With international travel still continuing to be a non-option due to COVID-19, it has been decided that Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling’s International Princess Champion (as well as NWA Women’s Champion) Thunder Rosa has vacated the title, her reign ending at 276 days and 0 defenses. It is an unfortunate, yet understandable, decision and we are all hoping that Thunder Rosa will eventually get back to Japan. However, the world of pro-wrestling has to move on and it has been decided that an eight women tournament will be held, with the semi-finals and finals concluding at their big Wrestle Princess show on November 3.
Today, we’re going to break down the eight competitors and see what their chances are.
An interesting thing about this tournament is about how relatively new or undercard a lot of these competitors are. While the International Championship was designed to attract challenges from the world over, circumstances have put a halt on that. So instead, this tournament (whose brackets haven’t been announced at time of writing) could be used to elevate someone into that upper midcard area and serve as future investment, especially considering recent departures. Perhaps it could’ve used one more in that upper-mid card range to make us a bit questioning, but alas.
The “Probably Not Winning This”
Yeah, sorry to break this to you. While just a bit over one year since her debut, Suzume has been taking to wrestling like a fish to water (or a hornet to pollinating a flower to make honey…shut up). She had an impressive showing in the Tokyo Princess Cup this year and an recent very good tag team title match alongside Mirai Maiumi. But going all the way here would probably be too soon. However, that isn’t to say that it isn’t a possibility one day. If she keeps improving like she has, this title could be something in her future.
Again, I’m very sorry. Like her BeeStar partner, Mirai has a lot of promise. Definitely more on the power side, she too had a good showing in the TPC and her recent tag title challenge. But like Suzume, this is a much longer term build for her. Still, it won’t stop her from having another impressive showing, maybe even having a first round loss against Shoko Nakajima.
To be honest, I think Kiryu is the least likely in the tournament. While having debuted at around a similar time as Suzume and Mirai, I still think she has a longer way to go than those two. She hasn’t really wowed me yet, but perhaps she could have a good showing here. I’m not trying to feel down on her, and feel bad typing this, but she just needs some more time.
Let’s get something straight: Pom is Life, okay? She holds a definite sense of fun in her matches and she can always provide a fun laugh in matches. However, Pom is International Champion probably won’t be a thing right now. I feel like the Championship is going to require a great deal of fire to really add to it, especially considering some of the bad luck it’s had this year. Pom just doesn’t strike me as that, unfortunately.
The “I Could See It”
In terms of the last four, Raku is perhaps the least likely, but I wouldn’t count her out. She’s got a wonderful charisma and it sometimes hides that she is improving at a very high rate. Also, having a champion open the show alongside the other Up Up Girls (although probably not alongside fellow champ Miu, because spoilers for my Wrestle Princess predictions: she’s not holding that tag belt much longer) could provide some fun banter.
While she has a broken finger, Yuki Kamifuku is expected to be clear for her quarterfinal match on 10/17. With that said, she still has a good shot at this. While there is still room for improvement in-ring wise, like Raku she has a great charisma to her and as an added bonus is one of the most fluent english speakers on the roster, which can help with an international title when things start to get a bit more normal.
The “Most Definitely/Should Probably Winning This”
This is the safest bet, but also the safest choice. Shoko’s one of the pillars of TJPW, the former Princess of Princes Champion was actually set to challenge Thunder Rosa at their Tampa show over Wrestlemania weekend. On top of that, Shoko has the most international recognition out of everyone in the tournament via her matches on All Elite Wrestling. Adding in her great skills as a wrestler, the Big Kaiju could provide both stability and elevation for the title, and serve as a good story for when Thunder Rosa returns.
While Shoko is the safest bet, I think Hikari Noa should be the one to win it. I was fortunate enough to be at Korakuen Hall for TJPW’s January 4th show. There, Hikari challenged Maki Itoh for the International Princess Championship and, while she came up short, she was amazing in the match. She has only been improving, having a banger of a match against Miyu Yamashita in the TPC and having the final match against her friend and tag partner Natsumi Maki before she left the promotion. And she lost that match which set Hikari on a path to get even better. As I said, having Shoko win the tournament would be a safe choice, but I think this tournament should be used to elevate someone. Out of everyone in this tournament, Hikari is the one most ready for that. It’s her time to go to the next level, and I think this could be the way to do it.