Stardom Throwback: Debut Series (27/2/11) Review

Yes, I’m still avoiding going back to that Ring of Honor show. However, it’s not all about that. I’m enjoying this dive into the early days of Stardom, as it’s proving to be a breeze to watch. Eventually, I will return to ROH, but I’m going to have a bit more fun in Japan first.

Yoko Bito defeated Eri Susa and Yoko Bito defeated Iris

For some reason, Yoko wrestled twice on this show, and we were treated to trimmed versions of both. Neither was long enough to make it worth reviewing, but Bito looked alright. While she’s still a bit gangly and uncoordinated, she has a natural charisma that shines through, and you can see why Stardom is choosing to highlight her. Presumably, the double victory was an attempt to put her over strong, so in that sense, these did their job.

Verdict: NA

Haruka and Sakura Hirota fought to a time-limit draw

Stardom sending veterans out to play with Haruka is definitely my favourite thing about these early shows. Sakura Hirota might be the perfect opponent too, as her comedy antics merged perfectly with wrestling the wee lass.

The number of laughs was even more impressive when you remember that I could only understand half of Hirota’s act. She was very vocal throughout, espousing at length before the match began and giving a post-match promo that ended with her slapping her arse in Haruka’s direction. One suspects that she wasn’t too happy to have been taken to a draw by the youngster and the fans seemed to enjoy her lectures.

On top of all that, Haruka continues to be a wee gem. I get such a kick out of the way she wrestles. Whether it’s perching on Hirota’s chest to slap her across the face or kicking her about the ring, she’s got fantastic instincts for someone her age. It makes you wonder whether she was a special talent or if perhaps that childhood joy of play and invention is perfect for wrestling. Children’s wrestling league, anyone?

Verdict: Perfect Again

Nanae Takahashi defeated Mayu Iwatani

I’m not sure what was going on here, but this was a weird little match. It’s another one that seems to have been snipped down (Cagematch has it at eleven minutes, but the entire video is six minutes long on Stardom World) and as the introductions are being made Mayu is (unsuccessfully) fighting back tears. Her offer of a handshake than receives a dismissive slap from Takahashi.

Thankfully, when the bell goes, Iwatani seems to get her game face on, charging across the ring with a Dropkick. She shows a bit more flash than we’ve seen from her previously, adding a wee backflip off the ropes to her Arm Drag (she doesn’t quite nail it, but then she doesn’t always nail this stuff in 2020, so that’s not surprising) and mocking Nanae when she goes to the floor.

After the cut, we get a vicious exchange of slaps, Takahashi not holding back as she tries to knock Iwatani’s teeth out. Mayu survives, though, getting a chance to run through some offence and put up a spirited defence before finally being put away.

That turned into a fun little match, following a similar pattern to Nanae’s match with Arisa on the previous show as the less experienced wrestler got a chance to shine before falling to the veteran. However, the thing that will stick with me is those opening shots of Mayu looking upset. Something had obviously happened, and while I doubt we’ll ever know what had got to her, it is a reminder that the Mayu who first got into wrestling isn’t the one we know today. (If you want to know about her backstory, I highly recommend The Wrestlers’ episode on Stardom where she touches on it.)

Verdict: Intrigue And A Solid Match

Natsuki Taiyo and Yoshiko defeated Yuzuki Aikawa and Arisa Hoshiki

Yuzuki and Yoshiko only had eyes for each other at the start of this one, glaring across the ring before Yoshiko struck during Yuzuki’s introduction. Having already established a feud with Bito, this was Yoshiko’s chance to get started with one of Stardom’s other early faces.

And while they were undeniably the focus of this match, it wasn’t all about them. In fact, I think I’ve been so intent on focusing on the younger wrestlers that I’ve somewhat neglected mentioning how great Taiyo is. She is so much fun to watch wrestle, coming up with some really inventive sequences. At one point, she leapt onto Yoshiko’s back as she posed, unaware her partner was incoming, causing them both to go crashing down onto Yuzuki.

It was a good showing for Arisa too who seems to get better with every show. She and Aikawa make a naturally kicky team, lashing out at every opportunity. There was no denying that she was the baby in this match, but she did more than enough to suggest it wasn’t a role she’d be stuck in for long.

As mentioned, though, the main focus was on Yoshiko and Yuzuki, with both of them stepping up to it well. I talked about Yoshiko’s natural heel tendencies before, and they shone through here. She’s brilliant at playing the prick, bulldozing her way through people and generally being a horrible person. Her wrestling is at times simplistic, but it works with her character, and for someone with less than a handful of matches under the belt, she’s working hard to establish herself and, in doing so, her babyface opponents.

Verdict: Lovely Stuff

Overall Show

There is a reason I am blasting through these shows, and it’s because they’re very easy to watch. I don’t think this was the best of Stardom’s opening run, but thanks to the cuts it’s easily the shortest, so I wouldn’t tell anyone not to watch it. It’s another fun blast of wrestling, and we’re beginning to see the roster settle into the form that it will be taking for the early part of their history.

Watch Stardom:

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