Stardom returns to Korakuen, and while the crowd was small, it’s great to have them back. These big shows have been about as reliable a couple of hours of entertainment as you can get in recent times, so let’s see if post-world going to shit, they can keep that good run going.
Rina defeated Hina
Can I just copy and paste what I wrote about the last Rina and Hina match? I’m going to hit all the same bullet points.
For it was yet another entertaining sub-five-minute showing from the twins. They go out there, throw each other around a bit and never disappoint. At the age of 13, they’re significantly better than some wrestlers who are on TV every week.
It’s also worth saying that they are continuing to improve. I think I watch them so often that I sometimes miss it, but their match is evolving, becoming that little bit more complex with every passing month. The overall structure is the same, but the ideas within it are gradually shifting. If they want to, they’re both going to be great wrestlers one day.
Anyway, Rina got the win to get revenge for her defeat in their last meeting. The war continues!
Utami Hayashishita and Riho defeated Oedo Tai (Saki Kashima and Natsu Sumire)
Riho continues her flirtation with the various units by pairing up with Utami, a decision that seems to have set-off a spark of jealously in Tall Saya. Perhaps with good cause as Utami had the charm turned up to eleven, laying out her tracksuit top for Riho to sit on during their promo.
She’s not the only one either, with Natsu proving overly friendly in her extending of affections towards poor Riho. Most of that was the usual desire to thrust her crotch in her face, but she attempted to set it up by cradling the bemused Riho in her arms, so it was very romantic.
In among the flirtations, there was an alright match. Saki and Riho took centre stage and had pretty decent chemistry, but never quite got up to full speed. Really, we were here for the love story, and as Utami pinned Natsu before leaving hand in hand with the girl, I think she won this round.
Verdict: Love Is In The Air
Donna del Mondo (Syuri and Jumbo) defeated Tokyo Cyber Squad (Jungle Kyona and Death Yama-san)
Frustrating Stardom booking alert. You’d have thought with Jungle going into a title match this weekend that using this show to give her a bit of momentum would have been a good idea. Instead, she spent most of it sitting in the corner while Yama-san made DDM look good.
Kyona did get her hot tag, teeing off on Jumbo, and I’d be lying if I said I ain’t desperate to see that match, but it still felt like a weird spot for her. I’ve no issue with them giving DDM wins, especially with Himeka still settling it, but surely this was not the time to do it at Jungle’s expense?
Still, booking issues aside, it was a strong contest. Jumbo continues to look good, getting both TCS members up into a Torture Rack while in Syuri and Death you’ve got two of the scenes most reliable hands. It was never going to be bad even if I do wonder why it was booked in the first place.
Verdict: Good Match, Dodgy Booking
STARS (Mayu Iwatani and Starlight Kid) defeated Queen’s Quest (Momo Watanabe and AZM)
This was very similar to a tag on the previous show, with Riho swapping out for Starlight Kid and, honestly, the structure of the match staying much the same. Mayu even commented beforehand that it felt like two singles rather than a tag and, well, she was right.
It might have been better kept that way too considering Kid and Mayu’s attempt to unleash a new tag move. I’m going to go out on a limb and assume this was Mayu’s idea because, well, Mayu, but it had Starlight stand on her shoulders as she was perched in the corner. They then appeared to be jumping forward with Kid still in that position and seriously, who would have ever thought that might not be a good idea? Thankfully, they were both alright, but they should probably retire whatever that was supposed to be.
It was Mayu’s second clumsy moment of the match as she also hit one of the worst 619s of all time, sheepishly shushing the crowd afterwards. However, she and Momo spent some time dropping each other on their heads, so I’m willing to forgive her. It’s Mayu and if you haven’t learnt to take the clumsy with the smooth by now, you never will.
All in all, outside of that stuff, it was the match you’d expect. Kid and AZM could wrestle each other for the next thirty years and I’d tune in every time.
Verdict: Let’s Not Kill Kid
Maika defeated Saya Iida and Saya Kamitani to win the Future of Stardom Title in a complicated match
Wow, the stipulation for this was needlessly complex. Only two wrestlers were in the ring at a time, with the third watching from ringside. If someone got the pin, the defeated wrestler was then replaced by the person on the outside. It doesn’t stop there, though. To win you needed to pin both opponents in a row, so if the third wrestler got the second pinfall, the one on the outside would replace them. Yea, I know I’ve fucked that explanation up, but I’ve tried to write it neatly about ten times now, so you’re stuck with it. Apparently, it’s a Tomoe-sen battle, which (judging by the first result on Google) might be related to sumo? Who the fuck knows.
Unfortunately, said stipulation ended up hurting the match. It turned this into what was basically a series of mini-bouts, which did nothing to protect the inexperienced Kamitani and Maika. It was noticeable that their sections struggled to flow together, the match only really working when Gori-chan was able to control things. She’s hardly a veteran herself, but she’s got a lot more minutes under her belt, and it showed.
That’s not to say it sucked, but it became about moments rather than extended sequences. The cocky way Maika first entered the ring, a swagger in her step as she approached Tall Saya or Iida firing off with those flurries of chops. All three of these wrestlers have talent. It was the parameters they were working in that caused issues.
I will say that I’m glad they didn’t make the, perhaps obvious, move of putting the title on Tall Saya. She’s got a rocket strapped to her back and doing so would have put the belt back into the unbeatable purgatory it occupied with Utami. Plus, Maika has shown hints she could be special, so I’ve no doubt that she’ll do good things with it around her waist.
Verdict: Stips Hurt Matches
Giulia defeated Konami in the semi-final of the Wonder of Stardom Tournament
I found this match incredibly frustrating. In so many ways, it was great, but there were just a handful of annoying, niggly things that kept it from being as good as I wanted it to be.
Chief among those was its fence-sitting. A lot of this felt like it was presenting Konami and Giulia as equals. They were going back and forth right from the opening grappling, neither quite able to grab an advantage. On paper, I don’t have a problem with that, but it also didn’t give either woman an edge. I want them to be equal because they both excel in different ways, not because they’re both equally good at everything.
The closest it came to doing that was through Konami’s kicks which did almost prove decisive. However, I needed just a little bit more of that, a tinge more of Giulia struggling against a Konami onslaught, using her power or her speed to overcome it. It’s much more interesting to see two wrestlers strengths and weaknesses cancel each other out than it is to watch them presented as level in all things.
The final minutes were great, though, Konami being granted a warrior’s death, kicking out of two Glorious Busters before a brace of Glorious Drivers (Giulia keeping Konami in position for it and standing straight back up after the first) did the job.
Don’t get me wrong this was a good match. My problem is that it was a decision or two away from being even better.
Verdict: So Close
Tam Nakano defeated Natsuko Tora in the semi-final of the Wonder of Stardom Tournament
Natsuko was in no mood to mess around, attacking Tam with a chair as she made her entrance. It was an extra brave decision because Tam was holding her halberd at the time and there is an alternate universe where that ended badly for Tora.
That was the start of a match that saw Tora brutalise Tam, playing the role of the big bully to perfection. She is coming into her own in that role, dominating smaller wrestlers and throwing them about the place. Natsuko is learning to wrestle and hold herself like a badass.
Tam isn’t an easy person to bully, though. The tide began to turn when she countered a Natsuko Spear with a boot to the head, finding at that moment the opening she needed. From there, Tam was an onslaught of limbs, even throwing a very Arisa-like Running Knee in there.
In the end, though, Natsuko would almost seal her own fate. At every chance she got, she was reaching for that chain, using it to inflict extra pain on Nakano. It can’t have been fun for Tam, but it also gave her the distraction she needed, as she took the time to recover, redirected Natsuko into Saki (who was stood on the apron) and bundled her up for the three, sneaking out by the skin of her teeth.
I liked that match a lot. It, in many ways, gave me what Giulia vs Konami didn’t, as they set it up as a battle between two very different styles. Plus, it’s hard not to be excited for Tam as she goes into the final with that DREAMSHiNE band on her wrist.
Verdict: ‘Mon Yersel’ Tam
Oedo Tai were not happy, beating down Tam after the bell and having to be fought off by the rest of STARS. Nakano survived to cut her promo, promising to win the belt and calling out Giulia. She then practised her extreme metal vocals proving that she really can do it all. Anyway, they managed to be in each other’s company without having a fight, so that was something.
I know a lot of people were annoyed about Stardom’s decision to go with Tam vs Giulia, but I’m not going to lie, I think it was the right one. As much as I thought the bikini brawl was pathetic nonsense, they have got a hot feud bubbling away, and it’s the pairing that made the most sense to me. Natsuko and Konami are great, but so are Tam and Giulia, and sadly not everyone can win.
That was a good Korakuen with a handful of major flaws that prevented it from becoming a great one. It still feels a little bit like Stardom is trying to regain their feet after all the chaos, which is to be expected, but I think they’re getting there in the ring. I guess we’ll see how the next few days go as there are big shows galore.
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