TJPW Stand Proud (4/7/20) Review

There is a lot of energy in this picture. Credit: TJPW

For the first time since lockdown ended, we have a Tokyo Joshi show with a couple of announced matches! It’s time for Raku to finally step into her role as a main eventer while the two Yukis do battle over the right to face Yuka. Gosh, that could get confusing, couldn’t it?

Before we got going, Namba announced that Tokyo Joshi is holding try-outs and that Himawari Unagi will be returning at Korkauen. If (like me) you’re an unfit male who doesn’t live in Japan, the first point is slightly irrelevant, but the second is good news.

I was kind of hoping Raku would snap during the UUG’s performance, laying out Miu to get the edge ahead of the main event, but it wasn’t to be. She did appear to be a bit emotional, though, her voice cracking and a few tears sneaking out, the pressure presumably weighing on her.

Hikari Noa and Sena Shiori defeated Pom Harajuku and Mahiro Kiryu

BFFs. Credit: TJPW

Hikari and Sena were friends pre-Tokyo Joshi and I get a kick out of watching them teamed up. Right from their entrance, you could tell they were delighted to be together, sharing a hug and a couple of massive grins before they headed to the ring.

The match itself was another Noa showcase built into a standard opener. I can’t imagine it’s a coincidence that she is consistently picking up victories in these tags. More importantly, she is always good in them and that Uranage she uses as a finisher is starting to look like attempted murder (in the good wrestling way, not the bad going to jail way). Her ascent feels like a when not if situation.

Verdict: Noa Stands Out

Miyu Yamashita defeated Haruna Neko

Poor Neko. Credit: TJPW

Miyu’s ability to go out and have brilliant matches with other great wrestlers is never in doubt. The reason I think she’s one of the best on the planet, is because of her ability to go out with people like Haruna Neko and put together something intriguing.

For whether it’s Pom, Mirai or Haruna, Miyu always finds a way to highlight her opponent’s strengths. Here, it was all about Neko’s scrappy fire. To begin with, Miyu shrugged off her forearms, not even flinching, but Neko kept coming, hammering away until a grimace crept across the Ace’s face. Because of the way Miyu carries herself and the style she wrestlers, that grimace means more for Neko than some victories.

Of course, we all know how it’s ending. Miyu is out to take heads and a head she shall take, but it’s fascinating to see how they got there. Neko was basically grasping at straws, looking for any way to slip through Yamashita’s armour while praying that her head doesn’t fly into the back row. Sadly, on this occasion it did, but thanks to Miyu’s genius, it looked good while doing so.

Verdict: Miyu Is So Cool

Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki and Mizuki) defeated Yuna Manase and Nodoka Tenma

Power! Credit: TJPW

Nodoka time! Five stars! Wait, Mizuki acting like Yuka’s music is too loud has bumped it up to six. In fact, Magical Sugar Rabbits are probably worth a star by themselves, so I reckon that’s seven. Oh, and Nodoka forgot to tag out at one point and had to get back into the ring to do so, which is worth at least ten more.

At some point, I lost track of the stars, but this was all the fun you’d expect it to be. After a silly start, things got serious, Yuka going full workhorse and having some strong interactions with Yuna and Nodoka. No-one needed carrying, but it felt like she’d gone out intending to notch the quality up a bit, pushing everyone to give that little bit extra.

Ahead of her sister’s attempts to do so, Nodoka almost earned a title shot of her own, coming close to getting the three on the home stretch. That champion’s instinct kicked in, though, allowing Yuka to bundle her up for the win. I reckon that had hit at least thirty stars by the end.

Verdict: The World’s First Thirty Star Match

Natsumi Maki defeated Suzume

Poi! Credit: TJPW

Natuspoi has graduated from Iop to Poi with someone presumably teaching her how mirrors work. It didn’t make a difference to her attitude, though, that edge continuing to come into her wrestling.

Suzume is the perfect person to show it off against too, as it’s very hard not to want her to win. She’s delightful, so watching Natuspoi gleefully stamp on her back sends all your sympathy in one direction. Suzume is one of life’s natural babyfaces.

As for Natsupoi, she’s wrestling with a smile on her face. It just happens to be a smile that suggests she likes causing pain. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying it, though.

Verdict: Vicious Poi

Shoko Nakajima and Hyper Misao defeated Mina Shirakawa and Mirai Maiumi

World’s Greatest Tag Team. Credit: TJPW

Shoko and Misao are the galaxy brained tag team we all need in 2020. I’m sure everyone has seen it by now (the GIF has been all over Twitter), but the spot in this match where Misao accidentally healed Mina’s leg by giving it a dose of cold spray is a lovely summation of why I love Tokyo Joshi. You can’t argue with that level of genius.

There was some very good wrestling in this too. Mina is such a big personality that it’s easy to ignore the fact she excels in intricate, tight sequences. She and Shoko had a couple of lovely back and forths, slipping between moves and showing great chemistry, so if they want to do that match, I’m cool with it.

In the end, the superhero and the kaiju picked up their second win as a team, Shoko’s 619 putting Mirai in position to be bundled up by Misao. It was a nicely worked finish to a really enjoyable match.

Verdict: Galaxy Brain

Yuki Aino defeated Yuki Kamifuku

Ultimate heel move. Credit: TJPW

Kamiyu and Aino are two of the crop of Tokyo Joshi wrestlers who have taken huge strides recently. They’re at that exciting stage of their career where it feels like they have got this shit, and every chance to step in the ring is a chance to improve.

Facing off with each other, this was a great opportunity for them to show off their personalities. For Kamiyu, it’s about bending those rules and sneaking into openings. There was a moment where she kidnapped Nodoka at ringside, baiting Aino in before throwing her sister at her. Then, when the schemes don’t work, she falls back on those long legs and her vicious boots to the face, a tactic that’s nearly always successful.

As for Aino, she’s pure babyface fire, going up against Kamiyu’s sneakiness and facing it head-on. She suffered those boots to the head, survived the various tricks and refused to give up. Then, when her opportunity came, she threw herself into it, desperate to come out with the win.

It led to a brilliant closing stretch, the match kicking up a notch or two as Kamiyu realised things were turning and went for a series of flash pins. Sadly for her, it wasn’t to be, Aino bringing over with a UBV (which looked awesome), earning her the three and a shot at the big time.

This wasn’t a perfect match as there were a couple of awkward moments. I think it’s probably fair to say both Yukis are at the point where they can be elevated to brilliance by an incredible opponent, but together will float around good to very good. However, that’s hardly a criticism, and if they keep going the way they are, there is every chance that one day they’ll be doing the elevating.

Verdict: Stepping Up!

Daydream (Miu Watanabe and Rika Tatsumi) defeated Maki Itoh and Raku to retain the Princess Tag Team Titles

She went down napping. Credit: TJPW

From day one, this has been Raku’s story. The idol train lover who somehow found herself a wrestler and decided earlier this year that she was fed-up of being the one who lost all the time. Her journey from that moment to this was brilliant, the slow blossoming of her confidence as she found in Maki Itoh someone who, while far from an obvious kindred spirit, could take her to the next level.

And, while she would ultimately lose this match, it was further proof of how far she’s come in the last few months. There is a fire to her now that you never saw before, a fire that for a few minutes had me genuinely believing she was going to win those belts. As she slapped the ground, pushing herself up to keep the fight going against Miu, I bought her as a wrestler who could reach that level, and I definitely wouldn’t have said that at the start of the year.

Outside of Raku, we got the continuing clash of Rika’s Diamond Arse and Maki’s Rock Solid Head. Unfortunately for Itoh-chan, this round seemed to go to Rika with her backside proving powerful enough to batter through that thick defence. Itoh also had an unfortunate moment towards the end where she was struggling to kick-off from the corner into a Tornado DDT. It’s the kind of spot I’d normally ignore, but it happened just as they were going into the final sequence and she went back to it twice rather than moving on, which somewhat disrupted the flow.

Despite that, I still enjoyed this a lot. The final minutes with Miu and Raku were gripping, as I desperately cheered on everyone’s favourite train enthusiast. It wasn’t to be, but this was still a fantastic outing that showed just how far she’s come. If anything, it’s a blessing, as it leaves her free to set her eyes on bigger prizes.

Verdict: Raku Is My Champion

Daydream wanted a match at Korakuen but were worried they didn’t have any opponents. Thankfully, a certain superhero and her kaiju pal had something to say about that. I have full faith in a match between those two teams being a shitload of fun, and it’s worth remembering that Misao was the previous champion, even if she was a bit different back then.

Overall Show

Tokyo Joshi is a really exciting company to watch at the moment. They have a young, hungry roster full of wrestlers who feel like they’re on the verge of taking the step-up. The final two matches on this card were a perfect example of that, as they were packed with fresh faces having strong showings. TJPW’s future is bright, and I’m looking forward to watching along.

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