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Pantoja’s STARDOM 5STAR Special in Hiroshima Review 9.3.23

September 10, 2023 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
STARDOM 5STAR Special Image Credit: STARDOM
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Pantoja’s STARDOM 5STAR Special in Hiroshima Review 9.3.23  

STARDOM 5STAR Special in Hiroshima

September 3rd, 2023 | Hiroshima Sun Plaza in Hiroshima, Japan | Attendance: 825

Several Grand Prix matches are on tap for this PPV, as well as a few major title matches. Of note, Hazuki gets two points via forfeit over Saya Kamitani and now sits at 4 points.

Ami Sourei, Thekla and Yuna Mizumori vs. AZM, Lady C and Miyu Amasaki

Pre-show tag team action here. There was no way I’d skip this considering AZM and Thekla are in it, plus I like Lady C. This was a pretty standard multi-woman tag with everyone getting a chance to strut their stuff but you could tell that AZM and Ami Sourei weren’t going too hard. It makes sense given their Grand Prix spots. I say that but Sourei did have a prolonged back and forth with Lady C though it did mostly involve trading chops. In fact, in the end it was Ami winning with a weak looking Blue Thunder Bomb variation at the 6:32 mark. A pretty average opener that didn’t have enough of the people I really wanted to see. [**¼]

Onto the main card.

Maika and Megan Bayne vs. Rose Gold

I haven’t had the time to check out the undercards on recent shows so I haven’t seen Bayne since her title match. Meanwhile, Rose Gold is among my favorite teams anywhere right now. This got off to a fun start as Maika played around with Mina’s, um, chest. That playful nature didn’t last too long though. The good thing here was that Bayne is still being booked as a monster threat. She may have lost her title shot but she’s still dominant and was doing things like slamming both members of Rose Gold at the same time. I liked the late spot where Rose Gold had dueling submissions applied only for Bayne to power out and save Maika. Soon after, Bayne put down Mariah May with the F5 to win in 7:41. A solid official opening contest and as much as I don’t like seeing Rose Gold lose, Bayne needs things like this to remain a threat. [**¾]

Blue Stars: Momo Watanabe [6] vs. Utami Hayashishita [6]

Momo has dropped two straight after starting 3-0, while Utami is back on the winning side after a slump. As usual, Momo came out aggressively, taking control and throwing some ferocious kicks. Utami is a badass in her own right and was ready to dish it out as much as she was taking it. She combated Momo’s kicks with some great looking suplexes. My problem with this match was that it never felt like it hit that next level. It felt like they are capable of something more yet this was missing something. I’ve heard a lot about Momo’s potential or how she was a rising star but I’ve only gotten flashes of it in 2023 and this was another case. I liked her using the bat and then hitting a big move outside but again, this never hit as good as it should’ve. Utami weathered the storm of Momo’s biggest shots and won with the Hijack Bomb in 9:26. That was some very good hard hitting pro wrestling. [***¼]

Red Stars: Starlight Kid [4] vs. Tam Nakano [5]

Starlight Kid hasn’t won much in this tournament (two of her points are via forfeit) but she’s a hell of a wrestler facing the company’s top champion. Surprisingly, it was Tam who came out hot, sending SLK outside almost immediately. SLK quickly turned the tide though and looked to make this the kind of fast paced match that she excels at. They kept up that pace though SLK didn’t fully take control. Instead, it was more of a back and forth bout that saw some close calls on both sides. I thought Tam might’ve had it with a BEAUTIFUL Tiger Suplex but SLK kicked out and kept her slim Grand Prix hopes alive. SLK seemed to turn the tide with running knees but Tam just fired up and started hitting her own knees. That led to the closing stretch which was full of energy and better drama than I expected. Tam then caught SLK with the Screwdriver (loved the touch of SLK swinging her feet as if she was going to counter) to win in 8:28. Another short match but a damn good sprint that was very enjoyable from bell to bell. Another strong match in a tournament filled with them. [***½]

Red Stars: Mayu Iwatani [7] vs. Syuri [5]

On paper, one of the biggest matches of the tournament as it’s STARDOM’s Ace against a woman was basically unbeatable for a year or so until Giulia dethroned her. Early on, this felt like a bout between two big deals. It was subdued as they got a feel for each other. Syuri threw some big kicks so Mayu responded with a dragon screw and looked to take out that part of her game. Then when Mayu made a mistake and missed a tope suicida, Syuri was there to respond with a high risk move of her own. Mayu fired off a string of superkicks that then caused Syuri to target the leg and utilize a Stretch Muffler. There was a sense of this being a chess match between two greats and I love that in a match. Some of the kicks Mayu threw were brutal, yet Syuri always had an answer, especially on the swing into the aforementioned Stretch Muffler. I loved the spot where Mayu looked out of it only to bust out a poison rana that got her right back into the match. Syuri didn’t let her get totally back in, besting her with Syu Sekai in 12:30. This tournament is like that Sheamus tweet. Banger after banger after banger. Just an excellent match between two of the best. [****]

High Speed Championship: Saki Kashima [c] vs. Momo Kohgo

Though she’s joined God’s Eye, Saki Kashima has remained a champion willing to duck opponents as she has avoided Mei Seira like the plague. Instead, she chose Momo Kohgo as her challenger. This was like most of Saki’s defenses since winning the title. Short, sweet, and to the point. It’s a total change from AZM’s run of fantastic matches but it does offer something different for the company. The interesting bits here were Momo being more serious than I’ve seen her and Saki offering handshakes as if she’s turned over a new leaf. As usual, the final stretch of this short outing saw various flash pin attempts, which Saki won out with Rebirth to retain in 4:43. This was just what I expected. Fine. [**½]

Goddesses of Stardom Championship: Natsupoi and Saori Anou [c] vs. Mei Seira and Suzu Suzuki

Natsupoi can do no wrong and her partnership with Saori has been a great one so far. But man, I really love the Suzu/Mei pairing. They’ve come from out of nowhere to be a highlight in a promotion filled with them. The action here was fierce right from the opening bell with all four women just throwing their best at each other. Also, how can you not love a spot where Saori stomps on Mei as Natsupoi pulls her hair and smiles for the camera? The champions have developed fantastic chemistry in a short time and the same could be said for the challengers. Mei Seira was absolutely the star here. It felt like this was structured purely to make sure she came out shining and it worked. When she wins the High Speed Title, it’ll be something special. Her interactions with Natsupoi were great and then we got Saori vs. Suzu which was also fantastic. Saori took the heat for a while and though she was in trouble, she never backed down and traded strikes whenever she had an opening. One thing I really liked was how we never really got the expected hot tag. Things just kept going at a great pace to the point where everyone was involved and Saori, outside of being saved from a near fall or two, had to swing the momentum on her own. She scored the win with her flipping fisherman suplex in 13:43. One of the best tag matches of the year. Everyone got a chance to shine, tons of action and great exchanges, and it didn’t go too long. [****½]

Post-match, Saki Kashima came out to diss Mei Seira for losing and basically say that she doesn’t deserve a High Speed Title match. After she left, the hits just kept on coming as AZM and Utami Hayashishita showed up to be the next challengers. That sounds like another phenomenal match.

Wonder of Stardom Championship: MIRAI [c] vs. Konami

I don’t really know a lot about Konami or the history here. I feel like I needed to preface this review with that. This match was built around Konami targeting MIRAI’s arm and hand, doing so with some creative offense. It’s a psychology thing that tends to work  even though it isn’t something that is used very often. Konami did a great job with it and really put the champ on her heels. That also meant that MIRAI had to fight from beneath which is a good spot for her though I also really enjoy when she’s just trading big shots with someone. Her hope spots had a lot of energy behind them but then Konami could just apply an armbar or something like that and stall her momentum. I will say the closing stretch soured me on this match a bit. After all the arm work, MIRAI kind of just fired up and started throwing lariats. That should’ve negated the move or if she hit it, she needed to sell the damage. One of them kept Konami down after 12:52 but that was a disappointing ending to an otherwise strong match. [***½]

The post-match stuff here ran a bit long but culminated in the announcement of Syuri vs. Mina Shirakawa in a UWF Rules match on 10/9.

NJPW Strong Women’s Championship: Giulia [c] vs. Risa Sera

Giulia is one of the best wrestlers in the world and I’m a huge fan but this title reign hasn’t really done it for me for the most part so far. This was another case of that as it was a good main event but nowhere near the level we know Giulia is capable of. It started out well with some hard hitting stuff including a Risa apron bomb and the two trading some stiff shots and moves. However, the longer it went on, the worse it got. For example, the second half saw them botch several moves and their communication just seemed way off. By the time we got to the finish, I was turned off by the match and it had dragged on (another unfortunate staple of these title matches so far). Giulia retained in 17:37 with the Northern Lights Bomb. A good main event that was bogged down by sloppiness. [***]

The final score: review Good
The 411
Even when STARDOM doesn’t deliver by their high 2023 standards, it’s still a good show. Nothing you could even remotely consider bad, a couple of fun tags, some really good to great stuff in the Grand Prix, and one of the best tag matches of the year.

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STARDOM, Kevin Pantoja