Stardom Fukuoka Goddess Festival
May 5, 2022
Fukuoka International Center
Fukuoka, Japan

Stardom is on PPV once again just a week after the finals of the Cinderella Tournament. With the company running Ota Ward again later this month they’ve decided to give some hometown talents the chance to shine in Fukuoka as Maika, Koguma, and Hazuki all challenge for titles in their home region. Meanwhile, Mayu Iwatani looks to complete the Stardom grand slam when she challenges Thekla for the SWA Championship. While the card isn’t blow away on paper, I’ve learned to never doubt Stardom so let’s get right into it.

HINA DEF. WAKA TSUKIYAMA

Pretty standard opener with Hina getting the win over Waka. Waka’s current storyline is all about her quest to get a win for the first time and there’s really no end in sight for that storyline, Waka is such a natural underdog that they could drag it out for as long as they want and she’d still make it work. Hina’s offense is notably quite good and she’s been a joy to watch ever since coming back from her study break ***

STARS (HANAN, SAYA IIDA & MOMO KOHGO) DEF. OEDO TAI (SAKI KASHIMA, RINA & RUAKS)

Pretty standard multi-woman tag stuff that I’ve seen dozens of times across the house shows. Not bad by any means but certainly not PPV-worthy when I’ve seen the same schtick on a random show in Mie. **1/2

COSMIC ANGELS (UNAGI SAYAKA, MINA SHIRAKAWA & TAM NAKANO) DEF. QUEEN’S QUEST (UNAGI SAYAKA, TAM NAKANO & MINA SHIRAKAWA)

I appreciate the effort the Cosmic Angels put in to make this slightly more meaningful than the other multi-woman tag. They’ve been peddling the #Ourvictory4liger tag and came out with Liger masks in hand to put over their desire to win for the show’s special guest commentator Jushin Liger. The match itself was another standard tag that anyone who watched the house show loop will have seen a few times by now.

Unagi Sayaka got the win for her team which I find interesting, I’ve felt that Tam Nakano is being phased out for a while now but now they’re fully presenting Sayaka as the spark of the group which I find interesting. ***1/4

SWA UNDISPUTED WORLD WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
MAYU IWATANI DEF. THEKLA (C) – NEW CHAMPION

This was the first chance Thekla had in this reign to work a match of decent enough length with an opponent that I would consider to be on a suitable level. Nothing against Saki Kashima or Ruaka, but they aren’t Mayu Iwatani. I’ve been singing Thekla’s praises for some time now on Twitter and podcasts so I was glad to see her deliver here in the biggest match she’s had in Stardom to date.

Mayu Iwatani makes history with this win, becoming just the second woman in Stardom history to achieve the grand slam (World of Stardom, Wonder of Stardom, High Speed, SWA, Artist and Goddess titles), with the first of course being Io Shirai. This was a lovely moment for Mayu who couldn’t hold back her joy after winning even with Thekla tearing up over the loss, Mayu will forever be the heart and soul of Stardom and seeing her succeed will always bring a smile to the face of the fans who saw her rise to this level.

For those unaware the SWA Championship has a specific rule, it cannot be defended against someone of the same nationality as the holder (so a Japanese woman cannot challenge a Japanese champion). This presents quite an interesting situation as there’s currently only 3 people in Stardom who can even challenge Mayu, that leads me and most other Stardom fans to believe Mayu will defend the promotion outside of Japan against some outsiders (possibly even former SWA Champion Jamie Hayter). ***3/4

ELIMINATION MATCH
GOD’S EYE (KONAMI, SYURI, AMI SOUREI & MIRAI) DEF. DONNA DEL MONDO (GIULIA, NATSUPOI, MAI SAKURAI & HIMEKA)

This match managed to be good while avoiding giving away some of the better stuff that both teams are capable of. We got brief flurries of Syuri/Himeka, MIRAI/Mai, and even Giulia/Konami but for the most part, some of the better combos like Syuri/Giulia and MIRAI/Himeka were kept apart. Mai Sakurai got  a lot of ring time and she showcased her obvious improvement whether that was opposite Sourei or MIRAI.

God’s Eye winning is probably the right choice, they’re the hot new thing and in Rossy fashion he’s made them unbeatable, and I mean literally unbeatable they haven’t actually lost as a group yet. DDM and God’s Eye will no doubt be at war for some time to come but for a first barrage, this was nice teaser ***1/2

GODDESS OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
HAZUKI & KOGUMA DEF. MOMO WATANABE & STARLIGHT KID (C) – NEW CHAMPIONS

Ok so before I go into detail on this match let me just say that I have a massive appreciation for tag team wrestling. When done well it’s, without doubt, my favorite type of wrestling and this year I’ve been lucky to see amazing tag team matches like Briscoes vs FTR, while I may not put this match on the level of FTR vs Briscoes, it certainly will be in the conversation. This match was almost nonstop action that reminded me of some of the iconic Joshi tags of the mid-90s, just with slightly less brutality of course. While Kid, Hazuki, and Koguma are all happy to work at a quick pace Momo Watanabe was not playing that game and instead focused on kicking FWC into defeat and throwing Hazuki on her head as much as possible. It was the Hazuki and Momo exchanges that really stood out to me as they continued their growing rivalry in the best way with Watanabe again drawing the intense side out of Hazuki as their exchanges wore on.

If I had to make a direct comparison I would say this match is similar to the ALK vs Maika/Himeka Goddess match from last year which had a very similar pace so if you enjoyed that you will likely enjoy this. ****3/4

WONDER OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
SAYA KAMITANI (C) DEF. MAIKA

The rivalry between Saya Kamitani and Maika is one of my favorite in Stardom. The way in which it developed while they both rose up the card makes it feel like one of the most natural grudges in the company. The stylistic clash between the two just adds another layer to things with Maika being the judo-inspired technician and Kamitani the Kota Ibushi-inspired athlete. While it was Maika who originally got the better of Saya for the Future of Stardom Championship, it is Saya who has leaped out in front and claimed one of Stardom’s top two championships first.

This was their first singles proper singles match since September of last year and although that wasn’t very long ago both Saya and Maika have improved noticeably in that time. The pace they worked here was really good and helped this main event feel distinct from Syuri’s big main event matches.

Saya took a lot of punishment with Maika fully embracing her powerhouse nature and hitting some devastating offense including an apron suplex and a powerbomb onto the apron. My biggest praise for Maika has to be how good her offensive maneuvers looked.

All of my other praise goes to Saya Kamitani, who I am ready to proclaim is the best women’s wrestler in the world today. Her big match pacing is second to none and she keeps evolving her offense. Saya Kamitani constantly does new stuff and it almost always comes off perfectly, she’s already got such an array of exciting moves and she just keeps adding more.

Kamitani won with the phoenix splash, her definitive ace in the hole, and a move that has not been kicked out of since she debuted it. ****1/2

FINAL THOUGHTS

It is completely unfair to other promotions that Stardom can put together what is quite visibly a B-tier PPV and have it deliver to this level. Maika vs Saya and FWC vs Momo/Kid were fantastic matches that wouldn’t have been out of place on a top tier PPV. Roll on Ota Ward later this month when we do it all again when Risa Sera challenges Syuri and Saya defends against MIRAI.

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