Tsukushi is gonna be the only Triple Crown Champion taking the high school entrance exam!
That’s the quote from Hailey Hatred in reaction to 15-year old prodigy Tsukushi emerging victorious in the tournament to crown a new Ice Ribbon ICEx60 Champion, following Maki Narumiya being forced to vacate the belt through injury. She defeated newly-crowned Triangle Ribbon Champion Miyako Matsumoto in the finals earlier today to add a third title to her trophy cabinet – going along with her International Ribbon and REINA x World Tag Team Championships which she holds with Aoi Kizuki.
It’s a massive achievement for the hugely-talented three year pro, who’s been gaining plaudits along the way, including former Ice Ribbon matriarch Emi Sakura – with the two holding the tag straps in the past – and the legendary Manami Toyota, who gave her the seal of approval 18 months ago.
Amidst double Tag Team Championship defences, the 4’9″ dynamo also entered the ICEx60 tournament, drawing with former champion Hikaru Shidaas part of the initial league format, but then placed as the runner-up in her block by beating Risa Sera and knocking up another time limit draw with Neko Nitta. Advancing to the semi-finals, Tsukushi beat Shida’s Muscle Venus tag team partner and former three-time ICEx60 titleholder Tsukasa Fujimoto to make it to the finals against Matsumoto, who beat Shida to make it to the last two.
The title win is a natural progression for one of Ice Ribbon’s jewels. Having won the International Ribbon title a record-tying five times and also being crowned the first IW19 Champion two years ago, it was almost inevitable that she would gain the promotion’s top titles. Admittedly, the win comes from Narumiya’s adversity, but when opportunities arise, they have to be taken, and Tsukushi’s been waiting in the wings for some time. Yes, she’s young – but you can’t stop talent, and she deserves a decent run with the belt to give it some stability after Narumiya’s reign was cut tragically short by her unfortunately-timed injury.
– Lee Burton
– Photo by Youji Kawauchi