Round two of my journey into Joshi came just 24 hours after the first as Japan’s early January wrestling buzz saw Stardom racking up the hours. As mentioned in my previous review, I’m very new to this company, to the extent that you could rightly claim I don’t know what is going on. With that in mind, please excuse any mistakes.
Mary Apache and Sadie Gibbs defeated Hina, Rina, Hanan and Natsumi in a Handicap match
This was booked as a trios match, but Natsumi decided she wanted nothing to do with Apache and Gibbs, so jumped ship to team-up with her pals. That made her the grizzled vet of their group at the ripe old age of fifteen.
The rookies continued their tactic from the previous day’s bout with Viper and attacked en-masse. Natsumi was able to tie Mary Apache up in the ropes leaving the other three to swarm Gibbs with their quick bursts of offence. It’s not the prettiest wrestling you’ll ever see, but it sure is fun.
By the end of that flurry, Gibbs was noticeably blown up, panting for air and struggling to get up for moves. More experienced wrestlers might have realised it was time to let her out of the ring, but the plucky teens just kept going, forcing her to wrestle on until she was finally able to get the tag.
While the rookies got a couple more flash pin attempts, that was always going to be the moment things changed. A Double Dropkick followed by a Gibbs’ Handspring Moonsault to the outside set Apache up for a Lariat and the win.
This was another enjoyable runout for the youngsters. Not to sound too patronising, but they’re bundles of energy who throw themselves into the wrestling in a way that’s hard not to love.
Verdict: Two And Three Quarter Stars
Queen’s Quest (Bea Priestley and Viper) defeated Hana Kimura and Bobbi Tyler
This was a fun tag match with Queen’s Quest getting the win. Early on, Kimura got involved from the outside which allowed her and Tyler to take control of Bea. It was a period which culminated in a cool Double Surfboard which is something I haven’t seen before.
As the match went on, the tag team experience of Priestley and Viper began to shine through. They were able to string together more offence and keep Hana mostly out of the action as they headed into the closing stretch, although she did manage to get Viper over for a Suplex at one point.
The close saw Priestley and Tyler face off in a fun sequence where they dished out some stiff strikes. They’re two wrestlers who I know by name, but haven’t actually watched that much of, so it was a nice chance to see what they can do and I came away quietly impressed.
Verdict: Three Stars
Tam Nakano, Saki Kashima and Alex Gracia defeated Queen’s Quest (Momo Watanabe, AZM and Konami)
A chaotic six-women tag that was a hell of a lot of fun to watch. There were a couple of mistimed moments, a pin towards the end was supposed to be broken up, but Momo was a second too late. However, that’s nitpicking rather than an actual issue. Clusterfucks are occasionally mistimed, and it’s only going to bother you as much as you allow it to.
For the bulk of the action, Queen’s Quest looked like they were going to go two in two, as they were the more coherent team. Early on, they isolated Tam, working her over and leaving her to clutch at her leg in agony. The STAR team didn’t have the same fluid tagging in and out, which looked likely to be their downfall.
Unfortunately for Queen’s Quest, they didn’t hurt Nakano enough. When she reentered the ring, the action turned as for the second show in a row, her and Momo Watanabe’s interactions were the highlight. They bring a pace and a viciousness to their work that instantly raises the bar.
As things broke down in the final act, the STARs team finally came together as a trio leaving Nakano along with AZM. She survived Tam flying off the top rope to land knee first on her, but the suplex which followed proved a step too far as they brought an exciting tag to a close.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Oedo Tai (Kagetsu, Hazuki, Natsu Sumire and Jamie Hayter) defeated JAN (Jungle Kyona, Natsuko Tora, Kaori Yoneyama and Ruaka)
Jamie Hayter joined Oedo Tai on the previous show and made her entrance separately from the rest of the group.
We started off with our usual Natsu Sumire antics. I say our usual, she did it on the last show, perhaps those two occasions are the only time she’s ever done it. I suspect not, though. Yoneyama got involved, and they ended up having a lovely time before both tagging out happy with their work. In fact, Sumire was so happy she looked to head up the ramp. That made me giggle.
With the fun out the way, Yamaguchi’s interference turned the match in Oedo Tai’s favour as Kagetsu and Hazuki worked over Tora with the rest of the gang leaping in to provide some mocking at every opportunity. I’m enjoying the dynamics in Oedo Tai. You’ve got a clear line between those who are genuine badasses and the more cowardly members of the team (Sumire) who will leap on the opportunity to be in control but flee the second things go wrong.
This match would end up being defined by two pairings. Hazuki vs Tora and Kagetsu vs Kyona with both groupings coming out strong. When they entered the ring, all the fun and games went out the window, as it descended into a good old-fashioned fight. Kagetsu, in particular, hit some lovely looking kicks as she attempted to remove Jungle Kyona’s head from her body.
The final minutes descended into the usual multi-women chaos before Hayter was left alone with the ring with Ruaka who she pinned after Yamaguchi smacked her with a wooden board. It was a flat ending to what was an entertaining match, although Kagetsu and Kyona made sure we didn’t go out on a complete low as they had to be dragged apart at ringside. They’re booked in for January 14th, and judging by this, it should be a good one.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Utami Hayashishita defeated Starlight Kid to win the Future Of Stardom Title
As far as I can tell, The Future Of Stardom is very much what it says on the tin. A title for the next generation with Starlight Kid having had the honour of being the first-ever champion.
The story of the match was established in the opening seconds. Starlight Kid went after the leg of Utami, locking in a Figure Four and doing all the damage she needed to. From there, Utami was on the back foot. Every time she managed to create some distance and open up an opportunity that leg would slow her down. It was some genuinely fantastic selling as every move saw her reach back to it, groaning in agony.
Starlight Kid, meanwhile, was terrific, playing out her game plan perfectly. There were moments where it looked like she was in trouble, but whenever things got too bad, she just went back to the leg, kicking it out from under Hayashishita and regaining control. She wrestled like a champion confident in her ability to retain her title.
Sadly, that wasn’t to be. For even with one leg Utami Hayashishita proved to be too much. It was her power that turned the game. When she finally got her hands on Starlight Kid, she was able to throw her to the ground and keep her there before hoisting her up for the Torture Rack and the win.
This was a wonderful title match. It only went around ten minutes or so, but both wrestlers played to their strengths and crafted a compelling story. Judging by this it made perfect sense to take the belt off Starlight Kid. She’s more the present than the future.
Verdict: Four And A Quarter Stars
Starlight Kid won a Battle Royal
Well, here’s a bit of old-school wrestling tradition, the end of show Battle Royal.
I have a tendency to scoff at Battle Royals, mainly because they suck, but this one was quite fun. It kicked off with everyone doing the smart thing and immediately vacating the ring making it much harder to eliminate them. That allowed Kagetsu to roll back in and have a chill as everyone else brawled. Not that it did her much good, she’d end up being eliminated not long after.
After that people began dropping like flies with Viper taking out most of the field single-handedly. That was until five wrestlers piled on top of her for what I’m pretty sure – by the letter of the law – was an illegal pin. Mary Apache was then eliminated mid Surfboard which seemed unfortunate.
Alongside that, we had Oedo Tai having dinner in the stands, Tam Nakano dropping people with suplexes and Starlight Kid picking up a win mere minutes after she lost her title. Most of this won’t go down as outstanding wrestling, but it was packed with fun moments, all of which made it a lot more interesting to watch than the Battle Royal staple of punches and kicks in the corner.
Verdict: Three Stars
Another great Stardom show topped off with a fantastic title change and an enjoyable Battle Royal. It’s always a bit hard to judge a new wrestler’s shtick as something that induces a chuckle on the first watch may induce groans on the fiftieth. On top of that, I want to love everything I watch, so there’s a chance I view it through slightly rose-tinted glasses. However, that doesn’t change the fact I’m having a lovely time watching these shows. You’d be silly not to join in on that fun.
Watch New Year Stars: http://www.stardom-world.com/
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