Stardom held their second annual ‘Dream Queendom’ Show on December 29 in the Sumo Hall, which was a huge success. Nearly 3900 fans were in the building which is a record for the promotion. The show was a perfect way out of 2022.
The Main Show started with a High-Speed Title match between AZM and the challenger from COLOR’s Hikari Shimizu, who brought up a great fight. Hikari Shimizu is one of the very best in the Joshi indies scene and shined in her biggest singles match ever. Her kicks and offense made me believe she might win in a couple of situations with great near falls. In the end, the Ace of the High-Speed Division retained her belt and her next challenger was announced as non-other than her arch-rival Starlight Kid. The Match will happen on January 8th.
The STARS vs. STARS preview match for the upcoming Triangle Derby. They played a lot into the Mayu Iwatani not fully trusting in Momo Kohgo’s progress, but her team won regardless when Mayu pinned Saya Iida. The two teams will face each other again on January 6th in the Korakuen Hall.
Mina Shirakawa’s return match was one of the most hyped matches coming into the shows and a big angle involving Mina Shirakawa was expected here, but what Stardom booked here decreased a lot of the hype for me that was there after the White Belt Match in November. Mina made her entrance and came out together with Xia Brookside and Mariah May. Two younger Wrestlers from the UK. Xia is known for her time in NXT UK or her Stardom tours before the pandemic, while May is for many an unknown name. The Match itself was nothing special. It was cool to see Unagi Sayaka back in a Stardom ring after her having a fun run in the Indies, and she and Mina work really well together. The DDM Duo of Thekla and Mai Sakurai put on a good challenge for Mina that showed her improvement and picked up the win for her team. The post-match promo after made this all awkward. Mina picked up the mic and asked Unagi why she didn’t tell her about the Gyan Period and turned on her beating Unagi up who seemed confused and walked out of the ring crying and watching from the stage how Mina introduced herself, Xia and May as “Club Venus” and that they will be the X Team in the Triangle Derby. A rather confusing angle for the really popular Mina that seemed to be brewing as the next White belt champion.
The No.1 Contender Match for the Goddess Of Stardom Championship was what everyone was expecting – a great hoss fight. All three teams fit perfectly together and worked really well with each other. Maika and Himeka winning was the right choice, even though I expected them to wait for another challenge until the big April Show. They are the best Tag Team in Stardom that has yet to have a long title reign, and it’s about time they get it.
The Dream Match between KAIRI and Utami totally delivered, but it was just a teaser of what could happen for the IWGP Women’s Title down the line. It’s scary how good this was when both Wrestlers weren’t fully trying yet. Since coming back, KAIRI has been on a great run while Utami took a backseat in 2022 and got so much better compared to her title loss one year ago against Syuri at last year’s Queendom. The draw considering the stipulation was a bit disappointing since I really wanted to see Utami going back to her Rookie days in order to find herself again winning something big in 2023.
A great hardcore Match that ended with Suzu Suzuki and Risa Sera winning Stardom Gold as they and Kurumi Hiiragi defeated the Oedo Tai trio for the Artist Of Stardom Championship Match. The hardcore stipulation gave the Prominence team a big advantage, and they ran with it. Starlight Kid was great in this match, with her bringing back the bicycle from Suzu Suzuki’s Rookie days. The work between her and Suzu was by far the best in this match and made me interested in more matches between them down the line. Suzu was likely the MVP in this match, killing Saki Kashima on multiple occasions, especially with the Fire Thunder Driver through the table from the top rope. The Artist of Stardom title picture is going to be really interesting in 2023 with outsiders reigning on top and the Triangle Derby League coming up soon.
Outsiders winning Stardom Titles also happened in the Goddesses Of Stardom Championship Match, when Nanae Takahashi and Yuu defeated meltear to win the title. 7Upp have been fantastic in the Tag League, and the title win isn’t as shocking as many think. They have been booked as really dominant and look nearly unbeatable. The finishing stretch between Natsupoi and Yuu has been excellent. Yuu finished Natsupoi with the last ride to win the Tag Belts for her team. The match was outstanding and ranks as one of the best Tag Matches of the Joshi year. The Title run of Yuu and Nanae won’t last forever, but whoever beats them will look strong.
Coming into the show, the Wonder Of Stardom Title Match was criticized a lot considering how big the show is and the challenger being an unproven Haruka Umesaki from Diana, who didn’t look strong at all during the build-up of this match. Going into this show there was no way Umesaki was winning and while they actively tried to make Umesaki look strong it never felt like she had an actual chance of winning and inevitably lose. It was her best singles Performance to this date, and she showed how great she is a couple of times. Saya was as good as always and is now at V12 only one win shy to tie the record of Momo Watanabe and that might happen on January 8th when the current Future Of Stardom Champion Ami Sourei is the challenger in Nagoya.
The Main Event was even better than everyone expected, and we got a late Match of The Year contender and likely the best Women’s Match of the year. Giulia came into this match as the favorite to dethrone the most dominant Wrestler the promotion has seen since Io Shirai left the company. A Wrestler that only lost One Singles Title Match in her 3 years in this promotion, someone that Giulia unleashed on the Stardom Roster. There are so many details in the match that it would need an hour to explain all of them. Giulia hit the Enka Otoshi and the Running Powerbomb from Maika and Himeka while Syuri used the Straight Jacket German from Natsupoi. Both wrestlers gave everything here. Syuri didn’t want to give up and lose what she worked years for, while Giulia finally wanted the belt that she deserves.
Eventually, Giulia won by using the new Glorious Northern Lights Bomb with under 10 seconds remaining on the clock to win the World Of Stardom Title. A title win that felt inevitable three years ago but didn’t happen until this very moment when she overcame Syuri. A great conclusion to her long story with ups and downs. From losing her hair to winning the 5STAR after defeating her two rivals Suzu Suzuki and Tam Nakano to her crowning moment at Queendom.
Full STARDOM Dream Queendom Card:
The Super Strong Stardom Giant Machine and Super Strong Stardom Machine win the STARDOM Rumble
AZM (c) vs Hikari Shimizu to retain the High-Speed Championship
STARS (Mayu Iwatani, Momo Kohgo & Hanan) defeat STARS (Hazuki, Saya Iida & Koguma)
Cosmic Angels (Unagi Sayaka & Mina Shirakawa) defeat Donna del Mondo (Mai Sakurai & Thekla)
Donna del Mondo (Maika & Himeka) defeat God’s Eye (MIRAI & Ami Sourei) and Oedo Tai (Natsuko Tora & Ruaka) to win a shot at the Goddess of Stardom Championship
Utami Hayashishita vs KAIRI ends in a Time Limit Draw
Prominence (Suzu Suzuki & Risa Sera & Hiragi Kurumi) defeat Oedo Tai (Starlight Kid & Momo Watanabe & Saki Kashima) (c) to win the Artist Of Stardom Championship in a Hardcore Match
7Upp (Nanae Takahashi & Yuu) defeat Meltear (Natsupoi & Tam Nakano) (c) to win the Goddesses Of Stardom Championship
Saya Kamitani (c) defeats Haruka Umesaki to retain the Wonder Of Stardom Championship
Giulia defeats Syuri (c) to win the World Of Stardom Championship
Ribbonmania Ice Ribbon’s 2022 concluded with a fine show with three highlights, even one of them was a sad one because it was the retirement match of Yuuki Mashiro against former ICExInfinity Champion Suzu Suzuki that was invited here despite leaving the Promotion at the start of the year. The Match was totally fine, but really emotional. The Gacha King is charismatic, funny and hilarious. She’s a unique wrestler that debuted in August 2020 and retired at the age of 21. Everything post-match is an excellent sendoff for Yuuki and emotional. Thank You, Yuuki for all your contributions to Wrestling!
In the Semi-Main Event, Hikaru Shida defended the International Ribbon Tag Team Title together with Ibuki Hoshi against Totoro Satsuki and Yuna Manase. Ibuki played a great underdog here and tried to survive against the Hoss offense of BIG DEKAI while Shida always cleared the ring and helped Ibuki to win at the end of the match. The former Champions Hamuko Hoshi and Makoto challenged Ibuki and Shida for the March 19th Korakuen Hall show. Shida then picked up the mic and trash-talked Ibuki. She called her weak and that she needs to get better, which heats up the partnership between the Champions even more. The dynamic between Shida and Ibuki is really intriguing and one of the most interesting stories heading into 2023.
The future Ace of Ice Ribbon Asahi challenged the current ICExInfinity Champion Saori Anou for the title in a great main event. Coming into this Match it felt like this was the moment where Asahi fulfills her destiny and puts herself on the top of Ice Ribbon, but that didn’t happen. She came really close multiple times in this match where everyone thought she has done it now, but Anou was on another level here. The veteran kicked out of everything and ended Asahi’s hopes to win the title. With that, Anou reigns on top of Ice Ribbon at the end of 2022.