With Wrestle Princess getting ever closer, Tokyo Joshi was back live on Wrestle Universe. We still lack a card outside of the title match, but with that being a massive showdown between Itoh and Miyu, I don’t think anyone’s too worried, and they both had featured singles matches on this show to whet the appetite.
Hikari was out ahead of the rest of the Up Up Girls, promoting the crowdfunding that she’s doing for her solo project. I don’t believe she addressed how metal said project is going to be, but I’m going to go for pretty metal.
Yuka Sakazaki defeated Kaya Toribami
This match highlighted not only how impressive Kaya is at this early stage of her career but what an incredible ring general Yuka is. There was a couple of moment where Toribami hesitated or momentarily looked lost, but everyone’s favourite Magical Girl never flinched. She was able to roll with those forgivable rookie errors, accepting them for what they were and keeping everything on track.
As for the impressive rookie, she continues to pull more cool shit out of her bag, and every showing sees it get that tad more fluid. She’s still green, and I think the theory that she is a more experienced wrestler starting over is long dead, but she’s consistently improving, and that’s the main thing. If Kaya can learn from the likes of Yuka and marry that flashy offence with the ability to build a compelling match, then she’ll be something special.
Verdict: Both Of Them Looked Good
Hyper Misao & Yuki Kamifuku defeated Mizuki & Moka Miyamoto
In an attempt to get some of that sweet social media engagement, Kamiyu and Misao started this match live-streaming on Twitter. They were even kind enough to try and help Moka out, giving her the chance to say something. It wasn’t their fault that what she said wasn’t good enough, and they were forced to attack her.
As you’d expect, this was a really solid showing. Moka is, in many ways, the opposite of Kaya. She doesn’t do anything particularly fancy, but she’s starting to show a natural understanding of how to layout a match. Her wrestling makes sense and plays into the flow of the action. When you surround that with the rest of the talent in this tag, you’re probably going to get something enjoyable, and that we did.
Miu Watanabe & Yuki Arai defeated Shoko Nakajima & Arisu Endo
Miu Watanabe’s improvement over the last year or so has been extraordinary. She’s hit a golden patch in her career, where her confidence seems to be steadily rising, and her in-ring ability is going along with it. She had a bit of a hot tag into this match where she swept in and took control as if she’d been wrestling for twenty years, making the whole thing look effortless. In fact, the only time she looked anxious was when she was interacting with her partner, the idol nerd inside Miu still clinging on strong.
On the rookie side of things, Arai and Endo not only had good interactions with their seniors but with each other. I was particularly impressed with how hard they were going, as you truly bought into the idea that they wanted to beat each other. It’s a point I’ve made before, but rookie battles and tag matches like this are as important as the people involved decide they are, and Yuki and Arisu made me believe this was important.
Verdict: They Made Me Care!
Hikari Noa & Pom Harajuku defeated Suzume & Raku
Pom and Hikari are one of those odd pairings that always look like they have a blast teaming together. On paper, it shouldn’t work, but their very distinct forms of chaos seem to come together nicely to create a really fun wee team.
And I can’t imagine I was alone in circling this match for the potential of Suzume pinning Hikari to set up a challenge, and judging by the interactions they had, it would have been fantastic. Suzume was buzzing around Noa, always looking dangerous. Unfortunately for the bee, it wasn’t to be, Hikari countering her constant movement by taking her leg out from under her to set up a superkick and then the finish. It was a well-worked piece of wrestling that left me craving more, so fingers crossed we do get that showdown someday.
Verdict: Give Us Noa vs The Bee
Maki Itoh defeated Nodoka Tenma
I came away really impressed with the counters in this match. There were two early moments, one where Nodoka hooked her arms onto the ropes in the corner to stop her from being bounced into the path of Itoh’s Bulldog and another where Itoh neatly sidestepped a Tenma crossbody, that worked perfectly. They suggested two wrestlers who know each other well (despite this being their first singles match-up) but without falling into the overly choreographed dancing that some companies rely on.
It also felt like a natural stepping stone for Itoh. The match came about after she and Yamashita lost to the team of Marika and Aino on a previous show, Aino pinning Miyu and leaving Itoh’s distraught at the champ’s performance. With Yamashita attempting to revenge that defeat later in the show, it made sense to have Itoh face-off with her sister, giving Maki a chance to show what she felt Yamashita didn’t.
She played into that well. Nodoka is the kind of wrestler who will always feel credible, thanks to being built like a wee boulder. Tenma hits hard, and even if there was never a real chance of her winning, she tricks you into believing she could. That gave Itoh an opening to show the grit that she believes Miyu is losing as she took some of Nodoka’s best, but kept coming back. The last few months have all been designed to establish Itoh as a top-tier worker, and this victory was the cherry on top of the impressive job they’ve done.
Verdict: Itoh Throws Down The Gauntlet
NEO Biishiki-gun (Sakisama & Mei Saint-Michel) defeated Nao Kakuta & Haruna Neko
Poor Neko looked a bit anxious about this match-up, and with good reason. Mei Saint-Michel has made it very clear that she would quite like to take Neko-chan home, and I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to discover she had a crate a ringside to spirit her away. Although if she does want to make Haruna her pet, she might want to try being a bit nicer. Their interactions were fun, but they wouldn’t go down well with the RSPCA.
Outside of attempted catnappings, it was Nao who shone here. She’s one of the few wrestlers who does not give a fuck about Sakisama’s aura, at one point calling her stupid when she caused a rope-walking Mei to tumble to the floor. There’s a bluntness to Kakuta that nicely contrasts with Biishiki-gun’s noble air of devilry. I’m not surprised that she and Neko weren’t being set up for a title challenge, but if she could find a slightly more credible partner, I’d be happy to see them go that way.
As a final note, Mei and Sakisama won this match with La Revolucion, which was a reminder that Mei has the ability to make the incredible look simple. She may be a spawn of Satan, but she’s damn good at it.
Verdict: A Lot Of Fun
Miyu Yamashita defeated Yuki Aino
The mini-feud that gave us this match has been a wonderfully concise bit of booking by TJPW. The central story is, of course, Miyu, who, in losing to Aino, showed she wasn’t on her game ahead of that title showdown with Itoh. Whether she was taking Maki too lightly or got caught up in the joy of their team, she needed something to snap her out of it, and being pinned by Yuki did that. However, the secondary story is one which elevates Aino. It doesn’t matter what mood the Ace was in because a victory over Miyu is always something to be proud of.
And Aino followed that up by grabbing this chance and putting on a really impressive performance. I was a big fan of her title shot against Sakazaki, and I thought there were similar elements here. She’s got a scrappiness to her wrestling, which plays nicely off of her power. There was a moment when she dragged Yamashita to the ground to put her in the Full Nelson, ditching technique in favour of strength and surprise. It felt like she was pushing Miyu harder than most, catching her off-guard and forcing her to work for the win.
Of course, we all know what Miyu is capable of. She is the Ace for a reason, and she doesn’t take her eye off the ball for long. Towards the end, Yamashita began to move up through the gears, getting back into the groove of things and unleashing a series of devastating moves to get the win. It was like she’d watched Maki’s victory over Nodoka and set out to one-up it, making her win all the more conclusive.
Still, conclusive victory or not, this did everything it needed to do, giving Yuki a rub while playing into the long-term story between champ and challenger. In the aftermath, Maki was stood in the crowd, applauding her future opponent. The conversation that followed was suitably chaotic, and I am getting all the more excited to see what happens when they fight.
Verdict: Perfect Booking
I can’t be the only one who expected to get at least one more Wrestle Princess match on this show, but I suspect Rika having to miss it for family reasons might have played its part in that not opening. Still, that didn’t stop it from being an enjoyable outing that peaked with 121000000’s single matches with the Bakuretsu Sisters. If you’re in a rush, those are the ones to seek out, but I don’t think you’ll regret watching any of this.
Watch Tokyo Joshi Pro: https://www.ddtpro.com/universe/videos?teamId=tjpw