May 4, 2016 in Tokyo, Japan
Been wanting to revisit and finally review this show for a long time, and while I was hoping to finish it up before the end of the year there’s something fitting about it being my first blog post to welcome the new year.
DVD opens with a nice year by year highlight package of the company’s history, which ends with Emi Sakura’s shocking return.
The landscape of joshi puroresu constantly changes, and I’ll be pointing out numerous wrestlers who have retired in the four and a half years since this show took place.
1) Maruko Nagasaki, Bete Noire & Hiroyo Matsumoto vs. Hiroe Nagahama, Ryo Mizunami & Makoto
Bete Noire later became Jayla Dark, and retired in 2019 (against Tsukasa Fujimoto at Pro-Wrestling Eve). Wave’s Hiroe (now HIRO’e) retired in August 2020. Maruko was the only Ice Ribbon roster member at the time in this match. She has since left the promotion but still wrestles for Itabashi Pro.
Clips are shown of Hiroe and Maruko’s rivalry, including Hiroe pinning Maruko to win the opening 6-woman tag at Ribbonmania 2015. At it’s core their rivalry was what this solid, somewhat standard Ice Ribbon opening multi-woman tag was all about. With the four veterans in the ring with them anchoring the match (including a particularly striking moment when Bette near took Makoto’s head off with a discus lariat), Hiroe and Maruko were able to build up to an extended exchange between the two of them at the end. After a bunch of close calls Maruko tied Hiroe up tight with a great rollup variation for the win.
2) 235, Miyako Matsumoto & Kasako Ueki vs. Isami Kodaka & Yuko Miyamoto vs. Gentaro & Takashi Sasaki vs. Papillon Akemi & Kazunari Murakami
The two Ice Ribbon wrestlers in this match are no longer with the company, as 235 retired in 2017 and Miyako left in 2019 to produce her own shows.
Miyako assembled her team by holding 235 at gunpoint. Really.
Falls apparently count either in the ring or on a mat setup on the stage.
This was a combination of all the wackiness expected from a Miyako match that didn’t really come together. Nearly from the get-go there was constantly action in three to five places at a time as all the various team broke off into pairs or groups to do battle. There were parts I found great, like the grappling going on on the stage and when they brawled up to the balcony, and those that didn’t hold interest for me personally like when the action ground to a halt for comedy and when Miyako started threatening people with firearms (done over the top or not it doesn’t work for me when she breaks out “real” weapons). The problem is there was no time to process the interesting parts because they constantly had to keep cutting to some of the other action. So this was somehow both chaotic and surprisingly flat. It’s the type of match I imagine was much more exciting live than it comes across on video.
Still it had its highlights, such as Miyako doing a balcony dive. Fun end too: Murakami interrupts Super Mama Mia and everyone else bails leaving him alone to destroy Miyako, but when he misses a kick and she tries to roll him up everyone comes back in to help and the dog pile gives Miyako a surprising pin.
3) Kurumi Hiiragi, Tequila Saya & Manami Toyota vs. Akane Fujita & The Lovely Butchers (Hamuko Hoshi & Mochi Miyagi)
Just two months into Saya’s career here, and this show is the first use of the “Tequila Saya” name and her first time in the Mexican flag themed colors that would become a trademark of all her outfits (before this she had generic rookie gear). Saya ended her in ring career a year ago and just left wrestling altogether a few weeks ago. Toyota retired at the end of 2017 after a 30 year career. This match was Kurumi’s return from being out for 10 months with injury. She was 16 at this point, already a six year pro, and had held multiple championships.
So their team was a really interesting trio of the returning overachiever, the legend, and the rookie, and it was reflected nicely in the match structure. Generally when Kurumi was in she was throwing herself at her opponents in great power showdowns. When Toyota was in the Ice Ribbon stalwarts were trying to prove they could go toe to toe with her. When Saya was in she was getting extensively worked over by her more experienced opponents, but defiantly getting her own shots in and showing great fortitude. Throw in a few lighter moments here and there (like when they convinced Toyota to try the Butchers’ poses) and it really worked. All six wrestlers looked good, and overall this was an excellent little gem of a match.
Down the stretch things got intense as Mochi and Kurumi battled, with Mochi eventually hitting a huge top rope leg drop for the win. Did NOT expect Kurumi to take the pin here. Again, great stuff all round.
4) Triangle Ribbon Title: Cherry (c) vs. Kyuri vs. Misaki Ohata
Cherry had pinned Kyuri to win the vacated championship (in a match that also included Makoto) after Neko Nitta retired as champion at Ribbonmania 2015. Kyuri was at a little under three years experience at this point, and determined to win that title.
Ohata, who had been wrestling in IR a lot around this time, was a high level threat and it was entirely possible she could walk out with the title over the highly competent but often comedic champion and the less experienced other challenger. She retired at the end of 2018.
There was a lot of cool use of triangle format, with some clever three person spots, reversals, etc. Ohata is an all time favorite of mine and had a couple of fantastic moments in this, including nailing both opponents at the same time with her seated body press against the ropes and a crazy spot where she German duplexed Cherry ONTO Kyuri. Cherry was generally opportunistic throughout, looking for ways to sneak out with her title intact, and Kyuri was fighting with everything she had to prove herself against the veterans.
Late in the match Cherry ducks a clothesline from Ohata and sends her to the ropes where Kyuri, who’s entering from outside, holds them open sending Ohata tumbling to the floor. Kyuri then immediately grabs a crucifix rollup on Cherry … to win the title before Misaki can get back in! Cherry kind of dropped into position for the finish for no reason after shoving Ohata, but it didn’t really detract from Kyuri’s big moment.
Having Misaki in this added a hard hitting element and made it even more of an impressive victory for the new champion. Happy to see Kyuri win her first title here and the match was quite good.
5) Maya Yukihi vs. Kyoko Kimura (Maya Trial Series)
Kyoko retired about eight months after this show. She is the mother of the greatly missed Hana Kimura, passed six months ago, and my thoughts are with Kyoko as she continues to fight against the injustices that led to Hana’s death.
Maya was about a year and a half into her career and this is the middle match of her trial series against a series of high profile, difficult opponents. Highlights are shown of her first three matches of the series against Toyota, Mayumi Ozaki, and Dynamite Kansai (Hiroyo Matsumoto, Maya’s Azure Revolution partner Risa Sera, and Nanae Takahashi would finish out the series after this).
The Ozaki match was particularly significant, as after the match she invited Maya to join her and Dark Snow was born. In fact Maya is in Dark Snow form here and accompanied by Mayumi Ozaki.
This was essentially an Oz Academy style match dropped in the middle of an Ice Ribbon show. Constant interference and weapons use in full view of the referee, with Maya starting the match out just wearing out Kyoko with the whip she brought, Ozaki just coming into the ring in the middle of the match to attack Kyoko, and so on. Honestly this type of stuff is everything I don’t like about how heels are generally booked / handled in Japan. There are no enforced rules and the faces hardly ever respond in kind so it’s just a bunch of lopsided battles and defacto handicap matches with no real reason why the opponents put up with all the nonsense. Also, being Maya’s home promotion and early on for the Dark Snow persona, she was vigorously cheered no matter what.
All that said, there were some nice elements to this match in particular. Kyoko, being a natural heel herself, DID respond in kind at least a little by throwing Maya around by the hair and tossing Ozaki’s chain right back out of the ring whenever the latter tried to toss it to Maya while in Kyoko’s half crab. The base action was good and Maya showed great fire, including a bit where she just wears Kyoko out with a long series of hard slaps.
Late in the match Maya mishit Ozaki, creating an opening for Kyoko to hit a palm strike followed by the choke bomb for 2. Immediate sleeper after that finishes Maya.
Overall this was a fine example of the style for those who like it, but it’s so not my thing.
6) Tsukushi vs. Meiko Satomura
Video package shows a flashback to Emi Sakura & Tsukushi winning the then vacant tag belts over Meiko & Sendai Sachiko in 2011. Nice bit of history to both as context going into this singles contest and in the overall theme of the show being a celebration of Ice Ribbonn’s anniversary.
Instead of locking up Meiko kicks Tsukushi in the head to immediately set the tone. I was only planning on doing full play by play for the top two matches, but screw it after that start we’re going full bore here as well.
Tsukushi tries to kick at Meiko’s legs but takes the worst of it as Meiko’s reach is longer and her counter kicks keep Tsukushi at a distance. Now a lockup happens and the two look like they’re putting every once of strength they have into it. Meiko slowly forces Tsukushi to back up into the ropes, but gives a clean break and they go back to center and lockup again.
Meiko transitions into a trip takedown. Tsukushi rolls through, but Meiko continues Tsukushi’s roll and holds on to the side headlock. Too close to the ropes though, and Tsukushi gets a foot over the bottom to break. Meiko tries to keep control of her opponent’s head as they stand up, but Tsukushi breaks free and defiantly slaps Meiko across the face. So Meiko kicks her to the mat, but Tsukushi pops back up and hits a dropkick.
Tsukushi tries a whip but Meiko has ahold of the top rope and is going NOWHERE. Tsukushi lays in one of her vicious forearms and tries again, but Meiko keeps hold of the rope, kicks Tsukushi back, then levels Tsukushi with a forearm of her own. Meiko whips Tsukushi to the ropes, but gets hit with a dropkick to the one on the rebound. Tsukushi jumps up for a hurricanrana, but Meiko shrugs her off and as Tsukushi lands in standing position Meiko nails her with another kick to the head for 2. Despite Tsukushi’s resistance Meiko turns her over into a crab, then transitions into an STF. Tsukushi scrapes her way towards the ropes with all Meiko’s weight on her but when she gets close Meiko floats into a front face lock, and pulls Tsukushi up. Scoop slam gets 2 and Meiko uses Tsukushi’s kickout momentum to apply a Fujiwara armbar. After a struggle Tsukushi inches close enough to get a foot on the bottom rope for a break. A pair of elbow drops gets 2 for Meiko.
Tsukushi floats over Meiko on a scoop slam attempt but Meiko blocks her ensuing forearm and uses an arm wringer to set up some hard kicks to the chest. Tsukushi catches the third though and a dragon screw leg whip gives her her first real advantage of the match. She ties up Meiko leg in the ropes in the corner and hits a kick and a dropkick to the leg, then backs up as Meiko falls into sitting position to hit the running dropkick in the corner. She drags Meiko out of the corner by the leg she’s been working over and covers for 2, keeping hold of the leg and transitioning into an ankle lock as Meiko kicks out.
Meiko rolls forward while still in the hold and uses her free leg to kick Tsukushi in the head several times to force a break, but Tsukushi uses the momentum from the last kick to bounce off the ropes and return the favor. Tsukushi up top and hits a missile dropkick, which knocks Meiko down and against the ropes for Tsukushi’s vicious seated dropkick.
Back to their feet, Meiko breaks a double chicken wing with a back kick and then European uppercuts Tsukushi down to the mat. Several hard kicks to the chest as Tsukushi tries to sit/stand up keep her down until Meiko decides to pick her up. Meiko whips her to the ropes and just runs her over off the rebound. After a quick check from the ref that Tsukushi can continue Meiko attempts another whip, which Tsukushi beautifully counters into a knee bar. Meiko however uses her height and strength advantage to stand up out of it and reverse into one of her own. Tsukushi again holds on long enough to claw her way to the ropes for a break. Nursing the leg, she doesn’t get up right away so Meiko kicks at her on the mat, which enrages Tsukushi who stands up and nails a forearm. Trade of Meiko kicks to the leg and Tsukushi forearms follows until Meiko nails several forearms of her own in a row to take control. Tsukushi flips out of backdrop suplex position, lands another hard forearm, and hits the ropes but Meiko LEVELS her with another high kick.
Meiko calls for the end but Tsukushi looks out on the mat so the ref backs her up and starts a count. Tsukushi gets up at 5 with a look of pure determination, but Meiko grabs the backdrop suplex for 2. Meiko kicks Tsukushi down several times again as she tries to get up, but Tsukushi just roars in defiance each time and finally gets up and rocks the legend with a flurry of forearms. Beautiful bridging tiger suplex gets 2.
Harukaze countered … into Meiko just throwing Tsukushi aside. Another European kicks Tsukushi down, but she slaps Meiko across the face again as she gets up. High kick is ducked, more forearms put Meiko off balance, and the Harukaze is completed this time for a close 2. Tsukushi locks Meiko’s arms behind her and seems to be going for a wrist clutch tiger suplex, but Meiko breaks free and there’s the pele. Meiko’s had enough and the Death Valley Driver finishes the upstart.
What a great, hard hitting match. It featured a ton of the type of reversals and trade offs I adore, visceral, hard strikes from both, and a real sense of intensity. This was all about Tsukushi looking to prove she could hang with the legend, and despite the loss she totally did.
7) Tsukasa Fujimoto & Arisa Nakajima vs. Emi Sakura & Nanae Takahashi
Yuuka was my favorite rising star in wrestling at the time, and I understand wanting to headline with the company’s top title, but still can’t shake the feeling that founder Emi Sakura returning to Ice Ribbon for this tag match really should have been the main event.
Big, dramatic intro video for this one all about Tsukka as the current director of Ice Ribbon and the shock of Sakura’s return at a dojo show to be revealed as Nanae’s partner for this match. Sakura had not returned to Ice Ribbon at all since her departure years prior and her creation of Gatoh Move.
Full entrances shown, which is unusual for these DVDs (likely due to music rights and/or time considerations), but very important for a match like this and I’m really glad they did. Seeing Sakura showered in streamers in an Ice Ribbon ring for their monumental 10th Anniversary was a surreal, important moment and had to be included.
Best Friends are draped in belts, as they were the reigning tag team champions of both Ice Ribbon and JWP at the time, and Arisa was JWP’s top singles champion as well. A number of Ice Ribbon wrestlers got onto the ring apron to hold the ropes open for them as them came down the isle, and in the shadows (the arena is dark except for a spotlight on the entering team) Nanae & Emi briefly chasing them off the apron can be made out. Arisa shoves her JWP title right in Nanae’s face during her introduction. Nana formed SEAdLINNNG a month after the show, and Arisa would leave JWP to join SEAdLINNNG to start 2017.
This is going to be insane.
No handshake, to the surprise of no one. Arisa and Nanae start, being extremely tentative about locking up but fiercely grappling for an advantage the second they do make contact. A lot of groundwork with a variety of attempted holds where they are constantly in motion with neither getting any advantage for long ends in a stalemate.
Wholesale changes bring in Tsukka and Sakura, and the crowd is both hyped and split. After circling they lockup for all of a half second before Sakura knees Tsukka in the ribs to break and Tsukka responds with an immediate forearm. Sakura dares her for more so she obliges, and once Sakura’s against the ropes Tsukka whips her to the far ones and nails a dropkick off the rebound. Hard kick, double sledge to the back, then snap mare set uo the seated back kick. Sakura pops right back up and slaps Tsukka across the face so hard Tsukka drops to her knees. Whip to the ropes and a dropkick by Sakura follow. Scoop slam attempt by Sakura reversed by Tsukka. Any time there’s the briefest pause or opening between moves one takes a quick swing or kick at the other. Tsukka hits a forearm and Sakura again dares her for more, but she slaps Sakura across the face instead. They trade HARD slaps until Sakura switches to a chop across the chest that levels Tsukka.
Tag brings in Nanae, who presses the advantage with a backdrop suplex. She applies a half crab and Tsukka struggles to the ropes to break. Shotgun dropkick from the middle turnbuckle gets 2. Tag back to Sakura who lays in some stomps. In a nice touch a shot of a conflicted Makoto at ringside is shown (Makoto was trained by Sakura in Ice Ribbon but was part of Reina and wrestled occasionally for both Ice and Gatoh by this time). Sakura throws Tsukka across the ring by her hair then lays in a series of chops in the corner. Single leg trip sets up the surfboard, and Nanae runs across the ring to prevent Arisa from saving as Sakura completes the hold. Sakura pulls all the way back for a little while, then releases the hold. More stomps to the head just anger Tsukka and she pops up with a forearm in between each one, but Sakura gets a scoop slam to stop that and maintain control. Cover gets 2 then Nanane is tagged backed in. Close up on Tsukka seems to show her with a bit of a bloody mouth.
Nanae boots mockingly Tsukka in the head a couple times. The third is caught and a forearm exchange ensues, with Nanae largely getting the better of it due to being fresher and larger. Tsukka ducks the last a hits the ropes for a hurricanrana attempt, but Nanae holds on just able Tsukka’s knees to turn it into a modified crab. Tsukka crawls towards the ropes to break. Nanae pulls her up and hits three hard clotheslines against the ropes, then whips her to the far side. But Tsukka nails a dropkick off the rebound, hits the seated kick to the back for good measure, and tags in Arisa to finally get a reprieve.
Arisa was already on the top turnbuckle when she was tagged, and shotgun missile dropkicks Nanae all the way back into her own corner where Sakura tags in. Arisa ducks the charge and hits Nanae with a knee strike in the corner then keeps pounding on her with forearms while Sakura shrugs behind Arisa in an amusing bit. Sakura pulls Arisa back out of the corner by her gear and goes for a backdrop suplex, but Arisa flips out, ducks Sakura’s elbow… and runs back to the corner to waylay Nanae with more forearms to the face. This is great. Sakura shrugs again but obligingly finally succeeds in pulling Arisa off Nanae. They double whip Arisa to the ropes, but she ducks their attack, shoves Nanae into Sakura, then nails Nanae with a German suplex. With Sakura & Nanae laid out against opposing ropes, Arisa runs back and forth between them hitting face wash kicks for a bit. She’s certainly paying them back for the extended beating Tsukka took in spades so far.
Nanae’s still prone against the ropes so Arisa knees her in the face a bunch. Nanae eventually catches one and elevates Arisa into a faceplan, which is followed by a Sakura summersault to halt Arisa’s rampage. Arisa staggers into the corner and Sakura runs from the opposite to hit her awesome corner crossbody. Knee to the face keeps Arisa in the corner and Nanae is tagged in for some revenge. She clotheslines Arisa in the corner then UNLOADS with over twenty punches to the head. Then Arisa drops and slumps against the bottom turnbuckle when Nanae finally pauses, so Nanae drops to her knees and hits another five. Arisa picked up by the hair and whipped to the far corner to eat another pair of running clotheslines then brought to the middle where the backdrop driver gets 2. That would be only the third cover of the match. Crazy.
Nanae hits the ropes, runs right into Arisa’s Cutie Special, and is dropped right on her head as she wasn’t rotated quite enough before hitting the mat. Arisa takes a needed reprieve against the ropes as the ref checks on Nanae, and it seems she’s ok to continue. Arisa goes to the topes and hits the doubelstomp for 2. She picks Nanae up, kneeing her in the head along the way, and is looking for a dragon suplex as Tsukka sprints across the ring to cut Sakura off. Nanae breaks the full nelson so Arisa spins her around and lays in a long flurry of forearms, but Nanae just slaps her across the face hard enough to drop her to her knees in response.
Sakura in and they hit a spinning side slam / elbow drop double team of Arisa for a close 2. Nanae grabs a waist lock and Sakura tries to hit Arisa, but Arisa ducks and the enzugiri hits Nanae instead. Tsukka cuts off Sakura as Arisa hit an impressive straightjacket German, but Sakura gets free just in time to save the fall at 2. Flying kick from Nanae counters a charge, but Arisa gets right back up and kicks Nanae in the head. Hard headbutt by Arisa countered in kind, then Nanae levels her with a clothesline. Both are down.
Arisa crawls to the corner and tags in Tsukka, who runs along the apron to a neutral corner, hits a missile dropkick just as Nanae stands to knock her into the far corner, and follows immediately with her running corner dropkick. Scoop slam by Nanae slows things for just a moment as Tsukka gets up and hits a forearm. Nanae hits one of her own, but Tsukka uses the momentum to go into Nanae’s corner to nail Sakura on the apron before coming back and hitting her next one on Nanae. Incredible. Then Tsukka does it again. Third time Sakura ducks the forearm and ties up Tsukka, but when Nanae charges Tsukka gets free and Nanae knocks Sakura off the apron. Arisa in out of nowhere with a dropkick to Nanae’s back. Arisa hits another German and Tsukka does her awesome floatover pin for 2. Tsukka calls for the end but Nanae’s up before she can even scale the ropes and meets her up there to hit a superplex on Tsukka. Sliding kick gets 2.
Tsukka fights off a face lock, hits a couple strikes and comes off the ropes for a Tsukka-chan Bomb (code red), but Nanae stands up to counter. Tsukka fights out of backdrop suplex position and tries again, but gets face planted as a counter this time. Arisa in to break up another face lock, and they whip Nanae to the corner and charge, but she comes out and levels both in succession with clotheslines. Nanae grabs backdrop suplex position again and finally hits the modified Blue Thunder Bomb for 2.
Sakura tagged in. She butterflies Tsukka’s arms and lifts, impressively holding Tsukka suspended for a bit and turning to all sides of the ring before completing the backbreaker. Big smile on Sakura’s face with Tsukka in some much trouble. She does another variation of the butterfly backbreaker and adds a stomp for good measure, but when she wasitlocks Tsukka the latter counters with her roll through into a kick to a chest. Tsukka looks winded and worn out but had no intention of tagging just yet and hits three hard kicks to the back and the rebounding soccer kick to the chest. Sakura defiantly kicks out before 1, so Tsukka simply hits it again, for 2. And AGAIN, prompting a save from Nanae at 2.
Tsukka calls for the end and picks Sakura up into position for the Venus Shoot, but Sakura follows her into the corner and counter with a powerbomb, then hits a middle turnbuckle Vaderbomb for 2. Tigerdriver countered with Tsukka landing on her feet and Sakura still dropping to the mat in perfect position for Tsukka to hit another chest kick. EIGHT more kicks to Sakura’s back with audible thuds. Tsukka lets Sakura get to her feet and seems to dare her to respond in kind, but after Sakura snap mares Tsukka into position Arisa comes in to grab her leg and block the kicks. Hard forearm knocks Sakura back down and Best Friends hit the tandem kick to the back and face. They go up on adjacent turnbuckles (on the long side O_o) and hit the double missile dropkick as Sakura stands. Close 2.
Venus Shoot… and Sakura CATCHES THE KICK on the way down and transitions into a half crab. Nanae holds Arisa back and Sakura drags Tsukka to the center, forcing Tsukka to fight for every inch as she claws to the ropes for a break. But Sakura’s not breaking, so Arisa gets free of Nanae and kicks Sakura in the head. She then hits the ropes to continue the assault but Sakura completely wipes her out with a super kick and goes back to Tsukka. She tells Nanae to get up on the ropes, then does a top rope hurricanrana on her own partner to send Nanae crashing into the prone Tsukka on the mat. Sakura calls for the end and goes up to the top again for a sweet moonsault that gets 2 when Arisa saves at the last possible second.
Nanae drops Arisa with a backdrop driver and she & Sakura hit stereo splashes from opposite top turnbuckles on Arisa & Tsukka respectively. Tsukka powers her shoulder up at 2.9 to keep the match alive. Tiger driver (sitout butterfly power bomb) finally connects, but Tsukka kicks out at 2.999. Sakura’s face looks more annoyed than shocked in a nice touch. Sakura tries to pick her up for another but Tsukka is deadweight. Tsukka tries to fight up from her knees as Sakura just absorbs the shots, then pulls her up into a backdrop driver for another super close 2. Sakura signals for the 450, but Tsukka counters with a variation of the Venus Shoot with Sakura on the top turnbuckle and Arisa sprints in to bring Sakura down with a gut wrench superplex. Tsukkadora completed and Sakura could not have kicked out any closer to it being over. Strike combination stuns Sakura and the Tsukka-chan Bomb… DOESN’T finish as Nanae flies in out of nowhere to break up the pin. Totally bought that as the finish (as did the crowd) as it was clear Sakura wasn’t so much as twitching and wouldn’t be kicking out.
Nane forearms Arisa a bit and hits the ropes, but Arisa’s right behind her and knocks her right through the ropes as she hits them. Arisa follows her out and it’s back down to the legal participants. Sakura catches Tsukka off the ropes with a dropkick to the knee to put her into potion for La Magistral but Tsukka rolls out of it and hits an enzugiri. Venus Shoot connects and Sakura is out cold in the middle of the ring. Tsukka covers … FOR 3 AND THE WIN. Tsukka’s crying with emotion and is swarmed by members of the Ice roster in congratulations. Camera cuts just as the ring bell is stricken a few times, indicating somewhere off screen Arisa and Nanae must still be going at it.
Cuts to just a little bit later to show Sakura leaving with the Gatoh Move seconds (Riho, Sayaka Obihiro, Kotori, and Mitsuru Konno). Tsukka has the microphone and cuts an emotional promo to wrap up the clash of Ice Ribbon’s past and present.
As mentioned Sakura left with her compatriots so the post match backstage interview with her “team” is just Nanae.
Simply incredible. Seek this out.
This was everything one could want from this match and more, but it wasn’t the end of the story. More on that after the main event.
8) Ice Cross Infinity Title Match: Risa Sera (c) vs Yuuka
Yuuka was a standout and really felt like the future of the company at the time. Highlight package shows her pinning Risa in a tag match leading up to this, as well as her training method of attaching a drawing of Risa to her punching bag. Another interesting thing shown is that when Emi Sakura made her surprise visit to the Ice Ribbon dojo as referred to above, Yuuka made to hold the ropes for her to enter the ring (before being told off by Tsukka).
Yuuka’s just staring a hole through the champ at every opportunity, even turning her head to keep looking at Risa as she walks around the ring for her intro. They do shake hands before the start, but Yuuka holds on extra long while staring His right in the eyes.
Bell rings and Yuuka dashes right at Risa, ducks under, and grabs her School Girl (120% schoolboy rollup – continuing to roll through a schoolboy rollup to end up bridging over the opponent’s legs for added leverage) for a close 2. So smart to start this off fast when having to follow the war that happened in the semi-main, and Yuuka immediately going for the move she’s pinned Risa with before puts the champ on the defensive and makes for a great underlying story for the match.
Yuuka does a matrix evasion of a Risa right (to the crowd’s delight) then pops back up with a forearm and tries the schoolboy again, but Risa twists into a pin of her own for 2.
Brief stalemate staredown then they start laying into each other with forearms. Yuuka stops that by grabbing Risa’s hair but the champ responds in kind and throws Yuuka across the ring by her hair then chokes her against the bottom turnbuckle. Scoop slam sets up the crab and the champ looks pleased to be in control. She grabs Yuuka arms and goes into her hanging crab, bouncing Yuuka’s head off the mat as she shakes Yuuka up and down.
Risa drops her out of the hold hard after a few moments and a double knee drop to the back gets 2. Running knee drop misses and Yuuka dropkicks Risa to the back and right out of the ring. Yuuka up to the top and hits a nice flying crossbody to Risa on the floor. Yuuka rolls her back in, goes back to the top, and hits another flying crossbody (inside the ring this time) for 2. Heavy forearm exchange leads to Risa hitting several in a row and then hitting the ropes, but Yuuka follows her in for one against the ropes. She then rebounds off the far ropes and knocks Risa down with a running one to set up her awesome Angel Thunder (diving “forearm drop”) on a prone Risa for 2.
Risa blocks when Yuuka tries to lift her, so Yuuka lands another forearm and hits the ropes. But Risa drop toeholds her and follows up with the upper leg hold crab. The torque on Yuuka looks vicious. She fights into better position then crawls to the ropes to break. Risa drags her into position and hits a double knee drop from the second turnbuckle for 2. Up into fireman’s carry but Yuuka struggles back down out of it. Forearm by Risa sends her into the corner, but when Risa tries to whip her out of it Yuuka reverses and lands another forearm. Tornado DDT follows then Yuuka finally completes the Angel’s Trumpet Suplex Hold (crossed-legged fisherman’s suplex), but it only gets 2.
Yuuka up top and nails a beautiful top rope Angel Thunder, and Risa just barely survives by getting her shoulder up by centimeters and her hand in the way of the ref’s coming down.
Risa’s essentially deadweight in kneeling position as Yuuka tries to pull her up so the challenger smiles briefly and kicks her in the head and chest until she stands up, at which point Yuuka slaps her across the face. Risa with a quick smirk of her own, responds in kind, then just unloads on the back of Yuuka’s head with elbows / forearms. Falcon’s Arrow gets 2.
Risa calls for the end and goes up to the top turnbuckle, but Yuuka’s to her feet and meets the champ up there to hit a top rope hurricanrana. She follows up with a crossed legged bridging backdrop suplex for 2. For the first time in the match Yuuka’s looking a little frustrated and disbelieving instead of determined and laser focused. Hard forearm to Risa, then she hits the ropes… but charges right into Ayers Rock.
However Yuuka kicks out at 1 (!) and gets up to swing at Risa. Risa tries to counter into the Sera Rhythm Buster (her swing around side slam), but Yuuka counters into a rollup for 2, which Risa counters for 2, which Yuuka counters for 2. Love that sequence, with each successive count being a closer call.
Risa kicks at Yuuka then whips her into the corner for the running elbow, trip, then running knees combo. Back to the middle and the Sera Rhythm Buster gets 2. Double knees from the top miss as Yuuka moves and the challenger applies a bridging backslide for another close 2. They both hit the ropes and Yuuka goes into the School Girl again for 2. She swings at Risa who counters into a full nelson, but Yuuka gets free and does a backslide into the School Girl as she’s trying and combining every rollup variation she can think of to try to keep Risa down. The champion gets a shoulder up in the nick of time.
Yuuka hits the ropes but runs into a right hand and Risa plants her with Ayres Rock II (sitout fireman’s carry slam). Bit shocked Yuuka kicks out. Spinning power bomb by Risa… also gets 2, and the crowd is very audibly, appreciatively shocked at Yuuka surviving that. Double diving knees from the top rope make the third finisher, and that’s finally enough for Risa to keep Yuuka down and retain her title.
This was great. Intense, quick paced, and incredibly well worked. It was exactly the right type of match to follow the huge semi-main if anything had to, and all the respect in the world to Risa and Yuuka to finishing such a monumental show on such a high note.
As I mentioned earlier it seemed like Yuuka was going to be a big part of the future of the company, and this performance seemed to further solidify that. As it turns out, she’d only have about 15 matches after this. She took a hiatus in July 2016 which she never returned to the ring from, and officially retired in 2019.
In the weeks following this event, Tsukka expressed a desire to visit Ichigaya Chocolate Square in the same way Sakura had shown up at the Ice Ribbon dojo. Risa Sera said she wanted to come too, but Sakura responded that Risa was not welcome but Tsukka could bring Yuuka because the later showed respect when Sakura was at the dojo. During that appearance Tsukka made a challenge for another match, which Sakura agreed to under the condition it would be the last Gatoh Move vs Ice Ribbon encounter. Thus far it has been, with the match on this show and the followup being the only two times the companies have crossed paths in the ring.
The match would take place at Riho’s 10th Anniversary event on June 22, 2016 at Korakuen Hall (a little under two months after this event). It was Emi Sakura and a young Gatoh Move wrestler with similar experience level as Yuuka, Kotori, against Tsukka & Yuuka. I really like the fact that two young yet already high level wrestlers were chosen as the partners in general, let alone how awesome the specific two chosen were in particular. The match was another intense, exciting encounter. As part of Emi Sakura’s 25th Anniversary festivities this past August, the match was included in a watch party of Sakura matches on Gatoh Move’s YouTube channel. It is still available to watch and highly recommended.
Side note: Like Yuuka, Kotori was another excellent rising star that retired a bit early, and ended her career at the end of 2017.
Ok, so if you’ve stuck with me through to the end of this it really should be no surprise that I think this show was fantastic, particularly the last three matches. It’s both significant for a variety of reasons and just plain great as a wrestling show in its own right and is well worth making a point to see for not only Ice Ribbon (and/or Gatoh Move) fans but anyone who enjoys Joshi Pro-wrestling.