STARDOM Cinderella Journey Nagaoka: Saya Kamitani vs. Natsupoi, AZM vs. Starlight Kid

Photo Courtesy: STARDOM

STARDOM Cinderella Journey Nagaoka

By: Karen Peterson

No English Commentary Available- Haruo Murata on lead with Makoto Oe on color commentary. Utami Hashishita joins for the second half of the show

Press Conference SZN

Stardom is preparing for an exceptionally busy spring, as they are quickly announcing new events, fresh faces, and extra doses of press conferences wrought with shenanigans.

  • Cinderella Journey Nagaoka Press Conference (2022.02.04; link)
    • Iwatani/Kashima Singles match changed to Special Tag Match; Nakano/Iwatani vs. Kashima/Fugiken (Team We Love Tokyo Sports) (2022.02.08 link
    • SLK/AZM campaign for a fan vote to headline the Cinderella Journey in Nakaoka at the press conference (voting closed 2022.02.20) RESULTS out of 17,979 Votes
      • Wonder of Stardom Championship 44.8% 
      • Goddesses of Stardom Championship 15.3%
      • High-Speed Championship 34.5%
      • Future of Stardom Championship 5.4%
  • New Blood 1 Press Conference (2022.02.16) – details intent and format of the invitational program, several matches announced; event scheduled for 2022.03.11 (see below)
  • Mystery Guest Press Conference (2022.02.18) – KAIRI revealed! (see below)

KAIRI Charts a Course Home

Everything I could possibly say on KAIRI’s return, current situation, and where Stardom fits into all of it, is best viewed on the POST Daily New Show from Friday, February 18, 2022, with John Pollock.

On the Road to Nagaoka

  • 2022 Cinderella Tournament will have the largest field to date. (2022.01.29; link)
  • Hazuki takes charge of Momo Kohgo’s (‘Komomo’) training in preparation for her Future of Stardom Championship challenge against Hanan after their singles match in Sendai (2022.02.06)
  • Mai Sakurai defects from Cosmic Angels, accepting Giulia’s invitation to join DDM. (Osaka; 2022.02.12; link)

Mai Sakurai Defects to Donna del Mondo

While Giulia was on the shelf attacking Sakurai, Tsukiyama, and Lady C with MIRAI and Tekla as the lead Masked Assailant, it simply wasn’t just a ploy for attention. While sidelined with her neck injury, Giulia used the attacks as opportunities to sneak in offers of better success with DDM!

During the Cosmic Angels’ Special Talk Show, Sakurai was asked who she aspired to be like in Stardom, she openly admitted that Giulia was her inspiration, much to Tam’s shock. Sakurai would continue to explain that in the past, she and Tam were both members of a different company (not concurrently), and as a result of hearing countless positive things about Tam, she grew to respect her, leading to her choosing to join CA shortly after her arrival in Stardom.

While it was laughed off at the time, it seems that at some point, Giulia caught wind of Sakurai’s confession, and seized the opportunity to poach her from CA. It came to ahead

“I came to Stardom to be a wrestler… not a dancer.” – Mai Sakurai (to Tam Nakano/Cosmic Angels 2022.02.12)

Miyu Matsuda Debuts at NEW BLOOD 1

Over the weekend prior to Cinderella Journey, 19-year old Miyu Matsuda passed her pro qualification test to formally join the Stardom roster. At Korakuen Hall, Matsuda introduced herself and requested her debut match be against Utami at New Blood 1. Utami gladly accepted her offer, and they shook hands. After both exited the ring, Rossy announced that not only would Matsuda debut at New Blood 1 on March 11th, but she would face Utami in the show’s main event! (2022.02.21; Korakuen Hall)

“I want you to come at me with everything you’ve got.” – Utami Hayashishita

Title Matches Between Nagoya to Nagaoka

  • High-Speed Championship: Starlight Kid & Natsupoi wrestle to a 30-minute time limit draw (Korakuen Hall; 2022.02.01)
  • SWA Championship: Thekla © defeats Saki Kashima (OED) for her first successful championship defense (Kyoto KBS Hall; 2022.02.13)
  • Artists of Stardom Championship: Donna del Mondo (MaiHimePoi) retain against Young OED (Starlight Kid, Ruaka, & Rina) (Korakuen Hall; 2022.02.21)

Spoiler-free Synopsis

  • Future of Stardom Contenders Matches: Stakes are raised as title matches at World Climax are on the line. – Worth a Watch
  • Future of Stardom Championship: A truly wholesome match-up for STARS. Worth a Watch
  • Tag Match: The Black Peach Saga continues for Queen’s Quest. Worth a Watch
  • Tag Match: Mayu and more of her exes get wild again. Recommended
  • Ryogoku Preview Trios Tag: Is this where DDM begins to unravel? Highly Recommended
  • Goddesses of Stardom Championship: Will Pink Kabuki out crazy Fukuoka Double Crazy? Recommended
  • High Speed Championship: Pure Pandemonium in Purple! Highly Recommended
  • Wonder of Stardom Championship: Magical Feats and Where to Find Them. Recommended

Future of Stardom Number One Contenders Match – Mai Sakurai vs. Waka Tsukiyama vs. Rina

The first fall will challenge on 3/26 second fall to challenge of 3/27. Unlike many recent multi-woman matches, battle royals, and dark matches amongst the younger generation of Stardom wrestlers, this one was certainly one I wouldn’t pass up.

Firstly, I don’t fault Mai for following her heart and Giulia’s invitation to join DDM. While she did fit in well with Cosmic Angels, she and Waka Tsukiyama constantly wrestling one another as teammates in CA started to feel a little stale. Although her defection is far more subtle than say a steel chair to the head, the ripples of betrayal ran just as deep, ripping through Waka more than the others in DDM as they entered the company around the same time and their rookie year journey has been heavily intertwined.

Rina locks in the octopus hold (manjigatame) submission on Mai, and Waka seizes the opportunity to take advantage of the situation, by wrenching Rina’s arms back. The pent-up rage Waka has over Mai’s betrayal and defection to DDM, is really bringing out Tsukiyama’s Little Devil. She’s shedding her timid side and coming into her own.

Rina nails Waka with a Gory Bomb, quickly transitions to a pin, and secures her title opportunity on the first night of World Climax. (6:07) Shortly after, Mai gets Waka with a diving below, and a falcon arrow*, pinning Waka to advance to night two. (8:06)

What stood out to me the most in this match was the shift in Waka’s approach as she was decidedly outnumbered. She’s channeling her loss of Mai into a focus and aggression that we really haven’t seen out of her since her arrival in Stardom. Mai is no longer her friend or ally, their rivalry story formally started today. Waka Tsukiyama’s underdog journey to the Future of Stardom Championship starts now. She was the star of this match, despite getting pinned twice.

Future of Stardom Challengers for Stardom World Climax

  • March 26th: Rina  
  • Marth 27th: Mai Sakurai

Future of Stardom Championship: Hanan © (STARS) defeats Momo Kohgo (STARS) (5:20)

Momo Kohgo closes in on the last two months of before her window of eligibility for the Future Championship closes. At two years and ten months, this match against Hanan might be her one and only chance before her the third anniversary of her professional debut in April (as the current guidelines to challenge for the Future belt are “under 20 or career less than three years).

This was a good match, showcasing Momo improvement and confidence under Hazuki’s tutelage as well as what I had hoped for Hanan, quickly building a strong foundation for the Future of Stardom Championship. Their match flowed very nicely and was a wholesome, babyface battle without a single dirty trick in sight! Momo put up a great fight, but Hanan outmaneuvered her to win.

This is Hanan’s second successful defense. She’ll face her own younger sister, Rina, on night one of the Stardom Climax and Mai Sakurai on night two (provided she retains over Rina on night one).

Momo might have one more opportunity to challenge for the Future of Stardom Championship before she hits her anniversary on April 30th as the Cinderella Tournament three shows, including the finals of the 2022 Cinderella Tournament are on April 29th. Fingers crossed that she gets one more chance before her window of opportunity closes.

No, Momo’s secret Sensei was not revealed.

Next Future of Stardom Challengers

  • March 26th Rina
  • March 27th Mai Sakurai

Tag Match: OedoTai (Momo Watanabe & Ruaka) defeat Queen’s Quest (Utami Hayashishita & Lady C) (7:34)

Two key points for QQ and I will rave about these for a very long time: 1) Lady C’s slow evolution into a QQ mainstay through her costuming changes and 2) Utami returning to her super rookie roots by lopping off all her hair. QQ has a very distinct style with all of their gear being designed and made by the same gear maker (who also happens to make Tanahashi’s signature looks). While one of Lady C’s charm points is that she prides herself on making her own gear, it seems she’s starting to collaborate with the QQ designer to keep her own style, but align it with the QQ aesthetic. I love that she’s decided to opt for a single, full-length tight since her height is constantly a talking point.

Traditionally, when a woman cuts off all her hair in Japan, it’s often considered an extreme measure, usually associated with betrayal, loss of a loved one, or the resolve for a fresh start. With her reign with the red belt behind her, Utami and QQ are fighting to put the crushing betrayal of their former leader, Momo Watanabe in their tail lights as well. The dramatic image change for Utami could her way of saying, she’s leaving the weight of Momo on the salon floor and going back to her unstoppable super rookie roots, which could be the key to putting an end to QQ’s suffering in the Black Peach Saga for some time to come.

For those keeping score at home, this is
Post-Hair-versus-Hair Buzzcut Giulia. Utami just unlocked her next evolution: Short Bob Utami Royale.

Momo keeps reminding Utami how far she’s fallen despite winning the 2021 Tokyo Sports Women’s MVP Award because she lost the only thing of value that helped her achieve that award: The World of Stardom Championship to Syuri shortly after at Dream Queendom. Momo could be projecting her own feelings of frustration as Utami was busy having five-star matches against Syuri and cementing her legacy as the World of Stardom Champion, Momo had to cope with being the runner up in the 5★GP, without winning a singles championship or singles tournament, as well as being pushed further and further to the back of QQ despite being the group’s leader while Utami, Saya and AZM flourished in 2021.

Queen’s Quest had a stellar year between highly rated matches for everyone, a Cinderella Tournament win for Kamitani, Utami/Syuri’s epic 5.5 star WON rating, singles championships for three-fourths of the group, and NJPW showcase matches at some of the Dome shows. Everyone in QQ did more than their fair share of the heavy-lifting, regardless of whatever massive chip landed on Watanabe’s shoulder as a result of their continued success. She was the 5★GP runner-up, but AZM, Kamitani & Utami weren’t out there intentionally stealing her spotlight. What did Momo do? Turn heel and get a rather cool makeover. She needed a change, and I personally love it because it feeds into the greed and the need for attention that she was starved of as everyone immediately around her started surpassing her in 2021.

While this match was a great opportunity to give Ruaka and Lady C more advanced practice, I am itching to see Utami and Momo in a singles match. I would have said make it the 2022 Hair-vs-Hair, but Utami already took that option off the table. I think they could have an outstanding match in the 5★GP, should they be the ones to make it to the finals. (However, it might be Giulia’s year, so we’ll see how it plays out).

The match has lots of good back and forth, and it’s reassuring to see both Ruaka and Lady C flowing more and more with the more veteran wrestlers like Momo and Utami. The great thing about matches like this, at least for me, is seeing the growth of younger talent and that confidence developing. Momo plants Lady C with a Bea Driver and Ruaka finishes her with a Freezer Bomb. While QQ loses, they’re strong in defeat, and surprisingly OedoTai had a relatively clean match. After the match, was naturally a different story and OET sought to kick QQ further down into darkness.

I know that we will have Momo versus Utami one-on-one at some point, but we’ll just have to be patient.

Tag Match: Mayu Iwatani & Tam Nakano defeat Saki Kashima & Fukigen Death (OedoTai) (10:04)

Prior to the press conference, this was initially a singles match between Mayu & Saki, with Tam/Fugiken being the opening dark match on the card. However, with Tam missing Nagoya Surpreme Fight due to illness, she lost her opportunity to fight Giulia and Mayu for the World of Stardom Challengers matches at Stardom World Climax at the end of March. At the press conference, Saki proposed that since she and Mayu had fought previously (if you’re new to Stardom check out their barnburner all over Korakuen Match at No People Gate 2020) that a tag match would be far more interesting. I think this was Stardom’s way of making up for Tam missing the Nagoya show and giving her a berth on the main card as well, although Tam’s been rather preoccupied with Giulia causing more trouble for Cosmic Angels.

The complicated web of Mayu Iwatani continues as she is forced to face Saki, who turned on her to join OedoTai on January 3, 2020, and Fukigen, who Mayu adopted into STARS after Tokyo Cyber Squad was dissolved in 2020 when she was Death Yama-san. In STARS, Death would become Gokigen Death, the happy clown, but it would be Mayu losing her in a bet to OedoTai (April 4, 2021), forcing her chainsmoking, Tokyo Sports newspaper reading dark clown to surface as Fukigen Death. Pair that with Mayu being backed into a corner at the press conference to team up with Tam, who she still seemingly resents for setting up Cosmic Angels while standing at her side in STARS before breaking off in November 2020, the endless Telenovela of Stardom’s Icon continues.

There was a brief moment of tension between Mayu and Tam before they exchanged smiles and a fist bump. There was something very nostalgic about Tam and Mayu tagging together. It reminded me of Mayu tagging with Starlight Kid at the Tokyo Dome, you can take the girls out of STARS, but deep down inside, the light from STARS will still shine brightly from within. Their synchronicity felt as if they haven’t been in warring factions for the last year.

(Sidenote: I chuckled each time Fukigen used the Tokyo Sports newspaper in the match purely because the way it was folded it has “OKADA” in katakana facing outward, so I am waiting for the OedoTai is trying to recruit Kazuchika Okada’ or that ‘the folded newspaper’s name is OKADA’ rumors to now start.)

When Kashima filled in for Konami in the UWF Rules match against Syuri for the SWA championship, that really put Saki back on my radar. While she occasionally shoots her mouth off, especially on behalf of Fukigen and Rina, Saki has really started demonstrating what a reliable wrestler she is, often elevating those around her to better matches, especially the fresher additions to the Stardom roster. While she isn’t at the front of OedoTai like SLK has been recently, if the Fortuneteller of Kirameku Margoto Stardom (Stardom’s new Samurai TV variety program) is to be believed, 2022 is slated to be a breakout year for Kashima. Let’s just see if it’s as a member of OedoTai or elsewhere in Stardom!

Mayu pinned Saki, which seemed fitting as that was the original design of their match, prior to shoehorning Tam and Fukigen into it. However, with Tam recently losing Sakurai to Giulia and the confusion of what Prominence is doing in Stardom, Tam could be looking for allies in her old home as trouble looms on the horizon. I liked that the referee intentionally clasped their hands together after raising them in victory. He’s reminding them that there’s more than their own egos at stake and the enemy of my enemy… could actually be a real friend.

Utami joins commentary for the remainder of the show.

Ryogoku Preview Trios Tag: Syuri ©World, Maika & Himeka (DDM) versus Giulia (Challenger), MIRAI & Thekla (DDM) (20-Minute Time Limit Draw)|

I’ve been very cautiously optimistic about the continued expansion of DDM with Giulia adding MIRAI & Thekla to the ranks of The Women of the World, but in the back of my mind, I keep having this nagging sensation that it could end very well or spectacularly wrong. Leading into their World of Stardom singles match on the first night of the Stardom World Climax (March 26th) at Ryogoku Sumo Hall.

This is an all-DDM match with Syuri flanked by DDM OGs, Maika & Himeka (former Goddesses of Stardom Champions; 2/3s of the current Artists of Stardom Champions) and Giulia, the next World of Stardom Championship challenger, flanked by her two new-to-Stardom friends, who she used to attack Cosmic Angels in the last quarter of 2021 as The Masked Assailants, MIRAI and Thekla (SWA Champion). Will Giulia be able to do what Momo Watanabe seemingly couldn’t: allow for someone who isn’t the group’s leader to capture and keep the spotlight without feeling threatened that her position as the group’s leader is now at stake? Will she still celebrate the success of DDM as everyone around seems to have a championship beside her?

One of the things I love most about DDM is the difference of styles between the members. This allows for a match that has a little bit of everything, as everyone needs to think about how to best adapt to the situation depending on who is standing opposite them. Although there were combined attacks, the match was rather squeaky clean and filled with a fair amount of sportsmanship… well at the beginning. The closer it got toward the end of the match, the grittier both Giulia and Syuri got, especially with one another. Fighting up to the very last second and even after the bell, neither backed down.

“Pro-Wrestling is pretty damn cool.” – Utami  (on commentary)

Also, with Prominence infiltrating Stardom and centralizing their attack on Giulia in particular, how does DDM feel about being forced to fight Giulia’s battles when this is primarily unfinished business from her time in Ice Ribbon. While Thekla and Giulia formed a steadfast friendship in Ice Ribbon, and both Syuri and Himeka cycled through Ice Ribbon during their time freelancing prior to their full-time status with Stardom, there are members of DDM who have minimal or no involvement with the Ice Ribbon era of Giulia: Natsupoi only a pair matches (while in TJPW), while Maika (formerly of JTO) and MIRAI (formerly of TJPW) have a whopping tally of zero each. The question becomes will DDM be willing to help Giulia clean up her mess or will this lead to larger issues among the group?

DDM is fine… for now…

Goddesses of Stardom Championship: (30-minute; 1 fall) Fukuoka Double Crazy: Hazuki & Koguma (STARS) defeat Pink Kabuki Mina Shirakawa & Unagi Sayaka (Cosmic Angels) (12:28)

After their first defense against Maika & Himeka in Nagoya, FWC stated they wanted to face challengers who were as crazy as they were, if not crazier. There are few wrestlers in Stardom who are as vibrant and colorful in the ‘crazy’ department as Mina Shirakawa and Unagi Sayaka. I was hesitant about the match initially because I am suffering from a bit of “Unagi Sayaka Goes for all the Titles and Assess all the Rookies” Burnout, but I also want all the wonderful things for Mina Shirakawa because she’s spent most of her time in Stardom, helping other people in Cosmic Angels succeed.

“I love people who do my bear pose…” – Koguma

“FULL. POWER. BEAR. POSE!” – Mina Shirakawa & Unagi Sayaka (appealing to Koguma’s sensibility to accept them as the next challengers. They would do this pose again for the media at the press conference.)

Before winning one of the upper-tier singles titles, this is the avenue I wanted for both Mina and Unagi, as Pink Kabuki. Yes, they held the Artists of Stardom, but that was also with Tam as the Wonder of Stardom Champion. Personally, I like seeing newer members of the roster striking out and seeking their own identity. Without the guidance of Tam in-ring (as she was seconding), Mina and Unagi held their own against two of the best in Stardom, especially since FWC initially won the titles off ALK (Syuri & Giulia) and their first successful defense was against MaiHime (Maika & Himeka) all from DDM.

“…(Shirakawa)… just did KAIRI’s Flying Kabuki Elbow…” – Murata (on Commentary)

What I loved about this match was how Hazuki and Koguma forced Unagi and Mina to fight a constant uphill battle, requiring them to get creative, often moving at a far faster pace than I am used to seeing either member of Pink Kabuki move at. This was exactly the match I needed to see for both Mina and Unagi because it made me not only believe they could win the championships, but I found myself cheering for them over Hazuki and Koguma, as a result! I am hoping that they do consider being a pair for Goddesses Tag League because I think Tam would be an excellent guide for Waka Tsukiyama (now that Mai Sakurai is gone and Lady C aligned herself with Queen’s Quest). This will become complicated for Pink Kabuki as I am sure when Goddesses Tag League rolls around, Tam will be seeking to reunite Dream H with Shirakawa, but we’ll have to wait for the summer to roll around before that happens.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Shirakawa step up and challenge for the High-Speed Championship. Seeing her with Koguma reminded me of how Momo Watanabe really opened eyes when she was feuding with Starlight Kid, before siding with her. This is FWC’s second successful championship defense. Naturally, when Hazuki declares they want to defend the championships at Ryogoku Sumo Hall… like a bad penny, Momo Watanabe stalks out to the ring alone.

“FWC’s got those Goddesses of Stardom belts… on borrowed time… because The Black Peach has the perfect partner to help relieve you of those titles. Look forward to it.” – Momo Watanabe (in-ring promo)

“Hey, Rotten Peach… are you even able to do The Bear Pose?” – Koguma (reminding Momo that she only accepts challenges from challengers willing to do her signature pose.)

Momo answers Koguma with a high kick to the head before she and Hazuki start going at one another.

Next Challengers: OedoTai Momo Watanabe & “X” (Likely SLK)

High-Speed Championship: AZM (QQ) defeats Starlight Kid © (OET) (17:03)

After main eventing Korakuen Hall with another successful High Speed Championship defense, Starlight Kid proposed a fan vote for the chance for her match with AZM to headline Cinderella Journey in Nagaoka, despite Saya Kamitani and her Wonder of Stardom Championship match being the center of the PR campaign as the reigning 2021 Cinderella Tournament Winner. Although AZM backed her play, the plan backfired when Stardom conducted a fan vote on Twitter, but included both the Future of Stardom and The Goddesses of Stardom championship matches as additional polling options, splitting additional votes which could have kept the race close or helped them secure the main event position. With the Cinderella Tournament starting in April after the Stardom World Climax, it made sense to have the 2021 Winner & highest ranked champion (that wasn’t Syuri) compete in the main event.

“I want to break the record for this championship,” – Starlight Kid

Whether or not they closed out the show, AZM vs. SLK never disappoints. Never ever. They are synonymous with the High-Speed Championship, and constantly work to elevate the level of the belt. While it is one of the two belts brought in from now-defunct companies, there is no shortage of talented women driving the level of competition higher and higher each time a new champion is crowned. The acknowledgment by both AZM and Starlight Kid that they are seemingly destined to be forever rivals and eternal foes only add that additional layer of depth to their feud connected via Momo Watanabe’s abandonment of her post in Queen’s Quest, to go have some destructive fun in OedoTai.

I have a feeling that since they didn’t win the fan vote, both decided to pull out all sorts of tricks, push the throttle to full, and slam on the gas. The match was nonstop, dizzyingly fast, and don’t even get me started with AZM’s running, climbing, and flying plancha suicida over the neutral corner post and onto ALL of OedoTai, and then followed up with a Canadian Destroyer for good measure. The more that SLK managed to escape via the ropes and kick out, I grew concerned that her streak would, in fact, continue so she could etch her way closer to becoming the record holder for the High-Speed Championship.

Starlight Kid had six successful defenses, but after months of frustration from dealing with OedoTai, AZM woke up, chose VIOLENCE (yes, all caps), and made SLK choose between keeping her championship or her arms because AZM nearly took both as she forced Kid into submission with a double Fujiwara Armbar she called Numero Uno (akin to Deonna Purazzo’s Venus de Milo). With both arms wrenched behind her, The Sky Tiger Shrouded in the Darkness had to verbally concede, as AZM rolled her over to look up at the bright lights overhead.

Without Momo, AZM is now positioned to be the next leader of QQ based on seniority at seven years (with Utami at 3, Saya K at 2, and Lady C at just over one). Although she is the youngest of the four, she is the most experienced. Her rise within Stardom has been a slow burn, compared to the rockets strapped onto Hayashishita and Kamitani. 2021 was the year of AphroditE, and I have a feeling that 2022 is destined to be one for AZM.

I had a feeling when Momo teased a partner but didn’t name them, that they were going to avoid the double championship scenario with SLK, especially after Young OED (Rina, Ruaka & SLK) lost their Artists of Stardom challenge earlier in the month. I could easily see this being Starlight Kid’s year to win the Cinderella Tournament, and then proceed to challenge Kamitani for the Wonder of Stardom Championship, should she retain until then. Starlight Kid is scheduled to face KAIRI on night two of Stardom World Climax (March 27th)

“Who wants to challenge me at Ryogoku Kokugikan*? Anyone is welcome.” – AZM (falling prey to the tongue twister that is the full name for Sumo Hall during her in-ring promo.)

SLK prepared herself to be served a heaping slice of humble pie, sitting in front of the trophy, holding her QQ mask that she made for AZM, ready to accept the penalty that she bestowed upon every single one of her fallen foes. However, AZM took the mask, quickly threw it to the side, and as her eternal rival, held out her fist instead. Reluctantly, SLK got to her knees, and reciprocated her forever rival’s gesture of mercy, dodging humiliation in her defeat. SLK pawed and slapped at the belt before slinking out of the ring. Momo Watanabe spirited her off to the backstage area, apart from the rest of OET.

Next High-Speed Challenger: TBD

Wonder of Stardom Championship Match: Saya Kamitani © (QQ) defeats Natsupoi (DDM) (21:55)

With the reveal of KAIRI returning to Stardom and Saya being the worst person to be asked to keep a secret, the opening video package for this match curiously highlights the connection between Natsupoi and KAIRI as well as pre-WWE, Ms. Formerly Known as Kairi Hojo being synonymous with the Wonder of Stardom Championship. When Natsupoi was High Speed Champion, she challenged Tam Nakano for the white belt in a set of gear very near and dear to her, one that was gifted from KAIRI with her signature yacht wheel and anchor and vivid magenta and white color scheme.

Natsupoi updated her All-Star Cinderella gear from gray to silver and white in preparation for the belt she always dreamed about winning. However, it would not be her night to win the white belt. Natsupoi did precisely what I hoped she would have with Saya Kamitani. She brought her experience in the High Speed division, and really made Saya Kamitani think hard and work fast on her feet. Unfortunately, she worked a little too fast and slipped up on a top rope springboard, which felt also, very uncharacteristic of her.

My only sticking point with this match wasn’t so much the top rope slip Kamitani had because Natsupoi, caught her and transitioned it into a devastating suplex on the apron. It was her mimicking Ibushi, by landing on her feet and deftly posing several times when Natsupoi tried flipping or suplexing her. It took me out of the match initially, especially after the nonstop rollercoaster that was SLK/AZM just prior. I get it once in the match, but along with their very evenly early mirror movement sequence that looked like it was ripped out of Ospreay/Ricochet BOSJ Playbook. I feel like Saya is losing herself by trying to be other wrestlers. That her journey to topple Ibushi as the one true owner of the Phoenix Splash is starting to get in the way of who she is as her own wrestler. I know there is also the pressure of main eventing the show, paired with the memories she had auditioned to be an idol in that very venue, but this Saya Kamitani felt different from the one we saw just a month ago.

The momentum picked up in the second half, with both women working well together despite the height differential between them. Like Tam before here, Saya will become the person I see Natsupoi chasing after when it comes to the Wonder of Stardom Championship. Although the match was initially a little awkward for me, I did really enjoy it by the end. Kamitani hit the Star Crushed, quickly followed by the Phoenix Splash, and closed out their match for a three count.

“At Ryogoku Kokugikan, the first person I want I want to face is Utami Hayashishita… the other is Tam Nakano…” – Saya Kamitani 

Next Wonder of Stardom Challengers

  • March 26th Utami Hayashishita
  • March 27th Tam Nakano

When Starlight Kid proceeded to attack Natsupoi after OED lost their chance to dethrone MaiHimePoi as the Artists of Stardom Champions, it wasn’t anyone else from DDM who came out to help. KAIRI entered the ring, stopping the attack. After agreeing to a match with SLK on the second night of World Climax (March 27th), she and Natsupoi shared a moment where Natsupoi welcomed her home, threw her arms around her and they made a pinky promise, as Natsupoi declared she would win the belt off Kamitani without fail. Knowing a little bit of the history between KAIRI and Natsupoi, it is possible that Giulia might not be the only one who can convince others to jump teams.

As for Kamitani, she’s set an exceptionally high set of hurdles to overcome at World Climax in March. I am wishing her the best of luck in those defenses because I would love to see KAIRI eventually challenge for the Wonder of Stardom Championship because I think it might also mean more, should this be Natsupoi’s year to win it. If Saya still has it by the next chance for Natsupoi, all the better since after their match tonight, The High Speed Fair declared, “I’m only going to get more and more annoying to you over this, Saya Kamitani.”

The Other Mystery Guest(s)?! – No Updates

Hazuki’s Secret Weapon Sensei – No Updates; I have thoughts, but I am not committing the to paper for the time being.

PROMINENCE – after some preliminary matches on the shows in between the big events and of course targeting Guilia to ruin her birthday, not much else has been announced featuring them.

Stardom World Climax 2022 (Ryogoku Kokugikan)

    • Night 1 (March 26th) – The Top – 
  • World of Stardom Championship: Syuri © (DDM) vs. Giulia (DDM)
      • Wonder of Starcom Championship: Saya Kamitani © (QQ) vs. Utami Hayashishita (QQ)
      • Special Tag Match: KAIRI/Mayu Iwatani vs. Tam Nakano/Unagi Sayaka (CA)
      • Future of Stardom Championship: Hanan © vs. Rina (OET)
  • Night 2 (March 27th) – The Best – 
      • World of Stardom Championship: World of Stardom © vs. Mayu Iwatani (STARS)
      • Wonder of Stardom Championship: Wonder of Stardom © (QQ) vs. Tam Nakano (CA)
      • Special Singles Match: KAIRI vs. Starlight Kid (OET) 
      • World of Stardom Championship: Future of Stardom © vs. Mai Sakurai (DDM)
  • Date TBD
    • Goddesses of Stardom Tag Championship: FWC Hazuki/Koguma © vs. Momo Watanabe/X (OED?)

Medical Updates

  • Saya Iida – no update
  • Natsuko Tora – no update, but fine enough to attack KAIRI from behind at a press conference

Upcoming Big Event Schedule

Follow @We_Are_Stardom and @WWR_Stardom on Twitter for details and up-to-date information. 

March 2022

  • New Blood 1 (2022.03.11) Shinagawa Intercity Hall
  • Stardom World Climax 2022 at Ryogoku Kokugikan 
    • Day 1 March 26th – The Top –
    • Day 2 March 27th – The Best – 

April 2022

  • Cinderella Tournament 2022
    • Opening Night (2022.04.03) Tachikawa Stage Garden (Tokyo)
    • Mid-Tournament Stage (2022.04.17) Korakuen Hall
    • Finals (2022.04.29) Ota Ward Gymnasium

May 2022

  • Stardom Golden Week Fight Tour 2022
    • Fukuyama Big Rose Center (2022.05.01) Hiroshima
    • Kumamoto City Ryutsujoho Hall (2022.05.04) Kumamoto
    • Fukuoka Goddess Festival at Fukuoka International Center* (2022.05.05) 
    • Edion Arena Osaka (2nd Gymnasium; 2022.05.07) 
    • Nagoya International Hall (2022.05.08) Aichi

New Event Details: New Blood 1 (2022.03.11)

  • Invitational Show featuring participants from other wrestling companies
  • Central Focus on newer and/or younger talent
  • Listed as part of Stardom’s 2022 Big Match Schedule (2022.02.04; link)
  • Live Broadcast details are unknown at this time. 
  • Venue: Shinagawa Intercity Hall

Preliminarily Announced Matches/Participants 

  • Tag Match: Queen’s Quest (Saya Kamitani 25 y/o 2019 & Lady C 27 y/o 2020) vs. Donna del Mondo (MIRAI 22 y/o 2019 & Mai Sakurai 31 y/o 2020)
  • Tag Match: Cosmic Angels (Unagi Sayaka 32 y/o 2019 & Waka Tsukiyama 30y/o 2020) vs. MARVELOUS (Maria 21 y/o 2018 & Ai Houzan; 18 y/o 2021)
  • Tag Match: OED/Stardom (Starlight Kid (Allegedly around 20; 2015) & Partner TBA vs.  World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana* (Haruka Umesaki 21 y/o (2019) & Partner TBA) – previously wrestled to a 15-minute time limit draw on 2020.12.13 at Diana
  • Main Event/Debut Match: Miyu Matsuda versus Utami Hayashishita

Stardom Golden Week Fight Tour 2022

In Japan, there are a series of four national holidays usually within the first week of May, including Showa Day, Constitution Day, Greenery Day & Children’s Day. This period is called Golden Week because few people regularly take time off work, and typically is a high tourism and travel time within Japan. 

  • May 1st: Fukuyama Big Rose Center, Hiroshima
  • May 4th: Kumamoto City Ryutsujoho Hall, Kumamoto
  • May 5th: Fukuoka Goddess Festival at Fukuoka International Center*
  • May 7th: Edion Arena Osaka (2nd Gymnasium)
  • May 8th: Nagoya International Hall, Aichi 

Tickets will go on sale on April 29th at the Cinderella Tournament Finals.

*Fukuoka International Center will be the venue for their big show in Kyushu. This will be the company’s first time in this venue. The video package focuses on Fukuoka-born members Hazuki, Koguma & Maika, so this could be a big homecoming show for them.

Further details coming soon!

About Karen Peterson 98 Articles
Occasionally drops by wrestling podcasts, but remains rather elusive. Joined the Japanese wrestling fan scene in summer 2017, and continues to work on bridging the language gap between fans. Outside of wrestling, she’s a dog mom, perpetual Japanese learner, and when conditions permit, world traveler. Never skips dessert.