Stardom October Showdown
Watch: Stardom World
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan
At the last Korakuen Hall Show, Yoko Bito was crowned the Stardom 5* Star Grand Prix Tournament Champion and her challenging Io Shirai for the World of Stardom Championship on this show might have been the coronation of Bito becoming the new ace of the promotion. Another twist to the story was when Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported days before the show that Shirai and Wonder of Stardom Champion Kairi Hojo were offered contracts from the WWE for 2017. There were rumors going around the hardcore Japanese fan community last month, as they speculated on the 2ch Image board about Shirai following Sho Funaki and Triple H on Twitter. But just recently, Stardom owner Rossy Ogawa confirmed in Weekly Pro Wrestling Magazine that Shirai and Hojo were indeed offered WWE contracts. Io Shirai has been with Stardom since 2011 and has accomplished everything she could, including being in the semi-main event at a Sumo Hall Show. Hojo, on the other hand, has recently talked about wanting to go to WWE in a Stardom World segment called Tea Time with Santana Garrett. The Western influences are definitely there as two of Hojo’s favorite wrestlers are The Rock and Randy Savage. It seems that her dream is to be in WWE and with time ticking away for her, as she is 28 years old, a WWE contract offer might never come again.
This obviously makes Shirai’s title defense in question, along with Hojo defending her title on this show against TNA Knockout and former WWE Tough Enough contestant Chelsea Green. Many people thought both Shirai and Hojo were losing their titles here, but it’s time to find out.
I preface this review by saying that I am viewing the Samurai TV version of this show, as Stardom World did not have the entire show uploaded to their streaming service at the time of this review.
Before the show started, WWE Hall of Famer Madusa came out because of the official Stardom Commissioner. She cut a promo saying that Stardom is the starting place for women to possibly go to the WWE. I honestly can’t believe she would say that given the circumstances but it’s not like she’s lying in any stretch. Now, onto the show.
Arisu Nanase & Natsuko Tora vs. Azumi & Kaori Yoneyama clipped
This is Natsuko’s debut match after Azumi challenged her on the October 23rd show, because Azumi said that Natsuko ate all of her melon bread. If you don’t know what melon bread is, it looks delicious. I wouldn’t put this in the same realm of absurdity with Edge and Booker T wrestling for a shampoo commercial, because Azumi is a child and children fight over little stuff like food all the time. Natsuko herself questioned why she is debuting over melon bread, but it’s exciting for her to debut at Korakuen.
No handshake between Azumi and Natsuko to start off the match as this builds off the budding feud. Natsuko Tora showed some potential, doing basic moves like a Boston Crab and a body slam on Azumi. She looked really decent when matched up with Kaori Yoneyama and almost won with a Senton splash. Kaori and Azumi made quick work of her as Kaori won with a top rope Senton splash for the win. This was too clipped to give a rating.
Azumi & Kaori Yoneyama def. Arisu Nanase & Tora Natsuko Tora
Mayu Iwatani vs. Saori Anou**
This was a glorified squash match as Mayu is too fast for young wrestler from Actwres girl’Z. Saori gets some offense as in and puts Mayu in the figure four leglock to take out her knees. Saori worked on her legs more but Mayu only sold for a little bit as she came back with a top rope dropkick and a nasty double stomp for a two count. She would soon end it with a German suplex. Decent match with a little bit of clipping, as they primarily showcased Mayu.
Mayu Iwatani def. Saori Anou
The Owens Twins (Kasey Owens & Leah Owens) & Santana Garrett vs. Oedo Tai (Thunder Rosa, Holidead & Kris Wolf)clipped
The Owens Twins are making their Stardom debut on this tour, as they compete in the Goddess of Stardom Tag League Tournament. Thunder Rosa and Holidead are in the tournament also, as they are the current Vendetta Pro Tag Team Champions (first women to hold those titles, too).
Oedo Tai had some good double team moves and mostly dominated from what we saw from this match. Things picked up when Santana Garrett got the hot tag and was able to give a Muta Lock on both Thunder Rosa and Kris Wolf at the same time. The Owens Twins came on the other sides of Rosa and Kris to do submissions like a lucha trio but Holidead broke it up. She followed with a tope and Rosa did a top rope dive to the outside. Kris was about to do a dive of her own but Garrett stopped her and won with Shining Star Press (a handspring into the ropes that goes into a standing moonsault). This wasn’t bad at all, but very much clipped on the Samurai TV version of the show.
The Owens Twins & Santana Garrett def. Oedo Tai
Artist of Stardom Championship Match: Oedo Tai (Kyoko Kimura, Kagetsu & Hana Kimura) vs. JKGreeeen (Momo Watanabe, Jungle Kyouna & Hiromi Mimura)clipped
In the pre-match video package, it was being pushed that Hana Kimura had made a big impact in debuting at last month’s Korakuen Hall Show and winning the Artist of Stardom Title, with her mother and Kagetsu in her second match in Stardom.
The rookie team of JKGreeeen were smacking each other just to get a piece of Hana before the match, and ended up jumping all of Oedo Tai at the bell, except Hana. This deteriorated into a brawl all over Korakuen for a little bit in Oedo Tai fashion. This match was clipped as well, as Hana Kimura was the focus of the match. Hana is getting better as a wrestler but she still moves in the ring like a rookie in terms not to really having a sense of urgency at times compared to the rookie team opposite her. Kagetsu came in later in the match to hit the Rookies with road signs. At one point, the rookies almost won the trios titles as Hiromi got Hana with a roll up for a near-fall. Hana soon beat Hiromi with a missile dropkick from the top. This was clearly more of a showcase to make Hana the star for the future and that’s something to look out for in 2017.
Oedo Tai def. JKGreeeen
Wonder of Stardom Championship Match: Kairi Hojo vs. Chelsea Green*1/2
The pre-match video tried to put over Chelsea Green as a dangerous threat to Kairi Hojo using the curb stomp in order for her to win a Tag League match against Kairi. Kairi cut a promo in English saying that Chelsea is very beautiful, has long arms, long legs but that’s not important in pro wrestling and she will win.
Chelsea came out with Harley Quinn gear, because it the day before Halloween, and raised eyebrows, as even Rossy Ogawa paid a compliment to her before the match.
Even though Kairi has faced way bigger women before, the size difference looked a lot bigger with Chelsea because of Chelsea’s limbs. If Kairi is going to WWE, she will look like a dwarf to a lot of the women there.
Chelsea Green dominated the match early but whiffed on a kick to Kairi on the outside. On second glance, she was able to hit Kairi at the corner of her eye and Kairi started to hold her face immediately. Chelsea then followed with a tope to the floor, where she almost didn’t make it, as her feet tripped the ropes. She started working on Kairi’s elbow, which is smart, and banged her elbow on the signs near the bleachers at Korakuen. However, she did so basic that it didn’t resonate with the crowd. As they came back into the ring, she did one of the worst Meteoras I’ve ever seen, that resembled a bunny hop.
The match got better once Kairi got on offense including her jumping to the top rope and doing a spinning elbow smash. At one point in the match, the standard Japanese wrestling forearm exchange broke out but Chelsea gave a weak forearm that barely connected and Kairi made a face like “Really?” and gave her a forearm to the throat.
Green gave Kairi two curb stomps, but only got a two count, as Kairi reached the ropes with her feet. Kairi came back to give Chelsea two wicked backfists and tried to give her the sliding D, but Chelsea blocked it, with Kairi rolling her up anyway for a two count. You can see Kairi got upset, as when later they were set up on the top rope, she literally told Chelsea to hit her. Chelsea gave a weak slap and Kairi gave her an Inoki style slap and did a double stomp from the top. Kairi retained her Wonder of Stardom Championship with her Diving Flying Elbow Drop.
This is one of the worst matches I’ve ever seen that involved Kairi Hojo, but this was absolutely none of her fault.
Chelsea Green was downright awful and had a performance that deserved that she to go back to wrestling school. And it’s not because she gave Kairi a swollen eye (injuries happen), but how bad she was throughout the match. This wasn’t character acting wrestling, this was just down right bad wrestling that you see on an indie show — not in the semi main event at Korakuen Hall. The frustrating thing about this is that I’ve seen Chelsea Green wrestle before, including in Stardom, and she wasn’t as bad as she was on this show. She is on national TV on a regular basis with TNA Wrestling and got pretty far on WWE’s Tough Enough, so I don’t know why this was so bad. Fans online have criticized the quality of the foreign wrestlers in Stardom and, despite the number of great new wrestlers that have come this year (Toni Storm, Kay Lee Ray, Evie & Viper), this will probably be one of the glaring examples that they will point to.
Kairi Hojo def. Chelsea Green
World of Stardom Championship Match: Io Shirai vs. Yoko Bito ****
These two immediately brought it to each other, as they didn’t waste time making this a championship main event, as Bito jumped Io at the beginning of the match. Io faked a 619 to the outside and did a dive onto Yoko similar to the Ultimo Dragon vs Rey Mysterio WCW WWIII match. The commentary team of Bull Nakano and Haruo Murata did mention WWE with Io, which I was surprised to hear, but this is SamuraiTV and not Stardom World.
Throughout the match, Io was just spectacular with her flying, as she did a springboard dropkick to send Bito to the floor and did a moonsault to the floor. However, Bito hit Io with a Doll B on the floor that put the title reign in jeopardy. Io got back in the ring at the count of 19 and Bito followed with a middle dropkick plus a suplex for two. Io comes back with a dragonscrew to send Bito into the corner and follows with a running double knees to the face. She then hits Bito with an elevated dropkick to her knees to continue targeting the knee. Io hit a 619, followed by a springboard dropkick for only two. She tried to go for a triple moonsault but Bito cut her off and kicked her in the head. As Bito was gaining momentum, Io went back to the dragonscrew and hit a moonsault for a two count.
Io caught Bito with a leglock that had Bito close to tapping out, but she eventually gets to the ropes. Io goes back to working more on the leg and went to the top again only to have Bito catch her with a top rope suplex for only two. They have a strike exchange where Bito kicks her in the head and gives her a German for two.
Bito hits a second Doll B but stops to give her another one as the killshot and Io still kicks out. Bito sets up to give her a spinning B-Doll kick but Io collapses. The referee stops her to check on Io, which was very similar to Chihiro Hashimoto’s title win over Meiko Satomura two weeks before. This added to it, as you thought Bito really had her knocked out and on the verge of winning the title. Bito gives her a front kick, but only got two. Io began firing up at the end and gives her a suplex for two. She comes back with more and delivers a moonsault for the win. Really good match that saved the show and took the bad taste of the previous match out of your mouth. Bito put a good effort but Io was so great here. WWE fans are in for a treat if she leaves, because she’s been really consistent this year as the Ace of Stardom. This might have been one of her best singular performances.
After the match, Io announced that she will have a 10 year anniversary show in March and Kairi came out to point at the red belt to set up a future title match.
Io Shirai def. Yoko Bito
With Bito failing to win the World of Stardom Championship, that leaves a lot questions with the future of Stardom. Shirai and Hojo still have their respected titles and Dave Meltzer reported that Shirai and Hojo will be WWE-bound by April 2017. This makes you wonder why Hojo would come out after the Shirai title defense as Meltzer reported that Shirai would have a big send-off show at the March 2017 Korakuen Hall show to celebrate her 10- year anniversary and Hojo would have a send–off show the following month. That leaves only the December Year-End Show at Korakuen, the January Anniversary Show and the February Korakuen Hall show as the only available big shows for them to lose their titles. It sounds easy for them to lose them in 3 months, but it’s going to be difficult as Stardom has not built anybody to be viable challengers. There is a possibility in play for the December show that Kagetsu or Kyoko Kimura could challenge Shirai for the World of Stardom Title to tie up the Oedo Tai/Threedom feud that has been occurring this year, and it would be nice for Kimura to have one last big match before she retires in January. Other than bringing in an outsider (which could happen, with the recent announcement that Arisa Nakajima is leaving JWP at the end of the year), a title for title match vs. Hojo would be the only big Korakuen main event left on the table.
If Hojo and Shirai indeed leave for WWE, the native Japanese roster members that need to step in to fill the holes are Bito, Mayu Iwatani, Jungle Kyonua, Momo Watanabe and Hiromi Mimura. You have to count out Momo and Hiromi because they are rookies that still need a lot of development, which isn’t good for Hiromi, because she just turned 30. Jungle is the super rookie for Stardo,m but she isn’t ready to be the ace of the promotion and hasn’t won any titles. That leaves Bito and Iwatani as the only ones left, but Bito hasn’t connected with the crowd just yet in her retirement comeback. The problem with Iwatani is that she doesn’t have the big win over Hojo or Shirai to put her on the level. She also has the High Speed Championship which is the third tier mid-card title. Kagetsu and Hana Kimura could be looked at als,o but they are freelancers and Hana is also a rookie. From the show, Hana was highlighted a lot as she is very attractive but she still has to get a lot better in the ring to be one of the top stars in Stardom. She has the potential to be lead heel, but not right now and not even in 2017, unless she becomes a great wrestler overnight. It’s interesting to see if attendance goes down after Io and Kairi leave.
If you take a look at the chart I put together below of the claimed Korakuen Hall attendance figures, the numbers are obviously down from previous years.
However, if you compare 2015 with Kairi Hojo and Meiko Satomura as the main event champions for most of the year to this year, where Io Shirai is World of Stardom Champion, the number was on a upward climb compared to the steady numbers that Io as champ is producing. 2015’s success was a result of controversy, Kairi becoming a new star in wrestling and classic story of the outsider in Meiko taking the top title. In 2016 we don’t have any of that, as Io has become Ace of Stardom and no one has broken through to make the main event scene compelling. Stardom has their work cut out for them in the next couple of months if Kairi and Io leave to get a new star to lead them into 2017.
STARDOM OCTOBER SHOWDOWN 2016
Decent - 6./10
The undercard of this show wasn’t as bad as I thought heading into this but none of the undercard had any real consequences. Even the Artist of Stardom Title match did not feel important and the Wonder of Stardom might be one of the worst title matches I’ve seen in the company. However, Io and Bito saved the show and delivered a great match, and is the only one to check out.