Rather than undergo IV infusion to increase your energy, have you considered instead watching Miu Watanabe’s entrance?
The pink-clad powerhouse is a ball of get-up-and-go. She bounces down to the ring with a smile as wide as the Ganges, cheesing for the camera, dancing and bopping. Whether Watanabe is sauntering into battle, singing a J-pop song to open a Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling show or slugs it out with a foe, her enthusiasm fills the room.
Pair that personality with enough strength to swing two opponents around the ring at once, and a firm grasp of the emotional and storytelling side of wresting, and it’s clear why fans have been eager for her to get more opportunities in the limelight.
TJPW, heading into a full decade of existence, has evolved into a major player on the joshi scene. 2022 featured bigger and grander shows, including another joint event with DDT and NOAH in the second incarnation of the CyberFight Festival and hosting their own Grand Princess in Ryogoku Kokugikan, attracting its largest ever crowd.
TJPW’s future is looking downright brilliant at this point. Watanabe is key to that bright future.
The 23 year old had a breakout year in 2022, challenging for the Princess Tag Team Championships alongside Rika Tatsumi at the company’s biggest show of the year, marching to the finals of the Tokyo Princess Cup, and dethroning Alex Windsor to claim the International Princess Championship, her first singles title. Along the way, Watanabe looked every bit like a big-league star.
It has been TJPW’s cornerstones, Miyu Yamashita, Shoko Nakajima and Yuka Sakazaki who have dominated the title scene, who have been the main characters in this promotion’s story. They have been the go-to stars for years, but rising talents like Watanabe look ready to join them on that top tier.
With translation help from TJPW officials, I had the chance to ask Miu about her recent accomplishments, her goals moving forward and some fitness tips for good measure.
Q: In this year’s Princess Cup, you had impressive wins against both Miyu Yamashita and Shoko Nakajima, advancing all the way to the finals. What are you going to remember most about this tournament run?
The most important event for me was that I was able to fight in a singles match with three of my seniors whom I respect and have been building up TJPW since its inception. Being able to experience such a rich and precious time in one summer is one of the most important experiences in my future life as a professional wrestler. I strongly felt that the barriers between my seniors are still high and that I must do my best to be like them!
Q: What went through your mind as you held up the International Princess Championship for the first time?
Frankly speaking, I was very happy! I had many fans cheering me on since the summer tournament, and it felt like they were fighting with me so that I could win. I was happy to have the belt as a result of your support and strength! But at the same time, it made me want to be more like my seniors and get closer to them, and I also wanted to be able to raise the value of this belt even higher!
Q: What can we expect from you as International Princess Champion?
First of all, I want to defend the belt a lot! I have not had many opportunities to fight foreign fighters, but as the International Princess Champion, I would like to see the scenery that goes with the belt! And by seeing the scenery, I am sure that I will be able to grow in areas where I have been lacking compared to my seniors this summer!
Q: Are there any foreign wrestlers you would like to defend your International Princess Championship against?
I don’t have much experience fighting foreigners right now, so I can’t name names specifically, but I’d like to fight a lot of different players eventually!
Q: We’ve seen TJPW wrestlers such as Miyu Yamashita and Maki Itoh touring the world and even appearing on American TV as part of AEW’s Dynamite. Do you have hopes to wrestle across the globe too?
I want to know wrestling around the world, and I want to wrestle in front of international wrestling fans and meet the fans, very strongly! I have a great desire to fight in a big venue again! I hope to be able to go overseas someday, but I can’t speak English at all, so I have to study hard!
Q: Who are idols or wrestlers who have influenced your singing or wrestling?
AKB48, Morning Musume, Momoiro Clover Z, BABYMETAL, and so many more! There are too many idols that I love too much to count! I love them because they are sparkling, shining, full of dreams, and give wonderful performances!
Q: Who does the Giant Swing better, you or Claudio Castagnoli?
This is Mr. Claudio Castagnoli! My Giant Swing has yet to be delivered to the world, so I want to work hard so that I can deliver it to the world like Claudio does and use the best Giant Swing in the world! Also, I keep thinking that one day I’d like to watch the world’s best Giant Swing live!
Q: Do you have any workout tips for improving arm strength in case any of us want to also bodyslam two wrestlers at a time like yourself?
Arm strength is important, of course, so I train a lot, but I also think it’s important to have full body strength, so I always make sure to train hard every day! So the secret is to train every day!
Q: What is your favorite memory of TJPW so far?
The year I debuted, the single with Yamashita-san and the match in 2019 when I won the tag belts at Daydream are the most important matches that became a turning point for me, so they are very impressive! In the single match with Yamashita-san, before I debuted in pro wrestling, I wanted to be an idol, and I often had a hard time being positive about the gap between my dream and being a pro wrestler, but after the match with Yamashita-san on this day, I knew that one day I want to overcome this person, this wall! I want to be strong! Wrestling is fun! I want to be strong!
And when I won the belt with Rika-san, I felt the happiest I have ever felt in my life. I had a lot of regrets before I got to this point, but I truly felt that all those regrets were for the sake of meeting this happiness. It is a very precious memory.
To read more about Watanabe, check out: I Contain Multitudes; The Many Talents of Miu Watanabe and A Simple Story, Told Well: Agony, Ecstasy, and the TJPW Princess Cup Final.