Stardom Throwback: Grow Up Stars (8/5/11) Review

Credit: Stardom

There ain’t a huge amount to say up here. We’re still taking a jaunt through Stardom’s history, but we’re a couple of months from things starting to heat up. Still, it’s been an enjoyable wander so far, so let’s find out if that can continue.

Tomoka Nakagawa defeated Eri Susa

Nakagawa is a Kaentai Dojo graduate who also worked the indies before retiring in 2014. Here, though, she’s merely the latest outsider to face the wrath of Susa.

Sadly, that wrath was rather tame, as like most Susa matches, this was a one-sided affair with Tomoka taking most of the action and looking decent enough. It’s hard to judge a wrestler in what was essentially an extended squash, but she didn’t do anything to make me love or hate her, she came across as a solid hand doing a decent day’s work.

As for Susa, I continue to be charmed by her scrappy underdog act. Is she particularly great? No, but I like her. She takes her beatings well and has enough fire that I get into her comebacks. I suspect we’re never going to see her reach any great heights, but I’ll happily watch another few years of matches like this.

Verdict: Decent

Haruka and Natsuki Taiyo fought to a time limit draw

It’s Haruka time! And, she’s in with a favourite, so this was guaranteed to be good. The youngster even got a wee kick in before the bell, protecting Fuka after Natsuki started to mess around with her.

I worry that people think I’m trying to be funny when I talk about how much I like Haruka. I’m not. She’s fantastic, and this was the latest match to prove it. If anything, she’s getting better, her timing improving as she gets more ring minutes under her belt. There was a sequence where she was on top that was nearly perfect, as she danced around Natsuki opening avenues in which to attack. You forget she’s eight years old and a foot tall because she’s that damn good.

Of course, we once again went to the draw, but Taiyo gave her enough that you almost believed she could win. That wee lass was special, and I suspect those who were getting in the ring with her knew it.

Verdict: Brilliant

Yoko Bito defeated Arisa Hoshiki

It’s funny, going back to that first Stardom show I had Yoko pinned as being a step or two ahead of Arisa. She carried herself better and I’d have assumed that would remain the case, but now I’m not so sure.

For while Yoko isn’t bad, she still has a bit of that rookie awkwardness to her. In contrast, Arisa is coming on leaps and bounds. She has real fire and bite, those kicks thudding in as she develops an attitude. That mean streak which works so well for her today is beginning to show and I like it a lot.

Still, Yoko is clearly the one that Stardom had their eye on at this point, picking up the win with a head kick. However, if I was watching back in 2011, I suspect I’d have been moaning about the wrong person going over.

Verdict: Arisa Is Catching Up

Natsuki Taiyo, Yoshiko and Yuu Yamagata defeated Nanae Takahashi, Yuzuki Aikawa and Mayu Iwatani

Our second outside debut of the show arrived in the form of Yuu Yamagata, who had come through in ARSION, the company Rossy Ogawa started with Aja Kong before Stardom. She’d also spent some time working K-Dojo and had done a decent amount with Nakagawa, so they may have come as a package deal.

This match features what I believe is the first multi-women brawl into the crowd in Stardom history (I might have forgotten one). It’s become a staple of their main events, particularly those involving Oedo Tai, but we haven’t seen much of it in these early shows, so it felt like a wee slice of the current day.

And, truthfully, you could probably swap this match out with any of those faction vs faction matches that now headline a lot of Stardom shows and you wouldn’t notice a huge difference. It was structured the same way, worked at pace and giving everyone their chances to shine.

Taiyo and Takahashi continue to be standouts, as they’re quickly entering the territory of two wrestlers who I will watch beat each other up forever. Honestly, though, everyone looked good. Aikawa is flourishing nicely and Yuu had a nice stiff back and forth with Nanae. Even Mayu, who was clearly out there to take the fall, had a good performance and isn’t bad, just not on the level of the rest.

Yoshiko was given the win over Mayu, surviving attacks from all three opponents to get there. It’s the latest victory on her ascent to the role of Stardom’s big bad and it’s a spot that she’s filling nicely.

Verdict: Lot Of Fun

Overall Show

These Stardom shows are still very easy to watch, but it does feel like we’re in a bit of a holding pattern. There is only so many times these combinations of wrestlers can face off, and while I understand the need to get ring time beneath the feet of these talented rookies, we’re starting to require fresh blood. Thankfully, it’s not too long until that wish will be sated.

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