On what was a massive weekend of wrestling in Japan, it would have made no sense for Stardom to miss out on all the fun. Their latest trip to Korakuen continued the Goddesses Tag League but also threw in a couple of big title matches with Jamie Hayter going after Arisa Hoshiki and Mayu Iwatani after Bea Priestley. What went down? Well, read on to find out.
Zoe Lucas defeated Hina and Rina in a Three Way Battle
If you were to put all of Zoe Lucas’s recent backstage promos together, I’m pretty sure they’d be evidence she’s having a breakdown. Her trip to Korakuen to face the kids saw her worrying that she was getting old, which, as she’s a few months younger than me, means I’m old too. Father Time comes for us all.
Although one could argue that Zoe Lucas is making better use of that time than me since she’s wrestling at Korakuen Hall and I’m sitting at home writing about it. I try not to think about that, though. Down that route, sadness lies.
Em, oh yea, wrestling. It was an alright opener. You could slot anyone into this spot with Hina and Rina, as the two of them can do it in their sleep. A sentence which is mental when you consider they’re not even teenagers yet. Christ, I reckon they’re going to outdo both me and Zoe.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Tokyo Cyber Squad (Hana Kimura and Bobbi Tyler) defeated Drunk Queens (Natsu Sumire and Session Moth Martina) and STARS (Tam Nakano and Saki Kashima) in a Three Way Tag Battle
Hana and Bobbi had a new teammate, but he sadly died during the pre-match promo, so I think we should all take a second to mourn the loss of small plastic green alien from Toy Story… done? Good.
Well, this was a messy old match. It had that punk rock energy that I love where you get the impression that it could breakdown at any second. Impressively, they managed to keep it on the tracks (even if it took a few corners a bit faster than it should have) and put together something that entertained, despite its flaws.
Verdict: Two And Three Quarter Stars
Tag 3838 (Saya Kamitani and Saya Iida) (1-2) defeated Oedo Tai (Kagetsu and Andras Miyagi) (1-2)
Holy shit, I did not see that coming.
Kagetsu has been stony-faced and violent all tournament, storming to the back the second her matches are over. Coming in, I was all ready for her to unleash some of that anger on the young rookies.
Which, for the first few minutes of this match, was what happened. Oedo Tai attacked before the bell, dragging the kids to the floor and introducing them to some chairs. The two Sayas had brief flurries of Dropkicks, but I assumed it was all building to them being put away convincingly.
Except, that wasn’t to be. Kagetsu lined up to donk Kamitani on the head with the wooden board only for her to pull the old switcheroo and place Miyagi in the firing path. That left Kamitani free to hit a Running Shooting Star Press (I feel bad mentioning it, but she did massively overshoot the move) and pick up the first pin fall of her career.
That was a genuine shock, and you’ve got to assume this is going somewhere with Kagetsu. She’s had a lot of high-profile defeats recently, and once again stormed to the back while Kamitani cut an emotional post-match promo. Where that is, I don’t have a clue, but I suspect that anger is building.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Oedo Tai (Hazuki and Natsuko Tora) (1-2) defeated Tokyo Cyber Squad (Konami and Jungle Kyona) (1-2-1)
Someone gave Jungle flowers during her entrance which turned out to be a mistake when Tora smashed them over her head. Those poor flowers, Jungle didn’t even get a chance to appreciate them.
What followed felt more like a Jungle vs Natsuko match than it did a tag. Hazuki and Konami were almost relegated to supporting characters, jumping in and out of the ring to break up pins or provide an assist, but never taking centre stage.
Not that I’m complaining. Jungle and Tora have had a simmering rivalry since the end of JAN, and it flared up brutally here. Those two love to beat the shit out of each other, hossing it up in the centre of the ring. If you like good, hard-hitting wrestling, then it is hard to imagine how you could not have a brilliant time with this.
Although poor Jungle certainly didn’t. That result leaves the tag champs on three points, and they are racking up future title defences. If they’re going to keep hold of those belts, they’re going to have to work hard for it.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Red Goddess: Queen’s Quest (Momo Watanabe and AZM) (1-2) defeated (Riho and Starlight Kid) (2-2-1)
Starlight Kid and Riho are having so much fun teaming together that they appear to have forgotten they’re taking part in a tournament. They had no idea whether they were still in contention to reach the final or not, which might not be the best way to sell the importance of the league, but was hopefully a sign that they are having a lovely time.
A lovely time that continued into the match as with three High Speed wrestlers in the ring, this was always going to be a pacey affair. We all know what AZM and Kid can do, but AZM and Riho weren’t far behind. Then there is Momo who is fucking Momo Watanabe, adding her to the party is never going to be a bad thing. You won’t find many matches that are easier to watch, as the whole thing flew by in a constant blur of motion.
We closed things out with poor Kid running the gauntlet of finishing moves as she ate a Double Stomp, a Top Rope Somato and got trapped in AZM’s Armbar for the submission defeat. Amazingly, that’s AZM and Momo’s first win of the tournament, took them long enough.
Verdict: Four Stars
Arisa Hoshiki defeated Jamie Hayter to retain the Wonder of Stardom Title
Arisa Hoshiki’s seventh title defence saw her trying to chip away at the power of Jamie Hayter. Early on, she delivered a stiff boot to the chest, a move that would have stunned any other member of the roster, but which Hayter was able to walk through, fighting on to deliver a vicious series of elbows. It was a difference that was cemented when she survived a Brazilian Kick, and it was clear Arisa was going to have to do a lot to take her down.
The bigger problem was that while she was trying to take her down, Jamie kept fucking hitting her. Hayter is having a fantastic year, and she stepped up to the challenge of this match, delivering a stiff and aggressive performance. At one point, she and Arisa were on one knee, slapping each other across the face, neither women holding back. It was great.
And she came within milliseconds of getting the win too. Hayter hit her Falcon Arrow over the knee, a move that I don’t think anyone in Stardom has kicked out of, but Arisa became the first, getting her shoulder up at two. In the end, it would take Arisa’s version of the Oscutter and a brace of Shining Knees to put Hayter down for good, and Hoshiki’s title reign to march on.
Verdict: Four Stars
Post-match, Arisa continued her mission to avenge her 5STAR loses by calling out Konami. One day it would be amusing if someone just said ‘nah’ to a challenge, but it wasn’t this day as Konami accepted.
Mayu Iwatani defeated Bea Priestley to win the World Of Stardom Title
Right, I’m going to get the nonsense out the way early. Yes, there was a horrible botch in this match that saw Mayu land on her head after an Avalanche Powerbomb/Hurricanrana thing went wrong. It’s made the rounds on Twitter, and even got Disco ‘wanker’ Inferno to pipe up with his shite opinion. However, despite being someone who has been incredibly critical of Bea, I honestly don’t think you can give her too much shit for this. She slipped, it happens. Christ, if anyone knows about slipping it’s Mayu Iwatani, who managed to fall over during her introduction! It was an accident, and while it could have been a lot worse, it wasn’t, so let’s all move on.
Let’s move onto the fact that MAYU WON! Honestly, this match could have been twenty minutes of them doing the Hokey-Cokey, and I’d have told you it was good because it ended with Mayu Iwatani dropping Bea on her head for the three. It just feels right that Mayu is the World of Stardom champ, especially as they head into a period where there is likely to be more eyes on them than ever before.
As for what the match was actually like, it was good. Good, but not quite great. I liked the story as Mayu played the defiant underdog to Bea’s arrogant champion. Priestley attacked her knee and overpowered her for a lot of the match, using her added size to dominate Stardom’s Icon. It was the right tale to weave, and I think they did it well.
However, it was a bit sloppy at times, and not just for the already discussed spot. Priestley put on the worst Figure-Four around the turnbuckle that I’ve ever seen, and Mayu seemed to have ice on her shoes at the start. They got into it as they went on, but honestly, someone needs to tell Bea to cut back on using other people’s moves. I’m not of the belief that certain moves belong to certain wrestlers, but she literally did the Kenny pose before hitting a V-Trigger and then followed up with a Kamigoye. Eventually, you’re just taking the piss, and it took me out of the action.
Thankfully, the home stretch was fantastic, with Iwatani firing up to deliver an incredible flurry of elbows. As she threw everything she had at Priestley, you saw why Mayu is who she is and why Stardom would choose her to be their champion going into this new era under Bushiroad. It was a brilliant end to the match and the perfect start to her title reign.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
In her celebratory promo, Mayu admitted she was scared she’d got injured during the action, referencing her losing the belt to Toni Storm after getting hurt two minutes into the match in 2017. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case, and she was able to call out Kagetsu. It’s not often you get to lose to a couple of rookies and be rewarded with a title shot, is it? Unsurprisingly, Kagetsu wasn’t going to complain about that, and accepted the challenge while looking a lot happier than she did earlier in the night.
After that was sorted, STARS made their way out to celebrate with Arisa and Tam bickering the whole way. Mayu then issued an IOU challenge to Arisa, teasing that match for somewhere down the road before Tam closed the show.
Another top-level Korakuen from Stardom as they delivered a bunch of great matches and a huge title change at the top of the card. As we approach the end of the year, Stardom has to be up for best promotion, doesn’t it? I don’t always love the booking (see Kagetsu losing to a pair of rookies on the day she’s getting set-up for a title shot), but the in-ring this year has been sublime. As a new fan, I’ve no idea if that’s the norm, but it’s been a joy. Sadly, I can’t imagine enough people watch it for it to make a sustained challenge, but you never know.
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