Out of nowhere, this show became a test for TJPW. We already knew that Yuka would be in the US, presumably being wasted on AEW’s YouTube channel, but then Pom tested positive for the virus. While she’s thankfully doing okay, Yuki Aino and Miyu Yamashita had to go into isolation because they were close contacts. So, Tokyo Joshi had to go into this without two of their biggest stars. Thank god they’d already booked Raku’s title shot, eh?
Haruka Neko & Kaya Toribami defeated Suzume & Arisu Endo
Wow, a rare Haruna Neko win. I can’t remember the last time she picked up a pinfall, particularly over someone who has received the modest push Suzume has.
It was also a fun opening contest, Toribami continuing to impress even as she (once again) slipped while going for the Somersault Senton off the second rope. I’d recommend dropping it, but if Tall Saya’s taught us anything, it’s that it’s better to try and fail than not to try at all. Any conspiracies about her not being a proper rookie are gone now, though. When she’s put in the ring with people on a similar level to herself, that inexperience begins to show even if she still apears to be a special talent.
The closing stretch between Haruna and Suzume was surprisingly great, to the point where I think it’s about time I stop using the word surprisingly in relation to Tokyo Joshi’s wee cat. Yes, she’s not a superstar, but she is more than capable of playing her role in fun tags and the moment where Suzume rolled through into a Jackknife to reverse her first attempt at the Nekodebreaker was fantastic. Sadly for the bee, she couldn’t do it twice, and the wee cat came out on top.
Verdict: Respect Neko
Nodoka Tenma defeated Mahiro Kiryu
Nodoka is so good at being silly that you sometimes forget how much of a bruiser she is. There is a reason she and Aino are regularly compared to the Steiners, and as she muscled Mahiro to the ground with an early headlock, refusing to let her get up, you remember that she can throw her weight about.
It gave this match a cool dynamic as Kiryu slipped into an underdog role, despite towering over Tenma. She had to fight her out from underneath, looking for opportunities to level the playing field and often struggling to get them. I honestly think that’s Mahiro at her best, as she suits that scrappy approach. The fact she’s not the biggest personality actually aids her in those situations, making her a lot more relatable and easy to root for.
Not that I ever could root against Nodoka, and she would eventually pick up the win. I’m gracious enough to admit Kiryu gave her a bit of a fight, but if she wants to beat the wee tank, she’s going to have to bulk up a bit first.
Verdict: Nodoka Crush
Yuki Arai defeated Moka Miyamoto
With Moka recently pinning Arai to get her first ever victory, this was a chance for the idol to level the score and get herself on the board at the same time.
It was also a potentially fascinating match. While Yuki came in with the confidence of someone used to working in front of an audience, she is a rookie with under ten matches, so pairing her up with other inexperienced wrestlers is always going to be a risk. There was every chance that this would fall apart, two inexperienced heads hitting a road bump and flailing wildly off course.
Thankfully, that didn’t happen as they worked a strong, basic match-up that, while never as good as Mirai vs Arai, did impress me. A lot of that was down to the work of Moka, who has shot up in my estimation recently. I had her down as the weakest of the TJPW rookies, but after the tag where she got her first win, her Inspiration match with Arisu and this, it’s clear she’s better than I gave her credit for. She doesn’t project the confidence of her peers, but as a worker, she’s great, really selling the struggle and desperation of what she’s trying to do. She would lose this match, Arai hitting the Finally Axe Kick for three, but I came away hoping these two would continue their rivalry and that we’ll get to watch them grow together.
Verdict: Impressive Rookies
Hikari Noa defeated Raku to retain the International Princess Title
Wrestlers are weird. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be wrestlers. The problem is that most big wrestling companies don’t want them to be weird. They want to fit them into a marketable bubble where they have the exact matches that everyone else has because that is the stuff that makes money. So, the rookie who comes through and does everything a little bit differently from everyone else ends up being pushed into the mould by the time their first title shot comes around.
Thankfully, even as they get evermore successful, the companies under the DDT umbrella are not the kind to force their wrestlers to ditch the weird, and that’s why Raku went into this title shot, the biggest match of her career, and wrestled like Raku. It’s why before this even began, she was able to look nervous and sneak over to stand next to her pal Namba, getting the little bit of reassurance that she needed at that moment. It’s why she pulled out the Goodnight Express, the Smile Express and even some moves that aren’t named after trains. It’s why she can be unashamedly Raku and it’s why this left me with a massive smile on my face.
And, of course, Raku didn’t really wrestle this match the same way she wrestles a mid-card tag, but it was flecked through with that unique Rakuness. Not only that, but in Tokyo Joshi, that is a good thing. Hikari is being established as a vulnerable champion, and Raku nearly got her, at one point almost choking her out (which would have been the most shocking finish possibly ever). The champ only survived this match by kicking out of the Hurricane Turn and pulling off a desperate reversal into a Blizzard Suplex. Raku being Raku was enough to rock her.
I always have this nagging feeling that I need to point out that these matches aren’t work-rate classics and won’t be for everyone, but fuck that. Raku worked her arse off and put on a really good performance. If that’s not enough for you, then I probably don’t like you, so you’re in the wrong place anyway.
Verdict: Raku is God!
Kyoraku Kyomei Daydream Pyon (Mizuki, Rika Tatsumi, Shoko Nakajima, Hyper Misao & Miu Watanabe) defeated Maki Itoh, Yuki Kamifuku, Mirai Maiumi, Nao Kakuta & Marika Kobashi
Itoh got the rest of her team to join in with the dancing for her entrance, and Mirai looked so incredibly awkward, and I love her for it.
It goes without saying that this match was great because, well, look at it. You shove that much talent and personality together, and, one way or another, you’re going to come away entertained. So much happened in it, from both teams forming super versions of themselves and having a joust to a surprisingly vicious interaction between Nao and Mizuki, that it almost defies reviewing. I could try and capture the chaos, but you’re probably better off just watching it yourself.
What it did prove is that Tokyo Joshi are blessed with incredible depth right now. If you took the two biggest stars out of any wrestling company, they would struggle to put an exciting card together. TJPW not only did that but gave us a match that felt star-studded. You could throw any two of these wrestlers into a title match tomorrow, and I’d be excited for it, so ramming them all into one spot while having a good undercard is kind of ridiculous. Let’s hope there isn’t a day soon where TJPW have to deal without Yuka and Miyu long-term, but if it does happen, I reckon they’ll be just fine.
Verdict: A Load Of Fun
Oops, I kind of already did this above, so, em, read that again? Oh, and Raku is God! Does anything else need to be said?
Watch Tokyo Joshi Pro: https://www.ddtpro.com/universe/videos?teamId=tjpw