TJPW days are always good days, as you’re basically guaranteed a couple of hours of enjoyable wrestling. With the next Korakuen getting mighty close, this show was all about teasing those big title matches, with both 121000000 and the Sugar Rabbits in action, while Hikari and Miu faced off in the main event. I’m excited, are you excited? You should be excited.
Shoko Nakajima defeated Haruna Neko
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to throw my weight behind Haruna Neko, suggesting that she’s been steadily improving and, in the process, turned into a solid undercard wrestler capable of filling in wherever she’s needed. Well, TJPW must have been listening as they decided to pair her up with Shoko, giving her a chance to prove I wasn’t talking bollocks.
I’m delighted to say that I think she did me proud. This was the rare Neko match that was relatively cat-antic-free as, apart from the occasional scratch, she wrestled it straight down the line. Christ, she and Shoko even threw in a couple of traditional big boy spots, taking advantage of the rare time where either of them is facing off with someone roughly the same size as them by bouncing off each other in the centre of the ring. It became a tight, well-wrestled wee encounter that never quite convinced me Neko had a chance to win but did show her keeping up with Nakajima.
Of course, you could make the argument that everyone has good matches with Shoko, and you’d be partly right. She makes this stuff look easy. However, I think them choosing to work this way is proof in itself of how far Neko has come. The idea of her doing even a short match without the back-up of her catty behaviour would have felt like it had the potential for disaster not that long ago. Now she’s proving herself capable of this stuff and deserves credit for how far she’s come.
Verdict: Well Done, Cat!
Rika Tatsumi defeated Nodoka Tenma and Mahiro Kiryu in a Three-Way
Mahiro and Nodoka made the rookie mistake of agreeing to team up and go after Rika. While yes, in theory, that sounds like a good idea, what it actually did was piss the White Dragon off. Between choking both of them with her cape and yelling at Tenma until she put a submission on Mahiro, Rika did nothing to convince me that my belief she’s come back from her time-off more violent than ever is wrong.
And as much as anyone being mean to Nodoka makes me sad, I also have to admit to enjoying violent Rika. She plays unhinged better than nearly anyone, wandering around the ring, yelling at people and giving them a boot or two. There was a moment where it looked like Tenma was running away, heading towards the exit, so Tatsumi calmly paused from beating up Mahiro, caught up with her and brought poor Nodoka back to teach her the consequences of her actions.
That violence would be the cornerstone of an enjoyable three-way, which eventually saw Rika win. Maybe next time, they should try being friends with her instead? That’s definitely worked for Misao, right?
Verdict: Don’t Piss Rika Off!
Hyper Misao & Nao Kakuta defeated Yuki Kamifuku & Raku
Raku and Hyper Misao are a pairing that I feel TJPW should give us a bit more of. They’d be a perfect fit for one of the big show nonsense matches, taking advantage of their contrasting styles of mischief. But, of course, that can only happen if Aja Kong isn’t around because we are owed at least one Goodnight Express after not getting it last time.
The real money pairing in this match was Nao and Kamiyu, though. Their International Princess title showdown from earlier in the year was great, and the snippet we got off them here proved to be no different. TJPW has done a great job of building up these pairings that they can sprinkle through cards, adding a little bit of spice to what otherwise would be fairly uneventful matches.
It all made for a fun tag that didn’t do anything spectacular but bounced along at an enjoyable pace. There isn’t a huge amount to say, but that didn’t stop me from having a good time.
121000000 (Miyu Yamashita & Maki Itoh) defeated Marika Kobashi & Moka Miyamoto
I’m kind of fascinated with Moka Miyamoto. On the surface, she doesn’t seem a natural fit for wrestling. From day one, she’s appeared to be this quiet, unassuming person who even picked gear that didn’t quite look right. When it took her a while to find her feet, it made me fearful that she wasn’t going to stick with it.
And then, something clicked. Moka’s still quiet, and the gear still looks a touch out of place, but now the in-ring stuff is working. She’s started showing a fire that I was worried she didn’t have, wildly throwing forearms at Miyu Yamashita and refusing to go down easy. While she may lack the flamboyance of Kaya Toribami and find it all a bit harder than Arisu Endo, that’s become her biggest strength. You can see that she is working her arse off to get to the level she’s at, and that alone is enough to make me love her.
It’s also why she’s now stealing matches, standing out in the ring with your Miyus and Makis of the world. She’s quietly become one of the things I look forward to most when tuning into TJPW, and while there is a long way to go yet, I’m no longer worried she’s going to stumble on the way.
Verdict: Moka Steals The Show
The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakzaki & Mizuki) defeated Yuki Aino & Pom Harajuku
I say this with all the love in the world, but I like watching Pom get beat up. That boundless, bouncy energy that she brings to everything perfectly transfers over to the way she takes a beating as she sells her ass off. I always feel a bit bad suggesting that it’s a wrestler’s destiny to spend their career-making other people look good, but Pom could definitely do it.
The Sugar Rabbits seemed to be enjoying doing the beating too. I raved about them last week, so I won’t go into it too much this time, but they make everything entertaining. There’s a wonderful streak of inventiveness to their offence, as so much of it seems like something they’ve come up with at two in the morning and are only trying out for the first time mid-match. It adds just the right amount of chaos, keeping the sense that something could go wrong alive.
Thankfully, nothing went south in this one, as everyone involved delivered a reliably solid semi-main that ended with Pom staring up at the lights. I’m not sure if my enjoyment of it is any comfort to her, but at least she looked good on the journey that brought her there.
Verdict: Sorry, Pom!
Miu Watanabe & Suzume defeated Hikari Noa & Arisu Endo
Add it all up, and the four wrestlers in this match have less than ten years of in-ring experience. Arisu has still not even hit year number one, as her anniversary will be January 4th 2022. In wrestling terms, they’re all babies, and yet here they are, putting on a main event that everyone knew was going to be great.
Obviously, the focus here was Miu and Hikari ahead of their title bout, and even if I wasn’t already sold, they would have got me all excited. Miu’s power vs Hikari’s dogged determination is a great match-up, and with the year they’ve both had, I’m going into this flummoxed as to who the winner will be. I would be more than happy with both of them walking out with the belt, and that’s always a lovely spot to be in. As for Suzume and Arisu, they were the perfect backing band. It can be an unforgiving role, as everyone knows this isn’t about you, but they refused to fade into the background, finding the balance between impressing and not getting in the way.
To go back to the beginning, it’s hard to watch this and not get excited. Whether these four end up being wrestling lifers or drop out and have a whole other life, they currently have all the potential in the world. To be this good at such a young age is one hell of a thing, and I can’t wait to see where they end up.
Verdict: The Kids Are Alright
Much like the majority of these smaller Tokyo Joshi shows, there is nothing that you need to see here. However, if you do decide to give it your time, you’ll find a bright and breezy watch that went under two hours and hinted nicely at the next Korakuen. TJPW rarely deliver a bum note, and this wasn’t going to be the exception that proved the rule.
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