LEGEND OF FUKUOKA GODDESS
MAY 4, 2023
FUKUOKA INTERNATIONAL CENTER
Watch: Stardom World
With Yokohama Arena in the rearview mirror, we kick off a new cycle for STARDOM with a B-tier PPV headlined by the first defense of Mina Shirakawa’s white belt. These B-tier shows can often overdeliver, and the card for this one is pretty good, so I have high hopes.
FUKUOKA BATTLE ROYAL
SUZU SUZUKI WINS
This is a lazy way to get everyone onto the show, but it’s done in the style of a Royal Rumble, so everyone gets like 20 seconds to come in and hit their moves before a new entrance plays, and we all move on. It’s pretty useless but I guess it’s better than making the show super long by running a bunch of multi-woman tags to start the show. Suzu winning is good though, she’s basically signed now so she should steamroll most of the mid carders in a match like this. **
STARS (MAYU IWATANI & HANAN) DEF. CLUB VENUS (MARIAH MAY & JESSIE)
Good tag match to kick off the proper card. Mariah May, in particular, was impressive and I’m honestly disappointed we didn’t get more of her and Mayu wrestling, although their post-match interactions seem to hint at a future IWGP title match. Jessie, formerly Jessie Kamea of NXT, has also made some solid strides since her debut in STARDOM a few weeks ago and has the potential to do some big things in the company if she can put it all together. For now though, May is the star of the show in Club Venus so here’s hoping she gets something to do soon because she’s too talented to waste away un undercard tags. ***1/4
COSMIC ANGELS (SAORI ANOU & TAM NAKANO) DEF. OEDO TAI (RUAKA & STARLIGHT KID)
Another good tag with a standout performance. This time around Saori Anou was given the focus, which she should have because she’s quite possibly the most charismatic woman I have ever seen step into a wrestling ring. This was a strong win for Nakano and Anou to continue pushing the new Cosmic Angels and give some shine to Anou as we build to her inevitably deciding she’s tired of Tam and wants to throw her through the barbershop window. ***1/4
OEDO TAI (MOMO WATANABE & NATSUKO TORA) DEF. GOD’S EYE (SYURI & KONAMI)
This was a really fun tag match that made me realize how great a Watanabe and Tora tag team could be. They worked really well in this match and brought a lot of fun stuff to the table. Konami and Syuri are obviously a well-oiled machine given their stylistic similarities and past relationship so I wasn’t as taken aback at their teamwork but I came away super impressed with Oedo Tai.
At what point do we start calling Momo Watanabe a tag wrestling specialist? ***1/2
DONNA DEL MONDO (MAIKA & GIULIA) DEF. QUEEN’S QUEST (UTAMI HAYASHISHITA & SAYA KAMITANI)
I never thought I’d actually see it happen, but it feels like Maika could be in line for her SANADA run. This inkling goes back to the impromptu tag match in January that featured her, Syuri, Mayu Iwatani, and Utami Hayashishita, a match in which Maika didn’t take the pin despite being in the ring with three former world champions. Since then she has beaten her retiring tag partner at Yokohama Arena, debuted a new all-red hairstyle, and (as of this show) adopted a new attitude. The real kicker is that she pinned Utami here, which is not something that often happens outside of tournaments. That result is a big indication that she’s in line for a big spot soon
It always felt like Maika would need to make some slight change to break through to the next level, and it appears she has found her muse as she currently feels primed for big things, which she has more than earned through her fantastic in-ring work.
Not to be forgotten, Giulia was a not-so-unhappy tagalong to Maika’s new attitude. She too seemed happy to be a bit more ruthless than she has been, potentially having a new mentality after losing her world title last month.
Since losing the World title in December of 2021 Hayashishita has been in a state of limbo, she was still protected but mostly spent her time in meaningless tags aside from the occasional title challenge or special match. This loss feels like the beginning of her return to prominence as she seemed to be quite upset with the defeat in her post-show comments. I expected her to be the one to dethrone Tam Nakano so her suddenly getting thrown into a storyline after 17 months on the sidelines makes me feel pretty confident in that prediction. ***3/4
HIGH SPEED CHAMPIONSHIP
AZM (C) DEF. MEI SEIRA
Well color me surprised. I fully expected this to end with Mei Seira taking the belt and the top spot in the High Speed division. Instead, AZM’s reign continues as she approaches 450 days as champion with a record number of defenses already under her belt. I can understand waiting on Seira, she has time to win this title, but I wonder if they missed a prime opportunity to pass the torch from AZM to Mei. ***3/4
GODDESS OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
GOD’S EYE (MIRAI & AMI SOREI) DEF. STARS (HAZUKI & KOGUMA)
Fine first defense for the new champs as they get the win over the hometown heroes. STARDOM already had FWC win the titles in Fukuoka last year, so I didn’t expect them to do the same this year. ***1/2
WONDER OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
MINA SHIRAKAWA (C) DEF. NATSUPOI
A first defense can often be a crucial moment for first-time champions, it tells you a little bit about what they bring to the table and the kind of quality to expect from future title matches. Mina Shirakawa and Natsupoi set the bar very high here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this ends up being Mina’s best defense. Shirakawa, despite just coming off her big win over Saya Kamitani, still had a lot of fresh tricks in her bag that made this feel like her match. In typical STARDOM fashion, she was able to put her own stamp on what a white belt match can be, and it was very enjoyable.
A lot of credit has to go to Natsupoi too who is in my estimation one of the best wrestlers in STARDOM. Every time she’s put in a big match, she walks away with the match of the night, and this is the second time she’s had an instant classic for the Wonder of Stardom Championship. Her performance here will definitely build anticipation if she challenges down the line, as I and many others would be very happy to see her hold this belt sooner rather than later.
This was ultimately the Mina Shirakawa show despite Poi’s excellence. Coming out of Yokohama Arena I was certain that STARDOM had made itself a new major star with Shirakawa, everything about her first PPV main event as champion drove home that reality. From her entrance, to her in-ring work, to the charisma and star power she exudes she’s one of the hottest properties in STARDOM right now. Long may she reign. ****3/4
A fun show that ended up being more important than I could have ever expected. This show saw the start of some new story arcs for Maika, Utami Hayashishita and potentially Natsupoi. We also saw a new tag team make their first impression in the tag division while Mariah May got the chance to impress against two of STARDOM’s best. While the whole show is a breeze to watch, I highly recommend checking out Mina Shirakawa vs Natsupoi if you’re on borrowed time.
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