Sadly, 2020 Stardom has been forced to cancel a bunch of shows after another positive COVID test. Fingers crossed those infected are fine, and they’ll be back sooner rather than later. Thankfully, in 2011, the show goes on! We’re once again taking a trip outside of Tokyo, returning to Chiba for what was, hopefully, a good time.
Arisa Hoshiki defeated Saki Kashima
It’s one thing to have an impressive debut against Nanae Takahashi, but the real test comes when you get into the ring with people around your own experience level.
Not that I’m about to judge Saki harshly on how she fares in her third match (even that number is being generous as one was a three-minute exhibition). She’s as green as it gets and, as they run through the kind of chain wrestling they’d have been doing every day in training, that is easy to see. Kashima is working from a book that contains only the basics.
And there is no problem with that. I’m not looking for anything incredible at this point in someone’s career but instead looking at how they do that simple stuff. In that sense, Saki still has a bit to go. She still lacks a personality of her own, feeling instead like plucky rookie number 3. You get the feeling she’s so focused on hitting the moves, that the rest becomes irrelevant.
It’s Arisa who injects some character into the match, getting a rare chance to show some of that cocky nature which would define at least the second run of her career. She doesn’t get to spend much time in the ring with people her junior, so she seems to enjoy it, eventually kicking Kashima’s into next week for the three.
I feel like I’ve been harsh on Saki here, but I want to make it clear she wasn’t bad. She was a kid on her third match who was still trying to put it all together. It’s hard to hold that against her.
Verdict: A Way To Go
Mayu Iwatani and Haruka fought to a time-limit draw
There were a couple of moments in this match where it felt like Mayu and Haruka lost track of what they were supposed to be doing. They ended up wandering around a bit aimlessly, not looking entirely sure of what was coming next. In most matches, I don’t think it would have made a huge difference, but in one that’s three minutes long, it stands out.
Then again, there was still plenty to enjoy here. Mayu had no time for wee Haruka, repeatedly slapping her in the face and bullying the poor lass. Iwatani’s nearly always been positioned as a plucky underdog, so to see her going out there and tormenting an opponent, even twisting her around so that more people could see her hooking her nose, was a lot of fun.
On the whole, I think it still has to go down as a fun match. Yea, they lost their way, but Haruka is literally nine while it’s not like Mayu is some grizzled vet. They generated a smile or two, and that’s all I ask for.
Verdict: It Was Still Decent
Natsuki Taiyo, Yoshiko and Yuu Yamagata defeated Nanae Takahashi, Yoko Bito and Eri Susa
With no Yuzupon on this show, Susa got the tap on the shoulder and graduated from her spot in the opener. Of course, that meant she was guaranteed to take the fall, but it was a nice chance for her to impress outside the confines of her usual placing.
And this ended up being the kind of match that early Stardom has been built on so far with Natsuki and Nanae providing the foundation on which all the fun was crafted. I could watch them go at it all day every day and never get bored, so when you throw some talented rookies and Yamagata around them, it’s an added bonus.
In the end, Yoshiko and Taiyo’s rapidly improving chemistry would see them through (although they did have a rare slip-up in this one, Yoshiko not getting Bito in place for a Natsuki’s Crossbody and earning a harsh word or two from her senior). There was nothing particularly new here, but these matches are a guaranteed good time, and the introduction of Eri and Yuu was enough to make it not feel too much like a retread.
Verdict: Stardom Is Good At These
Yoshiko won a battle royal
A very indie feeling delayed entry battle royal as Stardom threw everyone on the show out there to have some fun. The one weird quirk was that they came out in pairs, presumably as a way to speed things up. That gave us the sight of Haruka being carried out by Yuu and then climbing on her back in an attempt to pin someone, so I was alright by it.
It was the highlight of her and Yuu’s relationship as poor Haruka did end up being fought over by the heel and babyface sides of the ring, a literal tug of war breaking out. Being a pure child, she sided with the good guys, joining in as they all took turns kicking Yoshiko, Nanae and Yuu.
The match was full of little moments like that (quite a lot of which involved Haruka) but was ultimately pretty inconsequential. It felt like something designed to give the live crowd a good time and, in that sense, it did everything it needed to. Although, it did also see Haruka get pinned for the first time, so down with that sort of thing.
Verdict: More Fun
Fun, fun, fun. After a couple of shows with big results at their core, this was back to something that didn’t feel that important. However, it was an enjoyable watch all the same. Although, one does have to point out that the next show features Stardom’s first-ever trip to Korakuen and it might have made sense to do a bit more build to that. Then again, I assume they were doing stuff that’s not on the VOD, so I shan’t judge them too harshly.
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