TJPW Winter ~wonderful harmony~ (1/2/20) Review

Bad, Yuka! Credit: TJPW

Tokyo Joshi’s strong start to the year continued with another intriguing card to kick-off February. We’ve got Raku’s continued attempts to win a match, Maki going up against Pom and a new challenger for Yuka in the form of Lana Austin. How did things shape up? Well, read on to find out.

Mahiro Kiryu and Haruna Neko defeated Hikari Noa and Sena Shiori

The rookie cranks up the pressure. Credit: TJPW

Sena Shiori is having a solid start to life in Tokyo Joshi. She’s not blowing anyone away or looking like the next big thing, but you would be silly to expect that. Instead, she’s settled in nicely to her spot in the opening match and has never looked out of place when I’ve seen her. Fingers crossed she can keep that up.

Outside of that observation, this was a decent if unspectacular opener: nothing you need to watch, but a perfectly enjoyable way to pass your time.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Rika Tatsumi defeated Yuki Kamifuku and Suzume

Elegance personified. Credit: TJPW

The tone of this match was set in the opening moments when Kamiyu decided that she quite fancied trying out being a ref. She managed to make several counts before Rika protested. Unfortunately for Tatsumi, Kamiyu wasn’t taking any of her shit and poked her in the eyes. Maybe more refs should employ that tactic.

What followed was the kind of match that Tokyo Joshi does brilliantly. A light and breezy affair that made me smile from start to finish. It’s not the kind of thing that is going to blow away your work rate fetishists (although I thought the closing stretch was great), but if you like your wrestling to be fun, you’ll have a lovely time.

Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars

Natsumi Maki defeated Pom Harajuku

Pom goes for a spin. Credit: TJPW

Pom wanted to see Maki do the dance she did on her debut (check out @ddtpro_eng on Twitter for translations and a video of said dance) and even enticed her into doing it for a bit. Unfortunately, Pom then got carried away and was so caught up in performing herself that Maki got a chance to boot her in the back.

That didn’t set-up a comedy match, though. Instead, we saw Maki looking focused as she attempted to bounce back from her two high profile defeats by going after Pom’s back. In return, we got to see a side to Pom that we don’t usually see. Not only did she do a solid job of selling that work, but she started going after Natsumi’s previously injured knee, showing an edge that she doesn’t usually have.

It wouldn’t be enough as the Backlash eventually got the win, setting Natsumi Maki on the path to redemption. However, this will always be remembered (at least by me) for the best Pom Harajuku performance I’ve seen so far.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Maki Itoh defeated Raku

Badass, Raku. Credit: TJPW

Raku was hyped for this match, talking on Twitter and her blog about how desperate she was to get her first solo victory. In Maki Itoh, she sees someone who had the same struggles as her, and she wants to emulate Maki’s leap up the card. It was a feeling that the crowd supported, getting behind Raku to the extent that it started to irritate Itoh.

Luckily, she seemed to get over that as Maki looked to be enjoying playing the veteran. Early on, Raku attempted to wriggle out the Cutest Punches only for Itoh to grab her hair and pull her back in. Straight after, they had an exchange where they both went for the other’s signature moves, and Maki was a step ahead again, coming out on top in a battle of counters. She was controlling the match and looking good for it.

However, like Pom before her, Raku was determined not to go down without a fight. What she lacks in natural skill, she more than makes up for in determination and she kept coming at Itoh, desperately looking for that victory. I’m pretty sure she was bleeding from the mouth at one point, holding Itoh in a Sleeper while blood stained her teeth, which is fucking badass.

Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Itoh twisted her up in the Itoh Deluxe, and there was nowhere to go. She clung on for an admirably long time, but the match was over.

Still, Itoh had some advice to dish out before this was all over, telling Pom she was like her once, but now she wins because people need her to win. She told Pom that she needs something to fight for, to which Pom responded that she was going to fight to be like Maki Itoh. It was a statement that seemed to perplex and annoy Itoh who yelled at her to stop saying she was going to win and just do it before also having to yell at the sound person to play her music as she stormed to the back. Everything about that was brilliantly executed.

Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars

Miyu Yamashita and Yuna Manase defeated Miu Watanabe and Mirai Maiumi

Not too shabby a pairing. Credit: TJPW

Miyu Yamashita is one of the best wrestlers in the world, and I love watching her do her thing. Not only does she always come across as a total badass, removing heads with those vicious kicks, but she also bumps like a lunatic, throwing herself around for Mirai lariats and letting Miu toss her across the ring. She has that rare ability to make both herself and everyone around her look brilliant.

In the end, Miyu hit a picture-perfect Reverse Roundhouse Kick, and her performance elevated this from a solid mid-card tag into a good one. There was a moment where Watanabe struggled to get Manase up for a move, but they seemed to recover okay, so I won’t hold it against them. Anything that has Miyu kicking things is fine by me.

Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars

Shoko Nakajima defeated Akemi Daredasore in a Goodbye Akemi Daredasore Setsubun Deathmask of ONI Deathmatch

Out you go. Credit: TJPW

After a frantic month of wrestling, Akemi Daredasore is hanging it up to allow for the return of Hyper Misao. Before she goes, though, she had one final match against the woman who named her, Shoko Nakajima, and it was, well, let’s say under confusing stipulations. This was a Setsubun Deathmask of ONI Deathmatch which meant that before you pinned your opponent, you had to put an ogre mask on them and that beans (yes, beans) were a legal weapon.

What followed was some galaxy brain shit, as we had people in ogre masks being pelted with beans. At one point, Akemi tried to lock Shoko out of the arena, running back to the ring in the hope she’d be counted out only for Shoko to emerge from another door, still wearing her mask, ready to dish out her vengeance. If you aren’t enjoying that kind of nonsense, then we’re probably never going to be friends. It was glorious.

Towards the end, Shoko accidentally pulled off Misao’s normal mask, which led to her putting on one of the ogre ones in a panic. That would ultimately prove her downfall, as it left her open to be pinned by a Nakajima suplex as we say goodbye to one of the most inventive feuds of the year so far. Cheerio, Akemi Daredasore. Welcome back, Hyper Misao.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Lana Austin and BAKURETSU Sisters (Nodoka Tenma and Yuki Aino) defeated Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki and Mizuki) and Mina Shirakawa

I have no idea what’s going on in this picture. Credit: TJPW

Yuka’s music finished before she got introduced, so she sang the ayayayas acapella, which amused me greatly. Although, she’d then go on to be very rude to their guest as she refused to shake Lana’s hand and got bitey during the match. Actually, who am I kidding, that amused me too.

In fact, this match was full of things I enjoyed. For one thing, I always love watching people have their first match in Japan. You could tell this meant a lot to Lana, as moments like her receiving her first Japanese streamers got a huge smile. I believe she’s been open about this being a dream of hers, so I’m delighted it’s come true.

Elsewhere, you had Nodoka Tenma, who will always make me happy just by being herself while the same can be said of the Sugar Rabbits. It was just an enjoyable slice of wrestling, filled with fun spots before Lana got a chance to shine in the closing stretch. They did a great job of both introducing the Japanese crowd to a new wrestler (I say the Japanese crowd, despite being British I don’t think I’ve ever seen her wrestle) and having a good main event at the same time, job done.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

In the aftermath, Lana and Yuka had a very amusing conversation that crossed languages and sorted exactly nothing out. It ended with Lana getting Yuka to pinkie promise to shake her hand nicely, a promise which she promptly broke by getting bitey again. Unsurprisingly, Lana decided enough was enough, heading to the back and leaving the champ to close the show.

Overall Show

In a weird way, that was a perfect example of my favourite kind of Tokyo Joshi show. Sure, there was nothing on there that will tickle the fancy of those who prescribe to the Meltzer scale of what is good or bad in wrestling, but from start to finish it was a delight with several inventive matches featuring great stories. It’s the kind of show that makes me rethink how I do star ratings. I like doing them and don’t have the beef some do with assigning something a rating because I see it merely as a quick way to categorize matches. However, if I had a lovely time with everything on a show, then surely that means all those matches were worthy of high marks? Who knows, and truthfully, who cares?

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