determine the overall winning team.
All the undercard matches had five minute time limits, leading to a quick pace and a sense of urgency.
The entirety of each team came out to start things out and remained at ringside to cheer each other on, leading to an incredible atmosphere for all six initial matches. Everyone on the outside was highly invested and constantly provided encouragement to those in the ring. It made such a difference and showed how important it is the have competitors care about the stakes, even if it’s “only” bragging rights.
1) Uno Matsuya vs Mochi Miyagi
Good choice for an opener, with the least experienced member of the roster against a larger, formidable opponent. This match introduced the previously mentioned frantic pace and electric atmosphere, and both were kept up throughout the show. Uno plays a great underdog and looked good here, taking the fight to Mochi at times and persevering to force a time limit draw. Neither wrestler moves on to the main event.
2) Tequila Saya vs Kurumi
Saya was announced first, and she entered the ring enthusiastically until her opponent was announced, at which point she collapsed in the corner in realization of the task in front of her. Totally put Kurumi over as a monster in five seconds flat before any contact was even made.
The story was similar to the first match, yet the personalities and styles involved made this something distinctly different. Saya survives the assault long enough for time to run out, forcing another 5 minute draw.
3) Maya Yukihi vs Hamuko Hoshi
This is the point at which IR gives a master class in the theory that predictable is perfectly compelling when done right (as opposed to my complaints about how they handled Ribbonmania’s main). I had an inkling here, and by the end of this match I was 99% sure I knew where everything was going. But between good matchup choices, great action, and logical progression the ride was just as satisfying as if they’d pulled out surprises.
The story for this match was Maya being the equal to former IR champion Hammy, and while both had close calls neither was able to put the other away and once again time runs out without a winner. So halfway through and so far neither team has any representatives in the main event, with both captains left to compete.
4) Kyuri vs Tsukasa Fujimoto
So Kyuri is the one who draws the opposing team captain. I never get tired of this matchup, pitting IR’s biggest up and coming star against its ace. They have incredible chemistry, and they made the most of the available time to put on an a phenomenal contest. Kyuri matches Tsukka all the way and we have another time limit draw. The teams outside are getting desperate, again adding to the tension and conveying a real sense that these matches are important.
5) Risa Sera vs Tsukushi
So Tsukushi’s the one who gets to face the reigning champion, in a matchup of the title tournament winner against the one semi-finalist she didn’t have to go through. These are two of IR’s top stars at the moment and like the previous match they make the absolute most of their allotted time. Tsukushi hangs in with the champ and this ends in yet another 5 minute draw.
These preliminary matches needed to be action packed and show desire on the part of all competitors to push as hard as possible to get a win for all these time limit draws to avoid falling flat, and all of them definitely were.
6) Maruko Nagasaki vs Miyako Matsumoto
And it all comes down to Maruko and Miyako, with whoever wins this being the only person to advance to the finals and thus winning for her team by default. As such the wrestlers on the outside are going INSANE cheering their representative on. On one side is the perennially overmatched underdog Maruko, and on the other the overconfident and mistake prone Miyako. Wonderfully amusing choice for the all important final preliminary contest.
Playing off the urgency, theres a fun part in the middle that’s classic Miyako as she takes her sweet time firing up the crowd and slowly striking Maruko as her teammates flip out over the clock running down. This was a little off formula from the earlier matches, as Miyako just couldn’t stop being Miyako despite the time pressure. Good story to pull out at the end.
The crowd had been seriously engaged throughout each match and as things wound down here the anticipation was palpable. But this too ended in a time limit draw (to the exasperation of both team on the floor), and the ref announced no one had advanced and thus there would be no main event. Risa quickly decided this wasn’t acceptable, and set up a tag match involving the full teams against each other. Logical and well done.
As everyone had been at ringside or wrestling for the entirety of all six preliminary matches, they all needed time to go into the back and prepare for / take a momentary break before the “impromptu” main event. So the injured Akane Fujita came out an talked/stalled for a bit until it was time. The crowd seemed engaged with whatever Akane was saying, and it’s nice to see her involved with IR as much as she can be while she recovers.
Main Event) 12-Women Tag: Risa, Maya, Kyuri, Maruko, Uno, & Saya vs Tsukka, Hammy, Mochi, Miyako, Kurumi, & Tsukushi
To everyone’s credit, they managed to match the level of engagement and excitement of the earlier matches and provide a fun, fast paced main event. My memory wouldn’t do justice to the details of twelve wrestlers flying around. Was great though, and the champ’s team was victorious when Kyuri rolled up Miyako for the pin. Between wrestling Tsukka to a draw and getting the win for her team here Kyuri came out of this show looking like a million bucks, which makes me very happy.
Just a fantastic show overall from IR. Loved the concept, execution, and energy they kept up from start to finish.