Stardom went all out for the evening show in Sapporo, putting two titles matches at the top of the card. They apparently only make the trip once a year, so they wanted to make it a good one.
Jungle Kyona defeated Leo Onozaki
Leo talked about Jungle raising her during her pre-match promo which was very sweet. Great things have come from the end of JAN, but I am sad that Jungle’s children now have to survive without her.
Although if this match was indicative of Jungle and Leo’s familial relationship, maybe it’s a good thing they’ve been split up. Onozaki flew across the ring, Dropkicking Kyona before leaping on top of her and delivering a flurry of blows. There was no hug for mum.
Of course, hitting Jungle is always a risky move because the odds are she’s going to hit you back. These two were not pulling their punches as everyone who has come out of JAN has been enthused with a desire to smack their former teammates really hard. Not going to lie, I love it.
Jungle eventually picked up the expected win, surviving the obligatory flash pins attempts and attempting to remove Leo’s head when she slapped her across the face. A Top Rope Splash finished the rookie off, and this was a great opener.
Verdict: Three Stars
AZM defeated Starlight Kid and Saya Iida in a Three Way Battle
Both Kid and AZM brought up that they’d wrestled to a draw last year in Sapporo, so this was a rematch making it a bit of a shame that Iida was shoehorned in. I guess someone needed to take the pin.
And as good as Iida is, this match was at its best when Kid and AZM were left to wrestle. They’ve got that forever feud energy as it’s two opponents who don’t like each other and know each other inside out who leap at any opportunity to go at it.
On the whole, this was a fun, fast-paced three-way that made all involved look good. There was a moment where AZM missed a Dropkick to Iida, but they breezed past it which was probably the right move. AZM getting the win also made sense after her return from injury as you assume she’ll now get the shot at the High Speed Title that she missed out on.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Tokyo Cyber Squad (Hana Kimura and Bobbi Tyler) fought Queen’s Quest (Momo Watanabe and Utami Hayashishita) to a time limit draw
There were a couple of reunions here as both teams were together (in a straight-ahead tag) for the first time in a while. With Momo and Utami heading into a title defence against Oedo Tai, it was also a chance for them to regain the momentum lost with Utami’s injury.
Or at least that would have been the plan. Unfortunately, someone forgot to brief Hana and Bobbi. They took control early on, throwing QQ into the crowd before controlling Utami. Kimura is being given a lot of rub in tags at the moment, and while she’s been focusing on the Artist Titles, I doubt it will be long before she’s pushed towards solo glory.
Momo getting a tag evened the action out, as she dragged QQ back into the match. From there we got a fun final act that saw Hana and Momo, in particular, shine as they beat the crap out of each other. Sadly, Tyler stood out for the wrong reasons as she seemed to be a step off the pace. It’s possible she’s just settling back into life in Japan, but it wasn’t the cleanest performance from her.
Ultimately, it didn’t hurt the match too much as Kimura and Watanabe fought to the bell in yet another draw. It just feels like a bit too much at this stage. Draws are great and can be a fantastic way to build a feud, but when you have one on every show, it begins to feel like you never get a finish. Still, I guess this isn’t an awful result as it sets up a potential next challenger for the belts after Korakuen. Momo and Hana certainly didn’t seem to be finished as Watanabe had to be dragged away afterwards.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
STARS (Arisa Hoshiki, Mayu Iwatani and Tam Nakano) defeated Oedo Tai (Kagetsu, Andras Miyagi and Natsuko Tora)
Tam is happy to team with Mayu… that’s it. She very definitely stopped there and made it clear that she had nothing else to say.
This was very similar to the main-event of the afternoon show with Tora coming in for Hazuki and Tam for Kashima. STARS got the victory then and continued their good form here which was a bit of a relief. I don’t think I could have taken Nakano and Hoshiki going into their title match at Korakuen off the back of a defeat (although it didn’t help build Oedo Tai’s title shots but one thing at a time).
Anyway, the match was enjoyable as hell. I worry I get repetitive in these reviews as watching every show means I see a lot of similar bouts. The advantage and disadvantage of Stardom having quite a tight roster is that everyone wrestles each other a lot. It means that it feels like every pairing (particularly at the top of the card) has fantastic chemistry, but you do get a lot of similar matches (although it is generally variations on the theme).
Still, it’s to their credit that I continue to enjoy it and Hoshiki is still my MVP. She had a fantastic run in the ring before Tam took over and picked up right where she left off. On the other side of the ring, for a team that is proud of their ability to do their half-arsed best, Oedo Tai have made a habit of making their opponents look fantastic, and they worked hard to put STARS over.
After Mayu got the win, Hoshiki tried to celebrate with Tam, but she was having none of it until Iwatani told her to cool it. Nakano then tapped the title on Arisa’s shoulder, making it clear where her priorities lay.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Hazuki defeated Saki Kashima to retain the High Speed Title
For the entirety of Hazuki’s title reign, I have been moaning about how short her matches are. I think she’s a fantastic wrestler, so seeing her often get less than five minutes to do her thing has been frustrating.
However, I’m going to go back on that a bit because Stardom is using these flash wins to build something. Hazuki beat Saki in under three minutes with the Hazukistral and, afterwards, bragged about it being her fastest win yet while Stardom have posted pictures of her posing with the stopwatch that showed the official time. I am willing to hold off on my moaning until we see where this goes. If they pay it off perfectly, I will forgive them for denying me some great Hazuki title defences. If they don’t? Well…
Anyway, reviewing a two-minute match is pretty hard, but Hazuki does two-minute matches better than nearly anyone. They packed that time with action, and we got to hear Saki’s banging theme, so it’s worth a watch.
In her post-match promo Hazuki challenged AZM to be her next opponent (which forced her to chase Kagetsu off from holding the ropes open for her favourite wrestler). If she wins that one she will break the record for the most defences of the title.
Bea Priestley defeated Konami to retain the World Of Stardom Title
Konami and Bea used to team together in Queen’s Quest, so when Konami left and decided that she didn’t like QQ any more, Bea was a bit annoyed. I think she was annoyed at least. Her pre-match promo was so flat that it was kind of hard to tell. She was also coming in with her arm strapped up after the afternoon’s shenanigans, which was a target for Konami and her big match fluffy coat.
At least early on, that arm was what gave Konami the advantage in this match. Priestley was doing a great job of selling it, letting it hang limply at her side or holding it across her body, making it clear that she was struggling. In turn, Konami focused her attacks on it, wrenching on the arm and coming off the top to stomp on it. At one point she even transitioned away from an Armbar on the other side, desperate to get around and attack the weakened limb.
Importantly, though, she never managed to lock the Triangle Lancer on. She came close, but it was never cinched in successfully, and you get the feeling that the difference between these two was that Bea had an answer to that move.
That was all the good parts of the match, but sadly they slipped up right at the end. Konami reversed the first attempt at Queen’s Landing into an Armbar, and it looked like Priestley was supposed to power out of it. Unfortunately, she failed to get Konami up, and they were forced to break the hold limply. She’d hit Queen’s Landing seconds later, but it was a underwhelming ending to what had been an enjoyable performance.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Bea cut another flat promo after the match (she needs to work on that), calling out Momo or Utami. Watanabe then jumped in the ring and accepted the challenge (poor Utami, although I guess she has enough belts). One suspects that is where Priestley’s title reign comes to an end, but we shall see. Despite Bea winning the match, she then left Momo to close them out.
That was a really good show. The main event finished a bit flat, but up until that point everything that had the time to impress did and even the main wasn’t bad, it just stumbled a bit in the final seconds. I feel like I’ve been a bit harsh on Stardom recently, particularly when it comes to their booking, but it’s probably because I enjoy everything else they do so much. Anyway, onto Korakuen next for a couple biggies. Yay!
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