On March 19, Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling had its biggest show to date, TJPW Grand Princess 22, at the legendary Ryogoku Sumo Hall. After debuting as a dark match at this same venue in 2013 and nine years of playing supporting act to DDT, the Tokyo princesses could finally call the stage their own. It was a night of pageantry and emotions, where the past and future were broadcasted worldwide on the Wrestle Universe streaming service.
And coinciding with their showcase, it was the next day at DDT’s 25th-anniversary show from Sumo Hall, where AEW announced working agreements with both the Dramatic Dream Team and its sister promotion Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling to bring their talents stateside to an even grander stage.
The prelude to Grand Princess began with a surprise. Ring announcer Sayuri Namba welcomed guests from the past, KANNA and Chikage Kiba, two of three original wrestlers from the company’s launch. They spoke to the crowd about the incredible growth TJPW has had over the years, considering that their first shows were in small rooms without a ring. Although their careers were short-lived, it’s an admirable commitment to the deepest of lore.
Arisuzu (Arisu Endo and Suzume) vs. Moka Miyamoto & Juria Nagano
Rising stars kicked off the show as the tag team of Arisuzu (Arisu Endo and Suzume) took on Moka Miyamoto and the debuting Juria Nagano. Part of the charm is watching young wrestlers begin their journeys and develop before your eyes. Nagano was highly touted as an actress, nurse, and Tik Tok star and did well in her spots, using her karate background for fierce strikes and kicks.
Her partner, karateka Miyamoto has built a rivalry with second-year rookie Endo, each trading rare victories over the other. The pinfall went to Suzume, an up-and-coming bee-themed wrestler with speed and sting, winning with a cutter on Miyamoto.
Ganbare Pro vs. Cyberfight Banner
Next was a four vs. four tag match as TJPW took on members of Ganbare Pro, another promotion under the Cyberfight banner. The Tojo clan was represented by a band of misfits: Kaya Toribami, a bird masked rookie; Haruna Neko, a catgirl; Mahiro Kiryu, a normal woman who owns a cat; and Nao Kakuta, a former catgirl turned ring general. GanPro was led by Yuna Manase, a former TJPW wrestler, alongside Moeka Haruhi, HARUKAZE, and YuuRi.
In a decent undercard bout, the match peaked when Kiryu, sporting new hair and gear, began to run wild in impressive fashion before losing to Manase’s lariat.
Falls Count Anywhere
Misao vs. Sanshiro
The third match was contested as Falls Count Anywhere with the resident hero Hyper Misao, protecting love and peace by any nefarious means necessary, battling Sanshiro Takagi, the legitimate president of all the Cyberfight companies (DDT, TJPW, NOAH, GanPro). Misao has detailed her tragic history of depression and how her life changed when she first discovered pro wrestling by watching Takagi brawling with Jun Kasai in the streets.
However, she now feels that Takagi has become a boring company man and seeks to bring back his wacky antics that built DDT in the first place. Takagi answered the challenge by painting himself to look like Misao and fighting her amidst jousting bicycles, a pyramid of chairs, and threats of fines from the venue when they brawled in the crowd. Misao earned the victory with her diving crossbody, also earning President Takagi’s respect.
TJPW Grand Princess 22
Yuki Kamifuku vs. Veny
The next match saw the tag team Venyu implode as Yuki Kamifuku (called Kamiyu for short) took on Asuka (called Veny in the West). Each had a special entrance as Asuka danced on the stage to the Demon Slayer opening, while Kamiyu arrived on a motorcycle in the garage and took a swig of alcohol. Even though Kamiyu is often an easygoing party girl, she held her own in trading powerful kicks to the face with the genderless freelancer. However, Asuka withstood two Fameassers, winning with a moonsault and consoling her tearful friend afterward.
Nodoka Tenma vs Yuki Aino
The fifth match continued the wave of emotions as the retiring Nodoka Tenma took on her tag team partner/sister Yuki Aino for the first time ever. The pair made their entrance together with a live performance of their theme as the Bakuretsu Sisters. After a back and forth of hard-hitting moves between the stocky tag team, younger sister Aino took the victory with an abrupt butterfly suplex.
Saki-Sama & Mei Saint-Michel, Martha & Yukio Saint Larent vs. Marika Kobashi, Raku, Pom Harajuku & Ram Kaichow
In the final match before intermission, another four vs. four pitted the Tojo clan against the outsiders who have long plagued TJPW. The first special entrance saw Raku, a train/lullaby enthusiast, and Ram Kaichow, a freelancer representing 666, walk arm in arm to the ring as bride and groom. Accompanying them was Pom Harajuku, an excited and mischievous shin kicker, and Marika Kobashi, gal wrestler.
However, it was their opponents’ entrance that may have stolen the whole show. Fog and opera filled the stage when all nine members of the gothic faction Neo Biishiki-gun assembled together for the first time ever. Even if you haven’t been watching for years, there’s something magical in seeing characters who have never met over a seven-year span be on screen, like something out of the Avengers or Fast and Furious.
Alas, the comical villainy was too much for the heroes as the statuesque Sakisama pinned Kobashi after a pump kick to the face. The leader of Neo Biishiki-gun then gifted the college student a rose, perhaps as a parting gift for the 20-year-old, 7-year veteran who will be stepping away from wrestling in April.
Hikaru Shida vs Hikari Noa
The top-level matches started with Hikaru Shida vs. Hikari Noa. The longest reigning champion in AEW’s history was brought in to face a bright young star in Hikari Noa, a self-professed lover of deathmatches. Early on, Noa tried invoking a hardcore strategy of using a chair on the outside, though Shida was quick to counter with her kendo stick.
Surprisingly, what followed was the shortest match on the card as the veteran Joshi won in dominating fashion with the Falcon Arrow. Shida would then turn her attention to Aja Kong, who was on commentary.
TJPW Grand Princess 22
International Princess Title
Maki Itoh (c) vs. Yuki Arai
The first of three title matches saw Maki Itoh defending her International Princess Title against rookie of the year candidate Yuki Arai. The rivalry has been brewing since Arai’s debut last year. The challenger is an active idol with SKE48, who has garnered much praise for her novice skill, while the champion was fired as an idol and has spent many years yearning to prove that she belongs. The popstar took plenty of punishment before Itoh tapped her out with a cloverleaf and offered a condescending handshake to Arai.
TJPW Grand Princess 22
Princess Tag Team Championship
Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuja Sakazaki & Mizuki) (c) vs. Daydream (Rika Tatsumi & Miu Watanabe)
The semifinal saw the Princess Tag Team Champions Magical Sugar Rabbits (Yuka Sakazaki and Mizuki) defending their titles against Daydream (Rika Tatsumi and Miu Watanabe). The two teams are the class of the tag division. MagiRabi are coming off dethroning the dominant Neo Biishiki-gun. Meanwhile, former champions Daydream won a company-wide tournament to earn their shot.
The comparisons run deeper. Both Mizuki and Watanabe have the potential to be top champions, amazing the audience respectively with Mizuki’s Whirling Candy and Watanabe’s giant swing of two opponents. Meanwhile, their partners are former top champions themselves and two of the four TJPW pillars, Sakazaki the third most tenured wrestler and Tatsumi the fourth.
Their storied rivalry was reignited once again through stiff elbow shots and fighting spirit. The battle of innovative tag team combos culminated when Sakazaki pinned Tatsumi with the Magical Girl 450 Splash.
TJPW Grand Princess 22
Princess of Princess Championship
Miya Yamashita vs. Shoko Nakajima
The main event of the evening saw Miya Yamashita defending her Princess of Princess Championship against Shoko Nakajima, a former champion herself. Yamashita’s reign has been dominant over the past ten months, defeating young stars such as Maki Itoh and Mizuki aching to break into the top tier. Yamashita is the Ace; the original cornerstone TJPW was built upon.
She continued her bullying ways on Nakajima, her oldest classmate and the 2nd most tenured wrestler, after a kick to the head knocked her loopy early. However, the Big Kaiju had an even bigger heart, fighting through powerful knockout moves, and secured the victory with a diving senton. As the night ended with tears from both competitors, Shoko embraced her new championship and vowed to become an even better wrestler.
Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling gave it their all on the grandest stage. Elaborate entrances, bringing back alumni, and exciting matches. The show was over four hours long yet left the audience wanting more, in part due to some shorter than expected matches in the undercard. There is the promise of more big shows in big venues—the announcement of a partnership with AEW.
A phenomenal rookie class, an upper mid-card ready to strike the coveted gold, and top-level talent that can astound in any ring in the world. Grand Princess was the model of a landmark event: honor the past, showcase the current roster, and hype for the future.
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