Stardom has decided to blow away the January blues with a little tournament. The High Speed Grand Prix is a five-person round-robin where the two people with the most points will face-off in the final with the winner challenging for Riho’s title. It seemed like the perfect slab of wrestling to follow along with, and the three matches reviewed below came from the two Osaka shows on January 11th plus the Shizuoka show from the 12th.
Leyla Hirsch (1-0) defeated Starlight Kid (0-1)
From the outset, this was an obvious clash of styles. Starlight Kid wanted to wrestle the High Speed way, dashing across the ring and darting between intricate exchanges. Hirsch had no interest in that, though. She was more inclined to get a hold of Kid, slamming her to the ground and wearing her down. It’s a style that hasn’t been seen in the division recently, and it seemed to catch Starlight off-guard.
And at times, perhaps because of Kid being unused to wrestling that way, it did get a bit sloppy. There was a strike exchange that leaned towards flailing and a couple of moments where they seemed to pause, not quite sure what to do next as they lost their flow.
However, on the home stretch, they clicked, Hirsch’s power coming to the fore as she took control. An Olympic Slam was the turning point, and while Kid survived that, rolling through the attempted German that followed into a flash pin, she’d run into a big Lariat, her kick out from that leaving her arm open to be grasped in a deadly Armbar.
All things said this turned into a nice little match. I’m intrigued to see how Hirsch will be booked going forward as Kid would have been one of my favourites coming in, so she’s already picking up points I didn’t expect her to get.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
AZM (1-0) defeated Death Yama-san (0-1)
Forty-four seconds. That’s how long it took for AZM to trap Death Yama-san in an AZM Sushi and slip out with the win. There was a time when I would have complained about that. During Hazuki’s title reign, I got frustrated at the lack of time given to the High Speed wrestlers, seeing it as a lack of respect. However, since then, I’ve gone back and got a better understanding of the style and someone like Kaori Yoneyama’s history with short matches. I’ve managed to switch the way I think and can now appreciate it for what it is.
And forty-four seconds is not a long time in which to tell a story, but there was one in there. Death was trying to get the win as fast as possible, diving straight into her collection of flash pins and only just escaping AZM’s attempts to get an Armbar locked in. On paper, Yama-san is the more experienced wrestler, but she knew she couldn’t outdo AZM, and that if the youngster did get an advantage, her time was up.
That’s what happened too. There were five pin attempts packed into that time, only one of which comes from AZM. The second she twisted Death up, trapping her in that Sushi, the match was over. It adds a real sense of danger to the occasion as you know it can end at any second, and whether you enjoy this style or not, this is the perfect example of why Death is the master of it (no matter the gimmick). At the end of the day, you might as well watch it, what else are you going to do with a spare forty-four seconds?
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Lelya Hirsch (2-0) defeated AZM (1-1)
I hadn’t realised quite how inexperienced Hirsch is as according to Cagematch she’s wrestled under a hundred matches. That puts her ring time significantly below everyone else in the tournament and makes her performances so far extra impressive while at the same time explaining why she occasionally looks a bit awkward.
Both of those facets were on display here, as she once again cut off a more traditional High Speed wrestler with her power. AZM tried to blitz her stronger opponent, going for roll-ups and stiff kicks while attempting to slip into the Armbar. However, Hirsch can absorb damage that others in this tournament can’t and moves that might have beaten Kid or Death couldn’t get the job done.
In the end, Leyla’s power would come to the fore, as she pulled AZM in for a German changing the flow of the match. Hirsch then finished things off with an exhibition of flare, leaping up the turnbuckle before transitioning to the top rope and spring boarding off with a Moonsault. It was damn cool, and a good finish to a strong showing.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
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