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Today we are looking at a wrestler some have called the best woman in the sport today: Miyu Yamashita. To tell the story of Yamashita is to tell the story of Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling, and no one can deny she is the ace of the company. 

To put things into perspective, TJPW has had 322 events. Miyu Yamashita has had 315 matches for the company. She isn't just a big part of Tokyo Joshi Pro, you could argue she defined the company, and still is to this day. She has represented the company in multipromotional shows, and gone overseas, not just fighting, but defending the company's top prize.  We're going to look at what TJPW is, what Miyu has accomplished, and some of her best matches over the years. 

miyu title

TJPW was started in 2012 as a sister promotion to Dramatic Dream Team(DDT) Pro Wrestling and at first, it kind of felt like nothing. When I say it started in 2012, it's more accurate to say it was founded. Four trainees were announced, with Tetsuya Kodo, the former promoter and booker for Joshi companies NEO Japan Ladies and Ice Ribbon, and Nozomi, an accomplished wrestler, in charge. Nozomi led the training, but left DDT in November. Miyu Yamashita was amongst those four, and would be part of the initial roster. 2013 saw the debut show, but it wasn't exactly grand. Sure it was accompanied by live music from idol groups, but these shows were free, often consisted of two matches(one being an exhibition of a martial arts style), and held on training mats with no ring. 

They slowly grew until they were able to book Korakuen Hall. Even if you aren't familiar with the building, if you've ever seen a Japanese wrestling show, chances are you've Korakuen Hall at some point. This first Korakuen show had appropriate grandeur, as they crowned their first champion. Miyu Yamashita won the Tokyo Princess of Princess Championship by defeating Shoko Najakima. As I said, you can't talk about Miyu or TJPW without the other. Yamashita would eventually lose the belt to Yuu, a former Judo fighter who debuted on the same show where Yamashita won the championship. 

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Yamashita had been fighting hard for the company for years by the time they recognized that work with a championship. She competed in every single Tokyo Princess Cup from 2014 to now, but has never won. In fact, she's never made the finals. It shocks me that she's never won any tournament, and only made the finals of the Futari No Princess Max Heart Tournament this year, a tag team tournament. Yamashita hasn't been want for titles though. She's now a three time Princess of Princess champion, as well as three time DDT Iron Man Heavy Metalweight Champion and one time SHINE Champion(we'll get there). 

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If you look up Yamashita, the first thing you'll find are people talking about her kicks. This woman has some of the best kicks on the planet, and could easily hang in the conversation of best kicks in all of wrestling. Yamashita is one of the most vicious fighters I've seen in quite some time, and watching her matches are a real treat. When you watch her matches you understand why a company was able to be built around her. She has the strength, the brutality, the charisma, and the intensity to carry a company. She's the face of the company, and now that they are much more accessible here in the United States, I hope more people see Miyu Yamashita. TJPW is on the streaming service Wrestle-Universe, and if you pay for January 2022 now, you get the rest of 2021 free. All of the matches listed are available there, and I highly encourage you to take a look. Without any further delay, let's see just why she's the best. 

chris and miyu

#10: Chris Brookes and Miyu Yamashita vs Shunma Katsumata and Yuki Ueno

 I never thought I'd get to look Shunma Katsumata again, but here we are. Take a look at my Chris Brookes Indie Talent Showcase for more on those two. Despite all the odds, Katsumata is back, and so is Brookes. I actually saw this match as I was working on that other article, and decided not to include it, but I'm not passing up this second chance. This match is the only one that could be remotely considered normal on this DDT show, and as such it actually features some great technical wrestling. The opening saw Ueno and Yamashita facing off and they had some great exchanges. Shunma and Chris of course have much more history which they play off of throughout the match. 

Chris also take advantage of his long legs in a really clever spot where while standing in the center of the ring he's able to get his foot straight up onto the top rope to break the hold. Shunma attempts the same but his legs just aren't long enough. Shunma tries to cheer on his leg to be long enough, and against I'd like to remind you, this is the normal match on the show. This match is just great fun, and seeing Yamashita going along with all the antics is a nice breather after watching some intense, nasty bouts. She still kicks the crap out of everyone, but in a way that made me smile instead of wince. Even when this match gets into strong style, the goal still feels like it's to win a match, not end your opponent's career for daring to fight you. It's a very fun match, and one that I highly recommend to see the range that Yamashita can achieve. 

uwf rules

#9: Miyu Yamashita vs Mirai Maiumi

 I wasn't expecting to find a shoot style rules match here but hey I won't turn it down. I watch quite a bit of UWFi Rules from Paradigm Pro Wrestling, but this match follows the rules of the original Universal Wrestling Federation from Japan. Even if you aren't familiar with all the rules, as long as you know that the point is to focus on more realistic fighting moves, you'll be good. There is a lot of feeling out early on, and grappling is more of a counter than a move in and of itself. The match is about finding and maintaining control, and both women adapt well to the style. This type of match certainly isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's the kind of stuff I love. 

Yamashita does a great job at directing the pace and forcing Mirai to come to her. I was expecting strong powerhouse Miyu in this match, but as opposed to overwhelming with kicks off the bat, she bides her time. She slowly builds into tougher submissions as the match goes on, and tries to wear down Maiumi second by second. After a rope break forces a separation Miyu Yamashita really begins going for the strikes, but Maiumi is the first to get a knockdown in this strike exchange. In classic Miyu Yamashita fashion though, she wins with a head kick. I would love to see her in this environment more(hey CFU as soon as you can let's make this happen). It's very different from other matches on this list, but a great fight. 

hyper misao

#8: Miyu Yamashita vs Hyper Misao 

Hyper Misao is a super hero, we good on that? Cool, now that you get it, this match was tremendous fun. It's the quarterfinals of the 2020 Princess Cup, and Misao tries to use her bag of gadgets to win. She does the classic "throw something to the opponent then lay on the ground in pain while the ref isn't looking" spot early on before removing the apron. I have never seen a match where a wrestler gets tied up in a torn off apron. I've said wrestlers put between the apron and ring, but never wrapped up like a mummy and rolled into the ring. 

This was like watching Nikki A.S.H and Toru Yano in one, and I couldn't help but smile. Miyu still won, but all of Misao's tricks were so fun to see. The best way I can describe this match is Batman vs the Riddler in the 1960's show. Miyu has to not just outpower Misao, but outsmart her. It's a shame that Miyu Yamashita has never won the Princess Cup, but truly she doesn't need that tournament win as she's already very established. That being said, she's still put up some great matches along the way, and this one is my favorite. I don't know if Misao would be champion, but a longer feud between these would be appointment viewing for me. 

miyu vs veda

#7: Miyu Yamashita vs Veda Scott

 I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Veda Scott's name in the list of matches Yamashita had defending her belt, and the match lived up to my expectations. Veda's been a wonderful part of the independent scene in the United States, and she came close to being Princess of Princess Champion here. She makes a great opponent for Yamashita, and I'm kinda sad this is their only match together. Yamashita spends the entire match building up to her big kick and knee strike combo, and when she finally hits it the match is over. Throughout the fight though, Scott targets the leg. She spends the whole match wearing down the knee trying to prevent Yamashita from hitting her signature kicks. On one hand, Scott does a lot to wear down Yamashita, but it's still ultimately defensive behavior. Nothing Scott does is enough, and Yamashita retains her championship. 

tatsumi vs yamashita

#6: Miyu Yamashita vs Rika Tatsumi 

I think Yamashita's third title reign has been amazing, and it all starts here. I almost included the first Tatsumi vs Yamashita match, but this match has bigger bearing on Yamashita's career. This match starts a ball rolling that has only grown bigger since. Yamashita comes strong right out of the gate and I almost thought the match would be over in just a couple minutes. She hits such a devastating kick early in the match that sends Tatsumi out of the ring. This match didn't really have a crowd due to Covid still, and as such, Yamashita was able to mug to the camera. 

She basically looked right at us at home saying, "oh ya, I got this." It was a very human moment, and one that immediately endeared Yamashita to me. Tatsumi doesn't go down without a fight though, and hits several strong hip attacks in a row. She even hits one in the tree of woe position. Despite everything that Tatsumi threw at her, Yamashita hits a beautiful roundhouse kick and knee strike that ends it. 

allysin vs miyu

#5: Miyu Yamashita vs Allysin Kay

 Is there anything better than Mania weekend? The craziest matches always happen then as everyone is together in just one city. 2019 mania weekend will always hold a special place in my heart for just how many special matches took place, but this one somehow snuck under my radar. Allysin Kay and Miyu Yamashita both put their championships on the line, and they put on a banger. This match confirms to me that Miyu Yamashita should come to America, as she already has impressed the last time she was here. 

A lot of the match is spent on the mat, which makes sense given Kay's MMA experience. I wasn't expecting this to be mostly ground control, but it's well executed. When the pair finally begins brawling and exchanging punches, it feels like any blow could be the end. When Kay decided to change it to kicking, I actually felt remorse for her, knowing one does not want to get into a kicking contest with Miyu. She actually doesn't instantly go for the head kick, but back to the ground where they trade holds once more. It's a much more deliberate fight than I pictured, but one that everyone should see. Eventually Yamashita does begin to bust out her massive kicks, and from there it's no wonder that she wins. Surprisingly though, it's not a kick that Yamashita wins with, it's a submission. She would take the SHINE belt with her, and it was a great proving ground for her with the American fans. 

#4: Miyu Yamashita vs Maki Itoh

 we'll look at another Yamashita vs Itoh match later on this list, but for now we come to January 4th, 2021. This same show saw Rika Tatsumi beat Yuka Sakazaki to win the Princess of Princess Championship, but before that, these long time rivals and friends faced off. Maki had improved quite a lot by the time of this match, but Yamashita still had not just more experience, but more championships than her. Itoh gives this fight her all, hitting big backbreakers and strong strikes, but Yamashita's kicks are a killer no matter what you try. 

The trick to beating Yamashita isn't enduring her kicks, it's just not getting kicked at all. Itoh found this out first hand as the match ended in knock out. Itoh's inability to beat Yamashita has plagued her entire career, and the day she does beat her I'll probably cry, but it wasn't meant to be in this match. Yamashita has some of the scariest kicks in all of pro wrestling, and puts them to good use in this match. It's matches like this that make watching Yamashita so fun, because you never know when they'll end. Itoh flips off Yamashita in every match they have, and when she does it in this match Yamashita kicks her so hard that she can't get up. It ends the match suddenly in defiance and continues the most one sided feud in wrestling. 

miyu vs sakisama

#3: Miyu Yamashita vs Sakisama

This is a fun title match for the Princess of Princess championship held by Miyu Yamashita. this was my first time seeing Sakisama, and she leaves an impression. She's tall with great ring gear and carries herself with a certain regal demeanor before the match starts. Yamashita actually looks like she could lose this match as Sakisama just delivers a strong series kicks repeatedly while holding writs control. She falls every single time while Sakisama pulls her back up. Yamashita spends much of the match being thrown around and taking all kinds of rough hits. 

Even when Sakisama goes for the pinfall she carries herself like a pin up model. She truly lets her gimmick carry over into her match and it makes watching her unique. Watching this match I thought Sakisama would win, but when she turns it around, the momentum really does swing in Yamashita's favor. As with all good Yamashita matches, her kicks really steal the show here, and she holds the position after connecting just to show how good her flexibility is. She is able to regain the kind of dominance we're so used to seeing in her matches, but Sakisama still lands a flurry of strikes late into the match. Yamashita's entire third reign has been great so fat, and this match plays a big part of it. 

Sakisama may not have the name recognition here of Maki Itoh or Yuka Sakazaki, but she puts up a great fight here, and is a name I hope we see here someday. These two fight tooth and nail in a bout of such physical power that I truly felt it could end by stoppage. Ultimately, Yamashita wins with her running knee strike, and continues her impressive reign.

miyu vs yuka

#2: Miyu Yamashita vs Yuka Sakazaki

 Part of the amazing triple main event of CyberFightFestival, all of which deserves to be seen, this is a huge moment for Yamashita. One of 90 times that these two have shared the ring, and only the ninth singles match, the situation is reversed from last time as Miyu is the defending champion. Sakazaki is on AEW programming for a reason, and her very unique offense is on full display in this match. She hits a variation of a dropkick through the middle rope(but hangs on to the top so is it really a dropkick?) and that's near the beginning. Yamashita is able to keep pace with her the entire match though, and both women know the scale of this match. 

Throughout this list I've talked about Yamashita's kicks as one of the scariest things I've seen, and the only thing that could top it is an elbow strike from Sakazaki. Yamashita absolutely needed to win this match to prove the validity of this title reign, and she knows it. Her kicks have a precision and power only topped by the number one match on this list. It takes multiple knee strikes for Yamashita to get the win, and that means a lot. Most opponent go down after one, but Sakazaki is able to hang in for a little longer. It was a big match on a big stage for not just these women, but for Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling, and if this was your first time seeing the company, you would be very intrigued and ready for more. 

miyu vs itoh

#1: Miyu Yamashita vs Maki Itoh

 This is the most recent match on this list and the build up was phenomenal. Yamashita beat Ito in Ito's first ever singles match years ago, and ever since Ito still hasn't beaten her. Yamashita is the ace of Tokyo Joshi, she put this company on her back. She still sees Itoh as that idol(Japanese pop singer) that decided to get in the ring. Itoh has grown so much, and even become tag partners with Yamashita, but in this match, Yamashita doesn't care. Itoh is main eventing the biggest show in Tokyo Joshi history, and Yamashita doesn't care. 

Itoh has everything to prove in this match to show she didn't just join Yamashita because she couldn't beat her. Itoh is using genuinely brutal wrestling holds throughout this match, because she wants to prove something. A roll up isn't enough, Itoh wants to finally silence all the doubts. Yamashita is in her third reign as champion, and she's not going to let it end against the fired idol. Itoh looks like a true star in this match, and partway through Yamashita seems to realize this. 

She realizes that this woman is hitting her with tornado DDTs off the apron and she needs to step up. Thankfully for her, that's just what she does. She hits a nasty high kick to Itoh sitting on the top rope, and holds it. She kicks her and lets her head rest against the side showing off just how flexible she is. She then hits a freaking avalanche attitude adjustment and Itoh kicks out(eat your heart out John Cena). Itoh starts to eat kick after kick from Yamashita and the match almost ends by knockout before Itoh is able to counter and get some momentum leading to a flying headbutt. The pair begin trading stiff headbutts that maybe they shouldn't be. Yamashita goes for a bridging pin that she just can't hold because she's exhausted. 

Yamashita hits such a nasty kick that Itoh just crumples and screams in pain. She knees in her in the face and that match is over. Itoh's dreams are crushed, and your ace stays on top. It's almost upsetting to see, but Yamashita is the champion for a reason. That's not the end though. Yamashita delivers a simple promo that even I understood. "Itoh, thank you." Itoh stands and the two share the most earned hug in wrestling history as Itoh has her respect and her love. After they hug Itoh flips her off one more time that Yamashita meets with a fist bump. It's brutal, effective, and not a match you'll ever forget. 

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