If this is your first SMF, please read the "Styles Make Fights" introductory post, then come right back and join us! Or don't. I'm not your Mom.
Since last time there have been approximately 17 shows? Don't quote me on that. Point being, I normally retrospect, but I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed at the rate this tournament is moving and may save it for one big retrospective of the tourney as a whole after Revolution.
Tomorrow night it all comes down to this. Both finalists had to win three big matches in a row to get here, and the winner will have amazing momentum when they go on to challenge Hikaru Shida for the AEW World championship at the supershow.
Ryo Mizunami beat the flavor of the month, Maki Itoh, the monstrous legend, Aja Kong, and the high-flying favorite of the Japanese bracket, Yuka Sakazaki. Meanwhile, Nyla Rose broke everyone's bracket, knocking out someone who could very credibly have won the whole thing every single round.
Normally, I show the offense mix of the two competitors who are about to face each other. But this time I'm going to do something a little bit different. Below is the offense mix of the four competitors that Nyla Rose either has or will face in this tournament:
All four of these women have very different mixes of offense. But they have one VERY important strategic trait in common: All four have a style which relies on high levels of offense production, and either avoiding or shutting down their opponent's offense.
Unfortunately for Ryo Mizunami, this is a strategic preference that has proven extremely unsuccessful for Nyla Rose's opponents.
Now take a look at the flow of offense in Nyla's American bracket final win over the amazing Thunder Rosa last night:
If you've analyzed a lot of flow of offense graphs, you probably would say that this one looks an awful lot like the red line starting strong, weathering blue's midmatch storm, and then mounting a comeback for an inspiring win. Except we know that's not what happened.
The Beast Bomb is a weapon that Nyla Rose employs to destroy her opponents in complete defiance of conventional match structure. I've been thinking of this quote from a favorite comic, the Order of the Stick, all day:
Nyla Rose is not the hero of this story. But she isn't a typical rage beast who exists for some hero to vanquish anymore, either. She is a black hole for heroes.
I'm not saying that Ryo Mizunami can't beat her. She beat the mythological monster of Joshi wrestling, Aja Kong. There is no counting her out. But the Nyla Rose of this tournament is not the same Nyla who has stalled out in the past. Anybody who thinks they can stop her had better pack a lunch.