Stardom Flashing Champions: Syuri vs. Risa Sera, Saya Kamitani vs. MIRAI, KAIRI returns

Originally published at Stardom Flashing Champions: Syuri vs. Risa Sera, the return of KAIRI

Stardom Flashing Champions: Syrui vs. Risa Sera, Saya Kamitani vs. MIRAI, KAIRI returns

By: Karen Peterson

Flashing Champions took place at Ota Ward Gymnasium. Japanese Commentary featured Katsuya Ichikawa, Makoto Ohe & Great O’Khan (United Empire; NJPW), with AZM joining after her title match. The first two matches were streamed for free on YouTube before the show shifted purely to the iPPV format. No English commentary was available for this event.

Spoiler-Free Synopsis

  • 6-Woman Battle: The Purple Stars Preview – Worth a Watch
  • Future of Stardom Championship: Hanan & Ruaka revisit their rivalry again. – Worth a Watch
  • 6-Woman Tag Match: Cosmic Angels tangle with Prominence – Worth a Watch
  • High Speed Championship (1/30): Lightning in a bottle – Highly Recommended
  • SWA World Championship (1/30): The Icon Plays Space Invaders – Worth a Watch
  • Special Tag Match: A Game of Chess Between The Queens and The White Knights – Recommended
  • Goddesses of Stardom Championship (1/30): Are Oh Mai Giulia crazy enough to hang with FWC? – Recommended
  • Artists of Stardom Championships (1/30): Can OedoTai stop MaiHimePoi’s Winning Streak – Highly Recommended
  • Wonder of Stardom Championship (1/30): A Tale of Two Cinderellas – Highly Recommended
  • World of Stardom Championship (1/30): No Pinfalls. No Time Limit. Knockout or Give Up ONLY. – Highly Recommended

6-Woman Battle: Lady C (QQ), Saya Iida (STARS), & Momo Kohgo (STARS) defeated Rina (OET), Hina (QQ), & Ami Sorei (GE) (6:15) with Kohgo pinning Hina after a Huracan Rana

With the bulk of the 5★ Grand Prix entrants, announced, the final three berths are up for grabs with one glaring issue: six of them will have to fight for those last three slots. Throughout June, these six competitors (along with Mai Sakura, Ruaka, Waka Tsukiyama, and Miyu Amasaki) will be having their own mini-5★GP Qualifying Series to determine which three will advance to the tournament starting at the end of July. Until their final entrants secure their places in the Red or Blue Stars, I am calling this group Purple Stars.

Momo pinned Hina with a Huracan Rana. This also indirectly dealt God’s Eye their first loss via Ami Sorei.

Future of Stardom Championship: Hanan (STARS) © defeated Ruaka (OET) (5:30) with 17

When Ruaka insisted on hanging onto the Future Championship until Hanan could challenge her at Dream Queendom last December, I knew she had decided who her forever rival was. Even when she lost the championship to Hanan, she wasn’t sour and has worked her way back into the championship picture. Personally, I see them as two sides of the same coin, much like Hanan’s twin younger sisters, Rina and Hina.

The match is rather straightforward, but the biggest pressure is Hanan’s push toward tying Utami Hayashishita’s Super Rookie run with the Future of Stardom Championship. The advantage Hanan has over Ruaka is a guaranteed spot in the 2022 5★GP. There wasn’t anything particularly noteworthy about their match other than it was very solid and succinct.

Hanan ties Utami Hayashishita’s Future of Stardom Championship record at six. Just Tap Out’s Tomoka Inaba made her way to the ring. The Sendai Girls’ Junior Champion issues her challenge, expressing her desire to become a double champion. Inaba and Hanan have crossed paths in the New Blood series, so it’s great to see the continuity making its way into the core of Stardom’s storytelling. With Fighting in the Top, New Blood 3 & Midsummer Champions in the next two months, there is the possibility that she could break Utami’s record prior to the 5★GP.

*NEW* Double Feature in Nagoya!

  • 7/23 Stardom in Showcase vol.1 – Nagoya International Conference Center
  • 7/24 Stardom MidSummer Champions 2022 – Nagoya International Conference Center

6-Woman Tag Match: Prominence (Suzu Suzuki, Akane Fujita & Mochi Natsumi defeated Cosmic Angels (Mina Shirakawa, Unagi Sayaka & Waka Tsukiyama) (10:56) with Suzu pinning Waka with a German Suplex

I know the ongoing story is Waka Tsukiyama’s seemingly endless quest to get her first win in Stardom. As we approach the 5★GP, we are closing on her anniversary of showing up in Stardom (September 4th), yet it seems that they are taking the scenic route in building Tsukiyama into one of the company’s most beloved underdogs. Honestly, I was quite proud of her being the one to challenge Suzuki and Prominence to the trios match. I would have expected Unagi or Shirakawa to lead the charge, but this brief build-up is centered on Tsukiyama’s drive to get her first win and prove her worth to Cosmic Angels. The entire match centered around Tsukiyama fighting as hard as she could against Suzu with Shirakawa and Unagi truly giving her the stage to shine.

Suzu pinned Waka with a German Suplex, but I didn’t really expect anything less as Suzu locked in a spot in the 5★GP before Waka did. If Waka clears the Purple Stars Block to gain a berth in the 5★GP, I could easily see Suzu being someone she could realistically get her first win over, as that was the motivation for this match. The CA/Prominence rivalry could also continue, especially where Shirakawa/Unagi are concerned because, after the match, it seemed like Fujita and Natsumi weren’t quite finished having their fun with Pink Kabuki.

High Speed Championship (1/30): AZM © (Queen’s Quest) defeated Thekla (DDM) (7:21) via Submission (Numero Uno)

With the first new big match gear reveal of the night, Thekla’s makeover for the High Speed Championship is top-notch. I really want to pick her brain over her fashion design background because she truly selects completely different looks and they all suit her. With AZM in her big match whites, it’s very Black Hat/White Hat, and Thekla is an absolute breath of fresh air in the High Speed Division. The great thing about High Speed, is that every time I watch, the competitors consistently prove that quantity (of time) doesn’t always equate to quality (of matches). So much happened in less than eight minutes, making the match feel like it was much longer than it actually was.

I genuinely cannot say enough good things about AZM and Thekla. They’re just so fascinating to watch. Looking forward to the 5★GP, I would earmark both of them as legitimate contenders. What Thekla brings to the match besides unbelievable speed and flexibility is her power. It reminded me of when Momo Watanabe and SLK were in the throws of their rivalry in the sense that Thekla is bringing heaps of power and striking ability, which gives her better control over the match pacing. Whew! AZM really made Thekla decide if she wanted to keep that arm attached to her body. It was crossing both of the arms behind her back that really got me! It reminded me of Deonna Purrazzo’s Venus de Milo with an actual twist… of the arms.

This is AZM’s fourth successful defense. She’s well on her way to breaking the record, but it seems she’s running out of opponents, so she wonders, “Who’s next?!” Momo Kohgo (STARS) answered AZM’s open challenge, taking the opportunity to seize the moment, riding the high of winning the opening match earlier in the night.

“Your trainer is Hazuki? Well, if you can show me that you’re actually learning something from her, I’ll take you on.” – AZM

SWA World Championship (1/30): Mayu Iwatani (STARS; Japan) defeated Fukigen Death (OedoTai; Space Alien) (4:59) with a Moonsault/Pin combination

It is quite possible that I have discovered a concept I disliked with Fukigen being classified as an interstellar being for the sake of making a match. I really hoped that they would have sorted out a proper international talent visa or sent Mayu abroad to rack up wins. I know wrestling should be fun, but it sort of cheapens the intention of the belt. I would have rather they had left the belt on Thekla until they could arrange for talent exchanges.

While I appreciate Mayu going to work without stopping to take off her gorgeous entrance gown, it just felt like a mismatch from the beginning. I know that Iwatani’s intention is to make the SWA World Championship one that is desired by other wrestlers around the world (and galaxy apparently), but I don’t know if a five-minute comedy defense was the way to kick off Mayu’s reign. I would have liked it to have been a longer match, but I did appreciate OedoTai remaining out of the match… well, for the most part. With as short as the match was, the Tombstone Piledriver and Moonsault just felt like overkill in a match that didn’t feel very balanced from the get-go. Never thought I would dislike an Iwatani match, but it just felt so superfluous.

This is Iwatani’s first successful defense. No challenger emerged after the match.

Special Tag Match: White Knights (Tam Nakano (CA) & KAIRI) defeated Queen’s Quest (Utami Hayashishita & Miyu Amasaki) (19:44) with KAIRI pinning Amasaki after Cutlass x Insane Elbow Drop Combination.

KAIRI’s biggest caveat for Utami was how easy the company is making everything for Miyu Amasaki. In the press conference, she clearly stated that she won’t go so easy on the company’s newest star. From main eventing against Utami in her debut match at New Blood 1, to the upcoming Miyu Amasaki Triumph series, the new superstar is receiving the fast-track treatment. Throughout the match, she and Tam both make it their mission to educate Amasaki that the life of a wrestler isn’t so simple. I loved the combination of strict KAIRI and arrogant Tam in stark contrast to their tag name of White Knights. Some may say that even though they were in the red corner, the heels of this match were definitely Tam and KAIRI, but they truly doled out the tough love for Miyu’s betterment.

Utami did her absolute best as the new leader of QQ to encourage Miyu without doing all the work for her. I would like to give Great O’Khan a massive shoutout for his referencing Utami’s pageantry reminiscent of the Takarakuza Revue (an all-woman musical theatre troupe that performs all roles of characters in their productions in western Japan). It’s a comparison I’ve always used to describe not just her entrance gear, but music selection, posing, and general presence in the ring. While she broke up pins and ran interference, Utami let Miyu have the spotlight, especially with KAIRI, whom Amasaki trained with a handful of times.

For those who loved uTAMi and her getting under Nakano’s skin, Tam’s deliberate bullying and targeting of both Amasaki and Hayashishita are definitely repayment for uTAMi’s surge in popularity and stealing the spotlight from the leader of Cosmic Angels. Tam and Utami get caught up fighting one another, but I loved hearing Tam call for KAIRI right before Utami powered her back into a suplex. I’ve said it before, but I am really enjoying seeing Utami discover who she is without the Red Belt. As the leader of QQ, she has a purpose, much like Momo Watanabe did during Hayashishita’s runaway run with the World of Stardom Championship in 2021. Also –OH MY STARS– that Avalanche Airraid Crash with KAIRI and Utami from the second rope.

KAIRI levels Miyu with The Cutlass before hitting Amasaki with the Insane Elbow Drop with less than a minute left. The sound of that spinning back fist echoed throughout the entire venue.

“Utami, it seems you broke your pinky promise to me. You didn’t protect Miyu as promised. However, you both really have some talent. I’ll be waiting for you should you want a singles match… well maybe one day. That’s right pro-wrestling is pain. You save it ALL up and you use it. You keep losing but you save ALL OF IT. You turn it into something special and you show everyone.” – KAIRI (to Amasaki in the post-match)

“We are the Chosen Ones of the White Belt… White Knights… and I hope we can keep fighting together… but you know what… truthfully someday, I’d really like to face you one-on-one… on the biggest possible stage.” – Tam Nakano (to KAIRI)

Who knows when White Knights will face one another in singles competition, but with Stardom’s evergrowing tour calendar, it could be very soon like at Fighting in the Top in late June or even on the Finals of the 5★GP on October 1st. We’ll have to see how soon the Pirate Princess charts her next raid upon Stardom. However, since Tam is requesting the biggest possible stage for the second date with KAIRI, we could be waiting as long as the final show of the year, should Stardom decide to have a second Dream Queendom.

Goddesses of Stardom Championship (1/30): Fukuoka Double Crazy © (FWC; Hazuki/Koguma) vs. OH MAI GIULIA! (DDM; Giulia & Mai Sakurai) (15:11) with Koguma pinning Sakurai after a Diving Body Press

The next noticeable makeover of the night goes to Mai Sakurai. She’s lopped off all of her hair and rocked out with upgraded gear to better match with Giulia, making them look more like a cohesive tag team. With so many of the roster members with long hair, and short hair Mai looks like a star. She might have unlocked the Bobcut Utami and Buzzcut Giulia Tier of makeovers. It makes it feel like she left the last bit of Cosmic Angels’ Mai Sakurai on the salon room floor, finally getting the clean break she needed to progress forward under Giulia’s tutelage. While Sakurai isn’t on the ALIKABA level that Giulia had with Syuri, this is most definitely a promising leap in the right direction.

FWC decided to show up with brand new music to go with their new gear from Fukuoka Goddess Festival, where the hometown heroines reclaimed the Goddesses of Stardom Tag Team Championships. Again, I love cohesive looks and presentation, and reigning 11th Goddesses of Stardom Tag League Winners, have finally found the perfect balance of their individuality and unity as a tag team. From the start of the match, you can tell each of them has earmarked an opponent for the match: Koguma/Mai and Hazuki/Giulia. The great thing about FWC as a tag team is that they bring their high-speed experience, which often dictates the pacing of the match, meaning their opponents need to keep up or give up.

As the match progresses, Giulia becomes increasingly focused on Hazuki, almost completely forgetting about Koguma and Mai. Their fight spills to the outside where they continue scrapping while Koguma and Mai fight inside the ring. By the time Giulia realizes Mai is in the trouble, it’s far too late as the match ends with Koguma hitting Sakurai with a flying body press and covering her for three.

With the 5★GP on the horizon, Giulia needs to remember that before we get there, she can’t simply abandon her tag partner in the ring if she wants to pursue tag championships. As a leader, she needs to remember that part of her duty is to support her team. Carrying Mai like a princess off to the back was cute, and the distracted finish was a great way to protect both teams. My only wish was that Giulia would have been a little more focused on the match I understand that they are building up to the end of July, but there is plenty of time before Giulia needs to start focusing on singles gold again. While Sakurai is upping her learning curve, she could definitely benefit from a bit more time tagging with Giulia specifically, to further develop her confidence and sharpen her skills.

No new challengers for the Goddess Championships. This was FWC’s first successful defense since regaining the Goddesses belts in Fukuoka at the beginning of the month.

Artists of Stardom Championships (1/30): OedoTai (Saki Kashima, Starlight Kid & Momo Watanabe) defeated Donna del Mondo (Maika, Himeka, & Natsupoi) (14:07) with Saki pinning Natsupoi with Kishikaisei

This was a balanced match and I think about the excess of OedoTai as seconds– literally, everyone in the group that wasn’t officially IN the match – helped make DDM look strong in defeat because they had to fight the entire unit. SLK and Natsupoi got to revisit their Cinderella Tournament first-round match, and Kid’s arrived with the receipts. There is a great balance of speed, power, and striking between both teams.

Part of me wishes they would have let this match go to a draw because I am genuinely wondering why they are protecting the Cosmic Angels’ run with the belts from a year ago instead of moving forward. This match was full of mayhem and chaos in the best way because the pacing kept everything moving. No one person looked weak as everyone showed up and showed out tonight. For a sub-15 minute match, a LOT of things happened and the consistent balance of singles fighting and tag team moves really made the match feel like the perfect storm. SLK previously challenged MaiHimePoi with Young OED (with Rina & Ruaka) back in February. The last time Kashima held the Artists’ Belt was with Natsuko and Bea Priestley in November 2020, and for Momo it was November 2019 with Utami and AZM. For SLK, this is her first time as an Artist of Stardom Champion, so she is one step closer to becoming a proper Grand Slam Champion.

Let’s go, Saki Kashima!!!!! She earned this win. She’s spent the greater part of a year, putting the needs of OedoTai over herself, so while I love me some MaiHimePoi, I am thrilled for Kashima to have a belt again. I won’t dilute her victory by giving credit to SLK and Momo being in the tag either. Granted, it was an ALL OedoTai effort with everyone else seconding this match, but she earned the victory tonight.

Natsuko Picks a Fight… with The Great O’Khan?! Well, well well… what do we have here? No, we aren’t preparing for the Five ★GREAT O’KHAN PRIX!!

Wonder of Stardom Championship (1/30): Saya Kamitani © (Queen’s Quest) defeated MIRAI (God’s Eye) (25:01) with the Phoenix Splash

The setup for this match reminded me a lot of the previous year when Kamitani won the 2021 Cinderella and challenged Tam for the White Belt. Fresh off her Cinderella Tournament win, MIRAI declared she wanted to challenge for the Wonder of Stardom Championship (having already fought Syuri back in January for the World of Stardom Championship), mentioning she didn’t think she was quite ready to challenge Syuri again for the Red Belt, which Kamitani took as a bit of a slight. MIRAI dictated the pace using her mat game to keep Kamitani grounded and also used her power moves to weaken and dismantle the champion’s back and legs, which she needs for all her high flying. Trying to clip the Golden Phoenix’s wings, but also refusing to win via cheating, MIRAI really brought her A-Game and came off as a credible threat to Kamitani’s reign. When she had the MIRAMARE locked in, I honestly thought Saya was done, but her long, long legs rescued her before her arm gave out.

Kamitani defeats MIRAI with the Pheonix Splash. Making her sixth successful defense, Kamitani now ties both Tam Nakano and Giulia. Should she clear her next defense, she would match Io Shirai’s first Wonder run at seven. The question is how far will they take The Golden Phoenix? Past Yuzuki Aikawa and KAIRI (as Kairi Hojo) at eight, Santana Garrett at nine, Io Shirai (again), and Arisa Hoshiki at ten or even aiming to surpass Momo Watanabe at thirteen? I am sure that several of the former champions, Tam and Giulia in particular, might want to stop Kamitani before she gets that far. Plus, we potentially have KAIRI waiting in the wings as well.

While MIRAI lost, this was a star-making performance for her. I genuinely thought once she had the MIRAMARE on Kamitani, it would be over, but the ring awareness of the champ came into play. Although MIRAI moves toward the 5★GP without a championship, she’s definitely put the world on notice that she came to Stardom to become one of the company’s Cinderella stories. With less than six months in the company and less than four years of professional experience, MIRAI is truly showing everyone that she is earning her seat at the Golden Generation’s Table.

While Kamitani tries having her moment with MIRAI, Starlight Kid made her way to the ring. The Black Tiger declares that she will dethrone the Phoenix on her third attempt at the White Belt. The date of their match remains to be announced, but there are several between now and the start of the 5★GP at the end of July.

World of Stardom Championship (1/30): Syuri © (God’s Eye) defeated Risa Sera (Prominence) (14:29) via Second throwing in a towel for a TKO

I was curious to see which approach Syuri would take as she continues her intense defense road. I do love a good match stipulation, especially when it’s caveats like: Knock Out (KO) or Submission ONLY. No Count Outs and no time limit. In the third outstanding costume upgrade of the night, Big Match Risa Sera showed up in a gorgeous brocade entrance gown and some S-Tier sparkling Stardom-grade new gear. If Prominence ever considers making Stardom a regular pied-à-terre, I look forward to the costume evolutions for the remaining members!

Ditching the options for a time limit or pinfall, Syuri leaned into her extensive wrestling, shoot boxing, and MMA wheelhouse to unleash a flurry of attacks to counterbalance Risa Sera, her kendo schtick, and the overly helpful seconds in the remainder of Prominence. MEven Ami Sorei, as Syuri’s second, gets some offense in when Prominence starts playing the numbers game after the referee gets knocked out of the ring.

Having watched several other matches in the show which had similar numbers games, I really did want something a little different for the main event. However, Syuri battling back against Sera & Prominence, who work tether like an exceptionally welll-oiled machine, helped keep the champion looking strong. Having her fill of the shinnai (bamboo kendo stick), The World of Stardom Champion made a point to bend, snap, and dismantle the weapon, so Sera could not continue wielding it each time the referee’s back was turned. She manages to lock in a vicious sleeper hold and proceeds to put Sera to sleep, choking her and shaking her into submission. Mochi Natsumi quickly grabs a towel and throws it into the ring, signaling the referee to stop the match, as Syuri wraps her arms and legs around Risa, clamping her lock tighter. This wound up being Syuri’s shortest defense and the only one to fall under twenty minutes. I liked the added touch of the ring doctor, and all of Prominence rushing in to pry Syuri off Risa.

Next Challenger: Momo Watanabe challenges the 2021 Five Star Grand Prix winner as last year’s finalist.

“I don’t want to fight OedoTai and the cheating Black Peach. No weapons or tricks, if it’s just one on one, I’ll accept your challenge.” – Syuri

Today’s show on paper could have been way longer than it was (even though still clocked in at over four hours). The opening matches were short but sweet, and even some of the marquee matches were shorter than I had anticipated. That isn’t a bad thing, but after a consistent pattern of longer Wonder and World of Stardom matches, I was surprised to see the main event title defense be shorter than Syuri’s match against Asuka at the Hana Kimura Memorial Show earlier in the week. While the next iPPV, Fight in the Top isn’t until June 26th (the same day as NJPW x AEW: Forbidden Door), there are plenty of shows to build the road to it.

This was a rather solid show, but not one of my favorites. I feel like some of the matches were included to make sure everyone on the roster had a place on the card, but it made for a long watch. The entire show is worth your time if you have it because it does highlight some talent who are often on the opening end of the show, by throwing them in the spotlight of the upper card. Can’t wait to see where the road takes us next!

Upcoming Appearances

  • *NEW* Fortune Dream 7 – (June 15, 2022) – Korakuen Hall – Himeka (DDM) vs. Lady C (QQ)
  • *NEW* Wrestle Sekigahara – (July 11, 2022) – Ota Ward Gymnasium – Unagi Sayaka (CA) vs. Yuna Manase (GanPro)

Summer 2022 Big Match Schedule

    • Fight in the Top 2022 – (June 26, 2022) Nagoya International Conference Center
    • *NEW* New Blood 3 (July 8, 2022) – New Pier Hall (Tokyo)
    • MidSummer Champions 2022 (July 9, 2022) – Tachikawa Stage Garden
    • *NEW* Stardom in Showcase (July 23, 2022) – Nagoya International Center

Gokigen yo! Have a great day!