With the State of Emergency ramping up in Japan, Tokyo Joshi is back into empty arenas, but unlike the last time this happened, they are pushing ahead with their Korakuens. That’s a relief, to be honest, for the card that this show was building to is pretty damn spicy.
Kamiyu appeared at the end of the Up Up Girls’ performance, telling Raku and Miu that she’d handle the opening call but demanding her Korakuen opponent, Noa, hang around for a bit so they could discuss her performance. She then, somewhat rudely, lambasted her for being the lazy idol and not trying hard enough. Hikari was having none of it, simply promising to see her in the match before leaving Kamiyu to kick the show off by slapping her arse and saying, ‘let’s go, baby’. I can only imagine that sent certain parts of the internet into meltdown.
Nodoka Tenma defeated Moka Miyamoto
Nodoka played the powerhouse veteran in our opener and looked great doing so. I don’t think she ever gets credit for how solid an all-around performer she is. Whether it was the early mat work or her later attempts to fire Moka up, no-selling her attempted shoulder blocks, Tenma led this match wonderfully. She’s my favourite, so I’m always going to shout loudly about her, but this was a quietly excellent way to show off how good she is.
I think it also led to one of Moka’s stronger performances. She’s a wrestler I’ve almost struggled to put my finger on, as I like her unique gear and think she has an intriguing in-ring style, but I haven’t quite clicked with her overall. Here, though, she looked slightly more settled than she has in the past, comfortable in her role. It wasn’t a blow away performance or something I’m going to rave about, but it was solid, and solid is a strong platform to build off of.
Verdict: Good Performances From Both
BeeStar (Mirai Maiumi & Suzume) defeated Maki Itoh & Arisu Endo
To continue a thread from the previous match, I think what Moka is missing is the self-assurance of someone like Endo. There isn’t much between them as in-ring workers, but Endo has that touch of swagger. She carries herself like a good wrestler, and when you combine that with her remarkably strong work for someone as early in their career as she is, she comes across fantastically. Slip some of that Moka’s way, and I think she’d stand out a lot more.
This match was all about making BeeStar look good, though, and that’s not a hard thing to do. They’re the big lass, little lass partnership that football refuses to give me in 2021, and I am lapping it up. That combination of speed and power works as putting two wrestlers with vastly different styles but who have good chemistry together is almost a guaranteed success. Sadly, they’re not going to beat those damn aristocrats at Korkauen, but I’ve no doubt the match will rule.
Verdict: BeeStar Are The Best!
Nao Kakuta defeated Hyper Misao
Before the match started, Nodoka could be seen taping a button to one corner as you only have to glance at who was involved to know that we were heading towards shenanigans. Misao and Nao were competing under Choice And Chance rules, where hitting said button would make ‘Choice and Chance’ (a song by idol group JUICE=JUICE) play, during which two counts would apply. Misao, surprisingly, had some solid grounds for this rule, but you can click through to ddtpro_eng’s tweets to read that for yourself.
Musical button aside, a lot of this was a Misao greatest hits set. We got masks being removed as a distraction, Nao being battered by turnbuckle pads and a pertinent ending, Misao meeting the steel buckle that she’d left exposed. Sadly, it wasn’t quite the venue spanning nonsense that everyone’s favourite superhero excelled at the last time Tokyo Joshi was forced to work without fans, but it did feel like we were calling back to that, so we might see it yet.
On top of that, it was just a solid wrestling match. Misao never gets credit for how good she is, and Nao has slotted in as a reliable member of the Tokyo Joshi roster (who has the ability to rise above that). Usually, I’d say those who hate silliness should avoid this brand of Misao, but I don’t think that’s the case here, as it straddled the line between a straight match and the best kind of nonsense nicely. Good work by all.
There was a bit of a break between matches as they fixed everything Misao had taken apart, something which Namba filled by doing a wee dance. I believe it was her third anniversary with Tokyo Joshi over the weekend, and it’s hard to imagine the company without her.
The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki) defeated Shoko Nakajima & Haruna Neko
We’re building to a triple-threat match between Shoko, Yuka and Mizuki, which will decide the number one contender for the title. Some day I’d love a company to put together a go-home tag like this and have the Haruna Neko get the fall. Give the cat girl her shot!
I’m going to shock you, but a match involving the Sugar Rabbits and Shoko was terrific fun. In fact, let’s go a step further and include Neko in that. I know she’s not a great wrestler or someone who is ever likely to be one, but I’d argue she is good. She’s someone who knows her role on the card and does what she’s supposed to do well. Whether it was getting her tale tied together with Shoko’s (which was possibly the most Magical Sugar Rabbit thing to ever Magical, Sugar or indeed Rabbit) or stepping in to take the fall, she’s the kind of worker that every roster needs. Certain fans have a habit of thinking that if you’re not the best, you’re not worth much, but wrestling wouldn’t work without the Haruna Nekos of the world. So hey, let’s give her some credit too.
There was a string of Sugar Rabbit miscommunications towards the end, sowing the tension for the aforementioned match, but Yuka would recover and put Neko away comfortably. She was apologetic to Mizuki afterwards, who responded in typical Mizuki fashion, so I think it’s safe to say those pesky rabbits will be getting violent. That’s another match from that show which has the potential to be very good indeed.
Verdict: Give Neko Credit!
Team Pom (Hikari Noa, Raku & Pom Harajuku) defeated Yuki Kamifuku, Yuki Aino & Mahiro Kiryu
Raku and Noa seemed to have signed up to Team Pom, making P shapes during their entrances. With Tartan Pom being officially handed the role of Scotland’s hero (as previously stated, I speak for the country), I am glad to have them on board.
If you’re a long-term Tokyo Joshi fan, you’ll know this is the kind of match they excel at. A blast of a multi-woman tag that developed from light comedy to a frantic final few minutes where everyone got a chance to shine. Much like Neko in the previous bout, those involved all slot perfectly into their role, ensuring that the important stuff gets the spotlight.
Here, the important stuff was Noa vs Kamiyu, which, judging by the snippets we got, looks likely to be a fight. They were not holding back, Hikari firing off with dropkicks while Yuki went straight to booting her in the head. This was a taster rather than anything substantial, but on a packed card, it’s the match I’m most excited about, and this did nothing to dampen that enthusiasm.
Daydream (Rika Tatsumi & Miu Watanabe defeated Miyu Yamashita & Marika Kobashi
Common wisdom would tell you that the final tag between champion and challenger before a big title shot should go the challenger’s way. In their interactions with the champion, they should dictate the pace and sow the seeds for a potential title change. However, not all challengers are Miyu Yamashita. Make no mistake about it, despite her strong reign Rika Tatsumi comes into this match as the underdog, the spectre of their match hanging over the ring.
And Rika brought the intensity here, setting up her game plan for the Korakuen showdown. She’s already started working on Miyu’s leg, a flurry of Dragon Screws and a Figure Four showing that the tactics haven’t changed. Miyu was never able to get into the rhythm of the match or assert her usual dominance over proceedings because Rika was too focused, too desperate to put her down. It was a goal that she eventually managed with a Twist of Fate onto the apron, taking Yamashita out to leave Marika alone and set up the finish.
It left this match in a fascinating spot, with both results feeling like they open a world of possibilities. If Rika wins, she’s banished the demons of that failed title shot, potentially setting her up to join Miyu and Yuka at the top of the company (a role I believe she’s deserving of). However, if Miyu boots her into next week, you have the potential for her to do something exciting. Rika is an intense figure at the best of times, and an underrated nutter, so watching her respond to losing her title in that way would be fascinating. Either way, we’re looking at something special, and I can’t wait to see where they go.
Verdict: So Many Paths To Choose Between!
As build-up shows go, I think that one did everything it needed to, sowing the seeds nicely for what is to come. If you’re in a rush to watch it before Tuesday, you can probably skip through some of the undercard, but everything is very watchable, and Tokyo Joshi rarely misses with this stuff. Roll on Korakuen and what I’m sure will be yet another show of the year contender.
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