Be Happy With Pro Wrestling: An Introduction to Ice Ribbon

Ice Ribbon is one of the most consistently great joshi wrestling promotions in Japan today. Founded in 2006 by Emi Sakura, who you may now know as the driving force behind Gatoh Move, the company has produced many incredible talents including Tsukasa Fujimoto, Tsukushi, and Risa Sera. While Sakura left for personal reasons in 2012, the promotion employs the legendary Manami Toyota as a managing supervisor. Despite the setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ice Ribbon managed to put on small shows in their Saitama dojo that showcased an ability to adapt and still hold quality shows under difficult circumstances. There is honestly never a bad time to get into this promotion, and if you have never given it a chance before, I hope my introduction here will help convince you. 

Tsukasa Fujimoto faces off with TinTin. | Photo Credit: Marc Raimondi

Last year, as it happens, Ice Ribbon reached many English-speaking wrestling fans after news outlets reported on a unique scandal that had occurred within the company. The giant panda wrestler Andreza, known for his exploits in DDT and elsewhere, had been getting far too close with ace Tsukasa Fujimoto – Andreza’s giant panda wife, TinTin, was *not* happy. A grudge match followed with Fujimoto emerging victorious, even better, all parties seemed to make up with each other after the fact. This match garnered a lot of positive reactions overseas, being just one example of the light-hearted nature of the promotion, in contrast to some of its peers. More recently, during one of the empty dojo shows brought on by the pandemic, Fujimoto and Austrian wrestler Thekla teamed up against Risa Sera and Satsuki Totoro. In a completely unprovoked turn of events, Sera and Fujimoto suddenly ran out of the ring, and the camera feed switched to a shot of the two wrestling in a city, then on top of a skyscraper, even in the desert, teleporting around the world with ease. They seemed to have been making use of a mysterious black hole to achieve this, but I personally need more details. Perhaps it wasn’t real at all, it was just a green screen, but I would like to believe it actually happened. Sadly, I can’t even pretend to know the context here, if there was any at all, but I can confidently say it didn’t need context to leave me hysterical when I watched it.

I may have just referred to the promotion as ‘light-hearted’, but don’t let that fool you into thinking the action is in anyway soft or weak. Ice Ribbon is just as hard-hitting and brutal as we have come to expect from joshi wrestling, if not even more. For instance, Tsukushi, who became a trainee at the age of 12, has developed some of the most terrifying forearms in wrestling over the span of her 10 year career. Freelancer Rina Yamashita, on the other hand, utilizes her strength to deliver powerful lariats that served her well when the two met in the ring last year. Rina is also well known for partaking in inter-gender hardcore matches, which should sell you on her toughness. Main events always deliver in Ice Ribbon, and under-cards always reward you for giving the entire show your attention. You’ll see exhibitions with rookie talents, chaotic tag matches, comedy, and more. Aside from their main brand, Ice Ribbon also holds regular smaller shows in their dojo that go by ‘P’s Party’, started by their producer Tequila Saya in 2018. These shorter cards are as fun as the name suggests, and you can expect to see younger/newer talents really come into their own on these.

Tsukasa & Tsukushi retaining their titles at Ribbonmania 2019. | Photo Credit: @cmpuls3

Ice Ribbon keeps things simple with their belts: the main is the ICExInfinity Championship, currently held by standout talent of the scene Maya Yukihi. She has been the reigning champ for quite a while, most recently defending against Suzu Suzuki in Yokohama Radiant Hall. I should also point out that Maya held three Ice Ribbon belts at one point last year, as she truly is an unstoppable force right now. The International Ribbon Tag Team Championship is held by Tsukasa Fujimoto and Tsukushi. The Triangle Ribbon Championship is an interesting one as matches are always three-ways and have a fifteen-minute time limit. Actwres Girl’Z main-stay, Tae Honma, currently holds this belt. Finally, we have the IW-19 Championship, a recently reactivated belt that was created for an old sub-brand of Ribbon, 19’0 Clock Girls Pro Wrestling. Seven years after it was discontinued, it is now held by Hamuko Hoshi and presumably will be defended once again.

The biggest event on the Ice Ribbon calendar each year, Ribbonmania, takes place on New Year’s Eve and draws huge Korakuen audiences to see some of the biggest matches the promotion can offer, along with special guests. The most recent of these featured Tequila Saya’s retirement gauntlet match, an emotional tribute to the impactful wrestler who enjoyed a short but wonderful career. Ice Ribbon’s motto, which is printed on its new ring mat, simply states “be happy with pro-wrestling”. Watching their shows certainly makes me happy that I went to the effort, but I’ll be honest – it can be a little harder than with other companies. One way to support for now is by signing up to nicopro, where you’ll receive the odd Ribbon stream amongst dozens of other shows run by smaller companies or independently produced one-offs. However, you could also opt to sign up for Ribbon’s own nico channel, which is basically a home to their dojo shows. As an extra bonus, here’s a link to a YouTube match of Fujimoto and a dustpan facing Tsukushi and a broomstick. You owe me one.

Tequila Saya’s emotional retirement at Ribbonmania 2019. | Photo Credit: @cmpuls3

Things are looking positive for English speaking Ribbon fans, though, as the company recently launched an official English language account. Giving this promotion a chance was something that I wish I had done sooner, and I can only pressure you to do the same as soon as possible. It might just change your entire perspective on wrestling, as it has done for mine, and there is nothing I love more as a fan than bringing great wrestling to new eyes. Happy viewing!