Event: JTO GIRLS Tomoka Inaba and Aoi 20th Birthday Festival
Date: July 22nd, 2022
Location: JTO Arena Chiba Main Store in Chiba, Japan
Announced Attendance: 17
Broadcast: Sold in JTO’s Online Shop
While I am known for occasionally reviewing really obscure wrestling events, I may be going too far this time. This show was filmed from a ringside seat and sold only on JTO’s online shop for 2,000 yen. As I am a noted Aoi fan, I am required to watch as much JTO as possible, so I purchased it and here we are. This was a short show that took place in their building with a small audience, mostly for fun. We do have one mystery trainee exhibition match, so if Trainee R turns out to be a big time wrestler down the road, this footage may be highly sought after. Not a likely scenario but stranger things have happened. Here is the full card:
All the non-trainee wrestlers on the show have a profile on Joshi City, you can click on their name above to go to it. Onto the show!
Tomoka Inaba vs. Trainee R
The event beings with an Exhibition Match between Inaba and one of their young trainees, whose identity has not been revealed. Or her wrestling name hasn’t been decided, one or the other. She is going by Trainee R, so I guess that is what I will call her also. Inaba is the homegrown Ace of JTO so it makes sense that she will be showing the trainee the ropes in this non-match that is just designed to give Trainee R some experience.
Inaba didn’t even take her t-shirt off for this match, emphasizing that it is just an exhibition. They tie-up to start and trade some basic holds, Inaba works a headlock but Trainee R reverses it into a wristlock. Inaba gets the headlock re-applied and takes Trainee R to the mat, but Trainee R gets away and the two return to their feet. Kick by Inaba and she returns to the headlock, Inaba delivers a series of snapmares but Trainee R wiggles away and applies a wristlock. Irish whip by Inaba but Trainee R hits a hard shoulderblock, elbows by Trainee R but Inaba elbows her hard to the mat. Stomps by Inaba, she picks up Trainee R and elbows her some more. Hip toss by Inaba but Trainee R elbows her, kick by Inaba and she hits a scoop slam. Trainee R gets back up but after an elbow goes back down, Trainee R fires up and hits a series of elbows but Inaba knocks her to the mat again. Scoop slam by Inaba and she hits a second one, but the bell has rung as the time expires. The match is a Draw.
Its impossible to either expect too much or read too much into a rookie exhibition match, but what Trainee R did here was pretty crisp even if it was basic. A formulaic match for sure that went as expected, but still necessary practice for the trainee to get some experience in front of a live crowd.
rhythm vs. Yuu Yamagata
The real show has begun as the young rhythm challenges Yamagata. rhythm debuted in the summer of 2019 but missed almost a year of time between now and then, so she is still pretty much on the “rookie” path as she has under 50 matches in her career. She gains valuable experience here against the super veteran Yuu, who debuted before rhythm was even born. Yuu Yamagata is going to win, but hopefully the youngster will learn a thing or two along the way.
They trade wristlocks to start, rhythm gets a headlock applied but Yuu gets rhythm to the mat with a headlock of her own. rhythm returns to her feet and reverses the hold, Yuu eventually gets out of it but rhythm takes her to the mat. Yuu gets out of the headlock as both return to their feet, Irish whip by Yuu and she elbows rhythm in the chest. Yuu drops a knee on rhythm’s face before applying a reverse chinlock, Yuu picks up rhythm and throws her into the corner. Yuu kicks at rhythm and hits a couple knees, snapmare by Yuu and she goes out to the apron to hit a slingshot stomp. rhythm gets up and fights back with elbows, knee by Yuu but rhythm hits a back elbow followed by a bulldog. rhythm picks up Yuu, she goes out to the apron and snaps Yuu’s neck on the second rope. rhythm gets back into the ring but Yuu quickly recovers and the two trade strikes, Yuu eventually blocks one of rhythm’s blows and applies a choke. rhythm gets to the ropes for the break, Yuu walks up to rhythm but rhythm quickly goes for a triangle choke. Yuu blocks it so rhythm hits a neckbreaker instead, she goes for the bulldog but Yuu pushes her off. rhythm boots Yuu and hits the bulldog anyway, she picks up Yuu but Yuu hits an enzuigiri. Yuu goes to pick up rhythm but rhythm goes for the triangle choke again, she rolls it into a crossface but Yuu gets to the ropes. rhythm picks up Yuu but Yuu pushes her off and drops rhythm with a dropkick for a two count. Yuu quickly puts rhythm in a Facelock and rhythm taps out! Yuu Yamagata is the winner.
I am not sure if rhythm is “good” but she wears a mask and therefore I love her. She has been improving however, she was pretty rough her first year but I do see signs of progress. Still, she needs more experience, hopefully she gets better. Yuu was pretty giving here all things considered, and even though rhythm didn’t have any nearfalls in the match it was far from a squash. I appreciate rhythm’s bulldog-based offense, it is not effective but its fun anyway. Its good to see rhythm going in the right direction, hopefully matches like this continue her growth.
Aoi and Tomoka Inaba vs. Misa Kagura and Sumika Yanagawa
For the main event we get an all JTO GIRLS affair, as Tomoko Inaba does double duty for the show. These are most of the top Joshi wrestlers in the promotion, they have an official ranking system and I believe going into this match that Inaba was #1, Aoi was #3, and Misa Kagura was #4 (Yuu Yamagata is #2 but wrestled in the last match). It isn’t terribly fair that the top two home grown talent are on the same side, but life isn’t always fair. Inaba is slowly becoming too good for JUST TAP OUT, I wouldn’t be shocked if she left at some point. Aoi is still developing but is a lot of fun (plus is a good dancer). Kagura and Yanagawa are a step below both in popularity and in-ring skill, but are early enough in their careers that its not a red flag or anything like that. Not sure what to expect from a small show main event, but it should be solid anyway.
Misa and Sumika throw streamers at their opponents to distract them to get the early advantage, Aoi is isolated and is dropped with a double armdrag. Misa and Sumika both slam Aoi to the mat before Misa stays in as the legal wrestler, elbow drop by Misa but Aoi avoids the senton and delivers a dropkick. Aoi leads Misa back to her corner to tag in Inaba, Misa is double teamed in the corner before Aoi starts on Misa’s wrist. Hammerlock by Inaba and she stomps on Misa’s arm, she tags Aoi back in and Aoi goes to the top turnbuckle. Ax handle by Aoi to Misa’s arm as the arm work continues, Aoi attacks Misa’s arm some more before tagging in Inaba. Inaba applies an armbar but picks Misa back up after a moment, Irish whip attempt by Inaba but Misa blocks it. Kicks by Inaba, she goes for another Irish whip by Misa reverses it and tackles Inaba in the corner. Hard shoulderblock by Misa and she makes the hot tag to Sumika. Sumika delivers a jumping kick to Inaba’s chest, Aoi comes in but Sumika slams her to the mat. Sumika sets up Inaba in the corner and hits a jumping knee to her back, double knee by Sumika in the corner and she hits a back heel kick for a two count. Sumika picks up Aoi and hits a scoop slam, Misa runs in with a senton and Sumika applies a Sickle Hold.
Aoi breaks that up, Misa throws Aoi out of the ring while Sumika picks up Inaba, but Inaba blocks Sumika’s attack and cradles her for two. Inaba applies a Fujiwara Armbar but Sumika gets to the ropes for the break. Inaba tags Aoi, Sumika elbows Aoi repeatedly but Aoi doesn’t go down. Aoi chops her back but Sumika hits a headbutt, Aoi blocks her next strike however and applies an armbar. Inaba runs in and puts Misa in an armbar as well, but both of their opponents reach the ropes. Aoi goes off the ropes but Sumika avoids her and hits a Backstabber. This gives her time to tag in Misa, shoulderblocks by Misa to Aoi and she covers her for two. Misa picks up Aoi and throws her into the corner, but Aoi kicks her back and delivers a boot. Big boot by Aoi but Misa fires back with a hard shoulderblock, she goes to pick up Aoi but Aoi puts her in a reverse armbar. Misa wiggles to the ropes for the break, Aoi picks up Misa but Misa sneaks in an inside cradle for two. They trade flash pins with neither getting the three count, Sumika catches Aoi with a heel kick and Misa applies the Misa Roll 2 on Aoi for the three count! Misa Kagura and Sumika Yanagawa are the winners.
Such a carny wrestling thing to do – having a wrestler lose to a scrub on their own birthday. Kidding aside, this was a pretty good main event considering the size and scope of the show. Even though the match wasn’t long (about 12 minutes) they weren’t mailing it in, with Sumika in particular seeming to step up her game and make an effort to be noticed. You’d expect for younger wrestlers to be fired up regardless of the situation but it was good to see all four didn’t see this non-televised show as an excuse to coast. The arm work was well done (although ultimately meaningless) and everything looked pretty crisp. Not a match that anyone needs to go out of their way to see but an enjoyable offering between four up-and-coming wrestlers. Mildly Recommended
This was a very small show, even by JTO standards, with only two official matches. As a fan of some of their wrestlers and a collector of rare Joshi events, I certainly don’t regret buying it, but it only would be appealing to a very small section of wrestling fans. The two matches were both pretty good though, and seeing an Aoi match is never a bad thing. I can’t really recommend it to the average Joshi fan, but if you must consume all Joshi that exists, this is a short and easy watch.