Originally published at Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Princess II: Yamashita vs. Itoh
Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Princess II: Miyu Yamashita vs. Maki Itoh
By: Mark Buckeldee
Welcome to this special POST Wrestling report on Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Princess II. This was the biggest event in TJPW’s calendar, with a big main event as Tokyo Princess tournament winner Maki Itoh challenged her tag team partner Miyu Yamashita for the Princess of Princess title.
2021 has been Itoh’s best year in terms of both success and her in-ring performances, and this was her biggest match to date. This was a pretty strong lineup by TJPW standards, although it is dwarfed by today’s big Stardom show, Grand Final Osaka Dream Cinderella 2021. A report for that show is also available on POST Wrestling, written by Karen Peterson. Karen has done a great job with her coverage of Stardom on POST Wrestling.
Wrestle Princess II took place in Tokyo at Ota City Central Gymnasium, a venue used by the likes of New Japan, Stardom, and Dragon Gate this year. It was the venue that Stardom used for the 5STAR Grand Prix Final. The show drew 914 fans, which was more than New Japan drew for Day 4 of the G1 Climax in the same venue. That show was main evented by Kazuchika Okada vs EVIL. As a reference point, the two shows that Stardom ran in this venue in 2021 drew 1240 (6/12, Dream Cinderella) and 1539 (9/25, Stardom 5STAR GP final).
I want to thank dramaticddt.wordpress.com, whose preview of this show was a useful resource for this report as I usually jump in and out of TJPW, so my knowledge of the undercard needed refreshing.
Pom Harajuku, Raku & Ram Kaichow vs Mahiro Kiryu, Haruna Neko & Kaya Toribami – A basic comedy match with silliness and swearing
2. Hyper Misao vs Nodoka Tenma vs Rika Tatsumi – A fun comedy match with Tatsumi trying to keep this one on track
3. VENYU (Yuki Kamifuku & Asuka) vs Nao Kakuta & Marika Kobashi – A good, intense match with VENYU looking like a good new act
4. Twin Cam Monsters (Shoko Nakajima & Riho) vs Arisu Endo & Suzume – A decent, fast-paced underdog tag match
5. Aja Kong & Moka Miyamoto vs Miu Watanabe & Yuki Arai – A decent-good undercard tag match designed to elevate Watanabe and Arai (who debuted less than 6 months ago)
6. International Princess Title: Hikari Noa (c) vs Yuki Aino – A good, compact power vs technique match. A good example of telling a clear, entertaining story in under 15 minutes
7. Princess Tag Team Titles: Neo-Biishiki-gun (Sakisama & Mei St Michel) (c) vs The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki) – Often goofy with some silly spots, this was a good heel vs face tag match.
8. Princess of Princess Title: Miyu Yamashita (c) vs Maki Itoh – A great, economical match. There was little filler, with a great sense of the wrestlers being familiar with each other that did not veer into New Japan level of counters. Good drama in the finishing stretch. – RECOMMENDED
The show started with the Up-Up Girls Kakko Pro Puroresu (Miu Watanabe, Hikari Noa & Raku) performing two songs, the second one being Upper Kick. The opening video recapped the build to many of the matches on the show. The show had an English commentary option, with a commentary team of DDT’s Chris Brookes and Gatoh Move’s Baliyan Akki.
Pom Harajuku, Raku & Ram Kaichow vs Mahiro Kiryu, Haruna Neko & Kaya Toribami
Ram Kaichow is not a TJPW regular. She is from the indie sleaze group Triple Six, where she was famous for choke slamming people as a kid in the mid-2000’s. She was one of several child wrestlers at that time, along with Riho and Mr. Number Six.
This was a lighthearted opener, which is what you should expect when the match includes many of TJPW’s comedic undercard wrestlers. Haruna Neko used a series of cat-like scratch attacks while Kaya Toribami showed off some unique aerial maneuvers. Ram Kaichow provided a nice juxtaposition with her look, execution, and profanities. The match ended with Raku pinning Neko with the Doctor Yellow running neckbreaker.
Raku pinned Haruna Neko via Doctor Yellow (10:09)
This was an okay match, the kind that is to be expected on a big show featuring an entire roster. Still, there was some fun to be had with things like Ram Kaichow being in a different environment. It gave you a flavor of the undercard and reminded you that TJPW is more of a character promotion than a work rate promotion. If you prefer watching a show where everyone has a clear character, then TJPW might be a good fit for you.
Hyper Misao vs Nodoka Tenma vs Rika Tatsumi
Rika Tatsumi was a last-minute addition to this match, coming back from a hiatus. Before the match, Hyper Misao welcomed Tatsumi back on the mic before Tatsumi had enough and started the match by attacking her opponents.
Misao brought the comedy with her scheming antics and Tatsumi was having none of it. That was the theme of the match, although the action built up as the match went on. Tatsumi tried to win with a Figure Four, but Nodoka Tenma tried to steal the win by covering Tatsumi. Understandably Tatsumi got annoyed by that, so she applied a headlock to both of her opponents before turning it into a Dragon Sleeper. Misao hit the “I am a Hero” Crossbody on Tatsumi but Tenma broke it up with a top rope splash. After a series of pin attempts by Misao, Tenma pinned Misao with the Kill switch.
Nodoka Tenma pinned Hyper Misao via Kill switch (10:55)
This match was a great example of the benefits of English commentary, as you could understand Misao’s constant chatter and antics. It was very comedic in terms of characters, and honestly, I found it quite funny at times. Tatsumi stood out in terms of her in-ring execution and poise, I was extremely impressed with the double headlock.
VENYU (Yuki Kamifuku & Asuka) vs Nao Kakuta & Marika Kobashi
This is Asuka’s first match in TJPW, although she often wrestled in the TJPW’s sister promotions DDT and Ganbare Pro. Asuka is better known as VENY to those who followed the Japanese block of AEW’s Women’s Title #1 contender’s tournament earlier this year.
VENYU came out with a 3-part entrance, starting with their individual entrance music before making their way to the ring to Lady Gaga’s Telephone. The match started with Marika Kobashi and Asuka slapping each other in the face. The action was hard-hitting and aggressive, with a lot of striking from all four wrestlers. Asuka missed a Moonsault, allowing Nao Kakuta to use a draping headscissors over the top rope. Kobashi brought it to Asuka, only to be flattened with a spinning heel kick. After a nice segment between Asuka and Kobashi, Yuki Kamifuku and Kakuta tagged in and traded a series of slaps. Kamifuku used a running fameasser and a running dropkick before winning with a second rope fameasser.
Yuki Kamifuku pinned Nao Kakuta via second rope Fameasser (10:30)
This was a big step up from the earlier match in terms of both the quality and the aggression. Asuka felt like a step above in terms of her striking and crispness, but the other wrestlers really brought it with the intensity and the striking. This was a good match and Venyu felt like a promising team. Adding Asuka to the roster, even on an infrequent basis, would be a good move for TJPW and the other wrestlers all upped their game for this one.
TJPW announced their Korakuen Hall dates for 2022, as well as the date for Wrestle Princess III at Tokyo Dome City Hall.
Twin Cam Monsters (Shoko Nakajima & Riho) vs Arisu Endo & Suzume
Riho was an infrequent competitor for TJPW in 2018 and 2019 before she focused more on STARDOM and AEW. Here she reformed her short-lived team with Shoko Nakajima. Arisu Endo debuted this year, whereas Riho debuted in 2005.
Endo was briefly isolated by Nakajima and Riho before Suzume tagged in and tried to get some early pin attempts. Suzume was isolated for even longer, with her opponents showing their experience before Suzume tagged in Endo. She brought it to Nakajima, applying a camel clutch but Riho made a blind tag and used it to blindside Endo with a double stomp. Endo kicked out of a top rope dropkick before Suzume and Riho tagged in. This went at a quick pace with Suzume avoiding a top rope dropkick and trading hard clubbing forearms.
Suzume got caught on the top rope by a top rope arm drag from Riho. Nakajima tagged in and forced Suzume to grab the ropes to escape a submission hold. Endo made the save, letting Suzume hit a top rope crossbody for a two count. Riho and Nakajima used a double Northern Lights suplex on Suzume and Nakajima pinned Suzume with a top rope back senton.
Shoko Nakajima pinned Suzume via back senton (14:52)
This was another very decent match with Endo and Suzume putting on a good performance, especially considering their relative inexperience. Riho and Nakajima were polished throughout, and the action went at a quick pace. It felt different from everything that had proceeded it, which is always nice on a show like this one. Like the rest of the card so far, it wasn’t anything special, but it was a good introduction to these wrestlers and a good undercard match.
Aja Kong & Moka Miyamoto vs Miu Watanabe & Yuki Arai
35-year veteran Aja Kong is the last outsider on this TJPW show. On the other side of the ring, Yuki Arai is a member of the SKE48 idol group who debuted this year. Miu Watanabe made the semifinals of the Tokyo Princess tournament this year and went viral when she used a Giant Swing on two wrestlers at the same time.
Watanabe and Moka Miyamoto started things off with a quick pace before Arai and Kong tagged in. It went as well as you would expect for Arai, eating some hard shots from Kong before getting caught with a single-leg crab. Arai managed to tag in Watanabe after hitting a body slam. Kong tagged in but Watanabe tried not to be intimidated and threw everything into attacking Kong. Watanabe tried for a Giant Swing on Kong, but the size difference was too much, so Watanabe relied on Polish hammers before hitting Kong with a scoop slam.
Miyamoto and Arai tagged in, with Arai locking in a sleeper hold and forcing Miyamoto to reach the ropes. Arai escaped a modified Octopus stretch and hit a full nelson slam. Kong tagged in and Arai tried to survive using a sleeper and kicks to the face before getting smashed in the head by Kong’s trademark metal can. Watanabe applied the Giant swing on Miyamoto and used Miyamoto’s body to hit Kong in the back of the legs. Arai got a two-count on Kong after an Axe Kick but Kong suplexed both of her opponents. While Arai kicked out of a backdrop suplex, Kong’s 2nd rope elbow was too much for the newcomer.
Aja Kong pinned Yuki Arai via second rope elbow drop (16:03)
This was a good showing for Arai considering her inexperience. Understandably Kong is very limited after 35 years of wrestling, but this match did a good job of making the most of her. The sequence with Watanabe trying to show her power was good. This was another decent match and a good showcase for the TJPW wrestlers although, like everything so far, this was nothing that you had to see unless you wanted to use this show to give you a taste of TJPW.
International Princess Title: Hikari Noa (c) vs Yuki Aino
There has been a recent trend in some Joshi wrestlers wanting to do more hardcore and deathmatches. Ice Ribbon’s Suzu Suzuki had a Hardcore match trial series against male Death Match workers this year. TJPW’s Hikari Noa wants to popularize hardcore wrestling in TJPW. That said, this was not a hardcore match.
This started off with both wrestlers looking for an opening with early grappling. Noa used a flurry of dropkicks to gain control before using a rolling ground cobra twist. The champion kept Aino grounded, forcing mistakes, and stretching her on the mat. Aino fought back with shoulder tackles, a running senton, and a Vader Bomb. The challenger used a submission of her own with a full nelson camel clutch. They traded clubbing forearms to the chest before Noa hit a Blizzard suplex, but the damage to her back meant that she could not hold the bridge. Aino looked to have won a forearm exchange, but Noa fought back with a flurry of forearms and locked in an arm-trapped neck lock. While Aino made the ropes Noa stayed in control until Aino hit a gut wrench suplex and the Venus reverse DDT. Noa avoided the Ultimate Burning Venus and hit the Blizzard suplex, maintaining a great bridge to win the match
Hikari Noa pinned Yuki Aino via Blizzard suplex (11:27)
This was a good match, the best so far on the card and better than I expected. They kept this short and compact, telling a good story of power vs technique. I came out of this being more impressed by both wrestlers and it was a great example of how you can tell a good story without needing a lot of time. This was the kind of match that I would love more of in the G1 Climax, to be honest.
Princess Tag Team Titles: Neo-Biishiki-gun (Sakisama & Mei St Michel) (c) vs The Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki)
Neo-Biishiki-gun are a French aristocrat and her silver tray-wielding maid, who come out to the theme of the classic anime The Rose of Versailles. Yuka Sakazaki is TJPW’s second most successful tag team wrestler behind Sakisama. Mizuki’s match against Maki Itoh in August was one of the most emotionally charged matches in 2021 and TJPW’s best match this year. Neo-Biishiki-gun got a special entrance with Sakisama sitting on a black, rose encrusted throne.
Sakisama and St Michel attacked before the bell, but their theatrics ended with St Michel getting kicked out of the ring. Sakazaki and Mizuki used some very inventive double teams. This opening segment was a bit silly at times and won’t appeal to everyone. St Michel used her tray to get an advantage. Sakisama made the most of it, hitting Mizuki in the face with a rose. That is such a fantastic visual. The heels constantly cheated, keeping the referee off balance until Sakisama decided to focus on kicking Mizuki instead. Mizuki used her opponents against each other and tagged in Sakazaki.
This upped the pace of the match until Sakisama tagged in and used a flurry of kicks. Sakazaki went for the magical girl splash, but St Michel interfered with the tray, although Sakazaki got her own back by using it on Sakisama. Mizuki and Sakazaki used a great-looking double springboard splash, with Sakazaki landing inside and Mizuki hitting St Michel on the outside. Sakisama hit a jumping middle kick, but Sakazaki kicked out at 1. Sakazaki used a Northern Lights bomb and it was Sakisama who kicked out at 1. A springboard 450 splash by Sakazaki missed and both Mizuki & St Michel tagged in.
The pace really sped up as they traded fast leg scissor cradles before Mizuki hit a double foot stomp and a running dropkick. The referee blocked a tray attack but that led to a ref bump. St Michel used this as the opportunity to attack Mizuki and Sakazaki with a broom. St Michel used the Broom like a witch’s broomstick for a diving splash, only earning a two count. Mizuki escaped the Tarte Tatin (double team sliced Bread #2) and she fought back against two on one odds. St Michel hit the Tarte Tatin but somehow Mizuki kicked out. St Michel applied a modified single leg crab, but Sakazaki dragged Mizuki into the ropes, although Sakazaki paid for it by getting kicked in the face by Sakisama. Mizuki fought back and found an opportunity to hit two consecutive Cutie specials to pin St Michel. The Magical Sugar Rabbits were now 2-time Princess Tag Team Champions.
Mizuki pinned Mei St Michel via Cutie special (18:33)
This was a good match, although it was a little silly at the start. Neo-Biishiki-gun are essentially the only heels in TJPW so the heel shtick can be a little too strong at times. Despite that, this did not outstay its welcome and went at a quick pace. The finishing stretch between Mizuki, and St Michel was good. I loved Sakazaki dragging her partner to the ropes but paying for it. I will say that I expected a little more from Sakazaki in the closing stretch but overall, this was a good semi-main event.
Princess Of Princess Title: Miyu Yamashita (c) vs Maki Itoh
This was the big one, as Maki Itoh tried to get her happy ending by winning the Princess of Princess title from her tag team partner, the ace of TJPW Miyu Yamashita.
The match started with a handshake and a lock-up and an evenly matched opening exchange. Yamashita made herself known with a hard kick to the back. Itoh fought back on the outside, slamming Yamashita into the ring post and onto the floor. Back in the ring, Itoh stretched Yamashita with a nasty-looking modified single leg crab but Yamashita had Itoh scouted and fought back with a series of kicks. Yamashita regained control using submissions and kicks. Itoh hit a bulldog to regain momentum but again Yamashita knew what was coming and avoided a DDT. Both wrestlers ended up on the apron, with Itoh hitting a draping DDT onto the apron and a jumping tornado DDT off the apron.
Itoh climbed the top rope for a diving headbutt, only to be caught by a high kick from Yamashita. That let Yamashita hit a top rope Attitude Adjustment, but a slow cover let Itoh defiantly kick out. Itoh and Yamashita refused to give up as they exchanged hard elbows. Somehow Itoh used the ropes and momentum to fall into a cover despite losing the exchange. Yamashita threw hard middle kicks, but Itoh refused to go down, which only fired up Yamashita. Itoh looked like she had a chance with a headbutt but ran into a high kick and the referee started a ten count. Somehow Itoh made the ten count and ate a Triangle kick. Itoh managed to apply a single-leg crab before hitting a diving headbutt to the back.
Itoh locked in a Lion tamer and Yamashita fought off an attempt to transition it into the Itoh deluxe. Yamashita used a desperate headbutt to avoid that move. Itoh went for a DDT, but Yamashita reversed it into a bridging German suplex for a near fall. Itoh avoided Yamashita’s skull kick and tried to apply the Itoh deluxe. Yamashita to escape and hit the Crash Rabbit Heat to the back of Itoh’s head. As they started to come to, Itoh gave Yamashita the middle finger, and Yamashita fist-bumped it, a sign of respect as in previous matches she would swat it away. They grabbed hold of each other’s wrists, a throwback to Itoh’s match with Mizuki in August. That ended with Yamashita nailing Itoh with a skull kick. Itoh screamed in pain and defiance as she lay on the mat. She dodged a buzzsaw kick, but Yamashita hit the Crash Rabbit Heat to pin Itoh and win the match. Maki Itoh didn’t get her happy ending tonight.
After the match, Yamashita had kind words for Itoh and they shook hands as Itoh and Yamashita cried before hugging in the ring. There was a laugh as Itoh offered the middle finger and Yamashita fist-bumped it. The crowd applauded as Itoh left the ring. After Yamashita’s promo, the TJPW roster filled the stage and they announced TJPW Grand Princess at Ryogoku Kokugikan on March 19th, 2022, the day before DDT run the same venue. That is the biggest venue that TJPW has run to date.
Miyu Yamashita pinned Maki Itoh via Crash Rabbit Heat (17:23)
Well, I didn’t expect that result. It honestly felt like this was going to be Itoh’s moment. Then again, that would also have felt a little too soon. The story was one of Itoh and Yamashita anticipating each other as they have teamed together so much this year. Itoh looked tougher and stronger, while also being much more focused. You could see how much Itoh had improved, both in ability and in kayfabe terms.
Yamashita has the aura of an ace, and it was more of the same from her here. The match went an almost perfect length, as it felt like there was little filler. Some of the decisions from Itoh were a little questionable but this was a clear, simple story of someone stepping up, doing their best but still not being good enough.
This was honestly a great match and a good example of what TJPW can do. It’s not going to wow people like Stardom have done this year, but it’s well worth a watch if you want to try something different.
This is not a show of the year. The main event will not be in most people’s MOTYCs. The thing is wrestling isn’t about being the best. This show was about celebrating TJPW and putting on the best show that they can. In that sense, this show was a big success. Wrestlers up and down the card put their best foot forward and lived up to the occasion. Each match felt different and had something going for it. Nothing went close to 20 minutes and none of the matches felt that they went significantly too long.
In terms of the production quality, the stream was good although it wasn’t possible to go back during the live feed. The commentary switch option worked, and English commentary really made this show easy to follow. The commentary team of Brookes and Akki isn’t perfect, with Akki often being a little too hyperbolic on the lower end of the card. The duo could sometimes be a little too overexcited but Akki being able to do live translations was definitely a big plus point.
TJPW is arguably the second biggest women’s promotion in Japan and this show is a good way of seeing if they’re something that you might want to watch. Especially with Wrestle Universe being free until January (you have to pay 1 monthly fee of 900 yen before you can cancel). This show won’t be for everyone, but it might just be your cup of tea.