APRIL 23, 2023

Watch: Stardom World


Alex Richards and Scott Edwards are back with another co-review for STARDOM’s biggest show ever, All Star Grand Queendom.

Mei Seira & Starlight Kid def. AZM & Mei Suruga

Alex: There is no better way to start a show like this than by showcasing the excellence of High Speed. These are four of the best at this style and they showcased that pretty well in this match. As soon as Mei Seira was announced for this match I knew how this would go, with AZM having already beaten everyone in the division and holding the title for over a year I suspect she’s dropping it soon. The best way to set up a new High-Speed ace to take the torch from her would be having Seira get the win here, and that’s exactly what STARDOM did. The Seira vs AZM title match will no doubt be a major changing of the guard within the division, here’s hoping it is just as good as this tag effort. ****¼

Scott: High-speed greatness to kick off All Star Grand Queendom. That’s the easiest way to sum this tag team match up. The moment that this match was announced, the spot on the card had to be at the top. As we’ve seen with AZM in the past, there are few ways better than getting the crowd and viewers into a show than high-speed. And what we learned quickly once this match got underway is that Mei Seira, despite being out of wrestling for over a year and a half, didn’t miss a step but seemingly got better in her time away. It was like going back in time to their High-Speed Championship match back in 2020 as they were unstoppable with their speed at the highest degree and really pulling off “blink and you’ll miss it” type offense. Seira getting the win is only the first step in her making the high-speed division her. Great way to kick off the show. ****

Queen’s Quest (Utami Hayashishita & Miyu Amasaki) def. Fuwa-chan & Hazuki

Alex: If not for Logan Paul, Fuwa-Chan would have an easy claim for the best celebrity wrestler ever. It’s clear that she doesn’t just understand wrestling, she respects it a lot. She’s been training with Hazuki and occasionally Kazuchika Okada in order to improve. To me, this match was a great place for Utami Hayashishita. She hasn’t done a lot since losing the world title but putting her in a match that will be getting mainstream TV attention is the best way to showcase STARDOM to new eyes. This was a really good match to boot with everyone stepping up to provide an entertaining match for the TV viewers. ***¾

Scott: Fuwa-chan is made for professional wrestling. She’s in the same league as Logan Paul when it comes to celebrities stepping into a wrestling ring and thriving. The difference is that you want to see Fuwa-chan overcome the actual wrestlers as she’s a perfect underdog babyface. This match, like Fuwa-chan’s first match, exceeded any expectations you may have had heading in. She was trained by Hazuki and Kazuchika Okada to be great and she didn’t let them down. The German Suplex she hit on Utami Hayashishita was one of the best moments of the entire night and it was met after by a BRUTAL Lariat from Hayashishita that made Fuwa-chan turn inside out. Everyone stepped up in this match but it was the Fuwa-chan show and rightfully so.

All we can now hope for is more of her in the future because there’s potential here that is limitless. Hazuki was great in this match as well and Miyu Amasaki, despite not having too much influence on the bout, had a good outing also. I’m a Fuwa-stan for life. ***¾

Himeka’s Retirement Match
Maika def. Himeka

Alex: Miaka sent Hiemka off with a very fitting match. Joshi wrestling is pretty notorious for having best friends and teammates absolutely obliterate one another and this was no different. Maika, with tears in her eyes, sent her friend into retirement with a shoot headbutt and three Michinoku Drivers. This was a tearful farewell featuring some big hits and nasty bumps ****

Scott: The retirement of Himeka was going to be an emotional one for many and it’s almost as if you wanted All Star Grand Queendom to slow down in its arrival for this alone. Her road that was created to get to this point was nothing short of perfect with maybe the best match of her entire retirement road coming at the final Korakuen Hall show of her career as she teamed with Maika against Syuri and Giulia. The emotions were running strong for me in that one and I was sure they’d translate to her final STARDOM match against her tag team partner here.

My biggest takeaway from the match was that it is Maika’s time. More than anything else. More than the emotions, the pageantry and magic of Himeka’s final entrance, it was that Maika is beyond ready for the spotlight and this felt like a defining moment in her career just as much it was Himeka’s. The closing moments of the match saw Maika hit back-to-back Michinoku Driver IIs before asking, pleading with Himeka to kick out so that her career and their journey together wouldn’t end. Tears filled both of their eyes as Maika hit that final Michinoku Driver II to pick up the win and finish the career of her best friend. Emotional, memorable, and one hell of a hoss fight mixed in. Thank you, “Jumbo.” ****¼

Goddesses of STARDOM Championship
The New Eras (MIRAI & Ami Sourei) def. 7Upp (Nanae Takahashi & Yuu) (c)

Alex: As a longtime hater of the New Eras as a tag team I feel pretty vindicated by this sucking the life out of one of the best Joshi shows in recent history. 7Upp have had one of the best tag title runs in STARDOM’s history so I didn’t expect it to end with a damp squib but here we are. The finish feels like the company wanting to go through with their plans when nobody involved agreed to it, if 7Upp weren’t interested in putting over the New Eras then don’t get cute with a silly count-out finish, it does nothing but hurt MIRAI and Ami who look pretty weak. ***

Scott: The end of the 7Upp run as champions is not at all what I expected it to be seeing how good the reign itself was but nonetheless, this is how it goes. There’s no doubt that Nanae Takahashi and Yuu were a duo met with many criticisms from the start but they turned those criticisms into a great Goddess of STARDOM Championship reign following their tag league win. There would have been more fitting ways to give MIRAI her first title win but the countout surely left a sour taste in my mouth. Nothing about the match was all that special to begin with outside of the exchange between MIRAI and Takahashi. Heading into this show, this was the least anticipated match on the main card for me so it’s not as upsetting as it could have been but the finish surely was.

The good news is that MIRAI is finally a champion. That’s enough for me to be happy with it. The only match that isn’t essential viewing on All Star Grand Queendom. ***

Artist of STARDOM Championship
REstart (Saori Anou, KAIRI & Natsupoi) def. PROMINENCE (Suzu Suzuki, Risa Sera & Kurumi Hiiragi) (c)

Alex: The trios match in STARDOM are some of the best around. This was an all-action follow-up to the disappointment of the tag title switch. The match finished with a strong exchange between Suzu Suzuki and Saori Anou who have a lot of history with one another. Anou pinning Suzuki, who has been built up really well in Stardom, immediately puts Anou among the top tier of the company. It’s not often that you re-debut in a big spot and win a title right off the bat but that’s the treatment Stardom has given Anou, who radiates charisma. Prominence have been excellent as trios champions and Suzuki especially gained a lot of momentum so here’s hoping this isn’t the last we see of them in Stardom. ****

Scott: Chaos follows PROMINENCE wherever they go and it has made for some of the best STARDOM matches over the last year and this was no different. There was something so… special about the entrances alone for this match that gave it the biggest of big fight feels. Saori Anou made her re-debut in STARDOM and came off like a bona fide superstar, only a level Suzu Suzuki has been able to reach in terms of recent debuts in STARDOM. That made it all the more fitting when they were the ones to close this match out with some of the best action you’ll see on this show. It was back and forth, it was hard-hitting, and it was a tad bit terrifying in the best way possible.

People will look at Anou and assume she’s just a pretty face who oozes charisma but her in-ring capabilities are what has made her arrival so exciting. Suzuki and Anou traded German Suplexes which saw them spike each other on their heads but it was the dazzling signature pin by Anou that saw her keep down the legs of Suzuki so that she could not kick out. I loved this match more than most as trios action in STARDOM is about as good as anywhere in the world right now. I can’t wait to see what’s next for both REstart and Suzu Suzuki, who has since left PROMINENCE and is set for a full slate of matches over STARDOM’s Golden Week shows. ****¼

Wonder of STARDOM Championship
Mina Shirakawa def. Saya Kamitani (c)

Alex: A common phrase that was spouted on Twitter this year was “finish the story.” Now, that was in regards to the WWE who have proven for about two decades now to be wholly incompetent whereas STARDOM, STARDOM finished the story. What STARDOM did with this match was excellent, they had not one, but two separate stories hit their apex. First, we had Mina Shiralkawa’s chase for the white belt, her attempt to gain revenge for Saya breaking her jaw late last year. On the other side of things, we had Saya Kamitani’s yips around the Phoenix Splash. She hasn’t hit it since hurting Mina and that became a key thread to this match.

The fact that either wrestler could have finished their story and got the win was a real stroke of genius as it led to this being an edge-of-the-seat affair with drama, interesting wrestling, and story beat after story beat.

Kamitani did in fact hit the Phoenix Splash again, but for the first time, it did not get her the win. From that moment on this became Mina’s match to win, and win she did. STARDOM made Mina Shirakawa into a star on this show, they finished her story. Saya Kamitani’s historic reign ends in the best way it could have, with another excellent match to her name and a new star being made.

Mina’s reinvention to a limb-targeting, big-match wrestler should make for a very interesting title run, especially if they can line up some strong challengers for her who can work from underneath (looking at you MIRAI). ****¾

Scott: I write this admitting I was wrong. And I’ve never been more happy to admit such a thing. For the longest time, I questioned if Mina Shirakawa was the right choice to defeat Saya Kamitani for the Wonder of STARDOM Championship after a record-breaking reign. Following her first match against Kamitani for the title when the Phoenix Splash pretty much broke her mouth, her promo of hope gave me the confidence that at the time, it’d be the right choice. But as time went on, I needed to understand why the ultimate babyface in Shirakawa returned with Club Venus rather than continuing her road at the time. She added an edge and was heelish to the point she even moved on from Cosmic Angels. However, she did so because she believed in herself rather than wanted to turn on Tam Nakano.

And when she made her entrance at All Star Grand Queendom, it all began to click for me. She was still that ultimate babyface but with added confidence. Shirakawa knew she was close to winning and she even kicked out of the Phoenix Splash despite the injury. The match ended more because of that than anything else. So, this time she had the edge over Kamitani who was coming into the match with a broken confidence. A broken confidence that she couldn’t hit the Phoenix Splash correctly, a move she hadn’t done since the match with Shirakawa. And as the match got underway, we watched a clinic. Shirakawa’s ability to work the leg of Kamitani was smart and crafty. Much of “The Golden Phoenix’s” offense uses her legs so if they’re weakened in any way, that’s better for later.

Fast forward later into the match and you have the moment that Kamitani had the upperhand to the point where a victory was within reach. When she first considered doing the Pheonix Splash, she couldn’t. Not only because her confidence was shot but much like the first time she messed it up, her leg was wrecked by the offense of Shirakawa. And what the Club Venus managed to do as the match continued on was work it more and more, but somehow, someway Kamitani did get the confidence in her to finally hit the Phoenix Splash and hit it.

Mina Shirakawa kicked out and the crowd lost it.

Like that, the match shifted and felt won by Shirakawa at that moment. Kamitani finally gained confidence. She believed she could do it and did but Shirakawa, like the first match, kicked out. That’d lead to Shirakawa later locking in the Figure Four and I was on the edge of my seat from there on out. The champion had one final gasp to get the bottom rope but it was from there that Shirakawa hit the Glamorous Driver Mina, which Kamitani somehow kicked out of, before a modified version of the Glamorous Driver Mina to get the win and FINISH THE STORY.

In one match on one night, Mina Shirakawa not only made me a believer but a true fan of where she can go with this championship. If it wasn’t for the main event, Shirakawa’s career-defining match would have been the match of the night for me. ****½

Syuri def. Chihiro Hashimoto

Alex: It’s rare we get to see two untouchable stars collide which made this match feel special from the moment the entrances were made. They could have definitely relied on aura alone to put on a spectacle match but that was never going to be enough for Syuri and Hashimoto. For 16 minutes they clashed, like two titans, just throwing their biggest and best shots at one another in an attempt to keep the other down. The power-technician vs. technician-striker clash of styles was especially on display which was interesting to see unfold as both women relied on their area of expertise to gain an advantage over the other.

Syuri winning was the correct endpoint after Hashimoto destroyed MIRAI and Himeka, Syuri is the new Io Shirai, she’s the pinnacle of STARDOM whether she holds a title or not so continuing to build her legend will make it more special the next time someone in STARDOM can get the better of her. ****¼

Scott: Fight Night. What this match had going for it to be unique and stand out from the rest of the card is that it was going to be a fight until the very end. The rules of knockout, submission, or stoppage by referee’s decision allowed Syuri and Chihiro Hashimoto to focus on destroying each other and that’s all that was needed for me to absolutely love this. Anytime I watch Syuri wrestle in a big match, I’m just amazed. While we can talk about the next match and how they’re living legends, that’s what Syuri has made herself in a few year span thanks to her STARDOM run and never fails to deliver when the lights shine the brightest. Hashimoto is a big-match wrestler who doesn’t get this spotlight nearly as much.

Coming off the emotional battle prior to this, they knew what to do and that was just hit one another harder than the last strike. The finishing stretch of Syuri hitting the Syu-sekai before a brutal Buzzsaw Kick to leave “Big Hash” tumbling and eventually out for the count was the ideal finish. This was a special singles match and they lived up to that moniker. A bout that’d win any fan of NJPW or the King’s Road over. ****¼

IWGP Women’s Championship
Mayu Iwatani def. Mercedes Moné (c)

Alex: Just seeing these two share a ring was enough for this to be special. They could’ve wrestled for all of 10 seconds and I would have come away thinking it was special. Thankfully, they did more than just wrestle for 10 seconds. I have to give a lot of credit to Mercedes Mone here, she let Mayu absolutely beat her from pillar to post. I can’t imagine watching Mayu slap and kick Mone as hard as she did and coming away from this match thinking it wasn’t great. They told an incredibly simple story of Mayu getting her revenge on the overly cocky outsider with some brutal offense, creative spots, and a touch of the sadistic Mayu that I love so much.

They are almost certainly going to have a rematch down the line, likely a longer match, but this was a great ending to Chapter 1 of Mone’s time in Japan as she put over Mayu without any hesitation. And ultimately, that is what this was about. On STARDOM’s biggest show in history, the highest-attended show they’ve ever run, their icon, the woman who has been there from day one captured the IWGP Women’s Championship. Completing a sweep of every title in the company (barring the Future title that didn’t exist while she was eligible for it). Seeing Mayu get major wins will never grow old, there’s just something that bit more special when it’s her getting the accolades, which I suppose is why she is still STARDOM’s Icon despite the recent surge in talent within the company. ****½

Scott: My excitement and anticipation for this match may have been higher than legitimately anyone (as you can read here) so when it was finally time for the match to happen, it was a special moment that I was able to experience as a pro wrestling fan. Mercedes Moné vs. Mayu Iwatani was a true dream match that felt like a “once in a lifetime” match. That being said, when this match was over, I walked away knowing they have more in the tank for another match down the line.

They were in an interesting spot. Once the bell rang, this was the historical moment for STARDOM that will be remembered for years to come. No matter what the match would ultimately be. But thankfully, as you’d expect, these two had a great match. Everything from bell to bell was great and really the only shame of it is that the bell came so quickly. 12 minutes and 56 seconds is all the time they had but it shouldn’t be too shocking that they maximized every minute they did have. When watching the match, you’d think Moné had done everything in her power to piss of “The Icon,” which she did and Iwatani had some receipts to prove it. The simple kicks to the back alone showed the animosity between the two but Moné had no problem giving it right back.

One of the prettiest moves of the whole show came with Moné’s Meteroas, one to the floor as Iwatani was handing on the bottom rope and another in the ring in a springboard style. These two were magical in there as you’d expect seeing they’re two of the best this generation (and ever, truly) has seen. They have a match of the year in them and while it didn’t happen here, it’ll come and when it does, I will be there. For now, I’m happy to just get a taste of the greatness going head-to-head in a historic match. ****¼

World of STARDOM Champion
Tam Nakano def. Giulia (c)

Alex: I’m way more into this feud than most people but I felt kind of let down by this one. The build to the match promised a certain level of violence and intensity that they didn’t really deliver on. They just had a standard Tam vs Giulia match. Sure there were shoot headbutts, but there are always shoot headbutts, in fact, this card was littered with them, there was a table spot, but we just saw a table spot in Giulia vs Yukihi. Nothing about this match delivered on the promise of the press conference or preview tags where Tam was busted open! That isn’t to say this was a bad match, Tam and Giulia smacking each other silly and doing big moves to one another is enjoyable, I just expected them to go to a whole new level.

Tam winning was quite the shock. I initially thought she’d lose this one before getting her redemption at Dream Queendom since we just saw half her faction desert her a week ago. After that, it seemed like Tam was due for a spell on the downswing which would culminate in her getting a big win to redeem herself, instead, she went on to win the world title just a week later.

I do like the Tam win though, it breaks the cycle of the World title being held until the GP winner comes around to win it at the end of the year. Since Utami in 2020 that’s been the pattern with the red belt so it is nice to see it broken here as it adds some unpredictability to future reigns. ****

Scott: The only match Alex and I disagree on by a substantial amount is this one right here. While I didn’t get the blood that I was hoping for based on the previews between these two and the press conference, I got everything else I could have asked for. Giulia and Tam Nakano established quickly in this match that they hated one another and this title was the limit for them. They tied up for what felt like seconds before it was an all-out war fitting of the All Star Grand Queendom main event. Giulia hit a Northern Lights Bomb early and from there, it was the rivalry between these two women that has become the staple of STARDOM for the past three years.

The story has only gotten better with Giulia losing the Wonder of STARDOM Championship and her hair to Nakano just to turn around a year and half later and get back to the mountain top by defeating Nakano in the 5STAR Grand Prix to push herself to the World of STARDOM Championship. I asked myself how in the world can they go into this match and live up to it and I shouldn’t question them at this point. They have this covered. The brutality of this match probably made this the most brutal match of the year so far seeing there was a Snapmare off the apron from Giulia to Tam Nakano through a table. There were multiple moments of dropping each other on their heads. Oh, and there were multiple closed-fist punches to the already blown-up face of Nakano that terrified me.

Sometimes when you go into a match feeling 50-50 but also thinking “Well, there’s no chance Giulia wins, right?” the match is only elevated when the result is what it was. This, after all, was Nakano’s last chance at winning the title. All Star Grand Queendom was it for Nakano reaching the red belt and I truly believed that.

The closing stretch between these two is when you finally saw where we were going. The “Twilight Dream” was within reach for Tam Nakano. All Star Grand Queendom was going to end the same way All Star Dream Cinderella did two years ago. Nakano hit her own Northern Lights Bomb followed by the Twilight Dream, the same move that she won the Wonder of STARDOM Championship with… but Giulia kicked out. It took a Violet Screwdriver to spell the end for the Donna del Mondo leader, forcing her reign to come to a halt at 115 days. That’s not something anyone expected, including myself who still expected a shorter reign for Giulia in the end.

Tam Nakano was once again victorious and after the weekend she had last week with both Mina Shirakawa and Waka Tsukiyama leaving Cosmic Angels, this was a moment she needed. An emotional win for the new champion who finished off the complete reset of STARDOM moving forward with a match that I’ll consider a match-of-the-year contender. Nakano is, by all means, an enigma but truly one of the greatest STARDOM has ever seen. The Tam Road has reached its final stop in a lot of ways. She reached a level maybe no one ever expected her to reach but that’s the beauty of Tam Nakano. A tremendous match to close out a spectacular show. ****¾

All Star Grand Queendom Overall Thoughts

Alex: This show was hyped as the biggest and best STARDOM show in company history, given the quality of the card and this being 30 years since Dream Slam in the same arena this show also drew comparisons to some of the legendary shows AJW put on. I think it is safe to say that this show more than lived up to the hype. This was an excellent show that featured great wrestling, surprising results, star-making performances, and to top it all off it drew the biggest crowd in company history. I watched this show in the early hours of Sunday morning and the joy I got from this show stuck with me for the entire day, it was a joyous showcase of Joshi wrestling and how special it is. I’d recommend this show to anyone because I can guarantee that there’ll be something that hooks you, there was too much variety and too much great wrestling going around for this to be a dud to you no matter what style you favor. What Stardom is doing right now feels special, and I for one am happy to be along for the ride.

Scott: All Star Grand Queendom is one of the greatest shows I’ve ever witnessed. It’s not only my show of the year but it was a moment in history that I’m going to remember as a wrestling fan. All Star Grand Queendom will not only go down as the biggest in STARDOM history for reasons like Mercedes Moné and Fuwa-chan taking part to help pack Yokohama Arena and just the best women’s wrestling card we’ve seen in decades, but because of the eyes this show had on it. Countless people likely jumped in for this show and witnessed STARDOM for the first time. It’s likely many of those people left loving STARDOM and want to see what is next. Much like Alex says, I’d recommend this show to anyone. All Star Grand Queendom had something for everyone and it all lived up to the moment.

All Star Grand Queendom will go down in the history books as not only one of the greatest women’s wrestling shows of all time but one of the greatest shows we’ve seen. History, moments, and memories were created. Watch this as soon as possible if you haven’t already.

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