TWM were in attendance for the STARDOM International Grand Prix. A show full of fantastic wrestling, great atmosphere and some great matches.
As a long time Joshi fan it was the most exciting news of the year that Japanese promotion STARDOM Wrestling were making their way over to Europe for a three date tour – the STARDOM International Grand Prix. Even better, one show was to be held in London, in conjunction with British Empire Wrestling. It was a no brainer to get the train up to the big smoke to be in attendance.
With a combination of a one night tournament to crown the International Grand Prix and other feature matches anticipation was high and boy did the show deliver.
Things kicked off with the first round tournament matches. The super talented Stardom star Mayu Iwatani opened things up against Scottish wrestler Kirsty Love. Essentially a showcase for Iwatani it was nevertheless a competitive match up, highlighted with a brutal exchange of chops. Unsurprisingly the STARDOM star advanced.
Former TNA and erstwhile NXT star Santana Garrett was up next, against Danielle Hunter. Again there was no surprise that Garrett, who has wrestled tours for STARDOM, won but it was another perfectly serviceable bout. BEW native Nixon Newell (who gains infinite plus points for having B*Witched’s C’est Last Vie as her entrance theme) took a quick win against Ayesha Ray, a name I hadn’t heard of before, before round one was wrapped up with an entertaining clash of Lucha Libre as Diosa Atenea defeated Dragonita.
After the first interval of the day, where the frightening Alpha Female told me to f**k off (hopefully in character!) Germany’s finest teamed with another of STARDOM’s stars Kairi Hojo to take on Toni Storm and Dahlia Black. Wild doesn’t come to describing the action as they battled into the crowd, onto the bar and out onto the streets of Tooting! Hojo and Alpha took the hard fought battle which the crowd really appreciated.
It was semi final time from the tournament next. The first semi final between Mayu Iwatani and Nixon Newell was one of the best matches that I ever seen in the flesh. Two girls at the top of their game just going all out. The time limit draw at fifteen minutes was met with a “five more minutes” chant (started by me) and our wish was granted. When that extra time failed to produce a winner there was only one thing to do; let both advance to the final.
The second semi final, between Santana Garrett and Diosa Atenea couldn’t follow that but was still an entertaining affair which Garrett took to advance.
After a second interval (which included a meet & greet with Hojo and Io Shirai) we got back into action as Heidi Katrina defeated Laura Di Matteo in a match that was simply too short to get going. Things picked up though as Io Shirai defended her newly won SWA World Title against Britain’s own Kay Lee Ray. This was another wild one with fans sent scurrying for cover as the action spilled out of the ring. This was also another one that has to be high on the list of best matches I’ve seen live. Shirai took the win and cemented her position as one of the best female wrestlers around today.
Things rounded off with the Tournament final, now a three way between Garrett, Newell and Iwatani. With the show heavily over-running by this point it seemed as if the action was curtailed slightly but it was still an entertaining finish to the show as Garrett ultimately prevailed to win the International Grand Prix 2016.
All in all this was a fantastic show. With two outstanding matches and plenty of very good action on the undercard this was an absolute joy to watch. There was also an entertaining six man match between BEW regulars that even without knowing the on going storylines managed to hold my attention.
Hopefully this won’t be the last time that STARDOM Wrestling comes over to these shores and with all three of the European tour shows turning up on Stardom World (the company’s online channel) soon they are well worth a look if Joshi is your thing.