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donsem43

[2015-10-11-Stardom-Appeal the Heart 2015] Io Shirai vs Dark Angel

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Well, if this is the last match of Sarah Stock's career, then this is a pretty good way to go out. Starts out with a really fast exchange sequence with both women all over the place but Dark Angel ends up taking over after yanking Io off the top turn buckle then powerbombing her on the apron. She follows that up with a bunch of cool submission that focus on Io's back with Shirai putting it over with some really good selling. The finish is a nice change as they focus on escaping/countering each other's finishers rather than going the usual near fall route. ****1/4

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Prior to watching this, I only really knew Dark Angel from TNA, although I knew of her by reputation. Good Canadian girl! What I had seen previously gave me confidence that this would be *good*, but this met or exceeded all my expectations. It was particularly fun to see Shirai face an opponent who could compete with her strength-for-strength.

 

The match starts out with Dark Angel beating Shirai at her own game with some fun lucha spots. Angel decisively takes control when Shirai spends too much time playing to the crowd while on the top rope about to perform a moonsault to the outside--she yanks Shirai down gut-first onto the turnbuckle and teases a powebomb down to the floor before powerbombing Shirai on the apron. She then goes to work on Shirai's back.

 

Shirai eventually turns the tables by vaulting to the top rope on an Irish whip and springing back at Dark Angel with a missile dropkick. Angel bails out of the ring and gets nailed with a missile-like tope by Shirai. However, Shirai is slow to follow up as she sells her back. Getting Angel back into the ring, Shirai nails her with a springboard dropkick, then quickly gets to her feet and charges across the ring, hitting Angel with a 619 as Angel is trying to pull herself to her feet. I always love how Shirai finds a way to use the 619, a manoeuvre I heretofore despised, without it looking contrived or otherwise choreographed.

 

A further springboard dropkick attempt fails, and Dark Angel goes back to work on Shirai's back. From there, there's some nice back-and-forth action, and Shirai at one point is on the wrong end of beautiful diving crossbody to the outside. Finally, Shirai gets the advantage and hits a face buster and a capture German suplex for a near-fall. A tombstone appears to spell the end for Dark Angel, but she gets her feet up when Shirai attempts her moonsault finisher, giving her time to recover as Shirai writhes in pain.

 

Both competitors rise to their feet and attempt to bludgeon the other into submission with hard forearm strikes. A big tiger driver gets a near-fall for Dark Angel. After an exchange of holds, Angel attempts another tiger driver, but Shirai counters and hits an air raid crash. A kick to the head to keep Dark Angel down and a moonsault ends it.

 

Dark Angel was a great opponent for Shirai. They were able to add some nifty lucha spots and put Shirai in situations where she's on the receiving end of her own brand of offence. If Angel had won this, I wouldn't have batted an eye. She was a wonderfully dangerous and credible opponent. I have to think that her retirement to become a trainer will be a boon to NXT. As for Shirai, I think this was the signature defence for her Wonder of Stardom championship reign in 2015. An absolute must-see match for fans of either woman.

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In addition to what was already mentioned, there were some nice touches throughout the match.

 

In the beginning of the match they did a pretty good job establishing Dark Angel's strength and size advantage over Io, without driving it home repeatedly. Io teased the tombstone finish early, which led into a stretch of offence from Dark Angel that was targeting Io's back, peaking in the apron powerbomb. The next time Io unsuccessfully went for the tombstone, she fell to the mat in pain. When Dark Angel had Io in that Boston Crab variation (which I am sure has a name), Io kept going for the ropes even when the hold was released. I really liked Io's agonizing selling of the moonsault counter turning into a battle cry for a striking exchange. And the "well she's reversing all of my normal end-game moves, so I might as well just kick her in the head to keep her down" aspect of the finish.

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