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donsem43

[2017-02-23-Stardom] Io Shirai vs Shayna Baszler

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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

 

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Really nice match. I liked Baszler focusing on the arm and Io avoiding that as best she could with violence, high impact moves and trying to gain the advantage. This match also really felt like it went the perfect length. I did like Io passed out in the sleeper but agree that the match felt a little abrupt with the ref waking her up and then her going through her combo of moves picking up the win. ****

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Goddamn this was just fantastic. Started off with Shayna establishing dominance when Io tries to get the first strike in - that set the tone for the rest of the match. Shayna does some really awesome work over the arm of Io, and Io is just fantastic selling it. Io's eventual big comeback was great, showing great fire & bringing her fantastic looking offense to Shayna - from then on Shayna tries to focus on the arm where she had done damage & she also tries (and she does) bust out some submissions, but in the end, THE ACE reigns supreme. Wonderful pro wrestling, right there. ****3/4

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I really enjoy Baszler, she came over from UFC with a really fun asshole charisma, she was working more straight heel then in the AIW match I really loved and she reminded me of a distaff Minoru Suzuki. She has also clearly improved a bunch as she has a bunch of cool moves I haven't seen before, there was an awesome top rope gutwrench chained into another gutwrench and a great falcon arrow right into a choke, she also isn't pulling her stuff anymore as there was a nasty headkick, and some really killer bodyshots. I also liked her selling Shirai worked over her back and there were moments where she couldn't fully execute a Kimura because her back seized up. Shirai was fun too, she has a bunch of cool highspots, and it felt a little like a better version of Sabu v. Taz. I did think the finish was a bit abrupt, as Shirai just kind of ran through some big moves and pinned her, but outside of that I really dug it.

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Really good stuff here right from the get-go, as Shirai fires off a blow right from the handshake, only to get caught in a big sleeper right away, showing how dangerous Baszler can be. Baszler works Shirai’s arm early door, and I love how they kept coming back to the injury throughout the match. Shirai sells it throughout, just little touches like not being able to properly grind her elbow into Baszler’s ribs on an abdominal stretch or giving it a quick shake in between moves so you know it’s still bothering her. Baszler locks another sleeper in on Shirai, this time in the corner from the top rope, and Io does this amazing limp body hanging sell. They fight outside, which is where Shirai takes over, dropkicking Baszler’s head through a chair, blasting her with a thrown chair and hurling her into the crowd, where Baszler only just makes the 20 count back into the ring. Shirai challenges Baszler to strike her, fighting through Shayna’s kicks to the leg, but not being prepared for Baszler to mix it up and kick the injured arm instead, which puts Io down. Baszler gets this amazing Falcon Arrow into a sleeper, and this leads to probably the only weak point of the match – the ref checks on Shirai, who is out, and rather than award the match to Baszler, he makes her break the hold and pin Io, only getting a two count. Very odd. Baszler lets herself get distracted talking to the ref, and this is her downfall, as Shirai hits a straitjacket German suplex, a tombstone and a moonsault to pick up the win. Great stuff.

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This is my first time ever reviewing a match with it being given to me as part of the what I believe has tentatively been dubbed "Secret Santo" match review trades.

I am a longtime watcher of Pro Wrestling and aside from a few blindspots have a healthy knowledge about most of it. However Joshi(especially modern Joshi) is not one of them haha, but I've put it on my wrestling resolutions for 2018 to watch more Joshi so this is a good chance to get a start.

 

So it begins and we see the introductions with STARDOM Champion Io in a tiger like mask being presented flowers from a small child...classy stuff, and Shayna gets the same so cool. I have been a fan of Shayna from her MMA days way back in EliteXC and her Catch roots with Barnett and Billy Robinson so seeing her here and in the MYC makes me glad she's come over to pro wrestling.

 

The match begins and a nice Io chant from the crowd, Shayna almost arrogantly offers a handshake to which Io stoically stares at before slapping it away and throwing forearms at Shayna who responds with one of her own and then ducks behind Io to immediately threaten with a RNC displaying her submission background and ability to finish the match quickly which Io seems prepared for with a few counter roll throughs into pin attempts followed by a switch to a cross arm bar by Shayna that's also countered into a pin. Shayna kicks out of and they reset into a stand off with Shayna cockily smirking and finger wagging off Io's counters.

 

So it's already established what each woman's strategy is with Shayna searching for a submission to exploit her skills and Io's pro wrestling expertise and experience showing she has ways of nullifying Shayna's immediate threats.

 

They both now square up face to face with Io throwing some quick strikes and sending Shayna off the ropes, Shayna looks a bit clunky running the ropes but catches Io while coming off the ropes in a spinebuster/double leg pick up position and drops her flat with a safe looking slam to the mat before turning to the crowd to taunt with her Ace of Spades hand sign which elicits a fair reaction. Io gets up and charges Shayna only to be scooped up in a canadian backbreaker/dominator position before scrambling loose, hitting the ropes and getting caught flush with a solid looking knee to the face from Shayna with the referee checking on Io to see if she's knocked out.

 

Shayna comes over and ties up Io on the mat with an armlock and works in some vicious looking wrist and finger wrenching as she's seemed to either decide she cannot catch a submission straight out on Io so quickly or she wants to inflict some punishment and malicious suffering or probably both, Billy Robinson would be proud.

 

Io through screams manages to get her foot draped across the rope to cause a ropebreak showing her ring awareness and experience again but Shayna seems to not care too much as she flies in the face of the rules and wrenches Io's arm with an armbreaker type move before releasing Io for the ropebreak.

 

From here we get a lengthy stretch of some great and vicious armwork by Shayna trying to destroy Io's arm with Io trying some spurts of a comeback even attempting a submission with Io applying an abdominal stretch on Shayna but due to the damage her arm has already suffered is quickly stopped and countered by Shayna.

 

Shayna get's Io back on the mat flat on her back and folds her arm upwards under itself beside Io's head and unleashes a brutal stomp to the elbow which has Io screaming in pain and rolling towards the ropes with the referee on top of her checking to see if she can continue. Shayna makes a rookie mistake and decides to pose on the mat before following up looking again for the RNC she tried earlier on but due to the late follow up and despite the arm damage Io is still able to counter throwing some elbows behind her and running the two back first into the corner.

 

Here Shayna scales the ropes and is seated on the top turnbuckle and grabs the RNC successfully getting it and hoisting a kicking and struggling Io off her feet in the choke but due to her poor positioning being sat on the ropes, Shayna is forced to break by the referee after ignoring the count for a few seconds then making another rookie mistake in arguing and jaw jacking with the official and not following up.

 

During all this Io summons a burst of energy and catches a distracted Shayna with a springing dropkick that staggers Shayna still seated on the top rope and Io follows up with a super hurricanrana and fires up to the cheers of the crowd.

 

With Shayna staggered to the floor Io perches herself on top the top rope in the corner and lands a gorgeous looking cross body dive to the floor on Shayna. Io then follows up with grabbing a chair from ringside and lacing Shayna's head through the set up chair on while Shayna is on all fours. Io comes running and dropkicks Shayna's trapped head, Io then folds the chair and brutally smashes it across the back of a prone Shayna followed by the crowd again chanting Io's name.

 

Io then takes Shayna back into the crowd a length and whips her into a barricade and leaves her in the seats before heading back into the ring. Here a countout is teased with Shayna's now damaged back hindering her ability to get back to the ring but after some struggling and falling she makes it in at the count of 19!

 

Io unlike Shayna's mistake earlier is immediately attacking Shayna's damaged back with double stomps and the like before slapping on the crossface which Shayna writhes in before getting to the ropes. As Shayna is draped over the middle rope trying to get back to her feet, Io follows up with a tiger feint kick/619 and then a beautiful springboard drop kick to Shayna's damaged back. A follow up double knees to the back in the corner on Shayna gets Io a near fall, then as Io scales the ropes Shayna gets a surge of energy of her own and despite twinges of pain lands a top rope gutwrench suplex combo into another gutwrench suplex on the mat which garners Shayna a near fall of her own.

 

They both struggle to their knees, then feet all the while exchanging forarms and strikes with Shayna showing superior ability but with Io firing up and challenging her to bring it on. Shayna obliges and unleashes some vicious looking kicks climaxing with a brutal kick to Io's arm that sends her down and crawling to the corner in pain but Shayna again doesn't immediately follow up but now more due to her obviously badly hurt back. Shayna shouts something in Japanese and charges at Io in the opposite corner across the ring with a knee strike attempt but unlike the success she found with the first one earlier in the match she only hits the corner pad and is scooped up from behind with a slight hesitation German suplex from Io which gets another nearfall but is immediately countered by Shayna threatening a double wristlock!

 

Io fights it and struggles making the ropes, then after a moment of disappointment washing over Shayna she immediately brings Io to her feet and nails her with a powerful headkick knocking Io to the mat. Not enough for Shayna's liking as she scoops Io up and hoists her into a vertical suplex into the falcon arrow which lands Io right into her RNC dead in the center of the ring. Io struggles to escape as Shayna squeezes and the crowd starts chanting again for Io.

 

Io seemingly passes out and the referee instead of calling it appeals to Shayna to release the hold and attempt a pinfall? Shayna foolishly obliges and Io kicks out at 2.9 to Shayna's shocked expression. The referee checks on Io and looks over to her seconds before Shayna looks in both of their directions and points and shouts something I couldn't hear and brings Io back to her feet.

 

Shayna unleashes a brutal looking stike combo and finishes with a solid gut punch that sends Io back to the canvas and is admonished by the referee for the fist. She argues with him for a bit before nudging him aside just as Io comes charging with a jumping headbutt, followed up by another doublestomp to the back and then a perfect top rope moonsault to the back for a nearfall that again upon the kickout is immediately countered with the threat of the double wristlock from Shayna.

 

Shayna keeps trying to lock it up and extend it but her damaged back keeps her from bridging or applying much torque, Shayna switches to the armbar from bottom as Io stands up and this allows Io to counter by applying the Texas cloverleaf to Shayna's crossed legs and tries to force her to submit.

 

Despite the damage of her back Shayna refuses to submit and Io frustratingly lets go of the hold as her arm is still damaged from earlier and she cannot seem to apply enough force. Io again tries applying a waist lock to set up another German suplex but Shayna defends attacking Io's damaged arm and again threatening with the double wristlock.

 

Io defends and counters back tying up Shayna's arms for a straight jacket German suplex that looks graceful and impactful at the same time. Then Io struggling with her bad arm to drag Shayna scoops her up and delivers a perfect tombstone piledriver followed by springing up to the top rope for another final perfect moonsault for the 3 count with Shayna just missing a kickout after 3.

 

So Io retains and I've seen my first full length STARDOM match. Overall I enjoyed it as the execution of the work and story telling was solid although there were some blemishes with Shayna being a bit green in spots and at times it felt like Shayna was trying to work toward 2 different objectives(gaining her RNC or the double wristlock) which at times seemed counter productive to each other and felt like they got a bit lost in the shuffle although from a kayfabe standpoint Shayna's inexperience could explain this as she isn't refined enough to stick to a definitive strategy with that combined with her arrogance and penchant for taunting cost her at key moments.

 

The biggest damper of this match was the referee appealing to Shayna to relase her RNC when it was locked in and appeared to have the champion unconscious for that pinfall attempt that led to Io recovering and going on to win. Unless there is some Joshi rule or trope as to why the choke would need to be released I absolutely didn't get this and thought it made Shayna look like a moron and really didn't fit with her arrogant and confrontational demeanor with the referee in all their previous interactions in the match.

 

So if I were to score it I'd say it was ***1/4 and definitely worth checking out as it makes me even more interested in checking out more STARDOM and more modern Joshi.

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I don't really get the strong praise this has received. This felt like a slightly better Kurt Angle/Davey Richards match to me. Both wrestlers have really fun offense, aside from Baszler's dweeby thigh slapping, but stylistically the match was a garbled mess. I don't wanna nitpick at every detail but the transitions and selling was all kinds of whack here and as a result the match never got me into it beyond a level of "wow that looked hurty/weird". I always enjoy wrestlers with a legit background, and Shayna looked good picking apart her opponent, but she was too much into working a junior type match to come across as menacing and Io isn't the kinda worker to push her into that territory. The spots and hits here looked great, but at other times this was irritating and close to self parody.

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I got STARDOM World and I've been checking out some matches - the first few I watched weren't really capturing my attention much, but I loved this one. I think Baszler's heel work is awesome and loved the arm work and Io's selling of it. Having said that, the weird thing with the referee telling Shayna to break the hold stopped it from being an absolute favourite of mine because it didn't seem to make sense. Overall, though, a great watch.

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