Stardom “Io Shirai 10th Anniversary” on 3/9/17 Review

Event: Stardom “Io Shirai 10th Anniversary Show ~ IO IO” 
Date: March 9th, 2017
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 975

Time to celebrate the 10 year career of one of the best wrestlers in the world – Io Shirai! Joshi promotions know how to do anniversaries right, as unlike Togi Makabe’s lame anniversary show in New Japan, Stardom went all out. Io wrestles twice on the show, first teaming with Minoru Suzuki (while under the mask) and later in the show teaming with Meiko Satomura. We also get a special singles match between Hiroyo Matsumoto and Toni Storm! Here is the full card:

I am watching the Samurai TV version of the show, which means pro-shot but clipped matches. As always, you can click on the wrestler’s names above to go to their profile if I have one on Joshi City.

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AZM vs. Natsuko Tora

Even though I think AZM (formally Azumi) officially graduated from being a “rookie” when she joined Queen’s Quest, since she is only 14 years old she is still here in the opening Rookie Battle. Natsuko debuted last fall, even though she has far less experience than AZM she is much older, as she just turned 26 years old. She has the size advantage as well, so its a pretty even match-up with the more experienced child vs. the inexperienced adult.

stardom3-9-1We join this match in progress, Natsuko slams AZM in front of the corner but AZM avoids the diving senton. Kicks to the back by AZM and she dropkicks Natsuko in the head. Two more dropkicks by AZM, she picks up Natsuko and she hits a scoop slam. Footstomps by AZM, and she covers Natsuko for two. AZM goes off the ropes and hits a sunset flip, but Natsuko is able to grab the ropes. AZM goes for a suplex but Natsuko blocks it and hits a Side Russian Leg Sweep, she goes off the ropes but AZM does as well and applies the Mac (satellite schoolboy) for the three count! AZM wins the match.

Someone will get mad at me and that’s fine, but I still don’t think AZM has progressed much for a two year pro. I realize she is a kid, but there are still some timing things that are off and her dropkicks look iffy against anyone much taller than she is (which is just about everyone). She has to win these matches since she got suddenly promoted to Queen’s Quest, but she really is still a rookie skill-wise and needs to show a bit more if she is going to be taken seriously in Io’s faction.

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HZK vs. Kagetsu vs. Kris Wolf

In the last Stardom show I reviewed, Kris Wolf won the High Speed Championship and I couldn’t be happier for her. This isn’t for the title but it does pit Kris against two wrestlers that really want the title, so its a sneak peek of sorts to future matches to come. HZK represents Queen’s Quest, she returned to wrestling in November after over a year away from the sport. Kagetsu is Kris’ friend since both are in Oedo Tai, however here it is every woman for herself (for the most part).

stardom3-9-2We join this one slightly in progress, with Oedo Tai setting up HZK in the ropes so that they can snap a long band into her face. After they do it once, they try a second time but HZK switches positions with Kagetsu and Kris snaps it into her friend by accident. HZK boots Kagetsu in the face, she gets on the second turnbuckle and connects with the diving senton but Kris break up the cover. Codebreaker by HZK to Kris, she goes up top and nails a diving senton on Kagetsu but again Kris breaks it up as she throws a piece of luggage at HZK. Kris picks up HZK and they trade elbows, Kagetsu gets back up and with Kris they hit an assisted face crusher onto HZK. Kris gets on the second turnbuckle but HZK avoids her dive and holds down Kris for a two count. Kagetsu trues to roll over them for a pin, all three trade flash pin attempts until Kris holds down her opponents for the three count! Kris Wolf is your winner.

A cute and lighthearted match, but nothing more than that. “High Speed” matches basically means something like this, some general chaos and fun spots but nothing with a lot of substance. They tried to keep all three looking strong since normally there is a rookie in a match like this to take the fall, and for the most part I think they accomplished that even though as it was clipped we didn’t see Kagetsu do much. A short match cut down even further, nothing offensive but nothing to get excited about.

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KAI and Black Midnight Devil vs. Minoru Suzuki and Midnight Angel

The playfulness continues, as Io puts on the mask to become a character she rarely uses – Midnight Angel! She picked her tag team partner so she picked Minoru Suzuki, because why wouldn’t she. The other team is incredibly random, as the Freelancer KAI makes his Stardom debut and teams with Kaori Yoneyama wearing a mask as Black Midnight Devil. This will likely also be lighthearted, but the wrestler quality should lead to some solid action as well.

To set the tone for the match, as the bell rings Midnight Devil gets on the mat and poses for Suzuki, which temporarily confuses him until he gets a camera from ringside to take pictures of her. While Midnight Angel cheers from the apron. Suzuki has enough playing around and goes to stomp Midnight Devil, so she quickly crawls to the corner and tags in KAI. KAI isn’t thrilled but gets in the ring, he asks for a handshake from Suzuki but Suzuki kicks him instead and applies a wristlock. KAI gets Suzuki to the mat but Suzuki returns to his feet and they reach a stalemate. KAI tags Midnight Devil back in while Midnight Angel tags in as well, they trade armdrags until Midnight Angel does a backflip and dropkicks Midnight Devil to the mat. Midnight Angel picks up Midnight Devil but Midnight Devil rakes her eyes and throws Midnight Angel out of the ring. They battle around the ring while Suzuki tosses KAI around the floor, but KAI hits Suzuki with a chair. Back in the ring, Midnight Devil continues her assault on Midnight Angel and covers her for two. Midnight Devil tags KAI but Midnight Angel hits a hurricanrana on KAI and dropkicks him in the head. Midnight Angel makes the hot tag to Suzuki, big boot by Suzuki in the corner and hits a PK for a two count.

stardom3-9-3Suzuki charges KAI but KAI delivers a high kick, lariat by KAI and he covers Suzuki for two. Elbows by KAI but Suzuki gets the better of the exchange, he goes off the ropes but KAI catches him with a superkick. Both wrestlers get to their corners to tag out, Midnight Angel dropkicks Midnight Devil but Midnight Devil blocks the double underhook facebuster. Chops by Midnight Devil and she hits a double throat thrust, senton by Midnight Devil but Midnight Angel kicks out. Northern Lights Suplex by Midnight Devil, but Suzuki breaks up the cover. KAI takes care of Suzuki and helps Midnight Devil with Midnight Angel but Suzuki again breaks up the pin attempt. KAI and Suzuki trade elbows while Midnight Devil tries to stop Suzuki, Midnight Devil tries to seduce Suzuki but he has none of that and slaps her to the mat. Suzuki slides around KAI and applies a sleeper, while Midnight Angel hits a double underhook facebuster on Midnight Devil. Suzuki pulls KAI to the corner while keeping the sleeper on, Midnight Angel goes up to the top turnbuckle and onto Suzuki’s shoulders to hit a body press down onto Midnight Devil. Cover by Midnight Angel, and she gets the three count! Minoru Suzuki and Midnight Angel are the winners!

Io Shirai as Midnight Angel is a treat, as while of course she is the same wrestler she really ramps up the happy/giggly side and is much more playful than she is in Queen’s Quest. Suzuki was his usual smooth self, doing both fun spots and hard shots without it looking forced, and I dunno what Midnight Devil was doing but it was certainly memorable. Nothing to take too seriously but a really unique match to see in Stardom and a nice change of pace.  Mildly Recommended

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Hiroyo Matsumoto vs. Toni Storm

Even though Toni Storm is the SWA Champion, this is a non-title match. More of a special attraction if you will. Hiroyo Matsumoto comes into the match with a few belts of her own, as she is the half of the Goddesses of Stardom Champions and the OZ Academy Openweight Champion. Toni Storm is only 21 but has been wrestling for years and is an extremely polished wrestler, you’d never know from watching her how young she is as she carries herself like a seasoned veteran. A bit of a random match for the show but hopefully an entertaining one.

Tie-up to start, Storm gets Matsumoto to the mat but Matsumoto reverses spots with her. Storm gets away as they return to their feet, Storm stretches Matsumoto and hits a few uppercuts before snapmaring Matsumoto to the mat. Hip attacks by Storm, she kicks Matsumoto into the corner but Matsumoto avoids the running hip attack and chops Storm in the corner. Matsumoto hits a few hip attacks of her own, she picks up Storm onto her shoulders but Storm grabs the ropes and slides to the apron. Matsumoto charges Storm but Storm holds down the ropes and Matsumoto ends up on the apron with her. Still on the apron they trade strikes, Storm picks up Matsumoto but Matsumoto slides away and goes for a powerbomb.

stardom3-9-4Storm slides away but Matsumoto throws her into the post, she charges Storm but Storm moves and Matsumoto runs face-first into the post. Storm quickly gets back into the ring and sails out onto Matsumoto with a plancha suicida, Storm sets up a chair and sits Matsumoto in it before delivering a running hip attack. Back in the ring, elbow by Storm but Matsumoto avoids her running strike and gets Storm onto her shoulders. Gutbuster by Matsumoto, she gets on the second turnbuckle and hits a reverse double kneedrop for a two count. Matsumoto picks up Storm and they trade elbows, lariat by Matsumoto but Storm headbutts her and hits a release German. Backstabber by Storm from the ropes, she covers Matsumoto but it gets two. Storm goes up top but Matsumoto avoids the diving legdrop, she picks up Storm and hits a backdrop suplex. Sliding Lariat by Matsumoto but Storm reverses the pin into a cover of her own for two. They both get up and trade strikes, Matsumoto goes for a backdrop suplex but Storm blocks it. Roaring Elbow by Matsumoto but Storm hits a Backstabber as the bell rings, signifying that time has expired. The match is a Draw.

About five minutes or so was clipped. A good match but not quite as good as I was hoping, some parts were smooth but a few others didn’t work quite as well. It lacked an identity but that partly could have been from the clipping, I never got a sense that either had a game plan and the way it was aired neither really had a segment of any length in control before it switched back to the other wrestler. This was likely better in full form, as it was aired it was a decent watch but not much more than that.

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Hiromi Mimura, Aoi Kizuki, and Jungle Kyona vs. Kairi Hojo, Yoko Bito, and Konami

Speaking of random wrestlers showing up in Stardom, what the hell is Aoi Kizuki doing here? Not that I mind of course, but Aoi hasn’t had a match in Stardom since 2012 and has no real connection with Io Shirai that I am aware of. Anyway, she is joined by Jungle Kyona and Hiromi Mimura, two Stardom wrestlers that debuted in the fall of 2015. Kyona just won the Goddesses of Stardom Championship and is definitely the better of the two, although Hiromi generally performs fine in tag matches. On the other side are Kairi and Bito, a regular tag team, plus Konami who judging by her entrance for this match is an honorary pirate for the evening. These teams aren’t even, as Kairi/Bito/Konami is a hell of a unit that could beat just about any other trio combination in Stardom.

Konami and Kyona start for their teams, kicks to the leg by Konami but Kyona screams at her and hits a shoulderblock. She goes off the ropes again but Konami kicks her in the chest, roll-up by Konami but it gets two. Both tag out as old friends Hiromi and Kairi come in, Kairi avoids Hiromi’s dropkick and then makes her run the ropes for quite awhile until she collapses. Kairi picks up Hiromi and scoop slams her, she goes up top but jumps off when Hiromi returns to her feet. Kairi rolls away from Hiromi and poses, leading to both wrestlers tagging in the last pairing that hasn’t participated yet. Aoi and Bito circle each other and play to the crowd, chops by Aoi but Bito kicks her in the stomach, dropkick by Aoi but Bito leg sweeps her and kicks Aoi in the back. Her teammates come in and they triple team Aoi, including hitting her with a triple heel drop and posing on her. We clip ahead to Bito and Kyona being in the ring, missile dropkick by Bito and she covers Kyona for two. Back up they trade elbows, Bito hits a high kick but Kyona comes right back with a lariat. Kairi and Aoi are tagged in, elbows by Aoi and she hits a jumping lariat. She goes for the double wrist armsault but Kairi blocks it, so Aoi puts her in a cobra clutch instead. Modified STO by Aoi and she hits a step-up senton for a two count.

stardom3-9-5Konami kicks Aoi from the apron to help Kairi regain the advantage, chops by Kairi in the corner and she launches off of Konami with a elbow strike. Sliding D in the corner by Kairi, she goes up top and hits the diving forearm smash for a two count. Kairi goes for a spinning backfist but Aoi ducks it and hits a shoulderblock, double wrist armsault by Aoi but Kairi kicks out at two. Aoi makes the tag to Hiromi, DDT by Hiromi and Kyona comes in and hits a running body press. Twisting body press by Aoi and Hiromi dropkicks Kairi for a two count cover. Hiromi picks up Kairi but everyone else runs in too, and Team Kairi all hit suplexes on Team Kyona. Konami and Bito stay in the ring and they triple team Hiromi, cover by Kairi but Aoi breaks it up. Kairi goes up top but Aoi grabs her from the apron, Kyona flings Kairi back into the ring and Aoi nails her swivel body press from the top turnbuckle. Diving crossbody by Hiromi to Kairi, but Konami breaks it up. Hiromi and Kairi trade elbows until Kairi hits a big spear, Kairi picks up Hiromi but Hiromi gets away and goes for a roll-up. Kairi blocks it long enough for Konami to come in the ring and kick Hiromi in the head, B Driver by Bito to Hiromi and Kairi finishes her off with a Diving Elbow Drop. Cover by Kairi, and she gets the three count! Kairi Hojo, Yoko Bito, and Konami are the winners.

It is hard to “rate” a match like this by traditional means, since it was mostly them trying fun spots without doing anything too complicated. But it was entertaining to watch, Kairi is just a treat and her interactions with Hiromi were well done. There were some small miscommunications but nothing match-breaking, just the normal things you’d see in a thrown together six wrestler tag. Unique and interesting, worth a watch but not necessarily for “work rate” as they kept it pretty loose.  Mildly Recommended

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Io Shirai and Meiko Satomura vs. Mayu Iwatani and Chihiro Hashimoto

Main Event time! I am assuming that Io handpicked her own partner, and she did a good job of it as Meiko Satomura is one of the best wrestlers in the world. So is Io, so its a dream team as its rare for two of the current best wrestlers in the world to get the chance to team together. The other side is really solid as well, as Mayu is Io’s main nemesis at the moment while Chihiro beat Satomura last fall for the Sendai Girls’ Championship so there is history there also. Two quality teams and a really unique pairing on both sides as the best of Stardom and Sendai Girls’ both team and collide.

Chihiro and Io begin, Chihiro gets Io to the mat and puts her in a headlock but Io returns to her feet and the two trade shoulderblock attempts. Chihiro wins that battle but Io quickly kips up and hits a dropkick. Io flips herself up again but Chihiro does as well, and both wrestlers face off once again. Satomura and Mayu tag in, kick by Satomura and she quickly takes Mayu to the mat, but Mayu gets into the ropes for the break. Satomura takes her to the mat again but Mayu struggles back to her feet, backdrop suplex by Satomura and she kicks Mayu repeatedly. Satomura is treating Mayu like she owes her money. Another kick by Satomura but Mayu blocks a lariat and hits a triple jump springboard armdrag out of the corner. Satomura uppercuts her and tags Io, Mayu goes for a headscissors but Io flips out of it and kicks Mayu in the chest. Satomura comes in but Mayu armdrags Io, Chihiro runs in and they take turns attacking Io and Satomura. Double spear by Chihiro, Io lands against the ropes and Mayu dropkicks her in the chest. Mayu picks up Io and tags Chihiro, scoop slam by Chihiro and she hits a front flip senton on Io for two. Mayu puts Io in a camel clutch while Chihiro hits hip attacks, Chihiro tosses Io to the mat by her waist and covers her for two. Chihiro puts Io in a camel clutch this time, Mayu comes in the ring and hits some hip attacks of her own. Chihiro lets go and tags Mayu, Mayu twists Io’s hair and throws her down to the mat. Irish whip by Mayu but Io dropkicks her, Io goes to make a tag but Chihiro charges across the ring to block her. Mayu throws Io into the corner but Io slides out to the apron and kicks Mayu back, she then hits a missile dropkick on Chihiro which gives her time to make the tag to Satomura. Satomura elbows Mayu and drops her with a heel kick, backdrop suplex by Satomura but Chihiro breaks up the pin. Satomura slams Chihiro on top of Mayu for coming in the ring, she then kicks Mayu against the ropes and nails a cartwheel kneedrop.

stardom3-9-6More kicks by Satomura and she hits another backdrop suplex, but Mayu gets back up and delivers a superkick. Pele Kick by Satomura and she tags in Io while Chihiro is also tagged in, hip attack by Chihiro to Io and she goes for a slam, but Io blocks it and hits a footstomp. Dropkick by Io, but Chihiro kicks out of the cover. Io goes for a German but Chihiro blocks it, she slides Io and goes for her own suplex but Io lands on her feet. Mayu comes in but she superkicks Chihiro by accident, delayed German by Io but Chihiro barely gets a shoulder up. Io and Chihiro trade elbows, Io wins the exchange but Chihiro drills her with a lariat. She tags in Mayu, Mayu goes up top and she hits a missile dropkick, she goes up top again and delivers a diving footstomp before hitting a crucifix slam for a two count. Mayu picks up Io and goes for a dragon suplex, but Satomura grabs her from the apron to prevent Io from going over. Tiger Feint Kick by Io and she hits the swandive missile dropkick, but the cover gets two. Io picks up Mayu and slams her in front of the corner, she goes up for the moonsault but Chihiro knocks her down from the apron. Chihiro gets in the ring and suplexes Io over her head, she then hits a somersault senton off the second turnbuckle before Mayu hits another diving footstomp. Cover by Mayu, but Satomura breaks it up. Mayu picks up Io and goes for the dragon suplex, but Satomura runs over and nails a high kick. Io puts Mayu in a Texas Cloverleaf while Satomura puts Chihiro in an ankle hold, Io lets go after a moment and hits the running double knee in the corner. Double underhook facebuster by Io, she goes up top as Mayu recovers, but Io dives out of the ring onto Chihiro. Satomura comes in to neutralize Mayu, Death Valley Bomb by Satomura and Io nails the moonsault on Mayu for the three count! Io Shirai and Meiko Satomura win the match!

I get the feeling that before the match, Satomura asked Io what she wanted as an Anniversary present and she said “kick the shit out of Mayu for me.” Satomura was just laying it into Mayu, not that Satomura is ever gentle but there were some brutal shots and it lasted the whole match. Which was great for the viewers, although the look on Mayu’s face after the match implied she wasn’t as much of a fan. I really enjoyed this match, all four worked together well and there were many memorable segments mixed in throughout. Chihiro is just a beast, she can toss around just about anyone and continues to improve each time I see her. Io was Io, but she wasn’t selfish here as she shared the spotlight pretty evenly for her Anniversary celebration. It looked like Io slipped on her dive but she recovered enough not to injure herself at least, and they didn’t let it impact the match. Overall really entertaining from bell to bell, definitely one that needs to be sought out not only for the in-ring action, but just the uniqueness of the pairings and how well they worked together.  Highly Recommended