Welcome back to Stardom coverage and I was pleasantly surprised to see that their most recent show was uploaded fully right away because it usually takes about a couple of weeks for the full shows to come up. Originally I was gonna do the July 29th show that had Kagetsu/Starlight Kid and Mayu/AZM, but with this show being uploaded and it leads to the 5 Star Grand Prix, I figured this would be a better place to start.
We got a stacked card tonight with two title matches and a highly anticipated debut which I will get to when it happens. If you have read my preview of the tournament, I did post a little spoiler of the main event but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth covering since I have no doubt Mayu and Kagetsu delivered. How will this show do? Will it be enough to get people hyped up for the Grand Prix? Why don’t we find out and just…dive right in?
Dust vs. Leo Onozaki
Review: We got another gaijin that just started out in Stardom this year and her name is Dust, who is also known as Zoey Skye or Angel Dust in the indy scene and has been wrestling for about eleven years now. She was also trained by JT Lightning and Johnny Gargano, so she seems to have quite the impressive resume along with where she wrestled and being the current Heart of SHIMMER Champion. Her opponent tonight is JAN member, Leo Onozaki or as I like to call her now, the Cutter Girl and yes, I am brought back her Cutter Counter since I feel like it. Let’s see how these two pair off against each other.
I really can’t say if Leo has gotten significantly better as a wrestler since the last time I’ve seen her wrestle, but I can say that her flow has improved and I guess you can say that’s progress. I can’t say much about Dust and how well she did due to her opponent for the match, but she did do her part for being the heel in the match and doing her best to carry her and the match. The match itself though wasn’t terrible, but it was more basic than anything here. Leo would hit two Cutters in the match and she tried to roll Dust up, but Dust would turn it around with her hands on the ropes which the referee kicked to make her let go as Leo used it to roll her up for a two count. Dust would pick Leo up and hits the Backstabber and claims a victory.
Rating: Tony Schiavone
Leo’s Cutter Counter: 2 (I wasn’t lying)
Tag Team Gauntlet Match
AZM & Konami vs. Hazuki & Natsu Sumire vs. Starlight Kid & Tam Nakano vs. Hanan & Shiki Shibusawa vs. Kaori Yoneyama & Natsuko Tora
Review: Our only tag match on this show and it’s a gauntlet match where the winner will become number one contenders for the Goddesses of Stardom Championships. We got quite the selection with JAN, Oedo Tai, STARS, Queen’s Quest, and the other team as we got some nice pairings for some good combinations. Which team comes out on top to become the next challenger for the titles?
The first two teams starting this match off are Hanan and Shiki as they take on Queen’s Quest and the winner of that match will advance to fight the next team. The first match for what it was wasn’t too bad at all as Shiki and Hanan worked surprisingly well together in the matchup and had good little offense here, especially Hanan who actually held her own against both Konami and AZM here. Hanan was very impressive with her judo style and how she was tossing them around mostly as I’m glad she keeps on improving and hoping the best for her. Konami would ruin the moment as she flipped Hanan over into an Armbar and made her tap out as Oedo Tai is next. You see Sumire and Hazuki holding Nanangetsu till she accidentally dropped her as Nao Yamaguchi…transformed back into her…wait, so the Oedo pupper and Nao are the same? That’s kinda weird there, but least the puppy is back. They give us another solid short match with Hazuki taking most of the control of the match after QQ tried to attack Oedo Tai before the bell rang and despite a couple of sloppy spots and one botch, it worked for what it was and AZM is just on fire right now and still crazy she’s only fifteen years old. Nao even got involved by hitting a Double Clothesline onto QQ and Sumire doing her grinding Bronco Buster thingy, but it would be Sumire and AZM near the end as they were both on the apron until AZM went back in to kick her out but had to deal with Hazuki first before hitting a Double Stomp off the top rope onto Sumire as Konami pulls her out to eliminate her as Queen’s Quest moves on once again to now fight JAN
Natsuko seems to be rocking some type of new gear here and I gotta say, I like how it looks on her and gives it more color with hopefully a personality mixed with it. Queen’s Quest already took out two teams and they can now attempt to do it a third time as Kaori and Natsuko are taking advantage of their fatigue here and not holding back on what they need to do to try and get the win to advance. Another short bout and makes sense due to the gauntlet but JAN takes Konami out of the picture to leave AZM alone in the ring to do their double teaming on her as they ran right into her and now Kaori hits a Senton off the second rope leading with Natsuko hitting a Frog Splash off the top rope and they eliminate Queen’s Quest with an impressive victory and now must fight STARS members, Tam Nakano and Starlight Kid. This one was rather quick itself and was hoping for it to be short and sweet, but that doesn’t be the case here as this unfortunately turned rather sloppy and a bit of a cluster which is a shame too because the majority of the whole gauntlet was enjoyable and gave it a weak ending to it. JAN missed with little running into their opponents to make them crash into each other and Starlight hits Kaori with a Tilt-a-Whirl DDT to knock her out as Tam hits a knee off the second rope on Natusko, then Starlight does a Standing Moonsault off the ropes, and tops it off with Tam hitting a Running Knee to get the pinfall victory. Tam and Starlight will fight fellow STARS members, Mayu Iwatani and Saki Kashima at a later date for the Goddesses of Stardom Championships and I’m looking forward to it.
Now on https://t.co/q8dHnF58vW! The Tag Team Gauntlet Match to determine new #1 contenders for the tag team titles! Every unit is represented, who will be standing in the end? pic.twitter.com/Cr4rOW4LCi
— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) August 16, 2018
Rating: Eric Bischoff
Jungle Kyona vs. Utami Hayashishita
Review: This is probably one of the highest anticipated debuts that I’ve heard about in quite some time in Japan. Around July 5th, Utami has taken her pro wrestling test to show she has graduated and is ready to compete in Stardom, and she appears to have passed the test in about four months which is quite fast and very impressive. Her debut is set for this one and has a match against Jungle Kyona which is pretty big for someone for just a debut match and have been hearing a lot of buzz about her before this took place and had to find out some info on her. Utami is nineteen years old and turns out she was a reality TV star from a show about her family called “Tsuukai! Big Daddy” which starred her father, Kiyoshi Hayashishita and was interested in wrestling since middle school, so this was something she wanted to do and had the support from her family to do this. Hearing about her and seeing her test videos along with an interview, this definitely got me interested to see how it plays out.
Before I talk about the match itself, let me take this time to talk about Utami and how I feel about her overall performance here due to this being her first match and I gotta say this, Utami is a star. I know you may think I’m crazy for saying this about someone during their debut in wrestling but there’s something about her when I saw her in the ring and how she was wrestling in this match. She had the look of a professional wrestler, she sold when she needed to sell with the moves she took, her arsenal has a nice variety of strength and technical, she was crisp in the ring, and she has that certain charisma that gets the fans to support her and being a reality star helped since she was welcomed with open arms right away. I was fully expecting this to be a six-minute showcase match with the veteran going over the rookie, but I am thankfully glad that’s not the case here since this was back and forth between the both of these women here to give us a great match. Utami had Kyona in a Chokehold and it looked like she was about to pass out or tap out but she was able to get to the ropes in time before that seems to be the case here. Jungle slammed Utami down and it looked like she was about to go for her Jungle Bomb but Utami would hold onto her foot to make her not get her all the way up as the bell rings meaning the match passed its time limit of fifteen minutes!
I was really surprised the match ended in a draw and again was expecting a squash match and I’m glad they didn’t go that way, otherwise, I don’t think the match would’ve been that impactful. The fans would give the both of them a loud ovation and the president of Stardom, Rossy Ogawa congratulated Utami on her debut and he told her that he had one spot open for the Five Star Grand Prix and he would like her to be a part of it. Talk about a huge opportunity here since she just had one match and is now already part of the biggest tournament in the company. I don’t know how she’ll do, but something to take advantage of for sure. Utami is definitely someone you would even see on Sendai Girls roster and would probably be their top champion just like how she will be in Stardom if she keeps it up.
Rating: Eric Bischoff and a half
Wonder of Stardom Title Match
Momo Watanabe (c) vs. Saki Kashima
Review: This is Saki’s first ever singles title match since her return to the company a few months ago and her first title match is against current Wonder of Stardom Champion, Momo Watanabe. Momo has been stepping up a lot lately ever since she defeated Io for the belt in May and has been defending it three times so far with some impressive defenses with her most notable one being against Hazuki a couple weeks ago. This will mark as Momo’s fourth defense and Saki is gonna be no pushover and this is exactly what I needed to see to see her real progression with singles matches since most of them have all been tag team matches. Can Momo add defense number four or will Saki be a double champ?
Momo is definitely picking up shades of her former mentor, Io Shirai just by showing no respect to her opponent to even bother giving Saki and handshake and rushes over to her to kick her down right away soon as the bell rings to really show that aggressive side to her. I wanted to see more singles action with Saki Kashima and that is exactly what I got here with her to see how she would do and she still proves that she hasn’t lost a step in her five year period absence and has finally shown us that not only is she here to stay this time, but can be a key player in the promotion to be considered one of their top girls. The two had great chemistry in the ring and had that intensity that I like seeing in these matches since they both had something to prove here tonight and they definitely did. Saki had Momo on the ropes for quite a while and had some very close calls throughout the match like how she would hit her Killswitch to knock out Momo and just kicked out very weakly to show that she almost lost her title right there. Momo would hit her Package Driver only for Saki to try and roll her up but Momo rolls back into position to hit another one while hurting her own knee in the process, but Momo fights through the pain to pick Saki up for a Tequila Sunrise but picks her up again to hit it again to double tap as Momo retains the title once again.
— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) August 17, 2018
Rating: Bruce Prichard
World of Stardom Title Match
Kagetsu (c) vs. Mayu Iwatani
Review: Our main event tonight is the World of Stardom Championship with our Prime Minister Kagetsu defending the championship against Mayu Iwatani. Funny that last year, Mayu was defending the title against Kagetsu and was able to retain it, and now the roles reversed a year later. On Io’s last day at Stardom, Mayu would pin Kagetsu to win the match and has earned the right to challenge her for the red belt. Mayu has been chasing for the title ever since she had to drop it due to her injury and during her first attempt in April against Toni Storm, she failed to capture the belt and got moved to the back of the line until now for her second chance at redemption. Our Prime Minister, however, won’t be giving up the title so easily after fighting for her first reign for so long and now that she has it, she doesn’t wanna drop it anytime soon. One of the most anticipated matches for the red belt this year since you got two of the best fighting each other for the top spot of the company. Which one is it going to be?
How many times has Kagetsu attempted to murder Mayu whenever they’re in the ring together? Because that is exactly what she tried to do again when they fought outside the ring with Kagetsu wrapping something around Mayu’s neck as she dragged her all the way to the top of the Korakuen Hall and hangs her over the balcony to choke her out and just drops her to make her land on the floor. Our Prime Minister has gone crazy and doesn’t end it there as she kicked her down the stairs making Mayu roll all the way down like something you saw when Hiromu and Taiji fought at the BOSJ. The match told a story between our two top women here fighting for the spot to claim that they’re the top person to lead the company into a brighter future. The two mostly just kick each other and each kick they do to each other gets deadlier and deadlier with them being dazed, knocked down, or laying down in a weird position as if they partied way too hard and woke up in a different country. Both of these women pulled off just about every stop they had to do to try and get the win and none of them worked, for example, Kagetsu hitting three Michinoku Drivers in a row and Mayu kicked out at one but Mayu hits a Dragon Suplex Hold for even Kagetsu to kick out at one herself, showing their fighting spirit in this match to show no quit here. Mayu hits another Dragon Suplex and once Kagetsu rolled back up, she attempted to spray mist in her eyes but Mayu ducked it and Suplexes her once again for another kick out. Kagetsu hits the Oedo Coaster and Mayu kicked out of it that time too and both of them are out of it right here. Kagetsu showed she had more drive here as she would hit another Michinoku Driver, a Death Valley Driver, and tops it off with another Oedo Coaster right on top of her to retain the World of Stardom Championship!
After the match, Kagetsu celebrated in the ring and announced that today was her ten year anniversary as a wrestler and thanks Mayu for being her opponent on this special day and extends her hand for Mayu to shake, but Kagetsu psyches her out and tells Mayu that she failed to win once again and proved that she was the better wrestler. Kagetsu tells her that they’re on opposite blocks for the Five Star Grand Prix and she hopes that Mayu makes it to the top just like Kagetsu plans to for her own block and thinks it would be wise not to face her again. Mayu would talk about how her opportunities at being the champion aren’t over just yet and she vows to win the tournament and going to reclaim that title. Momo came out telling Mayu to shut up and how she retained her title four times now and looks to win the tournament to add the World of Stardom Championship to her career while still holding the Wonder of Stardom Championship. Kagetsu was getting tired of everyone interrupting her and says they need to give the fans what they want and that is an Oedo Tai dance for the fans and once that was over, Kagetsu hands the microphone over to Utami to close the show for them and she does so by saying the line. “Believe now, Shine tomorrow. We Are Stardom”
— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) August 17, 2018
Rating: Bruce Prichard and a half.
Overall: I thought this was a great show with two great title matches, a highly anticipated debut, Nao returning, and a fun tag gauntlet match. This was a fine way to end the show and get the Five Star Grand Prix some hype to make people interested in watching it and I hope you follow me and Andrew once again as we cover this tournament together.
Favorite Match: Kagetsu vs. Mayu Iwatani
Least Favorite Match: Dust vs. Leo Onozaki
Oedo Tai's Nao Yamaguchi recently made a surprise appearance at Korakuen Hall. Here is her story leading into her return. @naohime0520 @doranyanpa @0929_hazuki @SMR_sptmber_luv pic.twitter.com/0DujmyOobM
— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) August 16, 2018