OCTOBER 9, 2022

Watch: Wrestle-Universe 

Meet Your Reviewers

Ewan Cameron: Ewan has been reviewing TJPW shows since 2018. You can follow his Match of the Year notebook here

Gerard Di Trolio (@Gerard Di Trolio): Gerard has finally made peace with the new TJPW logo. It does not get much of a reaction out of him any more. If you want coverage of AJPW and NOAH, check out his podcast The Emerald FlowShow.

Moka Miyamoto & Juria Nagano Def. Kaya Toribami & Arisu Endo

Ewan: This was a pretty great opener and I think not having a veteran here actually helped rather than hindered as it opened up the field for more fresh creativity from this bunch of rookies. For me, Endo has the most overall potential here and despite still not having a singles win in the promotion, she’s up there with Pom for the Most Improved of 2022.

I love wrestlers who do things differently, so I marked out every time for Juria and Moka’s offense. Keep these Twin Choppas as a team pleases! Moka’s offense is a little bit tighter and she did a beautiful leg lariat and spinning suplex. Juria has cool kicks and if she improves a bit more, could be a big attraction for the promotion. ***

Gerard: I know Juria will probably be a star, but I am not personally sold on her yet. However, I dig Moka more and more every time I see her. I am very high on Arisu and I think Kaya also has a ton of potential but I’m not sure how far they will push her.

Juria’s kicks look very good, but there is not much else there yet. Her combo at the finish with the high kick that led to her pinning Kaya was pretty cool though. This was her first win which got a good response from the crowd.

This was a good opener. ***

Yoshiko Hasegawa, Yuna Manase & Nao Kakuta Def. Mahiro Kiryu, Yuki Kamufuku & Haruna Neko

Ewan: This was one of those great TJPW mid-card tags where everything clicked and everyone got a chance to shine. One thing about having cheering crowds again is being able to gauge reactions and, don’t jinx it, but is Mahiro getting over? She’s been developing her character well this year and it’s good to see that it’s paying off. ***1/4

Gerard: People ask, “Gerard, are you a Kamiyu apologist?” And I answer, “Why, yes I am.” I don’t think she’s that bad and she is over. She did well here in a multi-woman format. Her playing up her history with Yuna helped as well. 

Nao got the win over Haruna with the TKO. I thought this turned out to be pretty good with fast paced action. This was also the best I’ve ever seen Haruna look too. ***½ 

Ryo Mizunami Def. Suzume

Ewan: While clearly, Mizunami was always going to be the overdog, she eventually gave way to Suzume’s insistent offense, and while this wasn’t a 50/50 match by any means, it was a good showing for Suzume that left me wanting more out of both. It never hit the top gear, but it was good enough for its placement on the card.  ***1/4

Gerard: Suzume played the underdog here and was great at it. Ryo barely budged early on but Suzume eventually wore the veteran down with some high-flying moves. Every Suzume dropkick meant something, and you gotta love a match like that. 

Suzume’s near falls using flash pins got a big Suzume chant from the crowd. But Mizunami used her size advantage and experience and won with a Lariat quickly after regaining control.

I can’t say this was a star-making performance because Suzume has already proven that she has the potential to go far, but this match only reinforced that fact. ***¾  

Mizuki Def. Hyper Misao

Ewan: So I wondered in my preview whether this was going to be a serious Mizuki match or a wacky Misao match, and it became clear quickly it was the latter. This was pretty fun for a Misao plunder show. However, I couldn’t help thinking that when Misao put Mizuki in a trash bin, they could have had Mizuki escape through a trapdoor in the stage instead for a really memorable moment. Mizuki finished this off with a giant diving footstomp off the ladder. This was nothing special but wasn’t offensive either. Does this mean Mizuki is the number-one contender? **3/4

Gerard: Misao came out with a bunch of plunder so this was turned into a hardcore match of sorts with the agreement of Mizuki, though Misao’s plunder is rather unique. Instead of the usua spray, Misao had silly string in a can which popped me.

Misao put Mizuki in a plastic trash can and went to get her bicycle, but Mizuki got out and, when Misao returned, got ambushed by Mizuki with a fire extinguisher. Soon after, Mizuki hit a Diving Foot Stomp off the top of a ladder to get the win. This was not high art, but it was fun for what it was. ***¼ 

Max The Impaler, Rika Tatsumi & Yuki Aino Def. Aja Kong, Pom Harajuku & Raku 

Pom is never going to be POP champion and she’s always going to lose more than she wins, but this was a perfect show of her strengths, or rather, how her weaknesses make her a lovable and essential part of the TJPW roster. There was an arc throughout this match between Pom and Max, and it culminated in Pom finally getting a shot in with Aja’s biscuit tin to Max’s leg and then following it up with a head scissors that may as well have been a world title win for the way she celebrated it. Not all heroes wear capes. Some of them wear plaid and kick you in the shins.

The Aja vs. Max moments were Joshi wrestling’s answer to what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. They also did post-match brawling, a real rarity in TJPW, which seems to indicate that there’s still some juice left between the two, but can Aja still go in a singles match, or is this another case for the Sleepytime Trio?

This match was pretty much as expected and kinda dragged a bit in the middle, but holy shit Rika did a beautiful reversal of Pom’s step-up leg drop to set up the finishing hip attack. ***1/4

Gerard: The crowd gave huge pops to Aja and Max on their entrances. Max and Pom started off and the crowd seemed to want to see Pom die. 

This match was designed to build to the inevitable showdown between Aja and Max and it didn’t quite deliver in the way I thought it would. Their interactions didn’t last that long throughout the match.

Rika, however, was the glue that held this match together and had some great sequences where she roughed up Pom almost as much as Max. Rika got the win after a running hip attack to a seated Pom. ***¼ 

Miyu Yamashita & Maki Itoh Def. Riho & Hikari Noa

Ewan: This was a very smoothly worked tag match, but I didn’t come away feeling satisfied, as it highlighted this card’s missed potential when it came to matchups. I am once again asking why, if you’re putting Hikari in a tag team match, is she not working with Nao Kakuta, who is, you know, her tag partner? 

Riho’s been coming in for guest spots for TJPW for years now, but she’s never really done anything of note. And yet we got glimpses in this match of what a Riho/Miyu bout could look like. So why not book it? and if the answer is politics then the TJPW team need to think hard about why they couldn’t use their pull to have their company ace go over a mid-ranked AEW wrestler. Cause we saw some brilliant exchanges here and I want to see more!

And while this isn’t a criticism of this match, I’m sure I’m not the only one to notice the formulaic script the company uses for almost every tag match. The eventual winner and loser get tagged in and fight; then the non-legal partners come in while the legal wrestlers roll out the ring; After 30 seconds, the non-legal wrestlers roll out the ring, and the legal wrestlers return; the eventual loser hits a big move for a nearfall, and then quickly loses after. Once you realize it, you’ll see it in every tag match and it was only really Magirabbits that managed to escape this formula, so it was disappointing to see it here with the talent of the wrestlers available. This was good, but raised questions for me about whether everyone was being booked to their strengths. ***

Gerard: It was nice to see Riho again, and she did not disappoint here. This was unsurprisingly great. Everyone looked good; this was some of the best I’ve ever seen Hikari look. Her sequences with Maki were great and those two really became the focus of the match as it went on.

Maki got the submission on Hikari with a nasty-looking Ito Special. ***¾   

International Princess Championship
Miu Watanabe Def. Alex Windsor (c) 

Ewan: This was awesome and probably the highest workrate match I’ve seen in TJPW for a long time. These two just went for it from the opening bell and crammed everything into just under ten minutes. I think I may be in agreement with Gerard here about Miu being the best babyface in the world, she just makes every match seem like a life-and-death struggle to the mountaintop. And it’s great. Windsor is phenomenal and brings a physical confidence to her matches that makes her infinitely watchable. Would love to see her stick around in TJPW for a run, because there are so many potential great matchups to be had.

This was the perfect way to cap 2022’s Summer of Miu Princess Title run. ****

Gerard: Miu is the best babyface in pro wrestling today. She played her role perfectly, getting overpowered by Alex at first, but then fighting back with her own considerable power.

This was fast-paced and full of power moves. I guess my biggest complaint would be a little more drama in the closing stretch, which I think would have fit in with the story of Miu finally winning her first singles title. ***¾ 

Princess Tag Team Championships
Saki Akai & Yuki Arai (c) Def. Rhia O’Reilly & Nightshade

Ewan: As a match, this felt pretty average. I like Saki Akai. I like Yuki Arai. But I just don’t find their team to be interesting. I think it’s because they are much more interesting as singles wrestlers and this tag team feels slightly inorganic. But I did love Nightshade trash-talking throughout this match and would welcome her and O’Reilly back for more. ***

Gerard: Those dastardly Brits attacked the champs when they tried to shake hands before the bell. 

Yuki got worked over for a while by the challengers to the point where they got lots of boos. This was very simple, but they were effective heels yelling mocking things and the boos were a lot of fun. 

Later on, Yuki managed to finally start to get some offense in  and with some help from Saki she managed to turn the tide and pinned Nightshade after hitting the Finally.

I thought this was great. A classic pro wrestling tag story where Yuki took a beating, Saki got in there for a while to turn things around and when Yuki finally got back in she finally could handle herself against the bruising heels and scored a big win. The crowd getting into this with the booking and the cheering for the champs also helped. 

I had never seen Nightshade or Rhia before, but I thought they were great heels. Nightshade in particular, seems to have a lot of potential to be a monster heel. I would be happy to see them back in TJPW. Judging by some initial reactions I saw, I might be the high man on this one. **** 

Princess of Princess Championship
Yuka Sakazaki Def. Shoko Nakajima (c)

Ewan: So, like Gerard, I wasn’t entirely hyped for this match, as we’ve seen it before on the big stages a few times and I’ve been critical of TJPW’s conservative booking of the main event. But, watching this match, it was clear that very few people in the promotion right now can work at this level. When it comes to match layout and psychology, you get that at a high level throughout the card, but when it comes to execution, Yuka and Shoko stand head and shoulders above almost everyone else.

A submission spot early in a match can often feel quite perfunctory, but when Sakazaki wrapped up Nakajima, it was meaningful; we knew that Shoko would escape, but Sakazaki’s intense execution showcased a captivating struggle. 

Further into the match were some spectacular high-risk spots, such as a top rope Merry-Go-Round and a suicide dive reversed into a brainbuster, that frankly, you wouldn’t want to see most of the roster doing without a few more years training. Yuka breaking out her super-finisher 450 is perhaps all you need to know about how big a deal this match was. Didn’t reach the emotional highs of previous matches between these two, but still fantastically watchable. And I guess that kind of sums up WPIII in general. This didn’t feel like the show of the year as previous years had, and while there was no bad match on the show, there was no real magic either. Still, while I think the booking could take more risks, this show highlighted the growing strength of the roster’s in-ring and the promotions’s ability to source high-quality opponents from outside. If you’re a TJPW fan or just thinking about dipping your toe in, this is worth a watch. ****1/2

Gerard: I can’t say I was excited for this match given that it just happened back in June at CyberFight Festival. However, with Mizuki getting sick during the Tokyo Princess Cup, this may have not been the initial plan. 

I gotta say, they won me over early. This felt like a big match once they got going with a sprint to start with Yuka eventually going more methodical in her style targeting Shoko’s leg. 

Shoko got in a reasonable amount of offense, but it felt like Yuka controlled the pace of this match, and had some dominant reversals at key moments. 

The last few minutes saw both miss aerial moves leading to some big near falls. Shoko looked like she regained the momentum but Yuka clocked her with a big forearm, hit a Magical Merry-Go-Round and then got the pin after the Magical Girl Niwatori Yaro.

This was a great match and was definitely better than their match at CyberFight Festival. 

Once again, TJPW has continued their trend of delivering on their big shows this year. ****¼ 

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