DECEMBER 29, 2021

All roads have been leading to this.  Stardom Dream Queendom at Ryogoku Sumo Hall, everything Stardom has been building up in recent months will come to a head here as Utami Hayashishita and Syuri compete in their long-awaited championship rematch with both the World of Stardom and SWA titles on the line. Not only that but Giulia makes her return to Stardom after a spell on the sidelines with an injury to take on Konami, who herself is having her final match before embarking on a hiatus from pro wrestling.  After their momentum stalled slightly following the 5STAR Grand Prix finals I’m hoping that this show can spark Stardom back to the excellence it was achieving before the Right to Challenge briefcase and Oedo Tai shenanigans ruined my life!


We kicked off the night with STARS’ Hanan taking on Ruaka.  These are two wrestlers that Stardom fans have seen grow before our very eyes.  Ruaka went from a slightly awkward but endearing powerhouse in JAN to a gritty brawler type in Oedo Tai, meanwhile, Hanan has gone from a judo-inspired wrestler to a bonafide future ace contender.  These two getting to open a Sumo Hall show in a title match was a nice moment to showcase Stardom’s homegrown talents, and those who will hopefully lead the company in the future.  The match itself was all about crowning Hanan, she debuted new gear, and a slightly new look, and got to pull out some brand new moves to get the win. Ruaka was a very solid opponent for Hanan to work off of as she was able to beat down Hanan and keep things interesting until it was time for Hanan to fire up and get the win. Overall this was a pretty solid and short match but the execution was great and gave Hanan her well-deserved first title win, but certainly not her last. ***


Mai Sakurai also debuted new gear for this show and while it definitely looks better than her old gear, it wasn’t enough to propel her side to victory.  DDM and Mina/Unagi have had endless amounts of matches against each other this year so it comes as no surprise that they all work really well together at this point.  I really liked what Sakurai brought to the match though, she was presented as a step below everyone else but was willing to fight through it for her team. Until Maika obliterated her that is.

Maika was made to look really good for the entirety of the match and ended it after hitting a Michinoku Driver to EVERY MEMBER of the opposing team.  Her lack of expression as she dumped each Cosmic Angel member on their head was fantastic and the sheer cockiness of her strut to the back post-match was enough to make her come off like a big deal. ***1/2


I was absolutely glued to my screen from the second the bell rang on this match.  The blistering pace and intricacy of their work was the definition of what the High Speed Championship can and should represent.  No one wrestler stood out above the others this was just three masters of the high speed style showcasing themselves and this style they are passionate about.  Natsuki Taiyo would be proud no doubt about it!

Kid pinned Koguma again to move Koguma out of the title picture but it would appear that Kid and AZM are still in each other’s crosshairs.  This Starlight Kid reign is doing wonders for both her and the title, long may it last. ****


This was an emotional rollercoaster from the moment Konami walked out in her Tokyo Syber Squad gear.  Giulia coming out with a “Never End” flag seemingly signed by all of those close to Konami was enough to get the sprinklers going.  That was just the beginning as the match itself and even Giulia’s hair were filled with nods to Konami’s former stablemate Hana Kimura.  Those outside of the Joshi fandom may never fully understand the impact Kimura’s passing had on all of us who watched her bloom into a star with Tokyo Syber Squad. Seeing her memory kept alive in what may be her friend’s final match was a beautiful reminder that much like Konami, Hana will Never End. In addition to Hana, Konami’s former teammate Jungle Kyona, who has left Stardom following an injury, was also subject to an easter egg or two.

From the opening exchange which copied Kimura’s instant classic with Giulia, to the use of the Tiger Lily and Hydrangea, Konami got to end her career by paying tribute to her former stablemates. To me, there’s no better way to go out.   If this is in fact Konami’s last ever match (and she is adamant it’s not, mind you) then she and Giulia produced a magical farewell here. This match is above star ratings in my mind, there’s no sequence of moves or storytelling that could ever make me feel the way this did.


Given the four names involved in this match, I had very high hopes but for a few reasons this didn’t really come close to delivering the greatness that it seemingly promised. One part of it is that Iroha and Iwatani didn’t seem fully on their game, they were mostly just happy to be teaming together at Sumo Hall (the venue Takumi Iroha made her debut in btw) and never seemed interested in this one hitting top gear.  The other thing that held it back was Watanabe abandoning Hazuki and willingly leaving her to the wolves to lose the match. I’m not the biggest proponent for logic in pro wrestling but I’m not sure why Takumi and Mayu were happy to just beat on Mayu’s stablemate 2-on-1 while Watanabe cackled on the outside.  Shouldn’t they as babyfaces go after the heel and fight her, especially since her antics supposedly ticked them off based on Mayu’s post-match promo.

I’m also never a fan of the heel character not caring about a match and just leaving.  If they don’t care, then why should I? Some may say it’s for heat but I’m not sure anyone over the age of 10 gets angry at the heel in these scenarios.

Stardom seemingly got in their own way here much to the detriment of a match that already had a massive hill to climb by following Giulia vs Konami. ***1/4


This match had one goal and one goal only. Crown Saya Kamitani. To me, they did an excellent job of doing just that as Tam Nakano went out of her way to let Kamitani shine with her high-flying offense.  In a reign filled with matches where Nakano overindulged she ended it the right way by selflessly passing the torch to someone that will carry Stardom on her back for many years to come.

For her part, Kamitani lived up to the occasion. Her high-flying offense was as crisp as ever and her heavily protected Phoenix Splash finisher has never looked better. Kamitani has proved to me time and time again this year that she is ready to carry Stardom into the future and they went all-in on crowning her here at Sumo Hall.

I am excited to see what the “Golden Phoneix” does now that she holds one of the top titles in Stardom, much like her AphroditE teammate Utami Hayashishita it will be sink or swim for Kamitani. And I for one, am confident she will flourish in the spotlight and continue her upward trajectory to being one of Stardom’s biggest stars. ****1/4


A few short months ago Syuri and Utami Hayashishita catapulted themselves and Stardom into, well, stardom following their lengthy draw that drew universal acclaim, even becoming the first women’s match in history get over 5 stars from Dave Meltzer. The pressure was on the two to deliver in a match that Stardom has been building to for months now. Did they deliver? Mostly! While I don’t think this match was on the level of their last one it wasn’t a huge step down in quality. They managed to pace out this 35-minute encounter really well with the big moves being worked in from the early stages of the bout. By the time we got to the finishing stretch, they had both been through so much punishment that there was no way of knowing who would win, or how they would get said win.

I do have some criticisms of the match, mostly that Syuri barely utilized her killer striking game which added a lot to their first match.  She is known for her blistering kicks but never really pulled them out in this match despite Utami’s leg being hurt and opening up an easy chance to work in leg kicks.  And that lack of physicality was noticeable to me throughout the match, especially since I’ve SEEN these two have very stiff exchanges in tags throughout the year. Regardless, that didn’t detract too much from the match as they managed to fill the gap with some painful-looking spots.

Syuri winning was a pleasant surprise.  At any other time, an outsider coming and beating one of Stardom’s homegrown stars would have been met with animosity.  Syuri is no normal outsider. The former UFC competitor has been one of the most consistently great Joshi wrestlers on the scene for about a decade now. Her quality has continued to shine through in her Stardom run as she has put in a WOTY level output, no matter the opponent, or the spot on the card.  Seeing Syuri win the title and stand tall to end this Sumo Hall show was a great visual because she has earned this through her decade of quality.

While Syuri will take the spotlight, and rightfully so, Utami Hayashishita can hold her head high.  Hayashishita, much like Nakano earlier in the show, was completely selfless and allowed Syuri to get her career-defining moment. This comes off the back of what many are considering the greatest World of Stardom Championship reign, one which established Hayashishita as the franchise player of Stardom. Utami may have fallen short of her goals this time but there is no doubt she will hold this title again, many times in fact, and will inevitably equal or even beat Io Shirai’s defense record.  Syuri stands tall in the present, but make no mistake Utami Hayashishita has not been in the main event of her last major show. ****1/2


Stardom absolutely knocked it out of the park at Sumo Hall.  For the most part, they let their incredibly talented roster go out there and deliver in the ring without getting in anyone’s way. Heelish antics dragged down the anniversary tag but one miss on a show filled with hits and big title wins is a pretty decent ratio if I do say so myself.  With Syuri and Saya on top of the mountain, I am very interested to see what direction Stardom goes in ahead of their massive doubleheader at Sumo Hall in March.

If I had to recommend anything it would be the High Speed, Wonder, and World title matches as those three showcased some of Stardom’s absolute best and brightest.  I would also tell anyone that was a fan of Tokyo Cyber Squad to watch Giulia vs Konami with tissues in hand as it will be an emotional journey for you all.

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