May 4, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan
In addition to hosting the finals of this year’s Catch the Wave tournament this was Mika Iida’s retirement show. I already discussed some of it a bit in my look back on her career, but here I’d like to go into more detail / take a look at the rest of the card.
1. Mika Iida vs Hiroe Nagahama
During the week leading up to her final show, amid numerous appearances scheduled across various promotions, Iida unfortunately dislocated her shoulder during a gauntlet match. She realigned it and managed one more portion of that match in a crazy display of toughness, but then had to acquiesce and withdraw from the match and most of her remaining appearances to recover. She always still intended to complete in this final show however, and twice in fact. In a 6-woman tag to close it, and this five minute exhibition to open.
In a wonderful sign for her recovery (and of course her fortitude and perhaps stubbornness), she took the microphone right away and declared she was ok and turned this into a full match to a large ovation. It was a good contest and a nice callback for me to the match between the two I had seen a few months prior. Unsurprisingly Iida put the up and comer over and the latter was particularly choked up.
2. ASUKA, Miyuki Takase & Sakura Hirota vs Moeka Haruhi, Arisa Nakajima & Cherry
Of course as this is a Wave review hopefully it’s obvious I’m talking about their Asuka, and not the former Kana. With just four minutes to work with these six hit the comedy (a given with Hirota in there), ran through some quick action, and wrapped it all up in short order. It was fine, but there wasn’t much to it. Seeing Arisa on a card in any capacity is always a treat though.
3. 3-Way Tag Match: BOSS to Mammy (Yumi Ohka & Mio Momono) vs Avid Rival (Misaki Ohata & Ryo Mizunami) vs Fairy Nipponbashi & Yako Fujigasaki
This kind of had the opposite impression of the last match in some ways. Seven minutes isn’t a ton of time for a three way tag encounter, but they made the most of time allotted and format and this didn’t feel short or limited at all.
Light overtones and humor were well integrated, and Fairy actually amused me quite a bit for a change. She had a running bit where she was getting in Ohka’s face making motions to indicate she wanted a title shot, with Ohka reacting to her attitude in kind and ignoring the message. Of course Ohka lost the belt MONTHS prior back to Ohata, who helplessly tried to intervene and explain she was the champion.
There was also another funny section where Mizunami tried to “defend” Ohka and got herself into trouble with whatever she was saying (likely comments about Yumi’s age), with Misaki running over to cover her partner’s mouth to try to minimize the damage. Really well executed, where I understood what was happening even without understanding exactly what was said.
I saw the formation of Boss to Mammy last August but since Ohka was involved in the singles title picture during my holiday visit this was my first opportunity to seem them wrestle as a team. I really love the pairing and am thrilled they are now the reigning tag champions. This was before their push however, and with two of my favorite teams facing a thrown together team of two who honestly don’t usually impress me very much you can probably guess who came out on top. BOO! Jokes and personal preferences aside, this was an extremely good match and a lot of fun.
4. WAVE Tag Team Championship Match: Kuso Onna Night (Yuki Miyazaki & Nagisa Nozaki) (c) vs NEW-TRA (Takumi Iroha & Rin Kadokura)
I saw these two teams face for these same titles at Thanksgiving Wave, in honestly what was a much better match. I was excited for this rematch with reversed roles, but the approach robbed it of the impact it should have had. The team stripped of their championship due to injury to Iroha were facing a team they previously beat who claimed the titles in their absence. There should have been a sense of urgency to reclaim the belts on one side and a desperation to prove themselves on the other. Instead this was heavy on antics early and never reached the level of tension it needed, ending up rather perfunctory. It wasn’t a bad match, but considering the situation and what the teams are capable of it was unfortunately a bit disappointing.
5. Catch the WAVE Final: Ayako Hamada vs Rina Yamashita
When the Violence Block came down to a three way playoff match I had expected Arisa to take it and continue her feud with Misaki. Once Hamada took hit instead I fully expected her to win here. In retrospect Wave was quite lucky they made the other choice.
The match was a fantastic twenty minute battle, and since it seems to have been Hamada’s last it was a high note to finish on. I hope things improve for her and she’s able to put her demons behind her. The victory meant Rina won her second Catch the Wave in a row looked like an absolute world beater putting down the legend.
Afterwards awards were given for the whole tournament, including Misaki vs Shida getting best bout, Asuka getting a Technique award for competing with a broken ankle (O_o wow), Hiroe getting a special award for upsetting champion Misaki, etc.
Arisa walked out on her semifinalist medal, so Gami wore it instead in a picture with other semifinalists Nagisa and Misaki. Rina of course got the spotlight as the tourney winner, with runner up Hamada sitting in the corner to sell the grueling match and clapping for Rina’s victory from there.
6. Mika Iida Retirement Match: Rina Yamashita, Kaho Kobayashi & Natsu Sumire vs Mika Iida, Yumi Ohka & Hiroe Nagahama
After the ceremony it was time for the main event and Mika Iida’s last match. Rina wasn’t done, as she came right back out for this, visibly emotional the whole way. I’d seen her team here across the ring from Iida before in a 3-way trios from Thanksgiving Wave 2016. Natsu’s return for this saw her the biggest heel in building, getting massive heat and playing into it the whole way. Even her partners were joining in the crowd’s jeering at points and when she started flipping the audience off for their reaction her partner Rina flipped her off on the audience’s behalf. Amusing stuff. The outside brawling was a particular highlight for me, as my seat was wiped out (twice) by the woman of honor herself being whipped around ringside.
Iida was teaming with her opponent from the opener as well as one of Wave’s cornerstones. The match was the appropriately enjoyable spectacle, including “traditional” retirement spots like whipping all of the roster (and then some) into Iida in the corner with amusing variations like Rina interrupting Gami’s turn and allowing Iida to wipe out the boss instead. Special guests also got in on the action, including Ice Ribbon’s Tsukasa Fujimoto coming in to hit an Ace Crusher on Iida for a near fall at one point. Tsukka was one of the wrestlers who was supposed to face Iida in between her injury and this last show, so this was a nice way to work in a little of what that could have been. Just a ton of fun all around. Rina got a second huge honor in the same night as becoming the first ever back to back Catch the Wave winner, pinning Iida to end her career.
The gift presentation and final ceremonies were touched by humor, perhaps highlighted by Yuki Miyazaki and Sakura Hirota brawling around Iida as she stood in the center of the ring while her career highlights were read. Something noticeable was a sense of Iida really enjoying everything and having a joyous goodbye (despite of course it all being very emotional).
Strong show, and all in all everything came together in a way that really felt like the perfect farewell for Iida that reflected her unique, infectious charisma throughout. I’m sad to see her go but happy to have seen her wrestle during her time in the ring and wish her the best in whatever comes next.