Stardom “Grows Up Stars #2” on 3/12/16 Review

Event: Stardom “Grows Up Stars #2”
Date: March 12th, 2016
Location: Shin-Kiba 1st RING in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 305

I am trying not to fall too far behind with Stardom, soon I will review something that is a bit different. This is another smaller show with only about 45 minutes of ring time, but it has a few compelling match-ups as the younger wrestlers continue to stand up to the stars of the promotion. Here is the full card:

Remember you can click on the wrestler’s names above to go to their profile on Joshi City. Onto the fun!

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Azumi and Haruka Kato vs. Natsumi Maki and Starlight Kid

We kick off the show with the leader and idol of the Azumi Army facing off against the young Starlight Kid and Natsumi Maki. This is Maki’s third match in Stardom, as she is officially affiliated with the Actress girl’Z promotion. Maki is the second wrestler from Actress girl’Z to become a somewhat regular, following in the footsteps of Anou. Kato is the veteran of the match but usually these openers don’t need one, they tend to be pretty straightforward.

stardom3.12-1Azumi and Starlight Kid battle to start, but neither gets a clean advantage and they tag out. Kato and Maki trade elbows, Azumi comes in and Maki is dropkicked by both in the corner. Kato and Azumi pose on Maki but Starlight Kid comes in and hits Kato. Starlight Kid gets on the top turnbuckle but Kato headscissors her back to the mat and applies a cross armbreaker. Starlight Kid gets a foot on the ropes as Maki comes in, Maki kicks Kato and dropkicks her in the chest. Satellite sunset flip by Starlight Kid to Kato and she tags in Maki. Kato slams Maki but Maki bridges out of the pin and hits a double knee to Kato’s back. Face crusher by Kato but Starlight Kid kicks her from the apron. Maki puts Kato in a stretch hold before hitting a swinging neckbreaker for a two count. Maki hits a Tiger Feint Kick on her second try but Kato snaps her neck over the second rope and tags Azumi. Azumi dropkicks Maki a couple times but Maki blocks the suplex and hits a dropkick of her own. Maki tags Starlight Kid, Starlight Kid hits a backflip into a moonsault for a two count cover. Dropkick by Starlight Kid but Kato puts her in an armbar over the top rope. Suplex by Azumi to Starlight Kid, Wing Clutch Hold by Azumi but its quickly broken up. Maki comes in and Azumi eats a double vertical suplex, Starlight Kid gets on the second turnbuckle but Azumi avoids the dive and applies La Magistral for a two count. Azumi and Starlight Kid trade pin attempts, Azumi applies a Japanese Leg Roll Clutch and she picks up the three count! Azumi and Kato win!

This match could have used some clipping. Maki was trying a lot of things here, and she has some good moves, but not everything she tried worked. Starlight Kid was more smooth than last week however, anytime you get a match with so many young wrestlers there are going to be some rough patches. There is certainly some enjoyment out of watching wrestlers when they are still gaining experience, but this one definitely had its fair share of issues.

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Hiroyo Matsumoto and Jungle Kyouna vs. Kaitlin Diemond and Viper

Oedo Tai takes on the unusual team of Matsumoto and Kyouna, with Act Yasukawa at ringside to lend a hand. While most of the gaijins that came over in December have left, Diemond and Viper have hung around a bit longer, continuing to be a force to be reckoned with in Stardom. Matsumoto is a Freelancer but a regular in Stardom, and Kyouna is a rookie that debuted last October. This match is just for fun, no real backstory going in, just a few wrestlers looking to put on a good show.

Diemond and Kyouna are the first two in, but Kyouna runs over and knocks Viper off the apron. This gives Diemond a chance to attack her but Matsumoto runs in and Diemond is double teamed. Viper trips Kyouna from the floor as things break down and they spill out to the floor. Yasukawa gets involved so Matsumoto ties her to the bottom rope, Viper gets into the ring with Kyouna  and she is triple teamed on the apron. Kyouna fights back against Viper with no luck, Viper tags in Diemond and she stomps on Kyouna. Side Russian Leg Sweep by Diemond but Kyouna hits a powerslam for a two count. Kyouna tags Matsumoto, Matsumoto goes up top and she hits a missile dropkick. Matsumoto throws Viper and Diemond in the same corner and hits a body avalanche, she then throws Viper onto Diemond and covers her for two. Diemond snaps off a DDT followed by a backdrop suplex, but Matsumoto stops her from tagging out and hits a release German suplex.

stardom3.12-2Matsumoto tags Kyouna but Diemond manages to tag Viper, Kyouna attacks Viper in the corner and hits a body avalanche, but Viper tosses her to the mat. Kyouna avoids the running senton, Matsumoto comes in and tosses Kyouna onto Viper. Kyouna goes up top but Yasukawa grabs her, she spits Sake into Matsumoto’s face and Viper throws Kyouna from the top rope. Diemond picks up Kyouna and hits a sidewalk slam, running senton by Viper and she covers Kyouna for a two count. Double chokeslam to Kyouna, but Matsumoto breaks up the cover. Viper gets on the second turnbuckle but Kyouna avoids the Reverse Splash. Matsumoto comes in and they both lariat Viper, discus lariat by Kyouna and she puts Viper in a cross armbreaker. Matsumoto gets on the second turnbuckle and hits a double kneedrop while Viper is still in the hold, but Diemond breaks it up. Schoolboy by Kyouna, she then tries to knock over Viper but Viper hits a jumping crossbody for the three count! Oedo Tai win the match.

A pretty simple match, it went about as one would expect. Kyouna looked solid, the Oedo Tai team isn’t overly inspired but they work really well together and are fluid with their moves. Matsumoto was her usual flawless self, and there were a few memorable spots. A good mid-card encounter, but that is about it.

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Alex Lee and Kaori Yoneyama vs. Hiromi Mimura and Kairi Hojo

Mimura and Hojo are the cutest little team. Hojo has Mimura acting like a pirate too which is almost too much. Anyway, here we just have one of the most popular wrestlers in Stardom teaming with a rookie to help show her the ropes, facing off against the uber veteran Yoneyama and the well traveled gaijin Alex Lee.

Mimura and Yoneyama start off for their teams and they trade elbows and chest bumps, Lee comes in and they knock Mimura to the mat together. Lee and Azumi take turns kicking Mimura, double Irish whip to Mimura but Hojo runs in and they dropkick their opponents. Mimura and Hojo are thrown into each other, but then Yoneyama and Lee run into each other as Mimura goes to get some rope. Hojo covers the referee’s eyes with a bandanna and then tie up Yoneyama and Lee with the rope until the referee recovers. Yoneyama elbows Mimura and throws her down by her hair and puts her in a leg submission, but Hojo breaks it up. Lee is tagged in and she takes over controlling Mimura, but Hojo pulls Mimura to her corner with the rope to help her get the break. Lee charges Mimura but Mimura moves and dropkicks Lee near the corner.

stardom3.12-3She tries to slam Lee but can’t, slam by Lee and she tags Yoneyama. Yoneyama slams Mimura herself before tagging Lee back in, Lee bodyslams Mimura and covers her for two. This continues for a few minutes, Hojo comes in but Yoneyama ties her up in the corner. Yoneyama goes up top but Hojo trips Lee with the rope, giving Mimura time to tag in Hojo. Yoneyama also tags in, chops by Hojo and she hits a running shoulder tackle in the corner. Neckbreaker by Hojo, and she covers Yoneyama for two. Palm strike by Yoneyama but Hojo catches her with a spear. Yoneyama knees Hojo in the back of the head and tags Lee, and Hojo is double teamed in the corner. Lee suplexes Hojo and kicks her in the head, cover by Lee but Mimura breaks it up. Hojo goes for a double spear but it is blocked, Mimura comes in and hits a jumping crossbody on both of them. Double lariat to Lee and Hojo hits her with the Sliding D. Hojo goes up top and she nails the diving elbow drop, and she picks up the three count! Hiromi Mimura and Kairi Hojo win!

A bit too goofy than I’d prefer from a mid-card match, some of the antics felt more like an opening match than one with Kairi Hojo. The action itself was solid however, everything flowed well and there weren’t any miscommunications or noticeable mistakes. A rare win for Mimura too, even though she didn’t get the pin, and any match ending with a Hojo diving elbow drop is never a bad thing. Overall decent, just more comedic spots than I’d  prefer in a straight match.

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Io Shirai vs. Saori Anou

This match is part of Anou’s Challenge Series. Saori Anou started in Stardom last fall, she is affiliated with Actress girl’Z but has been a semi-regular in Stardom recently as she tries to prove herself. Part of proving herself is going against the top wrestlers in Stardom, and it doesn’t get much better than Io Shirai. Shirai comes into the match with three titles, while Anou has no significant wins in her short career. This match isn’t so much about Anou winning, but if she can be impressive against the Stardom ace.

stardom3.12-4Anou and Shirai trade wristlocks to start, Shirai gets Anou to the mat and gives her a double knee to the gut. Back up, elbows by Anou but Shirai plants her with a dropkick. Shirai puts Anou in a camel clutch but she gets to the ropes, Shirai throws Anou into the corner and she delivers a dropkick. Shirai gets on the second turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick, she gets on the second turnbuckle but Anou avoids the missile dropkick. Shirai promptly kicks Anou and puts her in a crossface, but Anou eventually makes it to the ropes. Anou drop toeholds Shirai and applies the Muta Lock, she picks up Shirai and hits a sidewalk slam for two. Shirai blocks the fisherman suplex but Anou hits a shoulderblock, fisherman suplex hold by Anou and she gets a two count. Shirai rolls out of the backslide attempt and kicks Anou, Tiger Feint Kick by Shirai and she goes up top before hitting a missile dropkick. Anou fights back with elbows but Shirai hits a palm strike, running double knee by Shirai and she covers Anou for two. Shirai slams Anou, she starts climbing the turnbuckles but Anou grabs her from behind. Shirai elbows Anou back off but Anou charges her and hits the rolling fisherman suplex hold for a two count. Anou picks up Shirai and applies a backslide with a jackknife, but Shirai gets a shoulder up. Anou and Shirai trade elbows, and Shirai dropkicks Anou in the head. Air Raid Crash by Shirai, she goes up top and she nails the moonsault for the three count! Io Shirai is your winner.

A fun match, Io Shirai probably couldn’t have a singles match that wasn’t entertaining if she tried, even though this one was pretty basic. Shirai was doing subtle heel/grump vet tactics, which I always appreciate and it made the match more amusing than if Shirai was acting nice. Anou’s pin attempts weren’t too convincing since she had issues stringing offensive moves together however, and while she looked good here I think she has had better individual performances. A pretty low key Io Shirai singles match but still entertaining.  Mildly Recommended

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(c) Mayu Iwatani vs. Momo Watanabe

This match is for the High Speed Championship. Young Watanabe challenged Iwatani after the last event on March 6th, this is Watanabe’s first challenge for a singles title in Stardom. Watanabe’s birthday is on March 22nd (she turns 16), so it would be quite the early birthday present if she can score the upset win. Beating Iwatani of course would be no easy feat, as this is Iwatani’s fourth defense of the belt she won back in October. Win or lose this is a big spot for Watanabe, she has developed in the ring a lot over the past year and this will be a good challenge to see if she can put those new skills to use.

Watanabe dropkicks Iwatani while she is twirling in her streamers, showing she means business. Iwatani rolls out to the apron to take the streamers off (she completely ties herself up in them) before getting in the ring, they both go off the ropes and trade armdrags. Iwatani dropkicks Watanabe while she is against the ropes before she kicks Watanabe repeatedly in the back. Iwatani applies a stretch hold, she throws Watanabe in the corner and yanks on her arms. Iwatani gets Watanabe to the mat and puts her in a chinlock, footstomps by Iwatani as she seems to be enjoying herself. Watanabe finally fires back with a dropkick, slaps by Watanabe and she kicks Iwatani in the chest. Watanabe dropkicks Iwatani while she is against the ropes, which sends Iwatani out of the ring. Watanabe gets on the second turnbuckle and dives out of the ring with a plancha down onto Iwatani, Watanabe rolls Iwatani back in the ring and hits a missile dropkick to the back.

momoAnother missile dropkick by Watanabe, and she covers Iwatani for two. Another dropkick by Momo but Iwatani avoids the Somato, Iwatani picks up Watanabe and hits a bridging suplex for a two count. Iwatani goes up top and hits a diving footstomp, cover by Iwatani but it gets two. She goes up top again but Watanabe avoids the diving body press, now Watanabe goes up but Iwatani avoids the diving crossbody in return. Iwatani goes to the top turnbuckle, Momo joins her and she hits a superplex. Somato by Watanabe, but Iwatani kicks out of the cover. A swinging slam by Watanabe gets the same result, she gets on the second turnbuckle and connects with the diving Somato, but Iwatani gets a shoulder up. Momo goes off the ropes but Iwatani catches her with a Sling Blade, Iwatani goes for a dragon suplex but Watanabe blocks it, high kick by Iwatani and she hits a second one. Iwatani goes up top and delivers a diving footstomp, diving body press by Iwatani but Watanabe kicks out of the pin. Dragon suplex hold by Iwatani, and she gets the three count! Iwatani retains the High Speed Championship!

We all know Iwatani’s deal, so let’s talk about Momo. If you asked me last year, I’d have said the jury was still out on Watanabe. I never rate new and/or young wrestlers very hard, it takes time for some to really get into the groove, but this was probably her first match that really impressed me. It helps that Iwatani bumps like a wrestler that wants to be retired by age 25, but Watanabe looked deadly here and some of the nearfalls were really convincing. Koguma won this same title when she was under 18 so it would not have been unprecedented if she had picked up the surprise win. It wasn’t long for the main event but it fit the theme, it wouldn’t have felt right if it was a 25 minute match. A solid match that may be remembered best as a coming out party for Watanabe, hopefully this is just the beginning for her and she stays active in wrestling.  Recommended