Stardom New Years Stars (Evening 24/2/19) Review

Credit: Stardom

Having already worked a show on the afternoon of the 24th, Stardom turned around and did another one in the evening. I can’t imagine wrestling a match a month, never mind two in a day, so this always amazes me. Adding to the fun is the presence of Women Of Honor title match as the new champ, Mayu Iwatani, defends her belt against Konami and her unbeatable Triangle Lancer. How exciting

Hazuki defeated Saya Iida

This was only Iida’s second singles match, with her first one being her debut back in January. It presented an opportunity for her to show how far she had come in just a couple of months.

Not that it was ever going to be an even contest, Hazuki’s a generous wrestler, but they had six minutes, there was only so much she could do. Iida got her moments, hitting a string of Dropkicks, kicking out of a DDT and getting her sequence of flash pins in, but it would all come crashing to an end when Hazuki came very close to decapitating her with an Axe Kick. A Crossface later and the rookie was tapping. Still, this was a decent showing from Saya Iida and an entertaining opener.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Natsuko Tora defeated Jamie Hayter, Alex Gracia and Sumie Sakai

The current crop of foreign wrestlers are about to head home, so this was Gracia and Hayter’s last appearance in Stardom for now.

Sadly, it wasn’t a great one as there was something very off about this match. It looked like no-one was able to get on the same wavelength and there were multiple awkward moments where people mistimed spots or seemed hesitant as to what they were supposed to be doing.

Of course, the more that happened, the worse it got. They needed a veteran to grab hold of it, and take control, but there just wasn’t enough time for this to be saved. Still, no-one died. Let’s chalk it down as a learning experience and forget it.

Verdict: One And Three Quarter Stars

Jungle Kyona defeated Starlight Kid and Leo Onozaki

Kashima picked up an injury on the earlier show turning this from a tag into a three-way-dance. That seems slightly unfair on poor Starlight Kid as she is left to face two members of JAN.

Fortunately for her, young Leo apparently decided that she was going to use this as an opportunity to go after Mama Jungle. Rather than starting on the same side as her teammate, she went right for her, driving in with a series of elbows. Not that they did much damage, but you’ve got to appreciate the integrity.

That led to my favourite Onozaki’s performance since her return from injury. She’s come back slowly, gradually refinding her feet, but she looked a lot more confident here, taking a more active role in the action. While she could have sat back and let this become Kid vs Kyona, she refused to do that.

Of course, this was all working as a tune-up for Jungle ahead of her title match, and she eventually got her young friend back in line by tapping her out with a Sharpshooter. Onozaki’s performance is the one I’ll remember from this, though.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

STARS (Tam Nakano and Arisa Hoshiki) defeated Hana Kimura and Bobbi Tyler

Hoshiki is happy to team with Tam, but Tam is not sharing the love. Is there any history behind that friction or is it entirely irrational? Either way, I enjoy it a lot.

That simmering tension would almost prove decisive. Poor Hoshiki found Nakano less than enthusiastic when she was looking for her partner to join her in the ring as she entered with all the fire of a lethargic brick. Then, later on in the match, Nakano came up with some double team moves that probably did do some damage to Kimura, but weren’t much fun for her teammate either.

In the end, adversity would pull those two warring factions together. While they were bickering, Kimura and Bobbi were taking advantage, and at some point, self-preservation kicks in. The final act of the match saw them put their differences aside, leaving Hoshiki open to hit that beautiful Brazilian Kick on Tyler for the three.

Post-match, it looked for a second like Tam was going to share a fist bump with Hoshiki, but she chose instead to punch her in the stomach. It was quite a friendly punch, though. That feels like progress.

Verdict: Three Stars

Oedo Tai (Kagetsu, Andras Miyagi and Natsu Sumire) defeated Queen’s Quest (Momo Watanabe, Utami Hayashishita and AZM)

AZM has been standing out in all the right ways recently. She had a fun run with Kagetsu at the start of this and spent the bulk of it in the ring being worked over. The Stardom roster is packed with wrestlers I enjoy, but her offence manages to stand out in the making me smile stakes.

As is the norm for Oedo Tai at the moment, Miyagi was given plenty of chances to impress. While she still looks a bit green, she has a great look and stands out thanks to the combination of her height and the speed at which she moves around the ring. Utami and her had a fun back and forth that even saw Miyagi backflip/backward roll (a disadvantage of that height) out of a German Suplex. If she keeps going the way she is, she’ll be just fine.

And this goes down as a good match. It’s nothing you’ll ever return to, but from start to finish it was pacey and worked well. I have absolutely nothing to complain about.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Mayu Iwatani defeated Konami to retain the Women Of Honor Title

Konami has been on a winning streak recently while Iwatani nipped over to ROH and got her hands on their shiny Women Of Honor title.

With Konami in the ring, it will be no surprise to hear that she quickly got to work focusing her attack on a body part. What might be surprising is that it wasn’t the arm of Iwatani she went after. Having faced some vicious kicks in the opening minutes (and presumably with an awareness of Iwatani’s injured knee), she made the sensible decision to go after the leg. That left Mayu to hobble across the ring and continuously have her comebacks cut off by the big red cross on her left leg.

It is a match type that we know Konami excels in. She’s fantastic at focusing her attacks on the weak limb, slipping into submission holds and doing as much damage as possible. I particularly enjoyed the moment where she caught Iwatani on the top rope where rather than going for a Superplex or something similar, she went straight to that leg, draping herself over the side of the ring while twisting away at it.

Iwatani was just as good, though. Selling a body part is one of wrestling’s underrated skills. You have to find the balance between working the match and working the injury because no-one really wants to see someone lying on the ground groaning for five minutes. She nailed it, never forgetting about the pain she was in, but also not being scared to fire-up and fight through it. A perfect example was her hitting a Double Stomp, she climbed the ropes fine, adrenaline pushing her on, but the second she crashed down on Konami she crumbled, unable to capitalise straightaway.

And that almost lost her the match as they moved into a fantastic finishing sequence. Iwatani’s will power was pushed to the limit as she got dangled in the air with a Stretch Muffler while Konami kicked out of a Frog Splash. There were multiple moments where you thought that either woman could come out with the victory, but in the end, the Moonsault would prove decisive, and Iwatani’s first defence was a success.

While I don’t watch ROH religiously, I can safely say that this is one of the better (if not the best) WOH matches yet. It was perfectly worked with both women giving everything to it and Iwatani looking like a motherfucking star for fighting through that injury. If she can bring that quality to America, she might just save that title yet.

Verdict: Four And A Quarter Stars

Overall Show

An alright show that was pushed into relevancy by a fantastic main event. Truthfully, you could probably skip the rest as no-one was going all out on the second show of the day, but you’d be a dick to complain about that, and it’s not like they slept through it., Konami and Iwatani certainly didn’t.

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