It’s not often that we got a TJPW Korakeun show that feels like the setup rather than the main event, but there is a little bit of that here. Sumo Hall and Grand Princess are getting ever nearer, and by the end of Positive Chain, we’ll know a little bit more about that card. Is Nodoka’s dream of burying the belts going to stay alive? Or will Daydream stamp all over it? Time to find out!
Before we got started, Yuna Manase turned up to announce that she’ll be representing Ganbare at the Sumo Hall show. She mainly did this by yelling passionately at the crowd before singing her way to the back, which certainly got the message across. Our Up Up Girls’ performance was then a two-person affair as Raku and Miu battled on despite Hikari’s absence. But, as you’d expect, they did a cracking job.
Moka Miyamoto defeated Arisu Endo
There was a real sense of urgency to our opening match. Not in a negative way. It wasn’t two rookies letting their nerves get the better of them and speeding through an encounter. Instead, it felt like the pacing was a byproduct of how much Moka and Arisu wanted to win. It might have been an opener between two young wrestlers, but for them, it was huge.
It wasn’t just the pace that impressed either. They also did a fantastic job of focusing on the little things. I loved moments like Endo hammering on Moka’s arm when trying to get her in the Camel Clutch or Miyamoto’s struggle to get the winning submission on. Wrestling should look hard. It should sell us on the idea that moving a person’s body into the position you want it to be in (and they don’t) is a difficult task.
That all made for a match that might be one of the best openers TJPW has ever had. Moka and Arisu went out there and battled to prove who was the better rookie, and I hung off every second of it, desperate to see who would prevail. In the grand scheme of things, it might not have meant a whole lot, but I believed it meant everything to them, and that was all I needed to fall for it.
Hyper Misao, Ram Kaicho & Mahiro Kiryu defeated ASUKA, Haruna Neko & Kaya Toribami
The decision to pair ASUKA up with the cat and the bird was truly inspired. I made this point when she faced Raku, but ASUKA and Haruna Neko do not feel like they come from the same world, yet here they were, wrestling side by side. ASUKA and their wee cat pal.
And this match was yet more proof of how good TJPW is at using guests. Ram and ASUKA not only looked great here but were also used to elevate those around them. Yes, they were the hook to draw people into the match, but it was the likes of Misao and Toribami who ended up taking centre stage, even if some of that was because everyone was refusing to put on the Misao masks that she’d so graciously brought for them.
They also made a match that, on another card, would have felt much like any other, that little bit more exciting. Ram and ASUKA meant we were getting all kinds of new pairings, and while they never had to go all out, that was enough to keep this ticking around nicely. It won’t be remembered as a classic or something you have to see, but it was a fun little journey, with the guests performing their roles well.
Verdict: Good Fun
After the match, Ram joined Manase in being added to the Sumo Hall card. They are stacking that one deep.
Yuki Arai defeated Suzume
When this card was announced, I reckon everyone and their dog drew a circle around this match and wrote the words ‘potential banger’ next to it. Suzume and Arai have a habit of sneakily stealing away the spotlight from more experienced heads, so the two of them together felt like a guaranteed good time.
We were right too. Suzume and Arai went out there determined to impress, and they damn well did it. From the start, they went at each other hard, seemingly relishing the opportunity to fight someone on a similar level. It meant that rather than grasping for opening, as they would against more experienced opponents, they were able to share the offence, Arai showing off some impressive power and Suzume her buzzing bee tendencies. It was a perfect match-up and one that allowed them both to put their best selves forward.
If I was to have a minor complaint, I think they could have slowed it down a touch. It felt like they’d crammed this match full of stuff, and letting it breathe a little bit wouldn’t have been a bad thing. However, I am looking for a fault, and it’s perfectly natural for young wrestlers to do that. Ultimately, this was a standout showing from two incredible talents, and I liked it a hell of a lot.
NEO Biishiki-gun (Sakisama & Mei Saint-Michel) defeated Raku & Pom Harajuku
I’m not sure I’ll ever tire of Sakisama being weak to Raku’s magic and sorcery. It’s not only a funny premise, but it also unleashes Mei Saint-Michel and the ring bell, which is guaranteed to have me laughing. That wee goblin running around the ring clanging away with her hammer is a brilliant visual.
And this was a very me affair. You had a lot of people in that ring who love an antic, and whether it was Mei trying to convince Matsui that Raku had attacked her with said ring bell (as if anyone would believe that) or Sakisama whacking people with roses, I enjoyed them all. Any match that features Raku making a fiery comeback of brain chops will probably get a favourable review from me.
It’s not just that I love the antics either, but that these four are particularly good at them. Mei and Sakisama have perfected their shtick, few people get beaten up like Pom and Raku is, well, Raku. They had some cracking ingredients in the mix, and they all came together to create a delightful meal.
Verdict: A Lovely Time
They continued to stack that Sumo Hall by card by announcing that Hikari Noa will face Hikaru Shida! That’s a lovely get for TJPW and a great spot to slide Hikari into. She’ll get some new eye on her for sure, and I’ve no doubt they’ll all come away impressed.
Shoko Nakajima & The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki) defeated Miyu Yamashita, Nao Kakuta & Marika Kobashi
We don’t often get one of these preview matches on a TJPW Korakeun, with the main focus here being the build to Miyu vs Shoko, but this was certainly a star-studded affair. We’ve got all the big names.
So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that it was great. These six could sleepwalk to a decent match, so when you’re asking them to do it at a big show, something would have to go horribly wrong for it not to entertain. Whether it was Sugar Rabbits torturing Marika, Shoko and Nao hinting at some chemistry that I’d like to see explored or Miyu going big and hitting an Avalanche AA on Nakajima, this had everyone working hard.
As you can perhaps guess by the final part of that, it also felt like we got more of Nakajima vs Miyu than we might have had this been in Shinkiba. It’s something that I might typically feel was unneeded, but that show is massive for TJPW, and the fact they’re already going to spots like that almost acts as a promise to go bigger on the day. It also played into this being a very enjoyable match, so I ain’t going to overthink it too much.
Verdict: Very Good
Maki Itoh defeated Yuki Kamifuku to retain the International Princess Title
There were a few layers hidden away under this match. Not only are Itoh and Kamiyu close friends, but the International title is, at least at this point, arguably more associated with Kamifuku than it is the champion. She did with that belt what Itoh couldn’t in her first reign, shaping it and giving it an identity. When Maki won it the second time around, it felt more important than it did the first, and a big part of that was down to Kamiyu.
And that combination of friendship and rivalry seemed to open these two up to lay into each other. There were some real hard hits here, particularly from Kamiyu, who at one point was hammering away at Itoh on the floor. That edge often made up for the fact that it wasn’t the smoothest of affairs, as their friendship allowed them to batter their way through any slight slip-ups.
It also meant that I wasn’t a huge fan of the mid-match antic, which, yes, is unlike me. Kamiyu looking to distract Itoh with a phone call from her mum is a fun idea, but I don’t think it worked in this setting. The rest of it felt so personal and fiery that the moment of comedy felt like we’d momentarily leapt into another genre, and it somewhat took away from what ended up being an emotional finish.
Still, the rest of this was good enough that it didn’t ruin the action for me, and, if anything, it just convinced me that next time these two go one-on-one, they’ll be able to improve on what we got here. If that’s the case, it will be very good indeed.
Verdict: It Was Still Good
As Itoh held court in the ring, one Yuki Arai made her way out behind her. Maki was established as the mountain Arai wanted to climb when she joined TJPW, and that title match has the potential to be special.
Daydream (Rika Tatsumi & Miu Watanabe) defeated The Bakuretsu Sisters (Nodoka Tenma & Yuki Aino) to win the Max Heart Tournament
What you bring to a piece of art will always affect how you view it. It’s why I believe the idea of an objective review is utter nonsense because you can’t ever remove who you are from proceedings, and who I am is a massive Nodoka Tenma fan watching her headline a Korakeun Hall for the first time. These four could have done a wee dance while farting into some kazoos, and I’d have cried my way through it.
Thankfully, I think I can safely say that this match was better than that, but that love of Nodoka still enthused everything I felt about it. I’ve joked about desperately wanting her to bury those belts, but underneath that is a belief that she deserved to be in a title match at Sumo Hall. And that belief made this match. It meant I was hanging on every near fall and every submission and that when Rika locked in the Figure Four, forcing Tenma to crawl to the ropes, I was screaming her on, willing her to make it. For the length of this tournament final, Nodoka winning was the most important thing in the world.
It also meant that it broke my heart. That when Daydream finally put Tenma down, my stomach twisted, and I couldn’t imagine how TJPW could do this to me. And is that not perfect? Is caring that much not the most incredible thing? Yea, I still think Tenma should have gone to Sumo Hall, but Daydream are brilliant, and they deserve it too, so I mainly just adore that I got to feel like that way about a wrestling match. Tenma got her moment in Korakuen Hall, and I suspect that even without my bias, this was a hell of a main event, but I guess I’ll never know. I’m not about to stop being that Nodoka fan, and even if she can’t bury the belts, I have faith that she’ll go out in style.
Verdict: Wonderful And Heart Breaking
It may have spent a lot of time building to a bigger venue, but this was still another brilliant TJPW Korakuen. Yes, it broke my heart, but I’m even willing to forgive it that. Nodoka will find plenty of other stuff to bury, and TJPW will continue to be one of the best. Onto Sumo Hall!
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