SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
STARDOM CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT
APRIL 29, 2019
TOKYO, JAPAN AT KORAKUEN HALL
AIRED ON STARDOM WORLD
REPORT BY HARLEY R. PAGEOT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Rebel Kel, Azumi, Natsu Sumire, Starlight Kid, Hazuki, Bea Priestley, Saki Kashima, Arisa Hoshiki, Andras Miyagi, Hana Kimura, Tam Nakano, Natsuko Tora, Jungle Kyona, Konami, and Momo Watanabe were announced and each walked out on stage in Stardom t-shirts. No Kagetsu for some reason. The ring announcer ran through the list of first round matches. Ten minute matches in the first round through semi-finals. Victories can come via pinfall, submission, or over the top rope elimination.
NXT UK Women’s Champion Toni Storm walked out. She welcomed everyone to the tournament and they all posed for a group photo on the stage.
-Kimura was backstage with the two youngest members of TCS for the first time. They were both dressed like mini Kimuras with gas masks around their neck and lime green sleeves. Kimura said it’s her Cinderella Tournament and she wants to wear that dress. She called them super cute Mini-Hanan-chans. They’ve both been practicing their yes sir’s and rolling their eyes back. They all struck Kimura’s pose.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Adorable and hilarious.)
-Elsewhere backstage Hina made her first appearance as part of QQ. She said she’d do her best to combine her forces with Onozaki. Hanan and Iida were also teaming for the first time and wanted to do their best.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Hanan is thankfully still using her same entrance theme, obviously the best one in Stardom.)
(1) STARS (Hanan & Saya Iida) vs. QUEEN’S QUEST (Leo Onozaki & Hina) vs. TOKYO CYBER SQUAD (Ruaka & Rina)
This was Ruaka’s first match back since getting injured at the February 10 show. She charged at Iida and kicked her during the entrances. The ref called for the bell. Very fast-paced in and out action with all six girls coming and going. Iida ended up catching Hina with her bridging pin.
WINNER: Stars in 2:41.
(Pageot’s Perspective: That was over before it started but the intensity was fun and made for a nice tiny preview of what all the rookies look like post-draft.)
Kel admitted she’s lost a lot lately and said she’s coming for AZM. AZM initially said that she’d win the tournament and her wish would be to challenge for the high speed title again but that’s already been granted as she and Starlight Kid will be challenging Hazuki in a three-way on the May 5 show. Instead, when she won this tournament, she’d make an even bigger announcement.
(2) AZM vs. REBEL KEL – CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT OPENING ROUND
Kel mocked AZM’s height, pushing her away with one hand and tossing her around. AZM went up top but Kel caught her with a running kick that almost knocked her to the floor. Instead she press slammed her to the mat. Kel flung AZM around by her hair. Kel went to the second rope but AZM cut her off. They fought on the ropes and AZM pulled her down by the hair. Suplex from AZM. Falcon arrow from Kel. AZM countered a chokeslam attempt into a roll-up for the pin.
WINNER: AZM in 5:05. She faces the winner of Watanabe vs. Konami in the next round.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Good for the short length of time. We’ll see if Kel’s losing streak leads to any changes for her. It seems likely Konami beats her one former friend and then moves on to face her other former friend.)
Sumire said it’s also her second year in the Cinderella Tournament. She told Kid she’s absolutely going to beat her. Kid said this is her first time in the tournament and it’s also her first ever singles match against Sumire. She said she’d be careful of her tricks and her whip.
(3) NATSU SUMIRE vs. STARLIGHT KID – CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT OPENING ROUND
Sumire choked Kid on the ropes, took a sip of her water bottle, and then spit the water onto the front row fans instead of Kid. Kid avoided the crotch assault and took over with kicks. Frog-splash from the second rope. Sumire blocked a tiger feint kick. Double knees in the corner. Crotch assault. Northern lights suplex but Kid kicked out. Swinging neckbreaker and standing moonsault from Kid. Small package reversals. Kid came out on top.
WINNER: Starlight Kid in 5:10. She faces the winner of Hazuki vs. Priestley in the next round.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Quick action again selling the idea that they only have ten minutes to get a victory or both are out of the tournament. The assumption would be Kid facing Hazuki in the next round to continue their high speed title feud but Priestley is currently #1 contender to the red belt so how does she lose and save face?)
Hazuki said, as high speed champion, she’d like to win quickly. Priestley said she faced Hazuki in the second round of the Cinderella Tournament last year but the rest of Oedo Tai got involved.
(4) HIGH SPEED CHAMPION HAZUKI vs. BEA PRIESTLEY – CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT OPENING ROUND
Arm drags. Trading pin attempts. Senton from Hazuki. Face wash. Body slam. They traded forearms. Springboard dropkick from Hazuki. High knee from Priestley. Curb stomp but Hazuki grabbed the bottom rope to prevent the three count. Priestley with an electric chair but Hazuki fell forward to headscissor them both over the top rope. Hazuki held on and Priestley’s height saw her feet hit the floor first.
WINNER: Hazuki in 3:58. She faces Starlight Kid in the next round.
(Pageot’s Perspective: As predicted, Hazuki will square off with her high speed foe in round two and Priestley is protected by the over the top rope elimination.)
Kashima said she lost in the second round last year but she’d win the whole thing this year so they better have a pink dress ready. Hoshiki said it was her first Cinderella Tournament. If she won she wanted to use her wish to challenge for the tag titles again.
(5) ARTIST OF STARDOM CHAMPION SAKI KASHIMA vs. ARISA HOSHIKI – CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT OPENING ROUND
More new gear for Hoshiki with orange and black instead of her traditional creamsicle as well as blonde streaks in the front of her hair. Jumping double knees to Kashima, then again to her back. Kashima targeted her legs with submissions and a dropkick in the ropes. Dragonscrew leg whip. Hoshiki avoided a top rope double-stomp. Kashima avoided a kick and rolled her up for two. Running knee strike from Hoshiki but Kashima kicked out. Top rope splash from Hoshiki.
WINNER: Arisa Hoshiki in 5:00. She faces the winner of Kagetsu vs. Nakano in the next round.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Decent little match. Hoshiki’s new look is helping her stand out more and something about the presentation of this match in particular made her seem like a bigger star than usual.)
Miyagi just pointed at the camera while Kimura didn’t have a pre-match promo at all. She brought a light-up katana to the ring, though. Miyagi mussed up the referee’s hair while he did his weapons check.
(6) HANA KIMURA vs. ANDRAS MIYAGI – CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT OPENING ROUND
Kimura tried to lock up but Miyagi just headbanged so Kimura schoolgirled her for two. They had a headbang off. Kimura caught her with a running kick then did her pose on the ropes only for Miyagi to nearly push her over for the loss. Octopus from Kimura. Rope break. They traded forearms and kicks. Sidewalk slam from Kimura. Miyagi charged in the corner and Kimura flipped her over the ropes. She made it back in, though, and connected with a big boot. Back body slam from Miyagi. Top rope dropkick. Kimura went to the second rope again and was caught by Miyagi. She charged and toppled over the ropes too. They fought on the apron. Miyagi tried for a piledriver. Kimura tried for a suplex. Boot from Miyagi. Dropkick from Kimura to knock her off.
WINNER: Hana Kimura in 6:44. She faces the winner of Kyona vs. Tora in the next round.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Another protected finish for the monster heel but one that fits into continuity as this is the same way Kimura beat Kyona in the draft match. One would expect Tora will defeat her former leader Kyona and then have to face Kyona’s new leader in round two.)
Nakano said every girl wants to be a princess. She’s going to grab the Cinderella dream. Kagetsu spoke about a Kageku (??) making a ruckus at the merch stand.
(7) WORLD OF STARDOM CHAMPION KAGETSU vs. ARTIST OF STARDOM CHAMPION TAM NAKANO – CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT OPENING ROUND
Handshake offered from Kagetsu and accepted. Methodical mat wrestling to start. Kagetsu sat Nakano on the top turnbuckle but took a blockbuster as a result. They traded kicks. Nakano countered a suplex attempt into a chokehold. Kagetsu powered her up and over into the suplex. Dragon sleeper to Kagetsu in the corner. The ref made her break as they were in the ropes. Rear naked choke from Nakano into a chinbreaker from Kagetsu. Leglock but Nakano reached the ropes. Firewoman’s carry slam from Kagetsu. Nakano cut off an Oedo Coaster and hit a superplex. Death valley driver from Nakano. They traded blows from their knees at 8:00. Spinning heel kick from Kagetsu. Death valley driver. Nakano avoided the Oedo Coaster. Spinning roundhouse kick connected. Bridging German suplex but Kagetsu kicked out at two and a half. Dragon sleeper from Nakano. Kagetsu faded as the time ran out.
DECISION: Time limit draw in 10:00. Both women are eliminated and Arisa Hoshiki receives a bye in the next round.
-Nakano offered a handshake to her former friend and Kagetsu accepted.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Very good for the time permitted. They told the story of knowing each other well and knowing which moves to anticipate and avoid. Does taking the champ to a draw mean Nakano is next in line after Priestley for a shot at the red belt? Hoshiki going straight to round three without having to wrestle a second match is interesting as that seems like the kind of situation a heel would find themselves in, not a face.)
Tora said her Cinderella dress will be baptized in Oedo Tai’s red blood. (She’s going to make the members of her own faction bleed?) Kyona said this was her fourth Cinderella Tournament. Maybe this year it’s time. She doesn’t like Oedo Tai and she’s going to kill Natsuko.
(8) JUNGLE KYONA vs. NATSUKO TORA – CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT OPENING ROUND
Dueling forearms. They traded shoulder tackles but neither woman went down so Tora speared Kyona. She tossed Kyona by the hair and chopped her in the ropes. Tora emptied a bottle of water on Kyona’s head again. She slapped her repeatedly before Kyona fired back with a forearm. Kyona took a series of forearms from Tora but kept walking forward. Clotheslines from Kyona. Tora slipped out of a muscle buster attempt. Gutwrench backbreaker from Kyona. Second rope splash but Tora got her knees up. Top rope frog-splash but Kyona kicked out. Spear from Tora. Swinging side slam but Kyona kicked out again. Top rope leg drop for the pin.
WINNER: Natsuko Tora in 7:56. She faces Hana Kimura in the next round.
(Pageot’s Perspective: I really thought this was going to be a big showdown match that they would spend a long time building to before we finally got to see the two ex-best friends meet one-on-one. I have to say I’m disappointed that we went to it this quickly and that Kyona got pinned clean in less than eight minutes, even if she was made to look strong by kicking out of the frog-splash and side slam. It just feels like there’s nowhere to go from here now. They fought, Tora beat her fair and square, the end, moving on.)
Konami said she’s the queen of singles matches, no doubt. Her plan is to wipe out QQ. Watanabe said she won last year’s Cinderella Tournament. This year there aren’t very many people at her level. She wants to beat and humiliate Konami.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Konami is 2-2 in singles matches this year. Watanabe has the best singles record in Stardom in 2019 at 5-0. I still don’t know why Konami hates QQ so much. Watanabe would have chosen her to stay with them in the draft if Kimura hadn’t scooped her up first. Because no explanation has been given as to why Konami is so vengeful against her former stable it makes her come across as very unlikable and the clear heel in this situation in my eyes.)
(9) WONDER OF STARDOM & GODDESS OF STARDOM CHAMPION MOMO WATANABE vs. KONAMI – CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT OPENING ROUND
Konami took her down and gave her the middle fingers. Watanabe responded by kicking her in the chest and face multiple times. They traded kicks. Konami with an armbar but Watanabe grabbed the bottom rope with her foot. Fisherwoman’s suplex but Watanabe kicked out. More kicks targeting Watanabe’s left arm. Running dropkick to Konami in the corner. Saito suplex. Running double knees. Top rope double knees but Konami kicked out. Another armbar from Konami and another rope break. Konami went up top but Watanabe kicked her off to the apron. A third armbar in the ropes while the referee called for the break. Watanabe connected with a kick to the head as Konami tried to re-enter. Watanabe charged, Konami ducked, and Watanabe toppled over the ropes to the floor.
WINNER: Konami in 4:54. She faces AZM in the next round.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Another protected finish so the champ can take a loss without getting pinned or submitted. Watanabe looked unusually foolish, though, recklessly running toward the ropes in a match where you can be eliminated by going over the ropes. If we can see this coming, she should too.)
(10) HIGH SPEED CHAMPION HAZUKI vs. STARLIGHT KID – CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT QUARTER-FINAL
Five dropkicks in a row that put Hazuki down in the corner. Standing moonsault. Codebreaker to Kid. Hazuki to the second rope. Kid dropkicked her off to the apron. Hazuki tried to springboard back in but Kid pushed her to the floor.
WINNER: Starlight Kid in 1:23. She faces the winner of AZM vs. Konami in the semi-finals.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Another protected finish so the champ can take a loss without getting pinned or submitted. Kid gets another one up on the high speed champion. Presumably she will face AZM in the next round, the other member of the three-way high speed title match that will be happening on May 5.)
(11) AZM vs. KONAMI – CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT QUARTER-FINAL
Konami offered a handshake but AZM wasn’t biting so Konami gave her the middle fingers. AZM was in charge to start and locked in her octopus before the rope break. They traded forearms. Hurricanrana into a pin attempt from AZM for two. They traded pin attempts. Top rope double-stomp from AZM for two. Armbar from AZM. Armbar from Konami and AZM immediately tapped.
WINNER: Konami in 3:34. She faces Starlight Kid in the semi-finals.
-Kagetsu tried to check on AZM’s arm but Hayashishita and Onozaki kept shoving her away and telling her to mind her own business. She was wearing a homemade t-shirt with AZM’s photo on it.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Well, that match did not make AZM look very good at all. But I guess she’s still a desired member of Oedo Tai so we’ll see if that goes anywhere. I know people were officially drafted to their factions just two weeks earlier but what’s stopping someone from quitting their group like Kimura did last fall?)
(12) HANA KIMURA vs. NATSUKO TORA – CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT QUARTER-FINAL
Tora choked Kimura with her boot in the corner. The rest of Oedo Tai tried to do their “everyone’s boots on her face” pose on the ropes but Kel and Rina broke things up. Kimura dragged Tora through the ropes and threw her into the crowd. Kimura hit her with a plastic folding chair and ran her into a different row of fans. A second chair shot to the back. Back in the ring Kimura tossed Tora around by her hair, seeming revenge for how Tora treated Kimura’s partner Kyona earlier. Kimura remained in control until Tora caught her with a spear at 5:10. Kimura went right back on offense, though, getting the stocky Tora over for a suplex. Armbar from Kimura but Kimura made it to the ropes. Kimura charged for a boot, Tora ducked, and Kimura toppled over to the apron. Someone slid the Oedo Tai placard to Tora and she hit Kimura in the head with it before spearing her off the apron and into the front row of fans.
WINNER: Natsuko Tora in 6:58. She faces Arisa Hoshiki in the semi-finals.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Eh. This tournament should feel exciting but having the entire thing on one show means we’re getting pretty repetitive. How many armbars and “person A charges, person B ducks, person A falls over the ropes” eliminations do we need? Kimura was my pick to win the whole thing a week ago but as soon as she dominated the entire match you knew she was losing here. The two semi-final match-ups are at least interesting in that they’re not tied to any pre-existing feuds and all four women are plausible winners. Tora and Konami have been getting lots of attention since changing factions in the draft and Kid and Hoshiki were the first two draft picks for Stars. I don’t know if I can see the former two posing for photos in a ball gown, though.)
(13) ARISA HOSHIKI vs. NATSUKO TORA – CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT SEMI-FINAL
Tora was in charge for much of the opening minutes. Hoshiki took over at 5:10 following Tora missing her top rope leg drop. Twisting splash for the win.
WINNER: Arisa Hoshiki in 5:52. She faces the winner of Konami vs. Kid in the finals.
(Pageot’s Perspective: The first half of this match was hurt by the now-infamous fan who insisted on obnoxiously trying to start WWE-style chants that nobody else had any interest in engaging with. Then suddenly it was over. Tora getting pinned clean was kind of shocking to me, especially since Hoshiki only really hit her with two moves.)
(14) STARLIGHT KID vs. KONAMI – CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT SEMI-FINAL
Konami with a kick to the spine. Kid with a series of pinning combinations. Konami with the ankle lock. Kid rolled through into another pin. Northern lights suplex for two. Sliced bread. Second rope moonsault but Konami moved. Armbar and Kid tapped immediately.
WINNER: Konami in 2:46. She faces Hoshiki in the finals.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Another one where one person dominated the entire match only for her opponent to win with one move. I’ve never liked that story and seeing it happen so many times in succession here is particularly tedious.)
(15) KONAMI vs. ARISA HOSIKI – CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT FINAL
They traded kicks through the opening minutes. Konami targeted Hoshiki’s right leg with submissions but Hoshiki fired back with her martial arts work. Double knees to the spine of Konami. Ankle lock to Hoshiki. More kicks from both women. Hoshiki went up top but Konami caught her in a leg vice on the ropes. Superplex from Konami for two. Stretch muffler. Hoshiki hit her twisting splash at 8:30 but Konami kicked out. Konami with the armbar but Hoshiki grabbed the rope break immediately. Jumping knee strike from Hoshiki and Konami was out. Top rope twisting splash connected but Konami rolled her shoulder at 2.9. Hoshiki stood her back up and nailed her strike kick to the head for the pin.
WINNER: Arisa Hoshiki in 10:19 to become your 2019 Cinderella.
-Toni Storm presented a royal blue gown to Hoshiki and they headed backstage together.
-Cut to: Hoshiki returned to the ring in her new gown. The rest of Stars held the ropes open for her. She was all smiles with a touch of tears. Storm presented her with a trophy and tiara and raised her arm in victory. Hoshiki said she’s been back for five months. At first she was wondering if she was doing alright but she trained every day and little by little she gained confidence. She decided to wrestle full-time starting in May. She credited training with Nakano for her success in the tournament. Her dress wasn’t orange or yellow but blue meant she strove hard to achieve her goals. Or maybe it’s for blue seas or blue skies. She apologized for rambling but said, on the topic of blue, Momo Watanabe wears blue gear. She called out Watanabe.
Watanabe congratulated her for winning the tournament. She said she was Cinderella before her so she knows the feeling. She used her wish to request a match for the white belt. Watanabe said that when Hoshiki first returned she called Watanabe’s kicks fake. She’s been looking forward to a match ever since. Hoshiki tried to shake hands but Watanabe took off. Hoshiki called the rest of Stars into the ring to close the show. She said Nakano promised they’d go for pancakes if she won.
(Pageot’s Perspective: The match was definitely very good. I like that Hoshiki won her earlier tournament matches with her new finishing move of the twisting splash but, when it failed her here, she pulled out her former finisher to seal the deal. Hoshiki is a fine winner, especially if she’s going to be full-time moving forward and this is the first step for her moving to the next level. The gown was very nice, much better than last year’s and on par with the first two years.
Using the wish on a title match seems so boring, though. I know that’s been the case every year but, if that’s all the wish will ever be used for, they should just change the nomenclature to say “winner gets to challenge for any title they want.” Saying they can have any wish they want makes it sound like the possibilities are endless and a title match is unexciting by comparison. I mean Bea Priestley just walked out one week earlier and said she wanted a match for the red belt and Kagetsu gave it to her. Did she really need to use her wish to get a shot at the white belt? If she had just asked or insulted Watanabe’s kicks again I bet she could have had a match handed to her. Also what’s going on with Hoshiki and Nakano? Nakano hating her but them being in the same faction was one of the most interesting stories in Stars. Now Hoshiki says they’ve been training together and they’re going out for pancakes so I guess that’s over?)