It’s all change in the world of Stardom, as Bushiroad buying the company has worried some and excited others. Personally, I’m optimistic about the future, as it feels like the perfect time to put more money into Stardom and discover what their ceiling is. Plus, if it’s a choice between Bushiroad and WWE, there’s no real contest.
Anyway, this was a packed Korakuen with two big title defences, the start of World Tag League and a rookie taking on her master. Let’s see what went down.
Tam Nakano defeated Saya Kamitani
Tam played a pivotal role in Saya getting into wrestling, so we’re in master vs pupil territory. She spoke highly of Kamitani in her promo and seemed to have a lot of affection for the rookie. That didn’t stop her adding a few new moves to her entrance, though, presumably unwilling to be shown up by the dancing Saya.
Nakano was also quite happy to kick the shit out of her wee friend, showing little mercy when she eventually removed her head for the win. Before we got there, though, these two were given a decent chunk of time to work with. It went for over nine minutes which has got to cement the idea that Stardom already trusts Kamitani to go out and put on a decent performance.
That’s exactly what she did too, pulling out another strong showing. She’s occasionally a bit sloppy, her fire almost getting away from her, but she’s still as green as you can be, so this was hella impressive. If for whatever reason you’re holding off on accepting that she’s going places, you might want to jump on the bandwagon before it leaves you behind.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Oedo Tai (Hazuki and Natusko Tora) defeated Oedo Tai (Andras Miyagi and Jamie Hayter), STARS (Starlight Kid and Saya Iida), Tokyo Cyber Squad (Konami and Death Yama-san) and Queen’s Quest (Leo Onozaki and Hina)
Like Japanese elimination matches, you could be knocked out of the gauntlet by going over the top rope.
There was, unsurprisingly, quite a lot going on in this one, so I won’t bother trying to capture it all. The bulk of it was worked as a series of quick sprints, though, the only halting of the action being for the entrance of the next team. Those fast sharp bursts, allowed people to go all out and I was particularly impressed by Kid and Iida. Their attempts to deal with Jamie and Andras beating the shit out of them were a lot of fun, even if it did eventually end in poor Saya taking the fall with a vicious Falcon Arrow Backbreaker.
That meant we finished up with an Oedo Tai battle which didn’t get much time but was a laugh while it was on. Andras going on the run on the ring apron, desperately trying to avoid Hazuki, had me chuckling before she eventually ended up being knocked to the floor. Solid stuff all-around.
Verdict: Three Stars
Blue Goddess Block: Drunk Queens (Session Moth Martina and Natsu Sumire) (1-0) defeated Tokyo Cyber Squad (Bobbi Tyler and Zoe Lucas) (0-1)
Stardom’s World Tag League kicked off in earnest on the next show, but the opening two matches made their way onto this card for a wee preview. First up was Martina’s return to Japan as she and Natsu wasted no time in getting shitfaced. Their entrance was quite the spectacle with Natsu then grabbing the mic to introduce herself because, well, why not?
The match that followed was by no means a technical masterpiece, but it was quite a lot of fun. Martina and Natsu are a natural team, and you can tell they were having a lovely together. Whether it was treating Zoe to a Double Bronco Buster or Martina’s Jagerbomb finisher, they were on top form.
It did make Bobbi and Zoe feel a bit irrelevant, though. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, a match doesn’t have to benefit both teams, but if the whole tournament is like this, the shtick could get old quick. For the moment, they made me chuckle, and that’s all I needed.
Verdict: Three Stars
Red Goddess: STARS (Mayu Iwatani and Saki Kashima) (1-0) defeated Queen’s Quest (Momo Watanabe and AZM) (0-1)
Mayu and Saki were wearing their masks in their pre-match promo, which for some reason was messing with my brain. It wasn’t until they’d made their entrance and removed them that I realised they’d swapped gear, so the person I thought was Mayu was Saki and vice versa. Everything clicked into place at that moment, and I felt a bit silly.
Well, it kind of clicked into place. I still spent the rest of the match having to remind myself that the person my head thought was Saki was Mayu, but the good wrestling made up for that. Momo and AZM proved they are a lot better at dealing with change than me, by going straight after Mayu’s knee even if she wasn’t wearing blue. That long-running injury would then play a key role in a fast-paced and hard-hitting masterclass.
Because these four are great. Mayu and Momo might make a list of the best ten wrestlers on the planet, and they’d certainly make the top twenty, while Saki and AZM aren’t slouches themselves. They’re four wrestlers who just get this shit, and whether it’s Momo hitting a vicious looking Somato or Mayu reversing the move that proved decisive in her 5STAR match with Watanabe to set-up the finish (surprisingly pinning Momo rather than AZM), they nailed it from beginning to end.
Verdict: Four Stars
Arisa Hoshiki defeated Kagetsu to retain the Wonder of Stardom Title
I only found out today that Arisa sings her theme. That’s pretty badass. Anyway, these two went to a time limit draw in the 5STAR, and since then Hoshiki has been on a mission to defend her title against Kagetsu. She had to get through Avary to do so, but she finally got her chance to prove she could beat the Prime Minister in Korakuen Hall.
It’s no secret that I’ve been a fan of Arisa’s title reign, and this match would prove to be no exception. It felt like it took them a while to get going, but when they did, things quickly clicked into place. Or should I say kicked? (No, I shouldn’t.) Because these two are at their best when they’re booting the shit out of each other. It was a dance conducted to the thud of boots connecting with flesh, and I love that shit.
Where these matches excel, though, is the final act, and Kagetsu’s not a bad dance partner when it comes to that. They threw everything at each other, with Arisa surviving a spray of the mist followed by an Oedo Coaster. The second spray would miss its target, a SHiNiNG Impact making sure it met the air rather than Arisa’s face before a second knee and a Brazilian Kick meant she was taking her belt home.
I wouldn’t put that match up with Hoshiki’s best, as it never quite hit the epic scale that her wars with Tam or Jungle did, but it was still a cracking title defence. These two rarely let you down in a big spot, and this wasn’t the day that changed.
Verdict: Four Stars
Post-match Arisa and Kagetsu shared a handshake and a hug which I expect from Arisa but was a rare move from Kagetsu. Although she does seem to have been a bit more respectful recently, maybe she’s maturing. Arisa mentioned that she still had business to take care of from the 5STAR, before calling out Jamie Hayter to set-up her next defence.
Bea Priestley defeated Hana Kimura to retain the World of Stardom Title
I’m not going to lie, people, this was not the result I wanted. I was all ready to celebrate Hana dropping Bea on her head, but no! I’m not allowed nice things. Oh well, I’ll try to be bias-free in my review, but as everyone knows I’m not exactly Bea’s biggest fan, so let’s just say that I might struggle.
Unfortunately, the match wasn’t great either as it took a long time to hit its stride. The opening minutes were all a bit dull, as it became apparent they were stretching things out to fill the time they had. Some wrestlers are suited to epics while others need short, intense matches, and I’d suggest both Hana and Bea are both examples of the later. This might not have been an Okada-like main event, but they still went over twenty minutes, and I didn’t once feel like that was needed.
There were still moments to enjoy, of course. They’re two pretty talented wrestlers, and they by no means laid an egg. For one thing, Hana spent some time kicking Bea in the face, and I never tire of Kimura kicking people in the face. We also got a cool last stand from Hana where she practically dropped Bea on her head with a German before firing out of the Northern Lights German at one only to run into the 9,999th and 10,000th V-Triggers of the match and, finally, Queen’s Landing for the win.
Unfortunately, there was also more than one awkward moment, with the standout being Bea jogging across the ring to jump over the top rope when Hana dodged her. You could tell what they were going for, but the execution was all off, and you got the impression these two didn’t click. Instead of a flowing match, we got some awkward spots and Bea spamming V-Triggers which added up to decent, but never great.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
The match might have been over, but the action was just getting started. First off, Priestley made a challenge to the back, bringing out a smiley Mayu. If Hana isn’t winning the belt, I will accept Iwatani as a strong second option. She wanted to face Priestley for a match at the next Korakuen which was quickly accepted.
That wasn’t the controversy, though. That happened seconds later when Rossy interrupted Momo closing out the show to introduce Giulia to the crowd. Firstly, I have to plead ignorance on her talent levels as I’ve never watched Ice Ribbon. What I do know is that puro jumps are always a bit complex, and this one is uglier than most. Technically, Giulia had asked for her release from Ice Ribbon. However, she was still under contract when this happened, so a big old can of worms has been thrown all over that ring and someone is going to have to clean it up.
Thankfully, that’s not my job, so I can finish off by saying that she said hello, shared some bows with QQ and stood by as they closed the show.
The main event might not have blown me away, but that was still a great show. The action was strong from start to finish while two matches broke into that four-star bracket including a fantastic tag. I’ve no real complaints, and with Stardom’s future suddenly looking interesting, I can’t wait to see where we go next.
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