Event: Stardom The Way To Major League
Date: February 8th, 2020
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 1,519
And we are already back with a Stardom review! Trying to stay as current as possible with their Korakuen Hall events so I don’t fall too far behind. This is another big show for the promotion, as they packed Korakuen Hall with over 1,500 fans for the second straight month. Today we have two title matches, plus a special singles match between Mayu Iwatani and Takumi Iroha! Here is the full card:
I am watching the Samurai TV! version of the event, so some matches will be clipped. All the wrestlers have a profile on Joshi City, you can click on their name above to go straight to it.
Jamie Hayter and Zoey Skye vs. Hina and Rina vs. Saya Iida and Saya Kamitani vs. Death Yama-san and Leyla Hirsch vs. Starlight Kid and Tam Nakano
Samurai TV skipped the first match so we go straight to the Gauntlet Match. This match is a bit odd as some teams are factions but others are just friends, with the skill and experience levels on both ends of the spectrum. The 3838 Tag team (Iida and Kamitani) are the least experienced of the bunch as both are rookies, while Starlight Kid and Tam Nakano have had the most success in Stardom and usually are higher on the card (particularly Tam). Since this is a Gauntlet Match, any team can win, it all depends on the order of which they participate in the match.
First two tag teams in are STARS (Starlight Kid and Tam Nakano) and the sister team of Hina and Rina. Who are in different factions. Anyway, Starlight Kid starts with Hina, Hina tosses Starlight Kid to the mat and goes for a cross armbreaker, but Starlight Kid blocks it and they trade flash pins. Hina almost gets one but Tam breaks it up, Hina picks up Starlight Kid and goes off the ropes, but Tam kicks her from the apron. Cyclone Suplex by Starlight Kid, she slams Hina in front of the corner and goes to the top turnbuckle. Swivel Body Press by Starlight Kid, and she picks up the three count! Rina and Hina are eliminated.
3838 Tag are the next team down and they immediately attack Tam and Starlight Kid, Kamitani and Iida throws Starlight Kid into the corner and both connect with dropkicks. Tam recovers and helps Starlight Kid even the odds, they set up Iida and Kamitani in the ropes and both hit Tiger Feint Kicks. Standing moonsault by Starlight Kid to Iida, and she covers her for two. Starlight Kid picks up Iida but Iida throws her into the corner, chops by Iida and she sends Starlight Kid to the mat. Iida tags in Kamitani, dropkick by Kamitani and she puts Starlight Kid in a crab hold. Tam breaks it up, Kamitani picks up Starlight Kid but Starlight Kid slides away. Tam slams Kamitani to the mat, Starlight Kid goes up top and she connects with the Swivel Body Press, but Iida breaks up the cover. Starlight Kid tries to go off the ropes but Kamitani grabs her and traps her with a jackknife hold for two. Tam tries to help but kicks Starlight Kid by accident, Kamitani goes up top and hits a missile dropkick on Starlight Kid. Iida hits a missile dropkick of her own, Kamitani picks up Starlight Kid and delivers a Pele Kick. Running Shooting Star Press by Kamitani, and she picks up the three count! Kamitani covers Starlight Kid and gets the three count! STARS are eliminated.
Jamie Hayter and Zoey Skye run down as the next challengers, they jump their opponents in the corner before isolated Iida in the ring. Double Irish whip to Iida but Iida dropkicks them both, Jamie clubs on Iida and stomps on her back. Jamie picks up Iida but Iida fires up and chops her in the chest, but Jamie blocks one and elbows Iida to the mat for a two count. Jamie picks up Iida but Iida sneaks in a small package for two. Kamitani dives in the ring with a missile dropkick to Jamie, Iida goes up top and hits her own missile dropkick for a two count. Iida Bridge by Iida, but Zoey breaks it up. Iida goes off the ropes but Jamie catches her with a lariat, Cow Killer by Jamie and she picks up the three count! 3838 Tag are eliminated.
The last tag team of the match are next, as Death and Leyla enter the match. They are attacked before they even get to the ring by Jamie and Zoey, Leyla is thrown into the ring but she immediately goes off the ropes and dives out onto her opponents with a tope suicida. They rolls Jamie back into the ring, double Irish whip and Jamie eats a double DDT. They go for a double vertical suplex but Jamie blocks it and lariats both of them. She tags in Zoey, Zoey stomps on Leyla and drops her with a Codebreaker. Chokeslam onto her knee by Jamie, cover by Zoey but Death breaks it up with a senton. Zoey boots Jamie by accident, Leyla hits a German suplex on Zoey and with Death they connect with a double running knee. Triangle jump moonsault by Leyla out of the corner, and she covers Zoey for the three count! Death Yama-san and Leyla Hirsch win the match!
It would have been more interesting by not having the ‘new’ team win every time, but for an early-card match this was fine. All the wrestlers got a chance to show a little something (except Rina but I think that was just due to some clipping), with everyone hitting their spots. Not much to it but fast paced and an easy watch.
Natsuko Tora, Sumire, and Kashima vs. Hana Kimura, Kyona, and Konami
Time for another good ‘ol fashion faction battle. And there are some stakes, as the winner will be the next challenger for the Artist of Stardom Championship. This is the “new” direction for Oedo Tai, as they have lost Kagetsu and Hazuki so they must continue on a different path. Natsuko seems to be taking a bigger role and Saki Kashima joined the clan, giving the group some fresh blood. They are against Tokyo Cyber Squad, led by Hana Kimura. TCS seems to get lost in the shuffle sometimes since they haven’t had the changes that the other groups have had, but since joining last year they’ve had a fair amount of success. Oedo Tai is the team they probably want to push more however to show the group isn’t dead even though they’ve lost a handful of wrestlers, so I’m anticipating them coming out the victors.
Hana and Saki start the match, Irish whip by Hana and she shoulderblocks Saki down. Saki fires back with an elbow but Hana just laughs at her, Saki pulls Hana down by her hair and goes off the ropes, but Konami kicks her from the apron. Boot by Hana, and the match clips ahead to Kyona being in the ring with Saki. Saki goes off the ropes and hits a hurricanrana, Kyona ends up in the corner and Saki connects with a running boot. Saki tags in Natsu, Natsu stomps Kyona in the corner and charges her, but Hana cuts her off before she can do the Bronco Buster. Atomic Drop by Natsu to Hana and Konami, she kicks Kyona down in the corner again and this time delivers the gyrating Bronco Buster. Natsu kicks Kyona low, cover by Natsu and she covers her for two. She tags in Natsuko but Kyona suplexes both of them, she goes off the ropes and tries to shoulderblock Natsuko but Natsuko stays on her feet. She tries again but Natsuko knocks her down, Kyona returns the favor but Natsuko levels her with a spear.
They both return to their feet and go for lariats, hard elbow by Kyona and she tags in Konami. Konami kicks Natsuko repeatedly in the chest, she goes for the Fujiwara Armbar but Natsuko rolls out of it. Knee by Konami in the corner but Natsuko avoids her next charge and the other Oedo Tai members run in to help. In control now, Natsuko goes up top and she delivers the diving body press for two. Natsuko picks up Konami but Konami gets away, Natsuko goes off the ropes but Konami blocks the spear and applies the Triangle Lancer. Natsu breaks it up, Konami knees Natsuko a few times and goes off the ropes, but Natsu hits her with a bucket. She tags Saki, Saki goes up top and hits a diving footstomp on Konami for two. Kick combination by Konami to Saki and she hits a wrist-clutch suplex for a two count cover. Kyona and Hana both end up in the ring and they dropkick Natsuko, Konami kicks Saki in the head and Kyona delivers an assisted face crusher. Kick to the head by Konami, but Saki barely kicks out. Konami picks up Saki and goes for the Triangle Lancer, but Saki blocks it and applies the Kishikaisei for the three count! Oedo Tai win the match.
A short match clipped down even further, which didn’t really give them time to get into a real flow. My issue with matches like this is that none of the wrestlers really get a chance to show what they can do or get into a groove. We’ve seen Kyona and Konami as a team have great matches, but this didn’t really click. One of the problems is that the current Oedo Tai team doesn’t have a great worker so to speak, they are better characters than technicians, making it difficult for the Tokyo Cyber Squad team to put together a cohesive match. Not an actively bad match or anything, just too disjointed and random to really get invested in.
(c) AZM, Momo Watanabe, and Hayashishita vs. Giulia, Maika, and Syuri
Artist of Stardom Championship
The first of two title matches on the show. This is definitely a case of the challenging team being more interesting than the champions, as the new faction Donna del Mondo gets their first opportunity at a title. Donna del Mondo was formed last month by Giulia, as she brings in outsiders Maika (of JUST TAP OUT) and Syuri (a Freelancer) when no one in Stardom was worthy of teaming with her. Even though Maika is still a rookie she carries herself as much more, and Syuri of course is always intimidating as a former kickboxer and UFC fighter. The Queen’s Quest team has two top notch wrestlers and young AZM, who is no slouch either, as they defend the trios titles for the second time. Will Queen’s Quest be able to hold back one of the most fearsome new groups in all of Joshi? Seems doubtful but they will certainly try.
Maika and Utami start the match, Maika gets Utami to the mat and they jockey for position. Utami gets a headlock applied but Maika reverses it into a headscissors, Utami gets out of it and they return to their feet. Syuri and Momo are tagged in, they trade wristlocks until Momo gets Syuri’s back but Syuri switches positions with her and tosses Momo to the mat. Both wrestlers hit armdrags with Syuri holding onto hers with an armbar, she lets go after a moment and kicks Momo in the back. Momo gets up and returns the favor with her own kick, she sits down on the mat and challenges Syuri to go again. Syuri kicks Momo in the back and invites Momo to kick her, but she catches Momo’s kick and applies an ankle hold. Momo gets out of it and they too reach a stalemate, tagging in the last pairing. AZM and Giulia immediately get into it with a high speed exchange, AZM tries to do a kip up but Giulia boots her as soon as she gets back to her feet. Giulia knocks AZM out of the ring and goes out after her, and she throws the child into the chairs at ringside. She slides AZM back into the ring and steps on her head, she tags in Maika but AZM dropkicks her. AZM tags Utami, Utami slams Maika and puts her in a Camel Clutch while both Momo and AZM kick her. Utami scoop slams Maika and tags Momo, scoop slam by Momo and she covers Maika for a two count. Momo kicks at Maika but Maika catches her with a toss and makes the tag to Syuri.
Syuri kicks and knees Momo, Utami runs in but Syuri kicks her as well. AZM comes in also but Syuri throws AZM at Momo and drops her with a Backstabber. Jumping knee in the corner by Syuri to Momo and she hits a suplex for a two count cover. Syuri picks up Momo but Momo kicks her in the leg, Syuri kicks her back as they go back and forth. Momo dropkicks Syuri in the corner before dropkicking her again, a third dropkick by Momo and she covers Syuri for two. Momo tags Utami, hard shoulderblock by Utami and she throws Syuri into the corner. Running elbow by Utami and she hits the STO for a two count. Utami goes off the ropes but Syuri knees her, snapmare by Syuri and she kicks Utami in the back. PK by Syuri, but her cover only gets two. Syuri tags Maika, Maika picks up Utami and she puts her in a Fujiwara Armbar. She then applies a cross armbreaker but Utami quickly wiggles to the ropes to force the break. Maika picks up Utami but Utami elbows her and they trade shots. Side slam by Maika, she hits a monkey flip followed by a judo toss and a STO of her own for a two count cover. Maika waits for Utami to get up but Utami tosses her to the mat, she gets Maika on her shoulders in the Argentine Backbreaker but Maika grabs her arm and reverses it into a cross armbreaker attempt.
Utami tries to block it but ends up in a Triangle Choke for her trouble, but Utami slams her way out of it. Backdrop suplex by Utami and she makes it to her corner to tag AZM while Giulia was also tagged in. They avoid each others kicks before trading elbows, AZM goes off the ropes but Giulia catches her with a knee to the face. Neckbreaker by Giulia and she puts AZM in the STF, but it gets broken up. Giulia goes up top but Utami tosses her off and Momo nails her with a Somato. Diving Footstomp by AZM to Giulia, but Giulia barely kicks out. AZM, Utami, and Momo all dropkick Giulia, AZM goes off the ropes and hits the La Mistica, but Giulia gets into the ropes for the break. Irish whip by AZM but Giulia reverses it, dropping her with the Glorious Buster. Syuri and Maika both come in to get their shots on AZM, knee by Giulia and she covers AZM, but it gets broken up. AZM picks up Giulia but Giulia pushers her off, she gets up AZM for a Glorious Buster again but AZM gets away and cradles Giulia for two. Giulia picks up AZM and hits a delayed Falcon Arrow, but AZM gets a shoulder up. Syuri and Maika return, with both Giulia and Syuri kicking AZM while Maika has her elevated in the air. Giulia picks up AZM and nails the Glorious Driver, cover by Giulia and she picks up the three count! Donna del Mondo are the new champions!
Its possible I loved this more than I should have, but man did I enjoy this match. Donna del Mondo just feel legitimately different and fresh in Stardom, which has a pretty set match structure they use throughout the card. Its a structure I enjoy, not really complaining, but when a group comes along and does things a bit different its a breath of fresh air. From Giulia cutting off AZM’s high speed segment, to Syuri cutting off the “taking turns” kicks with Momo, to just being dominate I thought everything clicked to make the group stand out. While I am afraid they will find some way to change them in the future, how they are currently being used is perfect. All six wrestlers looked good here even though not everyone got much of a chance to show off, with Utami in particular standing out on the Queen’s Quest team. The time just flew by as they kept the action going, and from start to finish its the most fun I’ve had watching a Stardom match in awhile. It probably won’t hold up in the long run, but watching it ‘in the moment’ I couldn’t think of a way to make it any better. Really great match. Highly Recommended
(c) Arisa Hoshiki vs. Bea Priestley
Wonder of Stardom Championship
Since winning the title in May of 2019, Arisa Hoshiki has been a very action champion. Even though Arisa is already on her 10th defense, she has not yet faced off against Bea for the title, so its still a fresh challenge for her. Bea had a great year in Stardom in 2019, as she held the World of Stardom Championship for 184 days. Coming into the match she is one half of the Goddesses of Stardom Champions, but she isn’t satisfied with just having tag team gold as she goes after one of the top singles titles in the promotion.
Bea won’t shake Arisa’s hand at the start of the match and instead immediately dropkicks her into the corner, elbows by Bea and she hits another dropkick for a two count. Bea grabs Arisa’s wrist and walks the ropes, but Arisa kicks her before she can do a move, sending to to the mat. Bea leaves the ring to re-group but returns after a moment, Irish whip by Arisa and she kicks Bea in the chest. Arisa walks on Bea’s midsection before hitting a double kneedrop, Irish whip by Arisa to the corner but Bea reverses it and hits a Backstabber for two. Bea picks up Arisa and hits a scoop slam, kick to the back by Bea and she chokes Arisa in the corner with her boot. Arisa fights back with elbows but Bea hits a dragon screw leg whip, she taunts Arisa and Arisa kicks her in the face. Arisa lays in the kicks while Bea is in the ropes, she wraps Bea’s arms around the second rope and goes out to the apron so she can kick her some more. Arisa returns to the ring and connects with a running kick to Bea’s back, Bea rolls out of the ring but Arisa goes out after her and hits the 1399 off the ropes to the floor. Arisa brings Bea back up onto the apron and applies a sleeper over the ropes before dragging her into the ring, she re-applies the choke but Bea gets a foot on the ropes for the break. Arisa kicks Bea before putting her in a leg lock, but again Bea gets to the ropes. Running knee to the head by Arisa, she goes off the ropes again but this time Bea catches her with a jumping knee. Cyclone neckbreaker by Bea, she puts Arisa in the corner and goes for the Queen’s Landing, but Arisa pushes her away.
Jumping Somato by Arisa, but Bea kicks out at two. Arisa goes for a kick but Bea ducks it and delivers a German suplex, she goes for a Regal Plex but Arisa blocks it and kicks her in the head. Arisa goes up top and hits the 1399, cover by Arisa but it gets a two count. Arisa goes for the Shining Star Cutter but Bea catches her before she can rebound off the ropes and delivers a German suplex. Bea goes off the ropes and knees Arisa in the back of the head, cover by Bea but Arisa gets a hand in the ropes. Bea applies an ankle hold, Arisa struggles but eventually gets to the ropes for the break. Bea stomps on Arisa and clubs her in the back, she runs to the corner to rebound out of it but Arisa catches her with a face crusher. Arisa grabs Bea by the wrists and knees her in the face, cover by Arisa but it gets a two count. Arisa goes for the Shining Impact but Bea moves out of the way and connects with a running knee of her own. They both slowly get up as they trade elbows, kick to the knee by Bea and she kicks Arisa in the side of the head for two. Bea picks up Arisa and delivers the Regal Plex, but Arisa gets a shoulder up. Bea knees Arisa in the back of the head as she starts to get up, she sets her up in the corner and kicks her in the face. Bea goes for the Queen’s Landing but Arisa reverses it with a front roll into a cradle. Back up, jumping knee by Bea and she goes for another knee, but Arisa catches it and hits a jumping knee of her own. Another jumping knee by Arisa, and she covers Bea for a two count. Arisa goes off the ropes and hits the Shining Star Cutter, she picks up Bea and drops her with the Brazilian Kick. Shining Impact by Arisa, and she covers Bea for the three count! Arisa Hoshiki wins and retains the championship.
This match was good but not without its issues. Bea and Arisa are both a bit… clunky sometimes, which isn’t the end of the world but when paired together there were some issues here and there with execution. Nothing earth-shattering, just little things like a move not being hit quite right or a spot looking awkward that can add up. Bea’s random ankle hold mid-way through the match just screamed “killing time” since she did no prior work on the leg, its one thing to do that to open a match but its different when its in the latter portion, it should mean something at that point. Still, when they were focusing on kneeing each other in the face they did well, and there was certainly a lot of that, and I think the fans really did buy into some of the nearfalls as they were very convincing. When they stuck to their strengths (throwing strikes mostly), it was good, but it didn’t reach the levels of some of Arisa’s recent title defenses. Mildly Recommended
Mayu Iwatani vs. Takumi Iroha
Originally, the main event of this show was supposed to be Mayu Iwatani vs. Sareee, but unfortunately Sareee got sick so Iroha was a last minute replacement. A pretty solid one, especially considering the short notice. Takumi Iroha started her career in Stardom but left in 2015 to join Chigusa Nagayo in Marvelous. Since then, she has grown to one of the top wrestlers in the Joshi scene, as even though Marvelous is a small promotion she goes to other promotions as well to gain experience and exposure. These two have shared the ring many times before, with their last two encounters (one tag and one singles match) both ending in Draws. Even without a title on the line there is still a decent chance this match will end in a Draw as well, but both are highly skilled wrestlers so it should be great either way.
After a feeling out process to start they trade wristlocks, Takumi works a headlock until Mayu Irish whips out of it. They end up at a stalemate, Takumi kicks Mayu in the midsection but she waits for Mayu to get up without taking advantage. Mayu charges Takumi but Takumi puts her in an armbar, Mayu gets the break in the ropes but Takumi keeps on the offense. Takumi wraps Mayu’s arm in the ropes and yanks on it as she stays focused on her limb, she pulls Mayu out of the ring and rams her shoulder-first into the ring post. Takumi slides Mayu back in and hits a double knee to her arm, Takumi goes off the ropes but Mayu catches her with a Sling Blade. Mayu goes off the ropes and dropkicks Takumi out of the ring, Mayu goes to the top turnbuckle and dives out of the ring onto Takumi. Mayu rolls Takumi back in and goes up top, but Takumi avoids her dive, they trade attempted attacks in the corner until Mayu rolls Takumi to the mat and hits a dropkick. Takumi kicks Mayu in the chest, Mayu gets back up so Takumi kicks her in the chest again. Mayu returns to her feet but she is greeted by more kicks. Dropkick by Takumi, she picks up Mayu and hits a snap vertical suplex for a two count.
Takumi goes off the ropes but Mayu dropkicks her in the knee, she goes off the ropes but Takumi grabs her arm and kicks it. Takumi dropkicks Mayu in the arm before putting her in a Fujiwara Armbar, but Mayu makes it to the ropes for the break. Mayu rolls out of the ring to attempt to regroup but returns after a moment just to eat more kicks, Takumi grabs Mayu around the waist and spins her around before nailing a German suplex hold for a two count. Powerbomb by Takumi, but that gets a two count as well, so Takumi quickly transitions into a Fujiwara Armbar. Mayu gets to the ropes for the break, Takumi goes up top and she delivers the Swanton Bomb for two. Takumi picks up Mayu and goes for the Running Three, but Mayu blocks it and cradles Takumi for two. Kick to the head by Mayu, she goes up top and hits the diving footstomp. Mayu goes up top again but Takumi recovers and kicks her in the head before she can jump off. Takumi joins Mayu up top and delivers a delayed superplex, Takumi waits for Mayu to return to her feet and kicks her in the chest. Mayu catches one of the kicks and hits a dragon screw, Scorpion Deathlock by Mayu but Takumi is too close to the ropes and makes it there to break the hold.
Mayu picks up Takumi but Takumi elbows her, Mayu elbows her back and they trade blows. Mayu ducks Takumi’s kick combination and hits a German suplex hold, getting a two count. Mayu goes up top and delivers the Frog Splash, but Takumi gets a shoulder up. Mayu goes up top again and nails the moonsault, but again Takumi kicks out. Mayu goes for a dragon suplex but Takumi grabs the ropes to block it, Mayu puts Takumi in the corner and goes for the Running Three, but Mayu slides away. Dodonpa by Mayu, but it gets two. Mayu goes for the Two Stage Dragon Suplex but Takumi blocks it, hard elbow by Takumi but Mayu fires back with a superkick. Head kick by Takumi and she drops Mayu with another powerbomb, Last Ride Powerbomb by Takumi but Mayu barely kicks out. Takumi sets up Mayu for the Running Three, but Mayu reverses it into a hurricanrana for a two count. Kick combination to the head by Takumi, but Mayu reverses her cover into one of her own for a two count. Back up, another head kick by Takumi and this time she nails the Running Three for the three count cover! Takumi Iroha is the winner.
The lasting memory from this match will be the last five minutes or so, when Takumi was just killing Mayu in a variety of entertaining ways. That’s not to say there was nothing good about the lead-up, as Takumi’s arm work was solid and Mayu had her fair share of offense so it wasn’t too one-side, but the last few minutes were just a clinic on how to put down an opponent. Mayu is very hard to pin, so it seemed perfectly reasonable that it would take a head kick, a powerbomb, a Last Ride, another kick combination, a head kick, and a Running Three within a couple minutes of each other to finally keep Mayu on the mat. Takumi carries herself as such a weapon that she feels different than anyone else in Stardom, she just has an aura to her and she delivers on that visual promise with her in-ring performances. She’d work out great in Stardom as a long term outsider since they don’t have anyone quite like her, but even if she just pops in a few times a year I won’t complain. A really entertaining match between two of the better wrestlers in Japan and a great way to end the event. Highly Recommended
From top to bottom, this was a quality event. The opener was a fun fast paced match and while the second match wasn’t great, it did establish the new Oedo Tai as a force to be reckoned with. The Artist of Stardom Championship match was fantastic, with Donna del Mondo becoming my new favorite Joshi group, and the Wonder of Stardom Championship match was solid. The main event was everything I read it was, with Takumi Iroha really asserting herself as one of the top Joshi wrestlers currently active. Really, no duds on the show, definitely worth watching for any fans of Joshi.