TJPW Princess Cup (15/8/21) Review

Itoh gives her all. Credit: TJPW

After a mindbogglingly good first day at Korakuen, Tokyo Joshi is back to wrap up these Princess Cup shenanigans. My prediction of a Mizuki vs Shoko final didn’t come to be, but I did predict Shoko to win, so I might not have got it completely wrong. I guess it’s time to find out.

Miyu Yamashita defeated Moka Miyamoto

Giving it all she has. Credit: TJPW

I recently read someone claiming that Miyu Yamashita eats opponents up and makes them look weak. Now, I’ve read a lot of opinion’s that I disagree with on the internet, but that is up with the ones I have scoffed hardest at. My feeling has always been that whether Miyu is fighting Yuka Sakazaki or a newly debuting rookie, she finds a way to bring the best out of them and give them their moment. It’s why I still have fond memories of Miyu vs Pom or Haruna Neko.

And it’s why this worked. Because Miyu, like the rest of us, has seen Moka channelling that fierce fire in her recent fights with Arisu and Arai. So, she came into this match determined to get the same thing out of her, controlling the early stages with arrogant Ace ease before unleashing Moka’s big comeback. It worked to perfection, Miyamoto looking fantastic as she shook the Ace and even locked in that Modified Cobra Twist.

And, of course, Moka still lost, and I suspect this is where the aforementioned person’s complaints come from. Because yea, Miyu doesn’t lose a lot, but she doesn’t lose a lot because she’s the best, and she shouldn’t lose a lot. But this match is only made better because of Miyu’s invincibility. It means that Moka managing to scare her, even if just for a second, feels like the biggest achievement of her career, and I don’t think that counts as being eaten up.

Verdict: Miyu Rules

The Bakuretsu Sisters (Nodoka Tenma & Yuki Aino) defeated Hyper Misao & Kaya Toribami

Kaya not quite understanding how Misao uses the cold spray. Credit: TJPW

Before the match, Hyper Misao graciously pointed out that while Kaya hasn’t yet told the first masked wrestler in TJPW that she was inspired to get into wrestling by her, she knows that’s the case. Therefore, she promised to take Toribami under her wing and teach her all the vital hero arts like choking people with your cape, kicking them after a handshake and keeping a can of cold spray handy. Torippi was a tad too innocent for some of those lessons, but it didn’t stop it being good fun.

Unfortunately, it meant that while our masked pair looked the part, they were slightly outmatched in the ring. The Bakuretsu Sisters are such a joy, steamrolling through Misao antics to bring that formidable power to bear. It was also Kaya’s best performance in a while, as she’s expanding her array of impressive kicks and beginning to find the smoothness that has sometimes alluded her. She’s a very impressive wrestler, so if she can iron out some of the erratic execution, she’s going to go far.

Sadly, it doesn’t look like it will be under the tutelage of Hyper Misao, but you never know. Tokyo Joshi’s resident superhero could still teach her a thing or two if Kaya is willing to listen.

Verdict: Good Fun

Miu Watanabe & BeeStar (Mirai Maiumi & Suzume) defeated Toyo University (Yuki Kamifuku & Mahiro Kiryu) & Haruna Neko

Poor Mahiro tries. Credit: TJPW

Mirai’s awkwardness continues to be incredibly relatable. Making her entrance flanked by the always hyped Suzume and Miu, she looked like she’d been dragged out for the night and was trying her best to have a good time, despite not knowing how to make the hand gestures along with Miu’s music. Socially awkward but able to decapitate you with a lariat, what else could you want from a wrestler?

Mirai impressed in the ring as well, reigniting her incredible feud with Kamiyu from earlier in the year. Those two bring the best out of each other, Kamiyu hitting perhaps the best dropkick of her career to send Mirai crashing into the corner. It made a change from her eye-poking and hair pulling, which had forced Mahiro into once again apologising for her friend.

Finally, I’m pretty sure the Giant Swing Miu did to Neko counts as some form of animal abuse. The speed she is getting on that thing is vomit-inducing, and Neko did well not to make that description literal. Sadly, the cat cruelty didn’t end there as Miu hit the Teardrop for the three, bouncing back from her semi-final defeat with an entertaining win.

Verdict: Don’t Spin Your Cat

NEO Biishiki-gun (Sakisama & Mei Saint-Michel) defeated Hikari Noa & Arisu Endo

That shouldn’t be possible. Credit: TJPW

Mei Saint-Michel’s inner goblin came flooding to the surface when Arisu managed to wrestle her tray away from her early on. The face she pulled suggested her dark side may have even been in control before she got it back, placed Endo on it and took her for a spin. You’ve got to admit, while she is a menace, she’s an inventive one.

That’s not much of a revelation, but Hikari and Sakisama certainly were. I’ve been praising Noa’s ability to click with everyone, but that was a particularly exciting pairing, Sakisama making full use of Hikari’s flexibility by having her nearly kick herself in the head. It was a lovely clash of Sakisama’s imperious elegance and Noa’s scrappy determination. I know Sakisama isn’t generally bothered about titles, but if Mei could convince her to challenge for the International belt, I’d be well up for that.

Unsurprisingly, it was the NEO Biishiki-gun team who took the victory here, but Arisu and Noa made them work for it. They tricked MSM into hitting her boss in her beautiful face a couple of times, which I can’t imagine she was too happy about. Then again, the wee goblin made up for it by getting the win, tapping Arisu out and keeping the Bii-gun run of wonderfully entertaining matches going.

Verdict: Give Us Noa Vs Sakisama!

The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki), Nao Kakuta & Pom Harajuku defeated Aja Kong, Raku, Rika Tatsumi & Marika Kobashi

Aja Kong sells a shin kick, what a day. Credit: TJPW

I’m not saying that Pom being left to face off with Aja Kong when her team went for the sneak attack was the best thing I’ve ever seen, but I’m also not not saying that. The opening of this match saw poor Pom be introduced to Aja in a very violent manner, and it was gloriously funny. Her stomach was punched, Good Night Expressed and, Rika not wanting to miss the chance to get Aja to do her move, Yossha Izuko Elbowed. To say Tartan Pom was a little bit worse for wear after all that is putting it lightly, but fair play to her, she worked her arse off taking that beating and was brilliantly Pom like from start to finish.

Aja wasn’t solely delivering comedy, though, as she and Yuka went at it hard when they tagged in together. Kong’s been generous in playing along with everyone’s shtick, but she was arguably even more so with the Magical Girl, bumping for her rolling elbow and a MagiRabbit double team. With Sakazaki’s secret powerhouse skillset, that match could blow the roof off of Korakuen someday.

It all made for yet another brilliantly entertaining Aja tag. I have only love for her and Raku becoming not only a team but seemingly friends, Kong consoling her after Mizuki pinned her. Everyone’s joked about them challenging for the tag titles at some point, but I would be delighted if it came to pass, and I reckon it would be amazing.

Verdict: Pom Steals The Show

Maki Itoh defeated Shoko Nakajima to win the Princess Cup

Itoh got her moment. Credit: TJPW

The defining moment of this match, as it so often is with Maki Itoh, was when Shoko pulled her to her feet, and Maki responded by shoving a middle finger in her face. Unlike all the other times that’s happened, though, it didn’t signal the end. It wasn’t a defiant last stand, but the moment where she turned it all around, reversing Shoko’s next attack and kicking off the finish that would finally see her win the big one. There have been so many middle fingers over the years, but for once, it wasn’t a sign that Itoh’s fall was coming.

And there were long periods of this match where Itoh’s victory didn’t look possible. In many ways, it was an amalgamation of the previous day’s semi-finals, Shoko’s experience now being used to attack Maki’s busted face. Nakajima was the ultimate pro, controlling the action and never giving Itoh an inch. She ground her into the mat, locking her in submissions and slowly building to what almost felt like an inevitable finish.

However, as I said in my review of Itoh’s semi, this is no longer a Maki that goes down easy. She always had spirit, but she’s now found toughness. In key moments, when it looked like it would all be over, Itoh always found another gear, slipping into one of those Boston Crab variants and making sure it wasn’t only her face that was in pain. It meant Shoko’s back began to bother her, and when she hit her first Northern Lights Suplex, she couldn’t maintain the bridge, the damage that had been done paying off. Itoh may never have controlled this match, but she desperately hung on, refusing to let Shoko shake her off and eventually finding the Itoh Deluxe and with it the win.

It was a moment that has been years in the making, and I can’t imagine having followed a second of that story and not falling head over heels for Itoh’s charms. She has given her heart and soul to get where she is now, to the point where she is not only an incredible character but a fantastic wrestler too. Two years ago, Itoh couldn’t have given this performance. One year ago, she would have come close but fallen short. Now, she’s ready, and whether she’s beat Yamashita or not, Maki Itoh is one hell of a wrestler.

Verdict: ITOH-CHAN!

Overall Show

Day two of Tokyo Joshi’s Korakuen stint fell short of the first, but that is hardly a complaint. That first show is up with some of the best of the year, and this was always going to struggle to match it. However, it was still a strong showing from head to toe with a fantastic conclusion that saw an emotional storyline hit its biggest beat so far. Who knows where TJPW goes next, but I’m excited to watch.

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