FEBRUARY 4, 2023

Watch: PPV

Saki Kashima won the Naniwa Roulette

The Naniwa Roulette, while long, proved to be a grand creation by the one and only Mayu Iwatani. And maybe it worked so well because she was the one who had to start both the match and STARDOM Supreme Fight. It only felt right that “The Icon” was the first wrestler out with STARDOM having cheering for the first time since 2020 but she couldn’t appreciate it until the match got going as she was nowhere near prepared to actually compete. The match itself had a good mix of silliness, seriousness, and everything in between.

The best bouts of the match came from Iwatani vs. Tam Nakano, Mina Shirakawa vs. Natsupoi, and Mariah May vs. Thekla. Credit to them all before it was Saki Kashima who pinned the one-off Billiken Death to get the win and title opportunity. She picked the High-Speed Championship and that should make for an interesting battle with AZM. This match style is worth bringing back. ***¼

Triangle Derby I
Classmates (Hazuki, Saya Iida & Koguma) (4) def. Unique Glare (Starlight Kid, Ruaka & Haruka Umesaki) (4)

What an arena full of noise can do is enhance a match in all the right ways. This was a case of that. The Triangle Derby I has been a consistent run of good to really good matches but nothing to that top level. And this isn’t to say this match got to the top level either, but the atmosphere this had tells you that plenty of other matches in this tournament can and will the rest of the way. Hazuki was the star of the match as she had the crowd in the palm of her hands for everything she did.

The closing, high-speed sequence before Starlight Kid and Koguma wrapped up this match in a fun, exciting way. Not much to write home about other than it being a good undercard match. ***½

God’s Eye (Konami, Syuri & Ami Sourei) def. Queen’s Quest (Utami Hayashishita, AZM & Lady C)

STARDOM Supreme Fight marked another return for Konami to pro wrestling and we are all better for it. Every single time she comes out of her hiatus, she not only shows that she’s still at the top of her game but may be better than ever before–at least she shows that in spurts. She’s beyond impressive for someone wrestling once every three months at most and seeing her get in there with Queen’s Quest was a joy to watch.

Seeing Syuri in an undercard match with no gold remains one of the oddest parts of STARDOM shows as her importance over the last two years can’t be ignored. It’s just weird, and like Utami Hayashishita at the beginning of 2022, we’ll have to get used to it. Like the trios match prior, it had good action with Konami getting the win as she shined again. ***½

Chihiro Hashimoto def. MIRAI

A struggle took place at STARDOM Supreme Fight and it came in the form of this match right here. That’s what this match was and it was better than I think anyone could have imagined. The beauty to it wasn’t the hoss fight aspect of it but rather the struggle of MIRAI doing everything in her power to show Chihiro Hashimoto that not only did she deserve her respect, but she was on the same level as her. Hashimoto was out there to run through MIRAI and show why she wasn’t impressed with STARDOM to begin with. And for the first half of the match, she succeeded. “Big Hash” was the “Final Boss.” She bullied MIRAI by running through her time and time again, making the “Ash-Covered Cinderella” look helpless. Hashimoto was slapping the taste out of MIRAI’s month, punking her out, and almost laughing at how little she could do. But the switch flipped for MIRAI halfway through and not only did she make the match count but she showed she’s ready to be at the top of the world in STARDOM any day now.

There was a special beauty to the violence because of how it was a key part of the story rather than just having violence to have it. MIRAI has to be one of the smoothest wrestlers in the world today between those ropes which only made this match better — because that was out the window. She had to get rough and tough in there to chop down the Sendai Girls’ ace and eventually, she did exactly that. The Leaping Lariat by MIRAI was the turning point in the match as “Big Hash” went crashing down to the mat and was looking as though she was in trouble. MIRAI’s offense shined for the rest of the match before she was caught. Once Hashimoto was able to get a grasp of MIRAI for one German Suplex, it spelled the end for her. A devastating Lariat of her own seemingly looked like enough but when MIRAI was spiked (emphasis on the spike) on the top of her head on a release German Suplex before Hashimoto ended it with a Bridging German, you knew it was over from there and so did the crowd.

Everything about this match was tremendous. Beautiful. And nearly perfect. The only thing that would have made it perfect is if somehow, someway MIRAI was able to pick up that victory. For now, she’ll have to wait. But a monster has been established and 2023, despite the result, may very well be the year of the “Ash-Covered Cinderella.” This was the match of the night. ****½

Goddess of Stardom Championship
7Upp (Nanae Takahashi & Yuu) (c) def. MaiHime (Maika & Himeka)

The Goddess of Stardom Championship was going to go one of two ways: it would either be the dark horse match of the show or it would suffer from being sandwiched between greatness. We’re going to go with the former on this one and it’s all thanks to the phenomenal underdog effort of Maika and Himeka in this match.

Early on when MaiHime had the crowd going and the advantage, Himeka crashed down to the outside in pain after hitting a Flying Knee to Nanae Takahashi. The loud crowd went radio silent almost instantly, turning to themselves and what had happened. On replay, you couldn’t really tell, but we knew from there that MaiHime were the underdogs from there. Luckily, Maika had the superhero-type performance that kept MaiHime in the game and ultimately gave them a shot to win. She was taking Takahashi and Yuu to task, acting as though the odds weren’t stacked against her with Himeka’s status in question. But she was able to survive long enough for “The Jumbo Princess” to get back in the fight, only furthering the story of the underdogs all the more.

Himeka would hit her Running Powerbomb on Takahashi, giving us one of the best near falls in wrestling so far this year. And she’d go on to survive so much of 7Upp’s onslaught before enough was enough.

In the end, MaiHime wasn’t able to regain the Goddess of Stardom Championship but everyone in the building told you that they were at their very best. Their best wasn’t enough and maybe if Himeka doesn’t hurt her knee, it’s a different story, but what a story it ended up being. One of the best tag team matches of the year thus far. ****½

Wonder of Stardom Championship
Saya Kamitani (c) def. Momo Watanabe

This was supposed to be the match to get both Saya Kamitani and the Wonder of Stardom Championship reign back on track. Sadly, it wasn’t the case.

That’s not to say this match was bad because it certainly was not, but it wasn’t to the levels that “The Golden Phoenix” was hitting consistently for the better part of 2022. The problem isn’t easily identifiable. Kamitani’s 5STAR Grand Prix wasn’t anything to write home about and while the KAIRI match was certainly good from GOLD RUSH, the Mina Shirakawa match may have very well been what has altered Kamitani and who she was as a champion to who she is now.

Back to the match, it had its moments for sure. It was by no means Kamitani’s worst defense, but with the stakes of breaking the defense record and the greatness that is Momo Watanabe, it should have left us debating if it was the best or not — which it did not come close to. Watanabe showed shades of her Queen’s Quest side that had her dominating as the Wonder of Stardom Champion back in 2018. She also showed the “Black Peach” side that left her as one of wrestling’s most underappreciated in 2023. But it wasn’t Watanabe to the max as we’ve seen countless times. Neither of these two were at their very best but it was the champion more off than the challenger.

This is all to say that while the match didn’t live up to the high expectations that many had set for it, the match itself wasn’t bad. Watanabe throwing Kamitani with Suplexes and Kamitani hitting a Double Foot Stomp to Watanabe on the outside were real highlights. But a flat finish and inconsistencies in the early going left it below the level of great you’d want. Happens. ***¾

World of Stardom Championship
Giulia (c) def. Suzu Suzuki

Giulia and Suzu Suzuki are so good at professional wrestling. So good that the STARDOM Supreme Fight main event, which was excellent, will be seen as an underwhelming performance from these rivals. That’s just the truth and it’s almost unfair.

Now that Giulia has found the confidence that she had when she was the Wonder of Stardom Champion, her matches have already changed. From the get-go, this match had a different vibe to it from their battle on the final night of the 5STAR Grand Prix. There weren’t tears being shed with guaranteed violence to ensue but rather a respect for one another that could escalate at any moment to the violence we had seen. And it got there but it took nearly as long as their first match (15 minutes) to do so.

Suzu Suzuki shined once again. It was the Prominence member who got this match to the level you’d hope for by the end, forcing Giulia to get away from the technical, grappling mindset to having to trade and drop each other on their heads because that’s what they do. What was apparent is that Suzuki isn’t far off from being the World of Stardom Champion and maybe on another day, it’d be her time. This time it wasn’t but she was the star of the main event. Don’t forget that.

The MIRAI vs. Hashimoto and Tag Title matches stole the thunder from Giulia and Suzuki a bit, forcing them to either reach the level they had done previously or top it. Go out of your way to check this one out, but Giulia will have better defenses in this reign and Suzuki will have better matches in and out of STARDOM this year. ****¼