TJPW and DDT are in midst of building to Ultimate Party, and I’ve largely left them to it so far. However, this show had a couple of title matches, so it seemed like the perfect time to drop by and say hi. Although someone needs to have a word with them about the two exclamation marks in the show name, if they go any further, they might slip into insane mind territory.
Pre-show we were introduced to a couple of new rookies, Aona and Yurara. Yurara is thirteen and drew audible awws from the crowd when she stumbled over her words. We then had our usual sing-song before getting started.
Pom Harajuku and Mahiro Kiryu defeated YUMI and Haruna Neko
Neko was returning from five months out with injury and got swamped with streamers during her entrance. She was then welcomed back by the dastardly Pom who worked over her previously injured back, teaching us all that just because someone is wearing bright clothes and acts like they’re friendly, it doesn’t mean they are.
At times this match felt overly choreographed, as it lost out on heat due to everyone trying to remember what they were supposed to do. I’d almost prefer the work to be a bit sloppy (as long as it’s not dangerous), but delivered with passion rather than lifeless and perfect. Then again, all four of these wrestlers are inexperienced, so it’s to be expected.
And I impressed by Neko, who looked good on her return. She had the snap that the other three were perhaps lacking and, even as she took the fall to a Step-Up Leg Drop from Pom, stood out in defeat.
Verdict: Two And A Quarter Stars
Hikari Noa defeated Raku
I’ve previously not been massively enthused by Raku’s in-ring work, enjoying her as a character more than a wrestler. However, this was easily the best performance I’ve seen from her, as she and Noa went out and had a fun back and forth match.
It was particularly enjoyable towards the end, as Raku locked a Sleeper in, wrapping her legs around Hikari as she did so. That led to a fantastic crawl to the ropes, one where Noa looked like she’d made it only to fall back and have to steel herself for one final desperate grasp.
Eventually, Raku would fall, coming off the top rope to be caught in an imperfect Uranage, but this was still the first time she’s convinced me as an in-ring worker. Whether that’s down to the positive influence of Noa, or simply a sign that she’s improving, I don’t know. Either way, I was impressed.
Verdict: Two And Three Quarter Stars
Miu Watanabe, Rika Tatsumi and Suzume defeated BAKURETSU Sisters (Nodoka Tenma and Yuki Aino) and Mirai Maiumi
Some match-ups just work in a way that doesn’t need explaining, and that’s exactly what happened in this six-woman tag. These women all worked their arses off as we got everything from mini-hoss-offs to funny double teams. Everything they did clicked, making it a load of fun to watch.
I will say that Miu Watanabe is quickly becoming a favourite. She does not look like someone who should be wrestling a powerhouse style, but she fucking nails it, and I love watching her work. The final showdown between her and Mirai was great, and I’d happily watch those two go at it again.
It all added up to a ridiculously easy watch that shot by and was the first thing on this show that I’d recommend going out of your way to see.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki and Mizuki) fought to a time limit draw with Shoko Nakajima and Miyu Yamashita
Everything about the Magical Sugar Rabbits makes me smile, from their ridiculously bouncy entrance music to that brilliant name.
Similar to the last match, this was a fantastic tag, although it was probably a step above even that. They were building to Shoko vs Sakazaki, but everyone had their working boots on with Yamashita looking particularly great. There was a moment where she broke up a Mizuki pin by German Suplexing her into next week, and I love that shit.
Having been kept apart for a lot of the match, Shoko and Yuka got the final minutes to show what they can do, and it gave me confidence that match will impress (not that I was worried). There was an awkward moment towards the end when they were battling on the turnbuckle, but it almost added to the realism for me, as it felt like two people who were refusing to give the other even the slightest advantage.
And neither would gain it, the time limit ticking out as Yuka locked on a submission. Not that it stopped them, after coming apart for a few seconds they decided they weren’t quite finished and had to be dragged away from each other. Meanwhile, this match is even more worthy of you going out of your way to see it than the last.
Verdict: Four Stars
Maki Itoh defeated Yuna Manase to win the International Princess Title
Manase won the International Princess Title in unfortunate circumstances when Natsumi Maki went down injured in their match, forcing them to cut it short. Whether she was originally booked to win or they called an audible is up for debate, but her losing the title straight away certainly suggests that changes might have been made.
Not that any of that should take away from Itoh winning the gold. This was a cool moment as Maki won a belt that wasn’t the Iron Man Title for the first time through sheer bloody-mindedness. Literally, at times, as her head became a central focus of this match, its hardness leading to Manase hurting her foot when she kicked Itoh and then enticing the champ into delivering headbutts, a move she lived to regret.
And Itoh just refused to die. Manase hit a Running Knee followed by a Lariat, and she kicked out at one. Then, when Manase dropped her on her face, it looked like she might have the win only for Itoh to roll into a flash pin and sneak out with the belt.
Truthfully, this wasn’t a great match as they never settled into the flow. However, it was a fun one, and I enjoyed the story of Itoh’s desperation to win carrying her through. It was also a badass moment as someone who has been open about her struggles achieved something cool. She seemed genuinely emotional as she cut her promo at the end, and it’s hard not to get into something when the person involved cares that much.
Verdict: Three Stars
NEO Biishiki-gun (Sakisama and Misao) defeated Mina Shirakawa and Yuki Kamifuku to retain the Princess Tag Team Titles
Shirakawa and Kamiyu rapped their way to the ring with Kamiyu slipping into English. It was pretty fucking cool. They then attacked Sakisama and Misao during their entrance, with Mina tying Sakisama to the ropes with a streamer in an attempt to take her out of the equation. Someone probably should have told her that those streamers aren’t that strong.
Sakisama wouldn’t have to wait long for her revenge, as they managed to isolate Mina, working over her arm until Kamiyu came in with a hot tag. That was probably the highlight of the match as she had a fun back and forth with Misao before exchanging strikes with Sakiasama, the two of them leaning into every blow. As two tall, thin wrestlers they don’t look like people who could have a convincing strike exchange, but by the time they were booting each other in the face, they had me on board.
It would be a second strike exchange that decided the match, Mina trying to go toe to toe with Sakisama only to get kicked into next week. She kept getting up, but Sakisama also kept kicking her and eventually it was too much as an awesome Big Boot, while Shirakawa was kneeling, meant the champs retained. They didn’t quite hit the level of the earlier tag, but this was still a damn fine main event.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Just as Misao was claiming they could have a dance party at Ultimate Party since there was no-one worthy of challenging for the belts, Rika Tatsumi and Miu Watanabe came out to make their case. After a bit of back and forth, in which I learnt Rika and Misao have history, the champs accepted, and we can add that to the ever growing card.
What a great show. Two fantastic tags, a big title change and a load of enjoyable undercard action. I don’t have a single complaint, and it’s getting to the point where I’m beginning to get a grip on the TJPW roster. It might not be an essential watch, but if you’re looking for some wrestling to pass the time, you could do a hell of a lot worse.
Watch Tokyo Joshi Pro: https://www.ddtpro.com/universe/videos?teamId=tjpw