Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling (TJPW) is in the middle of its annual Tokyo Princess Cup single-elimination tournament. The seventh iteration of the tournament is about halfway done but it already has some produced some very fun matches and with the field narrowed down to defending winner Mizuki, the madly popular Maki Itoh, the Biggest Kaiju Shoko Nakajima and the Ace of the promotion (although usually the suckiest at tournaments) Miyu Yamashita it really can be anyone’s tournament. Those matchups should be good, they’re not the ones I want to talk about today.
The match I really want to dig into was a first-round match between the current Princess of Princess (TJPW’s top championship) Champion Yuka Sakazaki and the focus of this piece, Tokyo Joshi Pro’s Defender of Love & Peace, Hyper Misao. We’ll talk about the match in detail a little later but it was safe to say a big shock to everyone, me included when Misao got the victory over Sakazaki. In the days that followed the show, I was still thinking about that match and my thoughts began to drift from the person I thought was going to win (my bracket has Mizuki winning back-to-back years because I’m insane) to the person I now wanted to win: Hyper Misao.
And while my budding hope was dashed when Miyu Yamashita kicked her head off in the quarterfinals, I’m here to make my case for Hyper Misao winning Tokyo Princess Cup 8 in 2021.
Hyper Misao has had an interesting story. The story has been explained wonderfully here by JoShizzle in greater detail but the long story short: Hyper Misao has been the tale of someone who found meaning in pro wrestling, chose to become a hero, became a villain out of frustration of not being taken seriously before being pulled back to the light by her friends. Her time in NEO Biishiki-gun as the villainous “Misao” is going to be important to my proposition later, so just keep it in mind as we continue.
The big criticism I hear against a wrestler like Misao winning something big is that they’re a comedy act. And yes, Hyper Misao is a comedic wrestler… until she gets serious. Going back to the match against Yuka, it did start as a comedy match, a really good comedy match (it helps that Yuka is also very good at comedy) but that 15:42 long match evolved from comedy into a good technical struggle to a sprint at the end with Misao getting a flash pin on the champion. A similar model happened in the next round against Yamashita and several matches over the year have shown Misao vastly improving in the actual wrestling part of being a wrestler.
“So,” some would ask, “if you want Misao to win this tournament and be elevated, wouldn’t it have been better for her to do with as the more serious Misao?” Basically it’s in regards to those who thought Hyper Misao had a ceiling and the Biishiki-gun Misao is better. This is where I go a bit against the grain from a lot of fans. I… didn’t like her as Biishiki-gun Misao. I know there’s a lot who thought this would elevate her and allow her to show her wrestling skills and while I can admit that the latter part was elevated (including the introduction of a new finisher: the Vanitas) there is a problem with that character.
Makings of the Character
Hyper Misao really relies on character creativity. Doing comedy requires one to be able to flex a kind of creativity that, to be blunt, I think she had to dial down when she was just “Misao.” So, cards on the table: I personally find Biishiki-gun and their leader/instigator of Misao’s corruption, Sakisama, to be quite boring. I feel like the haughty, stoic aristocratic archetype they go for to be dull and overdone. Now, don’t get this misconstrued: the story of Hyper Misao’s fall and redemption was well told, but I was hoping she’d be allowed to stretch the same creativity she had as a hero while as a villain and that did not happen.
As for the “not being taken seriously” crowd, I have to say: look at this promotion. Tokyo Joshi Pro is a company that knows what it wants to be and knows how to do it very well. It’s top champion is a magical genie girl and she won that belt from a woman that calls herself the “Biggest Kaiju,” dresses like Princess Mononoke, and has a tail. And you will respect Yuka Sakazaki and Shoko Nakajima. Their characters enhance their skills and are just as valid as any straight-laced, shoot-style promotion you need to surround yourself with to justify watching half-naked people fake beating each other up.
But while I think the Hyper Misao character actually has a higher ceiling instead of her Biishiki-gun incarnation, there is something of that character that will help. In both matches against Yuka Sakazaki and Miyu Yamashita, she teased the use of the Vanitas, a lifting double-underhook facebuster. Both times she wasn’t able to use it and that’s going to be the key. When she eventually hits that: BAM! Match over. Outside of that, she has shown capable of being able to use her wits to outthink a stronger opponent.
The key best of both worlds scenario is Hyper Misao’s character, her ability to garner likability and get the crowd’s support mixed with the technical prowess that has only been growing since her Heel-Face Go-Around. This year could have had her path to the Cup be through Yuka, Miyu, Shoko, and potentially Mizuki. A murderer’s row that could’ve made her and while it wasn’t to be, there is no reason she couldn’t have a similar journey next year. This isn’t a call to see Hyper Misao become the Ace or even to hold the top belt. I think that the latter one could happen eventually, but even I admit that may be a step too far right now. However, this year’s Tokyo Princess Cup may have given us the blueprint for what could happen next year, especially if Misao keeps improving her in-ring work.
After all, the hero fights from underneath, sometimes getting pushed back, but coming back stronger to eventually gain a victory.