Well, it looked like people did want more Stardom reviews on the site, so it seems like it’s worth my time to do them! We’ll be hitting all the major events for the time being and tonight, we’ve got a big one on tap as Giulia defends her World of Stardom title against Suzu Suzuki in the main event!
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
I wanted to take a moment and thank those that encouraged me to continue with these, as I’ve really become a big fan of the promotion and think that putting them out there and giving a good hub for discussion will hopefully create more than a few new fans as a result. All we get paid in is the comments and goodwill, so keep it coming to feed my precious, precious ego.
Stardom Supreme Fight – February 4th, 2023
With deep apologies to both Phred and LT, I’m going to skip the Naniwa Roulette match as I never really know how to rate these types of things, which means I’ll not be opining on Tam Nakano’s match in this review. I know that will simply break both of their hearts. I will say that Saki Kashima winning the match made me very happy, as I’m continuing to very much enjoy her work as I watch more Stardom.
So let’s jump right into our Triangle Derby match of the evening! The Triangle Derby is a Block round robin 6 person tag tournament that has been going on for some time now, with the Finals just around the corner.
Someone please make sure that no one says the words ‘Round Robin 6 person tag tournament’ anywhere that Tony Khan can hear them, please, or I just accidentally booked 8 weeks of Dynamite with useless matches.
STARS (Saya Iida, Koguma, Hazuki) vs Oedo Tai (Starlight Kid, Ruaka) & Haruka Umesaki
SLK & Koguma start us off, with Kid wasting no time in pulling Koguma to the floor and cheating, clobbering Koguma with the Oedo Tai case. From there, it settles into a pretty typical 6-person tag, with Umesaki looking pretty good along with Iida. Koguma does a very nice bit with Starlight Kid as well, resulting in a pin for Koguma. (STARS over Oedo Tai, pinfall, 9:03)
THOUGHTS: **. Pretty typical opening tag here, if a bit on the slow side considering the people involved.
Queen’s Quest (Utami Hayashishita, AZM, Lady C) vs God’s Eye (Syuri, Ami Sourei) & Konami
YES! Feed this directly into my veins – there is no better way to get me to watch any match ever than to put Syuri and Utami in the same ring against each other. I don’t give a shit who. Bad Luck Fale vs Yujiro Takahashi? Put these women in there, I’ll watch it. Elias vs Tamina in an intergender match? Put these two in there and we’ve got ourselves and intergenderESTING match, amirite? Retroactively add them into Dino Bravo vs The Ultimate Warrior through computer technology? I am….
…..nah, there’s a line and that’s it. I’m out. As we know by now, Dino Bravo is the WORST, and that’s some settled blog science.
But other than THAT instance, I’m in!
Konami and AZM start, and as usual I love AZM a lot. She’s just such a delight to watch in the ring, all speed and charisma, with her and Konami doing their thing for a bit before Syuri comes in to remind us that she’s awesome by kicking the shit out of AZM and mocking her along the way. Ami in now as poor AZM gets triple-teamed in the corner as she is YOUR high-speed bomb girl in peril.
Ami chops AZM into jelly against the ropes, likely due to her high crime of existing, but AZM finally escapes with a suplex and it’s a tag to Utami. Excellent decision. Konami comes in with a beautiful missile dropkick and she has a nice bit of work with Utami before the match breaks down and everyone gets involved; Konami is really looking good in there. Stereo armbars by Konami and Syuri in a neato spot before we reset to just Utami and Konami in the ring.
Tag to Lady C who gets a giant swing on Konami, then a chokeslam for two. Everything breaks down again after that with multiple saves before Konami submits C with an armbar. (God’s Eye over Queen’s Quest, submission, 11:25)
THOUGHTS: ***1/4. I like pretty much everyone involved here, so I was probably generous on the rating and I give zero fucks about that because all of them rule. It wasn’t much beyond the surface, but it was fast and super-fun to watch; I thought Konami especially looked pretty great in there, which I say frequently when she decides to pop up for a show. I really wish she was around more. And I’ll say for the record that I’m kind of sad that AZM is going to have to do a job for Mercedes Mone, and that’s nothing against Mercedes. I just prefer AZM by a wide margin.
Chihiro Hashimoto vs MIRAI
This one is interesting, in that Hashimoto is really on a collision course with Syuri in the end, but seems to be taking her time in eating her way through as much of the Stardom roster as she can along the way to express her overall disdain for said roster. Of course, with MIRAI as part of God’s Eye, it makes sense for Syuri’s stablemate to take on the monster here.
They do some nice matwork to start as Hashimoto in particular is really excellent at that aspect of pro wrestling. Hashimoto just brually wears her down, dragging her to the center with a headscissors. MIRAI counters out but the match doesn’t go much better for her after that, with Hashimoto just overpowering her in key spots. They go to the ropes and Hashimoto dishes out the slap of disrespect as her way of giving a clean break.
Hashimoto dominates with power, hitting a lariat and shrugging off MIRAI’s shots before just slapping her again against the ropes and shoving her down. Somersault legdrop gets two for Hashimoto. Senton misses and MIRAI has the opening she needs. So she decides to slug it out for some godforsaken reason. What an idiot.
She comes back with a missile dropkick for two on Hashimoto, but keeps wanting to fight against the bigger Hashimoto and keeps walking into trouble as a result. It’s a fascinating match, as MIRAI should be using her speed as much as she can to stick and move, but she wants to fight and wrestle and she keeps losing those battles. Pride does indeed goeth before the fall, it appears.
Sleeper by MIRAI, which is a decent enough idea, which turns into a modified flatliner for two. Now a double wristlock by MIRAI, but once again, she can’t hold Hashimoto back and gets suplexed. They exchange lariats and strikes, and MIRAI hits a huge lariat for two! Crossbody off the top for two! MIRAI has Hashimoto down, now a triangle into a cross-armbreaker, but Hashimoto makes the ropes.
Hashimoto rolls through into an anklelock, then a series of suplexes which drop poor MIRAI on her goddamned HEAD. Lariat by Hashimoto, 1, 2, NO! Got me a bit there, that lariat was sick. No matter, as Hashimoto pops up and immediately finishes with a bridging German suplex for the pin. (Chihiro Hashimoto over MIRAI, pinfall, 15:18)
THOUGHTS: ****1/4. Oh, I liked this one. This was a match with the intent of making Hashimoto look like the biggest monster possible and they delivered it, as she just beat the snot out of MIRAI throughout most of the match. And what I enjoyed here is that they didn’t just present it as Hashimoto being dominant, they paired it with the story of MIRAI holding her own and even taking the advantage in very specific ways that, one would think, could have gotten her the win if she would have stuck to them. But instead, she decided she wanted to fight in ways that may have given her more pride if they resulted in victory but at the same time left her very unlikely to pull off said victory. It’s a neat bit of character work mixed into what could have been a mindless squash that says something about MIRAI in defeat, which is good because it can be built on. I really enjoyed this professional wrestling match, I have to say.
Hashimoto cuts a promo after the match, mocking MIRAI’s effort and taunting Syuri, who has come down to aid her stablemate. Hashimoto declines facing Syuri, asking for a different opponent on the next big show, imploring her “Let’s have a bit more fun, Syuri”. Syuri says that she saw today how strong Hashimoto is and wants a match soon, on the biggest stage possible – so one more person, but after that, Hashimoto will fight Syuri on the biggest stage? Hashimoto is looking forward to it and leaves the fallen MIRAI to Syuri and Ami to scrape off the mat. Tremendous.
Donna Del Mondo (Himeka/Maika) vs Neo-Stardom Army (Yuu/Nanae Takahashi) (C) – Goddesses of Stardom Tag Team title match
Yuu comes out with the Pro Wrestling EVE International title around her waist and more belts strapped to her chest. She’s becoming quite the belt collector these days.
We actually get a handshake to start this one. Code of Honor is therefore followed, sayeth myself. We establish our bonafides early, as Yuu and Nanae attempt to leverage their power in the match but get taken out by Himeka and Maika’s speed. Himeka comes off the apron and buggers her knee 2 minutes in, and I suspect we’ll be seeing that come up here.
And that didn’t take long as Nanae tosses her back in and puts her in a figure-four immediately. This allows Himeka to sell the shit out of her knee in delightful fashion, then that transitions into a desperation tag to Maika to allow her to try to take on the bigger champions by herself, which goes suprisingly well for a bit before she gets cut off and slaughtered.
The Donna Del Mondo girls are just so good at selling and keeping the crowd into the match, I’m in awe. Maika makes an absolutely perfect babyface comeback and suplexes Yuu before getting bodypressed and taking a cannonball in the corner. Like, Yuu and Nanae aren’t actively BAD here or anything, but Himeka and Maika are throwing themselves all over the ring to sell the match, so the champs just have to do basic stuff and not fuck it up.
Maika is in there for a long-ass time as Himeka recovers on the outside from the knee punishment, and the face-in-peril segment builds beautifully as she keeps making just enough mini-comebacks to keep the crowd with her before getting cut off into the heat again. Also, she’s insanely strong as she tosses Takahashi around in more than a few spots before we finally get a hot tag to Himeka. And she comes in still selling the knee, taking the offense on Nanae before getting kicked in the knee and crashing to the mat.
Takahashi kills her with kicks before Himeka gets a sliding lariat for two. Pier six brawl ensues and Nanae puts Himeda back in the figure-four. Yuu hits a senton and now Nanae transitions to a kneebar, Himeka makes the ropes! Double-team superplex takes out Nanae and Himeka goes for a top rope powerbomb, but the knee gives out and Yuu flattens her with a cannonball in the corner.
Running knee by Himeka gets two on Nanae as the DDM girls can feel it, and now Himeka powers through and hits the powerbomb off the top on Takahashi! 1, 2, NO!! Another try and Yuu cuts her off. Stereo frog splashes by the champs, but Himeka kicks out of that too. Same after two more Takahashi lariats and it looks like it’s DDM’s night…..until the Nana Racka hits and retains for the champs. (Neo Stardom Army over Donna Del Mondo, pinfall, 18:54)
THOUGHTS: ***3/4. Maybe my favorite match the champs have had to date, and that was mostly due to the challengers if I’m being honest. MaiHime was fucking AWESOME here, selling their asses off and making absolutely perfectly-timed comebacks and pacing the match. All Yuu and Nanae had to do was pretty much stay out of their way and be big, dominant heels, which they did to a T. It’s the gear they do best and while I’m not sold that they have much else in the quiver, for tonight it served the purpose. And the babyfaces put on a virtuoso performance across from them to play off of. A bit after this match, Himeka announced that she would be retiring and that made me quite sad; she’s a pretty great wrestler.
Nanae gets the stick after the match and yells at the crowd for a bit before asking for their next challengers. And down the ramp comes Natsuko Tora and Ruaka from Oedo Tai to accept. Ruaka calls Nanae ‘Grandma’ and just generally is a bitch to her until Yuu accepts their challenge. This was long and actually relatively annoying and I came out of it not wanting to root for either team, and this is coming from me, a guy who mostly likes Natsuko Tora.
Momo Watanabe vs Saya Kamitani (C) – Wonder of Stardom title match
There’s history between the two here as we see in the opening video, but the big thing is that Saya is attempting to defend the White belt for the 14th time, which would break the record which is 13, currently a tie between Saya…..and Momo. So there’s most certainly that.
Quick start with a lot of fire on both sides, which is fine. There’s certainly been a Saya backlash online that I’ve seen lately, especially with this very long title reign seemingly not ending until Mina gets her hands on Saya. And a lot of that criticism is warranted, as we’ll get to in this review; but I’ll say upfront that I think there’s a decent enough wrestler in there for Kamitani, and I hope she finds it like she seemingly was on track to do a few years ago.
Saya gets tossed to the floor and that’s not where you want to be with Oedo Tai, who take the ref and mercilessly interfere, culminating in Momo nailing Kamitani with the bat before throwing her into the floor seats. Back in and Momo beats on her, absolutely leveling her with a kick to the chest. Meteora by Momo gets two.
Saya starts her comeback here and goes from death on the mat to a spry speedster in a blink of a Jackson. Springboard is cut off by Momo throwing the Oedo Tai case at Saya, which I hate. I don’t mind the cheating but I’ll say it for the millionth time – just distract the ref or something. It’s not that hard, you just did it earlier in the damned match. All I want is for the heels to work for it just a BIT instead of making the ref look like an absolute moron. It’s dumb when the House of Torture does it in NJPW and dumb here. So Oedo Tai gets out a table and here’s where it goes wrong for me.
First, we end up with Momo and Saya on the table, and Saya ‘ranas her to the floor from there. Okay, fine. So she then moves the table to a different part of the aisle and sets it up there, puts Momo on top of it, goes up for a double foot stomp off the top rope to Momo on the table…..and basically just MISSES her, glancing off Momo and crashing to the floor knees first. First time I saw that, I assumed she just shattered her kneecaps, which, luckily, she didn’t. But it was SUCH a stupid spot that I can’t fathom why they needed to try it in the first place if she wasn’t dead-fucking-on that she would hit it.
Saya is up, so I suppose she’s all good, and we’re back in. Fisherman’s Driver and Saya goes up now, but Watanabe cuts her off. Momo kicks her into jelly on the mat and it’s kind of awesome, but now Saya does the strong style no-sell and ignores it to come off the ropes with a leg lariat. This is all over the place as Saya hits rolling Northern Lights and a reverse ‘rana that barely catches Momo.
Momo comes back with kicks as Saya is doing this RIDICULOUS melodramatic selljob, listing from left to right in a swaying motion that is meant to be dramatic but just looks silly. Watanabe has had enough of her shit and goes for the Peach Sunrise, it hits! 1,2, NO! Damnit. I’m actively rooting for her now, even though I was sure she wasn’t winning, especially after that. Momo goes for a Peach Thunder Driver that Saya counters (?) out of, in that Kamitani just sort of fell forward and Momo sold it like a counter.
Roll through a backslide and Saya hits a nice kick for two. Spinning Fisherman’s Driver by Kamitani! 1, 2, NO! Saya wants to finish and goes up, 450 Splash hits the knees! And then Saya…..ignores it and pins her anyway? Oh, fuck this. (Saya Kamitani over Momo Watanabe, pinfall, 16:38)
THOUGHTS: ***. There was some cool stuff in here, no doubt, but yikes. Saya had a lot of REALLY bad moments in there, from her going 0-60 on her selling in back to back sequences to her mostly missing the double footstomp to whatever the hell that ending was. Saya is gonna hold that belt until Mina takes it from her, I’ve accepted that, but this was some cringe out there. Momo was pretty good as usual, nothing to complain about there; she’s rarely ever bad and most of the match rating is due to her work.
Main event time! Bit of the presser airs with pics of a younger Giulia and Suzu in previous times before it all went wrong. That descends into some slapping at the presser and a recap of their match in the 5Star, and emotional time limit draw that I put on my Top 10 for last year. It remains an awesome piece of work, where even if you don’t know the story as well you will get the resonance between the two wrestlers just due to their insanely great skill in there.
Also, I gotta get me that Suzu shirt where she’s suplexing Blanka.
Suzu Suzuki vs Giulia (C) – World of Stardom title match
Giulia is a STAR. In every way, shape, and form, from the entrance forward. While I’m still unabashedly on the Suzuki train as the future, it would be foolish to not acknowledge that Giulia is just a supernova right now.
Chain wrestling starts us off, with hammerlock trades going to the mat where a headlock controls for Suzu. Back up into a test of strength as they take their time easing into the match here, working that into a pinfall reversal sequence. They’re selling a cautious respect story here between the two. They do a sequence that came off a BIT choreographed for my liking into a stalemate.
A bit more back and forth leads to a Giulia tornado DDT out of the corner and she starts to work on Suzuki’s shoulder a bit from there, hitting a hammerlock overhead throw. Suzuki manages to yank her to the floor, however, and that’s Suzu’s domain. Into the chairs Giulia doth go, more than once. Up the ramp they go and Giulia DDT’s Suzu there to briefly regain the advantage before Suzu hits her with a half-nelson slam.
Back into the ring we go and Giulia hits a dropkick. They’re laying a lot of groundwork here for the end, but it’s definitely deliberate in that respect. Suzu wipes Giulia out with a kick and goes up, but Giulia cuts her off there and hits a huge double-underhook suplex. They trade the advantage a few times with Suzu hitting a standing Spanish Fly.
Giulia with a T-Bone for two, then an STF….but nah, she just uses the hold to yank the tape off Suzu’s shoulder. What a bitch. Front facelock into a double wristlock as Giulia continues to punish Suzuki’s shoulder, giving the match a direction that it needs. More torture ensues as Giulia tries to rip the arm out of the socket. I approve.
Giulia goes for the kill on the apron, but Suzu reverses into a sitout kinda Piledriver on said apron to send Giulia crashing to the ground in a crazy-looking spot that was totally safe. Someone make Saya take notes. Suzu’s turn to claim a body part as she chooses Giulia’s shoulder, kicking at it in the corner and dropkicking it off the top. Suzuki goes up, dragging Giulia with her, half-nelson driver off the top onto the shoulder! Bridging wristlock by Suzuki, 1, 2, no!
Tequila shot time, but Giulia escapes, so Suzu kicks her in the fucking face. I love this woman. Tequila shot hits! 1, 2, NO! Rolling Germans time, bridge on the last one, 1, 2, NO! Damnit! Suzu puts Giulia on top and attempts to hit a German off the top rope, HITS IT!!!!! HOLY SHIT!!!! Bridge, 1, 2, NOOOOOOO!!! Oh, COME ON!
Suzuki wipes Giulia out with a right, but Giulia comes back with one of her own, then a Falcon Arrow for two. Looks to be Glorious Driver time, but Suzu cradles her for two. Two straight rolling pins get two for Suzuki. They both go for big boots at the same time, and Suzu wipes out a fallen Giulia with a vicious kick to the head. She goes for the German again, but Giulia escapes and hits a belly-to-back suplex.
V-Trigger from Giulia! She says it’s over and hits the Glorious Driver! 1, 2, NO!!! But that’s the last gasp for Suzu, as the Northern Lights Bomb ends things right after. (Giulia over Suzu Suzuki, pinfall, 25:04)
THOUGHTS: ****. The finishing sequence here was absolutely tremendous, no question. But this one had a bit of bloat on it – the first several minutes outside of some half-hearted shoulder work from Giulia really meant nothing to the overall context of the match, while the last ten minutes told most, if not all, of the relevant story. I had the feeling after watching it that there was a legit ****1/2, ****3/4 match somewhere in there that was about 18 minutes or so; but this wasn’t that match. That’s not meant to be a serious criticism, in that the back half of the match was so good that it more than made up for the start, but it is in my mind a reasonable one, as I saw these two women have a better match without a finish in less time in the 5Star. Overall, very much worth watching.
Post-match, Giulia has the stick. She says that this is the World of Stardom, the highest peak; she asks Suzu how it felt to be in this large arena. She calls Suzuki her ‘cute little sister’ that she abandoned to come to Stardom, but that she knew their paths would someday cross again. Suzu and Sera seem to have taken a liking to Stardom, Giulia says; Giulia is looking forward to the day when Suzu stands by her side again. Suzu has a mic now, says that Giulia really is something else. She’s completely different from the Giulia that used to talk about all her dreams, something that Giulia concurs with about Suzu. Suzu says that she lost today, but she has a new goal – Suzu WILL win that red belt and give Stardom and pro wrestling the most interesting view! She tells Giulia not to say that she wants to stand next to Suzu, unfortunately for those looking for that ending, that will never happen! The story of Giulia and Suzu isn’t over yet!
Suzu leaves and Giulia has the ring now. She’s overwhelmed to hear everyone’s voices for the first time in 3 years! Thank you! She’s followed the path she believes in, and has no regrets. So she’ll keep believing in herself and for the future, Corona is calming down and in order to bring Stardom to the highest level possible, please keep following and they’ll keep doing the best for all of us! Before Corona, she had an ending that she used, and now it’s time to use it again. Ready? She’ll explain. After she says Arrivederci, the fans all say Mantana, okay? All you guys that love, love, love Stardom? Arrivederci!!
Music hits, Giulia poses, and we’re done.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Two **** matches make it an automatic watch on my count. There was some really good wrestling on this show and a good way for Giulia to kick off her title reign proper. Thumbs into the stratosphere, and keep watching Stardom!
Now, I wanted to address something personal very quickly. You may (or may not have) noticed that this is not only very late but that I haven’t been around the blog as much recently. I just wanted to take a few sentences to say that I’m fine, that it involved something family-related that I’d rather keep to myself for the time being, and that everyone on my end is all good. I cannot make promises for the future at this particular moment, but I do plan to continue with Stardom. Just that sometimes, like a lot of folks, our personal lives take precedence over the blog stuff. Rest assured, my absence wasn’t related to anything happening here. And if you didn’t notice, all the better! Likely because there’s too much good wrestling to watch!
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
@MrSoze on Twitter
[email protected] for email