TJPW Spring Tour (30/4/22) Review

Misao is always packing. Credit: TJPW

TJPW’s second Golden Week show was sadly down a Pom (it was announced in advance that she was missing for personal reasons), cutting the number of antics on display dramatically. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good time, right? Let’s see what happened.

We opened the show with contract signings for the Free WiFi vs Magical Sugar Rabbits and Shoko Nakajima vs Hyper Misao matches. If anyone was ever going to put someone through a table during one of these, I suspect it was Free WiFi, but sadly, it didn’t happen. Still, I live in hope.

Suzume defeated Kaya Toribami

This is going to end badly for the beak. Credit: TJPW

Our opener went above and beyond any expectations that I had for it. I was expecting a quick, simple match, but Suzume and Kaya got time to breathe and put on something with a bit of heft.

Because of that, it allowed us to see where Kaya is right now. She doesn’t work many singles matches that go ten minutes, so it was a chance to focus on her strengths and weaknesses. On the positive side, Toribami seems to have thought more about how to set up her moves. The back-handspring kick she does felt like it naturally became an option rather than something they were getting in position to do. On the downside, her strikes still look pretty bad. Suzume is a lot smaller than her and hardly a great striker herself, but when they were exchanging forearms (because, of course, they ended up exchanging forearms), she put Kaya to shame. Hopefully, that’ll improve with time, but if you’re going to put them front and centre in your match, it will stand out.

On the other side of the ring, Suzume continues to excel. She now feels like someone who can walk inexperienced opponents through a ten-minute bout, and you don’t have to worry about it going wrong. I’m sure part of what made Kaya’s moves feel more natural is how good Suzume is, and she ultimately picked up the win with Ring-A-Bell. It all made for an intriguing and enjoyable opener, as these two’s futures remain bright.

Verdict: A Surprise Gem

Yuki Aino defeated Arisu Endo

Power! Credit: TJPW

In my review of the previous TJPW show, I mentioned that I felt Aino could benefit from being more selfish against undercard wrestlers. She’s a powerhouse, yet, against Kaya Toribami, she gave up an awful lot of offence and didn’t always play to her strength. Thankfully., this time around, I think she did a much better job of doing exactly that.

That didn’t come about from any massive change but a slight tweaking of her presentation. It was in the little moments, like her blocking an Endo Irish Whip or when she powered up to her feet out of the Camel Clutch. This was still a TJPW match, so she didn’t squash Arisu, but I felt her power was put over as a more potent weapon than it was yesterday.

Perhaps part of that is down to Endo being a more rounded performer than Kaya, as she impressed, but I also think it is down to Yuki. She’s a good wrestler and one of the few powerhouses left on the roster, so clicking into that is her route to standing out. This wasn’t her as the finished product, but it was a hint of how to get there.

Verdict: Better

Raku defeated Rika Tatsumi and Haruna Neko in a three-way

Horrifying behaviour. Credit: TJPW

During Rika’s entrance, Raku snuck out of the ring and went into hiding. The Train God had a plan, but we’ll never know what it was as those scoundrels Rika and Neko started competing to do their own version of the Goodnight Express! Do they not realise that is blasphemy? Thankfully, Raku returned in time to put a stop to such heresy, shoving Rika out of the way and taking centre stage. Thank Raku for that.

If you haven’t guessed, this was very up my street. Raku, Neko and Rika are all uniquely charismatic wrestlers, and three ways allow them to go all out on that. It was a perfect combo of Raku’s tricksiness, Rika’s blunt object approach to violence and Neko’s wee cat ways. Sure, we’ve seen it all before, but I was utterly unbothered by that because I find them all so delightful. I could watch them mess around in ten-minute matches all day.

Verdict: A Delight

Maki Itoh defeated Moka Miyamoto

Itoh also tested out Moka’s flexibility. Credit: TJPW

I don’t think it is a coincidence that Moka keeps finding her way into matches with TJPW’s biggest stars. Whether it’s teaming up with them or singles matches like this one, someone’s realised that they’re onto something here and are giving her every opportunity to impress.

She’s doing a solid job of grabbing hold of those chances too. Moka is still a work in progress, and she’s far from a complete wrestler, but she is starting to put it together. When she debuted, she seemed reserved and unsure, but she showed real fire against Itoh, letting out roars of frustration as she tried to get into this fight. It’s like she’s clicked into her emotions, everything from her selling to her attempting to hold Itoh in a submission feeling more real and alive.

Credit also has to go to Maki, who has improved immeasurably at controlling a match. She’s got a touch of arrogance now, flashing a grin to the camera when she was on top. Her belief in her own abilities has only grown in the last year or so, and as it does, her talent increases. Once upon a time, Itoh was the one reaching up to opponents, desperate to get on their level. Now, she’s able to provide that goal for Miyamoto.

Verdict: Strong Performance From Both

Miyu Yamashita & Miu Watanabe defeated Toho University (Yuki Kamifuku & Mahiro Kiryu)

So badass. Credit: TJPW

Miyu Yamashita deciding she couldn’t be arsed waiting for Kiryu to finish apologising and powering up with Mahiro kneeling on her back was hard as fuck. Although she does owe Kiryu an apology now, so I hope she gets on that.

Outside of Miyu being a badass, this helped me realise that Miu Watanabe is among the best in the world at crawling to the ropes while locked in a submission. That wonderfully expressive face of hers, on which you can see everything she’s thinking, goes into overdrive in those moments, and it’s brilliant. Are most of the facial expressions over the top and verging on silly? Yes, but Miu gets away with it by virtue of being Miu.

Anyway, this was a decent match that never got out of second gear. It’s not necessarily one that I’d describe as skippable because it was entertaining, but if you do happen to leave it out, you’re not going to have missed much of note.

Verdict: Good, But Unremarkable

Free WiFi (Hikari Noa & Nao Kakuta) & Hyper Misao defeated The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki) & Shoko Nakajima

Shit, Yuka’s armed. Credit: TJPW

The champions and challengers for Korakuen were all in the main event, giving us another hint of what to expect.

What we saw was MagiRabbi coming out swinging. Having been caught by an exposed turnbuckle and a roll-up in their last meeting with Free WiFi, they seemed determined to right that wrong. Yuka, in particular, was going hard and, at one point, got her hands on a turnbuckle pad, which she was trying to knock Nao and Noa out with. MagiRabbi had been caught off-guard before and weren’t going to let that happen again.

Equally as exciting were Misao and Shoko’s interactions. Before the match began, Misao put her spray cans aside, promising to fight fair, a vow that she kept even as she went on to pin the champ after Vanitas. That came after she’d survived a dizzying array of roll-ups from Shoko, who until she got caught had seemed to have her challenger on the backfoot. It wasn’t enough, though, and if she wasn’t taking her partner seriously before, she should be now.

It all made for a really good main event. They went out there and delivered a pretty perfect preview for Korakuen, hinting at the directions in which they could go while also holding back on the big stuff. I’m going into that show expecting all the champions to retain, but TJPW have worked hard to plant some seeds of doubt, and I do appreciate that.

Verdict: I’m Excited

Overall Show

The TJPW Golden Week quadruple-header continued with a show that took a step up from the previous day. If you’re picking and choosing, I’d go straight to the main event (with a side dish of Raku vs Rika vs Neko if you like some silliness), but the whole thing is very watchable. While it is still, ultimately, a house show, it was a good one.

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