With Golden Week underway in Japan, we are in the midst of wrestling overload. TJPW alone are running four shows, so the odds of me keeping up with everything are slim. Still, I do try to review all the live Tokyo Joshi events, and I’m not one to give up at the first hurdle (unless it’s really high), so let’s get into event number one.
We opened with Shoko telling the class about her trip to England. It included the reveal that when she went for afternoon tea with Meiko Satomura and Emi Sakura, Meiko got a second helping of scones! That’s the goss that we’re all here to hear.
Yuki Aino defeated Kaya Toribami
We opened with a straightforward style clash as Aino’s power went up against Toribami’s high-flying. That’s a formula that’s been successful for years, and there is a reason for that. It gave Toribami a solid base to work around, showing off her flashier offence, but in the end, Yuki’s power was simply too much.
If anything, I would have liked Aino to show off that strength a bit more. She gave up a lot of offence, which isn’t an awful thing, but a tad more dominance would have felt appropriate. I appreciate that TJPW doesn’t do squash matches, but that’s not what I want. I simply believe that Aino showing a bit more of a killer edge in these undercard outings would do a lot for her, especially when she’s coming up against rookies.
Despite that, I still thought this was a solid opener. These two have a lot of upsides, and while it isn’t going to go down as a classic in either’s canon, it certainly did them no harm.
Miu Watanabe defeated Haruna Neko
Funnily enough, Miu gave us a perfect example of how I feel Aino could have wrestled in the opener. Again, this wasn’t a squash. Neko got chances to show off her wee cat offence, but when Miu was in control, she felt (rightly) a step or two above her opponent. It wasn’t just Watanabe adding a bit of pep to a bodyslam but her blocking a Haruna roll-up by simply standing her ground and being too powerful to budge.
I’m not talking about anything massive here, and I don’t need anyone in TJPW to be going all Vader on opponents. However, watching Aino and Miu close together, Miu’s strength felt more developed than Yuki’s. She’s not averse to controlling people with it, dictating the tempo and making Neko feel like she’s always fighting a losing battle. While it still didn’t make for an essential match (although it was short and breezy), it made Miu feel like a star, and that’s half the battle.
Verdict: Miu Uses Her Power Well
Free WiFi (Hikari Noa & Nao Kakuta) defeated Rika Tatsumi & Arisu Endo
I can’t believe I hadn’t considered how fun it would be to have Rika face off with Free WiFi. She might be one of the few people on the roster who can match, if not raise, their levels of chaotic, violent energy. Right from the bell, she seemed determined to bring the fight to them, a big grin on her face as she dished out pain.
It gave this match that little bit of extra spice as Tatsumi gleefully beat Free WiFi up. However, it also allowed them to highlight Nao and Noa’s growing strength. Yes, Rika was a one-woman wrecking ball, ready to wage destruction, but Free WiFi are the more polished team. Where Rika and Endo felt like two individuals, they were a unit, which would ultimately be the thing that made the difference.
That all came together to make an entertaining match. I guess if you were to nitpick, you could say that the chaos vibes on display left Endo a tad sidelined, but I do think she played her role well, and maybe she picked up a few violent tricks of her own in the process. Either way, it didn’t harm my enjoyment of a very good tag.
Verdict: Good Fun
Miyu Yamashita defeated Moka Miyamoto
I loved how Moka made Miyu work for the winning AA. Too often, people act like a limp, compliant burden that is ready to be beaten, but Moka wouldn’t stop wriggling, forcing Yamashita to have several attempts at powering her over. She pulled it off, but it helped Miyamoto feel like someone who refused to lose without giving it everything she had.
And I’ve talked before about how much I enjoy Miyu dropping down to face members of the undercard. She excels at pulling out their strengths, allowing them to shove off what they’re good at. We saw a lot of Moka’s karate background as she (bravely) adopted a fighting stance and tried to swap blows with Miyu. It was similar to Yamashita’s recent fight with Juria Nagano, but with the added benefit of Moka also showing some strong submission work, giving the match more of a rounded feel.
Yes, you could criticise the fact that there was zero chance of Miyu ever losing, but I’d call you silly. Of course, Miyu was going to win, but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of seeing Moka try to crack that egg. She’s improved a lot over the last year, and this was the perfect opportunity to see how she stacks up against the Ace. Miyamoto might not be close to beating her yet, but she’s a few steps further down that road than she was before.
Verdict: Miyu Yamashita In Being A Good Wrestler Shocker
The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki) & Raku defeated MakiYukiHappy (Maki Itoh & Yuki Kamifuku) & Mahiro Kiryu
It took me until halfway through this match to realise Kamiyu’s hair had changed colour, and sadly, I think that tells you a lot about me as a person.
Anyway, before I watched this, I saw a couple of people on Twitter suggesting that it had fallen apart and wasn’t that great. That seemed unusual with who was involved, but it meant I came in with kinda low expectations, assuming that they’d had an off day or something. However, having now watched it, I’m genuinely baffled about what they meant. Was it an instant classic? No, of course not. It was a fun multi-woman tag that did what it needed to do, but nothing about it screamed disaster to me. Any match with this much Raku delightfulness gets the thumbs up from me.
So yea, I’m not about to proclaim this semi-main as the second coming or tell you that you need to go out and see it, but it was a nice wee romp with a few hints of something more (as I’ve said before, Itoh and Mizuki are always great together). Essential? No. Good fun? Yup.
Verdict: Nothing Went Wrong
Shoko Nakajima & Pom Harajuku defeated Hyper Misao & Suzume
I’ve made this point before, and I’ll make it again, but Suzume and Shoko will have one hell of a match in the future. Every interaction they have screams potential, and I’d love to see them get the opportunity to stretch themselves. They did have a meeting back in 2020, which went under ten minutes, but with Suzume getting better every year, I think the next one will blow everyone away.
In the here and now, we’re building to Misao vs Shoko, another bout that I’m very excited to see. So far, Misao had been getting under the skin of her partner, hitting her with a Stunner after making her challenge and then defeating her team in a tag. Now, it was Shoko’s turn to get her name on the board. Coming off her trip to England, she looked sharp, and Misao was prevented from injecting her personality into the action. The champ grabbed a chance to remind her opponent (and friend) what she can do.
And, like most of this card, I don’t think this is something you need to go out of your way to see. It was a solid warm-up for Korakuen, but with TJPW running a lot of shows over Golden Week, no one was going too hard. Suzume vs Shoko was the highlight and everything else was enjoyable without blowing me away.
Verdict: A Good Main Event
If you’re picking and choosing what shows to watch over Golden Week, I think this is one you can safely give a miss or cherry-pick matches with your favourites from. It wasn’t bad, but there was nothing incredible either, and it very much coasted along at house show pace. Still, that’s no bad thing, and at under two hours, it was still an enjoyable watch.
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