The Mane Six are attending a pro-wrestling match in Madisoat Square Garden, courtesy of Rainbow Dash scoring tickets. Rarity, turned off to the whole thing, walks out of a match where crowd favorite, the Masked Mare, is fighting and ends up running into a nervous Ms. Cheerilee. She confesses that the Masked Mare is actually Cherry Blossom, her twin sister who she’s been estranged from for years, and she was invited to the wrestling tournament to hopefully reconcile with her. However, when Rarity invites them both out to tea to help get them back together, the sisters get in an argument instead which ends up with Cherry spraining her ankle. Now unable to perform in the championship match against Iron Hock in three days, Cherry instead asks Cheerilee to fill in for her. Cheerilee reluctantly agrees and starts practicing to go through the match. Over the course of practice, in spite of being as good at her sister at wrestling, she confides in Rarity she hates the violence and aggressiveness of the act and didn’t get along with her twin because she was always the more “rough and tumble” type growing up, and that she’s too nervous to go out. Rarity responds by having Cheerilee (in the Masked Mare’s outfit and character) meet a group of her young fans, and in doing so she realizes even if Cherry is more “physical”, she still shares Cheerilee’s passion for making foals happy. Cheerilee ends up going through the match and, in spite of a last-minute tag-team addition (in which Rarity, herself in costume, jumps in to assist), everything goes well. The two sisters reconcile, and, when asked by Twilight how she had a mask for the wrestling match ready-to-go, Rarity answers it never hurts to be prepared.
I think the “Friends Forever” series is missing an issue…
It’s pretty clear after this issue is done that this was meant to be a “Friends Forever” story between Rarity and Ms. Cheerilee. I’m not sure why it was relocated here as “Friends Forever” hasn’t ended its run. Perhaps they had accidentally commissioned two issues at once, or they were trying to play for time to delay the premiere of the upcoming King Sombra arc so that it wouldn’t be penned until it was clear Season Five wouldn’t have any “new surprises”. For whatever reason, here it is.
Again, it’s not one of those arcs that really grabs you, which only figures as it has the feel of a “Friends Forever” story. It does show off the talent of the team behind the comic as they were able to expand on Ms. Cheerilee quite a bit, who has largely remained untouched in the actual series since “Hearts and Hooves Day”. The idea of one of the show-established characters having a twin was actually kind of interesting, although shortly into the story one can kind of guess how it was going to play into things.
But although it made a few attempts to for something more with “heart”, it’s really kind of overshadowed by the plot device to get all of this moving, which is the pro-wrestling. And…that part isn’t too good. You only have so many panels to work with and most was the build-up to the fight, and once it got there it wasn’t really wacky or dramatic. There’ve been other issues that featured a lot more sight gags at least.
Not so much here except for the interesting style. And this is where the earlier “unique” style first presented in “Friends Forever” comes out. Pro-wrestling has the virtue of being a topic that will probably never be hit on in the main series, but here the ponies are practically bipedal to make it work out. Between the masks, the style, and how they move…yeah, this is one where if you just showed certain panels or pages, I don’t think one would realize it was an MLP:FIM comic.
As for as the more dramatic parts, they’re kind of weak. The only thing we ever really get for why Cheerilee and Cherry Blossom hate each other is “one liked to roughhouse”, which isn’t really that great. I mean, I can see it. When you have twins, parents tend to always stick them together, and if one was shy and delicate and the other was aggressive and physical, that can cause some tension. But for them to greet each other with such venom and loathing when they meet at the tea shop? There has to be something else. Something that set them off or was the “straw that broke the camel’s back”. The fact we don’t get into it kind of makes the story a bit contrived.
So it’s cute, interestingly drawn, and entertaining enough to hold your interest, but the payoffs it gives are somewhat weak. As a result, I’ll again mark this as solidly “meh”.
Amy Mebberson, the same individual who did the art for the “Friends Forever” with Rainbow Dash & Spitfire, did the artwork for this issue…so once again there is the “unique” look to the characters that was presented there.
The arena is called Madisoat Square Garden, a takeoff of Madison Square Garden.
Most of the wrestling that takes place in this issue is heavily “Lucha Libre” inspired, which is the Mexican variant on pro-wrestling. This is especially prevalent in the heavy use of masks. In actual Lucha Libre, the mask is more important and is never to be removed in public, but here it seems to simply be a costume choice. As another takeoff of Lucha Libre, Rarity’s “ring name” is Diamande Elegante. The biggest takeoff, of course, is that it ends up everything was staged, including all of the Masked Mare’s opponents.
I think the main reason Cheerilee’s sister is named Cherry Blossom is so there’s a faux-running gag of the two talking to each other through the issue, using “Cherry” and “Cheery”. The problem is it’s rather confusing at times.
One of the posters at the doctor’s office is a takeoff of the old “hang in there” poster, only it features a pony instead and says “hoof in there”…which is kind of odd. Later, a TV program called “Dr. Philly” is running. I don’t know whether to be more surprised at a takeoff of “Dr. Phil”…or stunned that there is television in Equestria.
As possibly a “meta humor” joke, right after Rarity enters the ring, the next panel cuts to the end of the match, and Ms. Cheerilee seems confused on how they won in the first place. 😛
Since the Mane Six are all there but seemingly have little to do, in the back of one of the panels, Pinkie Pie is trying out a wrestling leg-lock on Applejack. She seems to have the hang of it. Later she does a body slam. O_O
2.5 Stars out of 5