Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling
November 7, 2020
Tokyo Dome City Hall
Meet our reviewers
Ed Grsevinsky: After a post-tournament season, pre-election break, Ed is ready to dive back into the wild world of Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling! What will TJPW bring to the table for their biggest show ever? Can Mizuki/Sakazaki come anywhere close to Shoko/Sakazaki from last year’s Ultimate Party? Is Ed so relieved at the election results that he’s going to give every match 5 stars? You can follow Ed on the Twitter at @fosterdisbelief , but he’s pretty boring.
Ewan Cameron: Once went to North Korea just to see a wrestling show. You can follow him on Twitter at @ewanwcx
Suzume & Sena Shiori def. Moka Miyamoto & Mei Suruga
Ed: I’m a big fan of all four of these young ones, and they got the show started off right with a high energy opening match. Your standard TJPW opener, just with a bit extra time and effort, as it is obvious that no one is treating this as “just another show.” Suzume seems about ready to move a step up the card, and she scored the victory here, pinning Miyamoto with the Ring a Bell cutter. ***
Ewan: I don’t know how many times wrestling reviewers have tried to think of different ways to say that an opening bout was a ”fun match”, but that’s exactly what this was and it did the trick. Mei Suruga and Suzume’s interactions were great as they both have fast-paced and tricksy styles and Sena and Moka had great energy too. The whole foursome worked a great opener that did exactly what it needed to. ***1/4
Mahiro Kiryu & Pom Harajuku def. Haruna Neko & Marika Kobashi
Ed: I had no idea how much I missed Marika Kobashi until seeing her make her way to the ring tonight with Haruna Neko. I’m normally a bit hit and miss with Haruna Neko, but Kobashi was the purr-fect (sorry) compliment to her act tonight. Pom Harajuku in a tag match never misses for me, and Mahiro Kiryu brought the work to go along with Pom’s vicious shin kick attack. Kiryu picked up the victory with the Spinebuster in a match that had a constant smile on my face. ***1/4
Ewan: The aesthetics of this match were off the chart. Marika’s pumpkin-colored outfit combined with Neko’s frilly new cat outfit made them look like a pair of trick-of-treaters. Pom is charismatic but it was clearly Mahiro leading the team and picking up a deserved victory. ***
International Princess Title Semi-Final
Hikari Noa def. Mirai Maiumi
Ed: Wow did this catch me by surprise. Mirai Maiumi is bringing Strong Style to Tokyo Joshi and all I can say is “More Please!” How has it only been a year and a half since her in ring debut? Hikari Noa came to work as well, and ended up getting the pinfall victory and advancing to the tournament final with the Blizzard Suplex, but the story of this match is Maiumi. She may have taken the loss tonight, and with under two years in the ring, I expect her to pick up quite a few more losses, but she is destined for the top of the Tokyo Joshi card. ***3/4
Ewan: This was one of the best singles matches in TJPW all year. Hikari showed her confidence with some bootscraping heelwork and Mirai continues to surpass all expectations of what a TJPW rookie should be doing a year into her career. The moment where she put on an arm lock and then dragged Hikari into the centre of the ring was brilliant, understated stuff. The match reminded me of Grace vs Purrazzo, another great match from 2020. Can’t wait to see what’s next for Mirai. ****
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International Princess Title Semi Final
Yuki Kamifuku def. Shoko Nakajima
Ed: Everything about this screamed to me that our favorite kaiju would be moving on in the tournament. Shoko is one of the best workers TJPW has, so of course they would want her to work two matches on their biggest show ever. Shoko isn’t in the Princess Title picture right now, so this would give her a reason to be around the top of the card. Shoko is a big name that would bring legitimacy to a title that was just forfeited due to the plague. Instead, Kamifuku nails her with two Fame Asser’s and picks up the clean pin. I’ll have more to say about the booking a bit later, but as for the match…. Yeah, it was a match. Gentleman’s three. ***
Ewan: I still mark out for Kamiyu’s theme music, even though it gets more ridiculous the more her gimmick has moved away from american foreign exchange student to gravure idol. I had Kamiyu pegged here as the winner, because while Shoko seemed the obvious choice, Kamiyu needs it a lot more; she’s been with the company a long time and hasn’t really done that much when it comes to moving up the card. I thought she was wearing the ‘I’m about to job’ face when she entered though, but turns out I got worked. Opening 2 minutes were brilliant. It kinda slowed down after that, but still a good match ***
Yuna Manase def. Raku
Ed: With this match, I learn the best part about multi-person reviews: when I have nothing to really say, I don’t have to fake a take, I can just tap out and let my review partner cover it! I am glad that Yuna is doing well in Ganbare and I wish her all the success in the world in Ganbare, I just wish she would stay in Ganbare. And Raku is my third favorite Up Up Girl who performs my least favorite move in TJPW. If I would have attended live, this would have been my restroom break. As it was, I’m impressed I didn’t fast forward through it. Nothing was wrong with it, just not to my personal tastes. **1/2
Ewan: I had suspicions here that Yuna would face the ignominy of being brought back just to put over Raku, but thankfully that didn’t happen. Yuna works well when she’s on top and Raku’s comedy spots were alright. Decent enough. Yuna’s been doing great in Ganbare and I hope to see more of her in Joshi wrestling this year and the next. Match was nothing special, but they tried. **3/4
WP Switch Random Rules Match
Saki Akai def. Hyper Misao
Ed: I’m going to leave it to Ewan to point out the insanity of these two wrestling a singles match on this big of a show and it being this instead of what could have been, and I will instead just totally mark out at having Saki Akai back in a TJPW ring, even if it is only temporary. This was a blast as Saki and Misao have great chemistry no matter what persona they happen to be portraying, and the various stips gave Misao plenty of chances to cheat her way to victory. It was not to be, with Saki Akai hitting the Quetzalcoatl during a “Last Woman Standing” stip for the 10 count victory. ***
Ewan: Ok can we talk about ludicrous it is for these two to be having a singles match at TJPW’s biggest show of the year and for the company to treat it a a random singles match, rather that building the mythos from last year between Misao and Sakisama. Yes, Saki Akai isn’t Sakisama, but if they are bringing her back in the next show anyway, why not go all out and have a story feud here? You’ve got to give it to Misao though. She got on the mic and sold the match all by herself. The different match stipulations were fun and this was basically your typical DDT comedy hardcore match. After a ‘make yourself dizzy’ stip was followed by an ‘eat cream puffs’ stip, I was worried that the ring was going to be technicoloured, but thankfully Saki slammed the button to change the stipulation and avert disaster. Fun to see Sakaguchi and Takagi on a TJPW show. Reminds me that TJPW currently has nothing as cool as Eruption. Let’s get Hikari on one of these matches next time! ***
Aja Kong & Miyu Yamashita def. Sareee & Maki Itoh
Ed: I’m of two minds on this match. Work-wise, there was nothing to complain about. Itoh has improved to the point where she is no longer a liability in the ring, Sareee and Miyu Yamashita are great workers, and Aja Kong may be past her prime, but she is still Aja Kong. It was great seeing Sareee and Kong working Wrestle Princess, it shows how highly TJPW rates Itoh and Miyu, booking them in this attraction match, and I know the name value of Kong and Sareee probably served to move some tickets. And it was a good match! Everyone worked hard, it was entertaining, and when Miyu got the pinfall on Itoh after the Crash Rabbit Heat, it was a satisfying finish. Yet, at the same time, all I could think during the match was that they have Sareee in what could be one of her last matches in Japan, depending on how long it is until she goes to get booked into the dirt in WWE, and instead of a singles match with Miyu Yamashita we got this random tag match? And every single interaction between the two drove this point home painfully. Now I don’t know the backstage politics here, for all I know WWE wouldn’t let Sareee lose to Miyu and TJPW didn’t want to job Miyu out to a future WWE Superstar, but that doesn’t make me want the singles match any less. ***1/4
Ewan: Itoh is bringing some early festive cheer with her new costume that makes her look like a Christmas tree ornament. This wasn’t a bad match, it just felt a bit disjointed. The first five minutes were basically the Itoh dinner show revue and while there were some flashes of coolness going forward, it didn’t really feel like a tag match, rather four singles wrestlers dancing around each other. I get that Sareee and Kong were brought in to sell tickets, but I think all four wrestlers could have been used better here. That’s quite a critical review, but it was by no means a bad match, just could have been better given the talent in the ring. ***
International Princess Title Final
Yuki Kamifuku def. Hikari Noa
Ed: This was a nothing match with 4-star booking. After the Casual Beauty pulled off the earlier upset, I pretty much assumed that Hikari Noa would be winning the title. After all, her Up Up Girl teammate Miu Watanabe was elevated up the card to the tag titles a short while ago, and the International Princess title would make a great first championship as she works her way up the card. But, and I realize how weird this must be to read, as Kamifuku made her way to the ring to the sound of “Old MacDonald,” you could tell that was not the story they were telling tonight. Yuki Kamifuku isn’t the best worker in TJPW, but she is much improved, and she has some of the most legitimately devastating looking kicks on the roster. The look on her face tonight was the look of someone who is sick of being passed over, the look of someone who had something to prove. And while I tried to look past her in both her matches, she was not to be ignored. This won’t be on any match of the year lists, it doesn’t even make my top three matches of the night list, but the Diving Fame Asser she hit for the victory was perfect, as was her low key celebration. Congratulations Yuki, you deserve to be the 5th International Princess Champion. ***
Ewan: This match was a little short, but damn that top rope fame-asser was a great move to end on. Was this a throwback to Billy Gunn beating X Pac in 5 minutes with the same move to win the 1999 WWF King of the Ring? We may never know. Kamiyu’s custom pose with the belt was totally on-brand. It’s been a long time coming, but she’s had a spring in her step recently and this was a good choice for the new International Princess champion. ***
Princess Tag Team Titles
Yuki Aino & Nodoka Tenma def Rika Tatsumi & Miu Watanabe(c)
Ed: Let me first say that I normally am not that big of a fan of The Bakuretsu Sisters. While we’re dealing with the negatives, I’ll take this opportunity, as I do in every TJPW review, to restate my absolute hatred of the Missile Hips. Rika Tatsumi is way too good of a worker to have so much of her offense be so stupid. With that out of the way, I loved this match. This was not one of the matches I was looking forward to on this show, but from the opening video package they not only had me, but they had me invested in Yuki and Nodoka’s title challenge. When Miu hit the Teardrop I was devastated, feeling that Yuki Aino was going to come up short yet again, only to see Nodoka Tenma make the save and give her the second chance she needed. It wasn’t perfect, in fact, it was a bit sloppy at times, and I was actually a little scared Yuki was going to kill Miu with the UBV. But it was satisfying, and in the end, that is all you can ask for from pro wrestling. ****1/4
Ewan: This was awesome. There wasn’t any particular moment you could put your finger on as to why, but this was tag team wrestling done right and a great showcase of why psychology and technique will always outdo spotfests and movez. Not that weren’t some great moves here too, but they were the punctuations to a solid tag team match that gradually ratcheted up the drama to a perfect climax. Yuki’s new finisher is cool too. ****
Princess of Princess Title
Yuka Sakazaki(c) def. Mizuki
Ed: While the last match left me satisfied, the main event left me gutted. One of the (many) reasons I no longer watch WWE is the way they have made wins and losses not matter in the slightest, to the point of no return. Even when they have a match that draws interest, like say Bayley and Sasha Banks, they rush it onto a monthly show, and the victor is quickly forgotten in the haze of 50/50 booking and endless rematches to fill television time. I am a relative newcomer to the world of Joshi, and I use Bayley and Sasha as an example there because they were my entry into women’s wrestling, during their time on NXT. It is because of Bayley and Sasha that I started to seek out Joshi promotions. Honestly, along with NJPW, they were a big part of bringing me back to pro wrestling fandom. Wins and losses mattered when they wrestled. When Bayley scored that victory in Brooklyn, even though we all know she was booked to win the match, it still meant something. That unexplainable bit of pro wrestling that nonfans will never understand; how wins and loses in a scripted sport can still feel just as real as in any other sport.
When Mizuki won the Princess of Princess Tournament, I tweeted out during the final match how I physically hurt I wanted her to win so badly. When she pinned Shoko, it was such an adrenaline dump. It left me exhausted. Watching her lose tonight left me crushed, although watching her and Sakazaki share about a thousand tears at the end helped to dull the pain. This match could have been a disaster. What would they have done if Yuka’s top would have actually broken instead of just unhooked in the opening moments of the match? During the Princess tournament, Shoko Nakajima worked the last few minutes of a match with a broken top and that was a dicey situation. This was right at the start of the main event. There was no way she could have worked the whole match like that, and you could see the thought going through her head once it happened, but the wrestling gods smiled, and it ended up being an easy fix. And instead of a huge disappointment, they put on a match that deserved to be headlining Tokyo Joshi’s biggest show ever.
I could nitpick this match. Mizuki was a bit iffy with the leg selling, seeming to forget all about it at times. The work during the wardrobe issue was disjointed and off putting, and I probably would have preferred having Sakazai just roll out of the ring and get it fixed rather than work through it and almost end up seeing more of the Magical Girl than I’m sure she wanted to show. The set up for the avalanche Cutie Special was a bit obvious. But work is only part of pro wrestling, and this match sucked me in like very few have this year. Mizuki was my Penguins, in game seven, going for Lord Stanley’s Cup, and Sakazaki’s Magical Girl Niwatori Yaro was the overtime game-winner crushing my hopes. But I don’t have to wait years, and possible decades for Mizuki to get another chance, because this is pro wrestling, and as long as she stays healthy, she will continue to be pushed, and eventually, it will be her turn. And I will be watching and cheering along. I love pro wrestling, and I love Tokyo Joshi Pro. *****
Ewan: Absolutely a MOTYC and at the moment it’s in my number one spot. Firstly, the bad: Yuka’s wardrobe malfunction at the very start was awkward and for a while I was cringing as if it was going to ruin the whole match. Thankfully it didn’t. Also I’m bemused by the booking here. Are we really playing the long game with Mizuki, one step at a time? Two Princess title victories and two POP title defeats?
Anyway, regardless of that, this was outstanding. Mizuki’s selling and emoting was on point and Yuka ditched the cheeky genie gimmick to bring the heart instead and let us know this was a serious match for both of them. There was some brilliant set pieces here mixed among the story of Mizuki throwing everything at Yuka, including a top rope foot stomp from the floor to the outside. Just when you thought you had seen everything, they entered the final stretch with an absolutely beastly exchange of stiff forearm strikes, something we rarely see in TJPW.
It was Yuka’s moment again and I’m sure this isn’t the last time we’ll see Mizuki challenging for the top belt. I didn’t give this top marks at first, probably because of the aforementioned problems, but then on reflection and on a second watch, this match was simply too good. In fact, the malfunction at the start was actually dealt with in a brilliantly non-kayfabe breaking way by both that it showed them both to be top level professionals. This match deserves to be seen. *****
Ed: Coming into the show, my enthusiasm for the Mizuki VS Sakazaki main event was pretty much carrying me along. After covering the Princess Cup and the 5StarGP for the site, watching every match of the G1, and as much of the N1 and the Champion’s Carnival as I could get to, I was burned out on wrestling. While this was far from a perfect show, it was a great show and it reignited my passion for TJPW. While I am sure I will be grumbling about the potential Miyu/Sareee singles match we could have had, this show had two well booked title changes, a bunch of fun matches, one legitimately great match, and something involving Yuna Manase and Raku that I already forgot. A great introduction to TJPW, and a must-watch for fans of the promotion.
Ewan: It’s become something of a cliché for people to say that TJPW “isn’t good wrestling but they have good characters”, but I think after two years where the POP and tag title matches have delivered big time, we need to drop this. In a wresting world where good matches are associated with rushing at a hundred miles an hour to try and cram as many moves as possible into a match, TJPW’s back to basics focus on telling a story in the ring and utilising flashy moves as the icing on the cake to that story are a refreshing take on wrestling in the twenty-first century. The tag team title matches and the POP title matches are the pinnacle of such a style. And it’s working. If we want to be critical of TJPW, there’s a general lack of enthusiasm by the bookers to tell stories outside the ring and to actually build matches with angles. Since the disbanding of Neo Biishiki Gun last year, the promotion has lacked a certain bite to this aspect. Overall though, this was a great show and a perfect intro to all the wrestlers of TJPW. Worth watching for Joshi fans and the curious alike.