It’s draft time! Well, it was draft time a week ago, and I presume all of you are well aware where the various cogs in Stardom’s wheels ended up, but I’m going to write about it anyway. It’s what I do. Not all I do, though. I have some other hobbies… maybe. Shut up, Stuart, and get on with it.
Rina defeated Hina
It’s a twin off! You’ve got to assume Hina and Rina are kinda close, so it was no surprise to see they had a decent match worked out. It was a simple back and forth featuring nothing fancy, but they’re thirteen, so we aren’t dishing out a kicking for that. I have seen worse matches from wrestlers a lot more experienced with many more years on the clock.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Tam Nakano defeated Rebel Kel and Hanan in a Three-Way-Dance
Rebel Kel appeared not to know Hanan’s name or had forgotten it as she referred to her as ‘the other competitor’ during her promo. It might have been an attempt at disrespect, but it didn’t feel that way. Although, I guess her forgetting it is kind of disrespectful, so maybe it did? Now I’m confused.
Whatever the reason, Rebel still hasn’t managed to change my slightly negative opinion of her in-ring work. She looks clunky and stood out for the wrong reasons in the ring with Tam and Hanan. While they look natural moving around, Kel seems to be thinking about everything she’s doing, and you get the impression she’s working her way through a script.
Still, there was some fun to be had. I thought Hanan had an impressive showing, starting fiery and having a few cool moments. At one point, she and Tam were fighting over who got to pin Rebel, a fight Hanan gained a decisive victory in by hitting a Double Stomp rather than just dragging Nakano away. Then, after taking the fall, she refused to shake Tam’s hand. Is Hanan going dark?
Anyway, this was fine. Tam is always worth a watch, but if you skip it, you’re not going to end up with any regrets.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Oedo Tai (Hazuki, Andras Miyagi and Natsu Sumire) defeated JAN (Natusko Tora, Saya Iida and Leo Onozaki)
Our first dance-less Oedo Tai entrance went off without a hitch. It would have been weird if it hadn’t. If anything the dance added opportunities for it to go wrong. I guess they could have spontaneously danced, what would happen then? Do Queen’s Quest get to hit them with a bat? That’s now my headcanon.
As has become the norm recently, Hazuki was the star. It’s not just the wrestling either, but the way she holds herself. The contempt she showed whenever Iida or Onozaki attempt to fight back against her bullying. She knows she’s better than them, and she wants them to know it too.
Elsewhere, Tora seemed fired up to impress (which made sense by the end of the night) while Iida and Natsu have developed something of a mini-feud. The rookie enjoys Dropkicking Sumire, and I’m going to suggest she doesn’t feel the same way. While Natsu would eventually get the win, it was only after an assist from her partners.
Another decent match without much that would be classified as memorable, but with plenty to enjoy while it was in front of you.
Verdict: Three Stars
STARS (Saki Kashima, Arisa Hoshiki and Starlight Kid) defeated Queen’s Quest (Konami, AZM and Bea Priestley)
Bea Priestley always looks bored out of her mind when people are talking Japanese in promos. Probably coming up with more moves to steal…
Queen’s Quest appeared to be in a grumpy mood because they heeled it up in there with STARS. It quickly turned into their methodical submission style wrestling vs STARS more exciting and sparkling attacks. Starlight Kid had to deal with her arm being worked over while poor Hoshiki was left clutching her leg. It was a tough day to be a member of STARS.
In the end, though, we came down to the old rivals, AZM vs Starlight Kid. Those two never disappoint and the final minutes of the match flashed by in a whirlwind of offence. All the years of training and wrestling together came to the fore as they went back and forth. With AZM having been at the winning side frequently in recent times, she looked set to be so again until Kid rolled her up and snuck out with the three. Great match.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Mayu Iwatani, Momo Watanabe, Kagetsu and Hana Kimura won their spot in the Stardom Draft (in that order) and Jungle Kyona lost meaning that JAN has to disband.
Alright, let’s try and get the rules of this one down. It’s an elimination match, under traditional Japanese rules (so going over the top rope, pinfall and submission are all included). However, when you lose, you aren’t actually out the match. The person who beat you is as they’ve sealed their spot in the Draft. So, whoever gets the first victory earns the first pick and so on. However, there is an added wrinkle as there will be no fifth pick. The person who doesn’t pick up a fall has to disband their unit.
All of which is quite a lot of shit to contend with and subsequently left the actual wrestling quite far down the pecking order. Stardom realised that too because they had no worries about rushing through a couple of falls. Mayu picked up the first by pushing Kagetsu over the top rope and not long later Momo joined her by kicking Kagetsu off the apron. Poor Kagetsu was having a rough time.
She’d get her revenge, though. Hana and Jungle sensed she was the weak link and teamed up to take her down, but ended up regretting it when she snuck past them both and pulled Hana off the apron, leaving the International Army and JAN to fight it out.
At that point, the match came into its own as the tension grew. A few weeks ago this result would have never felt in doubt. Hana’s gang is barely a unit, and while she has talked of making it more of one, it wouldn’t have been a huge loss to say goodbye to them. Since then, however, she signed a contract, and suddenly the idea of Kimura-gun seemed a lot more likely.
That meant that as Hana and Jungle battled it out on the apron, desperately clinging to the ropes as they beat on each other the fans were yelling along with them. Oohing and aahing as they fought for the right to continue. In the end, Hana’s boot would prove decisive. Jungle Kyona went crashing to the ground, and JAN is no more. This wasn’t a great match, but it was fuelled by great drama.
Verdict: Three Stars
The Stardom Draft
I reckon the easiest way to do this is by going through faction by faction, picking up on the major stories.
STARS – Starlight Kid, Arisa Hoshiki, Tam Nakano, Saki Kashima, Hanan, Xia Brookside and Saya Iida.
Starlight Kid leaping into Mayu’s arms after being picked first was delightful. We also had Tam getting sad as Iwatani chose not only to give her the miss first time around but second too before Saki complained that Mayu had been cold towards her throughout the day. One suspects there is going to have to be a heart to heart in the STAR’s camp. Apart from that, Iwatani had some fun teasing that she was going to pick Natsu but mainly stuck to the gang she had before while adding a couple rookies to the mix.
Queen’s Quest – AZM, Utami Hayashishita, Bea Priestley, Viper, Chardonnay, Leo Onozaki and Hina
AZM was Momo’s first choice (one suspects at least partly to keep her out of Kagetsu’s hands), only going second overall to her long-term rival Starlight Kid. After that, it was as you’d expect with Watanabe picking up the expected followers and only losing Konami. She joined STARS in adding a couple of rookies, even succeeding in causing Hina to burst into tears when she was split up from her sisters. That was a reminder of how young these girls are.
Oedo Tai – Hazuki, Andras Miyagi, Natsuko Tora, Jamie Hayter, Session Moth Martina and Natsu Sumire.
Kagetsu was gutted not to get AZM which left Hazuki feeling somewhat undervalued as her first pick. Not as undervalued as poor Natsu, though. She was left standing on the stage for ages as everyone laughed at her (it was hilarious). You even got the impression Kagetsu drafted Natsuko purely so she could say Natsu, get Sumire excited, and then wrench it away at the rest moment. The Tora pick was interesting, though, as she seemed delighted to be brought into the Oedo Tai fold. I guess we’ll see how that works soon.
Hana’s Gang – Jungle Kyona, Konami, Mary Apache, Natsumi, Rebel Kel, Bobbi Tyler, Ruaka, Rina and Kaori Yoneyama.
Kimura seemed intent on creating a gang of misfits. Neither Jungle or Konami seem a natural fit with Hana, but both showed a begrudging acceptance about the fact (it probably didn’t help that Kimura didn’t even give them their real names when picking them). She then picked up her old International Army pals before grabbing all the leftovers as apparently everyone is welcome in Hana’s Gang (it’s worth saying that she is rebranding. The name has already been announced, but in case anyone doesn’t want that spoiler I’ll save it for the next review). I think it’s safe to say she made the most intriguing choices and watching this lot come together will be a lot of fun. Particularly as Hana is now quoting Che Guevara.
There isn’t much to say about the matches on this show. They were all good, but nothing stood out as exceptional. However, the draft was a shitload of fun. The little stories they had running throughout were great, and it was genuinely exciting seeing where everyone was going to end up. Every wrestling company should do this shit. I don’t even care if they have factions or not, do it anyway, it’s fun!
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