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[2016-05-04-Ice Ribbon] Arisa Nakajima & Tsukasa Fujimoto vs Nanae Takahashi & Emi Sakura

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To be honest this match is much better if you watch it with some context. Emi was one of the original founders of Ice Ribbon but ended up leaving for "personal reasons," leaving Fujimoto to take over as head trainer/face of the promotion. Emi made her surprise return to the promotion a few weeks earlier as the mystery partner for Takahashi. Also, Nanae has a budding rivalry with Nakajima that started in her SEAdLINNNG promotion and carried over to this. Plus, this match came together after the initial match between Best Friends and Stardom's Thunder Rock fell apart.


Anyway, the actual match starts off with a mat exchange between Nakajima and Takahashi, but after that it just turns into a slugfest. Sakura gains control over Fujimoto simply by chopping the hell out of her. Eventually the match is worked like a tag combining two singles feuds as anytime Arisa gets in the ring and goes right after Nanae, likewise with Tsukka and Emi. The finish does turn into a bit like the typical joshi tag finish with a ton of saves, but it works because of the story they established with Fujimoto surviving and overcoming her former mentor. A really awesome match. ****1/4

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This may have been my first time seeing everyone here. I'd heard about Nakajima & Takahashi before, although surprisingly the latter made the least impression of anyone in this match. They all worked very stiffly, particularly when Sakura was in with Fujimoto. Both sides worked well as teams rather than individuals, effectively using basic tag psychology on double teams and isolating one member of the other squad. This was humming along like a pretty decent steak until the finish, where they couldn't help themselves and needed to work in a ton of kickouts when one or two would've done just fine, which took things from a nice medium rare to an overcooked medium. Still a solid piece of meat, but not quite what I ordered.


One really neat spot was Sakura hitting a top rope frankensteiner on Takahashi which brought her down with a senton on Fujimoto. Particularly impressive at Sakura's size, as was her Moonsault. The opening matwork was also solid and hinted at what else they could do in a different style and tempo. Would love to see a few of them match up with the girls in Stardom.



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