Event: Stardom 9th Anniversary
Date: January 19th, 2020
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 1,602
The Bushiroad Era has officially begun. Bushiroad purchased Stardom in the fall of 2019 but since they are doing a gradual transition, this event feels like the first one Bushiroad really had a major hand in, especially after Stardom wrestlers had a match at the Tokyo Dome a few weeks prior for added publicity. So this feels like the real start, and what a start it is. With the help of extra marketing and buzz, tonight’s attendance at Korakuen Hall is the most in recent memory for Stardom, with additional seats being opened up before the show. Its a stacked event, with three title matches and a special singles match between Kagetsu and Tam Nakano. Here is the full card:
A lot of potential for goodness. I am watching the Samurai TV! version of the show so some matches may be clipped. All wrestlers have profiles on the site, you can click on their names above to go straight to it.
AZM vs. Starlight Kid vs. Zoey Skye
While three way matches aren’t my cup of tea, any match with Starlight Kid in it I am going to be excited about. AZM and Starlight Kid will probably end up being generational rivals if they both stick to wrestling as their age and size are very similar, they have already developed a great chemistry together. Zoey being thrown in isn’t really necessary but they already paid to have her in Japan so it makes sense to not leave her off a major card. The winner in these matches never matters but hopefully they have some fun spots planned.
After a quick test of strength they get into it, Starlight Kid is isolated first as AZM and Zoey work together. That is short-lived as Starlight Kid fights them off, double dropkick by Starlight Kid and she hits a Tiger Feint Kick on AZM. Standing moonsault by Starlight Kid, and she covers AZM for two. Starlight Kid picks up AZM and they have a strike exchange, AZM headscissors Starlight Kid into the turnbuckles before hitting a dropkick. Zoey gets on the apron and kicks AZM, she gets back in the ring and throws both opponents in opposite corners, hitting running strikes on both. Jawbreaker by Zoey to AZM, and she covers her for two. Zoey goes to the second turnbuckle but Starlight Kid recovers and joins her, AZM jumps up as well but Zoey pushes them both into a hanging position and hits a double footstomp on both of them for a two count cover. AZM and Starlight Kid go off the ropes, dropkick by Starlight Kid to Zoey and she avoid AZM’s sneak attack PK. Vertical suplex by AZM and she kicks Starlight Kid in the head, she goes to the top turnbuckle and hits a diving footstomp but Zoey breaks up the cover. Zoey grabs Starlight Kid and kicks her in the head, she goes off the ropes but AZM hits a tilt-a-whirl armbar into a cradle for the three count! AZM wins the match.
This was clipped but what they showed was fine. Starlight Kid was the star as she tends to be in her matches but no one looked out of place and they kept the action going at a quick pace. An enjoyable enough way to kick off the show, just not enough time given to get excited about.
Itsuki Hoshino, Saya Iida, and Kamitani vs. Natsuko Tora, Sumire, and Kashima
The rookies battle the new Oedo Tai! This is really set up as a way to give Oedo Tai the spotlight, with the latest member Saki Kashima getting a chance to shine as they go up against young wrestlers with no chance of winning. I suspect that Iida and Kamitani will get in some hope spots but the story here will be about Oedo Tai asserting their authority.
We join his one in progress, as Saki swats away Iida’s dropkick attempt. Stomps by Saki but Iida catches one and hulks up, chopping Saki in the chest repeatedly. Saki grabs Iida by the hair and flings her to the mat, Itsuki and Kamitani run in and dropkick Saki before Iida delivers a missile dropkick for two. Iida Bridge by Iida, but Saki kicks out at two. Natsuko comes in and spears both Kamitani and Itsuki, Natsu hits Iida with the board Saki boots her in the face. My Emblem by Saki, and she picks up the three count! Oedo Tai are the winners.
Well this was all clipped to hell, with eleven minutes taken down to two. Hard to really comment much with so little shown, but Saki Kashima was highlighted as expected. Not much to see here though, literally.
Kagetsu vs. Tam Nakano
As Kagetsu’s Stardom farewell tour comes close to an end, she faces off against her friend turned enemy Tam Nakano. When Tam Nakano first joined Stardom in 2017, she was in Oedo Tai with Kagetsu, however she was not in the group for long as after losing in a gauntlet match in early 2018 she was forced to leave. In opposing groups since, Kagetsu and Tam have faced off many times but this is only their third singles match, with the last two both coming in tournaments. This match is sure to be a fun one as Tam has improved so much in the last year and Kagetsu is hell bent on going out with a bang.
They tie-up to start, armdrag by Kagetsu but Tam rolls away as they jockey for position on the mat. They reach a stalemate and return to their feet, kick by Kagetsu and she hits an armdrag. Tam returns the favor and Kagetsu rolls out of the ring to re-group, she gets back on the apron and spits water at Tam as she approaches her. Kagetsu pulls Tam out of the ring and throws her into the chairs at ringside, she quickly gets back into the ring and goes for a tope suicida, but Tam moves and she lands on Oedo Tai on accident. Tam goes up to the top turnbuckle and dives down onto Oedo Tai with a plancha suicida, she puts Kagetsu up on the apron and applies a Dragon Sleeper while sitting on the top turnbuckle. She lets go after a moment and delivers the Destiny Hammer, cover by Tam but it gets a two count. Tam picks up Kagetsu but Kagetsu elbows her off, she goes off the ropes but Tam catches her with a backdrop suplex. Kagetsu springs back to her feet and hits a kick combination, Ebisu Drop by Kagetsu and she goes to the top turnbuckle, but Tam recovers and joins her before she can jump off. Superplex by Tam but Kagetsu gets to her feet and hits a running knee, Tam fires back with a running knee of her own and both wrestlers are down on the mat.
They elbow each other as they slowly return to their feet, kick by Kagetsu and she goes off the ropes, but Tam catches her with a kick of her own. Two more kicks by Tam, she picks up Kagetsu around the waist and hits a German suplex hold for two. t gets Kagetsu up and hits a double underhook facebuster, but again Kagetsu kicks out. Tam gets Kagetsu’s back but Kagetsu slides away, she pushes Tam into the referee and spits red mist in her face. Tiger Suplex Hold by Kagetsu, but it only gets a two count. Ebisu drop by Kagetsu in front of the corner, she goes up top and nails the Oedo Coaster, but Tam gets a shoulder up on the cover. Kagetsu quickly picks up Tam and goes for the Death Valley Bomb, but Tam gets away and nails a roundhouse kick. Tiger Suplex Hold by Tam, but it gets a two. Tam goes off the ropes and delivers a trio of running knees, Tiger Suplex by Tam and she picks Kagetsu back up, debuting the Twilight Dream Suplex for the three count! Tam Nakano wins!
While I am not a huge fan of no-selling without a receipt, which Kagetsu did once here, overall I really enjoyed this. Tam has always been a fun wrestler but she hasn’t always been technically sound, being in Stardom as a regular for the last couple years has really helped her grow and she has started pulling everything together. Kagetsu is a machine and does everything with such precision; there may not be a tighter wrestler in Joshi than her just with her movements and execution. I wouldn’t have minded if the match was a longer but it was a fast paced and entertaining match, definitely worth a watch. Recommended
(c) Jungle Kyona and Konami vs. Bea Priestley and Jamie Hayter
Goddesses of Stardom Championship
In our first title match of the evening, Tokyo Cyber Squad defends their titles against the Top Gaijin in Stardom. Even though at the time of the match Bea and Jamie were in different factions, they still wrestle together fairly often, including teaming in the Goddesses of Stardom League. Kyona and Konami won the Goddesses of Stardom Championship in July, with this being their fourth defense of the titles. Having an inter-faction team challenging is unusual, and leaves a lot of possibilities for what could happen if Bea and Jamie win the belts.
This one is Joined in Progress, with Jamie in the ring with Kyona. Elbows by Jamie in the corner and she hits a lariat, Jungle fires back with her own lariat but Jamie hits another one too as they go back and forth. Elbows by Jamie and she his a sidewalk slam onto her knee followed by a running knee. Falcon Arrow by Jamie, but Kyona kicks out of the cover. Jamie picks up Kyona and goes for a suplex, but Kyona blocks it and hits a vertical suplex of her own. Big lariat by Kyona, and the match clips ahead to Konami being in he ring with Bea as Konami gets on the top turnbuckle. Bea elbows her before she can jump off and joins her, but Kyona comes up from behind and hits Bea. Kyona slams Jamie on the mat, she then grabs Bea and powerbombs her onto Jamie’s head while Konami delivers a missile dropkick. Konami picks up Bea and hits a suplex, Buzzsaw Kick by Konami and she covers Bea for two.
Konami quickly applies an armlock which she switches to an armbar, Jamie tries to break it up but Kyona dropkicks her out of the ring. Konami rolls Bea around the ring while keeping the armbar applied, but Bea gets to the ropes for the break. Konami goes off the ropes but Jamie cuts her off with a lariat, she dumps Kyona out of the ring too before diving out onto both of them with a tope suicida. Jamie brings Konami onto the apron and goes for a side slam, but Konami blocks it. Bea jumps up to the top turnbuckle and hits her from behind, she gets back into the ring quickly with Konami and Jamie, and the Gaijin connect with a double strike to Konami. Knee to the back of the head by Bea, she gets Konami on her shoulders and nails the Queen’s Landing for the three count! Bea Priestley and Jamie Hayter are the new champions!
Samurai TV clipped this down by several minutes but what they showed was entertaining. I love Bea and Jamie so I have no issue with them winning the titles, and if it means more of Jamie in Stardom than that’s even better. Even in defeat, Kyona looked great and Konami was her usual sound self. I am sure this match was better in full, but at least everything they decided to show us looked pretty fun.
Death Yama-san, Hana Kimura, and Hirsch vs. Giulia, Maika, and Syuri Kondo
This was billed as Giulia and Maika teaming with a mystery partner, and the mystery turned out to be Syuri! Leading up to the match, Giulia was tasked with coming up with her own group to battle Tokyo Cyber Squad and her enemy Hana Kimura. Andras Miyagi was originally a candidate, but was rejected by Giulia. So she first went to Just Tap Out to recruit their young star, Maika, meaning she only needed one more. Much to everyone’s surprise, Syuri Kondo came out to complete the team. Syuri was in UFC as recently as mid-2019 but after a few years just doing MMA, Syuri returned to professional wrestling last summer. The point of the match is to put over Giulia’s new group, but hopefully in the process they put together a good match as well.
Death and Maika start the match, Death tries doing her shtick but Maika attacks her from behind and applies a wristlock. Death gets out of it and tags Hirsch while Syuri also tags in, Hirsch works a headlock which is reversed by Syuri. Hard shoulderblock by Syuri but Hirsch kips up, snapmare by Syuri and she kicks Hirsch in the back. Hirsch ducks the PK, they return to their feet both both miss their strike attempts. Giulia and Hana tag in and they immediately start trading elbows, they switch to trading boots until Death knees Giulia from the apron to give Hana the advantage. Hana boots Giulia out of the ring and goes out after her, as all six wrestlers brawl on the floor and into the crowd. Back in the ring, Death and Hana double team Giulia before Hana tags in Death as the legal wrestler. Giulia quickly gets back in control and chokes Death against the ropes, with her teammates lending a hand. Giulia tags in Maika, Maika stomps down Death in the corner, armdrags by Maika and she hits a monkey flip. Maika applies a Fujiwara Armbar but Death gets into the ropes, Syuri is tagged in and she kicks Death in the back.
All three members of Giulia’s team apply submission holds in the ring, they let go after a moment as the ring clears for Death and Syuri, with Syuri applying a hanging armbar over the top rope. Syuri gets back in the ring but Death chops her in the throat and makes the tag to Hana. Hana boots Syuri in the face twice, cover by Hana but it gets two. Hana grabs Syuri but Syuri blocks the suplex attempt, Giulia comes in and clubs on Hana but Hana dropkicks both of them. Death and Hirsch both come in the ring, TCS gets their opponents in opposite corners and all three take turns delivering running strikes. Dropkicks by Tokyo Cyber Squad, and they pose in the ring while their opponents are slumped in the corner. Hana grabs Syuri and hits a vertical suplex, cover by Hana but it gets a two count. Hana goes off the ropes but Syuri kicks her in the stomach and hits a half hatch suplex. PK by Syuri, and she covers Hana for two.
Syuri tags in Giulia, Giulia goes to the top turnbuckle and delivers a missile dropkick. Maika comes in too but Hana rams them into each other, she goes off the ropes but Maika hits her with a face crusher. Giulia applies a crossface but it gets quickly broken up, Giulia picks up Hana but Hana slides away from her and Giulia eats a double DDT. Boot by Hana and she covers Giulia, but the cover is broken up. Hana puts Giulia in the Ground Manjikatame, but Giulia gets into the ropes for the break. Giulia recovers and boots Hana, Hana rolls to her corner and tags in Hirsch. Giulia and Hirsch trade elbows until Hirsch hits a release German, running knee by Hirsch and she hits a moonsault for a two count. Hirsch applies a cross armbreaker but Syuri breaks it up, Syuri and Maika clear the ring before double teaming Hirsch. Knee by Giulia to Hirsch, she picks her back up and nails the Glorious Driver for the three count! Giulia, Maika, and Syuri are the winners!
This was a good way to introduce a new group, although I wouldn’t necessarily say the match was great. Hirsch felt out of place during some of her spots, and disappeared for long stretches. That’s not to say she isn’t a fine wrestler, but probably without a lot of prior experience with this batch of wrestlers there were definitely some chemistry issues here and there. Maika was better but she is only in her first year of wrestling, so really it was up to the other four to carry things. They needed to make it 3 vs. 3 to form the new faction, but for match-quality purposes it would have worked better with just four of them. Hana and Giulia looked great however, with Hana in particular standing out. Both groups also worked together well, which is a plus. The beginning and the end were a little awkward at times but the middle portion was well done, and I think they accomplished their goal of introducing two new wrestlers to Stardom fans. Mildly Recommended
(c) Arisa Hoshiki vs. Utami Hayashishita
Wonder of Stardom Championship
Finally I get to watch Utami in a big singles match. Arisa Hoshiki has been on fire since winning the Cinderella Tournament last April, as she won the Wonder of Stardom Championship in May and is already on her 9th (!!!) defense. Along the way she has beaten Tam Nakano, Hazuki, Jungle Kyona, Kagetsu, and Konami to assert herself as the true Ace of Stardom. She is against the younger and less experienced Utami, who came on strong last year in her rookie year but has had some struggles staying healthy and getting the big wins. This would certainly be the biggest win of her young career, but knocking out one of the top wrestlers in the promotion will be no easy feat.
Arisa asks for a knucklelock to start but Utami kicks her instead, Arisa pulls Utami by the hair and elbows her, but Utami elbows Arisa back and the two trade blows. Dropkick to the back by Utami and she kicks Arisa into the corner, snapmare by Utami and she kicks Arisa in the back. Irish whip by Utami to the corner and she hits a running elbow, she tosses Arisa to the mat before kicking her for a two count cover. Neck crank by Utami but Arisa wiggles to the ropes and makes it for the break. Utami picks up Arisa and hits a scoop slam, she goes off the ropes but Arisa catches her with a pump kick followed by a high kick and a jumping knee. Utami rolls out of the ring but Arisa goes out after her, she rams Utami’s head into the apron, busting her head open in the process. The referee gets Utami a towel as he checks on Utami’s cut, but she is deemed to be ok as Arisa nails her with a 1399 off the ropes down to the floor.
Arisa returns to the ring with the bloody Utami slowly following, mounted punches by Arisa and she punches her again as they get to their feet. Cover by Arisa, but the referee won’t count (probably due to all the illegal punches). Back up, Arisa goes for a kick but Utami ducks it and applies a sleeper. Arisa switches positions with her and applies a choke, but Utami gets into the ropes for the break. Kick by Arisa but Utami ducks the next one, she goes for a suplex but Arisa elbows out of it. They trade blows before Arisa hits a high kick, she springboards off the ropes but Utami catches her with a release German suplex. German suplex hold by Utami, but it gets a two count. Utami picks up Arisa and puts her in an Argentine Backbreaker, Arisa slides away but Utami puts her in a hanging submission. Schwein by Utami, but Arisa kicks out of the cover. She goes for the backbreaker again but Arisa gets away and applies a Cobra Clutch, she lets go before Utami can reach the ropes and kicks her in the head.
Arisa goes for the Shining Star Cutter but Utami grabs her around the waist to block it, sleeper hold by Utami and she goes off the ropes but Arisa catches her with a jumping knee. Arisa goes up to the top turnbuckle and delivers the 1399, cover by Arisa but it gets two. Running knee by Arisa, she goes off the ropes but again Utami blocks the Shining Star Cutter attempt and puts Arisa in the Argentine Backbreaker. She slides her to the front and hits the German suplex hold, but Arisa kicks out at two. Utami picks up Arisa and sits her on the second rope, she goes for a suplex but Arisa knocks her back and finally hits the Shining Star Cutter. Arisa waits for Utami to get to her knees and plants her with a Shining Impact, she lifts her up instead of completing the cover and nails her with the Brazilian Kick for the three count! Arisa Hoshiki wins and retains the championship.
I strongly feel that blood helps most matches (unless it is just overdone on a given event) and I think that was the case here as well. Everything just feels more real when a wrestler with blood running down their face starts making their comeback, its an image that sparks more emotion than most other situations in wrestling. Without that added drama, this was a good match but probably on the lower end of Arisa’s recent big matches. I actively dislike the Shining Star Cutter in any variation and this match showed why, as she kept going for it at bad times and when she finally did ‘hit’ the move, she didn’t hit it cleanly and it was just a rough looking spot. Everything else in the match was smooth at least, and while Utami is still working on some things she showed the fire here that you’d expect from a young challenger. Arisa being extra vicious (such as pulling Utami up after the Shining Impact) was a bit puzzling as normally she’s a pretty pure babyface, but maybe seeing blood just got her excited too. Overall a fun match, not a high-end one but entertaining nonetheless. Recommended
(c) Mayu Iwatani vs. Momo Watanabe
World of Stardom Championship
Main event time! While Arisa Hoshiki owned 2019, Mayu Iwatani is looking to make 2020 her year. She won the World of Stardom Championship from Bea Priestley on November 4th, with this being her second defense of the title. She was named the Tokyo Joshi Sports Female Wrestler of the Year so she has a lot of pressure to keep delivering. She is against Momo, who many consider one of the best wrestlers in Stardom even as she has been slightly pushed aside for the next wave of wrestlers. But Momo is only 19 years old and is main eventing in front of one of the biggest Korakuen Hall crowds in Stardom history, so I think overall she is still doing ok. This is their first non-tournament singles match since 2018, when Momo defeated Mayu to defend her Wonder of Stardom Championship. Mayu hasn’t beaten Momo in a singles match since 2016, so she looks to change that trend to retain her new championship.
They circle each other to start, Mayu gets Momo’s waist but Momo trips her as they jockey for position on the mat. Momo applies a kneelock but Mayu gets into the ropes for the break, Momo picks up Mayu and starts working on her arm. Kick to the arm by Momo but Mayu cradles her, she goes for a dropkick but Momo moves and applies a modified double armbar. Mayu eventually gets to the ropes, she gets out of the ring but Momo goes up to the top turnbuckle and dives out to the floor with a Diving Somato. Momo gets back into the ring but gets tired of waiting for Mayu so she goes out to get her, dropkick by Momo in the corner and she hits a side slam followed by a knee to the back of the head. Running Somato by Momo, but Mayu kicks out of the cover. Momo picks up Mayu and drops her with the B Driver, but that gets a two count as well. Momo goes up to the top turnbuckle but Mayu grabs her from behind before she can jump off, she goes for a powerbomb but Momo slides away. Mayu blocks Momo’s suplex attempt and kicks her in the head, dragon suplex by Mayu but Momo quickly recovers and hits a tiger suplex.
Both wrestlers are down on the mat, they trade elbows as they return to their feet, Dodonpa by Mayu but Momo kicks out of the cover. Mayu goes up to the top turnbuckle but Momo avoids the moonsault and kicks Mayu in the head. Momo gets on the second turnbuckle and hits a Diving Somato, she goes up top and hits another Diving Somato for a two count cover. Momo locks up Mayu and hits a release Tequila Sunrise, she nails the Peach Sunrise but Mayu barely kicks out of the cover. Momo picks up Mayu and delivers a double wrist-clutch suplex hold, but that gets a two count as well. Momo picks up Mayu and puts her on the second turnbuckle, she goes for another suplex but Mayu blocks it and his a reverse hurricanrana. Mayu quickly goes up top and hits a Frog Splash, but she only gets two. She goes up top again and this time delivers a moonsault, but again Momo kicks out of the cover. DDT by Mayu and she hits a tombstone piledriver, she nails the Two Stage Dragon Suplex Hold and she picks up the three count! Mayu Iwatani wins and retains the championship.
Post match: During the usual promo work after a big match, Bea came down in support of her faction teammate Momo Watanabe, but instead of helping her she kneed her in the head. She then announced that she was joining Oedo Tai, as the group came into the ring and celebrated with her. At the end as Mayu was closing the show, Sareee showed up on the screen in a recorded video, challenging Mayu to a match!
This match was clipped by Samurai TV but I think it was mostly mat work that we missed and nothing too critical. A great match between these two, and I hope Momo’s rumored demotion from the top tier in Stardom doesn’t come true as she may be the best wrestler on the roster (and is only 19 years old). The chemistry these two have is off the charts, everything else on the card felt pretty fluid but Momo and Mayu took it to another level as they put on a masterclass. Momo showed how important the match was to her with the Diving Somato out of the ring, which looked great, and the match had the fast past action you’d expect from Mayu. My only small quibble is that Momo went through all her finishers (including the Peach Sunrise), making it unclear in the home stretch how Momo would have even won the match since she had already emptied her arsenal instead of keeping a big move in her pocket. Still, that is more excusable in a Korakuen Hall main event title match as wrestlers tend to go all out and kick out of things that normally work. I’m not sure if they quite reached that “must see” MOTYC level but it was critically close, and either way a fitting ending to a quality Korakuen Hall show. Highly Recommended
While not a perfect show top to bottom, there was certainly more here to like than to dislike. Four matches I can recommend without much hesitation, highlighted by a fantastic main event between Momo Watanabe and Mayu Iwatani. A really solid start to the Bushiroad era and a good starting point for those looking to get into Stardom in 2020.