MARCH 27, 2022

Future of Stardom Championship
Hanan (c) def. Mai Sakurai

Hanan has quickly established herself as the best Future of Stardom Champion and much of it is due to her continuous ability to make the title feel like it matters. After Saya Iida had to relinquish the belt a year ago, the title took a serious backseat with no one holding it of a reasonable margin before Mina Shirakawa would win the title through the tournament Stardom conducted. Since defeating Ruaka at Stardom Dream Queendom, Hanan has been the perfect opener for Stardom PPVs. Her match with Rina at Stardom World Climax ~ The Best ~ was potentially the best match in the history of the belt. Facing Mai Sakurai, Hanan managed to bring out one of the best performances Sakurai has had since joining Stardom. It’s not a match where you need to go see it but certainly one which shows how great Hanan is for the Future Division. **½

Cinderella Rumble
Mei Suruga def. Unagi Sayaka, Mina Shirakawa, Waka Tsukiyama, Lady C, Nanami, Maria, Ai Houzan, Saya Iida, Momo Kohgo, Ruaka, Saki Kashima, Rina, Miyu Amasaki, Aoi, Tomoka Inaba, Yuna Mizumori, and Haruka Umesaki

Any form of Stardom battle royal is often a mess that carries a ton of fun moments and absurdity with it. Stardom World Climax had its version in the Cinderella Rumble, which was all about the future of Joshi with a number of names who participated in the NEW BLOOD 1 show taking part. There were some notable moments but none more than when the final three competed against one another. Unagi Sayaka, last year’s rumble winner, managed to get to the final three and looked locked in to win again. To her surprise, she was eliminated by Stardom rookie Miyu Amasaki to leave it down to Mei Suruga and the girl who had less than ten matches to her name. Suruga managed to escape with the win and would use it to challenge AZM to a High-Speed Championship match later in the night. *½

Utami Hayashishita def. MIRAI

After what MIRAI was able to do against Saya Iida on day one of Stardom World Climax, it felt she was only going to continue building on that with the major opportunity of facing Utami Hayashishita. Hayashishita, fresh off a loss to Saya Kamitani, needed this win more than MIRAI. After all, she was now 0-2 inside Ryogoku Sumo Hall and had no momentum to speak of. Well, she clearly was aware of her shortcomings when she faced MIRAI. “The Red Queen” brought it to Donna del Mondo’s resident soul fighter, giving her little chance to garner much offense after the first few minutes of the match. They traded some impressive blows in the early morning but once Hayashishita locked on the Sleeper Hold, MIRAI had no other choice but to tap out and accept defeat to the former World of Stardom Champion.

MIRAI has now wrestled Syuri and Hayashishita on PPV since joining the company in January. Neither of them turned out to be wins but they should be building blocks as MIRAI continues to evolve. Overall, the match was good but surely can be better and will be the next time these women two throw down. ***

Momo Watanabe def. Hazuki

To no one’s surprise, Momo Watanabe and Hazuki had a great match filled with intensity and energy that no other singles match had. Understandable as there was no one who wrestled one another with the history these two had. Watanabe and Hazuki were battering each other from the opening bell. Hazuki brought something out of Watanabe only a few have been able to in recent memory. “The Black Peach” was forced into “murder” mode in the sense that by the end of the match, every move Watanabe was hitting had brutal intentions behind it. Hazuki hit an echoing headbutt on Watanabe during the match that left me wincing in my chair.

The closing stretch by Watanabe was perfect. A Reverse B-Driver, Tequila Sunrise, and a Peach Sunrise in a back-to-back-to-back sequence was enough to leave Hazuki staring up at the lights for the night. Watanabe and Hazuki brought out the best singles performances of each other’s year thus far. ****

High-Speed Championship
AZM (c) def. Koguma and Natsupoi

High-Speed Championship matches are at their best when AZM is in the match. Already establishing herself to be one of the best high-speed wrestlers in Joshi history with the signature win over Starlight Kid at Cinderella Journey, she was able to shine again against Koguma and Natsupoi. Often times the best way to explain these triple threat high-speed matches is to call them a blitz. It’s a non-stop rush where each woman pulls off a sequence or move that is utterly jaw-dropping. Watching this live, the match gave the impression AZM may have been losing the title with the amount of spectacular near falls they had. Thankfully the second High-Speed Championship reign of AZM will live on as a trusty Azumi Sushi to Natsupoi gained the win for the champion.

Trying to review a match where notetaking is impossible and trying to appreciate all they accomplish in such a short fashion will never be easy. Go watch for yourself to appreciate the complexity of what these three produced in this one. ***¾

KAIRI def. Starlight Kid

KAIRI is not only back but she feels like she is going to be better than ever.

That is the biggest takeaway from her first weekend back in Stardom. After a dazzling tag team match on day one where she and Mayu Iwatani defeated Unagi Sayaka and Tam Nakano, it was time for the singles return against Starlight Kid. I was always on board with the idea Kid was the perfect first singles opponent for KAIRI and she verified it with this performance. Seeing how big of a shadow KAIRI can cast, it was going to take someone with the personality to stand out and shine even in defeat — Kid was exactly that. The crowd was invested from the opening bell and the heelish Kid ran with it. These two had a staredown on top of each corner turnbuckle before colliding in the middle of the ring. It was a pro-KAIRI fanbase as expected but Kid had zero problems mocking them.

If you were hoping for all the KAIRI hits, you got them. She locked on a gnarly Ikari where her head was essentially touching Kid’s back as she wrenched back on the crossed legs. The Spinning Backfist she teased hitting at Korakuen Hall on Kid was finally hit, nearly knocking the mask off her as result. As accustomed to any KAIRI match, it was finished off with the stunning Insane Elbow. “The Pirate Princess” returned with class, violence, and two great return matches at Stardom World Climax. Can’t ask for more than that. ****¼

Giulia, Himeka, Maika & Thekla def. Suzu Suzuki, Risa Sera, Akane Fujita & Mochi Miyagi

Heading into the match of Donna del Mondo vs. Prominence, the selling point was the rivalry between Giulia and Suzu Suzuki. History that goes far beyond Stardom and into Ice Ribbon made these two want to do nothing but destroy the other. Risa Sera has her problems with Giulia and all but it was always about the former friends turned enemies. If you felt this way going into the match, the other competitors in this match must’ve felt the same also. After the opening minutes of brawling around ringside, it became the Giulia vs. Suzu show in no time. For what had to be ten straight minutes, these two took liberties with one another showing no care in the world. Suzuki was hitting Giulia with all those frustrations she had built up after Giulia left her for Stardom.

Suzuki’s perseverance and necessity to hurt Giulia was what made Giulia stop treating her like a kid. Instead, she was treated like an equal or more so… a rival. It was all she wanted from this and she got it. Giulia responded to all of these attacks in the early going by trying to decimate Suzuki in short order. How could anyone not watch these two and want anything but more? The headbutts in this fight would give you all the reason to hope this is only the beginning. Giulia was done with Suzuki after a while. She’d hit a Glorious Driver on her former friend and had the match won but felt it wasn’t enough punishment. Suzuki would battle back with a great German Suplex before Mochi Miyagi tagged herself in.

A Northern Lights Bomb a few more minutes later by Giulia would win Donna del Mondo the match but surely didn’t feel to be the end of this war. Hopefully, it’s only the beginning in Prominence’s (especially Suzu) involvement with Stardom. ****

Wonder of Stardom Championship
Saya Kamitani (c) def. Tam Nakano

Sure feels like fans were aiming to find a “Match of the Year” contender on one of these two nights and while ~ The Best ~ just barely missed the mark with the main event, the Wonder of Stardom Championship affair at ~ The Top ~ secured its spot in the conversation. Saya Kamitani and Tam Nakano had four singles matches in 2021. The best encounter came at Stardom Dream Queendom when Kamitani finally won the Wonder of Stardom Championship. They wrestled Kamitani’s match and it was filled with crazy moves and a dramatic ending fitting of a title change. So how were these two not only going to try and top that match but also do it with the likelihood there would not be a title change? Be out of their minds — that’s how.

It goes without saying these two have immense chemistry. So much so they have complete trust in one another to shine brighter and brighter. Nakano’s best work comes when she is driven and she was as driven as she was when defeating Giulia for the title at All Star Dream Cinderella over a year ago. There were two moments in this match that will be remembered for days, weeks, months, maybe forever. Kamitani’s Frankensteiner to Nakano from the top rope down to the floor was terrifyingly beautiful. Both of them went crashing to the floor and it was a real moment. Nakano, of course, couldn’t be overlooked in terms of craziness. “The Shining Dream” of Stardom hit a Violet Shoot out on the floor near the balcony area in the Sumo Hall.

The psychotic dreamer in Nakano came out as she climbed to the top and before you knew it was crashing down on Kamitani and the rest of the roster. Once they got back into the ring, it was just craziness after craziness from there on out. Kamitani missed the Phoenix Splash, Nakano couldn’t hit the Twilight Dream but did hit the Violet Screwdriver for a brilliant near fall. As the “The Golden Phoenix” attempted to hit her La Sombra Bomb, Nakano managed to roll through but it was met with another roll through by Kamitani who would get the pinfall in the end.

Words don’t do this match justice. It was the match of Stardom World Climax for a reason. Saya Kamitani is as special as they come and is having a title run for the ages already. Watch this ASAP. ****¾

World of Stardom Championship
Syuri (c) def. Mayu Iwatani

Syuri has been the best wrestler in the world for a while now. There’s a reason she is the reigning World of Stardom Champion and trusted in every single main event of Stardom’s biggest shows. Her star rose more than ever after the critically-acclaimed classic with Utami Hayashishita at Tokyo Dream Cinderella last year. Somehow though, Syuri didn’t take her one movement and move on. She grew, she got better, and she became the best. It’s a neck and neck conversation between Syuri and Shingo Takagi when it comes to the best of the best in the last 365 days. One night after a brutal, personal war with Giulia, Syuri faced “The Icon” Mayu Iwatani to round up Stardom World Climax.

This was Iwatani’s first shot at the World of Stardom Championship since losing it at the end of 2020 and she was going to do all she could to rise to the occasion. Thinking out loud, this match didn’t reach the high expectations I personally set for it as a potential match of the year contender but it was still great. Shocking, I know. Syuri and Iwatani went out there and supplied a Ryogoku Sumo Hall-worthy main event. The champion’s determination to attack Iwatani’s taped-up knee led to a finish no one could have predicted. Iwatani, the heart of Stardom, never gives up even when the pain is too much. As Syuri locked on the second Stretch Muffler of the match to bend Iwatani’s knee to the point where she should have tapped or called it off.

Rather than doing so, the referee ended the match before Syuri snapped the leg of “The Icon.” The win for Syuri can and will be a reign-defining one. The World of Stardom Champion signed with Stardom exclusively when she failed to capture the title in her first opportunity against Iwatani in 2020. Now she has the title, it’s all about continuing her legendary dominance as she solidifies herself as one of the best wrestlers in Stardom history. ****¼

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