Stardom Champion Fiesta Ryogoku Cinderella on 4/29/13 Review

Event: Stardom Champion Fiesta 2013 Ryogoku Cinderella
Date: April 29th, 2013
Location: Sumo Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 5,500

After watching New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom, I got inspired to watch and review one of the biggest Joshi show of the last decade. Joshi promotions rarely run Sumo Hall, one of the most famous venues for professional wrestling, due to the obvious reason that Sumo Hall is huge and most promotions in general struggle to fill it enough to make the venture profitable. Stardom decided to take a chance in 2013, however, as one of the most popular and “recognizable outside the wrestling bubble” Joshi stars was having her retirement match. Before she started wrestling, Yuzuki Aikawa was a famous model in Japan and was also in an idol group. She joined Stardom in 2010, and instantly gained an even bigger following as a combination of her looks, charisma, and fighting spirit made her the most visible new Joshi star of that (brief) time period. This is why after wrestling for less than three years, she was having her Retirement Match at Sumo Hall and not a smaller venue, she exploded onto the scene and left while she was still at the top of her game. Stardom stacked the entire show for the special occasion, here is the full card:

  • Risa Sera and Rutsuko Yamaguchi vs. Yui Yokoo and Sumire Yoshino
  • Manami Toyota vs. Miho Wakizawa
  • Kota Ibushi, Gota Ihashi, Lin Byron, and Mayu Iwatani vs. Michael Nakazawa, Hikaru Sato, Makoto, and Eri Susa
  • Meiko Satomura vs. Takumi Iroha
  • Wonder of Stardom Championship: Act Yasukawa vs. Dark Angel
  • High Speed Championship: Natsuki*Taiyo vs. Yuhi
  • Goddesses of Stardom Championship: Kyoko Kimura and Hailey Hatred vs. Kairi Hojo and Natsumi Showzuki
  • Kaori Yoneyama, Hiroyo Matsumoto, and Syuri vs. Nanae Takahashi, Tsukasa Fujimoto, and Mika Nagano
  • World of Stardom Championship: Alpha Female vs. Io Shirai
  • Yuzuki Aikawa Retirement Match: Yuzuki Aikawa vs. Yoshiko

Big show! Let’s get to it.

Risa Sera and Rutsuko Yamaguchi vs. Yui Yokoo and Sumire Yoshino
Ryogoku Starting Over Stardom vs. Ice Ribbon

The fun thing about watching non-current Joshi is seeing how quickly some young wrestlers just disappear into the sunset. I talk about how I don’t like getting too emotionally attached to rookies and this is why – since Joshi wrestlers start so young it isn’t unusual for them to move on to go to college, start a family, etc. and leaving hardly a trace behind them. You’ll be forgiven if you don’t know who three of these wrestlers are since they had short careers that never blossomed, but Risa Sera is still wrestling and is currently one of the stars of Ice Ribbon. Rutsuko hasn’t wrestled since 2014, Yui since 2013, and Sumire hasn’t wrestled since 2013 as well (she was a lesser known idol that only wrestled for three months).

stardom4-29-1Risa and Sumire begin the match, they trade elbows against the ropes until Sera hits a dropkick. She tags in Rutsuko as Yui is also tagged in, Rutsuko boots Yui and she applies The Claw against the ropes until Sumire breaks it up. Yui and Rutsuko trade elbows, Rutsuko slams Yui into her knee but Yui returns the favor. Dropkick by Yui and she tags Sumire, Sumire goes for a cartwheel mule kick but Rutsuko moves out of the way and puts her in a crab hold. Sumire gets to the ropes to force a break, Rutsuko tags in Risa and Risa hits a series of dropkicks on Sumire. Schwein by Risa, she picks up Sumire but Sumire slides behind her and applies a sleeper. Sumire reverts the hold into a cross armbreaker but Sera gets a foot on the ropes. Cartwheel mule kick by Sumire and she tags in Yui, Yui goes for a chokeslam but Sera blocks it. RainSleeper by Yui but Rutsuko breaks it up, Risa picks up Yui and hits Ayers Rock but Sumire breaks up the cover. Risa goes to the second turnbuckle and hits a diving body press, but Yui kicks out of the cover. Rutsuko comes in but she kicks Risa by accident, running elbow by Yui to Risa and she picks up the three count! Yui Yokoo and Sumire Yoshino are the winners.

I wouldn’t call this a good match, although it was generally inoffensive. Sumire was pretty rough around the edges, I am not terribly surprised she quit wrestling, and while Risa Sera is currently a really good wrestler she was still working out the kinks in 2013. Rutsuko stood out the most because she had the most personality, however Yui seemed like the most complete wrestler. A skippable opener, even if it is interesting to watch a match with young wrestlers from four years ago where three have already left the business.

Manami Toyota vs. Miho Wakizawa
All Japan Women’s Gold Tradition Ryogoku Advent

For an All Japan Women’s flashback, this was an interesting choice. Wakizawa started in AJW but joined Stardom in 2011, she was mostly a midcarder but did hold the AJW Championship in AJW and the Tag Team Championship in Stardom. She is against one of the greatest Joshi wrestlers ever from the heyday of AJW, by 2013 she was in her 40s and past her prime but Toyota still had passion for the business and was wrestling regularly. This is not their first singles match against each other, but Toyota was undefeated in their battles coming into the match.

Wakizawa charges Toyota but Toyota hits a heel drop for a two count cover. Back up they trade slaps, a battle that Toyota wins, but Wakizawa fires back with elbows. Toyota bounces Wakizawa off the ropes and kicks her in the chest, Toyota charges Wakizawa but Wakizawa rolls her around the ring before covering Toyota for a two. Irish whip by Wakizawa but Toyota reverses it and gives Wakizawa a rolling cradle of her own. Toyota puts Wakizawa in the ropes but Wakizawa avoids the dropkick and kicks Toyota out of the ring. Wakizawa then goes up top and dives out onto Toyota with a plancha, she slides Toyota back into the ring and goes up top, connecting with a missile dropkick. Toyota gets back up but Wakizawa hits a Claw STO for a two count. Waistlock by Wakizawa but Toyota gets into the ropes, big boot by Toyota and she goes for the Japanese Ocean Cyclone Suplex but Wakizawa rolls out of it and hits a German suplex hold. Wakizawa picks up Toyota but Toyota elbows her off, release German by Toyota and she goes for a moonsault, but Wakizawa gets her feet up. Fisherman suplex hold by Wakizawa, but Toyota kicks out.

stardom4-29-2Wakizawa goes up top and hits another missile dropkick, she returns to the top turnbuckle but Toyota boots her down to the floor. Toyota climbs the turnbuckle and dives out onto Wakizawa with her own plancha, taking out a random innocent on the floor in the process. Toyota rolls Wakizawa back in and hits a missile dropkick, another missile dropkick by Toyota and she covers Wakizawa for two. Toyota returns to the top but Wakizawa joins her, Toyota pushes her off and dropkicks Wakizawa in the back of the head. Moonsault by Toyota, but Wakizawa barely gets a shoulder up. Toyota picks up Wakizawa and hits a German suplex hold, she goes up top but Toyota joins her and hits a Frankensteiner, which Toyota rolls through for a two count. Straight Jacket German by Toyota, she goes up top but Wakizawa joins her and hits an avalanche fisherman buster for two. Another fisherman buster by Wakizawa, but again Toyota kicks out. Wakizawa picks up Toyota but Toyota kicks her and hits the Japanese Ocean Queen Bomb, she goes for the cover but lifts up Wakizawa before the three. Toyota then drags Wakizawa up and hits a release Japanese Ocean Cyclone Queen Bee Bomb. She goes for one final one, but Wakizawa slides down her back and applies the Backslide From Venom for the three count! Miho Wakizawa wins!

Afterwards, Wakizawa is in tears as she is overcome with emotion, and Toyota gives her a hug. Streamers are even thrown for Wakizawa, so to say this win meant a lot to her is an understatement.

It feels odd that a match that clearly meant so much to Wakizawa is just an undercard match. An undercard match on a stacked show, but still. Anyone that has never seen Toyota will be an awe at how any times she goes to the top turnbuckle, she always lived up there in her heyday and still does even though at the time of the match she was over 40 years old. I couldn’t say this was a great match but they definitely gave it their all, as both were dropping bombs and trying everything to get the win. Wakizawa kicked out of Toyota’s best offense, but at this stage of her career that just wasn’t really a big deal to Toyota as clearly the point here was for Wakizawa to overcome and get a win that meant a lot to her on a personal level. An interesting match that is worth watching, even if in a vacuum it seems out of place.  Mildly Recommended

Ibushi, Gota Ihashi, Lin Byron, and Iwatani vs. Nakazawa, Hikaru Sato, Makoto, and Eri Susa
Ryogoku Special MIX Eight Person Tag Match

Stardom bringing the crazy for Sumo Hall. Ibushi, Ihashi, Sato, and Nakazawa all came over from DDT, bringing their zany brand of offense with them. Makoto and Byron at the time represented WNC, which was Tajiri’s wrestling promotion. That leaves just Mayu and Eri, the only two Stardom wrestlers in the match. I am not sure why this match exists but it does so I will watch it.

Mayu and Eri are the first two in, wristlock by Eri but Mayu armdrags out of it. Eri tags in Nakazawa, Sato comes in too but Mayu grabs their wrists and hits a springboard split-legged double armdrag. Mayu dropkicks both of them but Nakazawa soon takes back over and he tags in Sato. Sato puts on his swim gear and starts working over Mayu in the corner. He tags in Makoto, Makoto snaps Mayu off the ropes before tagging in Eri. DDT by Eri and she hits a second one, Mayu fights back and they trade elbows. Elevated DDT by Eri, and she covers Mayu for two. She tags Nakazawa, Nakazawa straddles Mayu on the top rope and slides her uh crotch-first across the ropes. That’s as nice as I can put it. Sato comes in and puts Mayu in a crab hold, but Mayu gets into the ropes. Sato goes off the ropes but Mayu dropkicks him and she hits a vertical suplex for a two count. Mayu tags in Byron, Byron DDTs Sato but Nakazawa runs in and attacks her. Eri comes in too as does Makoto, but Byron fights them all off. Sato recovers but Bryon drops him on the second rope, she goes for the Tiger Feint Kick but Nakazawa jumps in the way. Bryon punches him in the balls and hits the Tiger Feint Kick anyway, she goes up top but Nakazawa grabs her before she can jump off. Backdrop suplex by Sato, he tags in Nakazawa while Ibushi is also tagged in.

stardom4-29-3Pele Kick by Ibushi and he connects with a kick combination, standing moonsault by Ibushi but Makoto breaks it up. DDT by Makoto to Ibushi, she then hits a footstomp followed by a cartwheel kneedrop. Nakazawa covers Ibushi but Ihashi breaks it up, kick to the chest by Ihashi to Nakazawa and he hits a cartwheel moonsault. Ibushi then follows with a running shooting star press and a moonsault off the second turnbuckle, but Nakazawa kicks out of the cover. He tags in Mayu, double wrist armsault by Mayu but it gets two. Mayu picks up Nakazawa and they trade elbows, Mayu slaps Nakazawa but he takes off his clothes and hits a spear. He takes off his underwear and goes for the Ultimate Venom Arm, Makoto tries to stop him so she gets it instead. He goes back to Mayu but Mayu blocks it, Sato tries to help Nakazawa get the hold applied but both teams run in and have a Test of Strength with the underwear. Makoto come sin but she goes against Nakazawa as does Eri, helping Mayu successfully block the hold. Makoto and Eri continue helping Mayu’s team, as all the women hit running strikes on Nakazawa in the corner. Mayu picks up Nakazawa, Eri chops Nakazawa in the chest and Mayu nails the dragon suplex hold for the three count! Kota Ibushi, Gota Ihashi, Lin Byron, and Mayu Iwatani are the winners.

This was a bit too DDT-y for me as their brand of comedy isn’t my favorite, but I did like Eri and Makoto switching teams as they agreed with me. Mayu was still a bit shaky but still learning, and everyone else looked fine. A bit longer than it needed to be but if you enjoy Nakazawa you may enjoy this match too.

Meiko Satomura vs. Takumi Iroha
Takumi Iroha Debut Match

And this is how 21 year old Takumi Iroha began her career. I imagine as a rookie, there is no higher honor than having your debut match not only at Sumo Hall but against one of the best Joshi wrestlers of the last decade, but the flipside of that is Meiko Satomura wasn’t known for being gentle. So Iroha was going to get a memorable experience, but she may not live to enjoy it for very long. Stardom clearly thought a lot of Iroha, so we’ll see if she deserved such a big spot for the first match.

stardom4-29-4The match starts slow but Iroha fires up Satomura by elbowing her against the ropes instead of giving a clean break. Iroha kicks Satomura when they lock knuckles but Satomura elbows her hard in the face and kicks Iroha into the corner. Jumping elbow by Satomura and she applies a front necklock, armbar by Satomura but Iroha gets into the ropes. Back up they trade elbows, uppercut by Satomura and she knocks Iroha into the corner. Iroha swats Satomura away and kicks her in the chest, uppercut by Iroha and she dropkicks her into the opposite corner. Iroha picks up Satomura and flips her into a cross armbreaker, she reverts it into a triangle choke before then changing it to an ankle hold when she can’t keep Satomura down. Satomura gets out of it with a jawbreaker, she attempts an Irish whip but Iroha blocks it and re-applies the triangle choke. Satomura gets into the ropes, Iroha slams Satomura to the mat and goes up top, and she hits a diving crossbody for a two count. Iroha picks up Satomura but Satomura elbows her off, she goes off the ropes but Iroha hits a powerslam for another two count. Backdrop suplex by Iroha, she picks up Satomura and goes off the ropes, but Satomura kicks her in the stomach and knocks her down with an uppercut. Kick to the head by Satomura, and Iroha rolls out of the ring hurt. Iroha is pretty out of it so Satomura goes to get her, she slides Iroha back in and covers her for two. Satomura picks up Iroha but Iroha dropkicks her, Satomura quickly kicks Iroha in the ribs and nails the cartwheel kneedrop. Seated armbar by Satomura, but Iroha quickly gets a hand on the ropes. DDT by Satomura, she goes up top and she hits the diving body press for a two count cover. Satomura goes for a Death Valley Bomb, Iroha gets out of it but Satomura kicks her in the ribs. Backdrop suplex by Satomura, she covers Iroha but lifts her head before the three count. Satomura puts Iroha in a sleeper hold, Iroha can’t get to the ropes and goes to sleep. Meiko Satomura wins!

I enjoyed this one quite a bit, perhaps with some benefit of hindsight. Iroha no longer wrestles in Stardom as she left the promotion to join Chigusa Nagayo’s Marvelous, however she has really developed into a solid wrestler. I wouldn’t say she was a complete natural as aside from a few cool submission moves she didn’t do anything to really stand out in this match, but she sold really well and nothing ever felt awkward. Satomura gave the rookie a fair amount of offense but this was before Satomura went full ass-kicker on Stardom, I doubt a wrestler today in their debut match would have as much luck. An above average match with an obvious result, but it was nice to see someone debut on such a big stage.

Act Yasukawa vs. Dark Angel
Wonder of Stardom Championship

The championship was vacant going into the match, as Yuzuki Aikawa gave up the title prior to her retirement. Dark Angel is also known as Sarah Stock, currently she is helping in NXT but back in 2013 she split her time between Stardom and CMLL. There was no tournament to determine who would go after the vacate title, however Dark Angel did recently have a victory over Hiroyo Matsumoto so it wasn’t completely random. Act Yasukawa was still early in her career, she actually had been the last challenger for the Wonder of Stardom Championship, losing to Yuzuki Aikawa on March 31st.

They trade holds to start, Dark Angel gets Act to the mat but Act gets out of it and they return to their feet. Dark Angel gets Act to the mat again, she pushes Act into the corner and she delivers a dropkick. Snapmare by Dark Angel and she rolls up Act for a two count, Dark Angel goes for a lariat but Act ducks it and puts Dark Angel in the Stretch Muffler. Dark Angel gets to the ropes, Act hangs her upside down from the top rope before kicking her in the leg. Act continues on Dark Angel’s leg, Dark Angel jumps up on the top turnbuckle but Act pushes her down to the floor. Act then goes out to the apron and she hits a cannonball down onto Dark Angel, Act slides Dark Angel back in and hits the ACT Special for a two count. Act goes off the ropes and knees Dark Angel in the head, but again her cover gets two. Act goes for a neck swing but Dark Angel gets out of it and the pair trade elbows. Springboard dropkick by Dark Angel, Act rolls out of the ring but Dark Angel goes up top and dives out onto Act with a plancha suicida, completely flattening her.

stardom4-29-5Act looks incredibly hurt but after a minute she manages to get back into the ring, slingshot bodypress by Dark Angel and she gets a two count. Dark Angel goes for the La Reienera but Act gets out of it, dropkick by Act but Dark Angel gets out of the tombstone and puts Act in the double chickenwing armlock with a neckscissors, but Act is too close to the ropes and gets the break. Dark Angel picks up Act and hits the Stun Gun, suplex by Dark Angel but Act kicks out. Dark Angel picks up Act but Act blocks the pedigree, reverse STO by Act and she delivers the Senton Bomb off the second turnbuckle. Act goes up again but Dark Angel recovers and tosses her off, Dark Angel goes up but Act joins her and powerslams Act to the mat for a two count. Act goes up top but Dark Angel hits the rope to knock her off, Act rolls Dark Angel to the mat but Dark Angel kicks out of the cover. Grounded necklock by Act but Dark Angel suplexes out of it, La Reienera by Dark Angel and after Act can’t escape the referee calls for the bell! Dark Angel is the new champion.

I like both of these wrestlers but I felt the match fell a bit flat. Something seemed off, they weren’t always on the same page and some of the moves just weren’t hit very cleanly. Act is always a bundle of fun to watch as she has a wide variety of offense and the pacing/time felt right as Dark Angel knows how to lay out a match, it just never sucked me in as the story was never really there (the crowd also never really got into it either). Some quality spots, but overall it didn’t reach the level I was hoping for.

(c) Natsuki*Taiyo vs. Yuhi
NEO High Speed Championship

After NEO disbanded, the High Speed Championship continued to be defended and eventually landed in Stardom when the promotion was created in 2011. Taiyo, a former NEO wrestler, won the championship for the third time in July of 2011, and had held it continuously since then. The belt was kinda perfect for her as she wrestled at a very fast speed. Yuhi debuted in Stardom in 2012 and showed a lot of promise, however she retired in 2014 so she had a pretty short career. Even though she held the title for a long time, this was only Taiyo’s third defense, as like today the High Speed Championship was not defended very often.

After some fast paced rope running, things calm down with wristlocks until Yuhi pushes Taiyo into the ropes and goes for a Tiger Feint Kick. Taiyo ducks that, Yuhi grabs her arm and she hits a diving armdrag out of the corner. Taiyo goes off the ropes and hits an elbow onto Yuhi, kicks to the ribs by Taiyo and she applies an armbar. She releases the hold after a moment, kicks by Taiyo but Yuhi fights back with elbows. Taiyo dropkicks Yuhi hard in the chest, she goes up top and delivers a missile dropkick. Running dropkick by Taiyo in the corner, and she covers Yuhi for two. Taiyo goes for the Iguchi Bomb but Yuhi hurricanranas out of it, quebrada by Yuhi but Taiyo kicks out of the cover. Yuhi goes up top but Taiyo quickly joins her and armdrags her to the mat, Iguchi Bomb by Yuhi but it gets a two. Kick by Taiyo but Yuhi blocks the Taiyo-chan☆Bomb, kicks by Yuhi but Taiyo catches one and pushes her to the mat.

stardom4-29-6Kick to the chest by Taiyo, she goes off the ropes but Yuhi slides away and kicks Taiyo in the chest. Ankle Hold by Yuhi but Taiyo gets to the ropes to force a break. Kicks by Yuhi and she hits a strike combination, handstand capoeira by Yuhi and she kicks Taiyo in the head for a two count. Yuhi goes up top but Taiyo avoids the Firebird Splash, Taiyo-chan☆Bomb by Taiyo but Yuhi gets a shoulder up. Hard elbow by Taiyo but Yuhi returns fire, knees by Taiyo but Yuhi gets into the ropes. Release German by Taiyo but Yuhi springs up and hits a German suplex hold for two. Taiyo goes for La Magistral but Yuhi blocks it, jumping kick by Yuhi and she delivers the Honey Flash, but Taiyo barely gets a shoulder up. Yuhi goes for a kick but Taiyo catches it and hits a leg trap suplex hold, but it gets two. Taiyo picks up Yuhi and puts her onto the top turnbuckle, Taiyo joins her and nails the Taiyo-chan*Spanish Fly, picking up the three count! Natsuki Taiyo is still the High Speed Champion!

This was a really fun match that delivered what it was aiming for – a fast paced entertaining midcard match that kept the fans engaged without overshadowing the bigger matches on the card. Yuhi was such a great young talent, she retired before she was even 18 so we’ll never know how great she could have been. This type of match was Taiyo’s specialty as she had a lot of different high speed offense, and even though the match was over ten minutes it flew by. I could watch this all day, far from a classic but just what the card needed to get the crowd back into it.  Recommended

(c) Kyoko Kimura and Hailey Hatred vs. Kairi Hojo and Natsumi Showzuki
Goddesses of Stardom Championship

And we roll on with our third championship match of the night. Kyoko and Hailey won the titles on March 17th against Taiyo and Yoshiko, and this is their first defense of the title. They likely did that change to free up Yoshiko and Taiyo for this event, since that is how wrestling works. We all know Kairi Hojo, as she is the current emotional leader of Stardom, but Natsumi was at her level in 2013 and they were a tag team together for over a year. Natsumi had her last match not long after this one, she suffered a back injury and officially retired in 2015. This is not the first time that Kairi and Natsumi battled Kimura Monster-gun, as they looked to bring the belts back to Stardom.

Kairi and Natsumi try to attack before the bell, but it quickly backfires as Kimura Monster-gun takes over. Kairi stays in the ring with Hailey but Kyoko pulls Kairi out of the ring and they battle on the floor. Hailey throws Kairi into the ring post while Kyoko slides Natsumi into the ring, Kyoko puts Natsumi in the Tree of Woe and jumps down on her in the corner. Hailey comes in too as they double team Natsumi, Hailey stays in and works over Natsumi’s leg. Kyoko is tagged in and she puts Natsumi in a leglock, but Natsumi rolls up Kyoko for a quick two count. Kyoko goes back to the leg but Natsumi hits a crossbody and tags in Kairi. Kyoko and Hailey double team Kairi as they slam her into the mat, but Kairi gets away and hits a double spear. Another spear by Kairi onto Kyoko and she hits another one followed by a third. Kairi picks up Kyoko but Kyoko slides away and pushes Kairi to the mat. Kairi recovers and elbows Kyoko but Kyoko boots her in the face for a two count cover. Front necklock by Kairi but Kyoko reverses it, Kairi gets into the ropes but Kyoko slaps her in the face. Kyoko picks up Kairi and puts her in a sleeper, but Natsumi runs in and breaks it up.

stardom4-29-7Slaps by Natsumi to Kyoko, she goes back out to the apron and Kairi tags her in. Knees by Natsumi to Kyoko, running knee by Natsumi and she covers Kyoko for a two count. Natsumi goes off the ropes but Hailey hits her from the apron, Kyoko tags in Hailey and they kick Natsumi around the ring, Kairi comes in too but ultimately Kimura Monster-gun keeps the advantage. Natsumi kicks Kyoko in the head while Kairi spears Hailey, kick by Natsumi to Hailey and she tags in Kairi. Assisted kneedrop by Natsumi, she goes up top and hits a diving double kneedrop onto Hailey. Kairi then goes up top and nails the diving elbow drop, but Kyoko breaks up the pin. Hailey clears the ring, she picks up Kairi and snaps off a German suplex hold for two. Hailey picks up Kairi again and throws her into the corner, Kyoko returns and they double team Kairi. High kick by Hailey, and she covers Kairi for two. Hailey gets on the second turnbuckle and they hit an assisted Gory Special, but Natsumi breaks up the pin. Hailey picks up Kairi but Kairi spins away and applies the 4173 (Gedo Clutch) for the three count! Natsumi Showzuki and Kairi Hojo are your new champions!

I haven’t seen a ton of Hailey Hatred, and maybe I am just watching the wrong matches, but I have yet to see her in a match look good. Every spear by Kairi to Hailey just looked rough, as if Hailey had never sold a spear before, and so much of it felt awkward. Her German Suplex was nice but nothing else was smooth. To be fair, some of the Kyoko segments looked rough too, it just felt disjointed as hell. Natsumi and Kairi were spunky as you’d assume and there were some solid parts, but overall just too rough around the edges to recommend.

Kaori Yoneyama, Hiroyo Matsumoto, and Syuri vs. Takahashi, Fujimoto, and Mika Nagano

Nanae Takahashi That’s Women’s Pro-Wrestling

I guess this is our breather before the big matches. Fujimoto is on loan from Ice Ribbon, while Syuri is from WNC. Matsumoto, Yoneyama, and Nagano were all Freelancers, leaving Nanae Takahashi as the only Stardom wrestler in the bunch. This actually is the last wrestling match in Mika Nagano’s career, as she was primarily focused on her MMA career.

Kaori and Fujimoto start off but they reach a stalemate and tag in Mika and Syuri. Mika takes down Syuri, kicks by Syuri but Mika slides away and hits mounted elbows. Mika goes for a cross armbreaker and gets it locked on, but Syuri gets a foot on the ropes. Nanae and Hiroyo are tagged in and they trade elbows, shoulderblock by Nanae and she throws down Hiroyo by the hair. Hiroyo returns the favor and hits a body avalanche before making the tag to Kaori. Abdominal Stretch by Kaori, she puts Nanae in the ropes so that her teammates can help her with the Stardom star. Syuri is tagged in next, Nanae slaps her but Syuri slaps her back and knees Nanae in the stomach. She goes off the ropes but Nanae delivers a lariat before making the hot tag to Fujimoto. Fujimoto kicks down all three of her opponents, Mika comes in and she dropkicks Syuri in the corner. Double catapult dropkick by Fujimoto to Syuri, she goes for a suplex but Syuri blocks it and hits a scoop slam. Syuri goes off the ropes but Fujimoto dropkicks her and tags in Mika, Mika and Syuri trade elbows, Syuri knees Mika into the corner and she hits a jumping knee. Suplex by Syuri, and she covers Mika for two. Mika goes for a cross armbreaker but it gets broken up, her teammates run in too however and Mika gets the hold re-applied. Mike gets out of it, knee by Mika but Syuri knees her back.

stardom4-29-8Syuri tags in Hiroyo and Hiroyo suplexes Mika with Kaori’s help. Hiroyo gets Mike on her back but Mika slides away and rolls up Hiroyo for two. Sleeper by Mika to Hiroyo, Nanae is tagged in and she lariats Hiroyo in the corner. Another lariat by Nanae, she goes for a suplex but Hiroyo blocks it. Hiroyo and Nanae trade elbows, Hiroyo slides to the apron and snaps Nanae’s neck over the top rope. Hiroyo goes up top and hits a missile dropkick, she charges Nanae but Nanae kicks her back and they trade strikes. Roaring Elbow by Hiroyo, but Nanae gets a shoulder up. Reverse Double Kneedrop by Hiroyo, but Fujimoto breaks up the cover. Hiroyo tags in Kaori, diving senton by Kaori to Nanae and she gets a two count. Everyone stacks on Hiroyo so she can hit a heavy kneedrop, cover by Kaori but Nanae kicks out at two. Nanae is thrown into the corner but Nanae lariats all of her opponents, she goes up top and hits the Refrigerator Bomb for a two count. Nanae picks up Kaori but Kaori sneaks in a flash pin for two. German suplex by Nanae but Kaori knees her in the back of the head, she goes up top and delivers the Takako Panic for a two count. Kaori picks up Nanae, elbow by Nanae and she hits a lariat. Yoshi Tonic by Kaori, she picks up Nanae but Fujimoto hits the Venus Shoot on her. Nanae picks up Kaori and delivers the Falcon Arrow, but Hiroyo breaks up the pin. The ring clears, Nanae picks up Kaori and she nails the One Second EX for the three count! Team Nanae Takahashi wins!

While a match like this isn’t going to blow anyone away, it was a smartly worked match that kept at a decent pace while giving all the wrestlers a chance to shine. Its a shame that Mika stopped wrestling as I love me a good MMA gimmick (well not a gimmick in her case), and her pairing with Syuri was entertaining. Nanae Takahashi was the star of the match by design but looked good, and everyone played their role well with no mistakes or miscommunications. Nothing special in the long run but a solid match bell to bell and quality filler.  Mildly Recommended

(c) Alpha Female vs. Io Shirai
This match is for the World of Stardom Championship

Just like in 2016, back in 2013 Io was already battling the monster gaijins. Alpha Female had just won the championship from Nanae Takahashi on March 17th, after Nanae held the title for 602 days. That isn’t a typo. Her first title defense is against the rising young star of Stardom, at the biggest event in Stardom’s history. Even Stevie Wonder could see who was winning this match, but sometimes promotions have to do the right thing even if its predictable. Leading up to this match, Io proved she was a worthy challenger for the title by winning a tournament for the chance at the belt, beating Kaori Yoneyama and Dark Angel along the way. That would help her legitimacy, as instead of being ‘handed’ a title shot she earned it. Now she just had to prove herself one last time against one of the biggest wrestlers to set foot in the Stardom ring.

After Alpha Female jaws with the crowd they tie-up, Io tries to shoulderblock Alpha Female over but it obviously fails. Chops by Io, she goes for a slam but Alpha Female blocks it and hits a scoop slam of her own. Alpha Female throws Io into the corner but Io avoids her charge and hits a spinning headscissors followed by a standing moonsault for two. Io attempts to Irish whip Alpha Female but Alpha Female blocks it and hits a release German suplex. Alpha Female picks up Io and hits a German suplex hold, but Io kicks out at two. Clubs to the chest by Alpha Female and she hits a lariat, cobra clutch by Alpha Female but Io gets into the ropes for a break. Alpha Female picks up Io but Io lands on her feet on the suplex attempt and dropkicks Alpha Female into the corner. Space Rolling Elbow by Io but Alpha Female blocks the face crusher and delivers a release German. Alpha Female charges Io but Io ducks her lariat and applies the Tarantula in the ropes. Io releases it and goes for a swandive move, but Alpha Female grabs her before she can springboard and elbows her down to the floor. Alpha Female goes out after her and slams her into the apron, she puts Io against the ring post and goes for a lariat, but Io moves out of the way. Io then hits a Tiger Feint Kick around the ring post, she goes up top and delivers a moonsault down onto Alpha Female.

stardom4-29-9Alpha Female is rolled into the ring by Kyoko Kimura, Io gets on the apron and she hits a swandive dropkick to Alpha Female’s back. Tiger Feint Kick by Io and she hits another swandive dropkick, pinning Alpha Female for a two count. Armtrap Crossface by Io but Alpha Female muscles out of it, body avalanche by Io in the corner but Alpha Female elbows her in the other corner and they trade elbows. Palm strike by Io but Alpha Female elbows her hard in the face for a two count. Alpha Female charges Io but Io slides out to the apron, diving hurricanrana by Io and she hits a double knee strike in the corner. Alpha Female fires back with a lariat, she picks up Io and delivers a chokebomb, but Io barely gets a shoulder up. Cobra Clutch by Alpha Female but Io gets a foot on the ropes to force a break, Alpha Female picks up Io and goes off the ropes, but Io catches her with a Frankensteiner. Spinning kicks to the head by Io and she hits a standing moonsault followed by a moonsault off the second turnbuckle and top turnbuckle, but Alpha Female kicks out of the cover. Io goes for another hurricanrana but Alpha Female catches her and hits a Buckle Bomb. Alpha Female picks up Io and goes for a slam but Io blocks it and hits a Buzzsaw Kick. Io rains more Buzzsaw Kicks onto Alpha Female, rolling savate kick by Io and she hits a second one for a two count cover. They get up, kicks to the midsection by Io and she nails another rolling savate kick for the three count! Io Shirai is the new champion!

This match was good but weird. The ending felt… strange as while repeated kicks to the head is a solid way to win a match, it wasn’t one of Io’s regular ways and it would have been more impressive if she had won with a power move (like a bridging suplex). Odd ending aside, Alpha Female is one of the top female heels in all of wrestling and plays the part perfectly, she is strong enough to do just about anything but doesn’t mind taking the big bumps when needed to put over the ‘good guy.’ Watching the match four years after it happened, it didn’t really have an epic feel like you’d hope from the young local star defeating the evil gaijin for the promotion’s top championship, but it did show that Io is incredibly hard to beat, which is a theme that continues to this day. I liked it overall, but the ending was a bit flat and it didn’t feel as special as it was probably intended to be.  Mildly Recommended

Yuzuki Aikawa vs. Yoshiko
Yuzuki Aikawa Retirement Match

After an exhilarating two and a half year career, Yuzuki Aikawa decided to call it quits. Aikawa embodied everything that Stardom wanted from their wrestlers so I am sure they were extremely sad to see her go. She was a popular idol and a popular wrestler, that perfect combination that Rossy Ogawa has wanted since the days of Jd’. But when he finally found the perfect one, after just two years she decided to no longer wrestle due to the impact it was having on her body. But Stardom was going to take full advantage by having her final match at Sumo Hall and stack the card with title matches to try to keep the fans that started watching the promotion just to see Aikawa. She is against a Stardom original, the foil to the Idol Movement, as Yoshiko was all about kicking ass and not about posing in modeling magazines. Yoshiko was only 19 years old when this match took place but already had a tag title reign under her belt, as she was seen as one of the top rising stars in the promotion. She was still unproven in a lot of ways, only two years into her career, and this was a huge spot for her to show that she belonged at the top of Stardom.

Aikawa and Yoshiko get right into it and end up on the mat, Yoshiko gets in the mount and holds down Aikawa. Aikawa hits an armdrag and kicks Yoshiko in the corner, figure four necklock by Aikawa and she rams Yoshiko’s head into the mat. Yoshiko kicks Aikawa into the corner and throws her down by the hair, bootscrapes by Yoshiko and she nails the running kick. Yoshiko puts Aikawa in the ropes and kicks her repeatedly in the chest, Irish whip by Yoshiko but Aikawa kicks her in the chest. Aikawa and Yoshiko trade elbow strikes, kicks to the leg by Aikawa but she poses for too long and Yoshiko bodyblocks her to the mat. Shoulderblocks by Yoshiko, she charges Aikawa in the corner but Aikawa hits a heel drop. Running body avalanche by Aikawa and she puts Yoshiko in a STF, but Yoshiko gets to the ropes. Aikawa goes for kicks but Yoshiko blocks them all and chokes Aikawa against the ropes. Aikawa goes for a fisherman suplex but Yoshiko gets out of it and hits a Codebreaker. Yoshiko applies a stretch hold before delivering a pump handle slam, she picks up Aikawa but Aikawa kicks her in the back. Fisherman suplex hold by Aikawa, but Yoshiko kicks out of the cover.

stardom4-29-10Hammerlock by Aikawa but Yoshiko slams her way out of it and hits a running senton. Another senton by Yoshiko and she hits one more for a two count. Yoshiko gets on the second turnbuckle and hits a diving senton, cover by Yoshiko but Aikawa gets a shoulder up. Yoshiko goes up top again but Aikawa snaps her neck over the top rope. Yoshiko falls out of the ring, Aikawa goes up top and dives out onto her with a plancha suicida. Aikawa returns to the ring and waits for Yoshiko, Yoshiko eventually slides back in and Aikawa hits her with the Shining Yuzard. Yuzupon Kick Blue by Aikawa, but Yoshiko barely kicks out of the cover. Aikawa goes for the Tiger Suplex but Yoshiko gets out of it, Yuzupon Stunner by Aikawa but Yoshiko drops her with a fireman’s carry slam for two. Yoshiko goes for the Reverse Splash but Aikawa moves out of the way, jumping knee by Aikawa in the corner and she kicks Yoshiko in the head again. Another head kick by Aikawa, but again Yoshiko kicks out. Aikawa picks up Yoshiko and kicks her in the head, but Yoshiko comes back with a headbutt. They both slowly get up and trade slaps, kicks by Aikawa to Yoshiko’s back and she hits the Yuzupon Kick Red, but Yoshiko gets up and fires off lariats. Aikawa ducks one and hits the Tiger Suplex Hold, but Yoshiko kicks out. Another Yuzupon Kick Red, but Yoshiko still won’t stay down for three. Aikawa goes for another Tiger Suplex Hold but Yoshiko pushes her off and hits a lariat. Chokebomb by Yoshiko, she gets on the top turnbuckle and nails a diving senton for the three count! Yoshiko wins!

When you think about it, this result is really different and Stardom went ‘all in’ on Yoshiko by structuring the match this way. I mean Yoshiko was only 19, and not fully established. Aikawa very rarely got pinned once she was the star of the promotion, she never even lost her singles title and ended up forfeiting it when her retirement was planned. But on the biggest event in Stardom’s history, Yoshiko not only defeats the most popular wrestler in Stardom but takes literally every move that she has in the process. I mean Aikawa had nothing left, if you check her move list on wikipedia she did everything with no success. Then the first time Yoshiko hits the diving senton from the top, she gets the win. The crowd really didn’t react as they didn’t know how to, while Yoshiko was a rising star she wasn’t really on this level at this point and probably wasn’t expected to win. The crowd didn’t boo, they were just stunned. Anyway, the issue with the match was that it was just really back and forth with no real transitions at times. Aikawa would hit a few moves, Yoshiko would stand up and hit a few moves, and so on. It didn’t feel like either really had a plan, it was just both hitting moves randomly with little to tie it together. Aikawa never really got desperate or emotional, as even though it was a Retirement Match she had such a short career that it didn’t have that epic feel like the Dynamite Kansai Retirement Match I watched a few weeks ago.  The match was good, but nothing more than that, even though I admire Stardom’s balls for putting all their chips in one basket and really going for it.  Mildly Recommended

Final Thoughts


And that, in a lot of words, is the biggest event in Stardom history. It is fun to look back at now, as less than four years later, even though this show had 34 wrestlers only five of them still actively wrestle in Stardom, and two of them are Freelancers (Matsumoto and Yoneyama). All the others either retired, left, or were Freelancers that no longer contribute to Stardom. And that isn’t unusual in wrestling but particularly not in Joshi, careers are generally not very long. Stardom tried their best to put on the biggest event they could, and in a lot of ways they succeeded, as nothing was bad on the show. Nothing was fantastic either however, as the matches generally all fell in the 10 to 15 minute range and none really felt special from the work bell to bell. The final two matches were fine but something felt off about them both, the action was good but it never fully clicked. For historical purposes it is worth the watch, as it was a big event that may not have fully accomplished Stardom’s long term goal but was still quite a spectacle.