TJPW Autumn Tour (3/12/22) Review

I always enjoy that spot. Credit: TJPW

With TJPW’s final Korakuen Hall of the year behind us, all attention turns to the next big one: Ittenyon. It might just be another trip to Korakuen, but that date adds to its importance, and the show reflects that. We’ve already got our big title matches, but with a month to go, the rest of the card needs fleshing out, and perhaps this show will give us an idea of what to expect. Let’s find out.

Mizuki defeated Haruna Neko

Revenge of the bunnies. Credit: TJPW

Everyone knows Mizuki is the devil, and she’s rarely on the sympathetic side of matches, but there is a poetic justice to the psychotic bunny being let loose on the wee cat. For most of history, that battle has gone one way, and while there were times when Neko unleashed her claws on Mizuki’s face, this was mainly the bunny’s revenge. Who are we to deny Mizuki that moment on behalf of her species?

Silliness aside, this was perfect opener fodder. A bright, energetic match with Neko doing a good job as the sympathetic babyface and Mizuki being her usual excellent self as the person who doesn’t give a shit about that. Mizuki controlled most of the action, but she left the occasional opening for Neko to slide into, including a well-worked moment where she rolled over Mizuki into a schoolboy-style pin. It never built to anything more than lighthearted fun, but it also didn’t have to, and with an impressive finish that saw Mizuki catch a Nekobreaker in midair and turn it into the Cutie Special, it got us off on the right foot.

Verdict: A Strong Start

Yuki Aino & Raku defeated Hyper Misao & Kaya Toribami

All the great teams nap together. Credit

COVID may have prevented Raku and Aino from challenging for the tag titles together, but at least they got to pick up a win here. Fingers crossed that it’s a hint Raku will get her day in the sun, although if Max and Heidi have won the belts by then, perhaps she won’t want it. Still, she made up for the current lack of titles by bringing her pillow to the ring, so we knew we were in for antics, and they got right to it as Yuki and her went to sleep during Misao’s opening monologue.

And while that was a fun start, I wouldn’t have minded if this match had leaned a tad more on having Raku and Misao get a bit silly. It put that to one side early on, moving to more straightforward action, and while it was all decent stuff, I would have enjoyed watching the personality flow. I also think it would have been a good thing for Kaya, who needs to be shaken out of her comfort zone and having to deal with Raku and her pillow would have been the perfect way to do so.

Still, the action was solid, and Misao meshed well with Yuki’s power. We also saw a new tag team move from Raku and Aino, Raku hitting a Kagayaki while Yuki held Misao in what was almost a reverse Gory Special. It looked great and took Misao out of the game, allowing Raku to pin Kaya for the win and make it clear Raku and Aino still deserve a shot at those belts.

Verdict: Solid

Rika Tatsumi defeated Pom Harajuku

Rika needs to work on her technique. Credit

As is often the case these days, the match I was most looking forward to on this card was the Pom one. Yes, it’s unfair that TJPW keeps putting her in the ring with monsters, but I can’t pretend it isn’t very entertaining.

I think the action here can be summed up by Mr Haku tweeting: ‘Rika threatened to rip Pom into pieces, and it quickly escalated into a cat hostage situation‘. In there with TJPW’s most violent wrestler, Pom was clinging onto survival, and sometimes that required doing some good old-fashioned shin booting, and at others, it required a catnapping. Both are equally valid. The pièce de résistance came later in the match, though, where Pom and Rika proffered up their shins, the way others might their chests, for a strike exchange, which was a genius touch.

It was the highlight of a match that I enjoyed an awful lot. Pom and Rika might be on very different rungs of the TJPW hierarchy, but they both have a knack for stealing shows away with ridiculously entertaining midcard performances. It was no surprise to see them come together to do it again and even less of a surprise that I had a lovely time with it.

Verdict: The Year of Pom Continues

Miu Watanabe defeated Mahiro Kiryu

So strong! Credit: TJPW

I’m always intrigued to see how Mahiro does in singles action, as she rarely gets the opportunity to take centre stage. She never had a chance of winning this match, but a good showing against the on-fire Miu Watanabe would do her no harm.

Unfortunately, I think this was more in the decent but unspectacular camp, and if anyone stood out, it was Miu. Of course, you could argue, probably rightly, that Miu standing out was the point of the match, so Mahiro did her job well, but I still left wanting a bit more from her. I find her an increasingly frustrating wrestler, as I’ve seen enough to know she could be good, but she still hasn’t found a way to punch through and make me care. Perhaps I need to accept it’s just a ‘me thing’ and will never happen, but I would like to enjoy her more.

Still, we at least got to enjoy Miu being strong as she picked up a comprehensive victory.

Verdict: We Can Always Rely On Miu’s Muscles

Millie McKenzie & Yuki Kamifuku defeated Shoko Nakajima & Suzume

An unlikely duo. Credit: TJPW

If the last match was about Miu, then this one was about Millie and having her interact with a few more faces in TJPW. Not only did that mean we got a chance to see her throw Shoko and Suzume around a bit, but it also gave us the wonderfully oddball pairing of her and Kamiyu, two people who it’s hard to imagine have much in common. However, judging by this performance, I might be completely wrong about that, as they appeared to be an effective team.

Kamiyu wasn’t the only person Millie clicked with, as Shoko and Suzume looked good in there with her. I don’t think anyone would have earmarked McKenzie as a natural fit for TJPW, but she brought some hard-hitting physicality to the show, spearing Suzume out of mid-air and hitting a vicious-looking suplex for the win. If 2022 has taught us anything, there is room in TJPW for people who don’t necessarily fit the vibes, and Millie’s more serious wrestler shtick provided a nice contrast to everyone else. If they want to book her vs Shoko or Suzume somewhere down the road, I would have no complaints.

I also want to throw a bit of love Kamiyu’s way. She’s not one for fading in the background, even if the attention is on her partner, and her interactions with Shoko made sure she wasn’t forgotten. While she’s had a quieter year than she did in 2021, her improvement is always worth drawing attention to, and once Ittenyon is out of the way, I wouldn’t mind seeing her get another singles title shot. She certainly played an important role in what was an entertaining match.

Verdict: Bring Millie Back, Please

121000000 (Miyu Yamashita & Maki Itoh) & Moka Miyamoto defeated Yuka Sakazaki, Hikari Noa & Arisu Endo

Arisu is going places. Credit: TJPW

While our main event was the first teaser for Miyu vs Yuka, they kept it fairly simple. There were a few flashpoints, and Miyu seemed to have a slight advantage, but neither managed to pull away. With a month and a day to go, it was all routine stuff that won’t convince anyone who is sceptical about them as a pairing, but I guess there is plenty of time for that.

Besides, my thoughts were elsewhere as Arisu Endo, the main event attention stealer, struck again. Coming off the back of what might be a career-best performance against Mizuki, this was another example of Endo being one of the highlights of a match that wasn’t about her. Everything she does bursts with fire, and I even loved how she charged into the Miyu kick that set up her demise. Arisu is incapable of not giving 110%, and that is an incredibly endearing attribute.

Outside of that, everyone delivered a greatest hits set, which is the norm for these shows. You want to give the fans a chance to see all their favourites do their thing, and they got that, wrapped up in a lovely, entertaining bow. It perhaps doesn’t lead to must-see wrestling for people like you and me, but it’s not really about that, which is always worth remembering. Plus, it was still a very watchable match, so I have no real complaints.

Verdict: A Fun End

Overall Show

I say it a lot, but TJPW has nailed the formula for these shows. They keep the pace up, the match lengths down and get in and out in under two hours. It makes them all very easy to watch, even if nothing particularly monumental happens. My highlights from this one were Rika vs Pom and the semi-main event tag match, but the whole thing flew past, and there is nothing you will regret giving your time.

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