TJPW Winter In Kobe (8/1/22) Review

Probably not how Itoh would have chosen to spend her afternoon. Credit: TJPW

While Ittenyon may take place in the new year, it is really the exclamation mark on the previous one. With it out of the way, Tokyo Joshi can move forward into 2022 and start the build towards Sumo Hall, their biggest show yet. What will join Miyu vs Shoko on the card? Well, it might be a while before we find out, but we’ll certainly start to get some ideas.

Suzume defeated Haruna Neko

The bee takes to the air to get an advantage. Credit: TJPW

People have always fantasy booked battles between animals – sharks vs lions, tortoises vs hares and a wolf vs three little pigs. It’s not often we get to see the answer to these questions, but TJPW has blessed us with a fight between a cat and a bee.

It turned out to be a closer contest than one might expect. While Haruna is the more experienced wrestler in this pairing, I think it’s safe to say Suzume has overtaken her in recent times and that perhaps gave Neko something to prove. I’ve mentioned her quiet improvement a lot recently, and this showed why I’m right. The cat didn’t need to lean on comedy or antics (not that I’d have any complaints about that) and simply went out and had a solid back and forth with Suzume. It wasn’t perfect, and there were a couple of slightly awkward moments, but they were irrelevant in the grand scheme of what was a fun opener.

Suzume did win, and I still don’t think Neko is about to charge up the card and take us all by surprise, but I also think that’s perfectly fine. Suzume is around to do that, and do it she will, while Neko will continue to have fun openers with whoever the next Suzume is. Every company needs that wrestler, and Haruna fills the role nicely.

Verdict: Nice Stuff

Miu Watanabe defeated Kaya Toribami

Round and round she goes. Credit: TJPW

Kaya’s back! I believe she’s spent the last few months in Hungary. Why? Presumably, it was a holiday, but I honestly have no idea. I have heard it is lovely there, as long as you avoid the fascists, a statement that can be directed at far too many countries.

Anyway, that time off had me intrigued as to how Kaya would do on her return. Yes, she came into TJPW and seemed to settle instantly, but that doesn’t negate the fact that she is a rookie, and with three months off, it would be easy to let the nerves bubble up. By which I mean that if I had three months off, I would let the nerves bubble up. Thankfully, she’s made of sterner stuff than me, and if anything, perhaps looked better than she did before she left. Her offence was always somewhat erratic due to her high-flying nature, but everything here looked crisp, making for a fun wee match.

So while Miu would end up winning in relatively short order, this still goes down as a success for the rookie. She’s come back looking ready for the year ahead, and while I wouldn’t expect her to fly up the card anytime soon, if she keeps improving, Kaya will prove hard to ignore.

Verdict: A Strong Return

Rika Tatsumi defeated Marika Kobashi and Arisu Endo in a three-way

Rika makes sure everyone knows who is in charge. Credit: TJPW

There’s something about three-ways that bring the evil out of Rika Tatsumi. Put her in the ring with two less experienced wrestlers, and within minutes, she’ll be beating them around the head and ordering them about. Don’t get me wrong, it’s incredibly entertaining, but it can’t be too fun if you’re Arisu or Marika.

And while Tatsumi didn’t completely dominate them, this very much felt like her match as she’s such a big character that it is hard not to be dwarfed by her. Endo and Kobashi both put out decent performances, but it was Rika who stole every spotlight, making it hard for either of them to make any real impact. Not that I have any real complaints about that. Rika’s brilliant and should probably hog more spotlights, but it made this a fun diversion rather than anything essential.

Verdict: The White Dragon Steals The Show

The Bakuretsu Sisters (Nodoka Tenma & Yuki Aino) & Hyper Misao defeated Hikari Noa, Nao Kakuta & Raku

Innovative. Credit: TJPW

I got a bit distracted towards the end of this match because I thought Raku might be injured. After one of the exchanges, she rolled to the edge of the mat and stayed crunched up, having a whispered conversation with Misao while looking to be holding her arm. Thankfully, she did return for the finish, and I haven’t heard anything about an injury, but she had me worried for a second there. Raku getting hurt would be the worst way to start the year.

That scare aside, this match was as good as you’d expect a pairing up of two godlike trios to be. I love it when Raku and Noa get together because it feels like Raku’s rebellious big sister has taken her for a day out, and this time, she brought along a friend! They’re going to teach her about smoking and getting drunk before conducting a particularly aggressive Goodnight Express (Misao drew the short straw with the Nao and Noa combination here). Meanwhile, the Super Bakuretsu trio is all the fun and always brings a plan with them, even if it tends to involve a complicated construction that inevitably backfires.

It all made for a super entertaining match with a streak of comedy and a lot of good action. Noa and Nao are at the point where I enjoy watching them with anyone, but that Hikari vs Aino combination continues to deliver to an exceptionally high level. If TJPW wants to keep going back to that over the years, I’d be more than happy.

Verdict: Injury Free And Lots Of Fun

Yuki Arai & Moka Miyamoto defeated Pom Harajuku & Mahiro Kiryu in the first round of the Max Heart Tournament

Finally! Credit: TJPW

There was a spot in this match where Pom tried to get Moka up for a slam and couldn’t. It wasn’t a major mistake, she just needed to readjust and have another go at it, but when she did that, Moka made a show of trying to block the second attempt. It was a tiny little moment, one that I probably won’t even remember a week from now, but it instantly flipped the script from Pom making a mistake to Moka making things difficult for her. In turn, I think it showed just how far Miyamoto has come in the last few months. She’s no longer simply thinking about getting through the match but adapting as she goes, playing to what has happened.

And I think all four of these relatively inexperienced wrestlers did well here. They kept this simple, working basic wrestling well, but considering they’ve rarely (if ever) had to work a ten minute plus match with stakes and no senior wrestler involved, I think that was the ring thing to do. Little touches like Pom working the shins or Arai decapitating people with a big boot were all the flourishes they needed.

It would be Pom and Arai who brought us home, having a really good back and forth, that ended in a Finally Axe Kick and probably Yuki’s biggest victory in TJPW so far. Neither of these teams came into this tournament expecting to win, but they’ve impressed, and that’s precisely what you want them to do.

Verdict: Good, Solid Wrestling

Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki) & Shoko Nakajima defeated 121000000 (Miyu Yamashita & Maki Itoh) & Yuki Kamifuku

Good friends help you punch people in the head while telling the world how cute you are. Credit: TJPW

TJPW has got these multi-person, hype up the next big show main events down to a tee. They do the little things well, like the way they’ll open with Miyu and Shoko, have them feel each other out, then veer off in another direction before returning to the proper preview further down the line. It’s a great way to keep people hooked on the action and really make it feel like it’s worth your time tuning in.

Of course, it also helps when you can throw six talented wrestlers together and let them go at it. This grouping was unlikely to ever deliver anything subpar. Whether it was Itoh facing off with Yuka or Miyu and Kamiyu joining in to make sure Maki could do the cutest punches on Mizuki, it was just a blast to watch. I often say that you can relax into a match like this, safe in the knowledge that you’re going to have a good time.

And while I don’t think this was a go out of your way to see it at all costs showing, I also don’t think it needed to be. We’re still a long way away from Sumo Hall, and it was, ultimately, a house show main event. They gave us a peek, but they kept the good stuff back, and that’s how it should be.

Verdict: Nailed It

Overall Show

This is one of those TJPW shows that I won’t tell you that you need to go and watch, but I also can’t not recommend it. It was a fun, breezy sub-two-hour watch that I can’t imagine hating. If you’ve got the time, you won’t regret it, but if you’ve got more important things to do, you ain’t missing anything too vital.

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