December 29, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan
Like last year, my only main Wave show this trip was luckily their big one: Thanksgiving Wave 2017. This was an extremely interesting card on paper, and I was looking forward to several of the matches.
The show opened with a 2 out of 3 falls match pitting Moeka Haruhi, Kyusei Sakura Hirota, Cherry & Mio Momono vs Hikaru Shida, Fairy Nipponbashi, Kaori Yoneyama & Miyuki Takase. As some of the talent involved indicates, there was a significant amount of humor in this one. The first two falls happened very quickly and were all comedy, centered around Mio not having her gear and trading pins with Fairy. Other shenanigans included regular partners Cherry and Yone teaming up for a moment despite being on opposite sides, the ref getting roped into applying a submission hold to help Mio’s team while she was missing to change once her gear “arrived,” and Hirota resisting the magic of Fairy’s wand because she was scared to be thrown off the top rope.
This was ok. Some of the comedy worked, some fell flat. Several of the wrestlers were just kind of there, with a few being the main focus. On the plus side, one of those was Mio, one of wrestling’s best up and comers. The end came when Miyuki evaded Mio’s flying cross body and caused the latter to wipe out Hirota instead, leading to enough confusion for Fairy’s team to prevail. Mio didn’t look particularly broken up about it afterwards, and taunted her own team.
Mika Iida is an excellent wrestler who’s coming up on her retirement in spring (likely due to accumulated injuries). She wasn’t wrestling for the August show I was at, so it was wonderful to see her back in the ring and get to see her wrestle several times this trip, perhaps for the last time live. Here she had a short match against the very game Hiroe Nagahama which packed a lot into five minutes while still having good flow and allowing the less experienced competitor look competitive before Iida put her away. Iida’s victory would not be her last spotlight moment of the night…
To be honest, I wish they had taken some time from the Men’s Wave match that saw Kenichiro Arai & Mitomi Masayuki vs Keisuke Goto & Koju Takeda and given it to the prior one. This was decent, but the main point of the match was the nonchalance of Arai eventually allowing him to get the better of his opponent’s temper and win, which could have been achieved in a shorter, tighter match.
Dangerous Wave was next, and was an incredible hardcore brawl between teams SAKI & KAORU and Ryo Mizunami & Rina Yamashita. Kaoru’s at her best in hardcore matches, and similar to the W-Fix match at Marvelous’ Christmas show she was completely in her element here. Avid Rival (Mizunami & Misaki Ohata) is my favorite tag team in wrestling right now, but I have to admit the pairing of Mizunami and Rina is nearly as good and a team I really want to see more often. And the more I see Saki the more I think she’s generally underrated, and I was thrilled to see her wrestle more frequently recently
This was pretty much INSANE, with Mizunami swinging a car tire around (and throwing it from inside the ring towards Karou when she was right in front of me), a bicycle getting involved, people flying off ladders, etc. I wish they would tone down things just a little, like the finish where Saki took a nasty powerbomb on chairs and seemed to come up a little loopy, but overall this was an amazing performance from all four and a definite highlight of the night as well as my trip. After their victory Rina and Ryo are greeted with the news that they will get another Dangerous Wave match at the next show, against Nanae Takahashi and Yoshiko from SEAdLINNG. Rina’s thrilled, Mizunami not so much.
I was not at that show/match, but heard it was cut short when Nanae suffered a serious injury off a bad ladder fall. Hoping for a speedy and full recovery for her.
The tag team title match seeing NEW-TRA (Takumi Iroha & Rin Kadokura) defend against Yuki Miyazaki & Nagisa Nozaki was an action packed contest with a clever finish. Yuki kept kissing her opponents to momentarily stun them (just go with it). Rin temporarily blinded her by spitting water into her face, and Yuki unknowingly grabbed her own partner Nagisa, kissed her, and rolled her up. Takumi took advantage of the moment and counted a pin, making Yuki think they won. New-Tra then capitalized on the confusion and put away the challengers to retain. The whole match was fun, and the strides Rin has made in developing her persona and ring style are highly impressive. I really like the pairing of her and Iroha. This was my first decent look at Nozaki (her match at the August show I attended was short and inconsequential), and I left it definitely wanting to see her more often.
The semi-main was a huge tag match pitting Wave against Sendai Girls, with legend Ayako Hamada and someone who’s being built as a top contender in Asuka against Sendai’s own legend Meiko Satomura and their champion Chihiro Hashimoto. This should be obvious in a Wave review, but for clarity this is Wave’s Asuka and not the former Kana who uses that name in WWE. Chihiro made a strong initial impression at Marvelous’ Christmas day show, and looked great here as well showcasing an impactful, no-nonsense style.
The whole match was quite good, but in particular the highlight was seeing the two opposing legends interact, which really built anticipation for their impending singles match at Sendai Girls. The Sendai duo won this one with Meiko putting Asuka away. Everyone in the match seemed to designs on Chihiro’s title, which left a lot of interesting directions open going forward.
The main event saw two favorites of mine battling for the Regina di Wave championship as Misaki Ohata defended against Yumi Ohka.
This was a fantastic, hard hitting match that went back and forth until Ohka just kicked Ohata in the face until she couldn’t get up. I was a little disappointed for Ohata since I hoped for a longer title reign, but I expect the title to change at Thanksgiving Wave, it was a nice moment for Ohka, and at this point Ohata’s already won it back. Misaki really sold disappointment and dejection afterwards, a theme that would continue later.
After the show proper there was a musical performance, then the Wave roster came back out for the announcement of the Zan-1 rankings. It was determined by fan vote, the top 10 are called into the ring in reverse order, and #1 wins the Zan-1 belt for the year and becomes the #1 contender for the Regina di Wave championship.
There were several amusing moments. Miscommunication between Gami and the ring announcer lead to Mizunami’s picture being displayed too early, after which Mizunami, Hamada, and Rina huddled up “hoping” to be the next called. Rina’s excitement over her own placement was great. Best of all, the somewhat surprising winner turned out to be Mika Iida, a fitting honor for her as her career winds down.
Ohata, last year’s winner who relinquished the belt to open the ceremony, came in second and stared an absolute hole through Iida, the belt, and Ohka (who placed third) as she looked at the two championships she lost by inches in the same night. Fantastic touch and consistency by Ohata, which I assume added desperation to her effort to regain the Regina di Wave title in her rematch with Ohka.
Excellent show overall, and I think the best I’ve seen from Wave yet.