You wait all summer for a tournament to come along and suddenly they’re all fucking here at once! Up first, at least from my point of view, is the Princess Cup, Tokyo Joshi’s attempt to find their next title contender. It’s elimination-style with the entirety of the first round (some people are seeded and come in at round-two) happening on one show. What went down? Well, if you don’t already know, I guess now is the time to find out.
Suzume defeated Haruna Neko in the First Round of the Princess Cup
Neko vs Suzume feels a bit like when two non-league teams get drawn together in the third round of the FA Cup. Neither is going to win the tournament, not unless something incredible happens, but by being paired up, they’ve insured at least one of them will make the next round.
It was better quality than a match between two non-league teams would be, though. Neko and Suzume came through together and have both teamed and faced-off plenty of times in their short careers. They know each other well, and you could see that they were working hard to make this more than just a throwaway match.
And while I don’t think it was anything incredible, you’d have to be a right grump to take against it. Two young wrestlers worked their arses off and put on a solid wee contest, Suzume picking up a win over the slightly more experienced wrestler with a Crossbody. They shared a hug afterwards, and they could both head to the back pleased with what they’d achieved.
Maki Itoh defeated Himawari Unagi in the First Round of the Princess Cup
There was a lot of chest-based offence in this one. First Itoh gnawed her way out of the Mountain Range from Above before deciding that she’d like to give it a go herself. Unfortunately, much like when she did a similar thing while teaming with Yuna, she found she lacked the, em, necessary padding and only hurt herself. Still, you can’t fault her for trying.
The rest of the match was alright but had a few awkward moments as it feels like Unagi is still working off that ring rust. There were some good ideas, though, Unagi using a cool Gory Special style stretch on Itoh before being beaten with a headbutt to the leg followed by the Itoh Special.
Overall, I think the comedy worked better than the action, but with Unagi still fresh off her injury, you’d be harsh to be too hard on it. It was what it was.
Hyper Misao and Shoko Nakajima defeated Mirai Maiumi, Sena Shiori and Moka Miyamoto in a handicap match
Misao declared Sena and Moka nobodies before the match (Mirai has presumably Lariated some respect into her in the past), apologising to the fans if she beat them too quickly. It seemed a bit harsh, but Hyper Misao is a superhero, so I don’t think she would lie to us.
It did seem to fire the rookies up, though, as they were out there trying to earn that respect. Surprisingly, that left the match somewhat antic free as they instead worked to give Moka another decent workout and continue the slow build of Mirai. And while Misao would eventually get the win, I don’t think it was in a time that would leave anyone feeling short-changed.
My biggest takeaway from this is that it’s clear Misao and Shoko are continuing as a team past their title shot. That is very good news.
Verdict: Solid Rookie Run Out
Natsumi Maki defeated Mina Shirakawa in the First Round of the Princess Cup
Natsupoi was wearing some of Kairi Hojo’s old gear, which is something she has done before but will no doubt attract particular interest at the moment. Either way, she looked cool, rocking that pirate vibe.
This was my sleeper pick to be one of the matches of the tournament, and while I don’t think it quite hit that level, it was rather good. There were some lovely counters thrown in there, including Mina catching Natsupoi’s leg and holding her in place so she could deliver a Spinning Backfist. It gave an already good looking move an extra bit of spice, that impact looking all the harder.
Sadly, Mina didn’t hit her hard enough. Late in the match, she went for it again, connecting, but when she took off to hit the ropes, Maki recovered and met her with a kick. That was enough to stun Shirakawa, leaving her open to the Cartwheel Bomb and the three. I enjoyed this a lot, and it’s a pairing I would like to see more of in the future.
Verdict: More, Please
Mizuki, Yuki Aino, Yuki Kamifuku and Mahiro Kiryu defeated Rika Tatsumi, Miu Watanabe, Hikari Noa and Pom Harajuku
Some standard (yet enjoyable) multi-women fare with a solid smattering of comedy through it. It kicked off with Kamiyu accidentally blurting out her team’s plan to launch a sneak attack which very much set the tone for what was to come. The whole thing was worked at pace with everyone getting at least a wee chance to shine so there wasn’t really time to get bored with it. Sure, you’ll never go back to it, and those in a rush can skip ahead, but I had a nice time.
Miyu Yamashita defeated Raku in the First Round of the Princess Cup
Most of the time Raku vs Miyu would feel like a foregone conclusion, but to say that Yamashita has issues with elimination tournaments would be putting it lightly. Her inability to get these right is legendary, giving everyone’s favourite train enthusiast a golden opportunity.
And by making Miyu beatable, Tokyo Josh has turned her into one the more interesting Aces going. In so many companies there would have been zero edge to this match, but I believed that Raku could get the win, especially when you take into account her recent improvement. The run of offence she had towards the end felt like it could pay-off.
Unfortunately, Miyu had that glint of steel in her eye. She looked like someone who was refusing to repeat her previous mistakes, and when the opportunity opened up, she grasped it ruthlessly. The Attitude Adjustment that got her the win saw her almost hold Raku vertically in the air, that split second of hesitation adding so much to the impact. She’s avoided that banana peel, now onto the next one.
Verdict: Good Night Ow
Yuka Sakazaki defeated Nodoka Tenma in the First Round of the Princess Cup
I am incapable of being subjective about this match. Nodoka is my favourite while the knowledge that Yuka Sakazaki exists makes my life a little bit brighter. How are you supposed to critique something involving those two?
I shall try, though, as this was presented as an almost straightforward victory for the champ. That’s not to say Nodoka didn’t test her, she did, but there wasn’t really a moment where I thought she was going to win. Through the whole match, Sakazaki felt like she was just that inch or two ahead of her opponent, able to deal with her biggest weapons and eventually hit the move that I believe she’s called the Magical Flying Chicken Dude, but I’ve also seen translated as the Magical Flying Chicken Bastard, a much better name, in my opinion.
It was a good main event but did feel a bit like one that was coming at the start of three shows in three days. They weren’t going to go all out and kill themselves because Yuka had a lot more matches to wrestle and there was no food on the line, so Nodoka’s motivation was always going to be slightly blunted. Still, I smiled throughout because well, as I said, it’s Nodoka vs Yuka. How can you not love that?
Verdict: A Good Match
That was a lovely wee start to the tournament from Tokyo Joshi. I don’t think there were any huge, standout matches on day one, but everything was very watchable, and there was a gem or two hidden away. My pick, Natsupoi, didn’t fall at the first round either, which is always nice.
Watch Tokyo Joshi Pro: https://www.ddtpro.com/universe/videos?teamId=tjpw