Stardom the Way to Major League
February 8, 2020
We’re in Toyko, Japan at Korakuen Hall. 1519 in attendance for a packed out show headlined by Mayu Iwatani and Takumi Iroha from Marvelous.
Tag Team Gauntlet
I generally hate gauntlets. Tam & Starlight Kid start against Hina & Rina. The whole thing is cheeky roll ups and SK finishes with a twisting splash. 3838 Tag are in next. Tam is in a ‘take no shit’ kind of mood. Starlight does all the selling then Tam comes in and beats the crap out of both challengers. Tam gets carried away kicking ass and knocks Starlight out. She’s eliminated by a Kamitani running SSP. Hayter & Zoey Skye are team four. More cheeky roll ups and dropkicks here. Jamie clearly positioned as the big dog. Iida tries so hard to pin her but dies on an Ushikuroshi. Leyla Hirsch & Death Yama-san are the final team. Leyla Hirsch is a tremendous pro wrestler and Japan is an ideal place for her to not look super small and outsized. Leyla pins Zoey for the win.
Death Yama-san may be my favourite gimmick in the company.
Final Rating: **1/2
Artist of Stardom #1 Contendership
Oedo Tai (Natsu Sumire, Saki Kashima & Natsuko Tora) vs. Tokyo Cyber Squad (Hana Kimura, Jungle Kyona & Konami)
Evil Saki Kashima is going to take some adjusting to.
Hana seems to be struggling with it and can’t stop chuckling at her. Natsu Sumire is the kind of wrestler that reminds you that not everyone needs to be a workrate freak to be over. She’s just a jerk and fits the Oedo Tai gimmick so perfectly. There’s a lot to be said for simply standing out, even if a lot of the wrestlers who take that route end up being piss break wrestlers for me personally. Saki Kashima becomes the fascinating focal point of this match. It’s all about her new persona and how she fits into it. She ends up outsmarting Konami and getting a roll up for the win. This was fine but it was pretty clear they were using this to get over Saki and the new Oedo Tai lineup and poor Konami had to pay the price.
Final Rating: **1/4
Artist of Stardom Championship
Queen’s Quest (Momo Watanabe, Utami Hayashishita & AZM) (c) vs. Donna del Mondo (Giulia, Syuri Kondo & Maika)
The new Stardom owners are clearly keen on Guilia and shaking up the Stardom world.
Queen’s Quest are a bunch of weirdos. I don’t really know Maika very well (I’ve seen her wrestle once) and I’m impressed with her work here. Obviously the rest of Donna del Mondo are good. I like the idea of new people coming in and shaking up the roster. It’s a shame they can’t work with Hazuki and Kagetsu. I know some people are mad at Stardom for the whole Giulia instant push but she’s really the complete package. She has the look, the presence and ability.
Sadly this match never quite catches on fire and just simmers. I want to see more anger, more contempt from the locals at the invading Donna del Mondo stable. The biggest positive is that Maika looks great here and in my head she was the weak link in the Donna del Mondo line up. It speaks volumes that Giulia has her best moments against AZM. They want her to look strong but not against Momo or Utami. Not yet. Save those moments for later. She pins AZM to win the belts.
Final Rating: ***
Wonder of Stardom Championship
Arisa Hoshiki (c) vs. Bea Priestley
Bea has been working on an interesting (read: dorky) new look. She’s off to the malt shop afterwards to put her pocket money in the jukebox. She’s really sloppy here and accidentally puts both her clumsy feet in Arisa’s jaw in the early going.
“Looking for trash”.
Arisa spends a good chunk of the match throwing strikes and grounding Bea. The counter to this is mostly based around Bea’s power advantage but Arisa looks the more complete wrestler throughout. They do some cool things. Bea ducking under a kick in the corner right into a suplex is neat. As is the German suplex off the middle ropes as another counter. However Bea also does a lot of dumb things. Like running the ropes twice to stop and drop a knee. Why even run the ropes? You’re just wearing yourself out. The match is handily the best thing on the show to this point but it’s rough around the edges and they drift in and out of chemistry.
Arisa is a great piss taker here. At one point hitting the Oscutter on Bea before kneeing her in the head again for the pin. This was wildly patchy. At times it ruled but there were too many ‘off’ moments. Maybe next time.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Mayu Iwatani vs. Takumi Iroha
This was supposed to be Mayu vs. Sareee. Word has it that WWE pulled Sareee from the card but it was also announced that she was ill. She wrestled four days after this so you be the judge.
Mayu comes in hurt, because she’s always hurt, and Iroha smartly goes after the taped shoulder. The attack is a savage variety of submission attempts and stuff like a javelin into the ring post. When they’re not focusing on the arm it’s fast and furious. There’s a lovely close up of Mayu smiling after the one sequence because it came off so smooth and she’s like “oh shit, I have a new play thing”.
Iroha is so slick. Everything she does serves a purpose. She’s direct, aggressive and purposeful. It’s a proper old school mentality to the work but done at breakneck speed. In Mayu she has a willing dance partner. Someone who’ll happily break their own neck or take a concussion to make a match better. The powerbomb in this, which has so much snap I was genuinely scared, is sick as fuck.
Without the sound of the impact it loses a bit but trust me, I could feel this. The match is far from perfect and it’s in the striking that they let themselves down. Sometimes they’re not convincing at all but also Iroha’s one elbow nearly caves Mayu’s cheek in so it’s swings and roundabouts. Iroha comes up with the win courtesy of the Running Three (a savage running version of the Razor’s Edge). The multitude of powerbombs and abuse finally catching up to Mayu. This was fucking badass. There was some truly great pro wrestling in here. A combination of logic and work. Loads of people can have this wacky high spot filled match but to do it and have everything make sense? Beautiful. Thumbs way up.
Final Rating: ****1/2
Post Match: Oedo Tai jump Mayu Iwatani and turncoat bitch Saki Kashima demands a title shot. Iwatani isn’t interested because Saki is a total bitch and doesn’t deserve one. Oedo Tai jump again and Iroha saves. Oedo Tai are looking increasingly like geeks.