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  1. Decided to start this thread since both Stardom and Pro Wrestling WAVE now have their own streaming services, plus the Real Hero google drive makes it easier to find shows from other groups. Just finished watching the opening night of the 5*GP. Thought it was a fine show, but nothing memorable. Storm/Bito, Hojo/Wolf, and Iwatani/KLR were all good yet would say that you have to rush out to see any of them. The only bad match was Blanchard/Watanabe, which was a mess. Courtney Stewart looked good having a short, solid match with Jungle Kyona. The show ended with promos from Kay Lee Ray, Toni Storm, and Io Shirai whom I assume they are teasing as being in the finals.
  2. The three-way lock-up to start was a bit goofy, but the kind of creativity you come to expect from these matches. Natsupoi and AZM didn’t stand around waiting for Koguma’s big dive but instead jockeyed for a German Suplex to give the spot a more natural set-up. They deviated from the formula of two wrestlers teaming up on the other, with everyone opting to employ their own strategies instead. They also avoided one of my least favorite tropes in multi-person matches where someone disappears for large periods. After a blisteringly fast series of back-and-forth pin attempts, AZM defeated Natsupoi with the AZM Sushi. They kept the action moving along at a brisk pace and avoided many of the pitfalls of lesser matches of this ilk. Fun stuff.
  3. A byproduct of Stardom joining the Bushiroad banner is its matches becoming increasingly New-Japan-like. Whether that be increased match length, dancey counter sequences, strike exchanges, or prolonged mat work that is ultimately meaningless. There was more than a little of that here. Saya didn't sell long-term effects of the early neck work, which lasted a good 5+ minutes. The strike exchanges were ineffectual at best and downright ugly at worst. For many, the wrist-control spot is a prime example of the eyeroll-inducing, hollow "storytelling" that plagues NJPW's matches. Whereas in Okada/Tanahashi that moment was meaningful, one of defiance and a refusal to give up, here it felt like Tam and Saya pulled out that spot because they were going through a Big Match Checklist. The match was also surprisingly one-sided, with Saya being swallowed up by Tam at times. As someone who's not a very dynamic seller, that worked against her. There was an attempt to infuse emotion into this match, but it didn't resonate with me for the aforementioned reasons.
  4. This was quite the way to end the Stardom/Sendai Girls feud, or at least for now. Story of the match has Io constantly getting drilled by Meiko but still managing to get in some comeback and slowly chip away at Satomura. The strikes here are just nasty, maybe it was the way that the sound was setup but you could hear pretty much every shot the whole match. Wasn't crazy about some of Io's selling on her comebacks, she hit some big stuff a little too easily. Still an awesome way to end the year for Shirai, who is my personal woman wrestler of the year. ****
  5. This is Bito's return match after a 4 year absence. It was surprising to see just how competitive Bito was right from the start. She gets the early advantage on Hojo, staying threatening till the end. She did seem to run low on gas towards the end but the match layout covers for it by keeping the match moderately paced with high-impact strikes. Overall, a surprising strong return match and it will be interesting to see how Bito continues to develop during her return. ***1/2
  6. They work a 30 minute draw that never drags. While Satomura is terrific, it's Hojo's performance that really makes the match. Early on in the match, Hojo quickly establishes that she not afraid of going toe-to-toe with Meiko. She hits Satomura with a nasty backfist out of the opening collar & elbow, and breaks up a Boston Crab attempt with an even nastier slap. Of course, this doesn't always work out well for Hojo as she running into some nice submission counters and eating some really brutal looking shots. Around the halfway point though, you see Satomura start to get more aggressive. After Hojo rolls out of the ring, Meiko follows her out, drags her to the entrance, and then lands a DVD with a sickening thud. She follows that up great looking backdrop suplex and the best looking sleeper you'll see. Hojo sells all of this beautifully but still manages to keep fighting back. She never just pops up and goes on offense, she seems to slip through a crack in Satomura's attack and get back in control through her own sheer will. Just an amazing must see match. ****1/2
  7. Stardom All-Star Dream Cinderella PPV 2021.03.03 Nippon Budokan I have no idea why they booked such a big show in a big venue where you can’t fill it with people. High Speed Championship: AZM (c) vs Natsupoi Of course, they do the superfast paced matrix intro for the match. First diving double stomp looked pretty weak, but the second one looked ok. AZM pretty much was dominating and did a flying nothing so Natsupoi could get a dropkick in. Natsupoi bridges are gorgeous. Lots of pinning attempts in the home stretch, Natsupoi hits three bridging/rolling German and gets the straight jacket suplex for the pin! New champ! Match was a pretty good spotfest, most of the moves hit pretty well. AZM being only 18 is crazy. Goddess of Stardom Championship: Maika & Himeka (c) vs Natsuko Tora & Saki Kashima Cool spot where Himeka gets both Oedo Tai members in the Torture Rack. This match felt like filler, they just didn’t get a good rhythm going. Nice to see that the WWE let Io Shirai cut a promo for Stardom. Tanahashi! Kairi Hojo! Main Card: All-Star Rumble I do prefer the Rumble format over Battle Royales, it’s just strange they don’t give more time in-between entrances but granted this isn’t the main event. Because of this the ring fills up really fast. Lots of comedy spots. Lady C is the first to get eliminated by Kyoko Inoue. Inoue gets another Lariat for another elimination but is ganged up afterwards and gets pinned. Mima Shimoda! Chigusa Nagayo and Kikutaro are the last to enter. Kikutaro doing his schtick, being a creepy old man, really could have done with this. Unagi Sayaka ultimately wins over the Cosmic Angels girl in the final three. Momo Watanabe vs Nanae Takahashi (SEAdLINNNG) Lots of strikes to start off, Nanae gets the early advantage after a german suplex and more strikes. These girls were working their asses off! Very good, though short match, barely 10 minutes long. SWA Undisputed Title: Syuri (c) vs Konami Matwork opens with Konami getting the extension of the armbar, and the control of the opening moments. Konami brought some cool armwork, but we go to suplexes almost right away. Pretty short match, I would’ve preferred if they got more time for what kind of match they were going for. Konami taps out to a cool submission. Pretty decent match. Mayu Iwatani vs Yoshiko (SEAdLINNNG) Akira Hokuto on commentary! Yoshiko gives Mayu the bird before the match. Clear roles to begin with, Mayu – the babyface technical wrestler, Yoshiko the power rudo. Mayu’s tope was so fast, looked like she could’ve hurt herself. Mayu sells the backbreaker like death. The women definitely worked very hard, and the finishing stretch was very good. Match of the card so far, almost great. World of Stardom Title: Utami Hayashishita (c) vs Saya Kamitani Clearly defined roles again, Utami the more powerful wrestler, Saya the flashy type. Saya’s flashiness gets her controlled by Utami, and Utami starts hitting power move after power move. Saya comes back with a dropkick and a huracanrana and hits a tope con hilo. Saya pretty much had control afterwards and gets a springboard huracanranda for a 2.9. Saya hits a Stardriver, but was slow to cover letting Utami get a kickout. Phoenix splash misses, and Utami goes back on offense hitting a Torture Rack bomb for a two. Black Tiger Bomb gets reversed into a huracanrana for a HUGE 2.9. Two lariats and a Black Tiger Bomb later and Utami gets the dub. Utami definitely made Saya look like a million bucks even though Saya probably shouldn’t be in a title match. Very good match. Bea Priestly calls out Utami afterwards. Hair vs Hair Wonder of Stardom Title: Giulia (c) vs Tam Nakano Here we go…grudge match for a long feud and a lucha de apuesta to up the ante! Things get going pretty quickly, and Giulia hits a piledriver on the table! Tam is definitely selling Giulia’s beatings and even after reversing a Glorious Driver to a reverse DDT, Tam still can’t get up. Eventually she gains her strength, hits a plancha and a Tiger Suplex. Tam can’t hit a second Tiger, but hits Giulia’s Glorious Driver instead. Tam kicks the shit out of Giulia, but Giulia hits a backdrop driver. Glorious Driver by Giulia for two. Both women slap the shit out of each other, with Nakano selling being loopy and then slaps Giulia while Giulia has her hands tied behind her back. Giulia returns the favor, the last one sounding real hard. Nakano with two spin kicks then a Tam Screwdriver!!!! Twilight Dream for the win and Nakano’s first white belt!!!! Damn what a match! Tam and Giulia deliver promos afterwards and Giulia sits in the chair to get her hair cut. Nakano doesn’t want to cut Giulia’s hair, so Giulia gets one of the guys nearby to do it, but he doesn’t finish. The two talk afterwards and Giulia shows Nakano respect. Great show, I would say this is a borderline 5-star show, but I have to give it a 4 since the rumble match was awful and the longest match of the show. Everything else is completely watchable, with every match except the tag being ranging from good to great, and a MOTY contender main event makes this a HIGH RECOMMENDATION. 4.5/5 show.
  8. This is the rematch of the close title match that these two had in May. The big difference here is that Io turned on her Thunder Rock partner Mayu and switched the competitive teacher/student rivalry into something more bitter. I really liked the approach that both took out of the gate. Iwatani tries to be the aggressor by trying to hit some big offense early. Io takes a more methodical approach, looking to try take Mayu down to grind on her in an effort to slow her down. Io's leg work was really good but unfortunately Iwatani was very selective on how she sold it. This does eventually turn into a bombfest, with Io always seeming to be either just smart or just tough enough to keep Iwatani from finishing her off. The finishing sequence was spectacular but I felt that some of the transitions during it were weak which lessen the effect of the moves being hit. Not quite the MOTYC that their May match was but still a great spectacle on its own. ****
  9. This is for Io's World of Stardom title (Red Belt) and if she's successful in defending it she will break her own record of title defenses. Io does a fantastic job of putting over Baszler as serious threat. She bumps and sells incredibly well for Baszler's power offense and submissions. I felt Baszler held up her end of the match fairly well. She has always carries herself well but her in-ring is inconsistent. In this match, her offense looked good and flowed nicely plus her selling was solid. The finish was a bit weird though. Baszler seemingly puts Io out with a sleeper but the ref makes her break the hold which didn't make any sense since that's exactly how Baszler won a trios match at the last show. Other than that, this was great match with probably the best performance from Io in awhile. ****1/4
  10. This is a match for both the World of Stardom title and the Wonder of Stardom title with the winner taking both belts. This match gets off to a fairly methodical start but it never feels like its killing time as they always seem to keep things moving along. They do manage to slowly, but naturally, increase the pace along the way to point that you don't suddenly notice that they are in the finishing run. A very well laid out title match. ****
  11. This is for Jungle's and Tora's Goddesses of Stardom tag titles. The main story throughout this match is the continuation of the Jungle/Utami feud. Every interaction between these two is fantastic. Natsuko Tora had possibly the best performance of her career in her first Korakuen Hall main event. Not crazy about the booking here but with that said this match could be the precursor to a run of very strong tag matches in 2019 for Stardom. ****1/4
  12. This is for Watanabe's Wonder of Stardom title and the match that Iwatani asked for after winning the 5* Grand Prix the previous match. This is pretty much a slugfest from beginning to end. These two lay into each other while mixing in some big spots. Not quite the great match that you would expect between these two but very enjoyable none the less. ***3/4
  13. This was Kagetsu's second title defense of the day as she takes on Shimmer champ Nicole Savoy. Savoy actually controls the opening part with a mix of matwork and power forcing Kagetsu to use more of her high-risk offense. I really liked the matwork here a lot. It's not smooth looking but the roughness of it made everything come off as earned. Savoy going back and forth between matwork and throws worked well because you felt like she was keeping Kagetsu off balance. The finish keeps this from being great as Kagetsu sprays mists in Savoy's face right in front of the ref leading to the end. Still, a entertaining match that will hopefully led to Savoy coming back to Stardom assuming that she doesn't sign some where. ***3/4
  14. 5STAR Grand Prix 2018 Finals: Mayu Iwatani vs. Utami Hayashishita This was a star-making performance for Utami in her first ever Korakuen main event. The dismissive veteran versus the cool super-rookie dynamic was played well. Mayu does a splendid job bumping (as usual) for Utami's power-based offense when the tide turns and her comebacks were well obtained. Excellent match to cap off a great tournament. ****1/2
  15. This is the biggest challenge of Utami's short career as she takes on World of Stardom champion Kagetsu. Once again, this match is inexplicably great given Utami's inexperience. Kagetsu is fantastic here, quite possibly the best performance of her career. She more of a straight forward bitchy veteran heel who tries to goad Utami into losing her cool. Utami stays under control and actually manages to fire back using a sleeper and working over Kagetsu's back. A truly amazing match worked in the traditional veteran/rookie dynamic. ****1/4
  16. This is for Mayu's and Saki's Goddesses of Stardom tag titles as they take on their STARS teammates Tam and Kid. The match was pretty entertaining as they cut a quick pace while maintaining a nice flow throughout the match. There's no big flashy double teams but they do make their moves count and sell everything fairly well. A nicely worked tag match that you shouldn't skip even though it's in the middle of the 5* GP. ***3/4
  17. This was a big match in the Blue Stars block with the winner being in control of her own fate going into the final day. Hazuki is just nasty in this match, jumping Iwatani at the start then viciously going after her arm. Iwatani stays in the match by hitting just enough big shots while still selling her arm, eventually catching Hazuki with a dragon suplex for the win. Short, but quick and action packed. ***3/4
  18. This match happen of the final show of the 5*GP. For Konami, this was quite the bookend to a tremendous tournament for her. She looked great here again working over Utami with kicks and various holds. For her part, Utami has another better than expect performance. She sells Konami's arm-work well and fires back with some judo throws and submissions of her own. This was a bit on the short side but the work here makes it well worth checking out. ***3/4
  19. This is a big match in the Red Stars block as both of these women were at the top of the standing there. Kagetsu had another quality performance here mostly because she actually managed to play an effective heel. None of her shtick felt shoehorned in like it usually does. Jungle was Jungle here, a lot of fire, some nice power moves, and very good selling. They would have had something great if they had some better transitions during the finish but even still this was a really good match well worth watching. ***3/4
  20. Kelly Klein has been a bit of a surprise in this tournament. She was painfully dull in her first Stardom run late last year, but she's at least watchable so far. This match was the first time that I feel that she genuinely held up her end of a pretty good match. Momo put in another strong performance here as she's been the most consistent performer in the tournament so far. ***3/4
  21. This was one of my most anticipated matches from this year's 5* Grand Prix and it didn't disappoint. The story of the match is setup early as Jungle drills the post on the outside trying to chop Konami. The rest of the match is build around Jungle's tremendous selling of the arm as she tries to work through it while avoiding Konami's submissions. She succeed in doing that by effectively plowing over Konami hard enough to get the win. Terrific storytelling here. ****1/4
  22. This is the Wonder of Stardom champ versus the Shimmer champ on the opening night of the 5* Grand Prix. These two ended up working together really well due to the similar styles. The match has a lot of nice back and forth switching in between strike, suplexes, and submissions. It was nice to finally see a match like this in joshi that didn't ended up with the politically mandated draw. Very entertain stuff. ***3/4
  23. This was the main event to the opening night of the Stardom 5* Grand Prix. Konami put in a tremendous performance here as she takes this to the mat early and forces Kagetsu to remember that she was a Meiko Satomura trainee. Konami seems to have an answer for everything that Kagetsu throws at her in this match. If Kagetsu tries to go to mat, Konami outworks her there. If Kagetsu tries to outstrike her, Konami hits harder than her. Even when Kagetsu tries to out duel her with big moves, Konami beats her there to. Just a fantastic match to start the tournament. ****1/4
  24. This is Utami Hayashishita debut match. Utami has a bit of fame in Japan because her dad is a reality TV star in Japan on a show that focuses on him and his large family. This is really, really, good for a debut match with Utami showing some tremendous ring presence. The match was laid out in such a way that she looked reasonably competitive with one of the top stars in the company. Jungle does a nice job on her end making Utami look strong although she doesn't really push Utami to the point of being in any danger of losing. Well worth checking out for the debut performance. ***3/4
  25. This is for Mayu and Saki's Goddesses of Stardom tag titles as they take on the new ass-kicking duo of Momo and Konami. Wow, do those two beat the ever-living crap out of Saki in the early going. Ever since she became a contracted wrestler with Stardom, Konami has just become a much more vicious wrestler and it's so fun to watch. Mayu had one of her best performances in a while as she got a good working over to from the challengers as well and put it over with strong selling even while she was on offense. The quick rollup finish here worked because during the finishing run Saki kept getting good counters on Momo which setup her getting the pin. Still, this seemed like a tease to the inevitable Momo/Konami tag title run which should be awesome. ****
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