With Sumo Hall and Nodoka’s retirement behind us, it feels like TJPW is coming down the other side of a big old emotional mountain. Sadly, anyone looking for a break is about to be disappointed, as there is another one ahead. With Marika set to follow Nodoka into the sunset and the next Korakuen already right around the corner, we better get climbing.
Before the show began, we got a contract signing for the title matches at said Korakuen (MagiRabbi vs AriSuzu and Aino vs Shoko). I’m always intrigued as to why they occasionally decide to put these on a show. Still, it was all a relatively sedate affair apart from Yuka apparently calling out Mickey Mouse, Hello Kitty and Pokotan. Honestly, I don’t know why that went down, but I would watch all of it.
Miu Watanabe defeated Mahiro Kiryu
Mahiro, rightly, went into this match fearing the Giant Swing. That caused her to employ the unique defensive tactic of kneeling in front of Miu (with her hands under her knees) and apologising profusely. I appreciated the effort, and it worked for a little bit, but you can only avoid Miu’s muscles for so long.
That was the highlight of what was a fairly standard opener. I always enjoy watching Miu be strong, and Kiryu was proved a decent foil, but there was nothing special about it. If you’re in a rush, it’s one you can easily skip.
Verdict: Solid, If Unremarkable
Maki Itoh & Raku defeated Haruna Neko & Kaya Toribami
Itoh and Raku are one of my favourite irregular TJPW pairings, and Raku joining in with Itoh’s dance for ‘Brooklyn, The Hole’ only reinforced that. Maki was pivotal in helping the train god reach her current form, and for that, we shall always be grateful. They are also a total delight when they wrestle together. Whether it was Itoh falling asleep to Raku’s lullaby or the joint Cutest Punches/Oyasumi Express/Kokeshi combination, they plastered a big old grin across my face, which long-term readers will know is all I’m really looking for.
It wasn’t all we got, though, as they also showed good chemistry with the cat and the bird. Itoh’s interactions with Neko are always good, as she’s the perfect person for the wee cat to run rings around while she also had a nice run with Kaya. Raku, meanwhile, is so consistently excellent against other lower midcard wrestlers and rookies that it almost doesn’t need to be said.
Anyway, if you hadn’t guessed, I quite enjoyed this one.
Hyper Misao defeated Yuki Kamifuku and Pom Harajuku in a three-way
For someone who loves a shenanigan themselves, Pom often finds herself being duped. Initially, she and Kamiyu seemed to have outsmarted Misao, teaming up on her when nonsense was incoming. But, of course, it could never last. Kamiyu left poor Pom to face Misao alone and later betrayed her when she sensed an opportunity. Pom should have learnt by now not to trust anyone apart from Raku.
If there is a complaint about this match, it’s that I’m so used to being entertained by these three that it was almost predictable. There was no way that I wasn’t going to have a good time with this light, frothy treat as Pom, Kamiyu and Misao are all adept at bringing the silly. Throw in the fact that TJPW three-ways are a natural place to allow such things to grow, and it was guaranteed to get my approval.
Verdict: Predictably Good
Free WiFi (Hikari Noa & Nao Kakuta) defeated Miyu Yamashita & Moka Miyamoto
If you were circling one match on this card in the build-up, it was Free WiFi vs Miyu and Moka, as it had strong potential banger vibes. Did they live up to that hope? Of course, they did.
And they did so by following a match structure that I love. Free WiFi won because they’re a team used to working together. Moka and Miyu, on the other hand, may have a bit of a relationship (Yamashita has been involved in a fifth of Miyamoto’s matches), but they’re not a drilled, ready to go unit. They’re two people working without their regular partners and that puts them at a disadvantage.
While that would eventually lead to Free WiFi getting the win, it wasn’t before we got some very good wrestling. Part of what makes Nao and Hikari such a great team is their ability to click with everyone. However, they have particularly great chemistry with Miyu. Yamashita brings the best out of a lot of people, but that seems particularly true for those two, as they relish eating those kicks and giving something back. As for Moka, the biggest compliment you can pay her is that she no longer looks out of place in these matches. I don’t think she’s on the other three’s level yet, but the gap is narrowing, and she may well get there one day.
Verdict: Lovely Stuff
Namba was supposed to miss this show because of a scheduling conflict, but she rather sheepishly appeared in-between these matches, bringing balance back to the world of TJPW (that’s her job, right?)
Rika Tatsumi defeated Marika Kobashi
Marika’s retirement tour has mainly consisted of her having matches with the people who have watched her grow up over the last six years, and it’s been adorable. You’ve got a real sense of how much love these older wrestlers have for Kobashi, and they’ve worked hard to help her go out on a high.
Rika, meanwhile, slapped her across the face.
Okay, I’m kind of joking. Not about the slap, that did happen, but Tatsumi also worked hard to make Kobashi look good. However, Rika is also the kind of person who likes to hit people, so there was a slightly different vibe to this one. She went a step further than the others, trying to bring the fire out of Marika, calling on her to give her best. As we all know, Tatsumi is a tad scary, and she isn’t capable of turning that off.
Or at least not while wrestling. In the aftermath, Rika did give Marika a hug, patting her on the head and having a wee moment together. However, before that, she possibly had the best match of this retirement tour, so there’s clearly some method to the madness.
Verdict: Rika Knows What She’s Doing
The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki) & Shoko Nakajima defeated AriSuzu (Suzume & Arisu Endo) & Yuki Aino
Having signed the contracts, it was time for the big preview of our Korakuen title matches, and unsurprisingly, it was very good.
In fact, it was almost the kind of match that I don’t have to say a lot about, as it mainly confirmed things we already knew. We got to see Yuki (sporting new gear) try to use her power to take down Shoko while AriSuzu gave everything they had to get on the Sugar Rabbits’ level. Actually, the most intriguing thing about it was that they didn’t quite manage to do so, Mizuki pinning Suzume for the win. It’s an interesting way to build to a title match, but this showdown does have a hint of AriSuzu simply trying to prove how far they’ve come, a storyline that doesn’t require them to be dominant.
Ultimately, though, this was just a really good match that gave us a hint of what we’re going to see at Korakuen. Judging by what we got, it’s going to be a lovely old time.
Verdict: Good Stuff
There isn’t much, if any, essential wrestling on this show, but that doesn’t mean it’s a waste of time. TJPW is always an easy watch, and if you skip through the contract signings and pre-show announcements, it comes in at well under two hours. Perhaps it’s one for completionists, but those completionists will have a nice time.
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