Here I’d like to share a couple more of Juri H Chinchilla’s pieces, then spotlight a new artist to these articles who’s a bit of an awesomely unusual case.
As I’vementionedoften, I’ve been a fan of Juri’s amazing art for several years, and her work never ceases to amaze me.
Her Personal Sketch Cards have been a great opportunity to request particular subjects and design elements, and she’s done an amazing job with depictions of subjects both priorly familiar and not.
Sareee is a truly incredible wrestler who has recently signed with WWE and was set to come stateside in February (before the pandemic necessitated her remaining in Japan for now). She’s a nine year veteran who trained and wrestled with Ring of Honor’s Jenny Rose (a ten year veteran herself) under the Diana promotion in Japan early on in both of their careers. Last December Jenny traveled back to Japan to appear on Sareee’s Special Night, an excellent show produced by Sareee herself.
Juri’s rendition of the pair of best friends is stunning, highlighted by a wonderful metallic background that makes the image of subjects themselves really pop.
Also pictured is Juri’s representation of the recently retiredTequila Saya from Ice Ribbon, showing off Saya’s great entrance gear including a gun shaped tequila bottle and bandolier of shot glasses against a colorful background befitting the Gran Maestro de Tequila.
The next artist doesn’t just make art about wrestling on paper: as a wrestler herself she makes a different type of art in the ring as well.
Yappy wrestles for a women’s wrestling company in Japan named Ice Ribbon and is a little over a year into her career. She has a naturally likable presence that makes her easy to cheer for, is energetic and exciting in her matches, and is always pushing to improve and learn in these early stages of her wrestling journey. She’s heavily involved in Ice Ribbon’s interactions with foreign fans and has done a lot to reach out to and help them with things like English updates and event information and overseas purchase of Ice Ribbon merchandise.
After her debut Yappy’s personal fan art also started to gain a wider audience, and it really started to turn heads with her incredible piece depicting Ice Ribbon’s ace Tsukasa Fujimoto.
Yappy’s full illustrations are gorgeous. They feature vibrant colors, fantastic little touches and details, and often a real, dynamic sense of motion. They also capture the personalities of the subjects in a really great way.
Yappy also did a striking Tequila Saya and an energetic depiction of Ice Ribbon’s resident bratty prodigy (and I mean that in the best way possible), Tsukushi. Amid well deserved rising fan interest in her creations, these three pieces were the initial offerings via Ice Ribbon’s online shop as both the originals and limited edition prints.
Her second batch (of course again all of Ice Ribbon wrestlers) featured reigning Ice Cross Infinity Champion Maya Yukihi, Maya’s frequent Azure Revolution tag partner (and former champion herself) Risa Sera, and two of Ice Ribbon’s rookie rising stars in Suzu Suzuki and Asahi, with more likely to come. Looking forward to it. Again the way the individual wrestlers’ personalities, gimmicks, and styles are incorporated into the themes of Yappy’s art is exceptional.
Another really wonderful thing about Yappy’s art is the different styles she experiments with. She’s done some smaller pieces as thank you’s for the live signing streams including things like fun quick sketches and really cute chibi style headshots. Her work always puts a smile on my face and I hope she continues to create for a long time to come.
More information about both Yappy’s art and her wrestling can be found on Twitter.
Thanks again to both of these artists for their impressive creations.
The future for P’s Party (“short” for Peace Party), Ice Ribbon’s related promotion run by Tequila Saya focusing on newer wrestlers, was uncertain when Saya retired from in-ring competition at the end of 2019.
However Saya stayed involved with Ice Ribbon in a commentary capacity, and after five months in limbo P’s Party would return in May as a weekly show (with of course no live audience at the time). P’s Party is a lot of fun and I was thrilled to see it come back.
Ps Party is broadcast on Ice Ribbon’s Nico Nico channel. During June there was a small additional ppv price for the live viewings, but all P’s Party shows go up as part of the subscription service as replays. Now with small audiences starting to be allowed again, P’s Party is back to a two week schedule and fully included in the channel subscription even for live viewing.
I’ve been especially thrilled to see Diana’s Madeline and Haruka Umesaki as regulars since the restart (although Haruka isn’t on this show), along with other guests as well as of course Ice Ribbon’s own rookies (and a great selection of veterans sprinkled in for them to work with and learn from).
There was a particularly special guest this time around: Wave’s HIRO’e is appearing on both of this month’s P’s Party shows as she approaches her retirement.
Saya herself is on commentary.
Side note: During the no audience time period Ice Ribbon put in new lights in the dojo. They’re great for visibility (and likely great for Shutter Ribbon events as well), although do take just a little getting used to as brighter lights mean the shadows of the ropes and wrestlers are more noticeable and the mat’s a bit bright itself (the logos on the back part of the mat are pretty much completely washed out).
P’s Party 48
1) Tsukushi vs Honori Hana
Honori is a first year rookie from SEAdLINNNG, and looked good in her debut against SEAdLINNNG champion Arisa Nakajima on 12/23/19 (the only match I’ve seen in her in previously).
A little awkward at first, but they got on the same page quick. Honori impressively hits pretty much as hard as Tsukushi (who’s known for vicious shots) during an early forearm exchange.
Emphatic win for Tsukushi with a small flurry of offense for Honori in the middle. Good for what it was, and it was nice to see Honori in P’s Party. I hope she comes back.
Tsukushi’s issues with referee Mio continued as she was being a brat and antagonizing Mio (including tieing her up with Honori for the rope dropkick, although that backfired when Mio couldn’t count her subsequent cover). After the match Mio calls Tsukushi back to the ring and Yappy (and later Totoro) come out to seemingly continue to story of trying to get Tsukushi to respect the rules. Lost cause.
2) Uno Matsuya & Yappy vs Thekla & Satsuki Totoro
Preview of Uno’s upcoming shot at Thekla’s WUW World Championess title this Sunday at “Ice Ribbon in 176BOX” with them on opposing sides here.
Solid tag match that did a good job of building tension for Sunday, with strong support from Totoro and Yappy. I really like how Yappy is turning her facelock spin into a facebuster at the end now. Looks vicious.
Thelka & Totoro were in firm control late, but Uno reverses a fireman’s carry into a cross armbreaker and makes Totoro submit for the win. Nice establishment of that hold as a real threat going into Uno’s title match.
Partners Banny & Madeline faced in a singles match at P’s Party 44. They’ll make an amusing team. As with that match when she stole it for some posing, Madeline is still fascinated by Banny’s tail here.
Rina’s been a P’s Party regular since early on and it’s been great to see her develop. She’s actually the most senior wrestler in this match experience-wise at just over two years.
Don’t know if this is still a minority opinion, but I greatly prefer Suzu’s new gimmick and style to the Chirin Chirin days. She looked great here, and her sections against Madeline were a treat. Also, late in the match Suzu avoided a high kick from Banny with the smoothest matrix evasion I’ve seen.
Banny’s still a bit awkward with ring positioning , etc at times, but nothing too bad or too often, the effort is always there, and she’s continually improving bit by bit. Mid-match she hit a beautiful through-the-legs trip into a bridging pinfall attempt.
Suzu & Rina taunted their opponents heavily mid-match with the appropriation of Madeline’s batons for both aid in applying simultaneous camel clutches and a bit of showboating.
Rina pinned Banny after turning what looked like an attempted armbar taken down into a rollup. Banny hit hard, and I’m glad she was up and seemed to be moving ok afterwards. Fun match.
4) Nao Ishikawa vs HIRO’e
Nao debuted during the no audience period at Ice Ribbon 1039 on May 2 in the main event teaming with Suzu against reigning International Ribbon Tag Title holders the Dropkickers (Tsukasa Fujimoto & Tsukushi), and has looked really sharp. She’s been in several main events of both Ice Ribbon dojo shows and P’s Party events in her short two month career so far, and gets a big spotlight here in a singles match in the main event as one of HIRO’e’s final opponents.
Nice, energetic match. Nao’s really good at using the basics to build her end of the match and push her skills and repertoire a bit more each time out. Cool to get a few more opportunities to see HIRO’e before she the end of her career too.
Nao puts up a good fight, but HIRO’e eventually wins with a backdrop suplex.
This was a straightforward, enjoyable show with something different in each match and a bunch of interesting pairings. Nothing earth-shattering, but that’s not the point of P’s Party in the first place. Definitely recommend checking out this and the P’s Party back catalogue in general.
Suzu Suzuki is acting as referee, with Hifumi behind the camera.
In an impromptu scuffle last month during cleaning, Broom nearly pinned Tsukka after countering her trademark kicks. The incident isn’t mentioned here, but that’s where it all began.
We get video highlights of subsequent sneak attacks by Broom baiting Tsukka into this grudge match.
Tsukasa Fujimoto vs Broom
Lockup to start. Tsukka struggles and is forced back towards the ropes, but reverses at the last second to push Broom up against them. No clean break as Tsukka kicks Broom then hits a “hair”-mare into the far corner and chokes Broom against the bottom turnbuckle.
Back to center and Tsukka converts a scoop slam into a power slam for 2, then works some crossfaces from Camel Clutch position. Broom holds on and does not give up. Tsukka calls for a brainbuster, but Broom reverses into a suplex on Tsukka and gets 2. Chinlock on Tsukka follows. She tries to break by biting the broomstick, but referee Suzu’s aggressive count breaks that right up and Tsukka remains in the hold. She struggles to the ropes for the break.
Back in the center of the ring they trade “head”-butts and forearms respectively, and Tsukka wins the exchange with a surprise enzuigiri that sends Broom right out of the ring. Tsukka follows up with a doublestomp off the apron, then rolls Broom back in and hits another from the top rope for 2.
All Tsukka at this point, but her flurry of kicks is countered with the same rollup Broom almost pinned Tsukka to set this whole rivalry off for a close 2. Tsukka lays in some more forearms and tosses Broom into the air but gets caught coming off the ropes with a crossbody and just barely kicks out to deny Broom the upset win.
The veteran is getting tired of the upstart cleaning implement, and whips Broom into the corner to hit a nice pair of dropkicks (one “standing,” one “seated”). World’s Strongest Slam only gets 2, but that kickout is all Broom has left and Tsukka nails a beautiful Venus Shoot for the 3 count and the victory. That broom will know better than to bother Ice Ribbon’s ace again.
Ok so this was ridiculous (as was my choice to do full play-by-play), but that was the point. One of the best wrestlers in the world today took the old “so good they could get a decent match out of a broomstick” cliche as literally as possible to produce five minutes of absolute absurdity that was just plain fun. The key of course is they played it totally straight within the confines of the silly premise, and while I certainly don’t need to see Broom become an Ice Ribbon regular this was a tremendously amusing.
Extremely well done too. Tsukka managed pretty long stretches in this, with only a few cuts (honestly I’m surprised there weren’t a lot more) that were noticeable if looking for them but pretty smooth overall. She only needed outside help with a single spot too, and the camera angle completely obscured Suzu holding Broom up for the Venus Shoot (the needed angle also made the move itself look particularly awesome).
Truly a match for the ages. Congratulations to Tsukka on her epic victory.
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 Yappy are commentating. They made a great team throughout and the English explanations were much appreciated. Banny Oikawa refereed all the matches.
The IW19 Title Tournament starts here. The field has been announced but which matches happen on each show will be revealed day of.
A Block features participants in IW19’s previous incarnation:
Tsukasa Fujimoto vs Hamuko Hoshi Risa Sera vs Kurumi Hiiragi Tsukushi vs Mochi Miyagi
B Block features newcomers to IW19:
Satsuki Totoro vs Thekla Maya Yukihi vs Uno Matsuya Suzu Suzuki vs Akane Fujita
All tournament matches have 19 minute time limits and a 19 count outside the ring. First round singles matches and the block semi-final triangle matches also have over-the-top eliminations in play (the final between block winners will not). In the case of a time limit draw internet fan voting via the live broadcast on Nico will determine the winners.
This show will feature one match from each block and a non-tournament tag team contest between them.
Side note: Ice Ribbon’s insisting that it’s “I-W juu-ku”, and is not to be referred to as “I-W nineteen” (yes, English letters pronounced as normal but insisting on Japanese pronunciation of the numbers). I imagine this is for consistency sake but it’s honestly rather awkward.
1) IW19 Tournament B Block: Satsuki Totoro vs Thelka
As I remarked about the previousshows, the energy for these is really impressive. Totoro in particular is quite loud in her vocals and it helps elevate the atmosphere in the absence of a crowd.
Both participants here are right around 3 years experience, and quite good for their level. This was a solid, mostly smooth start for the tournament with Totoro controlling with her size and power and Thekla countering as she could with speed and bursts of unique offense. Thekla makes a great addition to the roster and looked competitive even in defeat as Totoro’s onslaught proved too much to endure.
Totoro’s tope rope senton sends her on to the Block B semi-final.
2) Tsukasa Fujimoto & Risa Sera vs Hamuko Hoshi & Uno Matsuya
A little bit of a preview for Block A, as tournament opponents Tsukka and Hammy are on opposite sides of this tag match. Really fun, energetic contest. Ice Ribbon has done a particularly good job of pacing the matches on these internet shows to really draw in the virtual viewers and keep them engaged. Everyone’s putting in top notch effort and it shows.
Towards the end Uno gets some nice nearfalls on Tsukka to shine a bit before eventually being defeated with the Venus Shoot.
3) IW19 Tournament A Block: Tsukushi vs Mochi Miyagi
It’s mentioned that Tsukushi is coming up on her ten year anniversary in wrestling. Nice to be back to acknowledging her original debut.
So like the opener this is a match between wrestlers of similar experience levels. Although Tsukushi is the more decorated wrestler in terms of title runs, etc including being a former IW19 champion. Mochi is just returned from an injury absence and looking fully back to normal.
There’s a bit of brawling outside ring to illustrate the 19 count (which is unusual as Ice Ribbon matches are generally no-countout). Tsukushi sends Mochi at the wall with such force Mochi’s foot goes right through it when she blocks herself from crashing into it.
A couple of in-ring highlights saw Mochi dropping Tsukushi across the top rope from torture rack position in a vicious looking moment, and Tsukushi absolutely wiping Mochi out with thing like her against the ropes dropkick and corner hanging doublestomp. The nearfalls at the end had a real sense of urgency, including Mochi kicking out of the Denden Mushi and countering a Harukaze attempt for 2.999.
One of the best singles matches I’ve seen from Mochi and an excellent main event to cap off the first IW19 tournament show. Tsukushi wins with a second Harukaze to advance.
Tsukushi has no intention of waiting to be crowned champion, and shows off a cardboard version of the belt she’s sure she’ll be wearing soon.
Another fantastic show from Ice Ribbon under the current difficult circumstances. The consistency of these shows and everything that goes into them is impressive and greatly appreciated.
If anyone is interested in / able to support the production of these shows (which with no crowd have no income from ticket sales) YouTube superchat and Nico Nico chat present system are available during the live streams, and Ice Ribbon has a Nico Nico subscription channel with a large library of older shows.
Note: The replays of the live stream of 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 with the full show available via subscription to their Nico Nico Channel. There have been some complaints about the frame rate during the live broadcasts (although it hasn’t been that bad for me personally) but to my knowledge the later uploaded versions have no such issues.
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.
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 Chiharu are hosting and commentating. Mio is referee.
Nice video production with profile cards displayed featuring the participants for each match and a short Ice Ribbon video played before of each match (as a buffer to separate things and in place of entrances). This is being approached and produced like any of their big shows, which is not only a nice touch but also impressive given the circumstances.
1) Maika vs Totoro
Lots of shouting from Maika and Totoro and cheering from the seconds around the ring, which really helps the energy for a no audience show.
I enjoy this pairing and this was a great little match. Both wrestlers have impressive power, making this a high impact affair.
Maika getting Totoro up in the torture rack late match was crazy impressive. She eventually transfers that into a slam and finishes with the senton from the middle rope in the corner.
Saya and Chiharu briefly interview both participants after the matches. This was another well done touch throughout the show, even if I couldn’t understand much outside of some comments in English from Yappy and Thekla.
2) Akane Fujita vs Thekla
The video, which was fine for the opening match, goes out of focus for this one. They can’t get it to refocus without going in close, so it alternates between being zoomed in just a little too much and being out of focus as they kept zooming in and out trying to fix it.
Hard to judge in full with the technical issues as I personally couldn’t really watched the blurred image for very long at a time, but this seemed solid with just a tiny bit of awkwardness here and there. Looking forward to seeing Thekla (who I was previously unfamiliar with) wrestle again sometime when I can better see.
Of note: There was a second camera being operated from the balcony, so this should not be an issue on the DVD or when eventually released in edited for on Ice Ribbon’s NicoNico channel.
3) Dropkickers (Tsukasa Fujimoto & Tsukushi) vs. Mochi Miyagi & Risa Sera
Dropkickers are the reigning International Ribbon Tag Team Champions. This is non-title.
They fixed the camera between matches. Still not perfect on wide shots, but much better than it was, being pretty crisp on medium to close shots and totally watchable. Still a lot of zooming in and out as they test the best distance though.
Early on all the camera problems are momentarily and amusingly solved as they fight to the outside and everything becomes a closeup. Really great energy from everyone as they brawl around.
Tsukushi goes wild with Mochi’s whip, attacking her opponents as well as poor Akane who was nearby. Then with Risa & Mochi laid out Tsukka runs them over with Mio’s baby stroller while Tsukushi gently restrains the referee’s protests. But Mio draws the line on Tsukka trying to swing it like a steel chair and forcibly takes it back.
Back in the ring this settled into an extremely good, fast paced example of IR’s midcard tag matches. It was kept brisk and energetic, and had some added amusement as Risa kept grabbing a personal camera to use, often not to her own benefit. The video selfie footage as she was getting attacked should be interesting to say the least.
This went the full 15 minutes for a time limit draw, keeping the intensity up the whole way. I think was my favorite match of the show.
Tsukka and Risa went crazy at the end trying to get falls before time expired. They keep at it a little afterwards and a frustrated Tsukka snapmares Risa off the far ring apron. During the post match interview a future singles match seems set up.
4) Kurumi Hiiragi vs. Yappy
The semi-regular tag team XL Breakers face off against each other in singles competition here.
Yappy is continuing to improve her skills and is coming across as more and more comfortable in the ring. It’s particularly cool to see her get a bit of a spotlight in this semi-main event singles match. Yappy also does a lot outside of the ring to try and make Ice Ribbon more accessible and understandable to foreign fans, which is always greatly appreciated.
Another good match, playing to the strengths of both combatants in a straight up power battle. Yappy hung in with Ice Ribbon’s dominate monster and fought back as she could, but Kurumi’s onslaught was eventually too much and she prevailed with the top rope splash.
Suzu has retired the Chirin Chirin gimmick for an awesome new look and a more serious attitude and is headed for a title shot against ICE Cross Infinity Champion Maya. She vaulted into title contention by defeating IR’s ace Tsukka in a singles match, which is a huge deal considering Suzu’s been wrestling for less than a year and a half.
Maya recently kind of turned her back on Ice Ribbon to form the group Rebel x Enemy with outsiders Kaichow Ram & Rina Yamashita. It appears to be mostly an attitude thing, as she stills participates in tag matches like this teaming with other members of the Ice roster. Maya’s in colorful new gear, separating this from her Dark Snow character in Oz Academy (although her Oz stablemates Mayumi Ozaki and Police recently came to Ice to set up a tag title challenge for Ozaki & Saori Anou).
The other half of the participants in this match see a mother and daughter rivalry continuing to develop as Ibuki angrily slaps Hammy’s hand away in lieu of a pre-match handshake after shaking Suzu’s (Maya ignored Hammy’s offered hand, and Suzu didn’t offer).
Hamuko and Ibuki start hot, and Hammy brings her daughter outside to the camera in short order for an extreme closeup of her chomping on Ibuki’s arm. Back in Ibuki repays it a bit by stomping her mom during the sexy pose.
Lots of intensity in this one. Suzu looks right at home in with IR’s top wrestlers and I really like the dynamic of having two people who’ve recently added harder edges to their personas feuding.
Ibuki’s also constantly upping her game and looked great. She had some incredible near fall exchanges with Suzu down the stretch before the latter pulled out the win with the Gran Maestro de Tequila.
Strong finish to a strong show. Afterwards, birthday cakes are brought out for Chiharu and Kurumi.
Ice Ribbon achieved something special here, as it really felt like a normal dojo show in atmosphere, and an extremely good one at that (the card was more along the lines of one of their larger venue shows).
The technical issues were only really a big deal during one match, and that’s not bad at all with a reduced staff and people helping with things they don’t normally do (and as I mentioned above the second camera’s footage will be available to them to clean things up for the DVD).
Great effort, energy, and execution were there up and down the card, and everyone involved should be proud of putting on a show like this under tough circumstances.
Edit 4/21/20: Turns out these shows are only available for free on YouTube for a short period, so I removed the original link from the review. But the enhanced, multi-camera version through the first match is now there and the remainder is available with a subscription to their Nico Nico Channel.
I became enamored with professional wrestling as a kid, and while great many of my tastes have changed there have been some eternal constants. Wrestlers, styles, etc that transcend time in a sense.
When I was young I had only watched American wrestling, in the form of (then) WWF and WCW. Bret Hart, the Midnight Express, Mr. Perfect, and other wrestlers who combined athleticism and in-ring storytelling were among my favorites. I’d seen a little bit of the Great Muta in his WCW appearances, but that was largely it as far as non-North American talent went.
Then Superbrawl II started off with Jushin Thunder Liger vs Flyin’ Brian Pillman in a match (rightfully) still lauded to this day as perhaps the greatest opening match of all time. Liger was like nothing else I’d ever seen. Combining precision flying and hard strikes with uncanny psychology, and of course an incredible, striking presence, Jushin Thunder Liger was a superhero come to life (literally, as his persona was based off of an anime character). The match, and Liger, obviously left quite an impression on me and remains one of my all time favorites.
From there I would occasionally hunt down bits of his matches in Japan, and while I never quite saw as much as I wanted the sampling was invariably impressive. He was always captivating, and I have distinct memories of rewatching certain moves and sequences over and over in awe.
Flash way forward to 2015 and NXT Takeover Brooklyn would end up being my first time seeing Liger live, somewhat surreally in a WWE ring no less. His style had understandably changed over the years, but it still felt like a Liger match, and a very good one at that. Tyler Breeze was a great choice for his opponent and it was a treat to be there.
The following year at ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds 2016 I actually got to meet the legend, and then I was lucky enough to be able to attend Wrestle Kingdom 11 on 1/4/17 finally see him wrestle in Japan (albeit in limited fashion as part of a battle royal). As it happens it would end up being the only time I saw him wrestle live in Japan and the final time overall.
Throughout my changing tastes and focus on different parts of wrestling, I’ve remained a huge fan of Liger and am extremely happy he was able to keep wrestling for as long as he did, and for the times I was lucky enough to see him live.
Earlier this month Liger finished up his 35 year career. With Wrestle Kingdom 14 becoming a two-night event Liger’s farewell was unusually spread over three days, with his last two matches at the two WK shows on 1/4 and 1/5/20 and his retirement ceremony being held at a separate event than his final match at New Year’s Dash on 1/6/20.
I sadly was unable to attend the 1/5 show as planned due to illness, but watching online still conveyed the weight and emotion of the occasion. Liger wrestled with and against several of his compatriots on 1/4 in the star studded Jushin Thunder Liger, Tatsumi Fujinami, Tiger Mask, & Great Sasuke vs Shinjiro Otani, Tatsuhito Takaiwa, Naoki Sano, & Ryusuke Taguchi, then put over the next generation in a tag match on 1/5 teaming with Naoki Sano against Hiromu Takahashi & Ryu Lee. While many hoped he had on last singles match in him, these carefully chosen tag matches were a great, fitting way to say goodbye.
It’s almost as weird to see Liger go as it was to have him in wrestling at the level he was for so long. All that’s really left to say is thank you to the legend for everything, particularly the memories.
Two months ago I wrote Farewell to a Gran Maestro, a look back on Tequila Saya’s career just before her planned retirement date of October 12, 2019. As I mentioned towards the end of that piece, things didn’t go as planned. A typhoon caused that show to be canceled, and the following day Saya’s regular tag team partner (who was scheduled to tag with Saya in her final match) abruptly left the company under unusual circumstances.
After the dust settled a bit Saya announced she was postponing her retirement until the end of the year and would be stepping in to honor her former partner’s previously scheduled commitments. This was a big gesture on her part, and visibly greatly appreciated by the company and fans alike.
No matter the circumstances surrounding Saya’s short career extension, she certainly made the most of it. One of the previously mentioned commitments she took over was a spot on Rising Slam, a free to attend event in Italy aimed at spotlighting Joshi Puroresu live for the first time in that country. Saya was joined by fellow Ice Ribbon roster member Tsukushi, Actwres Girlz’ Mari, Tae Honma, Misa Matsui, & Saki, and freelancers Makoto and Rina Yamashita in traveling to Italy for this unique show. It would be Saya’s first and only international expedition as a wrestler. She also ended up doing more matches outside of Ice Ribbon than she ever had before, including a singles match against Yumi Ohka in Wave among others.
Saya would also win her only career singles title during the overrun, taking the Triangle Ribbon Championship from someone who debuted shortly after her and was as often a rival as a partner, Uno Matsuya (the match also involved Tae Honma). It was well deserved and wonderful to see this opportunity seized out of unusual circumstances.
She was involved in a wild champions vs challengers 8-woman tag at the December 14th show, defended the belt against Uno and Satsuki Totoro at her final P’s Party show (as an active wrestler) on Decemeber 18th, and lost the title to Tae Honma on Ice Ribbon’s December 21st show at Shinkiba 1st Ring (in a match that also involved Kaori Yoneyama).
From a selfish standpoint I must admit to being happy that the extension would allow me to see Saya wrestle live few more times before she finished up. Her final dojo match against Tsukasa Fujimoto was all kinds of fun, including a particularly amusing section where she tried, rather unsuccessfully, to imitate the signature moves of all the other wrestlers at the show. Tsukka then invited them all in to demonstrate all the correct versions on Saya.
Her final match was earlier today, a special 38 (plus a few) person challenge that saw Saya face everyone consecutively in one minute time limit sections. A mix of some competitive sections, lighter comedic ones, and some old familiar faces just coming back to say goodbye, it was a perfect way to say farewell to the Gran Maestro.
The last two sections saw Saya gaining her only pinfall over Ice Ribbon’s ace Tsukka with the “Gran Maestro de Tequila,” then falling to the rookie she’d given the moves to as Suzu Suzuki showed she also mastered Saya’s “Tequil Shot” variation.
The show drew 1,384 people, making it the largest crowd ever for Ice Ribbon at Korakuen Hall and their forth largest crowd ever.
It was an honor to be in attendance to wish Saya well, and I hope whatever future lies ahead for her after wrestling is a bright one.
Sareee’s been having anincredible2019, and as the year heads towards a close she had her first self produced show, titled Sareee’s Special Night.
The whole show looked like a lot of fun, and with the added bonus of seeing a dear friend in Japan again I was extremely excited for the night.
In an awesome touch, since Natsumi Maki is currently out injured and thus unable to wrestle at the show Sareee instead included her as a special ring announcer.
1) Zap I & Zap T vs Madeline & Miyuki Takase
In a heartbreaking bit of bad luck Marvelous’ Mio Momono, scheduled to team with Madeline here, required surgery on her elbow just a few short weeks after returning from knee surgery. On the positive side it went well, and she was in attendance (in a sling) helping sell tickets for her home promotion Marvelous’ upcoming shows.
While certainly bringing a different style and energy to things than Mio would have, reigning Actwres girlZ Champion Miyuki Takase was a great replacement none-the-less.
This was my second time seeing Madeline (after catching her debut last May) and she’s a joy to watch. Her mannerisms are so expressive and she was a natural fiery underdog for the Zaps to push around.
I’m admittedly not a big fan of the way full heels are handled over here (with referees simply watching and making disapproving noises as they use weapons without any actual attempts to, you know, STOP THEM FROM CHEATING and the faces hardly ever responding in kind).
But outside of that particular common aspect of wrestling in Japan/pet peeve of mine this was a really fun battle between a pair of looming, dominating bullies and faces who just refused to stay down to the last. The assault of the masked veterans was too much in the end, but Madeline and Miyuki put up a hell of a fight. Great start.
2) Hibiki vs Jenny Rose
Marvelous’ rookie Hibiki is the former Meiko Tanaka (of Diana). I was quite impressed with her when I saw her a few years back and it’s great to see her back in wrestling. Also beyond awesome to see Jenny back in Japan.
So this was a reunion of the former Diana rookie and a mainstay foreign wrestler of theirs at the time. The familiarity and chemistry showed, with a nicely competitive match wrestled at a good clip and a strong showing for Hibiki before losing to the veteran.
3) Aj Kong vs Nanami
Diana’s newest rookie, at 13 years old and having debuted just two months ago, draws the monster here.
There’s an art to having a much bigger, dominating veteran bait an upstart and have it remain interesting, and Kong’s a true master. She was never losing this match, but it was compelling all the same and Nanami’s infrequent advantages were perfectly done. In one extended sequence Kong egged Nanami on to deliver over TWENTY dropkicks, yelling at her to hit harder and higher each time. When Nanami later got Aja down to a knee and nailed her in the head with a dropkick the crowd erupted.
Excellent example of how to do this particular formula right (as always with Kong), and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Nanami in the future.
4) Haruka Umesaki & X vs CRYSIS (Jaguar Yokota & Ayako Sato)
After everyone else was introduced Haruka called for X … and Sareee’s own music played. With the woman of the night already ringside something was clearly up, and sure enough after a moment out came Kyusei Sareee as played by the glorious mimic herself Sakura Hirota.
This was WAY over the top, but amusingly done and Jaguar’s barely strained patience awesome. The real Sareee eventually got involved, and this was just a well done bit of comedy supported by bursts of heavier action and continued the excellent pacing and balance of different styles on this show.
As with the opener the treatment of weapons took me out of the match at moments, but again that’s personal preference and otherwise this was exactly what it meant to be and should have been (I do have to mention a rather humorous whiff by Jaguar with a tray when Haruka hit the ropes and instead of hitting the rookie the tray went clear through the air/ropes next to her, which somehow kind of fit in with the kind of match this was 😉 ).
4) Kaoru Ito vs Kyoko Inoue vs Chihiro Hashimoto
My goodness this was an awesome little war. It featured three heavyweight Joshi competitors just laying into each other full force until one couldn’t kick out. Kyoko pinned Ito after one big lariat too many for the win, and all three of them looked great along the way.
5) Sareee & Syuri vs Mayu Iwatani & Takumi Iroha
This was billed as a dream match, and with reigning top champions from three different promotions that don’t all generally interact and a recently returned MMA competitor involved I’d say it fit the description.
With her time in MMA I hadn’t seen Syuri wrestle in years. And while Stardom’s NY show was quite good a crazy 8-woman tag with a broken bottom rope isn’t the same thing as a concentrated singles or tag team match, so this was also my first time seeing Mayu in this type of contest in about as long. Add in Marvelous’ ace and reigning Regina di Wave champion Iroha and Sareee herself and this was quite an exciting matchup on paper.
Of course again the benefit of dream matches is seeing these unusual combinations of wrestlers squaring off with a big fight feel, and this had it all in spades.
Top notch work from all four for the full duration of the time limit draw without every feeling like it was headed that way, this was a treat on so many levels. Great way to wrap up a great show.
This show was interesting matchups that were well booked and fun up and down the card. Stellar effort from Sareee, and a thoroughly enjoyable night.
During my first trip to Japan at the end of 2015 I became an immediate and big fan of Ice Ribbon. A few months later, on March 12, 2016, a wrestler called Tequila Saya made her debut for the company.
I saw Saya wrestle for first time when I returned to Japan the following December. She made strong positive first impression in a tag match teaming with Kyuri against Uno Matsuya & Maika Ozaki on 12/24/16 and a great 7-way at Ribbonmania a week later, with both matches involving several other rookie talents.
The immediately striking thing about watching Saya is her infectious charisma. She always seems to be having fun and excited about whatever she’s doing and there’s an engaging quality to her performances. Her expressions and body language are great in helping to tell the story of her matches, and a distinct style and personality make her a compelling performer.
One of my favorite examples of the fantastic little details she adds to her matches is from Survival Ribbon during that same trip. Saya was drawn first for her random match and entered the ring visibly confident and psyched up. She then absolutely crumpled in the corner in resignation seconds later when it was announced her opponent was Ice Ribbon’s resident powerhouse Kurumi Hiiragi. In mere seconds with no words she emphatically and completely put over the notion that Kurumi’s a monster and the enormity of the task in front of her.
Saya continued to impress in all the subsequent times I’ve been lucky enough to see her wrestle, including some particularlyfunmatches this past January.
In Spring of 2018 Saya started producing a series of biweekly shows called P’s Party (“short” for Peace Party) initially focusing on talent with less than three years experience (although as time passes some of their core roster are obviously passing that particular hallmark), with some vets mixed in for them to work with. The concept is fantastic and I always enjoyed the showsoftheirs I saw.
This Spring P’s Party had their first larger, non-dojo show as part of the Yokohama Wrestling Festival during Golden Week. Yokohama Party was a really enjoyable event, and it was great to see them get an opportunity in front of a larger audience. Saya wrestled in the main event alongside Burning Raw tag team partner Giulia again Rina Yamashita & the debuting Yappy.
Around the same time as starting up P’s Party, Saya also opened a bar close to the Ice Ribbon dojo. Continuing the theme it’s called After Party, and is a cool little place with a nice atmosphere. It reminded me a bit of bars back home, and Saya’s a great bartender in general in addition to it being awesome to have the opportunity to hang out with other fans and chat with them and Saya a bit. There were frequent guest events and other wrestlers helping out, and I always had a lot of fun when I went.
Both P’s Party and After Party have dates set for October post Saya’s final match, but it’s unclear how long either will continue (particularly the bar, which has already scaled back its open dates to solely post Ice Ribbon/P’s Party dojo shows).
I didn’t know it at the time, but from her announcement up until this week I thought the Lovely Butchers (Hamuko Hoshi & Mochi Miyagi) vs Burning Raw on 5/28/19 would be the final time I’d see Saya wrestle live. If so it would have been a great little opener and a fine note to go out on. I adored Burning Raw as a team (despite the nonsensical name lol) and this was really the start of their push to the International Ribbon Tag Team Titles, which they would win from Azure Revolution (Risa Sera & Maya Yukihi) in July and lose back to them a month ago. After the match Saya announced her impending retirement.
Of course in light of this week’s events that match becomes a bittersweet memory. Saya’s final match was scheduled to be on October 13, in which Burning Raw would face Uno Matsuya & Satsuki Totoro. That show was canceled due to a typhoon, and the expectation was that it would be rescheduled at a later date.
Instead the next day Giulia attempted to terminate her Ice Ribbon contract, and showed up at Stardom the day after that. There is a lot of turmoil and speculation surrounding her departure, which is of course outside the scope of this piece. Last night Saya announced she is postponing her retirement until the end of the year and will be wrestling in the previously committed matches Giulia was scheduled for. Whatever the situation this is a big, and appreciated, gesture on her part towards the company and the fans. Her new retirement date is set for Ribbonmania on 12/31/19.
Saya’s indicated that she planned to wrestle for three years from the start, and while I’ll miss her I’m glad she was able to realize her goal. Wishing the Gran Maestro de Tequila all the best in whatever’s next, though I do selfishly hope she’ll remain involved in Ice Ribbon in some capacity post her in-ring career.