Metalhead’s Thoughts on Stardom Gold

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Before I start, a quick introduction of the Stardom promotion seems to be in order as I imagine some of you are unfamiliar with it.

World Wonder Ring Stardom, most often simply referred to as Stardom, is a Japanese Joshi puroresu (female wrestling promotion, that was created in 2010 by  Rossy Ogawa, Fuka Kakimoto and Nanae Takahashi. Much like Ogawa’s previous promotion, JDStar, the visual aspect of some female stars was pushed from the start, via photo shoots and calendars, helping it make, arguably’, today’s top Joshi organization. A bit like the Diva’s you could say, only difference is, the Stardom girls can actually wrestle. For the in-ring style Stardom borrows heavily from MMA, like many Japanese promotions,  meaning you’ll see a lot more kicks than what you’re used to if you are mostly familiar with American Wrestling.

Haruka Kato vs. Hatsuhinode Kamen:

Rather typical smaller wrestler vs bigger wrestler stuff, speed and ground work on the one side (Kato), Power and bulk on the other (Kamen). I wasn’t impressed by Kamen very much, to be  honest, Kato does seem to be exactly the type of performer Stardom would like, cute and rather talented. Some good submission work here by Kato who obviously has some kind of martial art background given the fluidity of those moves. Not a bad opener, but the two just didn’t seem to click very well. Kamen picked up the win after a German suplex.

Average opener, but not a bad way to open the show.

Kaori Yoneyama vs. Kris Wolf vs. Momo Watanabe vs. Reo Hazuki:

Worked under Fatal-4-Way rules, this had the flaws of such mashed. Not given enough time, the four seemed thrown together to give them a reason to be on the card. Always fun to see veteran Yoneyama again, the other three I was less familiar with. Again nothing really bad here, but, given the chemistry they seemed to have in that ring, Wolf vs Hazuki perhaps would have been the wiser choice. As far as Watanabe went, she didn’t really leave a strong impression, then again that may partly be attributed to the shortness of the match. Wolf pins Hazuki after a suplex to to get the win.

Another average outing, hurt by the lack of time given.

High Speed Championship – (c) Koguma vs. Starfire: 

Starting rather slowly but really picking up speed and exitement towards the end, my only complain here would be, again, the time alloted. Was it really wise to start so slowly in an less than 10 minute match? Still both worked well together and Starfire, in particular, impressed me with her moves. Koguma seems to be very young but has already the kind of poise and fluidity in her moves than many veterans would die for. This one will go far if given the chance. Starfire got the win and the title after an awesome looking Splash Mountain/Package Piledriver finish. Good stuff here.

Nice, liked it, too bad it wasn’t given as least twice as much time.

Chelsea vs. Meiko Satomura: 

Not very familiar with Chelsea, but the fact she’s booked against a legend like Satomura must mean Stardom has at least some plans for her. Another not bad/not great affair, Chelsea tried hard but she seems to be more there for the Idol part of the promotions than for really great wrestling. An impression confirmed by the fact Meiko seemed to be holding back in this one. On the other hand the whole ploy seems to work out for Stardom as the crowd absolutely LOVED everything Chelsea was doing. Single leg crab by Satomura in the end, for the quick Chelsea tap-out. Post match, cute Chelsea cut a cute promo (in Japanese) which the crowed loved. I see what they’re doing here, magazine covers, here comes Chelsea!

Fun for the crowd reactions.

Wonder of Stardom Championship – Io Shirai vs. Nikki Storm: 

This was one match for which the expectation were high, the celebrated Io Shirai, who’s probably well on her way to become one of the best Joshi performers of the 2010’s against the very promising Nikki Storm. And let it be said, the girls delivered big time. When you’re charmed by the appearance AND amazed by the technical prowess of BOTH wrestlers, you know you’re in for something special. Nikki kept up mounting impressive offense after impressive offense (goddamned that girl is good) while Io, sometimes desperately, fought back to unleash her own moves. Great action throughout, they kept you on the edge of your seat. I was almost disappointed when Shirai pinned Storm (after a moonsault). Storm had done such a good job I was 100% rooting for her by the end. Please tell me things aren’t over between those two, I definitely want to see more of that.

WATCH THIS! This is female wrestling of the highest quality!

World of Stardom Championship(c) Kairi Hojo vs. Mayu Iwatani:

This is a good move by Stardom. They could over-rely on veterans, like others are doing, but, instead, they’re obviously searching for just the right mix without forgetting to push their own, young stars to the moon. Case in point, this main event. Both could very easily become Joshi Puroresu absolute top stars in the coming years, they’re young, talented and are obviously passionated by wrestling. It showed in this match. While not as technically proficient as the previous match they more than made up for it  with their intensity. This was not a wrestling match this was a war between two competitors going all out to obtain the company’s biggest price. It enhanced both performers, the title AND the event. This, my friends, is what wrestling should be about.In the end both were obviously exhausted (so was I after more than 30 minutes of sheer intensity) but still going full throttle. Great, great stuff. Kairi Hojo won after an awesome-looking diving elbow drop to retain her Championship, but it was one of those matches where even the looser is a winner.

 

Stardom gold started slowly, while the first four matches had their moments, they did leave you wanting and expecting more than what was showed. And then the two last matches happened and delivered everything a wrestling fan could want. I really like what Stardom is looking, there is some emphasis on the Idol aspect (nothing wrong with that, magazine covers are a great way to promote their stuff) but it seldom overshadows the action which is good to great. Definitely one I can recommend, especially for the last two matches.

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