Stardom 6th Anniversary
Watch: Stardom World
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan
Coming off the heels of a good card with the Io Shirai vs. Mayu Iwatani Match of the Year Candidate to end 2016, Stardom came to Korakuen Hall for their 6th Anniversary. During this month’s tour, Queen’s Quest captured the Artist of Stardom Trios Titles from Oedo Tai as Kyoko Kimura had her last match in Stardom. This in a way, set up this card’s main event as Io Shirai tries to retain her World of Stardom Title for the 10th time against Oedo Tai’s Viper, who she already defeated in a good match in early 2016. Kay Lee Ray comes back to the promotion as she tags with Nixon Newell (Team FTW) as they challenge BY-Ho (Kairi Hojo & Yoko Bito). The version I am viewing for this show is the Stardom World version as the SamuraiTV version had not aired yet. I will still watch that version becuase SamuraiTV’s production with the video packages help the big matches a lot.
Azumi & Arisu Nanase def. Ruaka & Natsuko Tora*3/4
In their pre match interviews, all four young participants talked about how it was the first time that they would be tag teaming together but Azumi said that she would put Ruaka and Natsuko in their place because they were her juniors in terms of experience. After the standard lock up with Arisu and Natsuko, Azumi came in to double team for a bit. Natsuko got away and tagged in Ruaka where her and Azumi squared off. Those two mostly scrambled similar to what you see in MMA but Azumi was able to get control of the match. Azumi pulled a brutal stomp on Ruaka where she ran to the corner, jumped from the bottom rope to the ring apron where Ruaka’s body laid. The rest of the match was solid for a rookie match as all four did a good job in a standard tag match. Arisu continues her winning ways as she won with a bridge after escaping Ruaka’s Boston Crab. The wrestling in this match wasn’t bad and you can tell that all four are getting better but the opening rookies matches are getting repetitive. It’s a negative in Stardom but it’s standard in Japan.
HZK def. Konami, Kris Wolf**
The only thing that stood out in the pre-match interviews is again Kris Wolf being Kris Wolf. It’s going to be amazing years from now that Kris Wolf will be one of first wrestlers remembered in Stardom’s history strictly off promos. This match started with Kris sitting in the front row while Konami and HZK faced off only to have Kris help Konami on the double team and she obviously broke up Konami’s pin attempt after, with a roll-up of her own. Standard 3 way match tropes. At first, Konami looked like she would be babyface in peril which is troubling because her shoot style but she was protected as she didn’t take the fall here. There was good back and forth action that all three got some shine but HZK got the heel win after she did a Manami Toyota like rolling cradle to get the win on Kris Wolf.
Saori Anou def. Hiromi Mimura**
Saori & Hiromi have a tag team called the Fukustu Two but they face off here. The match was ok for the most part but it didn’t really get good until the end where the near falls occurred. Hiromi got a great near fall with a spinning DDT off the top rope and Saori had one of her own when she superplexed Hiromi off the top, rolled through and gave her a fisherman suplex for two. Saori won when she rolled up Hiromi with a bridge similar to Arisu did in the first match. It makes me wonder if this match would be here if Hana Kimura didn’t injure her wrist; it would’ve been nice to have Hana vs. Saori to play off the interaction they had at the last Korakuen Hall show.
Shayna Baszler def. Jungle Kyona, Momo Watanabe**1/4
Speaking of matches that were made due to injury/illness, this was a three way match because Mayu Iwatani came down with the flu so she could not defend the High Speed Championship against Momo Watanabe. Momo in her interview said (in the softest voice possible) that Mayu was afraid of her and she should hurry up to recover so that she can kill her. Shayna Baszler was supposed to take on Jungle Kyona so that’s why Momo got grouped in this match but Baszler said she didn’t like being in these type of matches (she had one with Viper and Hiromi earlier on the tour) and was going to make a statement.
This match was perfectly fine as Shayna played monster that didn’t go down easily–she’s a shooter. At times, she dominated the match doing power spots to Stardom’s relative powerhouse in Jungle. Baszler is not the best seller in the world but she didn’t need to be as the match was clearly structured for Jungle and Momo to take her down to no avail. There some neat three way spots including Jungle putting Momo upside down onto Shayna in a corner to give them a running splash. Shayna won with a choke followed with a Celtic Cross for the win.
Goddesses of Stardom Tag Team Championship: BY-Ho (Kairi Hojo & Yoko Bito) (c) def. Team FTW (Kay Lee Ray & Nixon Newell)***
Throughout the early part of the tour, Team FTW got built up well before this title match as they scored a couple of wins in various tags. The match started off with Team FTW attacking BY-Ho after they shook hands and it broke down into a tornado tag. They beat BY-Ho up through the Korakuen crowd (which wasn’t that responsive) and did stereo balcony dives but ran to the ring in hopes that Kairi and Yoko to be counted out. Kairi beat the twenty count but was beat down for a good five minutes as Team FTW took control. Once again, Kairi played Ricky Morton well here and once Bito got the hot tag, she raised the level of the match as she was very crisp here. Down the stretch, Team FTW had innovative tag team maneuvers and were able to get the crowd to boo them towards the near falls. BY-Ho retained with combination B Driver and Kairi’s High Flying Elbow Drop on Kay Lee Ray.
After the match, Nixon Newell challenged Kairi for the Wonder of Stardom Title and Kairi joked that she didn’t understand her. But they decided that they will face off at Shinkba 1stRING on January 29th. They shook hands only to have Newell chop Kairi in the chest and run out of the ring. HZK and Momo came in the ring calling BY-Ho old ladies and challenges them for a tag title shot. BY-Ho accepted the challenge, in which could be a really good match.
World of Stardom Championship: Io Shirai (c) def Viper***3/4
This is Shirai’s 10th Title defense as she’s trying match her own record that she set in 2014. As said before, she already had a title defense against Viper last year but this one is different because she is a heel and the leader of Queen’s Quest. Much of their match from last year, Viper was dominating Io but Io prevailed by delivering German Suplexes to the much bigger Viper. This was a lot more even with Viper having her power spots and Io using her quickness throughout the match to offset it. But, Io showed her heel side early by front dropkicking a chair wrapped around Viper’s neck. The match went back and forth with Viper being almost a babyface and trying to dig deep to beat Io. Towards the end of contest, Viper went to the top for a splash after getting a two count with her version of the Vader Bomb. She missed the splash and screamed in pain, holding her back immediately. It might be just great selling by Viper because she was able to take two German Suplexes and a moonsault to the back as Io gained her 10th Title Defense in a borderline great match. It sometimes got very methodical with Viper on offense but it paid off at the end. After the match, Shayna Baszler came into the ring to attack Io and challenge her at the next Korakuen Hall Show at February 23rd. It was really awkward because the rest of Queen’s Quest were in the ring and were just standing there terrified of Baszler. I don’t remember ever seeing a leader of faction getting beat down in front of the faction by one person and the leader not being a joke. Io Shirai isn’t a joke but the angle got treated like one with Queen’s Quest just standing there not helping. Viper attacked Baszler but it wasn’t enough to make the rest of Queen’s Quest look better.
STARDOM 6TH ANNIVERSARY (JANUARY 15, 2017)
Average - 5/10
This Korakuen Hall Show was a letdown compared to December’s Year End Climax. Not having Mayu hurt more than expected but the undercard did not deliver compared to that one. The wrestling itself wasn’t particularly bad but you can tell the card was not that hot for the matches until the main event. The last two matches delivered somewhat but it wasn’t enough to salvage this show. Hopefully, next month with Baszler vs. Io and the Mayu/Momo Watanabe match, could be a bounce back to this show.