Event: Stardom “Grows Up Stars #4”
Date: April 2nd, 2016
Location: Minato Ward Community Center in Osaka, Japan
Announced Attendance: 305
Even though I am not reviewing as many events as I would like (which will be corrected shortly), I still want to stay up to date on my favorite Joshi promotion, which of course is Stardom. Like last week, this is a small event but it does include a championship match as Thunder Rock faces off against Hiroyo Matsumoto and Kagetsu! Here is the full card:
As always, you can click on the names above to go directly to their profile on Joshi City.
Azumi and Momo Watanabe vs. Hiromi Mimura and Starlight Kid
Stardom wrestlers like to give each other nicknames, so the team of Mimura and Starlight Kid will be called “Dancing Stars” for this review. A normal opening with all rookies and/or young wrestlers. Azumi is 13, Watanabe is now 16, and Starlight Kid is 15. Mimura is the oddball, as even though she is a rookie she is also 29 years old. Azumi is actually the veteran of the match so it should be an interesting dynamic.
Azumi attacks Mimura to start the match but Mimura fights back and they go to the mat. Mimura gets the better of it and tags in Starlight Kid, and Starlight Kid trades elbows with Azumi. Monkey flip by Azumi, both of their partners help from the apron but it leads to a stalemate, dropkick by Azumi and she tags Watanabe. Watanabe puts Starlight Kid in a crab hold but Starlight Kid hits a Shiranui for a two count. She tags Mimura, dropkick by Mimura and she applies the rolling leglock, she goes for La Magistral but Watanabe blocks it. Irish whip by Mimura to the corner but Watanabe reverses it and hits a dropkick. Another dropkick by Watanabe and she hits a scoop slam for two. Azumi is tagged in and she dropkicks Mimura, DDT by Azumi and she gets a two count cover. Sunset flip by Azumi but Mimura reverses it and applies La Magistral for two. DDT by Azumi but Starlight Kid breaks up the cover, Mimura tags in Starlight Kid while Watanabe is also tagged in. Double rotation headscissors by Starlight Kid but Watanabe blocks the Shiranui. Watanabe dropkicks Starlight Kid in the corner as does Azumi, Watanabe goes up top but Mimura hits her from the apron. Starlight Kid throws Watanabe to the mat and hits the backflip into a moonsault, she gets on the second turnbuckle and she hits a diving bodypress for two. Sunset flip by Starlight Kid, but Azumi breaks it up and Watanabe dropkicks Starlight Kid in the leg. Vertical suplex trio by Watanabe, she picks up Starlight Kid but she gets rolled up for two. Somato by Watanabe, she picks up Starlight Kid and nails the F-Crush for the three count! The Azumi Army win!
This was a better opener than the last few Stardom shows, as everything was hit smooth and everyone got a chance to shine. The finish looked killer, I guess hitting a move on a small child can really make it look good, and it certainly gave the match an exclamation point. Really solid way to kick things off here, the rookies/young wrestlers are getting some real chemistry which will only bode well for the future.
Alpha Female vs. Jungle Kyouna
Alpha Female continues to terrorize Stardom as she takes on the rookie Kyouna. Kyouna is the strongest of the rookies so the match-up makes sense, but she still is much smaller than the monster Alpha Female so it may not end well. Still, it is good experience for the young wrestler as this will be the biggest and strongest wrestler she has faced in her career thus far.
Alpha Female pushes Kyouna around to start, Kyouna elbows her into the corner but Alpha blocks a suplex attempt and hits Kyouna in the arm. Alpha throws down Kyouna by her hair and clubs her in the back, Alpha puts Kyouna in an Argentine Backbreaker before throwing her to the mat. Kyouna knocks Alpha back but she gets kneed in the gut for her trouble, and Alpha rams Kyouna’s head repeatedly into the mat. Clubbing blows by Alpha and she keeps the attack up on young Kyouna, scoop slam by Alpha but Kyouna finally fights back with elbows. Kyouna tries to knock over Alpha with no luck, and Alpha boots Kyouna hard in the midsection. Kyouna gets away and finally knocks over Alpha with a shoulderblock, running body press by Kyouna but Alpha levels her with a lariat. Omega Slam by Alpha Female, and she gets the three count! Alpha Female wins the match.
A bit basic and probably the worst beating that Kyouna has taken, but I enjoyed it anyway because I like Alpha Female. In a way this just established that Kyouna in the strength department isn’t in the same league as the monster gaijins that Stardom brings in as she was several levels lower than Alpha Female. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing short term, but long term she is going to have to expand her move set to have any luck against wrestlers like Alpha Female. Short and to the point, but well executed. Mildly Recommended
Alex Lee and Kaori Yoneyama vs. Kyoko Kimura and Viper
This is an odd little match if there ever was one. Even though Kimura and Viper are both part of Oedo Tai they do not regularly team together, since Viper usually teams with Diemond. Lee and Yoneyama do team from time to time and I guess are technically both in the Azumi Army, but it is a bit later in the card than they usually appear. I assume this match is mostly to give Oedo Tai a win, but I have low expectations as I assume it will be a lighthearted affair.
Lee attacks Kimura to kick off the match but Kimura fights back and they reach a stalemate. Viper and Yoneyama are tagged in and Viper throws Yoneyama to the mat, Yoneyama gets back up and she armdrags Viper out of the ring. Yoneyama dives out of the ring but Oedo Tai quickly gains control and they battle around the ring. Back in, Viper stomps down Yoneyama in the corner and she hits a bodypress for a two count cover. Viper tags Kimura and Viper shoulderblocks Yoneyama a few times before finally leaving the ring. Kimura puts Yoneyama in an armbar, Viper comes in the ring but Yoneyama throws Kimura into Viper and then drop toeholds Viper onto Kimura which gives her time to tag Lee. Lee tries to Irish whip Viper with no luck but she does manage to hit a DDT.
Lee gets on the second turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick, she gets on the second turnbuckle again and she hits a second one. Waistlock by Lee, Yoneyama goes up top and she dropkicks Lee into Viper to knock them both to the mat. Yoneyama then comes in and they double team Viper, buzzsaw kick by Lee but Kimura breaks up the cover. Jumping bodypress by Viper, but Yoneyama breaks up the pin. Viper tags Kimura, kicks by Kimura to Lee but Lee ducks the big boot and delivers a superkick. Another superkick by Lee and she hits a butterfly suplex for two. Yoneyama puts Viper in a sleeper, Kimura goes to hit Lee with a pipe but Lee ducks it. Viper hits a bodypress on Lee, then Kimura picks up Lee and hits the Gory Bomb for the three count! Oedo Tai are your winners.
As I figured there wasn’t a lot to this one. Both teams worked together well which was a plus but not a lot of note happened and there was a fair amount of filler in the middle. The ending was smooth and well executed, certainly no lack of effort in making the match unique, it just never really clicked. Not a bad match, just a forgettable one.
Kairi Hojo vs. Kaitlin Diemond
One of the benefits of watching these ‘house shows’ is sometimes we get a unique pairing like this that otherwise would never have made air (and certainly not in full). This isn’t the first time on this tour that Diemond has gotten a singles match on one of these smaller shows, perhaps giving Stardom a better chance at seeing what she can do outside of her usual tag team setting with Viper. Hojo of course is one of the most popular wrestlers in Stardom, adorable, and a dynamic wrestler so this should be a fun match.
They start with wristlocks and headlocks, Diemond picks up Hojo and she places her on the top turnbuckle. Hojo hops back down, elbows by Hojo and she chops at Diemond, but Diemond chops her to the mat. Hojo avoids the elbow drop and hits a jumping neckbreaker, dropkick by Hojo but Diemond avoids the next charge and Hojo lands on the apron. Diemond and Yasukawa knock Hojo to the floor and she is stomped out by multiple members of Oedo Tai. Back in the ring Diemond chokes Hojo in the corner, but Hojo sneaks in a sunset flip for two. Diemond quickly knocks Hojo to the mat, she picks her back up and hits a backbreaker for a two count. Hojo goes for a crossbody but Diemond catches her and spins her around before dropping her to the mat.
Waistlock by Diemond but Hojo gets out of it and hits a spear. Running shoulder tackle by Hojo, she goes up top and she hits a diving elbow smash for a two count. Cross-arm submission by Hojo but Diemond muscles out of it and slams her back into the corner. Big boot by Diemond and she hits an elbow drop for two. Diemond picks up Hojo but Hojo elbows her and they trade shots, Diemond slams Hojo and covers her for a two count. Diemond puts Hojo in an inverted crab hold but Hojo crawls to the ropes to get the break. Side slam by Diemond, she picks up Hojo as Act gets on the apron, but Act accidentally spits Sake at Diemond. Hojo knocks Act off the apron, she picks up Diemond and hits a spinning back chop. Diving elbow drop by Hojo, and she picks up the three count! Kairi Hojo picks up the victory.
This was a low key Hojo match but still enjoyable. Diemond didn’t look out of place here, which is the most important thing really, and everything was hit smoothly. Hojo put Diemond down a bit easier than I would have preferred as it didn’t take much to beat her at the end, may have benefited from Hojo doing another Sliding D or something to set up the diving elbow drop better. A fun little match with some solid action. Mildly Recommended
(c) Io Shirai and Mayu Iwatani vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto and Kagetsu
This match is for the Goddesses of Stardom Championship. There wasn’t much of a build-up here, as Kagetsu has not been in Stardom long, however Kagetsu did pin Iwatani on the last event so there is some evidence that the challengers can win. Course that is standard (who can forget Samoa Joe pinning Misawa in a tag match to set up his title challenge) but when there is a limited time frame to set up a match you have to do what you can. This is Thunder Rock’s 10th defense of the tag team championship as they are very active champions, and even though this is a smaller show, Io and Iwatani don’t understand the concept of not going 100%.
Iwatani and Kagetsu are the first two in and Kagetsu promptly shoulderblocks Iwatani to the mat. Kagetsu kicks Iwatani and dares Shirai to tag in, so she does. Shirai and Kagetsu trade armdrags before springing back to their feet, Kagetsu kicks both Shirai and Iwatani before tagging Matsumoto. Matsumoto chops Shirai but Iwatani runs in and she trades elbows with Kagetsu. High kick by Iwatani, Kagetsu falls to the floor and Iwatani goes to the top turnbuckle, but Matsumoto grabs her and powerbombs Iwatani on the apron. Kagetsu gets on the apron and kicks Shirai from the apron, Matsumoto drags Iwatani over the top rope and Kagetsu hits a footstomp to Iwatani’s stomach. Cover by Matsumoto, but it gets a two count. Matsumoto tags Kagetsu and she stomps on Iwatani but Iwatani sneaks in an inside cradle for two. Matsumoto goes up top and hits a missile dropkick to Iwatani, she covers Iwatani with one knee for a two count.
Kagetsu smacks Iwatani but Iwatani comes back with a dropkick and makes the hot tag to Shirai. Matsumoto runs in to help but Shirai back flips away from them and hits a double dropkick. Shirai hits Kagetsu with a running double knee in the corner, she goes for a facebuster but Kagetsu blocks it. Samoan Drop by Kagetsu and she tags in Matsumoto, body avalanche by Matsumoto and she swats away Shirai’s dropkick attempt. Matsumoto puts Shirai on her shoulders and hits a gutbuster, Shirai goes for a hurricanrana but Matsumoto reverses it into a crab hold. Kagetsu takes out Iwatani but she recovers in time to break up the hold, Kagetsu and Iwatani trade elbows until Matsumoto lariats Iwatani out of the ring. Matsumoto goes back to Shirai but Shirai hits a palm thrust followed by a kick to the head. Shirai tags in Iwatani while Kagetsu is also tagged in, and the young wrestlers trade kicks.
Jumping elbow by Kagetsu and she hits a missile dropkick followed by another jumping elbow for two. More elbows by Kagetsu but Iwatani hits a superkick, Matsumoto runs in to assist as Kagetsu hits a missile dropkick off the ropes. Shirai flies in with a double missile dropkick, then Iwatani dropkicks Kagetsu while she is against the ropes. Iwatani hits a footstomp off the second rope, she goes all the way up but Matsumoto joins her and hits a superplex. Vertical suplex by Kagetsu but Shirai breaks up the cover, but Shirai eats a double team from Kagetsu and Matsumoto. Iwatani and Shirai hit stereo hurricanranas, then both hit a buzzsaw kick to Kagetsu and Matsumoto. Shirai picks up Kagetsu and nails an assisted piledriver onto Matsumoto, Iwatani picks up Kagetsu but Kagetsu blocks the dragon suplex. High kick by Kagetsu and she goes for a roll-up but Iwatani reverses it for two. Iwatani grabs Kagetsu and this time she nails the dragon suplex hold, picking up the three count! Thunder Rock are still the champions!
My only real complaint about this match is it was a little short for a main event tag team championship match, but it was still great. Kagetsu looked like she fit right in here and both teams worked perfectly together, obviously Thunder Rock was top notch but the Freelancer team stayed with them every step of the way. The assisted piledriver on top of Matsumoto was a memorable spot, and it was just non stop from bell to bell. Really entertaining match and definitely worth the watch. Recommended
This was my favorite Stardom event since Io’s anniversary, as top to bottom this was a solid show. Part of that is because Alpha Female is a guilty pleasure of mine so I enjoyed her singles match, and the opener was one of the best Stardom openers in awhile. The main event was great, I wish it was longer but they used every minute well and it was extremely fun. Overall an easy watch, the main event is a must but there was other goodness on the show as well.