STARDOM FIGHT IN THE TOP
JUNE 26, 2022
NAGOYA CONGRESS CENTER EVENT HALL
We kick off a stretch of four Stardom PPVs in the space of a month with Stardom Fight in The Top. This card is sold entirely on the promise of the first two cage matches in Stardom history with Tam Nakano vs Natsupoi and STARS vs Queen’s Quest both taking place inside the confines of a steel cage. The rest of the card is standard house show fodder outside of the loaded Artist of Stardom title match. Can this card deliver a full show of good wrestling or will it be saved entirely by the final three matches?
Let’s find out!
RUAKA DEF. WAKA TSUKIYAMA, & UNAGI SAYAKA
Stardom PPV openers are generally pretty solid but this was totally uninspiring. Some of the three-way spots were very telegraphed and the crowd never really bought into Waka’s quest for a win the way most crowds do nowadays. **1/2
Stardom in Showcase: Before we could get started with our second match a video played of Saya Kamitani running away from a masked assailant who attacked Rossy Ogawa in a video posted to Stardom’s Twitter. The masked person, who can seemingly control the lights found Kamitani who led the attacker back to Rossy again who was choked out for a second time, the assailant then choked out Saya Kamitani…..Yeah. This is one way to hype up your new brand of shows
STARS (SAYA IIDA & MOMO KOHGO) DEF. QUEEN’S QUEST (MIYU AMASAKI & LADY C)
I’ve got to give credit to Stardom for being so willing to put so many of their less experienced wrestlers in a tag together and then give them just shy of 9 minutes. The result was a solid if unspectacular tag match with nothing to really praise or criticize aside from Lady C and Saya Iida doing a pretty fun chop exchange. Iida winning with an armbar directly passed down from Yuji Nagata was a cool moment and it adds a submission finish to Iida’s repertoire. **3/4
HIMEKA DEF. MINA SHIRAKAWA
Both women did good work here with what was a thrown-together midcard feud. Shirakawa trying to steal the win and wearing down Himeka’s knee was a sound strategy until Himeka proved that her wrestling skills are on par with her power. The finish came absolutely out of nowhere which is a credit to both women as it’s one of the more creative finishes I’ve seen in some time. ***1/4
ELIMINATION THREE-WAY ARTIST OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
OEDO TAI (STARLIGHT KID, MOMO WATANABE & SAKI KASHIMA) (C) DEF. GOD’S EYE (SYURI, MIRAI & AMI SOREI) & DONNA DEL MONDO (GIULIA, MAIKA & MAI SAKURAI)
At this stage, we all know what to expect from Stardom’s trios title division. Oedo Tai’s first defense just falls short of the excellent match they won them in, but not by much. Like most other Artist matches this was wrestled at a high pace with a lot of fluid wrestling involved, it’s a style that’s incredibly pleasing to watch when done well, and Stardom’s roster does it better than anyone. ****
TAM NAKANO DEF. NATSUPOI
I’ve already seen this one run the gauntlet of takes from it being hailed as a Match of The Year Contender to it being a boring slog that never really got going. I’m more leaning towards the latter, for a few reasons. The biggest issue I had with this match was they sold it as a brutal and draining fight that saw both women unleash hell on one another, but I’ve seen both have much more brutal matches without the surroundings of a cage. Heck, watch Tam Nakano vs Giulia from last year and tell me that this cage match was even half as brutal. In addition, I’m a classic Joshi fan, I’ve seen Bull Nakano and Aja Kong have bloody wars inside the confines of a steel cage, Nakano and Poi brought about 10% of that violence to this one.
I tend to love what Nakano and Natsupoi do when they’re in the ring together but this one completely missed the mark, even if I respect what they were attempting to do. ***1/4
STARS (KOGUMA, MAYU IWATANI & HAZUKI) DEF. QUEEN’S QUEST (AZM, UTAMI HAYASHISHITA & SAYA KAMITANI)
At this stage, I think most people are over spotfest cage matches. We’ve all seen people dive off of a cage a dozen times at this stage, almost anything that interesting that can be done in a cage match has been done by now. This reality really worked against these six as they didn’t have anything new to bring to the table, the match was highlighted by Hazuki jumping off the cage, AZM hitting a double foot stomp off the cage, and Koguma diving to the floor (onto a pool of about 8 people) for the win. I appreciate the spectacle of those spots and they certainly worked on the live crowd but at this stage of my fandom I’m so over people jumping off of things that it had very little impact on me. Aside from those massive spots I felt the cage setting really restricted the actual wrestling as these two teams could sleepwalk their way to a 4-star match any day they want but with the cage in play, it stunted a lot of the action. ***3/4
This was…a show. And honestly, it was never going to be much more than that. Stardom didn’t load up this card for a statement show nor did they load it up with anything storyline-heavy, they just wanted to run some cage matches and sell some tickets. In which case, job done. According to a tweet from Stardom, this show broke their attendance record for the Nagoya region with a healthy 1,213 people in attendance so the cage matches clearly drew interest without having to really give away any huge matches. While I didn’t love either cage match I did to see a crazy fun Artist title match and that’s all I need to consider this a decent show.
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