WORLD WONDER RING STARDOM
STARDOM GOLD RUSH ~ I DON’T KNOW BUT STARDOM
NOVEMBER 18, 2023
OSAKA EDION ARENA
STARDOM is in a slump at the moment and this card is proof of it. The injury-ravaged roster has no World of Stardom Champion available, no Goddess of Stardom titles available, very few big stars, and almost nothing really going on. Everyone is just spinning plates until the main folks are back and it really shows on a card like this where the main attraction is the gimmicky Moneyball ladder match and very little to pay attention to storyline-wise. Here’s hoping the roster can do what they always do and deliver a strong show to get some good vibes back.
MONEYBALL TOURNAMENT SEMI-FINAL
HAZUKI, HANAN & SAYA IIDA DEF. AMI SOREI, KONAMI & HANAKO
Hey, Konami is here! That’s kind of a surprise, so of course she’s stuck in a tag match in the opener. This wa s a fine multi-woman tag but nothing sets it apart from what we see on the house shows other than the presence of Konami who had some good exchanges while she was in the ring. ***
MONEYBALL TOURNAMENT SEMI-FINAL
GIULIA, THEKLA & MAI SAKURAI DEF. MOMO WATANABE, RUAKA & NATSUKO TORA
See above, a standard tag match that you’d see on a house show. There is nothing wrong with it, but nothing to really dig into either. ***
HIGH SPEED CHAMPIONSHIP
MEI SEIRA (C) DEF. MOMOKA HANAZONO
This is more like it. Really fun match from Hanazono and Seira to get Seira’s high speed run off to a solid start. Hanazono is great for these spots as she’s just a fun personality all around and fits right in with the entertaining nature of STARDOM’s High Speed division. Seira is excellent at what she does and did some really cool stuff throughout the match. They got me good with the finish I was expecting Seira to hit the leg trap powerbomb after teasing it earlier in the match but instead, she got the win out of nowhere with a compiled roll-up. ***1/2
STARLIGHT KID RETURN MATCH
AZM DEF. STARLIGHT KID & SUZU SUZUKI
As a make-good for Suzu vs Tam Nakano being called off with got the abrupt return of SLK in this three-way pitting three of STARDOM’s future stars against one another. This was a really creative, well-paced match that stands out as one of the more interesting three-way matches I’ve seen recently. it didn’t rely too much on the usual tropes and had a surprising finish with AZM using the Azumi Sushi to roll up her rival SLK. I thought a Suzuki win was a lock here, but I’m glad AZM won to reignite and remind us of her career-spanning grudge with Kid. ****
UWF RULES MATCH
SYURI DEF. SCANDINAVIAN HURRICANE
I’ve gone on record multiple times to air out my distaste for UWF matches, but this was one of the better ones. Hurricane (known better as Aliss Ink) was a capable grappler who was able to have some very fluid and realistic striking exchanges with Syuri. Syuri doing these matches lately seems to be building to a big UWF match at Sumo Hall, but short of Ronda Rousey, I don’t know what other outsiders fit the bill, especially if she’s already beaten a bigger challenge in Scandinavian Hurricane. ***1/2
WONDER OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
MIRAI (C) VS SAORI ANOU – TIME LIMIT DRAW
I believe Saori Anou is on a Wrestler of The Year level run within the Joshi scene this year, which set my expectations sky high for this match. Unfortunately, it failed to live up to the hype as the 30-minute length and Anou’s relatively poor performance held it back a bit.
MIRAI was great, I thought she put in a real shift to make Anou look good, and her fighting spirit was on full display in her babyface comeback and subsequent big finishing stretch. Anou, who is a pretty natural heel, was fairly bland when working on top and brought very little of her signature intensity to the exchange early on.
The finishing stretch did get me invested as they got more and more desperate to get the win as time ticked on, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the rest of the bout. The result is what it is, they likely wanted to pad out the length of the show for the Samurai TV viewers and PPV buyers, so they opted to protect Anou with a draw. ***3/4
ARTIST OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP MONEYBALL LADDER MATCH
GIULIA, THEKLA & MAI SAKURAI DEF. HANAN, SAYA IIDA & HAZUKI
Em…yeah, OK. I have no idea how to even rate this, but I guess I had fun(?). The question mark boxes were funny at least, and the comedically small ladder they had to fight with made the ladder bumps equally amusing and painful. I’m kind of glad STARS didn’t win anyway. I can’t imagine how to explain Hanan’s first main title win being in a weird ladder match with powder in boxes.
Thekla got the win for her team when she pulled down the chest and used this moment to challenge Mei Seira for the High Speed belt for a match that is taking place in Nagoya next month.
For the first time since it started, I really felt the injury crisis and its impact on the show. Not just from a perspective of who’s missing but because the people who are still healthy aren’t doing anything. Divine Kingdom won tag league and beat up Suzu Suzuki, where were they? In a pre-show battle royal. Suzu Suzuki won the 5STAR Grand Prix, and as of this show, we didn’t know when or if she was even going to get her match with Tam Nakano.
MIRAI is holding the 1B title in the company and six weeks out from SUMO HALL we don’t have the faintest notion who her challenger could be because nobody is being built up to threaten her spot as champion.
Beyond AZM challenging for the NJPW Strong belt (which gets more air time than half of STARDOM’s actual belts lately) and Thekla challenging for the High Speed nothing was happening on this show to build to the future, and that just isn’t good enough when we’re weeks away from the second or third biggest event of the year.
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