TJPW Spring Tour (17/4/22) Review

A hug before the end. Credit: TJPW

There are too many goodbyes happening at the moment. With Nodoka already gone, it’s time to also wave cheerio to Marika, who is heading off into the big wide world to see what’s there. Oh god, how am I already crying?

Free WiFi (Hikari Noa & Nao Kakuta) defeated Yuki Aino & Pom Harajuku

Pom pomming. Credit: TJPW

Our opener was unlikely to pull the rug out from under you. You would have been safe to bet everything you own on Free WiFi getting the win and Pom taking the fall, although the odds would have been so bad it would barely be worth the effort. This was a simple warm-up for Nao and Noa ahead of their battle with the slightly more formidable pairing of Mizuki and Yuka.

And yet, that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. Like most Pom matches, it had a gentle bubbliness that kept me smiling. Whether it was her insisting Kiso checks every turnbuckle pad pre-match (after Free WiFi used an exposed one to their advantage on the last show) or the plethora of shin booting, she remains the most Pom Pom to have ever Pommed, and that will always delight me.

Plus, Free WiFi are damn good, and while Aino didn’t have a whole lot to do, when she did pop in, she was solid too. Was it great? No, but it was pleasant, and that’s all I needed.

Verdict: Nothing Special, But Enjoyable

Miyu Yamashita, Raku & Yuki Arai defeated Rika Tatsumi, Yuki Kamifuku & Mahiro Kiryu

Go for the eyes. Credit: TJPW

Chaotic midcard tag Rika is one of those things that never gets boring. Sure it can’t be ideal if you’re her partner and in danger of being caught in the crossfire at any moment, but sometimes people have to be sacrificed for my entertainment. Plus, she sold the hell out of Raku’s brain chops, respecting the heritage of both Giant Baba and the Train God, which is good practice.

Outside of that, my main takeaway from this is that Kamiyu and Miyu are an exciting pairing. It feels like I haven’t seen a lot of them facing off over the years, but Kamiyu’s sneakiness against Yamashita’s indestructible Acehood is an intriguing clash that I’d like to see explored a bit further. They’ve only ever had two singles matches, so there’s still a lot of space for them to do stuff together.

Finally, it’s almost silly how at home Arai already looks. Her appearances haven’t lost their sense of occasion, but if you came in knowing nothing about her or TJPW, I don’t think you’d be able to guess at her relative inexperience compared to everyone else. She’s already part of the gang and was a key component in a fun match.

Verdict: More Miyu vs Kamiyu, Please

The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki) defeated Maki Itoh & Haruna Neko

At least the cat had a bit of a nice time. Credit: TJPW

The Sugar Rabbits make sure to take revenge for years of bunnies making unfortunate snacks for cats every time they get in the ring with Neko. Something about that wee cat puts them into chaotic bullying mode, with Mizuki, in particular, enjoying making life difficult for her. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me laugh, though.

When Neko finally managed to escape their clutches, we were treated to a snippet of Mizuki vs Itoh, which is always a treat. Mizuki might have been growling at a cat not long before, but that didn’t stop things from quickly getting heated. Those two have that forever rivals chemistry, and it’s always a joy to watch them.

Of course, in the end, the Sugar Rabbits took the cat out and matched Free WiFi’s win from earlier in the show as they also warmed up for the title showdown. Much like that match, the result was never really in doubt, including Neko being the one to take the pin, but between the bullying and the Itoh Respect Army battle, there was more than enough to keep my attention.

Verdict: Poor Cat

Hyper Misao, Miu Watanabe & Moka Miyamoto defeated Shoko Nakajima & Daisy Monkey (Suzume & Arisu Endo)

She always has a plan. Credit: TJPW

Miu Watanabe’s development into a wrestling machine has been quite the thing. Okay, she’s not Hideki Suzuki, but she is really good, and watching her hold down an extended section of this match with Suzume and Arisu was a delight. On top of that, she does nearly all of it with a smile, loving every second of it. She’s the best.

Of course, the main reason this match was going down was to give us a sneak peek of Shoko vs Misao. Unsurprisingly, that meant Misao’s antics were out in force, as we got sneak attacks, cold spray, and her bopping Shoko on the head with the title after Moka had run into Referee Kiso. Nakajima might be her tag team partner, but this made it clear Misao will be going all out in her quest to take this belt off her, and I can’t wait to watch it.

And while she didn’t pin Shoko, she did see off Arisu to keep the momentum in her corner ahead of that challenge. Their fun final exchange was representative of the match as a whole, as this was another very enjoyable outing. Like most of this card so far, I don’t think it was essential, but it was certainly fun.

Verdict: Misao Is On A Roll

The TJPW Roster defeated Marika Kobashi in a best of five twenty vs one handicap match

A powerful nap. Credit: TJPW

The nature of joshi retirements can be summed up by Marika earning howls of derision from the rest of the roster when she dared to block the Goodnight Express and go for one of her own. Of course, they quickly got revenge, all piling in for a twenty-person version that I believe made her the first-ever person to be pinned by the greatest move of all time. What a way to go out!

And I both love and hate retirement matches. I love them because they’re usually a love letter to whoever is hanging up their boots. Sure, it’s a very violent letter, but it gives everyone the chance to get in the ring and have fun with their friend one last time. I hate them because that love inevitably turns me into a sobbing mess. Goodbyes suck.

Ultimately, though, this was a happy occasion. Marika isn’t being forced away by injury or life, but because she wants to go and see what else is out there. She’s been wrestling since she was a tiny wee thing, and it’s time to find out if there’s something else that inspires her in the same way. Maybe one day she’ll find her way back to TJPW, but right now there are more things she wants to see. She’s grown up in this company, surrounded by these people, and their love for her and the pride they feel at seeing her head off into the big wide world is evident. So that’s a happy thing, not a sad one.

With all that in mind, the match was almost irrelevant, but it was a lovely combination of laughs and tears that felt like a perfect goodbye. It ended with Marika pulling herself up on Miyu, wrapping her arms around her in a hug and eating an FU for the three. Hey, if you’re going to go out, you might as well go out to the Ace.

Verdict: Yup, I’m Crying

The actual retirement ceremony was lovely too, but I’ll point you towards Mr Haku’s translation thread (like with Nodoka, he was kind enough to come out of his own retirement for it) rather than blabbing on about it myself.

Overall Show

The bulk of this show was fun without ever being essential. That’s not to say the matches sucked, but I don’t think there’s anything you need to see. Then, you have Marika’s retirement, which is well worth going out of your way for. It was a lovely, heartfelt tribute that, like Nodoka’s before it, felt special and sad at the same time. She’ll be missed, but I’ve no doubt she’s going to go and smash whatever life she ends up finding in the real world.

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