TJPW Go Girl 3 (28/8/22) Review

Flying Sugar Rabbits. Credit: TJPW

Go Girl 3 is a somewhat different Korakuen from TJPW’s usual fare. Typically, these shows aim to be blow-offs, packed with title matches and big showdowns, but that’s not the case this time. Instead, this is a card designed as an introduction and a way to try and convince the entirely female audience (who all got in for free) that Tokyo Joshi could be something for them. I love these shows, and while I can’t claim to accurately reflect the views of a group of Japanese women, I can at least keep you up to date on what one lad in Scotland thinks.

Daisy Monkey (Suzume & Arisu Endo) defeated Pom Harajuku & Haruna Neko

Suzume’s in trouble. Credit: TJPW

The wrestlers were giddy to be working in front of these fans, and with noise restrictions lifted, the energy for this opener was electric. There was no chance of anyone taking it easy as the high-pitched voices in the stands inspired them all to go that little bit harder.

Actually, a bit is an understatement. This match roared into sneaky banger status as everyone went hard. It’s not often Neko stands up and trades strikes, but she was out there doing so with Suzume, and I don’t think I’ve seen her deliver a performance like this before. The wee cat is great at what she does, but she worked her arse off, ensuring that Daisy Monkey had a tough afternoon.

Talking of Daisy Monkey, they are a cracking team. Not only are Arisu and Suzume incredibly likeable, but they have fantastic in-ring chemistry. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the younger faces in the crowd (of which there was a decent number) all became huge fans, as these speedy wee wrestlers are hard not to fall in love with. They proved good value for their win, and this match massively over-delivered.

Verdict: Great Opener

Nao Kakuta & Mahiro Kiryu defeated Moka Miyamoto & Juria Nagano

They know karate. Credit: TJPW

Poor Mahiro. She might have hoped she was set for an afternoon off from having a partner who likes to use her as a weapon, but she had no such luck. Nao Kakuta is many things, but a cuddly, caring tag buddy is not one of them. She was more than happy to grab Kiryu by the hair and throw her onto their opponents.

It was Nagano who stood out here, though, as every appearance from her brings some improvement. She still leans heavily on those strikes, but she’s getting better at delivering eye-catching combinations that will appeal to a wrestling crowd. Drew Parker, standing in for Akki (who is in America) on English commentary, certainly seemed impressed, declaring her a stone-cold killer, which is a fair assessment after watching her kick someone in the head.

While I don’t think this quite reached the heights of the opener, it was still a fun match. Mahiro is heading towards a tag title showdown, so she was always likely to be on the winning side (although Nao got the pin), but the karate-loving pairing of Moka and Nagano is one that I’d like to see a bit more of. Moka would be the perfect person for Nagano to learn from at this point in her career, so fingers crossed we see them again.

Verdict: Karate Buddies!

Hyper Misao defeated Raku

I said I couldn’t claim to speak for a crowd of Japanese women, but judging by how into this match they were, I think we might have similar taste in wrestling. Hyper Misao and Raku’s antics, mainly based around Misao trying to counteract the magical lullaby powers, got over strong with this audience, who were having a lovely old time.

Not that Raku and Misao’s nonsense getting over should be a surprise. I know certain sections of wrestling fans think anything funny will instantly turn away new faces, but my experience says it’s the opposite. People have an idea in their head of what wrestling is, a view which will struggle in the face of Misao bringing an alarm clock to the ring and chugging energy shots. That can only be a good thing, as wrestling’s greatest strength is its ability to be anything it wants to be. It’s no coincidence that when Misao called on them to try and help her stay awake, they were more than happy to yell her name, a heartwarming moment that may have had me tear up a little bit.

Plus, beyond all that serious stuff, it’s brilliant fun. This match was a blast, with Misao and Raku proving as reliably entertaining as ever. There is a decent chance they’ll have converted a few new faces into train fans or superheroes, and that’s a good afternoon’s work.

Verdict: A Lovely Time

Maki Itoh defeated Yuki Aino

Itoh enjoyed hearing those voices. Credit: TJPW

There was a child in the crowd clutching an Itoh teddy, which has to be the cutest thing you’ll see at a wrestling show this year. It was the first hint that while Raku and Misao were working to win fans over, Itoh had already done the hard work, as this audience appeared to be brimming with members of the Itoh Respect Army.

Perhaps with that in mind, the action leaned toward classic Itoh. We got fake crying spots, the cutest punches (which got a massive response) and an elaborate kokeshi. Maki made sure to play to fans who might not have had the chance to see her before by giving them the hits. And sure, that might not be particularly exciting for me, someone who has seen those a hell of a lot, but it was the perfect way to work in front of this audience.

Sadly, that left Aino with an upward battle to stand out, as she got full-blown charisma machine Itoh across the ring from her. However, Yuki did a great job of not being completely bowled over. With Maki delivering on the crowd antics, Aino almost went the opposite way, going hard on the wrestling and bringing her bruiser best. It meant this culminated in a pretty intense final act, with both wrestlers upping the aggression as we built to the climax. Itoh may have come in with the fans on her side, but I suspect Aino will have won a few over by the end, as this was another impressive match.

Verdict: Played To The Crowd Perfectly

Saki Akai defeated Hikari Noa

That one connected. Credit: TJPW

Hikari Noa and Saki Akai are very different wrestlers. Where Akai is elegant, Noa is scrappy, which makes for a great style clash. It felt like Hikari had to go out there and chip away at Saki, cutting her down with those barrages of dropkicks. In turn, Akai was struggling to take control of this match, as every beautiful boot to the face was met with Hikari coming back with the bit between her teeth, refusing to stay down and getting ready to try and tear her apart in response.

And I love that kind of match. Noa knew she was at a disadvantage and perhaps even suspected she would lose, but she was going to take a bit of Akai with her before she did. It’s something Hikari, in particular, excels at, as she sells desperation better than nearly anyone. There were multiple points where you could see Saki wondering how she hadn’t won this match yet, as Noa just kept coming.

It was a performance that saw Hikari win the crowd (which at the start leaned towards the better-known Akai) over. By the end, as her energy waned, they were yelling her on, pushing her to go that bit further. Eventually, the relentless boots to the face took their toll, but Noa joined several others in having left this show with more fans than she had when coming in. Plus, the match ruled.

Verdict: Noa Shines

Yuki Kamifuku defeated Yuki Arai

Poor Arai. Credit: TJPW

With Kamiyu challenging for the tag titles alongside Mahiro, this was a perfect chance for her to get in the head of Yuki Arai. She did so by being, well, cruel. The start of this match featured Kamiyu bullying Arai, mocking her for not doing her nails and even picking on her gear. On top of that, she took control of the action, dismissively taking her time as she tore Arai apart.

It was the perfect spot for Arai to be in, as she’s still at her best when working from underneath. She’s very good for her experience level, but where she excels is coming up with a desperate big boot or using a burst of power to turn the tide. In her and Akai’s title win, it felt like Saki helped guide her to victory, so it makes perfect sense that when she’s alone, she’ll struggle to be the dominant force.

The final act, in which they went full out with booting each other in the face, was fantastic, while Kamiyu picking up the win adds a bit more intrigue to that title challenge. Most people expect Reiwa no AA Cannon to pick up the win, but Kamiyu looking strong here adds a bit of doubt to that idea. It also proves she and Arai have strong chemistry, which should make for an exciting showdown when they’re joined by their partners.

Verdict: Impressive Stuff

Shoko Nakajima & Daydream (Rika Tatsumi & Miu Watanabe) defeated Miyu Yamashita & The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki)

Even the people she loves aren’t safe from Rika. Credit: TJPW

Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way. This match fucking ruled. Of course, it did. With who was involved, there was no chance of it not doing so, and with an appreciative audience that they were all desperate to impress, they weren’t going to take it easy. Everyone worked their arses off, and it was fantastic.

What was exciting, though, was how they managed to deliver great wrestling while showing off their personalities. Whether it was the Sugar Rabbits refusing to let Miyu join in on their double teams, Rika evilly beating people up with a grin on her face or Watanabe’s delight at her own strength, everyone showed the best of themselves. Then, when they got into the thick of the action, it was a frantic back and forth, designed to be as entertaining as possible.

And this lot is very, very good at being entertaining. They aren’t just great wrestlers but people who have faced off in various combinations countless times over the years. Put them together and they can’t help but be great together because they have the almost telepathic ability that comes from shaving shared a ring for years. After the match, Yuka invited everyone in attendance to come and audition to join TJPW, and it’s hard to imagine that there weren’t at least a few people watching who were inspired to try and be part of the coolest gang around.

Verdict: Brilliant

Overall Show

That was a fantastic show performed in front of an enthusiastic and excited audience. TJPW went out there and tried to show fans, old and new, what this company is, and I think they nailed it. Whether you’re here for the nonsense or the brilliant wrestling, you will find something for you with Tokyo Joshi.

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