We’ve been through 9 or 10 days (depending on how you want to count the early/late show day), and it’s all come to this.
Four competitors still have a chance at the finals for Red Stars, and I’m really just hoping it’s not Rachael, never Rachael. This has been such an enjoyable tournament, save for most of her matches.
Utami makes the most sense just because Kyona lost her momentum, I want Tam to win, and can’t stand the aforementioned Ellering. So hopefully Utami wins straight up or has the best tie breakers.
— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) September 17, 2018
But only one way to find out, right? Let’s get on with the show.
Kimber Lee vs Rachael Ellering
Well we start off with an important match, but with one of the worst workers in the tournament. Kimber wants to play spoiler and prove something to herself, where Rachael is somehow positioned with a chance for the Finals. If you’ve been reading along, you know Rachael is probably the worst overall worker of Red Stars, so hopefully Kimber pulls this out.
An aggressive forearm trade opening spills to the outside quickly. Kimber sweeps Rachael’s foot, to set up the big sounding faceplant onto the apron, but Rachael’s arm catches the ropes and it just looks bad. When they go back in, Kimber does land her kick combination, but it just looks slow and kinda unimpressive.
Big Bossman Slam from Rachael gives her the momentum, she drives Kimber to the corner to try and place her on the top turnbuckle, and of course, that doesn’t work correctly. After a few strikes you can see Kimber moving up the ropes for no real reason. Swanton Bomb attempt misses from Kimber, Rachael tries to finish the match, Kimber slips out of the Powerbomb and goes for a a high Jacknife Rollup for the surprising pinfall victory.
The match was short, sloppy at best and saved by the fact it was so short.
Winner: Kimber via Jacknife Rollup
Utami Hayashishita vs Konami
Utami needs a little help since the two draws make her overall points awkward, but a win will put her in the early driver’s seat. Konami is eliminated at this point, but she is one of the most technically sound wrestlers in Stardom. So this match should be good, given both women’s skill sets.
Both came in with good game plans. Konami focused Utami’s right arm, and Utami went after Konami’s back. We saw beautiful transitions between submissions and solid wrestling in general. The more I see Konami wrestle, the more you can see she was trained by Kana (WWE Asuka). From how she sells, to her kicks and submissions, she’s just really fun to watch.
Konami fought out of a Camel Clutch, which Utami morphed into a Bow and Arrow, but Konami bridged out and applied an Arm Breaker. Konami attempted the Triangle Lancer, but Utami stopped her, tried to go for an Air Raid Crash, but Konami worked out of the situation. Utami eventually catches her with a trifecta of STOs, the Torture Rack Slam, and then picks her up for the Torture Rack and Konami taps rather quickly.
Utami is the Super Rookie at only 20 years old, but Konami is only 22, so the future is bright with these two.
— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) September 27, 2018
Winner: Utami via Torture Rack
Rating: *** 3/4
Jungle Kyona vs Natsuko Tora
Two thirds of the Artists of Stardom Champions, this match has some repercussions. Kyona definitely needs to win, since Utami already won, to give her a chance at the tie breaker (I’m really not sure who’s tie breakers are stronger). But Natsuko wants to show her senpai that she’s not just the junior anymore. So do we get another spoiler moment?
Natsuko comes out fast with a Spear, but when she tries a second, Kyona blocks it and immediately attempts her Hammer Throw Powerbomb, but Natusko slides out. From there was see a decent power match. Kyona tries to get a little creative with submissions like a Canadian Backbreaker, transitioned into a spinning Backbreaker, Boston Crab and Scorpion Deathlock.
The junior wrestler manages to fight through the pain, and catch Kyona a little off guard on the top rope. An Avalanche Snapmare gives Natusko the advantage, and she doesn’t look back. Fireman’s Carry Forward Slam, into her Triple Splash sequence and Natsuko upsets the leader of JAN. Go figure?
As for the match, it was fine. Not awful, not great and maybe it was supposed to just get across Kyona being exhausted after two back to back Draws. So mental and physical fatigue could’ve been the major player in this one.
Winner: Natsuko via Splash
Rating: ** 1/4
Kagetsu vs Tam Nakano
Kagetsu didn’t have a pre-match promo, and Tam was very somber talking about remember a lot of things. So can Tam overcome her past and put an end to Kagetsu’s aspirations of winning the tournament?
This was a different side of Tam. It may feel like I’m gushing about her through the tournament, but that’s because, well frankly, she was kinda awful for a while. Even though I have a personal bias to Tam, I wasn’t expecting much from her. But even with her points being few, she was definitely the MVP of Red Stars for me.
Tam tapped into her inner Minoru Suzuki in this match. She even looked angry during her sword dance that she does during her entrance. They begin pummeling each other with forearm shots, Kagetsu goes off the ropes and Tam catches her with a Spinning Crescent Kick. She even goes to the middle rope and does the Suzuki Hanging Guillotine Choke, which eventually turns into a Dragon Sleeper when she hops off the ropes with the hold still locked in.
Kagetsu did make a run shortly after that, when she caught Tam coming off the ropes with a High Roundhouse Kick. Kagetsu hits 4 Michinoku Drivers, goes to the top for the Oedo Coaster, but Tam meets her there for a Superplex. Kagetsu gets up from that quickly and lands a solid Sliding Knee Strike, but only for 2.
At this point Kagetsu thinks she has the match locked up, sits Tam up in the middle of the ring, tells her she must regret leaving Oedo Tai, slaps her, and then goes to bounce off the ropes, BUT, Hana Kimura hits her with a chair. Tam unaware of the interference but sees the opening, hits the O’Connor Roll with the bridge for a surprising pinfall victory.
After the match, Hana hits Hazuki and Sumire with the chair, chokes out Kagetsu, and declares that Stardom made Kagetsu soft and she’s done with all of these bitches. So we see Hana saunter out of the arena, dragging the chair behind her. Not sure if she’s really done with Stardom (her home company is Wrestle-1) but it’s an interesting wrinkle.
Tam helps up Kagetsu, Kagetsu offers the hand shake and Tam takes her hand and then throws it down, still very angry with her. Kagetsu motions that they should have 1 more match, so if Kagetsu makes it through her Champion vs Champion match with Momo and whoever wins this tournament, Tam might be in line for a title shot.
— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) September 27, 2018
Winner: Tam Nakano via O’Connor Roll w/ Bridge
Rating: *** 1/2
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) September 28, 2018
Final Red Stars Standings:
Utami Hayashishita 4-1-2 (10 Points) – WINNER
Kagetsu 4-2-1 (9 Points) – Eliminated
Rachael Ellering 4-2-1 (9 Points) – Eliminated
Jungle Kyona 3-2-2 (8 Points) – Eliminated
Konami 3-4 (6 Points) – Eliminated
Kimber Lee 3-4 (6 Points) – Eliminated
Tam Nakano 2-5 (4 Points) – Eliminated
Natsuko Tora 2-5 (4 Points) – Eliminated
Utami Hayashishita vs Mayu Iwatani
As a result of everyone else who had a shot losing in Red Stars, Utami moves on to the finals. As for how Mayu overcame an 0-2 start, you’ll have to read Mathew’s articles. But the match is, Super Rookie versus one of the most decorated remaining veteran. Can the Super Rookie overcome everything with only about 2 months on the Stardom Roster under her belt?
Well this match definitely lived up to being a finals match. Mayu showed the veteran savvy early until Utami caught her on the apron and literally Gorilla Press tossed her into the ground. The match was an interesting combination of Mayu’s strikes focusing on Utami’s recently injured right arm, but Utami would fight back with a bunch of submissions.
Camel Clutch, turned into kind of a Bow and Arrow variation, before Mayu crawled to the ropes. Utami started to work over Mayu’s bandaged left arm, but many of the submissions were Sleeper variations. Aside from Utami tossing Mayu literally into the ground, the next best spot was probably when Utami whipped Mayu into the corner, but she ran up the ropes, hopped to the top, turned around and landed a crisp Missile Dropkick without missing a beat.
Utami looked to be fighting uphill most of this match. A nice moment where she dragged Mayu back in to the ring from the apron with a Sleeper Hold Takeover, which she then turned into a Coquina Clutch was probably the last real gasp she had a winning. She tried to fight out of everything, Mayu hit a Frog Splash, but Utami kicked out. Even tried to fight out of the Dragon Suplex, but Mayu ducked the forearm and locked it in, for the pinfall.
So the last of the big 3 of Stardom (Io, Kairi, Mayu) showed that the rookie still has some growing to do.
Winner: Mayu via Dragon Suplex Hold
Rating: **** 1/4
HOORAY! Mathew finally gets on the scoreboard! Out of the four tournaments we covered, the winner came from my block in the first three, but hey, look at Mayu coming through for Blue.
Either way, most of my reactions after each show, have been positive. Stardom really impressed me in this tournament. Yes there were some cute moments or eye roll inducing things, but in little bits that’s fine. If Stardom can continue to focus on the wrestling and storylines that take place in the ring instead of with goofy moments, I might stick around.
So congrats to Mayu, Mathew and Stardom for a damn good tournament. Now I’m just interested in if this is a new chapter for Tam and if Hana’s comments were quitting or starting an “outsiders” type of group.