Event: Stardom “Grows Up Stars #1”
Date: March 6th, 2016
Location: Shin-Kiba 1st RING in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 335
And we are back to Stardom! This event really highlights the rookies and young wrestlers, and all will get a chance to shine. It is the very rare Stardom event with no title matches, since they have five championships it is unusual to have a show with none being defended at all, but this is a more low key event with a different focus. Some of the “World Selection” wrestlers are still here however, as Viper and Diemond both are in the main event. Here is the full card:
Overall I have been impressed with all of the Stardom rookies so I am looking forward to this event. This show is definitely built more towards the hardcores than the casual fans, the chances of there being a “Five Star Match” are slim to none but it still has potential to be a fun show.
Alex Lee vs. Azumi vs. Haruka Kato vs. Kaori Yoneyama vs. Maki Natsumi
Thanks to Stardom World now subtitling the promos, we now know more about the purpose of the matches. The winner of this match will become the new leader of the Azumi Army! Which probably isn’t a really official thing but it does give the opening matches a bit of a meaning which is always appreciated. The newer face here is Natsumi, she wrestles for Actress girl’Z, the rest are normal combatants to open Stardom events.
Natsumi is stomped down to start, probably because no one wants the new girl to be the leader of the faction. Natsumi is dropkicked by everyone in the corner but Yoneyama and Azumi start to argue which gives Natsumi time to recover. Yoneyama is attacked in the corner and Natsumi picks an unusual time to pose on the top turnbuckle. Azumi joins her and slaps her, but then they all pose on Yoneyama. Azumi and Kato try to suplex Lee but they can’t get her over, Lee reverses it into a double vertical suplex but Azumi puts her in a sleeper. Natsumi dropkicks Yoneyama, Kato rolls up Yoneyama but Natsumi breaks it up. Kato puts Natsumi in an armbar over the top rope, Kato puts Lee in a cross armbreaker but Lee powerbombs out of it. Lee covers Kato but Yoneyama breaks it up with a senton, Azumi returns and she dropkicks Kato but Yoneyama rolls her up for the three count! Yoneyama wins the match and is the new leader of the Azumi Army.
Azumi gets on the mic and requests the footage of her losing be erased, before admitting that Yoneyama is the new leader. Yoneyama gets on the microphone and says that Azumi will always be the true leader of the Azumi Army, but that Yoneyama is the Commander of the Azumi Army. So everyone is something resembling happy.
This was just a quick opening comedy match, but I appreciate them putting some type of story to it, which I only know because they are subtitling promos. No one wrestler really got a chance to shine since it was five wrestlers in a sub-five minute match, but everyone hit their spots without any issue. So it accomplished its goal even though it was obviously a pretty simple and straight-forward affair.
Hiromi Mimura vs. Kagetsu
I am probably irrationally excited about this match, because I really like Kagetsu. Kagetsu is a young Freelancer that bounces around to various smaller promotions, but she has shown a lot of ability for someone her age and I think she deserves a chance in one of the larger promotions. Mimura is a rookie in Stardom, debuting in October of 2015, and it will be a good test for her against the younger but more experienced outsider.
Mimura charges Kagetsu at the start with a dropkick but Kagetsu elbows her back. Another dropkick by Mimura but Kagetsu dropkicks her in return and kicks Mimura in the back. Scoop slam by Kagetsu and she dropkicks Mimura again, cover by Kagetsu but it gets two. Kagetsu applies a submission but Mimura gets to the ropes, Kagetsu stands up Mimura in the ropes and kicks her repeatedly from the apron. Kagetsu gets back in the ring and dropkicks Mimura in the back, Kagetsu charges Mimura but Mimura hits a dropkick. Mimura hits a running low level crossbody, scoop slam by Mimura and she puts Kagetsu in a cross armbreaker, but Kagetsu inches to the ropes to get the break. Kagetsu and Mimura trade elbows, Mimura goes off the ropes but Kagetsu hits a dropkick. Spear by Kagetsu, she picks up Mimura and hits a vertical suplex. Kagetsu picks up Mimura but Mimura wiggles away and rolls up Kagetsu for two. She has the same result with La Magistral, Mimura goes off the ropes but Kagetsu nails a high kick. Rounded Samoan Drop by Kagetsu and she picks up the three count! Kagetsu wins the match.
I probably liked this more than I should have because I like them both quite a bit, but the action was solid throughout and they had good chemistry. The match was a bit basic, lots of dropkicks, but once they got towards the end the action became a lot more varied. Not a complicated match but still fun, hopefully I’ll get to see more of Kagetsu in Stardom down the road. Mildly Recommended
Jungle Kyouna and Momo Watanabe vs. Mayu Iwatani and Starlight Kid
More rookies collide, with Iwatani being the elder statesman of the match to hold everything together. Kyouna and Starlight Kid both debuted in October but are incredibly different wrestlers – Starlight Kid is itty bitty and only 15 years old, while Kyouna is quite a bit older and is the strongest of the new wrestlers. Watanabe is also 15 but has been wrestling since late 2014, so she has a year over the other two wrestlers. Iwatani of course is practically a seasoned vet at this point and holds three different titles in Stardom.
Starlight Kid and Kyouna begin the match, they trade holds and Starlight Kid tries to dropkick Kyouna, but she has no luck. Starlight Kid eventually manages to dropkick her over but Kyouna comes back with a hard elbow. Both wrestlers tag out, Iwatani avoids Watanabe’s dropkick and they run the ropes with neither really connecting. Iwatani throws down Watanabe and tags in Starlight Kid, drop toehold by Starlight Kid and Iwatani dropkicks Watanabe in the chest before they pose on her. Watanabe dropkicks Starlight Kid and tags in Kyouna, and they take turns elbowing Starlight Kid. Watanabe dropkicks Starlight Kid before Kyouna connects with a body avalanche and a face crusher. Kyouna puts both Starlight Kid and Iwatani in the ropes and stand on them before she kicks Iwatani back out of the ring. Kyouna slams Starlight Kid and goes for the Hammerthrow Powerbomb but Starlight Kid reverses it until a headscissors. Starlight Kid dropkicks Kyouna while she is against the ropes and tags in Iwatani, Watanabe comes in but Iwatani hits a double split-legged armdrag on both of them.
Iwatani dropkicks Kyouna while she is against the ropes, she goes for a superkick but Kyouna ducks it and hits a discus lariat. High kick by Iwatani, she goes up to the second turnbuckle and hits a diving footstomp for a two count. She goes all the way up this time and hits a missile dropkick, Starlight Kid runs in but she has issues doing a Tiger Feint Kick (I assume that was the plan). Iwatani goes off the rope but Kyouna catches her with a powerslam, Iwatani rolls to her corner and tags in Starlight Kid while Kyouna tags Watanabe. Multi-rotation headscissors by Starlight Kid but Watanabe blocks the Shiranui, standing moonsault by Starlight Kid but it gets a two count. Iwatani comes in and Starlight Kid hits the Shiranui by running up Iwatani, Starlight Kid hits a diving body press from the second turnbuckle and then Iwatani hits one from the top. Satellite sunset flip by Starlight Kid but Watanabe reverses it, Kyouna runs in and lariats Starlight Kid. Somato by Watanabe, but Starlight Kid gets a hand on the ropes to force a break. Watanabe slams Starlight Kid to the mat, she charges her but Starlight Kid rolls up Watanabe for two. Superkick by Iwatani to Watanabe and she stomps on her chest, Starlight Kid goes for a Space Rolling something but Watanabe catches her and hits a trio of suplexes. Somato by Watanabe to Starlight Kid as she is getting up, cover by Watanabe and she gets the three count! Kyouna and Watanabe win!
I really enjoyed this match, even though it did have a few rough patches. I don’t mind a botched move here and there if the action around it helps overcome it, particularly when we are dealing with rookies and young wrestlers, and the bulk of the match was very smooth. In the home stretch, Starlight Kid looked great for someone of any level, let alone a 15 year old, and I can see her really being something special if she stays dedicated to it. Watanabe has really grown in her ability in the last year, and even though she wasn’t the focus of the match she looked solid as well. A really fun midcard match, showing the future of Stardom looks very promising. Mildly Recommended
Kairi Hojo vs. Saori Anou
We continue the theme of the young wrestlers getting a chance against veterans. This is part of a trial series for Anou from Actress girl’Z, a promotion that clearly has a good relationship with Stardom. Hojo is one of the most popular wrestlers in Stardom, master of the Elbow Drop and generally constant motion, while Anou is a rookie with no big wins on her record. The question here really isn’t who will win, but how much can Anou do against the Stardom star?
Anou and Hojo lock knuckles and trade wristlocks, Hojo elbows Anou in the corner but Anou elbows her back. They trade blows, a battle that Hojo wins, and Hojo hits a flipping neckbreaker. Hojo throws down Anou by her hair and chokes her in the corner, chops by Hojo and she hits a series of shoulder tackles. Crab hold by Hojo but Anou gets to the ropes, Hojo charges Anou but Anou holds down the ropes and Hojo falls onto the apron. Anou dropkicks Hojo off the apron to the floor, she goes after her but Hojo chops her in the chest. Hojo gets back in the ring but Anou snaps her arm over the top rope and applies an armbar back in the ring. Sidewalk slam by Anou and she applies a backslide with a jackknife for a two count. Anou applies a submission hold but Hojo gets to the ropes, Anou picks up Hojo but Hojo pushes her off and hits the spear. Hojo dropkicks Anou in the back, she gets on the second turnbuckle but Anou smacks her and hits a rolling Fisherman Suplex Hold for a two count. Anou elbows Hojo but Hojo hits a lariat before kicking Anou in the back. Anou tries a few quick pins with no luck, she goes for a Fisherman Suplex but Hojo blocks it and hits her with elbows. Hojo goes up top and hits a diving elbow drop to Anou’s back, she then puts her in the Ikari (cross-leg crab hold) and Anou submits! Kairi Hojo wins the match.
Another fun match, I am surprised how much offense young Anou had in the match, Stardom must see a lot in her. This match didn’t have the rough patches we saw in a few of the other matches on this card, everything felt fluid and both had a chance to shine. Instead of it just being a “Hojo match” where she controlled everything, it was a pretty equal back and forth struggle with both hitting big moves with nearfalls. Overall solid and hopefully Anou will stay with Stardom as she continues to develop. Mildly Recommended
Hiroyo Matsumoto and Io Shirai vs. Kaitlin Diemond and Viper
This match is celebrating Io Shirai’s 9th Anniversary in wrestling. Shirai’s career took an interesting path, as she went from wrestling on the undercard of the smallest Indy shows to becoming the ace of the largest Joshi wrestling promotion in Japan. Not too shabby. She is joined here by Freelancer (but Stardom regular) Matsumoto to face off against two of the leading wrestlers of the former “World Selection” group, Diemond and Viper. Diemond and Viper are still repping Oedo Tai, and have Act Yasukawa down at ringside with them. This will no doubt be a showcase for Shirai but still should be an even main event.
Diemond and Viper start the beatdown on Shirai before the match even starts but Shirai fights back with a dropkick to both. Matsumoto finally comes in to help but Viper floors Shirai with a hard lariat when Matsumoto whips Shirai towards her. They try it again but Diemond boots Shirai in the face, so Matsumoto picks up Shirai and throws her at them. The action spills out to the floor with Shirai on the apron, and she sails out of the ring with an Asai Moonsault. Shirai slides Diemond back in for Matsumoto and they both take turns kneeing her in the gut. Shirai jumps on Matsumoto’s back while Matsumoto hits a double kneedrop, Shirai stomps on Diemond and elbows her against the ropes. Yasukawa trips Shirai from the floor, Shirai is pulled out of the ring and clubbed on by Viper. Diemond joins in the assault on Shirai on the outside, they finally return to the ring and Diemond hits a backbreaker on Shirai. Diemond tags Viper, Shirai fights back but Viper sits on her to stop her comeback. Viper tags Diemond back in, Shirai ducks Diemond’s boot and dropkicks her in the head, giving Shirai time to tag in Matsumoto. Matsumoto shoulderblocks Diemond and snaps her neck over the top rope, she goes up top and knocks down Diemond with a missile dropkick. Viper runs in but Matsumoto drop toeholds her onto Diemond, she goes for a double crab hold but Viper fights out of it. Diemond slams Matsumoto before tagging in Viper, Viper goes for a senton but Matsumoto rolls out of the way.
Matsumoto tries to knock over Viper with no luck, jumping crossbody by Viper and she covers Matsumoto for two. Viper gets on the second turnbuckle but Shirai grabs her from the apron, Matsumoto recovers and gets Viper on her back before hitting an inverted Samoan Drop. Matsumoto tags Shirai, Tiger Feint Kick by Shirai and she hits the swandive missile dropkick for a two count. Shirai goes for a suplex but Viper rams her back into the corner, Shirai applies a sleeper but Viper tosses her over her head. Running low crossbody by Viper, and she tags in Diemond. Viper stays in and they hit a double chokeslam on Shirai, double cover but Matsumoto breaks it up. They pick up Shirai but Shirai flips away from them and hits a hurricanrana on Diemond. Matsumoto goes to the second turnbuckle, Shirai stands on her back and hits a diving body press. Reverse double kneedrop by Matsumoto, but the referee is MIA. Yasukawa spits sake at Matsumoto, Diemond picks up Shirai and she hits the Anaconda Buster for two. Viper goes for the Reverse Splash but Shirai rolls out of the way, Diemond picks up Shirai but Matsumoto runs in and lariats her. Palm Strike by Shirai to Diemond, they trade elbows until Diemond hits a lariat. Body Crusher by Diemond to Shirai, but Matsumoto barely breaks up the cover in time. Backdrop suplex by Matsumoto to Diemond, Viper grabs Matsumoto but Shirai grabs her. Yasukawa spits sake into Viper’s face by accident, then Viper is dropped by a double backdrop suplex. Matsumoto powerbombs Diemond, Shirai goes up top and she nails the moonsault for the three count! Shirai and Matsumoto win the match!
A great way to end the event, as even though it was Shirai’s spotlight they gave everyone a chance to get in their shots. Shirai is on another level to me, I love just about everything she does. There was some lack of drama since everyone knew Shirai was winning, but all four had close calls and Oedo Tai controlled much of the match. I have to give them credit for going all out on a small house that won’t even air in Japan, non-stop action here with lots of hard hits. An entertaining match that is well worth the watch. Recommended
Stardom house shows can be hit or miss but this is one of the best I have seen from them in awhile. First of all, it helps that since it is on Stardom World the matches aren’t clipped, as it is well documented I really don’t like it when matches are clipped. Featuring rookies/young wrestlers on a show is always risky but I thought they all delivered here to some degree and the veterans they were against led them well. Luckily I like watching the young wrestlers as they develop their skills so that is a plus to me. Then the main event was your typical Io Shirai affair but that isn’t a bad thing, it didn’t really set itself apart but it was very entertaining nonetheless. A really easy to watch show with no bad matches, the more hardcore Stardom fans will definitely enjoy it but the main event is a match I’d recommend to anyone.