Io Shirai vs Kairi Hojo – Stardom 5th Anniversary Day 1

Io Shirai (c) vs Kairi Hojo

World of Stardom Championship

Taped 01/17/2016, aired 01/24/2016

Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan

Watch 1 or Watch 2

(reviewed 01/05/2017) From what I can tell, this has been slightly clipped for TV, though seemingly not to any significant degree. I’ve heard lots of mixed things about this match, but considering who’s in it, there’s no way I’m not giving it at least a cursory glance. They start off hot and heavy with a bunch of strikes back and forth, with neither woman taking the advantage until Io starts flying around. Hojo tries to fight back on the floor, but a missed spear into the corner post and a mean scoop slam on the apron preventing that from happening. There’s good selling here from both of them, Hojo selling her back and Io selling her face from a few of the rougher shots from the opening minutes of the match, though sadly it’s all forgotten a few minutes later. The pirate manages to catch Io in the middle of a dive, but Io quickly turns things back around with a brutal kick to the face and a very nifty double stomp to her rope-hung opponent. Eventually, Hojo turns things around up in the stands, preventing Io from hitting her big entrance arch moonsault, taking it to the champ with some of her usual offense in and out of the ring. Io doesn’t stay down long, though, and the momentum of the match swings back and forth quickly now as these two just start throwing bombs. I lose the thread a little, but it’s certainly fun to watch it all fall apart. Io hits a Chaos Theory-style repeating German suplex that is excessive but damn impressive. After enduring a lot of punishment, Hojo refuses to stay down and eat Io’s moonsault, throwing a bunch of strikes because it’s basically all she has left. A Sliding D isn’t enough, so she goes up for her awesome elbow drop. Io follows her but Hojo knocks her right back down, leading to a pretty scary moment where Io takes a Flair face bump off the top. Be careful, Io! Hojo hits her diving elbow drop for a big nearfall, going back up for a second when it fails. Io gets her knees up for it, wrecking the poor woman’s arm before hitting a Tombstone and package German suplex for a pair of nearfalls of her own. She tops it off with a tiger suplex and gorgeous moonsault for the win. Per usual with big Stardom singles matches, I really liked this, though I think it rides the line between being wild and going off the rails. Still, this manages to keep things on track for the most part aside from the deviation in transitioning from the second act to the third. It’s not the smartest match you’ll see this week, and certainly lacks in some of the finer points I’d like to see in my graps, but as far as sheer action goes, this delivers more than you need and then some.

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