It was recently Golden Week in Japan and Stardom ran a gimmick where each unit was handed an opportunity to produce a show. Up first were STARS, who put together a card headlined by the Costume Change Battle Royal. I shall be judging all the units based on their booking, so they better deliver quality throughout.
STARS kicked off the show with a new unit theme and new tracksuits. They’re earning. They then ran down the card for the night which Mayu had written on a rather tatty piece of paper. All of this was delightful. If I had to choose a unit to hang out with it would be STARS, they seem to have all the fun.
Natsu Sumire defeated Rina
Rina is developing all the attitude. Not only is she now playing mini-Hana, but she’s dabbing during her pre-match promos. In the future, when she is ruling over Stardom as the ultimate badass, we will look on these days as the moment where it all went wrong. Or maybe right?
In the ring, this became as much about Jungle and Natsu as it did Rina. Kyona must have bonded with her new rookie pal and was pissed off at the way Sumire was bullying her. She couldn’t help stepping up to stop some of the more egregious rule-breaking. It led to Konami joining in as the two of them give Natsu a quick kicking before depositing her back into the ring.
The action was what you’d expect, a lot of Sumire bullying followed by a series of flash pins from Rina before Natsu got the win. It was fun, but nothing worth going out of your way to see.
Verdict: Two Stars
Hanan defeated Ruaka
Ruaka has recently returned from injury, and Hanan knew it. She focused her attack on Ruaka’s arm in an attempt to set up for the Armbar. With the youngsters not often have the time to establish narratives in their matches, it was nice to see them take that opportunity.
Ruaka looked decent too. I could have used her selling that arm a bit more, but she had some fun offence towards the end, and the crowd bought into their closing stretch. Eventually, the Armbar was to catch up with her as Hanan tapped her out – lovely stuff from these two.
Verdict: Three Stars
Oedo Tai (Kagetsu, Andras Miyagi, Hazuki and Natsuko Tora) defeated Tokyo Cyber Squad (Hana Kimura, Jungle Kyona, Konami and Rebel Kel)
Hana’s delight at everything related to Tokyo Cyber Squad is infectious. They have their first t-shirt, and she couldn’t believe that something that cute existed and was available to buy. She’s 100% going to go full Iron Maiden and start wearing her merch everywhere.
Jungle and Natsuko’s Cinderella Tournament interaction hasn’t settled the bad blood between them. They stood in the centre of the ring trading elbows in a style that reminded me of EVIL and Ishii. That, in turn, made me realise I would love a Jungle vs Ishii match. All the fun would be had.
Putting the fantasy booking to one side, Tora and Kyona weren’t the only two to put on an impressive performance in this one. Konami is flourishing in her new role and had fun with Kagetsu while Hana and Miyagi are engaged in a mini-feud that seems to have legs. They were even smart enough to keep Rebel on the outside for most of the match, only bringing her in as the set-up for her taking the pin.
It’s something I say a lot, but this was an enjoyable if unmemorable match. Nowt you need to see, but worth some time all the same.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Toni Storm defeated Tam Nakano
Stardom has become a weird neutral territory in the wrestling wars. They still get people in from NXT UK (Storm even brought her title), work alongside ROH and Bea Priestley has recently announced she’s moving out to Japan full-time while being signed with AEW. Everyone else is fighting, and Stardom seems to be able to get on with it. It’s nice to see. Although, one suspects Toni won’t be taking too many falls on this trip.
That certainly proved the case here in a match that suffered from the Toni formula. I like Storm, but she has a match, and she sticks to it. It’s not unenjoyable and it was great to see them treating this face-off like a big deal as we got spots like Tam climbing to the top and diving to the floor. For the bulk of the action, they were portrayed as equals, and that was fun to watch.
However, Storm matches tend to finish flat, and this was no different. Toni powered through a Tam kick, hit her with the WWE version of Strong Zero and followed up with the indie version of Strong Zero for the three. It went from close to dominant in seconds. Still, it was a good match, and I don’t want to take away from it too much. Both women worked hard and even in defeat Tam looked good. Thumbs up.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
STARS (Arisa Hoshiki, Saki Kashima, Starlight Kid and Saya Iida) defeated Queen’s Quest (Momo Watanabe, Bea Priestley, Leo Onozaki and Hina) in an Elimination Match
These elimination matches are always fun, and this one was no different. They start in a flurry of activity, and it’s almost hard to keep up with what’s going on. We did continue to see the breakdown of Iida and Onozaki’s friendship, however. They enjoy hitting each other. That seems to be a theme with former members of JAN. For what was such a joyful stable, they’re all proving to be very violent.
Anyway, that opening saw STARS take control with Iida eliminating Hina and Kashima pinning Okazaki. It didn’t stay 5-3 for long, as shortly after Momo took over and managed to even things up a bit by catching Kashima in a flash pin.
That led us into Arisa vs Momo as they begin building towards their title match. We got a pretty good indication of what that match will look like as those two kicked fuck out each other. It is going to be brilliant. In this one, they’d ended up fighting to a draw as a battle on the apron saw them both crash to the floor.
Back in the ring, the last rookie standing was eliminated by Bea as Iida ate a modified Northern Lights Suplex. That gave us a final two of Starlight Kid and Priestley who had an alright sequence. Bea always looks a bit awkward in the ring with people smaller than her who she’s required to act as a base for. It’s not that she was fucking up all over the place. She just never seemed comfortable.
Not that Starlight Kid will care as she got what had to go down as an upset win by knocking Bea to the floor. With Mayu out for a bit, it looks like Stardom is trying to elevate a few of the other STARS’ members, and Kid is well positioned to benefit from that.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Mayu Iwatani/Starlight Kid won the Costume Change Battle Royal
The quality of wrestling on show in this match wasn’t the point. It was about seeing the Stardom roster get a chance to cosplay as each other and the ramifications of that. Even as the entrances were happening, there was bickering between the various enemies who were being forced to team together or even outright breaking of character as some asks were always going to be too big (Tam still didn’t want to be friends with Arisa no matter who they were dressing up as).
I’m not going to go through the various character switches and the jokes that came with them because me writing them out will be a lot less funny than if you watch it. I will say that I laughed out loud on multiple occasions, smiled the whole way through and had a lovely old time. It’s all very silly, but a bit of silly is not a bad thing.
Verdict: How do you rate this? Let’s go with a thumbs up.
After Mayu/Kid’s victory ‘STARS’ posed together which kind of made it feel like we’d slipped into a mirror universe. They then invited everyone into the ring for a group photo before the real STARS closed out the show.
I feel like I say this about a lot of Stardom shows, but that was really enjoyable. You had the silliness of the main event, some good wrestling in the two matches before that and some strong performances from the rookies earlier in the card. There is not much more you can ask for from a show. STARS get an eight out of ten for their booking abilities. Let’s see if anyone can better that.
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