Round 1

5/25

  • Rika Tatsumi defeated Himawari Unagi
  • Miu Watanabe defeated Nodoka Tenma
  • Natsumi Maki defeated Hikari Noa
  • Shoko Nakajima defeated Yuki Kamifuku

6/1

  • Yuna Manase defeated Yuki Aino
  • Maki Itoh defeated Raku
  • Yuka Sakazaki defeated Mina Shirakawa
  • Mizuki defeated Miyu Yamashita

Round 2

6/8

  • Natsumi Maki defated Maki Itoh
  • Yuna Manase defeated Rika Tatsumi

6/22

  • Yuka Sakazaki defeated Miu Watanabe
  • Mizuki Defeated Shoko Nakajima

Upcoming Semifinals and Final 

7/7

  • Semifinal: Yuka Sakazaki vs Yuna Manase
  • Semifinal: Mizuki vs Natsumi Maki
  • Final: TBC

Round One and Two Highlights:

Mizuki vs Shoko Nakajima. Two of the very best wrestlers in the entire promotion put on what was probably the singles Match of the Year in TJPW so far. Very fast paced and with both wrestlers looking to prove they belong at the top of the card this was rightfully in the main event slot and delivered big time. Shoko dived out the ring like a bullet and Mizuki sped around the ring delivering stomps and dropkicks in a frenzy. After some heart-stopping nearfalls, Mizuki finally picked up the win with two consecutive diving foot stomps to a downed Shoko ****

Rika Tatsumi vs Yuna Manase Very strong start to this match, lots of heavy hitting and the crowd are into it. The story of this match is Rika working the leg of Yuna and she did an awesome job in keeping it interesting with lots of varied offense. At one point she wraps Yuna’s leg around the ring post and then does a nice running dropkick followed up by a ring post figure four. In the end, Yuna fights back to win with an axe kick for three. Rika was just brilliant in this match. ***1/2

Hikari Noa vs Natsumi Maki In the overarching kayfabe logic of TJPW, everyone is friends and fighting a friend isn’t a big deal, so there wasn’t really any storyline intrigue here with both members of Pandemic Boo Boo facing off. Saying that I really hope one day Hikari finally turns on Miu and Raku with a steel chair and a mile-wide grin. This was a great back and forth match. At one point Hikari hits three top rope dropkicks in a row from three different corners! Natsumi hits a flying crossbody but Hikari rolls through and eventually get a very close near fall. Hikari ends up in a full mount and is just hitting punch after punch on a knocked out Natsumi who isn’t defending herself. In an MMA match the ref would have broken it up in less than a second, so it looked a bit goofy here, especially as it wasn’t the end of the match. Natsumi finally got the win with a German suplex. TJPW is really becoming the master at these bitesize epics ***3/4

Miu Watanabe vs Nodoka Tenma The upset of the tournament for sure, and the debut of Miu’s giant swing and her new Big Ending style finisher. This was a welcome booking move and I’m really enjoying Miu’s crypto-hoss gimmick.  ***1/2

Mizuki vs Miyu Yamashita Without a doubt the biggest first-round match and although there was a large gasp after Mizuki pinned Yamashita with the Cutie Special this felt like a natural win for her. Yamashita may be on a losing streak recently, but she was in fine form here and there was great chemistry between these two ***1/2

MVP: Mizuki. When you look at the best TJPW bouts of the year, Mizuki is always there, whether as a tag team with Yuka Sakazaki or in singles action. In recent years she’s always seemed to be in the shadow of her tag team partners, whether it was with Maki Itoh, who became a breakout sensation and won a coveted space on the DDT America tour, or with Yuka Sakazaki, who also gained international recognition for her AEW debut. As a solo wrestler in the Princess Cup, her matches with Yamashita and Nakajima this tournament have been fantastic and whether she wins the Cup or not, hopefully, she will have a chance to headline larger shows down the line. 





Summary

Overall this has been the strongest sustained series of shows that TJPW has put on since I can remember. Everyone seems to be bringing their A-Game and fans are being rewarded with high-quality pro wrestling. A while back I said that TJPW was more character based than work rate and I reject that statement now because I think it’s a false dichotomy. Rather than see character and in ring wrestling (in the strictest sense “workrate” refers only to action vs rest period in a match) as opposite ends of a spectrum, it is more apt to see them as complementary attributes that contribute in their own way towards “good in-ring wrestling”. Of course, many wrestlers lean more one way or the other, yet pro wrestling has always thrived when character and wrestling come into conjunction the way a wrestler moves and fights in the ring becomes a reflection of their persona. This is where TJPW thrives. It is a different style to Stardom and to Sendai girls, but I don’t buy the argument that the wrestling is “poorer” for it.

TJPW’s in-ring strength is psychology and charisma. Simply put, the matches build on meaningful interactions between the wrestlers and the top wrestlers of the promotion are able to invest every move with significance. There are stories being told, sometimes with moves, sometimes with selling, other times with a smirk or a grimace. A further attraction is seeing what happens when two distinct and defined characters meet in the ring, thus each encounter becomes more than the sum of its parts.

If anything, TJPW as a whole needs more character work, there booking is quite glacial when it comes to shaking things up. The transition of Hyper Misao this year has been fun, and if you want a good example of how character impacts ring work then look no further to the way in which she has adapted her style to match her new persona. More such stories would be a welcome addition as the promotion evolves and continues to grow.