I know 2020 has been a hell year that went on forever, but I also can’t quite believe it’s nearly over. It’s simultaneously crawled and sprinted past as this is Tokyo Joshi’s final live showing before the January 4th Korakuen as everything else will be going out on a tape delay. That means this will probably be the last time I review them in 2020, so let’s go out on a high.
We kicked off with Arisu Endo and the fans helping Namba draw the matches for December 19th. The most intriguing picks were Itoh vs Miyu (more on that later) and Mirai vs Shoko, but it all looked fun. Arisu then announced she’ll be following in Sena’s footsteps by debuting on the January 4th show. I hope her entrance music is also surprisingly heavy.
Marika Kobashi defeated Sena Shiori
There probably isn’t a huge gap between Sena and Marika when you focus purely on their in-ring work. They’re both decent wee wrestlers who have a long way to go, but plenty of time in which to do it. However, the way Marika carries herself makes that gap seem a lot bigger. Perhaps it’s the extra couple of years she has on Sena, but she has a swagger that helps her stand out.
It meant our opener was essentially a showcase for Marika, Sena getting a few moments to shine before being put away relatively easily. It was fine, Sena needs to put a bit of bite into her strikes as her forearms were lacking, but she’s still a rookie, so I’m loath to be too harsh on her. She’s coming up to her first anniversary, and she’s slotted in as a reliable member of TJPW’s undercard. I guess we’ll see in the next couple of years whether she’ll ever be anything more than that.
Verdict: Marika Looks Good
Nao Kakuta and Mirai Maiumi defeated Hyper Misao and Moka Miyamoto
Misao was excited to introduce herself to Nao and let her know that she, like everyone else before her, had to earn the famous Misao handshake before she could truly be accepted in TJPW. We all know about that, right? Moka definitely didn’t look confused as hell when Misao brought it up. They all did it!
And, to be fair to Nao, she matched everyone’s favourite superhero well. Misao’s tricks at the start of the match were countered quite effectively by the simple act of grabbing her mask, pulling on it and letting go. Ow. Outside of that, I think this was perhaps her strongest performance yet, as she worked well with both opponents and seems to have settled in nicely.
Elsewhere, Mirai continues to be the fucking best. A power technician is not the type of wrestler I’d expect to come out of TJPW, but I’m very glad she has.
Verdict: Nao Earns That Handshake
NEO Biishiki-gun (Sakisama and Mei Saint-Michel) defeated Suzume and Haruna Neko
The second Mei Saint-Michel’s eyes landed on Haruna Neko she fell in love, doing everything in her power to convince Sakisama to let her adopt the kitty. That was until said kitty got scratchy and Mei very quickly became a dog person.
I hate to break kayfabe, but how brilliant is Mei Suruga? Her relentless attempts to make Neko her own were hilarious while her reaction to the scratching was perhaps even better as she suddenly had no qualms with beating on that disobedient cat. Those of us who have been watching Mei for a while knew she would shine on any stage, but it’s lovely to see it come to pass.
It was central to what was another enjoyable showcase from the new look NEO Bishiiki-gun. They now won’t be back until January 4th, and it will be interesting to see who they’re placed up against there, but judging by what we’ve seen so far, it will be great.
Verdict: A Cat Is For Life, Not Just For Wrestling
Miyu Yamashita and Hikari Noa defeated Maki Itoh and Raku
The opening of this match felt like classic Tokyo Joshi as we had four talented wrestlers having a good time. There was Miyu being very bad at lying to the ref, Goodnight Express shenanigans and Hikari going full joshi by bridging after eating a headbutt only to have Maki drop a second headbutt on her in response. It was all great, but slightly lacking in stakes.
Except, then, Maki and Miyu got together, and suddenly things got a bit more serious. There is still some real tension between those two, Maki holding Miyu up as someone she has to beat, and that brought the fire. Not just in their parings either, Raku and Hikari got caught in the flames, bringing things up a level and making sure the second half of this was great.
In the end, though, it ended the way Maki vs Miyu always ends, with Itoh’s head flying into the 20th row. She might be closer than she was at the start of 2019, but she still can’t match her, and that fact appears to eat away at Itoh, so much so that she challenged Miyu afterwards to another match on January 4th. Now, that announcement was somewhat damaged by the fact the fans drew them against each other for the next show, but I’m sure Tokyo Joshi will use that as a way to hype the bigger occasion. As it was, Itoh’s challenge and her refusal to let Miyu even respond was delivered perfectly, so we’ve started well.
Verdict: Maki vs Miyu!
Bakuretsu Sisters (Nodoka Tenma & Yuki Aino) and Shoko Nakajima defeated Yuki Kamifuku, Mahiro Kiryu and Pom Harajuku
We’re on the road to our tag title match with the sisters and Shoko teaming up once more. Those three being a regular trio felt like an important part of this early on as they were able to control the action, working over both Pom and Mahiro. They even showed they’d learned from their three-person tower mistake last week and implemented Formation B instead (it involved using Shoko as a weapon).
The thing that would eventually rock their dominance couldn’t have been more simple, Kamiyu tagged in and started booting people in the face. Is there a better example of how unimportant knowing lots of moves is than Kamiyu? Yea, she doesn’t just use those lethal kicks, but if she did, I’d 100% be okay with it. It’s also fun to see her now being presented as a more dominant force, someone who can turn a match single-handedly and is growing into her role as a champion.
Aino would eventually put Pom away, giving the champs the momentum in this feud. I suspect what we saw here, though, gave us an early hint of the structure of that match, and I look forward to watching Kamiyu boot many more people square in the face.
Verdict: Boot Away
Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki and Mizuki) fought Daydream (Rika Tatsumi and Miu Watanabe) to a time-limit draw
Here is a fucking shocker for you all, but a match between Daydream and the Magical Sugar Rabbits was really good.
The pacing of this was interesting. I went in knowing it was a draw, so I might not have noticed it as much if I hadn’t known that, but they definitely started slower than you’d expect. It was methodical, but not in the boring way that word is often used to describe. Both teams felt like they were laying the groundwork, going after limbs and building to the second half of the match, but it was never dull. There was too much personality and good wrestling for that to be the case.
Things definitely ramped up as they went, though. Rika was brilliant here, as few people capture intensity the way she does. The erratic fire she brings to feuds gives the impression it could go off at any second, escalating things from calm to violent. Yuka has been a fantastic champion, but if Rika can unleash that properly, I am very excited to see where it goes next.
In the end, the draw was the right result, Mizuki hitting an Avalanche Cutie Special but being cut off by the bell before she could make the pin. As good as this was, it left me craving these two teams going all out. Fingers crossed that somewhere down the line one of them holds the tag titles at a time when the other is free to challenge because that could be a hell of a showdown.
Verdict: A Lovely Teaser
Tokyo Joshi’s final live show of the year was a good one. They gave us some more build to January 4th, put together a whole bunch of fun matches and ended with a great main event. Can we ask for anything more? Nope, probably not.
Watch Tokyo Joshi Pro: https://www.ddtpro.com/universe/videos?teamId=tjpw