With a loaded roster, Stardom made their New York debut on a show that was up against it from the start…

This was Stardom’s first tour of the US since 2015, and it almost started badly. We’re in the NYC Arena in Jamaica, New York. Jim Valley and Fumi Saito eventually are on commentary, but we’ve got a long pre-show to get through as the VOD feed opens with the ring crew fixing a bottom rope that was broken in the IPW UK show that preceded it. Still, fans are filing in and everyone seems to be generally unawares that they’re on air so that could have gone a lot worse!

Finally, after 45 minutes, we start with the traditional parade of wrestlers, introduced on a per-stable basis, before we throw into an opening video package. I’m not going to pretend I’m clued up on much of this, since this is the first Stardom show I’ve seen. There’s some familiar faces, including Bea Priestley, Martina and Bobbi Tyler. Jim Valley and Fumi Saito are on commentary.

Sonya Strong & Violette vs. Jungle Assault Nation (Jungle Kyona & Natsuko Tora)
We’re 50 minutes into the stream when the first match gets in the ring. That bottom rope looks shaky as Jungle Kyona climbs them in the intros… and that’s going to be an ominous theme.

The “home team” of Strong and Violette worked over Kyona, including with a wacky takedown that looked like a DDT gone off. Things turn into a chop battle as Strong edges ahead, only to get taken down with a shoulder charge before Natsuko Tora came in… but she couldn’t haul up Strong, before she scored with a spear. Strong’s back with a low enziguiri for a near-fall as the action stayed brisk… if a little rough around the edges. The JAN take Violette into the corner for a suplex, before she hits Kyona with a Codebreaker for a near-fall. The House of Glory pair continue to wear down Kyona, leading to an Ace Crusher for a near-fall, but Kyona fires back with a double clothesline, then a sliding clothesline to Violette for a near-fall.

From there the JAN slam their opponents ahead of duelling big splashes off the top, before a spinning powerbomb put Violette away. A nice, solid opener – albeit with an expected result given the show’s format. **½

Brittany Blake & Britt Baker vs. Bobbi Tyler & Hana Kimura vs. Queen’s Quest (Bea Priestley & Konami)
Tyler came out with a pair of titles – the IPW Women’s title, and her newly-won HOG Women’s title. By “newly won” I mean, “literally hours ago, on the show that broke the ring”.

Baker, Kimura and Konami start, as these three-way tags follow more of a three-way dance. That leads to a LOT of pinning attempts early, starting when Hana was caught trying to dance, before everyone tagged out as we’re told Bea Priestley is controversial… without explaining anything behind it. Priestley kicks Tyler early on, then cracks her in the corner with a knee strike, only for Hana Kimura to come back and catch out Queen’s Quest with dropkicks. Tyler and Kimura roll Konami into a double-team Romero Special, but she gets free as the Queen’s Quest pair run through Britt Baker with a PK.

Brittany Blake comes close with a bulldog out of the corner to Priestley as the crowd barely seemed to register much here… and we’re back to Kimura, who dropkicks through Bea again. Konami and Kimura exchange forearms before Konami began to throw a bunch of kicks, including one to the head that sends Kimura down for a near-fall. A guillotine choke from Konami looked to force a submission as Bea took care of everyone else on the outside, before Kimura managed to suplex her way free for a two-count. Kimura gets hung up in the ropes after she missed a big boot, allowing Konami to work a knee bar in the ropes.

Kimura pulls Konami down with an Octopus hold, which gets broken pretty quickly as Tyler went after Bea in the ropes with a slingslot Flatliner in the ropes for a near-fall. A superkick from Baker, then a Slingblade nearly puts away Tyler, as things get a little wacky… ending quickly with a missile dropkick from Hana Kimura to Brittany Blake. Oh, and they play the Queen’s Quest theme incorrectly at the end, which Hana threw a fit for. D’oh! This was decent, but it felt very fraught at times. Too many moving parts and too little time? **¾

High Speed Championship: Dust vs. Hazuki (c)
Fumi Saito drops some useless trivia to tell us that the High Speed title was designed by current WWE star Asuka years ago. He’s been dropping in with move names and various tidbits to explain things like ceremonies, pronounciations and other customs – perhaps a little too often, mind you.

We start with the pair hitting the ropes, going for roll-ups for early two-counts, before Dust hit a dropkick to muted applause. Hazuki’s dropkick gets more cheers as Hazuki begins to throw some boots and forearms , before she trapped her challenger in the corner with some face washing boots. Dust makes a comeback, again to muted reactions, before a springboard missile dropkick takes Dusty back into the ropes. A small package out of nowhere gets Dust a near-fall, as Hazuki begins to throw some forearms from above… but Dust hits back with a DDT on the apron as both women spilled to the outside. Back inside a crossbody off the top gets Dust a near-fall, as does a Codebreaker, before Dust went up for an aborted stomp.

Instead, a back cracker gets Dust a two-count, before a flash La Magistral cradle gets Hazuki the win. Well, this was fine, but the crowd didn’t seem to buy Dust winning at all. Again, I feel like the time lost to the broken ring has meant that this undercard has had time cut off… and it’s hurt everything on the card so far. **¾

Apparently the Stardom draft is incoming – which means people’s places in the rosters will change. A bit like the WWE drafts, but they actually follow through.

Wonder Of Stardom Championship: Utami Hayashishita vs. Momo Watanabe (c)
Hayashishita has been on a bit of a tear in her first year, with the Golden Rookie currently a four-time champion holding three belts here and the EVE International title. None of those belts are out here, which kinda tells me they’re not going to add yet another strap to her today.

Utami brings the fight early, slapping Momo… who replied with a dropkick that took her into the ropes, ahead of a snapmare and a kick to the back. There’s more kicks from the champion, who rolled Utami to the outside for a PK… then took her back in as the challenger fired back into life. Only to get struck down again. A slam from Momo gets a near-fall, but Utami’s able to respond with a camel clutch after Momo missed a dropkick out of the corner. It turns into an Arabian clutch before Momo got her foot to the hardly-there bottom rope, but Utami stays on her with a slam for another two count. Momo gets to the bottom rope to save herself from a Boston crab, before she got trapped in the ropes for a dropkick.

Momo tries to respond with a PK, but Utami ducks it and goes back to a single crab, again ending in the ropes before she went for a torture rack. A slick series of counters led to Momo coming close with a roll-up, before they stepped it up and began slugging it out with forearms… which didn’t get us any closer to a winner. Momo took the initiative from there with a corner dropkick, but that just sparked a series of corner-to-corner attacks ahead of a cracking missile dropkick to Utami… and the champion keeps up with a pair of Meteoras that looked to have won it, but a slow count allowed Utami to kick out.

The challenger’s caught in a chicken wing, but Utami throws her way free and tries to ground the champion with a chinlock… a Judo throw keeps Momo down as a sleeperhold looked to force a submission, only to roll into the loose ropes to force the break. From there, Utami went for the torture rack, then turned it into a Samoan drop, before she hauled up Momo for a German suplex… but it wasn’t enough! Another crack at the torture rack’s avoided as Momo slips free, before she caught Utami with a Jig ‘n’ Tonic for another near-fall… and this is getting great! Momo gets even closer with a bridging German suplex that folded Utami in half, before a small package nearly led to the relative upset… only for a head kick from Momo to leave Utami open for the Peach Sunset – a bridging half-nelson suplex – for the win. Incredible stuff here, as the Golden Rookie was left with “just” four belts, as Momo completed yet another defence. ****¼

Elimination: Oedo Tai (Andras Miyagi, Jamie Hayter, Kagetsu & Martina) vs. Arisa Hoshiki, Mayu Iwatani, Saki Kashima & Tam Nakano
The match instantly spilled to the outside as Mayu Iwatani and Kagetsu went into the crowd. Still, at least they did a better job than most at keeping track at these, as commentary marvelled at how Martina had already been drinking.

They head back to the ring as all four of Oedo Tai ganged up on Iwatani, as we finally got to something resembling a match. Jamie Hayter’s in as commentary tells us how she asked to join the group back in January, before Andras Miyagi got involved with some headbanging to dizzy Iwatani ahead of a leg lariat to the back of the head. A DDT makes it worse as Mayu was nearly first out. Saki Kashima comes in and took down Martina and Hayter with a double bulldog, before some standing Angel’s Wings left Kagetsu on the mat. A more regular Angel’s Wings led to a near-fall on Miyagi, before a Mouse Trap pin nearly put Miyagi away after a held-up count.

In the end, Miyagi dumped Kashima with a spinning tombstone for the first fall, before a beer spray earned Martina a near-fall on Hoshiki. They build up to a 4-on-3 suplex, but the STARS team manage to overcome the numerical disadvantage to send their opponents flying. A triple dropkick to Martina nearly puts her away, before a head kick from Tam Nakano led to Martina’s elimination. Kagetsu and Nakano exchange forearms next, but a cutter from Nakano drops her ahead of a bunch of swings and misses. Another Tam head kick led to a sweet bridging German suplex, but the pin’s broken as Oedo Tai ganged up on Tam… but they couldn’t quite get an elimination until Kagetsu’s death valley bomb led to the pin.

Miyagi comes flying in with a missile dropkick, but Iwatani and Hoshiki turned it back around, before Iwatani used headscissors to take Miyagi over the top rope and eventually to the floor. A sweet release overhead belly-to-belly has Kagetsu nearly in the ropes, before a series of kicks left Kagetsu on her knees… but she’s back up with a kick of her own to drop Hoshiki. A knee from Hoshiki nearly puts away Kagetsu, before the rest of Oedi Tai come in to restrain her on the top rope so Kagetsu could take shots. There’s mist for Hoshiki too, as she looked to get thrown over the top, but headscissors led to both women getting eliminated, as we were left with Iwatani and Hayter.

Hayter, who got a slight “ace of EVE” chant, nearly wins it instantly with a Falcon Arrow backbreaker, but she’s left rocked when Kagetsu accidentally sprayed her with mist as Iwatani finished her off with a moonsault. Not exactly a rushed match, but I could have seen a lot more of this. ***½

Considering that this show was hamstrung from the off (cheers IPW…), Stardom managed to take a recipe for disaster and make something of it in the end. Even if the Utami/Momo match ended up being ruined on the live stream thanks to the worst possible timing for the building to have Internet issues.

Some of the undercard matches clearly had their time slashed, and were hurt badly for it, but nothing on here was rotten to the point where it actively hurt the show. I’ve always wanted to dip into Stardom, and with the promotion tying up with EVE for their WrestleQueendom 2 show in a couple of months, this may well be the first step into going down yet another graps rabbit hole. Check this show out, if only for the Momo/Utami match!