NAGOYA SUPEREME FIGHT
JANUARY 29, 2022
Watch: Stardom World
Stardom holds its first Pay-Per-View event of 2022 with a fresh lineup of champions, newcomers, and all eyes set on the doubleheader at Sumo Hall in March. Stardom Dream Queendom served as a culmination for just about every major Stardom arc so I’m interested to see what stuff this show sets up and what things are carried over from last year.
FUTURE OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
HANAN (C) DEF. LADY C
Hanan made the first defense of her title here and the two delivered a fairly solid opening match. Hanan can hopefully move on to more interesting opponents from here. **1/2
As I always say it is rare for me to give an angle its own heading but this deserved one. The hardcore/deathmatch Joshi unit Prominence made their shocking debut in Stardom and immediately went after the top dog’s Donna Del Mondo. The main point of contention is between Suzu Suzuki and Giulia. For those not in the know, Suzu Suzuki is a teenage prodigy who was fast-tracked to the ICExinfinity Championship in Ice Ribbon, she was one of the breakout Joshi stars of 2020 and seemed primed to become the future ace of Ice Ribbon, the promotion that Gulia controversially left to join Stardom. This all changed when Suzuki alongside veteran Risa Sera, Akane Fujita, Mochi Miyagi, and Kurumi Hiiragi departed Ice Ribbon at the end of 2021 to form their own promotion/unit Prominence which would allow them to fully explore their passion for deathmatches.
It is safe to say that the Prominence split has been one of the major stories in the Joshi world over the past few months and it culminating in their arrival in Stardom to feud with top star Giulia is a huge moment. This feud is already incredibly heated as Giulia and Suzuki held back none of their hatred for one another. With Giulia unlikely to win the World of Stardom Championship until the tail end of 2022 this feud is a great way to keep her relevant and raise her stock while hopefully giving the world a Suzu Suzuki vs Giulia match that once seemed impossible.
I have no idea how long Prominence will be working with Stardom but this is a major move by Stardom who continues to utilize partnerships with smaller groups to perfection.
OEDO TAI (MOMO WATANABE & STARLIGHT KID) DEF. QUEEN’S QUEST (AZM & UTAMI HAYASHISHITA)
This is one of the few stories that has carried on through Stardom Dream Queendom as QQ continues their search for revenge on Momo Watanabe. Given its low placement on the card there was nothing too crazy to this match beyond everyone doing some good work and Oedo Tai’s heel shenanigans continuing to build heat for the inevitable Utami vs Momo blowoff. Starlight Kid pinned AZM which isn’t what I would have done but I guess Momo actually getting falls isn’t part of the plan after her big heel turn. ***
SWA UNDISPUTED WORLD WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
THEKLA DEF. MINA SHIRAKAWA
The SWA Championship was not vacant for long as newcomer Thekla and Mina Shirakawa each staked their claim to win the title. It was Thekla who came away with the deserved win here after a fun match. As we saw in the build to this match Thekla and Mina play off each other very well in just about every way and that carried over to this match where there were some really fun exchanges and solid character work to go with it.
Thekla winning is a strong choice, she’s been nothing short of a star since debuting in Stardom earlier this month and a solid run as SWA Champion should raise her stock alongside her prominent spot in the DDM vs Prominence feud. ***1/4
GODDESS OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
FWC (HAZUKI & KOGUMA) DEF. DONNA DEL MONDO (HIMEKA & MAIKA)
I liked this match but I felt that it ended just as I was really getting into it. The out of nowhere finish was well done and I always appreciate doing something surprising like that but it definitely put a cap on how good this match can be. Based on some of the post-match comments I don’t think this is the last we’ll see of this pairing and if given the chance to go all out I have no doubts they could put on a show stealer but for now, this was what it was and I had a good time. ***1/4
WONDER OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
SAYA KAMITANI (C) DEF. UNAGI SAYAKA
This was Kamitani’s first defense and as such, it was never in doubt that she would be retaining. The main goal was for these two to deliver a good match, and they kind of accomplished that. This was almost two completely different matches in one, they went from being on different wavelengths early on to doing some pretty fun stuff down the stretch. I have to give a lot of credit to Saya as I felt her performance was pretty good although she isn’t quite at the level where she can raise up a lesser opponent. Unagi is someone that excels in certain spots but this match, which was basically a Saya match, didn’t play to her strengths all that much and left her looking out of her depth at points. That’s pretty disappointing because I know Sayaka has more to show than what we got here.
This is the third or fourth time that Saya and Unagi have wrestled one-on-one on PPV and each time I’ve come away thinking it was merely good. The last time I reviewed them I even mentioned that they might just have bad chemistry which I’m starting to believe is the case. That worries me, largely because I’m pretty sure that Sayaka will be the one to take this title off Kamitani and knowing Stardom that means they’ll have at least two more high-profile singles matches this year. Hopefully, they can find a match formula that works for them because so far they have yet to find one that allowed both to flourish. ***1/4
GIULIA VS MAYU IWATANI – TIME LIMIT DRAW
Originally this was supposed to be a three-way match featuring Tam Nakano which would decide the two challengers for the World of Stardom Championship on days 1 and 2 of Stardom World Climax. With Nakano pulled from the show last minute this was changed to a singles match with a number one contender stipulation still in play. I should have known then and there that this was going to be a draw, I should have seen that coming, this is Stardom after all and we see draws on almost every show.
This match has drawn some massive hype from the Stardom fanbase with many hailing it as an early Match Of The Year contender, and I can see why. They did quite a lot of stuff and took some nasty bumps, especially down the stretch. The final stretch was like an extended sequence of all-out war. But, I didn’t really love this match, it lost me at a certain point and never did anything to pull me back in. That’s a common issue with Giulia when she does the extended finishing stretch, unless she has an opponent like Tam to force her into greatness she tends to just do stuff without any of it ever being given a moment to settle in.
Mayu and Giulia have had great matches in the past, matches I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, but I will have to be the downer on this one and say that yes, it was very good, but no it isn’t a MOTY
The draw finish is what it is, I find it’s becoming an overused crutch by Rossy to avoid having some people take losses but in this case, with Nakano being pulled from the show late and them needing two challengers I can’t complain too much even if I would’ve simply had Mayu win and Giulia face Tam for the other spot at a later date. ***3/4
WORLD OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
SYURI (C) DEF. MIRAI
Stardom is pretty ballsy when you think about it. They put brand new signing MIRAI in the main event of a pay-per-view in a world title match, a woman who was on a slow burn push up the card in TJPW and hadn’t yet been in any massive main event singles matches, and also, she debuted in May 2019! And yet, Rossy Ogawa put her in there in the big spot. For all his faults you can never accuse Rossy of being too hesitant to let someone young and fresh run with the ball.
How did MIRAI do in this spot? Pretty good! She didn’t put in any kind of world-beating performance but she showcased herself just enough to remind everyone that she will be a top star in future. Her offense is really good, she grapples well, she had intensity, and she had a charisma and star aura that was missing when she first made the move to Stardom earlier this month. She’s very quickly settled in and shown all the traits that made TJPW so high on her, they had her in a long-term feud with Aja Kong which says enough about how they viewed her.
I must give credit to Syuri here. For what feels like the umpteenth time in recent memory she put on a masterful performance in this main event. She controlled the match and its pacing while playing into MIRAI’s strengths and giving her a lot of room to shine. When it was time to take it home she put her stablemate down without mercy but for 25 minutes leading into the finish, she did all she could to have a great main event match and put over MIRAI as a future star. ****1/2
I think overall this show was a bit of a miss for Stardom. A lot of the matches either didn’t work or weren’t really given enough time to shine, it’s a show that really missed a really good Starlight Kid High Speed match or really good trios match to just beef things up a bit more in the undercard. In saying that I understand that this show was about kicking off new storytelling cycles and they did that with whatever FWC/MaiHime do going forward, continuing QQ/Momo, adding a chapter to Unagi/Saya, and of course the beginning of MIRAI’s inevitable rise to Stardom. They made some good moves that have me excited like Thekla as SWA Champion which should be fun and of course the Prominence debut which makes up for basically any shortcomings this show may have had. I can definitely see others coming away more positive from this show especially if they enjoyed Unagi/Saya and Mayu/Giulia more than I.
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