Ah, KBS Hall. Is there a more beautiful location for wrestling? The stunning stained glass window that stands behind the ring always sends a shiver of pleasure down my spine. Judging by the pre-match promos throughout this show, the wrestlers appreciate it too, and it could turn even the dullest of affairs into a spectacle. This won’t be dull, though! It’s Stardom, we love Stardom. The beauty of the venue will only add to the talent in the ring.
Natsu Sumire defeated Rina and Ruaka
When it comes to wrestling, I tend to be a work rate guy. I can appreciate comedy and will happily give anyone a shot. However, if I have the choice, I’m always going to go for the hard-hitting and athletic contests over the sillier stuff. All of which makes it a bit of a surprise that I am growing to adore Natsu Sumire.
Except it probably shouldn’t be a surprise because she’s really good at what she does. Sure, she’s not going to win any Most Outstanding Wrestler awards, but she nails the little things. Right from the start of this, she was on form, ignoring the other intros to pose in front of the cameras, before protesting that she couldn’t be in the match because she left school a while ago. More importantly, though, she always finds a way to make herself the butt of the joke. Rina and Ruaka didn’t lose anything because of the look of slight dismay on her face when she realised just how much older than her opponents she is.
And, of course, when the right moment came, she did get involved in the match, attacking from behind with her whip in hand. Sumire was teaching these kids that you can have all the fiery passion in the world, but if your opponent is smarter than you, you don’t stand a chance. After hitting a very inappropriate Bronco Buster (much to the horror of JAN) she rolled up Rina and walked out with the three.
So yea, this ain’t about to go down as a work rate classic. However, for a short comedy match to kick off the show? It was a lot of fun.
Verdict: Two And A Quarter Stars
Queen’s Quest (Konami and AZM) defeated Starlight Kid and Hina
Starlight Kid and AZM have crazy good chemistry. I assume one of the many advantages of starting these kids so young is that they grow up together. Like Pep’s famous Barcelona you are going to pick up an instinct for how your peers think when you develop your talents side by side from a young age.
It would be Kid’s interactions with Queen’s Quest that dominated this match, and they were great. Hina, meanwhile, took on more of a supporting role. Getting involved at key moments and sneaking at least one near-fall off a roll-up where I genuinely thought she’d won for a second. Sadly for her, a shock wasn’t on the cards, and an AZM stomp claimed the day.
These four didn’t get much time, but they worked at a million miles an hour to put on a frantic and enjoyable contest. Good stuff.
Verdict: Three Stars
Oedo Tai (Kagetsu and Hazuki) defeated Hana Kimura and Bobbi Tyler
Any worries about Kagetsu and Hazuki’s friendship following their epic showdown can be put on hold for now. They worked as a coherent team and celebrated their victory together like they hadn’t been throwing chairs at each other’s heads a few days before.
On the other side of the ring, Bobbi Tyler continues to settle into her role. Team Hana was heeling it up, taunting Hazuki as they worked her over. Meanwhile, her in-ring work is smoothing over as she even managed to get that Double Romero Special on with no hiccups.
The real high, however, was Hana and Kagetsu continuing their rivalry. Give me two wrestlers throwing strikes at each other like they despise the other one’s guts, and I will always be happy. They delivered that, so we can all go home with a smile on our faces.
Hazuki would pick up the win, ducking a Tyler Axe Kick and tying her up with a roll-up. All is well in Oedo Tai.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Utami Hayashishita defeated Alex Gracia to retain the Future Of Stardom Title
Right, let’s start with the positive. I think this was the best Alex Gracia performance I’ve seen. The problem with that? It’s not a high bar to leap.
Which isn’t to say that Gracia was fucking up constantly. As far as I could see, she didn’t botch once. However, I didn’t for a second believe Alex was a wrestler. She looks uncomfortable and awkward, like someone working through something they’ve rehearsed. Now, that may well be the case (and I’ve no issue if it is), but you need to convince me that what you’re doing is real and in the moment.
I’m not trying to write off Alex Gracia, she’s young and has been doing this for five minutes. It’s just impossible to ignore these things when she’s in there with someone like Utami who, let’s not forget, is equally inexperienced and yet light years ahead of her. I’d love nothing more than to one day be mocked for how stupid these reviews look, but she’s got a distance to travel before we get there.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Stars (Mayu Iwatani, Tam Nakano, Saki Kashima and Arisa Hoshiki)
JAN (Jungle Kyona, Natsuko Tora, Kaori Yoneyama and Saya Iida
I don’t think anyone has ever been as happy about anything as Hoshiki was to be beating up Iida. That lass was having the time of her life.
Some of the tag team work early on in this was exquisite. Both teams came up with fun and inventive ways to work as a foursome which were a delight. Too often multi-person matches end up feeling like a group of singles wrestlers tolerating each other, but that wasn’t the case here.
Although, when this broke down into something closer to singles competition, it was Jungle Kyona and Iwatani who stole the show. Those two had a fantastic back and forth section in the centre of the match as, for the bulk of it, they were left alone to get down to it. Watch that and tell me you don’t want those two facing off right now?
The end saw Hoshiki finish what she’d started earlier in the match by pinning Iida. This was a fun tag, that while slightly inconsequential feeling, never got dull.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Momo Watanabe defeated Jamie Hayter to retain the Wonder of Stardom Title
Stardom is chucking their gaijin talent into the pool to find out whether they can float. As far as I can see, this was Hayter’s first title shot for the company so she will have gone in keen to impress.
She also went in with the intention of doing as much damage to Watanabe’s previously injured knee as possible. After a period of even grappling, Hayter decided to hell with that and started beating on the injured limb. It was a constant flurry of kicks and twists, designed to keep Momo off her feet.
It must be said that both women were fantastic in that section. Hayter arrogance in control was detestable, yet she never forgot her mission. There was a moment where she was pinning Watanabe, and still using it as an opportunity to hammer away at her leg. Momo, meanwhile, sold her ass off. Screaming in agony, and stumbling around every time she found her feet. You couldn’t help worry for her as the attacks kept coming.
The damage done to that knee didn’t give much Watanabe much choice as to how she countered. She was too banged up to go toe to toe with Hayter, so she had to finish this fast. Momo began trying to choke Hayter out or go for Peach Sunrise at every opportunity. It was a desperate attempt to escape with her belt.
And in the end, Jamie’s arrogance proved to be her downfall. She took too long, mouthing off to those at ringside as she tried to hoist Momo up for a suplex. In that split second, Watanabe struck, slipping out, dropping Jamie with a German, a kick to the head and Peach Sunrise for the three. It was by the skin of her teeth, but the champ retained.
Despite that, the message being sent here was pretty clear, Jamie Hayter’s a player in Stardom. She dominated 95% of this match, and on another day, she’d have taken home gold. Now, truthfully, that didn’t lead to the greatest spectacle, back and forth thrillfests are always more fun. However, it did a hell of a lot for Hayter and wasn’t a bad watch either, job done.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Another solid Stardom show with a great main event and a smattering of good matches throughout the card. At this point, I don’t think they’ve delivered a bad card this year. If you’re not watching, you really should be.
Watch Stardom: http://www.stardom-world.com/