TJPW Angel and Rabbit (15/12/22) Review

Those two weren’t meant to be a team. Credit: TJPW

With Mizuki celebrating her 10th anniversary as a wrestler, Tokyo Joshi decided to put on a party and celebrate their favourite demonic rabbit. Not only did they let her book the main event, but we’re getting the ‘Mizuki All Around Battle Royal’. What does that mean? Who knows! I’m excited to find out, though.

Before the show, we got the annual fan-drawn card for the December 24th show (you can see the card here) and the announcement that Himawari and Wakana Uehara will make their debuts on Ittenyon. New rookies are always exciting, so I’m looking forward to that.

Shoko Nakajima defeated Juria Nagano

Cool kicks! Credit: TJPW

With Juria recently shifting her focus to teaming with Moka Miyamoto, it’s been a few months since we’ve seen her in a singles match, and I was intrigued to see if she’d improved. I don’t think I was alone either, as there was a sense that Shoko was putting Nagano through her paces, dragging her to the mat and testing if she could keep up with one of TJPW’s more accomplished wrestlers.

And I think she did pretty well. There were a couple of sloppy moments, as I think grappling with Shoko tired her out, and there is still a gulf in quality between her karate offence and wrestling offence, but she is starting to move away from being entirely one note. You can almost see her putting the various pieces together in real time, figuring out how to move around the ring, and while it isn’t perfect, it is getting close to good.

Plus, when she starts firing off with those kicks, it rules. There is a brutal simplicity to someone doing a cool kick that never stops being appealing, no matter how many wrestling matches and martial arts films I watch. If you can do that, you get a bit of a pass for the other stuff, so Juria’s doing fine!

Verdict: Cool Kicks!

Yuki Kamifuku, Mahiro Kiryu & Haruna Neko defeated Hikari Noa, Raku & Kaya Toribami

Playing the hits. Credit: TJPW

Matches like this one are simultaneously completely throwaway and some of my absolute favourites. It was a gentle midcard tag in which a bunch of TJPW wrestlers did the things I’ve seen them do a million times before. Kamiyu poked folk in the eyes, Noa hit countless dropkicks, Mahiro apologised, Raku did the Goodnight Express, Neko was a cat, and Kaya showed off some flips. There were a couple of nice comedy bits, but nothing new or noteworthy.

And yet I didn’t care because, in that repetition, there is a comfort to be found. I like watching these wrestlers do those things because I like them. It doesn’t matter how often Raku does the Goodnight Express, I will always find it delightful, and that’s true of them all. TJPW’s strength, and why I keep coming back, is that they have built a roster of loveable characters whose company I enjoy.

I also appreciate that’s not going to be the case for everyone. More casual fans aren’t going to have the same emotional connection, and that’s fine because they’re also decent wrestlers. When you put on a bunch of decent wrestlers together and ask them to deliver a fun midcard tag, they will give you exactly that.

Verdict: A Good Time

Yuki Aino won the ‘Mizuki All Around Battle Royal’

So many Mizukis. Credit: TJPW

A ‘Mizuki All Around Battle Royal’ is a delayed entry Battle Royal in which everyone is a Mizuki, which unsurprisingly gave us all sorts of hijinks. The greatest of which was our wonderful Pom trying to a Whirling Candy. I’m not saying you should stop reading this review to go and watch that on repeat, but you also probably should go and do that.

And it led to some beautiful chaos. We had Misao trying to get people disqualified because they hadn’t eaten a suitably Mizuki-like breakfast, Miyu actually getting disqualified because she was wearing her debut gear rather than any of Mizuki’s (she claimed it didn’t fit) and did I mention Pom’s attempt to do a Whirling Candy? Because everyone really needs to seee that. It also gave us a fascinating insight into what they all think of Mizuki, and if I were her, I’d have had words with Miyu after the show because that was a less-than-flattering depiction.

If the last match was TJPW as comfort watching, this was it at its silly, nonsensical best. These five committed to the gimmick, mining every bit of silliness and creating something that left me feeling good inside. I loved it, and if you are a TJPW fan, I suspect you’ll love it too.

Verdict: Wonderful

Maki Itoh & Rhio defeated Yuki Arai & Moka Miyamoto

Itoh making friends. Credit: TJPW

You can always tell when someone has clicked with a company when they go on an excursion to Japan, and Rhio seems to have found a second home in TJPW. She even got invited to give the Cutest Punches a go, although Itoh made sure to ask who was the second cutest in the world, so there was no confusion about the hierarchy.

On top of that, she makes a nice change of pace from a wrestling perspective, too. TJPW has a couple of bruisers, but Rhio has a physical presence that they lack, and it was fun watching her rough handle the people around her. Even simple stuff, like some clubbing blows to Moka’s chest, looked aggressive and nasty, which added an edge to what was otherwise a bit of a throwaway match.

It all meant that the visitor took centre stage, which is probably a good sign if Rhio’s hoping to return, and made for a decent wee match. I’d certainly have no complaints about her becoming a regular, as she’s impressed with every opportunity she’s been given.

Verdict: Rhio Looked Good

Mizuki & Rika Tatsumi defeated Yuka Sakazaki & Nao Kakuta

There was a lot of this. Credit: TJPW

Mizuki got to book the main event of her anniversary show, and she chose chaos. Not only did she decide to put her best friend and long-time tag partner Yuka Sakazaki on the other side of the ring, something she wasn’t too impressed by, but she asked Rika to take Yuka’s usual place by her side. If you’re new around here, it’s important to note that Rika likes Mizuki a lot. Some might even say a bit too much. When Sakazaki and Mizuki went into autopilot and teamed up on Nao, you’d have thought Tatsumi would have been delighted for her team to get the advantage, but no, that was Yuka stealing her time with Mizuki. It would take Nao coming in and slapping them all on the head to get back to something approaching calm

And all that love triangle stuff was hilarious, particularly with the increasingly frustrated Kakuta getting stuck in the middle (although she took plenty of opportunities to boot Mizuki in the head, so she got to have some fun). However, even it struggled to compete with the part of the match where Mizuki and Yuka took over the ring and went at it, trading blows and going a lot harder than you’d expect on a show this size. We know those two are brilliant together, but if anyone needed a reminder, this was it, and surely Yuka’s title reign will again see them go to war in a big main event. They’re too good to let that opportunity pass.

In the end, Mizuki would stand tall, an immaculate Cutie Special to Nao doing the job. It was the perfect end to a damn good match and a reminder (as if one was needed) that all four of these wrestlers are great. I would happily watch any combination of them face-off on any day of the week, so it was no surprise, but the lack of shock didn’t stop it from being a fantastic watch.

Verdict: They’re All Very Good

In the aftermath, Rika got emotional about being Mizuki’s partner, so that evil rabbit followed up by saying it was the first and last time it would happen, which, unsurprisingly, didn’t go down well. Once she finished casually breaking Rika’s heart and complaining about Nao kicking her in the face, she got emotional talking about her career and Yuka, as those damn rabbits clearly adore each other. They’re very sweet, and it was a lovely end to the show.

Overall Show

TJPW gave Mizuki the celebration she deserved, delivering a ridiculously fun battle royal and letting her strut her stuff in a great main event. The rest of the show isn’t essential but was all pretty watchable, so is worth sticking on in the background, at the very least.

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