Hello again, friends of good wrestling. We have a pretty sweet card on our hands today with a lineup consisting of first of all THREE new people debuting in 3 separate matches. First off we’ve got the young upstart Hiromi Mimura getting her shot vs. Kris Wolf. Then we have an Actress Girl’Z representative in the house Saori Anou, taking on the always underrated Haruka Kato. Finally, it has to be everyone’s favorite…the Starlight Kid debuting in a 3 way for some reason, against the inexperienced Momo Watanabe and the veteran Kaori Yoneyama. All of this is code for the top 3 matches getting a lot of time. And they should! Because they’re all very promising.
We see a continuation of the last show’s main angle with the awesome Kairi Hojo unfortunately going a similar route of putting her title shot won in the recent 5* Grand Prix on the line against the freshly returned Act Yasukawa. For what it’s worth, this was probably the best possible example of it, considering that Act actually did miss the tournament due to injury and was deserving, which automatically makes it much less annoying than the G1 Briefcase for example. But whether it’s G1, Royal Rumble, or this, I think the tournament should be the be all end all no matter what for the title shot. With that said, Act/Kairi should be a very good match and either woman could win.
La Rosa Negra puts her freshly won High Speed Title on the line vs. one half of the Goddesses of Stardom Champions Thunder Rock, Mayu Iwatani. Rosa Negra looked good in short time due to a sad Starfire injury, and I really hope she’s back soon. But anyway, I think Rosa Negra is very new and considering the circumstances, my gut told me that Iwatani would walk away with the title going in.
The main event is something dear to my heart, as though I spend much of my time writing about Puroresu, CMLL is my favorite company and that is where Dark Angel made her name. She recently had her last match in the wrestling cathedral, Arena Mexico at their 82nd Anniversary show against the woman that took her mask originally, Princesa Sugehit. Now, it does feel a bit awkward and disappointing that her last match isn’t where I grew to love her, but I’m not Sarah, and truthfully this will probably be a much better match than that was for a variety of reasons. Though it’s hard to imagine her winning the White Belt it should be very good.
Anyway, that’s what’s happening on this show. Lets see how it goes!
We kick off with some dancing as is tradition here to coincide with another Stardom tradition…a terrible American pop song playing. Fuka does teach these girls some moves though.
Hiromi Mimura Debut Match: Hiromi Mimura vs. Kris Wolf
Mimura, fresh off her own dancing performance in her entrance that was extravagant as well as long, gets flowers and a great reaction from the crowd who was super lively already. Kris Wolf sits in the corner and barks a lot meanwhile. I really love Mimura’s colors, though she looks like someone in a marching band. Maybe inspired by Iwatani? Regardless, keep the colors.
Crowd was heavily behind Hiromi in this match. Thought Wolf was good in her role here, where she transitioned from early work of her traditional comedy work (biting the arm and such) to just kicking her harder and harder. Hiromi was noticeably awkward at points, like any reasonable person would expect of someone in their first ever match. But had some good moments like a nifty roll-through transitioned into a legbar and using La Casita which made me smile. Wolf also had a tribute to Kane after with selling her leg, then stomping it to make it better. Wonderful. Match finished with Wolf picking Hiromi up when she had an easy pin to hit her top rope double knee splash.
Overall: It’s hard to gauge these debut matches, but like I said there was some good fight from the new girl and the crowd really bought into her as someone to get into. Wolf did well again and seems to be getting better and better in her own right. **1/2
Saori Anou Participation Match: Saori Anou vs. Haruka Kato
Anou has a great entrance with a really hot song and a fan she used. I don’t know about the wrestling, but she’s got huge star factor already. Kato still looks cute…like a 13 year old. She’s adorable. And like I mentioned above, I actually like a lot in the ring! She’s technically sound, especially for someone in Daisy Dukes.
Anyway, unlike the first match respect was shown here. There’s a lot of struggle involved for the most part in the early going, then Kato Sabre Jr. goes into her traditional armbar offense. For the most part Anou used very basic offense, but at one point Anou hit a Fisherman’s Suplex and a flip over Backslide with an absolutely tremendous bridge on both. She’s got something with a Bridge and flexibility based moveset. Kato did her impressive tilt-a-whirl into a School Boy, transitioned into an armbar for the tapout win.
Overall: Repeat what I said earlier about it being hard to judge, but I liked this as a match better though I think Hiromi is a bit better on her own as a pure wrestler than Anou, though Anou stood out more with her unique offense and pro look. Really like the blue going around right now. Kato was very good here and someone I enjoy watching. **1/2
Starlight Kid Debut Match: Starlight Kid vs. Kaori Yoneyama vs. Momo Watanabe
Momo’s “baseball” entrance is so cute and fun for the crowd. But then, the queen comes out. To what sounds like a Japanese cover of THE JACKSON 5. Starlight Kid I love you. Her dance was ridiculous as well. Must see. My only gripe is yet another Tiger Mask tribute in this promotion. I mean, I liked all the TMs too but enough already. Kid looks very young.
Crowd takes turns cheering for Kid and Momo to start. Lots of comedy double teams and double crosses to start off, until Kid suddenly hits a cartwheel into a nice Whirlybird to get the crowd happy followed by an even more impressive Deja Vu on Momo. Now I’m pretty much the opposite of a “moves” guy in wrestling but to pull that off in your first match is pretty impressive. Sadly, the light pretty much goes out as Kid goes for a Tiger Feint Kick, and gets stuck in the ropes to the ire of the crowd. Poor girl. Hopefully Sayama isn’t her trainer or else I’m sure he would be very angry and probably violent. But Yoneyama and Momo, watch on and let her do it this time pulling it off right before hitting her pose, followed by Momo and Yoneyama exchanging a glance that said “what a loser”. Starlight quickly gets double teamed, until of course Yoneyama betrays Momo. Kid ended up getting back into the mix by getting caught on a Crossbody before hitting a REALLY good kind of standstill variation of Tsukushi’s Harukaze. There’s some pretty good work from Momo on Kid for a little while highlighted by her awesome Flatliner. But Kid eventually dodges running knees and hits a Shiranui, but gets dispelled by a Yoneyama Senton followed by a crazy top rope Senton on Momo to seal the win.
Overall: Bad botch aside, Starlight Kid clearly is the most advanced of the new girls in terms of moveset and the fact that she didn’t even take the fall in her first match shows that the company has plans for her. Can’t wait to see what exactly that entails. On the whole I didn’t really enjoy the match as much though, a lot of the comedy isn’t for me. Yoneyama’s Senton is a sight to behold. **1/4
World of Stardom Championship #1 Contendership Match: Act Yasukawa vs. Kairi Hojo
To the people who also follow Stardom, remember when Act had her awesome orchestratal rock theme? And her current theme is really good but that stuff was boss. Act definitely has great presence on her entrance no matter what. The Pirate Princess equally so, and hey, if you haven’t checked out my career retrospective for the great Kairi Hojo, you really should because she’s had quite a 3 year run: http://puroresuspirit.net/2015/10/pirate-princess-a-week-of-kairi-hojo-matches-and-history/
If ya didn’t know, now you know.
Lockup to start, followed by Act wanting a test of strength. It eventually breaks down into Kairi running wild with strikes to the chest after a battle, settled with a straight elbow to the chest. It was pretty cool and made Act yell out a sickeningly high pitched scream, moreso even when Kairi went to double slaps. But Act got control back by breaking up Kairi’s ship walk with a hair pull. This match was a great example of the difference between these two on offense with Kairi constantly using spunky and intense offense to build a rally, and Act using grimy and slower paced moves such as grinding Kairi’s face against the ropes or choking her. Then we saw Act work over Kairi’s legs in traditional Act fashion, including a fun exchange with the ref where she constantly broke the count at 4 on a ropehung leglock, mouthed off to the ref, then went back to the leglock. The pace picked back up when Kairi hit a cross run into her sweet spear, though she seemed unaffected by Act’s legwork she had just got done with, before laying a hurtin’ on Act’s back with some high impact moves, who turned out to be more adept at the sell, crying out after hitting a Flatliner. In general, though I always try to praise Hojo for having a great year, one of the best even, I thought Act was the better of the two in this match. And the respective limb work actually paid off in the end too, with them affecting Act’s Akuton Bomb as well as her locking in the Act Lock (Stretch Muffler) and on that I loved her having that locked in and at the same time hitting sliding kicks to Hojo’s face. Awesome! When Kairi countered into her own Stretch Muffler was when this match really hit that “great territory”, but right afterwards, Kairi went to the middle ropes for an elbow, but slipped off, drawing ire from the crowd. I’m not sure if it was a legit botch or if it was on purpose to sell the leg since she DID hit her leg and try to cover, but after she hadn’t for awhile, it just looked kind of awkward and bad especially since Act had to lay there forever. Ouch. The finish came right after that with back to front five star elbow drops.
Post-Match they shook hands as a sign of respect, and then the promo everybody’s heard about, with Act teasing retirement. But like has been said already, it is “To be continued” and hopefully she doesn’t go, but seeing it, she sure was emotional on the mic here, breaking down.
Overall: Like I said, not Kairi’s finest hour in the ring, but still more good than bad. And I was extremely impressed by Act here. Really awesome performance and it’s obvious she’s a huge plus to this roster. ***1/2
High Speed Title Match: Mayu Iwatani vs. (c) La Rosa Negra
This match is taken place after Starfire’s injury last month led to her defeat at the hands of her stablemate. As a reminder leave some prayers and good thoughts Starfire’s way on twitter/FB, she’ll be as good as new in no time!
Love Iwatani’s mask and prayer entrance here, really good contrast to the up tempo rest of the roster, including her opponent, the champ. Rossy was very funny, taking the title away from Rosa. After which she gave a middle finger during the pose with the title. A gesture that had me rolling my eyes.
Handshake to start off, really good Lucha style burst of energy from both women before Rosa gets control with a jumping kick to let her slow things to a halt, doing corner including the traditional “stand on the corner punches” deal, except viciously slapping Mayu in the head. Unique spot. Another came after Iwatani did some more good Lucha, Rosa cut her off and simply pulled her to the floor by the hair from the top rope. What a Ruda. She also had sashaying offense in the corner which was again unique, but would probably hurt Mayu more if she were a guy. Basically, I really enjoyed Rosa here on offense both playing up her bad girl status and using a lot of cool moves. Mayu for her part did a very good job selling and really helped build this match up, even down to her exasperated kickout on a Jacknife cover, and speaking of unique spots there was a crazy series of Irish Whip reversals that were certainly something new, but almost looked like a Merry Go Round. But definitely by the end had a really hot finish where both women looked strong and were very crisp too. This was very good all around but in the end the “Sky Blue Hyper Technician” took the title with her Unbeatable Dragon Suplex Hold.
Post-Match Iwatani got to celebrate with a ton of streamers while the crowd chanted for her. She was HYPED to be the champion! …Too hyped apparently, because the trophy ended up breaking. Multiple times. This was funny. But all’s well that ends well as Rosa picked up a piece of the trophy and shook on it. Aw!
Overall: I know I’ll probably be in the minority here, but I thought this was the best match on the show to this point, really the most complete. I enjoyed both women’s performances a lot, and Iwatani’s probably my favorite person in Stardom in a lot of ways, I wasn’t sure what we’d get from Rosa Negra, but the last two times she’s wrestled in this ring she’s put on some hot performances and brought it hard. Congratulations to both and I hope Iwatani has a great title reign as High Speed Champ, with Rosa Negra getting brought back. ***3/4
Wonder of Stardom Title Match (White Belt): Dark Angel vs. Io Shirai
Traditional entrances for this match, until Angel gets this very small child dressed like a Fall Cheerleader while getting some roses. Small note, but I really like Io’s theme song. Really fits her as her “Ace” archtype. As expected, respect was shown between these two great wrestlers.
Much like the last match, this started off with a heavy Lucha Libre influenced, with both women working a lock-up, monkey flips, bridges, etc which the crowd responded favorably to. I was afraid this was becoming too much like the last match until suddenly Sarah knocked Io on the top rope and hit a sickening Powerbomb on the apron that really set things into “main event” mode. Back in the ring Angel targeted Io’s back with this awesome looking neckbreaker into a kneel down hanging inverted chinlock that really set the tone for working over Io’s neck and back which she was aggressive about and got the crowd rallying behind Io. My favorite had to be her tribute to Atlantis, the legendary Luchador when she used a Wrist-Clutch Atlantida which looked great. I very much enjoyed the portion of the match where Sarah was on offense to say the least and to her credit Io sold the back work for a good while, but showed a lot of great hear until she could turn the tide with a wild Topé con Hilo after she knocked Angel out of the ring. Things broke down a bit when Io got on offense, not that I expected much different, but I would have liked to have seen the back work affect Io’s offense a little more, she bounced off the turnbuckle on purpose and it was just unnecessary, but it’s also not like it was completely blown off either so it’s not like it hurt anything too much. And for what it’s worth everything was very smoothly done and looked impressive. I especially really enjoyed Io’s counter to La Reineira of grabbing a Sleeper Hold. It was such a simple and well done spot. It set up and led into Io’s graceful, but horribly inaccurate Moonsault for the finish.
Post-Match Io and Dark Angel hugged and showed respect and Io also smartly left before it could break. Learn from your tag team partner, Iwatani! Dark Angel also got a big celebration with Kairi, Iwatani, and Io giving her flowers and stuff before Rossy gave her a plaque as well. Sarah cut a promo in Spanglish saying she’s had 10 years of friendship with Rossy and thanking Io for the great match. Followed by Io talking back and putting Dark Angel then herself over before Kairi got on the mic, followed by Iwatani and there appeared to be some friendly ribbing back and forth between the three. But it all ended with Dark Angel and Io leading the traditional “We Are Stardom!” show close.
Overall: Best match of the night despite it’s flaws and definitely I think the kind of match Sarah would want to have as her last hurrah in the ring. ***3/4
As Voices of Wrestling’s Rich Kraetch says, sometimes the best shows are those with nothing bad on them and this was like that. The 3 young stars matches all had purpose and were interesting in their own way, and the top 3 matches were all good-very good and the show ended on a high note with Dark Angel’s farewell. There will likely be some clipping in the undercard matches, though probably for the better in some cases, but really this is an incredibly easy show to watch, with every match being worthwhile in some way.
End of Show Awards:
Match of the Night: Dark Angel vs. Io Shirai (Wonder of Stardom Title)
MVP: Dark Angel (She had a match deserving to end her great career and this was emotional for me as I’ve followed her career in Mexico and watched her help essentially revive women’s wrestling in Arena Mexico. Whether there or in Japan she will be missed. I will be sad if she’s done for good.)
Best Finish: Haruka Kato on Saori Anou (Tilt-a-Whirl School Boy Armbar)
Most Surprising Result: Mayu Iwatani vs. La Rosa Negra (High Speed Title) (I actually wasn’t that surprised but still.)
Unsung Hero: Haruka Kato, for facing the least ready of the three young stars but having a flat out solid match with her.
Well, the future’s gonna be interesting for this company with Act’s future in doubt, and a ton of new people from America coming. I feel like going into the new year we may be on the verge of a few shakeups up and down the card. Especially within the next few days, as Stardom travels to California tomorrow, hitting up Covina tomorrow and Baldwin Park on the 18th. featuring main events of Io Shirai vs. American wrestler Mia Yim for the White Belt on the 16th, and Thunder Rock vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto & Kellie Skater for the Goddesses of Stardom Tag Titles on the 18th, both with Melina standing in to ref. Tickets available and all that, Stardom’s got English FB and twitter pages, check them out there for info. Should be a hoot.
Speaking of Twitter and FB, check the links at the bottom of the page for Puroresu Spirit’s respective pages, every like and follow counts. Until next time, see ya around, watch Stardom, and hope you liked the review. – DylanZero