Stardom Gold Star review (5.23.18)

Stardom Gold Star review (5.23.18)

Stardom Gold Star

 

May 23 2018

 

We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall. This is a huge show for Stardom because Momo Watanabe has been built up as a big challenger for Io Shirai and this is her big shot at proving she can actually beat Io. Their February match was ****1/2 so expectations are naturally high. Interesting to note the influence of European wrestling on the undercard too with Candy Floss, Martina and Zoe Lucas all wrestling.

 

Candy Floss, Starlight Kid & Hanan vs. JAN (Kaori Yoneyama, Ruaka & Leo Onozaki)

JAN is the former Team Jungle, slightly rebranded (Jungle Assault Nation).

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The other team are representing Stars (Stardom’s main promotion faction) and sweets!

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Hanan gets a boat load of streamers here for some reason. Is it her birthday? Leo is extremely young and inexperienced so Candy has to carry her through some sequences and Floss herself is barely established. It would be fair to say this match isn’t particularly good. Starlight Kid has flashes of brilliance and Hanan doing judo throws on Yoneyama is pretty cool but otherwise it’s a total pass. I’m most annoyed by Leo wearing pleather gear from circa 2000 US Indies. It’s a genuinely awful look. Yoneyama makes a pigs ear of a roll up on Hanan to finish.

Final Rating: *1/4

 

Martina vs. Zoe Lucas

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Zoe Lucas has changed her look slightly and is going for ‘cutesy’ in a promotion that likes that. Martina goes for drinking and dancing, which is also big in Stardom. Martina being bad at wrestling is a running gag and her inability to do a kip up is well received. Martina brings a lot of personality allowing Zoe to get over by doing basic counters while Martina screams “what’s she doing?” Martina is definitely a night off if you’re working her. Zoe doesn’t exactly cover herself in glory and Martina wins with a diving Codebreaker. I like the wholesome Zoe/Candy dynamic against the evils of Martina/Oedo Tai/alcohol. Match was rough.

Final Rating: *1/2

 

Queen’s Quest (Konami & AZM) vs. JAN (Jungle Kyona & Natsuko Tora)

Jungle Kyona has always been a nice character but her latest interactions paint her as a gobshite, which I like.

This is the first serious bout on the card with Konami eager to prove her worth to the promotion by removing Tora’s head. In between being a dickhead Kyona finds time to hit her Swinging Sleeper, which is a move Braun Strowman should steal. AZM does really well in this match, particularly during a near falls sequence with Tora. But also in not looking at the ref to telegraph a kick-out. She trusts that Konami will break the fall so she doesn’t need to look. Tora has too much for AZM in the end, beating her with a wind up urinage. This was only 7.5 minutes but the AZM stuff was all kinds of great. A reminder that AZM is 15 years old.

Final Rating: ***1/4

 

Two Out of Three Falls

Mayu Iwatani, Saki Kashima, Tam Nakano & Shiki Shibusawa vs. Oedo Tai (Kagetsu, Hana Kimura, Natsu Sumire & Hazuki)

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Hazuki is trying to take Tam’s ‘cute one’ spot by introducing a little walking dog to the act. Hana still looks completely unconvinced at Kagetsu’s managerial choices. There’s a very clear cut story here. Oedo Tai are evil punks, Iwatani’s “Stars” are the nice girls.

Nice girls who take sick bumps! Everyone looks to be having a blast here and the planned out four on four stuff (like Oedo Tai doing four face wash boots at the same time) is cool. The dynamic of Mayu & Tam vs. Kagetsu & Hazuki is awesome. I want that tag match. The mentor and the fresh faced youngster with the two youngsters bringing the fire. The outcome is shocking too with Kagetsu pinning Mayu with the 450 Splash to put Oedo Tai 1-0 up. Traditionally the top wrestler on the team isn’t the one taking the pin.

 

I like how Tam briefly takes over leadership with Mayu down. I also love that Mayu throws her soul into this match, wanting to be at the heart of everything and throwing herself around like an insane person. Dragon suplex puts Kagetsu down for three and levels the scores.

 

Hazuki, and her leather pants, become the focus of the final fall. Along with the Stars miscuing, something Oedo Tai did a lot in fall two. Kashima also comes to the forefront, giving Hana a beating. Kashima ends up pinning Hana in a fluid motion to block one of her big boots. It’s quite the thrilling ride with both teams running into major issues. The biggest coming with Hana blasting Kagetsu with a sign in the final fall.

Final Rating: ****

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Post Match: Mayu expresses an interest in the tag belts. She’ll be teaming with Kashima to challenge on June 3 in Sapporo.

 

Wonder of Stardom Championship

Io Shirai (c) vs. Momo Watanabe

This is a story of two wrestlers at different stages of their career. Momo just won the Cinderella tournament and is swiftly rising up the ranks in Stardom despite being only 18 years old. She pushed Io to her limits in February in an excellent match but came up short. After winning Cinderella she was free to take a second shot at her boss in Queen’s Quest and mentor in both life and pro-wrestling. Io Shirai is on the verge of signing for WWE, marking a huge change in her career. There was talk of Io going to WWE last year but injuries prevented that. Now the time is right for her to go and that means Momo is not only being positioned as challenger but also heir apparent.

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The footage of a bloody Momo coming up short against Io in February is still fresh in the memory.

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Io seems keen to put Momo in her place in the early going, establishing dominance and crushing her in strike duels. Io is quicker to the punch and wise to Momo’s ‘head down and charge’ mentality. It’s only when Momo gets smart and starts baiting Io in that she can gain similar success. However Io is wildly creative, something that makes her stand out, and finds ways to regain control. Io seems intent at doing every crazy thing that enters her head too, including a moonsault to the floor, and that’s what gives Momo hope. It’s called high risk for a reason. At one point another top rope move is cut off into a superplex. Io doesn’t need to take these risks, she’s just showing off. Momo takes advantage. Io does a great job of selling the neck so when Momo starts popping off moves everything looks like it might finish and Io’s counters are out of desperation. The dynamic of the match changes.

Io’s insistence at tucking her head at the last possible millisecond here freaks me out. There’s dedication to the cause of pro-wrestling and then there’s this. She wanted that move to look deadly so Momo gets over and she’s prepared to risk everything for it. That’s the kind of wrestler Io Shirai is. You might call her stupid for even attempting this but it’s so goddamn ballsy. The near falls that follow almost pale in comparison to that moment but the Running B Driver is the point where the match gets deadly fucking serious. Someone might die here. When Momo threatens a B Driver off the top rope I’m losing my shit because I just saw the bump Io took for a normal one! Some of the kick-outs look very tired in this but that’s the point. It’s two women killing each other with big moves so those kick-outs are going to be late and slow. Momo gets the Wrist Clutch Tequila Sunrise for the pin and the title, sending Io packing to WWE in style.

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This was great. I think I marginally prefer the February match because of the accidental blood and the way it felt like a smart early step in a long term feud. This match exists because Io is leaving so they needed to rush to the final chapter. It’s still fantastic though and Io’s bump on that Running B Driver is something that will stay with me for ages.

Final Rating: ****1/2

 

Summary:

Massive win for Momo Watanabe and Stardom’s attempt at creating a new main event star. If they’d had the time they could have done this over many years and built to it properly but seeing as they don’t they might as well go with the person they trust. Momo has been hand-picked to be the next star and to take the spot that is about to be vacated by Io. So I’m glad, in a way, they put her over Io instead of using a transitional champion. Io did the right thing and went out on her back. The rest of the show is good too, with the eight-women tag being particularly outstanding. Stardom might have lost Kairi and they’re losing Io too but they’re keen to move forward and not it affect them. Which is great because they do emotion better than almost every promotion out there. This promotion means something to everyone who wrestles in it and you can see it written on Momo’s face after the main event is over. I like how Hazuki is out to get in Momo’s face after the show too. That’s their big feud going forward. The wholesome princess versus the cutesy Oedo Tai junior bitch.

 

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