Stardom X Stardom on 7/24/16 Review

Event: Stardom X Stardom 
Date: July 24th, 2016
Location: EDION Arena #2 in Osaka, Japan
Announced Attendance: 650

After a bit of a break, we are back with Stardom. Not a whole lot has changed since last time we checked in, no title changes or anything like that as all that we missed were house shows. This is a pretty big event for Stardom as the gaijin have three title challenges on the card against the Three Daughters of Stardom. Yoko Bito has a singles match as well as she continues to work off any ring rust to hopefully go for a title herself by the fall. Here is the full card:

Per usual, you can click on the names above if I have a profile for them on Joshi City.

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Alex Lee, Azumi, and Momo vs. Arisu Nanase, Mimura, and Natsumi Maki

In traditional Stardom fashion, we begin with a multi-wrestler opener with lots of rookies. Momo Watanabe is the only one out of place here as generally she has graduated past this spot, but with so many singles matches on the card she got bumped down (which also shows that Kyouna has officially passed her on the pecking order since she is in the next match).  Lee of course is there just to make sure the rookies don’t go too crazy.

Momo and Natsumi start the match off, armdrag by Natsumi but Momo dropkicks her into the corner. Natsumi comes back with a jumping crossbody and both wrestlers tag out as Azumi and Arisu. They tussle for a moment before Lee and Hiromi come in, and young Hiromi is triple teamed. She fights back against Azumi, Natsumi then runs in and hits a cartwheel bomb on Azumi before Hiromi applies La Magistral. Lee breaks it up and hits a backbreaker, Natsumi goes for a crossbody on Lee but Lee catches her. General carnage ensues as it tends to in opening matches with way too many wrestlers but things settle back down with Azumi and Hiromi still as the legal wrestlers. Azumi goes off the ropes but Hiromi catches her with a small package, and she picks up the three count! Arisu, Hiromi, and Natsumi win!

If you have seen one Stardom opener you’ve seen them all, but I thought that they did a good job here of picking up the pace and making it more interesting than it sometimes can be. Hiromi, Natsumi, and Arisu are a great “young” team with a lot of fire, so its hard to be bored with any match with them, and it was slightly clipped (I think, I didn’t time it) so any slower moments may have been taken out. Not a ton of substance but some cute moves and some valuable experience for the rookies.

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Chelsea, Matsumoto, and Jungle Kyouna vs. Kagetsu, Kris Wolf, and Vaughan

They are showing full entrances which is confusing me since they normally don’t. Anyway, here we get Oedo Tai vs. Three Random Stardom Wrestlers so you know who is winning this one. I love this version of Oedo Tai, I could watch this trio all day as I think they work really well together and are all entertaining in their own special way. The Stardom side is a bit random as none are regular partners, although its not the first time that Matsumoto and Kyouna have teamed. Just card filler but still with a chance to be entertaining filler.

stardom7.24-2Oedo Tai attacks before the bell rings as one would expect, but Team Matsumoto quickly takes over as she picks up Wolf and chucks her out of the ring onto her teammates. We clip ahead to Kagetsu in the ring with Chelsea and she is triple teamed, elbows by Kagetsu in the corner but Chelsea kicks her back and delivers a heel kick. Heel Drop by Chelsea and she makes the hot tag to Matsumoto, Matsumoto gets Kagetsu up in a backbreaker but Leah and Wolf come in to break it up. Matsumoto stacks them in the corner and hits a running body avalanche, she goes up top and she hits a missile dropkick for a two count cover. Big elbow by Kagetsu but Matsumoto elbows her back and they trade shots until Matsumoto sends Kagetsu to the mat. Kagetsu comes back with a dropkick however and she makes the tag to Leah, Leah goes off the ropes but Matsumoto catches her with a back elbow.

She tags in Kyouna, she goes for a powerbomb but Leah slides away and hits a knee followed by lariat. Leah tags in Wolf, Wolf goes up top and hits a diving double kneedrop on Kyouna for a two count cover. Wolf picks up Kyouna but Kyouna hits a back bodydrop, lariat by Kyouna and she goes up to the top turnbuckle, but Kagetsu comes in with a Yield Sign and hits Kyouna with it. Big spear by Leah to Kyouna and Wolf follows with a Shining Wizard, but Chelsea breaks up the cover. Full Nelson Slam by Chelsea to Leah but Kagetsu dropkicks her out of the ring, Matsumoto comes in and she hits backdrop suplexes on both Kagetsu and Wolf. Kyouna and Matsumoto wait for Wolf to get up and hit double body blocks, Kyouna goes up top and nails the diving body press for the three count! Your winners are Chelsea, Matsumoto, and Kyouna!

I really really like this combination of Oedo Tai, not to dis any past versions but I think Kagetsu, Wolf, and Leah are all entertaining as hell to watch. This was a bit clipped too but nothing overly excessive, Chelsea is still silly sometimes with her offense but everyone else in the match was really on point. Fast paced and entertaining, about all you can ask for from an undercard match, worth a casual watch for sure.  Mildly Recommended

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Saori Anou vs. Yoko Bito

On paper this one is a bit unusual but there is some logic here. Anou has become the highest ranking Actress girl’Z wrestler on the roster, she tends to get the midcard roles when they appear and is in the opener less than Natsumi and Eimi. But she is mostly here to be a breathing practice bag for Bito, as Bito is still getting back into the swing of things after taking four years off from wrestling.

They politely shake hands before the match, so our first match of the night that doesn’t start with an ambush, but the pleasantries quickly stop as the duo trade strikes. Dropkick by Bito and she kicks Saori in the chest, but Saori sneaks in a backslide for a two count. Leg sweep by Bito and she kicks Saori in the back, more kicks by Bito and she dropkicks Saori to the mat. Saori avoids the next dropkick attempt and puts Bito into the Figure Four, but Bito gets a hand on the ropes to break it up. Elbows by Saori while Bito is against the ropes but Bito fights back, she puts Saori in a headlock before applying a single leg crab hold, but Saori makes it to the ropes. Bito gets on the second turnbuckle but Saori hits her and brings her back down with rolling fisherman suplexes. Bito blocks the last suplex attempt and reverses it with a vertical suplex, Bito gets up on the top turnbuckle and she hits the missile dropkick for a two count. Bito picks up Saori and hits a high kick, B-Driller by Bito and she picks up the three count! Yoko Bito is the winner.

This is probably a good way to ease Bito back in, she needs these midcard matches to shake some ring rust but she certainly doesn’t need to be losing either to establish herself as a solid upper midcarder. Bito looked a little stiff at times but she always has, even back in 2011 she was never as natural as the Three Daughters are now, she is more reliant on crisp kicks than sheer athleticism. I wouldn’t say it was a great match but it was solid, Bito continues to get her legs back under her and Saori put up a good fight against her senior.

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(c) Kairi Hojo vs. Viper

This match is for the Wonder of Stardom Championship. Viper challenged Hojo for the White Belt back in June, Viper last went for a title in Stardom when she lost to Io Shirai back in February. Hojo won the belt from Santana in May and this is her first title defense. There is a big style difference between these two, with Hojo relying on dives and elbows while Viper crushes people so it will be an interesting contrast, Viper has been hard to pin in Stardom so Hojo has her work cut out for her.

Unlike the last match, these two don’t start as nicely as they don’t particularly like each other, Hojo goes for a spear but Viper easily catches her and tosses her away. Hojo tries to elbow Viper with no luck, Viper throws Hojo into the corner but Hojo avoids her charges and gets Viper into the corner herself. Punches and chops by Hojo and she throws her to the opposite corner, Viper tosses Hojo out onto the apron but Hojo lands on her feet. Hojo goes for a sunset flip but Viper sits on her for her trouble, stomps by Viper and she starts working on Hojo’s elbow. Which is logical. Viper lariats Hojo and tosses her over the top rope, where Oedo Tai stomps on her while the referee watches on confused. Viper gets on the apron and dives out onto Hojo, crushing several other people in the process. Viper brings Hojo back into the ring, Hojo tries to fight back with elbows but Viper just shrugs them off. Viper slams Hojo to the mat before going up to the second turnbuckle and calling for the elbow drop, but Hojo rolls out of the way. Chops by Hojo and she palm thrusts Viper into the corner, Hojo goes off the ropes and hits a tilt-a-whirl schoolboy for a two count. Hojo applies something resembling a Stretch Muffler before changing it into the cross leg crab hold, but Viper muscles out of it.

Sliding D by Hojo, but Viper gets a shoulder up. Hojo goes up top but Viper recovers and hits a chokebomb, picking up a two count. Viper positions Hojo near the corner and hits the Reverse Splash, but Hojo gets a hand on the ropes. Viper sits down on Hojo’s arm and applies an armbreaker, but Hojo quickly wiggles to the ropes to force the break. Viper puts Hojo on the top turnbuckle and joins her, but Hojo punches her down into the Tree of Woe and hits the diving footstomp. Diving Elbow Drop by Hojo, but she is too hurt to make a quick cover and by the time she does so, Viper is able to kick out. Hojo goes up top again but this time Viper recovers and joins her, hitting a superplex. Viper goes up top herself  but Hojo chops her and elbows Viper off the top turnbuckle and down to the floor. Hojo then gets on the top turnbuckle and dives out onto the standing Viper with a diving elbow drop. The referee starts a ten count for the first time in Stardom history, Hojo barely makes it back into the ring but Viper does not and the referee calls for the bell. Kairi Hojo wins the match by Countout and retains her title.

I have some mixed feelings about that one. I thought the structure/story was solid, with Viper working over the arm and thinking outside the box a bit by also trying to win by submission. Kairi sold the arm well when it was being worked on but otherwise was still throwing elbows, which is a little annoying but not a big deal. My main issue with the match was the ending, Stardom wrestlers battle in the crowd and up to the balcony on a regular basis and no one ever gets counted out, so it seemed like an obvious cop-out that the referee would immediately start the count after a dive. I’d rather they brawled around for way too long and both got counted out, or have Hojo win normally with something other than an elbow move to expand her capabilities. So I liked a good bit of it and thought they both worked their style well, I just wish the ending was more satisfying and logical.  Mildly Recommended

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(c) Mayu Iwatani vs. Shanna

This match is for the High Speed Championship. Like Viper, this is Shanna’s second attempt to win singles gold in Stardom, as she lost to Io Shirai for the SWA World Women’s Championship back in June. Since then she has mostly been wrestling in tag teams with Chelsea and Toni Storm and hasn’t appeared to be much of a threat, however the High Speed Championship is the belt most likely to be randomly lost since it is the #3 ranked singles title in Stardom so anything can happen. The center point of this feud is that Shanna has started to use the dragon suplex to taunt Mayu, which will no doubt come into play here.

stardom7.24-5The start with a bang, as while Iwatani is spinning around in her streamers, Shanna runs up and plants her with a dragon suplex! Iwatani rolls out of the ring as her friends try to unwrap her (the match hadn’t officially started yet), Shanna goes out after Iwatani and stomps her down on the floor. I guess the match started at some point as the referee is counting while Shanna beats Iwatani around the ring. They finally get into the ring and Shanna hits a leg drop followed by an elbow drop for a two count cover. Iwatani comes back with an enzuigiri and a superkick, Iwatani applies a stretch hold on the mat before putting Shanna in a sleeper. Iwatani knees Shanna and goes off the ropes, but Shanna catches her with an elbow. They both run off the ropes with Shanna hitting a roaring lariat, cover by Shanna but it gets two. Shanna goes for a double underhook facebuster but Iwatani gets out of it and knocks down Shanna with a pair of kicks. Dropkick by Iwatani and she hits the Northern Lights Suplex for a two count. Iwatani goes to the second turnbuckle and hits a diving footstomp, she then goes all the way up and hits another one for a two count cover. Iwatani goes for the dragon suplex but Shanna shoves her off, quick roll-up by Shanna but it gets a two count as does the hurricanrana. Shanna goes for the dragon suplex but Iwatani blocks it, Shiranui by Shanna but it only gets two. Iwatani elbows out of the dragon suplex attempt but Shanna gets it re-applied and drops her with it anyway. Iwatani comes back with a Stunner, high kick by Iwatani and she nails the dragon suplex hold for the three count! Iwatani wins the match and retains the High Speed Championship.

I guess this show is going to just be chock full of decent but flawed matches. The main flaw here is simply that Shanna hasn’t shown much during her stay in Stardom… I haven’t seen her outside of Stardom so I don’t know if it is just a chemistry issue but her matches just aren’t very smooth and some moves don’t work right. I did love the hot start but both wrestlers being so focused on hitting a dragon suplex instead of just winning however they could got a bit old and the ending was very sudden. Not bad but a step down from the previous match and overall one of the worst Iwatani singles matches of 2016.

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(c) Io Shirai vs. Toni Storm

This match is for the SWA Women’s Championship. Shirai also holds the World of Stardom Championship, however that title is not up for grabs here. The SWA Women’s Championship was created by Stardom just a few months ago and is designed to encourage interaction between Stardom wrestlers and gaijin talent. So the title will likely be defended not only in Stardom but in Europe as well. Toni Storm is only 20 years old but debuted back in 2009, she wrestles in promotions across Europe including wXw in Germany and RCW in Spain. This is her first tour in Stardom, however they have wrestled before as it was Storm that Shirai defeated to win the title back in May.

Shirai won’t shake Storm’s hand before the match since she is in Cocky Io mode, they begin things working holds and get into a knuckle lock battle which neither really wins. Irish whip by Storm, she charges Shirai but Shirai flips her onto the apron before knocking her out of the ring. Shirai jumps out to the apron but Storm pulls her out of the ring and they trade elbows on the floor. Shirai throws Storm into the ring post (referee isn’t counting, imagine that?), Shirai gets onto the top turnbuckle but Storm hits her before she can dive off and knocks her back down to the floor. They finally get back into the ring as Storm twists Shirai’s leg in the ropes, she keeps working on Shirai’s leg and goes for a big boot, but Shirai avoids it and dropkicks Storm in the ropes. Storm pushes her off but Shirai hits the cartwheel into a dropkick, sending Storm out of the ring. Shirai jumps up to the top turnbuckle and sails out onto Storm with a moonsault, she slides Shanna back in and hits a swandive missile dropkick. Tiger Feint Kick by Shirai and she hits the swandive sunset flip for a two count cover. Armtrap Crossface by Shirai, but Storm wiggles to the ropes and forces the break. Shirai goes for the running double knees in the corner but Storm avoids it, Backstabber by Storm and she puts Shirai in the Kondo Clutch.

stardom7.24-6Shirai eventually makes it into the ropes, Shirai jumps up onto the turnbuckle but Storm grabs her and hits a bridging muscle buster for a two count. Storm gets on the second turnbuckle but Shirai elbows her and and hits a Frankensteiner. Running double knee by Shirai in the corner and she dropkicks Storm in the head for a two count. Storm and Shirai trade elbows as they return to their feet, they then trade boots and palm thrusts until Storm hits a release German suplex. Shirai is back up and hits a German suplex hold of her own, but it gets a two count. Shirai picks up Storm but Storm blocks the double underhook facebuster and knees her in the face. Storm then hits a double underhook facebuster of her own, picking up a two count. Storm gets on the top turnbuckle but Shirai avoids the diving leg drop and kicks Storm in the face repeatedly. Shirai goes up top but Storm avoids the moonsault, kick to the face by Storm and she hits the Air Raid Crash for a two count. Back up they struggle for position, Shirai gets Storm with the Package German but it only gets two. Shirai picks up Storm but Storm hits an uppercut, dropkick to the knee by Storm and she plants her with a piledriver. Storm goes up to the top turnbuckle and she nails the Diving Leg Drop, picking up the three count cover! Toni Storm is the new SWA Women’s Champion!

The best match on the card, although I wouldn’t put it on the level of other Shirai big matches this year. They had better chemistry than most the other pairings today, as they had a lot of smooth transitions throughout the match. This is my first time seeing Storm and I was pretty impressed, for someone so young she has a lot going for her. The one issue with Big Match Io is that it is almost not believable when she gets pinned, the diving leg drop was fine but it didn’t look uber-killer and I think it caught everyone off guard when it actually worked. Still, a fun match with the dives and fast exchanges you’d expect from Io, really good showing by both wrestlers.  Recommended