January 10th, 2016
Shin-Kiba 1st Ring in Tokyo, Japan
Welcome to the first Joshi review for the new year! This is not one of Stardom’s bigger events, as it took place in Shin-Kiba 1st Ring instead of Korakuen, but it still has a lot to be excited about. Not only do we get our first look at the new gaijins that Stardom brought into the promotion, but we also get a Goddesses of Stardom Championship match! Here is the full card:
- Alex Lee vs. Azumi vs. Starlight Kid
- Haruka Kato vs. Hiromi Mimura
- Kaitlin Diamond and Viper vs. Kris Wolf and Kyoko Kimura
- Evie and Kellie Skater vs. Kairi Hojo and Kay Lee Ray
- Goddesses of Stardom Championship: Io Shirai and Mayu Iwatani vs. Jungle Kyouna and Momo Watanabe
This is a two hour TV taping, but I don’t think it was clipped any, I’ll note if any of the matches are noticeably not shown in full.
Alex Lee vs. Azumi vs. Starlight Kid
This is for better or worse your traditional Stardom opening match. I’d rather see a vet vs. rookie match, or a tag team match, or just about anything than this but they didn’t ask me. Alex Lee is a solid hand but not at the level to pull a great match out of young Azumi or a rookie, but we can always hope that Starlight Kid pulls out some slick moves as she tends to do.
Lee leaves the ring right off the bat, leaving just the little ones in the ring to trade quick wristlocks and trips. They invite Lee back in, they drop toehold her to the mat but Azumi boots Starlight Kid. Starlight Kid dropkicks Azumi in retaliation and Azumi is attacked by both in the corner. Azumi falls out of the ring, leaving Lee and Starlight Kid to trade elbows, which Lee easily wins, but Azumi rolls up Lee from behind for two. Lee and Azumi trade blows until Azumi hits a DDT, Starlight Kid returns and together they hit a vertical suplex on Lee. Starlight Kid hits a diving body press on Lee and gets into another disagreement with Azumi, giving Lee time to recover and lariat both of them. Lee is dropkicked out of the ring, Starlight Kid dropkicks Azumi and covers her for two. Azumi avoids Starlight Kid’s standing moonsault and quickly applies La Magistral, picking up the three count! Azumi wins.
This was about what I was expecting. Lee is pretty awkward, it probably doesn’t help when she is against two smaller opponents as she just didn’t look as smooth and natural as the younger wrestlers in this match. There were a few cute spots, and Azumi/Starlight Kid has potential as a fun opener-style feud, but most of this wasn’t particularly entertaining. Occasionally Stardom surprises me and has something special in the opener, this was not that day.
Haruka Kato vs. Hiromi Mimura
See this is more what I like, matches where the underdog rookie faces a formidable but not unbeatable veteran. Kato has been wrestling for many years, a good bit of it in Stardom’s midcard, but plays more the role of gatekeeper than potential champion. Mimura is older for a rookie, as she just debuted in the fall but is 29 years old. It will be interesting to see if she gets fast tracked any due to her age, or still takes the slow path up the card that most wrestlers do.
The great thing here is that Kato is on the level that she can give Mimura some offense without it looking silly, since they are close to the same size and Kato is just a midcard wrestler anyway. Kato gets the sleeper applied and then goes for the arm, but Mimura is too close to the ropes and forces the break. Kato dropkicks Mimura twice in the arm to continue weakening it, but Mimura fights back with elbows and delivers a dropkick. Rolling ankle hold by Mimura, but Kato gets into the ropes. Kato slams Mimura and puts her in the Muta Lock, but Mimura gets out of it and dropkicks Kato in the corner. Kato comes back with the hanging armbar, diving crossbody by Kato and it gets a two count. Cross armbreaker by Kato but Mimura covers Kato to get her to release the hold. Mimura tries a few quick pins that don’t work, headscissors into a roll-up by Kato and she applies the cross armbreaker! Mimura manages to roll out of it but Kato applies a short armbar instead, and Mimura has to submit. Kato is your winner.
So there were a few awkward spots here, which isn’t surprising when a rookie is in a match but it is still worth noting in a short match such as this one. I was hoping Mimura would get a bit more than this, she did get her rolling ankle hold but besides that it was mostly the Kato Show. Kato is an average wrestler but she does a great job at targeting the arm throughout the match, so at least she does think things through. A few nice spots and ideas but overall pretty skippable.
Kaitlin Diamond and Viper vs. Kris Wolf and Kyoko Kimura
My first look at Diamond and Viper, this will be fun! Diamond is no rookie as she has been wrestling since 2006. Over her ten year career she has won several titles and was most recently wrestling in PWA, located in Ontario, Canada. Viper hails from Scotland and has been wrestling since 2009, she also has several titles to her credit and comes into the match with the Scottish Women’s Championship. On the other side are two wrestlers from Oedo Tai, the largest faction in Stardom.
Kimura and Viper start off but Kimura bails, leaving Wolf with Viper instead. Kimura comes back and they both mess with Viper, but Viper isn’t amused and shoulderblocks both of them to a mat. Viper tags in Diamond, they clearly are the bad guys here as Diamond blatantly chokes Wolf on the mat. Viper returns and works over Wolf’s back before hitting a quick body press for two. Diamond is tagged back in as Wolf is beaten around the ring, Kimura finally comes in to help but she is also double teamed. Wolf and Kimura are thrown into the same corner, Kimura kicks Diamond back however and then moves when Viper charges in. Quick roll-up by Wolf that gets two, and she makes the tag to Kimura. Diamond is also tagged in and they trade chops before Kimura hits a shoulderblock.
Viper comes in but Kimura drops Viper on Diamond and covers her for two. Diamond regains control with a side Russian leg sweep and tags in Viper, Viper chases Kimura around the ring but Kimura keeps avoiding her. Wolf goes up top and goes for a diving crossbody, but Viper catches her and hits a backbreaker. Running body press by Viper and she then hits a senton for a two count cover. Kimura walks in and hits Viper and Diamond with a rod, Kimura kicks Viper in the head and then hits a diving senton. Wolf follows that with a diving double knee drop, cover by Wolf but Diamond breaks it up. Diamond DDTs both Kimura and Wolf, Act Yasukawa gets up on the apron and she spits Sake into Viper’s face, allowing Wolf to roll her up for a two count. Viper catches a Wolf kick and slams her to the mat, Reverse Splash by Viper and she gets the three count! Diamond and Viper win the match.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t a fan of this one, it was just too comedic. If you are debuting a ‘monster’ wrestler that has an offense based around squashing and slamming people, it hurts it a bit when that wrestler is doing comedy bits at the same time. Not saying Viper is on the level of a Nakano or a Vader, but that is the wrestler type she is, so it just felt strange to see her in this style of match. I couldn’t get my head around that which hurt my opinion of the match as a whole, just not what I was expecting, even though much of the match was solid wrestling-wise.
Evie and Kellie Skater vs. Kairi Hojo and Kay Lee Ray
This match pits two members of the Hyper Destroyers against Hojo and a new wrestler to Stardom, Kay Lee Ray. Kay Lee Ray is also a wrestler from Scotland and comes highly recommended to me, like Viper she started wrestling in 2009. Evie and Skater are two-thirds of the Artist of Stardom Champions, since Hojo currently has no title this may be setting up something more down the road.
Skater and Kay Lee Ray kick things off but they come to a stalemate and both tag out. Evie dropkicks Hojo in the face but Hojo does a little dance to distract Evie and hits an elbow smash. Hojo and Kay Lee Ray go back and forth on Evie as they focus on the arm, Kay Lee Ray hits a nice bridging suplex but Evie eventually gets the better of Hojo and tags in Skater. Skater slams Hojo to the mat, Evie runs in and kicks Hojo before Skater covers her for two. Evie comes back in and they double team Hojo, they then take turns chopping Hojo in the corner to see who can make the louder slap noise. Hojo elbows Skater and hits a headscissors off the ropes followed by a dropkick, giving her time to tag in Kay Lee Ray. Kay Lee Ray dives off the top with a double chop to the chest, step-up enzuigiri by Kay Lee Ray and she kicks Skater in the chest for a two count. Skater whips off a DDT and applies an ankle hold, but Kay Lee Ray manages to get out of it and makes the tag to Hojo. Running shoulder tackle by Hojo in the corner followed by a flipping neckbreaker, diving forearm smash by Hojo and she covers Skater for two.
Chops by Hojo but Skater catches her when she charges in and drops Hojo into the corner. Lariat by Skater, and she covers Hojo for two. Skater picks up Hojo and hits a vertical suplex before tagging in Evie, Evie picks up Hojo and with Skater they hit simultaneous kicks for a two count. More kicks by Evie, she goes up top but Hojo avoids the diving footstomp. Hojo goes up top but Evie recovers and joins her, Hojo pushes Evie into a tree of woe and stomps Evie right in the face as she jumps off. Hojo tags Kay Lee Ray, elbows by Kay Lee Ray in the corner and she kicks Evie in the jaw. Evie retorts with her own kick but Kay Lee Ray slams her to the mat. Kay Lee Ray goes up top, Evie moves as she jumps off but Kay Lee Ray hits a rebound elbow out of the corner. Kay Lee Ray tags Hojo and hit a running elbow/kick combination for two. Spinning backfist by Hojo to Skater but Skater hits a modified leg sweep. Canadian Destroyer by Kay Lee Ray to Skater, but Evie kicks Kay Lee Ray and hits the Benadryller. Spear by Hojo to Evie, Skater has recovered but Hojo kicks her out of the ring. Sliding D in the corner by Hojo to Evie and Hojo applies a cross-leg crab hold, she releases it after a moment and goes up top but Evie avoids the diving elbow drop. Evie goes for the cross armbreaker but the bell rings, signifying the match is a Draw.
This was good, borderline great, but was missing something to put it over that line. I am not a big fan of mid-card draws (I’ve said this before but I never know if this review is the first review of mine someone has read). If they did it to set up a future Artist of Stardom defense then I can deal with it, but otherwise it just leaves the match feeling incomplete. I thought both Kay Lee Ray and Evie looked really good, a few small things here and there didn’t hit quite right but nothing major. Skater was the most impressive here, everything she did was on point, between her strikes to her timing to her appearance she is the whole package. Definitely worth a watch, just don’t expect a classic as it never quite reached that level. Recommended
(c) Io Shirai and Mayu Iwatani vs. Jungle Kyouna and Momo Watanabe
This match is for the Goddesses of Stardom Championship. This is obviously a giant mismatch on paper and is a gimme match for the champions, as Kyouna is a rookie and Watanabe is still a kid. That doesn’t mean the young wrestlers will not put up a fight, I am sure they will, but all we can hope for is a fun journey since the outcome is not in doubt.
Iwatani and Watanabe are the first two in, armdrags by Iwatani but they both tag out after neither does much damage. Kyouna tries to knock Shirai off her feet and eventually does, but Shirai hits a flapjack followed by a dropkick. She tags in Iwatani as Kyouna is double teamed in the corner, Watanabe comes in but Iwatani hits an armdrag out of the corner before sending Watanabe out of the ring. Iwatani gets on the top turnbuckle but Kyouna pushes her off and down onto Shirai. Back in the ring, Iwatani is double teamed in the corner but she counters a Watanabe Irish whip into a dropkick out of the corner. Iwatani tags Shirai, and Shirai slaps Watanabe in the face. Iwatani is tagged back and she slaps Watanabe too before kicking her in the back. Knee drop by Iwatani but it only gets a two count. Shirai puts Watanabe in an Octopus Hold into a roll-up, but that also gets two. Slingshot footstomp by Iwatani when she is tagged in but Watanabe dropkicks Iwatani in the corner and tags in Kyouna. Kyouna swings Iwatani around before applying a sleeper, but Shirai quickly breaks it up. Kyouna fights them both off and throws them in the corner before hitting a body avalanche.
Watanabe and Kyouna both put their opponents in a camel clutch before shaking around their head, crab hold by Kyouna to Iwatani but she gets to the ropes. Iwatani hits a crossbody off the ropes and tags in Shirai, dropkick by Shirai to Kyouna and she knocks her down with a palm strike. Kyouna quickly picks up Shirai and hits a back bodydrop, powerslam by Kyouna but Shirai kicks out. Kyouna tags in Watanabe, missile dropkick by Watanabe and she hits a series of vertical suplexes. Watanabe puts Shirai in the tree of woe but Shirai avoids the dropkick, Iwatani runs in and suplexes Watanabe before Shirai hits a knee drop for two. Watanabe fights back and hits a reverse STO, but Shirai gets her in the corner and delivers the running double knee. Shirai picks up Watanabe while Iwatani goes up top, but Kyouna runs in and powerslams Iwatani off the top turnbuckle. Lariat by Kyouna to Shirai and she hits two more, Somato by Watanabe but Iwatani barely breaks it up. Watanabe goes up top and hits a diving crossbody, but it gets two. Kyouna comes in to lariat Shirai but Iwatani catches her with a superkick, package suplex by Shirai to Watanabe and she nails a diving elbow drop for the three count! Shirai and Iwatani are still your champions.
The match started a bit slow but really picked up as they went along and I thought that the last few minutes were really entertaining. Even though the winner was clear, the nearfalls the challenging team got at the end were convincing anyway, they hit everything really well and it was structured excellently. I just wish the first half of the match had that sense of importance or urgency as up to a point it could have just been any old tag match, not the main event and for the tag team championships. Enjoyable, but mostly for the end stretch, Kyouna shows a lot of potential here if she can continue to put it all together. Mildly Recommended
When watching Stardom, it is always a good idea to first check where the event is being held. Stardom saves their big matches for Korakuen, so anything not there is likely more a way to get experience to newer wrestlers and to help set up things for their bigger events. That isn't to say the wrestlers don't try, they do, but these shows tend to be more on the "fun" side than "MOTYC" side. I thought both of the last two matches are worth a watch though, and it was exciting to see the new wrestlers Stardom brought in for this tour. There are definitely some new match-ups to look forward to as Stardom's roster continues to change, but overall just an average event.