Stardom FIVE STAR GP Finale on 9/18/17 Review

Event: Stardom FIVE STAR GP Finale
Date: September 18th, 2017
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 763

Welcome to the final show of the Stardom FIVE STAR GP! I realize I didn’t review any of the events leading up to the finale but it was just way too much to watch so we are skipping right to the good stuff. Here are the standings going into the show:

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This event has all the wrestlers’ last matches in the tournament, then the Finals will immediately take place. Here is the full card:

A long event, and since it was shown on Stardom World, all matches are unedited. The hard cam is slightly elevated which may annoy me, but a ten match card like this will be too clipped on Samurai TV to enjoy so I am going to push through it. As always, you can click on the wrestler’s name above to go straight to their profile on Joshi City.

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AZM, Mari Apache, and Shiki Shibusawa vs. Natsuko Tora, Ruaka, and Starlight Kid

Rookie Battle! Plus Mari. This is basically everyone that wasn’t in the tournament itself being randomly thrown together in a match to warm up the crowd while they file into the show. Natsuko, Ruaka, and Shiki are still within their first year, while Starlight Kid is starting her second even though she did take off about six months of that. AZM has been wrestling for years but it still only 14. Let’s see if any of the rookies get to shine or if Mari kills them all.

stardom9-18-1AZM (in new gear) starts the match with Natsuko, Natsuko attacks her from behind and AZM is triple teamed in the corner. Natsuko goes off the ropes and hits a hard shoulderblock, she picks her up but AZM whips off a hurricanrana. AZM tags in Mari, who promptly boots everyone in the face. Shiki and AZM get in the ring and all three put their opponents in submission holds, Mari cradles Natsuko but it gets a two count. Kicks by Mari but Natsuko elbows her back and hits a spear, she tags in Ruaka (also in new gear) while AZM is tagged back in. AZM throws down Ruaka by the hair but Ruaka comes back with a boot, another boot by Ruaka and she covers AZM for two. Shiki hops in and hits a missile dropkick, suplex by AZM and she covers Ruaka, but the pin is broken up. Ruaka tags in Starlight Kid but Mari is also tagged in and she quickly puts Starlight Kid in a submission hold. Starlight Kid gets out of it and hits a hurricanrana, dropkick by Starlight Kid and she hits the Shiranui. Body Press from the second turnbuckle by Starlight Kid, but Mari kicks out of the cover. Things break down as everyone runs in the ring, but Mari lariats both Natsuko and Ruaka. Mari puts Starlight Kid in the Atlantida (spinning backbreaker rack) and Starlight Kid submits! AZM, Mari Apache, and Shiki Shibusawa win!

This was simple, and at times a bit sloppy. Mari was the star as she should be, hitting her strikes soundly while also giving Starlight Kid quite a bit of offense as well so it wasn’t too one-sided. Ruaka hasn’t improved since I last saw her and Shiki didn’t do enough to get a feel of. Just a short opener with nothing particularly memorable.

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Hiromi Mimura vs. Xia Brookside

This match is part of the FIVE STAR Grad Prix. Both wrestlers are well out of the running to win the tournament, with both only having one victory coming into the match. Xia is on an apparently extended excursion to Stardom, she is 17 or 18 years old depending on who you believe but shows a lot of early promise. Hiromi is early in her career but is 31 years old, making her the oldest contracted Stardom wrestler.

stardom9-18-2After they confirm that Xia is taller than Hiromi, Xia picks up Hiromi but Hiromi wiggles away and applies a sunset flip for two. They trade flash pins with neither having success, Hiromi stomps down on Xia near the ropes before hitting a scoop slam. Camel Clutch by Hiromi, she picks up Xia but Xia puts her in the Tree of Woe and hits a dropkick to her face. Irish whip attempt by Xia, Hiromi reverses it but Xia hits a high knee in the corner. Face crusher by Xia and she dropkicks Hiromi for a two count. Xia picks up Hiromi and hits the Codebreaker, but again Hiromi kicks out of the cover. Xia picks up Hiromi again but this time Hiromi slides away and hits a jumping crossbody, dropkick by Hiromi and she dropkicks Xia again for a two count. Hiromi goes off the ropes but Xia delivers a high kick, sunset flip by Xia but Hiromi reverses it and they go back and forth with quick pins. La Magistral attempt by Hiromi, Xia blocks it but Hiromi puts her in the Endless Waltz for the three count! Hiromi Mimura wins the match and ends the tournament with four points.

They might have put on an even more basic match than the last match. No one will ever accuse Hiromi of being a high-end wrestler but in the right situations she can be entertaining as she is cute and has good comedic timing. But this was more a ‘dropkicks and flash pins’ style of match that didn’t do a whole lot for me. Technically sound, just not particularly interesting.

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Konami vs. Mandy Leon

This match is part of the FIVE STAR Grad Prix. There is probably some mathematical way that Mandy Leon can win the Blue Block, but her chances don’t look good. Konami certainly can’t win since she hasn’t won a single match yet, a surprising development for the young rising star. Mandy’s matches haven’t been great in the tournament, but maybe Konami can pull something good out of her.

stardom9-18-3Lock-up to start, they end up on the mat but Mandy pulls Konami to her feet and hits a shoulderblock. Dropkick by Konami but Mandy quickly gets back up and they lock knuckles, monkey flip by Mandy and she keeps their knuckles locked so she can fling Konami to the mat again. Konami gets out of it and applies a short armbar, but Mandy rolls away and covers her for two. Cross armbreaker by Konami but Mandy gets a foot in the ropes, lariat by Mandy in the corner and she hits a running elbow. She goes for another one but Konami kicks her away and applies a hanging armbar, missile dropkick by Konami and she covers Mandy for two. Seated armbar by Konami but Mandy gets to the ropes, Konami goes off the ropes but Mandy catches her with a lariat. Elbow drop by Mandy, but her cover gets a two count. Mandy picks up Konami and throws her to the mat, DDT of sorts by Mandy but Konami kicks out of the pin. Mandy goes for a wrist-clutch slam but Konami reverses it with a cradle for the three count! Konami wins the match and ends the tournament with two points.

We have reached the part of the event that I regret not just watching the clipped up Samurai TV version. Like the last two matches, it wasn’t actively bad, it just wasn’t interesting or memorable or good either and was the least fluid match so far. Mandy’s offense is rough, and while I love Konami she isn’t really at the stage of her career where she is going to be able to elevate a wrestler much past where they already are. A watchable match in execution, but a skippable match in regards to entertainment value.

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Hana Kimura vs. Kris Wolf

This match is part of the FIVE STAR Grad Prix. Coming into the match, neither could win the Red Block, but that doesn’t mean that the friends aren’t going to try to win. Hana and Kris are both part of Oedo Tai, the fun heel faction of Stardom, but in tournament settings like these that doesn’t matter once the bell rings. Kris has the age and experience advantage, but Hana is the master of distraction so it is anyone’s game.

stardom9-18-4Hana has meat with her to taunt Kris with, I guess her sexy dancing wouldn’t work on her friend so she had to go in a different direction. Hana kicks Kris when she goes for the corn dog she is holding, stomps by Hana and she pulls back on Kris after twisting her in the ropes. Hana puts Kris in a Camel Clutch while waving some meat in her face, Irish whip by Hana but Kris ducks the lariat and hits a spinning headscissors. Jumping knee by Kris in the corner followed by a face crusher for a two count cover. Kris picks up Hana but Hana gets the meat out, Kris grabs it which gives Hana time to elbow her in the chest. Kris elbows her back and they trade blows on the mat, Kris gets the better of it but Hana blocks the suplex attempt. Eye poke by Kris and she applies a small package for two. Suplex by Kris, she gets on the top turnbuckle but Hana joins her and hits a superplex. Running boot by Hana, but the cover gets a two count. Hana picks up Kris but Kris applies a cradle and they go back and forth with flash pins. Kris goes off the ropes but Hana catches her with a dropkick, but boot by Hana and she nails the missile dropkick for the three count! Hana Kimura wins and ends the tournament with eight points.

I love both of these wrestlers. I was the first person on the Kris Wolf Bandwagon (I have documented proof), and I think Hana brings a lot to the table. They certainly weren’t trying to put on an epic match here as it barely went five minutes, and like every other match so far it was mostly strikes and flash pins. The meat thing was a bit too silly for me, I am not sure where the line is but Oedo Tai in general has been more “vicious” lately so I’d rather not it be a long term thing that Kris forgets to wrestle if she gets meat waved in her face. Its always a pleasure to see Hana and Kris, but not much of a match.

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Jungle Kyona vs. Tam Nakano

This match is part of the FIVE STAR Grad Prix. As as been the theme so far, no doubt intentionally, both of these wrestlers can not win their block to reach the finals of the tournament. Kyona has had a disappointing tournament, it was a tough block but her only wins are over Mandy Leon and HZK. Tam Nakano is the newest member of Oedo Tai, she isn’t a contracted Stardom wrestler but I imagine she will be a regular participant going forward. She is barely a year into her career so she has an experience disadvantage, as Kyona tries to end the tournament on a high note.

stardom9-18-5They start the match trying to knock each other over with Kyona having success, cover by Kyona but Tam bridges out of it and hits a dropkick. Snapmare by Tam and she kicks Kyona in the back, Kyona returns to her feet and blocks Tam’s kick. Backbreaker by Kyona and she drapes Tam over the top rope before delivering a body avalanche. Single leg crab hold by Kyona, but Tam eventually makes it to the ropes for the break. Kyona goes off the ropes and hits a lariat, but Tam blocks the next one and applies an abdominal stretch. Sunset flip by Tam, but it only gets a two count. Stomps by Tam to Kyona’s already wrapped up arm but Kyona hits a body avalanche in the corner followed by a dropkick. Sliding lariat by Kyona, and she covers Tam for two. Kyona goes up top but Tam elbows her from behind, kicks by Tam and she suplexes Kyona back to the mat. Cover by Kyona, but it gets a two count. Tam picks up Kyona but Kyona blocks her kick and clubs her in the face, she goes off the ropes but Tam delivers a head kick for two. Tam picks up Kyona but Kyona elbows her off, Tam returns fire and nails another head kick, but Kyona is too close to the ropes and grabs the bottom one to break the pin. Elbows by Tam but Kyona hits a hard lariat, Kyona picks up Tam and drops her with a short range lariat. Hammerthrow Powerbomb by Kyona and she hits another short range lariat, she goes up top and delivers the diving body press for the three count! Jungle Kyona wins the match and picks up two points in the tournament.

Now we are getting somewhere, this was a really good match. Tam really looks better each time I see her, hanging around Stardom wrestlers and training with them seems to be helping. Easily the longest match on the show so far, they had a chance to tell a bit of a story so it wasn’t just strikes and pins. Tam’s kicks were on point and Kyona showed a lot of fire throughout, an exciting match from bell to bell. Really enjoyable and worth the watch.  Recommended

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Kay Lee Ray vs. Toni Storm

This match is part of the FIVE STAR Grad Prix. We have reached the portion of the show with tournament matches that can impact the winners of each block. Toni Storm and Kay Lee Ray would both be pushed into first place in the Blue Block (pending the result of the Io match later) by winning this match, while a Draw would see Toni Storm taking control of first place as well. Toni comes in with the SWA Women’s Championship and has been virtually unbeatable in Stardom, while KLR has great matches in the promotion but so far hasn’t had near Toni’s success. Winning the Blue Block would really elevate KLR in Stardom, while Toni looks to stay the undisputed top gaijin.

stardom9-18-6Lock-up to start, Irish whip by KLR but Toni shoulderblocks her to the mat. Toni goes off the ropes but KLR trips her with a pancake, Toni trips KLR and she rolls her up for two. KLR gets Toni on her back but Toni cradles her before both wrestlers return to their feet. KLR fakes a handshake but kicks Toni in the head instead, KLR throws Toni into the corner and chops her in the chest. KLR rolls Toni to the mat and applies a front necklock, Toni muscles out of it however and hits a vertical suplex. Northern Lights Suplex by KLR, she rolls through it to hit another one but Toni reverses it with a DDT. They slowly get up and trade elbows, snap German by Toni and she hits a running hip attack in the corner. Suplex by Toni, she gets on the top turnbuckle but KLR kicks her before she can jump off, sending Toni to the floor. KLR quickly jumps on the top turnbuckle and sails out of the ring with a Swanton, she slides Toni back in the ring but Toni blocks the Gory Bomb. Toni goes for a kick but KLR catches it and hits the Gory Bomb anyway, cover by KLR but Toni gets a shoulder up. KLR gets on the top turnbuckle but Toni hits her before she can jump off, Toni grabs her but KLR wiggles away. KLR goes for a springboard off the ropes but Toni catches her with a German Suplex, piledriver by Toni but KLR barely kicks out of the cover. Toni picks up KLR and goes off the ropes, but KLR dropkicks her in the knee and hits a neckbreaker. KLR applies a choke but Toni gets a hand on the ropes, KLR gets on the top turnbuckle but Toni recovers and joins her. KLR goes for an elbow but Toni blocks it, and she nails the Strong Zero from the second turnbuckle. Cover by Toni, and she gets the three count! Toni Storm wins and now has 11 points in the tournament.

For a short tournament-style match (meaning more flash pins), I thought this was pretty damn good. KLR and Toni Storm are two of my favorite wrestlers period, and this was really smooth as they have great chemistry. Since it mattered for who won the Blue Block, they went a bit further with big moves and kicking out of finishers than we had seen thus far, raising the drama and excitement. The piledriver off the second turnbuckle was sick but a very definitive way to end the match while keeping KLR strong in the process. Fast paced and entertaining, wish it was longer but I can’t find any fault with the action itself.  Recommended


HZK vs. Io Shirai

This match is part of the FIVE STAR Grad Prix. HZK is already out of the tournament, but with a win here, Io would tie Toni Storm for the lead of the Blue Block. Since Toni and Io had a Draw earlier in the tournament, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to have them end up with the same number of points as promotions don’t usually like making things that confusing. So it doesn’t look good for Io here. Io and HZK are both in Queen’s Quest, but like we saw earlier with Kris and Hana, all friendships are off here.

stardom9-18-7They trade holds to start, they go off the ropes until HZK throws down Io by her hair. Bootscrapes by HZK, she goes off the ropes but Io dropkicks her in the face. Io returns the favor and boots HZK in the head, cover by Io but HZK kicks out. Stretch hold by Io, she lets go after a moment and stomps down on HZK’s stomach. Scoop slam by Io, and she covers HZK for a two count. Io picks up HZK and Irish whips her, but HZK slides out to the apron and snaps Io’s neck over the top rope. Dropkick by HZK into the corner and she finally hits the running kick that Io had prevented earlier, choke by HZK and she drives Io’s head into her knee. HZK picks up Io and hits a full nelson slam, cover by HZK but it gets a two count. She goes for the crossface but Io blocks it and applies her own armtrap crossface, she lets go after a moment and delivers a Tiger Feint Kick. Swandive dropkick by Io, she picks up HZK and elbows her in the face. They trade shots, Io gets the better of it and goes for a suplex, but HZK reverses it and hits a double stomp to Io’s stomach. HZK knocks Io into the corner and hits a running elbow, cover by HZK but it gets a two count. HZK goes up top but Io knocks her to the apron, Io joins HZK but HZK slides back in to avoid her palm thrust and knocks Io to the floor. HZK goes to the second turnbuckle and dives out onto Io with a diving lariat. HZK slides Io back into the ring, she gets on the second turnbuckle and hits a diving senton to Io’s back. Armtrap crossface by HZK but Io gets a foot on the ropes to force a break. Boot by HZK and she headbutts Io, scoop slam by HZK and she nails the Bombs Away, but Io barely gets a shoulder up. Armtrap crossface by HZK but again Io gets to the ropes. Io recovers and hits a German suplex hold, running double knee by Io and she hits the double underhook facebuster. Moonsault to the back by Io, she covers HZK but HZK kicks out of the cover. Quick roll-up by HZK but Io kicks out and boots HZK in the head. Texas Cloverleaf by Io but the bell rings, as the time limit has expired. The match is a Draw.

And Io is officially eliminated from winning the tournament. Another really good match, we had to get through some fluff but once the meaningful matches started this show has really delivered. HZK has improved tenfold since returning last December and looked like a legitimate challenger to Io here. Io did kick out of the Bombs Away, but HZK kicked out of the moonsault so they were even. Maybe too many armtrap crossfaces since neither ever win with the move so it felt a bit excessive that both kept using it, but otherwise everything made sense and it was an entertaining match. Keep an eye on HZK, if she sticks around this time she may be a future main event star.  Recommended

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Viper vs. Yoko Bito

This match is part of the FIVE STAR Grad Prix. In the Red Block, Viper comes into this match in a tie with Mayu Iwatani for the lead and since she has the tie-breaker over Mayu she can take the entire block with a win here. Yoko Bito can make the block a three way tie if she wins and Mayu loses in the next match, no idea what Stardom would do in the case of a three way tie but either way Yoko Bito needs to win to have any chance of reaching the finals later tonight.

stardom9-18-8Viper dropkicks Yoko Bito while her streamers are flying in the ring, getting an early advantage in the match. Viper picks up Bito and clubs on her, sit-out slam by Viper but Bito rolls out of the ring to try to recover. Viper immediately goes out after her however and slams Bito into the apron, lariat against the post by Viper and she gets on the apron before hitting a cannonball down to the floor. Viper returns to the ring to wait for Bito, Bito slowly gets back in but Viper quickly puts her in a cobra clutch. Viper clubs on Bito some more, but Bito goes off the ropes and hits a jumping lariat. Running elbow by Bito and she hits a vertical suplex, Viper gets back up but Bito delivers a head kick for a two count cover. Viper and Bito trade elbows as they return to their feet, Bito goes off the ropes but Viper knocks her back with a headbutt. More headbutts by Viper and she hits a low running crossbody for a two count. Running senton by Viper, but that gets a two count as well. Viper throws Bito into the turnbuckles, cannonball by Viper and she goes for the Reverse Splash, but Bito rolls out of the way. High kick by Bito and she hits a second one, a third head kick by Bito and she nails the B Driver for the three count! Yoko Bito wins and gets two points in the tournament.

A step down from the last few matches. It was a simple story but told well, my main issue is that due to the time length, Bito’s comeback was really short in comparison to the amount of offense she took. I mean Viper threw everything at her but Bito won with a few head kicks and the B Driver with very little beforehand to weaken Viper. But that happens sometimes in tournament matches, these two could have a better longer match but as presented a bit disappointing.

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Kagetsu vs. Mayu Iwatani

This match is part of the FIVE STAR Grad Prix. Due to various tie-breakers, Kagetsu can’t win the tournament at this point, but all Mayu Iwatani needs is a Draw or a Win and she will immediately wrestle in the next match to crown the tournament winner. These two have been in a feud for over a year so it is a fitting match to decide the block. Mayu has generally had the best of Kagetsu, but Kagetsu has come back with extra fire after her brief hiatus from wrestling last spring, and nothing would make the Oedo Tai wrestler more happy than costing Mayu a shot at winning the tournament.

Kagetsu attacks Mayu as soon as she gets through the curtain, and with Oedo Tai’s help she beats her down on the stage. In an insane spot that has to be seen, Kagetsu tosses Mayu near the railing and then pushes over the entrance rigging on top of her, trapping her neck between the rigging and the guard rail. Mayu miraculously survives this and they finally make it back into the ring to officially start the match, Mayu immediately goes up top but Mayu manages to roll out of the way of the Oedo Coaster. Mayu grabs Kagetsu but Kagetsu gets away and hits a dragon suplex hold, picking up a two count. Mayu snaps off a quick Ebisu Drop for her own two count, as the wrestlers both steal each other’s signature moves. Both wrestler kip-up, they go off the ropes until Mayu hits a jumping elbow. Triple jump dropkick by Kagetsu and she hits a running elbow, vertical suplex by Kagetsu and she puts Mayu in a cross-arm submission hold. Mayu gets to the ropes for the break, the rest of Oedo Tai get on the apron as they all attack Mayu as she is in the ropes.

stardom9-18-9Kagetsu gets a bottle of water and dumps it onto Mayu, but Mayu regains the advantage with a dropkick. Elbows by Mayu and she kicks Kagetsu in the stomach before hitting a Sling Blade. Cover by Mayu, but it gets two. Mayu picks up Kagetsu, they both block each other’s strikes until Kagetsu delivers a high kick. Another high kick by Kagetsu and a third, Buzzsaw Kick by Kagetsu but she doesn’t go for the cover. Kagetsu goes off the ropes but Mayu hits a superkick, another superkick by Mayu and she hits several more until Kagetsu finally ends on her knees. Buzzsaw Kick by Mayu, and she covers Kagetsu for a two count. Iwatani goes off the ropes and gives Kagetsu a hard dropkick, she goes up top and nails the diving footstomp. Mayu drags up Kagetsu and goes for the Sakauchi but Kagetsu blocks it, kick combination by Kagetsu and she drops Mayu with a chokeslam. Kagetsu goes for the Ebisu Drop but Mayu reverses it with the Sakauchi, but Kagetsu barely kicks out of the cover. Kagetsu pushes Mayu into the referee, knocking him off his feet, allowing Kagetsu to spit blue mist into Mayu’s face. Kagetsu slams Mayu in front of the corner, she quickly goes up top and she nails the Oedo Coaster for the three count! Kagetsu wins the match and ends the tournament with ten points.

After the hot start the match dipped a bit in excitement, but still a great match. The stage spot looked incredibly dangerous and painful, which almost made the fact Mayu was fine a minute later doing a fast paced exchange difficult to believe. It was certainly a memorable moment though. The rest of the match was really fluid, they have great chemistry and every match they have they just ramp up the things they do to each other. Lots of hard strikes and snug suplexes, which is all one can ask for in life. I wouldn’t have minded if it was longer or if the opening killer move felt a bit more important to the match overall, but still a high end match between two of the best in Stardom.  Recommended

I don’t know what convoluted method Stardom used to determine who won the Red Block, but it is Yoko Bito! The finals of the FIVE STAR GP will now immediately take place!

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Toni Storm vs. Yoko Bito
FIVE STAR GP 2017 Final

This is only Toni and Yoko Bito’s second singles match against each other, as for the last year they have had their own storylines that kept them apart. Toni has been the top gaijin in Stardom since debuting in the promotion in mid-2016, while Yoko Bito won this tournament last year, so both come into the match confident they can pick up the win. The winner of the match gets a title shot of their choosing, likely the Red Belt that is currently held by Mayu Iwatani.

stardom9-18-10They shake hands but Bito immediately hits a pump kick afterwards, running elbow by Bito in the corner and she delivers a series of kicks. Bito puts Toni in the ropes and chops her in the chest from the apron, she charges Toni but Toni moves and Bito ends up stuck in the ropes. Toni kicks Bito out of the ring, she goes off the ropes and sails out onto her with a tope suicida. Toni chops Bito down onto a chair, she gets a running start and hits Bito with a jumping knee. Toni goes for a piledriver but Bito blocks it and hits a B Driver on the floor. Bito and Toni slowly return to the ring and they trade elbows, Bito goes off the ropes but Toni boots her in the chest. Neck crank by Toni and she hits a series of hip attacks, cover by Toni but it gets two. Toni goes back to the neck to help set up Bito for the Strong Zero, she picks her up but Bito ducks the lariat attempt and hits one of her own. Bito goes up top and delivers a missile dropkick, cover by Bito but it gets two. STF by Bito but Toni crawls to the ropes and forces the break. Bito picks up Toni and delivers a high kick, elbows by Bito but Toni headbutts her and hits a quick Strong Zero. Cover by Toni, but Bito barely kicks out. They both slowly get up and Bito drops Toni with a B Driver, he picks Toni up but Toni ducks her kicks and hits another Strong Zero. Toni rolls through it and hits a second Strong Zero, she then hits a third Strong Zero and covers Bito for the three count! Toni Storm is the new FIVE STAR GP Champion!

Its rough having the finals on the same event as nine other matches, as the show is already long so you know the main event is going to be a bit condensed. I liked what they did during the match though, I didn’t mind Toni hitting her finisher three times for the win as it wasn’t like Bito was kicking out between them, Toni was just being extra thorough. Toni is just so much fun to watch, between the dives and the hip attacks and her piledriver its hard for me not to get into her matches. Bito was mostly along for the ride in this one but she held her own as well, I never really got the sense she was winning as the match wasn’t long enough to have an epic end run. A solid match overall, I just wish the match was on a future event so they could have had more time.  Mildly Recommended