Stardom Cinderella Tournament 1st Round (29/4/19) Review

Credit: Stardom

It’s time for my first proper Stardom tournament! Well, that’s not technically true, they ran a trios contest in January, but it’s my first big one. Cinderella, which I was genuinely delighted to hear gives the winner, among other things, the right to wear a pretty dress. God, I love wrestling. Anyway, I’m going to split this review up into chunks because otherwise, it will be massive, so here are my thoughts on the first round.

STARS (Hanan and Saya Iida) defeated Queen’s Quest (Hina and Leo Onozaki) and Tokyo Cyber Squad (Rina and Ruaka) in a Three-Way-Dance

Hana has turned Rina into mini-Hana and is delighted with herself. It is rather adorable. Ruaka, meanwhile, was making her return from injury and this is the first time we’re seeing the sisters face off since they were split up.

As you’d expect, this was far from a classic as they can’t have gone over five minutes. However, all six rookies had a decent showing, and there were no mistakes. I’d say you could skip it, but it’s short enough that you might as well watch it and smile at mini-Hana.

Verdict: Two Stars

AZM defeated Rebel Kel in the Cinderella 1st Round

I am delighted to say that this was the perfect use of Rebel Kel. She towered over AZM and played to that role well, tossing her around the ring, booting her in the chest and shrugging off attacks. Then, when AZM managed to turn the tide, she looked incredible for getting a woman twice her size over for suplexes. The final piece of the puzzle? They kept it short, going just a few minutes before AZM reversed a Chokeslam into a Hurricanrana pin.

This wasn’t some five-star masterpiece, but it was proof that Rebel Kel can do this stuff. Both she and Stardom need to learn from it and continue to play to her strengths in the future.

Verdict: Three Stars

I want to quickly address the obnoxious fan in the crowd who annoyed everyone at this show so much that Stardom’s English Twitter put out a Tweet asking people to please be respectful. The same guy has been pig-headedly defending himself on Twitter since and has little to no self-awareness. I’m not going to reference it throughout this review, but I will say that you might want to watch on mute if, like me, you find yourself cringing with embarrassment at other people making cunts of themselves.

Starlight Kid defeated Natsu Sumire in the Cinderella 1st Round

Another short match with Natsu dominating early on as she bullied poor Starlight. While no-one is going to call Sumire a great wrestler, you can’t deny that she is fantastic at her shtick. It’s impossible to watch this match and not root for Starlight to overcome her.

And we ended on a similar finish to the last match. Starlight Kid was finally able to escape Sumire’s clutches and build up a head of steam which she used to roll-up the bully and get the three. It might have been a good idea to separate the two bouts with similar finishes, but in a bubble, this was another decent showing.

Verdict: Three Stars

Hazuki defeated Bea Priestley in the Cinderella 1st Round

Hazuki vs Priestley was the first bout not to have an obvious winner. Bea is gearing up to challenge Kagetsu while Hazuki is the High Speed champ, so there was a good case for both to go over.

In the end, the champ edged it, but they went all out before we got there. All these first-round matches are being kept short (they have a ten-minute time limit), but these two are the first to work the whole thing with that in mind. We even had Hazuki surviving the Curb Stomp with a rope break (although Priestley needs to find a way to make that move look better) before getting the win by reversing the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex to send Bea over the top rope.

A fun match that was worked as a frantic sprint, I’m never quite sure what I think of Priestley, but this was a strong performance and gave me hope she’ll have a good match with Kagetsu.

Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars

Arisa Hoshiki defeated Saki Kashima in the Cinderella 1st Round

Our first inter-unit war as STARS collide. These two are regular teammates, so seeing them face off was always going to be fun, and they had the best match of the show so far.

Despite that, it’s kind of hard to find something new to say about it. It was another fun back and forth bout with these two wrestling hard and fast. Hoshiki and Kashima packed a lot into the short amount of time they got, making sure to get across the impression that on another day, it could have gone a different way.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Hana Kimura defeated Andras Miyagi in the Cinderella 1st Round

There was a lot of headbanging in this match, and I will always support that. Having been outdone by Hana in Osaka, it seemed like Miyagi was desperate to prove her metal credentials by one-upping Kimura this time around. Unfortunately, her focus on that ended up giving Hana an opening early on.

With the headbanging out of the way, this quickly got physical as the two stood in the centre of the ring trading elbows. There was also a series of vicious Big Boots and a fantastic Missile Dropkick from Miyagi. They might not have gone long, but it still looked sore.

The match came to its conclusion on the apron, Miyagi and Kimura trading elbows before both tried to raise the ante. In the end, it would be Hana who proved successful, a Missile Dropkick of her own sending Miyagi crashing to the floor. Great stuff.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Tam Nakano and Kagetsu fought to a time limit draw in the Cinderella 1st Round

There is a lot of history packed into this match as Tam is a former Oedo Tai member who once beat Kagetsu with an exploding bat. On top of that, Kagetsu has been unsubtly dropping digs at Tam in recent months, something you can assume Nakano had noticed.

That made it quite the shock when this match opened with Kagetsu offering (and honouring) a handshake before they got down to some wrassling. It was an exchange Kagetsu would come out of in the driver’s seat as she began to target the leg, leaving Nakano hobbling.

It was a base that was used to set up a very different contest from what we’d had so far on this show. These two had more time than anyone so far, and they used it. Tam was working from underneath, battling that leg as much as she was Kagetsu. Whenever it looked like she had an opening, Kagetsu would go back to it, seeing it as her route to success.

Ultimately, though, Tam refused to stay down. Everything Kagetsu threw at her, saw her come back stronger, which in turn seemed to fire Kagetsu up. What had started as a nice clean wrestling match had become a fight, and even five-six minutes in these two were struggling back to their feet as they threw forearms.

Towards the end, Kagetsu went for the 450 only for Tam to slip out of the way and catch her with a beautiful kick before spiking her with a Dragon Suplex. Now, Kagetsu was the one holding on as Nakano locked in a Dragon Sleeper, desperately looking for the submission victory. Before she could get it, though, the time ran out. They were done.

You will not see many ten minute matches better than this one. I loved it. From the respectful start to the total war it became down the stretch. Come the end the old foes shook hands accepting that while they might now both be out, they’d had one hell of a fight. Now, let’s see it again!

Verdict: Four Stars

Natsuko Tora defeated Jungle Kyona in the Cinderella 1st Round

Just a few weeks ago, these two were partners, friends even. How quickly things change.

There was nothing pretty about this match. Tora and Kyona went out and beat on each other, working through beefy strikes and high impact offence. It was two powerhouses trying to keep each other down, and it was a shitload of fun.

In the end, though, Natsuko just had that little bit more. Oedo Tai has released her vicious side, and after Jungle kicked out of her Spinning Side Slam, she climbed to the top before crashing down with a sickening Leg Drop. She won the first battle, but this should not be the end of the war.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Konami defeated Momo Watanabe in the Cinderella 1st Round

Talking of people who used to be friends, it didn’t take Konami long to embrace her new role in Tokyo Cyber Squad. She’s made it a personal quest to wipe her former Queen’s Quest buddies out of the tournament.

She kicked off her journey by trying to kick her way through her former faction leader. In fact, there was a lot of kicking in this one. The sharp sound of a boot connecting with flesh became the soundtrack to these two attempting to remove each other’s heads. It was awesome. And probably hella painful.

Konami would fight through that pain to (in what has to go down as a shocker) come out victorious. After a great back and forth, she managed to survive the Wonder of Stardom (and last year’s winner of this tournament) champion kicking her in the head and drag the bottom rope down, sending Momo crashing to the floor. One down.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Overall Show

I am struggling to think of a more watchable series of matches than this first round. Sure, none of it had the time to reach incredible levels of action, but at the same time, not one of these tournament bouts was bad. They were worked at a fast pace and even if you weren’t enjoying one it would be over so quick that you’d be onto the next before you could write out a Tweet moaning about it – lovely stuff and well worth a watch.

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