Stardom Year End Climax 2016 on 12/22/16 Review

Event: Stardom Year End Climax 2016
Date: December 22nd, 2016
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 970

It is time for Stardom’s last big event of 2016, the Year End Climax. After treading water for much of the year, the last two months we have seen a lot of changes for Stardom. Io turned evil and took young Momo and the returning HZK with her to the dark side, which completely shook things up since it meant both Mayu and Kyona lost their friends and tag partners. More new wrestlers debuted, with Ruaka and Tora beginning their in-ring career. Kairi and Yoko are friends now and have created a new team, while young Hana Kimura continues to find success. Also on this show, Kana’s protégé Konami has her first match in Stardom as well. So a lot is going on! Here is the full card:

You can click on the wrestler’s names above to go to their profile if I have one here on Joshi City. Please note I am watching the Samurai TV version of the show, so some matches may be clipped to fit the show into two hours. There were two additional dark matches, however neither were shown on Stardom World nor the Samurai TV broadcast since they were filmed for an Asahi show.

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Arisu Nanase vs. Azumi vs. Ruaka

We start off the show with an under-aged rookie battle. All three of these wrestlers are under 18 years old, with Arisu being the oldest at 15. Azumi has been wrestling the longest but Arisu has had the most success of the three while Ruaka is the biggest which gives her some advantages. So this triple threat match is anyone’s game.

stardom12-22-1Arisu fakes a handshake to start but rolls up Azumi instead, leading to Arisu being double teamed. Ruaka boots Arisu in the corner with Azumi following with a dropkick, but Ruaka knocks Azumi out of the way and covers Arisu for two. Azumi throws Ruaka out of the ring and trades wristlocks with Arisu before Azumi hits a dropkick, but Ruaka returns and rolls up Azumi. They all trade roll-ups with no one getting the pin before returning to their feet, DDT by Azumi to Arisu and she dropkicks her repeatedly. Arisu gets away from Azumi and dropkicks her, double wrist armsault by Arisu but Azumi kicks out. Arisu picks up Azumi and hits the Blockbuster, but Ruaka breaks up the pin. Ruaka slams Azumi and puts her in a crab hold, but Arisu rolls out of it and applies a jackknife for the three count! Arisu Nanase is the winner.

This is about what you’d expect. I think Arisu has shown some promise for a 15 year old rookie, she hits moves crisply, but too early to figure out much from Ruaka. With three children wrestling you can’t take it too seriously, there is a loose storyline here of Azumi being passed by the newer rookies like Arisu but not much more than that. A typical Stardom opening match.

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Hiromi Mimura vs. Konami

Konami debuts for Stardom! Konami is 20 years old and debuted in 2015 after training under Kana. After Kana left for WWE, Konami trained with REINA before leaving the promotion in the summer. Now she is represented by GPS and after having a quality match with Kairi Hojo last month she now is having her first match in Stardom. Hiromi is in her second year with Stardom and is 30 years old, she hasn’t had a lot of accomplishments in 2016 thus far but is a feisty competitor.

stardom12-22-2Konami immediately slaps on a kneelock onto the unsuspecting Hiromi, but Hiromi gets into the ropes for the break. Konami takes Hiromi back to the mat and they jockey for position, Konami applies a keylock but they end up back on their feet. Dropkick by Hiromi but Konami connects with a kick combination, she goes off the ropes but Hiromi ducks the PK and rolls her up for two. Dropkick to the knee by Hiromi and she goes for La Magistral, but Konami reverses it into an ankle hold. Hiromi gets to the ropes so Konami releases the hold, kick to the knee by Konami and she dropkicks Hiromi in the other knee. Konami charges Hiromi but Hiromi moves, Konami’s leg gets stuck in the ropes and Hiromi snaps it. Running low crossbody by Hiromi, but it gets a two. Running knee by Konami and she hits a fisherman suplex hold, but Hiromi kicks out. High kick by Konami but Hiromi comes back with a DDT and applies La Magistral for a two count. Hiromi goes off the ropes but Konami kicks her in the head, Konami applies a kneelock and Hiromi has to submit! Konami wins the match.

I am on record as loving Konami. She isn’t a literal Kana clone as she her move set is mostly different, but the attitude is there as well as the focus on strikes and submissions. She is different than most other wrestlers in Stardom, the closest comparison would be Yoko Bito but Konami is a bit less clunky. Hiromi was fine here, she’s low on the totem pole for a reason but she kept up with Konami and didn’t look out of place. A fun short match and a good way to introduce Konami to a new crowd, hopefully she sticks around.  Mildly Recommended

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Yoneyama and Saori Anou vs. Kris Wolf and Hana Kimura vs. Kyona and Natsuko Tora

I wish that Hana could have had a bigger match on the show, but not everyone can be slotted high and at least she is here. Yoneyama is a long time veteran that often anchors these types of matches in Stardom, while Saori wrestles in Actress girl’Z. Kris and Hana represent Oedo Tai, which means they will probably cheat and likely someone will be bitten at some point during the match. Kyona is in her second year and had a very solid 2016, she didn’t win any titles but showed a lot of promise as a young rising star in the promotion. Finally, Natsuko just debuted in the fall, but since she is an older rookie (25) she gets elevated on this event so she didn’t have to wrestle in the all-rookie opener.

stardom12-22-3Kris, Natsuko, and Kaori start off for their respective teams and do a triple knuckle lock, Kris kicks them away and they trade quick pins but no one has any luck so they tag out. Hana dances around the ring and then challenges Saori to do the same, Saori dances too and then challenges Kyona. Kyona dances but the crowd boos while Hana tells her to go away, hurting her feelings. Hana and Saori continue their dance off until Hana is double teamed and knocked over with a double shoulderblock. Saori and Kyona then go at it until Hana dropkicks them both, Natsuko comes in but Hana puts her in a leg lock. She dances for too long so Kaori comes in, so does Kris and Kris squares off with Saori. There is a lot going on here as the wrestlers are all just running in at will, I have no idea who is legal at this point. Kaori and Saori both put Natsuko in a submission hold but it is broken up, Hana and Kyona trade elbows until Kyona applies a backbreaker. Hana gets out of it and rolls up Kyona, but Kaori comes in and rolls up Hana. Kaori then covers both of them, but Kris runs in to break it up. Natsuko kicks Kris and she along with Kyona put their opponents in an airplane spin, but Oedo Tai fights back and dropkicks their opponents. Hana and Kris go up top but are knocked off, they fall to the floor while Saori applies a fisherman suplex hold to Kyona for two. Kyona comes back with a double lariat on Kaori and Saori, running senton by Natsuko to Saori but Hana runs in and boots both Natsuko and Kyona in the face. Kris runs in and covers Natsuko, and she picks up the three count! Oedo Tai win!

Rating a match like this isn’t really possible or fair since it wasn’t trying to be a high end match. It had some quality dancing from Hana, lots of high speed action from all six of them, and some clever spots which is about all you can hope for. I enjoyed it as midcard fodder, anytime I get to see Hana I am not going to complain, but it was 99% style and 1% substance. An easy fun watch but nothing more than that.

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(c) Thunder Rosa and Holidead vs. HZK and Momo Watanabe
NWA Western States Tag Team Championship

We have now reached the championship portion of the show. The NWA Western States Tag Team Championship is a championship from All Pro Wrestling in the United States. It typically is a men’s title but is open to anyone, and the Twisted Sisterz won the championship on September 30th against Alexander Bernard and Jimi Mayhem. They are being challenged here by the two young members of Queen’s Quest, which is Io Shirai’s new stable. HZK just recently returned to Stardom, and a win here would put both her and Momo as real threats going forward.

stardom12-22-4HZK and Momo attack before the bell rings but the veterans quickly regain the advantage as HZK is isolated. Holidead stays in with HZK and rams her into the turnbuckles, but HZK gets her leg and applies a Figure Four. Holidead gets into the ropes to force the break, Momo is tagged in and she hits a missile dropkick off the turnbuckles. Momo and HZK both kick on Holidead before hitting a double dropkick, senton by HZK and Momo hits the Somato for a two count. Momo goes up top but Rosa grabs her, giving Holidead time to recover and toss her off. Sit-down spinebuster by Holidead, but Momo kicks out at two. Holidead tags in Rosa, Rosa and Momo trade strikes until Rosa hits a DDT. Rosa picks up Momo and hits a sit-down hammerlock drop for a cocky two count cover. Rosa goes up top and hits a footstomp to Momo’s back, cover by Rosa but HZK breaks it up. Rosa goes off the ropes but Momo kicks her in the stomach, snap vertical suplex by Momo and she covers Rosa for two. Momo tags HZK, double chop by HZK but Rosa avoids her charge in the corner. Holidead comes in to help and they double team HZK, Rosa gets HZK across her back and slams her stomach-first into the mat for a two count. Rosa goes off the ropes but HZK catches her with a bicycle kick, Momo comes in and she hits the F Crash. HZK goes up top and delivers the diving senton, cover by HZK but Holidead breaks it up. HZK goes off the ropes and applies quick roll up, she goes for a bicycle kick but Rosa blocks it and rolls up HZK for the three count! Holidead and Thunder Rosa retain the championship.

This was probably the most clipped match of the show, which is understandable since it had a non-Stardom title and not particularly high ranked wrestlers. This was the most I’ve gotten to see from HZK, even in clipped form, and I think she looked solid even if I am not sure having her get pinned in a fluky manner does a lot for her short term. Rosa and Holidead were hitting a fair number of power moves, I just wish one of them had ended the match instead of it being a flash pin. Too clipped up to recommend, definitely some solid action by the younger Stardom team though and overall a solid match even if I didn’t love the ending.

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(c) Kyoko Kimura and Kagetsu vs. Kairi Hojo and Yoko Bito
Goddesses of Stardom Championship

This is the Oedo Tai “A Team,” as Kyoko and Kagetsu defend the titles that they won back in June from Thunder Rock. Kairi and Yoko are a new tag team but they did win the Goddesses of Stardom Tag League in November, as they meshed together very well. With Kyoko set to retire in January, Kairi and Yoko look to bring the titles back to the promotion without it having to be vacated, which is never ideal for any promotion. Even though they are a new team, Kairi and Yoko are no strangers to big title matches, and as long as they can stay on the same page they may even by the favorites to win.

Kyoko and Kairi begin the match but Kyoko immediately jumps out of the ring to play with the crowd. She returns after a moment, Kairi knocks Kagetsu off the apron when she tries to help and Yoko runs in to boot Kyoko while Kairi dives out of the ring onto Kagetsu. Kyoko gets out of the ring, Yoko thinks about doing a dive but Kyoko pulls Yoko out of the ring with her. They battle up into the stands and around the ring, Oedo Tai brings Kairi back into the ring and all the members of Oedo Tai pose around her. Kyoko stays in with Kairi and hits a backbreaker, kick to the butt by Kyoko and she hits a backbreaker on her while also DDTing Yoko. Kyoko applies a crab hold to Kairi while Kagetsu stands guard, Kyoko releases her after a moment and chops Kairi to the mat. Kairi fights back with her own chops but Kyoko returns fire, Kyoko goes off the ropes but Kairi catches her with a double chop to the chest and makes the hot tag to Yoko. Kicks to the chest by Yoko but Kagetsu pokes Yoko in the eyes, Yoko kicks both Kyoko and Kagetsu before hitting Kyoko with a PK for a two count. Kyoko gets away from Yoko and applies a Cobra Twist, she goes off the ropes but Yoko catches her with a lariat. Kairi is tagged back in, she goes up top and hits Kyoko with a diving elbow smash. She goes up top again but this time Kagetsu joins her, elbows by Kagetsu but Kairi blocks the superplex attempt and knocks Kagetsu into the Tree of Woe.

stardom12-22-5Kyoko runs over and boots Kairi before she can do anything, Kagetsu slides out to the apron and Kyoko goes up top with Kairi and Kagetsu they hit an avalanche Gory Special/face crusher onto Kairi down to the mat. Kyoko picks up Kairi but Kairi rolls out of the Gory Special this time, elbow by Kairi but Kyoko headbutts her and both wrestlers crumble to the mat. Kairi tags in Yoko while Kagetsu is also tagged in, Kagetsu and Yoko trade elbows until Kagetsu hits two jumping elbows in the corners and follows that with a big spear. Kagetsu goes off the ropes but Yoko elbows her, Kyoko runs in and boots Yoko and Yoko is double teamed. Double chokeslam to Yoko, cover by Kagetsu but Kairi breaks it up. Kyoko and Kagetsu hit another assisted Gory Special, but Kairi breaks up Kagetsu’s cover. Kagetsu goes for a high kick but Kairi pulls down Yoko to prevent her from getting hit, Kairi gets control of the situation and hits Kagetsu with a pair of Sliding Ds. Yoko recovers and hits a German suplex hold on Kagetsu, but it gets a two count. Bicycle Kick by Yoko, Kairi goes for a Sliding D but Kagetsu holds up a metal briefcase. All hell breaks loose as the briefcase assault continues, until Kagetsu hits Kyoko by accident. High Kick by Yoko to Kagetsu, but Kagetsu quickly hits an Ebisu Drop for a two count. Kyoko returns but eats a Kairi spear, Kagetsu spears Kairi in return but Yoko drills Kagetsu with the Doll B. Kairi goes up top and delivers a diving elbow drop onto Kagetsu, B Driver by Yoko and she picks up the three count! Yoko Bito and Kairi Hojo are the new champions!

A really entertaining tag team match with two veteran teams that know how to keep things interesting. I appreciate when wrestlers don’t waste time on limb work if the limb work isn’t going to mean anything, this match just stayed high impact and fast paced from bell to bell. The outside-the-ring stuff doesn’t really contribute but is a staple of Oedo Tai matches and isn’t going away, and they kept it pretty brief. Yoko still looks a bit stiff at times (as in non-graceful, not as in actually hurting people), but Kairi makes up for that by being one of the best wrestlers in the world in making you care about her and her matches. The end came when Kairi and Yoko were on the same page while Kyoko and Kagetsu were the ones that made the mistake, and the end stretch worked well as if it lasted any longer than Kyoko would have recovered to come to her teammates aid. A fun match that felt like it got just the right amount of time and stayed engaging throughout.  Recommended

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(c) Io Shirai vs. Mayu Iwatani
World of Stardom Championship

Former friends turned bitter enemies, a common wrestling theme but still an entertaining one. Io and Mayu were a tag team for a long time, until in November when Io turned on her friend mid-match and cast Mayu aside. Io quickly got new friends, HZK and Momo Watanabe, and created a new stable called Queen’s Quest. Mayu was left in a puddle of tears but soon recovered and wanted revenge on her former best friend. What better way than to take her championship at one of the biggest events of the year? This is their 5th singles match against each other in their careers, with Io holding the edge with a 2-1-1 record.

Io offers a handshake to start the match but Mayu slaps her and goes for a dragon suplex. Io elbows out of it, both wrestlers go off the ropes until Mayu hits a spinning headscissors, but Io lands on her feet. Irish whip by Io but Mayu hits a springboard back elbow, running elbow by Mayu in the corner but Io slides out of the ring and trips Mayu before ramming her knee into the ring post. Mayu falls out of the ring, Io removes part of the mat at ringside and goes for a suplex, but Mayu slips away. Mayu goes for a crossbody but Io catches her and slams her onto the exposed floor, Io gets back in the ring and goes to do a dive but Mayu ducks. Io does a baseball slide instead, she jumps back out of the ring and gets a chair, setting it up at ringside. Io puts Mayu’s leg into the chair and dropkicks it, she slides Mayu back in and starts twisting on her knee. Dropkick by Io, and she covers Mayu for a two count. Irish whip by Io from the corner but Mayu kicks her back when she charges in and hits a spinning headscissors. Dropkick by Mayu while Io is against the ropes, she springboards over the top rope and jumps down repeatedly onto Io’s back. Io flops out of the ring, Mayu goes up top and dives out onto Io with a plancha. Mayu picks up Io and goes for the dragon suplex, Io tries to block it but Mayu hits it anyway, slamming Io hard onto the floor.

stardom12-22-6Mayu gets back into the ring with Io slowly following, missile dropkick by Mayu and she hits the crucifix slam for a two count. Elbows by Mayu, she goes off the ropes but Io trips her and hits a slingshot dropkick. Running double knee in the corner by Io but she is too banged up to capitalize, Mayu goes for a kick but Io catches her leg and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Io goes for a dragon suplex but Mayu blocks it, Mayu goes for the move but Io blocks her attempt as well and hits a package German for a two count. Io applies an armtrap crossface but Mayu gets into the ropes, Io goes for a Tiger Feint Kick but Mayu catches her legs and hangs Io over the top rope. A dropkick by Mayu sends Io crashing onto the apron, Mayu joins her on the apron and nails a dragon suplex! Mayu slides Io back into the ring, dragon suplex hold by Mayu but Io somehow gets a shoulder up. Mayu goes for another quick pin with no luck, she goes off the ropes and hits a reverse hurricanrana for another two count. Mayu gets on the second turnbuckle but Io hits her from behind and suplexes her down to the mat. Io goes up top but Mayu springs up and joins her, she goes for an avalanche dragon suplex, but Io lands on her feet and hits Mayu with rolling German suplexes for a two count. Io picks up Mayu and hits a dragon suplex hold, but Mayu kicks out at two. Io positions Mayu and goes up top and she nails the moonsault, but Mayu kicks out at one and superkicks Io in the face. Dragon suplex hold by Mayu, but Io gets a shoulder up. Mayu goes for a tombstone but Io reverses it into her own tombstone piledriver. Io goes up and hits a second moonsault, instead of covering Mayu she delivers a third moonsault, and this time she picks up the three count! Io Shirai is still the champion.

I am not sure where to even begin with a match like this. If you are new to Stardom it is important to note that Io Shirai is notoriously difficult to pin, you have to kill her to get her to stay down, and while Mayu hit her with many different dragon suplexes she never hit her with the version that gets her wins in her bigger matches. The amount of brutality in this match was off the charts, ranging from the dragon suplex on the apron, or on the floor, or even just a simple headscissors where Io lands on her head. The early limb work by Io didn’t go anywhere but I thought Mayu sold it the right amount, she limped for a bit but shook it off when Io wasn’t really able to capitalize on it due to being tossed around the ring like a rag doll. Perhaps most importantly, the match felt epic and important, which to me is a requirement for a quality championship match. Non-stop offensive and the definition of an Io Main Event Match, and perhaps one of the best Stardom matches of the year just based off emotion and how far both were willing to go to pick up the win against their former best friend.  Highly Recommended