With CyberFest out of the way, TJPW was back to being on their lonesome with another trip to Korakuen. Thanks to the big show, this had a bit of an interrupted build, but we’ve still got ourselves a hell of a main event as Shoko tried to complete the double over Yuka and claim the tag titles. Could she do it? Let’s find out.
Kaya Toribami defeated Arisu Endo
We kicked things off with a great wee rookie battle between Endo and Kaya. You can learn a lot from watching young wrestlers face their senpais, but the matches that let them show off how far they’ve come tend to be against each other. That was particularly true for Kaya, who not only got her first ever victory but was impressive while doing so.
Because while Toribami’s had the flashiness down since day one, we’re seeing her start to figure out the other stuff. I enjoyed the construction of this match, as they tricked you into believing we were going to get a standard opener with an easy win for Endo, but then slowly escalated the action. Arisu was obviously a big part of that, but I specifically enjoyed the way Kaya littered her signature offence throughout the story, missing it early on only to connect when she needed it most
The closing stretch made it feel like Endo had Kaya’s number right up until she didn’t. Kaya caught her in a small package and bundled her up the three, earning that first-ever singles victory. That’s a big moment for Toribami, and it came in an enjoyable showing.
Verdict: Good Stuff
Toho University (Yuki Kamifuku & Mahiro Kiryu) defeated Nao Kakuta & Haruna Neko
Match number two delivered up some of my favourite TJPW tropes. We got Kiryu following Kamiyu down heelish paths (only to apologise later), the wee cat getting bullied (sorry wee cat, but it is fun), and Kamiyu and Nao continuing their quest to boot each other in the head as often as possible.
With all that in there, it’s probably no surprise that I liked it quite a lot. What I wasn’t expecting, though, was Neko and Kamiyu pulling out a fantastic third act. I’ve been shouting about Haruna’s improvement for a while now, but this might be the best example of it yet, as she more than held her on and had me convinced we were about to get our second upset of the night.
Neko wasn’t alone in impressing either, as Toho University had one of their better showings as a team. There was a spot where Mahiro pushed Kamiyu out of the way of an incoming Nao, lifted Kakuta into a Spinebuster position and then held her there while Kamiyu teed off with a Big Boot that was all smooth as silk. It’s hard to imagine then having enough to challenge MagiRabbi, but a couple more performances like this, and I could buy it.
Verdict: A Lovely Time
Yuki Aino defeated Raku and Pom Harajuku in a three-way
Coming into this match, Pom was at a slight disadvantage. Yes, these three are best friends, but when it comes to Yuki Aino, her loyalty will always be with Raku. Or at least that’s what we thought. It turns her the that one thing Yuki likes more than God is pictures of her as Pom convinced her to turn against her favourite idol with the help of 2D Raku, despite real-life Raku being right there. Yup, we’re going deep into the nonsense.
It won’t be a shock to anyone who has read one of my reviews before to learn that I loved this. TJPW booked the dream team to collide, and they relished the opportunity, building a three-way out of joy and Pom using ridiculously elaborate setups to boot someone in the shine. Was it wrestled perfectly? No, it got a bit sloppy at times, but who cares? It was a match in which Raku beat up her biggest fan by smashing her head into a picture of Raku. How can you not love that?
So yea, as usual, I should probably point out it wasn’t for the wrestling purists, but fuck those guys (unless one of you is reading this, in which case you’re very welcome). Raku, Pom and Aino aren’t only my favourite grouping of wrestlers, but some of my favourite people full stop. We should cherish any chance to watch them do their thing together.
Verdict: Lovely Stuff
Willow Nightingale was announced as the next foreign talent to be making the trip to TJPW and will be facing Miu Watanabe at Summer Sun Princess. I can’t pretend I’ve seen her wrestle before, but I guess this will be my chance.
Miu Watanabe defeated Juria Nagano
Juria is a fascinating rookie. She is, at the moment, a fairly rudimentary wrestler who is still getting to grips with the basics. Miu dominated her for the bulk of this match, out-muscling and out-grappling her at every turn. However, Watanabe could never relax because Juria has one thing that she isn’t only good at, but could see her booting Miu’s head into the last row.
It’s a skill set that makes for unique matches. Juria didn’t get a lot of offence in, but when she did, you bought into the idea that she could end Miu at any moment. It turns what would have been a straightforward senior vs rookie outing into something with a bit of edge and excitement. We know that TJPW are high on her, and when we combine that with her karate skills, there is every chance she ends up upsetting someone with one kick.
Of course, Nagano didn’t win, and with the benefit of hindsight, she was never going to. However, if she can improve as a wrestler (which she’s doing slowly but steadily), then she has the potential to be something special. At the moment, Miu was too good, but there might come a day when her head goes flying.
Verdict: Juria’s Getting There
In-between matches, they announced that Thunder Rosa is returning to TJPW to face Miyu at Summer Sun Princess. I wonder if we could see Miyu setting up a challenge for the AEW Title? Then again, Rosa also has unfinished business with Itoh, so there are a couple of ways they could go with it.
Reiwa no AA Cannon (Saki Akai & Yuki Arai) defeated Miyu Yamashita & Moka Miyamoto
Takagi has already said he sees money in the pairing of Akai and Arai, so we should expect to see quite a bit more of them. Judging by this, that won’t be a bad thing either. They may have been across from the Ace, but they designed this match to make them look good, a challenge they lived up to.
Which really shouldn’t be surprising. We know Akai and Miyu have great chemistry, as they love nothing more than teeing off on each other with kicks, while Arai and Moka already feel like career rivals. Everything they do together has an edge, as you get the impression they’re both desperate not to be left behind. And while Arai might be the name Takagi has his eyes on, it’s no coincidence that Miyamoto keeps finding herself as the 4th player in these big tags. She’s a wrestler who they know they can rely on to deliver.
In fact, Arai and Moka got the home stretch to keep their feud going, Miyamoto looking like she might spoil AA Cannon’s day, only to eventually get dropped with Arai’s Finally Axe Kick. It was a strong finish to a tag that did everything it wanted to do and more. Two thumbs up from me.
Verdict: Double A Canon Look Good
Arai whispered something to Akai after the match, presumably setting them up to challenge after the main event.
Rika Tatsumi & Suzume defeated Maki Itoh & Hikari Noa
Itoh and Hikari don’t team up very often, and we quickly learnt why as they almost got into a fight when trying to decide who would start us off. There might be a little too much personality in that pairing.
They did eventually get on the same page, or at least close to it, and this ended up being as good as you’d expect it to be. With Rika gearing up for a shot at Shoko’s belt, the result was never really in doubt, and she got the big victory over Hikari, but it was also a chance to have four good wrestlers have it out. Someone like Suzume has become ever reliable when it comes to delivering in these matches, even if she’s not the focus, and it’s always a pleasure to watch.
It’s also the kind of match that I struggle to review. It was great. What else needs to be said? If you care about TJPW, you presumably know these four will deliver, and that’s what they did.
Verdict: Predictably Good
The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki) defeated Kyoraku Kyomei (Shoko Nakajima & Hyper Misao) to retain the Princess Tag Titles
What’s been great about this MagiRabbi reign is that TJPW appears to be deliberately giving them different challenges. We’ve had rookie fire from Daisy Monkey, Free WiFi bringing the hardcore element and now the nonsense of Kyoraku Kyomei. With Yuka and Mizuki established as being about as dominant as a tag team can be, they’ve had to be inventive to bring an element of risk to their defences. Misao and Shoko spraying them with silly string and trying to ride a bike into them is the perfect way to do that.
The problem is that these antics do tend to backfire. In fact, said bike didn’t hit its target, and while Misao always has a plan, the Sugar Rabbits aren’t far behind her. They’re too smart to be tricked at every turn, and eventually, this match had to come down to the wrestling. And while Shoko and Misao can both hold their own one-on-one, as proven by Nakajima at CyberFest, when it comes to tags, that’s not enough. MagiRabbi are too damn good.
That brilliance allowed the champs to win the big battles. Yuka managed to do what she couldn’t at CyberFest and roll away from that killer Senton setting Mizuki up to follow straight after it with a Double Stomp on Shoko. It was enough to remove Nakajima from the fray, and when Yuka got Misao on her own, the Magical Merry-Go-Round (which is being put over as a match ender a lot more often these days) dumped her on her face for the three. The Sugar Rabbits remain both unbeatable and brilliant. Long may it continue.
Verdict: They’re Too Good!
As predicted, Arai made her way out to challenge afterwards on behalf of her and Akai for Summer Sun Princess. I guess we’re about to discover just how excited Takagi and Koda are about that team.
There weren’t enough matches with big stakes for this to be up with the best of TJPW’s Korkauens, but that didn’t stop it from being very good. The main event ruled, and the midcard was packed with interesting and enjoyable encounters. With Summer Sun Princess a few weeks away, that card is fucking stacked, and that’s one that has no chance of being anything other than brilliant.
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