In this episode of Wrestling Night in America, PWTorch columnist Greg Parks breaks down both nights of WrestleMania with callers and emailers. Topics include the quality of the Firefly Funhouse match, the decision to put Charlotte over Rhea Ripley, the potential of wrestlers getting more creative freedom in the current environment, and more.
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STARDOM THE WAY TO MAJOR LEAGUE
FEBRUARY 8, 2020
TOKYO, JAPAN AT KORAKUEN HALL
AIRED ON STARDOM WORLD
REPORT BY HARLEY R. PAGEOT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Hoshino said she prefers singles matches so she’d enjoy this one. Onozaki said she couldn’t lose to a junior so she was definitely winning.
(1) LEO ONOZAKI vs. ITSUKI HOSHINO
Running dropkicks from Hoshino. They traded body slams. A series of elbow drops from Onozaki. Running cutter. Hoshino with a La Magistral flash pin out of nowhere.
WINNER: Itsuki Hoshino in 3:15.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Hoshino wins her first match ever!)
-Tam Nakano made her entrance. She spoke (without subtitles) and threw to a video package announcing new downloadable wrestlers for the PlayStation 4 video game Fire Pro Wrestling World. They are Nakano, Saki Kashima, Saya Iida, Bea Priestley, AZM, Natsuko Tora, Natsu Sumire, Konami, Death Yama-San, Saya Kamitani, and Giulia. Animations aired of each of the wrestlers’ characters performing their signature moves. (Yes, Sumire does the crotch assault in the game.) Each of the women came out to the ring. Tora was sporting new bleached blonde hair.
(2) TAG TEAM GAUNTLET
Hina didn’t know who they were facing but wanted to win. The Stars duo said it had been a long time since KidTam teamed but they’ve won a gauntlet match and challenged for the tag titles before.
(2a) STARS: KIDTAM (Tam Nakano & Starlight Kid) vs. HINA & RINA
Stereo hip-tosses from the twins to start. Hina and Kid traded near-falls. Kid with a swinging neckbreaker and twisting splash for the win.
WINNERS: KidTam in 3:39.
-The Sayas said they would beat everyone and did their complicated handshake.
(2b) STARS: KIDTAM (Tam Nakano & Starlight Kid) vs. 3838 TAG (Saya Iida & Saya Kamitani)
No time for introductions. The Sayas marched into the ring and instantly dropkicked their opponents. They kicked Nakano to the floor and double-teamed Kid. Iida with a series of chops. Kamitani with a Boston crab. Kid managed her twisting splash to Kamitani but Iida broke up the pin. Kamitani dodged a kick from Nakano that took out her own partner. Missile dropkicks from 3838 to Kid. Pele kick from Kamitani. Running shooting star press.
WINNERS: 3838 Tag in 3:26.
-Hayter acknowledged losing the Eve international championship but said she’s still champ champ. Skye felt like today was special.
(2c) 3838 TAG (Saya Iida & Saya Kamitani) vs. OEDO TAI (Goddess Of Stardom & SWA World Champion Jamie Hayter & Zoey Skye)
Oedo Tai also attacked before the bell and any introductions. Iida fired up with chops but Hayter put her down with a forearm. Iida countered an ushigoroshi into a roll-up for two. Missile dropkick. Iidabashi but Hayter kicked out. Another but Skye broke it up. Clothesline and ushigoroshi from Hayter to Iida.
WINNERS: Oedo Tai in 2:38.
-Hirsch asked Death if she was ready. Death! Yeah? Death!
(2d) OEDO TAI (Goddess Of Stardom & SWA World Champion Jamie Hayter & Zoey Skye) vs. TOKYO CYBER SQUAD (Death Yama-san & Leyla Hirsch)
Oedo Tai met them in the aisle and they brawled to the ring. Hirsch with a suicide dive to Hayter. Double DDT from TCS. Codebreaker from Skye to Hirsch. Backbreaker from Hayter. Skye took out Hayter with a kick in the commotion and Hirsch put Skye away with her springboard moonsault.
WINNERS: Tokyo Cyber Squad in 1:45.
(Pageot’s Perspective: They don’t get paid by the hour, folks. The gauntlet overall was fun due to the succinctness and speed but that last match was far too short. Nothing’s on the line anyway, though, so oh well.)
-Kashima said Kimura disgusts her and makes her sick. Sumire said they were in a slump and would use this as a springboard. Kashima vowed they’d have the last laugh. Kimura giggled uncontrollably while Kyona had a headache. Konami said everything was normal.
(3) TOKYO CYBER SQUAD (Hana Kimura, Jungle Kyona, & Konami) vs. OEDO TAI (Natsuko Tora, Saki Kashima, & Natsu Sumire) – #1 CONTENDERS TO THE ARTIST OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
Kashima and Kimura started. TCS worked over Kashima. Kyona and Tora of course fought. Oedo Tai triple-teamed Konami. Kashima and Konami traded roll-ups with Kashima coming out on top.
WINNERS: Oedo Tai in 10:08 to become #1 contenders to the trios title.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Oedo Tai will get their title match on February 22. It’s weird to me how heel turns play out in Stardom. They’re treated as big deals in the moment but then there’s zero follow-up. Kashima turned on Stars to join Oedo Tai and now she’s just part of Oedo Tai, wrestling ordinary multi-person tag matches. There’s no indication they’re heading to a big showdown match between her and Iwatani, her former best friend. She hasn’t even been trading barbs with Nakano or Kid, other Stars members that she could beat on her way to a match with Iwatani.)
-Giulia said the Artist title is symbolic of a strong unit so they’d take them off the crappy QQ kids. Syuri was excited to win on her birthday. QQ called them Donna Del Voldemort, the unit who must not be named. Watanabe said they’re angry because they’re a bunch of old women.
(4) QUEEN’S QUEST (Future Of Stardom Champion Utami Hayashishita, Momo Watanabe, & AZM) vs. DONNA DEL MONDO (Giulia, Syuri, & Maika) – ARTIST OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
Hayashishita and Maika started. At 10:00 Hayashishita and Syuri threw hands. Hayashishita wanted a torture rack but Syuri wanted an armbar. Tags to AZM and Giulia. Giulia with a crossface but Watanabe broke it up. Triple team offense from the champions to Giulia. Tilt-a-whirl armbar from AZM but Giulia made the rope break. Glorious Buster from Giulia to AZM. Syuri and Maika with some kicks. The rest of QQ cleaned house. AZM avoided a second Glorious Buster and rolled up Giulia for two. Falcon arrow from Giulia. Tombstone.
WINNERS: Donna Del Mondo in 17:12 to capture the trios title.
-DDM debated who would get which colored belt. They settled on blue for Giulia, pink for Maika, and orange for Syuri. Giulia was disappointed their first defense wouldn’t be against TCS so she could beat up Kimura again. She said they would raise the value of the trios titles. One person clapped. She tried to laugh off the “no reaction,” as she put it.
(Pageot’s Perspective: It was impossible to buy into any of AZM’s near-falls on Giulia. The only way DDM were losing here was if Maika was taking the pin. AZM was also obviously going to be the one taking the pin for QQ. The upcoming heel vs. heel title match will be interesting if only to see who the crowd chooses to back.)
-Priestley said her tag partner Hayter is a double champion and she should be too. Hoshiki got a fluke win over her in the Grand Prix but that wouldn’t happen again. Bow down to the only queen. Hoshiki said this would be her tenth successful defense if she won. She and Priestley are similar in a lot of ways but she wanted to keep defending and surpass everything Priestley could give her.
(5) ARISA HOSHIKI vs. GODDESS OF STARDOM CHAMPION BEA PRIESTLEY – WONDER OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
Priestley with a running dropkick to Hoshiki in the corner. She walked the ropes Undertaker-style but Hoshiki kicked her to the floor. Priestley with a lungblower to Hoshiki hung up in the corner. Priestley wore away at her with kicks. Dragonscrew leg whip as she began to target Hoshiki’s right knee. Priestley wrapped the knee around the bottom rope and kicked away at it. As Priestley played with her, Hoshiki snapped and fired back with a series of kicks that left Priestley dangling in the bottom ropes. More kicks from Hoshiki including a springboard knee off the middle rope to Priestley standing at ringside. Hoshiki dragged her back into the ring, over the top rope, by the head. Rear naked choke with a rope break from Priestley. Half-crab into a straitjacket from Hoshiki but Priestley made the ropes again. Hoshiki ran the ropes but Priestley popped up and nailed her with a high knee. Swinging neckbreaker for the first cover of the match. Running double knees from Hoshiki but Priestley kicked out. German suplex and Priestley hung on but Hoshiki rolled through. Step-off kick from Hoshiki but Priestley kicked out at 10:00.
Hoshiki wanted a springboard cutter but Priestley leapt onto the middle rope right behind her and planted her with another German suplex. Running knee strike but the champ grabbed the bottom rope to prevent the three. Kneebar from Priestley. Hoshiki struggled and flailed, finally grabbing the bottom rope. Priestley looked for a springboard move of her own but Hoshiki cut her off. V-trigger from Hoshiki for a two-count. Knee strike from Priestley. Both women found their feet and traded forearms. Priestley kicked out Hoshiki’s hurt leg and landed a superkick. Saito suplex for two. Priestley lowered her right kneepad, exposing the bone. Running knee strike to Hoshiki’s head in the corner at 15:00.
Priestley stuffed her into the corner and kicked her in the face. She got her up for Queen’s Landing but Hoshiki rolled through into a victory roll for two. Jumping knee strike from Priestley. V-trigger attempted but Hoshiki caught her leg. Leaping knee strike from Hoshiki. Springboard cutter. Brazilian kick. Shining Impact and the queen was dead.
WINNER: Arisa Hoshiki in 16:52 to retain the white belt.
-Oedo Tai immediately checked on Priestley. After a delay Tam Nakano eventually climbed into the ring to check on Hoshiki.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Terrific match, probably my favorite Priestley’s ever had. They work very well together and the aggression from Hoshiki was different and took things to a new level. Hoshiki vs. Nakano II still seems like our destination with Tam being the leading candidate to take the white belt off of her. I don’t think we see that until Nakano wins this year’s Cinderella tournament, though.)
-Marvelous wrestler Takumi Iroha acknowledged that this match was only made yesterday after Iwatani’s original opponent, Sareee, pulled out of the show due to illness. She talked about she and Iwatani both being taught a move called the Running Three. She wasn’t happy that Iwatani was taught it but said she’d beat her with her version. Iwatani confirmed that the red belt would not be on the line. (Not sure why Sareee was deemed worthy of a title match but Iroha wasn’t when neither had any recent victories in Stardom to “earn” a shot regardless.) She said Iroha is really tough and she’d have to push herself. If she didn’t, she could get overpowered.
(6) WORLD OF STARDOM CHAMPION MAYU IWATANI vs. TAKUMI IROHA – NON-TITLE MATCH
Both women wore red and white gear. Slow feeling out process to start, into some fast-paced chain-wrestling. Iroha gained the first advantage with an armbar. She elected to target Iwatani’s right arm, yanking her elbow over the top rope. At ringside she hoisted Iwatani over her shoulder and ran her head-first into the ring post. Iwatani caught her with a slingblade back in the ring and a dropkick that sent Iroha to the floor. Iwatani with a high crossbody to Iroha standing ringside. Iroha dropped the champion in the ring with some stiff kicks to the chest. She goaded Iwatani in and fed her a series of kicks as a result. Snap suplex for the first two-count of the match. Iwatani tried for a sharpshooter but Iroha kicked her off. Another armbar with both of Iwatani’s arms trapped but her lanky legs reached the rope break. Iwatani rolled to the floor for a breather at 10:00.
Iroha seemed content for Iwatani to get counted out but she rolled back in at the referee’s count of 18. Iroha with a deadlift German suplex. Iwatani tried to counter a powerbomb into a hurricanrana but Iroha blocked it and planted her with the powerbomb. Back to the armbar again but another rope break from Iwatani. Top rope senton for a two-count for Iroha. She called for the Running Three but Iwatani escaped into a roll-up for two. A shining wizard left Iroha down. Top rope double-stomp from Iwatani. Iroha with a delayed vertical superplex. Two stiff kicks left Iwatani winded but she turned a third into a dragonscrew leg whip at 15:00.
Sharpshooter from Iwatani. Rope break. They traded elbows. Iwatani dodged three kicks and hit a bridging German. A top rope frog-splash landed but Iroha kicked out. A top rope moonsault also connected but Iroha kicked out of that too. Iwatani hoisted her onto the second turnbuckle and pulled her off into Running Three position. Iroha slipped out but Iwatani hit a crucifix bomb. A right hand from Iroha staggered the champ. Iwatani with a superkick but Iroha shrugged it off and decked her with another punch. Powerbomb but Iroha held on and followed right into a sit-out powerbomb. Iwatani kicked out at 20:00.
Running Three attempted again by Iroha but Iwatani countered into a hurricanrana pin for a near-fall. Iroha blasted her with kicks but Iwatani rolled the pin into a pin of her own for two. Running Three from Iroha for the win.
WINNER: Takumi Iroha in 20:49.
-Iwatani said she lost big time but the red belt wasn’t on the line. She’s not satisfied with losing, though, and asked Iroha to challenge for the title. Iroha said this was their first time fighting in two years. She asked how the Running Three felt. Iwatani said it was so dangerous. She thought she could pull it off but Iroha was too heavy to get up. She said she’d lift before their rematch so that she could do it next time. Iroha said she had to wait years for her mentor to teach her the move but Iwatani was taught it in a week. She looked forward to challenging for the title. They shook hands but were suddenly swarmed out of nowhere.
Saki Kashima threw Iwatani to the ground. All of Oedo Tai surrounded her and stomped away at her. Iroha was shoved aside. Nakano and Iida tried to make a save but Sumire and Hayter knocked them back. Natsuko Tora pawed at the red belt as Kashima demanded to know when Iwatani would face her in a singles match. She called her out for the next Korakuen show. Iwatani said she wasn’t interested in her at all. Kashima said she was very interested in her and asked if she’s scared. Iwatani again said she’s not interested. Kashima said she’ll keep coming after her as long as it takes. She blasted her with aother knee to the stomach but Iroha, Nakano, and Iida jumped into the fray. Iroha stood in front of Iwatani and went face to face with Oedo Tai.
The heels left. Iwatani thanked Iroha, then noticed that Iroha’s magnetic necklace was stuck to her [Iwatani’s] belt. She joked that it must be fate for them to be stuck together. She threw out the idea of them possibly doing a unit battle with Stars taking on Iroha and some of the Marvelous rookies. She asked Iroha to close out a Stardom show for the first time in six years.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Wow. A great match and a surprising finish that actually wasn’t spoiled for me by people on Twitter for once. I assumed it would be a time limit draw or possibly Iwatani would go over clean since Iroha isn’t a champion anywhere right now. Instead Iroha picks up the surprise win, setting up a rematch with the title on the line, which obviously Iwatani will win. The Oedo Tai attack was also very unexpected and made me eat my words from earlier. I thought they were dropping the Kashima-Stars betrayal for the most part but they were just luring me into a false sense of security. Great stuff. I love Oedo Tai being more heelish and more vicious in the new Kagetsu-less era. I love Kashima’s vow that she will keep chasing Iwatani until she gets what she wants and Iwatani dimissing her outright. Kyona has been announced as the next challenger for February 23 and Iroha will be sometime after that. One would think we’ll eventually get back to the Sareee match they’d wanted to do here too. Will Kashima get her wish when they return to Korakuen on March 8th or will she be brushed off again?)