TJPW Wrestle Princess (7/11/20) Review

Proud. Credit: TJPW

After a long old wait, Tokyo Joshi finally got their big show at Tokyo Dome City Hall. They probably weren’t planning on having it be socially distanced, but a bump in the road shouldn’t ruin the mood, and they’d put together a suitably packed card to celebrate the next step in the company’s growth.

Protecting us all. Credit: TJPW

The Hall has an actual stage, so the Up Up Girls started on that before moving down to the ring for a second song. Wrestle Princess truly is a blessed show. Miu was the first person to become emotional (she won’t be the last) her voice cracking early on, but she recovered and explained on Twitter how much the moment meant to her. By the way, if you have not watched the video for ‘Upper Chop’ that they released recently, then I can thoroughly recommend it. The Up Up Girls saving the world from an evil Miyu Yamashita? Yes, please.

Suzume and Sena Shiori defeated Mei Suruga and Moka Miyamoto

That’s our Mei-chan. Credit: TJPW

There are few wrestlers who I want good things for as much as I want good things for Mei Suruga. Her being added to this opening match gave it an emotional hook for me that it might have lacked otherwise.

To the shock of no-one, she smashed it. Mei was the most experienced wrestler in the ring and seemed to relish the chance to show-off in front of a new crowd. As anyone who watches her regularly knows, she’s as much goblin as she is apple and her pointedly trying to get Sena to clap along with her (after loudly yelling at Row Z that she needed them all to get involved) hinted at the menace she can be.

Suzume and Mei’s interactions were the highlight, Tokyo Joshi’s Bumblebee proving she could keep up with Suruga, but Sena and Moka looked decent too. While Moka lacks a bit of polish, she has an intriguing style that I hope said polish doesn’t buff out. Suzume would pin her for the win, hitting a Cutter that had a slither of Stunner in its DNA, as the mini-push she’s been on continues. Considering how impressive she’s been recently, that’s fine by me.

Verdict: Well Done, Apple Girl

Mahiro Kiryu and Pom Harajuku defeated Mariaka Kobashi and Haruna Neko

All else fails, kick ’em in the shins. Credit: TJPW

Mahiro had new gear, but I’m pleased to report her trousers still look very comfy.

As for the match, this suffered from lacking the emotional hook of the opener. It was good, a fun wee tag between four wrestlers who are always at least entertaining, but there wasn’t much to get your teeth into. It did have Pom kicking people in the shins, though, so I could never dislike it.

Verdict: Solid, But Uneventful

Hikari Noa defeated Mirai Maiumi in the International Princes Title Tournament Semi-Final

Hikari with attitude. Credit: TJPW

The strong contrast in styles between these two made this match tick. Mirai is a straightforward wrestler. She wants to hit you with lariats and go after that arm to set-up the Miramare. It’s route one, but delivered with aggression and done better than most.

Noa, meanwhile, is a tad more sneaky. She worked this smartly, staying a step ahead of Mirai and managing to control that power. We also saw some of that attitude being unleashed. She repeatedly ignored Referee Matsui as he tried to get her to let Mirai out the corner, even lashing out behind her with some kicks, a big smile on her face at the same time. For someone who is still young in her career, she was performing like a veteran, confident in her ability to put this rookie away.

Unfortunately for Noa, Mirai wasn’t willing to let her have an easy day, and she not only fired off one of those vicious lariats but managed to roll into the Miramare too. Noa would escape, coming back to hit the Blizzard Suplex for the three, but it was telling that she had to walk around Matsui to get her arm raised, the one that Mirai got her hands-on in too much pain to be lifted. It was the final lovely touch in a fantastic showing from two young wrestlers who we shall hopefully see do this again and again.

Verdict: Great Performances

Yuki Kamifuku defeated Shoko Nakajima in the International Princes Title Tournament Semi-Final

How to kill a kaiju. Credit: Tjpw

Shoko would have been the bookies’ favourite for this tournament, so it was no surprise to see Kamiyu charge across the ring for the cheap shot. She had a mountain to climb and wanted to give herself every advantage she could.

As someone who has been praising Kamiyu for ages, this felt like vindication of how good she’s got. Her plan was to slow her kaiju opponent’s momentum, going after her leg and repeatedly booting her to the ground. Shoko got little spurts of offence, moments where she was about to take off, but Yuki was always there to put an end to it. She was working her arse off to make sure that Nakajima could never pull ahead.

It led her straight to what must be the biggest win of her career, drawing a gasp of surprise from the audience as it guaranteed us a first time champion. Some quick final praise for Shoko too, who pulled out a selfless performance designed to put her opponent over. Kamiyu was the one who banged in the goal, but the veteran gets the assist.

Verdict: Yuki’s On The March!

Yuna Manase defeated Raku

Shh, it’s nap time. Credit: TJPW

There are very few things that make me as happy as Raku’s commitment to napping. Yuna stepped forward to shake her hand, so Raku went to sleep, leaving the returning Manase unsure what to do. Matters became even more confusing when Referee Matsui decided that she looked comfy and gave it a go himself, drifting off straight away.

Yuna wasn’t here to play, though. In her time in Tokyo Joshi, she often felt like the roster’s mum, but this was a Yuna with her game face on, overpowering Raku at every turn. Mum was in no mood for games, and wanted to see what Raku could bring to the fold.

To her credit, Raku stepped up and met Yuna on that level. While she’s never going to be a transcendent in-ring talent, where she does excel is in connecting emotionally. Watching her realise she was in for a fight, desperately throwing forearms till she’d exhausted herself, made it impossible to not root for her. While she picked up her first tag win earlier in the year, that singles victory still eludes her, and you’d have to be a cold-hearted monster not to want her to get that moment.

Yuna wasn’t about to be the one to give it to her, though. She not only picked up the win but made a statement, pulling Raku’s shoulder up before putting her down definitively with a lariat. It was a lesson being taught, but not an admonishment, as Raku had earned a hug after the bell, Yuna even carrying her to the back. She might have lost, but you got the impression she’d done momma proud.

Verdict: Raku Steps Up

Saki Akai defeated Hyper Misao in a Switching Rules Match

Misao always has a plan. Credit: TJPW

A Raku match followed by Hyper Misao bringing the nonsense to Saki? Tokyo Joshi, you do spoil me. There was a button in the corner of the ring, and every time someone pressed it, the rules changed. Said rules had been gathered from fans, so there was a chance for anything to happen.

It meant we got everything from the mundane (no kicking) to the vomit-inducing (they went from spinning around before every pin to having to eat a bag of chocolate cream puffs). The one constant was that it produced beautiful, chaotic, nonsense, Saki and Misao having the time of their lives.

As was I, for if there is one thing guaranteed to please me, it’s nonsense. However, it is also worth pointing out that for the home stretch, the nonsense ended and these two wrestled, which was pretty great too. I’ll forever shout that Misao is an underrated in-ring talent, and this was a lovely chance for her to prove me right. It was the perfect cherry on top of a treat that I’d already enjoyed a lot.

Verdict: A Blast

Aja Kong and Miyu Yamashita defeated Sareee and Maki Itoh

Even Maki’s head is going to feel that one. Credit: TJPW

There was a lot of intrigue in this one, but let’s start with the obvious. You’d have to be at least a bit dead inside to not want to watch Sareee and Miyu kick each other, as that’s a pairing that makes all the sense. Unsurprisingly, their interactions were great, and if we can get them in the ring again before this WWE Countdown comes to an end, I imagine we’d all be very happy.

There was even more to dig into for Itoh, though. She’s suffered pivotal loses to both Aja Kong and Miyu in the past, and there was a lot of time given to her. Unsurprisingly, a lot of that saw her being beaten up, but there is a streak of defiance a mile long in Maki. She was determined to bring it to both of them, at one point repeatedly headbutting Aja’s bin before delivering one to the legend, causing Kong to grasp her head in pain. Against Miyu, she fought to the last breath, kicking out at one to raise a final middle finger before being flattened with Crash Rabbit Heat. It was a performance that may have seen her take the L, but in which she showed how far she’s come.

The one disappointment was that Aja vs Sareee, a pairing that produced an infamous bloody brawl that we’ve only ever seen clips of, was kept somewhat to a minimum. Then again, that wasn’t what this match was about, so it’s to be expected. This was a dream pairing and another step on the path of Maki Itoh, a story that continues to twist its way around as she tries to face-off with the very best. She’s getting closer, but she’s still got some climbing to do.

Verdict: Brilliant

Before the break, they announced their first four Korakuens for next year (promising a much busier calender) as well as Wrestle Princess II which will be taking place in October 2021. Christ, I can’t believe we’re announcing things for 2021, 2020 has both taken forever and also slipped through my fingers. Anyway, that’s probably not important right now.

Coming out of the break, we were introduced to a new trainee, Alice Endo. She’s from the idol group Cheer-1, which Reika Saiki used to be a part of. We also learnt that Nao Kakuta has signed on the dotted line, as Tokyo Joshi proved they’re capable of snapping people up too.

Yuki Kamifuku defeated Hikari Noa to win the International Princess Title

A worthy champ. Credit: TJPW

Kamiyu and Hikari are two wrestlers who I have a shitload of time for. However, their wrestling journeys feel very different. Hikari may have come in as part of the UUG, but she’s a fan, one of the many joshi who adore deathmatches. Looking in from the outside, wrestling seems to come easy to her, her instincts proving perfect more often than not. Kamiyu, meanwhile, comes from modelling and has said herself that she finds wrestling hard. She’s fought for every inch, improving through the simple act of working her arse off.

Which is probably why for me, and I imagine most people watching this match, Noa came in as the favourite. It’s been clear for a while that she is special, so it almost seemed inevitable, Kamiyu was just the final bump in her path. Unfortunately for Hikari, Kamiyu had a different plan.

It was a match that reflected those different paths. For Kamiyu, it looked hard. She had to fight for every opening, the pain etched across her face as Noa trapped and stamped on her fingers. It was a battle, and it was a battle which she refused to lose, eventually coming off the top with a Super Fameasser to get the three. Hikari may have all the natural talent in the world, but Yuki wanted it more, and sometimes that’s enough.

I was shocked by this one, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. Noa is going to be fine; her career is only heading up. Handing this belt to Kamiyu is a vote of confidence that could well push her to the next level. Her improvement has been incredible, and as her friends fled the company, she’s been rewarded for the work she’s put in.

Verdict: Congratulations, Kamiyu

Bakuretsu Sisters (Nodoka Tenma and Yuki Aino) defeated Daydream (Rika Tatsumi and Miu Watanabe) to FINALLY win the Princess Tag Titles

BAKURETSU CHAMPIONS! Credit: TJPW

The Bakuretsu Sisters have had a long and ultimately disappointing relationship with the Princess Tag Titles. This was their fourth attempt to win them, each previous attempt seeing them fall short as they could never quite get over that hurdle.

Daydream weren’t about to make it easy for them either. I don’t think there is a wrestler on the planet who sells the struggle of being in the ring better than Yuki Aino. Whether she’s doing something incredible or simply locking on a headlock, she makes every second feel like a fight. As Daydream took control of the opening of this match, going after her leg, she made you feel like she was scratching and clawing, doing everything she could to escape them.

Miu and Rika were perfect foils to that struggle. They have had a great title run and went out on a high. Daydream are a wonderfully natural pairing, both of them working with a smile on their face, but without ever losing their edge. Moments like Miu lifting both sisters at the same time were hugely impressive while Rika rarely performs at a level below brilliant.

This was a night for the sisters, though. You could have driven a train into them, and they’d have kept going, so desperate were they to get their hands on those belts. There was a moment towards the end where Tenma just unleashed, throwing Miu over with a Fallaway Slam before taking out Rika with a Kill Switch. This wasn’t fun, cake-loving Nodoka, but someone who wasn’t going to watch another opportunity slip through their fingers.

And they didn’t, Miu fought to the last second, but on the second try Yuki got her up for the UBV, sending her crashing to the floor and finally getting the three they’ve wanted for so long. The second the count was made she burst into tears, her sister crashing into her with a desperate hug of celebration. If you can’t love a moment like that, you’re watching the wrong entertainment.

Verdict: Bakuretsu Champions!

Yuka Sakazaki defeated Mizuki to retain the Princess of Princess Title

That’s how you do it, FTR man number two. Credit: TJPW

Miyu joined the commentary team, and before the match had even started, you could hear the tears threaten to overwhelm her. If Mizuki weeping in the same spot after Shoko vs Yuka at last year’s Ultimate Party didn’t make it clear, moments like this mean a lot to everyone in Tokyo Joshi.

The in-ring action wasn’t about to dampen that either, as this would have been an emotional feud no matter what building they were wrestling in. As the pre-match package made clear, Yuka and Mizuki are a tag-team who genuinely adore each other, so to have them facing off brought with it a whole load of feelings.

It was Yuka who managed to wrestle those feelings under control first. She was the colder of the two, finding the first breakthrough when she began to go after Mizuki’s leg (and at one point having to hold her pal in place while she fixed her gear). In contrast, Mizuki is all impulse, her openings coming from moments of chaos or because she was willing to take a risk. She would leap from the top rope to the floor with a Double Stomp, jarring that leg, but connecting sweet and doing the damage necessary to open up the match.

From there, these two ramped it up and up, going all out. There was never any doubt in my mind that this match would be good, Mizuki and Yuka are too talented to slip up on a stage like this, but they seemed determined to make it worthy of the biggest show in company history. Everything they did made this feel like a big deal, but also never took away from what it was at its core, two friends trying to figure out who was the best.

By the end, they were both spent, clasping hands to hold each other up as they wildly threw elbows, giving everything to the moment. They were dancing on the edge of the knife with the only guarantee being that one of them was eventually going to fall. It would be Mizuki who tumbled, but it took a hell of an effort, a Magical Girl Splash to the back followed by Magical Girl Chicken Dude to the front. Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of tears afterwards, but these two can rest easy knowing they delivered.

Verdict: That’s A Main Event

The tears were in no danger of stopping as Yuka got the whole roster out, having them all close out the show together while she and Mizuki repeatedly confessed their love to each other. They’re all just the best, aren’t they?

Overall Show

That was a near-perfect wrestling show. My love of Tokyo Joshi is strong, but even taking that out of the equation, I’m 100% certain this was wonderful. We got brilliant matches, shock results and that warm, wonderful fuzzy feeling that they do so well. If the world’s back to normal next year, I might just book my next trip to Tokyo for October time.

Watch Tokyo Joshi Pro: https://www.ddtpro.com/universe/videos?teamId=tjpw

If you enjoyed this review, please consider contributing to my Ko-fi, even the smallest amount is appreciated.

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