Ice Ribbon ~Ice Ribbon March 2021~ 27.03.2021 Korakuen Hall Preview

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Ice Ribbon is back in Korakuen Hall for Ice Ribbon March, which is probably most well known in recent years as the show that saw the debut of Andreza Giant Panda’s wife TinTin in 2019. This year there are no giant panda debuts, but there is an interesting card featuring Tsukasa Fujimoto defending the ICExInfinity title against Maya Yukihi, the second match of Suzu Suzuki’s seven hardcore match trial series against Takashi Sasaki, and a Triangle Ribbon defence. There is also a big tag team match between the newly formed team of Hiroyo Matsumoto and Kurumi Hiiragi against the Lovely Butchers.

Match 1: 8 Woman Tag Team Match

Maika Ozaki, Rina Yamashita, Banny Oikawa & Yuuki Mashiro vs. Tsukushi Haruka, Satsuki Totoro, Saori Anou & Yappy

This is a classic Ice Ribbon opening match with some big names like Rina Yamashita and Saori Anou going up alongside the Gacha King Yuuki Mashiro. As with all Ice Ribbon opening matches there are multiple threads to pay attention to: the Gacha tag team of Mashiro and Yamashita; Yappy and Mashiro’s feud that has been taking place in the dojo as well as in the ring; Tsukushi Haruka facing off against tag team champion Maika Ozaki ahead of a challenge from Tsukushi and Tsukasa Fujimoto. My guess is that Yappy gets the pin over Mashiro, but knowing the Gacha King anything could happen.

Match 2: Triangle Ribbon Title Match

Ibuki Hoshi vs. Uno Matsuya vs. Ram Kaichow (c)

Ram Kaichow makes her third defence of the title that she won in November last year. She beat Uno Matsuya and Cherry in her last title defence in January, and Uno has been on a losing run recently having failed in her challenge for the tag team titles in February. Ram was quick to remind Uno of her recent failures at the press conference, but it wouldn’t shock me to see Uno finally get the gold here and join her fellow Joint Army champions Tae Honma and Rina Shingaki. Ibuki Hoshi might be the perfect candidate to take the pin, and Ram wouldn’t lose much by dropping the Triangle Ribbon title at this point.

Match 3: 6 Woman Tag Team Match

Risa Sera, Akane Fujita & Miku Aono vs. Cherry, Tae Honma & Thekla

This is an interesting multi-woman tag team match, headlined by the pre-title showdown between Risa Sera and Thekla who have a FantastICE title match scheduled for the Skip City show on April 11th. Thekla, who recently lost an IW19 title challenge to Tsukushi Haruka, became a self-described “stalker” of Tsukushi before that match and now she is playing mind games with Sera ahead of their title clash. Sera has the upper hand in match results after pinning Thekla at the recent Osaka show, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Thekla picked up a result over Sera here to add some intrigue to the title match. Meanwhile, Miku Aono continues to be featured prominently after a singles match against Tsukasa Fujimoto in Osaka, and this match pairing raises the potential for Joint Army to try and recruit Thekla into their ranks.

Match 4: Suzu Suzuki’s Seven Match Hardcore Trial Series of Resolve – Match 2

Takashi Sasaki vs. Suzu Suzuki

Suzu Suzuki was inspired to become a wrestler after seeing Big Japan Pro Wrestling visit her home island of Kyushu, and following her ICExInfinity loss to Tsukasa Fujimoto in January she embarked upon a long-held desire to become a hardcore wrestler. In February Suzu began her seven match hardcore trial series by taking on 666’s Yuko Miyamoto in a valiant losing effort. Her second match is against Pro Wrestling Freedoms’ Takashi Sasaki, who was another deathmatch wrestler that Suzu admired – the 2007 Sasaki vs. Miyamoto scaffold death match was cited as one of the matches that made Suzu into a deathmatch fan (although she was a Miyamoto fan!). Suzu has been preparing for this match by wrestling Yuuki Mashiro in a Sasaki match, so she has the edge in pre-match showdowns. Suzu also visited the Big Japan Pro Wrestling dojo to meet the deathmatch legend Ryuji Ito. Although Ito advised Suzu that Sasaki has no weaknesses, Suzu has promised to bring an innovative approach to this match and to show her true resolve in taking on a hardcore legend.

Match 5: Tag Team Match

Hiroyo Matsumoto & Kurumi Hiiragi vs. Lovely Butchers (Miyagi Mochi & Hamuko Hoshi)

Hiroyo Matsumoto made her return to Ice Ribbon at the February Korakuen Hall show after a long absence and picked up the win for her team over the Frank Sisters. After the match she invited Kurumi to form a tag team with her and they enjoyed a winning start to their partnership in Osaka where they defeated the team of Saori Anou and Suzu Suzuki. The powerful tag team takes on the former International Ribbon Tag Team Champions, and Kurumi’s Frank Sisters partner, Mochi Miyagi and Hamuko Hoshi in a match that pits physical power against visual power. Given the prominence of the Matsumoto-Hiiragi team I would expect them to pick up the win here and shortly be in line for an International Ribbon Tag Team Title shot.

Match 6: ICExInfinity Title Match

Maya Yukihi vs. Tsukasa Fujimoto (c)

Tsukasa Fujimoto won the title in January by defeating Suzu Suzuki and won her first defence against Rina Yamashita. Fujimoto recently spoke at length about her experience of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami – she is from Rifu-cho in Miyagi Prefecture, which suffered a great deal of the damage – this year being the tenth anniversary of the disaster. Fujimoto was appointed as a tourism ambassador for Rifu-cho last year and had been hoping to hold a show in her hometown before COVID-19 caused shows to be cancelled. The Rifu-cho Ribbon show has been rearranged for April 18th and Fujimoto has promised to head to her hometown as the champion. The only thing standing in her way is the former ICExInfinity Champion Maya Yukihi.

Two of the most decorated ICExInfinity Champions in recent years clash again in the main event of Korakuen Hall. Their last title match in 2019 ended in a draw and forced Yukihi to forfeit the title, prior to that match Fujimoto held a 2-1 advantage in their title matches. Yukihi comes into this match as one of the International Ribbon Tag Team Champions, looking to recreate her 2019 when she held multiple championships at once. Meanwhile, Fujimoto is in her seventh reign as ICExInfinity Champion and hoping to defend successfully for the second time before her homecoming show. A Fujimoto win here would be a heart-warming story ten years on from the tragic events of 2011. Fujimoto and Tsukushi Haruka also have an International Ribbon Tag Team Title match scheduled for April 11th in Skip City, so a win here for Fujimoto and a win for Yukihi in the Tag Team Title match seems like a good compromise to me.