Year End Climax 2015
December 23rd, 2015
It is time for Stardom’s big year-end event! And what a big event this is, as not only is Shirai challenging Satomura for the World of Stardom Championship, but we get the Retirement Match of crowd favorite Act Yasukawa. There is also a Artist of Stardom Championship Match as well. Some of this will be clipped but the big matches shouldn’t be, let’s get rolling.
Azumi vs. Starlight Kid
A fun little rookie/kid match to kick off the show. This was clipped, which is funny since it was less than five minutes long in the first place. Azumi is the youngest active wrestler in Stardom but she has a nasty streak, twisting Starlight Kid’s back for the bulk of the match. The (probably?) older Starlight Kid takes back over and hits a body press off the second turnbuckle but Azumi avoids the standing moonsault and rolls up Starlight Kid for two. They botch a sunset flip, which is impressive, a standing moonsault by Starlight Kid and she gets the three count! Azumi attacks her after the bell but it is for naught, as Starlight Kid is the winner.
This was clipped and wasn’t smooth. Azumi yelled at Starlight Kid and the referee after the match so there is some character development going on here, but this wasn’t a good match. Both are really young and/or rookies so its hard to get down on them too much, but very skippable.
Kaori Yoneyama and Mayu Iwatani vs. Alex Lee and Datura
This is my least favorite staple Stardom match. Iwatani being in there makes it better, but these midcard title-less tag matches tend to be pretty flat and uneventful. The match is joined in progress with Datura getting double teamed, this one is clipped to hell too so they clearly agree with me that this isn’t great fun to watch. Although watching Iwatani is always a treat as she flies around the ring, trying to make this match entertaining. Yoneyama beats on Datura, Lee and Iwatani both come in the ring but Lee fails in her attempt to do a quadruple suplex. Iwatani and Yoneyama both hit Northern Light Suplexes, and Iwatani drills Datura while she is against the ropes. Iwatani goes up top but Datura avoids her dive and applies La Magistral for a two count. Yoneyama comes in and hits a crossbody on both Lee and Datura, Iwatani goes up top again and jumps off Datura to hit a diving crossbody on Lee. Diving senton by Yoneyama on Datura, Iwatani follows with a diving double footstomp and she picks up the three count! Yoneyama and Iwatani are your winners.
They played this one smart by only showing four minutes of it. I could never recommend an eight minute match clipped down to four, but the four minutes they showed were well paced and easy to watch. Disappointing to see Iwatani in such a minor match, but still better than I expected.
Artist of Stardom Championship
(c) Evie, Hiroyo Matsumoto, and Kellie Skater vs. Hiromi Mimura, Jungle Kyouna, and Momo Watanabe
The Hyper Destroyers won the titles earlier this month, I don’t anticipate this being much of a challenge for them since they are against two rookies and a child. But at least they are actually defending the titles unlike the last champions, so I am not complaining.
Mimura is triple teamed right off the start to set the tone, Watanabe comes in but she doesn’t fare much better. This match has some comedy spots, the Artist of Stardom Championship is the most playful title in Stardom, it isn’t taken quite as seriously as the other championships. Watanabe gets the better of Skater and tags Kyouna, shoulderblocks by Kyouna and she throws all three of her opponents in to the same corner so the rookie team can hit running strikes. Kyouna slams Skater and Watanabe hits a tornado DDT, as the rookies are working really well together. Skater finally is done playing around and boots Mimura hard in the chest, Evie comes in and kicks everyone she can find in the face. She goes for the double footstomp but Mimura moves and applies La Magistral for two. Kick combination by Evie, both teams run in and everyone brawls on the floor except for Mimura and Evie. Backbreaker by Evie, Matsumoto comes in with a confetti gun but she hits Evie by accident. Superkick by Skater on Mimura, Matsumoto gets on the second turnbuckle and hits a reverse double knee drop. She throws Evie on Mimura, and Evie gets the three count! The Hyper Destroyers retain the titles!
This was fun even though the outcome was never in doubt. There were a few small awkward moments but most of it was fine, and I really liked Watanabe hitting the Somato to break up a pin. Skater and Evie are a pleasure to watch and all the rookies are solid. A bit silly but a good midcard match, just keep in mind these are somewhat comedic matches with the Artist of Stardom Championship. Mildly Recommended
Act Yasukawa, Haruka Kato, and Kairi Hojo vs. Holidead, Kris Wolf, and Kyoko Kimura
This is Act Yasukawa’s Retirement Match. These teams are odd to say the least, as Yasukawa is actually in a faction with her opponents in this match. They wanted to team her with more respectable partners for her last match, but it doesn’t really fit what she has been doing the last year. I predict shenanigans.
Act wants to start and does so as she pairs against her friend Kimura, quickly hitting a reverse STO. Act tries to spit sake (I assume) at Kimura but Kimura puts her hand over Act’s mouth to block it and rolls up Act for two. Wolf comes in and bites Act’s arm before hitting a jumping knee and kick to the back, but Act grabs her tail to trip her. Kato and Hojo come in, they want Act to pose all cute with them but Act pushes them off. They try again and finally get Act to pose (against her will), but Kimura and Holidead run in to even the numbers. Act helps for a moment but then remembers what team she is on, and we get the spot where everyone attacks Act in the corner. Including all the wrestlers are ringside (that is a staple spot in Joshi Retirement Matches). Things resume to “normal” as Holidead comes in but she eats a double dropkick. Sliding D by Hojo to Wolf, she goes up top but Act stops her. Act goes up top instead but Hojo knocks her off. This pisses Act off so she chases Hojo into the crowd, and at some point during all this the referee waves the match off.
Act grabs the mic, and the end result is that the match restarts, but with different teams…
Act Yasukawa and Kyoko Kimura vs. Haruka Kato and Kairi Hojo
Let’s try this again with teams that make more sense. Act and Hojo start off, but they have a stalemate and Hojo tags Kato. Act stretches Kato while Kimura does the same to Hojo, Kimura is tagged in and she slams Kato to the mat. Hojo returns and gets the better of both Kimura and Act, she stays in with Kimura but Kimura drops her with a backbreaker. Kimura tags in Act, missile dropkick by Act to Hojo but Hojo slips away and applies the Stretch Muffler. Act gets out of it and puts Hojo in a submission, but Kato quickly breaks it up. Hojo goes for a spear but Act catches her and applies the neck crank swing for a two count cover. Act goes off the ropes but so does Hojo and she spears Act to the mat. Hojo tags Kato, Kato goes for Act’s arm but Act gets out of it. Act charges Kato but Kato applies the armbar over the top rope, she gets on the second turnbuckle and delivers a crossbody for two. Hojo goes up top and drills Act with a diving elbow drop, but the referee is pulled out of the ring by Holidead. Wolf and Holidead get back in the ring and double team Kato, Act gets on the top turnbuckle and she nails the Swanton Bomb for the three count! Act Yasukawa and Kimura win the match.
Next they had Act Yasukawa’s Retirement Ceremony. If you’ve never seen one, for both male and female wrestlers in Japan these are emotional events. This was more low-key than most Retirement Ceremonies, I don’t have an explanation as to why since she is rather loved by the fan base, but it was just a promo by Act followed by streamers and her being carried away. But it was cut for TV so I don’t know what else went on that we didn’t see. Still sad to watch, and tears were certainly shed in the arena that day.
This match was more about the journey then the in-ring action, but I though that “Part 2” of the match was quite entertaining. I could have done without the original six man tag, it had a few cute spots but mostly was just killing time to get to the regular tag match. Act still looks good, I know she is retiring due to injury but she still could hang with everyone. The ceremony was sad but not as sad as others since it was clipped a bit. A must for any Act Yasukawa fan, but casuals can probably safely skip straight to the second tag team portion. Recommended
World of Stardom Championship
(c) Meiko Satomura vs. Io Shirai
Satomura won the title in July against Kairi Hojo, many thought that Hojo would get a chance to win the title back but here it is Io Shirai challenging for the belt. Shirai of course is the ace of Stardom, so it does make some sense that she would be the one to try to return the title to Stardom before the year ended. Shirai hasn’t been involved in the World of Stardom title picture for a bit so it feels fresh even though she is the top wrestler in the promotion.
After feeling each other out, Satomura hits the first big blows of the match and she goes for Shirai’s leg, but Shirai quickly gets into the ropes. Knees to the gut by Satomura and she works over Shirai on the mat, Shirai returns to her feet but Satomura kicks her square in the head for her trouble. Shirai rolls out of the ring but returns before the count, promptly eating a Satomura suplex. More strikes by Satomura but Shirai flips away from her and dropkicks Satomura out of the ring. Shirai goes off the far ropes and sails out onto Satomura (and other miscellaneous wrestlers) with a plancha suicida. Shirai takes Satomura up the aisle and they brawl near the entrance, Shirai gets up on the balcony and dives down with a moonsault to Satomura! She sticks the landing and smiles, clearly proud of herself.
They return to the ring, Shirai hits the swandive missile dropkick but when she goes for another one, Satomura uppercuts her out of the ring. Satomura goes for a kick but Shirai catches her leg and slams it into the second rope. Shirai dropkicks Satomura out of the ring, she goes up top but Satomura kicks her before she jumps off. Overhead Kick by Satomura and she keeps kicking Shirai until she flops down to the floor. Shirai makes the count again, more kicks by Satomura with a head kick sending Shirai crashing to the mat. Modified STF by Satomura but Shirai gets to the ropes, kicks by Satomura, she goes off the ropes but Shirai catches her with a hurricanrana for a two count. Head kick by Shirai but Satomura returns the favor, Shirai hulks up and they trade elbow shots. Package suplex by Shirai, she goes off the ropes but Satomura kicks her hard in the head again. Cartwheel kneedrop by Satomura, and she covers Shirai for two. Satomura goes for the Death Valley Bomb but Shirai blocks it and hits a piledriver for two. Double knee strike by Shirai and she dropkicks Satomura, but the cover gets another two.
Missile dropkick by Shirai, she goes up top and she delivers a second one as Satomura returns to her feet. Satomura goes for a backdrop suplex but Shirai reverses it into an armtrap crossface. After Satomura gets to the ropes, Shirai goes up top but Satomura joins her and hits a superplex. They slowly get up, slaps by Shirai but Satomura hits a heel kick. Satomura drops Shirai with a backdrop driver, kick to the head by Satomura and she hits another backdrop driver for two. Satomura applies a modified choke hold but Shirai gets into the ropes, strikes but Satomura but Shirai catches her with rolling package suplexes. Shirai goes up top but Satomura gets both feet up on the moonsault attempt, overhead kick by Satomura and she plants Shirai with the Death Valley Bomb for two. She hits a second one, she picks up Shirai but Shirai wiggles away from the third and hits a dragon suplex. Shirai goes up top and she hits Hojo’s Diving Elbow Drop! Shirai goes up top again and nails the moonsault, cover by Shirai and she gets the three count! Io Shirai is the new World of Stardom Champion!
This was an unreal match from start to finish. Satomura may have lost the match but she made sure that Shirai would never forget it as she was just drilling her with kicks the entire match. Shirai, as Ace, has a bit more Fighting Spirit than the average wrestler so is given a bit of leeway, she bounced back quickly but Satomura frequently cut her off anyway. It was just non-stop excitement, even the submissions that are sometimes rest holds here were cranked on so you never got the feeling they were just getting a breather. I wish it actually had gone a few more minutes, which is an odd complaint for a 25 minute match, but I was really enjoying it and didn’t want it to end. A masterful performance by both and one of the top Joshi matches of the year. A must see. Highly Recommended
Final Thoughts: Stardom events are rarely “five star” events, because most of their shows are condensed which leads to half the matches being clipped. Once we got to the meat of the card however, I thought it was a very solid event. The Artist of Stardom Championship match was good mindless fun, and Act’s Retirement was emotional. The main event was fantastic, as they closed the year with the best Joshi match since Satomura vs. Hojo in June. Worth a watch for the last two matches alone, but nothing on the show was offensive.