Day two of the Princess Cup has my pick for the tournament making her entrance into the competition. Could Miu at least get past the first round? Time to find out.
Hikari Noa, Raku & Suzume defeated Miyu Yamashita, Yuki Arai & Moka Miyamoto
Raku is a genius. She not only used her lullaby powers to lead a sleepy Moka and Arai through a Goodnight Express to their partner Miyu, but she reversed Yamashita’s attempt to follow up a snapmare by kicking her in the back by simply lying down. Sure, the Ace would eventually dish out some of those brutal boots, but Raku has found a crack, and it’s only a matter of time till she has Miyu where she wants her.
That was all in the opening act of a surprisingly entertaining match. I expected everyone to take it easy on the second day of three, but there didn’t seem to be a hint of fatigue. Instead, they were in the mood to wrestle, and people like Hikari and Arai looked intent on pushing each other to see what happened. Miyu also had her working boots on, staying in the ring for a decent chunk of the action and combining nicely with Suzume and Raku.
I’m still not about to call this a classic and demand you watch it, but as the opening tag on a tournament show, you can’t ask for more than this.
Verdict: Good Stuff
Pom Harajuku defeated Maki Itoh and Haruna Neko in a three-way
The only thing better than a Pom scheme is a Pom scheme that doesn’t work. She tried to start this match by booting Itoh in the back and blaming Neko, but it was so obvious it was her that she didn’t stand a chance. Luckily for Pom, Itoh couldn’t resist shaking the rope when the wee cat went for her walk, and while she roared with laughter, Neko decided she’d quite like to be on Pom’s side after all.
And I love this kind of wrestling. It won’t be a shock to anyone who has read my reviews before, but if you’re new, it’s the sort of stuff that causes me to curl up in a ball all warm and cosy (not that being cold is an issue, right now). It’s lightweight and frothy and gives you no real reason to care about the result beyond personal preference, but that’s part of why I love it. Watching these three wrestlers mess around, teaming up and betraying each other is a comfortable place for me to exist.
It probably won’t click with everyone the way it clicked with me, and honestly, I can’t call it essential. Then again, if you’re looking for something to relax with, it might be the one for you.
Verdict: A Happy Place
Kyoraku Kyomei (Shoko Nakajima & Hyper Misao) defeated Mizuki & Mahiro Kiryu
Oh no, Misao has her arm in a sling! Whatever could have happened? Wait, no, she’s fine. Mizuki beat her back to health.
Two antic-fuelled matches in a row felt like TJPW dishing up a treat. Mizuki was wonderful in this one, having no time for Misao’s nonsense or Mahiro dragging her along to apologise for having no time for Misao’s nonsense. She’s a wonderfully expressive wrestler, able to portray a lot by a cock of her head or the giant grin she flashes after inflicting pain. I’m hardly saying anything revolutionary by pointing out that Mizuki is good, but it is worth reiterating now and then.
It wasn’t just with the funnies that she showed off her talent, as Shoko and Mizuki had a fantastic wee stretch together. They’re facing off in the next round, and I remain convinced Mizuki will take that belt from Shoko one day. On this evidence, any match they have will be brilliant.
Verdict: That Mizuki Is Quite Good
Miu Watanabe defeated Arisu Endo in the Princess Cup First Round
Maybe my prediction has made me biased, but it can’t be overstated how good Miu has gotten. It’s not just how powerful she is (although that’s great), but how she carries herself in the ring. She’s got the confidence of someone in the midst of everything clicking and going right for them, and it’s a pleasure to watch her go from strength to strength.
It plays out in her matches, too. She was dominant, throwing Endo around and setting the pace. That also worked to Arisu’s advantage, as she battled from underneath, finding wee openings to try and get into the action. I was impressed with her selling in this match, the way she stumbled away holding her back after a reversal getting across how Miu had worn her down. Then, when Endo got her Camel Clutch on, she wrenched as far back as she could, Miu’s perfect expressions coming to the fore as she inched towards the ropes.
In the end, my pick would make it past the first round, pulling out a headlock version of her Giant Swing that got impressive speed. Endo still didn’t go down easy, the crowd getting behind her as she fought to the end, but Miu’s strength was too much. However, Arisu can be proud of this one because it was a cracking wee match that’s right up with Miyu vs Misao as a tournament highlight.
Verdict: Lovely Stuff
Yuka Sakazai defeated Kaya Toribami in the First Round of the Princess Cup
There was a touch of a cat playing with a dying bird in this match, as Yuka spent most of the action dissecting Kaya while grinning from ear to ear. One should never forget just how merciless Sakazaki can be because it might be you she comes after next. However, when Kaya did get on offence, she grabbed her chance nicely, showing off some impressive moves. There was a cool roll-up thing out of the corner that I can’t remember seeing before that was particularly standout.
Not that any of that’s surprising. Kaya has excelled at wow moments since she stepped into TJPW, and while the initial shock of her debut has worn off, she is unlike anyone else in the company. She’s also been slowly improving, adding more facets to her game and getting better at all the other little bits that come together to make a great wrestler. Even though she spent most of this match getting beat up, it was probably one of her most complete single performances yet, which is a good sign for the future.
Sadly, though, there was no chance of her winning this. The Princess Cup might like to throw in an upset or two, but like Neko vs Shoko the day before, I never believed it was coming in this match. Still, Kaya survived while looking good, and that’s the most important thing.
Verdict: The Bird Fought Hard Before Being Dropped On Her Beak
Nao Kakuta defeated Yuki Aino in the Princess Cup First Round
Nao Kakuta might be the perfect opponent for Yuki Aino. The former Bakuretsu Sister is great, but I always feel like she needs to get meaner. She’s a hoss who doesn’t always wrestle like one. Well, if there is one thing Nao doesn’t lack, it’s meanness, and she drew a bit of that out of Yuki. From the opening seconds, these two were going at each other.
And it’s in that style of match that Aino excels because she’s brilliant at making me believe in her wrestling. I’ve made this point before, but Yuki makes things look hard, not because she’s rubbish, but because of how she puts over the effect of everything she does. When Aino hits Nao with a suplex or even locks on a submission, I believe she’s struggling to do it, which is what I want from my wrestling.
Nao’s meanness still eventually won out in what has to go down as our first upset. However, it’s a well-deserved one. Not only did Kakuta draw something out of Aino here, but she does so with everyone she wrestles, and if we’re going to have one surprise wrestler go deep, I’d be delighted if it was her.
Verdict: This Ruled
Rika Tatsumi defeated Yuki Kamifuku in the Princess Cup First Round
Kamiyu was unlucky enough to get main event Rika turning up, so her legs were in trouble. I’ve frequently raved about this, but I don’t think anyone around right now attacks a limb like Tatsumi. There’s a relentless to her onslaught, even when it’s done with a smile on her face.
Unfortunately, Kamiyu doesn’t quite have Shoko’s talent for selling. I liked her performance, but a lot of her offence is leg based, and she wasn’t going out of her way to put over the damage. In general, I’m not too bothered about these things not being perfect, but when Rika is being as vicious as she was, the lack of it felt out of place.
Still, if you can put that to one side, this benefitted from being a match where it felt like either person could win. Yes, Rika was the favourite, but having just come off a title shot, you wouldn’t have been shocked to see Kamiyu sneak past her. It added an edge of excitement, particularly in the final few minutes as she battled to escape a Figure Four or tried to bundle Tatsumi into a flash pin. Sadly, it was all in vain and that Diamond Ass came crashing in. Still, minor complaint aside, this was a damn good match with a strong performance from both.
Verdict: Lovely Stuff
That was a cracking show. I enjoyed day one, but if you’re looking for traditionally good in-ring action, this is the one for you. Rika vs Kamiyu, Arisu vs Miu and Aino vs Nao were all great, and Kaya vs Sakazaki did want it wanted to. Throw in some fun undercard matches, and this one gets all the thumbs up.
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