Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling
8th Princess Cup (Quarterfinals)
July 31, 2021
Shinjuku FACE
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: Wrestle Universe

Unofficial but authorized translation thread. (Linked with permission, thank you @misterhakusan!)

Not to get political, since I don’t believe public health should be a partisan issue, but please get vaccinated! The Delta variant is sweeping through the United States, especially in areas with low vaccination rates, and hospital admissions are through the roof. It has felt so great to return to somewhat normalcy after the last year-plus of shutdowns and mandates but we are not out of the woods yet. Do your part to help us get to herd immunity and protect those who legitimately cannot be vaccinated. We do not want to go backward. Already my place of employment had to reinstate mask mandates for the unvaccinated and it was literally soul-crushing when I realized what a minority I was in being fully vaccinated. Come on people. It’s free, it won’t mutate your DNA, it won’t turn you gay (or straight), and I promise there is no microchip.

With that out of the way, I’m back to review the TJPW Princess Cup Quarterfinals, which looks to be a hot show from a quick glance at the card. Before we get to those matches, I do want to say that just because I didn’t review nights 3 and 4 doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything worth watching, it just means between summer cold season and the current staffing issues plaguing restaurants, I ran out of time in the week. Make sure to check out the opening match on night 3 for perhaps the most ridiculous spot I have ever seen in a match, but stick around after that spot because the match recovers and turns into a well-worked tag. Tournament-wise, check out Mizuki/Maiumi and Yamashita/Kamifuku from night 3, and Kiryu/Suzume and Misao/Tatsumi from night 4.

Now on to the task at hand.

Pom Harajuku, Marai Maiumi & Kaya Toribami def. Moka Miyamoto, Mahiro Kiryu & Yuki Kamifuku

A fun six-woman tag to start things off. One thing I have definitely noticed over the years I’ve been watching TJPW is how much the wrestling quality has improved on the under card. While the main events have always featured great workers, the lower card matches used to totally depend on colorful characters, pretty faces, comedy, and chaos to make up for the shoddy work. No more. All that stuff is still here in abundance, it is still Tokyo Joshi Pro after all, but now the work rate in these matches is at the worst passable and normally quite good. Toribami and Miyamoto are both young with potential. Kiryu is a very solid worker, Kamifuku has improved an almost unbelievable amount over the past few years and together they make an entertaining team. Maiumi is destined for main events somewhere in joshi, hopefully here in TJPW, and Pom, while sometimes struggling in singles matches, is a pure joy in these tags. A great bit of comedy that shows the value of the translation threads for non-Japanese speakers: At one point Kamifuku, while not the legal participant, attacks Toribami, and when admonished by the ref responds “You think I care who’s legal? I only care about her beak!” This is followed by Kiyru sincerely apologizing to Toribami for Kamifuku’s actions….while digging her knees into poor Kaya’s back. This wasn’t anything you have to watch, but it was a great way to start off the card as Pom hit the Pom de Justice for the pin over Miyamoto. ***

(3 Way) Hyper Misao def. Haruna Neko and Nodoka Tenma

The three participants march to the ring in the opening ceremony to this three-way match, each carrying a sign introducing them. Hyper Misao takes the mic and tells the fans they are giving them the opening ceremony they really want to see. Then, as ref Kiso and Haruna Neko form a circle with their arms, Nodoka and Misao start to perform pictograms for the crowd and camera. Alas, it was only one of Misao’s tricks, as she attacks Nodoka and tries to get the sneaky pin as the bell rings. This was pretty much pure comedy, and it was quite entertaining as all three (plus Kiso) do comedy wrestling well. The signs were used as weapons (of course) and in the most welcome ref bump I’ve seen for a while, Misao started to swing Nodoka around by her arm, resulting in Nodoka grabbing Kiso’s arm and swinging him around, with both Misao and Kiso were swinging around Nodoka as the base…until she let them both go flying out of the ring. After a minute or so of Haruna vs Nodoka, Misao returned to the action wearing a referee’s shirt, declaring herself the official since Kiso was still bumped on the outside. TJPW’s superhero (not almost a superhero, Misao IS a superhero) reffed a fair singles match for a few seconds, before making a fast count on Nodoka and declaring Haruna Neko the winner! Of course this was only another of Misao’s tricks, as she attacked Haruna while raising her hand, laid out Nodoka and went to revive the ref. The final spot saw Misao blind Nodoka with cold spray, wrap her head in the referee shirt, use her to trip Haruna, then hit Haruna with the Hypami Returns for the pin. What a great role model for truth, justice, and fair play! **1/2 for the work, ***3/4 for the comedy.

Hikari Noa, Yuki Arai & Raku def. Arisu Endo, Nao Kakuta & Marika Kobashi

TJPW. I have no idea what your booking plans are for the International Princess Title, but if Arisu Endo is not the next planned challenger, you need to scrap the plans and make her the number 1 contender. This match started off with the post handshake attack by Raku’s squad allowing them to setup the Good Night Express, which thankfully didn’t involve Raku blowing dream dust at anyone this time, and somewhere along the line turned into clash between Endo and Noa that left me drooling over a possible singles match up. TJPW lost a few workers who went to Stardom and are really thriving in the Stardom ring, but this match, featuring Endo, Kakuta, Kobashi, and Arai, all recent additions to the TJPW roster, shows that Tokyo Joshi Pro will be just fine, thank you. As for Hikari Noa, she is ready for the top part of the card. She is a star in TJPW, and she never just blends in, be it her music choices, her love of deathmatch, or even just how her stomach steps during the Good Night Express are a bit vicious. And Raku? Well the Train of the day is the Toei Shinjuku Line. Watch this for the Endo/Noa interactions and smile at the future of TJPW. ***

Princess Cup Quarterfinals
Maki Itoh def. Suzume

Maki Itoh is a meme wrestler. Maki Itoh is a Twitter handle. Maki Itoh can’t work. Maki Itoh is only over because of her middle finger and English curse words. Maki Itoh is only there so her “simps” can perv on her. I’ve heard it all. If your only exposure to Maki Itoh was her work a few years back, or even her drop-ins to AEW, I can even understand why you’d have that opinion. Maki Itoh has worked very hard, since being fired as an Idol, to prove her naysayers wrong, and the simple fact is she could be everything said about her. She didn’t have to improve as a wrestler if she didn’t want to. Her Twitter account, her middle finger, her adorable cuteness contrasting with her filthy mouth, and her “simps” would make sure she was over for as long as she could make a ring entrance and look cute standing on the apron. But that would be giving in, and Maki Itoh has no quit in her. She’s not the best worker in TJPW and she probably will never be, but her days of being a sub-par worker are in the past. Maki Itoh can wrestle, and matched with the right opponent you don’t need to be invested in her character or her story to see it. Tonight that right opponent was Suzume, who is really maturing into a great little worker herself, and they put on what may be the best Maki Itoh match I have ever seen. No crazy bells and whistles, no ref bumps or comedy spots, just two wrestlers fighting for the right to advance in the tournament. The story of the match was Itoh thinking she had put away the younger Suzume, only for Suzume to buzz back and threaten to steal the victory from the overconfident vet. Suzume hit a flying body press to the floor, Itoh killed Suzume with a DDT on the floor, and in a great spot the cameraman botched badly, Suzume hit an RKO out of nowhere as Itoh attempted a top rope headbutt. In the end, the veteran’s experience and drive were just too much to overcome, and Suzume was forced to tap to the Itoh Punish. This was a great 11 and a half minutes that had the clap crowd on fire. ****

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Princess Cup Quarterfinals
Miu Watanabe def. Yuki Aino

It was going to be hard to top the preceding match, but they definitely booked the right pair to make the attempt. Watanabe, like her Up Up Girl partner Hikari Noa, is one of the best workers on the roster and at home on the top half of the cards, and Yuki Aino always brings her “A” game for singles matches. These two worked this as the hoss match for the night, with both wrestler showcasing their power. Most impressive was Watanabe hitting a Giant Swing on Aino that literally left me gaping at the screen. These two were really laying it in at times, especially one spot near the finish where Watanabe clubbed Aino with 3 or 4 baseball swings before nailing her in the chest with the straight right. Stiff! This led directly to the pin, as Miu hoisted Yuki up and dropped her with the Teardrop for the 3. ***1/4

Princess Cup Quarterfinals
Shoko Nakajima def. Rika Tatsumi

Does anyone in any company look like they enjoy their character more than the littlest Kaiju, Shoko Nakajima? Every time she claws over the ropes at the camera during her intro I just get the sense of pure joy and cannot help but smile. I had high hopes for this match, for as much as I pick on Tatsumi and her diamond hard bottom, I’d have to be blind to not realize she is one of TJPW’s best in-ring workers, and Shoko is Shoko; along with Miyu Yamashita and Yuka Sakazaki, they are TJPW. Well, other than one nitpick I’ll talk about later, these women did not disappoint. After some chain wrestling to get the fans into the match, Tatsumi unveiled her strategy of attacking the leg to set up the figure four while Nakajima was her basic, everyday ping, ping, ping, ricochet Shoko! One thing I do want to mention is how Tatsumi winning the Princess Title from Sakazaki with the figure four has really put that move over and given it some real drama whenever she gets it hooked in the middle of the ring. Weird how easy that is to get a move over. Watching certain nameless promotions you’d think wrestling was rocket science. This was a well-worked back and forth match between two pros, botch-free, that I found very little to complain about. Even the missile hip spots fit well and looked painful. Shoko hit a painful-looking top rope senton to pick up the victory and the spot in the semi-finals. Now on to my nitpick. Tatsumi was vicious going after Nakajima’s knee and leg, wrapping it around the steel post multiple times and hitting dragon screws from various angles and positions, all in her quest to set up the figure four, and I think I noticed Nakajima sell her leg once the whole match, and I’m not positive that one time was intentional. This included immediately after having her leg wrapped around the ring post several times nailing Tatsumi with a running dropkick immediately followed by a Tope Suicida. I am far from a limb-selling fetishist, but this was a bit extreme for me. Still, all around an excellent match!. Four stars easy if Shoko would have limped a few times, or even shook her leg to show it was bothering her. As it was,  ***3/4

Princess Cup Quarterfinals
Mizuki def. Miyu Yamashita

As soon as she comes through the curtain you can see in her face, this is big match Mizuki. This isn’t just the normal Poppin’ Sugar Rabbit coming to the ring. This is Mizuki, two time Princess Cup winner looking to win for the third year in a row, and this time make good in the earned shot at the title. This is Mizuki, long one of TJPW’s most popular wrestlers, coming to the ring to wrestle the Ace, Miyu Yamashita, and to show she belongs on top of the promotion. To show its not just the big three anymore, that now its the big four. This is going to be great. And just like that, she almost throws it all away, climbing up top much too early after sending Yamashita to the floor with an early dropkick, barely escaping an Attitude Adjustment on the apron, then being fed the steel post, and once on the floor being wrecked by what looked like a combination running kick/Crash Rabbit Heat from the apron. The Ace has declared her dominance. Smelling wounded prey, Yamashita is on Mizuki as soon as she can reenter the ring, attacking the midsection with a gutbuster into body scissors, followed by crushing knees to the gut. Mizuki regains her feet, clenching her stomach with a grimace to show the damage already done, and throws a strike that brings a look of annoyance to the Ace’s face, and Mizuki is quickly back on the mat from a stiff body kick. But Mizuki has been her before, and overconfidence can fell the mightiest warrior. One lazy cover is all it takes for Mizuki to bridge up to her feet and hit a double foot stomp to Yamashita’s back, followed by a devastating-looking dropkick to the face through the ropes leaving the Ace bent back at a sickening angle. Now it’s Mizuki’s turn at overconfidence, missing a top rope body press, landing on her weakened midsection, and getting drilled with a high knee as soon as she makes her feet, followed by a springing enzuguri. And so it goes, back and forth, 14:31 of two of TJPW’s best laying it all out on the mat for the fans in the arena and the viewers at home. A double foot stomp from the top rope to the floor leads to Mizuki’s first believable near fall, only to get murdered by a head kick seconds later. Miyu hit a beautiful deadlift wheelbarrow bridging German for 2, but then Mizuki grabbed her leg in desperation when it looked like she was going for the Crash Rabbit Heat. The Ace disdainfully stomped the grounded Sugar Rabbit, nearly took her head off with a shining wizard, then hit a huge Attitude Adjustment yet Mizuki somehow kicked out, leading to a look of frustration and disbelief to take control of the champs face. A missed head kick by Miyu turned the tide, as Mizuki hit a flash pin attempt followed by a roll up into a double foot stomp, and then a release Cutie Special. Leaping to the top rope, Mizuki hit a huge double foot stomp and then with a victorious cry, nailed Yamashita with the Cutie Special for the 3. Incredible match. Normally I don’t do move-by-move reviews, but there was just nothing to leave out of this one. Go watch this now. After the bell, Mizuki hugged Miyu, then pulled her back in the ring to to close out the show for the fans, telling everyone that she beat the monster, and feels ready to lead TJPW into the future. With the current roster, what a future it will be. ****1/2

Final Thoughts

This was an excellent show. Go watch it. If you enjoy TJPW, watch the whole card, it is all worth it. If only interested in the Cup, watch all four quarterfinals, you can be in and out in about 53 minutes. If really pressed for time, watch Itoh/Suzume and Mizuki/Yamashita. Now, looking ahead….

They aren’t seriously going to do it, are they? Mizuki isn’t going to go back to back to back, is she? The thought terrifies me, mainly because having beat Yamashita tonight, I’d have to assume Yamashita would get her win back, and if they do go back to back to back with Mizuki, they cannot in any way have her lose the title match again or they risk having the fans give up on her. If Mizuki wins the Cup again this year, she absolutely has to win the Princess Title, but if that was the way they were booking, I would not have had her wrestle the champion during the Cup. Maki Itoh is having a great year, but while I could see her pulling out a win over Watanabe, I don’t think she is ready to beat either Nakajima or Mizuki. Shoko Nakajima is always a believable title contender who wouldn’t be hurt by a loss to Yamashita, and Miu Watanabe is right on the cusp of the main event scene and would make a great match up with the Ace. The Princess Cup is down to the final four, and it is up for grabs as far as I can see. The semi-finals and the finals will be on August 14th and 15th respectively, both in Korakuen Hall, which definitely shows the growth of TJPW. I’m not positive, but I believe there will be English commentary as well! Mizuki VS Maki Itoh and Miu Watanabe VS Shoko Nakajima are the semi-final matchups according to Wrestle Universe, which should result in 2 great matches.