STARDOM MIDSUMMER CHAMPIONS
JULY 9, 2022
TACHIKAWA STAGE GARDEN
With the impending chaos of the 5STAR Grand Prix on the horizon, Stardom is taking it easy for Stardom MidSummer Champions. With only four titles on the line and some of the card resembling a house show lineup, this one relies on the big matches to deliver.
FUTURE OF STARDOM
HANAN (C) DEF. WAKA TSUKIYAMA
There’s no better way to kick off these PPVs than a Hanan title defense. Hanan has essentially perfected the art of an opening match and always delivers a match that’s good enough to leave us wanting more. Waka’s quest to get her first-ever win in Stardom added a lot to this one as the crowd wanted Waka to win and added a little bit of extra excitement to some of the near falls down the stretch. Hanan won, as you’d expect, but Waka clearly left everything in the ring in her mission to win. ***1/4
GOD’S EYE (MIRAI & AMI SOREI) DEF. QUEEN’S QUEST (UTAMI HAYASHISHITA & MIYU AMASAKI)
One of the staples of Stardom’s recent booking is the attempt to shift a lot of the spotlight towards Miyu Amasaki. She’s main evented 2 of the 3 New Blood events, had her own triumphal homecoming series to get her first win, and gets a lot of shine in tags like this where she teams with Utami Hayashishita. After being paired off with KAIRI the last time out Amasaki was opposite MIRAI here and put in another spirited effort against the Cinderella winner. Your mileage will vary on these tags but when Stardom wants to spotlight someone they will beat you over the head with it as they have done with Amasaki. ***1/4
OEDO TAI (SAKI KASHIMA, FUKIGEN DEATH, RUAKA & RINA) DEF. STARS (MAYU IWATANI, KOGUMA, HAZUKI & SAYA IIDA)
When I said some of the card was ripped from a house show lineup this was the match I meant. Oedo Tai vs STARS multi-woman tags happen a lot and I’ve seen pretty much all of them so there wasn’t much that interested me here. What was great was Rina getting the surprise win over Saya Iida. That’s an interesting result given Iida is a former Future of Stardom Champion. ***
HIGH SPEED CHAMPIONSHIP
AZM (C) DEF. MOMO KOHGO
This was a perfect coming-out party for Kohgo, who put in a fantastic performance opposite one of Stardom’s finest. There were some moments where Kohgo wasn’t quite able to match the speed that AZM is used to working at in these matches but she made up for it by bringing some interesting new moves to the table to kneecap AZM. If Kohgo can get more reps at the high-speed style she would make an excellent pick for champion in the near future. ***3/4
Post Match: Rina gatecrashed the celebration to challenge AZM for the title, which is why she got the win in the previous match. Rina is another fresh face in the High Speed scene and AZM’s third fresh challenger in a row, I’m very interested to see what she can do in a High Speed style match and I must say its refreshing to see Stardom retooling this division after it became quite bare-bones following the Riho disaster.
COSMIC ANGELS (TAM NAKANO, UNAGI SAYAKA, MINA SHIRAKAWA, SAKI & HIKARI SHIMIZU) DEF. DONNA DEL MONDO (GIULIA, MAIKA, HIMEKA, NATSUPOI & MAI SAKURAI)
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this match since it was advertised as the last part of the Nakano/Natsupoi feud but it definitely wasn’t this…The match itself was really fun with most of the exciting pairings getting a chance to interact like Maika and Unagi, Shimizu and Sakurai, and the surprisingly good SAKI and Giulia pairing. The pace was kept quite high throughout which has become a staple of these high-effort PPV tags.
What hurt this was the finish. After feuding with Tam Nakano for months and going at it with her throughout this match Natsupoi turned on Giulia and Donna Del Mondo to hand the win to the Cosmic Angels, it was, of course, a surprising end to the match but why they felt the need to do a massive swerve turn is beyond me.
Natsupoi in the Cosmic Angels is quite fitting since she fits their idol-style group a lot more than Donna Del Mondo and she, like most others in the group, came from Actwres girl’Z (after a stint in TJPW) so she has historic ties to the group. I didn’t really like the execution of the turn at all and it’s not the follow-up I would have wanted after the cage match with Nakano but I get why they did it. ***3/4
WONDER OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
SAYA KAMITANI (C) DEF. STARLIGHT KID
Saya Kamitani and Starlight Kid may have had the best and most interesting limb-work match I’ve ever seen. Typically a wrestler selling the knee early on leads to an emphasis on “psychology” or “storytelling” that ultimately takes away from the action. Here though, both women were able to come back to Saya’s injured knee at key points to great effect without ever relying on tropes to advance the match. Kamitnai deserves a lot of credit because her selling was fantastic from the moment Kid started working over the knee until the match was over.
I believe that Kid and Kamitani have the kind of chemistry that could eventually deliver a Match of The Year caliber contest and while they didn’t hit that level in this match they came damn close. I’m starting to hope this Kamitani reign never ends because there is nobody in 2022 delivering like she is. ****1/2
WORLD OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
SYURI (C) DEF. MOMO WATANABE
Last year these two had what I considered a 5-star match in the finals of the 5STAR Grand Prix. Almost a year later they locked horns again and they immediately rekindled the magic of their last encounter. What I adored about this match was the intensity that shined through in every interaction. From the teasing kicks to start as both attempted to find a good range, to locking up in a way that felt like a battle for power rather than just a typical part of the match, to trading kicks, and onwards until the finish. Pretty much everything Momo and Syuri did came in the name of wanting to cause damage. Even Oedo Tai’s heel interference helped to further the punishment with Watanabe hitting a piledriver onto a table on the outside.
My only issue with what was an otherwise fantastic match is that the wrench spot fell completely flat. Watanabe has used a wrench in her kick pad to win matches and/or completely KO opponents in the past so Syuri kicking out of that should’ve been a much more important beat to the match, instead, the crowd barely seemed to react (not being able to cheer yet likely didn’t help) and the two moved on. If that spot had come off who is to say how high I would’ve been on this one but as it is they delivered a fantastic main event. ****1/2
This show was a pleasant surprise. I was only expecting the top two matches to deliver but Hanan vs. Waka was better than it should have been and Momo Kohgo had her coming out party against AZM. While the Natsupoi turn left me scratching my head there were enough positives to keep me from souring on this show.
Powered by RedCircle