FEBRUARY 23, 2022
NAGAOKA, NIIGATA, JAPAN
Watch: Stardom World
Future of Stardom Championship
Hanan (c) def. Momo Kohgo
Hanan is already one of the best Future of Stardom Champions yet, which shouldn’t be too shocking seeing that her future is one of the brightest. Her latest defense was against fellow STARS stablemate and Stardom newcomer Momo Kohgo. Kohgo’s offense still needs to be fine-tuned a bit but she has the makings of a real star. The two young guns of STARS exchanged some crisp forearms to show the fire that they both had. At the end of what was a mostly short match, Hanan won with a gnarly Backdrop Driver and bridge. These two weren’t going to have the match of the year or anything but it was a good glimpse of what their futures can be. **¾
Momo Watanabe & Ruaka def. Utami Hayashishita & Lady C
Honestly, the best way to describe this match was a typical tag team bout that you would see on a Stardom house show. The highlights, in a bundle, were the sharp-looking new gear of Lady C and the encounter between Momo Watanabe and Utami Hayashishita. The hatred that they share for one another is exciting for what should be an eventual singles match. Unfortunately, this match was not as good as that match will be. It just kind of… happened. **½
Mayu Iwatani & Tam Nakano def. Saki Kashima & Fukigen Death
If you want to talk about matches that didn’t necessarily need to happen, this one takes the cake. Originally scheduled for two singles matches that became a tag team match due to Saki Kashima just feeling like it, these two teams had what can be called an enjoyable match. Watching Mayu Iwatani and Tam Nakano work together again was the main draw in this one. They were smiling and having fun out there before beating Kashima and Death in a quick fashion. No complaints from this one as it was exactly what you’d expect for a match with no stakes. **½
Syuri, Maika & Himeka vs. Giulia, MIRAI & Thekla ends in a Draw
Donna del Mondo did not implode. That’s the good news. The better news is that these six ladies killed it in what was one of the better draws you will see this year. Syuri vs. Giulia was understandably the main story to follow. As their upcoming World of Stardom Championship match approaches at Stardom World Climax ~The Best~, these two combated each other as if they were bitter enemies. Syuri has a knack for doing this to her Donna del Mondo stablemates (see poor Maika in the 5 STAR Grand Prix) so it did not come as a shock when Giulia was on the receiving end of spine-cracking kick after kick.
But it would be unfair to not shout out the other wrestler who stood out the most. MIRAI feels more at home in Stardom after every match she completes. The intensity that she channels should leave other roster members envious. It’s almost unmatchable. MIRAI’s exchanges with all three showed that there are more major matches to happen as she keeps improving. The closing minutes of this one came down to Syuri and Giulia. Back and forth they went before the final bell rang. The closing image of them staring down one another with the World of Stardom Championship in the middle of them told the story that this is going to be a special match. Overall though, this trios match was worth the watch as Donna del Mondo never fails to light it up and deliver. ****
Goddess of Stardom Championship
Hazuki & Koguma (c) def. Unagi Sayaka & Mina Shirakawa
If the Goddess of Stardom Championship match was to be defined by one word, it’d be solid. The problem for these four was that it was placed in the middle of what would be the top three matches on the card. It’s hard to overcome that no matter the performance. Hazuki and Unagi Sayaka’s unbelievable chemistry shined through here as the exchange of big boots they had was the best of anything in this match. They weren’t just brushing the face of their opponent but hitting it with force and meaning. Hazuki’s Vertical Drop Brainbuster followed by a picture-perfect Top-Rope Splash by Koguma managed to give FWC V2 on the night. The match was really good, it just wasn’t the semi-main or main event. ***¾
AZM def. Starlight Kid (c)
Professional wrestling companies get incredibly lucky when they stumble upon wrestlers who click with one another. They experience a once-in-a-lifetime situation when they have two wrestlers who will be rivals for their whole careers. Well, that’s what Stardom has with Starlight Kid and AZM. The story has many twists and turns to it but what it always has come down to is great in-ring work that brings the idea of high-speed to centerstage. This, however, was their most important stage to work on as they got the semi-main event at Cinderella Journey. They didn’t exceed expectations. They lapped those expectations with the best match of both women’s careers in one of the best high-speed matches of all time.
The difficulty to combine the elegance and beauty of a high-speed match with the hatred of what their rivalry has become was the biggest hurdle that Kid and AZM had to play with. Good news for them is that they somehow mixed that elegance with the hatred to leave all of us fans on the edge of our seats from the moment the bell rang. Every near fall felt like it was the final fall. You couldn’t look away otherwise you were going to miss something special. The art in what they accomplished is that nothing felt out of place. Each jaw-dropping maneuver was hit as the drama picked up more and more as the match went on. It was a match that if you were on someone’s side, the heart was pumping fast at the fear they were going to lose. When AZM hit the double roll through Azumi Sushi, it felt like the end had arrived. Silly us as Kid managed to kick out at 2.9. There was also a point where Kid hit a stunning Avalanche Spanish Fly that was immediately countered into a Fujiwara Armbar by AZM. A jump out of your chair type moment right there.
The match came to its wild finish as AZM locked on the Numero Uno, forcing Starlight Kid to give up once and for all. As they both sat there exhausted, they had to feel as though they achieved something magical in the wrestling ring. These two aren’t just the future, they are the present. AZM and Starlight Kid are generational rivals who have just written the best chapter of their storied rivalry thus far. The scariest part? They haven’t scratched the surface of what they can and will do. For my money, this was the match of the night and one of the best we will see all year long. ****¾
Wonder of Stardom Championship
Saya Kamitani (c) def. Natsupoi
Anytime there is a match that is as good as what the semi-main event was, it’s brutally difficult to follow it up. Well, Saya Kamitani and Natsupoi welcomed that challenge with open arms Wednesday as they managed to put on one hell of a show. The greatness of what these two did was channel both of their strengths and they never swayed away from those. Kamitani never fails to remind the world how special she is. In this very match, “The Golden Phoenix” pulled off some amazing feats on offense and defense. The jaw-dropper of them all may have been landing on her feet as Natsupoi attempted to hit a German Suplex to Kamitani off the second rope. Not only did she land on her feet but managed to turn that into offense. Natsupoi would eventually get the German Suplex from the middle rope, which absolutely folded Kamitani in half.
Many will agree that the spot of the match will be the picture-perfect Fairy Blink roll-up by Natsupoi, who got the closest near fall you will ever see. If Kamitani did kick out on time, it was at 2.99 seconds. It was that close. The match would come to an end as Kamitani would hit the Star Crusher followed up by the Phoenix Splash, pinning the resilient Natsupoi to defend her championship for the second time.
If you didn’t watch this match, go do so. If you did, congrats on witnessing something special. Kamitani has found her groove and sees no end in sight the way she is going right now. It just barely gets edged for match of the night as the semi-main event had the history behind it to lift it up a bit more but if anyone found this match to be better, it would make all the sense in the world. Tremendous stuff. ****½
If you call yourself a professional wrestling fan then you must watch these last two matches. Not only do they perfectly highlight what makes Stardom the fastest-rising company in Japan but they highlight some of the best pro wrestling in the world. The show was an absolute hit and now all roads lead to Stardom World Climax. A two-night event in Ryogoku Sumo Hall that features the return of KAIRI to a Stardom ring, Syuri and Saya Kamitani defending their titles twice, and plenty more that has yet to be revealed. Get on the bandwagon now before it’s way too late.
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