Stardom Queen’s Fes
February 18 2018
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall for another big Stardom show. Over 1000 in attendance here for a double main event of Io Shirai vs. Momo Watanabe and Meiko Satomura vs. Toni Storm. If that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite the lovely team of Mayu Iwatani and Tam Nakano go after Oedo Tai (Tam’s former stable) and the tag titles.
Hanan, Ruaka & Shiki Shibusawa vs. Kaori Yoneyama & Konami
Shiki is allowed both kids as tag partners to take on actual established wrestlers. Shiki brings pink frills and cuteness. Konami brings harsh kicks and armbars. That’s the contrast. Hanan gets the most joy of all the inexperienced team. She’s just coming up on one year in the business and is still a literal child (she’s 14 this year) but is a big prospect. She gets kicked in the head for the loss.
Final Rating: *3/4
Queen’s Quest (AZM & HZK) vs. Team Jungle (Jungle Kyona & Natsuko Tora) vs. Nicole Savoy & Miranda vs. Starlight Kid & Xia Brookside
This is under elimination rules with four teams involved. The two teams with gaijin are somewhat thrown together while the other teams are from existing Stardom units. Miranda (Salinas) was a first round loser in the Mae Young Classic. This starts out with way too many people involved and too many issues based on positioning. It’s not like watching Dragon Gate, let’s put it like that. There are a lot of inexperienced women trying to do difficult spots. The good news is that Xia is starting to look sharper. Being Robbie’s daughter it was only a matter of time. It’s a genetic advantage. She and Starlight Kid are first out courtesy of a tasty double jump crossbody from AZM.
The match does not benefit from having lost one team and it’s just as disjointed as before. AZM eats a wind up urinage from Tora and Queen’s Quest are gone. Savoy is clearly being positioned as the killer gaijin so it makes sense for her to be there till the end. Miranda is less accomplished. Savoy can always power her way out of trouble whereas Miranda ends up looking lost. Nicole bosses Tora and finishes with a fisherman suplex. Good showing from Nicole but the match was a mess until it came down to the final pairing.
Final Rating: **
Hiromi Mimura vs. Natsu Sumire
This match has an interesting dynamic as Mimura is so wholesome and Sumire is just about the sleaziest wrestler in Stardom. Sumire is not a good wrestler, by any stretch of the imagination, but she is a good character and she plays up to her sleazy bad girl image a treat here. Although minus points for botching a kick and dropping her whip like a chump. Mimura, spunky blue-eye that she is, tries to carry the match but simply can’t as Sumire isn’t on form here. It’s one botch after another with Sumire incapable of taking the most rudimentary bump. As soon as Mimura sets up for a high spot I start wondering how Sumire is going to ruin it. Mimura even beats her for personality, getting all fired up after a whipping. They run an awful ref bump spot and this match is DYING. Sumire ends up getting disqualified for whipping the referee, which is basically a bullet through the head of a diseased horse. Turn this match into glue ASAP. There are quite a lot of good wrestlers around Stardom. Can one of them teach Sumire how to work?
Final Rating: DUD
Goddesses of Stardom Championship
Oedo Tai (Hana Kimura & Kagetsu) (C) vs. Mayu Iwatani & Tam Nakano
Now we’re into the business end of things. Tam was in Oedo Tai until losing the fall in an incredibly emotional match and was immediately recruited by Mayu while still teary eyed about her defeat. The story of Tam Nakano has been the background of Stardom so far this year. They’re building her up to be one of their big stars going forward. Considering she debuted in July 2016 it’s quite the ambitious move but Stardom are good at building their own stars and she’s been earmarked for a reason.
There’s a lot of good characters here and reason for them to be fighting. Kagetsu refusing to even look at Tam, let alone shake her hand shows where we’re at storyline wise. Nakano taking the action to her former big sisters is kinda beautiful. The fact that company ace Mayu is the least important person in the match shows what a fine job they’ve done of building the inter-relationships with the others. That said the Mayu vs. Kagetsu sequences are gold.
The Tam Nakano story is one of my favourites in wrestling. Here's her getting all fired up against former colleague Hana Kimura before getting shut down with a boot to the face. pic.twitter.com/CDL4dDDi3w
— Absolute Arnie (@ArnoldFurious) March 19, 2018
Tam shows all this super fire throughout the match only for the likes of Kris Wolf and Natsu Sumire to fuck with her from the floor. Tam might not have perfect timing just yet but she does have pluck and guts and heart and I love her for it. She fights with all her heart in this match. As she’s repeatedly kicking Kagetsu in the head there’s a lovely shot of Hana sat on the apron admiring her fight. They might not be pals anymore but they were close for a while. There’s a hint of a smirk. It’s a shoot. Kagetsu doesn’t believe in the fairy tale and puts Tam away with the 450 Splash. Aww, she tried so hard. Blustering pace here and great character work.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Meiko Satomura vs. Toni Storm
Toni is World of Stardom champ but that belt is not on the line here. It’s a ‘special dream match’ and it actually is. It’s weird for Stardom to be doing dream matches. They tend to focus on building up bouts from within. Heating up two wrestlers, or two factions and then pitting them against each other. Here it’s legitimately a dream match. One of Japan’s best wrestlers versus one of the globe’s best up and comers. Toni carries three belts to the ring (Stardom, Progress and wXw). That’s quite the haul. Satomura dissects Toni, looking to test her at various different strengths. Whether it’s bridging, or escaping holds. She wants to see what Toni is made of. When Storm survives and impresses Meiko offers a handshake. There’s sportsmanship there. She’s happy Toni has proven to be a worthy opponent. The sparring is a touch tentative and it’s two women who’ve not got history together learning each other’s style and movements. It gets borderline sloppy at its worst.
Luckily both women are very talented and they always recover. Neither of them has bad singles matches and that’s true again here. It’s a good match but it’s not the barnstormer some were probably hoping for when the match got announced. It has flashes of that, sure, but it’s not pushing the upper echelons of wrestling. There’s enough foundation to make me believe they can have a blinder but this isn’t it. It’s a necessary evil. Establish their chemistry and go from there. It’s interesting to me that Toni varies her attacks, rather than barges head-long into Meiko, as she’s afraid of giving away her strategy and being too predictable. It’s a little weird playing the first match by going deep into the arsenal but it factors into this being a ‘dream match’. A ‘one off’.
There are two types of Toni Storm matches. The one where Strong Zero is death and the other one where the opponent kicks out because it’s a big match and they’re closely matched. This is the latter. They both hit their finishers multiple times and Toni rolls out of the ring after the third of Meiko’s and the time limit expires. This was good but I feel like it was here to establish a second match where we get a definitive winner. Not the classic I was hoping for and hopefully they can iron out the flaws and go at it properly next time. It got pretty badass towards the end, even though they were spamming the finishers.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Post Match: Mayu Iwatani comes out here and demands her rematch for the title she never lost. Mayu had to forfeit the belt after dislocating her elbow in their title match.
Mayu’s “thank you” when Toni agrees is the cutest thing on the show and it’s a show that had Tam Nakano on so that’s a high fucking bar.
Wonder of Stardom Championship
Io Shirai (c) vs. Momo Watanabe
Momo was the other side of the faction’s battle that saw Tam ousted from Oedo Tai. Watanabe won, on behalf of Io’s Queen’s Quest stable, and is now challenging her boss to a title match. Momo is only 17 years old so she’s going to get her ass kicked. However Watanabe is one of the great overachievers in wrestling today. She’s 17 so she’s got no fear. She doesn’t know she’s too young to be headlining shows. She doesn’t care! She feels no pressure wrestling Io Shirai and my god, is it refreshing. She wrestles with youthful aggression, tempered by maturity beyond her years. The kicks that drive this match are sensational. Io makes a point of selling them like death and after five minutes there’s a feeling in the building that Io is going to lose. When Io comes back it’s focusing on the leg, taking the kicks out of the match and throwing herself into spots with reckless abandon. What’s shocking to me is even after this turn of events Momo looks like winning as she has a Plan B. With the kicks gone she takes it to the mat and outwrestles Io. Holy shit. How fucking cocky is Momo Watanabe? She’s pulling out fluke roll ups, sleepers and when none of that works she hits the ropes. There’s a little inexperience in there but so many of her tactical decisions make sense. She dismantles Io Shirai. This is the future of Stardom guys, and it’s startling. The bit where Io gets into the ropes to escape a hold and Momo kicks her elbow to pull her back away is sick. How is she this good at 17? While she doesn’t make any errors the match ends up going to Io due to a vicious Tombstone, which busts Momo wide open somehow and a moonsault.
Make no mistake about it this was a full-on coming out party for Momo Watanabe. Remember the name because she’s going to be a big, big star in professional wrestling. The way she took it to Io here is something I’ll remember for some time. I’m sure Io will too. Momo is very emotional post match and I don’t blame her. She’s just proved she can do this to the kind of standard that equates to a Big Career and she did it before her 18th birthday.
Final Rating: ****1/2
Some of the undercard is awful but it is Stardom, this does happen. The big matches delivered to varying degrees. I was emotionally invested in everything and Momo Watanabe’s star making performance against Io Shirai gives me hope that wrestling is in good hands for the future. It would have been easy to just do a bunch of spots to get over but instead she worked a smart, logical match and pushed Io to the limit.