TJPW Princess Cup (23/7/22) Review

Ring-a-Pom. Credit: TJPW

Unfortunately, Mizuki got ill before this show, causing her to drop out of the Princess Cup (sending Shoko Nakajima into the next round) and Koda to do some tweaking. Thankfully, it’s not COVID, and she should be back sooner rather than later, but fingers crossed she’s feeling alright. Less importantly, it throws a spanner into my Cup predictions. As much as I have Miu down to win this thing, I assumed that Mizuki would beat Shoko, earning herself a future (probably successful) title shot. Now, who knows what’s going to go down (yes, I have decided I was right about that), but I’m looking forward to finding out.

Moka Miyamoto defeated Arisu Endo

Endo giving it her all. Credit: TJPW

Moka and Arisu kicked us off with a fantastic start to the show. There is an art to an opening match as wrestlers aim to create something which relaxes the crowd into proceedings without giving too much away. TJPW often do that by going down the light comedy route, but Moka and Arisu forged their own path, giving us a well-wrestled, keenly fought battle between two youngsters aiming to impress.

I’ve talked before about how a match is only as important as those involved make it, and this was a great example of two people turning an opener into something with weight. From the start, Moka and Endo were wrestling like this meant everything to them. Each sequence had some real bite, with neither willing to give an inch to the other. The initial grappling is so often a quick tell as to how good a match will be, as so many people lazily go through the motions, but there was none of that here. While Moka and Arisu aren’t incredible grapplers, they made it feel just as important as any other part of the action.

It reminded me of the best New Japan Young Lion openers, where raw young wrestlers often outwork the experienced veterans who follow. Moka and Arisu looked like they wanted everyone to know how good they could be, and I came away impressed with what I saw.

Verdict: Great Stuff

Free WiFi (Hikari Noa & Nao Kakuta) defeated Hyper Misao & Kaya Toribami

Masked teamwork. Credit: TJPW

Watching two sportspeople on the same wavelength is always a joy. It might be a footballer not needing to look before playing a pass because they know where their teammate will be or Hikari Noa delivering Hyper Misao to the exact place for a well-placed boot to the head from Nao. Free WiFi are a brilliant team, and watching them work together is a pleasure.

The other thing I took away from this match is that Hyper Misao is fantastic. I’m a massive fan of her, so it shouldn’t have surprised me, but this made me appreciate it all over again. There was a great spot where she whipped Hikari into the ropes, charged over to knock Nao off the apron and still got back in time to take the rebounding Hikari off her feet. Misao receives a lot of credit for her command of nonsense, but it is far from being the only thing she can do.

I feel a bit mean for leaving Kaya out of the praise, and she didn’t have a bad match. She just happened to be in the ring with people whose performances struck a particular chord with me. Toribami played her part well, and this was a fun tag.

Verdict: A Lovely Time

Mahiro Kiryu defeated Haruna Neko

The wee cat struggles. Credit: TJPW

Okay, I don’t have a whole lot to say about this one, so I’m going to (in a rarity for me) keep it short. It was a quick wee match that was fun while it lasted but didn’t have much in the way of standout moments. Mahiro and Haruna are wrestlers I like watching, so I’m glad they got the chance to have a rare singles match in the middle of the card, but I think they’re better suited to light tags. Still, I was recently praising the Princess Cup for giving us random one-on-ones that we might not see otherwise, so I can’t turn around and slag off TJPW for providing that elsewhere.

Verdict: It Was Fine

Maki Itoh & Yuki Kamifuku defeated Yuki Aino & Raku

A hard head is the brain chop’s biggest weakness. Credit: TJPW

I don’t care if they’re teaming up or are on opposite sides of the ring, Raku and Itoh are a magical combination. They’re the antithesis of each other, Itoh’s hard-headed bluster vs Raku’s calm loveliness, which gives them the perfect platform to build off. Whether it’s Raku using her lullaby powers to send Maki to sleep or Itoh headbutting her way through brain chops, they always entertain.

They know it, too, because they were very much the centrepiece of this match. Kamiyu and Aino had moments, but the action continually returned to the Train God and Itoh. Not that I have any complaints about that. I’d watch them mess around together all day, and if anything, my main concern with this match was that it was too short for me to get my entire fix.

Verdict: More Itoh And Raku, Please

MiraClians (Shoko Nakajima & Yuka Sakazaki) defeated Daydream (Rika Tatsumi & Miu Watanabe)

TJPW’s photographers are brilliant. Credit: TJPW

With these four put together to make up for the lack of Mizuki vs Shoko, it would have been easy for them to keep it simple. It is a heavyweight tag clash, so it would make sense that they didn’t want to give it all away on a Shinjuku show. Sure, it’s unlikely that MiraClians vs Daydream will be a main event programme anytime soon, what with MiraClians not teaming often, but if it wanted to, it definitely could be. Luckily for us, that idea hadn’t occurred to the wrestlers as there wasn’t a second of messing around. We got Rika doing Dragon Screws off the apron and all sorts.

What impressed me most about it all was that every pairing felt like a big deal. That’s less surprising with something like Rika vs Yuka, but Miu vs Shoko felt just as important. I’ve already declared my belief that Miu will win the Princess Cup, and while Shoko did end up pinning her, watching how at home she seemed in this match-up has only reinforced my belief that it would be a good idea. She’s ready to take the next step.

It also goes without saying that it was really fucking good. I mean, look at it, would you expect anything else? Daydream and MiraClians are the kind of teams that could put on a great match against anyone, so putting them together was destined to create magic. I could have watched them wrestle all night, and while I’m sad we didn’t get Shoko vs Mizuki, this was a fantastic substitute.

Verdict: The Good Stuff

Suzume defeated Pom Harajuku in the Princess Cup Second Round

Pom caught herself a Suzume. Credit: TJPW

The one upside of Mizuki being ill is that Suzume and Pom got bumped to the main event. I’ll admit, I haven’t checked this, but I assume that made it Pom’s first singles main event? If that is the case, it’s well-deserved, especially after her improvement over the last year and a bit.

And, of course, Pom came into it with a plan that wasn’t just to give Suzume’s shins a kicking (although she did that too). Nope, Pom had a net with which she was going to catch herself a bee. Admittedly, I don’t think she’d entirely considered what she’d do when she got said bee, but hey, you can’t plan everything! Sometimes improvisation is key, and she still had the power to fall back on the shin kicking, something that Suzume sold the hell out of it.

In fact, once the net was out of the way, said shin kicking became the central thrust of this match. Everyone would have come into this expecting Suzume to win, but Pom’s boots introduced a degree of doubt to that idea. Every chance she got, Harajuku went after those shins and I started to wonder whether she could pull off a massive upset. That was a testament to both of them, Suzume for getting the attack over and Pom for executing it so well, and I think they did a genuinely brilliant job with their main event slot. We already know we’ll see Suzume in this spot for years to come, but I wouldn’t be upset if Pom got a few more chances, too, because that wonderful weirdo deserves it.

Verdict: The Bee Escaped The Net

Overall Show

There were some matches on this show which felt skippable, not because there was anything wrong with them, but because they were light and throwaway. However, the opener and the final two matches are well worth seeking out and seeing Pom and Suzume in the main event spot made me very happy. TJPW reacted well to losing Mizuki for the day, and while it’s a shame we didn’t get to see her vs Shoko, this was still a good show.

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