Stardom 10th Anniversary Grand Final Osaka Dream Cinderella Report
By: Karen Peterson
The preshow started 30 minutes prior to the advertised time, including the opening match between Lady C/Waka Tsukiyama and OedoTai’s Saki Kashima & Rina. On Stardom’s English language social media, a midnight start time (for US East Coast) was advertised, which resulted in missing the dark match and the subsequent change to the match card.
English Commentary Unavailable
Japanese commentary was the only available option for the Grand Final with Katsuya Ichikawa on play-by-play commentary and Makoto Ohe on color commentary with specials guests Chigusa Nagayo and Syuri, as her match was canceled at the last minute due to the sudden hospitalization of Konami (see below). I did find it interesting that for such a monumental show, the first women’s wrestling show to be held in Osaka-jo in twenty-six years, not to have English commentary available. Likely, it’s due to scheduling conflicts with the English language commentators they’ve recently added to the shows.
As many fans (myself included) eagerly waited for updates on health status after multiple surgeries (both knees and her right shoulder), one week removed from the anniversary of her final match in her hometown of Nagoya, Stardom posted an official announcement, indicating that Jungle Kyona had left the company effective September 30, 2021, after six years with the company. Many had hoped beyond hope that Nagoya would be the location of her return, not the first shows with her officially gone from the company.
In Kyona’s personal statement on social media, she specifically indicated that this would be a departure notice and not a retirement announcement. She intends to resurface somewhere in the world to wrestle but reminds everyone that all wrestling rings throughout the world are interconnected, so she believes she will meet her Stardom sisterhood again one day.
On the night before the show, STARDOM announced that Konami would not be able to participate due to acute enteritis, therefore her SWA Championship challenge against Syuri, complete with UWF Rules and the World of Stardom Rights to Challenge Certificate on the line, would be canceled. Konami apologized profusely for the inconvenience, but when she went to have it checked out, they immediately admitted her to the hospital. Syuri joined the Japanese commentary team for the show. No word on if or when the match will be rescheduled at this time.
Lady C & Waka Tsukiyama vs. Saki Kashima & Rina – a rookie showcase with a surprise twist ending.
Unagi Sayaka © Future vs. Ruaka – quick and dirty.
Mina Shirakawa & Mai Sakura (STARDOM) vs. Rin Kadokura & Maria (Marvelous) – a good opening tag in lieu of a Goddesses of STARDOM Tag Championship defense.
Starlight Kid © High-Speed vs. Fukigen Death – All OedoTai High Speed Showcase. Recommended
Donna Del Mondo (DDM; Maika, Himeka, Natsupoi) © Artists vs. Queen’s Quest (QQ; Momo Watanabe, AZM, Saya Kamitani) – Matching gear and a balanced buffet of wrestling styles. Recommended. Naturally.
Hazuki vs. Koguma – Truly Hazuki’s Homecoming; Highly Recommended
Syuri © SWA vs. Konami* – removed from the card due to illness. See below for details*
Tam Nakano © Wonder vs. Mayu Iwatani – Longer than it needed to be, but I could see why it was the length it was.
Utami Hayashishita © World vs. Takumi Iroha (Marvelous) – The entrances alone are worth it. Give more of it all day every day. Highly Recommend
Dark Match – vs. Saki Kashima & Rina (OedoTai) defeats Lady C (Undeclared) & Waka Tsukiyama (Cosmic Angels)
The match is a nice showcase of the newer members of STARDOM, with Kashima at the helm, leading the match. I had wondered if tensions between Lady C and Tsukiyama from the press conference would come into play, as Waka asked Cosmic Angels to let her join their group! However, this didn’t come into play at all.
When Kashima pinned Tsukiyama, she flatly states that a five-minute match isn’t satisfying enough for her, and suggests a match with Syuri, who was at commentary due to her match cancellation with Konami. Kashima noted that even though the match was canceled last minute, Syuri still had her gear for the show with her, reminding her that this could be her chance to have a match in Osaka-jo Hall, instead of just sitting on the sidelines at commentary all night. Kashima offers her interest in playing by Syuri’s rules, whether it be an SWA Championship match or UWF rules match, and it’s an offer Syuri cannot resist. The match was green-lit for later in the show. After approval from Rossy Ogawa, their impromptu match is scheduled for later in the show.
“I didn’t think I would get a chance to participate in this event, so I’m really fired up!” – Syuri (on Saki’s impromptu challenge)
During the rest of the preshow, the commentary waited for Ogawa to return to verify the stakes of her match with Kashima, as the original plan was both the SWA & World Challenge Certificate along with UWF rules, but Kashima was in the Red Stars block and did not have a match against Syuri, who won the Blue Stars Block before going on to win the entire 5★GP. A recap of Syuri’s closing remarks from the 5★GP and Syuri discussed her finals match against Momo Watanabe, World of Stardom Champion Hayashishita, and Marvelous’ Iroha interrupting her post-match comments, and Syuri departing from commentary to prepare for her match with Kashima.
Future of Stardom Championship – Ruaka defeats Unagi Sayaka © (with a little help)
After Ruaka intentionally terminated their 5★GP league match with a DQ, she accused Unagi of padding her championship reign with easy victories over recent company additions like Cosmic Angels’ Mai Sakurai and Waka Tsukiyama. Joining OedoTai gave 17-year-old Ruaka the confidence she needed to lack while being a member of STARS. While there are many comparisons between Ruaka and OT’s leader, Natsuko Tora (currently out on injury), I hope Ruaka can use the Future championship to step out of Tora’s shadow and develop her own sense of self much like Konami, Fukugen Death, and Starlight Kid since their joining in the last year.
I had a feeling that Unagi would drop the Future Championship in this match as her rapid rise to popularity within STARDOM, including various interviews and media appearances, makes me feel like the company has big plans for her, despite being in the company for only a year. Using Unagi’s teammate and second, Waka Tsukiyama as a weapon, Ruaka defeated Unagi with a couple of pairs of helping hands (Rina and Saki Kashima both helped out at ringside).
Lady C challenged Ruaka during her victory speech and Ruaka accepted. Lady C may need some allies because OT has no qualms about using the numbers games to secure victories and championships.
Announcement! CHOUJO TAISEN – SUPER WARS – Additional tour date added!
OSAKA SUPER WARS was added to the SUPER WARS Series at Osaka Edion Main Arena on Saturday, December 18th.
Interpromotional Exhibition Tag Match – Rin Kadokura & Maria (Marvelous) defeat Mina Shirakawa & Mai Sakurai (Cosmic Angels)
Rin Kadokura returned to Stardom for the first time since the spring, joined by fellow Marvelous member Maria, who recently returned to action from an extended absence. The match starts off with a sporting handshake and remains a fairly clean fight. Both the recently returned Maria and the newly added Sakurai Mai are elevated in the match as they’re given plenty of time to shine alongside the veterans Shirakawa and Kadokura. Though I was confused by Sakurai’s kicking of Kadokura off the ring apron while Maria had Shirakawa in a submission because she didn’t rescue her own tag team partner.
Shirakawa & Sakurai entered with a new dance routine, making me wonder if they’ll pair off for the Goddesses of Stardom Tag League (splitting Shirakawa’s tag team with CA leader Tam Nakano from last year). Kadokura & Maria would make a great addition to the tag league as well if Marvelous is able to spare them.
Kadokura taps Sakurai out with a Boston Crab. Shirakawa takes a few cheap shots at Kadokura after the match, leading to an exchange of slaps. As Shirakawa and Sakurai leave, Kadokura and Maria bow to the audience in appreciation before exiting.
High-Speed Championship – Starlight Kid defeats Fukigen Death
In an All OedoTai match, Fukigen and SLK always know how to keep the fast-paced momentum in a High Speed Championship match, even with the requisite mid-match smoke break for Fukigen. Their familiarity with one another’s signature moves and the multiple times they’ve wrestled together and against one another, meant lots of counters upon counters upon counters. They may be in the same unit, but neither underestimated the other, and while SLK did her signature victory pose, throwing her spare mask on her fallen prey, she still gave Fukigen a sign of sportsmanship afterward.
The evolution of Starlight Kid in OedoTai has truly been her Coming of Age party. Her entrance, upgraded gown and mask, and new gear prove that she has long dropped the babyface naïveté and is proving to everyone that at this stage in her career, ‘Kid’ is just part of her name. No new challengers appeared to challenge for her High Speed Championship after the match.
Artists of Stardom Trios Tag Match – DDM (Maika, Himeka, Natsupoi) © defeats QQ (Momo Watanabe, AZM, Saya Kamitani)
When DDM finally reconciled their previous time limit draw with Cosmic Angels, securing themselves as the 26th Artists of Stardom on October 3rd, QQ wasted no time ensuring they were at the front of the line to challenge. After Maika’s inflammatory comments at the press conference, Kamitani didn’t mince words as the show closed.
There was something very special about the entrances for this Artists of Stardom match as for the first time in a very long time, both trios entered with matching gear. It’s rather common for tag teams within a faction to match, but the attention to detail for this match really stood out to me. When Queen’s Quest entered, not only did the QQ banner get a complete redesign, but AZM noticeably added gold to her gear, matching Momo’s and Saya Kamitani. The members of QQ all go to the same gear designer, and while each one has a very unique design, the gold with the cooler colors always makes them stand out as
Meanwhile, Donna Del Mondo’s Maika, Himeka, and Natsupoi, the newly minted Artists of Stardom, debuted a new trios look and pop idol dance. Each took the mismatched colors of their Artists Championships: Maika in orange, Himeka in pink, and Natsupoi in light blue, but also weaved the other member’s colors into their matching tops. Completing their outfits with white cargo pants and black boots, the team look resembles that of their teammates and current Goddesses of Stardom Tag Team Champions, Giulia and Syuri’s (Ali Kaba). While these may seem like superfluous details, personally, I love it when tag teams and trios put the effort into developing a consistent team look that sets them apart from when they’re wrestling as singles competitors.
What I love about this pairing of members from DDM and QQ is the balance of power, speed and technical wrestling. Every woman shines in the match, but they also have to have a plan for every possible outcome presented to them. We got the high speed from AZM and Natsupoi, raw power from Maika and Himeka, Momo’s incredible striking and high flying from Kamitani.
Giulia was at ringside as a second for DDM, along with Waka Tsukiyama and Lady C as the youngest. In a recent interview with Tokyo Sports, Giulia declared her intended target date for return is Ryogoku Dream Cinderella on December 29th, but she will continue supporting DDM as much as she can. Maika pins Kamitani with the Michinoku Driver II, which I hope she eventually renames it (like Zack Sabre Jr did with the Zack Driver). DDM have their first successful defense.
Reunion of Destiny Hazuki’s Return from Retirement Match – Hazuki defeats Koguma
This was the first match announced for the show, and prior to the match STARDOM released a 10-minute mini-documentary on Hazuki’s journey including moving to Tokyo to join the company, her connection with Koguma, championship history, retirement, and her return.
“Let’s make up for the time we lost.” – Hazuki
Hazuki returned in the very costume she retired in! When asked about it after the match, she admitted she wanted to honor her past while moving forward. While she wore a black kimono-like she did in OedoTai, she appeared reborn, refreshed, and still ambiguous about which unit she will join or if she will start her own. Literally picking up where she left off in December 2019 when she retired, the Wild Heart returned with her signature black lipstick, but she smiles the entire time.
While she and Koguma haven’t wrestled each other in six years, their synergy from their longtime rivalry is still transparent. I am curious to see who will join Hazuki on her mission to create an all-Stardom origins group and if Koguma will be the first to join her. After the match, Hazuki takes up the microphone and expresses her happiness to finally be back and her gratitude to Koguma for being her return opponent. Then she asks Koguma to be her tag partner for the Goddess Tag League, which starts after Osaka Dream Cinderella.
“Just as I thought, Pro-Wrestling is AMAZING!! I was uneasy and worried about returning, but thanks to everyone, I’m glad I came back. Koguma, thanks for being my return opponent. Would you be interested in being my partner for Goddess Tag League?” – Hazuki
The High Speed Genius is overwhelmed by both their match and her eternal rival’s offer, which she gladly accepts. Will Koguma be the first person to join Hazuki on her mission to redeem Stardom? Could STARS afford another defection, especially when Mayu Iwatani recently tagged with Koguma in Nagoya, filling the position Starlight Kid held last year as her tag partner? While the path of Hazuki and Koguma remains uncertain, both are thrilled to be back in STARDOM and reunited with one another.
After a brief intermission, the match between Saki Kashima and Syuri was added, slotted into the card where the original match between Syuri and Konami was placed.
SWA Undisputed Women’s Wrestling Championship Match – Syuri © defeats Saki Kashima
At Nagoya on October 3rd, Konami decided to make things a little more interesting for what would already be a guaranteed technical classic between herself and her mentor, Syuri. Not only did Konami want the SWA Championship, but she figured that she might as well go after Syuri’s World of Stardom Rights to Challenge Certificate since she held only of the only wins over Syuri in the 5★GP. As if one-stop championship opportunity shopping wasn’t enough, The Submission Sniper proposed the match be contested under UWF Rules.
Unfortunately, Konami’s last-minute hospitalization for Acute Enteritis resulted in a cancelation of the match Friday, October 8th. This match had the greatest stakes on the entire card, so I hope that STARDOM will revisit it once Konami is healthy again. Both Konami and Syuri took to Twitter shortly after the cancellation announcement to express their disappointment, but both seem confident the match will happen once Konami is healthy again. While they were in separate blocks in the 5★GP, it was approved that as Saki Kashima was willing to serve as Konami’s proxy and wrestle according to whatever guidelines Syuri wanted in order to have the match, Syuri defended both her SWA Championship and the World of Stardom Rights to Challenge Certificate, but conducted until standard professional wrestling rules instead of UWF Rules.
After making quick work of Lady and Waka Tsukiayama during the preshow, Saki Kashima challenged Syuri, insisting that a five-minute match was not nearly enough, especially inside Osaka-jp Hall. Syuri gladly accepted, especially after the heart-felt appeal Kashima made, insisting it would be an absolute waste for Syuri to miss out on this first-time in 26-years opportunity for women’s wrestling in Osaka-jp Hall. While Kashima knew she was no replacement for Konami, she made sure to honor their mutual friend. During her entrance, Kahsima entered the stage stopping to do Konami’s signature pose and work Konami’s recently released THE END t-shirt tucked into her waistband, ensuring that her teammate is properly represented in every aspect of the match from start to finish.
Unlike all of Syuri’s other gear in Stardom, for this match, she opted for long tights, which would mirror Konami’s look perfectly. There was something special about her understated costume that reminded me of when she first arrived in STARDOM last year. Although the match was not designated as UWF Rules, Saki Kashima (and SLK, Ruaka, and Rina as second), honored the original intention behind Konami’s match and avoided cheating or getting involved from the outside.
In this match, I finally saw a side of Kashima that I always knew was there, but constantly waited to see. Her aggression, but lawful evil adherence to the rules finally won me over after nearly three years of watching Stardom. Kashima’s desire to prove to Syuri and the world that she is a worthy competitor, while trying her best to give the match of the night everyone expected out of the original match up of her stablemate against the winner of the 5★GP truly made this match my favorite of the entire night. It’s another example that heels do not need to solely rely on cheating to prove their worth. Syuri pushes Kashima to her limit but also brings out a side of Saki, I’ve genuinely waited years to see.
Syuri defeated Kashima with the figure four leglock which led to a tap-out. Syuri shook Kashima’s hand afterward and hugged her. There was something powerful at that moment, as Syuri didn’t hold back on Saki and Saki gave her all to fight as if Konami were actually there (and not convalescing in the hospital). OedoTai was at ringside but did not get involved, standing vigil, knowing that Konami wouldn’t have wanted them to get involved, and respecting the UWF Rule that any outside involvement would result in a disqualification.
“While I couldn’t have the match I wanted with Konami tonight… Saki Kashima, thank you (for taking her place, so we could have a match that honored her on such an auspicious event).” – Syuri
Syuri calls out AZM to rectify her only other loss in the 5★GP. The match will likely take place on one of the SUPER WARS shows in the next month.
Announcement! The Stardom Girls’ Academy comic that is serialized in Bushi Road Monthly is scheduled to be released in graphic novel format. The first illustrated cover will feature the Student Council: STARS!
Wonder of Stardom Championship – Tam Nakano © versus Mayu Iwatani ends in a 30-minute limit draw.
I know there is a deep story being told, especially going all the way back to when Tam was abandoned by OedoTai, and taken in by Mayu. The video package prior to their match showcased the depth of their history and the complicated feelings they have going into the match, especially with Mayu thinking Tam betrayed her by setting up Cosmic Angels right under her nose, and Tam believing she isn’t going to grow so long as she stands in the shadow of STARDOM’s Icon.
My biggest takeaway is that I love Blonde Mayu with her rainbow extensions. Like Starlight Kid, Tam’s ultimate goal is to surpass Iwatani so as to cement herself at the top of STARDOM and the women’s wrestling world, but personally, I found Tam’s matches with Giulia leading up to their hair versus hair barn burning match at All-Star Dream Cinderella to be more compelling. It isn’t that Mayu versus Tam wasn’t good. It was outstanding, hard-hitting, and dramatic, but even with the Wonder of Stardom Championship on the line, I know both have had better non-title matches and story arcs with others in the past. There is something missing from the story. I think after the grit each displayed during the 5★GP and in Tam’s match with Giulia and Mayu’s uphill battle against Natsuko and all of OedoTai, they could have dug deeper. Mayu doing everything to avoid Tam’s Twilight Dream was great, but part of me feels like Iwatani held back too much.
The match was certainly hard-hitting and the story is definitely there, I think if Mayu hadn’t lost so many of her STARS teammates in the last year, including having Tam set up Cosmic Angels up right under her nose, I would have been more invested. I can’t tell if they’re intentionally breaking Mayu down in order to build Tam up. Plus seeing all members of Cosmic Angels at ringside, but only Koguma and Lady C for Mayu made it feel like the Icon couldn’t even keep her own team beside her. With Jungle Kyona leaving the company at the end of September and Saya Iida still out from her injury, the numbers in STARS have dwindled. Even Hanan was absent and Hazuki was nowhere to be found. It just leaves me wondering if The Icon is going to eventually be alone before she can rebuild.
I did find the referee pushing Iwatani and Nakano back into the ring instead of starting to count them out, a unique choice in the match, especially after they pushed him to the ground as they brawled outside of the ring. I know the time limit draw happened to keep both looking strong and to keep their competitive story going, but I genuinely wished it hadn’t been a thirty-minute match prior to the main event with no time limit. Tam retains and Mayu tells her to keep hanging on and protecting that belt until they can have a rematch. Cosmic Angels stablemate, Unagi Sayaka, steps forward as Tam’s next challenger since Unagi beat her in the 5★GP. It just comes off a bit tone-deaf as she lost earlier in the evening to Ruaka in the Future of Stardom match. I don’t think Unagi should be the one to end Tam’s streak, especially after just going thirty minutes with Mayu.
World of Stardom Championship – Utami Hayashishita © defeats Takumi Iroha (Marvelous)
During the press conference, Utami proposed removing the time limit of their match, so as to ensure a definitive winner by the end of their match, unlike their 5★GP league match that went to a time limit draw.
The pageantry of their entrances alone felt absolutely epic. For those unfamiliar with the all-female drama troupes in Japan called the Takarakuza, both Iroha and Hayashishita’s entrances had the same gravity. In their world, women are the protagonists, the heroes, the heroines, the antagonists, and the villains, there is equality, gravity, levity, and honor. In a battle of Aces Clad in Red– Stardom’s Utami Hayashishita and Marvelous’ Takumi Iroha, both sought to bring a conclusion to their 5★GP draw. There was no better showcase of the top tier of Japanese women’s wrestling as both not only had outstanding matches with one another but with the third rising Ace– the Woman Unlike Anyone Else– Syuri, who rejoined commentary for the main event.
One of the things that I love about seeing Iroha in a Stardom ring, is that while she now calls Marvelous home, she still respects and honors her start in STARDOM. One of the best takeaways about having a seasoned veteran on commentary like Syuri is that although she is focused on both competitors as by match end either one could be the person she faces at Ryogoku Dream Queendom, she also gets lost in the spectacle and intensity of their match, falling silent in appreciation like many of the fans. Unlike the semi-main, give me thirty minutes or more of any combination of Iroha, Hayashishita, and Syuri any day of the week.
Even though the main event went just a little bit longer than Nakano/Iwatani, I feel like Hayashishita/Iroha had far more intensity despite being a friendly face matchup. This makes Hayashishita’s 7th successful title defense.
After Utami wins, she thanks Iroha for the outstanding match, and looks forward to the time when they can do it again soon. Hayashishita indicates that the next big show is Kawasaki Super Wars on November 3rd, and opens the pool for opponents. Hazuki walks out first, congratulates Utami on her win, and asks to be the next opponent. However, Maika runs to the ring and yanks the microphone away from her before Utami can answer. Maika informs Hazuki that she’s owed a title challenge due to a win in the 5★GP. Hazuki graciously tells Maika that she’ll gladly allow Maika to be the first challenger once she beats Utami for the World of Stardom Championship.
“You’re kidding me, right? You do know how strong she is, don’t you?” – Maika (about Utami; Hayashishita waves her mic in agreement)
Maika concedes to Hazuki, stating that out of kindness, she’ll take the winner of Hazuki/Utami on November 27th at Yoyogi National Gymnasium. Hazuki and Utami agree to those terms, and Utami welcomes Hazuki back but also reminds her that a lot has changed since she’s been away. Utami closes the show, thanking everyone for celebrating in Osaka with them. As the show closes, Utami calls out Syuri on commentary, reminding her that she’ll do everything to ensure that she is the one Syuri faces on December 29th at Ryogoku Dream Queendom.
Goddesses of Stardom Tag League Announced – 8-stop tour between October 17th-November 14th, including matches on KAWASAKI SUPER WARS (November 3rd)
Ryogoku Stardom Dream Queendom (2021.12.29)
Wrestle Kingdom 16 Participation? After two years of dark matches at Wrestle Kingdom and showcase matches over the summer at Wrestle Grand Slam at MetLife Dome, many are wondering if the tradition will continue in 2022, especially with three nights scheduled. With Dream Queendom the week before, will Stardom continue its participation in the Tokyo Dome? No announcements were made during this event.
November Event Series: CHOJO TAISEN! SUPERWARS 2021
KAWASAKI SUPER WARS
Time Date: Wednesday, November 3, 2021, at 3:30 PM Japan Local Time (2:30 AM ET)
Location: Kawasaki City Todoroki Main Arena (Kanagawa Prefecture)
TOKYO SUPER WARS
Time Date: Saturday, November 27, 2021, at 4 PM Japan Local Time (2 AM ET)
Location: Yoyogi Second Gymnasium (National Sports Complex; Shibuya Ward Tokyo)
OSAKA SUPER WARS
Time Date: Saturday, December 18, 2021, at 330 PM Japan Local Time (130 AM ET)
Location: Edion Main Arena (Osaka)
Live PPV Details for both events are currently TBA
December Event: Ryogoku Stardom Dream Cinderella
Time Date: TBA
Location: Ryogoku Sumo Hall (Sumida Ward Tokyo)
Live PPV Details TBA