WORLD WONDER RING STARDOM
STARDOM FLASHING CHAMPIONS
MAY 18, 2024
YOKOHAMA BUDOKAN
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN

Watch: PPV

The Taro Okada era is in full swing as we head into STARDOM Flashing Champions, a show spearheaded by guest appearances by AEW’s Willow Nightingale, Ice Ribbon’s Tsukasa Fujimoto, and SEAdLINNNG’s Arisa Nakajima as well as Saori Anou vs Ami Sorei for the Wonder of Stardom Championship. I’m quite intrigued to see how the cards fall coming out of this one so let’s get right into the action.

MUTUAL LOVE (STARLIGHT KID & NATSUPOI) VS CRAZY STAR (SUZU SUZUKI & MEI SEIRA) – DRAW

Great opener. The tag team scene in STARDOM has been pretty strong this year and while this wasn’t a tag title match or even a contenders match it was a great representation of what the division can deliver. The draw could set up Mutual Love as challengers since they beat the previous champions but that requires them to stay together and Kid to not join any other faction. ****

MAIKA DEF. HANAKO

Solid power-wrestler clash with HANAKO getting room to shine against her stablemate and the current world champion. I would’ve liked a little bit more storyline progression for a match involving the world champion but if they use this as a launch pad for a mini HANAKO push then it’ll age better. ***1/2

OEDO TAI (FUKIGEN DEATH & RINA) & AZUSA INABA DEF. EXV (MINA SHIRAKAWA, XENA & WAKA TSUKIYAMA)

Solid tag match with a fun sequence between Shirakawa and Inaba. Rina getting the win was surprising but they’re really getting behind her ahead of the return of the NEW BLOOD events. Whoever beats her for the future belt is in for a big boost.***

ARTIST OF STARDOM NUMBER 1 CONTENDERS GAUNTLET
OEDO TAI (MOMO WATANABE, NATSUKO TORA & THEKLA) DEF. QUEEN’S QUEST (AZM, MIYU AMASAKI & LADY C), GOD’S EYE (SYURI, KONAMI & SAKI KASHIMA), STARS (KOGUMA, HAZUKI & MOMO KOHGO) & COSMIC ANGELS (YUNA MIZUMORI, AYA SAKURA & SAYAKA KURARA)

These all-action multi-tags are becoming a staple of the card with Taro Okada at the helm. While the match did dip in quality a little when Oedo Tai initially came in, the God’s Eye/OT finish with Konami and Momo Watanabe was good stuff. Oedo Tai were the most likely winners in my eyes as Thekla’s current crusade to eliminate the idols can play into an EXV match with Thekla and Mina really pairing off. ***1/4

HIGH SPEED CHAMPIONSHIP
SAYA KAMITANI (C) DEF. SAYA IIDA

The new look High Speed division is off to an interesting start. Seeing someone like Saya Iida adjust her style to the High Speed setting could make for one of the better reigns in the title’s history. Kamitani has always been very High Speed coded so she’s adjusted to this title really well and should be a solid base for any opponent’s to work off. More of this and this title can really become a highlight of the PPVs ***3/4.

BEST FRIENDS (ARISA NAKAJIMA & TSUKASA FUJIMOTO) DEF. STARS (HANAN & MAYU IWATANI)

Best Friends operated as I expected they would here by playing the antagonists. They’re an incredibly talented duo but what really sells it is the air of violence that follows them, we’ve seen them go to war with each other and a number of tag teams over the year so seeing them waltz in here to take on two STARDOM fan favourites felt like a prime heel vs babyface clash.

Hanan was on the receiving end of some beatings, after Mayu initially held down the fort for her team it was an annihalation from Nakajima and Fujimoto taking turns to beat down the young star. We got a brief, but exciting, look at a pissed off Iwatani coming back in to kick Fujimoto in the spine and try to fight her which makes me very excited for their eventual singles match.

Hanan and Iwatani, unsurprisingly, were great babyfaces here and my only regret is the typically poor STARDOM production failed to pick up the crowd noise. People in the venue noted the Best Friends were receiving boos throughout the match which were barely heard on the show, the chants in favour of STARS were similarly muted. This HAS BEEN an issue for STARDOM but one that especially stands out in a match like this.

Fujimoto beating Hanan was the logical move, Nakajima is retiring and Hanan is still living off the buzz of her Cinderella Tournament win. Iwatani vs Fujimoto is the play, wherever it happens it is sure to be a MOTY calibre outing. ****1/2




TBS CHAMPIONSHIP
WILLOW NIGHTINGALE (C) DEF. TAM NAKANO

Pretty good title match to give Tam a big match on PPV. I like Willow in Japan, it fits her pretty well, hopefully if she comes back at all they get her some better stylistic matchups so she can really flex her strengths.

Nakano’s babyface performance was pretty good, she was firing up and trying to get the crowd onside as she struggled against the powerful lariats of Nightingale. I’m surprised she lost after taking a pin to Aja Kong, especially since a draw could’ve easily led to a match at Forbidden Door but she loses nothing by taking pins at this stage. ***3/4

WONDER OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
SAORI ANOU (C) DEF. AMI SOREI

Ami Sorei delivered in the biggest spot of her career so far. With MIRAI (among others) leaving for Marigold there are opportunities close to the top of the card opening up and Sorei took that opportunity and ran with it. There was a spark to her work that I’ve rarely seen, something that brought a big fight feel to this contest.

Anou has fully refound the form that put her in my conversation for WOTY last year, she’s cocky, she’s brash and she’s talented, it all makes for an excellent base for her opponents to work off. The slap exchanges, the forearm exchanges, they all felt like Anou testing her opponent and daring them to beat her.

A month after Anou went out of her way to make Hanan into a big deal at BUNTAI, she has repeat the feat here with Ami Sorei who will come out of this with a higher stock than ever. Credit to STARDOM for sticking with this as their main event despite strong competition from Tam Nakano and Best Friends, it’s a risk that paid off. ****1/4

FINAL THOUGHTS

Strong show here from STARDOM. The top of the card delivered some good matches that had a nice bit of variety. The Saya vs Saya match was different to Tam vs Willow which was different from the Best Friends vs STARS tag. While the lack of progression with top challengers and big storylines does leave the show a little light the match quality was good enough to keep things rolling.

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