Puroresu Reviews

Stardom Year End Climax 2015 Review

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to my joshi reviews, under a wonderful new home. My first joshi review of 2016 is Stardom’s last event of 2015. The always stacked Year End Climax event, featuring the highly anticipated Shirai vs Satomura title match. This event has a very bittersweet theme too it though, as it will host Act Yasukawa’s final match before her retirement.

Starlight Kid vs. Azumi*

As always, a rookie match kicks off the event, and a blink and you’ll miss it one at that, clocking in at just over 3 minutes. Azumi worked over Kid with a boston crab and started to target the legs but Kid made a comeback, hitting a nice standing moonsault to pick up the win. Starlight Kid has a long way to go but has had a solid start to her career in Stardom thus far, with much more work she could definitely become one of the staple high flyers in the business, and her already high charisma will definitely boost her popularity with the crowd.

Kaori Yoneyama & Mayu Iwatani vs. Alex Lee & Datura*1/2

This match was cut down to pretty much a clipshow. From what was shown, it was largely a comedy match to get the crowd going. Iwatani and Yoneyama worked over Lee and Datura with not much effort. Iwatani running the ropes infinitely while Yoneyama held Datura in a camel clutch and then delivering a kick to the side of the head, a tease of a suplex train spot with all four girls blocking each other, and some more antics filled the majority of this match. The ending was very cool, Iwatani went to the top rope and Yoneyama held Datura in a fireman’s carry for Iwatani to jump off her and hit a crossbody on Lee. Awesome spot. Iwatani finished Datura with a diving foot stomp to win the match.

 

(Artist of Stardom Championship) Team Hyper Destroyer (Hiroyo Matsumoto, Evie & Kellie Skater) (c) vs. Momo Watanabe, Hiromi Mimura & Jungle Kyouna**3/4

Team Hyper Destroyer’s first title defense against the Stardom rookies, including the winner of the Rookie of Stardom 2015 tournament, Jungle Kyouna. Hyper Destroyer is a stacked team, including Evie who you might recognize from her appearance in NXT recently against Nia Jax, her kicks captured the attention of many and here she is in Stardom, holding gold. Hyper Destroyer come out partying with confetti blasters to ‘Whoop There It Is!’ which is all incredible. Kellie Skater grabs a mic and introduces her team until Kyouna rips the mic from her and talks some trash of her own. Hyper Destroyer quickly attacks them and clears them out, and take turns kicking the hell outta each of them. Matsumoto threatens to use a confetti blaster on Watanabe but Mimura grabs it from behind and tosses it out into the crowd. This gives the rookies the advantage as Watanabe delivers some kicks to Skater before tagging in the powerful Jungle Kyouna, who is an absolute beast. After the rookies take their turns splashing Hyper Destroyer all stacked up in the corner, Kyouna singles out Skater and delivers a massive powerslam. Hyper Destroyer gets the advantage back but Evie missed a top rope double stomp and catches a straight up decapitating lariat from Kyouna. My lord. Mimura tries to capture the quick win with a series of roll-ups that only get twos. Evie strikes back with a series of kicks that looked straight outta Tekken. Evie grabs Mimura from behind and calls for Matsumoto who breaks out a confetti bazooka. Matsumoto lines up her shot and fires but Mimura moves at the last second and Evie gets a face full of confetti. Happy New Year, Evie. The blast was so powerful she was knocked right out, apparently. Skater and Matsumoto clear the ring and Matsumoto hits a reverse knee drop from the middle rope onto Mimura, drags the lifeless Evie on top of her for the cover and the three. Hyper Destroyer retains the titles! Very fun match. Evie is a perfect fit in Stardom with her brutal kicks. Hyper Destroyer has some great chemistry together. Jungle Kyouna is an absolute beast and could be one of Stardom’s top powerhouses in due time.

(Act Yasukawa Retirement Match) Act, Kairi Hojo & Haruka Kato vs. Holidead, Kris Wolf & Kyoko Kimura***1/2

A wonderful video package about Act is played before the match, showing her time in the business and her friendship with Kairi. Act is teaming with her and Kato against her own stable, Oedo Tai, in her final match, which is very fitting. The tearful ring introductions are made, and Act is adamant about starting the match, she even calls out each Oedo Tai member to face individually. She trades failed mist spots with Kimura, bites Wolf’s arm and shows her Oedo Tai members how it’s done.  This match is very lighthearted with a lot of funny stuff and everyone just having fun. Kairi and Kato get in the ring and try to grab Act who shove them off. They smack her in the head, grab her arms and make her do their heart pose, much to her dismay. Oedo Tai crashes the party and singles out Kairi, stretching her out on the ropes. Act joins in and poses, and seems to have forgotten that she’s not with her Oedo Tai friends in this match. The match breaks down as everyone targets Act, giving her a proper send-off, by having everyone attack her in the corner, and I mean everyone, including all the girls at ringside. Matsumoto even fires a confetti blaster at her. Even ring announcer Fuka Kakimoto comes in and hits Act with a damn bicycle kick! Fuka was the one that offered Act the audition that got her into Stardom. Kairi runs into the crowd and finds none other than Yuzupon herself, Yuzuki Aikawa! Aikawa retired in early 2014, and was a big part of Act’s entry into wrestling. How fitting is it that these two women who basically started Act’s career are here? It’s just so perfect. She comes down to the ring and attacks Act! Kimura covers a beaten up Act but Yuzupon hits the Yuzupon Kick on Kimura to break it up! Amazing, just amazing stuff for Act’s send-off. We get some semblance of a match here as Kairi gets in and starts to take out the Oedo Tai members. Kairi goes for the elbow off the top but Act stops her and says she’s got this. Act goes up top to finish Wolf off but Kairi hugs her legs and Act falls off over the top rope. Kairi realizes what she’s done and tries to sneak away but Act runs after her. The match officially ends in a ring-out.

Act grabs a mic and is far from done. She wants another match, this time with her siding with Kimura against Kairi and Kato. Act wants to face off with Kairi one last time. Kairi accepts her challenge and Act’s final retirement match is underway.

(Act Yasukawa Final Retirement Match) Act & Kimura vs. Kairi Hojo & Haruka Kato***

Live while you’re alive. Don’t have a dead life. You can be alive, but be dead inside like I used to be. I didn’t have emotions or feelings. I want all fans to live life to the fullest!” -Act Yasukawa

Act and Kairi waste little time going after each other, hitting double dropkicks and not giving each other an inch. Kato begs for the tag for a shot at Act and she gets it. Kato is fired up and goes right after Act with some elbows to the chest that barely move her. She lets Kato try to pick her up to no avail. Act and Kimura have fun decimating Kato, Act stretching her legs out before stomping her down and then tossing her into the boot of Kimura. Act calls on the rest of Oedo Tai and they all stretch Kato out on the ropes, posing with Act one last time. Kimura drops Kairi with a brutal over the shoulder backbreaker and tags Act back in. Act drops Kairi with some missile dropkicks and even gets her in the ACT Lock! Kato tries to break it with some stomps that Act shrugs off, so she grabs her arm and puts her in an armbar to force her to break it. Kimura spits mist at Kato and deals with her outside, so it’s down to Act and Kairi facing off. They trade strikes until Act grabs her in a necklock and swings her around. Act goes off the ropes and Kairi catches her with a spear and tags in Kato who works Act’s arm over for a bit. Kato slams Act onto the mat for Kairi to hit the diving elbow drop from the top. Kato goes for the pin but Holidead pulls the ref out. Oedo Tai takes the match over, Kimura and Wolf delivering a double kick to Kato, Holidead hitting a big chokeslam, and of course, Act hits the final Acton to win her final match.

Act celebrates her win with everyone. An emotional handshake from Kairi, and a tearful hug from Kato. These two matches were the best send-off that Act could have gotten. Everything from her facing off against Oedo Tai, to the hilarious spots, to the fitting end of her standing tall with her group. Act delivers her final speech, and the lights dim white & red as she gets a ten-bell salute. Act is showered in a sea of red streamers, she is carried off by her Oedo Tai friends as the crowd cheers for her. Nothing but the perfect way to go out for Act Yasukawa.

Act Yasukawa has one of the most inspiring stories of wrestling, overcoming mountains of adversity. From suffering near blindness in her right eye, to overcoming mental illness and bullying. She has overcome an illness that would have made her unable to wrestle, she even overcame being brutally beaten in that infamous match. She returned from that triumphantly, to a crowd that still loved her just as much, and left to a crowd that loved her even more. Unfortunately now, she must retire, but she will get some much deserved rest. She remains in high spirits, she wants to be an inspiration for people who battled mental illness, she wants to give people hope. I can only speak for myself, as someone who also deals with mental illness, she has certainly been a source of hope and inspiration for me. Her charisma, attitude and personality was one of the things that first drew me to joshi wrestling. Her strength, her heart and her resolve are what leave me with tears in my eyes watching her go, but I’ll never forget what an impact she made. I implore you all to go and read ‘The Act Yasukawa Story’. It’s a fantastic look at her life. Thank you for everything, Act.

(World of Stardom Championship) Meiko Satomura (c) vs. Io Shirai****3/4

It’s hard to find a place to start with this match, as there’s so many things to take in. If you’ve been following Stardom this year, it’s the perfect culmination to the story that has been told since July 26th. Can Meiko’s iron grip on Stardom finally be broken where even the elite have tried and failed? Meiko, as she always does, extends the hand respectfully to Io before the match, but Io throws her hands up and backs off. The bell rings and the match is officially underway. Shirai looks fierce and determined, but Satomura as always is calm and collected. The first lock-up sees Shirai get somewhat of an advantage with her agility and skill, Satomura almost looks impressed when they break away. It’s not too long until Satomura gets her hands on Shirai and delivers crushing uppercuts and debilitating knees to the gut. Shirai fires back with some elbows but Satomura blocks one and delivers the first deadly high kick of the match, flooring Shirai and sending her outside. Satomura waits for her to get back in and knocks her right back down when she does. Shirai keeps getting up to heavy, stiff shots that continue to floor her, but nails a missile dropkick that sends Satomura out this time, and she follows it up with a rapid suicide dive. The fight goes to the outside, Shirai drags Satomura into the stands and the brutal fight continues. Satomura delivers painful kicks but Shirai fires right back with a kick to the side of her head. Shirai even kicks her down the stairs and gets on higher ground, hitting a moonsault off the stands to Satomura! As time goes on, the danger increases. Shirai gets her back in the ring, hitting the missile dropkick into tiger feint kick combo. Shirai tries to follow it up but Satomura pops up and drills her with an uppercut making her fall off the top rope to the floor. Not a pretty fall to see. Satomura attempts to start another assault but Shirai catches her leg and drops it into the middle rope, and smacks Satomura so hard you could probably hear it in the parking lot. Shirai goes up top again but is kicked down but Satomura, Shirai bouncing off the apron and to the floor. Satomura picks her up and spikes her into floor with a goddamn back drop driver. Shirai is bumping like it’s her last match.

Shirai gets back in the ring at a count of 19 and Satomura continues to rain down kicks. A second high kick nearly knocks Shirai out as Satomura goes for the cover but only gets 2. Shirai makes a comeback with a hurricanrana and a roundhouse to Satomura who comes back with one of her own. Shirai pops right up, she won’t be kept down, she’s getting the second wind she needs and nails Satomura with a palm strike and a package german! As always, as it will ever be, you just cannot keep Meiko Satomura down. She pops up and drills Shirai with yet another high kick, and hits the cartwheel knee drop. Shirai blocks a Death Valley Bomb attempt and spikes Satomura with the tombstone. This marks Shirai’s unbelievable comeback, hitting multiple missile dropkicks, reversing Satomura’s offense, even locking in a crossface. Satomura hits a superplex on Shirai that lays them both out to nearly a ten count. Shirai unleashes a crazed flurry but Satomura nails her with a wheel kick and unleashes the most killer combination of moves you’d ever see. A backdrop driver, a spinning roundhouse, and a second backdrop driver, and her pin attempt gets a 2.9 as Shirai pops the shoulder up in desperation. This closing stretch put me on my feet, the intensity, the way the crowd exploded for each big move, it’s one of the best finishes I’ve seen in a while. Satomura locks in a brutal sleeper that seemingly puts Shirai to sleep, but she inches toward the ropes and gets her foot on them. Shirai yells through continuous kicks, holding onto her fighting spirit, she catches Satomura with two rolling package germans, the second into a pin combination but Satomura gets the shoulder up. Shirai signals for the end and goes for the moonsault but gets kicked out of the air. Satomura says it’s over, and drills Shirai with a Death Valley Bomb, goes for the final pin but Shirai gets the shoulder up! Satomura hits a second Death Valley and goes for a third but Shirai blocks it, and hits Mayu Iwatani’s dragon suplex! Shirai goes up top and does Kairi Hojo’s pose and hits the diving elbow drop beautifully! Shirai goes to the corner one more time, jumps off the ropes and hits the moonsault, the desperate cover, and the three count! Io Shirai does the impossible, she has defeated Meiko Satomura, and has won back the World of Stardom championship! What a match, what a finish, what a perfect climax to this story.

The match itself was incredible. Fierce, quick, and brutal action throughout the match. 25 minutes of fluid sequences, holy shit moments, spots that made you stand up in awe, it was everything you could want in a match. The little things in this match were vital, Satomura’s expressions at the way Shirai fought against her, Shirai continuing to get up through having her head nearly kicked off. The tale that was told throughout the match was of willpower, desperation and spirit. Meiko Satomura, the outsider from Sendai Girls, came into the company, won the title, and ruled with an iron fist. Kairi Hojo fought against her numerous times, unable to take her down but not leaving completely defeated. Mayu Iwatani stepped up to challenge Satomura, and suffered a brutal defeat. Io Shirai was Stardom’s last hope, and she took all of her allies’ defeats and combined them to overcome Satomura. When she hit the dragon suplex and the elbow drop, the crowd reaction made it the perfect finish, they gasped and erupted for those spots, and when she finally got the three, it was deafening. Those two moves made the match, and was the perfect storybook ending to Meiko’s reign. Meiko Satomura is one of the best in joshi, if not the best. I sincerely hope we see her again in Stardom. Her brutality and power is unmatched.

Io and Meiko bow to each other after the match, a tearful departure from Meiko, the crowd sending her off with huge chants for her. Io is confronted by Kairi, and challenged to a title match. Yes folks, on January 17th at Stardom’s 5th Anniversary show, Io Shirai will have her first title defense against Kairi Hojo. Words cannot describe the hype for that one. As you should expect, I’ll have the review for you right here on Wrestling With Words.

That’ll do it for me, what a show this was. A tearful retirement match, and a perfect, true year end climax in the main event. Thank you for reading, as always.

About the author

Dan Notarile

Hello everyone, I'm Dan. Writing has always been a passion of mine, and I'm always looking to write about new things. Combine that with the massive and varied world of wrestling, and you have me stoked about being on board with Wrestling With Words. From WWE to joshi puroresu, the writing will flow endlessly.

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