TJPW finished up their busy Golden Week with a trip to Osaka. With it being a journey they only make a handful of times a year, they always make an effort to bring something a little special along, and this was no different as they had a couple of big guests and an exciting eight-person tag. Would it make for a great show? Well, let’s find out.
Yuki Aino defeated Haruna Neko
Since losing to Shoko, Aino has been working her way through a series of singles matches with rookies and lower carders. Up next in that gauntlet was a wee cat who was being particularly scratchy.
While Neko’s claws didn’t lead her to victory, they did cause Aino some problems. That continued an issue I talked about a few reviews ago, where I feel Yuki is perhaps a tad too generous. Maybe it’s something I have to accept as a niggly flaw in the TJPW house style, but I want to see her embrace her inner hoss and not give the Nekos of the world quite as much.
Still, that aside, this was a fun match. Haruna hasn’t had the same rapid improvement Pom has, but she is moving in a similar direction, and I always enjoy watching her get the chance to show that off. You can tell that she’s more comfortable and confident in the ring now, and it’s paying off in her wrestling. I might have wanted her to get beaten up more, but I still appreciated the performance.
Verdict: Enjoyable Even If Aino Didn’t Crush
Hyper Misao defeated Kaya Toribami in a quiz match
Osaka was treated to a classic Misao stipulation, as getting a two-count earned you the chance to answer a quiz question. My limited Japanese leads me to believe said quiz was Osaka-centric, but that might be bollocks, and I’m nowhere near good enough to follow along with the specifics. It’s on days like this that we miss Mr Haku.
My lack of understanding puts part of this match into the long line of DDT and TJPW outings that I suspect I would like even more if my Japanese was better. However, that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it as it was. Misao is always good against rookies, trying to cheat her way to victory against someone she would almost certainly be the favourite to beat. It’s such a part of her DNA that she can’t stop herself from demanding a quiz or putting her feet on the ropes.
I also thought it was nice to see Kaya in that environment. She’s taken to wrestling quite naturally, but you can tell she was a bit flustered when having to answer questions over the mic, and that only endears her to me further. Yes, being a great promo would help, but I always enjoy seeing a wrestler develop and would much rather get a glimpse of that humanity than have a company try to hide it away.
Verdict: It Was Fun, Even When I Didn’t Understand It
Yuna Manase defeated Mahiro Kiryu
It’s always lovely when Manase pops back to TJPW for a visit. You used to get the impression that she was the mum of that locker room, so having her come and check in on everyone feels right.
Her appearance was also a good opportunity for Mahiro. I’ve been critical of her in the past, accusing her of blending into the background, so having her in the ring with someone who is the exact opposite made for a nice contrast. Could she stand out next to the charisma machine that is Yuna Manase? Well, yea, actually. I was pleasantly surprised by her performance here, as it felt like Yuna brought the best out of Kiryu. She showed some fire, getting the crowd behind her as she managed to take Manase off her feet with a running forearm. Mahiro had me believing this match meant a lot to her, which was a nice feeling.
She would still lose, eating a big lariat in the process, but this helped convince me that Kiryu could reach that next level. I hope I’m right because I’d love to see her do it.
Verdict: Strong Showing From Mahiro
Free WiFi (Hikari Noa & Nao Kakuta) defeated Raku & Pom Harajuku
I assume everyone has some form of media or art that they use as a comfort blanket. Maybe it’s your favourite album, a TV show that you’ve watched a million times or a wrestling match between a pair of violent delinquents and two lovers of shenanigans. Is that last one just me?
It does mean that I am probably not the best person to review this. All it took was these teams simultaneously trying to sneak attack each other (Pom turned around and started to innocently whistle when she was caught), and I was grinning away, delighted to be here. Between the four people in this ring, you have everything I want from wrestling, and simply being in their company is enough to keep me happy.
However, I also think it was a good match. Raku and Pom might not be on the same level as Free WiFi, but they are an entertaining tag team and have mastered these light, frothy midcard affairs. They also seem to have decent chemistry with everyone, as Raku and Noa, in particular, are always great together. So, while everyone might not love it as much as I did, I can’t imagine not having a good time with it.
Verdict: I Loved It
Saki Akai & Yuki Kamifuku defeated Miyu Yamashita & Miu Watanabe
When someone comes in for a single show, they often dominate the match they’re in. It’s probably not a deliberate thing, but we don’t often get to see Saki Akai in TJPW, so it’s only natural to want her to face off with Miyu and Miu as much as possible. Despite that, it’s worth saying that Kamiyu did a great job of refusing to be sidelined. She was good throughout, but her and Miu’s homestretch was particularly fantastic, their contrasting styles meshing well before Kamiyu got the win with a Fameasser.
In saying all that, the excitement was primarily around Akai, and she didn’t let us down. She and Miu looked good together, and Watanabe took her for a spin, but the real gold was in Saki vs Miyu. They went stiff with their kicks, firing away like they hate each other. It was the sort of exchange that made me instantly want a singles match, and while there was no hint of that at the end, you’ve got to imagine they know they know it’s an option.
It made for something worth going out of your way to see. No matter what combo was in the ring, something good was happening, and they delivered a lovely old time.
Verdict: Saki vs Miyu, Please
Shoko Nakajima, Mizuki, Rika Tatsumi & Maki Itoh defeated Suzume, Yuki Arai, Arisu Endo & Moka Miyamoto
You’ve got to respect/be terrified of Rika Tatsumi. All she wants is Mizuki’s love, and all she gets is laughter and mocking, but does she give up? No. Sure, that means she sometimes goes a bit too far with her attempts to earn affection, and she can be a tad violent, but Mizuki doesn’t have to openly taunt her, right?
That dynamic did allow Rika to steal a fair chunk of the spotlight in this chaotic main event. Whether she was trying to get Mizuki’s attention, interrupting Itoh’s cutest punches (after Shoko and Mizuki had kindly gathered up all four opponents for Maki), or simply sitting on Yuki Arai at ringside, you didn’t want to take your eyes off Tatsumi. Rika thrives in the chaos of these variety show main events, taking the opportunity to show off both her comedy and wrestling chops.
She wasn’t alone in being great, though. This match jettisoned things like structure and aimed purely to entertain, a goal at which I think it succeeded. There was always something happening as people rolled in and out of the ring, and while the wrestling was good, their main success came via the tone. The whole thing was bursting with enthusiastic glee, and I can only imagine how much fun you’d have watching it live. I had a lovely time, and I was on the other side of the world!
Verdict: Brilliant Fun
I didn’t have huge expectations for this show. The TJPW roster is at the end of a long week, and their legs must have been heavy, so I would have understood them taking it easy. However, they did nothing of the sort. Instead, they grabbed the chance to give Osaka a good time, delivering fun matches throughout the card. There wasn’t anything here that will be important going forward, but that didn’t stop it from being a good time.
Watch Tokyo Joshi Pro: https://www.wrestle-universe.com/en/videos?labels=-tjpw.