TJPW Autumn Tour (6/11/22) Review

Everyone is a superhero. Credit: TJPW

TJPW has announced that the headline match for their next Korakuen will be Billie Starkz vs Yuka Sakazaki, which feels like something a bit different, despite having once been the norm. It’s easy to forget that before the pandemic foreign wrestlers coming over and challenging for a title wasn’t that unusual, with Lana Austin being the last one to have a shot at the big belt (which was coincidentally held by Yuka) right before the pandemic struck. I’ve never seen Billie wrestle, so I have no idea how it will go, but she seems to be a bit of a prodigy, so I’m expecting big things. Before we get to that, TJPW had a show at KFC Hall, where they said goodbye to another visiting star, Willow Nightingale. Let’s see what went down!

Before getting going, Namba introduced Himawari, the latest rookie to join the TJPW system. She already debuted for AWG, having two matches before leaving, so she isn’t coming into this completely raw, although I can’t pretend to have seen either of them. It also means that TJPW has four people training for their debut right now, as Himawari joins future Up Up Girl Shino and the two younger wrestlers, Momo and Haru.

Hikari Noa defeated Kaya Toribami

Hikari’s mean face. Credit: TJPW

Kaya is at an intriguing point in her career. When she debuted, she looked so comfortable in the ring that some people thought she was a more experienced wrestler returning under a mask. Of course, it quickly became apparent that wasn’t the case, and while Toribami has a flashy and impressive moveset, she was far from the finished product. Over the year and a half since then, I think she’s improved, slowly rounding out her game and becoming a better wrestler. Unfortunately, it now feels a bit like Kaya’s trajectory is plateauing. She’s capable of delivering a solid opener (as she did here), but it’s been a while since she grabbed my attention.

Which, to be clear, is not a huge issue. Most rookies hit this stage, as it’s natural for your progress to come in fits and bursts. The perfect example is Moka Miyamoto, who, a year and a bit ago, had me worrying that wrestling wasn’t for her. However, she then got the chance to have a mini-feud with Yuki Arai, where something clicked and set her off on a period of rapid improvement. In other words, I’m saying it might be time for Kaya to find her Arai. She needs something to get her teeth into and, perhaps more importantly, a rival to push her to improve. There is no stronger incentive than the feeling that a friend/enemy might be pulling away from you.

I appreciate I haven’t talked about the match much, but that’s because it was solid and unremarkable. Hikari is always good, and Kaya looked alright, but there was nothing new here. If TJPW is to get something different out of Kaya, they’re going to have to find her something a bit more substantial than a sub-ten-minute opener.

Verdict: It’s Time To Give Kaya More

Yuki Kamifuku defeated Pom Harajuku

Flying P! Credit: TJPW

Eye poking vs shin kicking, the two ancient forms of battle that came head-to-head in this match. Who would win? Well, Kamiyu obviously.

Lack of mystery in the result aside, this was a lot of fun. They went to war (or at least the kind of war you’d expect them to have), Pom attacking the shins and Kamiyu the eyes, but neither could get a clean hit. It was nonsense of the best kind, as Pom ended up doing a version of the Can-Can as she swung wildly while holding onto Kamiyu’s hands, ensuring her eyes remained finger free.

It is worth mentioning, however, that while I am happy to watch these two be very silly, they’re both quietly capable of delivering a sneaky banger. That wasn’t what they were going for here, as they chose to focus on the lighthearted, but there were hints of what a straight Pom vs Kamiyu match would look like. Moments where Harajuku transcended the comedy to target those shins and bump around for Yuki’s violent dropkicks. I’m never going to complain about people going for laughs, but it left me intrigued, and if we got the chance to see it someday, I certainly wouldn’t complain.

Verdict: A Lot Of Fun

Yuki Aino & Raku defeated Arisu Endo & Moka Miyamoto

God or kindly pal, you decide! Credit: TJPW

I assume most people don’t spend their free time thinking about the web Raku has constructed around herself, but I do, and it grows ever more impressive. With everyone from Aja Kong to Ram Kaicho to Chris Brookes expressing some form of allegiance to her, she’s arguably got the ability to call upon some hefty backup if ever she requires it. The big question, though, is whether Raku knows that. Is she a lovely person who happens to charm everyone who meets her without ever considering how useful that could be? Or is she a mastermind, slowly building an army to back up her sorcery and magic in the hope of conquering all of wrestling?

The easy answer is the first one, as Raku genuinely seems like a sweetheart. However, she once tried to send the bulk of the roster to sleep and throw them into a swimming pool, so I’m not so sure. Plus, isn’t just so much more exciting to imagine that Raku is somehow wrestling’s main character? That this quiet train nerd who loves to nap and seems to almost ended up here by accident has been slowly hatching a plot that will see her takeover? Sure, it will probably never happen, but the idea that it could is the kind of thing that makes me very happy.

Anyway, that I’ve spent this whole match writing Raku fanfiction might lead you to believe it was rubbish, but you’d be wrong. It was an enjoyable midcard tag full of wrestlers I love. No one will be claiming it was essential, but if you’re looking for something to watch while you ponder Raku’s ability to take over the world, it was perfect.

Verdict: God Or Conqueror?

Rika Tatsumi defeated Haruna Neko

Poor wee cat. Credit: TJPW

Haruna vs Rika is a perfect example of what I want from a lower mid-card match. That might sound like damning with faint praise, but it’s the truth, I want to see a big bully fight a wee cat, and that’s what they’ll give you. Tatsumi was so into the idea that she threatened to rip Neko in half and throw her into the front row, which is excessive even by her violent standards.

It’s not just Rika, though. Haruna is so good in these matches, as she has the perfect combination of underdog charm and feisty defiance. No one in their right mind thinks she’s going to beat Rika, but it doesn’t matter because she will go down clawing at Tatsumi’s eyes. Will it be enough? No, but that doesn’t make watching her try any less entertaining.

So while I won’t be declaring this match a classic or demanding that everyone go and see it, I still think it was flawless. Haruna and Rika are two talented wrestlers who know their roles and can use them to craft a tight, well-structured match with a good story. Sometimes that’s better than any classic.

Verdict: I Love Them

Willow Nightingale & Shoko Nakajima defeated Miu Watanabe & Suzume

Shoko’s tail comes in handy. Credit: TJPW

Willow vs Miu is the hoss showdown we’ve all been waiting for, as it was the match that was supposed to happen before Nightingale’s visa issues cancelled her first trip over. Since then, Miu has been on a roll, putting in an MVP performance in the Princess Cup and winning the International Title. The battle was still eagerly anticipated, but if Willow is getting Miu at her best.

Their interactions delivered on the promise, too, the clashes between them bringing a real physicality to the action. It left me wanting to see not just more of them but more of Willow, full stop. She has an infectious personality, as she made no attempt to hide her joy at being in TJPW. Watching her dance around with Shoko and have a lovely old time made me a fan, so the fact she seems to be a good wrestler is almost a bonus.

On top of all that, she picked up a good win, pinning Suzume and surely setting up a future challenge for Miu’s title. That won’t be happening now, as she’s off back to America, but I would put money on her returning sooner rather than later, and I am already looking forward to it.

Verdict: More Willow, Please!

121000000 (Miyu Yamashita & Maki Itoh) & Hyper Misao defeated The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki) & Mahiro Kiryu

That has to be sore. Credit: TJPW

In case you’ve forgotten how violent MagiRabbi can be, they started this match by putting Misao’s head in a suitcase before jumping up and down on it. That’s not normal behaviour. Sure, you could question why Misao had it with her, but she’s excited about her trip to the UK next week! Although I hope someone taps her on the shoulder and lets her know that dressing up as a Harry Potter character to show that excitement might not go down too well at an EVE show.

Anyway, Misao’s silliness and MagiRabbi’s violence aside, this was a fun house show main event. That’s not a bad thing, either. When you can anchor a match around Mizuki vs Itoh and Miyu vs Yuka, even house show levels of effort will be pretty damn good. That’s also not to dismiss the other combos, as Misao can be relied upon to deliver, giving us a solid finishing stretch with Mahiro. It’s just that those two pairings are special.

Anyway, the point is that this was a good match, but there wasn’t anything new there. It aimed to be fun for those in attendance, and that’s sometimes exactly what a show needs. Not every weekend can end with big, exciting things, and even when they don’t, they can still be a lot of fun.

Verdict: Good House Show Stuff

Overall Show

That was a solid, mid-tier TJPW show. If you were picking one match to watch, I’d make it Willow and Shoko vs Miu and Suzume, but there were a few other gems scattered across the card. Plus, we’ve got a new rookie, and that’s always exciting, even if we don’t have a debut date yet. So, all things said, it gets the thumbs up from me.

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One thought on “TJPW Autumn Tour (6/11/22) Review

Add yours

  1. Misao trying to pop the UK with a Harry Potter costume reminds me of Antonio Honda trying to pop a US crowd by dressing like Hulk Hogan. The intent was good, but maybe just a bad idea in general.

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