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TJPW 10th Anniversary Review – 12.1.23

7 months ago Masahiro Kubota | MP | TJPW 10th Anniversary, 12.1.23

Masahiro Kubota | MP | TJPW 10th Anniversary, 12.1.23

TJPW 10th Anniversary Review – 12.1.23

By: Jeff Brown

Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling returns to Korakuen Hall for one last visit in 2023, celebrating their 10th anniversary with We Are TJPW. Miyu Yamashita, Yuka Sakazaki, and Shoko Nakajima were all part of the debut show on December 1st, 2013 at Kitazawa Town Hall and will be teaming together in the main event. This is also the 10th anniversary of Sakazaki’s debut and will be her final Korakuen Hall appearance, with December 6th being her final match before graduation and fittingly at Kitazawa Town Hall. Joining her will be tag team parter the “Popping Sugar Rabbit” Mizuki and “White Dragon” Rika Tatsumi to round out the team of veterans as they face the rising stars of Miu Watanabe, Suzume, Moka Miyamoto, Arisu Endo, and Yuki Arai in a 2 out of 3 falls match.

TJPW has always marched to the beat of their own drum, and that helps them stand out in the Joshi landscape. Wild, unpredictable, experimental, artistic, and fun are just a few of the descriptions that define this unique company and its colorful roster. Recently, they have staged their lunacy at amusement parks, public swimming pools, and the Tsurumi Fruit and Vegetable Market. Hyper Misao created the arthouse masterpiece in HYPE! that will be on many show-of-the-year lists and was a showcase for Mahiro Kiryu.

Looking back, their pre-launch exhibition shows at Akihabara Twin Box and Shibuya Entertainment Stage were on mats in front of a hundred or so people, and now they go to venues like Ariake Coliseum in front of over 1500 people. The company’s expansion has picked up momentum this year, as TJPW will be returning to the US in 2 weeks for Combat Princess. This is a follow-up to their US debut in LA last March.

Juria Nagano, Shino Suzuki & Haru Kazashiro vs. Kaya Toribami, Toga & Runa Okubo

A very good, no-nonsense way to kick things off. Toribami is the most seasoned of her team and Nagano has been at this longer with bigger match experience, and Suzuki has almost double the number of bouts under her belt at this point. Toga and Runa both this year have brought an angry and hard-hitting style that has reshaped the undercard a bit and likely is lighting a fire on the roster with their enthusiasm. Toga blasting Mahiro with a wicked forearm at Grand Princess in March really was a statement about the new era. Kazashiro has developed a mean streak to go along with Runa’s very vocal and stiff offense. Nagano is always a highlight with her varied kicks and back chops. Toga hits a Rock Bottom on Kazashiro for this win.

Hyper Misao & Mahiro Kiryu vs. Yuki Aino & Raku

This became a mystery weapons match, with all four rushing to the ring to get a mystery box. There was cold spray, a Raku fan, a pillow, and a bag of apology chocolate. There was a lot of trademark goofiness, and this was comedy done right with the candy causing Raku to “hulk-up”, and referee Yukinori Matsui even being revived and beginning to do Ultimate Warrior rope shaking. Everything you would expect from the high IQ of Hyper Misao, Mahiro, and Aino being good straight men to the chaos swirling around them. The end comes when Aino hits the Scorpion Death Drop on Mahiro for the victory.

Next Generation Tournament Final: Wakana Uehara vs. HIMAWARI

This is highly recommended and a fitting end to this tournament. Both HIMAWARI and Wakana brought so much passion and beat the hell out of each other. They made their roster debuts together on Jan 4th and have both taken to wrestling very quickly. With a slow and vicious transition into a half-Nelson choke, Uehara gets the tap out. She shined slightly brighter here since she won the gold medal; however, HIMAWARI is such a charismatic force, and her physical strength was on full display. Each participant in this tournament has huge potential and is an important building block for the coming years of TJPW.

Queen of Asia Championship match: Yuki Kamifuku (c) vs. VIVA VAN

VIVA VAN is a highly decorated stalwart of the US wrestling scene and was a treat in this match. She had counters for everything Kamiyu threw at her, and she utilized her speed and size perfectly. Kamiyu eventually gets a game plan going and hits the Fameasser to retain her Queen of Asia title. Van really needs to be brought back because her style is so unique and she could have incredible matches with so much of this roster. Kamiyu having this Singapore Pro Wrestling belt adds a dimension to her character; it gives her purpose as she has something to protect and defend going forward, much like the International Princess title in the past.

Princess Tag Team Titles: Free WiFi (Hikari Noa & Nao Kakuta) (c) vs. POMPALER (Max The Impaler & Pom Harajuku)

The second title defense for Free WiFi, and they merely survived this match. Pom and Max are a delight as the odd couple team, and their chemistry is off the charts. The majority of this bout was Pom being used as a weapon and Max absolutely brutalizing the champions, with Max being much larger than the rest of the TJPW roster, and it’s a perfect dynamic. Noa and Kakuta get Max out of the ring and are able to put Pom down with the Backpack Stunner to get the victory and continue their title reign.

Max still holds the International Princess title, so they are still a looming presence. This very well could be Kakuta’s only gold in her career, and she is making the most of it with every match.

We Are TJPW 2/3 Falls: Miyu Yamashita, Shoko Nakajima, Yuka Sakazaki, Rika Tatsumi & Mizuki vs. Miu Watanabe, Suzume, Moka Miyamoto, Arisu Endo & Yuki Arai

It began with a pre-match video package highlighting the entire roster and their respective debuts and including names from the past such as Reika Saiki, Yuu, and Nodoka Tenma. This was a strong main event and a great way to spotlight the present and the future of this company. The two-out-of-three falls stipulation gave the new guard some much-needed hope spots, and Endo got the pin after countering a 619 attempt from Nakajima. A big win for her and absolutely the right person to get first fall; the crowd is really behind her, and entering the International Princess title scene should be her 2024 trajectory. Big match spots with everyone hitting their signature moves, the old guard all slapped on submissions for a nice visual. Sakazaki puts Moka down for 3 to even up the score to 1:1.

The final fall was wild, with the final sequence having Watanabe tap into her main event potential, refusing to be defeated by the current champ, Yamashita. Watanabe desperately hit a series of devastating sledges to Yamashita before eating a Skull Kick and getting pinned. With a performance that strong, there is no shame in the new guard losing, and the crowd was electric near the end. Watanabe is ready for the top of the card and should be a challenger for the Princess Of Princess Championship. Having her beat Yamashita for the belt in 2024 would be a good way to denote the sea change.

Post-match, Sakazaki said her goodbyes, and the entire roster celebrated their 10-year journey in the ring. The potential was on full display today, and the pieces are being put into place for this next chapter of TJPW. A continuation of this Korakuen Hall energy with the rookie class having a more serious, harder style is the key to growth in the coming years. The comedy and shenanigans should not be erased, but the emphasis on technical moves and strikes from the rookie class has been positive. Runa’s aggression and wicked forearms really are a template, and it’s great to see the company allowing the young teenager to run with it. 10 years is a great run for anyone in life and was never a guarantee. TJPW has a legacy built up and, as evident from the video package, has come a long way with an ethos of fun and unpredictable wrestling.

All photos taken by Masahiro Kubota