I’m not going to lie here. I had very low expectations for this event. The idea of various AKB members getting it on in a wrestling ring sounds intriguing on paper but could be poorly executed to laughable levels as I mentioned in the introduction to this article. Yet, I still watched.
The entire running time of this event was 3 hours and 45 minutes. Yes, it was set up exactly like a real wrestling PPV with all the bells and whistles one could ask for what would be the equivalent of a mid level event in New Japan (i.e. A “Road to…” Whatever event) or WWE (newer brand specific PPV shows) terms.
The pre-show banter basically hyped up the competitors and the match ups for the evening. For some reason a banner of Shimada Haruka when shown on camera got huge pops from the crowd. Apparently her character translates well to the viewing audience.
The other thing that stood out from a regular wrestling event is the ring itself. Normally a professional wrestling ring surface is a wood plank stage covered by a thin layer of foam padding and a canvas mat. The mat for this ring had much more padding added on. While it is understandable that this is for the safety of the idols performing in the ring, it is something that folks who watch pro wresting will notice right away as being somewhat odd.
With all the pre-event observations out of the way lets get to the actual action packed card of 7 matches.
The curtain jerker was Iwatate Saho vs. Tatsuya Makiho, two of the newcomers to the whole WIP world. Iwatate managed to work her signature catchphrase into her ring introduction. She also had ring gear that screamed burikko idol. Tatsuya was not as flashy and showed signs of being the heel in the match by refusing to shake hands before the opening bell. That turned out not to be the case as Iwatate took control and grounded Tatsuya working her legs and back methodically while showing several heel mannerisms.
Tatsuya tried to make a valiant comeback hitting several spinning heel kicks and applying a rather weak Boston Crab on Iwatate. The comeback was short lived as Iwatate took back control dropping Tatsuya with what looked like a suplex or side slam of some sort. Then she attacked the back with several stomps before applying a single leg crab for the submission win.
This match was surprising in many ways. One, it set the tone for the night with both girls screaming at each other like they were in a women’s tennis match. Second, Iwatate Saho looked pretty okay in regards to execution of moves and some basic ring psychology. Something one would not expect with her lack of experience having not been part of the initial cast for this drama and the type of idol character she portrays.
The second match of the night introduced a faction led by Mad Dog Miyazaki facing off against 3 WIP veterans. Those who have watched Tofu Pro Wrestling drama may have caught on to the fact that not once did Nakai Rika ever get the ring to compete during the entire series. She was hyped a lot but there was zero payoff to that hype. With this match fans finally get to see her in the ring as a competitor.
This match can best be described as a combination of comedy and in-ring action. Think of a Yano Toru or Breezango match where you get the hilarity along with the violence. Given this context there were opportunities for members such as Miyazaki to really ham up their personas to the fullest. The majority of the actual wrestling focused on beating up Nakai who sold like a champ even getting to the point of crying. Her annoyingly cute character allowed her to get away with such things.
When she was on offense she pretty much had one move. The corner chops made famous by Kenta Kobashi. And those looked pretty.. um.. weak. She did the move 3 times in a row and got tired. It was funny stuff that really fit with the vibe of the match. The ending sequence for this will look very familiar to fans of the Smackdown 6 era of WWE programming. Especially if you were or still are a fan of Eddie Guerrero. It’s best not to spoil it other than saying it involves a referee distraction, Miyazaki, Nakai and a steel chair. Keen wrestling fans can figure out the rest.
Probably the best finish of the night just from an entertainment standpoint.