TJPW’s busy Golden Week continued with the biggest show of the lot, as they hit up a sold-out Korakuen (superhero vs kaiju confirmed draw) for a topsy turvy card. With AEW requesting Yuka Sakazaki’s presence on short notice, MagiRabbi vs Free WiFi was going to have to open this one so she could rush off to the airport, meaning things were all a bit backwards. Still, no matter what order the matches come in, it was TJPW in Korakuen, a combo that rarely misses.
The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki) defeated Free WiFi (Hikari Noa & Nao Kakuta) to retain the Princess Tag Titles
Yuka and Mizuki aren’t so much the Aces of the TJPW tag division as the unbeatable monsters. They are a step or two above the rest and usually come into these title defences with an evil grin, ready to both torment and defeat whoever has been silly enough to challenge them. This time, though, Free WiFi had different plans.
The opening of this match is one of the rare occasions where you will see MagiRabbi on the back foot. Free WiFi quickly went to work, putting their plan into motion by scampering around the ring, pulling off turnbuckle pads or grabbing chairs behind Ref Kiso’s back. Yuka and Mizuki are normally the antagonists of any situation, but Nao and Noa had different plans. They bent every rule and cut every corner to make those titles theirs.
Unfortunately for Free WiFi, the more MagiRabbi struggled, the darker Yuka’s eyes got. Yes, their plan was good, but what they hadn’t anticipated was the unleashing of the beast, and when Yuka Sakazaki is pissed off, your best option is to run. She came back into this with the fury of someone who had her face slammed into an exposed turnbuckle, and Hikari and Kakuta learnt a painful lesson. Most of the time, Yuka is holding back.
It all made for a brilliant match as they strengthened MagiRabbi’s status while making it clear that Noa and Nao were onto something. Yuka and Mizuki were forced to dig deep and come up with a different way to win, and while it was successful, they’re so powerful that making them think can be worn as a badge of honour by Free WiFi.
Verdict: Don’t Piss Off Yuka
Reika Saiki and Arisu Endo fought to a time-limit draw in an exhibition match
The match that would have originally opened the show was only three minutes long but had a lot of emotional heft. Reika Saiki hasn’t wrestled for a bit over two years and a half years after fracturing her jaw and recently announced her official retirement (from wrestling and muscles). Before she went, though, she wanted one last chance to rumble, taking on Arisu Endo, who is, in many ways, her protege. Endo was a member of the same idol group as Saiki (Cheer♡1) and was inspired to become a wrestler because of her. Not only was this a goodbye, but a chance for Arisu to wrestle her hero.
And it did everything it needed to do. Saiki looked like she hadn’t missed a beat, running through the basics with ease but ultimately saying goodbye by making Arisu look good. She spent the final seconds of her career in a Camel Clutch, desperately trying to get to the ropes and only surviving by the skin of her teeth. It was a beautifully selfless move that deserves a lot of love.
Afterwards, Saiki got her retirement ceremony, bemoaning how quickly those three minutes went, putting Endo over and even wondering if retiring was the right move because she had so much fun. I have to admit to having not seen a lot of Reika’s career, her injury happened just before I started diving further into joshi, but I was still blubbering. For those who did watch and love her, Saiki getting that moment was presumably a lovely thing, and with her planning on continuing to work in the entertainment business, fingers crossed we see her again somewhere.
Yuna Manase came out after the ceremony to plug the Ganbare show later in the day but was in tears for most of it, having presumably just had a hug with Saiki as they passed each other. Once she calmed down, she went full Yuna, delivering her pitch in a typically verbose style and asking Koda if she could watch the next match while sitting next to him (she’s been booked to wrestle Kiryu in TJPW soon).
Toho University (Yuki Kamifuku & Mahiro Kiryu) defeated Haruna Neko & Kaya Toribami
I feel a bit sorry for this tag. On most Tokyo Joshi Korakuens, it would have opened things up, but instead, it’s following a fantastic title match and a retirement. What should have been a lighthearted appetiser had to compete with a couple of hearty main courses.
Despite that, I think they ended up doing an alright job. The key to a match like this is keeping it short and sweet with a few funny or memorable spots thrown in, and that’s what we got. Kamiyu is particularly good for it, as moments like her poking Haruna in the eyes while the wee cat walked on the top rope (she barely had to stretch) or the dropkick she murdered Kaya with at the end made this memorable.
As you’d expect, there’s nothing here you need to see, but if you like that frothy TJPW undercard vibe, then it will leave you with a smile.
Verdict: Fun, But Inessential
Suzume defeated Juria Nagano
Juria might have only had three matches, but she’s already doing a fantastic job of standing out. She doesn’t hold herself like a rookie but like someone who knows she could spark you out with a single strike. Which, judging by the way she throws them, might well be true.
It helps that TJPW have put her in the ring with the right people. Suzume has quietly become a master at making others look good, selling brilliantly for Nagano’s strikes, but not letting her dominate. Akki pointed out on commentary that we don’t often see Suzume in the role of the dismissive senpai, but we got that here, as she stamped away on a grounded Juria. It’s what a fast-tracked rookie like Nagano needs, someone who will help her through a match but also test her, finding out what she’s made of.
So far, what she’s made of has proved impressive. You can tell she’s green, and I think she has a tendency to overact, but she has the confidence and poise to make it work. I’ve no idea what her schedule is like going forward, but I come away from every match wanting to see more, and that’s always a good thing.
Daydream (Rika Tatsumi & Miu Watanabe) & Yuki Arai defeated Yuki Aino, Raku & Pom Harajuku
TJPW’s other part-time wrestler, Yuki Arai, has somehow been doing this for a year (what is time?) and was rewarded for sticking around by getting to face off with the dream team. That’s how you celebrate an anniversary!
It ended up being a hell of a match, too. Perhaps being bumped up the card lit a fire under these six because they went out there and worked their arses off. We had Miu and Aino hossing it out, Arai booting people in the head and Rika delighting in ripping apart people’s legs. It was one of those nights where it felt like everything clicked and even the basics looked great.
Most importantly, I want to talk Pom. She put in a heroic shift here, methodically working over Arai’s shin and, as usual, taking a beating. Harajuku will never get the credit she deserves for her improvement over the last year because she’s a silly character who works as an enhancement talent. However, she has become one of my favourite wrestlers. Sure, she ended up being pinned (because that’s what Poms do), but she went out in style.
Verdict: Everything Clicked
121000000 (Miyu Yamashita & Maki Itoh) defeated Hikaru Shida & Moka Miyamoto
As I said last time Shida turned up in TJPW, I generally think of her as a good rather than great wrestler, but you can’t deny the aura she brings. Her demanding Miyu get in the ring with her got me excited, and I loved that Itoh responded by making it clear that no one would be allowed to ignore her. They held off on giving the fans the pairing they wanted to see while nicely playing off the mini-rivalry Shida and Maki had in AEW.
Thankfully, when the pay-off was delivered, it was worth the wait. Shida and Miyu kept this simple but in the best possible way as they hit each other very hard. It became an endurance battle, the two of them laying into every blow until they had nothing left, collapsing after they bounced up from duelling Germans only to find their bodies weren’t ready to follow their hearts. It was the perfect tease, giving us enough to want more but leaving plenty on the table for a future singles match.
On the less glamorous side of the ring, my big worry coming in was that it would completely sideline Moka, pigeonholing her firmly in the role of pin taker. It was a worry that proved not to be completely unfounded. The early going had her playing second fiddle to Shida, even being randomly suplexed into Itoh by her (a spot that made no sense since it required Miyamoto to run at her partner for no reason). Thankfully, it turned around, as she go the opportunity to impress in the second half, having a good outing against both members of 12100000 before getting her head kicked off by Miyu. There is no shame in that, though, and I’m just glad she got some shine before it came.
It added up to a match that far exceeded my expectations. Shida did her job well, playing nicely off Miyu and Maki while also giving Moka the space to impress. There wasn’t enough there for it to go down as a classic, but if, as I suspect, we’re going to see more Hikaru in TJPW, it was a cracking tease.
Verdict: Very Well Done
Shoko Nakajima defeated Hyper Misao to retain the Princess of Princess Title
Before the match began, Misao removed the various spray cans she had stashed around her body and placed them in the ring, vowing to fight fair. Then, at the first chance she got, she pulled the wee one she had down her top out and got Shoko square in the eyes. Never change, Misao, never change.
Although, in saying that, this was a slightly different Misao. In recent weeks, we’ve seen her employ Vanitas, her finisher from her time in Bii-gun, and she went after Shoko with a ruthlessness more representative of that period in her career. From the start, she honed in on Nakajima’s arm, pulling it apart with submissions and stomps in a focused and brutal attack that isn’t characteristic of everyone’s favourite superhero. It felt like we were seeing the two sides of her personality converge as she tried to find what she needed to conquer Nakajima.
The attack was so effective, that Shoko realised she was in trouble. The finish to this match was abrupt, but in a cool way as Nakajima grabbed the first opening she got to end it, taking flight with that big senton (which TJPW is building as a death move). Her partner had her on the ropes, not via antics but wrestling, and Nakajima knew there wasn’t space to piss around.
It all made for a fanastic showing that had me twisted around its little finger. Sure, a part of me would have loved to see them go full nonsense mode like their last two January 4th matches, but that was always unlikely. Instead, we got to see Misao being treated as a genuine threat, and prove that when she wants to, she can wrestle with the very best of them. Now she’s done that, next time, she can wrap Shoko in a ring apron, pin her and bring that belt on home.
Verdict: I’m Proud Of Misao
TJPW at Korakuen doesn’t miss. This show felt a bit weird, what with the match order being messed up, but they dealt with it well and delivered another great Korakuen. I believe their next big show is CyberFest, and we didn’t get a challenger at the end, so I’m very intrigued about who they put forward for that. That’s in the future, though, and in the present, TJPW did it again.
Watch Tokyo Joshi Pro: https://www.wrestle-universe.com/en/videos?labels=-tjpw.