World Wonder Ring Stardom was originally founded by promoter Rossy Ogawa, retired wrestler Fuka Kakimoto and veteran wrestler Nanae Takahashi. The idea was to build a wrestling promotion around the Gravure Idol turned wrestler Yuzuki Aikawa and other models and Idols trained by Fuka. It may not sound like a recipe for success (or good wrestling) but it would prove to be highly successful and today Stardom is one of the top Joshi promotions in Japan. It’s first show, Birth of Nova, held in front of a sold out crowd at the Shin-Kiba 1st Ring featured a very green roster (outside of Taiyo and Takahashi) giving it almost a Dojo show feel.
Yuzuki Aikawa & Natsuki Taiyo vs. Nanae Takahashi & Iris
This may be the opening match, but it is very much the big feature here and is also the longest match on the show. Things start off tentatively but once Taiyo and Takahashi are in the ring together, the intensity rises quickly. The bulk of the best action happens between these two and it’s their work that really makes this worth a watch but the star of the show Aikawa, really comes through with the goods in the closing stretch, playing up to her underdog “Idol” role perfectly. Iris is the weak link here in all honesty and doesn’t bring much to the table but as a whole this match is pretty darn good and putting the main attraction Aikawa, in a match with the two best wrestlers on the roster pays off well. Recommended
Mika Nagano vs Eri Susa
Nagano is better known for her MMA work and never really did a huge amount in wrestling. The booking of this match seemingly intends to put her over as a force to be reckoned with, whilst promoting Susa as the underdog with fire. Unfortunately this short bout is not a great match by any stretch and Nagano looks foolish not putting away her much smaller rookie opponent more effectively. Bit of a dud, so go ahead and skip it.
Haruka vs Passion Naki
Haruka, who is a child wrestler, is probably best known for her match with Kenny Omega, but fought a variety of opponents during Stardom’s early days.. Now opinions range on this sort of thing from harmless fun to accusations of destroying the business (here’s looking at you Cornette) all the way to child abuse. In reality it’s closer to a gymnastics exhibition then a wrestling match, no more abusive then Dads “Play Wrestling” with their kids and certainly not changing anyone’s perception on the reality of wrestling (is it still real to you?). That said it’s not massively entertaining if you’ve seen it before either and the short time limit is a good feature here. Passion Naki is Taiyo in a mask if you were wandering.
Mayu Iwatani vs Arisa Hoshiki
One of the great things about watching early Stardom shows is you get to see the development of so many of today’s best female wrestlers. Both girls here show great potential, though it’s Hoshiki who perhaps stands out at this stage thanks to her lethal kicks. Nothing to totally blow you away here but it’s a solid showing for the youngsters.
Yoko Bito vs Yoshiko
As a closer to the first Stardom show, this is fine for what it is but not worth going out of your way to see. It’s really your typical early Yoshiko match, with her playing the big mean heel and Bito the heroine. For a show of this size with a promotion at this stage it serves it’s purpose of finishing the show on a good note.
When you really think about it, it’s quite amazing what these wrestlers were able to pull of considering the lack of experience most of them had at this point. Bigger promotions with more experienced workers have certainly delivered much worse. All in all it was a fairly competent first show from Stardom but the opening match is the only thing worth looking up.