I first came to Japan in 2008 when Ice Ribbon was still using blue training mats for a ring. It seemed less a promotion and more an after school program where Emi Sakura set wayward tweens straight via teaching them dropkicks. Flash forward 3 years and the promotion has grown up in ways that could no one could have been predicted. It’s solidly one of Japan’s most popular Joshi companies, and has a cult international following that has lead to a TV run in Thailand and excursions US and UK.
The recent growth has not been without pain. Micro and popular young star Makoto left the promotion last year. This winter Emi Sakura, the company’s founder, trainer, matriarch and top star, also announced her intentions to depart. Some, prematurely, questioned if the promotion could or would survive the loss of Emi. Well before Emi’s announcement, the Ice Ribbon women spoke publicly about their desire to be less dependent on her to run the company. With this sort of foresight losing Emi will still be a huge blow, but there are a number of women who have the talent necessary to fill the gap and the promotion is conceptually independent of any one person. Certainly, the four shows I attended gave no indication that Ice Ribbon as a group had lost any of its passion, desire, or love for wrestling.
December 25, 2011 – 894 fans
Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan
- Toshie Uematsu defeatedAoi Kizuki
- Maki Narumiya, Neko Nitta, and Meari Naito defeated Mochi Miyagi, Kurumi, and Dorami Nagano
- Ray, Sayaka Obihiro, and Hamuko Hoshi defeated Death Worm, Rubber Man, and Kappa Kozo
- Special Referee Minori Makiba - Riho defeated Seina
- Seina Retirement Match - Hikari Minami defeated Seina
- International Ribbon Tag Team Title - Emi Sakura and Tsukushi defeated Meiko Satomura and Sendai Sachiko to win the vacant title
- Makoto Oishi and Danshoku Dino defeated Hikari Minami and Ken Ohka, and Miyako Matsumoto & Jun Kasai
- ICEx60 Title - Hikaru Shida defeated Tsukasa Fujimoto (c) with a Top Rope Falcon Arrow to win the title
The first show was the biggest. Ribbonmania took place at Korakuen Hall on the largely irrelevant Christmas holiday in Japan. Upon entering the building fans were handed glowsticks. A Tiesto worthy sea of neon greeted the returning Aoi Kizuki, making her comeback at a crucial time for the promotion. Aoi faced Toshie Uematsu in the first match of the night and, considering how long she’d been away from the ring, she was golden. Aoi even managed to keep her trademark smile on the entire time, save when Toshie savagely facewashed her luminescent red cheeks.
Seina, first ICEx60 Champion, made her way back in the ring after an extended absence as well, but only to have her final match(es). She was scheduled to go out against younger sister Riho. However her good friend Hikari Minami, with tears and Riho’s help, tricked Seina into an impromptu mid-retirement ceremony match. The deception paid off and Minami won with a few seconds to spare. Makoto was there to give her well wishes to Minori Makiba, who special refereed Seina’s first match and was also leaving wrestling. They wept then synchronized danced to J-Pop. Continue reading