Event: Stardom Dream Slam In Nagoya
Date: April 1st, 2018
Location: Nagoya Congress Center Event Hall in Nagoya, Japan
Announced Attendance: 1,020
Stardom has had quite a few shows since I last reviewed one of their events, but this was one I couldn’t miss. I love crazy gimmick matches so how couldn’t I review an exploding bat death match? Even beyond the main event this was a big show for Stardom, as they stacked it up for one of their largest recent attendances outside of Korakuen Hall. They had a total of nine matches, which is a crazy high amount for Stardom, so while match times will probably be short we get a lot of singles matches to give the wrestlers a chance to shine. Here is the full card:
What a card. All the wrestlers above have profiles on Joshi City, you can click on their name to go straight to it. I will be watching the Samurai TV Version of the event because I like the presentation and with a nine match card I figured some match clipping may help me get through it in a more timely fashion.
Hanan and Nao Yamaguchi vs. Leo Onozaki and Ruaka
Its going to take me longer to type this intro than it will take to watch Samurai TV’s version of this match. Ruaka and Hanan are both 13, while Nao and Leo both debuted in the last month (although both are adults so there is that). Stardom events frequently begin with ‘rookie’ matches, which this one certainly qualifies as.
Ruaka and Nao start off and try to knock each other over with no luck, body block by Nao against the ropes and she finally knocks down Ruaka with a lariat for two. Nao picks up Ruaka but Xia boots her in the chest, another boot by Ruaka and she covers her for two. Ruaka picks up Nao and delivers the fisherman suplex hold, picking up the three count! Ruaka and Leo are the winners.
Even without clipping this match was pretty damn short so we didn’t miss much. Hopefully next time I’ll get a chance to see Leo and Hanan participate, Ruaka is still pretty rough around the edges which was even evident in a clipped three minute matches. Nothing to see here.
(c) Xia Brookside vs. Konami
IPW:UK Women’s Championship
Needless to say I am not too familar with the IPW:UK Women’s Championship, but Xia won it in IPW:UK in December and this is her second defense of the title (both of which took place in Stardom). Konami is the young protege of Kana but still hasn’t really found her place in Joshi wrestling yet, she is very skilled on the technical side but hasn’t connected all the dots to elevate up the card.
We join this one in progress as the pair trade strikes, dropkick by Xia and she knees Konami in the corner. Face crusher by Xia and she dropkicks Konami again, covering her for two. Head kick by Xia and she sits Konami on the top turnbuckle, but Konami kicks her away and applies a hanging armbar. Armdrag by Konami and she applies the cross armbreaker in the middle of the ring, back up Konami delivers a head kick and hits a fisherman suplex hold for a two count. Konami goes off the ropes but Xia catches her with a Codebreaker, but Konami barely kicks out of the cover. Xia puts Konami in the Tree of Woe and hits a sliding kick, Xia flings Konami off the top turnbuckle and applies the Leg Roll Clutch for the three count! Xia retains the championship.
We only got to see half of this but what they showed was fine. Xia gets a bit better each time I see her, she is still a teenager but has shown some natural ability (not surprising) early in her career. And the crowd has taken to her quite a bit which is always a plus. Konami continues to be proficient but still hasn’t gotten anywhere in Stardom, we’ll see if that ever changes or if she’ll have to go elsewhere to find success. Too clipped to recommend but both are solid wrestlers.
AZM vs. Starlight Kid
Future of Stardom Championship
If you were one of the few people in the world that thought that Stardom did not have enough titles then you are in luck, because they made another one! Stardom had a tournament to crown the first ever Future of Stardom Championship (designed for younger/less experienced wrestlers), with AZM and Starlight Kid reaching the finals. AZM has been wrestling longer than Starlight Kid but is still only 15 years old, Starlight Kid’s exact age is unknown but she is older than that so she does have the age advantage. While I am not excited about another belt floating around, Starlight Kid is fun to watch and AZM has been improving so this may be entertaining.
Starlight Kid charges AZM as the match starts, AZM goes for an armdrag but Starlight Kid lands on her feet. AZM connects with the next armdrag and they trade trips before reaching a stalemate back on their feet. AZM fakes a handshake and goes for a kick, Starlight Kid catches it and they take turns throwing each other to the mat by the head. They trade elbows and dropkicks, Starlight Kid kips up but AZM kicks her in the chest. Kicks to the back by AZM and she puts Starlight Kid in a camel clutch, after a moment she releases the hold and sets up Starlight Kid in the ropes. Dropkick to the back by AZM but Starlight Kid trips her when she goes for a second one, she goes for a Tiger Feint Kick but AZM ducks. Starlight Kid hits the move on the lower ropes instead, standing moonsault by Starlight Kid and she covers AZM for two. Irish whip by Starlight Kid to the corner and she delivers a dropkick, but AZM dropkicks her back. Rebound crossbody by AZM but Starlight Kid dropkicks her, and both wrestlers are down on the mat. Starlight Kid is up first, she trips AZM and puts her in a crab hold, but AZM rolls out of it and they trade flash pins. Back up, high kicks by AZM and she covers Starlight Kid for a two count. AZM runs to the corner and goes for a triple jump attack, but Starlight Kid kicks her in the stomach and hits the cyclone suplex. Starlight Kid goes up top and she nails the swivel body press, cover by Starlight Kid and she picks up the three count! Starlight Kid is the first Future of Stardom Champion!
For a short match, I thought this was good. AZM was pretty iffy the first few years of her career (to be fair, she is a child) but has gotten a lot better in the last year or so. Starlight Kid has always had the flashy moves but just didn’t always string them together well, here though she was pretty tight with everything and they played off each other well. I’m not sure if another title was really necessary just for the children but at least they got a good match out of it. Mildly Recommended
Bea Priestley vs. Momo Watanabe
Just a couple short months ago, Momo took Io Shirai to her limit in the main event at Korakuen Hall, but here she is back to the early midcard wrestling against the latest gaijin to invade the promotion. Momo’s placement in Stardom hasn’t really changed since that day like some thought it would, and really at the moment there isn’t much of a choice as she doesn’t have a storyline and still is young enough that there is no real rush. Bea first came over to Stardom last fall to take place in the Goddesses of Stardom League, but she seems to have impressed as she is back again for another run.
We join this one in progress as they trade elbows while on their needs, they get to their feet and Momo hits a quick side slam followed by the Somato for a two count. Momo picks up Bea and goes for the B Driver, but Bea blocks it and superkicks Momo in the head. Bea traps Momo’s arm and elbows her repeatedly, she lets go and goes for a kick, but Momo catches her leg and delivers a head kick of her own. A second Somato by Momo, but Bea is too close to the ropes and grabs them when she goes for the cover. elbows by Momo but Bea grabs her and slams Momo into the mat. Bea steps off of Momo’s back and crushes her face into the mat with a double footstomp, cover by Bea and she picks up the three count! Bea Priestly is the winner.
This was way too clipped to really judge but everything they showed was solid. Momo stood no chance here, she is too far down on the totem pole to beat someone that Stardom will be building up to lose in more title matches down the road. All hope isn’t lost for Momo, she’ll be fine if she continues improving, but it isn’t her time yet.
Hana Kimura vs. HZK
Hana and HZK are in competing factions, Oedo Tai and Queen’s Quest respectively, and while they haven’t been in an intense feud personally there is still faction pride on the line. Both wrestlers are 20 years old and are still early in their careers, they continue to improve however and this will be a good test for them as there aren’t any veterans here to lean on. I’d rather have them in a singles match than in a random six woman tag, so lets see how it turns out.
Hana ducks a HZK boot early on and takes the time to pose to the crowd, which HZK doesn’t like as she dropkicks Hana in the back. Hana spits at HZK, HZK goes off the ropes and she hits an armdrag. Hana bails out of the ring, HZK follows her but Hana quickly slides back in. Armdrags by HZK but Hana sends her out of the ring, Hana follows her out and throws HZK into the ring post. Hana scoop slams HZK onto the floor and returns to the ring with HZK slowly following, stomps by Hana and she puts HZK in the Mexican Surfboard. Hana goes off the ropes but HZK catches her with a springboard dropkick, bootscrapes by HZK and she boots Hana in the face. HZK elbows Hana but Hana elbows her back as they trade blows, Hana grabs HZK and gets her in the Ground Manjikatame but HZK gets a toe on the ropes for the break. Hana goes off the ropes but HZK avoids her boot and drops her with the Codebreaker. HZK goes for a running senton but Hana moves and boots HZK while she is against the ropes, a second boot by Hana and she hits a series of elbows. Vertical suplex attempt by Hana but HZK blocks it, Hana delivers on her second attempt and she covers HZK for two. Back up, another boot by Hana but HZK decks her with the Pump Kick, she waits for Hana to get up and hits a running elbow in the corner. Tornado DDT by HZK and she covers Hana for a two count. Scoop slam by HZK, she goes up top and goes for the Bombs Away, but Hana moves. Hana quickly applies the Small Package to HZK, and she picks up the three count! Hana Kimura wins!
While there is no way to know what the future holds for these two, I can say that so early in their careers both are progressing well. They are getting a lot more crisp with their respective offense while expanding it, as I really love Hana’s Ground Manjikatame and HZK’s tornado DDT was on point. It wasn’t perfect as some of the bigger moves were recovered from a bit too quickly, and it was a little clipped, but overall a fun match between two of the rising stars in Stardom. Mildly Recommended
Faby Apache, Mary Apache, and Natsumi vs. Natsuko Tora, Kashima, and Shibusawa
It is a family time in Stardom! Stardom fans by now are pretty familiar with Mary Apache as she has been a semi-regular gaijin in Stardom over the last year. In fact she comes into the match with the High Speed Championship, which she won back in August of 2017. She teams here with her slightly younger sister, Faby, who is a successful wrestler as well from the AAA promotion. Natsumi is one of Stardom’s newest wrestlers and is the daughter of Mary Apache, she is around 15 years old. On the other side are two “rookie” wrestlers in Natsuko and Shiki, plus the recently returned Saki Kashima. I’m not really sure why this match is so late in the card but hopefully the Apache sisters are in top form to put on a good show.
We join slightly in progress with Saki and Natsumi in the ring, stomps by Saki but Mary comes in help her daughter. Natsumi attempts a slam and eventually succeeds in hitting her, giving her time to tag in Mary. Boots by Mary to everyone, Faby comes in too with Natsumi and all three put their opponents in a submission hold. Team Apache all hit dropkicks before continuing their assault, the ring eventually clears expect for Saki and Mary and Mary tags in Faby. Saki hits a spinning headscissors on Faby and applies a cradle, but it only gets two. Saki grabs Faby and hits the Unprettier, but Mary breaks up the cover. Saki tags Shiki but Faby promptly kicks Shiki in the chest, Shiki comes back with a dropkick followed by a face crusher for a two count. Faby drives Shiki into the corner and she boots Shiki in the face, giving her time to tag in Mary. Natsuko tags in as well, knees by Natsuko but Mary hits a lariat followed by a scoop slam. Heel drop by Mari, she picks up Natsuko and with Faby they place Natsuko on the top turnbuckle. Double Muscle Buster to Natsuko, but Mary’s cover is broken up. Saki stays in to help and they hit a double face crusher, Natsuko runs in with a knee and she goes up top to hit a diving frog splash for two. Natsuko goes off the ropes but Mary blocks the spear, Natsuko gets away however and she cradles Mary for two. Another roll-up by Natsuko also gets a two, she goes off the ropes but Mary plants her with a lariat. Mary gets on the top turnbuckle and nails the diving kneel kick, cover by Mary and she gets the three count! Team Apache are your winners.
In a continued trend on this card, this was short but ok. One of the downsides of having so many matches on a card is they weren’t going to get a ton of time, but honestly I’m not sure I would have wanted this particular match to be any longer. The Apache sisters were fine but Natsumi and Shiki in particular are still pretty rough and Saki is still working things out after such a long layoff. So there were some issues with technique here. The youngsters still have a ways to go but having Mary and Faby in the match at least gave it some structure so it wasn’t a bad watch.
(c) Viper vs. Jungle Kyona
SWA Women’s Championship
We have reached the first of two title matches on the show. Viper dethroned Toni Storm for the SWA Women’s Championship on March 28th, she has a quick turn-around here and defends it just three days later. Kyona has had an interesting time recently in Stardom as while she still finds some success here and there she has yet to win a singles title and hasn’t had many big storylines aside from the occasional faction war. This may finally be her chance, although since Viper just won the belt recently it doesn’t look good for her.
Kyona tries to knock over Viper as the match begins without any luck, elbows by Kyona but Viper swipes her to the mat. Viper pushes Kyona into the ropes but she gives a clean break, hard shoulderblock by Viper but Kyona wiggles away and goes for the sliding lariat. Viper blocks it but Kyona trips her, quick cover by Kyona but it gets a two count. Kick by Kyona but Viper blocks the scoop slam and hits one of her own, running senton by Viper and Kyona rolls out of the ring to re-group. Viper goes out to the apron but Kyona knocks her legs out from under her, Kyona pulls Viper out of the ring but Viper throws Kyona into the ring post. Viper gets on the apron and dives down onto Kyona (and other wrestlers) with a cannonball, she returns to the ring with Kyona slowly following. Headbutts by Viper and she hits another cannonball in the corner, cover by Viper but Kyona kicks out. Viper gets on the second turnbuckle but Kyona recovers and elbows Viper before she can jump off. Kyona powerbombs Viper off the second turnbuckle to the mat, but Viper barely gets a shoulder up on the cover. Kyona elbows Viper but Viper elbows her back as they trade blows, Kyona goes for a lariat but Viper absorbs the blow. Kyona finally knocks down Viper with a lariat, she slowly makes the cover but it only gets a two count. Kyona picks up Viper but Viper knocks her down with a lariat, Reverse Splash by Viper but Kyona gets a hand on the rope to break up the cover. Viper picks up Kyona and hits the Michinoku Driver, but Kyona reverses the cover into a cradle of her own for two. Viper goes up top but Kyona avoids the diving body press, lariat to the back of the head by Kyona and she body slams Viper. Kyona goes up top and delivers the diving body press, but she only gets a two count. Kyona goes for a powerbomb but Viper blocks it, headbutt by Viper and she hits a backdrop suplex. Cannonball by Viper in the corner, she picks up Kyona and nails the Michinoku Driver for the three count! Viper is still the champion.
The layout of this match was predictable, but it was still an entertaining match. While for the bulk of it I felt that it was too lopsided to Viper and Kyona wasn’t getting enough in, they got the crowd into it a bit towards the end as Kyona had some quality near falls and even in defeat she didn’t look weak. Kyona wasn’t going to hit her finisher on Viper but she has enough in her arsenal that she could have won without it, and it helps keep the Hammerthrow Bomb stronger anyway that she didn’t do a finisher spam on the way to defeat. The match stayed pretty well paced and the Hoss vs. Hoss spots were fine, even if the Hossness between the two is lopsided. Overall I liked it, Kyona isn’t quite ready yet to take down someone like Viper but she is slowly getting there, and perhaps she will get another chance at her down the road. Mildly Recommended
(c) Toni Storm vs. Mayu Iwatani
World of Stardom Championship
Finally, the rematch we have been waiting six months for is finally happening. Toni won the title from Mayu back in September of 2017, however it was not in a way anyone wanted as Mayu was injured very early in the match and Toni was declared the winner. Mayu made her return last month and since she was the last champion, she got the right to a rematch. Since winning Stardom’s top championship, Toni has not defended the title in the promotion since October, as her global commitments keep her away from the promotion for stretches of time. Mayu looks here not only to regain the title she perhaps never should have lost, but bring the title back to Stardom as well.
They circle each other to start, Toni gets Mayu to the mat but Mayu recovers and they end up back on their feet. Springboard armdrag by Mayu and she dropkicks Toni, she goes for another dropkick but Toni gets back up and boots Mayu in the head. Toni goes for a dropkick by Mayu moves, Toni feigns injury but rolls up Mayu before delivering a hip attack. Uppercut by Toni and she starts on Mayu’s previously injured arm, Toni knocks Mayu into the corner and chops her in the chest before covering her for two. Toni drags Mayu back up and sends her into the corner, but Mayu kicks her back and rolls Toni to the mat before kicking her in the face. Northern Lights Suplex by Mayu, but it gets a two count. Mayu knocks Toni against the ropes and delivers a hard dropkick, sending Toni out of the ring to the floor. Mayu goes up top and dives down onto Toni with a plancha suicida, she rolls Toni back in the ring and goes up top, hitting a missile dropkick. Hurricanrana by Mayu, but it gets two. Superkick by Mayu and she hits a diving footstomp, she goes up top again and delivers a diving body press, but Toni barely gets a shoulder up on the pin attempt.
Mayu goes for the dragon suplex but Toni elbows out of it, she then goes for the piledriver but Mayu blocks it and hits a super kick. German suplex hold by Mayu, but it gets two. Toni grabs Mayu and delivers a quick Strong Zero, but is too hurt to capitalize. They trade elbows on their knees as they recover, Mayu goes for a kick but Toni catches it and hits a snap release German Suplex. Hip attack by Toni in the corner and she hits the reverse neckbreaker, cover by Toni but Mayu kicks out. Toni quickly applies an armbar, but Mayu gets a foot on the ropes for the break. Toni picks up Mayu but Mayu cradles her for two, Mayu scoops up Toni and goes for the tombstone, but Toni reverses the hold. Mayu slides away from Toni and applies a quick backslide, but Toni gets out of it and delivers a Strong Zero for a two count. Toni goes to the top turnbuckle but Mayu hits her before she can jump off and joins her. Toni slides under Mayu and hits a Buckle Bomb, Strong Zero by Toni and she rolls Mayu into a second Strong Zero for the three count pinfall! Toni Storm retains the championship.
This was a really good match but something was missing from letting it hit that next level. Maybe just not being the main event/focus of the event alone hurt it, and it is a shame that such a big (on paper) title match got overshadowed by the Exploding Bat Death Match. Everything they did was great, I enjoyed the arm work as a throwback to how Toni won the title, it had lots of hard strikes and memorable spots and big moments. I wish it was longer of course, 13 minutes is a bit shot for a title match, and it just didn’t have the aura of a title grudge match. Which isn’t really their fault and I won’t take away from them that it was a really well executed and entertaining match. It just felt a bit flat, I hope they get a re-match in the future on a bigger stage where they can go all out and have the type of match I know they are capable of. Recommended
Io Shirai and Tam Nakano vs. Kagetsu and Natsu Sumire
Exploding Bat Death Match
Main event time! This unique match first came up last month, of course mentioned by Tam Nakano who is the only wrestler in this match with any type of experience with Exploding Bat Death Matches. Kagetsu was game but Io Shirai was really hesitant, as this is not her ideal match stipulation. However she eventually agreed and here we are. What’s interesting is that Tam Nakano isn’t even in Io’s faction, it was more Tam wanted the best wrestler in Stardom on her team and since Io also doesn’t like Oedo Tai, she accepted. Io, Tam, and Natsu all have on extra clothing to protect them from the exploding bat, and its worth noting there are no tag rules in this match. Also, the ‘exploding’ bat only explodes after a wrestler hits the trigger on the ring post, before that it is just a regular bat wrapped in barbed wire.
Oedo Tai attack before the bell rings and the action immediately spills to the floor, as they use chairs on both of their opponents. Tam is isolated in the ring, Kagetsu gets the exploding bat but Tam kicks her from behind and hits a series of elbows. Backdrop suplex by Tam, Io comes in but so does Natsu, Io dropkicks both of her opponents out of the ring before kipping back up to her feet. Io goes off the ropes and dives out onto both Kagetsu and Natsu with a tope suicida, Io slides Kagetsu back into the ring and delivers a dropkick. Io goes off the ropes and hits the Tiger Feint Kick, she goes for a swandive move but Kagetsu gets out of the way and kicks her to the mat. Kagetsu gets the exploding bat and waits for Io to get back up, but Io blocks it when Kagetsu tries to use it. Io gets the bat but gets distracted before she could use it, Kagetsu gets the back bat but Io ducks her swing and hits a palm strike. Tam runs in and hits a double kneedrop onto Kagetsu, dragon sleeper by Tam and she hits a Stunner. Tam goes off the ropes but Kagetsu catches her kick, Tam slides away however and kicks Kagetsu in the head anyway.
Tam grabs the exploding bat while Io knocks Natsu off the apron, Tam goes to hit Kagetsu with the bat but Kagetsu ducks. Kagetsu gets the bat but Io hits a swandive dropkick on her, running double knee by Io to Kagetsu in the corner and she hits a second one, cover by Io but it gets a two count. Io goes up top but Kagetsu knocks her to the apron, she superplexes Io back into the ring and covers her for two. Kicks by Kagetsu, she picks up Io and drops her with a chokeslam. Ebisu Drop by Kagetsu, she goes up top and nails the Oedo Coaster, but Tam breaks up the cover. Kagetsu picks up Io and kicks her in the head, she gets the exploding bat and hits Io in the chest with it a few times before she hits the button to make it explosive. Kagetsu finally hits the button, she then hits Io in the chest again with the bat, sending sparks flying everywhere. Io rolls out of the ring and gets water poured on her before she is rushed to the back, temporarily leaving Tam alone. Natsu slides Tam into the ring, Kagetsu gets the bat again and gives it to Natsu, but Io is suddenly back and hits a missile dropkick onto Natsu. Io hits Natsu repeatedly in the chest with the bat (its not explosive at the moment), cover by Io but it gets a two count. Io goes for the double underhook facebuster but Natsu gets out of it and whips Io repeatedly. Natsu scoops up Io but Io slides away, waistlock by Io but Natsu gets into the ropes and Kagetsu hits Io with the bat. Roll-up by Natsu to Io, but Tam breaks it up.
Kagetsu gets the bat but hits Natsu with it by accident, Io and Tam take turns striking Kagetsu before taking care of Natsu as well. Diving senton by Tam to Natsu, but Natsu kicks out of the cover. Tam gets the bat and hits the trigger in the corner, she waits for Natsu to get up and hits her in the chest, causing another massive explosion. Io picks up Natsu and hits a double underhook facebuster, moonsault by Io but Kagetsu breaks up the cover by spitting red mist in her face. She tries the same with Tam but Tam kicks Kagetsu in the head, Kagetsu kicks her back however and hits the Ebisu Drop for two. Io and Kagetsu trade blows until Io hits a hurricanrana, Kagetsu falls out of the ring and Io dives out onto her with a moonsault from the top turnbuckle. Back in the ring, Natsu is up and knees Tam in the head, boot by Natsu but Tam boots her back. High kick by Tam and she nails a spinning heel kick, Violent Shooting (running knee strike) by Tam and she covers Natsu for the three count! Io Shirai and Tam Nakano are the winners!
Even though this had a few of the common pitfalls of wild gimmick matches, I still enjoyed it a lot. The main issue of course with the bat is for the middle chunk of the match they did a lot of the ‘one wrestler gets the bat, another steals it, another steals it’ etc. without a lot of actual action going on. But the explosions did not disappoint, the “exploding bat” is the gimmickiest of all gimmicks but its still fun as its so over the top, and seeing a different match style in Stardom was a treat. The last five minutes of the match was really hot as it became less about the gimmick and more about four talented wrestlers executing a really well done home stretch, and that really helped put over the match as more than just a big boom. There were a lot of little things here that were done well and only a few small annoyances, overall definitely a match worth a watch and probably one of the most ridiculous yet entertaining matches we will see in Joshi wrestling this year. Highly Recommended
Having nine matches on the card hurt the presentation some as its just a lot of content for a two hour show, but nothing shown here was bad. There was some unnecessary fluff, and some fans may not like the end results, but generally speaking the matches were entertaining even if nothing really stuck out as must-see until the main event. The Exploding Bat Death Match was an experience, but even beyond the explosions all four worked together well to put together an entertaining match even without the gimmickry. Overall a solid event, I wouldn't have minded a few matches trimmed so others could get more time but I still enjoyed it top to bottom.