Marvelous USA 2/13/16 Live Thoughts

February 13, 2015 in Queens, NY

Marvelous Puroresu USA had a thoroughly enjoyable first event at the Queensboro Elk’s Lodge last August and followed up with an equally good second show (despite the lack of core roster members). The third show lineup looked great, with the return of Takumi Iroha, debut of Mio Momono, East Coast debut of Kyoko Kimura, and dream match of Rocky Romero vs Amazing Red.

The show opened with a “ceremony” featuring Chigusa Nagayo addressing the crowd (via translator). She apologized for not being able to wrestle due to her recent surgery, and promised to be back in action next time.

As with both previous shows before the proper card started there was a short MMA demonstration. I still question the inclusion of light sparring on a pro-wrestling show, but they were good and kept the phantom punches to a minimum this time, focusing more on grappling.

The fist match featured the returning Lio Rush against Will Ferrara in his Marvelous USA debut. Great choice for an opener. Rush is a high energy wrestler and between this and his previous semi-main against Amazing Red is fast becoming an integral part of the roster. Ferrara also was quite impressive and I hope to see him return.

Marvelous USA did something interesting this time out that paid great dividends. The day before this show they had a tryout/seminar and reserved several spots throughout the card for wrestlers who participated. Some obviously need more experience and polish, but it will come with time. Overall this was a solid success.

Anthony Gangone was the first of them to appear as he faced Sonny Kiss. While he’ll need to fine tune the act a bit, Gangone was fully committed to playing the heel and provided a good foil for Kiss’s flamboyant and flashy character. Good action here too.

Nyla Rose and Jessika Black vs. Ashley Vox and Sonya Strong was next, and all included wrestlers were from the tryout. Good match with great effort from all four. Rose in particular is already showing fantastic heel instincts and mannerisms.

Flawless And Lawless, Willow Nightingale, and Rad Brad Benson vs. The Hounds Of Hatred (Stockade, Boo And Bam Sullivan, and Mouse) w/ The Devil Doll was a hard hitting war with a lot of intensity and some insane highspots (including a superplex to the outside!). Willow Nightingale was fearless against her dismissive opponents in sequences that highlighted what good intergender wrestling looks like. I’ve enjoyed Lawless on the previous shows and it was great to see him back with his partner.

 

Mio Momono made her wrestling debut teaming with Rene Michelle against Davienne and Kyoko Kimura. The crowd was crazy behind  the 17 year old Mio and super hot for the whole match. I’m assuming Kyoko wrestled in the spots on the card Chigusa would have if she were healthy, as the veteran was opposite Marvelous’ young Japanese stars in both her matches. Here she was also working with two of the foreign wrestlers who have been to Japan to train with Chigusa. Great approach, as her experience can only help the younger talents.

The less experienced duo obviously wasn’t perfect. There were several times when Rene had to effectively ignore an in peril Mio who was close enough to tag, and when Mio was ready to make the hot tag Rene didn’t reach out, leading to a very anticlimactic exchange. But these are small miscues overall in otherwise strong performances for their experience level. Mio made a big impression in her debut and the crowd loved her.

Ace Austin v Ken Broadway vs. Missile Assault Man was the second contest to exclusively feature wrestlers from the tryout. This honestly didn’t fair as well as the other one. No one was outright bad, but it was a bit sloppy and didn’t click the way they wanted. Missile Assault Man came across the best wrestling-wise and was amusing, but his gimmick is a one note joke that I can see getting stale quickly. Ace has a good gimmick and will get better with experience.

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Broadway carries himself like a star and has the entourage to match, but his gimmick turned my stomach. To me turning your back, getting down on your knees and putting your hands behind your head when the ref comes over to check you and then calling the ref racist when he reluctantly checks your boots crosses the line from heel heat and “I want to see someone defeat you” to “I just don’t want to see you on shows.”

Takumi Iroha and Cheeseburger vs. Kyoko Kimura and Brian Fury started with a lot of amusement. First Kyoko grabbed a fan’s phone as he tried to take her picture and took some of her partner instead. Then once in the ring for introductions she tried to convince Cheeseburger to give her his hat. He wisely decided to decline and put it on his partner’s head instead.

This match was another great example of intergender wrestling done right. I was thrilled to see Iroha back and she got a chance to shine here and show her strength against her larger opponents. A nice, subtle related moment happened when she was trying to push past the ref to help Cheeseburger and after a few back and forth attempts to get her back to her corner the out of breath ref remarked “you’re… deceptively… strong.”

Fury was fantastic and I hope to see him back. Cheeseburger isn’t a personal favorite of mine, but he’s good in his role and was perfect here as Kimura’s punching bag. Great work from all four.

Smiley certainly made the most of his opportunity via the tryout, looking impressive as he and Donovan Dijak had a great back and forth match. Smiley’s gimmick is highly amusing and he’s pitch perfect as the underdog. Dijak was allowed to stretch here and looked much better than anytime I’ve seen him in ROH. He matched Smiley’s high flying, which was awesome to see from the big man.

The co-main event of Amazing Red vs. Rocky Romero was heavily hyped before the show, and rightfully so. Romero has come so far since I first saw him years ago, and has true star presence. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand as he and Red tore the house down. Fun post match exchange too that sowed the seeds of an eventual rematch.

The main event saw Takumi Iroha’s second appearance of the show teaming with Kimber Lee to take on Sumie Sakai and Heidi Lovelace. Once again a nice opportunity for her to both shine and learn being in the ring with excellent and experienced opponents (and partner).

Nice to see Heidi in Marvelous and she was a great partner for Sumie, showing heel mannerisms I hadn’t seen from her before. During intros Heidi “kindly” pointed out that I was saying her name wrong when I chanted “Takumi.” 😉

Takumi and Kimber made a great team and sent the fans home happy with a big victory in a phenomenal main event. Perfect way to end the show.

 

 

 

Marvelous Puroresu USA is on quite a roll. The tryout paid immediate dividends, and the undercard was again nicely varied with a high level of effort. Mio’s debut was done perfectly and well received by an enthusiastic audience. Using Kyoko and Takumi in two matches apiece emphasizes the Japanese talent that is a big draw here and a unique aspect of Marvelous. Another pair of great co-main events topped off an incredibly fun event.

Can’t wait for the next one. 🙂

A Suitably Marvelous Follow Up

October 6, 2015 in Queens, NY

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Legend Chigusa Nagayo humbly thanks the crowd for attending.

I thoroughly enjoyed Marvelous Puroesu USA’s first event at the Queensboro Elk’s Lodge in August was quite excited for their second show. I’ll admit a little bit of reservation when I found out Iroha wouldn’t be back for this one and Chigusa wouldn’t be wrestling (in fact of the five wrestlers introduced at the first show as the “core roster” only Penelope Ford wrestled), but a variety of great talent filled out the card nicely and the show delivered. Chigusa also explained during the show that Iroha and others were training, learning, and performing in Japan and she promised to bring them back for the next show in 2016.

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A screen was set up to show highlights of Chigusa’s recent exploding barbed wire match before the show.

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To open there was a ceremony introducing everyone who would be wrestling.

As with the debut show there was a lot of fanfare, which helps set these shows apart from the normal US indie shows and adds a lot to the atmosphere. After showing highlights of Chigusa’s recent exploding barbed wire match in Japan, there was a ceremony in which the entire roster was introduced in the order they’d be wrestling on the card. After that was a MMA demonstration by a local dojo (there was also one before the first show). As I said overall this was a unique and interesting way to start the show, although the MMA demonstration was a bit out of place. You could tell the participants were excellent, but honestly pro-wrestling is about people coming to see professionals who are experts on making “fake” combat look real, so opening with experts on real combat doing a practice version of it complete with soft phantom punches doesn’t really fit. But it was short and the grappling was quite good, so no real harm done.

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The first wrestling match was a fantastic back and forth affair between “The Man of Steel” Mike Verna and “Wrestling’s Only Male Gymnast” Timmy Lou Retton. Verna’s gimmick is amusing, as his t-shirt bares a Superman style symbol on the front with an “M” instead of an “S,” and “Steel your hopes, Steel your dreams, Steel your girl, Steel your protein” on the back. He was very good in the ring and I’d like to see more of him. Same goes for Retton, who owns his gimmick well and moves amazingly for his size. Every cartwheel, handspring and flip had the crowd oohing and aahing. This started the show strong and was a perfect choice for the opener.

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I was extremely pleased to see Nate Carter and David McCall back in tag team action after their impressive showing on the first Marvelous Puroresu USA event. They were just as good this time, and their opponents Paco and Curt Stallion stuck right with them in competitive match. Paco and Stallion also provided some well done dissension among themselves, adding the match’s story.

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The rest of the undercard was also quite good. The Fellas Twins are extremely impressive as heat magnets, and they had a decent match with Penelope Ford and Vanity. There was a hard hitting three way between Kevin Lee Davidson, DJ Hyde and Rex Lawless. They took great advantage of having three big, powerful guys in there with the match structure and spots. Crowd favorite Cheeseburger and partner Takaaki Wantanabe faced Rory Gulak and Ultimate Security in another strong match heading into the brief intermission. Coming back from intermission we saw a solid tag match pitting Veda Scott and Willow Nightingale against Brittany Blake and Deonna Purrazzo.

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Carter and McCall are such friendly, approachable guys. They were just hanging out having a blast with fans at intermission.

During intermission it was time for the second “ceremony” of the evening, this one featuring Chigusa’s singing debut. I wasn’t sure about this when they announced it ahead of time, but it ended up being phenomenally fun. Chigusa gave some context about how this is common for a lot of female wrestlers in Japan and seemed to be having a lot of fun despite some nervousness as she sang.

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For the encore the singing debut became a singing and dancing debut. as Chigusa called Carter and McCall into the ring. Highly amusing stuff that got more so when a fan called for one more song and Chigusa shooked her head then “fainted.” She then motioned for someone to cover her, and the crowd counted along with Carter as he counted his own pin. I’m pretty sure pinning Chigusa has to make him champion of something. 

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Afterward Chigusa shared her future hopes and plans for Marvelous USA, including the possibility of bringing exploding barbed wire matches to the states, her hope that someday she can give her students the opportunity to wrestle at MSG, and her promise to bring back the talent she’s training in Japan for Marvelous Puroresu USA’s next show in early 2016.

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The co-main event of the evening was Leo Rush vs the Amazing Red, and it fully delivered on its potential. It had everything – mat wrestling, high impact suplex and slams, and of course with these two high flying. This was my first time seeing the veteran Amazing Red wrestle and Rush was a perfect opponent for him. Outstanding job from both.

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Standing room only as the locker room emptied to watch Rush vs Red.

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The main event featured three debuts for Marvelous, as Kimber Lee and Patrick Clark faced Sumie Sakai and Davey Boy Smith Jr. Lots of anticipation for this, and again they paid off the potential. Smith has a big following from his work in Japan and the crowd was equally excited to see what Tough Enough contestant Patrick Clark could do.

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Kimber’s strikes didn’t work too well against DBS Jr…

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… and neither did the suplex attempt.

This was a much more traditional mixed tag match than the main event of the first show, with genders not really intermingling except a few (highly amusing) comedy spots with Kimber and Smith and a beautiful moonsault by Sumie onto Clark.

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Both Sumie’s opponents received a camel clutch kiss at different points in the match (after Sumie hit the ropes a few times for momentum).

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It made sense to keep the matchups male vs male and female vs female here, as Kimber and Sumie wouldn’t have been able to compete against the men in the same way Iroha and Chigusa could. It shows great instincts in how to keep things believable and entertaining in different situations.

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Sumie keeping Kimber at bay while DBS Jr hits a cradle piledriver.

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Kimber returning the favor during Patrick Clark’s ankle lock attempt.

The match was excellent showcase for all four athletes and a fitting end to a stong show.

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Respect shown after the match.

Another extremely fun evening of great action from Marvelous Puroresu USA. The undercard was again nicely varied, a high level of effort was visible from everyone, and the newer talents held their own admirably with the veterans. Top it all off with a pair of main events and the unique, casual and fun feeling ceremonies and Marvelous USA is certainly off to a fantastic start two shows in. Can’t wait for the next one.

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I had the honor of meeting wrestling legend Chigusa Nagayo.

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I also got to meet veteran Sumie Sakai, who was gracious enough to stop for a quick picture in the middle of overseeing show setup. Greatly appreciated.

A Fairly Marvelous Beginning

August 9, 2015 in Queens, NY

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Marvelous Puroesu USA’s first event at the Queensboro Elk’s Lodge was presented with a lot of fanfare. Chigusa came out to start the show with a ceremony to introduce the core members of her roster: Penelope Ford, Renee Michelle, Davienne, and Takumi Iroha. She announced that they would all be traveling to Japan with her for shows / training and later returning to the US for more Marvelous Puroesu shows. Each of them then said a few words to the crowd, which was clearly unexpected as some fumbled a bit with what to say. It came off as genuine and endearing though and actually added to the casual, enjoyable atmosphere of the evening.

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All three of the American core members faced Sumie Sakai, with Ford vs Sakai opening the card and Michelle and Davienne against Sakai and Willow Nightingale right after intermission.  Sumie’s antics are quite amusing and everyone in the ring with her seemed to benefit from her experience and got to show their own skills and potential.

The undercard was nicely varied in general, from heavy humor in Deonna Purrazzo & Brittany Blake vs Rick Cataldo & Eddy McQueen, to a hard hitting tag match in DJ Hyde & Rory Gulak vs Nate Carter & David McCall, to a three-way spotfest in Lio Rush vs Patrick Clark vs David Starr, etc. Some wrestlers clearly need more polish (and there was an obviously blown finish in one match), but everyone showed great effort and there’s a lot of potential here.

Nate Carter & David McCall had a great showing in their match and were a riot hanging out and taking pictures with fans at intermission. Nice, approachable guys with a lot of potential. Hope to see more of their work.

Nate Carter & David McCall had a great showing in their match and were a riot hanging out and taking pictures with fans at intermission.

A surprise appearance by the legendary Mick Foley added some amusement to the David vs Goliath battle of Cheeseburger vs Rex Lawless and gave a dose “anything can happen” to the show. The general feel of the card was one of fun and diversity, with a little something for everyone.

Quite the surprise - guest ringside enforcer Mick Foley!

Quite the surprise – guest ringside enforcer Mick Foley!

The main event was a great way to end the show. This is the second time I’ve seen Wantanabe live and he’s impressed on both occasions. Papadon was a suitable partner for Chigusa and both men did an excellent job making their exchanges with the woman believable.

They are unimpressed with Papadon's posturing.

Iroha and Wantanabe are unimpressed with Papadon’s posturing.

Of course the true draw of the evening was getting to see Chigusa live, and she did not disappoint. She had some great strike exchanges with Wantanabe, much to the crowd’s delight. It was a treat watching her wrestle Iroha, who held her own against the veteran and is certainly one to watch going forward.

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Respect after the match. Iroha kicked out after a TKO from Chigusa a literal millisecond too late.

Respect after the match. Iroha kicked out after a TKO from Chigusa a literal millisecond too late.

Overall Marvelous Puroesu USA’s first show should be considered a solid success. The venue was pretty full (three sides of the ring with seats, with two rows on two sides and 5 on the third), the matches were varied and entertaining, and the whole thing was just all around fun. Looking forward to the future of this promotion, particularly the opportunity to see more of Chigusa and Iroha in the US.

Was lucky enough to meet and get a picture with rising star Takumi Iroha.

Was lucky enough to meet and get a picture with rising star Takumi Iroha.

Marvelous Puroesu USA t-shirt by Shupercousin Designs.

Marvelous Puroesu USA t-shirt by Shupercousin Designs.