TJPW Stand Proud (26/6/21) Review

Time to get kicky. Credit: TJPW

On the week that Sakisama went viral and a million voices screamed out ‘step on me’, it seems only fitting that she makes her challenge for the Princess of Princess title. While I’m not entirely sure that’s a long-term way to get more people interested in Tokyo Joshi, horniness is a powerful drug, and I can only imagine there was at least a handful of people tuning in for the first time, hoping to catch a glimpse of their new favourite French aristocrat. Would Tokyo Joshi put on a show capable of convincing them to stick around? Time to find out.

Maki Itoh & Nodoka Tenma defeated Mirai Maiumi & Kaya Toribami

She was still flippy. Credit: TJPW

I don’t want to fall victim to hyperbole, but Nodoka’s dancing for her and Itoh’s entrance was the greatest thing I have ever seen. It doesn’t take much to convince me to gush over Tenma, but my god, she has moves. Give that woman whatever kind of contract it is that dancers have.

Kaya was given a decent chunk of time in the ring here, and it was the first time that she’s looked like a rookie. I’m not saying she stunk the place out, but that, unlike her previous matches, there were moments where I could see the cracks. Thing like her timing being a smidge off in a spot, which you expect from a wrestler having their fourth match. If anything, it was a bit of a relief. Proof that this isn’t some super-worker hidden away under a mask, but a rookie who was perhaps more comfortable wrestling Shoko than she was Nodoka and Itoh. Honestly, if she hadn’t been so impressive in her first few matches, I probably wouldn’t have even mentioned it.

Outside of that, this was a strong opener. Mirai has now sadly closed MSS48, bringing it to an end before it got going, but she’s still a great wrestler while you can rely on Nodoka and Itoh. Rightfully, the rookie was the focus, and while it might have been her weakest showing so far, it was still impressive.

Verdict: Have I Made It Clear I Still Thought She Was Good?

Rika Tatsumi defeated Yuki Kamifuku & Arisu Endo in a Three-Way

Rika gets the final laugh. Credit: TJPW

Arisu will have to learn not to trust Casual Beauties, Kamiyu grabbing her hand and convincing her to gang up on Rika. Unfortunately for Endo, the second Tatsumi turned the tide, Yuki’s loyalty would prove flimsy as she was more than happy to slip to the outside and sell her partner out. After that, wee Arisu rightly decided that she was going to have to do this solo.

And while we have a shiny new rookie in town, this was a reminder that the last one is coming along nicely. Arisu was already impressive when she debuted, but since then, she’s been slowly plugging away in the undercard, getting herself to the point where she isn’t overwhelmed by the likes of Rika and Kamiyu. With Tatsumi’s manic energy and Kamiyu’s villainous cool, it would be so easy for her to be a non-entity, but she never lets that happen. Whether it’s firing off with dropkicks or locking on that Camel Clutch, Endo competed with the personalities around her.

It was to be Rika’s day, though, as she proved to be a bit of an opportunist herself, Kamiyu hitting Arisu with a Fameasser only to meet that Diamond Ass and be forced to watch on as Tatsumi stole her pin with a cool clutch cover. The timing on the finish was great and played off the idea of Tatsumi being the veteran who the other two, unsuccessfully, attempted to overcome. Lovely stuff all-around.

Verdict: Don’t Forget About Endo

Shoko Nakajima & Moka Miyamoto defeated Miu Watanabe & Yuki Arai

Karate trumps idol. Credit: TJPW

Any worries that Yuki Arai’s fame might allow her to skip the pecking order in Tokyo Joshi were put to bed here as Moka Miyamoto picked up a massive first win by tapping out the idol. Having just complained that everyone needs to not forget about Arisu Endo, I think I can be accused of doing exactly that with Moka. She’s a talented young wrestler who is not quite there yet but shows hints of it while perhaps lacking the ability that Arisu has to stand out in matches bristling with personality. Moka often fades into the background, which makes it easier to take her for granted. However, she impressed here, getting the win and blocking that Finally Axe Kick with some nicely utilised karate.

Despite taking the loss, this was another strong performance from Arai. She benefitted from the Shoko rub, as everyone who steps into the ring with the Big Kaiju becomes as smooth as a very smooth thing. I don’t think you can put it all down to Nakajima, though, as brilliant as she is, because Arai’s looked great ever since coming in. It’s also noticeable that what was originally supposed to be a once a month thing has now got her working undercard tag matches that don’t have any wider implications. She’s taking this seriously, and that’s enough to endear her to me.

Throw in Miu radiating enough joy to keep the Shinkansen running for a year (she really does love getting to team with one of her idol heroes), and this was a blast. Congratulations to Moka. Let’s hope it’s the first of many!

Verdict: Big Win, Big Performance

Raku, Yuki Aino & Pom Harajuku defeated Hikari Noa, Suzume & Haruna Neko

She’s coming for all the gold! Credit: TJPW

RAKU IS GOD! RAKU IS GOD! RAKU IS GOD! If you thought Moka getting her first win was a shocker, Raku’s out here pinning champs and making challenges. She’s gonna fuck you up, Hikari!

Jokes aside, I want to make it very clear that my delight at this is by no means a joke. My love of Raku is neither feigned nor a bit but a genuine belief that she’s brilliant. In the last year or so, she’s risen from an amusing part of the undercard to someone capable of putting on brilliant comedy matches or having genuinely decent showings against good wrestlers. You only have to look at the closing stretch she and Hikari put together. That wasn’t the work of a bad worker, but a solid piece of action that got across the struggle of her attempts to overcome her fellow Up Up Girl and earn herself that win. It felt earned, and while I sadly can’t imagine Raku is about to win gold, she is more than deserving of the chance to challenge for it.

Outside of Raku’s brilliance, the trio of her, Pom and Aino is always a delight, as they all so clearly adore each other. I also want to give yet another shout out to Suzume, who, while not the focus of this match, is always a quiet highlight. There were a couple of inventive moments here, like the roll-up she used to put Pom in place for a Haruna attack, that served as a lovely example of how good she is. When Raku takes the belt off of Noa, I would have no issue with Suzume being the one who challenged her first.

Verdict: RAKU IS GOD!

The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki) & Marika Kobashi defeated Hyper Misao, Nao Kakuta & Mahiro Kiryu

A professional environment. Credit: TJPW

As you’d expect from any match that has Misao and the Sugar Rabbits in it, this was a whole lot of fun, Yuka coming out with a cape on in an attempt to wind up her superhero opponent. Thankfully, Misao had her own gimmicks, revealing that she has business cards as she attempted to lead her team to victory via their noted social skills. Yes, that is famous former shut-in Hyper Misao, but Nao and Mahiro used to have jobs, so she had her reasons. Look, it’s Misao; it doesn’t always have to make sense.

Even if you put all that to one side, this was a blast. I could watch the Sugar Rabbits all day, as not only are they great wrestlers, but they bring so much energy and joy to what they do. We also saw Marika pick up a victory, closing out a standout closing stretch with Mahiro, which caught me off-guard with how good it was. It’s not that I don’t rate them, but it’s not often they get to take centre stage in a semi-main with some of the biggest names in the company. Still, they stepped up to the challenge and my theory that Kobashi’s recent title shot had bumped her up the pecking order a spot or two seems to be holding water.

Verdict: A Lot Of Fun

Miyu Yamashita defeated Sakisama to retain the Princess of Princess title

Sakisama is the only wrestler in Tokyo Joshi with the ability to get inside Miyu Yamashita’s head. The Ace might have lost to the likes of Shoko and Yuka and even had a regular series of cup upsets, but none of that gets under her skin the way Sakisama does. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that Miyu is scared of her, I don’t think Miyu is afraid of anyone, but she is wary, aware that she can hurt her in ways that few others can.

And that played out in this match as Miyu struggled to get into her rhythm. Even when she connected with one of those deadly kicks, sending Sakisama sprawling to the apron, she then allowed herself to be drawn in and booted in the head. A combination of Mei Saint-Michel (a constant goblin presence at ringside) and frustration at having to wait for Sakisama to recover, making her stupid. It was a moment that drew a rise out of her own second, Itoh, who served as a particularly abrasive cheer section.

This is Miyu Yamashita, though, and while Sakisama rocked her, you always felt like she wouldn’t stay down for long. The turning point, the moment where confidence seemed to flow back into the Ace, was when she booted a rose that was intended to be smashed over her head out of Sakisama’s hand. It wasn’t done to set up the finishing stretch or even lead to a huge change in momentum, but as a piece of symbolism, it was everything. Miyu had shown she could deal with Sakisama’s games, and when the games were gone, this was a wrestling match, which is something she’s quite good at.

Not that Sakisama made it easy for her after that. The final act was incredibly physical, the two of them trading blows and Miyu pulling out an AA from the second rope. There was even a spot where I thought the champ had fucked it, choosing to pull Sakisama up after a first Crash Rabbit Heat, allowing the aristocrat to block the second. Sakisama was showing a level of aggression and fire that we rarely see from her, slapping the shit out of Miyu in a way that suggested she might have wanted to add this title to her trophy collection a bit more than she had previously suggested.

Sadly for Sakisama and Mei, it wasn’t to be. Miyu had remembered who she was, and even those vicious slaps couldn’t take her down. The next time she had a chance to win, she made sure to see it out, taking Sakisama out with the Crash Rabbit Heat and proving she’s still the Ace. However, judging by the look that Sakisama gave her as she headed to the back, I suspect their battles aren’t over yet.

Verdict: Ace >>> Aristocracy

Overall Show

It may not have been in Korakuen, but that was another impressive showing from Tokyo Joshi. I was a bit worried the undercard would feel throwaway, as it was packed with slightly random-looking tags, but that turned out to be an unfounded worry. With Moka and Raku picking up massive wins, there was more than enough going on to keep the interest, and if any of those horny fans were tuning in for the first time, I suspect they’ll have gone away impressed.

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