You go forever without a Korakuen, and suddenly Stardom is there every second week. Their latest visit to that hallowed hall was all about putting those vacant belts back on people. Throw in a High Speed three-way that’s been long in the making, and you’ve got the potential for a decent show.
Saki Kashima defeated Hina
There was no pre-match promo from Saki Kashima as Oedo Tai’s declaration of ‘fuck Stardom’ continues.
We got a lot of cocky Saki in this one, which I’m a big fan of. I’m a bit out of the loop as to how people feel this heel turn is going, but I think she’s become a much more interesting wrestler. Kashima’s fuelled by bitterness from her time in STARS, desperate to prove that she’s more than Mayu Iwatani’s friend. Then again, I was also a lot higher on the Mayu match than most, so maybe it’s a run on from that.
As for the action, it was about what you’d expect. Saki heeled it up, Hina had a brief flurry and then got put away with My Emblem, Kashima raising a joyous middle finger as the three was counted. Solid, if unremarkable opener.
Verdict: More Cocky Saki!
Oedo Tai (Natsuko Tora and Natsu Sumire) defeated Tokyo Cyber Squad (Death Yama-san and Rina)
To the shock of no-one, Natsuko didn’t have much time for Death Yama-san, making her attack as Death greeted the four sides of Korakuen.
This was another match that played to type, Natsu thrust her crotch into a child’s face, Natsuko bullied everyone and Death shouted Death a lot, everything we’ve come to expect!
It has to be said that I enjoy Death Yama-san’s role in Stardom. She’s this ridiculous, over the top parody and yet her job is to go out and make everyone else look great. Which, of course, she does because, well, not to break kayfabe, but it’s Yone, and she’s brilliant. If I had to choose someone to carry me to a match, she’d be in the top three.
Anyway, Natsuko eventually crushed poor Rina for the three, and this was another enjoyable if relatively straightforward match.
Momo Watanabe defeated Maika
Now here’s a match to get your teeth into! Stardom seems to be pivoting to Donna Del Mondo vs Queen’s Quest, and this is one of the many tasty pairings that feud offers.
At the grizzled age of twenty, Momo was our veteran, taking control with a barrage of kicks. She’s brilliant at playing that cocky prick, grinning as she booted Maika around the ring. Unfortunately, it was also nearly her downfall, Maika grabbing one of those kicks and twisting into an Ankle Lock, opening Momo’s leg up to be worked over.
Unfortunately, Momo would kind of forget about all that work in the closing stretch, but this was still enough to convince me that one day these two will have a banger of a match. They both work stiff, physical styles where everything looks like it hurts, and while Maika lacks a bit of polish, she’s already at the stage where she’s not being blown away by the likes of Watanabe. It’s a pairing that is only going to improve.
Verdict: Looking To The Future
Donna del Mondo (Jumbo and Syuri) defeated STARS (Mayu Iwatani and Saya Iida)
Gori-chan is getting fucking ripped. The lass’s arms are going to be bigger than the rest of her body soon. Somehow this was the first time she’d teamed with Mayu, so Iwatani sat behind her having a snack during their pre-match promo, making it very hard for poor Iida not to corpse while she spoke.
It turned out this match was to set us up for Syuri vs Mayu, and if you can’t get behind that, you’re in the wrong place. They looked good together, firing up out of each other’s Germans to hit a double head kick. It was, as you’d expect, more of a taster than the full meal, but it’s Syuri and Mayu, so I’m willing to put my money on the table.
Outside of that, Gori-chan continues to be awesome and is working her arse off to put Himeka over. Unfortunately, Jumbo failed to get both STARS members up for her Torture Rack, leading to an awkward moment as they struggled to stack up properly, but it was quickly forgotten. There was too much talent in the ring for something not quite working to be an issue.
Verdict: Lovely Stuff
As I said, this match was done to set-up Syuri challenging, and she threw down the gauntlet afterwards. It’s good to see Stardom putting her in that spot and allowing her to show a bit more personality while doing so. I’ve no doubt the match will rule.
AZM defeated Riho and Starlight Kid to win the High Speed Title
Damn, this match feels like it was a long time coming as does AZM finally winning that belt (although the same could be said for Starlight Kid). It’s a real shame that Riho appears contractually obliged not to take falls in Stardom as a long feud between these three could be a hell of a lot of fun.
For this was a blast, worked at that High Speed pace without a second of let-up. What makes this style work is that everyone is going for the win at every opportunity. It’s a flurry of flash pins, really selling the idea that one mistake could prove your downfall. That brings with it a real element of unpredictability even as they did play into some of the three-way tropes of shifting alliances.
Plus, these three are, to put it simply, a joy to watch. They are all capable of working at ridiculous speeds, flying through unique combinations and coming up with cool spots. On top of that, they’re all stupidly young, making it perfectly possible that they could all still be doing it for the next fifteen-twenty years.
In the end, it was Kid who made that crucial mistake, an attempt at a La Magistral being stopped mid-flow for AZM to slip into the AZM Sushi and take the three. As I said, she deserves it, but it’s definitely not the end between her and Starlight Kid.
Verdict: A Blast
Queen’s Quest (Utami Hayashishita and Saya Kamitani) defeated Tokyo Cyber Squad (Jungle Kyona and Konami) to win the Goddesses Tag Team Titles
Stardom, why you got to do Jungle dirty like this? I don’t think that putting the titles on Utami and Tall Saya is the wrong choice, but did Jungle have to lose two title challenged in one long weekend? Give us something!
Outside of my issues with the booking, this was the latest test for Tall Saya. She’s been in main events before and a couple of relatively big matches, but this was second from the top at Korakuen for the titles. Kamitani has all the potential in the world, but there is no denying that she is rough around the edges, and I was intrigued as to how the pressure would affect her performance.
Of course, she was kind of cheating as having Jungle and Konami across from you makes everything a bit easier. However, taking that out the equation, she stood up to the challenge. Her selling could use a bit of tweaking as she has a tendency to play it a bit too big and rely on screaming, but it’s a minor quibble. She’s starting to tighten up the rest of her game, growing into the role Stardom has prepared for her.
It also feels a bit unfair to have Utami as your partner, as she definitely did the heavy lifting, working long sections with both Jungle and Konami. It was the TCS duo who felt more like a tag team, their experience shining through in that regard. Saya and Utami still have the vibe of two singles wrestlers crammed together, but that’s to be expected this early into their run, and more ring time will quickly put that to bed.
Plus, it wasn’t Queen’s Quest who lost because of a moment of miscommunication. A Jungle Dropkick misfired, catching her partner and turning this in QQ’s favour. It allowed Utami to get the win with a German and an emotional Tall Saya to pick up her first-ever title. As much as I will always be pulling for a Jungle victory, it’s hard to begrudge her that one.
Verdict: Well Done, Tall Saya
Said emotions overwhelmed Saya in her post-match promo, tuning it up to a register more suited for dogs than humans and causing Utami to check she was okay. She wasn’t given much chance to calm down, though, the newly contracted Himeka and Maika coming out to make their challenge.
Giulia defeated Tam Nakano to win the Wonder of Stardom Title
With this going twenty-eight minutes and being the first solo meeting between two people who do not get along, it felt like Stardom’s attempt at the epic main event. They even kicked things off by staring daggers across the ring, slowly prowling around each other before charging into an EPIC lock-up. It was all a bit unnecessary, to be honest.
And it brought with it some rubbish tropes. They were less than ten minutes in when they started exchanging big moves on the outside, teasing the countout as if anyone was going to believe that was how it would end. It’s the kind of stuff that people think these matches need, window dressing that can be done well but is too often thrown out with little thought.
However, I’m not here to trash this match. For it had an Ace up its sleeve, an Ace in the form of one Tam Nakano.
For in Tam, you have one of my favourite in-ring storytellers. She excels at weaving a tale between those ropes, and that’s what she did. Right from the start, it felt like she was out there to prove herself against this new invader. After one of those aforementioned lock-ups, Giulia cuffed her around the head, and Tam nearly broke, chasing after her and losing her temper. However, she caught herself, pulling herself back and refusing to be drawn in by this newbie.
Instead, Tam was out there with a plan, chipping away at Giulia’s leg with kicks and submissions, wrestling this match like a veteran taking the rookie to school. It felt like Tam wanted to show she was above Giulia, to rise about the brawls she’s been pulled her into and instead out-wrestle her. Showing this person who has wandered into her company that you can’t just waltz to the front of the queue.
The problem? Giulia got in her head. Tam’s plan was so close to working, but Giulia kept finding a way to push her buttons, drawing her into slap exchanges or convincing her to go for that extra move. In the end, this was too personal for Tam. She was out there trying to win the title for Arisa against someone who has been winding her up for months, and she couldn’t resist the temptation to unleash. It was a temptation she was punished for, passing out in the Stealth Viper, unable to reach the ropes and refusing to give up.
To be very clear, I would have probably liked this match a lot more if it had been the short, sloppy fight they’d been teasing. It still had moments of that, but there was too much clawing for the epic: too many finisher kick-outs and ‘big’ moments. However, I also felt like that Tam and Giulia showed they could work this style. I’ve wanged on a lot about Nakano here, but it takes two to tangle, and once again I think Giulia has shown she is more than deserving of the push she’s getting. You can hate the way she left Ice Ribbon all you want, but the lass is good.
Fingers crossed this isn’t how Stardom views their main events going forward. I’ve always loved their ability to put together ten to fifteen minutes matches that give me everything I need. However, if they want to do one or two of these a year when the occasion calls for them, then I guess it wouldn’t be too bad.
Verdict: There Was Enough There To Keep It Interesting
Unsurprisingly, they were both exhausted afterwards. Still, Giulia had enough to tell Tam that she thinks she understands her now before Nakano vowed to chase her to the end of the Universe. There was a degree of understanding there, but I don’t think this is a feud that will end any time soon.
That was Stardom’s strongest top to bottom show post-lockdown. It’s perhaps no surprise as it’s also the one they’ve packed with the most star power, but it is good to see them pick up some momentum again. While I still have my issues, they left me satisfied, so I ain’t going to complain too much.
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