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#MustWatchMonday: Kairi Hojo vs. Mayu Iwatani (Wonder of Stardom Championship)



The first round of the Mae Young Classic was released on the WWE Network last week, and it's been a great way to showcase women's wrestling talents from all over the world and from all walks of life.

When the line up for the tournament was announced, the name I was most excited for was Kairi Hojo, who at the time, was one of the top stars of the joshi promotion Stardom. Now I'm not going to pretend that I'm some kind of joshi expert or that I religiously follow this style of wrestling, but I had followed the careers of the bigger joshi names to some degree, and so, was aware of how good these women are. Kairi Hojo's—or Kairi Sane as she goes by now—signing with the WWE was pretty much the equivalent of Shinsuke Nakamura coming to the WWE in terms of how it took away a major star from a Japanese promotion.

Hojo's last major singles match before leaving for the WWE was against fellow top star Mayu Iwatani, and it was for the Wonder of Stardom Championship. In another Nakamura comparison, this championship was the Stardom equivalent of the IWGP Intercontinental Chamionship, and Hojo in this reign was the second longest holder of this title since its creation.



These two have been regarded by pundits to be among the best wrestlers in the world, and they showed that in this match. As you may be aware of by now, Hojo's finishing move is a gorgeous elbow from the top rope, and so Iwatani worked on Hojo's arm for a good portion of the match. Besides this, the exchanges between the two were pretty much even; there were some great highspots like a balcony dive, the limb work was done really well, and the nearfalls kept you on the edge of your seat. Iwatani ultimately won this match in the end, which made sense since Hojo was leaving, but this match was a really good display of how good women's wrestling is at the moment, and how strong 2017 is in general.

P.S. While I've posted the match on this article, I highly recommend subscribing to Stardom World here. It's about $5.99 a month, and the really great thing about it is that they have really good English support.

What did you think of this match? Do you have a favorite in the Mae Young Classic? Leave a comment!

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Brandon Sy is a PhD student in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics currently based in Sydney. Since he wasn't allowed to watch wrestling as a kid, he's been overcompensating ever since. Despite being a huge fan of Japanese wrestling, he still holds a soft spot in his heart for WWE's Kane. He's good for recommending matches from pretty much anywhere, whether it be Japan, Europe, the US or Mexico. He'd be ecstatic if you watched Dragon Gate though.

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