Nearly a year in the making, Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling’s Wrestle Princess II is finally upon us, emanating live from Ota Ward Gymnasium in Tokyo, the largest venue TJPW has run. We’ll be seeing debuts, returns, all championships on the line with a potential era-changing main event to top it all off. We’re here with a preview of the card, some background info, who just might come out on top. Let’s check it out!
Six-Women Tag Match: Ram Kaichow, Pom Harajuku & Raku vs Mahiro Kiryu, Haruna Neko & Kaya Toribami
What was originally an opening tag match to get everyone on the card has changed to a six-women tag with the return of injury Mahiro Kiryu and especially with the TJPW debut (first of two on this card) of Ram Kaichow, she of the 666 promotion alongside places such as Ice Ribbon. Ram’s addition, along with the chaotic energy in teaming her with Pom and Raku, may serve as the spice as a place setter for the show.
Prediction: Prior to Ram’s addition, it still felt like Pom and Raku would’ve gotten the win over their juniors and the addition of the Chairman hasn’t really changed anything except that TJPW should make trios belts and Ram, Pom and Raku should hold them first.
Three-Way Match: Rika Tatsumi vs Hyper Misao vs Nodoka Tenma
Another match that saw changes with late returns. What was once a singles match between Misao and Tenma has now become a three-way with Tatsumi making her return after taking a hiatus due to family commitments. This match has three workers ranging from very good to incredibly good and could very well be one of the sleeper hits of the show.
Prediction: This match has an air of being an unofficial #1 contender’s match for the International Princess Championship, especially with the addition of Tatsumi to it (more on this when we talk about the IP match). As mentioned, all three are great workers (both in a fun comedic sense and workrate) and any of the three could be seen challenging for that belt later in the night but I have the feeling the White Dragon Rika Tatsumi will be the one to do it.
Tag Match: ASUKA & Yuki Kamifuku vs Nao Kakuta & Marika Kobashi
Our second debut sees the incredibly talented ASUKA/Veny teaming up with the former International Princess Champion Yuki Kamifuku (to form the team “VENYU”) to take on Nao Kakuta and Marika Kobashi. Like the three-way, this also has potential to be a sleeper hit. Outside of ASUKA, Kamiyu leveled up big during her title reign and Kakuta and Kobashi have steadily improved even more over the last year.
Prediction: While the match should be real good, it does feel like ASUKA/Kamiyu will have this one sewn up pretty straightforwardly. I’ll discuss this further down, but if ASUKA will have more appearances in TJPW, I wouldn’t mind the team going for the tag team belts.
Tag Match: Riho & Shoko Nakajima vs Suzume & Arisu Endo
Making a return to TJPW for the first time in two years, the inaugural AEW Women’s World Champion Riho is teaming up with the Big Kaiju Shoko Nakajima to take on the team of Suzume and Arisu Endo. If you want a sugar rush of a match, this is probably going to be it. Arisu and Suzume (herself having lost her tag partner due to Mirai Maiuri leaving) are two that the company clearly see massive potential in and Shoko and Riho have great chemistry both against and with each other. Expect Suzume and Riho to go 1,000 miles around one another in this.
Prediction: Riho’s one of the most popular and good wrestlers in AEW and Shoko Nakajima is my 1A favorite female wrestler this year (alongside Rika Tatsumi). Suzume and Arisu have a boatload of potential and, while already real good, are only starting to tap into that. While I think Riho/Shoko will win, the two future pillars of TJPW are gonna make them earn it.
Tag Match: Moka Miyamoto & Aja Kong vs Yuki Arai & Miu Watanabe
We now come to the penultimate match before the title matches begin. Aja Kong is our finally guest wrestler as she teams up with Moka Miyamoto to take on the team of the idol lover Miu Watanabe and actual idol Yuki Arai. Arai wants to prove herself against the legendary Kong and she has history with Miyamota (getting her first singles win against her in her fourth match ever. More on this in the predictions) and teaming alongside Watanabe, herself a tag specialist and semi-finalist in this year’s Tokyo Princess Cup. While Kong isn’t physically what she once was, it is still expected to be a real good match.
Prediction: I…have a conflict with Yuki Arai. While I think she is perfectly good for her experience level, the fact of the matter is that she’s highly popular in Japan due to her membership as an idol in the SKE48 group. So TJPW have been very obvious with their wanting to capture more mainstream attention with her this year and judging from her merch sales, it’s working (even if I feel like it unintentionally buries the rest of the roster). Don’t get me wrong: from a business perspective, it makes all the sense in the world, especially since I’m not part of the domestic market.
Here’s the thing: I’m not a business person and don’t have shares in CyberAgent. So when I see stuff that’s being done for clear business purposes and fractures internal story logic (Moka still not getting a singles win, despite way further development than Arai) it starts to build a little resentment in the promotion (it’s what began me being turned off from Stardom the last year and a half). So while I think Arai/Watanabe will win, it still won’t sit well with me. What will sit well with me is the thing I hope we see: that is the Idol Lover, the leader of the M(iu)DK Gang, the One Who Humbled the Swiss Cyborg, Pink Death Miu Watanabe Giant Swing that nobody *checks notes* “Aja” “Kong” into the stratosphere.
Yuki Aino vs Hikari Noa (c) for the International Princess Championship
The build to this title match has been…interesting. To put it simply: Yuki Aino pinned Princess of Princess Champion Miyu Yamashita in a tag match, then lost in a subsequent singles match, then Aino pinned International Champ Hikari Noa in a tag match and then challenged for the International belt. This all happened in less than a month, by the way. Yuki Aino is a good wrestler, better than she gets credit for, and this match could provide a good clash of styles (Aino’s power moves vs Noa’s striking) but it feels like the build really let this down a bit.
Prediction: Cards on the table, I feel like the original plan for the International Belt at this show was to have Rika Tatsumi (who eliminated Noa from the Tokyo Princess Cup) challenge, but she had to take a hiatus for an indeterminate amount of time, so they bum rushed the booking of Aino challenging and Rika came back before they could get back on course. As such, I feel like this is the safest match for a retention so Hikari Noa for the win only for Rika to challenge her afterwards.
MagiRabi (Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki) vs NEO Biishiki-Gun (c) for the Princess Tag Championships
While the build to this match wasn’t as headscratching as the International Belt, it is also a very uninteresting build. MagiRabi basically just came out and challenged a week or two ago. With a division that felt so vibrant at the beginning of the year with teams like Bakuretsu Sisters, HikaShio, BeeStar and 1to1000000, the penultimate match of your biggest show being NEO Biishiki-Gun vs MagiRabi feels like the booking “well, we have no other teams to do” and that should not be your plan for your biggest show ever. There is history between these groups in that NBG (not this incarnation, mind you) took the belts from MagiRabi, however, that was also literally over two years ago. Bakuretsu Sisters winning last was genuinely one of the most heartfelt moments of the year and it feels like this division has been on a downward slope since.
Prediction: One of NBG’s biggest strengths is that the group isn’t around all the time and doesn’t get overexposed. With that said, unless VENYU are going to come out and challenge, I feel like the bells are ringing for this incarnation of the group. I do think on a technical level this match will be very good, but I foresee MagiRabi winning the belts. I just wish I could be a bit more excited.
Maki Itoh vs Miyu Yamashita (c) for the Princess of Princess Championship
Maki Itoh debuted in Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling in 2016 in a losing effort against Miyu Yamashita. Since then, their story has ebbed and flowed, with Itoh still falling short against the company’s Ace (including at DDT’s New York City show that I got to see live). January 4th of this year brought it back to the forefront with Itoh coming closer than she ever has against Miyu.
Itoh and Miyu formed the tag team 1to1000000 that saw them get to the finals of the MaxiHeart Tag Tournament only to begin slipping up around each other. Miyu tried to keep the team together while Itoh got more distant. With Maki Itoh winning the Tokyo Princess Cup 8 (including my genuine Match of the Year against Mizuki in the Semi-Finals), the match was set for Wrestle Princess II, with Itoh demanding that Miyu stop slipping up and fight her at her best.
Prediction: It is Maki Itoh’s time. This is both a prediction and a warning.
If you were to come to me and say that Maki Itoh isn’t a good wrestler in the year 2021 and that she only gets by with character and twitter stuff, you are actively arguing in bad faith to me. Itoh’s always had the charisma but now she has power leveled up insanely this year, having great singles matches with Miyu, Tatsumi, Nakajima and Mizuki and did not feel like she was being carried ever. Her victory in the Tokyo Princess Cup has made her hotter than the sun. I am genuinely afraid TJPW thinks the story is about Miyu getting her edge back, but I feel like a retention here would not only be a mistake but a damaging one. If Miyu winning back the belt in April felt like it stunted Rika Tatsumi’s momentum, her retaining against Itoh here would feel like a car crash in her momentum.
Miyu Yamashita has been the stalwart Ace for so long, but it’s time for the New Era.
What are your predictions for the show? Let us know on Twitter @NearfallsMedia!