TJPW Princess Cup (14/8/22) Review

Could Miu do it? Credit: TJPW

Here we are, the Princess Cup final, where Miu Watanabe has one last hurdle to overcome. Could she add Yuka Sakazaki to her high-profile scalps? Or would Yuka win her first Princess Cup and become the only person to challenge a Princess of Princess champion twice in the same reign? Time to find out.

Get excited, folks! We’ve got a new Up Up Girl. Meet SHINO, a former bus tour guide who excels at eating ice cream quickly and wishes to be a quick wrestler who can move hearts. Hikari was more interested in finding out if she would do deathmatches, and I don’t think we got her opinion on trains, but it’s lovely to have her on board.

Nao Kakuta defeated Moka Miyamoto

Fiery Moka. Credit: TJPW

Our opener screamed sneaky banger, and it delivered on that promise. Nao has quietly established herself in a gatekeeper role, as she’s nowhere near the top of the roster (although I’d quite like to see her get a chance), but is a clear step ahead of those at the bottom. When you combine that with her viciousness, she’s the perfect person to bring the best out of someone like Moka.

That’s what happened, too, with Nao taking the fight to Miyamoto, drawing the fire out of her. We got to see Moka go strike for strike with Kakuta, attempting to keep up, and even pull out a few new tricks, including a hanging neckbreaker using the ropes. Miyamoto found her feet in wrestling when TJPW put her across from Arai and challenged her to keep up, so it was no surprise to see her flourish in this environment.

It made for an ideal opener. Moka and Nao delivered a tight, well-worked and aggressive wee match that is well worth your time.

Verdict: A Strong Opener

Toho University (Yuki Kamifuku & Mahiro Kiryu) defeated Hyper Misao & Kaya Toribami

Poor Mahiro. Credit: TJPW

Kamiyu is that friend who can never accept that you don’t want to go out tonight and that fancying some alone time doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. Her intentions are pure, but when she stole the mic from Misao and insisted Mahiro express herself on the fly, she sent her friend into a fluster, leaving Kiryu to apologise for being unable to do so before getting jumped by her masked opponents.

Thankfully, when they’re wrestling, Toho University are closer to being on the same page. They’ve challenged for the titles before, but I think they’ve come on a bit as a team since then, as Mahiro’s confidence seems to be peaking at the moment. I’ve been a bit harsh on her in the past, feeling like she often fades into the background, but the last couple of shows have seen her put on some strong performances. Kamiyu might occasionally bully her into doing things she doesn’t want to, but she also gets the best out of her.

Mahiro’s also picking up some momentum as she got another win, pinning Kaya. I’d be shocked if she and Kamiyu won the titles, but with their performances over these two days, I’m expecting at least a stiff challenge for Reiwa no AA Cannon. As for this match, it’s far from essential, but you won’t regret watching it.

Verdict: Solid, Entertaining Action

Miyu Yamashita, Suzume & Haruna Neko defeated Mizuki, Raku & Pom Harajuku

It was a rough weekend to be a Pom. Credit: TJPW

Poor Pom. The day before this, she barely survived fighting a terrifying monster. Now she was getting kicked by the Ace and scratched by a cat. Sometimes a Pom has no luck.

This match was trundling along nicely, being solidly entertaining, and then Mizuki and Miyu got in the ring together. At that point, those two seemingly decided to show the world how to do it, going ten times harder than they needed to as they battled back and forth. Not that I’m about to complain, they’re fantastic together, and in doing so, they seemed to inspire everyone else to give that little bit more in the final act.

I want to finish up by returning to poor unlucky Pom, though, who was fantastic again. Yesterday, I praised her for her talent at being beaten up, so today, I’ll focus my attention on how consistently entertaining her offence is, as she’s mastered her unusual shin-based attacks. She’s regularly one of the most entertaining people in an undercard packed with wrestlers I love, and that’s something worthy of attention.

Verdict: Lots Of Good Stuff

Reiwa no AA Cannon (Saki Akai & Yuki Arai) defeated Hikari Noa & Arisu Endo

That’s a badass picture. Credit: TJPW

Now and then, Arai will tag into a match and do something so smoothly that I have to remind myself how inexperienced she is. It’s not just that she’s taken to wrestling well but that she already moves like a wrestler, confidently moving around the ring to be in the right place at the right moment. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not perfect, but you’d be mad to argue she’s anything less than very good.

On the other side of the ring, this was the second day in a row that Arisu delivered a strong performance against an outsider (although Akai is an adjacent outsider at the very least). It was unusual to see her and Saki do some grappling, but they pulled it off, and she’s got fantastic chemistry with Arai. It’s becoming common for Endo to be one of the best things about tags packed with flashier wrestlers, and that ability to stand out will do her well.

Of course, AA Cannon would recover from the previous day’s defeat and pick up the win, Arai seeing Endo off with Finally. It was one of those results you’d have bet the house on, but that’s not necessarily a flaw, as they still delivered an entertaining match before we got there.

Verdict: Endo Impresses

Shoko Nakajima & Rika Tatsumi defeated Max The Impaler & Yuki Aino

I think this means they’re friends with Yuki now. Credit: TJPW

If it wasn’t clear from me gushing about the Pom match, everything about Max in TJPW works for me. I love the contrast between The Impaler and the rest of the roster, them launching opponents across the ring and the comic timing they hinted at in the Pom match before delivering on it here. Max is a terrifying delight, and I really hope this is the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship between them and TJPW.

It’s not like there is a shortage of matches for them to have either. I don’t need Max to do anything complicated, but I do need to see them interact with everyone on the roster. Here, we watched Rika trying to reach out the branch of friendship, making hearts across the ring, before she and Shoko accepted that wasn’t going to work. Aino, meanwhile, was in the unenviable spot of teaming with them, trying to figure out what her new partner’s deal was and starting to make some progress. Well, before she accidentally got decapitated with a wayward lariat, that is.

It also helps that Max appears to be a fantastic wrestler. Not only do they dominate matches, using their power brilliantly, but they sell without losing their aura. Shoko and Rika had to work together to bring them down, chipping away and slowly managing to do enough to keep them out of the action. Needing TJPW’s very best to get you out of the ring for a few minutes is only going to make you look amazing, and this tour has seen Max win over me and (judging by the noises they were making) a significant portion of the fanbase too.

If you haven’t guessed, I loved this. I’ve no idea if Max has plans to do any more tours, but TJPW would be mad not to invite them back.

Verdict: Outstanding

Yuka Sakazaki defeated Miu Watanabe to win the Princess Cup

Murder Yuka got herself a trophy. Credit: TJPW

Having barely survived Suzume’s flurry of high-speed offence the day before, Yuka Sakazaki came into this final determined not to let that happen again. She’d watched Miu go through two of her oldest and strongest rivals and knew she needed to cut that head of steam off at the pass. The early going of this match saw her bring her not inconsiderable talents on the ground to bear, slowing the action down and keeping Miu from building up the slightest momentum. She even had a counter to the Giant Swing in her pocket, pulling herself up and turning it into a suplex.

If there’s one thing we’ve learnt in this tournament, though, it’s that Miu Watanabe does not go down easily. Yuka controlled the pacing, but she couldn’t stop that strength from coming to the fore, and Miu began to find her openings. She had her own counter to the Magical Merry-Go-Round, reversing it into a headlock swing, and even managed to throw Yuka from the top rope with an Avalanche Teardrop. Against Shoko and Miyu, we saw that Watanabe could win at any moment, and Yuka knew it. If she wanted to put her away, she would have to go deep, and the murder began to flicker behind her eyes.

And that, perhaps more than anything, was the theme of this tournament. Yes, one of the old guards won, but it was by the skin of her teeth and required her to go full murder mode to get over the line. The final minutes saw Yuka the destroyer emerge, and it wasn’t to make a point, but something she had to do to take Watanabe out. Miu pushed her to her limits, and every time Yuka thought she’d dished out enough, the wee hoss pulled herself back up for a bit more.

None of which makes Miu’s loss any less heartbreaking for someone who pushed for her to win this thing since day one, but it’s the right kind of heartbreak. The kind where you know your lass gave everything she had but came up against someone that was impossible to beat. Watanabe barged her way through the champ and the Ace, but on this day, Yuka Sakazaki was a step too far. Next time, though, Miu will be ready, and Yuka better have a bit more murder left in her, or her seat at the top will be in danger.

Verdict: She’ll Get You One Day

Overall Show

I don’t think the undercard on this show was as entertaining as yesterday’s, but those final two matches were incredible. Of course, the Yuka and TJPW never push new stars discourse has already started, but I can’t be arsed entertaining that nonsense. These two shows have been an outstanding end to a great tournament, so let’s enjoy that instead.

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