This coming Sunday is one of the biggest TJPW shows of the year, and it has a main event that the world will be watching. That’s right folks, Maki Itoh finally gets her shot at the Princess of Princesses Championship when she challenges the current champion, and longtime rival, Miyu Yamashita. Let’s go back a bit and take a look at something that foreshadowed this match.
On January 4, 2021, Maki Itoh stood up to Miyu Yamashita at Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling’s marquee show to kick off the year. After her clutch performance in Korakuen Hall against her longtime rival, you cannot look at her the same. Itoh exuded a top champion’s aura in addition to her usual carny vibes. Itoh has always been an attention-grabber, all you have to do is look at her Twitter feed to see that.
The 5’3” firecracker who calls herself ‘The Cutest Professional Wrestler in the World’, is a storm of cuss words and headbutts. She’s hilariously flippant on Twitter, sports a distinctive look, and is bursting with charisma. But she hadn’t yet shown herself to be a top-level performer in the ring. She’d been solid but had yet to have that one true standout match.
Who better to help change that than Yamashita, the cold-blooded killer of TJPW. For one, Yamashita is the standard-bearer of the promotion, the ace even when she’s not holding the Princess of Princess Championship. If you want to see how good you have become, you step in there with the best. And that’s Miyu.
Secondly, their paths have long intersected, so there’s plenty of history to play with.
Throughout Itoh’s journey, she’s crashed into the bigger, stronger, head-kicking force that is Yamashita. It’s been a one-sided series. Itoh’s first singles match was a sub-10-minute loss to Yamashita back in 2016. She’s fallen to the same foe in the first round of the 2018 Tokyo Princess Cup, at a DDT show in New York, in a Princess of Princess title match in 2019. The nearest she’s comes to a singles win over The Momoiro Striker is a time-limit draw at the TJPW Christmas show to close out 2020.
Itoh seems to get closer to knocking off Yamashita each time, though. Her confidence grows. The gap between rivals shrinks. Their latest meeting came in the semi-main event of Tokyo Joshi Pro’s big January show. The contrast of these two wrestlers shone sharply. Itoh grinned before the showdown; a stone-faced sneer hung on Yamashita’s face.
Yamashita offered a pre-match handshake, but Itoh would have none of that. She slapped the former Princess of Princess champ and smiled like The Joker afterward. As has been the case throughout their history, Yamashita dominated. She attacked, overwhelmed, and kicked the very soul out of her smaller opponent. Itoh seemed to relish the punishment, looking up in defiance even while wincing. As the fight rolled on, Itoh showed herself to be as ferocious as her rival. Her rope-hung DDT planted Yamashita into the mat like a tent stake. She was a blur as she battered Miyu, howling as she bent her foe’s boot backward. The slugfest was a declaration of Itoh’s in-progress ascension. It was a showcase of her toughness.
Itoh went so far as to hold her arms down at one point to let Yamashita kick her in the chest, a move akin to a lion tamer putting his arm in the big cat’s mouth. She withstood an impressive amount of abuse, but eventually the boots brought her to her knees.
In the end, Itoh was wobbly-legged and barely able to even hold her head up. No matter, though. She was still obstinate; still the pig-tailed rebel. She held up a middle finger, one last in-your-face statement before Yamashita coldcocked and KO’ed her.
That’s just a bit of the history between two of the best that TJPW has. You’ve got Miyu, long considered the Ace of the promotion, that everyone strives to top or even be on the same level as. Then you’ve got Maki Itoh, the up and comer who took the world by storm when she debuted for AEW in her brief US appearance.
Now, we come to October 9th. After Maki Itoh defied the odds and won the Princess Cup back in August, she and Mayu have once again been on a collision course. They’ve been in the ring promoting the hell out of this upcoming match and frankly, this may be one of the most anticipated matches for TJPW in a long time. It’s definitely the most anticipated of the year. Betting odds are likely to favor Miyu Yamashita, but I’m not so sure that things are going to play out as everyone thinks. Frankly speaking, TJPW knows what a star Maki Itoh is. When her merch debuted on PWTees, it topped the sales charts for over a week. She may be vulgar and she may be hard headed, but Maki Itoh is just what TJPW needed to get itself on the worlds map.
Win or lose, October 9th is going to be a career defining night for Maki Itoh. Miyu Yamashita has had an incredible run as champion. She’s done it all for TJPW and she’s one of the absolute best wrestlers in the world. She’s also the only 3 time Princess of Princess champion. I honestly can’t see TJPW not capitalizing on Itoh’s popularity and allowing her to carry the title. She’d join the likes of Yamashita, Yuka Sakazaki, Yuu and Shoko Nakajima. I’m calling it now folks, Maki Itoh walks out on 10/9 as the new Princess of Princess Champion.
The Full Card for Wrestle Princess II, streaming on the Wrestle Universe page.
- Princess of Princess Championship: Miyu Yamashita vs Maki Itoh
- Princess Tag Championship: Mei Saint Michel & Sakisama vs Yuka Sakazaki & Mizuki
- International Princess Championship: Hikari Noa vs Yuki Aino
- Special Tag Match: Moka Miyamoto & Aja Kong vs Miu Watanabe & Yuki Aria
- Tag Match: Shoko Nakajima & Riho vs Suzume & Arisu Endo
- 6-woman Tag Match: Ram Kaichow, Raku & Pom Harajuku vs Mahiro Kiryu, Haruna Neko & Kaya Toribami
- 3 Way Match: Rika Tatsumi vs Hyper Misao vs Nodoka Tenma
- Tag Match: ASUKA (Veny) & Yuki Kamifuku vs Nao Kakuta & Marika Kobashi
Sign up today and watch not only Wrestle Princess II, but everything DDT, TJPW, Noah and Ganbare free until 12/29. That’s right folks, Wrestle Universe is giving us three free months once you sign up.
https://www.wrestle-universe.com/en. I hope everyone checks out this event, it’s stacked from top to bottom and should be one of the best wrestling shows of the year. See you after the show for my review!