TJPW Winter Lovers (21/2/21) Review

Incoming Shoko. Credit: TJPW

Tokyo Joshi’s tag tournament rolled into its second day, and after the high profile casualty in the previous night’s main event, we were guaranteed to lose at least a couple more big hitters. Who would it be? Well, you probably already know as it was a few days ago, but let’s find out anyway!

Before the show, Namba announced INSPIRATION, a series of smaller TJPW shows designed to allow experimentation. It will debut on the 1st of April with Hikari Noa vs Rina Yamashita in a hardcore match. As someone who always enjoys when the roster is allowed to try new things, I can’t wait for these, and that’s a hell of a way to kick it off.

HikaShio (Hikari Noa and Sena Shiori) defeated Team Toyo (Yuki Kamifuku and Mahiro Kiryu)

Hikari chilling out. Credit: TJPW

Does this count as an upset? It’s not that long ago Kamiyu and Mahiro were challenging for the titles, while Sena is still yet to record a win, so I think it does.

Not that Sena can take too much credit for this. After an opening where she was worked over, including eating a vicious Kamiyu dropkick, this became the Hikari Noa show. She tagged in and ran wild through both opponents, managing to duck around them and eventually pin Mahiro with that beautiful Blizzard Suplex.

It was one of those performances that felt designed to remind people that Hikari is a threat. She hasn’t had much to do recently, but anyone with eyes knows that all she’s missing is a sizable push. Fingers crossed performances like this are a hint that it’s coming sooner rather than later.

Verdict: Brilliant Hikari

NEO Biishiki-gun (Sakisama and Mei Saint-Michel) defeated BeeStar (Mirai Maiumi and Suzume)

The tray always gets its target. Credit: TJPW

Mei Saint-Michel is a pest. She’s always coming at you, stamping on your foot, running over your back or simply prodding every inch of exposed skin. Everything that makes up a goblin is stuffed into her, and it’s wonderful to watch.

She’s also developing fantastic chemistry with Suzume. They’ve faced off on a fair few occasions now, and it’s starting to show, with their work around that pesky silver tray being inspired. Suzume is now well aware of Mei’s tendencies, so she was able to dodge the first few attempts to catch her with it, but Saint-Michel does not give up. When she eventually did slip it into place, it was executed so seamlessly that it caught me off-guard as it dropped perfectly and sent Suzume flying.

Even if you can deal with MSM, Sakisama is standing right behind her, ready to smack you with a rose and kick you in the head. Her interactions with Mirai were exciting, as Maiumi is hitting a point in her career where every time she faces off with someone, I’m left wanting more. That battle of power vs elegance has the potential to be fascinating, so if someone can set it up, I’d be alright with that.

Verdict: Goblin Pest Wins Again

The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki), Moka Miyamoto & Arisu Endo defeated Raku, Pom Harajuku, Arisu Endo and Marika Kobashi

Raku shows her appreciation for the Glasgow Subway system. Credit: TJPW

Pom, Raku, Marika and Neko came to the ring in train form, which is surely Raku’s most powerful evolution. They also did a circular Good Night Express to all four of their opponents, proving that even the best are open to innovation at times. Meanwhile, I’m not sure putting the Sugar Rabbits in charge of a couple of impressionable rookies is the best idea. They had Moka and Arisu engaging in the ancient art of Neko bullying and were generally being very bad influences. I know they look smiley and happy but never forget that they are devils.

Anyway, this was a match designed to be fun, and that’s what it was. There was nothing incredibly complex or intriguing going on, but everyone went out and dished up some enjoyable wrestling, which will get no complaints from me.

Verdict: A Nice Time

121000000 (Miyu Yamashita & Maki Itoh) defeated Daydream (Rika Tatsumi & Miu Watanabe)

These two are quite good. Credit: TJPW

Look, AEW fans! We’ve got a tournament you can support Itoh in. Not only did she win her first match, but she did it by tapping out the champion. That’s exciting, isn’t it? I’m sure you’ll all come and get behind her in her promotion and not simply demand she gets served up on a platter for you.

Okay, it’s out my system.

Forgetting all of that, this was a big match for Itoh and the newly named 121000000 (read as One to One Million). Even if Rika wasn’t currently the big dog, she and Miu were always going to be one of the teams to watch in this tournament, so Itoh and Miyu getting the win over them is a sign that they should be taken seriously, and haven’t been put together purely to make up the numbers. We’re also seeing them begin to spread out their repertoire beyond that wonderfully elaborate falling headbutt they do. The peak of that was the finish, which saw Miyu deliver Rika’s head into Maki’s before hitting a German. The real genius, though, was Itoh grabbing hold of Rika’s legs while Miyu bridged and transitioning straight into the Itoh Special. It’s one of those moves that isn’t only inventive and unique but makes you question why you’ve never seen it before.

On an individual level, this was also a huge match for Itoh. She’s always floated just below the top stars in Tokyo Joshi, but she felt equal to everyone involved. Whether she was on the offensive or being worked over, she looked great, and getting a win over the champion suggests that she’s heading towards another title shot. While part of this is probably Tokyo Joshi capitalising on her ever-growing popularity, it is also deserved. She’s become a brilliant wrestler, and matches like this show that off.

Verdict: Itoh’s On The March

Kyoraku Kyomei (Shoko Nakajima & Hyper Misao) defeated The Bakuretsu Sisters (Nodoka Tenma and Yuki Aino)

Flying sisters. Credit: TJPW

Shoko Nakajima sometimes goes unnoticed because she’s so consistently good. She rarely gets praised to the extent that her peers do, and yet I can’t remember the last time I saw her put on a bad performance. Apologies for breaking kayfabe, but she’s spent most of this year wrestling in a comically oversized cape and was still extraordinary.

All of that came to mind as this was the rare Shoko and Misao match that was almost entirely free of nonsense. They went for a cheap shot at the start, which the sisters blocked, but they were on their best behaviour after that. With a more work rate heavy approach, Shoko shone, having great interactions with both Nodoka and Yuki before getting the win with a massive Senton. Misao is a better in-ring talent than people often give her credit for, but there was no denying that Shoko took the wheel here.

It also needs to be pointed out that the Bakuretsu Sisters rock. I was unaware that there is apparently a group of people who dislike them (which speaks well of those I interact with on Twitter), and if you are one of them, you are unwelcome on this site. Okay, maybe not that extreme, but even in defeat, Tokyo Joshi’s mini tanks looked like powerhouses, and I can’t fathom seeing them asa anything other than a near-perfect tag team. You might still be allowed on the site, but I will fight you if you disagree.

Verdict: Everyone In This Match Is Good

Overall Show

Much like the previous day’s show, this was a short, snappy blast of Tokyo Joshi, and I loved it. So many wrestling companies could learn from the way TJPW put these shows together, as they make for joyous viewing. Long may it continue.

Watch Tokyo Joshi Pro:

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

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