No titles on the line this show, but two returns and three debuts keep things interesting!

MOMO WATANABE VS ARISU NANASE

Arisu is only fourteen years old, and it’s far too early to judge her in-ring. But looking at the rest of Stardom’s rookies, it’s safe to say she’s in good hands. Fuka trains with everyone on the roster, including Kairi Hojo who was transformed from an absolute mess to a top worker in just four years. By the time Arisu is Hojo’s age, she would have had thirteen years of experience. She’s facing another product of Fuka’s dojo in Momo Watanabe. Momo herself is sixteen, and already an incredibly well rounded competitor with boundless potential. Just like a Young Lion in NJPW, it’ll take a while for Arisu to get a win over anyone above the lower tier rookies. She’s somewhat out of her depth against Momo, but it makes for a good base to showcase her talent.

Arisu is looking mighty impressive already. After watching a lot of classic  All Japan Women and JWP recently, I almost screamed when Arisu pulled out a Cutie Special, innovated by Cutie Suzuki. The crowd are super into it too, and even though Arisu isn’t victorious in her debut, she makes a great impression. Momo gets the win with the Somato. **¼

KRIS WOLF VS STARLIGHT KID

It’s an exciting time in Stardom with the new gajin coming in to shake stuff up (and this batch is especially good), but it’s also great to see so many successful returning wrestlers, the first being Kris Wolf! She was just getting going before being sidelined back in January, hopefully she’ll get back into things and we’ll get to watch her progression continue. I definitely need to see more of her because I just can’t decide where she’s at, having had a mixed bag of matches after nearly two years of experience.

Kris Wolf’s antics verge on the point of cringey for me, but the crowd loves it and her energetic attitude is infectious. She gets the win by catching Starlight Kid in a roll up following up a top rope double knee drop. Welcome back Kris! **

AZUMI VS KAORI YONEYAMA VS NATSUMI MAKI

Azumi is another member of Stardom’s roster that’ll make you groan in jealousy when you find out she’s just thirteen yet so talented. She’s three years younger than me and she’s already a kickass wrestler! Stardom have been doing a lot of multi person matches revolving around Azumi’s Army, and that’s cool to see as a lot of Japanese promotions don’t do them at all.

Azumi sides with her commander first, but Natsumi bribes her with her favourite flavour of gummies and they team up on Kaori. It isn’t long until Natumi’s posturing and “poi poi poi” chant irritate the others and they team up again. This is the usual fun rookie match, not entirely skippable but not a must watch either. Yoneyama rolls up Azumi for the win. **

Azumi then states that the only reason she lost is that she wanted a fair fight, and that handing out gifts was a dirty tactic. Poor Natsumi asks the gummies back, but Azumi says that’d wouldn’t be fair either, throws the mic to the ground and scarpers off with her sweets after telling everyone in the crowd to not buy Maki’s merch. Brilliant. *****

HIROMI MIMURA VS SHANNA

Another awesome debut! I had the pleasure of seeing Shanna vs Hikaru Shida live last January. She’s super talented and after watching more of her matches, I’ve always thought she’d be a great fit in Stardom. I know the drill when it comes to gajin here in Stardom, and since she’s already got a match against Io scheduled it looks like we’re starting on that cycle already, but I really hope she sticks around somehow.

This match isn’t so great though. I don’t know if it is nerves, jetlag, unfamiliarity or a combination of all three, but Shanna isn’t on form. Clumsy delivery of moves and unrealistic set ups that take way too long and take you out of the moment turn this into a bit of a mess. I really hope that she has after training in the dojo, she’ll be do better against Io. Shanna gets going towards the end and nails Mimura with a Perfect Press followed by a straight jacket facebuster.

CANDY CRUSH (KAIRI HOJO + CHELSEA) VS HIROYO MATSUMOTO AND HARUKA KATO

Chelsea’s return to the company was great news. She’s not amazing in-ring, but Candy Crush is really something special. You can feel the friendship between them. They go for their signature holding-hands-double-elbow-drop and Chelsea tackles Hojo into a hug afterwards (I don’t blame her). I have a feeling that it’s going to take a while for her to get back into the swing of things, but again, she’s training in one of the best dojos in the world, and it’s clear that she’s staying in Stardom.

Hojo and Matsumoto are, of course, great together. They’ve got a singles match coming up at Fortune Dream which is sure to be fantastic. Their less experienced other halves are just there to make them look good, although Chelsea gets some offense in. Chelsea is good at some stuff, and then really awful at other stuff. Her expressions and selling is good (if a little loud) and some moves she executes perfectly. Then suddenly she’ll do some Eva Marie-esque moves, like the slowest, softest knee strikes I’ve ever seen and a sort of… running hug? I guess she’s still getting back into things. Hojo hits the diving elbow drop on Kato for the win.***

IO SHIRAI, MAYU IWATANI AND JUNGLE KYONA VS OEDO TAI (KAGETSU, DIOSA ATENEA AND LEAH VAUGHN)

Leah Vaughn of Shine is the latest member of Oedo Tai. From what I’ve seen from her before, she’s fairly mediocre, but I’m open to being turned around, especially as Stardom often brings the best out of people.

Oedo Tai now have five active members, plus Act on the outside, but they still don’t feel like a force to be reckoned with. Io has picked up some new hardware after her journey around Europe.  The SWA Undisputed Woman’s World Title is supposedly meant to represent the four promotions Stardom worked with on their tour. Io became the inaugural winner in a tournament final against Toni Storm (who will be joining Stardom soon), and went on to defend it against Kay Lee Ray in London (who will also be returning). Stardom, or more specifically Io, really didn’t need another belt. If this was a title that someone like Kyona could hold and pass around the promotions then that would work, but instead it’s gone on Io Shirai, who’s hard to beat and already has three titles. There’s so much talent in Stardom, but all the focus has been on Threedom for the past year.

Leah shows that she can hang just fine, and has fun interactions with Mayu before she tags in Kagetsu. Those two make magic together, and I can’t wait for their High Speed Championship match (fingers crossed for a title change eh?). Kagetsu dismantles Thunder Rock until Kyona comes in. Kyona is small and still a rookie, but lots of details within her matches show that she’s at the top of the rookie hierarchy. She’s strong enough to throw anyone around and is too resilient to have the same done to her. Winning the rookie tournament clearly means something, as you get to mix it up with the more established wrestlers and kick the other trainees around for the rest of the year. Miscommunication between Thunder Rock throws the ring into chaos. Kris Wolf has Mayu held up in the ropes and Vaughn is restricting Io from helping either of her partners. Kagetsu hits Kyona over the head with a huge car park sign (?) before rolling her into a jackknife cover for the win. ***¼

Post Match Fallout:

More matches for next show in Nagoya are booked as usual, as well as the show after that in Osaka. Mayu will indeed take on Kagetsu for the High Speed Championship. Kyona takes on Chihiro Hashimoto, a promising young rookie from Sendai Girls, who you might remember from the Stardom vs Sendai Girls match. Before Io can end the show, Shanna comes storming down to the ring. She challenges Io, for the SWA title I believe. She says she strives for perfection, and the only way to continue on that path is to beat one of the best in the world. Io replies simply: “I have no idea what you just said”. She accepts the challenge however and holds her title high, before Hojo strolls in and grabs the mic. “Yeah yeah yeah,” she says, brushing them away to the side. She invites the returning Yoko Bito to a match, which she accepts. If you weren’t watching Stardom while Yoko Bito was active, I’ll just say this, were she not injured, I could easily be talking about the four daughters of Stardom, instead of three.

Thanks for reading! To watch Stardom, you can subscribe to Stardom World on YouTube with a monthly recurring payment of $4.99/£3.99. Shows happen on Saturday and each match is uploaded a day at a time, culminating in Main Event Friday. As well as that, there is plenty of original programming and classic matches. Enjoy!