Stardom Throwback: Grow up Stars (24/4/11) Review

Credit: Stardom

I don’t have much to say up here. It’s time for another dive back into Stardom’s past as we continue to wander through the early days of the company. Will it be good? I’ve enjoyed every show so far, so probably.

Haruka and Yuzupon Mask fought to a time-limit draw

Yuzupon Mask bears a striking resemblance to a masked Yuzuki Aikawa, but I’m sure that’s just a coincidence. Whether it is or not, this is the first time Haruka is coming up against someone who can’t be placed into the veteran category.

It’s also probably the most offence Haruka has taken in a match, as Yuzupon proves unafraid of giving her a kick or a throw. It’s still all done incredibly safely, but it feels like they’re figuring out what this wee lass can take, and it might be even more than we thought.

Not that it’s a one-way street, Haruka gives as good as she gets, coming close to getting the win with a Top Rope Crossbody in the final seconds. She also continues to have a brilliant eye for comedy as a Giant Swing leaves her drunkenly staggering around the ring, dodging Yuzupon’s attacks by accident. As has become the norm, the whole thing was a delight, leaving me with a big old smile on my face.

Verdict: Delightful

Hiren defeated Eri Susa

Hiren is a Meiko trainee who spent most of her career in Sendai Girls and Oz Academy with this proving to be her only appearance for Stardom. It makes this the second show in a row where they’ve brought someone from outside to face off with Eri Susa, as you wonder whether this is an attempt to get her work up to the next level.

The match does feel a bit like school is in session, Hiren dominating most of the action and giving Eri very little in response. The problem is that it’s executed in a rather boring way. Hiren feels like someone going through the basics, working a simple style and never managing to do anything interesting with it. She’s not fucking up, but she’s also not particularly exciting.

Eri’s scrappy comeback does pick things up a bit, as I find myself falling for her underdog shtick. She’s the weakest wrestler on the roster, and I learnt recently she failed her graduation exam multiple times, but that adds to her charms. Sadly, this match won’t go down as one of her best, as even my positive feelings weren’t enough to hook me into a rather dull affair.

Verdict: Boring

Arisa Hoshiki defeated Yuzuki Aikawa and Mayu Iwatani

I am not a fan of three-ways, but I really enjoyed this one. These rookies put together a scrappy wee match that never fell back on the one person sells while the other two wrestle formula. Instead, they had a constant rotation of alliances and break-ups, working together to create spots that had all three involved. Not all of them worked, but I appreciated them trying anyway.

There were a handful of obvious highlights, the first being Mayu attempting to join in on Arisa and Aikawa’s kick-fest. It was a mistake on her part, the other two quickly turning on her for daring to think she could take part in their fun. Thankfully, Iwatani would get a measure of revenge, using her Springboard Arm Drag to Moonsault onto Yuzuki while wrenching on the arm of Arisa.

It all added up to a reminder of why I love watching rookies wrestle. They’re not yet wrapped up in the tropes of the genre, as they have a willingness to experiment that those later in their careers have often lost. It might not make for perfect execution, but it’s hella interesting.

Verdict: Experimentation Works

Nanae Takahashi and Yoshiko defeated Natsuki Taiyo and Yoko Bito

Yoshiko had dyed her hair black, which got a big response from the fans when she revealed it pre-match. She hasn’t changed too much, though, refusing to shake Yoko’s hand before the bell.

I feel like we’ve got a handle on these tags now as no matter the configuration of wrestlers is in the ring, they’re uniformly great. Nanae and Taiyo do a fantastic job of linking them together while the rookies are only getting better at playing their role.

And, of course, there are moments where Yoshiko or Bito hesitate, or something doesn’t quite come off, but it rarely matters. They work these matches at such a frantic pace that it’s quickly forgotten, the action designed to be a blast of wrestling, which works to blow away the memories of a weak forearm or a spot that doesn’t quite go to plan.

Nanae and Taiyo took the homestretch and, unsurprisingly, it was brilliant. Those two are fucking awesome wrestlers, and going back to cover these shows has been eye-opening for just how true is.

Verdict: Brilliant

They may have been partners, but Nanae had something to say to Yoshiko post-match. I’m not sure what those words were, but Yoshiko responded by driving the microphone into her head before they had to be pulled apart, so I suspect they weren’t friendly.

Overall Show

That was a short, but strong show that ended with a story brewing. Outwith the context of the time, it’s hard to know if there was more going on around the matches, but these early efforts have been rather lacking in narrative, so it’s nice to see them working towards fixing that.

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