TJPW Spring Tour (24/4/22) Review

How does her bridge keep getting better? Credit: TJPW

We’re inching ever closer to TJPW’s next Korakuen visit, so I guess it’s as good a time as any to check in on how everyone’s doing. They were a champion down on this one, as Shoko was in England for Eve, so everyone else would have to pick up the slack.

Yuki Aino defeated Mahiro Kiryu

Yuki looked serious. Credit: TJPW

I wish wrestlers would avoid doing big forearm exchanges in opening matches. Honestly, I wish they’d avoid them on the rest of the card too, but when you’re going eight minutes, it’s particularly egregious. That spot is at its best when two tired opponents are slugging it out, testing each other’s endurance as they struggle to stand. Mahiro and Yuki doing it in the middle of an alright opener felt like an attempt to fill time. I don’t want to pick on them (they’re not alone in this), but for whatever reason, it annoyed me that little bit more today.

Outside of that gripe, this was a perfectly fine, if inessential match. I’ve spoken before about Mahiro needing to find something to help her stand out if she’s ever to reach the next level, and while that is yet to come to pass, she is solid. This was designed to give Yuki a convincing win, with Mahiro in the role of semi-competent enhancement talent, getting a little bit of offence but ultimately being put down without much hassle. She’s good at letting others shine, and while that might not be the most exciting role, it is an important one. I’d still like to see her blossom on her own one day, but if this is how her career shapes out, there will be no shame in it.

Verdict: Fine

Rika Tatsumi defeated Kaya Toribami

Rika looked baffled by the idea of a handshake. Credit: TJPW

Moving onto a Kaya match after talking about Mahiro is fitting. If you look at those two based purely on wrestling ability, Kiryu is still a length or two ahead of the rookie. Her work isn’t as likely to go off the rails, and while I might not have liked her forearm exchange with Aino, her strikes were better than the ones Toribami threw at Rika. However, if you were to ask me which one is more likely to rise up the card any time soon, it’s Kaya. Because while she still has a long way to go, she already stands out. That mixture of the mask and her (still somewhat erratic) high-flying, makes her a unique entity in TJPW.

It perhaps also helped that she was in there with Rika, who is always brilliant. She’s the kind of wrestler who will make every eight-minute undercard showing a little bit different from the last, sneaking out of the ring to crawl around the outside and come up behind the rookie. Then there’s the simple, but brutally effective way that she got the win, targeting Kaya’s leg (which she did a strong job selling) and then finishing her off with the Figure-Four. Rika is a wrestler who excels at working to a plan, and while she might occasionally get distracted by a wish to inflict violence, she tends to follow it through.

That combination meant that while this also didn’t feel essential, it was a step up from the opener. It was that little bit more unique, and that was enough to get me on board.

Verdict: Good

Daisy Monkey (Suzume & Arisu Endo) defeated Yuki Kamifuku & Haruna Neko

The little and big combo worked perfectly. Credit: TJPW

I’ve been a bit picky so far, so it’s worth pointing out that all it took for me to be delighted by this was Kamiyu being tall and Neko being small, as Yuki had to keep crouching to be on the same level as the wee cat. Shove them upfront in a classic 4-4-2, and you’d have a lethal partnership.

My enjoyment was also aided by Daisy Monkey continuing to impress. They’re starting to shine as a partnership, perfecting their flurries of offence and complementing each other well. There is a hint of wee-pest to Suzume and Endo, particularly when running rings around opponents. They’ve got a bit to go before they match a team like Mystic Young Fox in those stakes, but they’re getting there.

Finally, it’s worth saying that Neko and Suzume had a fun extended sequence together towards the end. I’ve been screaming about Haruna not getting credit for her improvement for a while, but if you still don’t believe me, check out the home stretch. She’s got chemistry with a lot of the roster, and I loved the finish of her forward rolling into a Ring-A-Bell. It was an impressive end to an enjoyable match.

Verdict: Great Fun

Hyper Misao defeated Raku

A particularly smiley brain chop. Credit: TJPW

With Misao gearing up for her title shot, she doesn’t just need to keep her wrestling sharp, but her brain too. So what better opponent than fellow master of shenanigans, Raku? She quickly put Misao’s pre-match antics to bed by, well, going to bed. Raku lay down and went to sleep during Misao’s mic time, and when everyone’s favourite superhero tried to wake her, she got a taste of cold spray. Never wake a sleeping God.

Obviously, this was a delight. Raku and Misao bring the best out of each other, not only in the nonsense but also in the straightforward wrestling. I’ll shout long and hard about Raku’s in-ring talent, but there are a handful of people who she is particularly good with, and Misao is one of them. They seem to have really natural chemistry, which allows them to get a little silly but also leads to fun back and forths.

In the end, Misao got the win via submission, and while I would usually complain about God losing, Hyper Misao has big things ahead. Sometimes even Raku needs to step aside for the greater good, and what could be bigger than Misao prepping to get her hands on that belt?

Verdict: A Delight

121000000 (Miyu Yamashita & Maki Itoh) defeated Miu Watanabe & Pom Harajuku

Everyone’s spinning. Credit: TJPW

Pom and Miu countering 121000000’s ridiculously elaborate headbutt by Miu catching and holding Itoh, thus allowing Pom to tickle Miyu, should go down in history. That’s the kind of genius towards which all wrestlers should aspire.

It wasn’t the only great moment in our semi-main, as this match proved to be a wee gem. Everything from Pom’s attempt to sneak attack Miyu (and subsequent panic when it didn’t work) to the dual Big Spin/Spinning Head Scissors from Watanabe and Harajuku had me grinning from ear to ear. It was one of those matches where everything seemed to click, and each pairing brought something exciting. I came out of the other side wanting to see everyone involved have a singles match.

My final bit of praise is reserved for Pom. She was the weak link in this match, and you’d have been bold to predict anyone apart from her taking the fall, but my god, was she entertaining before we got there. Pom, like Raku, has become someone who will nearly always entertain but every now and then has a match where everything lands particularly well, be it silliness or wrestling. This was one of those matches, and it left me feeling, for at least a little bit, like all was well in the world.

Verdict: The Great Pom

Free WiFi (Hikari Noa & Nao Kakuta) & Moka Miyamoto defeated The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki) & Yuki Arai

Yuka wasn’t happy. Credit: TJPW

Before I get into the MagiRabbi vs Free WiFi stuff from our main event, I wanted to highlight that Arai and Moka continue to be a thrilling pairing. Those two have found something that every rookie wrestler benefits from, a rival to try things out with and push them to the next level. If they both stick it out with wrestling, that’s a match that will only get better, and I hope we get to watch it for years to come.

They were very much the secondary hook for this one, though, as this was a preview for the Sugar Rabbits taking on Nao and Noa. The two teams haven’t had any interactions since that match got announced, and this whole thing was designed to show Free WiFi catching Yuka and Mizuki off-guard. Right from the start, when Nao responded to Mizuki biting her arm by smacking her hard over the head, there was a feeling that Free WiFi weren’t going to play into the champions’ hands.

And being able to get any kind of edge over the Sugar Rabbits is a big fucking deal. MagiRabbi are the pinnacle of tag wrestling in TJPW, but Free WiFi consistently found a way to stay a step ahead of them. They met their pest ways with violence, never letting them build up a head of steam and dip into their ridiculous array of double teams. Then at the perfect moment, they introduced Mizuki’s head to an exposed turnbuckle, bundling her up for the three. If you want to get an idea as to how shocking that was, you only had to see Yuka go wild with the turnbuckle afterwards, trying to take out the challengers before they even get to Korakuen.

It made for a match that was not only enjoyable in the moment but important for that title challenge. The Sugar Rabbits are so far ahead of most TJPW tag-teams that it’s hard to imagine anyone beating them, but this was proof that Free WiFi can. I still wouldn’t bet on them, but they’ve put that bit of doubt in my mind, and that’s exciting.

Verdict: Lovely Match Building

Overall Show

That surprised me. The show started a bit slow, but then about halfway through, it took off and became a lot better than I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, I always enjoy TJPW, but this was a high-level mid-tier show, and I would recommend checking out everything from Misao vs Raku onwards.

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