WORLD WONDER RING STARDOM
13TH ANNIVERSARY SUPREME FIGHT
FEBRUARY 4, 2024
OSAKA EDION ARENA
OSAKA, JAPAN

Watch: Stardom World

Partway through this review, I, along with everyone else, learned that Rossy Ogawa’s contract had been terminated with STARDOM, which kind of makes this show take on a whole new meaning. What was considered the first chance for STARDOM to shake off the rust of late 2023 became the final chapter of Ogawa’s time in charge of the company. With that has come rumours of a talent exodus as Ogawa seemingly wants to set up a new promotion. Reviewing the latter half of this show became quite difficult as I don’t know if the people involved will even be with the company in two months’ time, which caused the matches to be looked at in a very different way.

FUTURE OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
RINA (C) DEF. YUZUKI

The future belt is back on PPV after being tied to the (maybe defunct?) New Blood brand for some time. With it came the return of the Hanan special in the opener. Hanan perfected this style of match during her future run and her younger sister Rina did a solid rendition with the two young competitors having a match loaded with near falls and drama but condensed into a shorter run time than we’ll see for the other titles.

I wasn’t entirely sure who would come out on top as Yuzuki is their new super rookie but I felt her story would be better suited with a loss as she waits to presumably take the title at a later date from Miyu Amasaki. They did still go out of their way to protect Yuzuki as she kicked out of some of Rina’s bigger moves and even escaped the Hydrangea. ***

XL (MOMO WATANABE & NATSUKO TORA) DEF. QUEEN’S QUEST (LADY C & MIYU AMASAKI)

I enjoyed what they did with this one. It was never in doubt that Tora and Watanabe would win but the match played into that by having the QQ duo scrap like their lives depended on it. A babyface trying to fight the odds will always make for a solid in-ring dynamic and that’s what this tag had. ***

TAM NAKANO RETURN MATCH
COSMIC ANGELS (TAM NAKANO & YUNA MIZUMORI) DEF. EXV (MINA SHIRAKAWA & WAKA TSUKIYAMA)

After we got past the limb work of Nakano selling her injured leg we got down to business and Tam reminded us of her quality. She and Shirakawa picked up where they left off and had some really fun exchanges to bring their feud back to a boiling point after Nakano’s months off.

Tam beating Waka was going to be the play here no matter what which could set Nakano up as a Maika challenger as Tsukiyama and Shirakawa are now in E Nexus V alongside Maika and HANAKO. ***1/4

HIGH SPEED CHAMPIONSHIP
MEI SEIRA (C) VS HAZUKI – TIME LIMIT DRAW

This was a great match, as should be expected from Seira and Hazuki. It was a nice mix of the High Speed style we’ve seen from both women with the big-match stylings of Hazuki mixed in for good measure. The 15 minute time limit wasn’t enough to let them flex their full creative and in-ring talents so they still left some intriguing stuff on the table.

I like the draw as a result, the High Speed division is currently quite thin on names unless they call Natsupoi/Kid/AZM back to it to fill things out. As it is, Seira vs Hazuki is the biggest match this division has and is a feud that could and should be stretched out to get the maximum utility out of the pairing. That is of course, assuming that Hazuki remains in the division after this but if it were me, she’d win the title and drop it to Seira at a later date. The world NEEDS a Hazuki singles title run again and so can’t the HS belt be it? ****

13TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL TAG MATCH
MAYU IWATANI, UTAMI HAYASHISHITA, NANAE TAKAHASHI & AZM DEF. SUZU SUZUKI, GIULIA, SYURI & MIRAI

STARDOMS homegrown squad faced off with some STARDOM outsiders as part of their 13th anniversary celebration. What’s interesting is Thekla arrived just as the match began to sit in at the commentary desk. Thekla took a break from STARDOM when Giulia disbanded DDM and had teased appearing in American promotions so her return was quite the surprise. I’d imagine she has her eyes on Giulia with one last match against her close friend appealing to both, especially if it ends with them elevating Thekla with a win.

The match itself was fantastic, there was so much to like but what really stood out was Mayu Iwatani once again being fully on her bullshit. I don’t know what happened during her brief lay-off with a pinky injury but she’s been a woman possessed since her comeback and poor Suzuki bore the brunt of it here. Shout out to Takahashi and Syuri for some memorable interactions too they brought the heat like this was a world title match.

Considering the quality of the 8 wrestlers involved there should be no surprises that this was so good, the only thing it really lacked for me was any strong meaning or feuds to focus on, the exhibition tags on the January and December shows benefitted from Shirakawa and Takahashi deciding they hated one another but here it was kind of just 8 wrestlers doing their best, which works when they’re all so talented.

The finish was intriguing to me. Suzuki losing to Iwatani further puts her in limbo as she’s kind of spinning her wheels post-Dream Queendom. Suzuki is just hanging out with Giulia at the moment which isn’t really appealing to me when one is leaving the promotion in a couple of weeks. With a loss to Iwatani, it’s clear Suzuki is a bit of an afterthought at the moment and that’s a tad disappointing considering how hot she was when Prominence first jumped ship. ****1/4




WONDER OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
SAORI ANOU (C) DEF. STARLIGHT KID

A nice return to form for Anou after a rough back-to-back against MIRAI for the white belt. Kid stepped up big time in this big spot and put in a shift both as the heel and to keep pace with Anou. The leg work was well done and kept things flowing pretty well until it was time for the head drops.

It was in some of the moments of limb work that Kid shined with her mixing up a grounded assault with things like a moonsault to the leg. I loved the touch of her making a show of walking over Anou’s hurt knee to head to the top rope, it just adds to the dynamic of Kid being a d***head.

When it came time for Anou to fight back she fought through the pain to hit some nasty boots as well as her new special finisher the Japanese Ocean Suplex (not to be confused with the Cyclone Suplex).

Anou retaining was always the most likely outcome as she has matches set up with a few other key names while Kid feels like someone who could return to win this title later in the year off of whoever dethrones Anou (assuming Kid is still with STARDOM of course). ****

WORLD OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
MAIKA (C) DEF. SAYA KAMITANI

The power-technician empress and the high-flying phoenix have always made for good rivals, they have gone to battle for the Future belt, the tag belts, the trios belts, and now they bring their rivalry to the world title. The in-ring dynamic between them is already quite strong with their clashing styles and as time has gone on they’ve both gotten better making their matches more impressive each time.

In addition to their personal grudge, this match had several added layers that I enjoyed. Maika promised to pluck Saya’s wings and was pretty relentless throughout the match. Her newfound confidence since becoming world champion absolutely shone through as she put a beating on Saya, one where she seemed to never doubt that she’d come out on top.

To counter that, Kamitani had her new phoenix repertoire including the Phoenix Shine and the Phoenix Strike to build up to her attempting the Phoenix Splash for the first time in a while. Kamitani trying to build new answers to the questions Maika would pose was a neat angle to the match, although I felt they burned the moment too quickly with the first two failing to win almost one after the other instead of being peppered in a bit more.

As expected, the Phoenix Splash was the key turning point as Kamitani went for her killer move but got intercepted and it cost her the match as Maika continues to find a way to win by cutting her opponent off at the right time. If these two get to face off again then I hope to see them keep building on the rivalry, although I expect a rematch to end with a triumphant Phoenix Splash instead of a Michinoku Driver. ****1/4

FINAL THOUGHTS

This was a GREAT show, a real statement show to tell the world that STARDOM is back. Sadly, it ended up getting mired within 24 hours with the departure of Rossy Ogawa and the inevitable split that’s coming when some contracts are up. Instead of being the beginning of a super hot run for STARDOM, this 13th-anniversary event ended up marking the final chapter of the book. I don’t know what’s next, and I can’t pretend I have any idea who’s staying or who’s going or what either company will look like in 6 months. All I know is, things are set to change in ways we haven’t seen in a long long time in Joshi wrestling.

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