Stardom “Gold May 2017” on 5/14/17 Review

Event: Stardom “Gold May 2017”
Date: May 14th, 2017
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 968

At least I got in two other event reviews between Stardom reviews this time, so I’m slowly getting better. Like last time, this event was uploaded very quickly over at Stardom World, a clipped version aired on Samurai TV a couple days ago but I prefer to see it unclipped. This is a massive show for Stardom, as they stack it with three title matches, including perhaps Kairi Hojo’s last big singles match in the promotion. Here is the full card:

As always, you can click on the wrestler’s name to go to their profile. Let’s hop to it.

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AZM vs. Hanan

The show starts with a rookie match! AZM is 14 years old but is a two year veteran, while Hanan just recently debuted and is 12 years old. Expectations are low of course, but Hanan has shown some early ability so it may surprise us.

stardom5-14-1AZM offers a handshake but Hanan slaps it away and starts working on AZM’s arm. They trade wristlocks until AZM pounds Hanan to the mat, but Hanan quickly goes back to the arm and hits a judo throw. AZM gets out of it and throws down Hanan by the hair, dropkick by AZM and she covers Hanan for two. Crab hold by AZM but Hanan gets into the ropes, scoop slam by AZM but Hanan avoids her dive off the second rope. Hanan rolls to the apron but AZM quickly hits a slingshot footstomp, AZM goes for a suplex but Hanan blocks it and hits a judo throw. Hanan hits mounted elbows but AZM slaps her hard in the chest, AZM goes off the ropes but Hanan hits a dropkick. Hanan grabs AZM but AZM hits a DDT, Hanan comes back with a pair of STOs but AZM blocks it when Hanan goes for another. Hanan throws AZM to the mat but AZM gets away from her, Japanese Leg Clutch Hold by AZM and she gets the three count! AZM is the winner.

They started fine but at some point it went off the rails a bit, which isn’t overly shocking when dealing with two young wrestlers. Still, Hanan’s tosses all looked really good and her STO is solid, so there is some hope there that she will develop into a quality wrestler down the road. Not much to it, but both showed some improvement with their general execution.

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Kaori Yoneyama, Natsuko Tora, and Ruaka vs. Hetzza, Hiromi Mimura, and Konami

Random Tag Team Time! Hiromi and Konami have become a more regular tag team and hold the Trios Championship (along with Kairi Hojo), but Hetzza is a bit thrown in there to get the teams even. On the other side, Kaori is the Rookie Babysitter so she teams with two rookies here to keep them in line. Even though their experience is about the same, Natsuko is 26 while Ruaka is 12, so there is still a bit of a gap there.

stardom5-14-2Konami and Ruaka are the first two in, they do some intro submission work until Konami kicks Ruaka in the chest. Ruaka boots her back but Konami returns the favor, so both wrestlers tag out as Kaori and Hetzza come in. Armdrag by Hetzza and they trade trips before both return to their feet to tag in Natsuko and Hiromi. Kaori and Ruaka run in and attack Hiromi from behind, and all three pose on Hiromi. Natsuko tags Kaori back in, Kaori beats Hiromi down in the corner and hits a series of Mongolian Chops. Hiromi hits a dropkick which gives her time to tag in Konami, dropkick by Konami and she kicks Kaori repeatedly while she is seated on the mat. Another dropkick by Konami, Kaori kicks out of the cover but Konami quickly applies an armbar. Konami goes for the Fisherman Suplex, Kaori blocks it so Konami kicks her in the chest instead. Kaori bridges out of the corner and knees Konami in the head, she tags in Natsuko but Konami kicks Natsuko in the chest and tags in Hiromi. Diving crossbody by Hiromi and she hits an elevated DDT, she goes for La Magistral but Kaori breaks it up before she can even start the move. Kaori and Ruaka assist Natsuko in attacking Hiromi in the corner, reverse STO by Ruaka and Kaori hits a running senton. Natsuko hits one as well, cover by Natsuko but Konami breaks it up. Hiromi sneaks in a backslide and schoolboy on Natsuko, but both get a two count. Side Russian Leg Sweeps by Natsuko, she gets on the second turnbuckle but Hiromi avoids the diving senton. La Magistral by Hiromi, Natsuko gets out of it but Hiromi applies another cradle and she picks up the three count! Hetzza, Hiromi Mimura, and Konami are your winners.

Nothing particularly special, but nothing offensive. They kept Hetzza out of it almost completely, probably for the best, and everyone else got a bit of a chance to shine. I wish Konami could have been in a bigger match, but with such a stacked card she was downgraded to six woman tag duty. Natsuko continues to come along nicely, and even Hiromi I think is slowly improving. Overall forgettable, but not a bad casual watch.

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Hana Kimura vs. HZK vs. Rebel

So this may not be a very legitimate wrestling match. The build-up for this one is that Hana and Rebel want to see who can be more sexy, while HZK wants no part of it. Stardom triple threats tend to not be overly serious anyway, but I expect this one to go to another level.

stardom5-14-3As predicted, Hana and Rebel start with a sexy dance-off, while HZK watches. They try to talk HZK into playing along but she won’t, so HZK is attacked from behind for being a poor sport. Hana is kicked to the mat, HZK then sends Rebel out of the ring before focusing on Hana in the corner. Running boot by HZK but Rebel trips her from the floor when she goes for another one and rides her while she is in the ropes. Hana has recovered and helps Rebel work over HZK, double knee by Hana in the corner and Rebel hits a jumping elbow. Hana and Rebel both slam HZK while dancing, but Hana elbows Rebel by accident to interrupt the flow. It happens a second time so Rebel pushes Hana, HZK dropkicks Hana out of the ring before dropkicking Rebel as well. Armtrap crossface by HZK to Rebel, but Rebel gets into the rope for a break. HZK gets on the second turnbuckle but Rebel avoids the senton, Hana runs in and boots HZK in the head before turning her attention to Rebel. Hana avoids Rebel’s lariat and rolls her up for two, she picks her up and delivers a dropkick but HZK breaks up the cover. HZK and Hana trade elbows, HZK gets the better of it but Hana takes off her belt and chokes HZK with it. Rebel breaks that up, neckbreaker by Rebel to HZK but it gets a two count. Hana has recovered but Rebel boots her in the chest, she gets on the second turnbuckle but Hana avoids the moonsault. Vertical suplex by Hana, but HZK breaks up the pin. HZK kicks Hana out of the ring, she hits a backbreaker on Rebel near the corner and nails the Bombs Away for the three count! HZK wins.

I was correct, this was silly. I like Hana’s act but I think she needs to be careful that it doesn’t consume her. Do the dancing as a way to get under her opponent’s skin, but then she needs to stick to actual wrestling (which she is good at) and not just become a routine. To be fair, part of it here was Rebel’s fault as I don’t think she knows how to turn it off, so Hana and her kept going back and forth with it. HZK wasn’t of course so she was the prop most of the match for their decadence. Not a particularly great showing by any of them and a step back for Hana and HZK.

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(c) Hiroyo Matsumoto and Jungle Kyona vs. Jessicka Havok and Tessa Blanchard
Goddesses of Stardom Championship

Our first of three title matches. This is Hiroyo and Kyona’s second defense of the Tag Team Championship, they won the titles from Kairi and Yoko Bito on March 3rd. Havok and Tessa have been harassing the champions for much of the tour, as both wrestlers look here to win their first championships in Stardom.

In a change of pace, it is Hiroyo and Kyona that attack before the bell rings, Hiroyo and Havok end up fighting on the floor while Kyona and Tessa stay in the ring. Kyona and Tessa run around until Tessa rolls up Kyona, hard shoulderblock by Kyona and she puts her in a backbreaker. Hiroyo tries to do the same to Havok but can’t get her up until Kyona comes over to help, Hiroyo knocks down Tessa and monkey flips her to Kyona, who hits a lariat. Body press by Kyona, but Havok breaks it up. Tessa and Havok finally take over and isolate Kyona, Tessa tags in Havok and Havok kicks Kyona in the stomach. Kyona goes for a crossbody but Havok catches her and hits a fallaway slam, stomp by Havok and she tags in Tessa. Dropkick by Tessa and she connects with a sliding elbow before hitting a vertical suplex for two. Kyona and Tessa trade elbows until Kyona hits a hard lariat, both wrestlers crawl to their corners and tags in their respective partners. Hiroyo and Havok take turns trying to lariat each other over with in luck, they then trade chops until Havok tosses Hiroyo to the mat. Havok goes for the tombstone but Havok gets out of it, Havok blocks the backdrop suplex attempt but Hiroyo snaps her neck over the top rope. Havok absorbs it and lariats Hiroyo, Kyona runs in and she evades Havok until Hiroyo recovers and hits a missile dropkick. Reverse double knee by Hiroyo, but Havok gets a shoulder up. Hiroyo tags in Kyona, palm strikes by Kyona and she hits a body avalanche against the ropes.

stardom5-14-4She goes for a second one but Havok bumps her to the mat, boot by Havok and she chokes Kyona until Hiroyo breaks it up. Havok throws them into each other and delivers a double lariat before making the tag to Tessa. Tessa goes off the ropes and sails out onto both Hiroyo and Kyona with a tope suicida, Havok then goes off the far ropes and flies out onto them as well. Tessa slides Kyona back in the ring and hits a few short-range lariats, backdrop suplex by Kyona but it only gets a two count. Kyona tries to fight back but Havok attacks he from behind, assisted Codebreaker to Kyona but Kyona barely kicks out of Tessa’s pin. Hiroyo grabs Tessa from the apron but Havok elbows her off, Tessa goes up top and she hits the Diving Codebreaker, but Hiroyo breaks up the cover. Tessa picks up Kyona but Kyona reverses a bodyslam attempt, Havok runs over to help but she lands on Tessa by accident. Kyona gets Tessa on her shoulders and spins her down to the mat, she goes up top but Havok joins her. Hiroyo hits Havok before she can do anything and powerbombs her to the mat, Kyona then dives off the top with a diving body press to Tessa, but it gets a two count. Kyona deadlifts Tessa up but Tessa elbows off of her and delivers a cutter. Cradle by Tessa, but it gets two. Kick by Tessa but Hiroyo grabs her from behind and hits a release German. Hiroyo and Kyona delivers a high/low double lariat, Hammer Throw Powerbomb by Kyona and she covers Tessa for the three count! Kyona and Hiroyo are still the champions.

This was a solid match, nothing that will blow you away but overall well done. I know I have complained about it before but I’ll do it again – I don’t like Stardom using Havok like she is an idiot as I think the “aimlessly chase around” spot they like to do with larger Gaijins looks really ridiculous. But beyond that I enjoyed it, they did a few things to put over the match was important such as Havok’s dive to the floor, and I thought it was good that it was Kyona that got the pin so she can slowly elevate herself instead of just being in Hiroyo’s shadow. Not a very long title match at only about 12 minutes, but they used the time well and aside from the Havok issue everyone looked good.  Mildly Recommended

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(c) Kairi Hojo vs. Mayu Iwatani
Wonder of Stardom Championship

Stardom is really big on talking about how many title defenses someone has, so it was repeatedly mentioned that this is Kairi’s 9th defense of the championship. Santana Garrett had nine successful defenses when she had the belt, so a win here would tie Kairi with her for the most successful defenses ever with the white belt. This will be her toughest challenge to date, as Mayu is one of the top wrestlers in the promotion and long overdue for a singles title. Everyone knew that Kairi had very little chance of leaving this event with her belt, considering she announced she is leaving soon for WWE, but I still expect it to be a great match.

The match starts slowly as they tie-up, but quickly go into a strike exchange with neither getting a clean blow. They go back to jockeying for position, Kairi gets the first advantage but after bouncing off the ropes it is Mayu that knocks Kairi out of the ring. Mayu goes up top but Kairi has crawled under the ring to creep up behind her, Kairi joins Mayu but Mayu kicks her back down to the floor. Mayu then gets off the top turnbuckle, she charges the corner and sails out onto Kairi with a triple jump plancha! Perfectly hit. Mayu takes Kairi up into the stands but Kairi chops her and the two trade strikes. Kairi wins the battle, she gets up on the balcony and dives down onto Mayu with an elbow smash. Kairi returns to the ring and waits for Mayu, who slowly returns with a bit of help, but Kairi immediately pounces on her and stays on the attack. Dropkick by Kairi, she goes up top and hits another elbow smash, she covers Mayu but Mayu’s leg is in the ropes. Kairi pulls Mayu in the middle of the ring and applies a stretch hold, she rolls Mayu around the ring before cradling her for a two count. Mayu comes back with the Sling Blade, Mayu yanks on Kairi’s arm before knocking her to the mat.

stardom5-14-5Mayu starts on Kairi’s arm in various torturing ways, she goes for a dragon suplex but Kairi blocks it. Superkick by Mayu but Kairi hits a spinning chop and both wrestlers collapse to the mat. They both slowly get up and trade elbows, crucifix slam my Mayu but it gets a two count. Mayu goes up top but Kairi smacks her and joins her, but Mayu trips Kairi into the Tree of Woe and hits a diving footstomp to her chest. Mayu goes back up top and hits another diving footstomp, cover by Mayu but Kairi gets a shoulder up. Mayu tries to dragon suplex Kairi into the turnbuckles but Kairi blocks it and hits the Sliding D. Kairi picks up Mayu, she blocks Mayu’s kick and puts her in the Ikari. Kairi lets go after a moment and slams her in front of the corner, Diving Elbow Drop by Kairi to Mayu’s back but instead of going for the cover she goes up to try another Diving Elbow Drop. The strategy fails, as this time Mayu gets her feet up and kicks Kairi in her already injured arm. German suplex by Mayu, she goes up top and delivers the Frog Splash. Dragon suplex hold by Mayu, but Kairi barely gets a shoulder up. Back up they trade elbows, Kairi goes off the ropes but Mayu hits a superkick. Another kick to the head by Mayu, she picks up Kairi and she delivers her enhanced dragon suplex hold for the three count! Mayu Iwatani is the new champion!

Even though I came in with high expectations, Kairi and Mayu met them and then some. To say they have great chemistry would be an understatement and it was a nearly flawless match in execution. Everyone always works on Kairi’s arm but it felt more effective here than usual, as after Mayu blocked the diving elbow drop by kicking her arm she was never in serious danger the rest of the match. I always hold my breath when they do a balcony dive since the steps are right there, but its a great visual and adds a sense of importance. I’m glad that Mayu didn’t hit a dragon suplex into the turnbuckles as that is the type of thing that Kairi would agree to do, and they managed to hit big spots without actually hurting each other. An exciting, creative, and entertaining match between two of the best in Stardom.  Highly Recommended

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(c) Io Shirai vs. Toni Storm
World of Stardom Championship

Toni cashes in her Cinderella Tournament win! Toni Storm is the last wrestler to pin Io Shirai in a singles match, all the way in the summer of last year, so she certainly has done enough to earn this title shot. Toni won the SWA Undisputed Championship on that day and has held it ever since, however her title is not on the line in this match. Io Shirai has held the World of Stardom Championship since December 23rd, 2015, and this is her 14th defense of the title.

They start with feeling each other out, they end up on the mat but they reach several stalemates. Io flings Toni to the mat and hits a double knee stomp, cover by Io but Toni quickly kicks out. Shoulderblock by Io but Toni trips her and they trade flash pins with neither getting the three count, Toni kicks Io out of the ring but Io slides back in when she goes to do a dive. Double backflip by Io but Toni kicks her, she goes off the ropes but Io hits a hurricanrana for two. Dropkick to the head by Io and Toni rolls out of the ring, Io goes to the ropes and hits a pescado down to the floor. Io gets a chair and puts Toni’s head on it, Io then gets a running start and dropkicks the chair. Stomps by Io, she puts Toni against the ring post and charges in with a double knee to Toni’s back. They get back in the ring and Io puts Toni in a crab hold, but Toni makes it to the ropes. Io kicks Toni in the back and kicks her into the corner, double knee by Io but Toni avoids her charge and hits a Backstabber in the ropes. Toni charges Io but Io moves, Io now charges Toni but Toni holds down the top rope and Io spills out of the ring. Toni then goes off the far ropes and sails out with a tope suicida, Toni sits Io in the chair and delivers a jumping hip attack to her face.

stardom5-14-6Uppercut by Toni and she slides Io back in, but Io slides back out of the ring and pulls Toni with her. Io throws Toni in the crowd before removing the mat at ringside, she goes for the double underhook facebuster but Toni blocks it and hits a sidewalk slam onto the floor. Toni drags Io back into the ring and covers her, but it gets two. Hip attacks by Toni in the corner, she covers Io again but it gets another two count. Running hip attack by Toni and she hits the fisherman suplex hold, but Io gets a shoulder up. Toni goes for a piledriver but Io gets out of it and quickly puts Toni in the armtrap crossface. Toni inches to the ropes and forces a break, Tiger Feint Kick by Io and she delivers the swandive dropkick for two. Io picks up Toni and hits a delayed German suplex hold, but Toni kicks out. Io picks up Toni and elbows her, Toni kicks her and she hits the reverse neckbreaker for a two count. Io slowly gets up and they trade strikes, headbutt by Toni and she nails the snap piledriver. Before she can make a cover, the super shady senior referee literally rolls Io out to the apron and prevents Toni from covering her, so that the doctor can check her. Since that is a normal thing that referees do after wrestlers hit their signature move.

This goes on too long while I sit here actively annoyed, the referee pretends like he is counting but somehow never makes it to ten even after 30 seconds passes. Toni finally picks up Io anyway and hits another reverse neckbreaker, but it only gets a two count. Toni goes up top but Io crawls to the apron so again the referee holds Toni, this gives Io time to recover and she joins Toni, hitting a Frankensteiner back into the ring. Io puts Toni in the Texas Cloverleaf, but she releases the hold after a moment after Toni doesn’t submit. Double underhook facebuster by Io, she goes up top but Toni gets her feet up on the moonsault attempt. Toni picks up Io and hits a release German, she goes up top and quickly hits a diving legdrop, but Io barely kicks out of the cover. Toni puts Io in the Kondo Clutch, but the bell rings as the time has expired. The match is a Draw and Io Shirai is still the champion.

Sometimes, something can happen in a wrestling match that completely takes you out of it, which is what happened here to me. The spot with the referee was one of the dumbest things I have seen in recent memory, as in no way should a referee be rolling a wrestler out of the ring and physically holding back their opponent from making the cover after they hit their signature move. The point of wrestling is to hurt your opponent enough to cover them. Some will say “well he is the referee and wanted to make sure she was OK” but that’s not what a referee generally does (in storyline), particularly when their opponent is trying to pin them. Sometimes a referee will have a doctor check a wrestler due to blood loss, which is something fans are familiar with since they do that in boxing and MMA too, but not out of general concern. Then he did it again when Toni went to the top turnbuckle, for no reason (didn’t even have a doctor check that time). I guess they thought it was protecting Toni’s finisher but in reality it was just actively stupid and a time waster. In general, Toni and Io were “wrestling to a Draw” so there were some slow moments, but that was the only one that really felt excessive. Otherwise, the match was extremely well done and I loved the passion both were showing. The hip attack on the floor was one of the best hip attacks I have ever seen and neither were holding back. The referee “break” was just too much and I can’t really recommend a match that goes so far outside the realm of what is generally expected in wrestling just to fill time.  Mildly Recommended