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Jack’s Stardom The Highest 2017 Review

May 19, 2017 | Posted by Jack Stevenson
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Jack’s Stardom The Highest 2017 Review  

More Stardom! This time from March! Another huge title defence for Io Shirai, as she faces long time rival Kairi Hojo! It should be cracking!

1- Arisu Nanase & Ruaki vs. Kaori Yoneyama & Natsuko Tora
Not sure which bit of the pre match promos I adore more. Is it Yoneyama and Tora’s “let’s crush them with sentons!” catchphrase? Or is it Nanase and Ruaka introducing themselves as “a good young tag team full of freshness?”

This was three inexperienced wrestlers trying their best, with Kaori Yoneyama not really in the match enough to hold it all together. There were several moments of sloppiness, even with the action remaining relatively basic, but there was also a lot of energy and a lot of effort and these are things I value. Not a great match by any stretch but adequate enough as an opener. Tora pinned Ruaka with a rolling cradle. **.

2- Christi Jaynes & Deonna Purrazzo vs. Konami & Zoe Lucas vs. Queen’s Quest (AZM & HZK)
It was tough to get into this. There were too many wrestlers for an eight minute match, with nobody really getting the opportunity to shine. It didn’t help that again, there was a notable lack of experience, which meant nobody could attempt anything too elaborate. It became just a sea of bodies drifting in and out of the ring, pausing to hit not especially memorable moves. Again, plenty of effort and energy, but it was largely wasted. HZK flattened Jaymes with a Senton Bomb for the win. * 1/2.

3- High Speed Championship- Kris Wolf vs. Hiromi Mimura
It’s quietly satisfying to watch the quality of pro wrestler increase incrementally as the show progresses, from the ultra green competitors in the opening match to Io Shirai, arguably the best in the whole world, in the main event. Wolf and Mimura are both unpolished but certainly good enough to put together a watchable ten minute midcard match, which this was, especially with Wolf’s weird offbeat charisma. It remained mostly basic, but the final couple of near falls were really good. Wolf landed a top rope double foot stomp, and after a regular pin failed to keep Mimura down, a tighter, bridging version did the trick. ** 3/4.

4- Hana Kimura vs. Mayu Iwatani
This was very neat. It was a sub ten minute match, but I left it feeling like Iwatani and Kimura might actually have an epic 20 minute main event in them, because this was filled with intense, dramatic strike sequences that would have been more effective if there was more at stake. Moreso than anything else on the show so far this felt a tough battle between world class pro wrestlers. Considering Kimura is only 19 years old, that’s quite an achievement! The stretch of near falls at the end were good as well, and felt a continuation of the slugfest that had developed earlier in the bout. For a short undercard match I’d have rather seen something a bit more fast paced and breezy, but I can’t complain too much about what we got. Iwatani beat Kimura with a bridging Tiger Suplex. ***.

5- SWA World Women’s Championship- Toni Storm vs. Jungle Kyona
Another decent match that left me a little cold. I find the rhythm of some of these Stardom matches slightly jarring; matches tend to swing back and forth quite evenly, which is great for engendering a competitive feel, but does mean that sometimes it feels like people are just trading moves to kill time. At least when one wrestler is dominating another, there’s more of a sense of them wearing down their opponent. Here, it’s just a bit like… stuff happens. Said stuff is, at least, mildly diverting and professionally executed. Storm and Kyona are both more than adequate wrestlers and this was about as good as the last match, perhaps with a little less natural intensity and a more repetitive feel. Storm pinned Kyona off a top rope leg drop. ** 3/4.

6- World of Stardom Championship- Io Shirai vs. Kairi Hojo
This was absolutely spectacular. Io Shirai, sincerely, is among the best professional wrestlers in the world. She may genuinely know 1001 holds, and she performs every single one of them seemingly with the intent to annihilate her opponent. Kairi Hojo is also very, very good. Together, they have magical chemistry. Similar to the other matches on the show, this match swung back and forth quite rapidly, but on this occasion it didn’t feel random, it felt like two wrestlers who were so so good and so so desperate to win that they simply couldn’t be controlled, and every change in momentum felt like it could be a monumental changing of the tide. Io Shirai does epic title matches like no one else in the world does epic title matches. There’s precious little feeling out process, there’s a jaw-dropping variety of impeccably executed moves, there’s a properly violent atmosphere, so much intensity, and the finishing stretches are just glorious, just Shirai and her opponents digging deep and hurling anything and everything they can think of at each other. On numerous occasions, Shirai teased piledriving Hojo from the apron to the floor. It didn’t happen, but seemed entirely plausible because this is a thing Shirai has done to people in the past. This is a thing she will do to win. And, I talk about Shirai a lot because she’s so consistently tremendous, but whenever Hojo is tasked with hanging with one of, let’s say, the five best pro wrestlers in the world, she does so with absolute aplomb, which suggests she’s not far off those lofty heights herself. To be honest, I struggle to express my admiration for really tremendous matches with words sometimes, and though I’ve tried this is no exception. I think the level of technical expertise mixed with complete and utter nastiness in front of a white hot crowd is the sort of thing you just have to watch, so pick up a month’s Stardom World subscription and fuckin’ watch it, because there cannot be a wrestling fan on the planet who wouldn’t find something to enjoy here. Shirai eventually secured the win with a tombstone piledriver and a third moonsault of the match. **** 1/2. It doesn’t go any higher because the bout peaked maybe two minutes too early, which made the finish a wee bit anti-climactic. Not a serious complaint, not something that detracts from the rest of the brilliance, but it does restrain it from reaching the truly dizzying heights of star ratings.

The final score: review Average
The 411
The undercard is nothing to write home about and can be safely skipped on Stardom World, but my oh my that main event is something special. It is testament to what a marvellous year of pro wrestling it's been that a match that darn good probably isn't in my top ten for the year thus far. But it may well be in yours because it's outrageously good. Glue your eyeballs to it.