The last show before Wrestle Princess III was down a Hyper Misao and a Mahiro Kiryu, but the show must go on, and TJPW were looking to build a little bit of extra hype before the big day. Did they pull it off? Well, let’s find out.
We opened with a Yuka Sakazaki and Shoko Nakajima contract signing for the Wrestle Princess main event during which no one went through a table. Then, in a nice touch, Mahiro came out to help Namba do the introduction, so whatever kept her off this show wasn’t bad enough to prevent that.
Suzume defeated Moka Miyamoto
Our opener was a great example of simple wrestling done well. There were no blow-your-mind spots or incredible sequences, but it was packed full of solid, well-worked wrestling. Moka can make the little things feel important, never going through the motions, and Suzume was right there with her, as even the opening grappling (so often performed as if it’s a contractual obligation) had a bit of spark to it.
It was also a nice bit of booking, as both were coming off impressive losses on the previous show (Suzume against Miu Watanabe and Moka against Mei Suruga). The bee was always going to get the win, but it was a chance for them to continue their good form together, and I’m happy to say that’s what they did.
Verdict: Good, Simple Wrestling
Yuki Kamifuku defeated Kaya Toribami
Kamiyu had undoubtedly improved as a wrestler over the last couple of years, but when you put her in the ring with someone like Kaya, her personality shines more than her skill. This whole match had an air of scrappiness, looking like it could fall apart at any moment, but without the spectacular action that would justify that feeling. However, what made it work was Kamiyu grabbing every opportunity to be a bit of a dick.
And Kamiyu doesn’t need to be a dick to beat Kaya. She’s far enough ahead of Toribami that dragging Referee Kiso into the action or poking Toribami in the eyes isn’t really necessary. But why shouldn’t she do that? She doesn’t care that the bird is a rookie figuring things out. Kamiyu will still treat her horribly and kick her out of the ring when she’s done. If Kaya’s going to make it in the big scary world of wrestling, then she better get used to this stuff.
So yea, you probably don’t need to watch this for the wrestling, but if you enjoy watching Kamiyu torment someone, you’re in for a treat.
Verdict: Meh Wrestling, Fun Character Work
Nao Kakuta defeated Haruna Neko
The animal bullying didn’t stop, as Nao Kakuta got the chance to abuse everyone’s favourite wee cat. However, there was none of the light-hearted nature of Kamiyu tormenting Kaya here. No, this was our rare, serious Neko match.
And trust Kakuta to be the one to build around a scrappy under-cat performance. More importantly, trust Neko to carry her end of the bargain as she continues to prove she has more in her locker than the gimmick. From the start, she was on the back foot, Nao callously taking control by throwing her across the ring by her hair, but Haruna never gave up. She showed a lot of heart in this fight, clawing and scratching for those little opportunities to turn the tide and earn an unlikely win.
Sure, there was no chance of her getting that victory, and they never convinced me she would, but sometimes that’s okay. Sometimes, you want to watch a wee cat try hard and do her best before falling short. This match delivered that, and I have no complaints.
Verdict: Fun Stuff
121000000 (Miyu Yamashita & Maki Itoh) defeated Hikari Noa & Arisu Endo
Arisu Endo has been on a bit of a roll recently. She’s had her trip to Gatoh Move, been hand-picked by the Ace for praise and is consistently over-delivering in tag matches where she’s obviously there to take the fall. That was a run which continued here, as while this played to the exact formula you’d expect it to (121000000 work over Endo, Hikari hot tag, Endo eventually goes down defiantly), Arisu once again stood out. She’s developing a knack for being the best part of already impressive matches, and that’s no bad thing.
It’s particularly amazing when you consider Hikari is well-established as having outstanding chemistry with Itoh and Yamashita. So, while none of them went all out, the non-Endo bits were a guaranteed good time. Spots like Hikari making sure to cut Itoh off before her cutest punches, grinning away as she did, are always welcome as it speaks to them having a shared history. The kind where a chance to get one over on your opponent, even if it’s something petty, should always be grabbed.
As expected, Arisu did lose, tapping out to Itoh, but much like the previous match, the predictability of the action did nothing to blunt my enjoyment of it. Combine Arisu’s recent good form with three people who I always enjoy watching wrestle, and I had a lovely time.
Verdict: Arisu Is Going Places
Shoko Nakajima, Yuki Aino & Daydream (Rika Tatsumi & Miu Watanabe) defeated The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki), Raku & Pom Harajuku
Bless TJPW for being a company that can go from Shoko and Yuka seriously testing out the waters ahead of their title match to Pom having psychological warfare imposed on her by her opponents chanting ‘Impaler’. Her match with Max must have taken its toll, as she collapsed to her knees in terror, unable to even deal with the sound of their name. However, being a brave Pom, she fired up and, well, ran into the brick wall that was Yuki, but she tried!
And this was the definition of a crowd-pleasing main event. You’ve got some exciting previews of the Wrestle Princess main event, Yuka bunny hopping her way across four opponents during the Goodnight Express and more fun, fast-paced action than you can shake a stick at it. TJPW has mastered these matches, as the wrestlers know each other so well that they’re effortlessly able to give everyone what they want and still have time to throw in a couple of bonuses to keep things interesting.
In the past, I’ve compared these tags to junk food as they’re easy to eat but unlikely to stick in your memory (although with the advantage of not making you feel sick), which is true to a certain extent. However, they’re also good enough that it doesn’t take a lot to turn them from forgettable into something a bit more than that, and it turns out that psychological Pomfare is the perfect way to do so. I’m not saying they should do that for every show, but it also couldn’t hurt, right?
Verdict: Poor Pom, But It Is Entertaining
That was an enjoyable, if not particularly essential, TJPW show. There were no big moments ahead of Wrestle Princess, but there was plenty to keep you intrigued, and with it coming in at well under two hours, it flew by. They’re having a small break now before Wrestle Princess, so it should be enough to keep you going until the big one.
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