Event: Stardom Year End Climax 2019
Date: December 24th, 2019
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 1,334
For the last Joshi event of 2019 I plan on reviewing, I couldn’t do a much bigger show than Stardom Year End Climax 2019. This is typically one of Stardom’s biggest events of the year and 2019 is no different, as three titles will be on the line tonight. Even more importantly, the retirement match and ceremony for Hazuki will take place as one of the more popular young wrestlers in the promotion is giving her farewell. Here is the portion of the card aired by Samurai TV!:
Quite a stacked card. All wrestlers on the show have profiles on Joshi City, you can click on their names above to go straight to it. As I am watching the Samurai TV! version of the show, some matches will likely be clipped.
Death Yama-san, Kyona, and Ruaka vs. Hayter, Martina, and Natsu Sumire
This wasn’t the first match on the show, but Samurai TV mercifully skipped the rookie match so we jump straight to this one. We start with a classic stable match, with Tokyo Cyber Squad taking on Oedo Tai! These are all the wrestlers from each faction that didn’t have bigger matches on the card, but it still should be fun as there are some quality wrestlers here (particularly poor Kyona, who probably deserves better). While this match may lack in substance it should make up for in style, lets see how it goes.
The match is joined in progress, with Kyona being attacked in the ropes but all three members of Oedo Tai. It eventually gets broken up by her teammates but Oedo Tai clears the ring, all three get drinks in their mouth but Kyona gets an umbrella to block it when they try to spit the drinks at her. Kyona hammers on Jamie, she goes off the ropes and the two collide with both staying up. They both try to lariat each other over with Jamie winning the battle, she goes off the ropes but Kyona does as well and knocks down Jamie with a lariat of her own. Both wrestlers crawl to their own corners to tag in Yama-san and Natsu, Natsu boots Yama-san back a few times but Yama-san doesn’t go down and thrusts her in the throat. Running senton by Yama-san and she tags in Ruaka. Shoulderblocks by Ruaka to Natsu, she throws her into the corner but Natsu reverses it and hits a back elbow. Bronco Buster by Natsu, Martina comes in and she hits a Bronco Buster on Ruaka as well at the same time. They stay in position as Jamie comes in the ring to join them, but Kyona cuts her off with a dropkick before she can join the Bronco Buster party. Codebreaker by Martina to Ruaka, and Natsu delivers a brainbuster hold for the three count! Oedo Tai wins the match.
Beyond Natsu’s obsession with rubbing her crotch in the faces of children, there wasn’t a whole lot to this one. The clipping didn’t help of course as we only saw a few minutes, which mostly was Oedo Tai antics. I enjoy Oedo Tai and for where this was on the card, a more playful match is certainly fine, just not enough shown here to get excited about.
(c) AZM, Watanabe, and Hayashishita vs. Kashima, Starlight Kid, and Nakano
Artist of Stardom Championship
Hopefully this match gets more time. Queen’s Quest won the Artist of Stardom Championship last month from Oedo Tai, and this is their first defense of the titles. The STARS team is very qualified for this challenge even if it is the B Team, as all are former champions of some sort in Stardom. While this is a rare undercard title match, anytime you have these six in the same ring the action should be pretty solid.
AZM and Starlight Kid begin the match, they go into a quick exchange with Starlight Kid dropkicking AZM at the end of it. Tam and Saki come in the ring and all three triple team AZM, with a triple dropkick as the final move. Footstomp by Starlight Kid, and she covers AZM for two. Starlight Kid goes off the ropes but Utami runs in and dropkicks her, Momo comes in too and they all connect with running strikes on Starlight Kid in the corner. Cover by AZM, but it gets a two count. AZM goes up to the top turnbuckle but Starlight Kid avoids the diving footstomp, Tiger Feint Kick by Starlight Kid on AZM and Tam plants AZM with a German Suplex Hold. Cover by Starlight Kid, but it gets broken up. She picks up AZM but AZM blocks the Yoshi Tonic attempt, Starlight Kid reverses the flying armbar and the two trade flash pins. Dropkick by Starlight Kid, she goes up to the top turnbuckle and delivers the swivel body press for a two count. Head kick by AZM, she goes up top and hits the diving footstomp for two. Starlight Kid is up quickly but AZM kicks her in the head, she goes for a vertical suplex but Starlight Kid reverses it into one of her own. Both wrestlers slowly crawl to the corners before tagging in Momo and Saki, kick by Saki but Momo throws her into the corner.
Saki jumps up on the second turnbuckle and kicks Momo as she charges in, she rolls Momo to the mat but Utami and AZM come in to help. Saki hits a double face crusher on them while also dropkicking Momo, Starlight Kid and Tam clear the ring before diving off the top turnbuckle to the floor onto their opponents. Back in the ring, diving crossbody by Saki to Momo and she goes back up top, this time hitting a diving footstomp for two. Saki picks up Momo but Momo kicks her in the head, crossface chickenwing by Momo but Saki blocks the suplex attempt and cradles Momo for two. Saki slaps Momo and goes off the ropes, but AZM kicks her from the apron. Utami runs in and hits an Argentine slam on Saki, Somato by Momo but Saki kicks out of the pin. AZM and Utami both get back in the ring and all three dropkick Saki, Momo picks up Saki and goes for the B Driver, but Saki blocks it and cradles Momo for two. Starlight Kid and Tam both get in the ring to help but Utami lariats both of them, she picks up Saki and hits a release German suplex. Momo grabs Saki and delivers the Peach Sunrise, and she picks up the three count! Queen’s Quest retains the championship.
A little clipped but this was a fun match. Starting off with a long AZM and Starlight Kid segment was smart as they have great chemistry, although I am surprised how long it lasted since it ate up a good portion of a six wrestler match. As tends to be the case in these matches, Utami didn’t do much (at least not in what we saw) but she looked great with what she did do, and everyone held up their own end. It didn’t have the feel of a title match just do the length/where it was on the card, but a solid midcard six wrestler tag match nonetheless.
Hazuki vs. Natsuko Tora
And just as quick as Hazuki returned to Stardom, she is leaving again, this time a bit more officially. After a brief hiatus, Hazuki made a sudden comeback to Stardom in November of 2016, joining Io Shirai in her new faction Queen’s Quest. Under Io’s tutelage, Hazuki moved up the card until joining Oedo Tai in 2018, which felt like a great fit for her and she continued to grow as she wrestled with/got further training by her friend Kagetsu. After a great 2019, Hazuki announced in November that she was retiring, with a full ceremony this time, at the last event of the year. So here we are, at Hazuki’s Retirement Match. She is against her stablemate Natsuko Tora, which doesn’t feel like the biggest match they could have done but if she wanted to give the ‘rub’ to someone, the less experienced (but older) Natsuko may have been the best pick. Retirement matches are generally more about emotion than great in-ring work, and I expect the same will be true here.
They immediately get into it as they both go off the ropes, Hazuki gets the last move with the hurricanrana but Natsuko charges right back in. Hazuki tosses around Natsuko by her hair before throwing Natsuko against the ropes, facewashes by Hazuki and she delivers a running boot. Hazuki gives her some more facewashes and another running boot and catapults Natsuko into the second rope. Cover by Hazuki, but it gets a two count. Brainbuster by Hazuki, she covers Natsuko but that gets a two as well. Hazuki picks up Natsuko but Natsuko pushes her off, Hazuki boots Natsuko into the corner but Hazuki avoids her charge and other members of Oedo Tai come in to connect with running strikes in the corner. Codebreaker by Martina, Natsuko picks up Hazuki and hits a Samoan Drop for a two count. Natsuko picks up Hazuki and delivers a swinging side slam, but again Hazuki gets a shoulder up. Natsuko goes off the ropes and knocks down Hazuki with a lariat, she goes for another swinging slide slam but Hazuki blocks it and applies La Magistral for a two count. Hazuki boots Natsuko in the head, she goes off the ropes but Natsuko does too and delivers a spear. Another spear by Natsuko, she slams Hazuki in front of the corner and goes up top. Diving leg drop by Natsuko, and she covers Hazuki for the three count! Natsuko Tora is the winner.
Next came Hazuki’s Retirement Ceremony, with Hazuki giving her farewell speech. We end with the bell count and streamers, before Hazuki is carried out of the ring for the last time in Stardom.
I had heard this match wasn’t great, so Samurai TV clipping it down may have been the best way to honor Hazuki’s final match. Natsuko can be a little awkward sometimes in her movements and transitions, but that wasn’t an issue here as with what they showed (less than half the match) everything was pretty smooth. I assume we missed a nice chunk of Hazuki offense as this ended up being almost a squash as it was presented, but it makes sense to focus on the wrestler staying in the promotion and not the one leaving it since Hazuki was going to get extra face time in the post-match. I wouldn’t consider this a great in-ring way to end Hazuki’s career, but her match against Kagetsu the week prior acted more as her in-ring farewell while this was more about the ceremony itself. I don’t know if we will ever see Hazuki again in the ring, but she was a lot of fun to watch and she will certainly be missed.
Hana Kimura vs. Giulia
Sandwiched between retirement matches and title matches, we have a grudge match. As soon as Giulia announced she was joining Stardom, Hana Kimura seemed to take some offense to it and the two have been jawing and pulling at each other’s hair since then. Hana likely feels threatened as both are very attractive and don’t mind letting you know about it, and the two have a lot of similarities as their careers are at about the same place. I’m not sure if they are going for a ‘generational’ type feud with these two or if its a quick program just to introduce Giulia to a new set of fans, but Giulia has had some chemistry issues since joining Stardom so I hope those have been taken care of before such a big match.
They immediately get into it after the bell rings as they throw elbows back and forth, Hana gets the better of it as she keeps hammering Giulia on the mat and goes for a cross armbreaker, but Giulia blocks it. Giulia gets in the mount position and goes for a cross armbreaker of her own, but Hana gets to the ropes to force the break. They both return to their feet and Hana spits on Giulia, Giulia goes for a slap but Hana ducks it and hits a slap of her own. Giulia kicks Hana and throws her out of the ring, she goes out after her and throws Hana into the chairs at ringside. Giulia takes Hana up into the bleachers and slams her into the wall, she brings her back to ringside and throws her into the crowd again. Giulia takes Hana up onto the stage and puts her in the table, but Hana slides off of it to escape. Giulia returns to the ring with Hana slowly following, but Giulia immediately kicks Hana back out and slams Hana on the floor. Giulia gets a running start at Hana but Hana has grabbed a chair and she hits Giulia with it. Hana returns to the ring and waits for Giulia, she boots her in the head after she gets back in but Giulia kicks her back and hits a missile dropkick for two. Giulia picks up Hana but Hana pushes her off, neckbreaker by Giulia and she covers Hana for two. STF by Giulia but Hana wiggles to the ropes and forces a break. Giulia goes off the ropes but Hana catches her with a dropkick, heel drop by Hana and she deliver a delayed vertical suplex for a two count.
Hana boots at Giulia’s head but Giulia just gets mad and slaps her, Hana chokes Giulia but Giulia chokes her back. Headbutt by Hana but Giulia returns fire and both wrestlers end up on the mat. They both get up and go back to trading shots, Hana boots Giulia repeatedly against the ropes and they both hit running boots. Giulia knocks Hana to the mat, Hana quickly gets back up but Giulia puts her in the Stealth Viper. Hana gets to the ropes to force the break, Giulia picks her up and goes for the Glorious Buster, but Hana slides off her back and applies the Ground Manjikatame. Hana reverts it into an armbar but Giulia gets the break, Hana goes off the ropes and boots Giulia. Hana goes up top and delivers a missile dropkick, Hana goes for a package piledriver but Giulia gets away and applies a small package for two. Glorious Buster by Giulia, but Hana reverses her cover into one of her own for two. Back up, headbutt by Hana and she puts Giulia in the Ground Manjikatame, but Giulia gets to the ropes. Package Piledriver attempt by Hana but its blocked again, Glorious Driver by Giulia and she covers Hana, but Hana is too close to the ropes and gets a foot on one to stop the pin. STF by Giulia and she switches it into the Stealth Viper, but the bell rings as time has expired. The match is a Draw.
Even though these two may not have the best chemistry yet, the effort was certainly there. They wrestled this as a hateful brawl even though it was their first match against each other ever, which is a tough feat. So the crowd wasn’t completely convinced but the work was solid and the last five minutes in particular were really good. I could have done without the crowd brawling which I think was mostly done to get it up to the time limit, since its not their strong suit, but once they got into the ring everything was much smoother. A good match with a hot end stretch, once they wrestle a bit more against each other I am sure they will have a great match down the line. Mildly Recommended
(c) Arisa Hoshiki vs. Konami
Wonder of Stardom Championship
Arisa won the Wonder of Stardom Championship back in May of 2019 from Momo Watanabe and has been a very active champion, as this is already her eighth defense of the title. Over that time she has wins over Tam Nakano, Hazuki, Jungle Kyona, Jamie Hayter, and Kagetsu so she has not been taking the easy path as she maintains the gold. She is challenged here by Tokyo Cyber Squad member Konami, who has had tag and trio title success in Stardom but has yet to win a singles title. On Stardom’s biggest stage of the year, Konami gets the chance to finally hold a championship all on her own, but Arisa has shown to be a tough wrestler to take down.
Arisa and Konami circle each other to start as they look for early leverage, kicks to the leg by Arisa but Konami catches one and kicks Arisa back. Arisa goes off the ropes but Konami kicks her in the stomach, dropkick to the head by Konami and she covers Arisa for two. Konami picks up Arisa but Arisa connects with a strike combination, she charges Konami but Konami plants her with a release German suplex. Buzzsaw Kick by Konami, and Arisa rolls out of the ring to try to regain her senses. Konami goes out after her and hits a German suplex on the floor, she applies a Triangle Lancer while Arisa tries to tap out, but since they are outside of the ring it doesn’t count. Konami eventually lets go on her own and waits in the ring for Arisa, Arisa eventually rolls in and Konami goes for a tombstone piledriver, but Arisa blocks it. Konami goes off the ropes but Arisa puts her in a sleeper hold, Konami gets out of it and applies a sleeper hold of her own. Arisa snapmares out of it and kicks Konami in the back, running knee by Arisa and she hits a double knee strike in the corner. Reverse double kneedrop by Arisa, and she covers Konami for two. Arisa picks up Konami and she delivers a jumping kick, she waits for Konami to get up but when she charges Konami she is put in an armbar.
Double armbar by Konami, Arisa struggles in the hold but eventually gets a foot on the ropes to force the break. Konami goes off the ropes and delivers a sliding kick to Arisa, she picks up Arisa but Arisa pushes her off. Konami goes for the Triangle Lancer but Arisa blocks it and hits a quick cutter. Head kick by Arisa, and both wrestlers are down on the mat. They slowly get up, jumping knee by Arisa and she hits a second one. She finishes Konami off with a head kick, cover by Arisa but Konami gets a shoulder up. Arisa goes up top and nails the 1399, she picks up Konami but Konami ducks the Brazilian Kick. Arisa kicks her in the head anyway, she goes to the top turnbuckle but Konami recovers and joins her. Konami suplexes Arisa back to the mat, she picks up Arisa and delivers another suplex. Buzzsaw Kick by Konami, she covers Arisa but it gets two. Hammerlock slam by Konami and she applies a keylock, she switches it to an armbar but Arisa gets a foot on the ropes for the break. Konami stomps at Arisa, she charges her but Arisa moves and kicks Konami in the back of the head. Both wrestlers are slow to get up, Konami goes for the Triangle Lancer but Arisa rolls through it and hits a jumping knee. Shining Star Cutter by Arisa, she picks up Konami and nails the Brazilian Kick. Shining Impact by Arisa, and she covers Konami for the three count! Arisa Hoshiki wins and retains the championship.
This was pretty fantastic. Konami has been ready for a match like this for awhile, Stardom doesn’t give her a lot of chances but whenever they do she delivers. Arisa’s slow rise has been a lot of fun to watch in 2019, as she started slow as she transitioned back to being a full time wrestler but now really has her timing down and keeps adding to her move repertoire so that her matches don’t feel repetitive. Since they have the same style, they both stayed on the same page and the transitions worked well with only the Shining Star Cutter looking a bit out of place (which is a common issue with that move regardless who is doing it). A great strike and submission battle between these two, hopefully Konami will finally get her first singles title in 2020 as she is ready. Highly Recommended
(c) Mayu Iwatani vs. Kagetsu
World of Stardom Championship
Time for the main event! It feels like Mayu and Kagetsu have been feuding forever, and they have – their first singles match was back in 2016 over the High Speed Championship and they have had many matches against each other since. This is their first singles match against each other in Stardom this year, however, as Stardom is pretty good about keeping their feuding stars apart so that the pairing doesn’t get stale. Mayu won the World of Stardom Championship from Bea Priestley on November 4th, and this is her first defense of the title. Mayu was recently given the Tokyo Sports Women’s Award for top Joshi Wrestler, so she has that on her shoulders as well as defending her title against her #1 nemesis on Stardom’s big finale for 2019.
They shake hands to start and Mayu even gives Kagetsu a smile, perhaps hinting at the announcement that would come later from Kagetsu. They begin with trading wristlocks and headlocks but they reach a stalemate, Kagetsu goes off the ropes and Mayu drops down, but Kagetsu kicks Mayu in the back. Armdrag by Mayu, they both go off the ropes and Mayu ends up in the corner. Mayu kicks back Kagetsu and hits an armdrag, dropkick by Mayu and Kagetsu rolls out of the ring to re-group. Mayu fakes a dive but flips off Kagetsu instead, Kagetsu tries to get back in the ring but Mayu kicks her back out. Mayu goes do to a tope suicida but Kagetsu spits water in her face, Kagetsu quickly gets back in the ring and hits a tope suicida of her own. She follows up with another one before sliding Mayu back in, but Kagetsu promptly returns Mayu to the floor and hits a third tope suicida. Kagetsu carries Mayu up into the bleachers and slams her onto the stands, she climbs up the wall onto a ledge and jumps down on Mayu with a double footstomp (shades of Kyoko Kimura, but not quite as high). Kagetsu walks Mayu back to the ring, strike exchange by Kagetsu and she hits the Ebisu Drop for two. Kagetsu picks up Mayu and drops her with a chokeslam, cover by Kagetsu but it gets a two count. Kagetsu applies a keylock, but Mayu gets into the ropes for the break. Kagetsu goes up to the top turnbuckle but Mayu recovers and joins her, Frankensteiner by Mayu and she hits a footstomp off the second turnbuckle. Mayu goes up top again and hits the diving body press, cover by Mayu but it gets two.
Mayu goes up top yet again and calls for the moonsault, but Kagetsu rolls out of the way of it and plants Mayu with a running knee. Kagetsu picks up Mayu and puts her on the top turnbuckle, head kick by Kagetsu and she delivers an Avalanche Ebisu Drop for a nearfall. Kagetsu goes up top but Mayu slaps her before she can jump off, she gets Kagetsu on her shoulders and nails the Running Three! Mayu positions Kagetsu and goes up top but again she misses the moonsault, Ebisu Drop by Kagetsu and she hits the Oedo Coaster, but Mayu barely gets a shoulder up on the cover. Kagetsu gets Mayu on her shoulders but Mayu gets off with a reverse hurricanrana, Dodonpa by Mayu but it gets two. Dragon Suplex Hold by Mayu, but that gets a two count as well. Mayu goes up top and this time she hits the moonsault, but Kagetsu kicks out at one. Mayu drags up Kagetsu but Kagetsu wiggles out of the dragon suplex, she pulls down the referee and spits Blue Mist in Mayu’s face. Ebisu Drop by Kagetsu, she goes up top and nails the Oedo Coaster before dropping her with a Death Valley Bomb, but Mayu barely kicks out. Kagetsu gets Mayu up again but Mayu slides off and delivers her Dragon Suplex Hold for a two count. Mayu tombstones Kagetsu in front of the corner, she goes up top one final time and nails the moonsault for the three count! Mayu Iwatani wins and retains the championship.
To explain what I alluded to at the top, Kagetsu announced soon after the match that she was retiring soon and leaving Stardom in January, so this likely will be the last ever singles match between Kagetsu and Mayu. The end of an era. And they certainly wrestled like it, since both were kicking out of each other’s finishers like there was no tomorrow and the diving footstomp in the crowd was a sick exclamation point. I don’t mind the finisher kickouts since it was mutual, and they’ve wrestled so many times it is logical it would take a little something extra to put one down for the three count. These two are so fluid and smooth, as you’d expect by now, and the blood on Mayu’s face showed they weren’t exactly taking it easy on each other. Hard hitting and exciting from start to finish, about all you could ask for from a main event title match. Another must-watch on the show and a fitting conclusion to Stardom’s year. Highly Recommended
While I prefer Samurai TV’s overall presentation, admittedly it can be an issue with the match clippings. I don’t think it hurt anything here, they took a few minutes off the main event but I think it was just a chunk in the middle and from what I heard the Retirement Match needed to be clipped so that probably saved me. As far as in-ring action goes, the final two matches definitely delivered, with a quality strike/submission battle in one and the end of an era in the other as Mayu and Kagetsu went out with a bang. Other matches were fun as well, particularly Hana/Giulia and the trios title match, so overall definitely an event worth watching. Top to bottom one of the better Stardom events of 2019.