Event: Stardom Cinderella Tournament 2019
Date: April 29th, 2019
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 1,050
It is time to watch the Stardom Cinderella Tournament! This is the fifth year Stardom has run the tournament, with the winner of the tournament being granted one wish (and gets to wear a pretty Cinderella dress). Last year’s winner, Momo Watanabe, used her wish to challenge Io Shirai for the World of Stardom Championship, so the assumption is that the winner will challenge for one of Stardom’s top titles. The Cinderella Tournament is a one-night tournament and has 16 participants. Every match in the tournament is a singles match with the following stipulations:
- Tournament is Single Elimination
- All matches up to the final have a 10 Minute Time Limit
- If the time limit expires, the match is a Draw and both wrestlers are eliminated from the tournament
- If both wrestlers are eliminated by Draw, their opponent in the next round gets a Bye
- Wrestlers can win by pinfall, submission, or throwing their opponent over the top rope to the floor
I previewed the event as well, where I predicted (mostly incorrectly) the outcome of the tournament. Here is the full bracket:
These are the first round matches in the order they take place on the show:
All wrestlers have a profile on Joshi City, you can click their names to go straight to it. I’m switching back and forth between Stardom’s version and Samurai TV’s version of the show, which I realize is a bit obnoxious but the end result is the same anyway.
AZM vs. Rebel Kel
This match is part of the 1st Round of the Cinderella Tournament. AZM and Rebel Kel are in two different factions, Queen’s Quest and Tokyo Cyber Squad respectively, so no conflicts here. This is just a classic little underdog vs. giant gaijin match to kick off the tournament and likely a way to get AZM into the second round since Rebel Kel is no threat.
Rebel Kel flaunts her height advantage to start and tosses the much smaller AZM round the ring, AZM tries to dropkick Rebel Kel over but Rebel Kel stays standing tall. Rebel Kel hits a dropkick of her own, Irish whip by Rebel Kel but AZM pushes her to the mat and kicks her in the chest. AZM goes for an Irish whip but Rebel Kel reverses it, AZM avoids her charge in the corner and flips out to the apron. AZM trips Rebel Kel under the bottom rope, footstomp by AZM but Rebel Kel blocks the suplex attempt. Irish whip by Rebel Kel to the corner, AZM jumps up to the turnbuckles but Rebel Kel boots her in the chest. Rebel Kel flings AZM in the middle of the ring, cocky cover by Rebel Kel but it gets two. She tosses AZM around by her hair, kick by Rebel Kel and she gets on the second turnbuckle, but AZM recovers and joins her. Rebel Kel goes for an avalanche chokeslam but AZM blocks it and throws her back into the ring, high kick by AZM and she hits a vertical suplex. Elbows by AZM but Rebel Kel boots her when she goes off the ropes, she goes for a suplex but AZM lands on her feet. Rebel Kel blocks the cradle attempt, Falcon Arrow by Rebel Kel but AZM kicks out of the cover. Press slam attempt by Rebel Kel but AZM reverses it into a hurricanrana for the three count! AZM wins and advances in the tournament.
This was better than it had any right to be but its because they kept it simple. Big Person vs. Little Person is an old story but its a story that works if done well, and the structuring here was on point as they kept the match interesting bell to bell. The flash pin/upset was a nice way to kick of the tournament, and Rebel Kel looked better than she has in any match I’ve seen her up to this point. For a first tournament match, about all you could ask for. Mildly Recommended
Starlight Kid vs. Natsu Sumire
This match is part of the 1st Round of the Cinderella Tournament. Starlight Kid, as she nears her completion of school (I think?) has slowly gotten more and more attention from Stardom and seems poised for a push soon as her schedule opens up. Natsu Sumire is the clown of Oedo Tai, no one takes her seriously but she makes everyone laugh and occasionally wins matches. If they wanted to give Starlight Kid a shot to the next round, facing Natsu was the easiest way to do it as Natsu has no legitimacy to lose.
Wristlock by Starlight Kid to start and she tosses Natsu down near the corner, dropkick by Starlight Kid and she hits a jumping lariat for two. She goes for a cradle but Natsu blocks it, stomps by Natsu and she stretches Starlight Kid in the ropes. Natsu gets a bottle of water and spits it into the crowd, big boot by Natsu to the back of the head and she covers Starlight Kid for barely two. Natsu kick Starlight Kids into the corner but Starlight Kid avoids the bronco buster and positions Natsu in front of the corner. Diving body press off the second turnbuckle by Starlight Kid, she picks up Natsu but Natsu gets away. Starlight Kid goes off the ropes but Natsu blocks the Tiger Feint Kick, she puts Starlight Kid across the ropes in the corner and hits a double knee drop. Natsu goes for the Bronco Buster again and this time succeeds, she goes for the DDT but Starlight Kid pushes her off and hits a swinging neckbreaker followed by a standing moonsault for two. Starlight Kid goes off the ropes but Natsu grabs her for a small package, but Starlight Kid reverses it and hits a dropkick. Small package by Starlight Kid and she picks up the three count! Starlight Kid wins and advances in the tournament.
A pretty simple match, not much to it. Starlight Kid looked smooth as usual and Natsu continued to serve her role well. There was no other outcome that would work here, more of a formality than anything else and generally skippable.
Bea Priestley vs. Hazuki
This match is part of the 1st Round of the Cinderella Tournament. A battle between Oedo Tai (Hazuki) and Queen’s Quest (Bea), both of them are in a similar spot in the promotion as neither are at the top of their respective factions but are not pushovers either, and Hazuki comes into the match as the High Speed Champion with a lot of momentum. The winner here is a toss-up as both have storyline reasons to justify their advancement.
Hazuki and Bea circle each other, they go through a high speed exchange until Bea hits a hurricanrana. Bea can’t capitalize as Hazuki quickly takes over, she facewashes Bea against the ropes before hitting a running boot. Scoop slam by Hazuki, and she covers Bea for two. Back up they trade elbows, Hazuki throws Bea into the corner and charges her, but Bea flips Hazuki out onto the apron. Swandive dropkick by Hazuki and she puts Bea in an armtrap crossface, but Bea gets into the ropes for the break. Hazuki goes off the ropes but Bea avoids the boot and knees her, backdrop suplex by Bea and she delivers a curbstomp for two. Bea picks up Hazuki and goes for the Queen’s Landing, but Hazuki elbows out of it and headscissors Bea over the top rope, sending Bea to the floor! Hazuki wins by Over The Top Rope and advances in the tournament.
Even before I read it officially, it was clear that this was not the planned ending. Bea lost her grip and ended up on the floor, even as Hazuki tried to hold her up. The music played was Bea’s and initially Bea was announced as the winner, before they changed it since Hazuki clearly won. Before the botched ending the match was fine, both are smooth and everything was hit flush. A perfectly watchable first round match, just with an accidental winner.
Arisa Hoshiki vs. Saki Kashima
This match is part of the 1st Round of the Cinderella Tournament. These two are in the same faction (STARS) and seemingly on friendly terms, but factions mean nothing when the tiara is on the line. Saki came back last spring but when Arisa returned to Stardom, she quickly seemed to pass Saki on the pecking order. Saki faces an uphill battle here but is a scrappy fighter and anything can happen in a single elimination tournament.
They trade strike attempts to start with neither connecting until Saki hits a quick footstomp. Saki starts on Arisa’s leg and kicks her against the ropes, she goes off the ropes but Arisa kicks her in the chest. Arisa chops Saki in the corner and hits a jumping double knee, double kneedrop by Arisa and she covers Saki for two. She goes off the ropes but Saki ducks the kick and hits a tilt-a-whirl headscissors into an Indian Deathlock. Arisa gets to the ropes for a break, Saki dropkicks her in the knee and hits a kneedrop to Arisa’s leg from the second turnbuckle. More kicks by Saki and she hits a dragon screw, she picks up Arisa and hits a double underhook facebuster for a two count. Saki goes up top but Arisa avoids the diving footstomp, kicks by Arisa but Saki avoids the Brazilian Kick. Saki goes for a roll-up but Arisa rolls through, jumping knee by Arisa and she covers Saki for a two count. Arisa picks up Saki and slams her to the mat, she goes up top and nails a twisting body press for the three count! Arisa Hoshiki is the winner!
While these five minute (or shorter) matches are hard to recommend on an individual basis, a common issue with “rating” tournaments like this, the match was an easy watch and both looked fine. Arisa is the crisper of the two and Saki’s leg work seemed weird since you can win by throwing your opponent over the top rope, but maybe making strategies just isn’t Saki’s strong suit. A good tournament match.
Hana Kimura vs. Andras Miyagi
This match is part of the 1st Round of the Cinderella Tournament. Crazy meets crazy as the leader of the Tokyo Cyber Squad takes on Andras Miyagi. Both are very recent signees to Stardom (full time anyway) and are looking to start making a real impact in the promotion. Winning the Cinderella Tournament would certainly be a way to do that, and in regards to winning potential this is the best pairing we have yet as neither are scrubs.
They are slow to lock-up, Andras starts headbanging so Hana schoolboys her from behind for a two count. Now Hana starts to headbang so Andras joins her, Hana goes off the ropes and she boots Andras in the head. Hana celebrates in the ropes but Andras knocks her from behind onto the apron, Andras charges her but Hana slides back in the ring and hits a dropkick. Running boot by Hana and she hits a second one, cover by Hana but it gets two. Hana gets Andras’ back and goes for a sleeper, but Andras gets out of it with a jawbreaker. Hana quickly applies the Ground Manjikatame but Andras quickly gets a foot on the ropes for the break, Andras gets back up and the pair trade elbows until Hana hits a sidewalk slam for two. Andras throws Hana into the corner but Hana tosses her out onto the apron, Hana goes to elbow Andras off the apron but Andras snaps her neck on the top rope. Andras returns to the ring and boots Hana, backdrop suplex by Andras and she goes to the top turnbuckle, hitting a missile dropkick for a two count. Elbow by Andras but Hana boots her back and gets on the second turnbuckle, Andras boots her off of it however and Hana lands on the apron. Andras charges Hana but Hana holds the rope down and Andras ends up on the apron as well. They trade elbows while on the apron, Andras goes for a piledriver but Hana blocks it and goes for a vertical suplex. Andras blocks that too, boot by Andras but Hana dropkicks her off the apron and down to the floor! Hana Kimura wins via Over The Top Rope and advances into the tournament.
I’m not sure how these factions are going to work out but I will admit that I am afraid of Hana Kimura getting lost in the shuffle. She is a good wrestler but not as good as many of the other Stardom wrestlers, and her current gimmick is hard to take seriously. Andras is in a similar boat but doesn’t come across as goofy as Hana can so I’m not as concerned with her, I don’t think she’ll ever have the top title but she’ll find her place. Anyway the match was decent enough but they didn’t click as well as we’ve seen in the last few matches and it felt more like trading spots until the ending stretch than anything else. Not bad, but nothing special either.
Kagetsu vs. Tam Nakano
This match is part of the 1st Round of the Cinderella Tournament. Former friends collide, as Oedo Tail’s leader Kagetsu faces off against STARS’ Tam Nakano. Tam was an early favorite by many to win the tournament, as she seems poised for a push after mostly hanging around the midcard and upper midcard for the last year. Kagetsu comes into the match as the World of Stardom Champion, so under normal circumstances this would be a tough match to win for Tam, but typically champions don’t do well in the tournament since it would beat the purpose of having it in the first place if one of the top champions won.
They jockey for position to start, they end up on the mat but they roll into the ropes for a break. They soon land on the mat again, Tam gets Kagetsu’s ankle but Kagetsu gets out of it and applies an ankle hold of her own. Tam wiggles to the ropes and gets to them to force a break, Kagetsu picks her up and tosses Tam towards the corner, but Tam collapses before she gets there. Kagetsu kicks Tam’s leg in the ropes before dropkicking it, Kagetsu puts Tam on the top turnbuckle but Tam jumps off with a neckbreaker. Cartwheel kneedrop by Tam, and she covers Kagetsu for a two count. Tam goes for a backdrop suplex but Kagetsu lands on her feet, grounded necklock by Tam but Kagetsu muscles out of it and hits a vertical suplex. Kagetsu charges Tam but Tam kicks her and applies a guillotine on the top turnbuckle, Takako Panic by Tam but Kagetsu blocks her knee attempt. Sleeper by Tam but Kagetsu gets out of it with a jawbreaker and applies an ankle hold. Again Tam gets to the ropes to get a break, Kagetsu picks her up and hits an Ebisu Drop in front of the corner. Kagetsu goes up top but Tam recovers and joins her, superplex by Tam but Kagetsu quickly hits a sliding knee. Death Valley Bomb by Tam and both wrestlers are on the mat trying to recover. They both get back to their knees and trade elbows, Kagetsu elbows Tam into the ropes but Kagetsu blocks one and goes for a chokeslam. Tam blocks it but Kagetsu delivers a high kick, Ebisu Drop by Kagetsu and she goes up top, but Tam avoids the Oedo Coaster. High kick by Tam and she nails a Tiger Suplex Hold, but Kagetsu barely gets a shoulder up. Tam applies a dragon sleeper but the time expires before Kagetsu submits, and the match is a Draw! Both wrestlers are eliminated.
Even though they telegraphed a bit that they were going long with the slow start, once it kicked into gear I really enjoyed this. Tam needed a good showing as she just hasn’t been able to break out of the midcard since joining Stardom, and Kagetsu doesn’t really need the win since she already has a belt anyway. Both wrestlers kicked out of a fair amount of offense but neither hit their big death move, so it never felt excessive or like they were blowing too much for a first round match. Tam has more skill than Stardom has let her show and I hope taking Kagetsu to the limit (and having perhaps the winning move applied when the bell rang) will be the start of her getting bigger spots in the promotion. Overall a fun match that told a solid story while helping putting over Tam as a force to be reckoned with even if she ran out of time. Recommended
Natsuko Tora vs. Jungle Kyona
This match is part of the 1st Round of the Cinderella Tournament. There is certainly a lot of backstory here. For the last year, Jungle Kyona and Natsuko Tora were not only in the same faction together (J.A.N.) but also a regular tag team, as they held both the tag and trios titles in 2018. But in 2019, Natsuko started showing some frustration with her leader and when she was drafted into Oedo Tai, she expressed joy for the change which crushed Jungle Kyona. So here, the former mentor and student face off, now on different paths as Natsuko wants to prove she is better off with Oedo Tai and Jungle Kyona wanting to show the less experienced wrestler that she still hasn’t passed her in the pecking order.
They waste no time as they quickly get into an elbow battle, Kyona tries to shoulderblock Natsuko over but Natsuko doesn’t budge. She tries again with no luck, quick spear by Natsuko and she throws down Kyona by the hair. Natsuko kicks at Kyona in the corner and puts her in the ropes to hit a series of chops, she gets a bottle of water and pours it over Kyona’s head. Kneelift by Natsuko and she covers Kyona, but it gets a two count. Natsuko slaps at Kyona but Kyona responds with a hard elbow, Natsuko elbows her back but Kyona absorbs the blows and slaps her. Lariat by Kyona, and she covers Natsuko for two. Another lariat by Kyona and she hits a couple more, but Natsuko gets a shoulder up on the cover. Kyona elbows Natsuko into the corner and hits a running lariat, another lariat by Kyona and she puts Natsuko on the top turnbuckle. She goes for a Muscle Buster but Natsuko gets out of it, Natsuko goes for a spear but Kyona blocks it and hits a gutbuster. Kyona goes up top but Natsuko gets her knees up on the body press attempt and knees Kyona in the head. Natsuko then goes up top and delivers a diving body press of her own, but Kyona gets a shoulder up on the pin attempt. Natsuko picks up Kyona but Kyona hits a lariat, Natsuko fires back with an elbow but Kyona connects with a sliding lariat for two. Kyona goes off the ropes but so does Natsuko and she delivers the spear. Swinging side slam by Natsuko, but her cover gets two. Natsuko goes back up top and nails a diving guillotine legdrop, cover by Natsuko and she picks up the three count! Natsuko Tora wins and advances in the tournament.
While I am not surprised that Natsuko won, I thought they’d do it by Over The Top Rope and not have Natsuko get a clean pinfall. This was probably necessary to really put Natsuko over as she begins her new journey, but Jungle Kyona fans will continue to be dismayed as she continues to slip down the totem pole to the point she is almost underground now. They had a lot of slick reversals as they know each other well, but some of Natsuko’s parts were clunky as she is not the smoothest wrestler on the roster. A good match but this was more about the end result then the action that came before it, as Natsuko asserts herself as someone to keep an eye on going forward. Mildly Recommended
Konami vs. Momo Watanabe
This match is part of the 1st Round of the Cinderella Tournament. We have finally reached the final match of the first round, as Konami of the Tokyo Cyber Squad takes on Momo from Queen’s Quest. Konami used to be in Queen’s Quest until the recent draft, and like Natsuko Tora she is looking to go from faction afterthought to the top of their new homes. Konami and Momo teamed regularly but were never besties, so it was an easy transition for them to go from friends to actively disliking each other. Momo comes into the match the Wonder of Stardom Champion, so a win by Konami would really help establish that she should be seen as a threat.
They jump right into it as Konami swats a Momo dropkick attempt and kicks her against the ropes. Snapmare by Konami, she flips her off but Momo responds with a dropkick and some kicks of her own. Back in the middle of the ring they trade chest kicks, Konami slides away and puts Momo in an armbar, but Momo is too close to the ropes and gets the break. Konami goes off the ropes and delivers a sliding kick, fisherman suplex by Konami but Momo kicks out. Back on their feet Konami kicks Momo some more, Irish whip by Konami to the corner but Momo avoids her charge and hits a dropkick. Another dropkick by Momo and she delivers a uranage followed by a Somato for two. Momo goes up top and hits the diving Somato, but again Konami gets a shoulder up. Konami gets a way from Momo and hits a high kick, but Momo retorts with her own high kick. She goes for the Tequila Sunrise but Konami blocks it and applies an armbar, she reverts it into a seated armbar but Momo gets a foot on the ropes for the break. Konami gets on the second turnbuckle but Momo kicks her in the head and tosses Konami out to the apron. Konami grabs Momo and applies a hanging armbar over the top rope, she lets go after a moment and Momo kicks her in the head when she does so. Momo charges Konami but Konami holds down the top rope, Momo tumbles over the top rope and down to the floor, eliminating her from the match! Konami is the winner and advances in the tournament.
This was really just a tease on things to come between these two, but for a five minute match it was well done. These two will likely be at odds for awhile and they did the match as they were equals, trading kicks and everything else until it was very suddenly over. Konami winning will help if they do keep feuding as now she has one-up on the champion, but losing by Over The Top Rope won’t hurt Momo any either. The right winner and a fun sprint. Mildly Recommended
Starlight Kid vs. Hazuki
This match is part of the Quarter Finals of the Cinderella Tournament. So this should have been Starlight Kid vs. Bea Priestley, with Bea winning to set up Bea vs. Konami, but we are getting this instead. Both are young wrestlers and could use the extra bump for reaching the Semi Finals, and since this is an accidental match really anything can happen.
Starlight Kid charges Hazuki and dropkicks her into the corner, she hits a few more dropkicks followed by a tilt-a-whirl DDT. Starlight Kid cradles Hazuki but it only gets two, she dropkicks Hazuki against the ropes and hits the Tiger Feint Kick. Standing moonsault by Starlight Kid, but Hazuki kicks out of the cover. Starlight Kid picks up Hazuki but Hazuki blocks the swinging neckbreaker and hits the Code Breaker. Running elbow by Hazuki, she gets on the second turnbuckle but Starlight Kid dropkicks her out to the apron. Hazuki goes to do a swandive move but Starlight Kid pushes her as she gets to the top rope, sending Hazuki crashing to the floor! Starlight Kid wins by Over The Top Rope, advancing to the Semi Finals.
Between the fact this is a long show and this wasn’t the planned match, it makes sense they’d just make it a really quick affair before continuing on the tournament. Starlight Kid looked impressive as she tends to so I have no issues with her winning, once she graduates high school I expect her to get a pretty good push. Good enough match for what it was.
AZM vs. Konami
This match is part of the Quarter Finals of the Cinderella Tournament. Konami continues her quest of defeating everyone still remaining in Queen’s Quest, her faction before getting drafted to Tokyo Cyber Squad. She gets the chance to beat the youngest member of Queen’s Quest but also the #1 draft pick by Momo Watanabe, as everyone sees a lot of potential in AZM. AZM got an ‘upset’ win over Rebel Kel in the first round and will need another upset here to continue in the tournament.
Konami flips off AZM the same she did to Momo, but AZM dropkicks her for her trouble. Tilt-a-whirl into a schoolboy by AZM and she dropkicks Konami again, but Konami rebounds back with a springboard kick. AZM jumps on the second turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick, another dropkick by AZM and she applies an armbar. She lets the hold go after a moment and they trade elbows back on their feet, slap by AZM and she hits a hurricanrana for a two count. AZM cradles Konami for another two as they trade flash pins with neither having any luck. Head kick by AZM, she goes up top and nails a diving footstomp, but the cover gets two. AZM goes off the ropes and hits a tilt-a-whirl into an armbar, but Konami rolls through it and applies the Triangle Lancer. AZM struggles for a second but quickly taps out! Konami is the winner and advances in the tournament.
This match had a clear outcome but they made it a pretty fun journey anyway. The Cinderella Tournament is going to have matches like this – fast paced and very short as they are attempting to have 14 matches on one show. So its an easy watch for sure but more of a tease for future battles than anything else due to the time constraints.
Natsuko Tora vs. Hana Kimura
This match is part of the Quarter Finals of the Cinderella Tournament. With Arisa Hoshiki getting a bye, this is the last match of the Quarter Finals, pitting the leader of Tokyo Cyber Squad against the young and suddenly dangerous Natsuko Tora. Natsuko still has a lot to prove as she shows off for her new faction, but Hana Kimura was many fans’ favorite of winning the tournament so she has an uphill battle here to advance to the Semi Finals.
Hana goes for a knucklelock but Natsuko kicks her in the stomach, Natsuko knocks Hana against the ropes before tossing her into the corner and kicking her some more. Hana is attacked by the entire Oedo Tai team while she is against the ropes, Natsuko goes to toss Hana down by the hair but Hana blocks it and takes Natsuko out of the ring (under the top rope) to beat her in the crowd. Hana tosses Natsuko into chairs at ringside before returning to the ring, Natsuko slowly follows her and Hana tosses her around by the hair once she gets back in. Mounted elbows by Hana and she boots Natsuko before putting her in a camel clutch. Hana goes off the ropes but Natsuko catches her with a spear, cover by Natsuko but it gets two. Elbows by Natsuko but Hana boots her, spinning backfist by Natsuko but Hana dropkicks her. Vertical suplex by Hana, but her cover gets a two count. Hana applies the Ground Manjikatame but Natsuko is too close to the ropes and reaches them to break the hold. Hana goes off the ropes and goes for a boot, but Natsuko holds down the top rope and Hana lands out on the apron. Natsuko is slid the Oedo Tai sign, she hits Hana in the head with it before spearing her off the apron to the floor! Natsuko Tora wins by Over The Top Rope and advances to the semi finals.
Up to this point, this was to me the most surprising result of the tournament. Natsuko Tora has generally just been a midcarder in the last year, with occasional tag team success but never doing anything as a singles wrestler. She isn’t the best in-ring wrestler as she isn’t as smooth as most of the roster in her movements and execution, so while I understand them wanting to re-invent her after switching to Oedo Tai I am surprised they are doing it at the expense of Hana Kimura, who also needs some wins now that she is the leader of a new faction. The match itself was ok but nothing memorable as it wasn’t as captivating as most of the matches we’ve seen up to this point. In-ring probably one of the worst matches in the tournament so far, it still wasn’t bad but it never clicked for me before the unexpected ending.
Arisa Hoshiki vs. Natsuko Tora
This match is part of the Semi Finals of the Cinderella Tournament. We start off with a surprise (Natsuko Tora) against a dark horse pick for winning the entire thing (Arisa Hoshiki). Very few thought Natsuko would get this far so again she is the underdog, but that hasn’t stopped her thus far in this tournament. The winner goes on to face Konami or Starlight Kid to crown this year’s Cinderella Tournament winner.
They tie-up to start, Natsuko pushes Arisa into the ropes and hits rapid-fire punches to her stomach. Natsuko knocks Arisa down in the corner and starts working on her knee, kicks by Natsuko and she covers Arisa for a two count. Kicks to the knee by Natsuko, she goes off the ropes but Arisa catches her with a kick to the chest. Diving double knee by Arisa to Natsuko’s midsection, she picks her up and goes off the ropes, but Natsuko elbows her in the chest. Another running back elbow by Natsuko and she pounds on Arisa’s chest, she tosses by Arisa by the hair and hits bootscrapes in the corner. Irish whip by Natsuko and she hits a running elbow, spear by Natsuko and she covers Arisa for two. Natsuko slams Arisa in front of the corner and goes up top, delivering a diving body press for another two count. Natsuko picks up Arisa but Arisa gets away, backfist by Natsuko and she hits a rolling fireman’s carry slam. She goes to the top turnbuckle but Arisa avoids the diving guillotine legdrop. Head kick by Arisa, she picks up Natsuko and slams her to the mat. Arisa positions Natsuko and goes to the top turnbuckle, twisting body press by Arisa and she picks up the three count! Arisa Hoshiki wins and advances to the Finals.
While this wasn’t the most exciting match, it was pretty effective. Natsuko looked a bit better than she has thus far in the tournament, although I think Arisa held everything together. Arisa timed her spurts well and Natsuko was pretty on-point with her offense. Not a long match but it accomplished its goal, it wasn’t really designed to be memorable but to get Arisa Hoshiki into the Finals were she belongs. Mildly Recommended
Konami vs. Starlight Kid
This match is part of the Semi Finals of the Cinderella Tournament. I normally don’t harp on botches, wrestling is live theater and things happen, but I want to give Stardom some credit as Konami was supposed to face off against a former Queen’s Quest teammate in each round (and beat them). She was supposed to beat Momo in round one, AZM in round two, and then face Bea Priestley here in an attempt to reach the finals while defeating all of her old friends. Instead we get Starlight Kid, which is ok too as she has been getting more respect lately and is popular with the crowd. Clearly this is Konami’s match to win as they wouldn’t do STARS vs. STARS in the final, but I am sure that Starlight Kid will still find some way to try to steal the show.
They start with wristlocks until Konami gets Starlight Kid to the mat and kicks her in the back, she goes for the PK but Starlight Kid ducks it and schoolboys her for a two count. Starlight Kid tries a few more flash pins with no luck, swinging neckbreaker by Starlight Kid but Konami blocks the cross-legged suplex. Konami goes for the Triangle Lancer but Starlight Kid blocks it, Starlight Kid goes for a dropkick but Konami grabs her leg and applies an ankle hold. Starlight Kid reverses that into a roll-up for two, cross-legged suplex hold by Starlight Kid but Konami gets a shoulder up. Shiranui by Starlight Kid, she goes to the second turnbuckle but Konami avoids the moonsault attempt. Triangle Lancer by Konami, and Starlight Kid quickly taps out! Konami wins and advances to the Finals of the Cinderella Tournament.
Short, so disappointing in that regard, but really not a surprise considering we are towards the end of a 16 wrestler one night tournament. Starlight Kid continues to (and will continue to) impress with her spots and Konami went straight for the kill, which is logical considering the winner still has another match to go. A simple match but nothing wrong with it under the circumstances.
Arisa Hoshiki vs. Konami
This match the Finals of the Cinderella Tournament. Arisa had about as easy a path to the finals as one could hope for, as she only had to defeat Natsuko Tora and Saki Kashima to get here since she had one Bye. Konami had a more difficult journey, as she defeated Momo Watanabe, AZM, and Starlight Kid to get her chance at winning the tournament. Both of these wrestlers have a legitimate argument to make them the favorite, and it should be an entertaining match. There is no ten minute time limit as this is the Finals, however the Over The Top Rope rule is still in effect.
They start slowly as they trade kicks, but Konami grabs Arisa’s leg and takes her down to the mat. Konami goes for a sleeper but Arisa snapmares out of it and kicks Konami in the back, Konami gets up and returns fire and the two trade kicks to the chest. Arisa gets the better of the initial exchange but hits the mat after a hard kick from Konami, Konami sets up Arisa’s leg across the second rope in the corner before dropkicking it. Cover by Konami, but it gets two. Konami applies an ankle hold but Arisa is too close to the ropes and reaches them for the break. Konami goes back to the leg but Arisa reaches the ropes again, Arisa elbows Konami, Konami elbows her back but Arisa plants Konami with a dropkick. Rapid-fire kicks by Arisa and she chops Konami in the corner, jumping double knee strike by Arisa and she hits a reverse double kneedrop to Konami’s back for a two count. Arisa gets Konami on her shoulders but Konami quickly slides off and puts Arisa in an ankle hold.
Arisa gets a hand on the ropes, Konami charges her and hits a sliding kick. Fisherman Suplex Hold by Konami but Arisa gets a shoulder up, Arisa fights back and the two exchange strikes. High kick by Arisa, she picks up Konami and hits an over-the-shoulder slam. Arisa goes up to the top turnbuckle but Konami recovers and crawls up with her, applying an ankle hold while Arisa’s leg is tied up in the ropes. She lets go after a moment and hits a superplex, Konami applies a Stretch Muffler but Arisa gets to the ropes to force a break. Konami goes for a high kick but Arisa ducks it and hits one of her own, she slams Konami in front of the corner and she delivers the twisting diving body press, but Konami barely gets a shoulder up. Arisa picks up Konami but Konami ducks the Brazilian Kick and applies an armbar, but Arisa is in the ropes. Konami picks up Arisa and goes for the Triangle Lancer, but Arisa rolls through it and nails Konami with a jumping knee. A second jumping knee by Arisa, she picks up Konami and hits a third over-the-shoulder powerslam. A second twisting body press by Arisa, but like before Konami kicks out at two. Arisa drags up Konami and hits a kick combination ending with the Brazilian Kick, cover by Arisa and she picks up the three count! Arisa Hoshiki wins the match and the Cinderella Tournament!
I would have been happy with either Arisa Hoshiki or Konami winning, as even though I am not sure if Arisa’s current spot in the promotion means she will be a good title defense for Momo Watanabe, at least it is something different and someone new is being elevated. In some ways the match felt flat as Konami’s real journey in the tournament was over – she had taken down Queen’s Quest and she had no real beef with Arisa Hoshiki. Some of Arisa’s weaknesses were on display here as even though it was a ten minute match she repeated a lot of the same moves (three shoulder powerslams, two twisting bodypresses, etc.) and it felt like they ran out of ideas eight minutes into it which is really too soon to have those types of issues. I did enjoy Konami’s leg work and all the strikes were on point, I just wish it had a bit more urgency and felt more important. A good match but it didn’t really feel like as big of a match that they were trying to build up to. Mildly Recommended
The Cinderella Tournament is more about the matches as a whole than individually, as when you have this many matches in one night it is hard for any one in particular to really shine through. Most of the matches didn’t get the time to really be great, with Tam Nakano vs. Kagetsu being the star of the tournament for sure. For being a casual watch though its a really fun show and its a good crash course into Stardom as you get to see all their (healthy) stars in action in really condensed fashion. I have no issues with Arisa Hoshiki winning as hopefully it puts a fire under her to build on this success. For MOTYC hunters, this can be skipped, but fans of Stardom will enjoy the ride.