They’re back! It’s not quite how Tokyo Joshi planned to bring all of this to a close, but with shows cancelled due to positive COVID tests, it’s the way it’s happening. The Princess Cup was being finished up all in one day with, outside of the champ, arguably the four biggest stars in the company leftover. Who was going to take it home? Well, my pre-show money was on Mizuki, and I swear I wrote that before watching.
BAKURETSU Sisters (Yuki Aino and Nodoka Tenma) & Mina Shirakawa defeated Hyper Misao, Raku and Himawari Unagi
Nodoka, Yuki and Mina seemed intent on fighting fire with fire or, in this case, nonsense with nonsense. They came out ready for a summer holiday, lip-synching away and armed with inflatables before trying to lead everyone in a pre-match exercise routine. That, of course, meant Misao wasn’t centre of attention, so she got Raku and Unagi to hoist her up for Mecha-Misao and put an end to that.
Honestly, there were too many of my favourites in this match for any review I write of it be impartial. If they’d stood in the centre of the ring and had a chat, I’d have given them a standing ovation. When you include the three-person Goodnight Express, plenty of rubber ring shenanigans and a rare pinfall for Nodoka, I was a mere giggling ball of joy.
You’d have to be a right boring bastard not to get some happiness out of this.
Maki Itoh defeated Mizuki in the Princess Cup semi-final
I could write an entire separate article on the history between Maki and Mizuki. In Mizuki, Itoh found her first friend in wrestling, someone who helped her improve and yet someone who she could never genuinely believe liked her. The then Itoh Respect Army (it was when she replaced Mizuki with Brookes that the Neo got added) was destined to fail because Itoh was incapable of not blowing it up.
It was a history which laid heavy on this match. This is only their second singles meeting since they stopped teaming, and Itoh was noticeably quiet in the opening exchange, her usual bluster removed. Then, when Mizuki clambered to the top rope, ready to leap to the floor, Maki joined her up there, putting a stop to her plans with a headbutt. Coming into this, she’d described Mizuki as the one she couldn’t lose to, and she was focused, determined to show how far she’s come.
And Itoh has come a long way. She’s closer to Mizuki than she’s ever been and that showed. From the start, her target was the back, weakening it up for that Itoh Special. It was working too. The problem is that while Maki is better, she’s still not good enough. Even as Mizuki clutched at her back, she showed time after time, that she had that little bit more to her than Itoh.
The key moment proved that. As Itoh reared back for a headbutt, Mizuki responded in kind, driving her own head forward. However, as we all know, Maki has a big fucking head, and it was Mizuki who flinched back. Unfortunately, at that moment, Itoh couldn’t resist. She turned, cockily looking at the crowd as she gloated over her rival. That was the sliver of an opening that Mizuki needed.
There was to be some relief for Itoh. It was a small note, but in the aftermath, Mizuki offered a hand, and Itoh accepted it, the two taking a moment to bow to each other. In the last year, Itoh may have been unable to reach the level of her old friend, but she’s got a lot closer, and it seems she’s willing to let some of the animosity go. Not all of it, though. In classic Itoh style, she defiantly raised a middle finger afterwards. She’s still coming for you, Mizuki.
Verdict: Loved It
Shoko Nakajima defeated Miyu Yamashita in the Princess Cup semi-final
Another match with a shitload of history as Shoko and Miyu are the foundation blocks upon which TJPW is built. Despite that, their singles history is rather limited and if you ignore the early mat shows (which Tokyo Joshi do) they came into this with Shoko 2-1 up, her last victory being when she beat Miyu for the title.
Even if one on one matches aren’t common, these two have still shared the ring and trained together for years, so this felt like a showdown between equals. From the start, there was a sense that they knew they needed to experiment to catch each other off-guard. At one point, Miyu went in for what looked like a head kick, only to wrap her leg around Shoko, twisting around to get her into a hold.
As for Shoko, it was her ability to power through those kicks that proved decisive. There was a moment where she was perched on the top rope, ready to leap, when Miyu met her with a boot. It stunned her, obviously, but rather than crumple, she steeled herself, leaping off with a Dropkick anyway and only collapsing when she hit the floor.
That determination would prove the killer, Miyu was teeing off, but Shoko kept coming forward, pure will power dragging her onwards. It let her slip under Miyu’s guard and bundle her over, taking the three and once again insuring that Yamashita would not be winning the Princess Cup. This was a classy as hell wrestling match between two brilliant wrestlers.
Verdict: That’s 3-1
Yuka Sakazaki, Mirai Maiumi and Sena Shiori defeated Yuki Kamifuku, Mahiro Kiryu and Haruna Neko
For most of its runtime, this was a fairly standard Tokyo Joshi multi-women tag. Good, but nothing particularly special. However, towards the end, everyone seemed to push the gas that little bit harder. There was one sequence between Kamiyu and Mirai that was brilliant, Yuki hitting the ring and practically decapitating the rookie with a big boot. It kicked off roughly a minute or so of fantastic wrestling between the two. More of that, please.
We also got a nice showdown between Yuka and Kiryu, initiated by Mahiro trying to break a Yuka submission and the champ having none of it. She seemed determined to put this kid in her place, thudding into her with forearms, but finding her surprisingly hard to put down. I kept assuming we were heading home, but the rookie was refusing to die.
It turned what I thought was just going to be a nice wee match into something a little bit more. I’m still not sure you need to rush out and watch it straight away, but there were moments where it came close, as that group of TJPW wrestlers who are taking leaps and bounds forward continue to improve.
Daydream (Miu Watanabe & Rika Tatsumi) & Suzume defeated Pandemic Boo Boo (Hikari Noa & Natsumi Maki) & Pom Harajuku
Pom is one of my favourite people to slot into the third spot in a trio. She’s the best at doing little things that make me laugh, like kicking away at people’s shins while they’re being choked in her corner. It’s the kind of stuff you can easily miss, but when I catch it I’m always happier for having done so.
Anyway, I was expecting this match to set up Pandemic Boo Boo vs Daydream, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, we got a good showing with Miu hoisting Pom all the way up and then all the way down for the win. It was enjoyable because it had lots of talented young wrestlers in it, but when it comes to analysis, there isn’t much to say.
Mizuki defeated Shoko Nakajima to win the Princess Cup
Shoko had been paying attention as she went after Mizuki’s back from the start, zeroing in on the work Maki had started. Having already wrestled the Ace, she seemed to want this over and done with quickly.
The Princess Cup is starting to become Mizuki’s tournament, though, and with a battle against her Magical Sugar Rabbit pal at stake, she wasn’t going down without a fight. That back was causing her all sorts of bother, but Mizuki kept going. She couldn’t get a grasp on the action, but she refused to lose, finding counters in the right moments to keep herself alive.
That spirit was the decider. Time after time it looked like Mizuki was done only for her to find that little bit extra, firing up to meet Shoko on the top rope or kicking out at two. Then, when she got her chance, she flew into it, a Back Cracker turning Shoko’s plan against her and setting up for a pair of Double Stomps. The Cutie Special might not have even been needed at that point, but she did it all the same.
That was a damn good final, especially from two wrestlers who had already had a match. It also meant that my second prediction of the tournament (poor Natsupoi) was correct, so you can all start calling me Nostradamus.
Verdict: Lovely Stuff
Mizuki couldn’t stop herself getting emotional in the aftermath, especially when it came time for her to lay down the challenge to Yuka. They set that up for the Tokyo Dome City Hall Show, as the Sugar Rabbits are set to collide! I can’t wait.
In many ways, the Princess Cup ended up being a rather routine tournament. On the whole, the people that you’d expect to win if you were going purely off history won, which is a rare thing when it comes to wrestling. Still, safe booking does not necessarily mean bad booking and often makes the exciting stuff down the road even better.
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