Stardom “Stardom of Champions 2017” on 2/23/17 Review

Event: Stardom “Stardom of Champions 2017” 
Date: February 23rd, 2017
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 730

We are back again with Stardom! I know I just reviewed them, I am emotionally torn between wanting to mix up what promotions I review but also wanting to stay as current as I can. And it doesn’t get much more current than this, as this show aired on both Samurai TV! and Stardom World on Sunday. This is a really big show for Stardom and is chock full of interesting matches once you get past the opener. Four championships are on the line, plus we get a special singles match between Konami and Yoko Bito! Here is the full card:

As always, you can click on the wrestlers’ names above to go to their profile. I am watching the Stardom World version but using GIFs from the Samurai TV! version, since I like to watch the event unclipped but the Samurai TV! version offers a better visual.

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AZM and HZK vs. Christi Jaynes and Zoe Lucas vs. Hiromi Mimura and Arisu Nanase vs. Kaori Yoneyama and Natsuko Tora
Tag Team Elimination Match

This match is proof that Stardom loves me – they put all the average wrestlers on the tour in one match to get them out of the way. By that I don’t mean everyone here is average, but there are enough average or young wrestlers here that I am not expecting a whole lot. AZM joined Queen’s Quest after Momo’s injury, surprising everyone since she is still an entry-level wrestler. Christi and Zoe are the latest random gaijins, while Kaori is the veteran of the match as she teams with the rookie Natsuko. Arisu is also a rookie, she is randomly teamed with second year wrestler Hiromi. I guess this is anyone’s game, as teams can be eliminated by pinfall/submission or by being thrown over the top rope.

All eight brawl to start, Yoneyama stays in with AZM and AZM dropkicks Yoneyama in the chest. Hiromi and Zoe are up next, they trade wristlocks until Zoe rams Hiromi back into the corner. Yoneyama tags herself in but Zoe knees her in the head, Christi comes in too but Yoneyama avoids their kicks and puts them both in a submission hold. Arisu and Hiromi charge the ring and dropkick Natsuko and Yoneyama, but then AZM and HZK stumble in and attack Hiromi and Arisu. They both connect with running boots in the corner, HZK stays in with Hiromi and goes off the ropes, but Christi kicks her from the apron. Christi tags herself in (this makes no sense in an elimination match), Hiromi and Christi trade elbows, Hiromi goes for a crossbody but Christi catches her and hits a backbreaker. Christi goes for a kick but Hiromi ducks it and hits a low crossbody for a two count. DDT by Hiromi, Arisu runs in and clears all their opponents off the apron before going back so Hiromi could tag her in. Zoe is tagged in too and she goes to suplex Arisu, but Arisu reverses it into an inside cradle for two. Cross leglock by Arisu, Hiromi and Christi come in which leads to Christi being put in a leglock as well. Zoe gets out of the hold, Arisu picks her up and hits a double wrist armsault for two. Back up, kicks by Zoe and she covers Arisu for the three count! Arisu Nanase and Hiromi Mimura are eliminated.

stardom2-23-1HZK and AZM quickly come in but Zoe hits a crossbody on both of them, Zoe holds HZK for Christi but Christi dropkicks Zoe by accident. AZM dropkicks Christi, HZK then goes up top and delivers a seated senton for the three count! Zoe Lucas and Christi Jaynes are eliminated.

This leaves Queen’s Quest and Yoneyama/Natsuko. AZM and Natsuko become the legal wrestlers, kicks by AZM and she suplexes Natsuko. Another suplex by AZM, she picks up Natsuko but Natsuko hits a side Russian leg sweep. She goes for a senton but AZM rolls out of the way and hits a satellite schoolboy, but Yoneyama breaks it up. Yoneyama and Natsuko are stacked in the corner but they both avoid AZM’s charge and get the upper hand. Yoneyama and Natsuko go up to different corners but both are pushed off and land on the apron. HZK and AZM go off the ropes and dropkick them to the floor, eliminating them from the match! AZM and HZK are the winners.

A necessary result, if AZM and HZK are going to be taken seriously at all they have to win a match like this. The logic was missing here, in an elimination match there is no reason to tag yourself in, just stay on the apron and let the other teams eliminate each other. But that is wrestling for you. Not a bad opener as it was generally fast paced, but the action wasn’t always great and the structure was all over the place. Accomplished its goal but nothing really worth noting.

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Konami vs. Yoko Bito

The Konami Tour continues, as she takes on another one of the stars of Stardom. For those that don’t keep up with this site, Konami is the young protege of Kana (currently Asuka in WWE), she is only 20 years old but is a really quality submission/strike wrestler. Yoko Bito is half of the tag champions in Stardom and is ranked quite a bit higher than the young Freelancer, since Konami is not part of the roster she is still just trying to impress the best she can so that she gets either more bookings in Stardom or elsewhere.

stardom2-23-2Konami kicks Bito to start while trying to stay out of Bito’s range, elbows by Konami and both wrestlers avoid each other’s kicks before Bito rolls up Konami for two. Bito puts Konami on the apron and hits a leg sweep, sending Konami to the floor. Konami gets on the apron and Bito tries to kick her, but Konami catches her leg and elbows it repeatedly. Back in, Konami keeps on Bito’s leg, Bito goes for a high kick but Konami catches her leg and applies an ankle hold. Bito gets to the ropes to force the break, kicks by Konami and she goes off the ropes, but Bito catches her with a boot to the face. Bito goes for a suplex but Konami lands on her feet and applies a sleeper, Bito tosses her off but Konami quickly applies a grounded necklock. Bito gets out of the hold and hits a vertical suplex, kick by Bito and she covers Konami for two. Back up, Bito goes for a high kick but Konami ducks it, release German by Konami and she delivers a Buzzsaw Kick for a two count. Konami goes up top but Bito elbows her and joins Konami, they trade elbows until Bito hits a superplex. Bito picks up Konami and goes for the B Driver but Konami gets out of it and applies an ankle hold. Bito again makes it to the ropes, kick combination by Konami and she covers Bito for two. Konami goes off the ropes but Bito drills her with a head kick, Doll B by Bito and she finishes off Konami with the B Driver for the three count! Yoko Bito is the winner.

Konami has to lose these matches, she is the young Freelancer, but I hope that Stardom sees the same things that a lot of fans see when Konami wrestles – she’s pretty fantastic at it. Honestly Bito was better here than I’ve seen her in awhile, I am not sure if being against another striker made her more comfortable laying in her own kicks but she was more snug than usual. I love that Konami rarely lets her opponents get too much offense in a row, she did the same thing with Io where each time Bito had an advantage suddenly Konami would slap on a sleeper or an ankle hold. She’ll just find any way to get back in control. And Bito showed Konami a lot of respect as even though it was a short match, she finished her off with three finisher-level moves to pick up the win. Really solid match and a good showing by both wrestlers.  Recommended

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(c) Toni Storm vs. Deonna Purrazzo
SWA World Championship

The SWA World Championship was designed to be a title defended around the world and frequently by gaijins, which is why many of Storm’s defenses are against non-regular Stardom wrestlers. Which is fine, I am not sure if Stardom’s Global Takeover is going as they planned and Stardom already has too many titles as it is, but it doesn’t really hurt anything. Toni Storm won the title from Io Shirai back in July, this is her fifth defense of the title which were all against non-native wrestlers. Deonna started wrestling three years ago but has already been in almost every major promotion in the United States, winning the belt here would help build her some prestige in Japan and guarantee her a trip back to Stardom in the future.

stardom2-23-3Storm and Purrazzo lock knuckles to start, Storm gets Purrazzo to the mat but Purrazzo puts her in a headscissors. They return to their feet, after a headbutt Purrazzo jumps out of the ring but Storm quickly follows with a somewhat sloppy tope suicida. Back in, Purrazzo knocks Storm back, snapmare by Purrazzo and she boots Storm in the chest for two. Running kneedrop by Purrazzo and she tries a few quick pins, but Storm reverses one of them and the two trade elbows. Purrazzo goes for a kneelift but Storm avoids it and hits a release German, running hip attack by Storm and she hits a fisherman suplex for two. Storm goes for a piledriver but Purrazzo gets out of it and applies a short armbar, but Storm gets to the ropes. Kneelift by Purrazzo and she chops Storm in the corner, but Storm avoids her charge and hits a Backstabber for a two count. Purrazzo quickly goes back to the arm but Storm rolls out of it, she goes for a suplex but Purrazzo blocks it and goes back to the short armbar. Storm kicks Purrazzo in the head to get out of it, another Backstabber by Storm and she nails the piledriver for the three count! Toni Storm retains the championship.

Both of these women are fine wrestlers, but I am still having an issue with these matches not feeling like title matches. It wasn’t very long and they really didn’t have much of a chance to tell a story. Purrazzo kept going for short armbars but there was no work on the arm previously, I never felt like it was a tactic that would work and she wasn’t making it interesting by going for a variety of moves to weaken the arm. Storm didn’t do a lot to get the win as Purrazzo went from perfectly fine to pinned after a quick series of moves. For just a run of the mill gaijin midcard match it was decent enough, but for a championship match it was disappointing.

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(c) Mayu Iwatani vs. Kagetsu vs. Kris Wolf
High Speed Championship

On paper, this is not the most fair title defense for Mayu. Mayu has held the championship for 500 days, which is obviously a really long time, and this is her 10th defense of the title. On the other side are two members of Oedo Tai, with the leader Kagetsu and her #1 minion Kris Wolf both going for the title. While these matches will become “every woman for herself” since there is only one title to win, I imagine that Mayu will get the brunt of the offense at least during the early portion of the match.

As predicted, Wolf and Kagetsu start off working together against Mayu, she hits a double crossbody on both of them but is tripped from the apron by Hana Kimura. The double teaming continues, Mayu dropkicks Wolf and armdrags Kagetsu, Kagetsu quickly rolls up both of them for two which Wolf doesn’t appreciate. They do a triple wristlock, Mayu is kicked in the stomach by both but Mayu avoids their dropkicks and knocks them both out of the ring. Mayu goes up top but Wolf and Kagetsu run away before she can dive off and Mayu chases them, the chase abruptly ends however when Hana trips Mayu and she crashes hard to the floor. After Mayu is attacked on the apron, including the spot where Wolf carries a band into the crowd and snaps it back into Mayu’s face. Wolf goes to do it again but Mayu knocks the band back at her instead, she finally has Kagetsu alone in the ring but Kagetsu hits a spear. Mayu comes back with a Sling Blade, high kick by Kagetsu but Mayu delivers a superkick. Crucifix slam by Mayu, but Wolf breaks up the cover. Wolf goes to run off the ropes but Mayu grabs her tail, Backstabber by Wolf and she holds Mayu for Kagetsu, but Mayu moves when Kagetsu swandives into the ring.

stardom2-23-4Kagetsu slams on the breaks before hitting Wolf and they double team Mayu in the corner, Mayu fights back with a superkick to Kagetsu before flinging Wolf onto her. Diving footstomp by Mayu to Wolf (who is still on top of Kagetsu), Mayu goes for the dragon suplex on Kagetsu but Wolf rolls her up from behind for a two count. They both take turns covering Iwatani with no luck, they start disagreeing so Wolf schoolboys Kagetsu for two. Kagetsu pushes Wolf and slams her back into the corner before tying Wolf to the ropes by her tail. Kagetsu tries to hit Mayu with some luggage but Mayu kicks it out of her hand and hits a German suplex hold for a two count. Mayu goes up top and hits a diving footstomp, cover by Mayu but Wolf frees herself and tries to break it up. Mayu moves and Wolf accidentally knees Kagetsu instead, suplex by Wolf to Mayu but it gets two. Knee by Wolf and she covers Iwatani, but Kagetsu throws the luggage at her to break it up. Mayu superkicks both Kagetsu and Wolf, but they come back with an assisted slam. Ebisu Drop by Kagetsu to Mayu but Wolf jumps over her and holds down both Mayu and Kagetsu for the three count! Kris Wolf is the new champion!

It is hard for me to be subjective here, since I am a big fan of Kris Wolf and have been closely following her career since she debuted in August of 2014. She is that fun and feisty wrestler that all promotions need, she isn’t a threat to be the Ace but she has an important role and has worked hard at improving. She missed several months due to concussions but came back with even more fire and antics; she has been a pleasure to watch. This match had some cute spots but obviously was limited by the triple threat rules, everything was hit smoothly though as they have a lot of practice together. I would have liked Mayu to have lost the belt after having it for so long in a bigger match with more of a rub to whomever beat her, but this was an easy way to get the belt off of her without her really losing anything as she continues her feud with Io. A fun lighthearted match, maybe not what you’d hope for in a title match but the High Speed Championship isn’t taken too seriously most of the time. A big moment for Kris, and much deserved.  Mildly Recommended

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(c) Kairi Hojo vs. Jungle Kyona
Wonder of Stardom Championship

This match is for the Wonder of Stardom Championship. Kairi won the Wonder of Stardom Championship on May 15th, 2016 from Santana Garrett, and this is her 6th defense of the title. After a rough 2015 and early 2016, Kairi turned it around as she now has the World of Stardom Championship and the Goddesses of Stardom Championship, solidifying herself as the #2 wrestler in the promotion. Kyona is just starting her second year in Stardom, this is the biggest match in her career so far as she goes after her first Stardom singles title.

They immediately get into it as Kyona throws Kairi into the corner, elbows by Kairi and they trade shots. Dropkick by Kairi, sending Kyona out of the ring, Kairi goes out after her but Kyona moves when she charges in which causes Kairi to run into the ring post. Kyona slams Kairi into the apron before hitting a back bodydrop, she rolls Kairi back in and puts her in a backbreaker. Body avalanche by Kyona, and she covers Kairi for a two count. Crab hold by Kyona but Kairi gets into the ropes, she returns to her feet as they trade elbows until Kairi delivers a spear. Kyona falls out of the ring, Kairi goes up top and dives out onto her with a plancha. Kairi slides Kyona back in, Kairi goes up top and she hits a diving elbow strike for two. Ankle hold by Kairi but Kyona gets in the ropes, Kairi stomps on Kyona and starts working on her lower back. Kyona fights back with elbows but Kairi slaps her in the chest, flipping neckbreaker by Kairi and she covers Kyona for two. Final Cut by Kairi, she goes up top but Kyona recovers and joins her, they go back and forth until Kyona powerslams Kairi down to the mat for a two count. Kyona and Kairi trade elbows as they slowly get up, clubbing blows by Kyona but Kairi hits a spear.

stardom2-23-5Kyona holds on from the spear and slams Kairi to the mat, back up Kyona puts Kairi in a sleeper and spins her around before taking Kairi to the mat. Powerslam by Kyona, she goes up top and delivers a diving body press for a two count cover. Kyona deadlifts Kairi up but Kairi slides away and rolls up Kyouna for two. Kairi picks up Kyona but Kyona blocks the Alabama Slam and hits a powerbomb for a two count. Kyona deadlifts Kairi again, spins her around and nails a sit-down powerbomb but Kairi barely gets a shoulder up. Kyona picks up Kairi and hits a lariat, but Kairi rolls through the cover. Kyouna goes off the ropes but Kairi smacks her with a backhand, more spinning backhands by Kairi and she covers Kyona for a two count. Sliding D by Kairi, she picks up Kyona and delivers End Voyage but Kyona kicks out at two. Kairi gets Kyona near the corner and hits an Alabama Slam, Kyona grabs her as she tries to go up top but Kairi comes back and hits an elbow drop onto her ribs. Kairi goes up again but Kyona slowly joins her, Kairi knocks her down in a Tree of Woe and delivers the Marine Spike. Kairi goes back up top one last time, she nails the Diving Elbow Drop and she picks up the three count! Kairi Hojo retains the championship.

One of the best matches I have seen in Joshi so far this year. Anyone that is unsure of Kyona’s future in Stardom needs to watch this match, she is one of the best wrestlers to debut in the last two years in Japan. She’s stealthy strong but so crisp, she very rarely makes mistakes or looks out of place, everything is so smooth. I loved her trying so hard at the end to stop Kairi from climbing the top turnbuckle, she knew if Kairi hit the diving elbow drop she was done and was using every ounce of strength she had to prevent Kairi from hitting it. The swinging sleeper by Kyona was great and they did a good job mixing high spots, suplexes, strikes, and submissions so that the match stayed interesting throughout. A really entertaining match and a must-see, even if you aren’t familar with Kyona you won’t forget her after watching this one.  Highly Recommended

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(c) Io Shirai vs. Shayna Baszler
World of Stardom Championship

Can’t have a main event at Korakuen without Big Match Io. Io Shirai has held the World of Stardom Championship since December of 2015, this is her 11th defense of the belt. So she is a fighting champion, which is impressive since most of the time she has held other titles as well. This is Shayna Baszler’s first tour in Stardom but she has earned this title shot because 1. she is a legitimate MMA fighter/badass, and 2. this is what Io Shirai does – she accepts challenges from the tour’s baddest gaijin. Even though Io is in Queen’s Quest, she is still Stardom’s Ace and the main defender against the Gaijin Invasion, so she is always the crowd favorite in her title matches. This would be a huge upset for Shayna, however she has gotten one over on Io already on this tour so anything is possible.

Io won’t shake Shayna’s hand off the start and elbows her instead, Shayna quickly applies a sleeper but Io rolls away and they return to their feet. Io goes for a leapfrog but Shayna catches her and slams Io to the mat. Shayna picks up Io but Io wiggles away, Io goes off the ropes but Shayna knees her in the face. Shayna starts on Io’s arm, Io gets away after a moment and rolls out to the apron to re-group. She returns and puts Shayna in a stretch hold, but Shayna muscles out of it and slams Io again. Shayna quickly goes back to the arm, Io gets to the ropes but Shayna picks her up and slaps on the Sleeper. Io backs Shayna into the corner but Shayna applies the sleeper from the top turnbuckle until the referee forces her to break. Io quickly gets up and hits a springboard dropkick while Shayna is on the top turnbuckle, Frankensteiner by Io and Shayna quickly rolls out of the ring. Io goes up top and she dives way out over the corner onto Shayna on the floor, she sets up a chair on the floor and puts Shayna’s head in it. Io then dropkicks the chair, she then grabs the chair and throws it at Shayna. Io throws Shayna into the crowd before returning to the ring, with Shayna slowly following behind. Stomps by Io, she picks up Shayna and puts her in the armtrap crossface. Shayna gets to the ropes, Tiger Feint Kick by Io and she hits a swandive dropkick to the back of Shayna’s head.

stardom2-23-6Running double knee strike by Io in the corner and she covers Shayna for two. Io goes up top but Shayna smacks her before she can jump off, Shayna joins her and hits a gutwrench suplex down to the mat. Shayna rolls through it and hits a second one, cover by Shayna but Io gets a shoulder up. Shayna and Io trade elbows, kicks by Shayna and Io falls to the mat. Shayna goes for a running knee but Io move and delivers a German suplex hold. Shayna quickly puts her in a kimura but Io is too close to the ropes and forces the break. Shayna picks up Io and nails a high kick and spins Io into a sleeper hold, cover by Shayna but it gets a two count. Shayna picks up Io and hits a strike combination, Io runs over and headbutts Shayna before stomping her in the back. Moonsault to the back by Io, and she covers Shayna but as she kicks out, Shayna puts her in an armbar. Io gets out of it and puts Shayna in a Texas Cloverleaf, she release the hold after a moment and hits a package German hold for a two count. Io picks up Shayna and hits a tombstone piledriver, moonsault by Io and she picks up the three count! Io Shirai retains the World of Stardom Championship!

The best thing about this match is it just felt different than most of Io’s recent gaijin defenses. Shayna’s offense is unique (especially compared to other Stardom wrestlers), and in the biggest wrestling match in her career she really stepped up as this is the longest and most complete match I’ve ever seen her in. Her selling was also really good, as Io targeted the back and Shayna was holding it throughout the match, and it did indirectly lead to Io winning. Io’s dive outside the ring was impressive and the ending stretch was really well done. They had a tough match to follow but I think they really delivered, a quality main event and a fitting ending to a great show.  Recommended