Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling
Yes! Wonderland 2022
May 3, 2022
Watch: Wrestle Universe
Magical Sugar Rabbits (Mizuki & Yuka Sakazaki) (c) def. Free WiFi (Hikari Noa & Nao Kakuta)
While messing about with weapons, the ref, and pushing the boundaries of what they can get away with has normally been Magirabbits’ game, here it’s the delightfully named Free Wifi who bring the attitude to the incumbent champs, and this is less heels vs. faces and more imps vs. imps with the general rule being to create chaos.
The rule with Tetsuya Koda booking is that whenever you feel the stars have aligned and it’s time for a worthy challenger to win a title, then you are wrong. Please understand. And so it is, the Magirabbit reign of terror continues, and while you never believed that Arisu Endo and Suzume were going to topple them, it did feel like this was an opportune time for Nao Kakuta and Hikari to take the reigns and let Mizuki go off and finally win the POP title.
The match was decent, but didn’t quite reach the previous highs of Magirabbit defenses, and the early spot on the card and Yuka’s need to dash may have played into this which left Mizuki doing much of the heavy lifting for her team. ***1/2
Arisu Endo vs. Reika Saiki – Time Limit Draw
We get a video package for Reika Saiki, who between 2016 and 2019 did a TJPW speedrun, racking up the POP title, Princess Cup, and Tag titles with Marika. Hey, remember when TJPW used to give people pushes? 3..2..1…Ready Go!!!!!, Reika’s theme music might just be my favorite entrance music of all time, and I play it when I’m out running or biking when I’m in need of an extra aural boost. At only 3 minutes, this left everyone, including Saiki herself, wanting more. There’s not a dry eye in the house for the retirement ceremony that follows, and the locker room coming out to shower her in streamers and well-wishes one last time makes this a special moment. No rating, just good vibes.
Mahiro Kiryu & Yuki Kamifuku def. Haruna Neko & Kaya Toribami
This was your classic TJPW undercard tag match, and that’s pretty much all there is to say about it except to note that I’m liking Kaya Toribami’s step-up dropkicks. **
Suzume def. Juria Nagano
This match offered a tantalizing glimpse into the future of TJPW. While Suzume has been with the company for 3 years, she’s still very much in the lower half of TJPW’s slow-burn hierarchy. With a rare singles match against a junior colleague, it’s an opportunity for the worker bee to become the Queen and Suzy May brings a cockiness to this match in both moveset and gait that we don’t get to see too often. More, please!
Julia has only had a handful of matches so far, but her unique karate arsenal of angular kicks and palm-flurries has already made her matches much more exciting than the usual rookie plod. While she’s still very much in the lose and learn phase, it’s easy to see that when she starts getting better and winning matches, TJPW could have a very hot commodity on their hands. ***
Hakuchumu (Miu Watanabe & Rika Tatsumi) & Yuki Arai def. Pom Harajuku, Raku & Yuki Aino
Normally these randomized midcard tag matches are entirely mediocre, but this was brilliant and the low-key best match on the card. Fast-paced and technically sound and with no wasted movement at all, this brought out the best in everyone. All six wrestlers have their established signature moves and spots, but this match took it further with inventive reversals and switchbacks and coordinated attacks. Pom Harajuku, normally content to clown around on the sidelines, brought a level of intensity here we’ve rarely seen before. And some clowning too. Yuki Arai continues to impress and picking up the pin here surely signals something bigger on the horizon for her. ****
121000000 (Maki Ito & Miyu Yamashita) def. Hikaru Shida & Moka Miyamoto
Are Moka and Shida teaming because they both have non-asymmetrical gear? The world may never know. Moka came into this match as the obvious pin-eater and I was worried in the early goings that that was all she was going to be, especially when her own partner used her a blunt weapon, suplexing her into a prone Itoh. However, she rallied hard and put in what is almost certainly her top TJPW performance to date amidst three more experienced competitors.
It wasn’t entirely clear if this match was building towards Shida/Itoh or Shida/Yamashita at first. Why not both? Since she’s reached the main event, it’s been a while since Itoh was the petulant brat of TJPW, but the exchanges she had with her obvious senior Shida here brought back some of the comedic timing that made Itoh such a breakout star in the first place.
On the other hand, Yamashita has pretty much done everything in TJPW twice over and while being the ace in a promotion of ‘friendly girls’ is one thing, she’s never really been tested outside of that zone. The face-off here with Shida teased us with the prospect of a real hard-hitting showdown somewhere down the line. Now that’s a match with an unpredictable outcome.
Match did everything it needed to push stories forward and had some good tag team synergy from both teams. ***1/2
Shoko Nakajima (c) def. Hyper Misao
Main Event Misao not only brought some flash with an I AM A HERO from the top rope to the floor, but dug deep into her psyche, bringing in some of the more strategic and vicious offence associated with her dark Misao character from years past. This was a technically proficient match and while Misao was able to get a significant amount of offence, she was never quite able to really assert dominance. In a wrestling world where every finisher is there to be dodged or kicked out, Shoko’s top rope senton can feel a bit anti-climatic, but a finisher that finishes is the sort of back-to-basics wrestling that TJPW’s house style was built on, and the more she keeps racking up wins with it, the more power it accumulates. ***3/4
Overall this was a fairly comfy show that would probably sit bang average in terms of quality of TJPW Korakuens. With Itoh as IP champ, Magirabbits as tag champs, and Miyu and Shoko in the POP title scene this year, there’s a certain feeling that we are in a groundhog day scenario, doomed to repeat 2019 with the same bunch of wrestlers on top of the promotion. If there was a theme to Yes! Wonderland, it’s that the strongest fists of the next generation-Free Wifi, Suzume, Yuki Arai, Miu Watanabe- are pounding a little more harder on the doors.
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