Stardom “Cinderella Tournament 2015”
April 23th, 2015
I just wanted to briefly mention that I am changing the way that I “score” matches. I don’t think a score really matters as much as whether or not I recommend the match, what is really the difference between a ** and **1/2 star match anyway? So while I am still giving my thoughts on each match, I will only give a “score” based on how much I recommend it. If you have any feedback, please reach out to me on Twitter (@purocentral), but I think this will make it more clear on what matches I recommend and which ones I don’t since scores can be confusing sometimes. Onto the review!
One of Stardom’s biggest events of the year is the Cinderella Tournament. The Cinderella Tournament is a one-night tournament and this year has 14 wrestlers. There are six first round matches, as well as Io Shirai and Koguma getting a “bye” to the second round. Here are the brackets:
Note that for the tournament matches, wrestlers can also win by knocking their opponent over the top rope. I say that of course because it comes up and I don’t want to confuse anyone. Onto the matches!
Momo Watanabe vs. Reo Hazuki: Joined in progress as Hazuki throws Watanabe in the corner but Watanabe dropkicks her. Another dropkick by Watanabe and she hits a third. Cover, but it gets two. Watanabe puts Hazuki up in the tree of woe before hitting a running dropkick to the midsection. Watanabe goes for a crossbody out of the corner but Hazuki moves out of the way before hitting two footstomps off the second turnbuckle. Hazuki goes for a senton but Watanabe moves, running double knee by Watanabe but it gets two. Armdrag into a cover by Watanabe but Hazuki reverses it into her own cover for two. Rolling vertical suplexes by Watanabe but Hazuki hits a double knee. Full nelson slam by Hazuki but Watanabe gets her shoulder up. Hazuki slams Watanabe in front of the corner and she delivers the senton off the second turnbuckle, but again Watanabe kicks out. Hazuki goes all the way up this time and she delivers the diving senton, this time picking up the three count! Hazuki stealing Yoshiko’s move set, that is interesting. Only slightly clipped but a short match. Watanabe shows some real potential though, I like what I have seen of her so far. Solid action for what was shown.
Hatsuhinode Kamen vs. Starfire: Joined in progress as Starfire elbows Kamen but Kamen hits a vertical suplex. Kamen goes up top but Starfire avoids the diving body press before hitting a fisherman suplex hold for a two count. Starfire goes for the package piledriver but Kamen blocks it and both wrestlers trade lariats. German suplex hold by Kamen, but it gets a two count. High kick by Kamen but Starfire rolls her up for a two count. Kamen goes off the ropes but Starfire catches her with a lariat. Package Piledriver by Starfire and she gets the three count! Only two minutes of action here but it helped put over Starfire’s package piledriver a bit, which she beat Koguma with a few weeks prior. Just getting through these quick first round matches to get to the good stuff.
Chelsea vs. Kris Wolf: Chelsea’s outfit isn’t as distracting as last time I saw her, so that is good. Headlock by Chelsea to start and she shoulderblocks Wolf. Wolf avoids Chelsea’s charge in the corner, Irish whip by Chelsea but Wolf avoids her again. Chelsea catches her by the leg and applies a single leg crab hold before applying a leglock. Irish whip by Chelsea but Wolf rolls her up before kicking Chelsea in the head. Elbows by Wolf but Chelsea returns fire. Dropkick to the leg by Wolf and she knees Chelsea in the head. Suplex by Wolf but it gets two. Chelsea avoids Wolf’s kicks but she hits a leg sweep. Wolf stomps on Chelsea but Chelsea avoids the diving footstomp. Lariat by Chelsea, but it gets a two. Chelsea chokes Wolf and Chelsea applies the Muta Lock. Wolf punches out of it and gets into the ropes, Wolf goes for a leg sweep but Chelsea avoids it. Heel drop by Chelsea and she boots Wolf, Chelsea charges Wolf as Wolf pulls the rope down, but Chelsea lands on the apron. Chelsea snaps Wolf’s neck over the top rope, she goes up top and she nails the diving crossbody for the three count! This was better than I expected. That isn’t intended as an insult but when you have two young wrestlers with limited experience against each other, you don’t really know what you are going to get. But they worked well together, Chelsea is a bit awkward (taller younger wrestlers tend to be) but they kept it short and to the point. Pretty solid overall.
Kaori Yoneyama vs. Kyoko Kimura: Joined in progress with Kimura in control but Yoneyama kicks her in the stomach. Yoneyama clubs on Kimura and hits a series of knees for a two count. Yoneyama hits a Shiranui off the ropes, but Kris Wolf grabs the referee to break up the cover. Kimura gets a club and hits Yoneyama in the head with it, cover, but Yoneyama gets a shoulder up. Chokebomb by Kimura but that gets two as well. Kimura goes off the ropes but Yoneyama rolls her up for two. Kicks by Yoneyama but Kimura hits a big boot. Rolling German suplex hold by Yoneyama, but Kimura gets a shoulder up. Yoneyama goes off the ropes but Kimura nails a big boot. They trade quick pin attempts, but the bell rings as time has expired. The match is a Draw so both wrestlers do not go on to the Quarterfinals. Only about a third was shown but nothing wrong with it, it is nice to see Yoneyama in a more serious match anyway. I don’t think it would have been any better shown in full so no complaints, even though obviously not enough was shown to really judge.
Mayu Iwatani vs. Thunder Rosa: Joined in progress with Rosa getting the better of Iwatani as she flings her down by the hair. She does it again before setting up Iwatani in the corner and kicking her in the thigh. Irish whip by Rosa and she hits a hammerlock slam for a two count. Lariats by Rosa and she covers Iwatani for another two. Rosa applies a stretch hold followed by a double knee jawbreaker, but Iwatani hits a Sling Blade. Dropkick by Iwatani while Rosa is against the ropes, they trade elbows and Rosa hits a Samoan Drop when Iwatani goes for a crucifix pin. Rosa hits a second one, Rosa picks up Iwatani and she hits a vertical suplex. Rosa goes off the ropes but Iwatani hits a victory roll for two. Iwatani goes off the ropes and she hits the Fubukirana for the three count! Aside from Iwatani’s killer dropkick this one was a bit flat, it was a little too basic for me. Of course it was also extremely short which will be a common theme. Nothing special.
Haruka Kato vs. Kairi Hojo: Both of these women are cute as hell, just as an aside. Kato and Hojo struggle back and forth to start and they trade elbows against the ropes. Hojo and Kato both miss dropkicks before they lock knuckles and trade wristlocks. Hojo hits a big spear and chops Kato into the corner, Irish whip by Hojo but Iwatani catches her arm and applies an armbar over the tope rope. Dropkick by Kato, cover, but it gets two. Elbows by Kato but Hojo elbows her back. Kato gets the cross armbreaker applied and then twists his arm in the top rope. Kato dropkicks Hojo in the arm and then hits an armbreaker. Kato tries to stomp on her arm but Hojo moves and hits a neckbreaker. Single leg crab hold by Hojo but Kato gets to the ropes. Spear by Hojo in the corner and she hits an elbow drop for a two count. Hojo goes up top but Kato elbows her and throws Hojo off. Kato stomps on Hojo’s arm and Kato hits a double stomp right to Hojo’s arm. Damn. Headscissors into a roll-up by Kato, and she applies the cross armbreaker. Seated armbar by Kato but Hojo gets a foot on the ropes. Kato punches Hojo and she rolls up Hojo for two. They trade pins back and forth with no luck and Hojo hits another big spear for two. Hojo can throw a spear, man. Elbows by Hojo and she hits Kato before hitting a backfist. Scoop slam by Hojo, she goes up top and hits the diving elbow drop to Kato’s back. Ikarii by Hojo, and Iwatani has to submit! This was a really fun match, I enjoyed it a lot. Hojo is awesome but Kato held her own here, her focus on the arm was really on point as she had a good variety of moves targeting it. I wish it was longer but with a ten minute time limit that wouldn’t have really been possible but easily the best match of the tournament so far. Recommended
That is it for the first round! Onto Round 2! (remember Hojo gets a Bye due to the Draw)
Mayu Iwatani vs. Starfire: We join the match in progress with Iwatani in the Rocking Horse, she then releases the hold and applies a Mexican Surfboard. Cross-legged Rocking Horse by Starfire but Iwatani inches to the ropes to force a break. Double knee drop by Starfire, she goes up to the second turnbuckle but Iwatani avoids the somersault senton. Iwatani drop toeholds Starfire into the turnbuckle and delivers a dropkick. Iwatani picks up Starfire and hits a Northern Lights Suplex for a two count. Iwatani goes up top but Starfire joins her, and they trade elbows. Iwatani jumps back to the mat , she runs over and dropkicks Starfire off the top turnbuckle down to the floor. Iwatani wins by over the top rope elimination. I’m not a fan of the top rope gimmick in general, especially in singles matches, which is a shame as it is not the last time we will see it tonight. Starfire’s submission holds looked fierce but not much else to see here.
Koguma vs. Reo Hazuki: Hazuki knocks Koguma into the corner and hits bootscrapes, but Koguma elbows her in the knee. Koguma throws Hazuki in the corner, Koguma drops Hazuki on the apron but Hazuki knocks her back and flips back into the ring. Armdrag by Koguma but Hazuki returns the favor. Bootscrapes by Hazuki and she delivers the running kick in the corner. Senton by Hazuki off the second turnbuckle, but the cover gets a two count. Hazuki goes up top but Koguma elbows her. Koguma joins Hazuki up top and she hits an avalanche cutter. Victory roll by Hazuki but Koguma rolls through it and hits a German suplex hold. Koguma goes up top but Hazuki rams her head into the turnbuckle. Tornado DDT by Koguma, she goes up top and she hits the Koguma-Style Yoshi Tonic for the three count! This was short and generally inoffensive, although Koguma didn’t hit the finish as good as she normally does. Not long enough to get excited about.
Chelsea vs. Io Shirai: Chelsea gets Shirai to the mat but Shirai quickly gets out of it and kicks Chelsea in the corner. Shirai dropkicks Chelsea in the leg, she goes for a Space Rolling Elbow but Chelsea kicks her in the back. Forearm drop by Chelsea, but it gets a two. Stretch hold by Chelsea but Shirai gets out of it, stops by Chelsea but Shirai catches one and knees Chelsea in the leg. Armdrag by Chelsea and she hits a couple more before applying a seated armbar. Shirai gets to the ropes, Chelsea picks her up but Shirai gets away. Shirai avoids Chelsea’s big boot and she dropkicks her in the back. Chelsea goes over the top rope but she lands on the apron before twisting Shirai’s arm in the top rope. Chelsea gets back in and she hits a fisherman suplex hold for two. Rolling vertical suplexes by Chelsea but Shirai hits an underhook facebuster for a two count. Shirai positions Chelsea, she goes up top but Chelsea is up and hits Shirai from behind. Chelsea applies a necklock over the top rope, she goes to the top turnbuckle and she hits the diving crossbody, but Shirai gets a shoulder up. Chelsea goes for a suplex but Shirai lands on her feet and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Running double knee strike by Shirai in the corner, cover, but it gets a two count. Shirai goes up top, she nails the moonsault and she gets the three count! This was a little rough at times but it wasn’t bad. Shirai is incredible but Chelsea is still finding her groove so it wasn’t seamless from start to finish. But it had a pinfall, which I appreciate.
Time for the Semifinals!
Io Shirai vs. Mayu Iwatani: Shirai stomps Iwatani as she gets in the ring and they trade reversals on the mat. Quick kick by Shirai and she applies a camel clutch, but Iwatani gets to the ropes. Backslide by Iwatani and she rolls up Shirai again but they both can only get two counts. Shirai goes for a sweeping kick but Iwatani kicks her in the leg, which hurts both of them. Shirai elbows Iwatani but Iwatani gets out of the double underhook. Hurricanrana by Iwatani and she dropkicks Shirai while she is against the ropes. Iwatani goes up to the second turnbuckle and she hits a missile dropkick for a two count. Iwatani picks up Shirai, Shirai cartwheels and dropkicks Iwatani out of the ring (under the ropes). Shirai then dives out of the ring with a plancha suicida, over-spinning and landing hard on the floor. She’s ok of course because wrestlers aren’t human, and Shirai hits a swandive missile dropkick back in the ring. Tiger Feint Kick by Shirai and she hits a swandive sunset flip for a two count. Arm-trap crossface by Shirai but Iwatani gets to the ropes. Shirai goes up top but Iwatani gets her feet up on the moonsault attempt. Stomps by Shirai, Irish whip as Iwatani goes for a crossbody out of the corner, but Shirai catches her and hits a tombstone piledriver. Arm trap German suplex hold by Shirai, but Iwatani kicks out. Shirai goes up top but Iwatani recovers and powerbombs Shirai to the mat. Diving footstomp by Iwatani, cover, but it gets two. Iwatani goes up top but Shirai joins her, and they trade elbows while standing on the top turnbuckle. They fall out to the floor, and the referee determines that Shirai hit first so Iwatani is the winner! Not a big fan of the 1994 Royal Rumble ending since the camera didn’t show who hit first, but the match was great. Just hard hitting and fast paced, although I was concerned about Shirai after that dive which I have a video of below. Some selling issues with the bigger moves but that was just the pace of the match, overall I enjoyed it even with the lame ending. Mildly Recommended
Kairi Hojo vs. Koguma: Koguma throws Hojo in the corner and dropkicks her before hitting a cutter. German suplex hold by Koguma but it gets two. Koguma goes up top but Hojo gets her feet up when Koguma dives off. Hojo stomps on Koguma and she hits a rolling neckbreaker followed by an elbow drop for two. Single leg crab hold by Hojo but Koguma gets to the ropes. Hojo puts Koguma on the second rope, she charges Koguma but Koguma pulls down the top rope, sending Hojo to the apron. They trade elbows, Koguma tries pushing Hojo out of the ring but Hojo hangs on. Doublestomp on the apron by Hojo, she goes up top as Koguma rolls in the ring and Hojo hits a jumping elbow smash for two. Sleeper by Koguma but Hojo makes it to the ropes. Koguma goes up top and she hits a missile dropkick for a two count. Koguma goes up top but Hojo punches her. They trade pin attempts with neither having any luck and they trade elbows while on their knees. They trade lariat attempts but Hojo levels Koguma with a spear for two. Hojo goes up top but Koguma recovers and joins her. Hojo chops Koguma into the tree of woe but Koguma gets back up with her. Koguma snaps Hojo’s neck on the top rope, which lands Hojo on the apron. Koguma joins her on the apron and they trade elbows, Koguma slides back in the ring and dropkicks Hojo. Hojo hangs on with one hand but Koguma dropkicks her again, sending Hojo crashing to the mat. Koguma is your winner! This is an example of two great wrestlers being limited by the match stipulation, as between the time limit and the top rope rule those two factors impacted what they were able to do. What they did was still fine, the action was fast paced throughout and both don’t hold back with their strikes, it was just too short and too gimmicked to give a real recommendation as an individual match.
And now, the finals of the tournament!
Koguma vs. Mayu Iwatani: Koguma gets a headscissors applied early in the match but Iwatani gets out of it and gets on top. Koguma applies an armbar and gets in the mount but Iwatani gets to the ropes. Wristlock by Koguma but Iwatani reverses it. Back up, Irish whip by Koguma and she dropkicks Iwatani in the corner. Iwatani avoids Koguma’s next dropkick attempts and hits a footstomp to her back. Iwatani goes for a Sling Blade but Koguma blocks it and applies a front necklock. Koguma rolls her to the mat while keeping the hold applied, cover by Koguma but it gets a two. German suplex hold by Koguma, but it gets a two. Koguma goes off the ropes but Iwatani sneaks in a backslide for two. Crucifix bomb by Iwatani, but it also gets two. Iwatani stomps Koguma, she goes to the second turnbuckle and hits a diving footstomp for two. Northern Lights Suplex Hold by Iwatani, but that gets a two as well. Koguma grabs Iwatani around the waist, she rolls her to the mat but Iwatani kicks out. German suplex hold by Koguma but again it gets two. Koguma and Iwatani trade elbows but Iwatani drops Koguma with the Sling Blade. Iwatani goes up top but Koguma joins her and hits an avalanche cutter. Cover, but it only gets two. Koguma goes up top and she hits a diving body press, but Iwatani kicks out. Cutter by Koguma and she hits a second one. Koguma goes up top once again but Iwatani hits her before she can jump off. Iwatani joins Koguma but Koguma slaps her off and hits the Yoshi Tonic for a two count. Running roll-up by Koguma with a jackknife, but Iwatani gets a shoulder up. Koguma tries to go up top but Iwatani grabs her from behind, hitting a dragon suplex hold for two. Iwatani goes up top and she hits a diving footstomp, she picks up Koguma and plants her with a final dragon suplex hold, picking up the three count! At some point Iwatani got her eye all messed up but I didn’t see it happen so not sure when she got smacked. This was good mostly because you could feel their desperation to win, both were tired and hurt from previous matches so there were a lot of pin attempts, which is completely logical. They didn’t have to do a ‘wear down’ section because they were already worn down. The ending looked great and the moves were all hit really crisp. The tournament was going to prevent this card from having a MOTY but they went all out, and it was a fitting main event for the tournament. Mildly Recommended
Final Thoughts: One night tournaments are always going to be unique, as it is really only fair to look at all the performances together instead of individually. On that level I think this event delivered, even though I am really not a fan of the ‘top rope elimination’ aspect as it did lead to some cheaper endings. The women all worked really hard, there was no lack of effort whatsoever as even the wrestlers with more matches were not holding anything back. If you enjoy one night tournaments I recommend it, the matches all had a fast pace and nothing was bad, even though quite a few of the matches were clipped. Definitely worth a look though as an entire event, just don’t expect to find a MOTYC, it wasn’t really that type of show.