TJPW Winter (19/2/22) Review

Who needs the big guns? Credit: TJPW

TJPW aren’t having much luck when it comes to the old COVID. Miyu Yamashita and Make Itoh have tested positive, with Yuka Sakazaki, Rika Tatsumi, Nodoka Tenma and Raku all being close contacts. That is a lot of talent to have on the bench (and fingers crossed they’re all okay), but they still scraped together a card, and I have faith that this roster can pull through. Let’s find out if I’m right.

Mahiro Kiryu defeated Arisu Endo

Arisu knows where the camera is. Credit: TJPW

I sometimes feel like I give Kiryu short shrift. Reading back through reviews, I’ll notice that I’ve failed to mention her name, even in matches that she played a big part in. While I don’t dislike her or think she’s a bad wrestler, she might be the one person on the Tokyo Joshi roster with whom I’ve never formed an emotional bond.

And watching this match, I think I realised why. Kiryu is solid. She’s a reliable worker, an alright personality and an all-around decent talent. She’s undoubtedly stronger in-ring than someone like Neko, but that’s also kind of the problem. When it comes to undercard wrestlers, I tend to fall for the weird and the flawed, but Mahiro is just good, and I find it quite hard to attach myself to good.

Perhaps I’m missing something (I certainly hope I am because I would love to be her biggest fan), but so far, Kiryu feels a little bit like she’s just there, and while that’s fine, it’s not enough to win my heart.

Verdict: Solid

Pom Harajuku defeated Moka Miyamoto

Sometimes Pom needs a break. Credit: TJPW

As if to prove my previous point, along comes Pom, someone who is probably not as good a worker as Mahiro, but who I would happily put forward as being better than most of the canon greatest wrestlers of all time. Then, when people inevitably dismiss me as a raving madman, I’ll boot them in the shin.

Seriously, though, I think wrestling Pom is an essential step for any young wrestler. Moka can improve all she wants, but Harajuku isn’t going to let her wrestle a standard match. Instead, she’s going to boot her in the shin and then perch on it, balanced on the rope, grinning away to herself. It ain’t normal, but it is Pom.

And the combination of her and Moka was a good one, as it blended the serious and the nonsensical well. At a couple of seconds over seven minutes, it’s the kind of match I could happily watch all day and quite often do.

Verdict: If You Disagree, I’ll Boot You In the Shin

Hyper Misao defeated Haruna Neko

Neko and Kurt Zouma have something in common. Credit: TJPW

It turns out that Neko doesn’t like it when someone else tries to get in on her gimmick. Misao made her entrance sporting a tail and ears before being introduced as Neko Misao. However, Haruna was having none of that and soon ripped Misao’s adornments off before throwing them out of the ring. You’d think after all the tail abuse that she’d suffered, she’d be more sympathetic, but apparently not.

And not to sound repetitive, but this is another match type that I will always enjoy, aka Misao being a total menace. Does she need to shenanigan her way through a match with a cat? Probably not. Will she do it anyway? Of course, she will. She’s Hyper Misao, and she’s never met a shenanigan she didn’t love. Thankfully, I’ve also never met a Misao match I didn’t love, so we’re on the same page.

Verdict: Antics For Days

Nao Kakuta defeated Yuki Kamifuku and Kaya Toribami in a three-way

An optimistic rookie. Credit: TJPW

Nao and Kamiyu have the best kind of rivalry in that when they’re together, they both get incredibly petty and violent. Poor Kaya ended up stuck between them as the only thing they agreed on was that she deserved a beating for daring to get in the way of their bickering.

That balance of a young rookie trying to prove herself and two experienced wrestlers who want to poke each other in the eyes is a fun setup. Toribami spent most of this just trying to be noticed while Kamiyu and Kakuta went after each other at every opportunity. It gave Kaya a chance to show a bit of personality as she got stuck between these two arguing rivals.

Of course, in the end, it would be Kaya who took the fall, but that doesn’t really matter. She’s been slowly broadening out past her initial introduction as the impressive rookie who does all the flips, and showing off some personality is an integral part of that. Fingers crossed that we get to see more of it in the future.

Verdict: A Good Showing From The Bird

Shoko Nakajima defeated Marika Kobashi

Gotta go out in style. Credit: TJPW

While people having to drop off cards is never a good thing, it does mean we get some matches that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Our semi-main was a wee treat forced upon us by circumstance, and it did an excellent job of putting forward two ideas simultaneously.

The first was the more obvious as Shoko continued preparing for her battle with Miyu. Even as someone who regularly makes a point to say how great Nakajima is, I still feel like I don’t give her enough credit, and she is looking fantastic at the moment. Shoko’s such a crisp worker, and watching her control a match is a real joy.

On the other side of the ring, though, these last couple of months have felt a lot like Marika trying to prove herself before she steps away. Perhaps it’s because she’s now had matches with Shoko and Miyu, but there is a real sense that she’s leaving it all in that ring, and I could feel her desperation as she leapt into a Guillotine Choke. Marika is showing us how good she can be, and while it makes me sad to know there is only so much of it left, it’s also nice to see her going out with some strong performances.

Verdict: Two Stories, Nicely Told

Mizuki, Hikari Noa & Yuki Arai fought to a time-limit draw with Miu Watanabe, Yuki Aino & Suzume

Arai doesn’t need to look at you to boot you in the head. Credit: TJPW

Everyone involved in this match has been pushed to one degree or another, but with all the biggest stars missing, this felt like the second tier getting the chance to main event a show. Unsurprisingly, they stepped up and did it brilliantly.

And what made this so exciting was seeing the pairings that could go on to define the next ten years of TJPW. We got to watch things like Suzume mixing it up with Arai and Noa, Aino hossing it out with Miu and Mizuki looking brilliant with everyone. It’s not like these groupings are new to us (we’ve seen most, if not all of them, before), but getting to watch them all main event a show together made me realise just how exciting Tokyo Joshi’s future is.

I also have absolutely no issue with it being a draw. People tend to have a bee in their bonnet about that particular result, and it can certainly be done badly, but I think winning a wrestling match against a talented performer should be hard and something that you’re not necessarily guaranteed to do. This felt like a load of brilliant people cancelling each other out, and I enjoyed it a lot.

Verdict: Very Good

Overall Show

I never really doubted that TJPW would still put on a good show, but even I came away impressed with this. Despite missing out on a lot of star power, Tokyo Joshi went out there and put on the kind of fun, breezy show that will have a newcomer assuming this was the full roster. It was an easy watch, and while nothing monumental happened, you won’t regret giving it your time.

Watch Tokyo Joshi Pro:

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