TJPW Princess Cup (24/7/21) Review

One way to deal with her. Credit: TJPW

Day three and in the midst of a hot, humid Tokyo summer, some of the TJPW wrestlers’ legs must have been starting to feel heavy. Still, this was the penultimate show, and our Princess Cup match-ups are getting bigger and bigger, so they’ll have to dig deep and think of the prize.

Endo joined Namba for the pre-show announcements today and was incredibly endearing. We haven’t much of a chance to hang out with her and see her personality, but she was very comfortable having fun with the crowd and Namba.

Hikari Noa, Raku, Pom Harajuku & Suzume defeated Maki Itoh, Marika Kobashi, Mahiro Kiryu & Kaya Toribami

Raku’s magic sets the tempo. Credit: TJPW

Raku having magical lullaby powers becoming an accepted part of the TJPW canon is the best thing. They also appear to have traumatised Itoh, as she responded to the song by curling up in a ball and yelling. Then again, Itoh does that kind of thing quite a lot anyway, so we probably shouldn’t worry too much.

Those powers are certainly proving effective, as Raku would get her third win in a row, pinning Kaya with Dr Yellow as the train wizard proved she rules all. It would be Hikari who stole the show, though, continuing to show excellent chemistry with Itoh and Marika. We’re getting to the point where you can throw her into the ring with anyone on the roster and rely on them to deliver something exciting.

Verdict: Magic Raku!

Hyper Misao defeated Nao Kakuta and Arisu Endo in a Three-Way

Super Arisu! Credit: TJPW

After three days of wrestling, Misao was one of those with heavy legs, so she decided that she’d team up with Arisu and delegate the work to her. What she hadn’t noticed was Endo and Nao conspiring during her entrance, leading to those horrible rotters betraying Tokyo Joshi’s greatest superhero. How can anyone be that callous?

Thankfully, Misao was there to teach those two delinquents a thing or two, dishing out a whole variety of antics and eventually stealing out with the win. As I mentioned in yesterday’s review, TJPW wrestlers seem to thrive in this three-way environment, constantly coming up with interesting spots motivated by ever-shifting alliances. Three-ways often fall into certain tropes, but when you’ve got someone like Misao running things, you can rely on her pulling something interesting together and keeping things entertaining.

Verdict: Fun

Nodoka Tenma, Shoko Nakajima & Moka Miyamoto defeated Rika Tatsumi, Miu Watanabe & Yuki Arai

Nodoka caught herself an idol. Credit: TJPW

If you want to figure out why Nodoka is one of my favourites, this would be a decent match to watch. From the silliness of her getting over-excited at the length of Yuki Arai’s legs (Tenma famously can’t use certain holds because hers are so short) to her general bruiser style, it was a nice showcase of what she brings to the table. Tenma is a good wrestler, but she’s arguably an even better comedian, particularly when it comes to the physical stuff.

We also got to see the next chapter in the ever-developing feud between Moka and Mirai, Moka picking up a second victory over the idol to take herself back into the lead after she lost a single match to her recently. Those two have nice chemistry for people who are still figuring themselves out, which I hope Tokyo Joshi leans into. They should regularly be paired up, pushing each other to improve as they trade wins.

Outside of all that, it was another enjoyable midcard tag. Rika was manic, Miu strong and Shoko her always excellent self. Like most of the non-tournament stuff on these show, it’s not essential, but you certainly won’t regret watching it.

Verdict: Good Stuff

Yuki Aino defeated Haruna Neko in the Princes Cup Second Round

If all else fails, be kawaii. Credit: TJPW

Neko has been quietly impressing me in recent months, so I was intrigued by this match-up. She’s an easy person to dismiss because, well, she’s a cat, but I think there is more to her than that.

Which isn’t to say she’s a world-class wrestler who should be winning this match. Yuki would end up going through quite convincingly, and that was the right call, but I think Neko does a lot of the little things well. She scuttles around the ring, sneaking through people’s legs and finding her way into roll-ups. Weirdly, she does wrestle like a cat, getting underfoot and trying to trip you up.

As I said, this was ultimately a straightforward victory for Aino, but I thought Neko held up her end of the deal. She’s never going to be a star, but she can do this stuff, and every roster needs a few wrestlers like that.

Verdict: Give The Cat Credit

Mizuki defeated Mirai Maiumi in the Princess Cup Second Round

This was an S, not the haka. Credit: TJPW

Mizuki is to the Princess Cup what Sevilla are to the tournament that I will continue to insist on calling the UEFA Cup. If she’s involved, she has a good chance of winning it.

And while Mirai has come on leaps and bounds recently, this was a match that highlighted what she’s lacking. This was worked as raw power against veteran smarts, Mirai trying to barge her way through the more experienced wrestler to get the win. The closest she got to doing so came from something as simple as clubbing Mizuki out of the air, which they both sold brilliantly (Mirai, in particular, putting over how much it hurt her to hit a flying Mizuki). You could see all of Maiumi’s potential on display with this performance, but Mizuki still managed to dance a step ahead of her, keeping her at arm’s length.

And that’s why Mizuki is as good as she is. Mirai looks like she would be able to leave that devil child as a smear on the pavement, but the way Mizuki works helps you to forget that. She excels at finding little openings and negating the strengths of her opponents. Basically, she’s a fucking brilliant wrestler and played that veteran role to perfection. It made for a hell of a second-round match as Maiumi’s stand-out year continues. Her time will come, but at the moment, Mizuki continues on in her quest for the three-peat.

Verdict: Smarts Beats Power

Miyu Yamashita defeated Yuki Kamifuku in the Princess Cup Second Round

Hit her as hard as you can and hope for the best. Credit: TJPW

Miyu Yamashita is a better wrestler than Yuki Kamifuku. That’s not an insult, it’s a fact, and it would be a fact if you were to put 99% of wrestlers across from Miyu. She is one of the best in the world on an incredible run of form where she has retaken her place at the top of the company. Whether Kamiyu was trying to grapple with her or exchange strikes, she was always at a disadvantage.

However, Kamiyu is no mug. She might not be Miyu, but she has tricks up her sleeve, and she tried her best to use them here. The primary trick was to use those long legs to gain an advantage. Yes, Miyu can kick, but so can Kamiyu and the advantage of them being so long is that she can do it from a distance. It allowed her to put Miyu down, dropkicking her from the top to the floor and then wrapping herself around the champ in an Octopus hold. That was her potential route to success, and she gave everything she had to make it work.

And I love that shit. I love it because it feels like a real sport, like a small football team going up against Man City and deploying the perfect tactic to give them a chance. What truly makes it great, though, is that sometimes having the perfect tactic doesn’t matter. Miyu is just that good. Kamiyu did a lot right here, but the end result was her getting her head kicked off. It sucks, but it’s the reality of the situation, and it’s the inevitability of Miyu Yamashita.

Verdict: Kamiyu Did Great

Overall Show

Well, if you were one of those complaining about match quality on day one, I hope you’re happy now. Those final two matches were right up with Rika vs Hikari for the match of the tournament, and both told smart, intelligent stories while doing so. The Princess Cup is getting into gear, and with one day left in Shikiba, don’t be surprised if we get at least one more banger.

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