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Tokyo Joshi’s New Stars Shine Brighter Than Before

2 years ago

Tokyo Joshi’s New Stars Shine Brighter Than Before

By: James Carlin

One of the things that defines Tokyo Joshi, for better or for worse, is the main event scene.

Looking at the branding of the company, there’s four faces that immediately stand out: Miyu Yamashita, Maki Itoh, Yuka Sakazaki and Shoko Nakajima. All four have been featured on worldwide television and have built up Tokyo Joshi since its formation as a primarily idol centric entertainment show in 2012, before being brought up as a standalone alternative and sister company to DDT Pro in 2015.

The company’s figurehead and “Ace” Miyu Yamashita has been with them since their very first show, whilst the likes of Shoko Nakajima, Yuka Sakazaki and Maki Itoh were to follow.

Tokyo Joshi has always embraced its roots as an idol organisation from the very beginning. This is evident when you go back and see Miyu dancing her way to the ring. Even now every show begins with a performance from Idol group Up Up Girls and several roster members have their beginnings in acting and idol groups, most recently Yuki Arai from SKE48 and most notably ‘Fired Idol’ Maki Itoh.

Maki Itoh is the only member of four standout faces to not win the Princess of Princess championship, but her inevitable win could be a huge moment in the future. Even without winning Tokyo Joshi’s grandest prize, she’s won their annual tournament the Tokyo Princess Cup as well as holding the International Princess championship twice. Itoh’s popularity is already substantial enough to warrant her place in the main event scene – everyone loves her, and even in defeat she always perseveres.

The four pillars have dominated the hierarchy of the Princess of Princess championship throughout its history. With seven of its ten holders being one of these four women, the question soon arose, “Will the new generation of Tokyo Joshi be able to topple the long-standing pillars and get their time in the main event?”

Juria Nagano makes her debut at Grand Princess ’22 in March.

The Next Generation Get a Taste for Gold

And that time began in 2022 following Shoko Nakajima’s defeat of Miyu Yamashita for the Princess of Princess title at Grand Princess. Saying that this championship change is a turning point would be an understatement. Unlike Miyu Yamashita’s championship reign, which featured matches primarily against long-tenured roster members like Maki Itoh, Sakisama, Mizuki, and Yuka Sakazaki who had all seen a taste of the title scene before, Shoko Nakajima’s current reign allows roster members who may have never had a spot in the main event to have a spotlight.

Facing off against the likes of Yuki Aino and her best friend Hyper Misao, other members of Tokyo Joshi’s roster began to crack at the pillars’ hold on the spotlight and it didn’t take too long for other places in the company to feel that pressure either.

The Magical Sugar Rabbits’ 273 day tag team championship reign was ended at Summer Sun Princess on July 9th by Saki Akai and SKE48’s Yuki Arai, known as Reiwa AA Cannon. This indicated a massive shift from the title’s two previous holders and saw the spotlight, once again, passed onto the newer talent.

Similar to Maki Itoh and the Up Up Girls, Yuki Arai has been featured prominently since her debut and has slowly become one of Tokyo Joshi’s most proficient wrestlers in the promotion. Holding the tag team championship only raises her stock more after she had a star-making performance against fellow idol Maki Itoh earlier in the year.

Saki Akai and Yuki Arai after winning the Princess Tag Team championships.

Up, Up Up goes Miu Watanabe

At the Tokyo Princess Cup 2022, however, is where all the pieces began to shift drastically. Suzume, who debuted in 2019, had a great showing where she surpassed Pom Harajuku and Rika Tatsumi before being eliminated by Yuka Sakazaki in the semi-finals. The biggest buzz of this tournament was around Miu Watanabe, who, much like Yuki Arai earlier in the year, had star-making performances over the course of the tournament. Her first big hurdle in the Princess Cup was overcoming the current champion, Shoko Nakajima and she passed the first test. Only the next match was an even bigger barrier in her way – The Ace, Miyu Yamashita.

It’s one thing to beat the reigning champion in a non-title match, but it’s another to be able to conquer someone who has been considered the best that the company has to offer. Miu was already one of Tokyo Joshi’s most popular faces, having absurd strength for someone who looks like a normal person on the surface. She already swung most of the roster at incredible speeds, and it looked like it wouldn’t be long before she would be swinging her way into the tournament finals. Everyone was behind her. The fans in attendance, the fans at home. It was her chance to prove that she could hold her own against the best in Tokyo Joshi.

And she did.

Miu Watanabe defeated Miyu Yamashita in an emotional battle that allowed Miu to advance to the finals. After the match, Miyu started crying. Not because she lost, but because she was proud of how far new talents like Miu had come in the last year. The Ace recognised that the new generation was beginning to break out of their shell and starting to fly.

Over the course of the next few months, the spotlight continued to shift onto the brighter young stars in the company.

On September 4th, Reiwa AA Cannon would defend their newly won Princess Tag championships against Toyo University (Mahiro Kiryu/Yuki Kamifuku) in the main event of the show. A few days later on September 11th, Arisu Endo would main event a show against Miyu Yamashita herself. Then, September 16th saw Miu Watanabe and Suzume fight in a #1 Contender’s Match for Alex Windsor’s International Princess championship. Miu earned the right to challenge Windsor at Wrestle Princess 3 and then successfully winning the International Princess title, and Suzume going on to face Ryo Mizunami in a singles match on the same show.

You can bet house money, as Tokyo Joshi evolves and their newer stars begin to move into the spotlight, the four women that once held the company together face a fight they never expected so soon – a fight against their future.

Written by:

Initially hired for social media management and Joshi coverage, I lead the coverage of joshi between May 2023 and March 2024, and worked behind the scenes in multiple roles since August 2022 that allowed Monthly Puroresu to smoothly operate.