January 4th is the perfect time to sample Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling for those who never have. Like any good story, you can dive right in and meet a colorful cast of about two dozen characters.
Some are major players, some have minor roles, and all have personalities and histories that you aren’t expected to catch up on in one sitting. That part comes later.
Speaking from experience, the Ittenyon show serves as a jumping-on point to entertain and intrigue. Especially this year, when the main event isn’t a years-long storyline. Most of the matches are new challenges in the ongoing journeys of each wrestler.
And though a late illness changed a third of the card, it still ended up as an incredibly varied, great show.
TJPW January 4th 2023
TJPW Ittenyon 2024
Yuki Kamifuku, Mahiro Kiryu, Toga vs Kaya Toribami, Moka Miyamoto, Juria Nagano
In one corner are Toyo Mates, Yuki Kamifuku, and Mahiro Kiryu: an experienced tag team who came close to finally winning the pink belts last year. With them is Toga, a promising young wrestler appearing on many rookie of the year lists.
In the other corner is Shinken Kusho, made of Moka Miyamoto and Juria Nagano: a relatively newer team of karate girls. With them is Kaya Toribami, their bird contemporary.
As an opening match, it’s a relatively standard affair. Many wrestlers will start the year with a change in costume or even a slight alteration to one’s appearance. Moka has changed her outfit yet again as she continues to try and find herself.
She has many avenues to grow: be it as a tag team, singles star, or traveling abroad as she recently did for MLW. Kamiyu showed her what an upper-mid-carder looks like, confident in who she is and what she does before getting the pinfall. ***
TJPW Ittenyon Match 2:
Raku, Pom Harajuku, Ram Kaichow vs Himawari, Runa Okubo, Haru Kazashiro
Although TJPW doesn’t do factions, the group of Raku, Pom Harajuku, and Yuki Aino is as close as they come. With some late card changes, freelancer Ram Kaichow was brought in to team with her waifu Raku.
On the other side were three of last year’s rookies. Himawari is as bright and energetic as a sugar flower. Haru Kazushiro is one of the youngest on the roster. And Runa Okubo, who is taking a break to study for her high school entrance exams.
The lore of TJPW runs deep, and the English commentary on major shows is often a helpful guide. Be it Chris Brookes, Baliyan Akki, or the greatest resource for English translations, Mr. Hakusan.
If you don’t know, Ram loves Raku, Pom gets jealous, and hijinks ensue, which is a type of match that happens at least once per card. If you like silly little comedy or girls kissing, it’s a good time. **3/4
TJPW Ittenyon Match 3:
Mizuki vs Nao Kakuta
This is an entirely new match on the card. Nao Kakuta had been announced to defend the tag belts until her partner Hikari Noa fell ill, forcing them to vacate the titles. Mizuki had been scheduled to work with the rookies, but this change is an upgrade.
These two had a great title fight last year during Mizuki’s reign with the Princess of Princess championship.
Their chemistry sparked a reaction again as they opted for a stiffer style of match. TJPW isn’t normally this brutal, so when they turn it up a notch, it makes the audience sit up a bit. It was the first bout to spill to the outside.
They really upped the tempo of the show with their striking and kicking. Mizuki took the victory in a quicker fashion, possibly working her way back into the title picture. Or maybe the long-awaited Mercedes Mone match will one day happen. ***1/2
TJPW Ittenyon Match 4:
Shoko Nakajima vs Hyper Misao
Every January 4th since 2020, Shoko Nakajima and Hyper Misao have had a wild gimmick match. Sometimes, it’s to rename the loser for a month. Usually, there are foreign objects involved. And it’s always fun nonsense.
They are 2-1-1 in favor of Shoko. But since they’ve formed a solid tag team out of this in recent years, everyone’s a winner.
Some might argue that the best wrestlers are the ones having the most fun. The rules of this long-running tradition don’t matter. It’s about Shoko and Misao fighting in the lobby and crowd of Korakuen Hall.
It’s about magic markers and Godzilla toys and giving the people what they want. There’s a spot where Misao rides her bike down a flight of stairs that is unironically one of the most impressive spots on the show. ****
TJPW Ittenyon Match 5:
Riho vs Shino Suzuki
Of the famed rookie class of 2023, Shino Suzuki is one of two out of the six to get a high-profile singles match.
They are all solid wrestlers, but Suzuki has a bit more popularity as part of the Up Up Girls who open every show in song and dance. To be put in the ring with AEW’s Riho in a rare appearance is a huge vote of confidence.
Riho played her role well as the veteran giving the new girl the business. It’s the shortest match on the card by a noticeable amount. Maybe it’s because she hasn’t wrestled in TJPW or Japan in a while that she simply got her stuff in for a TV amount of time.
She beat her like she knew too much and made her tap out, which seems unusually harsh for Riho. Shino gave it her all, but the senpai to kouhai gap is as vast as ever. ***
TJPW Ittenyon Match 6:
Aja Kong vs Wakana Uehara
Last year, Wakana Uehara won a tournament between the rookies to determine the face of the next generation. Her class is still many years away from taking the spotlight, but being in a singles match with Aja Kong is as close to being the utmost stamp of approval.
Wakana has the fanbase, she has the ring presence, and now the chance to get a legend’s respect.
Like the previous match, this was a short match between generations. But the key difference was in storytelling. Wakana attacked Kong before the bell and stayed on her to try for a miracle.
It’s the same concept of the novice trying to prove herself, but the roles were reversed. Wakana worked a choke and got Kong’s arm to drop twice before she fought back. With a backdrop driver, Kong reigned supreme. Wakana may yet not have her respect, but she has Kong’s attention. ***1/4
TJPW Ittenyon Match 7:
Rina Yamashita vs Maki Itoh
The “big 4” matches of January 4th begins with two semi-regulars of Game Changer Wrestling. Freelancer Rina Yamashita has been GCW Ultraviolent Champion for over 500 days, bringing her deathmatch style to the West.
Maki Itoh spent much of 2023 touring the United States, forming a partnership with Nick Gage as Madi Death Kill and learning the way of the pizza cutter.
What started as a battle of cuteness changed once Rina paid off the referee. Maki opened up her opponent’s forehead with the pizza cutter, and blood poured like never before in TJPW.
Rina is a talent unto herself, meanwhile Maki has made tremendous strides in becoming an American style pro wrestler.
Crowd interaction has always been her thing, but the ability to work a near fall and sharpen her spots made this match one of the best on the card. ****1/4
TJPW Ittenyon Match 8:
Max the Impaler vs Yuki Arai
Last year, Max the Impaler won the International Princess title to further emphasize their undefeated streak of their year-and-a-half tenure in TJPW. Since 2021, Yuki Arai has been the idol-wrestler charming the crowd with a wink and a smile.
She’s been making long strides in her wrestling, and since losing her mentor, Saki Akai, to retirement, she is poised to take the next step.
For what could be yet another giant versus underdog story, this one took another lane into monster movie territory. Max was in pure evil mode, tossing Yuri Arai into the chairs and body-slamming her onto the wooden floor.
Arai survived long enough to hit a few knockout shots and score the upset for the title. She’s well on her way to achieving the grand slam of titles, having lost the tag titles one year ago to Max’s team. ***3/4
TJPW Ittenyon Match 9:
Rika Tatsumi and Miu Watanabe vs Arisu Endo and Suzume vs Ryo Mizunami and Yuki Aino
The final match change of the card. Daisy Monkey, made of young breakout stars Arisu Endo and Suzume, were supposed to challenge for the tag belts in the vaunted semi-final spot.
To decide the vacancy, they were joined by former champions Daydream (Rika Tatsumi and Miu Watanabe) and a makeshift team of powerhouses in Yuki Aino and Ryo Mizunami.
With triple-threat tornado rules, it was nonstop action and multi-women spots. Daisy Monkey are so energetic and exciting, that many thought it was their time to be elevated. They were in it until the end, when Aino pinned Endo in a surprise.
Yuki Aino is a former champion herself, but not with her freelancer partner. The new champs don’t even have a name or much history other than fighting each other, so their future remains a mystery. Rika and Miu distinguished themselves as well, but their future lies elsewhere. ****
TJPW Ittenyon Match 10:
Masha Slamovich vs Miyu Yamashita
The relationship between Tokyo Joshi and American companies has grown in the past year. Tokyo Joshi often sends their talent to GCW, MLW, and other indies, but the connection with Prestige Wrestling manifested in a joint show in December called Combat Princess.
This main event was already announced, but Masha Slamovich pinning Miyu Yamashita in a tag match only added fuel to the fire.
This was an early TJPW-MOTYC contender. Early on, Masha crushed Miyu with a gutwrench-powerbomb on the apron, and it was all haymakers from there.
The Russian Dynamite is one of the best in the West, and the Pink Striker is Princess of Princess champion for a reason. Masha makes every move feel special, and the crowd responded in a big way for her ToJo debut. It’s a cliche to say Miyu’s title matches are incredible, but they are. ****1/2
TJPW Ittenyon Aftermath
Every match on the January 4th, 2024 card felt different, which made the whole show special. TJPW followed this up by crowning a new number 1 contender in Miu Watanabe, which has every fan buzzing.
Their 2022 bout was a match of the year quality, and the rematch at March’s Grand Princess has the potential to be a crowning achievement.
And after that, TJPW has not one but two shows over Wrestlemania weekend. One is their own card, the other is GCW vs TJPW.
And their roster keeps getting booked in America, Asia, and Europe. 2024 is the Year of the Dragon, and Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling is rising.