STARDOM 8TH ANNIVERSARY
JANUARY 14, 2019
TOKYO, JAPAN AT KORAKUEN HALL
AIRED ON STARDOM WORLD
REPORT BY HARLEY R. PAGEOT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Hello joshi fans! Welcome to my first article covering World Wonder Ring Stardom here for the PWTorch. Stardom was founded in September 2010 and has since established it as the premier all-women’s wrestling promotion on the planet. NXT fans should know it as the place where Kairi Sane and Io Shirai came to fame while Stardom titles have also been held by many of the top names in women’s wrestling today including Toni Storm, Meiko Satomura, Santana Garrett, Jazzy Gabert, and Kris Wolf.
Stardom World, their streaming service, usually posts shows about a week after they happen to allow time for the addition of subtitles so don’t expect any live coverage on their events. I’ll try to be as timely as possible with my reports in relation to when they’re made available on Stardom World, though. My goal is full coverage for the big shows like this one and briefer bulletin-style coverage for the smaller events.
Our opening contest was the debut of Saya Iida. The rookie requested a match with Natusko Tora weeks earlier and Tora agreed. In their pre-match promo Iida vowed to do her best and asked for the fans’ support. Tora said she’s faced three other women in their debut matches before and still remembers her own debut. She intended to give that same feeling of happiness to Iida.
(1) NATSUKO TORA vs. SAYA IIDA
Iida took a deep breath before the bell. She asked for the test of strength and Tora agreed. They struggled with Tora coming out on top. Tora put her down with a shoulder tackle and a body slam. She hit a splash for a two-count. Tora with a Boston crab. Iida frantically tried for the ropes. She almost made it but Tora dragged her back to the center of the ring and sat in. The fans rallied behind the rookie and she finally made it to the rope break. Tora with a kick to the chest. Iida came back with a series of forearms and four running dropkicks. Tora wouldn’t go down, though. Two more dropkicks took Tora off her feet. A body slam gave Iida the first two-count of her career. Iida with a couple roll-ups but Tora with another tackle. A body slam from Tora but she missed a follow-up top rope splash. Iida got another pinning combination for a close one but Tora came back with a top rope frog-splash for the win.
WINNER: Natsuko Tora in 6:16.
-Tora asked for a mic. She congratulated Iida on her debut. Iida said she may be small but she will aim to be a complete wrestler and thanked the crowd for their support. She asked Tora to let her join Jungle Assault Nation! Jungle Kyona hit the ring and shook Iida’s hand. The rest of JAN hit the ring and welcomed the new member to their group.
(Pageot’s Perspective: A very fun opening. The crowd was hugely supportive and vocal of the youngster in her debut and she got more streamers than some of the established stars do. JAN only really had one rookie in their stable (the 14 year-old monster Ruaka) so adding Iida will give her a big leg up out of the gate.)
Alex Gracia & Starlight Kid spoke about the next match, a tag team gauntlet match. They weren’t sure what number they drew but Kid had a new outfit for the occasion. The twins Hina & Rina also spoke briefly.
(2a) STARS (Alex Gracia & Starlight Kid) vs. STARS (Hina & Rina) – GAUNTLET MATCH
Kid and Hina started. Kid with a headlock takeover. Rina came in with the sisters hitting a series of dropkicks on Kid in the corner. They dig their signature double armbar on Kid. Tags to Gracia and Rina. Rina with a couple more dropkicks. Gracia with a springboard crossbody. Kid with a running dropkick in the corner. Rina cleared Gracia from the apron and she and Hina double-teamed Kid for a two-count. Gracia with a 619 to Rina. Kid with a standing moonsault but Rina kicked out. Kid hit a spinning neckbreaker for another near-fall but Hina broke up the pin. Kid hit a twisting top rope splash for the pin.
WINNERS: Kid & Gracia in 4:50.
(2b) STARS (Alex Gracia & Starlight Kid) vs. MARY APACHE & NATSUMI – GAUNTLET MATCH
Having beaten the two sisters Kid & Gracia were now put up against the mom-daughter team. Apache and Gracia started things off. They wrestled to a stand-still and tagged out. Natsumi avoided a running dropkick from Kid but got caught a moment later. Kid hit her standing moonsault for a two-count. Natsumi with a paradise lock. She tagged her mom with Kid still trapped in the hold. Apache dropkicked her free. Kid with a tilt-a-whirl DDT. Tag to Gracia. Second-rope Thesz press from Gracia. Apache with a surfboard. Tilt-a-whirl headscissors from Gracia. Top rope dropkick got a near-fall on Apache. The Apaches with stereo dropkicks and Mary pinned Gracia.
WINNERS: The Apaches in 4:06.
-Hanan of Stars (Hina & Rina’s older sister) and Ruaka of JAN were the next team. In a promo they talked about being from different factions but agreed to work together. Natsumi ran over and shook hands with her friends before the bell, which mom was unsure about.
(2c) MARY APACHE & NATSUMI vs. RUAKA & HANAN – GAUNTLET MATCH
Once the bell ran the youth team went right at their fellow teenager with a flurry of offense. Natsumi tagged out to Apache. She put down Ruaka with a kick to the head and followed with a running cannonball. Tag to her daughter. Natsumi put Ruaka in the paradise lock and double-stomped her free. Natsumi caught Ruaka with a roll-up.
WINNERS: The Apaches in 2:59.
-Natsumi leapt into her mom’s arms in celebration. Mary hugged her before pushing her off and heading backstage while Natsumi continued to celebrate.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Nothing too special but more ring time for the underclass and a chance to continue to grow. Natsumi’s been spending more time teaming with and hanging out with her friends her own age than her mom lately and that seems like a rift that will continue to grow. Teenagers, am I right?)
-Hana Kimura and her misfit team (Sadie Gibbs, Bobbi Tyler, and Mary Apache) were looking forward to their trios tag. Jamie Hayter handled all the talking for Oedo Tai while Hazuki and Natsu Sumire just sat by. All five Oedo Tai members came out together and Hayter joined in on their group dance for the first time. Sumire got in Kimura’s personal space during her intro so Kimura shoved her down.
(3) HANA KIMURA, SADIE GIBBS, & BOBBI TYLER (w/Mary Apache) vs. OEDO TAI (High Speed Champion Hazuki, Jamie Hayter, & Natsu Sumire w/Kagetsu & Nao Yamaguchi)
Oedo Tai attacked before the bell. Hayter and Tyler started. Yamaguchi pulled Tyler to the floor. She and Sumire double-teamed Gibbs. They tried to toss Gibbs into the front row chairs but she reversed and clotheslined them into the seats instead. Kimura dragged Hazuki up into the stands. Hayter and Tyler were left alone in the ring. Kimura returned and tagged in. She hit some forearms but Hayter took her down with a backbreaker and tagged Hazuki. Split-leg dropkick to Kimura and Gibbs. Springboard dropkick to Kimura. Crossface but Tyler broke it up. Codebreaker from Hazuki to Tyler. Kimura with a vertical suplex for a two-count on Hazuki. Gibbs tagged in and hit her handspring back elbow to Hazuki in the corner. Standing moonsault but Hayter and Sumire broke it up. Oedo Tai triple-teamed Gibbs, ending with Sumire’s crotch assault in the corner. Gibbs took a barrage of kicks and a fisherwoman’s suplex from Sumire. Kimura broke up the pin. Things broke down. Gibbs ducked a baton attack from Sumire and followed with her corkscrew leap over the top rope onto everyone on the floor. She hit a twisting splash onto Sumire in the ring for the win.
WINNERS: Gibbs, Kimura, & Tyler in 9:31.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Good action with a surprising finish. I thought we might be setting up Kimura-Hazuki for the high speed title, and we may still be, but Gibbs picking up the pinfall was unexpected. It’s not clear at this point if Kimura keeps teaming with the other factionless people who are around just so she has some numbers on her side or if these are the beginning stages of her forming her own group. She’s made it clear in past promos that she prides their diversity with Japanese, Mexican, and British members in her circle.)
-Our next match was billed as Mayu’s 8th Anniversary. She made her wrestling debut for Stardom in its first year in 2011 and was returning here from an MCL tear she suffered in December. She said it was the first time she’s teamed with Arisa Hoshiki (1st generation like herself) and Saki Kashima (2nd generation).
(4) STARS (Artist Of Stardom Champion Mayu Iwatani, Artist Of Stardom Champion Saki Kashima, & Arisa Hoshiki) vs. QUEEN’S QUEST (Konami, AZM, & Bea Priestley)
Queen’s Quest turned down the pre-match handshake. Iwatani and AZM started. Konami caught Iwatani with a kick to the back as she ran the ropes. QQ took turns striking Iwatani in the corner. They isolated her in their corner and worked over her injured leg. Kashima and Hoshiki had enough and cleared AZM and Priestley from the ring. Stars triple-teamed Konami. It was Kashima’s turn to be isolated with QQ going after her arms. Hoshiki got the tag and fired up on Konami only to be cut off by AZM. Priestley took out Hoshiki with a high knee and locked in a leg scissors submission but Hoshiki made the rope break. Iwatani tagged back in at 9:30. She took a straigtjacket electric chair pin but Hoshiki broke it up with a double stomp. AZM with a top rope crossbody for two. They traded kicks and they both went down. AZM with a top rope doublestomp for another two. QQ with three dropkicks at the same time but Iwatani kicked out again. Double bulldogs from Kashima to Priestley and Konami and a top rope splash onto them on the floor. Iwatani with a release power bomb to AZM and a dragon choke. A top rope moonsault ends things.
WINNERS: Stars in 14:06.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Another fun one with Iwatani returning from injury and picking up the expected win in her anniversary match. Now that she’s back expect to see her, Kashima, and Tam Nakano defending the trios titles again soon. It’s just a question of who will step up to challenge.)
-Utami Hayashishita said she and Viper may be in the same faction (Queen’s Quest) but she’s going after both of her titles. Viper said this is her first defense of the international title from British promotion Pro Wrestling: EVE. Hayashishita was showered in red streamers but Viper didn’t get a single one.
(5) VIPER vs. FUTURE OF STARDOM CHAMPION & GODDESS OF STARDOM CHAMPION UTAMI HAYASHISHITA – SWA WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP & PRO WRESTLING: EVE INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Hayashishita tried for some shoulder tackles but Viper put her down. Viper worked her over methodically but missed her back sentonwhen Hayashishita moved. She connected with a crossbody, though. Hayashishita rolled to the floor for a breather and was checked on by the other members of Queen’s Quest. Viper followed her out and kicked and slapped her in front of their stable mates. She sat Hayashishita in a folding chair and ran for a cannonball but Hayashishita moved and Viper crashed into the crowd. Hayashishita hit an STO in the ring and went to the second rope. A missile dropkick put Viper back down. Hayashishita avoided another cannonball attempt in the corner. Viper with a Michinkou driver. Viper finally hit her cannonball on the third attempt but Hayashishita kicked out at two. Viper went to the second rope. Hayashishita cut her off and lifted her into a firewoman’s carry but they both toppled to the mat. Viper with a headbutt and back suplex. Another cannonball in the corner and a Vader bomb but Hayashishita had her foot on the second rope. Viper went to the top rope for a big splash but Hayashishita moved. Hayashishita locked in a sleeperhold and took Viper down to the mat. She hit a deadlift German suplex for the pin.
WINNER: Utami Hayashishita in 11:25 to capture the SWA and EVE International titles.
-Hayashishita celebrated with her two new title belts. Viper re-entered and the two hugged.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Classic David vs. Goliath match. Viper dominated most of the match with Hayashishita getting hope spots in whenever the big woman crashed and burned. Hayashishita’s hard push continues with another two titles in her collection. She now currently holds three of the seven titles in Stardom. It would seem like a match with Hazuki or the winner of our next match is her next destination. As for Viper, this may be her last match in Stardom after a consistent three years as rumors have her heading to NXT UK.)
-One year ago at the 7th Anniversary Show it was Oedo Tai vs. Queen’s Quest in an eight-woman elimination match with the last person pinned for their team forced to leave their faction. The match came down to Tam Nakano vs. Momo Watanabe and Watanabe pinned Nakano, forcing her to quit Oedo Tai. Nakano said that she fell into despair after losing that match last year and it was a difficult to road to get to tonight. Watanabe said this was her ninth defense of the white belt but the result would be the same as last year when they faced off again.
(6) MOMO WATANABE vs. ARTIST OF STARDOM CHAMPION TAM NAKANO – WONDER OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
A lot of kicks to start from both competitors. Nakano with a blockbuster. Watanabe with two running dropkicks in the corner. Watanabe kept stomping on Nakano in the ropes and pulling her arm around the bottom rope while the referee admonished her. Nakano came back with some weak forearms that Watanabe shrugged off. Nakano caught her with a blockbuster off the second turnbuckle and unloaded with kicks to the chest. Indian deathlock from Nakano. Watanabe made the rope break. She wrapped Watanabe’s leg around the middle rope and hit a running knee strike. Watanabe caught her with a dropkick. Saito suplex from Watanabe and a double knee strike for a near-fall. She went up top but Nakano met her on the second rope and pulled her off into a cutter. Nakano with a roll-up for two. Watanabe rolled out and they simultaneously connected with kicks to each other’s heads that left them both down. Nakano was up first and unloaded with forearms but Watanabe caught her with the double knees again. Watanabe with an armbar. Rope break.
They fought to ringside. Nakano avoided a German suplex and nailed one of her own on the floor. Watanabe was dead weight at this point. Nakano came off the top rope with a knee to the head of the standing Watanabe. She looked for another German but Watanabe fought out. Running knee from Nakano for another two as the crowd came to life. Nakano looked for a dragon suplex but Watanabe escaped to the ropes and hit a release dragon suplex of her own. Rear naked choke from Watanabe into a dragon suplex. She held on and looked for a pumphandle slam but Nakano rolled through into another two-count. Dragon suplex from Nakano but Watanabe kicked out! The crowd was the most raucous they’d been all night. Nakano with five kicks to the head of a staggering Watanabe. She sat her on the top rope and looked for a dragon superplex. Watanabe desperately fought out and hit her double knees from the top rope for another near-fall. Back into the rear naked choke. Nakano faded. Another dragon suplex but Nakano kicked out again! One final dragon suplex and that was enough.
WINNER: Momo Watanabe in 16:54 to retain the white belt.
-Watanabe said it was a shame they weren’t the main event but she could feel how much Nakano wanted to win. She said Nakano isn’t at her level yet and asked her to do her best to catch up to her. Nakano admitted she lost but said Watanabe had to admit that Stars is more than just Iwatani. She said she won’t give up and won’t stop coming for the white belt. Nakano left.
Hayter and Gibbs hit the ring. Gibbs congratulated Watanabe and offer a handshake to a confused Watanabe. Hayter stole the mic and said nobody cares about Gibbs. Hayter vowed to take the title from Watanabe and bring it to Oedo Tai. Watanabe said she doesn’t know what they just said (they had both been speaking in English) but understands the gist of it. They want title shots. So they can both have them, just one at a time.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Goddamn. That’s the best Stardom match so far this year. They told the story of being very evenly matched, even having many of the same moves in their respective arsenals. Watanabe’s post-match comments to Nakano are the arrogant kinds of comments Queen’s Quest are known for. We’ll have to wait a while for the next Watanabe-Nakano match it appears as the champion detours to defenses against Gibbs and Hayter. But I suspect she retains against them and Nakano will eventually capture the white belt from her someday.)
-Jungle Kyona said this was a life changing moment and she’s taking that title. Kagetsu vowed a clean wrestling match. She said she wants to see what Kyona can bring. Both women entered alone for the main event.
(7) KAGETSU vs. JUNGLE KYONA – WORLD OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
Kagetsu offered a handshake before the bell to the surprise of the fans. Kyona accepted. Kagetsu wrestled Kyona into the corner and gave her a clean break. They traded strikes at 3:00 with Kyona coming out on top. She followed with a splash over the ropes onto Kagetsu at ringside. Kagetsu had kinesio tape across the back of her shoulders and her lower neck, which Kyona used as a bullseye for some elbow drops. Stinger splash in the corner followed by a running dropkick and sliding clothesline. Kagetsu came back with some kicks and whipped Kyona into the front row of folding chairs. She dragged Kyona up into the stands and bashed her wrist against a metal sign. Kagetsu dragged Kyona through the arena and continued to work over Kyona’s right wrist. Kagetsu locked in a bodyscissors that saw her dangling backwards over the tunnel to the concourse. She wrapped Kyona’s arm around a guardrail. The referee finally had enough and started to count them out so Kagetsu dragged her back to the ring.
Top rope double stomp from Kagetsu. Armbar on the bad arm but Kyona powered up. Kagetsu put her right back down with another armbar, though. Kyona made it to the ropes. Kyona gained the offensive and landed a backbreaker. Kagetsu got her knees up on a top rope splash from Kyona. Kagetsu with a flurry of kicks and a side suplex. She went up top for her 450 but Kyona caught her and hit a powerslam off the top rope. Discus lariat from Kyona. Top rope splash from Kyona but Kagetsu kicked out. Kimura lock from Kagetsu on Kyona’s bad arm. Kagetsu with a bridging pin for two. Kyona with a sit-out powerbomb for a two of her own. With the referee doubled over to avoid a stray kick Kagetsu sprayed mist in Kyona’s eyes and hit a cradle driver. She followed with her 450 splash and a second cradle driver.
WINNER: Kagetsu in 21:35 to retain the red belt.
-Kagetsu said that was her sixth successful defense. She called Kyona an idiot for thinking she’d actually wrestle a clean match. Kagetsu called Hazuki into the ring and said she wants to defend against her in Osaka on January 27. Hazuki said she was surprised but there’s no reason for her to refuse.
-The whole roster filled the ring and Kagetsu gave Iwatani permission to close the show since it was her anniversary. Believe now, shine tomorrow! They are Stardom.
(Pageot’s Perspective: A good one but not quite on par with the previous match. In the build to the match Kyona never really felt like a credible threat and I can’t say I bought into any of her near-falls here. The story was Kagestu claiming she’d fight clean but instantly backing out of that the second Kyona got on a roll. Will she be willing to fight clean against her own stable mate in Hazuki?)
Find Harley on Twitter @talkinghonor and listen to he and Emily Fear talk all things Ring Of Honor every Tuesday on the PWTorch Dailycast “Talking Honor.”