Stardom "Natsuki*Taiyo Retirement ~ High Speed Forever"
A Review by Kevin Wilson
Date: June 1st, 2014
As a fan of just about anything, you tend to get sad when someone you enjoy retires. That is true for actors, sports players, and of course in this case wrestlers. Generally you are happy for them as usually people retire to move on to something else they want to do, but we still miss them. This event is for the retirement of Natsuki*Taiyo, who had been wrestling for ten years. It is not uncommon in Joshi for wrestlers to retire when still in their 20s (Taiyo had just turned 30), a lot of them start young but burn out early, leaving either to pursue their career or to start a family. So we are happy to have had her, and sad to see her go. Here is the full card for the event:
- Stardom vs. Enemy Army Elimination Match: Yoshiko, Act Yasukawa, Kairi Hojo, and Koguma vs. Danshoku Dino, Kyoko Kimura, Alpha Female, and Tomoka Nakagawa
Onto the matches.
Yoshiko, Act Yasukawa, Kairi Hojo, and Koguma vs. Danshoku Dino, Kyoko Kimura, Alpha Female, and Tomoka Nakagawa
Nakagawa comes in the ring next as does Koguma, and Nakagawa avoids Koguma's dropkick. Nakagawa throws Koguma in the corner but Koguma avoids the charge and hits a monkey flip. Sunset flip by Koguma, but Nakagawa is in the ropes. Tornado DDT attempt by Koguma but Nakagawa shrugs her off as everyone comes in the ring to beat up Koguma. Kimura holds Koguma for Nakagawa but Koguma moves out of the way, she covers both Kimura and Nakagawa but it gets a two count. Face crusher/dropkick combination to Koguma, cover, but it gets a two count. Nakagawa hits a Fisherman Suplex on Koguma and then locks in the CRB, and Koguma has no choice but to submit. Koguma is eliminated.
Nakagawa stomps on Hojo, she picks her up and throws her in the corner before tagging in Alpha Female. Snapmare by Alpha Female and she clubs Hojo repeatedly in the chest. Alpha Female tags in Kimura, Kimura puts Hojo in the ropes and all three wrestlers press their boots into her face. Kimura goes off the ropes and jumps down onto Hojo, cover by Kimura but it gets a two count. Hojo gets back up and clubs Kimura in the chest, but Kimura absorbs the blow. She does it again and a third time, but still with no luck. Repeated clubs by Hojo, she goes off the ropes and goes for a spear but Kimura catches her and applies a grounded facelock. Hojo eventually gets a foot on the ropes to force a break, cover by Kimura but it gets a two count. Hojo tags in Nakagawa, Nakagawa picks up Hojo but Hojo applies an inside cradle for a two count. Waistlock by Nakagawa, reversed, and Yasukawa runs in the ring to attack everyone. Yoshiko hits a senton onto Nakagawa, and she tosses Hojo onto Nakagawa. Cover, but it gets a two count. Hojo goes up to the top turnbuckle but Nakagawa has recovered and elbows her. Nakagawa goes for a high kick, but she misses and goes over the top rope and onto the apron. Hojo hops back down into the ring and kicks Nakagawa off the apron to the floor. Tomoka Nakagawa is eliminated.
Alpha Female comes in and knocks Hojo to the mat, she picks her up and hits a scoop slam. Alpha Female picks up Hojo, Irish whip, Alpha Female tosses Hojo out to the apron but Hojo ducks when she charges in and jumps off the top turnbuckle to get back in the ring. Alpha Female gets Hojo on her shoulders but Hojo hits an armdrag, then Yoshiko runs in with a senton. Hojo goes up to the top turnbuckle and she nails the diving elbow drop. Cover, but Kimura breaks it up. Yoshiko knocks Kimura out of the ring, Hojo goes off the ropes but Kimura kicks her from the apron and Alpha Female hits a lariat. Cover, but Hojo gets a shoulder up. Alpha Female picks up Hojo and nails the Alpha Plex Hold, picking up the three count. Kairi Hojo is eliminated.
Yoshiko and Yasukawa both run into the ring, and Kimura puts Yasukawa in a sleeper hold. Yoshiko eventually runs in to break it up, Alpha Female comes in as well and Alpha Female elbows Yoshiko. Yoshiko elbows her back but Kimura kicks Yoshiko from behind. They pick up Yoshiko, double Irish whip but Yoshiko hits a double lariat. Yoshiko positions Alpha Female in front of the corner, she goes up to the second turnbuckle and hits the reverse splash. Cover, but Alpha Female kicks out at two. Yoshiko goes up to the second turnbuckle but Alpha Female rolls out of the way of the senton and Kimura kicks her in the head. Double Irish whip to Yoshiko into the corner, Alpha Female hits a lariat and Kimura follows with an elbow. Lariat by Alpha Female, cover, but Yoshiko gets a shoulder up. Kimura picks up Yoshiko while Alpha Female goes up to the second turnbuckle, but Yoshiko gets away and punches Kimura into Alpha Female. Yoshiko joins Alpha Female on the top turnbuckle, and Alpha Female dumps Yoshiko out to the apron. Yoshiko quickly gets up and pulls Alpha Female onto the apron with her, and both wrestlers hit lariats. They do it again, but Yoshiko ducks one and she knocks Alpha Female off the apron. Alpha Female is eliminated.
Dino gets on the apron and holds Yoshiko for Kimura, Kimura goes off the ropes but Yasukawa trips her from the floor. Yasukawa gets on the apron and holds Kimura for Yoshiko, Yoshiko charges in but Kimura moves. Yoshiko almost knocks Yasukawa off the apron but she stops in time, Kimura gets a running start and goes for a big boot but both Yasukawa and Yoshiko move out of the way and Kimura tumbles out of the ring. Kyoko Kimura is eliminated. Your winners of the match: Yoshiko, Act Yasukawa, Kairi Hojo, and Koguma
Match Thoughts: For a 15 minute eight wrestler elimination tag match this was fine. My main complaint would simply be that this match had some of my favorite Stardom wrestlers (Hojo, Yasukawa, Kimura, and Alpha Female) but obviously in this style of match they really didn't get much of a chance to shine. I'd rather have seen them get more time to do something. Having Dino in the match was fun since 80% of his offense is normally gay-based which doesn't really work on women. But he was the first one eliminated and after that it was just your standard action in these types of matches. It was nothing bad since the wrestlers in the match were quality, it is just a limiting match stipulation that gave them more restrictions than I'd have preferred. Score: 5.5
(c) Miho Wakizawa, Hiroyo Matsumoto, and Mayu Iwatani vs. Kaori Yoneyama, Hatsuhinode Kamen, and Sayaka Obihiro
Match Thoughts: True story - I have been wondering for the last year what those little brown balls they use in these matches were, but I looked online and no one seemed to reference what they were. I mean its not like there are tons of Stardom reviews in English on the Internet. So I finally figured I'd just ask one of the wrestlers and hope for a reply. I tweeted Kellie Skater, and within a few hours she advised that they are tawashis. A tawashi is a hard, rough scrubbing brush, so when they are rubbed against someone's skin, as you can imagine that would hurt. So thanks to Kellie for answering this question that has been bothering Stardom fans for a long time. Anyway, as far as the match, it was pretty much the same as it always is, except at least now I know what is going on. I am glad these matches aren't too long since they are generally comedy matches, and they did get a few chuckles out of me such as when Kamen accidentally landed on the tawashi when going for the vertical suplex. I think a few of these wrestlers actually are good but its so hard to tell in short comedy matches, all the action was crisp anyway. Exactly what you'd expect, I can't score it low since it does what it is trying to do and it is funny at times, but it isn't what I would consider high quality wrestling. Score: 5.0
(c) Io Shirai vs. Takumi Iroha
Spinning kick to the head by Shirai and she hits the Shinkansen Attack. Cover by Shirai but it gets a two count. Arm trap crossface by Shirai but Iroha inches to the ropes and gets there to get the break. Shirai picks up Iroha, she puts Iroha on the second rope and hits the Tiger Feint Kick. Swandive missile dropkick by Shirai, cover, but it gets a two count. Shirai positions Iroha in front of the corner, she goes up to the second turnbuckle but Iroha has recovered and hits her from behind. Slingshot suplex by Iroha and she holds on to Shirai to hit a second suplex, cover, but it gets a two count. Iroha picks up Shirai around the waist but Shirai elbows free, Shirai goes off the ropes and goes for a hurricanrana but Iroha blocks it and applies a crab hold. Shirai slowly inches to the ropes and eventually makes it there to force a break. Iroha positions Shirai, she goes up to the top turnbuckle but Shirai has slid out to the apron. Shirai climbs up top with Iroha and they trade punches and elbows. High kick by Shirai, she slides back out to the apron and then springboards back up to the top to hit a Frankensteiner. Standing moonsault by Shirai, then she hits a moonsault off the second turnbuckle and finally one off the top turnbuckle. Cover, but Iroha gets a shoulder up. Shirai picks up Iroha and hits the Shining Wizard. Cover, but it gets a two count. Shirai goes for a swinging kick but Iroha ducks it and hits a German suplex hold for a two count. Heel kick to the back of the head by Iroha, she picks up Shirai and she nails the powerbomb. Cover, but Shirai kicks out at two. Iroha goes for a Scorpion Deathlock but Shirai rolls through it and kicked Iroha in the face. La Magistral by Shirai, but Iroha kicks out at two. Elbow by Shirai but Iroha elbows her back and they trade shots back on their feet. Uppercut by Shirai but Iroha slaps her, but Shirai turns around and hits a running headbutt. Package German Suplex Hold by Shirai, and she picks up the three count. Your winner and still champion: Io Shirai
Match Thoughts: There must be some backstory on how Iroha got a title shot considering how young and inexperienced she is, but looking over the results I couldn't get any clues. But it made for a good superstar vs. underdog dynamic, even if you knew that Iroha had no chance of winning. That hurt the crowd reactions a bit but it was still a really good match. From watching it you'd know that Iroha was an underdog but she didn't act overmatched at all, she was exchanging strikes and getting nearfalls the same as any other challenger. Shirai didn't take it easy either, which she could have done since this event already had a major attraction, as she was doing dives and spring boarding off of things just like she always does. Even with Iroha's more limited experience the match was really crisp, I didn't notice any awkward moments, and the match flowed really well with no real downtime. A predictable ending but a fun journey to get there for sure. Score: 7.5
Natsuki*Taiyo vs. Nanae Takahashi
Taiyo gets a running start and hits a triple jump springboard plancha out of the ring onto Takahashi. Irish whip by Taiyo, reversed, and Taiyo goes flying into a row of chairs. Takahashi throws her into some more chairs and a third time. Takahashi takes Taiyo to a different part of the arena and does the same thing, she then takes Taiyo up the aisle into the bleachers, but Taiyo starts fighting back. They trade elbows up in the crowd for a bit before Takahashi knocks Taiyo back down towards ringside, but Taiyo slaps Takahashi until she falls to the floor. Takahashi gets back up and they trade elbows again until both fall to ground. Takahashi gets back in the ring with Taiyo slowly following, Takahashi picks up Taiyo and elbows her, leading to another elbow exchange. Taiyo kicks Takahashi in the leg and then hits a dropkick, Taiyo goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits the missile dropkick. Dropkick in the corner by Taiyo, cover, but it gets a two count. Taiyo goes up to the top turnbuckle but Takahashi rolls out of the way of the double stomp and hits a backdrop suplex. Cover, but it gets a two count. Ankle hold by Takahashi but Taiyo is able to make it to the ropes. Takahashi picks up Taiyo and chops her in the corner, Irish whip, but Taiyo rebounds out of the corner with a crossbody. Tilt-a-whirl headscissors by Taiyo and she applies an armbar to Takahashi. Takahashi makes it into the ropes for a break, Taiyo picks her up and goes for a powerbomb, but Takahashi blocks it. Taiyo goes off the ropes, leapfrog, she kicks Takahashi and hits the Iguchi Bomb. Kick to the head by Taiyo, cover, but it gets a two count. Taiyo goes off the ropes but Takahashi catches her with a powerbomb and hits a sliding kick. Cover, but it only gets a two. Takahashi picks up Taiyo but Taiyo gets into the ropes. Takahashi pulls her back and hits a backdrop suplex and then hits a second one. Lariat by Takahashi, cover, but it gets a two count. Takahashi picks up Taiyo, Taiyo fights her off and she goes for the sunset flip powerbomb but Takahashi blocks it. Taiyo hits an armdrag before applying the Triple Taiyo☆Chan La Magistral for a two count.
Taiyo goes off the ropes and goes for a hurricanrana, but Takahashi catches her and sits down for a two count. Takahashi picks up Taiyo and hits the Nana☆Racka, cover, but Taiyo rolls through it for her own two count. Takahashi picks up Taiyo but Takahashi gets away and slams Takahashi to the mat. Taiyo goes up to the top turnbuckle and hits the diving doublestomp, cover, but it gets a two count. Taiyo picks up Takahashi and hits the leg trap German suplex hold for a two count. Taiyo goes off the ropes but Takahashi catches her and hits a second Nana☆Racka for a two count cover. Takahashi drags Taiyo to her feet, Taiyo gets away and kicks Takahashi in the stomach, back kick by Taiyo and she hits another one. Taiyo goes off the ropes but Takahashi hits a jumping kick to the face. Takahashi goes up to the top turnbuckle but Taiyo rolls out of the way of the body press. Taiyo goes for the Taiyo☆Chan Bomb but Takahashi sits down for a two count. Takahashi picks up Taiyo but Taiyo gets away from her, knees by Taiyo and she hits a back kick. Taiyo☆Chan Bomb by Taiyo, but Takahashi barely gets a shoulder up. Momo☆Latch by Taiyo, but Takahashi kicks out again at two. Taiyo clubs Takahashi in the back and puts her up on the top turnbuckle, she joins her but Takahashi clubs her off. Diving body press by Takahashi, cover, but it gets a two count. Takahashi picks up Taiyo and hits the Nana☆Racka, cover, but it gets a two count. Takahashi slowly goes up to the top turnbuckle but Taiyo is up and knocks her to a seated position. Taiyo tries to join her, Takahashi knocks her back to the mat but Taiyo gets back up and jumps up to the top turnbuckle. Takahashi slides off however, Taiyo jumps off the top turnbuckle and hits the Momo☆Latch, but it gets a two count. Taiyo picks up Takahashi, slaps by Taiyo, and she kicks Takahashi in the ribs. Headbutt by Takahashi and they trade elbows, Takahashi goes off the ropes and she hits a lariat. Cover, but it gets a two count. Takahashi picks up Taiyo and she nails the One Second EX. Cover, but Taiyo gets a shoulder up. Takahashi charges Taiyo but Taiyo knocks her back, Taiyo gets up on the top turnbuckle but Takahashi grabs her and hits the Nanaracka☆100. Cover, and she picks up the three count. Your winner: Nanae Takahashi
Match Thoughts: The match was probably a little bit longer than it needed to be as some parts of the match did drag (such as the battling up in the crowd section), but overall it was still a really good match. I have no idea how Taiyo can even concentrate as retirement matches can be so emotional, but for the most part the action was very crisp and fluid. The early limb work was ultimately blown off, but the limbs weren't really targeted long enough to expect them to sell it for the rest of the match, so I won't hold it against them. Taiyo has so much energy, even after a 30 minute match she was still springboarding around, things like that is why everyone loved her... she just has more gears than most humans do. Even though she lost, Taiyo didn't go down easy as she took most of Takahashi's big moves, some of them twice. Overall it was a fitting ending, shame she couldn't get the win but generally in Japan wrestlers lose in their official retirement matches, that is just the way it goes. An emotional and exciting ending to the career of the original High Speed Champion. Score: 7.0
Natsuki*Taiyo's Retirement Ceremony
Best Match: Natsuki*Taiyo vs. Nanae Takahashi. I thought based purely on in-ring action the Shirai match was better, but from an emotional standpoint you really can't beat a retirement match. The crowd was extremely into it as you would imagine, as everyone was rooting for Taiyo to win in her last match. The action was generally tight and even though it went 30 minutes they kept the pace up, mostly because Taiyo has endless energy. A good way to end the card and the wrestling career of one of the original members of Stardom.
MVP: Natsuki*Taiyo. I mean, how could Taiyo not be the MVP of her own retirement show? This seems self-explanatory, but over an hour and fifteen minutes of this event was basically dedicated to her. Besides a really good showing in the main event, all the love shown to her during her Retirement Ceremony really drove the point home of how important she was to everyone. I am glad that this event aired on TV so that nothing was cut, it helped make everything feel more complete. Taiyo was clearly the star here and she ended her career on her terms, which is all a person can ask for.
Overall: An event like this is hard to give a traditional grade to as it is about so much more than just the in-ring wrestling. The in-ring wrestling was good, there were no bad matches on the card even if I did find the Artist of Stardom match a bit too goofy for my taste. But the opener was something different, the other title match was really good, and the main event was a solid and emotional match as well. But when you factor in the long Retirement Ceremony, it makes this event a must for any fan of Stardom or of Natsuki Taiyo. For the casual fan that has a black heart, this event may not really do much for them, but for me it was a must-see event. Godspeed, Natsumi Mizushima.
review completed on 1/5/15