Puro Fury: Stardom Year-End Climax 2016 Review
Stardom Year-End Climax
December 22 2016
I don’t get the chance to watch much Stardom. I tend to just see the main events or highly recommended matches. I figured it was about time I sat through an entire show. We’re in Korakuen Hall. Less than 1000 in attendance. The big selling point on this show is Mayu Iwatani getting a big title shot. She’s only 23 years old but is already one of the world’s best women’s wrestlers.
Arisu Nanase vs. Azumi vs. Ruaka
Two of the three girls are wearing Christmas attire. Azumi the only one to not bother. For an opening match this does wonders in five minutes. It’s a hard-hitting, realistic display, which is as technically proficient as anything NXT have managed this calendar year. I really wasn’t expecting the depth to be present here. The simple fact of the matter is that Japanese women’s wrestling is still light years ahead of everywhere else. Some of the dropkicks are piss poor but everything else looks good. Ruaka attempts to murder Nanase with a Boston crab but Arisu slips out and gets the pin with a bridge. This was a solid start to the show. I’m already hyped!
Final Rating: **1/2
Konami vs. Hiromi Mimura
Konami is really young and a trainee of NXT superstar Asuka. She’s also technically proficient. As is the adorable Mimura. Hiromi is under five feet tall, bless her. Like in the first match the biggest issue is from timing on strikes where there is distance between the two. It’s very noticeable. However Konami manages an absolutely stellar high kick that looks murderous. She also kills Mimura’s knee throughout the match and finishes with a vicious kneebar. This was also brisk, under seven minutes, but the mat work was super.
Final Rating: **3/4
Kris Wolf & Hana Kimura vs. Jungle Kyona & Natsuko Tora vs. Kaori Yoneyama & Saori Anou
This is under triple threat rules so there are three women in there at all times. Hana Kimura is stunning and by God does she ever know it. It makes her the biggest star in the match, regardless of length of experience. There’s something to be said for WWE’s ‘hire models and teach them wrestling’ approach. If you have the right attitude you’ll get over. Hana looks at home in the ring, which is key to being a star. The match ticks along at a fair pace with everyone getting involved. It’s probably the least technically sound match on the show to this point, although there’s no lack of effort. Wolf gets a sloppy pin for the win inside eight minutes. This was a bit messy but at least I got the chance to be introduced to Hana Kimura.
Final Rating: **
Vendetta Pro Tag Team Championship*
Twisted Sisters (c) vs. Queen’s Quest
Twisted Sisters don’t come out to Twisted Sister, which is missed opportunity. Instead coming out to The Beautiful People. They’re both face painted. Thunder Rosa, aka Kobra Moon, is a Lucha Underground regular. Queen’s Quest are both really young. Momo Watanabe is only 16. This shows and Thunder Rosa is the most talented worker in the match. It’s probably not a shock that kids are not that well developed and the only way is up for them. Rosa’s presence is enough to elevate the match and she does some tremendous selling, knowing not to take flat back bumps for lame strikes. The story of the match works too with the plucky youngsters trying desperately to score the win, usually via cheeky roll ups. It doesn’t work though and Rosa uses leverage to get the pinfall win. The young girls are very upset about losing, which is wonderful stuff. Emotion in wrestling is the best.
Final Rating: ***
*These are American tag titles from Californian promotion Vendetta Pro. They’re usually held by men, which makes this an especially weird title defence. The Ballard Brothers have held these belts three times.
Goddesses of Stardom Championship
Kagetsu & Kyoko Kimura (c) vs. Kairi Hojo & Yoko Bito
Kairi has clearly taken my advice and now brings a spyglass to the ring instead of a ship’s wheel. What was she steering with that thing anyway? With the telescope she spot attackers coming from ten fathoms away. That’s how nautical measures work right? Is ten fathoms a lot of fathoms? It’s a handy piece of kit anyway. Kagetsu and Kimura have held the belts since dethroning long-time champions Thunder Rock in June. Speaking of which; Thunder Rock are Mayu and Io, tonight’s main event pairing. Kimura has mad hair. It’s the kind of afro that Mohammed Yone would be jealous of. The champions represent Oedo Tai, the same stable that Kris Wolf and Hana Kimura are in. This allows them a distinct numbers advantage on the floor. Bito finds herself isolated for heat as they follow the formula. The heels keep it fresh and are fun to watch in their dominance. Bito takes an utter pasting. Hojo has to save her multiple times, before taking over the match with her madcap notions that wrestling should be totally carefree and unrestricted. Hojo just throws herself into moves. It’s terrifying how she makes it through matches. The match breaks down and gets a bit manic as the heels up the stakes with foreign objects. This leads to a valiant comeback and the challengers scoop up the belts with a Hojo diving elbow, one of the prettiest and most reckless moves in all of wrestling and Bito’s Axe Guillotine Driver. New champs!
Final Rating: ***3/4
World of Stardom Championship
Io Shirai (c) vs. Mayu Iwatani
Io has held the belt for a year, having beaten Meiko Satomura for the it at this same show last December. That was a really good match (****1/4). The standard is generally top notch when certain talents are involved. Mayu has great fun spinning in her streamers. The Japanese fans are so great at throwing streamers. Io is keen to put Mayu in her place and into the rear view mirror. Io is vicious in her assault, giving zero fucks about Mayu’s wellbeing. The way she attacks the leg shows her championship pedigree. The way she wraps a chair around the knee before dropkicking it shows the level she’s operating on. You cannot beat a wrestler who’s super aggressive. Anything that makes wrestling seem more real is usually a good thing. Mayu makes a point of trying to sell that injury too before mounting the inevitable comeback and her aggression matches Io’s. She kicks the shit out of the champion. It’s a glorious display of violence from both women. The spots all seem so organic and impactful. The selling feels like it’s entirely genuine and there’s an element of shoot involved in all of it because they do sick stuff like dragon suplexes on the floor. Every part of the match feels so violent. Heads are frequently rocked back from the impact of strikes and both women take such a fantastic thrashing that it’s borderline uncomfortable. The work is extremely strong and it’s a credit to both competitors. It’s deliciously stiff. The match builds to a crescendo with Mayu trying desperately to find that one move that’ll put Io down for three. She gets too desperate and Io is able to flip out of an ambitious dragon superplex. This leads directly into a series of abuse on Mayu’s neck via the medium of suplexes. Mayu still fires up, kicking out of a moonsault at one and almost getting a pin with her dragon suplex. It’s just adrenaline though and Io ends her with a Tombstone and a pair of moonsaults.
Final Rating: ****1/2