STARDOMXSTARDOM 2023 OSAKA SUMMER TEAM
AUGUST 13, 2023
OSAKA EDION ARENA #1
Watch: Stardom World
STARDOM returns to the Edion Osaka Arena with multiple title matches providing a neat break from the ongoing 5STAR Grand Prix. For the first time in months, the IWGP Women’s Championship will resurface as Mayu Iwatani defends it against Utami Hayashishita in the most eye-catching match of the show.
MEI SEIRA & SUZU SUZUKI WIN TAG TEAM GAUNTLET
These gauntlets are a lot better than the battle royals STARDOM tends to do to squeeze people onto the show. Each match went about 3 minutes so nothing overstayed its welcome and every pairing was kept fresh. Seira and Suzuki winning could set them up for a tag title match soon, be that for the Goddess belts or the New Blood tag belts. ***
RED STARS BLOCK
STARLIGHT KID (2) DEF. NATSUKO TORA (6)
Heel vs. Heel, faction leader vs. faction member, power vs. speed. This was all the tropes you could imagine, but it was pretty solid. Seeing the Oedo Tai members help both people cheat was fun and the action itself was well done despite not being anything spectacular. ***1/4
HIGH SPEED CHAMPIONSHIP
SAKI KASHIMA (C) DEF. KOGUMA
This was one of the weaker High Speed Championship matches I’ve seen. It didn’t really have much of the creativity I’ve come to expect from Koguma and even Saki Kashima barely played into her current character. The entire build to this match was spent with Kashima reminding Koguma she didn’t want to run too much and then they just had a standard match. It seems like a real case of missed potential with how strong both women are as characters. ***
GODDESS OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
COSMIC ANGELS (NATSUPOI & SAORI ANOU) DEF. ROSE GOLD (MARIAH MAY & MINA SHIRAKAWA) (C) – NEW CHAMPIONS
Once this got going, it was great. We started off with some miniature singles matches with Anou paired off with May, Poi paired off with Mina, and Poi paired off with May. After those got out of the way this was exhilarating as all four were involved in some blink-and-you-miss-it action with plenty of neck drops. It was tough not to get into this match down the stretch as the action was hectic, and both teams had a genuine chance of winning.
The title changing already is fine. The belts were at their best with 7Upp being the clear center of the division, and since then, they’ve kind of jumped from team to team to give upper-card folks something to do while they’re outside the singles title scene. Rose Gold definitely could have done more with the titles, but Saori Anou and Natsupoi have been two of STARDOM’s best this year so I won’t complain about them having more big matches. Their first defense being against Mei Seira and Suzu Suzuki is a great chance for Suzuki and Anou to continue their long-standing rivalry. ****
NJPW STRONG WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
GIULIA (C) DEF. YUU
I really didn’t enjoy this all that much. For two wrestlers who excel at hitting people, they didn’t hit each other. Instead, they tried to go for a more technical match, as evidenced by the submission finish, and it just didn’t work. Giulia does get the distinction of being the first person in STARDOM to beat Yuu which is a solid win for her, but that’s about it.
The post-match was more interesting as Deonna Purrazzo of IMPACT laid out a challenge to Giulia for Multiverse United 2. This was interrupted by Giselle Shaw, who wanted to be added to the match. The two IMPACT women were later joined by Momo Kohgo, who recorded a video on Twitter to put herself in the match. I have to wonder if this is a one-off or if we’ll see more of IMPACT working with STARDOM as I’ve seen Gail Kim and others publicly discuss interest in a partnership. If we DO get IMPACTxSTARDOM, all I ask is for Masha Slamovich or KiLynn King to come over. ***1/2
IWGP WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
MAYU IWATANI (C) DEF. UTAMI HAYASHISHITA
This was a real Mayu special to me. Utami was her usual self, but Mayu added the good stuff to this match. She just had this added energy to her that Hayashishita wasn’t bringing to the match. The recent trend of Iwatani embracing her spot as ace and just kind of beating people up is pretty great, she’s always been great at leaning into a more dominant in-ring style so embracing that has really helped her stand out this year. The big moment of the match was Hayashishita’s recently debuted Shocking Baszler finisher being kicked out, once Iwatani kicked out of the new move, it was clear she was going to retain.
With this win, I believe the record between the two is now 3-1 in favor of Mayu Iwatani. There’s an interesting story to tell with these two as Iwatani is the ace and most people believe Hayashishita is the ace in waiting. Despite Utami getting the better of the ‘Icon of STARDOM’ to win the world title three years ago they’ve established that she still hasn’t usurped Iwatani as the centrepiece of STARDOM. ****1/4
WORLD OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
TAM NAKANO (C) DEF. MEGAN BAYNE
This was perfect, honestly. Not perfect in the 5-star match sense or an all-time classic sense, but it was perfectly done to wrestling 101 with the popular native babyface toppling the undefeated invader. Bayne and Nakano played their roles to perfection, with Nakano putting an incredible shift to sell everything Bayne did like death. Credit to Nakano for taking some of the stuff she did, at one point, Bayne threw her over the rope and to the floor with nobody to catch her, which is frankly ridiculous.
When it came time for her comeback, Nakano chipped away at Bayne in interesting ways as she managed to get the crowd behind her over the course of the match. The turning point was when Nakano kicked out of the F5, a move that has won all of Bayne’s matches in STARDOM so far, once her biggest move was taken away the Megasus has nothing left in her bag and eventually fell to Nakano.
My only issue with this entire match is that Bayne barely sold the finish. Nakano made sure to make her look like an absolute beast throughout the match, so there was no need for Bayne to stand up and start yelling about the loss within seconds of the three being counted. It’s a small thing but pretty noticeable in a company where everyone sells defeat like death.
That aside, Bayne proved me right about her with this performance, she’s a pretty obvious star in the making, and I’d be shocked if she didn’t get picked up by one of the American majors soon. ***3/4
In the midst of an all-timer 5STAR Grand Prix, this show kind of underdelivered. The Goddess title and World title matches were both standouts in their own ways, and Iwatani/Hayashishita was good, but I know almost everyone is capable of having better matches.
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