Event: Stardom New Years Stars 2020
Date: January 11th, 2020
Location: Osaka World Pavilion in Osaka, Japan
Announced Attendance: 221
This year I am going to try to balance the Stardom reviews so that I am not reviewing everything, but so that I am not only hitting the really big shows. I am still going to review all the Korakuen Hall events, but beyond that I am going to selectively review other shows of theirs if something catches my attention. For this show, two things caught my eye – Kagetsu vs. Giulia and Riho vs. Miyagi. That was enough to convince me to review the show, as some of the other matches look like fun too. Here is the full card:
- AZM and Utami Hayashishita vs. Itsuki Hoshino and Saya Iida
- Andras Miyagi vs. Riho
- High Speed Grand Prix: Leyla Hirsch vs. Starlight Kid
- Bea Priestley, Leo Onozaki, and Momo Watanabe vs. Jamie Hayter, Saki Kashima, and Zoey Skye
- Kagetsu vs. Giulia
- Arisa Hoshiki, Mayu Iwatani, Tam Nakano, and Saya Kamitani vs. Death Yama-san, Hana Kimura, Jungle Kyona, and Konami
As I am watching this event from Stardom World, all matches will be shown in full. There were a few match changes due to the flu going around Japan, but none of the bigger matches had any modifications. Every wrestler on the card has a profile on Joshi City, you can click on their name above to go straight to it.
AZM and Utami Hayashishita vs. Itsuki Hoshino and Saya Iida
We jump into it with Queen’s Quest versus a couple rookies. This is pretty low on the card for Utami, as even as a rookie she was rarely in the opening match, but on smaller events sometimes card shuffling is required, especially with wrestlers being out due to the flu causing last minute changes. Saya Iida is the veteran of her team as she debuted last January, while Itsuki had her first match in November. The rookies have zero chance of winning but may be able to put on a good showing, especially against the younger AZM.
Utami starts the match with Saya but Itsuki immediately runs in too as they double team Utami. Dropkicks by Saya and Itsuki to Utami’s back while she is in the ropes, cover by Saya but it gets two. Saya picks up Utami but Utami blocks the slam attempt and hits one of her own. She tries to tag in AZM but Itsuki cuts her off, Saya picks up Utami but again she fails on the slam attempt. Saya gets away from Utami, Itsuki comes in and they both dropkick Utami. Saya finally manages to scoop slam Utami, she covers her but AZM breaks it up. Saya throws Utami towards the corner but Utami reverses it, Saya avoids Utami’s charge and chops her repeatedly in the chest. Utami eventually ducks one and delivers a dropkick, but again Itsuki runs in and knocks AZM off the apron before Utami can make the tag. Saya tags in Itsuki, dropkicks by Itsuki and she covers Utami for two. Itsuki applies a sleeper but Utami quickly gets out of it and applies one of her own, but Itsuki gets into the ropes.
Itsuki goes for a hurricanrana but Utami blocks it, victory roll by Itsuki but Utami rolls through it for her own two count. Itsuki goes off the ropes but Utami catches her with a scoop slam and finally tags in AZM. AZM and Itsuki trade elbows until AZM knocks Itsuki to the mat, AZM goes off the ropes but Itsuki sneaks behind her and applies a sleeper hold. Utami breaks it up, Itsuki goes off the ropes but Utami armdrags her. PK by AZM, but Saya breaks up the pin. Utami takes care of her, Irish whip by AZM to Itsuki but Saya comes back and AZM eats a double dropkick. AZM ends up in the corner and gets dropkicked some more, cover by Itsuki but it gets two. Itsuki elbows AZM into the corner but AZM slides to the apron when she charges in, missile dropkick by AZM and she covers Itsuki, but Saya breaks it up. AZM goes back to the top turnbuckle but Itsuki avoids the diving footstomp, hurricanrana by Itsuki but AZM gets a shoulder up. Buzzsaw Kick by AZM, she goes up top and this time she nails the diving footstomp for the three count! AZM and Utami Hayashishita are the winners!
If you had told me that Utami would be the Face in Peril in this match and that Itsuki would get in so much offense, I’d have never believed you. It’s wild the way they structured this match, with the rookies basically dominating. Utami only hit a couple moves in the whole match and AZM didn’t fair much better. There was at least one pretty noticeable mistake (oddly enough, made by Utami and not one of the rookies) but otherwise it was pretty fluid and both teams worked together well. I don’t know if the match was good but it was definitely interesting and unexpected, so I’ll give them some credit for that considering it was a late addition to the card.
Andras Miyagi vs. Riho
What an interesting pairing. This is only the second time ever these two have faced off, and their first singles match. Andras has been having a tough go at it since joining Stardom, as she hasn’t really found her place while other wrestlers around her have elevated up the card. I’m not sure where her future lies in Stardom as she seems to be floating through with no real purpose. Riho is just a part time wrestler as she also wrestles in AEW, however she does hold the High Speed Championship (which is not on the line). Andras looked flat the last time I saw her, and with the card placement here I am not really expecting her to feel compelled to go all out in this match either.
They circle each other to start but quickly end up on the mat, Riho works a waistlock but Andras reverses it. Andras gets in the dominate position but Riho kicks her off as she returns to her feet, Andras pushes Riho into the ropes and she gives a clean break. Andras goes off the ropes and hits a shoulderblock, but Riho bridges out of the pin and headscissors Andras out of the ring. Riho goes after her and hits an ax handle, but Andras grabs her and hits a scoop slam on the floor. Andras slides Riho back into the ring and joins her, stomps by Andras and she chokes Riho with her boot. Snapmare by Andras and she applies a camel clutch, but Riho inches to the ropes and forces the break. Andras picks up Riho and hits a delayed scoop slam, cover by Andras but it gets two. Riho fights back but Andras boots her in the chest, Andras throws Riho into the corner and hits a running elbow.
Another elbow by Andras, she gets Riho up on her shoulders and spins her around before delivering a Liger Bomb for a two count. Riho rolls out of the ring to try to regroup but Andras goes out too and throws Riho into the ring post. Andras tries to ram her with a chair but Riho moves, Riho gets back in the ring to escape and hits Andras with a Tiger Feint Kick as she gets on the apron. Riho goes for a diving footstomp but Andras moves, dropkick by Riho and she puts Andras in a crossface. Andras inches to the ropes to get the break, quick footstomp off the second turnbuckle by Riho and she goes all the way up to deliver another diving footstomp for a two count cover. Riho picks up Andras but Andras quickly applies a crucifix pin, Riho gets out of it and knees Andras in the face. Riho goes off the ropes but Andras pushes the referee in front of her, Riho rolls Andras to the mat with a clutch hold and keeps her pinned for the three count! Riho is the winner.
I’m not really sure what they are doing with Andras and this match didn’t give me any clarity. It was a good enough match, about what you’d expect on the lower midcard of a smaller show, but Andras has just become a punching bag the last few months as she keeps getting slotted below new wrestlers coming into the promotion. Unlike Andras’ match with Giulia, these two had pretty good chemistry but some of the transitions were non-existent, and the ending didn’t really flow with everything else they had been doing. Not a bad match but ultimately forgettable, aside from the general confusion surrounding Andras Miyagi.
Leyla Hirsch vs. Starlight Kid
This match is part of the High Speed Grand Prix. To determine the next challenger for the High Speed Championship, Stardom is having a quick round robin tournament. This is the first match of the tournament for both Leyla Hirsch and Starlight Kid, so its still anyone’s game as they look to get an early advantage to win a chance at the title. This is Leyla’s first tour in Japan, so she is looking to impress so it isn’t her last.
Starlight Kid tries going right into a fast exchange but Leyla shoulderblocks her down, they trade armdrags and leg trips before Starlight Kid hits a dropkick. Starlight Kid goes off the ropes but Leyla hits another hard shoulderblock, bodyscissors by Leyla and she lets go after a moment to stomp on Starlight Kid’s back. Irish whip by Leyla and she goes for a slam, but Starlight Kid reverses it with a DDT. Tiger Feint Kick by Starlight Kid and she hits a standing moonsault for a two count. Starlight Kid picks up Leyla, strikes by Leyla and she dropkicks Starlight Kid in the chest. Running double knee by Leyla in the corner, she covers Starlight Kid but it gets a two count. Leyla goes for a cross armbreaker but Starlight Kid quickly gets to the ropes, Leyla picks up Starlight Kid but Starlight Kid slides down her back and hits a swinging fisherman neckbreaker for two. Starlight Kid goes up top and delivers a diving crossbody, she picks up Leyla and nails a leg clutch suplex hold, but Leyla gets a shoulder up. Starlight Kid goes for the Yoshi Tonic but Leyla shrugs her off and drops her with a modified Samoan Drop. Running knee by Leyla, and she covers Starlight Kid for two. Leyla gets Starlight Kid around the waist but Starlight Kid cradles her for a quick two count. Starlight Kid goes off the ropes but Leyla levels her with a lariat, Leyla applies the cross armbreaker and Starlight Kid has no choice but to submit! Leyla Hirsch is your winner.
I hope that Leyla sticks around in Stardom, as she offers something that the High Speed division doesn’t really have. She is short in stature but is a power wrestler, which is a fun dynamic that gives the wrestlers a lot more options to put on a unique match. This was too short to get excited about but I enjoyed it, it didn’t have the chemistry issues that one may expect and its too early in her run to know if Leyla winning with the armbreaker was just a cop out to get a quick win or if its a move she is going to use to win matches regularly. Starlight Kid continues to impress with her smoothness but really this was more about Leyla showing why even as a first time wrestler in the promotion she still could win the tournament. Wish it was a longer but fun while it lasted. Mildly Recommended
Bea Priestley, Onozaki, and Watanabe vs. Jamie Hayter, Kashima, and Zoey Skye
Next is a faction battle, as Queen’s Quest takes on Oedo Tai (and Zoey Skye). This match had some changes due to Natsuko Tora and Natsu Sumire getting the flu, but honestly I’d rather see a six wrestler tag than a ten wrestler tag anyway. Saki Kashima is a new member of Oedo Tai, having just turned on her STARS teammates in evil fashion. The look suits her well. She teams with her new friend Jamie Hayter and Zoey Skye, who we last saw in Stardom wrestling as Dust. Leo being this high on the card is a bit annoying but hopefully they can overcome that and put on a fun match.
Oedo Tai attacks before the match with Saki staying in as the legal wrestler against Leo, scoop slam by Saki and she rubs Leo’s face along the top rope. Saki tags in Jamie and she rams Leo into the turnbuckle as Oedo Tai each take a turn beating up Leo, Leo makes a comeback against Zoey and makes the hot tag to Bea. Bea suplexes Zoey, they trade kick attempts until Bea lands with one but Zoey hits a Codebreaker for a two count. Zoey tags Jamie, Jamie knocks Bea into the corner but Bea blocks the suplex attempt and hits a high knee. Lariat by Jamie and both wrestlers are down, they both slowly crawl to their corners to tag in Saki and Momo. Momo kicks Saki in the chest, dropkick by Momo but Saki avoids her next attempt as Jamie and Zoey both run in to deliver running strikes. Side slam backbreaker by Jamie, Saki goes up top and hits a diving footstomp on Momo for the two count. Momo comes back with a side slam to Saki but Saki throws her to the mat by her hair. Saki cradles Mom but Bea kicks her in the head to break it up, Somato by Momo but it only gets a two count. Momo picks up Saki and goes for the Peach Sunrise but Saki blocks it, high kick by Momo but Saki pins down Momo with a crucifix hold for two. Momo goes for the B Driver but Saki blocks it and hits a double underhook facebuster. Momo immediately fires off a head kick and crawls to her corner to tag Leo, elbow to the back by Leo and she hits a cutter for two. Leo goes off the ropes but Saki kicks her in the chest, Saki slides out to the apron and kicks Leo between the ropes. Back in the ring, Bea runs in and knees Saki, suplex by Momo and Leo cradles Saki for two. Elbows by Leo, she goes off the ropes but Jamie hands Saki an Oedo Tai sign and she hits Leo with it. My Emblem by Saki to Leo, and she picks up the three count! Oedo Tai wins!
I don’t really like Stardom’s trend recently of having Leo Onozaki in these types of matches, as it makes the “fall guy” just way too obvious. When she is anywhere outside the opener there is a 90% chance she is going to be pinned, which is an issue since it kills some of the drama. Plus I’d rather see a high end wrestler in there with this group, not a wrestler that likely will never ‘make it’ past the midcard. Anyway, aside from that complaint I enjoyed the match, Bea looked great in the few things they let her actually do and Saki seems to be embracing her evil ways very well, a welcome change for her. An easy watch with some solid wrestling from some great wrestlers, just predictable and it could have been a few minutes longer. Mildly Recommended
Kagetsu vs. Giulia
With Kagetsu’s last Stardom match before retiring less than a month away, before leaving she first goes up against the newest Stardom wrestler – Giulia. Giulia thus far is undefeated in singles matches since joining Stardom in early December, as she has defeated Hazuki, Saki Kashima, and Andras Miyagi with a draw to Hana Kimura. She seems to be getting a pretty good push so far, which she may not be ready for against wrestlers she is still finding chemistry with. Kagetsu as I mentioned is retiring very soon so I am sure she won’t be holding back, as all wrestlers want to go out on a high note.
They lockup to start but end up in the corner, leading to a clean break. A Test of Strength with Kagetsu winning follows, but Giulia gets away from her and they return to their feet. They jockey for position on the mat, Kagetsu gets in the dominate position but Giulia makes it to the ropes for the break. Kagetsu kicks Giulia in the chest and chokes her in the corner, Irish whip by Kagetsu and she hits a running elbow. Dropkick to the knee by Kagetsu, she gets a drink of water and spits it in Giulia’s face. The referee complains so she spits water in his face as well, Kagetsu goes back to Giulia but Giulia fights back with elbows and they exchange blows. Big boot by Giulia but Kagetsu kicks her in the midsection, she jumps up to the top turnbuckle but Giulia elbows her down to the apron. Giulia snaps Kagetsu’s neck on the top rope, Kagetsu falls out of the ring and Giulia goes out after her, slamming Kagetsu on the floor. Curb Stomp by Giulia on the stage, she brings Kagetsu back to ringside and throws her into the ring post before finally back into the ring. Giulia sets up Kagetsu in the corner across the second rope and knees her in the midsection, she hangs Kagetsu over the side of the apron and boots her in the head. Back in the ring again, Giulia goes up top and hits a missile dropkick to the back of Kagetsu’s head. She goes up top again and hits another missile dropkick, cover by Giulia but it gets two.
Giulia applies a crossface, but Kagetsu gets to the ropes for the break. Falcon Arrow by Giulia, and she covers Kagetsu for two. Kagetsu recovers and gets Giulia on her shoulders, but Giulia slides away and stomps on Kagetsu. Strike combination by Kagetsu and she hits the Ebisu Drop, cover by Kagetsu but it gets a two count. Kagetsu goes up top but Giulia recovers and joins her, superplex by Giulia but Kagetsu comes back with a running knee strike. Big boot by Giulia, and both wrestlers are down on the mat. Giulia picks up Kagetsu and nails the Glorious Buster, but Kagetsu kicks out of the cover. As she kicks out, Kagetsu puts Giulia in a hammerlock hold, but Giulia gets to the ropes. Ebisu Drop by Kagetsu in front of the corner, she goes up top but again Giulia recovers and joins her on the turnbuckles. Elbows by Giulia, she pulls Kagetsu off the turnbuckles and hits a tombstone piledriver. Glorious Driver by Giulia, but Kagetsu barely kicks out of the pin. Giulia goes for a submission but Kagetsu quickly gets away and delivers a running knee, another knee by Kagetsu and she hits an Ebisu Drop near the corner. She goes up top and this time nails the Oedo Coaster, cover by Kagetsu but Giulia kicks out. Kagetsu picks up Giulia and gets her on her shoulders as the bell rings, signifying that time has expired. Kagetsu hits the Death Valley Bomb anyway, but the match is a Time Limit Draw.
This was fun but man there were issues with offensive transitions. There were several times that one wrestler would do a major move and the other just took over on offense for no explainable reasons seconds later, I normally give a lot of leeway for that but it shouldn’t be so obvious. Beyond that, this is the best I have seen of Giulia so far in Stardom as they looked like they had been wrestling against each other for years with how the match was structured and how it seamlessly flowed. There was a bit of time wasting outside the ring as it took a few minutes to get going, but once they got focused the action was fast paced and generally interesting. Even though it was a smaller show they weren’t holding back any, aside from the lack of Kagetsu Poison Mist, but maybe Giulia just didn’t want her face covered in green. Pretty solid, some definite issues that would keep it out of any MOTYC lists but entertaining nonetheless. Recommended
Hoshiki, Iwatani, Nakano, and Kamitani vs. Yama-san, Kimura, Kyona, and Konami
We end the show with an eight wrestler faction war. On one side we have STARS, led by the Joshi Wrestler of the Year and World of Stardom Champion Mayu Iwatani. They are against Tokyo Cyber Squad, led by Hana Kimura. Its unusual to see a rookie in the main event, but that is one of the aspects of smaller shows, it gives the promotion more flexibility to do new things. Both teams have their strengths and weaknesses so either team can win, I’m ready for some Joshi Chaos to end the show.
Hana and Saya start the match for their respective teams, Saya fires away at Hana with elbows but Hana just invites her to throw more before eventually booting her to the mat. All of TCS attack/taunt Saya while she is in the ropes, Death comes in for a moment as Saya is double teamed. Hana tags in Kyona as she takes her turn on the rookie, with Konami helping from the apron as well. The rookie beatdown continues until Saya dropkicks Death and makes the hot tag to Mayu. Mayu rolls Death to the mat and stomps her in the head, Kyona and Hana come in but so do Tam and Arisa as the odds are evened up. STARS gets the better of the exchange, the ring clears leaving just Mayu and Death and Death thrusts Mayu in the throat. She tags in Hana, Hana goes off the ropes and she boots Mayu in the head. Another boot by Hana, she picks up Mayu but Mayu kicks her in the midsection. She goes off the ropes but is kicked by Konami from the apron, delayed vertical suplex by Hana to Mayu and she gets a two count cover. Hana picks up Mayu and applies the Ground Manjikatame, but Tam and Arisa quickly break it up. Hana goes off the ropes but Mayu catches her with a Sling Blade, Mayu tags in Arisa and Arisa hits a double knee to Hana in the corner. Double kneedrop by Arisa, and she covers Hana for two. Arisa picks up Hana but Hana elbows her and the two trade blows. Jumping knee by Arisa but Death run in and DDTs her, running boot by Hana and she covers Arisa for two. Hana tags Konami, strike combination by Konami but Arisa fires back with a kick of her own and both wrestlers end up on the mat.
Arisa tags Tam, boot by Tam to Konami and she hits a cutter. Tam goes off the ropes but Konami catches her kick and applies an ankle hold. German suplex by Konami and she hits a buzzsaw kick, but Tam kicks out of the cover. Bridging Suplex by Konami, but Saya breaks up the count. This leads to all the wrestlers running in and hitting their signature moves, Konami and Tam crawl to their corners and tag in Kyona and Saya. Kyona kicks at Saya, she goes off the ropes but Saya catches her with a dropkick. Konami kicks Saya from the apron, Hana comes in and helps Kyona hit an assisted face crusher. Sliding lariat by Kyona, she picks up Saya but Mayu runs in with Tam to help. They get cleared out of the ring, Kyona goes for a pescado but STARS move and she ends up landing on Tokyo Cyber Squad. Tam and Mayu both go up to different turnbuckles and dive out of the ring with dives onto their opponents, they rolls Kyona back into the ring and Tam, Arisa, and Mayu all superkick her. Saya goes up top and delivers a missile dropkick, cover by Saya but the pin is broken up. Saya hits the handstand kneedrop but Kyona avoids the running Shooting Star Press, she goes for a cradle but Saya reverses it for one of her own for two. STARS get in the ring but Kyona moves when they all go for dropkicks, TCS come in and they dropkick the members of STARS. Hard elbow by Kyona, but Saya gets a shoulder up on the cover. Kyona grabs Saya around the waist and plants her with the Hammer Throw Bomb, and she picks up the three count! Tokyo Cyber Squad win the match.
I don’t mind Saya being such a big part of this match as we saw earlier with Leo since at least Saya is being pushed as a future star, but for a main event this was still a bit lacking. It is hard for all eight wrestlers to get a chance to shine in an twelve minute match, I would have preferred that either they got more time or they trimmed a couple wrestlers. The plus here is that both teams work together really well, lots of fast paced exchanges and smart tag team work that made the match far more exciting than if they did just a traditional tag. Hana looked the best, probably by design, and if nothing else I can say that time flew by while I was watching this. While I’d like more from the main event, even for a smaller show, still a pretty enjoyable match. Mildly Recommended
The chances of seeing a really high end match on the smaller Stardom shows is pretty slim as that just isn’t how they are built. The matches didn’t get a ton of time (no matches longer than 15 minutes, four under ten minutes) and while the wrestlers aren’t necessarily ‘taking it easy’ they aren’t going all out epic either. So the bar is more “a fun way to spend a couple hours” and I think this event accomplished that. The High Speed Grand Prix started well, Riho/Andras was interesting, and the last two matches were both entertaining. Plus, with Kagetsu having so few matches left in her career, its worth seeing as many as you can as she is pretty damn great. Not a must-see event, but an enjoyable one nonetheless.