Stardom Throwback: Year End Stars (23/12/11) Review

Yuzopon’s legs aren’t quite long enough. Credit: Stardom

It’s been a fair while since I did one of these, so let’s head back to 2011 and the end of Stardom’s first full year as a company. We’re unfortunately in a period where Stardom World is missing quite a few shows, but I’ll fill you in on the big stuff that we’ve missed. First up, there was a couple of title challenges, Io Shirai falling short against Yuzopon for the Wonder of Stardom belt and Taiyo failing to beat Nanae for the World of Stardom title. Stardom also ran their first ever tag league with Yuzopon and Yuko Bito beating Taiyo and Yoshiko in the final, making them the first ever Goddesses champions. Finally, they held a Rookie of The Year tournament, which saw Yoshiko beat Arisa to take that particular crown. So, all in all, it was a busy period for Stardom and hopefully those shows turn up someday so we can fill in the gaps. Now, though, it’s time to ramble about Stardom’s penultimate show of 2011, enjoy!

Yoshiko & Yuu Yamagata defeated Hiroyo Matsumoto and Eri Susa

According to Cagematch, this went a tad over fourteen minutes. The version on Stardom World doesn’t even go two, so I’m not really in a place to review it. What we do see, makes Yoshiko look like a badass, which admittedly isn’t hard. Her tapping Eri out while giving everyone watching the finger is pretty cool, though, and she follows up by turning around and booting her future SEAd tag partner, Matsumoto, in the head. Unfortunately, there is not much more to it than that, so I guess we’ll move on.

Verdict: Yoshiko’s Cool

Io Shirai and Mayu Iwatani defeated Nanae Takahashi and Saki Kashima

Okay, so I don’t have to repeat myself for every match, let’s just say now that Stardom World’s footage of this show has all been clipped down. It would probably be sensible to skip it and move onto the next, but I’m a completionist, so here we are. This time around, it’s roughly four minutes of a sixteen-minute bout.

And despite Saki eventually eating an Io Moonsault, it was her pairing with Nanae that impressed me. They looked to be having a lot of fun together, Nanae even getting so carried away running the ropes to hit a move on Mayu that Io had time to recover and pull her to the outside. She’d get her revenge, though, snapping Shirai with a hell of a German. Meanwhile, Kashima was already developing her penchant for flash pins, as she slips into a couple of lovely ones before eventually being defeated.

It means that while the clips of the opener were so short that they’re almost not worth bothering with, this is a more rounded four minutes. What we see hints at a enjoyable tag, and is also the first time we see Mayu and Io as a team, which is a pairing that will become rather important in the years to come. That alone makes it worth a watch.

Verdict: Fun

Natsuki Taiyo and Yoko Bito fought to a time limit draw

I know this won’t come as news to anyone who is likely to be reading this, but my god Natsuki Taiyo is brilliant. This match went to a draw, but from what we saw of it, the vast majority of it was Taiyo running rings about Bito. She’s so quick, inventive and smooth, that it’s just a pleasure to watch her work.

It also looks like it was a smart wee match, as it seems that while Taiyo was proving hard to get a hold of, she didn’t have enough firepower to put Bito away. In contrast to that, the moments Bito did have, hit hard, keeping her in the fight. That’s what allowed her to survive these fifteen minutes and gain a credibility boosting draw with one of Stardom’s veteran faces.

Of course, all of that could be bollocks, as we’re missing nearly ten minutes of this. Still, I’d recommend giving what we’ve got a watch just to enjoy Taiyo being Taiyo.

Verdict: Taiyo Rules

Yuzuki Aikawa defeated Arisa Hoshiki to retain the Wonder of Stardom Title

To my delight, Arisa Hoshiki’s first-ever title shot would set a precedent that would continue a good eight years later during her own run with this belt. Despite being the main event of this show (and the match we see the most of), Arisa vs Yuzopon was the shortest bout on it and saw the two of them kick the shit out of each other.

It made for a display of violence that filled me with a warm fuzzy feeling, as it brought back all those Arisa title defences that I loved so much. These two go hard and fast, no waiting around before they start unleashing with those brutal kicks. Arisa is in a particularly killer mood, one Double Stomp that she hits coming close to connecting with the back of Yuzopon’s neck.

You can also see that, less than a year into their careers, these two are starting to get it. Early on, Yuzopon completely fluffs a kip-up, the kind of moment that might throw a rookie, but which she takes in her stride, sarcastically applauding herself. Brilliantly, she then follows up with a comedy spot, inviting the laughter as she tries desperately to kick Arisa but is held at leg’s length, her shorter reach unable to cross the distance. It’s the actions of someone comfortable in the ring, happy to laugh at themselves and able to fit that into a match that is otherwise stiff as hell.

I previously said that a sensible person might have skipped reviewing this show, accepting that it’s clipped and moving on, but this is the gem that rewarded my determination. It’s not quite on the level of those future Arisa matches, the clipping and the fact that these two are still figuring themselves out preventing that being the case, but it’s a lovely insight into what was to come. Sure, it would be a while before we saw it, but that almost makes it all the better.

Verdict: A Gem

Overall Show

The clipping does effect this show and makes most of it fairly skippable. However, even if there is a minute or two missing from that main event, I’d highly recommend checking it out. It’s a great match and one that’s all the more enjoyable with the benefit of hindsight.

Watch Stardom: http://www.stardom-world.com/

If you enjoyed this review, please consider contributing to my Ko-fi, even the smallest amount is appreciated.

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