Tokyo Joshi Pro
February 23, 2019
Shinjuku FACE

Watch: DDT Universe

Yuki Kamifuku & Pinano Pipipipi def. Yuki Aino & Raku

I wonder how the Up Up Girls feel about singing with their bandmates one minute and then beating them up the next. There’s a lot of potential for telling a great breakup story, if they ever do decide to split them up. I mean there’s only so many ways they can recycle the same melody before the idol gimmick gets stale.

Kamiyu has a cool headscissors DDT she’s started using and can we say that Raku’s jumping headchop might just be the goofiest move in all of wrestling? I do enjoy it though. Pinano Pi4 won the match for her team with a schoolgirl and is apparently her first pinfall victory. Apart from that, this match wasn’t very notable. **

Yuna Manase & Hikari Noa def. Haruna Neko, Pom Harajuku & YUMI

It’s the veterans (well sorta) vs the newcomers. Neko, Pom and Yumi make a cute team. Neko is really a popular character already. She does an awesome rolling codebreaker too. Unfortunately, it didn’t go too well in this match and there was a bit of a breakdown near the end. Yuna won with a full nelson facebuster. *1/2

Shoko Nakajima & Mina Shirakawa def. Himawari Unagi & Mahiro Kiryu

It’s good that wrestlers like Unagi and Kiryu get to lock up with great wrestlers like Shoko, but it feels like Nakajima hasn’t done much for a long time. This is Kiryu’s debut match and she looked alright, nothing too out of the ordinary. Mina is coming off her appearance at Judgement where she got attacked by a psycho clown (no, not that one) in the middle of a battle royal and I have to say that she has really been improving these past few months and is stringing together moves with a confidence she didn’t have back when she debuted last year. Nakajima and Shirakawa won when Shoko pinned Kiryu with a northern lights suplex. **

Rika Tatsumi def. Hyper Misao

Before the match, Misao asked Rika if they can be a tag team after this match and go for the tag belts. Rika seemed to agree. Which was strange because they then proceeded to have a pretty vicious match, taking turns to wrap each other’s limbs into the ring post in-between the wrestling. In the end, Rika, whipped Misao off the top rope with a leg screw and then applied the dragon sleeper for the win. Good stuff. ***1/4

Maki Itoh def. Natsumi Maki

Well we finally got Maki vs Itoh. My major complaint about TJPW is that rarely do grudge matches or angles to build matches. It’s usually just a match is announced and then the wrestlers might do some interviews where they say some generic stuff about how they are going to try their best and win. That’s why this match was one of the most anticipated of the night. Since arriving in TJP, Natsumi has made her intentions on the POP championship clear, and sees beating breakout star Maki Itoh as a necessary step towards the goal. That in itself isn’t much of a story, but at a recent show, Natsumi did the unthinkable: she declared that Ito chan might not be the “Cutest in the World™” that she claims to be, even leading the crowd in a back and forth cute off crowd poll, which Itoh felt was all too real.

So it was fitting that the two competitors eschewed the handshakes and laid into each other from opening bell. That’s not to say it wasn’t a pretty match either. Natsumi is really crisp and fluid in the ring and her beautiful cartwheels are a joy to watch. Itoh was on form here too, bringing her a game with a top rope headbutt (she’s afraid of heights) and pin attempt after pin attempt. In the end it was Itoh who pulled off the win, reversing a pinning combination to beat Natsumi clean in what some might call a slight upset.

The match was very short, but Itoh playing the underdog to Natsumi’s aggressive but intricate offence and Itoh’s fiery charisma helped make it a solid affair one of Maki Itoh’s best career single’s match. ***1/2

Sakisama def. Miu Watanabe

Many wrestling fans like to argue about what matters more, wrestling or character. In my mind, the answer is wrestling in character. And that’s why Sakisama is so charismatic in the ring. She’s an aristocrat and seems to wrestle with a disdain for the plebs she has to share the ring with. At one point she slapped poor Miu in the face with a rose with burst into petals and I mentally added half a star for that alone. Miu has been great recently and was one of the bright points of the somewhat disappointing 1.4 show. She’s a cute baseball player with a hoss moveset. Sakisama wins with boot to Miu’s face in a match that was a little too short. **3/4

Sakisama then grabs a mic and puts the locker room on notice while putting in a few more boots to Miu. The Dragon Rika Tatsumi is here to save her! But then Sakisama boots her in the face and starts stomping a mudhole in her while the timekeeper furiously rings the bell! But here’s Misao with a chair to save the day! SWERVE! Misao’s smacks Rika with the chair and aligns herself with Sakisama! In a further shocking moment, in order to prove her loyalty, Misao takes out a pair of scissors and cuts off her mask!

Technically it’s not a heel turn because Hyper Misao has always been a heel, albeit a loveable cartoonish one. Now she’s a stone cold killer. My biggest criticism of TJPW is that the pace of storylines can be slow, or downright sluggish at times, but on the other hand, the conservative approach to storytelling means that when big angles like this do happen, they feel all the more special.

Tokyo Princess Tag Titles
Magical Sugar Rabbits (Mizuki and Yuka Sakazaki) © def Muscle JK (Saiki Reika and Marika Kobayashi)

Well this was fantastic and without a doubt a match of the year contender for TJPW. At the opening bell, the four wrestlers did an intricate tornado do-si-do sequence and from then on, this was just fast paced, all out action. The Sugar Rabbits brought attitude and MJK brought fire and determination. Mizuki and Sakazaki have become really close as a team and are constantly communicating and emoting to each other throughout the match and setting up double teams, the most impressive being a double crossbody off the top rope. Marika, who recently returned from injury, looked great and did some nice fluid sequences with Mizuki while Reika and Yuka traded power moves.

The Sugar Rabbits won thanks to a Mizuki top rope stomp. Mizuki is among the very best in the company, and it’s surprising she hasn’t had a title shot against Yamashita yet. It would be shame if she was sidelined in the coming year while Yuka and Miyu gain all the attention. This was the clear match of the night and a joy to watch. ****1/4

Tokyo Princess of Princess Title
Miyu Yamashita © def. Nodoka Tenma

Yamashita is now over a year into her Princess of Princess reign, and it’s not surprising why TJPW feel she is the face of the company, she simply carries herself like a champion and is the sort of person you want throwing out beans at local festivals or putting up posters at bowling lanes

Out of all her major defenses: Rika, Yuu, Itoh, this one felt like it was the least likely to end in a title change. Since transitioning from bubbly children’s tv presenter gimmick, Nodoka Tenma hasn’t had many opportunities to let her personality shine and despite having a pinfall win over Yamashita, it would have still been an upset to see her win today.

The match started slow and there was a period of brawling on the outside, which seemed out of place for a Yamashita match, as she usually likes to keep the match inside the ring. Then it improved match improved and Nodoka came to life with a bulldog off the top rope and a diving splash that, unfortunately for her, missed. In the end, Yamashita finished with a cool inverted AA and the crash rabbit heat for a win that appeared easy. ***1/4

A challenger appears…!

It’s Yuka!

It makes a lot of sense to have Yuka Sakazaki to challenge Yamashita this point. Even before she was announced for AEW she was a natural choice. Now the meta intrigue is does DDT want Yuka to go to the US representing their brand as the Princess of Princess champion? Either way, it should be a fantastic marquee match for the company on the 31st of March.

Final Thoughts

Overall this was a fantastic show, far better than the Korakuen show in January. The opening three matches were nothing special, but at the same time weren’t offensive either. After that, everything was good to great with a perfect mix of wrestling and angles. This is the perfect show for any new fan looking to get into TJPW or Joshi in general.