Continuing my review of the first night of the Stardom 5 Star GP. If you missed the first part you can find it here. As I noted at the end of that review I enjoyed what I saw but nothing blew me away. So lets see what the final 3 matches have in store.
Starfire Vs. KAORU
KAORU is another veteran of the Japanese women’s scene. She’s been around for 20-25 years. Starfire is a younger wrestler from Mexico that wears a Lucha mask which is always cool to see. The match started out with a lot of shady moves from KAORU. She did everything from choking Starfire with the robe she wore to the ring to pulling her hair. This led to Starfire and her friends doing a few shady things of their own. Kris Wolf who wrestled earlier was at ringside supporting Starfire and jumped into the ring to break up a few pinfalls. I’m guessing this is to create something between KAORU and Wolf because they are probably facing each other later on in the tournament. They then started brawling outside the ring and into the crowd. I was grateful for this as it gave me my first look into the Stardom demographic which from what I could see was mostly males from 20-40 (Spotted a few female fans, through they looked like girlfriends that had been dragged along). After they brawled outside we got our ‘finishing stretch’. Starfire hit a very cool double underhook into face buster but KAORU mostly dominated this and picked up the victory with a twisting moonsault. This match was fun. I’m a sucker for brawling through the crowd and shady hijinks. While the actually wrestling was sloppy at times this was a fun showcase for the legend KAORU.
Io Shirai vs. Mayu Iwatani
Ok this should be something special, I’ve heard a lot of buzz around this match on various forums. These 2 are pretty much the top 2 wrestlers in Stardom. They are currently a tag team and very close friends. That combination always seems to produce good matches. Commentary mentions Io is the ace or something along those lines which is interesting, Ace is predominantly something used by fans to describe the ‘top guy’ in a certain promotion to my knowledge. Mayu got a ton of streamers and they were the same colours as her gear. Dedication by the fans there. Also just as a note for future reference there has been a female commentator this entire show which is something different. Some very vocal female fans cheering for Io early on, maybe my demographic assumptions were a little off.
Picture perfect grappling and counters from both in the early going. Very back and forth. Io hit a bodyslam on the ring apron ouch. Since the body slam Io has taken over. Io hit a very stiff looking dropkick to a seated Mayu. Io gets a bit cocky showboating before a springboard dive and Mayu takes control. Hits her own dropkick to a seated Io knocking her out of the ring, a big dive from the top to Io on the floor outside the ring then Mayu dumps Io on her head with a brutal dragon suplex on the floor. It got crazy from this point on. Big strike exchanges, beautiful suplexes and in the end Mayu hit a reverse hurricanrana from the top that looked insane, Io kicked out but the time limit expired. Announcers sound startled and so am I, completely forgot there was a time limit as I was so engaged in the match. I could watch these two wrestle all night so the time limit draw was a bit of a bummer but it makes sense for a tournament match. Gives them an angle they could go back to in the future and makes you wonder if Mayu was really just about to beat the ace of Stardom Io Shirai. If someone wanted an introduction into modern women’s wrestling in Japan I would show them this. It was fantastic.
Chelsea vs. Kairi Hojo
Another tag team partner matchup as both of these to form a tag team called Candy Crush. Chelsea is an American that doesn’t speak Japanese if the pre match video is to believed and I don’t think Kairi speaks much English. They do seem very friendly though. I think Chelsea is throwing candy to the crowd. Kairi is coming out to a variation of the Pirates of the Caribbean music and came out with a pirate hat and a ship wheel it was pretty great. From what I can pick up from the commentary team Kairi is the former stardom champion. After some grappling at the start and the classic test of strength it has been mostly Kairi on offence so far. Chelsea has now taken over and is working heavily on the arm of Kairi. The arm work makes a lot of sense in this scenario because a lot of Kairi’s offence seems to revolve around elbows. Kairi was in control until Chelsea caught her with arm capture roll up for the victory. The young American upsets her partner and the former champion. This match was good but it couldn’t reach the levels of the previous match. It was worked at a much slower pace and never really ‘got going’. This is the first day of the tournament and having to go after that previous match is very tough so I’ll give them a pass.
Overall this was quite a good show for being just the first day of a tournament. It was a great introduction to Stardom. The Io/Mayu match is the obvious stand out but nothing was bad at all. Everything was good to great. I will definitely be keeping my eye out for Stardom shows in the future.