TJPW Winter (5/3/22) Review

Ready for Sumo Hall! Credit: TJPW

Grand Princess is getting awfully close, and this is TJPW’s final serious stop before they get there (they ran a Wrestle Universe Members show on Sunday, but those are inherently silly). We’ve got the full card, so all that’s left is to drum up that little bit of extra excitement. To be honest, I probably don’t need it, but I’m happy to get it anyway.

Mahiro Kiryu & Haruna Neko defeated Nao Kakuta & Kaya Toribami

Meow! Credit: TJPW

Nao Kakuta is great, isn’t she? Whether she’s drawing some fire out of Mahiro or selling for Neko, she’s frequently the best thing in these undercard tags. In a company that has a lot of wrestlers in the early years of their career, Kakuta is someone who can be trusted to go out and hold everything together.

And this was a surprisingly straight-laced affair. TJPW’s openers are often light and fluffy, and with Nao coming up against Neko, I was expecting plenty of cat abuse, but there was little to none of that. Instead, they went out and had a decent wee match that maybe could have used a little bit of that fluffiness. Okay, that’s probably down to my taste (I love the silliness), but when you have a bird, a cat, a former cat and a serial apologiser in the ring, I’d like a touch of nonsense.

Still, I want to be clear that this was still a competent wee match (with the already mentioned Nao standing out). It lacked a touch of that TJPW magic, which often comes about because of those character moments, but I can’t always get what I want, and I certainly didn’t have a bad time.

Verdict: Fine, But Lacking Magic

Hyper Misao defeated Yuki Aino and Arisu Endo in a three-way

They got her. Credit: TJPW

Okay, here’s the silliness I was looking for. I am a sucker for people hiding under the ring. All wrestlers share a common gene that leaves them completely flummoxed when someone disappears beneath the place where they make their living. It was Aino who was left confused here, Endo and Misao going missing only to reemerge and introduce her to some cold spray.

And this was a Misao heavy match as she gainfully tried to navigate the choppy waters of a three-way. It was a fluctuating state of alliances and betrayals, primarily between her and Endo, whose inexperience left her more open to everyone’s favourite superhero’s charms. Aino, meanwhile, played this as a badass hoss, taking them both on at times and only missing out on the win because of Misao’s craftiness.

It all led to it getting a big thumbs up from me as I had a lovely old time. I’ve said it before, but TJPW three-ways are nearly always a delight, and this wasn’t the exception to the rule.

Verdict: A Lot Of Fun

Hikari Noa & Yuki Kamifuku defeated Raku & Pom Harajuku

Wait, that’s not the Goodnight Express. Credit: TJPW

It really can’t be overstated how much Pom and Raku have improved over the last couple of years. Yes, they’re quite a silly team who often go for antics over ‘wrestling’, but if you think that’s all they’re doing, you’re not paying attention. They’re more than capable of going out there and having a good match with the likes of Hikari and Kamiyu, as this proved.

And I can’t lie, I get a massive kick out of watching them do so. The Dream Team are a constant joy, and seeing them keep up with someone like Hikari, makes me grin from ear to ear. She and Raku are particularly great together but don’t discount Pom, who has quietly become a master at being beaten up. I could watch them do this midcard, fast-paced, in-and-out in ten minutes match all day.

On the other side of the ring, Kamiyu and Noa’s chemistry as opponents shines as partners, too, as their shared viciousness works nicely together. They both have other, more permanent teammates, but I’m always happy to see them get a runout, and this was a very enjoyable match.

Verdict: Lovely Stuff

Nodoka Tenma defeated Marika Kobashi

Going out together. Credit: TJPW

As I think I’ve made clear in previous reviews, Nodoka and Marika are now so close to retirement that I am physically incapable of being critical of anything they do. I was pretty bad at being critical of Tenma before this, but now I know that I’ve only got a handful of matches left, I’m clinging to everything I get.

Not that I can imagine being mean about this if that wasn’t the case. Tenma and Marika are a good pairing, Nodoka’s wee-tank-style working nicely with Kobashi’s attempts to leap into a Guillotine Choke and turn the fray. I bought into the idea that she knew she had to wear Tenma down if she had any chance of winning, especially as Nodoka was easily catching her out of the air and launching her across the ring.

Regardless of all that, though, what was important was that this made me smile. It was two people on their way out working their arses off to have one last good match together. They debuted on the same day and have gone on one wild ride, so watching them get one last chance to have fun was a delight. After Tenma won, they held hands, shared a few words and had a big old hug. I’m going to miss them both.

Verdict: Lovely

121000000 (Miyu Yamashita & Maki Itoh), The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki) & Suzume defeated Daydream (Rika Tatsumi & Miu Watanabe), Shoko Nakajima, Yuki Arai & Moka Miyamoto

Something special might be brewing here. Credit: TJPW

The second I saw this card, I figured the main event would be basically impossible to review. It’s a ten-person tag, building to three different matches and featuring most of the company’s big stars. You try and unpick a single thread to talk about. It’s too damn hard!

Or at least that’s what I thought going in, but TJPW then went and pulled a fast one of me. Instead of having Suzume or Moka lose, which, beforehand, I would have bet nearly everything I own on being the case, they gave our final act over to Itoh and Arai, with Maki tapping Yuki out for the win. Now, not only did they look fantastic together, showing a whole lot of fiery passion, but that’s a hell of an interesting wrinkle to throw in before their title match. Since day one, Arai has been chasing Maki, so I don’t think it’s wrong to establish that dominance, but it is brave, and it makes me feel that they might be about to pull a surprise title switch out of the bag.

And if you’re looking for the main event of your go-home show to deliver something, it’s that, right? To throw a little wrinkle of doubt into a match that you thought you had a grasp of. Sure, we also got all the big dumb fun that you’d expect from this kind of main event (Miu and Mizuki were particularly great together), but it was Maki and Arai who stole the show, and I am even more excited for their showdown than I was before.

Verdict: It Got Me Thinking

Overall Show

That was a solid outing from TJPW. The main and the semi-main are the most important stuff, but it was all an easy watch, and you won’t regret giving it any of your time. Most importantly, everyone made it through without an injury, and next weekend, TJPW is off to Sumo Hall. Are you excited? I’m very excited.

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