Ice Ribbon began a few years ago when Joshi veteran Emi Sakura decided to save pro wrestling by taking in a ragtag band of tween Japanese misfits and putting them on the straight-and-narrow with non-stop wrestling training, or something like that. Anyway, it’s all gone well so far and in a short time Ice Ribbon has gone from having matches on blue gymnastic mats to running Korakuen Hall.
I saw three Ice Ribbon shows on this trip, but only two allowed fan photographs (you’ll have to scour the pro sites for photos of Miyako Matsumoto wearing a ball gag). Each show had multiple high quality matches featuring a mix of Ice Ribbon mainstays and visiting Joshi vets like Yoshiko Tamura, Nanae Takahashi, and Mima Shimoda.
Ribbon Mania 2010 – 12/26 at Korakuen Hall (via Puroresu Representin’):
1. Hikari Minami & Tsukushi beat Riho & Kurumi in 6:50. Minami pinned Riho after Blockbuster.
2. Triple Threat: Danshoku Dino (DDT) beat Miyako Matsumoto & Chii Tomiya in a 3-way in 5:47 by Double STF submission
3. Mio & Io Shirai beat Mai Ichii & Jessica Love in 8:29. Mio pinned Ichii with a schoolboy.
4. SMASH Challenge Match: TAJIRI beat Makoto in 12:42 by Camel Clutch submission.
5. ICEx60 Singles Championship: Tsukasa Fujimoto beat Command Bolshoi (c) in 9:37 to win the ICEx60 Singles Championship for the second time.
6. NEO Singles & NWA Women’s Pacific Championship Title Match: Yoshiko Tamura (c) beat Hikaru Shida in 17:20 via Infinite Elbows of Death and Head Drop Finisher #878 to retain the titles.
7. Kazumi Shimouma Retirement Match: Emi Sakura, Hamuko Hoshi & Sayaka Obihiro beat Nanae Takahashi, Natsuki*Taiyo & Kazumi Shimouma in 22:32. Obihiro pinned Shimouma.
While Ribbon Mania did feature the retirement of Kazumi Shimouma, Ice Ribbon stuck to it’s successful M.O. of showcasing the future of Joshi without dwelling too much in the past. Makoto faced off with Tajiri to prove herself worthy of facing ‘WWE Diva’ Serena Deeb. For reasons known to no one, it’s Makoto’s dream is to join WWE. Ice Ribbon ace Fujimoto toppled the JWP head Command Bolshoi to capture the main Ice Ribbon title and complete her collection of all three of the companies’ championships.
The match of the show was Yoshiko Tamura vs Hikaru Shida for the NEO Titles. There was little chance the very young Shida was walking away with the belts, but her performance in the match was great enough to make us all forget that. She stood toe to toe with a Joshi legend on her A-game, in one of her final matches, and looked liked she belonged there. She’s a beast.
The main event was enjoyable, when is a Nanae Takahashi or Natsyuki Taiyo match not, but Fujimoto and Shida had already walked away with the show.
Oh, and the Shirai Sisters kept being awesome.
The second Ice Ribbon show I attended was at their out of the way dojo in the outskirts of Tokyo known as Warebi. While the show was quite short the main event, and signature Ice Ribbon hospitality, more than made the trek worth it.
Ice Ribbon Dojo – 2010/12/29 – Warebi
125 paid (Super No Vacancy)
1. Hikari Minami, Riho & Kurumi beat Hikaru Shida, Tsukasa Fujimoto & Miyako Matsumoto in 11:20. Riho pinned Matsumoto.
2. Makoto & Chii Tomiya beat Hamuko Hoshi & Mochi Miyagi in 10:29. Makoto pinned Hoshi.
3. Yoshiko Tamura, Emi Sakura & Nanae Takahashi beat Natsuki*Taiyo, Sayaka Obihiro & Tsukushi in 23:38. Tamura pinned Obihiro after running elbows.
The main was Tamura’s final Ice Ribbon match, she retired on 12/31, and Nanae and Natstuki’s ‘goodbye, for now’ as they’ll be busy with their new STARDOM promotion. They wrestled like it too, all six women pounded on each other late into the night. I hadn’t expected much from the show, being a small dojo outing, but at least the main event saw everyone bring their top shelf stuff. It did start a bit light though, Tamura and Nanae came out in color coded wigs to match Emi’s new blonde ‘fro.
After the match, Emi handed out Christmas presents/bonuses and year end awards to all the wrestlers and crew, then they all went around and shook hands with the audience members. Emi was especially surprised and happy to see that I, a foreigner, had not only come to an Ice Ribbon show but one all the way out in the dojo. Joy. I also met another gaijin Joshi fan, who has lived in Japan for a while but only started attending live events. It’s always great to meet people in real life who share your passion, even if you have to fly 14 hours and go to little gyms in shady Japanese suburbs for it to happen.
The “dark” show at Shin-Kiba may should make DVD/Internets at some point It will be worth a viewing for the top two matches, and the Shirai Sisters being awesome. Even the cross-dressing comedy match was fun since Chii came out with gear that didn’t make her look 12.
2010/01/04 – Shin-Kiba 1st Ring
285 paid (Super No Vacancy)
1. Tsukushi beat Kurumi in 6:09.
2. Emi Sakura beat Mochi Miyagi in 5:28.
3. Mio & Io Shirai beat Hamuko Hoshi & Sayaka Obihiro in 12:21. Io pinned Hoshi after Mexican Roll.
4.a Yuko Miyamoto & Chii Tomiya beat Michael Nakazawa & Miyako Matsumoto in 9 seconds. Miyamoto pinned Nakazawa after a lariat.
4.b Yuko Miyamoto & Chii Tomiya beat Michael Nakazawa & Miyako Matsumoto in 9:04. Tomiya pinned Nakazawa after a huracanrana.
5. Mima Shimoda beat Makoto in 11:09.
6. International Ribbon Tag Team Championship: Hikaru Shida & Tsukasa Fujimoto beat Riho & Hikari Minami in 15:08 to retain the titles.
Every Ice Ribbon show was a great time with great wrestling. I remember just last year people couldn’t mention the promotion with a straight face, since it featured very young girls (and all the uncomfortable connotations of that). Now? It’s possibly the brightest spot in all of Joshi. There’s a solid roster of rapidly improving talent with veteran guests to fill in any gaps. Ice Ribbon’s use of social media surpasses any other Joshi promotions with Emi streaming training sessions, their spinoff 19 Pro Ustream only promotion, and even a fan run English Twitter feed.
To sum it up: この休暇は、私は3回のアイスリボンのショーに行ってきました。それはよかった。最高の女子プロレス！ ありがとうございます！