December 22, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan
Second time seeing Tokyo Joshi Pro at Itabashi Greenhall, and the first back in September was a lot of fun.
This show featured six special Christmas matches (mostly just in name), with the pairings of the twelve participants decided by random fan draw at a previous event and a 10 minute time limit on each contest. A pair of tag encounters rounded out the card.
As usual, the Up Up Girls came out to dance to kick things off. I saw them debut against each other in a tag match to open TJP’s 1/4/18 show, so they’re coming up on their one year anniversary and all four will be repackaged with new gimmicks at 2019’s 1/4 show.
The first of the X-mas matches was Yuki Aino vs YUMI. It was my first look at Yumi, who actually seemed more comfortable in the ring than her slightly more experienced opponent (while they’re both in their rookie year, Yuki’s been wrestling since May and Yumi debuted less than a month ago). Basic and a bit bland contest that saw Yuki pick up the win.
Raku & Veda Scott vs Hinano x & Yuki Kamifuku was built around alternating sequences of the Up Up Girls squaring off and Veda getting in each other’s faces about Yuki pretending not to understand English (she eventually went off on Veda fluently when her hair was touched, then reverted back to feigning lack of comprehension). Good character work from Hinano elevated this a bit, and I hope she keeps a lot of her mannerisms, etc with her repackaged character. The rest honestly struggled a bit to tell an interesting story ringwork-wise, and this was just ok as a result.
Next up for the the X-mas matches saw Yuna Manase defeat Mina Shirakawa. This was bit odd, centered around breast based attacks from both that somehow still felt like part of a competitive match instead of comedy. Mina looked good in my first exposure to her work, and seems to have decent potential.
In contrast comedy was largely the focus of the third X-mas match between Hyper Misao and Miu, and it was reasonably amusing. Misao came out in a Christmas tree costume, and Miu was at a loss with what to do with her eccentric opponent. Fine all in all, although I honestly wouldn’t have had Miu lose to a comedy act.
The fourth X-mas match was just past the midpoint of the show, and where things took off and never looked back. In what was very possibly the best match of the night, Reika Saiki battled Nodoka Tenma in a fast paced, exciting contest. Reika eventually wore down Tenma to the point where she could hit her jackhammer for the win. Reika’s gotten so great and I absolutely can’t wait to see her wrestle the legendary Meiko Satomura. Nodoka continues to benefit from the gimmick change, and kept pace with the Muscle Idol nicely.
Itoh Respect-gun (Maki Itoh & Mizuki) against Neko Haruna & Pom Harajuku was a way to feature a promising pair of rookies against two of TJP’s top level stars. It was a really fun tag match, with both Haruna and Pom looking decent before their inevitable defeat. Itoh’s on another level charisma-wise and is captivating to watch, and Mizuki’s one of TJP’s lynchpins from a work rate standpoint.
The semi-main and fifth of the X-mas matches featured reigning Princess of Princess champion Miyu Yamashita against the sole remaining member of the Up Up Girls she had yet to face in singles competition, Hikari.
Hikari looked really good against the champ, portraying a tenacious aura and really seeming like she belonged in the ring with TJP’s ace. Miyu eventually prevailed, but only after a well done in ring story that benefitted both wrestlers. Would love to see a rematch down the road.
The main event and last of the X-mas matchups was Yuka Sakazaki vs Shoko Nakajima. This was a fantastic choice to end the show with going into the big 1/4/19 show at Korakuen. Last 1/4, Yuka & Shoko were the defending tag team champions against Mizuki & Gatoh Move’s Riho. This time, Yuka is now champions with Mizuki instead and Shoko has chosen to partner with Riho to challenge them. Beyond the really interesting dynamic this creates, the match itself last time was amazing and there’s no reason to expected anything else from these pairings.
I’ve said it before and will say it numerous times again I’m sure: these are two of TJP’s most consistently great performers. As such this was excellent, with perfect pacing for a time limit draw and was structured such that the draw didn’t feel anticlimactic nor inevitable, which is difficult. Great preview for the upcoming tag title contest.
Overall this show was a great lead in to 1/4. The early matches were a bit lackluster, but there wasn’t anything horrible and the effort was there for the most part. The second half was excellent, and has really got me excited for Korakuen.