April 18, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan
Another special no audience show broadcasted from the Ice Ribbon Dojo for free on YouTube in addition to Ice Ribbon’s NicoNico channel.
Tequila Saya and Ai Hara were hosting and commentating, and in a really great move for accessibility Yappy and Thekla were helping out with English translation for some of the pre-match comments, etc.
Banny Oikawa became referee for all matches after her planned match with Suzu Suzuki was cancelled due to Suzu sustaining an injury during training. That match was actually a change itself which came about after trainee Ishikawa’s exhibition match with Suzu was cancelled due to the former being sick during the week. Best wishes for a fast recovery for both Suzu and Ishikawa.
The prematch comments mention this so I will here as well as I don’t want to gloss over it by omission – Yappy’s grandmother recently passed away due to Covid-19 and she wrestled on these shows with the memory of her grandmother who always supported her in mind. My heart goes out to Yappy, I’m glad that returning to the ring is helping her a bit in this tough time, and I hope she does whatever she needs to take care of herself.
1) Tsukushi vs Yappy
As I remarked during volume 1035, the energy for these shows is really impressive. The wrestlers are vocal during their matches as are the rest from the outside cheering, giving a similar atmosphere and feeling to a regular dojo show. Quite cool and impressive under the circumstances.
Really good match to start things off. Tsukushi is quite excellent at bringing the best out of wrestlers with less experience, and Yappy’s improving and looking more comfortable and confident each time out. The veteran eventually prevailed with La Magistral.
Leading into the next match it was cool to get a translation of some of the explanation for Maya’s turn and joining Rebel x Enemy, with her being frustrated with a lack of urgency on the part of her fellow Ice Ribbon roster members. Uno’s judo background gets highlighted in respect to her group Joint Army of wrestlers who feature a style focused on joint manipulation. They (along with Thekla) are partners for the next contest.
2) Frank Sisters (Kurumi Hiiragi, Mochi Miyagi, & Akane Fujita) vs Maya Yukihi, Thekla, & Uno Matsuya
Nice to see Mochi officially back from an achilles tendon injury.
There were a lot of little details worked into the larger flow of the match that made this particularly fun. I loved the variety of creative triple teams from the Frank Sisters, and was cringing at Akane’s brutal overhand chops during a late match exchange.
Nice touches from the other team as well, ranging from Thekla trying to beg off by invoking social distancing, Uno tagging herself in at a key moment underscoring both her self-focused ambitions as well as Maya’s slight estrangement from her team given her new attitude, etc.
Fast paced, hard hitting 6-woman tag throughout that ended with Kurumi absolutely spiking Uno with a cradle tombstone for the pin.
3) 2 out of 3 Falls: Tsukasa Fujimoto vs Risa Sera
The main event was set up last show as the two battled after the time limit expired in their tag team match and a frustrated Tsukka snapmared Risa off the far ring apron.
Each fall will have a separate stipulation. They play rock-paper scissors to determine who will draw the one for the first fall. After two ties Risa wins and draws:
1st Fall: 4 Count Outside the Ring
Note that Ice Ribbon matches are normally no countout, but here a wrestler can win if their opponent fails to get back in the ring before the referee reaches a count of 4 (in addition to normal possible pinfall/submission victory conditions).
Tsukka ties Risa up early for dropkick in ropes and sent her outside to illustrate the stipulation, as Risa dove back in at the count of 3.
Risa was using her mini-cam for “Sera’s eyes” footage, so Tsukka grabbed one of the outside photographers’ cameras and attacked Risa with it while taking pictures as Yappy wondered if they should be involving such expensive equipment and if IR’s budget could handle it. This was done well and as such was pretty great.
A bit of fighting over the top rope to the apron and trying to avoid falling to floor like they were in a battle royal provided both nice story elements and action.
Tsukka’s was eventually able to get into Ace Crusher position on the far apron and snapmare Risa to the floor to win the first fall by 4-count. Nice play off of the aftermath of last show’s main event that set this match up.
Winner got to draw the next stipulation. Tsukka pulled:
2nd Fall: 18 Revolutions
The stipulations do not carry over, so back to the normal no countout rule. This fall could be decided by the usual pinfall or submission means or by performing 18 consecutive revolutions with any appropriate spinning move.
Risa immediately realized this could favor her and called for the giant swing. Tsukka fought her off persistently and later gets and holds on to a rolling cradle for 17 rotations in a great sequence as Tsukka gradually lost momentum and energy as she did more and more turns. She couldn’t quite get Risa over for the last one, and the fall continued.
They were both quite dizzy kind of stumbled around each other as Yappy ponders it being the creation of a new Ice Ribbon dance. Her little additions to commentary were really fun.
Eventually Risa managed to get the giant swing going and managed the full 18 times around to win the second fall and tie things up.
3rd Fall: Double Knee
For the final fall some sort of double knee drop must proceed pin attempts. These moves are among Risa’s trademark offense, so she again presumably has the advantage.
After shaking off the remaining dizziness Risa started quick and trapped Tsukka in the corner for the running double knees, but after that it was all Tsukka for a while as she turned the tables and proceeded to do a long sequence of running double knees off the ropes to a prone Risa. I like the urgency early on and the way they embraced the stipulation and just kept going for the important move.
Just a bit in they fell out of sight as Risa hit an air raid crash off the apron on the far side of the ring to payback Tsukka a bit for how last week and the first fall ended. Everything went eerily quiet as commentary reminded viewers there are no mats on that side of the ring and speculated on Tsukka’s well being …
… and then one of the seconds started singing Star Wars themes while someone wearing Sera’s Yoda mask and robe jumped into the ring joined shortly thereafter by someone wearing a hoodie and a mask that says “Corona” (in katakana). Apparently their appearance was enough to make the match underway a draw and turn it into a tag match. Can’t say I was pleased.
At a guess it looked like Yoda was played by Uno and Corona by Kurumi.
A little back and forth and then the team of Tsukka and the person who drove her headfirst into the concrete floor minutes ago to hushed silence dispatched of Corona pretty easily with consecutive diving double knees from the top.
Probably won’t surprise anyone that the ending segment wasn’t to my tastes. I like my comedy wrestling more integrated and less of the type that grinds everything to a screeching halt, and the jarring nature, uncomfortable drama, and so-so payoff of how this was all done pretty much sent the match off the rails for me (although I can totally understand if other viewers found this fun/satisfying).
So honestly it was a flat end that dragged what was shaping up to be among the most engaging dojo shows I’ve seen down a touch, but the match before the nonsense was extremely interesting and well executed. Also this sidestepped the need for putting one of them over the other and if it was the price to pay for having the match at all so be it.
Post show Tsukka brings out the Internet Wrestling 19 title and apparently announces a tournament for it (I’m unclear of the details as “tournament” is the only word I caught). Reintroducing a title from numerous years ago would have been a good spot to let Yappy translate, particularly as she was standing right there. Hopefully they’ll get better used to pausing for and integrating the translation in the future, although again it’s awesome and appreciated that they are doing it at all.
Like with volume 1035 Ice Ribbon again achieved something special in the presentation under difficult circumstances as this really felt like a normal dojo show in atmosphere. The effort and energy throughout was once again top notch and overall this was an extremely strong and enjoyable show.
Note: These shows are only available for free on YouTube for a short period, but they’re then replaced with the enhanced, multi-camera version through the first match. The remainder will presumably be available later with a subscription to their Nico Nico Channel.