TJWP Max Heart Tournament Finals 2024

If every major promotion in Japan is going through growing pains at the moment, Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling might be the one who’s suffered the least amount of damages. The whole landscape is shifting leading into the TJWP Max Heart Tournament Finals 2024.

TJPW amicably parted ways with Yuka Sakazaki in December, and so far in 2024 they’ve lost Maki Itoh and Hikari Noa to the injured list for the time being. All of which has had a major effect on the 4th annual Max Heart Tag Tournament.

With three of the top teams unavailable and a fourth announced to be disbanding, the company has seen many changes since their wonderful Ittenyon show.

The way to sailing over rough waters is having a guiding light in sight. March’s Grand Princess show is building up to be big. April’s United States shows are selling tickets fast. \And putting young talent in key positions should be the main priority for preparing for a healthy future.

TJPW Max Heart Finals:
Shino Suzuki vs Haru Kazashiro

(Photo: Twitter @TJPW2013 – Max Heart 4 Finals: Haru Kazashiro defeats Shino Suzuki)

The saga of the 2023 rookie class nears to an end as these two are set to reach their 1st year anniversary in March. Neither Shino Suzuki nor Haru Kazashiro has attained a singles victory.

At Ittenyon, Shino was brutalized by Riho. Meanwhile, Haru is still considered the baby of the roster alongside Runa Okubo, and Runa beat her 1 v 1. If anyone has to be running in the back of the group, for how talented they may be, it’s likely these two.

Haru and Shino went above and beyond the level of two pure rookies in an opening match. Haru has a raw element to her game, like in her loose footwork or almost losing Shino on a bodyslam.

Overexuberance is still better than moving at half speed like her debut and being so afraid of messing up that you become wooden. In the first surprise of the show, Haru won with a bridging pin that she’s been working on for months. ***

TJPW Max Heart Finals:
Nao Kakuta, Yuki Kamifuku, Mahiro Kiryu vs Ram Kaichow, Raku, Pom Harajuku

(Photo: Twitter @TJPW2013 – Max Heart 4 Finals: Yuki Kamifuku pins Pom Harajuku)

Nao Kakuta has been without her tag team partner Hikari Noa since the beginning of the year due to illness. Here she teams with rival/friend Kamiyu and her partner in Toyo Mate, Mahiro Kiryu.

Not only did Toyo Mate lose in the 1st round of the Max Heart tournament, but Nao’s team also lost in the 1st round to Pom and Raku nonetheless.

There must always be a comedy match in the travelling troupe of TJPW. Valetine’s Day was the bit of the month as team Love Triangle beat on Kiryu for the first 5 minutes. The teams actually got to some more serious grappling, with Kamiyu getting the win over Pom. **3/4

TJPW Max Heart Finals:
Moka Miyamoto vs Kaya Toribami

(Photo: Twitter @TJPW2013 – Max Heart 4 Finals: Kaya Toribami defeats Moka Miyamoto)

In terms of a four tier ecosystem, these two would be above the bottom level but below that third upper level yearning to be on top.

In TJPW, almost everyone who’s been around long enough has a tag partner or someone like that. Moka’s partner Juria Nagano is retiring soon and Kaya really hasn’t had anyone with which to form a named team.

Surprise is definitely the word of the day when talking about this show. Everyone would say that Moka is the one running ahead in terms of getting title shots and doing international shows.

But Kaya has been steadily racking up wins against the rookies. So when Kaya got the win, debuting a crazy middle rope senton to do it, fans of the underbird went wild. ***

TJPW Max Heart Finals
Shoko Nakajima and Hyper Misao vs Himawari and Wakana Uehara

(Photo: Twitter @TJPW2013 – Max Heart 4 Finals: Myper Misao defeats Himawari)

If there was a match of the tournament before this Finals show, it would more than likely be Shoko Nakajima and Hyper Misao vs Daydream in Round 2 from January 21st.

If it doesn’t make an end of the year list, then TJPW must’ve had one hell of a 2024. With their loss, Kyoraku Kyomei now faces two of the most promising rookies who have just passed their 1 year marks.

In a certain light, it’s as if the young students are learning from who they would hope to be. Himawari is an amusing comedy wrestler and she should be so lucky to attain Misao’s ability to flip the switch and be a main event caliber wrestler.

Wakana has all the makings of a top star and she would do well to learn from Shoko about all the little things. Selling. Making moves look like they hurt. And getting their asses beat until Misao tapped out Himawari. ***1/4

TJPW Max Heart Finals:
Mizuki vs Zara Zakher

(Photo: Twitter @TJPW2013 – Max Heart 4 Finals: Mizuki defeats Zara Zakher)

Up and coming California wrestler Zara Zakher makes her debut for TJPW in one of the biggest challenges possible. Former top champion Mizuki lost her partner Yuka Sakazaki entering 2024 and her team saw a 1st round exit in the Max Heart Tournament as well.

Tokyo Joshi has brought in many international wrestlers: from American indie darlings to some who are more unknown and looking to make a name. Zara Zakher doesn’t have much of a trail online, but she should after this performance.

Not knowing what to expect from an unknown, it’s all the more impressive to see her strength, speed, and ability to hang with one of the best. The Korakuen Hall crowd even gave her an America style ovation as they do for their guests.

Mizuki won in the end, but Zara can lay claim to having one of the best foreigner debuts in TJPW. ***1/2 

TJPW Max Heart:
Miyu Yamashita and Toga vs Yuki Aino and Ryo Mizunami

(Photo: Twitter @TJPW2013 – Max Heart 4 Finals: Yuki Aino submits Toga)

Due to various card changes around Ittenyon, the makeshift team of Yuki Aino and Ryo Mizunami became the Princess Tag champions. In a non-title match, they face the Ace and the rookie.

Because her normal partner Maki Itoh has been injured, Miyu Yamashita teamed with Toga for the Max Heart tournament, losing in the 1st round. Standing beside the current Princess of Princess champion is a tall task, but Toga is a tall girl. 

First things first, there needs to be a singles match between Miyu Yamashita and Ryo Mizunami, if possible in a championship main event. The Pink Striker is an unstoppable force and Aniki is an immovable object.

Speaking of chemistry, Toga showed some real promise going to powerhouse school, going shoulder to shoulder with Yuki Aino. Toga took the loss, but perhaps she’s gained a new mentor in the form of the Ace. ***1/2

TJPW Max Heart:
Yuki Arai vs Juria Nagano

(Photo: Twitter @TJPW2013 – Max Heart 4 Finals: Yuki Arai defeats Juria Nagano)

With her graduation from TJPW set for April, Juria Nagano makes her 1st challenge for a singles belt. Meanwhile, Yuki Arai seeks to make the 1st defense of the International Princess title she won at Ittenyon.

Juria has always had explosive potential since she debuted in 2022, but her busy schedule seems to have kept her from reaching the supernova status that Arai has.

It’s difficult to talk about Juria with her leaving, but she really had some incomparable skill. With her karate kicks and fierce energy, she could have been a contender. Arai is somewhat in the same boat, working a less-than-full time schedule due to her outside work.

But she’s come a long way herself in dispelling that caveat. As she did here, when she steps in the ring it’s smooth transitions, light footwork, and veteran poise. Yuki Arai retained with a kick to the head. ***3/4

TJPW Max Heart Finals:
Rika Tatsumi and Miu Watanabe vs Arisu Endo and Suzume

(Photo: Twitter @TJPW2013 – Max Heart 4 Finals: Suzume pins Rika Tatsumi)

In the Finals of the 4th Max Heart Tournament stand two of the best tag teams in TJPW. In one corner is Daydream, Rika Tatsumi and Miu Watanabe: accolades aplenty including the 2nd Max Heart trophies.

In the other corner is Daisy Monkey, Arisu Endo and Suzume: the rising stars of the next generation ready to break out. Many thought they could’ve won the tag titles in January, had the card not changed.

It’s a special moment when a match can be this great and exciting as much as it is important.

It’s one thing to talk about the final stretch of back and forth action or Miu going viral for hitting the giant swing on two human beings. But Daisy Monkey winning the tournament means a whole lot more in the grander context.

Going on two years now, Arisu Endo and Suzume have tasted defeat more often than victory as a team and on their own. They’ve even been driven to tears.

Even still, they’ve continued to work hard and innovate their moves to get to where they are. It’s happened countless times where the youth gets the rub by making it to the Finals and loses.

After all, Miu Watanabe is challenging for the Princess of Princess title next month and has been on a tear. But Suzume managed to pin a cornerstone in Rika Tatsumi and make history. ****1/2

TJPW Max Heart Finals Aftermath

Of the three winners of the Max Heart Tournament, two of them have won their title shots to win the Princess Tag Team Championships.

At Grand Princess ’24 in March, all the belts could be held by first time champions: if Miu Watanabe defeats Miyu Yamashita and Yuki Arai retains over Yuki Kamifuku.

Because of the perception that the number 1 company Stardom has been fractured in some way, the world of joshi wrestling is potentially up for grabs.

Regardless if the changes that are thought to happen in the coming months do or do not happen, it is in the best interest of Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling to stay the course.

They’ve made their name in planting seeds in the West, putting on fun shows, producing exciting young talent.