WORLD WONDER RING STARDOM
STARDOM NAGOYA BIG WINTER
DECEMBER 2, 2023
AICHI PREFECTURAL GYMNASIUM/DOLPHIN’S ARENA

Watch: Stardom World

What a few weeks it has been. AphroditE is back, Tam Nakano is no longer world champion, Giulia doesn’t look like she has half her mind in WWE, and there’s a new company president (with the old one, Harada, being buried by everyone associated with STARDOM recently). If there was ever a time to get out of the recent funk STARDOM has been in, this is it. They’ve set themselves up for success with a nice-looking card headlined by Suzu Suzuki vs Hazuki, with AphrotditE vs Divine Kingdom sure to deliver as well.

MAI SAKURAI DEF. RUAKA

A standard enough bad guy vs good guy outing. Ruaka has no credibility at the moment, so this was just a tune-up win so Sakurai could cut a promo after the match. I suspect, given her recent momentum swing, that Sakurai is getting some visual wins ahead of a big Cinderella run in 2024, but who really knows with STARDOM and that tournament now? **3/4

COSMIC ANGELS (SAORI ANOU & YUNA MIZUMORI) DEF. WINGGORI (SAYA IIDA & HANAN)

Anou pinning Hanan was a surprising result since Iida is usually the pineater of the team but it made sense later in the show when Anou challenged MIRAI. Getting a pinfall win over the recently protected Hanan was a neat way to give Anou a good win ahead of her white belt rematch with MIRAI.  The action in the match was good, particularly when Anou and Hanan were in the ring down the stretch. Based on their work in this match and the brief interactions after the match Anou vs Hanan is a grudge I’d like to see develop in the coming years s they’re natural enemies and work well in the ring together. ***1/4

HIGH SPEED CHAMPIONSHIP
MEI SEIRA (C) DEF. THEKLA

Great High Speed match that let both wrestlers show off their creative sides. The wrestling was fluid, and the counters were done at such a pace that they didn’t ever break their flow. Mei Seira gets how this High Speed stuff works. She’s won both her defenses with different moves, keeping that unpredictability alive throughout the match because you don’t know how she’s going to get the job done.

To her credit, I liked Thekla in this one, and I came away reminded that she should be given much more to do than she is. She’s so versatile, charismatic, and talented that I’m amazed she doesn’t get more big matches, especially big singles matches. All I can hope for is she gets in the GP next year at the very least. ***3/4

OEDO TAI (NATSUKO TORA, STARLIGHT KID & MOMO WATANABE) DEF. GOD’S EYE (MIRAI, AMI SOREI & SYURI)

While yes, this was a tag match you’d usually see on a house show, I have to at least appreciate that they let all of the ideal pairings go at it. Sorei and Tora were partnered up as the hoss powerhouses, Syuri and Momo paired up as the two who throw kicks, and MIRAI and Kid, well they were they.

Tora winning should have tipped me off to her plans later in the show, but I hadn’t yet put 2 + 2 together, so this was another tag that, at the very least, gave a future title challenger a clear win and some momentum before their title match. ***

Post Match: Saori Anou emerged to challenge MIRAI to a rematch for the Wonder of STARDOM Championship. Their previous match ending in a TLD makes more sense in this context although I have a nagging feeling this spot was originally intended for Natsupoi and STARDOM opted to just double up on Anou challenged.

UWF RULES
NANAE TAKAHASHI DEF. SCANDINAVIAN HURRICANE

Okay, so despite being called and officiated like a UWF rules match, this was not a UWF rules match. Nanae Takahashi rocked up in her normal gear and hit pro wrestling moves, she was not about to indulge in grapplefuck and realism and honestly, I’m here for it. Hurricane (aka Aliss Ink) was throwing a lot of strikes and tried to chop down her opponent, which made it quite a fun clash of styles. The nasty back elbow Nanae won with was badass too she was taking the UWF title as an excuse to lay her shit in, what a beast. ***3/4




NJPW STRONG WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
GIULIA (C) DEF. AZM

If you had asked me a few weeks ago, I’d have told you that Giulia had one foot out the door and her mind set on a RAW after Mania debut. Since the regime change, however, I’ve seen her spark back into life, first with the Megan Bayne match on a recent house show and now with this great outing against AZM. Giulia started strong and with confidence, even trying to indulge in some High Speed trickery of her own until AZM started to get back into the match and get some near falls on the champ.

I loved some parts of the final stretch, like Giulia ducking an AZM head kick after AZM had thrown a few too many, the double Azumi Sushi attempt which occasionally gets AZM upset wins, and the quick finish with Giulia realizing she had to go in for the kill and dropping her opponent with a Northern Lights Bomb.

You can always rely on AZM to be the goods when put in a big spot, but credit to Giulia for meeting her halfway and providing a great foil for the agile underdog to fight against. ****

GODDESS OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
APHRODITE (UTAMI HAYASHISHITA & SAYA KAMITANI) DEF. DIVINE KINGDOM (MAIKA & MEGAN BAYNE)

Oh, how this company missed Utami Hayashishita and Saya Kamitani in their absence. AphroditE immediately come back to take the reigns of a tag team division that has needed some stability after a summer full of hot potatoing and the previous champion vacating due to injury.

They did a good job in the match of building on Megan Bayne’s status as this unshakeable monster with neither Utami or Saya having much joy against her early on, at one point Bayne even dealt with both at once. That meant as Hayashishita began to turn the tide the crowd was on her side and she overcame a monster to get the titles.

The win immediately reestablishes Kamitani and Hayashishita as high card threats as Utami becomes just the second person to pin Bayne since her arrival in STARDOM, but Divine Kingdom was protected, too. A moment of miscommunication where Maika hit her own partner allowed the challengers to put Bayne away, meaning it took both her opponents and her own teammate to beat Bayne. ****

Post Match: AphrotidE learned who their first challengers would be as XL (Tora & Watanabe) opted to reignite the QQ vs Oedo Tai feud and challenge. That’s a fairly big match given Hayashishita’s and QQ’s history with both Tora and Watanabe.

SUZU SUZUKI’S RIGHT TO CHALLENGE ON THE LINE
SUZU SUZUKI DEF. HAZUKI

This is the match that Suzu Suzuki needed. Maika came away with the momentum after the 5STAR GP and won the tag league, meanwhile, Suzuki was unfortunate to be stuck waiting around for news on Tam Nakano and the status of the World of STARDOM Championship. A match like this gave her a chance to send out a reminder that she’s still in an elite tier of pro wrestlers when it’s time for the bell to ring.

Hazuki is a great wrestler to put in a spot like this because she’s truly exceptional in the ring and the crowds love her, no matter how many times she may lose big matches.

Suzuki retaining was an obvious result because even with Rossy’s questionable decision-making at times, he wasn’t going to switch out a hot Maika vs Suzuki match for an out-of-the-blue Hazuki vs Maika Sumo Hall main event. She came away looking good and I think if she delivers to this level throughout her reign then any hard feelings from Maika fans will thaw pretty quickly. ****1/4

FINAL THOUGHTS

While not the best show ever, this was a real return to form for STARDOM after a rough few weeks. AphroditE returned and brought back some much-needed star power, Giulia looks motivated and energized again, and the world title is back in circulation, which has given Suzu and Maika free reign to build to a hot Sumo Hall match. Even the undercard, which can sometimes be pretty whatever, felt like it was building to what’s next rather than just running back house show matches. With Sumo Hall just weeks away, STARDOM needed a show like this, and they delivered.

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