When you’re 147 cm tall, the world can seem like big and scary place. However, few 4’10 wrestlers have made it as far in the industry as Shoko Nakajima has in Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling. She is a pillar of the company: winning the first Princess Tag Team Championship with Yuka Sakazaki, winning the 2015 Tokyo Princess Cup tournament with numerous finals appearances, and is currently in her second reign as Princess of Princess Champion. Over a nine-year career, she has earned a number of accolades, none more important than the moniker of Big Kaiju.
I. Invasion from the North – Shoko Nakajima
Born on July 19, 1991, in Niigata Prefecture, Shoko Nakajima came to Tokyo at the age of 19 to be a comedian. She studied at New Star Creation, a comedy school established by entertainment conglomerate Yoshimoto Kogyo. Though her career in the funny business didn’t pan out, the birth of TJPW in 2013 was soon to be her new calling. She explained at her introductory press conference in May that she had only recently seen live pro-wrestling and was intrigued by the performance and personality of it all. She recalled that her father had been a fan, and she aimed to be like his favorite wrestler, Chaparita Asari, a short wrestler of the 90s.
Shoko made her in-ring debut on August 17, 2013, tagging with TJPW original Miyu Yamashita in a dark match on a DDT show. She would spend most of her first year as the beaten-down babyface and opening the shows in comedic segments with fellow comedian and rookie Yuka Sakazaki. 2014 saw her gaining wins over some debuting younger talents and making a surprising run to the finals of the Tokyo Princess Cup that summer. But as always, she fell to monster heel Nonoko.
II. Destroy All Rivals – Shoko Nakajima –
Her momentum carried into 2015 with a breakthrough year as the top of the card opened up in the race for the ace. Nakajima won the Tokyo Princess Cup, besting Nonoko in the 1st round, and followed her winning the trophy with an upset over the undefeated Saki Akai of Biishiki-gun. With their first Korakuen Hall show approaching on January 4, TJPW was ready to crown its inaugural Princess of Princess champion. Shoko would stand in one corner. And vying for the title in the other corner would be her oldest classmate, Miyu Yamashita.
The Big Kaiju came marching down for the Ittenyon main event with a fur hat on her head and a mighty roar in her lungs. Her love of the monster genre would manifest over the years into face paint, a dangling tail, and a growling personality. The combatants fought in a chess-like style, starting off careful and methodical before bringing out the haymakers. Nakajima was unable to hit her signature Northern Lights Suplex and lost the long and grueling match, barely able to stand afterwards as Yamashita celebrated with the belt.
2016 continued to see excellence from the undersized underdog. She defeated Yuka Sakazaki in the 2nd round of the Tokyo Princess Cup in a high speed, counter for counter 20-minute barnburner. Then, she made it to the finals yet again, losing a brutal MMA-style grappling contest to the imminent Princess of Princess champion, Yuu. The duo declared a rivalry with each other, building towards the rematch at next year’s January 4th. In her second shot at gold, Nakajima took Yuu to the limit again, losing when the champion debuted a super finisher in the form of a Last Ride powerbomb.
III. Big Kaiju vs. White Dragon – Shoko Nakajima
2017 only put more obstacles in Shoko’s path. In the Tokyo Princess Cup semifinals, she lost to Reika Saiki, a second-year supernova and soon-to-be Princess of Princess champion. Her streak of three finals was over. Meanwhile, a challenger was rising in the ranks. Rika Tatsumi was the runt of the litter of the 4 pillars, the most tenured regulars being Yamashita, Nakajima, Sakazaki, and Tatsumi.
However, Tatsumi was injured in her first year and only started to find herself around this time. Like her senpai, she too had challenged for the top title twice and also defeated the villainous Sakisama alongside the new and improved NEO Biishiki-gun. Not to be outdone by her junior, at the climax of a tournament to crown the first Princess Tag Team champions, Shoko teamed with Yuka as Miriclians (Miracle Comedians) to defeat Rika and her partner Maho Kurone (Dragon Bombers). At last, she was a champion.
But as her luck would have it, 2018 showed resistance to the 1.47-meter Kaiju. The Miriclians reign would only last 3 months until February when Sakisama dethroned them with her enhanced power and a newfound ally. Meanwhile, Tatsumi lived up to her moniker of White Dragon as she continued to fly higher. She would receive her third shot at the Princess of Princess title, passing Nakajima’s count at this point.
She would don a new outfit and continue to grow. And in the second round of the 5th Tokyo Princess Cup, Rika tapped out Shoko for her first-ever win in their series in a hard-fought main event. Nakajima would rise again soon after, traveling to America with Yamashita and Sakazaki to make the semifinals of Chikara’s famed King of Trios tournament.
IV. Tokyo Princess Attack – Shoko Nakajima
There’s a trope in kaiju movies where the attacks on the monster will only make it bigger, stronger, and scarier. In 2019, Nakajima started the year putting together wins and earning her third shot at the Princess of Princess championship at Yes! Wonderland in May. Across from her once more was Miyu Yamashita, in the middle of a massive year plus long, 10 defense title reign. The titans clashed again, but this time Nakajima finally won the big one with her Northern Lights Suplex. The belt was hers. The streamers flew. Roll credits.
Shoko Nakajima is 147 centimeters tall and one of the top stars in TJPW. She can grapple and roll on the mat with anyone or put her body on the line with dives and top-rope maneuvers. She was a part of the Joshi initiative in launching AEW and, at the time of this writing, is set to make her European debut on April 23 for Pro Wrestling Eve. Perhaps a return to AEW is inevitable under the working relationship.
Like any good monster movie, she moves forward with her eyes on the horizon. Every opponent is a chance to get better. Every match is a reminder that she is not small, but indeed a Big Kaiju.