TJPW’s third show in three days kicked off the second round of the Princess Cup, and everyone’s legs must have been starting to feel heavy. The show must go on, though, and with the cup matches featuring God vs Ace and idol vs idol, this had the potential to be a good one. Let’s find out if it was.
Daydream (Rika Tatsumi & Miu Watanabe) & Haruna Neko defeated Maki Itoh, Yuki Kamifuku & Mahiro Kiryu
Watching Miu Watanabe be strong is one of life’s great pleasures. Ever since the art lesson in which she dismissed the teacher’s criticism and declared ‘I am Ghibli’, I’ve wanted to be a bit more like Miu, and the joy she gets from chucking people around only reaffirms that. Admittedly, there are few occasions in my life where such a thing would be appropriate or possible, but I guess it’s the spirit rather than the actual action.
Anyway, when I wasn’t simply appreciating Miu being Miu, this was a solid opener. It was a bit by the numbers, with everyone doing their thing, but most of those things are good, so I’m not going to complain about that. If you want to watch Rika be violent, Kamiyu boot people in the face and Neko be a cat, then you are in the right place.
Verdict: A Solid Start
Nao Kakuta defeated Shoko Nakajima and Arisu Endo in a three-way
Nao and Shoko must have had some beef coming into this one, as they were so intent on beating each other up that they ended up ignoring Arisu. That’s a classic three-way trope, but it’s rare to see it deployed this violently as Shoko and Nao only had eyes for each other. Throw in the added humour of Arisu’s attempt to get their attention leading to them ganging up on her, and the execution was top-notch.
It was also a great example of why I always enjoy a TJPW three-way. The wrestlers appear to aim for a combination of inventive and silly, which is the best way to work these chaotic multi-person affairs. Of course, it helps when you have talent like Nao and Shoko, who are fantastic at pulling off both of those things while also being brilliant workers. That’s not to dismiss Arisu, she’s good, but it will be a while before she’s on their level.
Anyway, if you haven’t guessed, I thought this was good fun. It had an inventive streak that the opener lacked, helping it to feel a tad less throwaway.
Verdict: Good Fun
The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki), Suzume & Moka Miyamoto defeated Hyper Misao, Yuki Aino, Pom Harajuku & Kaya Toribami
There was a spot early in this match that might go down as one of my favourites of the year, a moment of loyalty and bravery from one Pom Harajuku as she came to the aid of her pal Aino against the dastardly Sugar Rabbits. Marching into the ring, she appeared to demand they stop beating Yuki up, only to be shooed away by those mean bunnies. Thankfully, Pom was having none of that and, after psyching herself up, flew forward to headbutt Mizuki in the shin. It was beautiful and hilarious and everything I could ever want from wrestling.
Outside of that wonderful nonsense, this had a lot of good stuff, particularly when Mizuki and Aino were in the ring together. They’ve obviously battled in plenty of tags over the years, but I realised while watching this that I can’t remember them ever going one-on-one. Judging by what we saw here, it’s a match TJPW have in their pocket, and if they do decide to pull it out, that power vs goblin battle could be fantastic.
The other section that impressed me was Kaya and Suzume pulling off some lovely sequences. Suzume is so quick and smooth in the ring, and if nothing else, it was impressive to see Toribami keep up with her, never mind managing to contribute to the situation. They were the perfect final act in a match that was well worth a watch, even if I put Pom headbutting someone in the shin to one side.
Verdict: Thank You, Pom
Miyu Yamashita defeated Raku in the Princess Cup Second Round
Raku came out for this match carrying her pillow, so there was a 0.00001% chance of me not loving it. The one thing I like more than Raku is Raku when she’s scheming, and by the time Miyu entered the ring, she’d already made the hard as fuck move of taking a nap in the centre of it. God fears no Ace.
What’s increasingly wonderful about Raku is that not only is she one of wrestling’s great schemers, but she’s getting pretty damn good. Even once the pillow was gone, this was a great wee match, and whenever the Train God is in this situation, she pulls out a few things that we’ve never seen from her before. Watch her battle out of a Miyu submission and transition into a Russian Leg Sweep or reverse the AA into a Guillotine Choke and appreciate how far she’s come.
Of course, Miyu was also the perfect opponent. Because while she is a badass, she’s also more than happy to look a little bit silly and be duped by Raku and her antics. I’ve always argued that what makes Yamashita a near-perfect wrestler is her ability to highlight others’ strengths, and this was a perfect example of that, as she let Raku be Raku and played off it perfectly. Miyu doesn’t consider herself above that and is as happy to sell a pillow shot as she is a Doctor Yellow. I adored this.
Hikari Noa defeated Yuki Arai in the Princess Cup Second Round
I love the way Hikari wrestles. She never tries to present herself as the best, but she will be the most tenacious. Whether she’s peppering Arai with dropkicks or wriggling out of moves, Noa excels when she’s on the back foot, trying to slip through gaps to victory. She even nailed a last-second rope break (after an awesome Finally to the back of her head as she was draped in the ropes), a spot that can so often fall flat.
Credit also has to go to Arai, who continues to be ridiculously talented. Incredibly, this was only the 49th match of her career. There are people who have had four times that many who would struggle to put on the performance that allowed Hikari to wrestle the way she likes. I still don’t think she’s perfect, some of her expressions and movements are a bit pantomime, but there’s so much that she does right. In particular, I loved the moment where she refused to let Noa trade forearms with her, thudding in one of her own whenever Hikari stepped forward for her go.
It all made for the kind of match that you can imagine going twice as long on a much bigger stage. If I can already picture that, where will they be in a year or two? Hikari and Arai have all the potential in the world, and if nothing goes wrong, we’ll see this same main event again and again. I can’t wait.
Verdict: Great Stuff
Hikari vs Yuki, Raku and her pillow and Pom headbutting Mizuki in the shin, this is the stuff I come to TJPW for! Considering everyone on this show has done a lot of wrestling recently, they knocked it out of the park, and I had a lovely time. Plus, my pick for the Princess Cup is still alive, which is easy when she didn’t have a match, but hey, I’ll take what I can get. ‘Mon the Miu!
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