Last fall, Stardom had two events that took place in the United States. I had intentions of going, and had tickets, but due to a work-related issue I was unable to make the trip. Luckily for all of us, the event was filmed and Stardom is selling both shows in one package. To make it easier to review, I will be reviewing each show individually, I’ll have the Second Day review tomorrow. If you are not an insane person like I am that imports expensive DVDs from Japan, you can also purchases the matches individually from ClickWrestle. You can find the matches here: https://www.clickwrestle.com/v/stardom
. Matches are $2.49 apiece so you can pick and choose the matches you want to watch.
The first event took place on October 16th, 2015 in Covina, CA. Here is the full card:
- Act Yasukawa, Kris Wolf, and Kyoko Kimura vs. Brittany Wonder, Datura, and Shayna Baszler
- Mayu Iwatani vs. Nicole Savoy
- Hiroyo Matsumoto and Kellie Skater vs. Kahmora and Kairi Hojo
- Hudson Envy and Thunder Rosa vs. Melina Perez and Santana Garrett
- Wonder of Stardom Championship: Io Shirai vs Mia Yim
All the matches are shown in full, but none are terribly long, as the in-ring time for the event was a little over an hour. Let’s get to the first match.
Act Yasukawa, Kris Wolf, and Kyoko Kimura vs. Brittany Wonder, Datura, and Shayna Baszler
The most interesting, and somewhat random, thing about this match is the inclusion of Shayna Baszler. Baszler is a MMA fighter, known both for her friendship with Rhonda Rousey and as a former fighter in the UFC. In the fall she had a handful of wrestling matches and this is one of them. The Stardom team consists of three of the top members of Oedo Tai, lead by Act Yasukawa.
Wolf and Datura kick things off but after trading holds they tag in Wonder and Yasukawa. Yasukawa spits Sake in Wonder’s face and dropkicks her, Wonder gets Yasukawa in the corner but she avoids the charge and tags in Kimura. Baszler is also tagged in, Baszler gets Kimura’s leg but Kimura rolls out of it. Datura is tagged back in and is quickly triple teamed by Oedo Tai, she temporarily gets away but Kimura whips Datura down by her hair. Datura finally armdrags her way out of the situation and tags in Baszler, Baszler stacks up Oedo Tai in the corner and hits a body avalanche. Kimura pokes Baszler in the eyes to calm her down, twice, Wolf rolls up Baszler but it gets a two count. Baszler for reasons unknown tags in Datura, and Wolf quickly gets in control, hitting a high knee in the corner. Wolf tags Yasukawa, rollings reverse STOs by Yasukawa and she covers Datura for two. Kicks by Datura and she dropkicks Yasukawa, getting a two count cover. Datura goes for a moonsault but misses, giving Yasukawa time to tag in Kimura. Wonder is also tagged in, and they trade hip attacks and elbows. Wonder wins the battle, Baszler comes in and she slams Kimura to the mat. Banzai Drop by Wonder, but Wolf saves Yasukawa from being pinned. Kimura gets a metal pole and cleans house, Yasukawa spits Sake at Wonder and Kimura puts her in a sleeper. Wonder struggles for a moment but has to submit! Oedo Tai win the match.
My lasting impression from this match was Baszler. This was only her second match and she really seems like a natural, wrestlers strong enough to deadlift and toss other wrestlers around are ok in my book. I didn’t mind Oedo Tai cheating to win, that is what they do, and all the wrestlers got a chance to do a little something in the match. It didn’t get a ton of time but it got enough to get their point across, and overall I thought it was a solid opener. Keep an eye out for Baszler, if she keeps into it she could be something special down the road. Mildly Recommended
Mayu Iwatani vs. Nicole Savoy
This is definitely an unusual match on paper. Savoy had no prior interactions with Stardom wrestlers and is probably best known for her run in SHIMMER. Savoy has been wrestling for four years but had yet to win any titles, while Iwatani held two titles at the time of the match. A bit of a mismatch, but like the last match I’ll go in with an open mind as discovering new wrestlers is never a bad thing.
Savoy and Iwatani roll around on the mat to begin but they quickly return to their feet and start trading elbows. Savoy gets Iwatani’s arm but Iwatani crawls to the ropes, Iwatani springboards off the ropes and armdrags Savoy into the ropes. Running dropkick by Iwatani and she hits a Northern Lights Suplex for a two count. Another bridging suplex by Iwatani gets two and she hits a third with the same result. Savoy takes back over and hits a suplex, she applies a cross armbreaker but Iwatani gets out of it and kicks Savoy in the back. Diving footstomp by Iwatani but Savoy fires back with a kick to the chest and they trade shots. Savoy gets the armbreaker put back on but Iwatani gets to the ropes. Jumping knee by Savoy but Iwatani rebounds out of the corner with a dropkick. Kick by Iwatani, she goes up top and hits another diving footstomp for a two count. Savoy goes for a tiger suplex but Iwatani switches positions with her and hits the dragon suplex hold for the three count! Iwatani is your winner.
This was too condensed of a match to impress. Savoy going for armbreakers is fine but there was no buildup to them or other arm work, it was just random armbreakers. Same with Iwatani, she didn’t really have time to build up to the ending, they were trading moves and suddenly Iwatani won. There was nothing bad here, both wrestlers were smooth and they had solid chemistry, it was just too short to get anything going.
Hiroyo Matsumoto and Kellie Skater vs. Kahmora and Kairi Hojo
Three of these wrestlers are Stardom regulars, while Kahmora is a virtual unknown (well at least to me). Kahmora debuted in July of 2013 and currently wrestles in AWS and Premier Wrestling. Skater had not been in Stardom in 2015 up to this point but is an old regular, and Matsumoto is one of the top Freelancers in Japan. Hojo of course is the pirate princess and one of the top female wrestlers in the world.
Matsumoto and Hojo are the first legal wrestlers and go right at it with elbows, Matsumoto wins the exchange and drops a knee onto Hojo’s chest. Skater comes in but Hojo armdrags both of them and gets help from Kahmora to knock Matsumoto over. Skater is tagged in and she suplexes Hojo for a two count. Kicks by Skater and she knees Hojo hard in the chest before tagging Matsumoto back in. Hojo is double teamed as the referee hopelessly tries to keep control, and Matsumoto hits a backbreaker. Hojo plays Face in Peril, at least Hojo is putting the work in since she is no doubt one of the main wrestlers the American crowd came to see. Course she is getting her ass kicked but thus is life. Hojo finally hits a nifty headscissors and makes the hot tag to Kahmora, and Kahmora quickly takes control of Skater before Hojo runs back in and Kahmora slams Hojo onto Skater.
Hojo stays in and elbows Skater, neckbreaker by Hojo and she gets a two count. Hojo applies a cross-arm submission but it is broken up, and Skater plants Hojo with a DDT. Hojo goes off the ropes but Skater kicks her and drops Hojo in the corner. Lariat by Skater, but it gets two. Skater tags Matsumoto but Hojo kicks her, Kahmora comes in but Matsumoto puts them both in the corner and hits a body avalanche. Backdrop suplex by Matsumoto to Hojo but Hojo ducks the backfist and hits a spear. Hojo goes up top and hits a diving forearm smash before tagging in Kahmora. Kahmora hits a seated senton in the corner and applies a jackknife pin for a two count. Dropkick by Kahmora and she powerslams Matsumoto, but Skater breaks up the cover. Kahmora and Hojo try to double team Matsumoto but they eat a double backdrop suplex for their trouble, Matsumoto and Kahmora trade elbows, with Matsumoto winning the exchange. Big backdrop suplex by Matsumoto to Kahmora, and she picks up the three count! Matsumoto and Skater win the match.
They structured this match really smartly, as Skater and Hojo did the bulk of the work. That isn’t a knock on Matsumoto, but Skater and Hojo were able to get a bit of a flow going so the match wasn’t just constant tag-ins and tag-outs. Skater looked great here but everyone held their own, Kahmora was the least smooth of the four being with wrestlers she probably wasn’t very familiar with, but there were no awkward moments or anything like that. The match got enough time to tell the story, and while the offense was a bit random it stayed entertaining throughout. Another solid match but not overly memorable, although it was a pleasure getting to see Skater again. Mildly Recommended
Hudson Envy and Thunder Rosa vs. Melina Perez and Santana Garrett
The return of Melina! I love Melina, always have, she was one of my favorite Divas back in the day. This is her first match in three years so it is pretty special, she will likely show some ring rust but a tag match is probably a good way to ease back into it. She teams with Santana Garrett, who was the NWA World Women’s Champion at the time of the match, against two wrestlers from Oedo Tai. Envy is one of my favorite current wrestlers, so I am particularly interested to see the Envy/Melina exchanges.
Before the match Melina does her patented ring entrance under the ropes. She’s still got it. Envy and Melina start off (yay!) but Envy pokes her in the face and tags in Rosa. Envy knows what I want and won’t give it to me. Garrett is tagged in too and they trade wristlocks, dropkick by Rosa but Garrett hits an armdrag out of the corner. Envy and Melina are tagged back in and Melina goes after Envy with elbows. Envy and Melina both try to knock each other over, an exchange Envy wins, but Melina tosses Envy down by her head and hits mounted punches. Rosa and Garrett are tagged in, Rosa snaps Garrett’s neck and hits shoulder tackles in the corner. A leg drop in the corner by Rosa keeps Garrett on the mat, but Garrett sneaks in a schoolboy for two. Garrett tags in Melina, splits by Melina and Garrett hits a lariat. Rosa dropkicks Melina hard to the mat and they start working over Melina, taking advantage of the newly returning wrestler.
Melina finally hits a seated senton on Melina to change the momentum, but Envy kicks Melina hard in the chest. Bridging suplex hold by Envy, but Melina ducks her lariat attempt and kicks Envy out of the ring with a splits kick. Garrett comes in but she gets double teamed, Envy returns to the ring and she hits a Samoan Drop on Melina followed by a rolling kick. Both wrestlers slowly crawl to their corners and tag out, lariats by Garrett to Rosa and she kicks Rosa in the chest. Space Rolling Elbow by Garrett but Rosa hits a full nelson twisting slam. Rosa stretches Garrett and slams her to the mat, Rosa gets on the second turnbuckle but Garrett recovers and headscissors Rosa back down to the mat. Garrett applies a submission but Envy breaks it up, Melina comes in too and she hits Envy with the splits legdrop. They roll out of the ring, Garrett kicks Rosa to the mat and she nails the Shining Star Press for the three count! Melina Perez and Santana Garrett are your victors!
Just to get it out of the way, the mere fact that Melina was in the match elevated it, I haven’t seen her in a long time and it felt like a big deal that she was involved. And she didn’t just stay on the apron, as she hit most of her big moves and was the Face in Peril at one point. It wasn’t 100% smooth, there were a few timing issues which you’d expect after a long layoff, but overall I was impressed by her performance. Everyone was on their game actually and the match stayed engaging from start to finish. Definitely an enjoyable experience for me personally, but even without the Melina factor it was an entertaining match. Recommended
(c) Io Shirai vs Mia Yim
This match is for the Wonder of Stardom Championship. TNA fans are no doubt aware of Mia Yim (where she wrestles as Jade), but I don’t watch TNA so I had to do some investigating. Before joining TNA in 2015, Yim wrestled in Shine and SHIMMER (as well as a host of other promotions around the country), and has held multiple titles in her career. Io Shirai is of course one of the best wrestlers in the world and the one of my favorite wrestlers to watch, so I am excited that she is in a singles match and not lost in a multi-wrestler match. This is not only the main event of the first Stardom event in the United States but also a title match, so I expect both of them to step up to put on a great show.
Yim and Shirai go straight into a Test of Strength, Shirai pushes Yim into the ropes and gives a clean break. Shirai tries to shoulderblock Yim over with no luck, Shirai rolls up Yim but she quickly kicks out. Shirai armdrags Yim out of the ring, Shirai goes to do a dive but Yim hits her before she can dive through. Yim rolls Shirai out of the ring and kicks her into chairs at ringside, she gets on the apron and kicks Shirai as she stands up on the floor. Back in the ring, Yim applies a camel clutch before hitting a vertical suplex. Big boot by Yim and she applies a crab hold, Shirai reverses it into an ankle hold but Yim quickly grabs the ropes. Kicks to the chest by Yim but Shirai catches her leg and hits a dragon screw. Space Rolling Elbow by Shirai and she dropkicks Yim in the head for a two count. Shirai goes up top but Yim kicks her in the leg before she can jump and plants her with a powerbomb for two. PK by Yim and she puts Shirai in a stretch hold, she releases her after a moment and hits a few knees. Shirai cartwheels away from Yim and dropkicks her out of the ring, Shirai goes out to the apron and hits an Asai Moonsault down to the floor. Back in, swandive missile dropkick by Shirai followed by the Tiger Feint Kick. Palm strike by Shirai but Yim comes back with a high kick. German suplex hold by Yim, but Shirai kicks out. Yim goes up top but Shirai joins her and hits the Frankensteiner. German suplex hold by Shirai, but it only gets two. Double underhook facebuster by Shirai, she goes up top and she nails the moonsault for a three count! Shirai is still your champion!
This didn’t quite reach the level I was hoping for, maybe I was just still on a high from the last match. The match wasn’t as long as I would have expected, so in some ways it was a more condensed version of a normal Shirai title match. They did take it up a step, with high flying moves and dives that I think other matches were intentionally not doing to make this one feel more special. It was smooth and well-executed, and it was fun to see Shirai against a different opponent that presented different challenges. A fitting way to end the show, it just didn’t reach that higher level I have learned to expect from Stardom main events. Recommended
Overall I thought this was a solid show. I was apprehensive when the show was announced that there were no straight Stardom vs. Stardom matches, but rather every match had Stardom USA wrestlers, some of which I had never seen before. That fear was mostly unfounded, I still would have liked to have seen at least one all-Stardom match but the Americans held their own and some were impressive. Shayna Baszler and Melina both made the event feel special and set it apart from the average Stardom show, and the main event was a solid way to end the event. My main issue is the length, as it was barely over an hour of in-ring action which is a bit of a surprise considering how far they came for the tour. Still, definitely a positive overall, hopefully Day 2 delivers as well.