Stardom
Cinderella Tournament 2020
March 24, 2020
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: Stardom World

Stardom returns to Korakuen Hall for Cinderella Tournament.  Cinderella Tournament offers up the chance for some surprise results as each match has a 10-minute time limit and can be won by throwing an opponent over the top rope as well as by pinfall or submission.  These rules lead to the matches having psychology unique to this tournament and often features some surprising results along the way.  The past few tournaments have seen Stardom focus on building up new names so it’ll be interesting to see who they choose to get the spotlight this year.

NATSU SUMIRE DEF. ITSUKI HOSHINO, RINA, & HINA

Some non-tournament action to kick off the night as Sumire beat a rookie and some children.  There was some fun comedy in Natsu convincing the shy babyface Hoshino to do some of her heelish moves but this was all about getting people on the show and giving Natsu a win. **1/2

1ST ROUND
MOMO WATANABE DEF. STARLIGHT KID

Going in this was a match that I, and many others, had picked as a possible upset.  Both women did a fantastic job of playing into that and making us believe that Kid would topple Watanabe.  Watanabe showed some of that brutality that helped her break records as Wonder Of Stardom champion as she kicked Kid in the head and put her away.  This match did its job of building suspense and there were moments it looked like Kid had the win but Watanabe advances ***1/4

1ST ROUND
GIULIA DEF. JUNGLE KYONA

This match certainly had its moments as the powerful Kyona faced Giulia in something resembling a hoss fight, despite Giulia not being a hoss.  Giulia’s submission prowess won this for her as she changed up her approach after realizing that hitting Jungle Kyona wasn’t going to get her the victory.  This match was nothing to write home about as I think they could have a better match without the 10-minute restriction. ***

1ST ROUND
KONAMI DEF. AZM

Two former tag partners clashed here in a really fun, really short match.  AZM is used to wrestling the high-speed style and Konami was happy to use her shoot influences to counter AZM.  The finish was fantastic with Konami pulling off a reversal and locking in her triangle lancer for the win.  Very short but they packed enough in for it to be enjoyable. ***

1ST ROUND
SYURI DEF. JAMIE HAYTER

This was everything that the Jungle Kyona/Giulia match should have been it was physical and full of hard strikes but they kept the intensity up for the entire match.  They really put over Syuri here as she got to show off her array of skills for people that may not have seen her before, for any that don’t know Syuri is a former UFC fighter and has a background in shoot boxing and kickboxing.  This all fed into the finish where Syuri pounced on the opportunity presented to her and locked on a brutal submission for the win ***1/2

1ST ROUND
TAM NAKANO DEF. SAKI KASHIMA

Saki Kashima is perfect for these kinds of tournaments since her offense is based on flash pins.  They didn’t really exploit that here until the end which left this one feeling flat until the closing stretch. **1/2

1ST ROUND
NATSUKO TORA DEF. SAYA KAMITANI

This was quite a good match.  Tora wrestles with so much attitude and was at her most menacing and Kamtani showed a lot of heart in her comebacks.  While the match was enjoyable I do question the booking of giving Kamitani so much offense when Natsuko Tora is the person they’re trying to elevate as the new leader of Oedo Tai.  Tora has been hurt more than anyone by the Stardom show cancellations as she was publicly anointed as the new leader of Oedo Tai but since then there haven’t been many shows to actually build her up to that level.  Again this was a strong match but the booking was questionable ***1/4

1ST ROUND
UTAMI HAYASHISHITA VS MAIKA – DRAW

This was totally different from any other match on this show and given the technical, judo influenced style both utilize it’s no surprise this was a draw.  This was a nice change of pace as they furthered the growing grudge between Utami and Maika with some rather snug shots while also taking things to the ground a bit more.  ***

This match and the one previous was where I noticed that the smaller crowd was nowhere near as hot as Stardom usually gets at Korkauen and that lowered these two matches down a notch for me.

1ST ROUND: HANA KIMURA VS MAYU IWATANI – DRAW

This was an intense matchup worked at a really good pace.  When they weren’t on their feet they were really wrenching in submissions and it felt like two people trying desperately to get a win as quickly as possible.  In the end, neither woman would get the win as they took a nasty spill off the top rope and both were eliminated. ***1/2

2ND ROUND
GIULIA DEF. MOMO WATANABE

Similar to the Hana/Mayu match this was an intense fight worked at a blistering pace.  Momo was throwing kicks at Giulia and Giulia was responding with big boots.  Giulia getting the win is another notch in her belt and while beating Momo doesn’t mean as much as it once did it’s a big win for Giulia. ***1/2

2ND ROUND
SYURI DEF. KONAMI

These are two of the elite strikers in Stardom and both are proficient on the mat too.  It was on the mat where the match would be won as Syuri would lock in a submission for the win.  This was another good win for Syuri as Konami is the best mat wrestler in Stardom so to win this one via submission put over Syuri’s mat skills. ***1/2



SEMI-FINAL
NATSUKO TORA DEF. TAM NAKANO

This was an enjoyable match that put some shine on Tam, which given Tora went through might not have been the best idea.  Natsuko won on a technicality as she didn’t go over the top rope allowing her to surprise Tam.  Questionable booking aside I liked what we got. ***

SEMI-FINAL
GIULIA DEF. SYURI

Stablemates clashed here as Giulia solidified herself as the top dog of Donna Del Mondo.  The finish was clever as it leaves room for a future singles match since Giulia won by knocking Syuri off the apron rather than by pinfall or submission.  Giulia pulling out a shoot headbutt for the finish also makes her look totally badass and puts over the fact she’ll do anything to win, which followed up on her pulling out a brutal glorious driver on the apron to beat Momo Watanabe.  ***

FINAL
GIULIA DEF. NATSUKO TORA

This was a great match that finally woke up the crowd, albeit briefly.  It was just two badass women trading shots and refusing to back down.  Giulia especially looked fantastic but Tora got over in defeat.

Booking wise Giulia was the right choice to win the final, from start to finish she was made to look strong and by the end of the show, the crowd wanted her to win.  Before this show, I wasn’t sure if Giulia was really connecting with the Stardom crowd but her showing in this tournament turned things around and she’s more than ready to be a main event talent following her win here and she really established herself as a merciless badass by pulling out shoot headbutts and piledrivers on the apron when she sensed victory was near.

Tora, on the other hand, needs a lot of work, she’s trying her best and is wrestling at a high level with a ton of attitude but she needs more clean wins under her belt, having her go nearly 50/50 with Saya Kamitani followed by a banana peel win over Tam Nakano is not going to help her become a credible faction leader.

This was a great match though and both women came away looking good for managing to get the crowd into their match. ****

FINAL THOUGHTS

Cinderella Tournament has become one of my favorite shows on the Stardom calendar.  The unique ruleset and its focus on building up new stars make it a really entertaining show to watch and this year was really no different.  From Syuri getting over by kicking people very hard to Momo getting to remind us of just how good she can be to Giulia finally becoming a star this was an eventful tournament.  Where we go from here is really up in the air but whenever Stardom runs again we will have Arisa Hoshiki, hopefully, vs Giulia to look forward to.