The TJPW streak of live shows continues as we’re getting perilously close to their next Korakuen. So far, we’ve only got the main event of 121000000 vs MagiRabbi booked, so I came into this expecting to get a couple more announcements and, spoiler, we did. Want to find out what they are? Well, you could probably get them on Twitter pretty quickly, but you could also read my review. C’mon, you know you want to.
Nao Kakuta defeated Moka Miyamoto
Nao and Moka have been wrestling like they have something to prove recently, so I had this one circled as a potential sneaky wee banger. Miyamoto is still at the stage where she doesn’t click with everyone, but if she and Kakuta proved to have good chemistry, I felt like it could deliver big.
And while it maybe didn’t hit the ceiling of my expectations, it did deliver, in part due to Nao’s willingness to play the prick. She opened this up by being horrible to Moka, dragging her forehead across the top rope and throwing her across the ring by her hair. It’s the kind of thing the rookie really benefits from, as it establishes her role in the match, giving her the simple task of trying to escape this bully who won’t stop being a bellend. Moka’s work still leans towards the scrappy at times, but that becomes less important when she’s fighting from underneath, trying to grasp at tiny openings.
Sadly, as expected, this was one of those days where bullying pays off, as Nao picked up the win. I’m also not sure I can officially declare it a sneaky wee banger, as it didn’t quite hit that territory, but it wasn’t far off. With a couple more goes at it, I suspect these two could easily deliver to that level, and this was still a solid opener in its own right.
Verdict: Good, But With Room To Improve
Hyper Misao & Mahiro Kiryu defeated Suzume & Arisu Endo
I’m still pretty devastated that we’ll never see BeeStar win the tag titles and have that big lass, little lass partnership reach its full potential, but the emergence of Arisu and Suzume is somewhat making up for it. They’re an infectious pairing, eschewing big lass, little lass for cheery lass, cheery lass, which isn’t quite as potent upfront but seems to be doing alright in the ring.
Part of what’s making it work is that while they have a similar happy vibe, they differ in their work. Suzume is constantly on the move, buzzing about the place, while Arisu is a more solid presence. She’s not got the size or power of Mirai, but she does all the basic stuff well, which serves as a nice base for Suzume to build off of. Plus, this early in their time together, you can see them figuring things out in real-time, deciding what works best and making it part of the act, a process I always enjoy getting to see.
Unfortunately for them, there was a delegate from Gotham City around who apparently used to be the head of the party (I don’t see why Misao would lie). So while Arisu and Suzume looked good, everyone’s favourite superhero still came out on top, and there was only the slightest hint of corruption to help her get there. Thankfully, there is no shame in losing to such an important person, and this was a solid match.
Shoko Nakajima & Nodoka Tenma defeated Yuki Kamifuku & Pom Harajuku
A wee peek behind the curtain, but I’m having one of those days. While nothing awful has happened, lots of little stuff has been going wrong, and I’m in a feeling sorry for myself mood. So, a match where Nodoka was bribed with a pumpkin full of sweets, causing her to wander off and leave Shoko to be beaten up, was everything I needed. Then, to make it even better, when Shoko attempted to tag out, Tenma assumed she just wanted some, offering a sweet up to the Big Kaiju. God, I love her so much.
And sure, that did mean that Shoko spent the vast majority of this match flying solo, but, and I’m not trying to make too many excuses for Tenma, Nakajima is an outstanding wrestler. She could handle it! It also meant that when Nodoka tagged in, she was all fired up, letting out a shout of marshmallow as she hit a splash on Kamiyu. Would you rather have a partner at 10% for 100% of the time or at 100% for 10% of the time? They still won, didn’t they?
Anyway, I loved this because that nonsense made me stupidly happy. The wrestling was good too, but honestly, I spent most of it giggling at the sight of Tenma making her way through a pumpkin full of treats. Who needs wrestling when you have something as magical as that?
Verdict: Give Tenma Sweets!
Rika Tatsumi, Yuki Arai & Raku defeated Yuki Aino, Mahiro Kiryu & Haruna Neko
My god, they did it. The crazy bastards actually did it – a Figure Of Eight Goodnight Express. They said it couldn’t be done, but they underestimated the power of God Raku. Okay, yes, it got a bit muddled, but genius can’t be expected to get it perfect every time.
Following up a Nodoka match with a Raku match was TJPW giving me a big hug and telling me everything would be okay. Adding Rika to the mix made the hug slightly psychotic and meant I wasn’t quite sure what would happen next. I know she’s never exactly been hinged, but I swear she’s getting worse. She started this match by pulling Neko’s tail! Who does that! Okay, lots of people, but she did it in a particularly cruel way.
Even with the animal abuse, this was another smile-inducing match, which had fewer sweeties, but plenty of good times. The one downside of it all was Yuki Aino daring to reverse the Smile Express. As one of Raku’s biggest fans, I thought she knew better, but I guess we all slip now and then. I indirectly called God a bastard a couple of paragraphs ago and have spent the last five minutes feeling kinda bad about it. To be clear, Raku is not a bastard. She’s lovely.
Anyway, Rika would eventually be even meaner to the cat, pinning her after a Twist of Fate. She then celebrated by challenging her tag partner, Arai, to a match at Korakuen and slapping her across the face, further cementing the fact that the hinges are truly off the wall. I’m not even sure we can even call that a potential sneaky banger because I’m confident it will rule.
Verdict: Raku Is Not A Bastard
121000000 (Miyu Yamashita & Maki Itoh) & Miu Watanabe fought The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki) & Hikari Noa to a time-limit draw
Miyu forgot her gear! In the most Miyu Yamashita move of all time, she turned up without half her gear and had to wrestle the main event in a pair of gym shorts borrowed from Nao Kakuta. It made her entrance, in which she was trying to maintain her badass expression, but knew that everyone was looking at her shorts, rather amusing.
Talking of amusing, is there anyone who does this fun time main event style better than the Sugar Rabbits? It’s not like they spend the whole match pissing about, but they know the exact right blend of giggles to sprinkle in. Look at Yuka, staring in horror as Itoh manages to muscle else out of a submission, only to grab her head and shove her straight back in it with a massive grin on her face. I can’t think of anyone who maintains that balance as perfectly.
And all of that was within the bones of what was a really good showing. Nearly every pairing possible would be worthy of headlining a Korakuen, as each new one brought with it something exciting. Whether it was the momentary pause when Miyu and Yuka faced off or Miu spinning Mizuki so fast that I’m genuinely amazed it didn’t end with projectile vomiting, it was a near-perfect example of this type of main event match. They gave out a whole lot, but without ever going too far, keeping stuff back for the days that matter.
The close was left to Miu and Hikari, both coming close to winning, but neither getting over the line. That turned out to be a good thing because, in the aftermath, Miu would challenge for the International Title, and holy shit, that’s another match that’s going to rule. An Up Up Girls’ battle at Korakuen? Yes, please!
I feel like this review was a tad all over the place, but the show definitely was not. It was a really well put together card, building up to a brilliant main event and putting a smile on my face when I was in a right grump. What could be a better review than that?
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