Stardom “Stardom of Champions 2017”
February 23, 2017
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan

And we are back with another review from Stardom! Thanks to, Stardom is by far the most visible women’s promotion in the world as they upload literally every event they have within a week of it taking place. So far, 10 events have been added in 2017, and with their upcoming schedule that number will be rising very quickly. So if you are looking to get into Joshi, joining Stardom World is the easiest way to do it and is definitely worth the ~$7 a month it costs.

This event also aired on Samurai TV!, so there are two ways to watch it. I watched both versions, but most fans will have to decide which one works best for you. The Stardom World version is shown in full with no clipping, and all the interviews are translated into English. But the event is only filmed with a camera at ringside.

The Samurai TV! version is clipped (not the big matches) and has no translations, but is pro-shot so it has more camera angles and better production. For the sake of the review, I mostly focused on the Stardom World version so I could see the match in full but the GIFs are from the Samurai TV! version.

It has been a few months since I did a Stardom review so this is what we missed since late December:

  • Momo Watanabe hurt her ACL and will be out for a year.
  • 14 year old Azumi joined Queen’s Quest and changed her in-ring name to AZM.

That’s about it. Due to contractual obligations I will be using Star Ratings against my will, remember I use ** = average. I don’t give out stars like candy, so if I have something over *** that generally means it is pretty damn good.

AZM and HZK def. Jaynes and Lucas, Mimura and Nanase, & Yoneyama and Tora

My biggest complaint about some Stardom shows is the wrestlers that aren’t very good are spread throughout the card, but on this show they crammed them all into one match. Which I appreciate. This was an Elimination Tag Match with Over The Top Rope rules, which only came into play for the final fall. The Logic Fail in these matches is too much for me, as wrestlers were tagging themselves in even though it was elimination-style. If I was in the match I’d be happy to stand on the apron and let other teams eliminate themselves, but Stardom wrestlers are too hardcore to do that I guess. The match was fine, and the right team won as the two lower wrestlers in Queen’s Quest couldn’t afford to lose in the opener to a bunch of children, rookies, and jobbers. *1/2

Yoko Bito def. Konami

I always go through this because I never know when I have a new reader – Konami is 20 years old and the only wrestler trained by Kana/Asuka. She debuted two years ago, before Kana left for WWE, and since that time has become one of the most exciting young wrestlers in Japan. Yoko Bito has been wrestling longer but is a bit stiff/awkward at times with her strikes, which is slightly problematic since she is a striker. Still, this is the best I’ve seen Bito as she laid in the strikes a bit more snug than usual.

Konami was the star of the match, I love her style as she is the type of wrestler that never lets her opponent get in sustained offense. She is always sneaking in a sleeper, or an ankle hold, or something just to stop her opponent from getting in too many moves in a row. That stop and go style helps the match not be stale as there is a constant shift of who is in control, it never gets boring. Plus Konami has great kicks and great kicks is my thing. A fun match, and I hope that Konami sticks around in Stardom since I enjoy having such easy access to watching her. ***1/2

SWA World Championship
(c) Toni Storm def. Deonna Purrazzo

This was the only disappointing match on the show for me. Here is the thing – one of my quirks is I want title matches to feel like title matches. I don’t care how many titles a promotion has, that’s their business, but it shouldn’t be so many that their lower rank title matches feel like just another match. Nothing about this felt like a championship match as there was no sense of urgency, it was pretty short for a title match, and Purrazzo never did anything to make it feel important. This could have just been any ol’ gaijin midcard battle.

It isn’t a lack of in-ring skill by either wrestler, the action itself was solid and Toni Storm is a shockingly good wrestler for a 21 year old. It was just flat. The SWA World Championship doesn’t really need to exist since Stardom’s Global Takeover hasn’t really happened, I’m not sure why it does but if it is going to be around they need to do a better job at making the title feel important. Decent match in a vacuum, but a lackluster title match.  **1/2

High Speed Championship
Kris Wolf def. (c) Mayu Iwatani and Kagetsu

I can’t be subjective here, as even though I review events every week like a poorly oiled machine I am still a mere human with my own favorite wrestlers. I have followed Kris Wolf’s career since she debuted, she is a very rare case of a gaijin wrestler that started wrestling in Japan with no prior wrestling experience at all. She overcame many of the usual issues such as starting late in her career and being a smaller wrestler, plus she missed several months due to having concussions. Mayu Iwatani had held the title for 500 days, it was time for her to lose it as she had outgrown the title, but I wasn’t expecting Kris Wolf to win so it was a very pleasant surprise.

As for the match, triple threat matches in Stardom are generally more about having fun, they are more playful affairs and Oedo Tai (the faction both Kris and Kagetsu are in) is a fun-loving heel faction that cheats but not in a hateful way. The match was entertaining but laid back with some comedy spots, the most memorable aspect is Kris Wolf getting a championship more so than the match itself. I loved it, but fans that don’t have that emotional attachment to Kris will probably walk away somewhat entertained but not much more.   ***

Wonder of Stardom Championship
(c) Kairi Hojo def. Jungle Kyona

I can’t drop Five Stars on a match since I don’t normally use stars, but this match probably deserves it. It is a great contrast to the SWA Championship match we had earlier, as here the passion/urgency/importance was palpable. Kyona debuted in fall of 2015 and this is the first big singles match of her career – to say that she delivered would be an understatement. Kairi Hojo’s biggest strength is her emoting and ability to rope in the crowd, but Kyona was right there with her here and both had the fans attention. The 17 minutes just flew by as every moment had meaning, both wrestlers put everything into every motion and expertly mixed in a variety of offense so it never felt repetitive or like they were just killing time.

I loved the ending as Kyona kept crawling to grab Kairi’s ankle to stop her from going up top, showing her level of desperation to prevent Kairi from hitting her big elbow. Kyona is the most ‘under the radar’ wrestler in Japan, since Joshi has a smaller fan base she isn’t talked about nearly as much as she should be; Kyona is already a high end wrestler just a year and a half into her career. I hope this is a “career making” match for Kyona as she deserves more praise, just an amazing match with all the passion and big moments you could hope for.  ****3/4

World of Stardom Championship
(c) Io Shirai def. Shayna Baszler

Io and Baszler had a tough act to follow, but they delivered. The transition from MMA fighter to professional wrestler isn’t always easy, but Baszler made the switch pretty cleanly. Obviously her submission and suplex game is on point, but in this match she showed that her facial expressions/selling have come along as well. Most Io title matches follow a pattern but Baszler made sure that didn’t happen, Io still hit her big spots but Baszler’s focus on the arm changed the dynamic and both were flying around the ring for our amusement.

Io’s character can be confusing, since she is a “heel” in Queen’s Quest but still is the defender against the Gaijin Invasion. Truth is, Io isn’t really a traditional heel – she got tired of carrying Mayu and found a new group, but she is still the Stardom Ace and the leader of the promotion. She doesn’t cheat to win and really doesn’t do anything “heelish” besides occasionally use a weapon and say mean things on the microphone. In a match like this, she is still the fan favorite as she is fighting to keep the belt within Stardom and not let a foreigner take it, one of the oldest storylines in Japanese wrestling.

Baszler actually had a MMA fight two days after this match but she certainly wasn’t taking it easy, which is a big credit to her. Io is just in a different league than everyone else, she is so smooth and dangerous, no one could ever accuse her of coasting or taking it easy in one of her title matches. Good limb work mixed in with big moves and a satisfying ending, not much more that you could hope for and a solid way to end the show.  ****

Final Thoughts:

Best full event I have watched so far in 2017 (mind you, I mostly just watch Joshi and WWE PPVs). Stardom really stacked this one and even though the SWA Championship match was a bit flat the other three title matches delivered. Hopefully the Kyona/Kairi match isn’t forgotten by year-end as I think it deserves praise as a MOTYC (especially in the Joshi department), and the main event was excellent as well. Stardom’s house shows can be iffy but they rarely have a bad show at Korakuen Hall, worth tracking down however you can.

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