Event: Tokyo Joshi Pro “Inspiration”
Date: April 1st, 2021
Location: Shin-Kiba 1st RING in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 142
Broadcast Information: Streamed on WRESTLE UNIVERSE
As part of my project to review as many events as possible in April that are available to Western fans via an official streaming service, we start with Tokyo Joshi Pro! This event was added to Wrestle Universe the same day it was filmed, giving us an immediate chance to watch the show. This is a smaller event from Tokyo Joshi Pro, as they are planning to potentially do a series of “Inspiration” events that are shorter but give opportunities for new wrestlers to shine. No Yuka Sakazaki, Maki Itoh, or Miyu Yamashita on this event, but we do get Hikari Noa’s first hardcore match! So that is exciting. All three wrestlers in the Up Up Girls have a singles match, here is the full card:
All wrestlers have profiles on Joshi City, you can click on their names above to go straight to it. All matches were streamed in full by Tokyo Joshi Pro.
Miu Watanabe vs. Mizuki
We kick off this shorter event with two wrestlers looking to improve their standing in Tokyo Joshi Pro. Mizuki is the veteran here as she debuted in 2012, joining Tokyo Joshi Pro in 2017. While she has had a couple shots at the Princess of Princess Championship, she hasn’t won the top title in the promotion yet, so she is looking to keep picking up wins until she gets another chance. Miu is younger and less experienced, as she debuted in 2018. She has had tag team success though and has really grown as a wrestler, making this an interesting match as its their first singles match against each other since 2018.
They circle each other to start before locking up, but they break cleanly. Tie-up and they trade waistlocks, Miu gets Mizuki to the mat first but Mizuki quickly reverses positions with her and they jockey for position. Back on their feet, Miu goes off the ropes but Mizuki catches her with an elbow, Miu fires back with two shoulderblocks but Mizuki avoids her charge in the corner and slides out of the ring to re-group. Miu goes out after her but Mizuki quickly slides back in and elbows Miu as she gets on the apron. Miu outsmarts Mizuki as Mizuki ends up back on the apron before Miu knocks her to the floor. Miu slides Mizuki back in, cover by Miu but it gets a two count. Miu throws Mizuki into the corner and elbows her in the back repeatedly, Miu stretches Mizuki over her knee before covering her for two again. Miu picks up Mizuki but Mizuki trips her and hits a footstomp on her back. Facelock by Mizuki but Miu gets into the ropes for the break, Mizuki drags Miu onto the apron and hits a double footstomp. Miu flops to the floor, Mizuki goes out to the apron and jumps down onto Miu with a double footstomp. Mizuki slides Miu back in and covers her, but Miu kicks out. Mizuki throws Miu into the corner, Miu tries to fight back but gets hammered with elbows for her trouble.
Diving crossbody by Mizuki but Miu catches her and slams her to the mat. Mizuki kicks Miu away and dropkicks her in the back while she is against the ropes, footstomp by Mizuki and she hits another footstomp off the second rope for a two count cover. Miu gets back up but Mizuki avoids her strikes, Mizuki goes off the ropes but Miu clubs her to the mat. Shoulderblocks by Miu, she picks up Mizuki but Mizuki slides off. Armdrag by Miu and she hits a scoop slam, cover by Miu but it gets two. Mizuki goes off the ropes but Miu catches her with a shoulder powerslam, Giant Swing by Miu but she is too dizzy/hurt to make a cover after it, Mizuki ends up in the corner and Miu connects with a body avalanche. Hard shoulderblock by Miu, and she covers Mizuki for two. Miu picks up Mizuki but Mizuki grabs the bottom rope to stop whatever Miu planned on doing, Miu charges Mizuki but Mizuki ducks her attack and hits a Backstabber. Back up they trade elbows, Mizuki slides around Miu’s back and applies an armtrap crossface but Miu gets to the ropes. Mizuki goes to the top turnbuckle but Miu recovers and clubs her in the chest, sending Mizuki to the apron. Miu grabs her from inside the ring and drags her back in, hitting a shoulder breaker for two. Slap to the chest by Miu but Mizuki cradles her to the mat and hits a footstomp. Mizuki goes off the ropes and nails the Whirling Candy, but Miu barely kicks out. Mizuki positions Miu and goes to the top turnbuckle, she nails the diving footstomp and picks up the three count. Mizuki wins!
This was good. Not great, not particularly special, but solid wrestling. Mizuki is smooth and I like her style of offense – the more footstomps the better and the Whirling Candy is an A+ move. Miu kept up for the most part but their chemistry was iffy at times and I never really got the feeling that Miu was close to winning or had a plan on how to win. There were no realistic nearfalls for Miu even though she controlled a pretty good portion of the match, which is unusual when a match goes almost 15 minutes. It is on the bubble of what I’d recommend but Mizuki put it barely over the edge, not a bad opener but I was hoping for a bit more since they had the time to tell whatever story they wanted. Mildly Recommended
Raku vs. Rika Tatsumi
For the second match, we get Raku from the Up Up Girls against the Princess of Princess Champion, Rika Tatsumi! This is a non-title match of course as Raku isn’t on that level yet, Raku has only had one title challenge in her career and that was for the tag titles in the summer of 2020. So while they are on different levels, this is their first singles match since 2018 so its a fresh pairing that will give Raku a chance to impress.
Rika comes down to the ring but Raku is nowhere to be found, leaving the champion confused. She looks around for her without any luck, eventually she gets back in the ring but Raku sneaks up and attacks her from behind. Raku gets Rika to the mat and tapes a pillow to her butt (it makes sense in a moment), Rika gets back up and goes for a hip attack but it doesn’t hurt Raku due to the pillow. She gets the pillow off but Raku runs over and schoolboys her for a two count. Inside cradle by Raku, but that gets a two as well. Raku goes off the ropes and runs over Rika, senton by Raku but it gets a two count. Raku charges Rika but Rika knocks her back and dropkicks Raku in the knee, kneelock by Rika but Raku gets to the ropes for the break. Rika drags her back to the middle of the ring and gets the hold re-applied, but Raku quickly gets to the ropes again. Rika throws Raku into the corner and kicks her repeatedly in the knee, dropkick to the knee by Rika and she snapmares Raku to the mat. Cover by Rika, but it gets a two count. Elbows by Rika and she hits another snapmare, she goes back to the knee but Raku kicks her away. Irish whip by Rika, reversed, but Raku avoids the hip attack and hits a running elbow.
Raku elbows Rika against the ropes and hits a brain chop, dropkick by Raku and she covers Rika for two. Raku gets Rika’s back and cradles her to the mat, but it gets a two count. Raku gets on the second turnbuckle but Rika elbows her before she can do anything, dragon screw by Rika and she applies a figure four leglock. Raku manages to get to the ropes for the break, Rika charges Raku but Raku holds down the top rope and Rika tumbles out of the ring. Rika gets back on the apron but Raku slams her face into the mat, diving brain chop by Raku and she covers Rika for two. Sleeper by Raku but Rika drives her back into the corner to break it up, running elbow by Rika and she puts Raku in the Tree of Woe. Running hip attack by Rika and she covers Raku, but Raku barely kicks out. Rika picks up Raku but Raku pushes her off and hits the Sling Blade. Raku charges Rika but Rika moves and catches her with a swinging slam. Sleeper by Rika but Raku snapmares out of it and applies a sleeper of her own. Rika gets out of the hold and hits a cutter, she goes to the top turnbuckle and nails the Missile Hip for the three count! Rika Tatsumi is the winner!
Raku is a unique wrestler. Unorthodox, if you will. For me, the basic fundamentals aren’t really there as I prefer wrestlers with a comedy slant to be able to ‘turn it on’ when needed and Raku didn’t really have that second gear. Doesn’t mean she isn’t mildly entertaining, she is, but a high end wrestler she is not. Going slightly goofy though will probably help her career longevity but I don’t see any major titles in her future. Rika seemed thrown off by Raku as she is a pretty good wrestler but her leg work fell a bit flat since Raku was doing nothing to sell it and not all of the transitions for who was on offense were very smooth. Not a bad match as there were some entertaining moments, but a step down from the last match.
Hikari Noa vs. Rina Yamashita
For the main event, Hikari Noa wrestles in her first hardcore match! As the story goes, Hikari is a fan of Big Japan Pro Wrestling and wanted to do a hardcore match, so Tokyo Joshi Pro brought in one of the most highly thought of hardcore wrestlers on the Joshi scene – Rina Yamashita! This is Rina’s first match in Tokyo Joshi Pro, so its a special occasion for sure. Rina has a long list of accolades with multiple title reigns, and comes into the match with two titles (PURE-J Tag Team Championship and the King of FREEDOM Tag Team Championship). Hikari in her two year career hasn’t won any titles, but she is only 23 and clearly has aspirations to be special. This is a big opportunity for Hikari, even on a small show, to show she has what it takes to hang with one of the best.
There are various weapons around the ring, including a giant board, ladder, and lots of chairs. Rina pushes Hikari into the ropes to start the match but gives a clean break, Hikari asks for a knucklelock but Rina kicks her in the stomach instead and they trade wristlocks. Hikari works a headlock but Rina reverses it, Rina gets Hikari to the mat but Hikari quickly gets away and they return to their feet. Dropkicks by Hikari, she picks up a box and dumps the contents all over the ring. Looks like CDs and glowsticks. Rolling cradle by Hikari, but Rina kicks out at two. Hikari grabs Rina but Rina blocks the slam and hits one of her own onto the CDs. Rina takes out one of the CDs and crushes it in her hands, which I didn’t know was possible, she grabs another one and crushes it in the direction of Hikari. Lariat by Rina in the corner but Hikari blocks it when Rina tries to throw her into the board. Rina charges Hikari but Hikari moves, sending Rina crashing into the board propped in the corner. Hikari gets the ladder and puts it over her head, she spins around and around but Rina grabs a chair and hits the ladder to stop Hikari in her tracks. Rina throws Hikari out of the ring and goes out after her, removing the mat at ringside.
Rina picks up Hikari and slams her onto the exposed floor, Rina reaches under the ring and pulls out a table. She sets it up on the floor and puts Hikari onto the table before going up to the apron, but Hikari recovers and hops off the table to the apron as well. Elbows by Hikari and she tries to pick up Rina, but Rina blocks it and knocks her back. More elbows by Hikari and she again goes for a slam off the apron, but Rina elbows out of the hold and hits a headbutt. Rina gets Hikari up on her shoulder and jumps off the apron through the table with a Fire Thunder Driver! Rina gets an object from under the ring and jabs it into Hikari, looks like the tool used to tighten the ropes, before sliding Hikari back into the ring. Rina works a headlock before putting her in the ropes and jabbing her in the head with the sharp part of the tool. Rina lays the ladder in the middle of the ring and slams Hikari onto it, cover by Rina but it gets a two count. As Rina goes to get some chairs, Hikari starts chucking CDs at her (that are still everywhere in the ring) but Rina shrugs it off and stacks chairs onto Hikari’s back. Rina then hits Hikari’s back with another chair, Hikari fights back with elbows but Rina knocks her to the mat.
Rina picks up a chair but Hikari dropkicks it back into her, Hikari goes to the top turnbuckle but Rina recovers and joins her. Superplex by Rina but Hikari fires up and the two trade elbows. Release German by Rina and she nails a lariat but the cover barely gets two. Rina gets a chair and hits Hikari with it, she piles up a bunch of chairs in the middle of the ring but Hikari slides away when she goes for a powerbomb. Rina grabs a chair and hands it to Hikari, she goes off the ropes but Hikari throws the chair at her head. Hikari superkicks a chair into Rina but she is too hurt to capitalize. Both slowly get up with chairs, superkick by Hikari and she drops Rina with a backdrop suplex. Hikari goes out of the ring and slides in a piece of the broken table, hitting Rina repeatedly in the head with it. Hikari goes to the top turnbuckle and hits the Pearl Harbor Splash, but Rina kicks out of the cover. Rina picks up Hikari but Rina elbows her back and hits a backdrop suplex. Short range lariat by Rina, and she covers Hikari for a two count. Rina picks up Hikari and delivers a lariat, cover by Rina but Hikari barely kicks out. Rina re-piles the chairs in the middle of the ring, she picks up Hikari and nails the Splash Mountain onto the chairs for the three count! Rina Yamashita is the winner.
Even though this was pretty one-sided and the winner was never in doubt, it was still damn fun to watch. Hardcore matches have their pros and cons – they can hid a wrestler’s deficiencies but at the same time its easy to get into tropes and not do enough to elevate the match. Rina is a great wrestler and won’t let the latter happen, as there was very little downtime in the match and any “spots” that were set up were set up quickly. Rina didn’t hold back on Hikari and put her through the hardcore ropes, without doing anything really next level that may make some fans squirm (piercing spots, getting blood, etc.). It was definitely still a hardcore match, but had the right amount of violence without going overboard. Hikari looked comfortable in the situation and hit all her spots smoothly (both giving and taking), if this checked her career “hardcore match” box I’m happy she got the chance to it. Overall an entertaining match and a solid way to close out a smaller event, even with a clear winner they put on a good show. Recommended
For a smaller event with different aspirations, I thought this event delivered. The Up Up Girls were all put in singles matches against wrestlers that outranked them, and even though none won, I don’t think any hurt their place in the promotion while Hikari may have helped it. Hikari and Miu are more my style of wrestler but I can see the appeal with Raku, as she provided a change of pace as all three matches had a distinctly different feel to them. The main event was one of the better-structured hardcore matches I’ve seen in recent memory as they kept the action moving and didn’t just do a bunch of hardcore spots for the sake of hardcore spots. A fun short show by Tokyo Joshi Pro.