Stardom Gold May on 5/15/16 Review

Event: Stardom “Gold May”
Date: May 15th, 2016
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 910

About once a month, Stardom has a big event at Korakuen Hall, and they always go all out to put on an entertaining show. Here we get two big title matches, with Hojo looking to take the belt away from the often vacant Santana Garrett and Shirai battling against her tag team partner Mayu Iwatani for the #1 championship in the promotion. Plus we get Matsumoto killing a rookie and two giant gaijins going toe to toe. Here is the full card:

You can click on the names above to go to the wrestler’s profile on Joshi City. As this event was shown on Stardom World (just on a ringside camera, so multi-camera setup) the matches will not be clipped.

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Alex Lee, Azumi, and Yoneyama vs. Eimi Nishina, Kato, and Starlight Kid

We begin the show with a lighthearted affair, with the rookies teaming with and against the veterans that mostly spend time helping the young wrestlers along. Azumi’s Army is finally back together, as they take on the team of Kato, Nishina, and the little one Starlight Kid. Starlight Kid declares before the match that she will finally get a victory over the even younger than her Azumi, will she be right?

stardom5.15-1Starlight Kid and Yoneyama begin for their teams and trade holds but neither gets a real advantage so they tag in Azumi and Nishina. Azumi immediately gets the upper hand, her teammates come in and Nishina is triple teamed. Nishina comes back with a pair of dropkicks and she puts Azumi in a crab hold, but Azumi rolls out of it and tags in Lee. Kicks by Lee to Nishina and she throws her down by her hair, but Nishina hits a face crusher and covers Lee for two. Starlight Kid and Kato come in and they all dropkick Lee, Kato stays in but Lee knees her in the gut. Kato gets Lee’s back and rolls her to the mat with a cross armbreaker, but it is quickly broken up. Lee superkicks Kato a few times and hits a double underhook suplex, but the cover is broken up. Lee tags Yoneyama and she attacks Kato, but Starlight Kid comes in and hits Yoneyama with the Shiranui. Kato hits a diving crossbody on Yoneyama and tags in Starlight Kid, Starlight Kid rolls up Yoneyama and gets a two count. Yoneyama gets fed up and slams Starlight Kid, she tags in Azumi and they trade elbows. Dropkick by Starlight Kid and she hits a diving body press off the second turnbuckle, but the cover is broken up. Azumi suplexes Starlight Kid and hits a trio of DDTs, but again the pin is interrupted. Yoneyama and Lee are pulled out of the ring while in the ring Azumi goes for a Wing Clutch Hold, but Starlight Kid rolls though it and hits a standing moonsault for the three count! Nishina, Kato, and Starlight Kid are your winners.

Starlight Kid finally gets the big win over her arch rival! Needless to say a six wrestler tag that goes seven minutes is going to have some issues really getting moving but it was still an easy watch. The kids seem to be progressing and the veterans did their part keeping the match together. A few rough patches here and there but not a bad way to kick things off.

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Hiroyo Matsumoto vs. Natsumi Maki

Matsumoto’s quest to kill all the young wrestlers continues as she faces Actress girl’Z Natsumi Maki. Matsumoto has been on a tear lately, I am not sure if it is the best use of such a talented wrestler but it is certainly fun to watch. Can Maki pull off a shocking upset? Doubtful, but it can still be entertaining.

stardom5.18-2Maki wants Matsumoto to dance and do her pose as the match starts, which she does, but then Matsumoto kicks Maki in the gut. Maki applies a wristlock and poses again, giving Matsumoto time to knee her in the stomach. Matsumoto shrugs off a dropkick and throws down Maki by her hair, double kneedrop by Matsumoto and she rakes Maki’s face in the ropes. Chops by Matsumoto and she hits a scoop slam, cover by Maki but it gets two. Maki slides away from Matsumoto and applies a sleeper, but Matsumoto slams her into the corner to break it up. Armdrag by Maki and she applies a crucifix pin, Matsumoto kicks out and breaks Maki with a backbreaker. Body Avalanche by Matsumoto and she puts Maki in an Argentine Backbreaker, leading to Maki submitting! Matsumoto wins the match.

If I had to describe Maki as succinctly as possible, I would call her “full of energy but unpolished.” The crowd likes her, she has a bubbly personality and some bendy moves, but she is still early in her career in terms of some of the finer points of wrestling. Course she is still young and that is why she is wrestling early on the card, to gain some experience. Matsumoto is great of course and seemed to be having a great time also, but either way it was just a short opening-style match. A few cute spots though.

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Diosa Atenea, Kagetsu, and Kimura vs. Mimura, Kyouna, and Watanabe

Oedo Tai vs. The Rookies! This is a big opportunity for both teams as both have a lot to prove. After a bit of a downturn, Oedo Tai is trying to establish itself as a real threat in Stardom and not just midcard entertainment. The Rookies of course are trying to show that they are developing so they can also move up the card and take on better competition. Something has to give here and it certainly will.

stardom5.15-3Atenea refuses to shake hands with the rookies, and quickly regrets her decision as all three of the rookies jump her. Atenea gets hit with many dropkicks but Atenea regains the advantage on Momo and kicks her out of the ring. Oedo Tai beats the rookies around the ring while Atenea returns with Momo, elbow by Atenea and she tags Kimura. Kimura throws Watanabe around by her hair before tagging in Kagetsu, as Momo plays the role of Face in Peril. Watanabe dropkicks Kimura and makes the hot tag to Kyouna, and Kyouna shoulderblocks all the members of Oedo Tai. Crossbody by Mimura (with help from Kyouna), but Oedo Tai gets all the rookies into submission holds. Atenea stays in with Kyouna and they trade elbows, kicks by Atenea but Kyouna catches her with a powerslam. Momo returns but Atenea tags Kagetsu, she goes for a swandive dropkick but Watanabe runs under it. Watanabe hits an armdrag. Missile dropkick by Watanabe, and she makes the tag to Mimura. Dropkicks by Mimura and she hits a DDT, cover by Mimura but it gets two. Rolling leglock by Mimura but all of Oedo Tai runs in and breaks it up. They stay in to attack the rookies, Mimura is isolated and they slam her to the mat. Kyouna runs in and hits a triple crossbody, she goes up top and she hits a diving crossbody on Kagetsu. Kyouna picks up Mimura and drops her into Kagetsu, but Kimura breaks up the pin. Kagetsu gets a parking sign and hits all three of the rookies with it, Kimura returns and they both boot Mimura in the chest. Mimura fires back with elbows to Kagetsu but Kagetsu gets her on her shoulders and hits the Ebisu Drop for the three count! Oedo Tai win the match.

Its a good idea in these Oedo Tai matches for Kagetsu to get the final pin, since she is new to the promotion it helps put her over a bit as more than just a lackey. The match was fine, lots of solid action and the rookies continue to grow early in their careers. Since I adore Wolf and Act I don’t mind them cheating when applicable, and Kimura does a solid job of being the base of the group. Everyone got a bit of a chance to shine, no real memorable moments but a good midcard match that flowed well.  Mildly Recommended

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Alpha Female vs. Queen Maya

Alpha Female and Queen Maya started this mini-feud during the Cinderella Tournament, when Maya won the match by knocking Alpha over the top rope. That quickly led to this singles match being made, as both wrestlers look to assert themselves as the top monster gaijin in Stardom.

stardom5.15-4Alpha smashes Maya’s tiara before the match even starts to set the early tone, and Alpha immediately attacks Maya in the corner. They trade elbows until Alpha knocks Maya out of the ring, Maya gets a chair and sits down at ringside to re-group. Alpha grabs her by the hair but Maya hits Alpha in the head with the chair and covers her for two. Stomps by Maya and she clubs on Alpha’s chest, but Alpha finally blocks a shot and returns the favor. Big boot by Maya and she hits a second one, body avalanche by Maya and she hits an elbow drop for a two count. Maya goes to pick up Alpha but Alpha puts her in a triangle choke, but Maya gets a foot on the ropes. Vertical suplex by Alpha and she picks up Maya, but Maya slides away. Maya lariats Alpha out of the ring but Alpha pulls her out with her and throws her into the chairs at ringside. Alpha rams Maya into the apron, they battle up onto the stage and Female slams Maya onto the hard floor. Alpha gets Maya back into the ring but Maya blocks the Omega Slam and hits a lariat. DDT by Alpha, she picks up Maya but again Maya elbows herself free and hits a sidewalk slam for a two. Maya charges Alpha but Alpha levels her with a lariat, she picks up Maya and powerbombs her into the turnbuckles. Omega Plex by Alpha, and she picks up the three count! Alpha Female wins.

There were certainly some issues here, as Maya is limited and the pacing was off at times, but they did make up for it with some big moves. If this was the main event it would have been disappointing, but as a ‘special attraction’ monster gaijin collision and a change of pace match I thought it worked pretty well. Alpha is just so strong, I haven’t ever seen another wrestler hit moves to Maya like she does, and Maya was game for anything. A bit of a guilty pleasure match but definitely different from everything else on the card which is always a plus. I enjoyed it but no promises that you will, especially in a vacuum where it being a change of pace style match won’t matter as much.

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(c) Santana Garrett vs. Kairi Hojo

This match is for the Wonder of Stardom Championship (aka The White Belt). There is a bit of a backstory to this one so pull up a chair. Kairi Hojo is part of Threedom, aka the Three Daughters of Stardom. But she is the lowest on the totem pole as she can’t pick up any big singles wins while Shirai and Iwatani both have multiple titles. She actually challenged Garrett for this same title back in February, and lost, then when they met again last month they fought to a Draw. So this is Hojo’s last chance at Garrett and to win a singles title so she can finally get her groove back. Garrett has been champion since November, but rarely wrestles in Stardom as she mostly wrestles in the United States. She has still been defending the title, but just not in Stardom itself. So not only will Hojo be winning for herself, but she could also bring the title back home for good. Lots of pressure on the Pirate Princess.

stardom5.15-5They immediately start trading elbows and they take turns striking each other in the corner. Space Rolling Elbow by Garrett and she throws down Hojo by the hair, Hojo tosses Garrett out to the apron and slams Hojo into the turnbuckles, Garrett goes up top and flings Hojo out of the ring. Tope Suicida by Garrett, she pulls Hojo near the apron and puts her in a stretch hold while the referee tries to get her to let go. She eventually does and throws Hojo into the ring post before sliding her back into the ring. Garrett starts working on Hojo’s arm, Hojo goes up to the corner and goes to do her springboard move but she loses her balance and jumps out of the ring onto no one. That must have hurt. But she gets back into the ring like a trooper but Garrett kicks her in the face and covers Hojo for two. Shoulderblock and a neckbreaker by Hojo, she puts Garrett in a leg submission and then an arm submission before letting the hold go. Back up they trade elbows, Hojo goes off the ropes but Garrett catches her with a superkick. Enzuigiri by Garrett, but when get they back up Hojo levels her with a spear. Ikari by Hojo, she picks up Garrett and hits a Final Cut. Hojo goes up top but Garrett joins her, Hojo pushes Garrett into the Tree of Woe and hits a jumping footstomp to the chest. Hojo delivers the Sliding D and she covers Garrett for a two count. Hojo goes up top but Garrett blocks the Diving Elbow Drop and applies a short armbar. Garrett kicks Hojo in the head and drops her with a DDT, she nails the Shining Star Press but Hojo barely gets a shoulder up. After trading pin attempts, Garrett picks up Hojo and hits a handspring elbow, but Hojo catches her with a spinning double chop. Hojo picks up Garrett and hits a leg clutch bridging suplex, but Garrett kicks out. Hojo slams Garrett in front of the corner, she goes up top and delivers the Diving Elbow Drop for the three count! Kairi Hojo wins the match and the Wonder of Stardom Championship!

A very good match, not quite great in-ring wise but a necessary match to get the belt off of Garrett and continue Hojo’s storyline. I am not thrilled with every Stardom title (eight total) being held by three wrestlers but that is just where the promotion is right now, hopefully it gets resolved soon as the upper midcard is non-existent. The match itself was generally entertaining, Garrett doesn’t have a ton of chemistry with Hojo but they worked together pretty well and the crowd was into just about everything Hojo did. Good match with some emotional moments, but with some odd transitions and illogical decisions by both wrestlers that took it down a peg or two.  Mildly Recommended

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(c) Io Shirai vs. Mayu Iwatani

This match is for the World of Stardom Championship. While some title matches are just filler, this is not a filler match as Iwatani has been ready to move up to the top tier for several months. After winning the Cinderella Tournament she finally gets her chance, and it happens to be against her best friend and tag team partner Io Shirai. Shirai is the undisputed Ace of Stardom, as she holds three titles and has been the World of Stardom Championship since December. This is Shirai’s 11th title defense in 2016 overall and the the 4th defense of the World of Stardom Champion, making her one of the most active champions in any promotion. Iwatani knows her better than anyone though and aims to knock her off the top by any means necessary.

Before the match even starts, Iwatani asks that the match have no time limit, which Shirai agrees to. They go through an extended feeling out process as Iwatani is all business, Iwatani tries to elbow Shirai but Shirai has none of it and pulls her by the hair. Iwatani flips Shirai to the mat and kicks her repeatedly, Shirai gets back up and they run the ropes until Shirai dropkicks Iwatani out of the ring. Shirai gets a running start and then sails out onto Iwatani with a plancha suicida, she goes up top but Iwatani kicks her to send Shirai back to the floor. Diving plancha by Iwatani to the floor, she goes for a dragon suplex but Shirai reverses it and hits a German suplex onto the floor. Stiff kicks by Shirai before she rolls Iwatani back in and hits a slingshot footstomp. More kicks by Shirai and she dropkicks Iwatani in the head, dragon screw by Shirai and she hits a hard palm strike. Shirai stays in control on the mat and flings Iwatani in the corner before hitting a running double knee strike.

stardom5.15-6Iwatani comes back with an armdrag and a headscissors before drilling her with a dropkick. Northern Lights Suplex by Iwatani, she goes up top but Shirai throws her back down. Iwatani joins Shirai and guillotines her on the top rope, Shirai is leaned over the second rope and Iwatani hits a footstomp to her back. Iwatani goes up top and hits a diving footstomp, cover by Iwatani but it gets two. Iwatani goes for the dragon suplex but Shirai blocks it and she hits a German suplex of her own for a two count cover. Iwatani kicks Shirai but Shirai blocks the hurricanrana and applies a crab hold. Iwatani gets into the ropes, Tiger Feint Kick by Shirai and she hits the swandive dropkick for two. Armtrap Crossface by Shirai, but Iwatani gets out of it and kicks her in the head. Palm strikes by Shirai but Iwatani catches her with a pair of superkicks, but Shirai catches her from behind and hits a big suplex. Texas Cloverleaf by Shirai, she picks up Iwatani and she delivers a tombstone piledriver.

Shirai goes up top but Iwatani avoids the moonsault, high kick by Iwatani and Shirai rolls to the apron. Iwatani joins her on the apron, she picks up Shirai and and nails a dragon suplex! Shirai flops to the floor and lands on her head for extra measure, Iwatani rolls back in the ring while Shirai slowly regains her bearing and barely makes the count. Iwatani hits a German suplex hold as soon as Shirai returns, but she gets a two count. Iwatani goes for the reverse hurricanrana but Shirai blocks it, frog splash by Iwatani but it gets a two as well. Dragon suplex hold by Iwatani, but Shirai barely gets a shoulder up. She goes for another one but Shirai blocks it and hits a tiger suplex. Package German suplex hold by Shirai, she goes up top and nails the moonsault for the three count! Io Shirai is still the champion!

Being the company ace has both its advantages and disadvantages. Io Shirai has to always be at the top of her game, luckily she is always up for the challenge as in the last year she has pretty much developed into the perfect character. She manages to still be pleasant but deadly serious and deadly accurate with her moves, she isn’t a heel but rather just really confident in her abilities and she pulls it off as well as anyone in wrestling. Iwatani was wrestling as the underdog all match, as her ‘big match’ moves couldn’t get her the win and she made a few miscues here and there. The only complaint about the match would just be that Io took so much damage and came back quickly to win but that is just who she is, if you are going to beat Io you will either have to sneak out a win or kill her, just normal moves aren’t going to do the trick. Mayu is still young, she’ll get more chances, so a loss here doesn’t hurt her or her story. An incredible match that had all the elements I look for in wrestling, just a must see.  Highly Recommended