TJPW Princess Cup (25/7/21) Review

As is tradition. Credit: TJPW

Day four of four, as Tokyo Joshi finished up their run at Shinkiba with the rest of the Princess Cup Second Round. Everything they’ve done so far has been enjoyable, so let’s see if they can keep it up.

Moka continued the streak of wrestlers helping Namba with the pre-show announcements and coming off well. Inspired by the Olympic opening ceremony, she showed off her kabuki stare while they practised clapping and proved to be a lot more up to date on the rules than either Pom or Arisu.

Hikari Noa, Nodoka Tenma & Kaya Toribami defeated Yuki Kamifuku, Mirai Maiumi & Haruna Neko

Solidarity. Credit: TJPW

Team Mirai was getting into the spirit of things, Kamiyu and Neko carrying flags to the ring and joining Mirai in writing the names of their invisible friends on their wrist tape (PP for Kamiyu and ねこ for Neko, which means, em, Neko, so maybe she’s her own friend?). It was a nice touch and put the usually reserved Maiumi front and centre.

While she’s reserved outside the ring, you can’t really say the same for Mirai inside it. Her battles with Noa throughout this match were great, that combination of Hikari’s relentlessness and Maiumi’s power proving a potent dose. I know it wasn’t that long ago that she challenged Kamiyu for the International Title, but if they were to push her forward as Noa’s next challenger, I would have no problem with that.

Sadly, that wasn’t the plan here, the finish handed off to the two smallest members of the roster, Nodoka and Haruna, who battled it out until Tenma caught Neko off one of our forward rolls into a Samoan Drop. She deserved that win after the tragedy of her dropping out of the Princess Cup, so it was a feel-good end to a strong opener.

Verdict: Noa Vs Mirai When?

Mizuki, Yuki Aino, Nao Kakuta & Arisu Endo defeated Miyu Yamashita, Miu Watanabe, Pom Harajuku & Moka Miyamoto

Pom living in the moment. Credit: TJPW

I don’t know what Pom has been eating, but she’s been fired the fuck up on these shows. It didn’t always go to plan for her, leading her team in a cheap shot and enthusiastically cheering on her partners’ slams only to get reversed when her shot came around, but still, she’s been bringing the aggression.

Outside of that, we were gearing up for the next round with Mizuki trying to out-goblin Miyu. It was working at one point, as she threw Pom into the Ace, but the match also ended with her being kicked in the head, which is hardly ideal. As for our other pairing, Aino got the win over Moka, keeping her momentum up, but Miu got her up for that big backbreaker, so she made a statement of her own.

It all made for an enjoyable match that teased what was to come nicely. Both those pairings have good chemistry, so I’m looking forward to seeing what they do together.

Verdict: Strong Teasing

Suzume defeated Mahiro Kiryu in the Princess Cup Second Round

Stop buzzing little bee. Credit: TJPW

In many ways, this was a lovely representation of how pleased Tokyo Joshi can be with their last few years. Yes, they’ve done a fantastic job of building the top of the card, but the bedrock of that success comes from wrestlers like Mahiro and Suzume. Two young talents who, just a few years into their career, can be trusted to go out and put on a match like this.

And they worked really well together. Mahiro is easy to overlook, a solid all-rounder who doesn’t have the over-the-top personality of her peers but who can be relied on. While Suzume was the one doing the flashy things, buzzing around the place, Mahiro allowed that to happen. She provided the base for Suzume to work off of and eventually hit that awesome Ring a Bell cutter for the win.

Suzume and Mahiro might not be the people you see talked about on Twitter or who get sent on trips to America to be wasted on AEW’s YouTube channel, but they are good wrestlers, and this match was good too.

Verdict: Lovely Stuff

Maki Itoh defeated Raku in the Princess Cup Second Round

Cheat! Credit: TJPW

It was teaming with Itoh last year that brought Raku out of her shell, helping her feel comfortable opening up and showing off that incredible personality. Without their time together, Raku might never have discovered her sorcery and magic, so we should always be grateful to Maki for that. What we shouldn’t be thankful for is her blatant cheating. SHE WORE EARPLUGS! How dare she counter Raku’s beautiful lullaby that way!

I’m going to forgive Itoh for her treachery because this ruled. Maki is a perfect opponent for Raku because she is still inherently ridiculous. She might be pushed as a serious wrestler now, but a key part of her character is her massive head, so Raku’s brain chops obviously won’t be as effective. The last year has seen Raku both improve as a wrestler and embrace the silly side of this world, which is almost identical to the road that Itoh has walked. It’s just that where Itoh blusters and yells, Raku sings lovely lullabies.

At this point, sadly, Itoh is still a few rungs further up the ladder than Raku, eventually tapping her out for the win. However, the gap is not as big as it once was, and if Raku keeps working on her train wizardry, perhaps the day will one day come where she overcomes the woman who inspired her.

Verdict: I Love Them Both

Shoko Nakajima defeated Marika Kobashi in the Princess Cup Second Round

Stick to what you know. Credit: TJPW

You’ve got to hand it to Marika. She has figured out that Guillotine Choke is effective, so she grabs every opportunity she has to leap into it. That might sound like a criticism, but it’s something I have zero issues with. A wrestler having a move, particularly a submission, that they rely on is no bad thing. In fact, it feels natural. Marika is essentially the Arjen Robben of TJPW. She does one thing well and she knows it.

Despite that, this match did feel like it lacked something. They started well, Marika attacking before the bell as it looked like they were heading into sprint territory. Unfortunately, it kind of ended up being part sprint, part regular match, and not quite working as either. The finish still came relatively quickly, but the action slowed down in the middle, leaving me feeling like I wanted more.

Still, coming out the other end thinking that I could have used a few more minutes is hardly the worst thing a match can do. In the last few months, it feels like Marika has got her feet back under her after her time out, and this didn’t change my mind. Unfortunately, Shoko was just a bit too good for her, but at least she’s got her Guillotine Choke.

Verdict: Not Great, But Still Good

Rika Tatsumi defeated Hyper Misao in the Princess Cup Second Round

Rika is never not intense. Credit: TJPW

Rika and Misao have a lot of history, from unrequited love to Rika saving Misao from the clutches of an evil French aristocrat. God, wrestling rules. Anyway, before the match, Misao brought up that she faced Rika in her ‘retirement’ match last year (look it up) and wanted to avenge that loss today.

It meant there was a real intensity to this that came primarily from Misao. She will never get the credit for her work that she deserves, but if you want proof of how good she can be, then feast your eyes on this one. Look at the moment where she started her assault on Rika’s arm, taking Tatsumi blocking an attempted Irish whip as a chance to drop her with a double arm DDT before rolling through into an armbar. It was beautiful, simple wrestling and set up the in-ring thrust of this match. Misao was patient and brutal in her attack, so Rika was forced to fight fire with fire, doing the same for Misao’s legs.

That in-ring work was aided by the streak of emotion that ran through the whole thing. Misao was trying to stay icy cold, but she couldn’t help it boiling over, a vicious strike exchange on the apron ending with her whipping Rika into the ring post. She would even end the match with her mask off, it having slipped off during a Dragon Sleeper and never quite settling back on her face. It made this all feel even more personal, and Rika only managing to get away with the win via an elaborate clutch was the perfect finish. They’ve kept the gap between these two minuscule, and you’d have to be made of stone not to feel something as they shared their traditional post-match fist bump.

Verdict: Best Friends Make Better Enemies

Overall Show

Tokyo Joshi closed out their four days at Shinkiba with a brilliant show that ended with probably my match of the tournament so far. I know there was some whining about the first day, but I’ve liked all of it, and it’s been nice to overdose on TJPW over the weekend. With a double-header at Korakuen for the semis and final, something tells me the quality won’t be dropping off there.

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