SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
STARDOM YEAR-END CLIMAX
DECEMBER 24, 2019
TOKYO, JAPAN AT KORAKUEN HALL
AIRED ON STARDOM WORLD
REPORT BY HARLEY R. PAGEOT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Hina said it was Christmas Eve and she wanted to win as a present. Hoshino said this was her Korakuen Hall debut and asked Iida if she was this nervous in her Korakuen debut. (This was billed as a dark match but… I’m watching it… so that means it’s not a dark match?)
(1) SAYA IIDA, SAYA KAMITANI, & ITSUKI HOSHINO vs. RINA & QUEEN’S QUEST (Hina & Leo Onozaki)
Kamitani with a running shooting star press to Onozaki.
WINNERS: Kamitani, Iida, & Hoshino in 6:05.
(Pageot’s Perspective: The rookie of the year wins again. Saya Iida is the new Jungle Kyona.)
-Bushiroad founder and owner Takaaki Kidani made his way to the ring to open the show proper. He thanked the crowd for coming out on Christmas Eve. As of December 1 Stardom has joined Bushiroad. He hadn’t actually seen any Stardom shows before but, in the course of his research, he knew he wanted them to join Bushiroad. He thought they could help Stardom grow. Starting in January exposure will increase. They want to make joshi wrestling like the major groups from the past. He started to address some of the specific things they would be doing when Hana Kimura walked into the ring.
She stole the mic from him and asked what he was doing in her ring without her permission. He doesn’t even follow her on Twitter! He apologized and offered a handshake. She slapped his hand away, then slapped him across the face. He bumped and they played an instant replay. She announced the show was starting and the bell rang to begin the night.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Kimura 3:16 says I just slapped your face. Nah, this just seemed like a silly little moment to start the show off fun. The crowd was laughing at the comedy of it. I don’t expect Kidani to become a regular on-screen presence at all or for this to lead to a storyline.)
-Oedo Tai were drinking and singing with Hayter and Martina wearing Santa hats. Kyona said they wanted to avoid having beer spit on them since Ruaka’s a minor and it would wash off Death’s face paint.
(2) TOKYO CYBER SQUAD (Goddess Of Stardom Champion Jungle Kyona, Death Yama-San, & Ruaka) vs. OEDO TAI (Natsu Sumire, Jamie Hayter, & Session Moth Martina)
Martina insisted on starting against Ruaka. Ruaka ducked a beer spit attack and Martina sprayed Sumire instead. Oedo set up Kyona in the ropes for a triple spray but, as they took swigs, Death clubbed them from behind and they all spit it out. Oedo set up for another attempt but Kyona grabbed an umbrella. They sipped, turned, and sprayed… to no avail as Kyona shielded herself with the umbrella. Sumire hit some boots on Death, who no-sold them thanks to the power of death. Sumire with the crotch assault to Ruaka. Martina followed for a tandem bronco buster. They called over Hayter to help but Kyona cut her off. Sumire pinned Ruaka with a northern lights suplex.
WINNERS: Oedo Tai in 7:14.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Just a light comedy match to kick off the festivities. We’ve got a lot of serious matches coming up so the different mood is welcoming. I’m just surprised it was used to open the show, rather than as a buffer between two of those more serious matches.)
-Nakano wanted to give everyone a Christmas present by winning the trios titles. They’d already decided that Kid would take the blue belt, Nakano the pink, and Kashima the orange. AZM was insulted about being in an early match on the card.
(3) QUEEN’S QUEST (Future Of Stardom & SWA World Champion Utami Hayashishita, Momo Watanabe, & AZM) vs. STARS (Tam Nakano, Saki Kashima, & Starlight Kid) – ARTIST OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
Kid and AZM started in a call-back to their many high speed title matches this year. QQ isolated Kid. Tag to Nakano, who took out all three opponents. Hayashishita came back and took her out with a clothesline. Missile dropkick from AZM. Shoulder tackle from Nakano and a tag back to Kid. Tiger feint kick. Standing moonsault for two. QQ with some cheap shots on the apron and AZM took control. Kid avoided a double-stomp. Tiger feint kick from Kid into a bridging suplex from Nakano. AZM avoided the code red. They traded near-falls. Kid called for her twisting splash and hit it. AZM kicked out at one. Top rope double-stomp from AZM. Kid kicked out at one. Suplex attempt from AZM countered into a DDT. Tags to Watanabe and Kashima, who entered for the first time at 8:30. Hayashishita and AZM jumped in illegally and took a double bulldog for their interference. Stars hit a trio of high crossbodies to their three opponents. Kashima with the top rope double-stomp to Watanabe, who kicked out. Peach Sunrise countered into a Revival but Watanabe kicked out again. Torture rack slam from Hayashishita to Kashima. Running knees from Watanabe but she kicked out. Triple-team dropkick from QQ to Kashima. Watanabe and Kashima traded roll-ups. Hayashishita clotheslined Kid and Nakano and slammed Kashima. Peach Sunrise from Watanabe to Kashima.
WINNERS: Queen’s Quest in 11:52 to retain the trios titles.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Very solid trios tag, nonstop energy. It’s just a shame how far Watanabe has fallen in the second half of this year. She was the MVP of Stardom in the first five months. When she dropped the white belt in May a lot of people expected her to rise up to the red belt conversation but instead she’s back to just being a cog in a trios combination. She picked up the win here but all the big moments and poster appearances go to Hayashishita. There’s no indication Watanabe will be heading back to any type of singles prominence any time soon.)
-Tora said she’s been thinking about this for the past few months. This won’t be the last time they meet. Hazuki wanted to show us the best and worst retirement match. That’s all.
(4) HAZUKI vs. NATSUKO TORA – HAZUKI RETIREMENT MATCH
Hazuki wore her white gear with pink accents, black lipstick, and a top ponytail. “Hazuki” chant from the crowd. High speed action to start with Hazuki hitting a hurricanrana. Facewash. Back senton. Tora went up top but Hazuki caught her with a codebreaker. A spear from Tora left them both down. Suicide dive from Hazuki. Top rope back senton. Hazuki with a Styles Clash! Crossface. Roll through into a double underhook crossface. Brainbuster at 10:00 but Tora kicked out.
Hazuki charged Tora in the corner but she moved. Tora collapsed, grabbing the referee’s attention. This allowed Sumire, Hayter, and Martina to run a train on Hazuki in the corner. Codebreaker from Martina. Samoan drop from Tora for a two-count. Samoan pop. Top rope frog-splash. A second. A third. Kick out by Hazuki. F-Crash but Hazuki rolled the shoulder up. Another F-Crash countered into a Hazukistral but Tora kicked out. Spear. Spear. Top rope leg drop for the surprise finish.
WINNER: Natsuko Tora in 14:53.
-Hazuki offered a handshake. Tora was already crying. They embraced. Hazuki had to console her.
A man from Weekly Pro Wrestling entered the ring with a poster-sized photo of Oedo Tai for Hazuki.
Bushiroad president Mr. Harada presented her with a huge bouquet of flowers.
Iida, Kamitani, and Hoshino also presented her with a bouquet of flowers.
Queen’s Quest were next with a photo. AZM and Hazuki hugged and AZM was in tears.
Kyona was next with a bouquet of flowers. She and Hazuki slapped each other. Kyona handed her the flowers. Hazuki tossed them to Tora, who threw them on the ground.
The Oedo Tai group of Sumire, Hayter, Martina, and even the retired Nao Yamaguchi were out next. Martina was crying too. They had an autographed Oedo Tai placard as a gift as well a t-shirt. Sumire took a selfie of all of them together.
Shiki Shibusawa, who also retired earlier this year, had a bouquet and gift bag for Hazuki too.
Yuna Manase from Tokyo Joshi Pro and retired Stardom wrestler Koguma were next.
Former Stardom general manager Fuka was next with her toddler son.
They were followed by an unidentified man and then Stardom president Rossy Ogawa.
Kagetsu’s mom was next with a bouquet of flowers. (Tradition dictates Kagetsu not appear here since she’s prepping for the main event later.)
Hazuki’s brother, mother, and grandmother were last.
Tora handed Hazuki a microphone. She was glad she chose Tora as her last opponent. She knew she’d give her a good fight. She was sure there was a lot of pressure so thank you. “Pro wrestling cannot be done without trust.” After a long pause as she tried to find the right words, she said she didn’t want to retire like this. She hopes no one in the future resigns like in her situation. She was really grateful that Oedo Tai drafted her. She hates Stardom but she loves everyone that supported her and Oedo Tai. That’s all.
The bell rang ten times.
(Pageot’s Perspective: That was fucking hard. The match was very good, as expected. The post-match wrecked me. Yamaguchi and Shibusawa, who both retired earlier this year due to not loving their time as pro wrestlers. Kagetsu’s mom. Hazuki’s family. Her comments continue to feed into the mystery surrounding this decision. One story is that she just wants to “live a normal life” and felt that wrestling in Madison Square Garden this year was enough of a high point. But then why keep wrestling another eight months? Why now? She’s in the prime of her life, amazing physical shape, and by all rights should be the next white belt champion. With Kagetsu also announcing her retirement this week that only adds to the confusion. Do they both want to just step away from wrestling and settle down and start a family? Are they being forced out by Bushiroad for some reason? She says she didn’t want to retire like this. Then don’t? The official story is that this is her decision she came to on her own. There are no career-ending injuries. She hopes no one in the future resigns like in her situation. What is her situation? “I hate Stardom” could be kayfabe. Oedo Tai like to claim they do. I don’t understand any of it. If it’s Bushiroad pushing her and Kagetsu out the door, I don’t understand why they would. And if that is the case, why retire? Why not just go to TJP or Ice Ribbon or somewhere else? Hopefully there will be answers someday.)
-Giulia asked if Kimura loves her like the fans do and said she would get a taste today. Kimura was excited to get her one on one. After a peculiar jump-cut she simply said she would smash Giulia’s face, yes sir.
(5) HANA KIMURA vs. GIULIA
Giulia grounded Kimura with strikes. Kimura spat in her face. Giulia whipped her into the fan seats. Giulia dragged her into the stands and slammed her face into a metal sign. Around to the other side of the venue and Giulia hit her with a chair. Back up tino the stands and Giulia ran into her the table where Stardom president Rossy Ogawa was sitting. When Kimura tried to retun to the ring Giulia dropkicked her back out. Bodyslam to Kimura at ringside. Giulia went to the top of the ramp and charged down the aisle and into a chair shot from Kimura.
In the ring Giulia hit a missile dropkick and went for the first cover of the match at 6:30. Kimura with a delayed vertical suplex. Giulia with a series of slaps. They choked each other, then grabbed each other’s hair. They traded headbutts. Both went down. More mirroring with kicks. Scissorhold submission from Giulia. Rope break. Ground octopus hold from Kimura. Rope break. Facewash. Missile dropkick. A package piledriver would complete Tiger Lily but, like usual, it was avoided. Giulia with an over the shoulder slam. Kimura with a backslide for two. Ground octopus hold back on. Another rope break from Giulia. Package piledriver blocked again. Over the shoulder tombstone piledriver from Giulia for two. Stealth Viper from Giulia and the bell rang… for the time limit draw? (Yes, after a delay that was announced as the decision.)
DECISION: Time limit draw in 15:00.
-Giulia pummeled Kimura some more until the rest of TCS intervened. Giulia again claimed that Kimura loves her. She said 2020 would be even more delicious. Andras Miyagi of all people helped Giulia to the back.
(Pageot’s Perspective: This had a real “big match” feel and felt like the biggest non-title singles match in Stardom in a long time. The outcome was as expected. Kimura’s in the top three names of people most protected in Stardom and Giulia’s getting a huge push, much more than Riho or Miyagi got when they joined Stardom this year. I’m guessing the feud will continue as Giulia and Kimura are being forced to team against Iwatani & Hoshiki in the dark match at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom in a week. They’ll probably feed Kyona to Giulia sometime soon ahead of a rematch with Kimura. Miyagi’s appearance at the end wouldn’t seem to mean anything, usually, but the fact that her trajectory is such a question mark right now and she’s not wrestling on this card means it may be significant. Perhaps the two of them form a new faction?)
-Konami was looking forward to what a holy night this would be. She was a bit worried for Hoshiki’s neck, though… Hoshiki said Konami has been an important adversary of hers ever since she returned. Konami beat her twice so this was about revenge. (Leaving out that Hoshiki beat Konami in the finals of the Cinderella tournament already.)
(6) ARISA HOSHIKI vs. GODDESS OF STARDOM CHAMPION KONAMI – WONDER OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
They of course traded kicks to start. Hoshiki was down at ringside by the five-minute mark. Konami with a German suplex on the floor. Hoshiki rolled in at the count of 19. Rear naked choke from Hoshiki. Ground abdominal stretch from Konami. Cutter from Hoshiki. Konami avoided a Brazilian kick but took some other strikes. Superplex from Konami. Wristlock slam. Triangle lancer but Hoshiki made the rope break. Knee strike from Hoshiki. Springboard cutter. Brazilian kick. Running knee strike.
WINNER: Arisa Hoshiki in 16:24 to retain the white belt.
-Hoshiki credited the fans with her success. She wants to continue gaining revenge on everyone who beat her in the Grand Prix and there was only one left, a crappy little brat who already has three or four belts in only her second year. She called out Utami Hayashishita.
Hayashishita said she beat her clean in the Grand Prix and she’d do the same when they face off for the white belt. Hoshiki said she looked forward to it and suggested the next Korakuen show. Hayashishita invited the fans to come and see her win the belt.
(Pageot’s Perspective: A fine match. I have zero interest in MMA so I was never the demographic for a match of this style. If anything I’m just a little surprised at how Konami never had any real moments where it seemed like she would win. The closest she came was with the lancer but Hoshiki found the ropes two seconds later. She also spoke going into this one about a slew of secret, different lancers she had but I don’t believe we saw any. Hoshiki’s up there with Iwatani, Kimura, and Giulia of the people getting the biggest pushes in the promotion right now. There’s a reason they’re the four wrestling on the Wrestle Kingdom dark match. At this point I’d have to predict she drops the white belt to Nakano in the spring and moves up to the main event picture.)
-Kagetsu said the only option is her winning and carrying out her red belt plans for next year. Iwatani said she was injured last Christmas and possibly the Christmas before. This year she’d like to retain the red belt.
(7) MAYU IWATANI vs. KAGETSU – WORLD OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
Iwatani faked Kagetsu out by not going for a dive early on and instead giving her the finger. Kagetsu retaliated with a mouthful of water when she did attempt the dive moments later and followed up with two suicide dives of her own. She hit a third on the opposite side of the ring and dragged Iwatani into the stands. Kagetsu climbed maybe eight or nine feet into the air and hit a double-stomp to Iwatani who was laying on the bleachers. She took her back to the ring and hit a springboard dropkick. Submission attempts from Kagetsu. Rope breaks from Iwatani. Kicks from Kagetsu. Slingblade from Iwatani at 10:00.
Dropkick from Iwatani. DDT. Bridging German suplex. They traded kicks. Death valley driver from Kagetsu. Iwatani blocked a 450 and hit a top rope hurricanrana. She followed up with a top rope frog-splash. Moonsault avoided by Kagetsu. Running knee strike found its mark and left both women down. Kagetsu threw her up top and hit an avalanche death valley driver but Iwatani bridged out of the pin. Kagetsu went back up for the 450 but Iwatani cut her off. Iwatani with a crucifix powerbomb. Kagetsu avoided a top rope moonsault again. Red mist to Iwatani! Death valley driver. Oedo Coaster. Kick out at two and a half and Kagetsu was pissed. Sloppy poisonrana from Iwatani into a pin for two. Crucifix bomb from Iwatani for another two. Bridging dragon suplex but Kagetsu kicked out at two and a half. Iwatani pulled her into moonsault position at 20:00.
Top rope moonsault landed but Kagetsu kicked out at one. Iwatani was flabbergasted. Kagetsu avoided another dragon suplex and hit the blue mist. Death valley driver. Oedo Coaster! Death valley driver. Iwatani got a shoulder up at two and four-fifths. Iwatani fought out of another DVD and hit another dragon suplex. Kagetsu kicked out again!! Tombstone piledriver from Iwatani. A second top rope moonsault landed. Kagetsu kicked her leg but didn’t have enough energy to get her shoulders off the mat.
WINNER: Mayu Iwatani in 22:18 to retain the red belt.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Holy hell, what a match. What a way to end the year. These are two of the best female wrestlers on the planet right now and they know each other so well. They both have so many credible finishing moves in their arsenal too that you can buy into each dragon suplex and 450 and moonsault as being the end, even though all common sense said that Iwatani wasn’t about to lose the title she just won a month and a half ago. This has got to be the last singles match we see between these two so it’s also a great ending to that rivalry. So many of Iwatani’s matches see her getting ragdolled for the majority before barely making to eke out the victory. This felt more declarative. She didn’t just survive. She met her archenemy head on, gave as good as she got, and put her away decisively with two big power moves. Iwatani sits atop the Stardom throne now and this was her punctuating that with an exclamation mark.)
-An exhausted Iwatani knocked over the victory trophy and it snapped in half to gasps from the live crowd and Saya Iida in the background. The referee quickly removed it from the ring. He found a replacement one for her. She wondered if her rib was broken from the double-stomp. She thought her organs came out. She said Kagetsu was her best and worst rival this year and asked her to be so again in 2020. They shook hands.
Momo Watanabe interrupted. She said it was a nice match and Iwatani was amazing. January 2020 is the coming of age ceremony for Watanabe. She asked to challenge for the red belt at the anniversary show on January 19. Iwatani said of course but asked what made her think she could beat her.
A year-end recap video from Samurai TV played on the big screen with the roster gathered around the ringside area to watch with the fans. It ended with the announcement that Stardom would have a match at Wrestle Kingdom 14 on January 4. The wrestlers were stunned.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Wow, a match of the year candidate less than three weeks into the new year? What a gift to us. Hopefully this symbolizes a return to singles credibility for Watanabe and not just a one-off title match. Stardom without Hazuki and Kagetsu is going to be very strange. They’re big losses but, if they properly elevate people like Watanabe, Kyona, and Nakano and actually do something with Riho, they’ll be alright.)