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  1. When Stardom announced the line-up for the 5*GP a lot of western joshi fans groused about the no-names, especially the foreign ones. The problem is that you don't know how good no-names are until you actually watch them. I didn't know anything about Courtney Stewart before she was announced but that didn't stop me from watching her great performance here. The match itself starts with some good heeling from Stewart as she attacks Hojo before the bell and steals her mask. After that they go about establishing Stewart's size advantage over Hojo while showing that Hojo can stay competitive with her strikes. To Stewart's credit, she lays in her shots and does her best to hang in there to take Hojo's brutal shots. She ends up costing herself the match as she's unable to focus her offense on either beating Hojo down or taking out her arm, which allows Hojo to just straight up mow her down at the finish. Really well worked, physical match. ****
  2. This is a tag match set up to preview the next two singles title matches. This is the best performance from Storm so far as she has some really good exchanges with Shanna and does a great job of working over Hojo. Chelsea looked good getting beat down in the early going and hitting so nice offense down the stretch. Shanna had some neat sequences although her execution was a bit iffy at points. An entertaining match that had some fiery performances from everyone involved. ***3/4
  3. This is Hojo's first defense of the Wonder of Stardom title that she won back in May. This match is worked differently than Viper's match with Io Shirai for the Red Belt back in February. That match was more of a traditional title match, where as this one has a clear face/heel dynamic. Hojo's over-the-top personality help make the match as her body language really put over Viper's size and sell her offense. Very entertaining match with a great performance from Hojo. ***3/4
  4. This is a tag match building to the Wonder of Stardom title match between Hojo and Viper. Hojo was really good here, especially in emoting and bumping to put over Viper's size. This was the best that Chelsea's looked since coming back from injury. She's had some rough performances on this tour but solid hitting her stuff here. Leah Vaughan has good ring presence she just needs more experience to add some polish to her ring work. In the end, the highlight was the Hojo/Viper interaction that makes you look forward to their title match. ***1/2
  5. This is Bito first time tagging with either Io or Hojo since her return. This is a surprisingly competitive match considering that you have some of Stardom top girls on one side taking on the B-team of the companies heel group, Oedo Tai. Hojo especially, does a really great job of putting over the offense of their opponents to make you believe that they have a chance, even when none of them have any real big offense. Very entertaining in an unexpected way. ***1/2
  6. Match Link This is a matchup that has been getting some build in Stardom for the last couple of months with this being the first singles match between these two. Hojo tries to get the early advantage by jumping Hiroyo during her entrance but eventually gets cut off. Kairi does do a great job fighting back after taking some big shots, including getting press slammed to the floor. Terrific work from Matsumoto to as she goes from being a dominate power wrestler early on to looking vulnerable taking Hojo's offense. This all leads to a great back and forth draw finish. Hopefully Stardom keeps this rivalry going as this was a great way to start it off. ****
  7. Stardom and Sendai Girls renew their rivalry with this tag main event. While Iwata sticks out as the obvious job girl here, I was really impressed with her. She does a great job of selling her beatdown while still managing to get her own shots in plus a few rollups for nearfalls. It's business as usual for the three. While it's not NJ/WAR, Stardom/Senjo still manages to capture that heated interpromotional rivalry that's been missing in Japan for awhile. ****
  8. It's Chelsea Diamond's first match back in Stardom in 2016, as well as Haruka Kato's last match for a while, continuing the sad trend of Stardom retirements and semiretirements. Haruka acts like a face with the prematch handshakes, but Hiroyo shrugs them off. The match starts with her and Kairi, who have a singles match coming up. Hiroyo establishes her physical dominance, but Kairi is able to keep up with everything and they have a superhero staredown before they tag out to Chelsea and Haruka. There's continued taunting from Hiroyo throughout the match, and Kairi goes out of her way to pay it off by attacking Hiroyo. A double elbow drop from Candy Crush leads into bit of a comedy spot as Chelsea is hugging Kairi while Kairi wants to get back to the match. Kairi turns it up a notch and starts giving Haruka some really stiff forearms and chops. Haruka is able to dodge the running elbow, which hits Chelsea (who is inexplicably at that corner), and tags in Hiroyo. They once again establish Hiroyo's strength advantage, as the spear attempt is countered with an Argentine backbreaker drop. Chelsea isn't the great hot tag in the business. Kairi gets back in and continues the stiffness with Haruka, but Hiroyo breaks up the pin attempt and hits Candy Crush with a double belly-to-back suplex. Candy Crush goes outside to take a breather, but Hiroyo continues the Haruka punishment and throws her over the ropes on top of them. It doesn't end, as Hiroyo repeatedly throws Haruka on top of Kairi back inside the ring. A crossbody off the top gets 2 for Haruka. Kairi continues the stiff offense until Hiroyo comes to break it up. Haruka gets a flash pin attempt and armbar, with Hiroyo preventing Chelsea from saving her, and Kairi eventually reaches the ropes. Kairi hits a bridging belly-to-belly, which is broken up by Hiroyo. Kairi is frustrated and sets up the diving elbow drop, but Hiroyo rushes the corner to attack her. That ends with a tree-of-woe double footstomp, Haruka gets another flash pin attempt and goes for a suplex, but Kairi counters and finally hits the diving elbow drop for the win. This is setting up a singles match between Kairi and Hiroyo, which should be pretty good if they have the chemistry they showed in this match. Chelsea still has a really limited range, and works best when selling a beatdown and getting a few hope spots in.
  9. While this is pretty much a veteran vs. rookie match, there's enough fire and stiffness to make this stand out on its own. This starts out with the typical vet beating down of the rookie with Hojo controlling things. Iwata is finally able to get on offense when she avoids a charging Hojo and follows up by slamming Kairi on the floor. She then focuses on Hojo back, even breaking out a really nice looking Regal Stretch. Eventually though, Hojo just has enough of this and just starts drilling Iwata with strikes topping off with the absolute nastiest spinning backfist that you will ever see catching Iwata right on the nose. Mika tries making one last comeback but gets jacked up by a running forearm from Hojo and another spinning backfist that splats blood from Iwata's broken nose onto her cheek. That's a visual that I won't be forgetting for awhile. Quite the rite of passage for a rookie. ***3/4
  10. This was my first real look at Yakusawa. I'm sad she's retired. She doesn't have the athleticism of Threedom, but her offence is credible looking, her timing is excellent and she's got loads of in-ring charisma. She makes for a decent change of pace from the other top natives. Hojo was her usual excellent self in this match. I thought Yakusawa looked pretty good here; her swinging front facelock looked really nasty. Unfortunately, Yakusawa was only to have a little over two months left as an in-ring competitor after this match. Hojo wins with the flying elbow drop.
  11. This was a really great follow-up to the previous month's match. Survival alone will not be good enough; Hojo needs a win to prove herself after barely surviving the last time these to met. Even against a dangerous and vastly more experienced opponent, Hojo tries to wrestle like an ace, going toe-to-toe with Satomura. Notwithstanding a bad right arm that's been her Achilles' heel since winning the title, Hojo gives it her all and, at one point, is a single flying elbow away from successfully defending the Red Belt. But Satomura is like a force of nature. Hojo tries to weather the storm, but Satomura beats her down until she can't kick out anymore. Hojo put on a great and fearless performance in this match, looking incredibly tough and full of heart in a losing effort. Satomura is her usual self. One of the great spots in the match comes when the two of them are fighting in the stands at Korakuen. Hojo goes for her running spear by Satomura outright blocks it as if she were the Immovable Object. Yet Hojo doesn't give up, and comes back to hit a flying elbow smash off of the balcony over the stairwell. Kudos to Hojo for showing growth in the loss. I anticipate the day when Hojo finally manages to defeat Satomura-that will be a match worth watching. As for this match, it was a great performance all around. Check it out!
  12. This is a match for Stardom's six-women titles pitting Threedom (Io, Iwatani, Hojo) versus the Rookies (Watanabe, Kyona, Mimura.) The thing about this match that I liked the most was how the Rookies were able to earn their offense throughout the match. Usually in this type of setting, veteran(s) vs. rookies, they get their openings for offense through the arrogance of the vets. Even during the finish, it never feels like Threedom just flip the switch and put the Rookies away instantly. It comes off as them having earned their win. ***1/2
  13. Great showing for two women working their first main event singles match. I really like how both of them focus on a specific body part in an attempt to neutralize a major part of her opponent's offense. Iwatani goes after Hojo's arm to take away her elbow based offense. Hojo counters by going after Iwatani's abdomen to prevent her from hitting her dragon suplex, which legit KO her in a tag title match earlier in the month. With the way that both women work the selling into the match, it turns into a story of who is willing to work through the pain to hit her finisher first. Iwatani wins that battle but ends up landing too close to the ropes with Hojo rolling outside to recover. Hojo hits her top rope elbow drop but is too hurt to cover. They run through a bunch of desperation rollups but Hojo ended that with a couple of nasty back elbows to setup another top rope elbow for the win. ****1/4
  14. This is the final for the World of Stardom Title as it was vacated by Yoshiko after the incident with Act Yasukawa. Both had semi-final matches earlier in the night and are selling injuries from them with Steamboat-style tapejobs. Io controls the early part of the match by working over Hojo's arm after she gets a bit too aggressive and ends up spearing the post. Hojo does a really great job selling the arm throughout as she has a difficult time working over Io's back with various crab holds due to her not being able to keep a good grip due to the arm. Things kinda fall apart at the finish due to Hojo hurting her shin during the finish but the match still ends up being rather enjoyable. ***1/2
  15. This match was on a show that was part of the Cauliflower Alley Club. Instead of trying to work a memorable epic, they keep things simple and work a straight forward easy to understand match in front of a crowd that was mostly unfamiliar with them. A great sampler of what the Stardom girls can do. ***1/2
  16. While this is technically a preview for the tag title match on the next show, this turns out to be pretty good in it's own right. It says a lot about Hiroyo as a tag wrestler as this is the third different partner that she has had in the last six months and she has had instant chemistry with all of them. Iwatani also turns a great selling performance as she really puts over the offense of the future challengers. Surprisingly great match from something that would usually be treated as a throwaway. ****
  17. After a heated rivalry last year, Satomura and Hojo come together to challenge the current tag champs, Thunder Rock. The opening part of this match quick establishes the difference between the two teams. While on paper Satomura and Hojo present a strong challenge, it becomes clear in the early going that they lack the true teamwork of the champs. When they are on the same page though, they are able to chain together some pretty nasty combos. Still, Thunder Rock's ability to keep watch of each other and be able to work together naturally is what ultimately gives them the edge in the end. This match doesn't reach the levels that it potential could have but it still managed to tell a good story of contrasting teamwork. ***3/4
  18. Match Link This is Santana first defense of the 'White Belt' (wow that's weird to write) in Japan since she won it from Io Shirai late last year. Starts off with a catty strike exchange which leads to Hojo hitting a spear on Garrett. Santana uses a really good transition to get back in control and starts working over Hojo arm. The lead up to the finish has some great back-and-forth with probably the best setup to the usually contrived looking corner doublestomp. The finish itself was weak because they reuse the same finish, a rolling sunset flip, that Santana used to beat Io. Still, a fairly entertaining match despite the finish. ***1/2
  19. Match Link This is a 'Survivor Series' style tag with battle royal over-the-top eliminations as well. The World team gets off to a good start by being the more in sync team, which was surprising. They actually put over Viper strong as she pretty much takes out all of the Stardom women on her own, pinning Kyouga to get the first elimination. In the middle portion of the match they do a good job of giving the lower ranked women a chance to work some competitive sequences before getting eliminated. There is even some nice top rope teases before both Hojo and Santana get eliminated at the same time. Just a really fun match from start to finish, which is just what you want out of this type of match. ****
  20. Match Link This is quite the rockin' tag match. It goes 20 minutes but the pace is really well done. Its pretty action packed but still lets the action breathe which you typically don't see in joshi tags. Everyone here turns in a really good performance which is promising for upcoming matches. ****
  21. Not sure if anyone else would be interested but I threw this list together. Joshi has had a pretty good year so I wanted to try and compare them to the matches that happen in NXT. I also wanted to see if I could reasonably stretch the list long enough to include a match from the WWE main roster. Luckily, there's been a couple of really good matches so the list didn't have to get too egregious. 1. Kairi Hojo vs. Meiko Satomura (Stardom, 6/14) 2. Io Shirai vs. Koguma (Stardom, 2/22) 3. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley (NXT, 8/22) 4. Arisa Nakajima vs. Hikaru Shida (JWP, 7/11) 5. Tsukasa Fujimoto/Arisa Nakajima vs. Misaki Ohata/Ryo Mizunami (Ice Ribbon, 12/31) 6. Io Shirai/Mayu Iwatani vs. DASH Chisako/Sendai Sachiko (Stardom, 9/23) 7. Kairi Hojo vs. Mayu Iwatani (Stardom, 5/17) 8. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch (NXT, 5/20) 9. Io Shirai vs. Dark Angel (Stardom, 10/11) 10. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley (NXT, 10/7) 11. Su Yung vs. Madison Eagles (Shine, 10/2) 12. Kairi Hojo vs. Takumi Iroha (Stardom, 7/4) 13. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte (NXT, 3/27) 14. Kana/Konami vs. Syuri/Hikaru Shida (Kana Pro, 3/8) 15. Emma vs. Asuka (NXT, 12/16) 16. Io Shirai vs. Mayu Iwatani (Stardom, 8/23) 17. Tsukasa Fujimoto vs. Maki Narumiya (REINA, 12/26) 18. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch (WWE, 11/10) 19. Mio Shirai vs. Arisa Nakajima (M.I.O., 6/19) 20. Ayako Hamada/Yuu Yamagata vs. Misaki Ohata/Ryo Mizunami (Pro Wrestling WAVE, 12/23) Other Matches to Watch: Nikki Bella vs. Paige (WWE, 1/6) Tsubasa Kuragaki vs. Kagetsu (Oz Academy, 1/11) Hikaru Shida vs. Sakura Hirota (Pro Wrestling WAVE, 1/25) Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley vs. Becky Lynch (NXT, 2/11) Mio Shirai vs. Io Shirai (M.I.O., 2/14) Mayumi Ozaki/Sakura Hirota vs. Kagetsu/Kaho Kobayashi (Oz Academy, 3/1) DASH Chisako/Sendai Sachiko vs. Nanae Takahashi/Kairi Hojo (Sendai Girls, 3/11) Ryo Mizunami vs. Rina Yamashita (Pro Wrestling WAVE, 3/15) Tsukasa Fujimoto vs. Kurumi (Ice Ribbon, 3/21) Arisa Nakajima/Rabbit Miu vs. Sareee/Meiko Tanaka (JWP, 3/22) Io Shirai vs. Kairi Hojo (Stardom, 3/29) Mia Yim vs. Santana Garrett (Shine, 4/3) Kana vs. Ryo Mizunami (Pro Wrestling WAVE, 6/14) Kairi Hojo vs. Meiko Satomura (Stardom, 7/22) Paige vs. Sasha Banks (WWE, 7/27) AKINO, Sonoko Kato, Tsubasa Kuragaki vs. Arisa Nakajima, Hiroyo Matsumoto, Hikaru Shida (Oz Academy, 8/23) Santana Garrett vs. Allysin Kay (Shine, 9/4) Jessicka Havok vs. Kay Lee Ray (Shine, 10/2) Santana Garrett vs. Evie (Shine, 10/2) Io Shirai vs. Mia Yim (Stardom, 10/16) Aoi Kizuki/Kayoko Haruyama vs. Tsukasa Fujimoto/Arisa Nakajima (Ice Ribbon, 10/17) Io Shirai/Mayu Iwatani vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto/Kellie Skater (Stardom, 10/18) Io Shirai/Mayu Iwatani vs. Hiroyo Matsumoto/Santana Garrett (Stardom, 10/25) Meiko Satomura vs. Mayu Iwatani (Stardom, 11/15) Kairi Hojo vs. Mika Iwata (Stardom, 11/15) Meiko Satomura vs. Io Shirai (Stardom, 12/23) * ratings are included with reviews linked in the thread. Top 10 Women of 2015: 1. Io Shirai 2. Sasha Banks 3. Kairi Hojo 4. Arisa Nakajima 5. Bayley 6. Tsukasa Fujimoto 7. Becky Lynch 8. Hikaru Shida 9. Ryo Mizunami 10. Santana Garrett
  22. More fuel for the Hojo hype-train as she defends her title against former roster member now Chigusa protege Iroha. I actually had high expectations for this as Iroha had a shockingly great title match with Io Shirai last year. Although I was expecting this to more of a highspot/suplex affair, they actually keep it on the mat for most of the match. Iroha focuses on Hojo's back including using a nasty Canadian Backbreaker. Kairi gets her revenge later busting out an equally nasty cross-armed Regal Stretch. Breaking up the matwork are these Hashimoto/Tenryu level chop exchanges that make you question how the hell does a 100 lbs woman hit that hard. The finish is great too, as Iroha is just relentless going after the back with Hojo going into survive mode. They do end with a roll-up out of nowhere but that's a minor blemish on a pretty great match. ****1/4
  23. Two fun teams have a super fun match. The Jumonji Sisters have a bunch of slick double teams and aren't afraid to sell like crazy. Takahashi & Hojo have a nice vet/rookie dynamic with some fun double teams of their own. They also manage to not go too long on the finish. ****