It was a rough weekend for joshi as the dreaded virus forced both Stardom and TJPW to cancel shows. We did get one before the shit hit the fan, though, and it was the quarter-finals of the Princess Cup. I guess it’s time to see how that went down.
Rika Tatsumi, Nodoka Tenma and Haruna Neko defeated Mirai Maiumi, Suzume and Sena Shiori
There was a moment in this match where Rika realised it was possible to catapult her much smaller partners into their opponents. Well, at least she realised that in theory. It worked with Haruna, but when she tried it with Nodoka, she wasn’t strong enough. What had seemed a great plan suddenly led to the two of them bickering and then outright fighting, leaving their rookie to be ganged up on by her three peers.
And this was a match designed to highlight that rookie trio. When in the ring with the likes of Rika you would never be able to tell that between the three of them they don’t even have three years worth of experience. They also worked well as a unit, both Mirai and Suzume sneaking in to help Sena roll over a Tatsumi Figure Four. Then, when Rika made it to the ropes, Mirai was there to drag them back to the centre.
Rika would eventually escape and go on to pick up the win. It was a victory that momentarily seemed to heal the rift between her and Tenma, but it didn’t last long, poor Neko having to separate them as they made their way out of the arena. How are these rookies ever going to learn if the grown-ups are going to behave like that?
Verdict: Set A Good Example!
Yuki Kamifuku and Mahiro Kiryu defeated Hikari Noa and Pom Harajuku
Four people who might have been dissatisfied with how far they got in the Princess Cup but who, at least for me, had impressive showings.
And Kamiyu, in particular, seemed determined to make up for her early exit, hitting the ring and booting everything in sight. She’d maybe been wound up by Noa showing some evil tendencies, threatening to poke Kiryu in the eyes while standing on her fingers. Everyone knows Yuki is the eye-poker in this town.
It would be Kiryu who picked up the win, getting a rare pinfall after she put Pom down with a Spinebuster. In fact, it’s so rare that she looked genuinely shocked at having done so, appearing almost unsure of what to do. Thankfully, she figured it out, and this was another enjoyable if short match.
Yuka Sakazaki and Raku defeated Mina Shirakawa and Himawari Unagi
Can we go ahead and set Raku and Yuka up as a regular team, please? They were a delight, Yuka pulling Raku into the corner at the start to prevent her shaking hands with their opponents. We also saw the Double Decker Good Night Express, Raku leaping onto the champ’s back and looking like she was having the time of her life.
Their interactions were central to what was a fun match. No-one was killing themselves, but they didn’t need to, and Mina vs Yuka proved an interesting pairing. I am very high on Shirakawa right now, so fingers crossed it’s not the last time we see it.
It was one of those matches that just made me happy, and I’m not sure it needs any more analysis than that.
Mizuki defeated Yuki Aino in the Princess Cup Quarter Final
Aino has this wonderful ability to make everything she is involved in feel like a proper fight. People talk about wrestlers making this stuff look easy, but Aino makes it look hard. Every strike, every slam and every display of power takes something from her and makes the next one that little bit harder. It means that late into this match when she locked a submission on Mizuki, you didn’t just feel like Mizuki was fighting to escape, but that Aino was fighting to keep it on.
It’s a style that also brings something out of her opponents too. You don’t think of Mizuki as a wrestler you’ll see in that kind of physical match-up, but Aino’s style guides her in that direction. It feels like two people grappling for control, desperately looking for openings. Individual moves still have beauty, but as a whole, it becomes more about barging into gaps and imposing yourself on the fight.
I honestly didn’t realise that Aino had this kind of singles run in her, my adoration of Tenma perhaps making me miss her little sister’s talents. However, I have loved every match she’s had recently, and this was no exception. Even as she lost, it felt like we were watching Aino grow, finding herself in new situations and discovering things about herself as she went. She fell to the more experienced Mizuki here, but you were left with the distinct impression that she’ll be back.
Verdict: Aino’s Awesome
Maki Itoh defeated Miu Watanabe in the Princess Cup Quarter Final
Maki Itoh has officially joined Raku (covering her eyes) and Lulu Pencil (being a pencil) in my list of favourite ways to take a Giant Swing. Unsurprisingly, Maki’s version involved her defiantly raising her fingers, letting the world know what she thinks even as she’s spun around in a circle.
Outside of Maki’s swing tactics, this was a match that revolved around backs. Miu went after Itoh’s first, using her power advantage to crack it over her knee. In response, Maki used a very high-angle Boston Crab before dropping down with a headbutt to compound the damage. They were both left reaching behind them, trying to ease the pain between each move.
That meant it eventually became a bit of a slugfest, the two dishing it out in the centre of the ring. Miu had the power advantage, but Maki had the big fucking head, and she was able to block Watanabe’s Baseball Chop with it and follow up with a straightforward headbutt. Two Flying Headbutts followed, and Itoh-chan’s in the semis.
Itoh’s head is becoming a key part of this tournament and, as ridiculous as it is, I enjoy the way it’s used to turn matches. We know it’s her biggest weapon and she’s become adept at unleashing it at the perfect time. Throw in the ever-improving Miu, and this was very good.
Verdict: Big Fucking Head!
Shoko Nakajima defeated Natsumi Maki in the Princess Cup Quarter Final
Well, there goes my pick to win this thing.
For most of this match, it looked like my prediction was going strong. In many ways, this was Natsupoi’s most complete kayfabe performance of the tournament as she was able to control Shoko, working her over with submissions and looking like while she wasn’t exactly cruising to victory, it was within her grasp. She even hit the Cartwheel Bomb, a move that had won her both her previous matches.
Unfortunately, she got cocky. Rather than going for the pin, she decided she needed more. Perhaps she was right, but it gave Shoko a lifeline, and it was one she grasped desperately, putting together a flurry of moves and eventually hitting a big Senton for the win.
Natuspoi is clearly in a year where Tokyo Joshi is teaching her lessons. First through her series with Miyu and now with this. It may mean that’s she not getting that big title shot yet, but I have no doubt that’s the eventual goal.
Verdict: You Must Learn, Poi
Miyu Yamashita defeated Hyper Misao in the Princess Cup Quarter Final
With Miyu’s propensity to fall victim to an upset or two and Misao being Misao, my favourite superhero was practically the favourite for this one. By the time she’d cocooned Miyu in the ring apron, following up by wrapping her up with tape, I was pretty sure we were heading to Princess Hyper Misao.
Unfortunately even when hobbling around like a human burrito, Miyu is a bit good. She not only made it back to the ring but managed to dodgy Misao’s turnbuckle pad attacks before taking her off her feet with a Shoulder Block and bursting out of her prison. If I was Misao, that would probably have been the moment where I headed for the hills.
However, much like against Yuka, this became a chance for PaMi to remind people she is more than her tricks. She hung in there, coming agonisingly close to beating Miyu as she dragged her into flash pin after flash pin. Towards the end she even dipped into her evil goth days, hitting a Ripcord Knee and setting up for Vanitas. Unfortunately, it would be her final act, an Attitude Adjustment followed by the honour of being kneed in the head with Crash Rabbit Heat put her down for the three.
Still, this was another great Misao match that’s further proof she can wrestle a ‘main event’ style while still being uniquely Misao. Miyu might have pulled the upset and moved on, but Misao nearly had her.
Verdict: So Close!
Miyu was so knackered that she headed straight to the back, forcing Suzume to give chase and remind her this was the main event, so she should probably say something.
On a weekend where joshi took a battering thanks to positive COVID tests (fingers crossed everyone’s alright), the show Tokyo Joshi did get to run was as entertaining as ever. This tournament has been a real easy watch, and I have no doubt that when they’re able to run the semi-finals, that will be no different.
Watch Tokyo Joshi Pro: https://www.ddtpro.com/universe/videos?teamId=tjpw