Finally, I have returned from a bit of a joshi hiatus to review a very highly anticipated event. Stardom vs. World Selection, a night pitting the Stardom faithful against the newcomer gaijins. All the matches (sans the opener) have this theme, and three big title matches headline the show. Mayu Iwatani defends her High Speed title against Evie, Santana Garrett defends her Wonder title against Kairi Hojo, and Io Shirai defends the world title against Viper. A stacked card to get into, so let’s get right to it.
A short lived but fun opener to start the show. Starlight and Azumi had a good starting sequence that saw Azumi nail repeated dropkicks to get the advantage. Natsumi was a real highlight of this match, she’s an incredibly fluid worker. Saori Anou locked in a better-looking version of Charlotte’s figure-eight at one point, her bridge was crazy. Azumi managed to sneak away with a rolling cradle on Starlight to win the match.
Chelsea brought some brutality to this one, knocking Mimura down with some stiff boots. This match was cut down for TV so there wasn’t much to be seen, Chelsea won with a standing double-foot stomp to a bent over Mimura, which was a pretty vicious looking finisher, definitely better than the Unprettier.
Cat towers over the small Watanabe and uses that advantage to dominate her for the majority of this match, sans Watanabe getting a small burst of offense. Cat looked very impressive here, picking up the win with a huge hurricane driver.
Skater dominated with fierce kicks, very cocky in her offense but getting surprised by Kyouna’s combination of high strength and agility, Kyouna lifting her up with ease for a variety of hard slams. Jungle Kyouna is probably my favorite rookie out of the bunch. She nailed a killer lariat on Skater and nearly got the three off it, but Skater came back with a sharp super kick and an arm-trapped russian leg sweep to win the match.
Diamond incorporates the mean heel tactics of Oedo Tai to get a leg up in this match, getting an assist from Act Yasukawa at ringside. Matsumoto hit a rope stunner on Diamond but Act jumped up on the apron to pour her alcohol into Matsumoto’s mouth, who spits it right back in Act’s face. The closing minutes of this were great, a straight up hoss battle of these two just knocking each other around, Matsumoto drove Diamond into the corner with a buckle bomb and then spiked her with the backdrop driver to win.
That closes out the non-title part of the card, very short matches (probably due to heavy SamuraiTV editting, if nothing else) but what was shown was some fun stuff, Matsumoto/Diamond being the stand-out. Up next, three big title matches.
One of my most anticipated matches of 2016 thus far going into it, and boy I was not disappointed. What a sequence to start off, neither able to get a grip on the other due to both of their agility and high speed pace. Evie is the first to unleash the kicks as she drops Iwatani with her Tekken-style series of kicks. Even a bit of grapplin’ in this match. A true showcase for just how good Evie is here, she is goddamn brutal. This match picks up at a rate that I cannot even comprehend. Evie’s creative and vicious offense meeting the sheer brutality of Mayu Iwatani is a match made in Heaven. Iwatani punishes Evie for her past sins with her own painful style of kicks that echoed throughout Korakuen. Iwatani finishes this brutality with the dragon suplex to win and retain the belt. My god, what a showing. These two had so much chemistry right off the bat, and then got even more as the match went on. This definitely solidified Evie as a true star in Stardom, can’t wait to see more. Iwatani brings out the best in everyone she works with, I’m banking on her being world champion by the end of 2016.
Certainly nice to see Santana again after she basically won the belt and disappeared with it. Kairi is working at a stiff pace in this one, selling the frustration of her current losing streak. She’s got all the determination in the world. Kairi even slams Santana’s head into the apron repeatedly at one point. Definitely not a one-sided match though, Santana holds her own fairly well, a big suicide dive takes out Kairi and the girls at ringside. A lot of submission attempts from these two, turning into an attempt at the Shining Star Press from Santana that Kairi avoids. Kairi delivers the spinning backfists at a brutal rate and a corner double foot stomp that spiked Santana into the ground. A good ending sequence of backfist avoiding and kick blocking from both of these women respectively. Santana manages to hit the Shining Star Press but Kairi kicks out. The finish was well-executed as Kairi countered a sunset flip, but Santana rolled Kairi around the ring and caught her in a rolling cradle to steal the win. A good way for Santana to retain while also protecting Kairi, but I was shocked to see Santana retain at all. Kairi’s losing streak is a headscratcher, they seem to be playing off it to boost her character but I think it’s being played out far too long. A very good match though, Kairi definitely brought out the best in Santana.
Shirai makes an attempt to outpower Viper when the bell rings but is picked up and nearly dropped on her face for her troubles. Shirai’s attempts to get an upperhand are countered by Viper’s power, who even catches her off the apron and throws her into the ringpost. Shirai hits her handspring into a missile dropkick and seems to have some sort of momentum but gets crushed with a body block and a senton from Viper. Shirai is not one to give up, and comes back with ferocity, using her speed to match Viper’s strength. Shirai hits the tiger feint kick and the missile dropkick. Shirai attempts to suplex Viper to no avail. Shirai manages to somehow lift her but only for Viper to come crashing down on top of her. Viper follows up with a running crossbody that nearly gets her the three count. Shirai continues to stay alive and hits the outside moonsault. I’m not entirely sure what Io was attempting to follow it up with, but she does some kind of 450 off the top that looked to be some kind of kick, but Viper was way out of position and just kinda stood there. A complete miscue. Luckily, things pick up after that, a quick sequence into Viper nearly taking Shirai’s head off with a lariat that turned her inside out, and hit the Viper Bomb in the corner, still not able to get the three. Viper goes off the top and gets nothing but mat as Shirai rolls out, and somehow manages to lift Viper into a perfect german suplex. Holy hell. Shirai finishes Viper with two moonsaults to retain her title. A bit of a formulaic David vs. Goliath style match here, not a bad thing at all though, the closing minutes were very good. Viper played the role of the hoss heel very well, and Shirai sold the struggle of fighting against her wonderfully.
Shirai celebrates her win and calls out Kairi, but the two are interrupted by Sendai Girls’ Mika Iwata! Mika is here to relay a message, a message from Meiko Satomura. Meiko wants to team with Kairi to face Io & Mayu at Korakuen next month! Kairi considers this out of nowhere proposal, and accepts. I have no idea what the direction of this is, but I’m immensely hyped for that match, taking place on the 3/21 show. Satomura and Kairi teaming is a strange, but welcome thing. Nothing but hyped for Meiko’s Stardom return, though she wasn’t gone for long!
A fun show with nothing bad on it, the undercard was fun and the three title matches were great, Evie/Iwatani stealing the show as expected. The surge of foreigners has given Stardom a nice change of pace, and this Stardom vs. The World angle played out very well. Until next time folks, thanks for reading.