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Pantoja’s STARDOM in Korakuen Review 2.17.24

February 24, 2024 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
STARDOM 2-17-24 Image Credit: STARDOM
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Pantoja’s STARDOM in Korakuen Review 2.17.24  

STARDOM in Korakuen

Korakuen Hall | February 17th, 2024 | Attendance: 956

I was going to review the 2/14 show in Korakuen but I only have time for one show and this seems to have the more important card. Also, this is the first post-Rossy era show that I’m covering for STARDOM.

AZM and Lady C vs. Ruaka and Starlight Kid

The AZM/SLK rivalry lives! As always, the exchanges between the two were great and were the best part of this match. The other ladies played their parts well enough with Ruaka being the typical and Lady C using her size to her advantage. It’s simple, yet effective enough. Lady C looked good out there, having some solid back and forth with SLK that included a pretty fantastic looking Helluva Kick. Like it looked brutal in the best possible way. The closing stretch mostly focused on Lady C and SLK, with some run-ins from Ruaka and AZM. However, the actual finishing move came off a bit awkwardly as SLK pulled Lady C into the Stretch Muffler to win in 9:03. I found this to be a good opener that didn’t overdo anything and accomplished what it needed to. [***]

Ranna Yagami vs. Suzu Suzuki

Yagami is one of those people who might be falling to victim to bad timing. She’s a really impressive rookie but she’s around at the same time as Yuzuki, who is otherworldly given her level of experience. It’s still early though and she certainly has the potential to break out. Suzuki is a wild case because at just 21, she’s already a veteran. They had a good little hard hitting match here. Yagami’s signature seems to be kicks and she threw plenty of them at Suzu, who had no problem giving back the stiff shots and strikes. The most important thing is that Yagami didn’t at all look out of place against a budding top star like Suzuki. Suzu survived an armbar and then won with a submission of her own that looked cool though I don’t know the name of it. Another quality outing to start this show. [***]

Mei Seira vs. Waka Tsukiyama

I could actually see this as a good High Speed Title match down the line. That’s kind of what they gave us here, packing the action into a short timeframe and moving things along quickly. Mei is a very good champion because she nails the style even in non-title bouts such as this. There were a few awkward moments where timing was a bit off though. The interesting bit here was that Mei put a target on Waka’s butt. That’s not the body part you’d expect to be targeted in any kind of match but that helped it stand out and give it a fun, goofy little feel. Think about good Ryusuke Taguchi comedy matches for an example. I liked the finish here too as Mei tripped Waka pretty hard and then rolled her into a tight pinning combination at the 6:55 mark. It’s rare you see a trip set up a clean finish. Like I said, that was goofy fun. Waka icing her butt to the back added to it. [**¾]

AphroditE and Miyu Amasaki vs. Fukigen Death, Momo Watanabe and Rina

Our Tag Team Champions and young Miyu Amasaki against Oedo Tai ladies. I loved the twist on the expected formula where Oedo Tai always does jump starts but here, Miyu attacked Rina during entrances. The star for Oedo Tai was Momo, who had really good exchanges with both Utami and Saya. Whenever it was some combination of those three in the ring, the match was at its best. Miyu and Rina brought the kind of fire you want from the young members of the roster. Fukigen Death was kind of just there, doing her usual antics which hasn’t always been my thing. They really allowed Rina and Miyu to go at it down the stretch. I know there are concerns about this company losing a lot of talent with the Rossy situation but there are some women with loads of potential up and down this roster. Miyu scored a pretty big win over the Future of Stardom Champion by hitting a cool looking leaping Pedigree in 11:06. Like, she jumped with it and put her legs over Rina’s arms. I don’t think I’ve seen that variation before. This was another in a string of good matches. [***]


Ami Sourei, MIRAI, Saki Kashima and Syuri vs. Hazuki, Koguma, Mayu Iwatani and Yuzuki

I appreciate how consistently solid this show has been so far but I’m looking for one match to stand out as better than just “good” and this has that potential. It’s also the first time we’ve seen Koguma in quite some time. STARS is such a fun faction. In typical Saki Kashima fashion, she taunted with Koguma before pulling her into a pin attempt for two right at the start. Koguma got welcomed back by some truly vicious chops from MIRAI. She was laying them in there. Ami Sourei had one of her better outings going at it with Mayu and Hazuki. There was something extra in her strikes with Hazuki that I wasn’t expecting. You’d think there was a big singles match coming up for them. The modified powerbomb Ami busted out was also pretty sweet. I got to see rising star Yuzuki against Syuri, which was probably the high point of the match. Yuzuki has been so impressive that any chance I have to see her against a top star is awesome. The young star mostly held her own but did eat a slew of stiff kicks along the way. In the end, Syuri choked her out at the 14:17 mark. A step up in quality for the show and a really good multi-person tag with lots of action. [***½]

New Blood Tag Team Championship: Hanan and Saya Iida [c] vs. Chanyota and Mai Sakurai

There isn’t much build here but I’m glad the titles are being defended. I didn’t come in with high expectations, yet they ended up blowing me away. This was worked at a quick pace, with frequent tags and everyone doing their part. Iida shined in the small powerhouse role, Sakurai injected this with some personality when she was in there, Chanyota matched Iida’s strength, and Hanan just looked like a star. Whether it was playing the face in peril or getting in fiery offense, Hanan was everywhere. She is getting it in a way that most people her age could only dream of. I have to commend Chanyota here because she’s the one I see the least and she impressed. The way she’d just run over Iida or work some solid tandem moves with Mai came off well. I will say, the spot to set up the stereo abdominal stretches came off awkwardly due to some timing issues. Iida took a beating for a good chunk of this and had to make the hot tag to Hanan, who came in and did her thing. The closing stretch saw Chanyota and Iida continue to throw haymakers at one another (including a stiff Chanyota lariat) before Iida secured the win with a twisting Muscle Bustler in 18:54. A hell of a match that way overdelivered. [****]

HANAKO, Maika, Mina Shirakawa and Xena vs. Saori Anou, Sayaka Kurara, Tam Nakano and Yuna Mizumori

It’s so great to have Tam back. This is also an early look at ExV as a stable. The newcomers were made to start as HANAKO went against Sayaka (Sayaka was chopped by her teammates to hype her up). This was mostly just a standard multi-person tag with quick tags and everyone getting a chance to shine. I feel like there was a little something extra in the Saori/Mina exchanges, which might set up a Wonder of Stardom Title match that I’d be down for. Also, maybe it’s just me but I feel like Saori kind of gives leader vibes for Cosmic Angels though that is Tam’s spot, which is interesting. We also got the always intriguing Tam vs. Mina battle, calling back to their history and double title match last year. I could watch those two wrestle every week. There was also a preview for Maika/Tam as they prepare to collide over who the real World of Stardom Champion is. That was a short preview though, likely saving stuff for the actual match down the line. The final few minutes saw a brawl break out with competitors moving in and out of the ring. Sayaka got left alone to eat a cool swinging tandem spot by Maika and Xena which I think should’ve been the finish. Tam made the save to set up a big dive outside and a few more spots for everyone capped by Maika beating Sayaka with a discus lariat in 13:04. A very good match here. [***¼]

NJPW STRONG Women’s Championship No Disqualifications Match: Giulia [c] vs. Natsuko Tora

I’ve admitted that, as much as I love Giulia, some of these STRONG Title defenses haven’t really clicked for me. The No DQ setting fit better for Natsuko, who typically uses underhanded tactics and weapons. I was concerned when this started with a lockup but it quickly became a battle of strikes. They did the Korakuen thing of fighting through the crowd and having a brawl around the arena. It’s a staple of shows in this venue these days. Natsuko brought a chain into play early and threw Giulia around by her braids. She was brutal with everything she did. She got a big reaction for grabbing scissors and cutting off a big chunk of Giulia’s hair. A table got set up outside but wasn’t used for a while. I’ve never liked that because it takes away some drama inside. You know the match won’t end until that table is used. Giulia’s top rope double underhook suplex spot was pretty dope. Then Giulia used the table by delivering a piledriver. Just when Giulia looked to have things in control, Natsuko spit the mist at her and turned the tide, even getting a near fall with the Swanton Bomb. Giulia rallied and broke a board over Natsuko’s head before hitting a pump knee and retaining with the Northern Lights Bomb on the board in 16:23. A hell of a main event that delivered on the violence and animosity you want. [****]

The final score: review Good
The 411
A better show than I was expecting. The two title matches delivered in a big way and the rest of the card is filled with consistently entertaining and good matches. Hell, maybe this is even an 8/10.

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STARDOM, Kevin Pantoja