It’s time to move into 2012 in our run through Stardom’s history, and while the shows on Stardom World are a bit sparse for around this time, I’m determined to try and get my hands on as many of them as possible. Thankfully, the first few shows are already there, so that’s a future Stuart problem, and we can look at how Stardom kicked off their year.
Saki Kashima defeated Eri Susa
Our opener had been for a trim, as we got slightly under four minutes of a roughly twelve-minute match.
What we did see was about what you’d expect from these two. When Saki first debuted, she took Eri’s position as the roster’s whipping post, but her time in that role was short, as this was her second victory over Susa in the space of a couple of months. You can understand why too. I like Susa because I always like plucky underdogs, but Saki already feels like a more polished wrestler, even if she’s far from perfect herself. Eri is scrappy and energetic, which often makes up for her shortcomings, but Kashima is starting to put together the wrestler we know today.
The match falls into that category where there is not enough here to make it essential (we get the start and the finish), but it’s so short that it’s not worth skipping. Unless you’re in a mighty rush, I’d recommend watching it for the simple pleasure of watching it.
Yoko Bito defeated Haruka Yuri
Haruka Yuri is now better known as HARUKAZE and had made her debut in a match against Natsuki Taiyo on the 2011 Christmas Day show that we, unfortunately, couldn’t watch. This was her second bout, and while it’s also been edited down, we’re getting a slightly more satisfactory five minutes of a seven and a half minute outing.
And from the way she was standing at the start of this match, I was expecting a nerve filled performance from the rookie, but that turned out not to be the case. In fact, in the opening exchanges, she showed some nice wee touches, ruffling and pulling on Bito’s hair while holding her in a submission before leaning back into a nice bridge. While it was nothing incredible, it didn’t suggest a young wrestler who was terrified of being out there.
When she stood up, things got a bit more awkward. The way she moved around the ring didn’t flow yet, and she looked uncomfortable throwing strikes. There was also a botch where she attempted to twist around Bito into what I suspect was going to be a roll-up. However, I’m not entirely sure the fault is on her. From my inexpert point of view, it looks like Bito bumps too early, causing her to land on poor Yuri’s head. Whether that’s the case or not, the important thing was that they recovered from it, despite the somewhat cruel laughs from the crowd.
It all added up to a solid first impression. There is a lot for young Haruka Yuri to work on, but for someone having only their second match, you’d have to be a dick to dismiss her.
Verdict: Flawed, But Solid Showing
Io Shirai & Kellie Slater defeated AMA (Mayu Iwatani and Arisa Hoshiki)
Kellie Skater is another one who made her Stardom debut on that Christmas show, but unlike Yuri, she’s no newbie. Skater was an Australian wrestler on a tour of Japan who also worked shows for Reina and WAVE. She’s notable for being an independent wrestler who had a strong career at a time when it wasn’t easy for women to do so. Most of it was in Shimmer, but she also did a fair bit of bouncing around the world, and this won’t be the last time we see her in Stardom before her retirement in 2017.
Unfortunately, this probably isn’t the best match to be introduced to her by as the five or so minutes we see of it is not that interested in her. Instead, we’ve got a focus on seeing AMA as a team, with Mayu and Arisa starting to come together and show-off some cool combo moves as they impress even in defeat. The final minute then sees Io take centre stage, getting the win with a Moonsault. These clipped matches have made it hard to get a grip on how good a worker she was at this point, but that Moonsault is pretty.
It makes for another perfectly watchable, but far from essential five minutes of wrestling. The main reason to check it out it to get another look at young AMA, who are beginning to take shape.
Yuzuki Aikawa defeated Kairi Hojo
Our third match in a row with a newbie, but I suspect this one doesn’t need too big an introduction. Kairi Hojo is set to become a major figure in Stardom and eventually signed for WWE where she became Kairi Sane. Thankfully, that’s still in the future at this point, as she’s a fresh-faced rookie taking on Yuzopon.
Much like the initial crop of Stardom rookies, Hojo does not look like a wrestler stepping out in front of a crowd for the first time. Yes, she keeps it simple, but she’s doing those simple things well, already drawing good reactions for a series of chops. Yuzopon kicks the shit out of her, but she doesn’t lose her composure and blocks some of those kicks by smacking them out the air with a forearm. It’s a strong performance, and I don’t think that’s hindsight influencing my view either.
Of course, one of those kicks does eventually find its way home, making sure Hojo starts career off with a loss. However, history tells us that she won’t be hanging around the bottom of the card for long, and watching this, you can see why.
Verdict: Welcome Aboard, Kari
Natsuki Taiyo, Yoshiko & Yuu Yamagata defeated Nanae Takahashi, Hiroyo Matsumoto & Miho Wakizawa
Miho Wakizawa is our third wrestler to have already appeared on the 2011 Christmas Day show that we have not seen. She’s not a rookie, though, but rather somehow that’s been drawn back in, having not wrestled regularly since 2001 when, according to Cagematch, she managed an incredible 121 matches for AJW. I’m nae surprised she took some time off after that schedule. She was a big part of latter-day AJW, and if I had to guess, I’d imagine Nanae gave her a call to tempt her out of retirement.
Sadly, we don’t get to see a whole lot of her here as after getting the full Hojo vs Yuzopon experience, we’re back to a clipped match. The only sustained period of action we get involving Miho is the closing stretch where she’s put away by Taiyo. That’s the same Taiyo who is, without a doubt, the star of what we see. This appears to have been a wild trios match, and it’s no surprise that she would be integral to all the great stuff about it. Her and Nanae’s interactions are obviously fire, but everything she does is ridiculously fun.
It’s a performance which makes this worth a watch as its nine minutes are packed with action. Who knows if it was a good match around that, or if they had a hell of an editor, but I imagine it was, and either way, it’s a good highlight reel.
Verdict: A Blast
When we’re talking about the history of Stardom, the only match on this show that you need to see is Hojo’s debut. Outside of that, the edited down bouts are all decent enough, but there is nothing that will leap out at you.
Watch Stardom: http://www.stardom-world.com/