STARDOM Cinderella Tournament Finals 2024 Review (3/20/24)

STARDOM Cinderella Tournament 2024

It’s time for another STARDOM pay-per-view, this time the finals of the Cinderella Tournament. Not only would the show have the final three matches of this year’s tournament, but it’d also have the final match of Tam Nakano and Giulia’s storied rivalry and a World of Stardom Championship match between Maika and Utami Hayashishista. That’s as good as it gets.

Let’s dive into the STARDOM Cinderella Tournament Finals 2024

Cinderella Tournament Finals 2024

Mayu Iwatani def. Yuzuki

Yuzuki was supposed to debut against Mayu Iwatani but due to injury to Iwatani’s finger, that had to be pushed back. Ultimately, it was for the better as the supremely talented rookie got to learn more before having this match.

Why Iwatani is so good at these matches is because she allows the rookie to have some hope, show the fight they have, and then destroy them in the end. It’s a method that just works and it’ll be a match for Yuzuki to come back to down the line and know she learned. Mayu hit her hard on multiple occasions, but none were nastier than the two Superkicks followed by the Dragon Suplex to end it. But hey, that Rolling Elbow near fall by Yuzuki was great. A fun match to start the show.

Rating: ***¼

EXV (Mina Shirakawa, Xena, Waka Tsukiyama & HANAKO) def. God’s Eye (Syuri, MIRAI, Saki Kashima & Ranna Yagami)

There wasn’t too much to talk about here. To get everyone on the card, it’s all about doing the big tag matches between factions. With EXV on the way up and Mina Shirkawa clearly gaining momentum on seemingly every show, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise either.

EXV are going to challenge for the Artists of Stardom Championship sooner rather than later. That’s the continuation we got here. At least Xena hit some cool chops.

Rating: **¼

Cinderella Tournament Semifinal: Hanan def. Ruaka

One step closer. Hanan’s journey to the finals of the Cinderella Tournament was complete with this match as the future ace of STARDOM could not be stopped by Ruaka and her heel tactics. As we’ve seen throughout this year’s tournament, the Oedo Tai way has cheated Ruaka to this point. Well, they perfectly replicated those moments by putting a stop to them. Whether it was Hazuki making sure Ruaka wouldn’t hit the same Crossbody that eliminated her two rounds ago or STARS just fighting off the group, they weren’t letting Hanan get screwed out of this.

Once the nonsense was over, these two wrestled to a good match, with each of them getting near falls. Hanan hit the Cutie Special at one point while Ruaka hit her Chokebomb. Both near falls were great, having me and the fans in the arena on the edge of their seat. It wasn’t until Hanan was able to get Seventeen on Ruaka that she finally won, but it was a grand way to end this match.

I’ve been saying it for months now, but this is Hanan’s year. STARDOM set up this tournament to play to her story and she’s done nothing but deliver. Consider this another one of those times.

Rating: ***

Cinderella Tournament Semifinal: Ami Sohrei def. AZM

Ami Sohrei advanced to the semifinal by beating AZM and the main reason is for Hanan’s story. Otherwise, this really felt like it should have been the match that AZM won.

Throughout the entire tournament, AZM looked like the top star. She was always in control of her matches and brought the younger, lower-card talent to really good matches. And she did it again in her very last match, giving Sohrei the best of match of her tournament.

These two kept it competitive and moving, not slowing down as you’d expect with who was involved. What made the match work well was the continuous near falls between these two. When AZM went for her first Azumi Sushi of the match, it was reversed by Sohrei into a roll up of her own, nearly stealing the match long before it should have been over. Battling on the apron was the heart of this match, however, as they both teased getting thrown off and falling to the outside to be eliminated. Thankfully for them (and us), they’d both manage to get back in the ring and keep the match going.

The moment of the match was when AZM finally got that Azumi Sushi pin on Sohrei, resulting in a 2.99 kickout to keep the match alive. There’d be a slip-up in the close of this match that’d hold it from being better than the previous bout, but they got through it for Sohrei to hit Like a Thunderbolt and get the victory.

Sadly, there was never much doubt as to who was going to win this match. Probably the main critique as there was little drama, even if AZM did her best to create some in this match. Sohrei is part of Hanan’s story, and that’s that. AZM will have her time… SOON!

Rating: ***

Mei Seira, Suzu Suzuki & Mai Sakurai def. Queen’s Quest (Saya Kamitani, Lady C & Miyu Amasaki) and STARS (Hazuki, Koguma & Saya Iida)

Do you know what’s better than big faction tag team matches? Multi-team trios matches. They’re great, and it’s something that STARDOM has begun to lean on over the past month or so. It’s all action with an insane pace that often highlights the best of the best in the promotion. That’s what we saw in this very match, and it’s how we got the best match of the night to this point.

It’d be a crime to try and highlight all the moving parts from this, but it was the closing stretch that was the most important. Hazuki looked like she was on the brink of pinning Saya Kamitani, potentially moving herself and Koguma up in the Goddesses of Stardom Championship hunt as a result. But at the last second, Mei Seira got Hazuki out of the way and did her signature roll up on Kamitani to get the shocking pin and win. CRAZY STAR is determined to get their tag title match and soon. This made them all the more undeniable with Seira getting such an important W for her team.

Just watch this match. It’s one of those you’d think of skipping but the action was great and it won’t take up too much of your time.

Rating: ***½

Tam Nakano vs. Giulia ends in a 15-minute Draw

A love letter to the most important rivalry of the Bushiroad era of STARDOM.

Going into this match, everyone knew it’d be the end for these two as rivals. Giulia is leaving at the end of March while Tam Nakano sticks with STARDOM as their top star. And they poured their hearts into this match knowing that this was the final time. Wrestling like it was the final time.

This match was imperfect, which is what made it perfect. They didn’t do the usual start to their matches. Instead, it was all about slapping the taste out of each other’s mouths… a theme for the match until the final bell and even post-match. 

Let’s just jump around here. There were three sets of shoot headbutts in this match. THREE. And they all left the fans in shock — myself included. But as we do with their closing stretches, it was all bombs, all the time. Each of them kicked out before one on huge spots — including the Violet Screwdriver that Giulia hit onto Nakano. But it was clear Giulia had the upper hand from there. When Giulia hit the Northern Lights Bomb, it was apparent that she had the match won then and there. She could have ended this match and their feud forever, but she couldn’t. She lifted up Nakano and went for more, but this was when Nakano would finally get back on the offensive. Nakano would hit the Twilight Dream that Giulia kicked out of. It was then followed by a Violet Screwdriver, where Nakano mirrored her rival and picked Giulia up at two. From there, they slapped each other until the time ran out, and then some. An overly dramatic slugfest that perfectly captured their rivalry. I wouldn’t have had it any other way to be quite honest.

They shared words after the match, even hugged, but this rivalry that has been the staple of STARDOM over the last five years is now over.

Nakano and Giulia have to go their own way now. It’s officially the end of an era. Thank you to both of them as they left it all out there one final time.

Rating: ****½

Oedo Tai (Natsuko Tora, Momo Watanabe, Starlight Kid, Rina & Fukigen Death) def. Cosmic Angels (Natsupoi, Saori Anou, Yuna Mizumori, Sayaka Kurara & Aya Sakura)

STARDOM did the right thing with this match. And the right thing was to have it follow the Tam and Giulia match so everyone could get themselves back together.

This match was quite simple. Have Natsupoi and Starlight Kid do some of their cool high-speed exchanges for about two minutes, see the Wonder of Stardom Champion for a little bit, and then let the young talent take the rest. Aya Sakura and Sayaka Kurara looked good here, as Sakura closed it out with Rina in a losing effort. Double Knees to the stomach for poor Sakura called it here. If you miss this match, you won’t miss too much.

Rating: **¾

Cinderella Tournament Final: Hanan def. Ami Sohrei

H-A-N-A-N. Cinderella Winner!

If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, you know my belief in Hanan. 2024 was always going to be her year. She showed in the 5STAR Grand Prix how ready she was for the next step. How ready she is for the top title match. And now that she has won the Cinderella Tournament with one of the best runs in the history of the tournament, no one can deny that now.

Hanan and Ami Sohrei have had decent matches in the past, one being for the Future of Stardom Title, where Sohrei ended Hanan’s record reign. But none of the matches have fully clicked like this one. This match wasn’t long — it was to the point as it should have been with both wrestling earlier in the night.

Hanan and Sohrei captured those “edge of your seat” type moments throughout the match, with the first being Sohrei hitting her Like a Thunderbolt seemingly out of nowhere. My heart dropped watching, this is a move that Sohrei just pinned AZM with earlier after all. But Hanan survived. She kicked out and the match continued.

It was then Sohrei’s chance to kickout of a match-winning move, as Hanan got her Seventeen roll up on Sohrei for a great near all. By then though, Hanan had it. The Backdrop Driver that had eliminated MIRAI from the tournament two weeks ago was the one that earned Hanan her name in history, pinning Sohrei to win the Cinderella.

A moment was made, a star was made, and everything that should have happened in this tournament did when it came to Hanan. But credit to Sohrei as well. This was one of the best performances of her career, maybe the best.

Hanan is the future ace for a reason and it’s her time to go for gold from this. One of the best moments all year. I just loved every second of this.

Rating: ***¾

World of Stardom Championship: Maika (c) def. Utami Hayashishita

Maika and Utami Hayashishita will always be connected but watching this match, it was hard to believe it was the first time they had faced for a championship since 2021. But you felt that when this match was a level better than what they’ve previously done, showing a complete level of excellence from start to finish. Truly, it was the first time they could fill a match to “epic” standards together. 

Filling time isn’t necessarily what a Joshi main event is all about compared to the Puro world. They get in there, deliver the match without much extra, and get out. It works super well and it’s what makes Joshi so great. But when the main events go down that epic route, it can be an interesting ride to fill the time. The good news for us today is that Maika and Utami knew exactly what they had to do. And that’s run into each other again and again and again.

I should have probably counted because these two tried to take each other’s heads off with Lariats no less than 20 times. And that is what plays to the mixing of their styles so well. 

A Maika main event is very different from an Utami main event. Hayashishita wrestles the big epic, but she’s shown an ability to make it Joshi-style. Maika, on the other hand, has leaned on the Puro main event style and it’s worked for her. They meshed the two together for this match and, as a result, had their best match to date.

Hayashishita had the upper hand for much of the match. There was something familiar about it as it started to feel like their previous two title matches, but Maika is a different wrestler now, so she fought back. Reversing not one but two BT Bombs was the recipe to her success, as she’d turn it around and close the match to get her win. 

Maika hit her usual Michinoku Driver II, but Hayashishita kicked out. She followed that up with a Spinning Michinoku Driver II followed by an Arm-Trap Michinoku Driver II, putting an end to this Hayashishita once and for all, completing the best match of their series also.

This was a match Maika needed for her title reign. The title win didn’t hit like I wanted to nor did the first defense against Saya Kamitani. This though? This is what I hope to see from “The Empress” time and time again moving forward.

An excellent match that completes another great STARDOM pay-per-view.

Rating: ****¼


STARDOM can’t miss. No matter the drama, question marks, or anything else, 2024 is proving to be their year. Three matches are must-see from this show with Tam vs. Giulia one final time being tops for all their craziness mixed into 15 minutes, Hanan’s crowning moment as the 2024 Cinderella, and of course the main event.

The next STARDOM pay-per-view in Japan will be All Star Grand Queendom, so big things are on the way follow American Dream 2024 during WrestleMania Week. If you’re not watching STARDOM right now, get into it! The roster remains untouchable every single show.

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