TJPW Spring Tour (15/5/22) Review

Mizuki was having a good time. Credit: TJPW

After their packed Golden Week, TJPW understandably took a week off to recharge. However, with CyberFight Festival less than a month away, it was time for them to back out there and start the build for that. Unfortunately, Yuka is still in America, so we’ll have to wait to see her and Shoko face off, but plenty of other people were around to pick up the slack.

Maki Itoh defeated Kaya Toribami

Bend the bird. Credit: TJPW

Our opener was a weirdly disjointed outing. Itoh and Kaya could not get on the same page, their sequences littered with momentary pauses as they tried to get each other into position. Throw in the crowd not going along with Itoh’s early attempts at comedy (they were completely unbothered by her gnawing away on Kaya’s mask), and this match was struggling.

It did improve as it went along, which seemed to get the fans on Toribami’s side, but the damage had been done, and this one has to go down as a bit of a disappointment. Despite that, I don’t think it’s anything worth overthinking. Kaya is still very inexperienced, and it’s only natural that she will occasionally stumble or struggle to click with someone. I’m sure these two will improve on this the next time they meet.

Verdict: Disappointing

Miu Watanabe & Yuki Aino defeated Suzume & Haruna Neko

Suzume embraces her inner menace. Credit: TJPW

Suzume and Neko embraced their inner pests, and I loved it. At one point, they ended up standing in Aino and Miu’s corner, much to Watanabe’s bafflement. She then got a slab of frustration to go with that confusion as they continually dodged her attempts to get them out of there, winding her up further. If I weren’t already fully committed to Daisy Monkey, I’d be positioning myself as The Cat and The Bee’s biggest fan.

Unfortunately, for all that their talent shone, they ultimately ran into the brick wall that is Miu and Aino’s muscles. They could scamper around the ring, causing trouble, but when Miu and Aino got a hold of them, things weren’t as carefree. They never gave up, Neko desperately trying to counter Miu’s offence, but when it came down to the two of them, the finish was inevitable.

Still, this was a big step up from the opener and lots of fun. Give me a couple of pests vs two strong people, and I will nearly always have a nice time.

Verdict: A Lovely Time

Raku defeated Hikari Noa and Mahiro Kiryu in a three-way

ごめんねエクスプレス. Credit: TJPW

Mahiro committed the cardinal sin of blocking the Goodnight Express. Although, I may give special dispensation on this one because taking Hikari’s particularly stompy version of it can’t be fun, and she followed up with a Sorry Express of her own, which made me laugh. I sometimes feel like I’m harsh on Mahiro, but I do appreciate her gimmick of apologising a lot.

That aside, this match was distressingly antic free, especially for a three-way involving Raku. Don’t get me wrong, it was wrestled well, with Hikari standing out, but I had expectations that they didn’t meet. If Raku doesn’t spend at least part of a three-way sneaking around the ring scheming, then is it worth it? I’m not sure it is.

Okay, I’m (kind of) joking, and Raku did at least get the win, but this was mainly a solid wee match. The only moment likely to linger in the memory was the Sorry Express, with the rest being a pleasant watch that never stepped over into anything special.

Verdict: Fun, But Lacking In Antics

Umababa (Yuki Kamifuku & Nao Kakuta) defeated Miyu Yamashita & Pom Harajuku

That usually doesn’t end quite so violently. Credit: TJPW

The return of Umababa sadly did not see Kamiyu and Nao pull the horse costumes out. Then again, I’m still not entirely convinced they were dressed as horses last time, so maybe they did, and we didn’t notice?

Anyway, Umababa are a great occasional team because they both enjoy booting people in the face and being a bit mean. Do you know who excels at being booted in the face and getting beat up by people who are a bit mean? That’s right. It’s Pom time! Before that, though, she pulled out some diving shoulder tackles to Kamiyu’s shin, which is big-brained wrestling even by Pom’s standards.

But yes, this match proved that Pom might be Miyu’s ideal partner. She takes the beating, Yamashita comes in and kicks fuck out of folk, and we all go home happy. It’s a simple formula, aided by Umababa’s already established skillset, and it fucking works. As anyone who watches wrestling for long enough realises, this stuff doesn’t have to be complicated, and simple ideas (like it being fun to watch Pom get beat up) are sometimes the most effective.

Verdict: Did Exactly What I Wanted It To Do

Rika Tatsumi defeated Moka Miyamoto

Wrestling Rika does have its disadvantages. Credit: TJPW

The trend of TJPW slipping Moka into as many matches with high profile opponents as possible continues. In the last few months, she’s not only teamed up with Shida but had singles with Rika, Maki, Miyu and Yuka. Throw in her and Arai getting to the semi-final of the Max Heart tournament, and it seems pretty clear that TJPW wants to give her the space to shine.

She grabs all those chances, too. Moka doesn’t have the flash of a Kaya or the instant charisma of Arisu, but she’s become someone who can consistently go out and wrestle a good match. The subtle progress of the early part of her career paid off because it allowed her to become an all-around solid wrestler who sells and attacks well. I’d like to see her develop a couple more signature moves, things designed to get a reaction, but that’s something that will come with time.

Of course, she would lose the match, but it’s Rika, so that’s to be expected and is no bad thing. At the moment, Moka is getting her reps, improving as she goes and becoming a wrestler who TJPW can trust to face off with basically anyone. That’s a great place to be, and I’m excited to see where her career goes from here.

Verdict: Moka Is Getting Real Good

Kyoraku Kyomei (Shoko Nakajima & Hyper Misao) defeated Mizuki & Arisu Endo

You got Misaoed. Credit: TJPW

With Yuka still in America, Mizuki had to stand in for her pal ahead of Shoko vs Sakazaki at CyberFest (a match that has annoyed some of the annoying people on Twitter, which I’ll get into some other time).

And while it may be a stand in, having Shoko and Mizuki at the centre of your main event is never going to be a bad thing. Those two are great together, and this left me hoping that Mizuki will challenge Nakajima somewhere down the line (she’s my bet to take the belt off her, but that’s pure guesswork). They’re both wonderfully quick, reactive wrestlers, and I love watching what they can come up with.

Despite that, it is worth saying that this was firmly in house show main event territory. It was an entertaining ride, but everyone was playing the hits, and (apart from the challenge afterwards) it didn’t advance anything. Now, that’s not necessarily a problem. I love everyone involved, it’s been a while since we’ve seen the Shoko and Misao partnership, and they had a good match, but it also means it’s far from essential.

Verdict: Good, But Inessential

Having pinned Arisu, Kyoraku Kyomei challenged Mizuki for the tag titles at the June Korakuen, which would be a very good post-CyberFest main event.

Overall Show

To be honest, the main event sums up this show as a whole. Aside from a clunky opener, the whole thing was a fun, easy watch that I had a good time with, but there is nothing here that you need to see. If you’re picking and choosing, I’d go Miu and Aino vs the pests, Rika vs Moka and the main event, which is around half an hour of wrestling and will be a nice time for all involved.

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