Stardom Galaxy Stars 2017

 

June 21 2017

 

We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall. This aired on Samurai TV. This is the first major show after the departure of Kairi Hojo to WWE. How will Stardom cope without one of their top performers? This is a chance to take a look at the world beyond Kairi. They’ve gone big for this; pitting their remaining two massive stars against each other. It’s Io Shirai vs. Mayu Iwatani in a rematch from their cracking encounter at the tail end of 2016.

 

Starlight Kid vs. Hetzza

Starlight Kid has been around for about a year. She’s probably obscenely young but I can’t tell because she’s wearing a mask. As is Hetzza.

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Starlight Kid is tiny though. She’s 4’9”, weighs nothing and is very inexperienced. It doesn’t help that Hetzza is focused on lucha and the clash of styles is immediately weird. Hetzza going after cruiser moves but doing so on a much smaller opponent. The match is much better when Hetzza stretches Starlight Kid and grounds her with superior size and technical skill. None of this springboard armdrag bullshit. Starlight Kid is horribly sloppy, but has the excuse of being a child, but somehow wins with a horrible standing moonsault after four minutes. You can skip this.

Final Rating: ½*

 

Gabby Ortiz & Shanna vs. Queen’s Quest (HZK & AZM)

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Shanna is familiar to Eurograps fans thanks to the Portugal’s Perfect Athlete having wrestled all over Europe. Ortiz I know less about but she’s also gaijin. On the graphic she’s the one with dark hair on the right. Shanna is blonde. This is Gabby’s first match in Korakuen Hall and she’s along for the ride with Shanna. Contrary to her name and expectations, she’s from Philadelphia. The Japanese ladies treat her like shit, stretching her and Azumi kicks her in the tits. It feels like a test of her resolve. Gabby is a very pretty girl and her resilience is there for the testing. Azumi is a right little bitch about it, stomping on Gabby’s stomach and so on. Ortiz doesn’t exactly acquit herself on offence. Shanna is smoother and more experienced but even her offence is dodgy. This is the issue now for Stardom, trying to plug the holes caused by departing talent. The native roster can only stretch so thin before the need for imports and the quality of imports isn’t great because WWE keep signing everyone! HZK generally controls the match and even throws in an attempted Hojo elbow as a tribute to her former colleague. AZM looks really good here, taking charge when the gaijin are struggling and looking both fast and smooth in the ring. She’s just a kid but there’s hope for the future. Shanna puts her away due to Shanna’s experience advantage but it was the younger wrestler who starred.

Final Rating: **

 

Yoko Bito, Konami & Hiromi Mimura vs. Team Jungle (Kaori Yoneyama & Natsuko Tora) & Rebel

Rebel is the Impact Wrestling wrestler. She’s not very good. Bito is Kairi Hojo’s friend so she has taken that pirate mantle and comes out dressed in Hojo cosplay. I’m well aware they teamed together before but now she’s out on her own with that look.

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Both Mimura and Konami are tiny. Mimura is under five feet tall. The staging feels important as they’re trying to establish Bito as a player. Rebel gets confused when she’s introduced before Tora, who is a literal child. Bito gets a sea of streamers and looks almost embarrassed by the attention. The void must be filled Yoko. This is on you. Don’t fuck it up. They bizarrely choose to work heat on Yoko Bito, which is the last thing I would have done. Try to establish a new star by having her beaten up is it? This changes when Yoko lands a superb high kick on Tora and the finish isn’t far behind. It took a prolonged heat segment to do it but Yoko Bito spent almost the entire match in there and still got the pain, making her own save. That high kick gets a much deserved replay. She has a way to go before the Kairi Hojo comparisons can kick in but this was a solid start.

Final Rating: **1/2

 

Goddesses of Stardom Championship

Team Jungle (Jungle Kyona & Hiroyo Matsumoto) (c) vs. Oedo Tai (Hana Kimura & Kagetsu)

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GalaxyhuhJUNGLE! JUNGLE! Hana Kimura amazes me. How can someone so devastatingly cute have a ring style that’s basically ‘take no fucking prisoners’? Kagetsu is nuts too but she looks violent. Hana looks adorable and then throws her entire body into a rage-based dropkick. Hana plays the devious heel during the match, choking Kyona and generally being horrible. Oedo Tai are such reprobates. I love them. I also love Team Jungle because the gimmick is almost completely nonsensical but it works. I genuinely think everyone in this match has a screw loose. Only in wrestling is that a benefit. Some of the timing here is off, mainly breaking up pinfalls, but the bumps are consistently vicious. Hana plays a big part in this by routinely kicking her opponents in the face. Kagetsu hits the 450 Splash on Kyona and the belts change. This is a big win for 19 year old Hana Kimura. Increasingly she’s going to be used at the top of the card and with good reason. Kagetsu looked good here too.

Final Rating: ***

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World of Stardom Championship

Io Shirai (c) vs. Mayu Iwatani

These two had a classic at the tail end of 2016 (December 22 Stardom Year-End Climax), which crept into my top ten matches for the year. Expectations are high, especially if rumours of Io’s impending departure are real. Mayu was considering retirement, hence her failure to win the title last year. How times have changed. With WWE calling for Kairi and Io the World Wonder Ring of Stardom finds itself short of main eventers.

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Mayu gets a staggering amount of streamers. She’s actually immobilised by them. She has to bunny hop to the corner to get them removed.

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She’s in there somewhere!

This has a ‘big match’ vibe to it and Io is keen to steal the show, doing a series of near misses that make her look like the cat’s meow. The match quickly recalls last years contest with Io hitting a German suplex on the floor. Mayu is such a lightweight, skinny girl that spots like that look sickening. From there the kid gloves are off. Io hits a tope at lightning speed. When the tope is done at speed there are few moves that can compete with it for sheer majesty. But it’s not all a one-way street of viciousness; Mayu has her own kicks and dives and they’re every bit as savage. Both women are incredible at selling like they’re crash test dummies. They take these horrible bumps and manage to fall into positions you usually get from people thrown from moving vehicles. Io, who already has heavy tape on her neck and back, takes a double stomp in the corner and lands square on her neck. Mayu, wanting the title and not giving a fuck about Io’s neck, promptly dragon suplexes her on the apron, which is the hardest part of the ring.

 

I love how fired up they both get. Mayu especially, refusing to stay down, refusing to sell, showing that fighting spirit. They wail on each other. Io lifts Kairi’s diving elbow, complete with salute and everything. It’s a blatant attempt to establish herself as the defined top dog in Stardom. Mayu takes a fantastic beating and helps holding on. Literally at one point, stopping Io hitting the ropes by grabbing her leg. It’s a brutal, exhausting contest with both women taking a load of nasty bumps. This culminates in Mayu hitting a series of Dragon Suplexes and getting the job done to win the title for the first time. It’s an emotionally charged victory, against an injured, overworked, stressed champion. Despite all those things Io Shirai is a world leader and Mayu took her to the limit.

Final Rating: ****1/2

 

Tangent: Io Shirai drops the title after a 546 day reign. She had 14 successful title defences including Kairi Hojo, Mayu Iwatani, Alpha Female, Kay Lee Ray and Toni Storm. Mayu becomes the eighth champion since the belt came into being in 2011.

 

Summary:

Stardom undercards are rough at the moment but there are signs of improvement from the midcard women. The youngsters will take time to get up to that level and you can’t replace Kairi Hojo overnight but potentially losing Io Shirai as well is really bad news and Stardom must be relieved that Mayu has delayed her retirement talks. At the moment she’s the smart choice to carry the company forward. She showed she desperately wanted that opportunity here.

 

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