Stardom Goddesses of Destiny
June 17 2018
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall and Io Shirai is wrestling her final match in Stardom. She’s tagging with Mayu Iwatani (the ace she’s leaving the company with) against Kagetsu and Hazuki (the present and future of the company). Following that is the main event pitting defending Wonder of Stardom Champion Momo Watanabe against challenge Jungle Kyona. Stardom putting their future in the present.
Stardom put on a lovely video showcasing Io Shirai’s career, reminding everyone how exceptional she’s been and for how long.
JAN (Kaori Yoneyama & Ruaka) vs. JAN (Natsuko Tora & Leo Onozaki)
This is a little odd as four wrestlers from the same faction (Jungle Assault Nation) do battle. Jungle Kyona testing out her charges here? It’s a goofy match with them doing a four-way pose down. Yoneyama does some terrible Mongolian chops too. It does feel like faction sisters just fucking around. Ruaka looks annoyed with the whole thing before winning with a Fisherman suplex in five minutes. Nothing to see here.
Final Rating: *
Hanan vs. Natsu Sumire
It’s my hope that Sumire can one day advance beyond being a fun little side character and actually get good at wrestling.
It’s telling that she’s a decent match for Hanan, at a similar skill level, when Hanan is 13 years old. Sumire is a dirty, no good, sexy cheat, which angers Tam Nakano who’s cornering Hanan. Anyway Sumire wins and would have done without the whip stuff but she cheated anyway because she’s a terrible bitch. It’s like playing a child at chess and teaching it the rules wrong to win.
Final Rating: **
Queen’s Quest (AZM & Konami) vs. ShiKid (Shiki Shibusawa & Starlight Kid)
Well this is certainly a match.
It’s not an even contest with AZM and Konami having a significant advantage. Shiki is still green and Starlight Kid is basically a child. I mean, so is AZM but she’s a bigger prospect. I wonder what happens to Queen’s Quest with Io gone? Name change? New leader? AZM vs. Starlight Kid is one of those matches where they’ve grown up (still growing) together and know each others moves like the back of their hand. So it’s smooth and clinical and good wrestling. Konami is savage here. Her dropkick to the neck of Starlight Kid is downright horrible to watch. Then she dropkicks her right in the throat for good measure. To be fair to Starlight Kid she doesn’t lie around complaining about it and gets on with her business of low dropkicks and standing moonsaults. I keep looking for the receipt but it never comes. Shiki, only a year into her career, is still downright poor and Konami takes exception to her, trying to remove her arm. That’s a submission and Konami was in full on motherfucker mode here.
Final Rating: **1/4
Tam Nakano & Saki Kashima vs. Deonna Purazzo & Zoe Lucas
It’s strange that this is a send-off show for Io when Deonna is also going to NXT as they look to further bolster their women’s division.
Saki just won the tag belts with Mayu Iwatani so she’s unlikely to take a pin here. It’s a shame Purazzo is going to NXT this quickly because she could have enjoyed a good run with Stardom with the top of their card thinning out. Plus she could always use a little seasoning before NXT. Purazzo is one of the best North America Indie talents (apart from the obvious ones like Madison Eagles) that were likely to go to NXT but you can always use that little extra seasoning. Zoe has a bit part to play here but she’s fine in it. As she’s unlikely to get signed anytime soon it might be worth intertwining her into factional warfare. Kashima beats her here and rightly so. Deonna stays strong for a title match later in the tour and Zoe isn’t at ‘title shots’ level yet.
Final Rating: **1/2
Oedo Tai (Kagetsu & Hazuki) vs. Thunder Rock (Io Shirai & Mayu Iwatani)
Teaming with Mayu is a nice goodbye night for Io. Having Hazuki in the match continues the trend of looking toward the future. She’s 20 years old and undoubtedly a huge talent. The cameras following Io from the backstage area makes this feel like a huge deal, which it is. You only get to leave home once.
Korakuen Hall says goodbye to Io Shirai with streamers. pic.twitter.com/pgm0e4lvLo
— VARn (@ArnoldFurious) June 30, 2018
And Io Shirai says goodbye to Hazuki with a murderous dropkick to the face! pic.twitter.com/2HWmcwaQIc
— VARn (@ArnoldFurious) June 30, 2018
Stardom isn’t just saying goodbye here, they’re building to Kagetsu vs. Mayu, which is now their big singles match and it’ll be for their big singles title as Kagetsu took it from Toni Storm right before this show.
Another storyline is Hazuki looking to prove herself to Io after Io ignored her in the draft, which resulted in HZK becoming Hazuki and ending up in Oedo Tai. It’s a pity this rivalry won’t get to come full circle. For the time being this is the finale. And Io has something special in mind.
Last night Io, want to take it easy?
Nah, I'll moonsault off the entranceway pic.twitter.com/ZV4pb3g6jR
— VARn (@ArnoldFurious) June 30, 2018
It’s like she wanted everyone to remember Io’s last match in Stardom/Korakuen. Everything about it feels special. Everything is well executed and crisp and it doesn’t lack an edge. Kagetsu proper kicks the fuck out of Io. She’ll get time to heal! There are so many spud shots that Queen’s Quest run in to stop it. Although in their defence Oedo Tai were using a numbers game and a board…game. This does lead to a cute spot where all the younger member sof the roster tag Io with moves while she’s in the corner and Konami can’t bring herself to do it. Sumire’s move is a selfie. A running selfie. Mayu even gets carried away and dropkicks her partner. It’s hard to take anything seriously after that but the whole thing is a nice send-off with some broad comedy. The mood was that way from the start where Mayu revealed she’d forgotten to bring her tag belt. I like that Io’s last work in the company is to prevent Kagetsu from beating Mayu thus giving Mayu the opportunity to come back and win to set her up as the number one contender. Moonsault sets up the dragon suplex. Mayu now surely number one contender. Io off to WWE.
This was an interesting final match for Io. It was playful, exciting and not at all the epic conclusion you would expect. Nor did Io take it easy and all her big moves made it in here including one final tremendous tope and a dramatic moonsault.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Io had already passed the torch by lying down for Momo Watanabe but she further did so here, essentially giving her blessing to Mayu Iwatani to take over as the promotion’s ace with her departure. There is a nice moment too for Kagetsu where she offers her congratulations to Io. All the best in Florida, Io! I think it’s pretty neat to have her finish up and let Momo main event too. Classy.
Wonder of Stardom Championship
Momo Watanabe (c) vs. Jungle Kyona
Momo’s look of surprise when Io doesn’t kick out of her finish to win the title is something. That’s the crux of this. Jungle Kyona thinks that win was fortunate and Io had her mind elsewhere (WWE) so the belt is there for the taking! I love Momo coming out with the Queen’s Quest flag and showing little elements of Io’s style in her gear.
It also intrigues me that she doesn’t look confident initially but remembers who exactly the fuck she is after being introduced as champion and gives Kyona the ‘eyes’. So much storytelling in wrestling is body language and Momo, young though she is, has a great feel of how to tell stories without saying anything. When the match gets underway this is even more prevalent. Momo greets Kyona’s aggressive head on. She’s only had a couple of Stardom main events but Momo already looks perfectly at home there. She gets the beats of a main event. She gets the need for violence. Her game has risen. This woman is going to be fucking incredible. She’s 18 years old! 18! She has style, aggression, presence, fluidity and she knows when to kick it up a gear. Her bumps are great. Her selling is great.
We, as fans, continually complain about the plundering of smaller promotions by WWE but natural abhors a vacuum and there’s always someone to step up. That someone is not always great but in this case they are. And Kyona plays her role to perfection here. She has to look like a massive threat to a rookie champion but at the same time has to establish that Momo is a star. So she brings everything and Momo kicks the shit out of her. The timing on her comebacks and the viciousness of her strikes are just superb. It’s almost as if beating Io has given her the confidence to believe she IS a main event. This one is borderline epic. Jungle tries everything she can think of but Momo’s offence has become too much for the likes of Kyona. This wasn’t the easy win she expected. Instead she got her butt kicked. Great showing from Kyona here but it was all about establishing Momo as one of Stardom’s biggest deals.
Final Rating: ****1/4
I was a little late on the Momo Train, preferring Stardom’s other undercard storyline work based around Tam Nakano until recently and faction changes but Momo’s in-ring is a thing of beauty. For Io Shirai to come out here, job to this kid and effectively say ‘this is my replacement’ is how wrestling should be. You see someone with potential who needs that rub and go out on your back and I love that Io took that job before anything was announced. The timing was crucial but Momo is here to stay.