STARDOM FLASHING CHAMPIONS 2023
MAY 27, 2023
OTA WARD GENERAL GYMNASIUM
Watch: Stardom World
STARDOM heads to Ota Ward for what is a pretty top-heavy show. The undercard could offer us some insight into the direction of some feuds lower on the card but the main focus is on the huge double title match between Tam Nakano and Mina Shirakawa as one woman could walk out as the first dual holder of the Wonder and World of STARDOM titles since Mayu Iwatani back in 2017
REBELXENEMY (MAIKA OZAKI & CHAIRMAN RAM) DEF. SYURI & AYA SAKURA
With Utami out of the lower-card tag purgatory she occupied after losing the world title, STARDOM has slid the woman who beat her for the title right into that spot. Since God’s Eye are occupied with the tag belts there’s no obvious partner for Syuri so I hope she sticks with Aya Sakura on PPVs as she could learn a lot from Syuri.
Solid enough tag to open things up, Sakura got the majority of in-ring time for her team, which makes sense since they want to get the rookie as much experience as possible. ***
QUEEN’S QUEST (UTAMI HAYASHISHITA, SAYA KAMITANI & HINA) DEF. OEDO TAI (RINA, RUAKA & STARLIGHT KID)
Pretty short match that only continued the tension between Utami and Saya, with the two even coming to blows at one point and exchanging elbow strikes. Interestingly, Utami helped Saya get the win by cutting off a double-team move from Oedo Tai so all is not lost for QQ just yet. **1/2
STARS (HANAN, MAYU IWATANI, KOGUMA & HAZUKI) DEF. CLUB VENUS (JESSY, XENA, MARIAH MAY & WAKA TSUKIYAMA)
A good match for a multi-woman tag with nothing really at stake. Mariah May and Mayu Iwatani had a good exchange in there which continues their little grudge that may be leading to an IWGP Women’s title match if NJPW ever remembers to use it, May certainly seems to want a title match having called for it online and even during this match. The Club Venus crew have ridiculously good chemistry for four people from different corners of the globe with totally different wrestling backgrounds, somehow they’ve managed to make it work, and with Jessy seemingly nearing the end of her tour I’ll be sad to see them go.
Hanan got the win which is a cool notch in her belt as she continues bubbling away, waiting for her next push. ***1/4
MAIKA, SUZU SUZUKI & MEI SEIRA DEF. NANAE TAKAHASHI, YUNA MIZUMORI & HANAKO
Well, would you look at that, another well-worked tag team match, this time lacking any of the storytelling focus that helped the previous matches keep me interested. Maika was again more aggressive than she used to be, she briefly picked up her need with Nanae, but otherwise, this was a solid match that doesn’t feature in the bigger picture beyond furthering whatever Suzu and Maika are up to. ***1/4
HIGH SPEED CHAMPIONSHIP
SAKI KASHIMA DEF. FUKIGEN DEATH, & AZM (C)
Matches like this are why I love the High Speed Championship. It was fluid, creative, and worked at a breakneck speed. When she’s motivated and working a genuine High Speed style there are few better than Saki Kashima who was originally working this style back in 2012 when Natsuki Taiyo was still around.
I have my issues with AZM’s record-breaking reign ending without her getting pinned as it felt like the perfect chance to crown a new High Speed division centerpiece but instead, we got Kashima rolling up the clown. It didn’t ruin Kashima’s moment as her first singles title win is an important enough moment as it is, but it certainly left me thinking STARDOM missed their chance to hand over the keys to the division. ****
GODDESS OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
NEW ERAS (MIRAI & AMI SOREI) (C) DEF. OEDO TAI (MOMO WATANABE & NATSUKO TORA)
This was fine. I’m unsure how many more ways I can find to say that the New Eras are pretty boring as a pairing. Some teams have managed to drag them up to a higher standard, but Oedo Tai couldn’t get the job done. Thankfully, the show moved swiftly after this by having Queen’s Quest show up to brawl with Oeod Tai almost immediately, and the New Eras were quickly forgotten. ***
ARTIST OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
BARI BARI BOMBERS (GIULIA, THEKLA & MAI SAKURAI) DEF. RESTART (SAORI ANOU, KAIRI & NATSUPOI) (C)
I question the decision to have REstart lose on their first defense after being the team chosen to end Prominence’s stranglehold on the division. Understandably, Giulia was busy at Yokohama Arena, but I feel a regular, full-time team could have benefited from dethroning Prominence more than the part-timers who lost them immediately.
REstart has been fantastic in their two matches together as well so I’m disappointed we likely won’t see them together much more after this.
That said, this was a great match that was able to play off of a number of personal grudges. Natsupoi and Thekla finally got to duke it out after Poit turned on DDM last year, leaving Thekla an emotional wreck in the process. Meanwhile Giulia, in typical Giulia fashion, was starting shit with KAIRI AND Saori Anou in the build-up to this one and she got her hands on both women which led to some fantastic exchanges. ****1/4
WORLD OF STARDOM & WONDER OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
TAM NAKANO DEF. MINA SHIRAKAWA (c)
It’s been about four days since I first watched this match, and I’m still unsure what to say about it. Tam Nakano is a double champion, she’s only the second person in STARDOM history to hold the red and white belts at the same time (Mayu Iwatani was the other). While I can understand what they’re doing, I’m not sure I like it. Yes, Tam is now establishing herself as one of the company’s biggest legends, but at what cost?
With how STARDOM operates now and the hectic PPV schedule they’re running as well as the long list of wrestlers that we’re waiting to see hold either the world or wonder title, having both of them tied up on one person seems like a counterproductive move.
Tam is definitely a storyteller, but could she realistically pull off two or more stories simultaneously, one for the white belt and one for the red belt? I think that’s asking a lot of her, especially if she manages to hold onto the belts until later in the year. If she drops on V1 to MIRAI then my worries will be null and void, but right now that match is entirely up in the air.
As for Mina, I’m disappointed she lost, she’s been doing some of the best work of her career, and it felt like she was on the precipice of becoming a major major player for STARDOM, one on the level of the Tam’s, the Giulia’s, the Utami’s. Instead she appears to be back in chasing mode. Whether she chases Tam or just the Wonder title remains to be seen but she does excel in that spot, and her promo work will more than make up for this defeat so I trust her to rebound if the company plans on keeping her in the title picture.
The match itself was great. Tam’s style meshed well with Mina’s limb work and striking abilities. While it did drag at some points, it was a very well-done match that could have been better with a stronger closing stretch. ****
I went into this show thinking it would be a rather mundane PPV. I expected REstart to retain, I expected the undercard to be nothing, and I expected Tam vs. Mina to end in a draw. Instead, STARDOM turned my world upside down by having three titles change hands, and two of my favorites lose early into their runs. STARDOM is more unpredictable now than it has been in some time, and it’s pretty exciting. They’ve got a bunch of stories awaiting major conclusions while the titles seem to change at will as Rossy moves away from every top title run lasting roughly a year.
For hardcore like me the undercard tags are worth a look to see the continuation of some plot points but if you’re aiming to parachute in then the High Speed, Artist, and double title matches are worth your time, I would especially recommend the Artist match if you’re new to the Saori Anou experience or wanting to see what KAIRI looks like at her best.
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