STARDOM: Cinderella Tournament Opens with Largest Field to Date, Syuri Announces New Unit Name

Karen Peterson provides an extensive review of the opening round of Stardom's Cinderella tournament with fifteen matches.

Photo Courtesy: Stardom

STARDOM: Cinderella Tournament Opens with Largest Field to Date, Syuri Announces New Unit Name

By: Karen Peterson

English Commentary Unavailable -Japanese commentary with Haruo Murata and Makoto Ohe with Mayu Iwatani joining later in the show. However, Stardom’s Official Twitter (@We_Are_Stardom) live-tweeted the results of the show in English during the live stream.

Cinderella Tournament Press Conference Highlights

The biggest news to come out of the press conference would be Syuri’s bodyguard, Ami Miura, challenging the World of Stardom Champion to a match on the opening night, forgoing her first-round bye. Syuri gladly accepted, stating she had Ami marked from the first time she saw her. 

 

To make Ami’s arrival in Stardom official, Executive Producer, Rossy Ogawa, announced her new ring name: Ami Sōrei. 

 Pending Challenges from Stardom World Climax (March 2022)

  • Future of Stardom: Hanan © (STARS) vs. Hina (QQ)
  • Next High-Speed: AZM © (QQ) vs. Mei Suruga (Gatoh Move)
  • SWA: Thekla © (DDM) vs. Suzu Suzuki (Prominence)
  • World of Stardom: Syuri © vs. Risa Sera (Prominence) 

Grand Slam Champion Dash

In the backstage comments on night two, both Starlight Kid and Mayu Iwatani declared their desires to become Grand Slam Champions. Mayu seems to be setting her sights on the Thekla’s SWA Championship next, and SLK is out to win everything starting with the Cinderella Tournament and the Wonder of Stardom Championship.

Cinderella Tournament Opening Night

The opening night of this year’s Cinde Tachikawa Stage Garden (Tokyo) The program opened with all competitors on the stage, with them making entrances one by one and lining up along the stage, ramp, and the current champions in the ring. However, Mina Shirakawa was absent from the opening roll call, but commentary noted that she was still scheduled to participate in the match. 

Much like her Wonder of Stardom challenge against Tam, where she transformed into TAMina, I wonder if MIRAI public dismissal of their time together as MinaToMirai, might have plunged Shirakawa into her next character crisis! We’ll have to wait and find out!

Cinderella Tournament Rules

  • Each match has a ten-minute time limit
  • Decisions are made by pinfall, submission, KO/referee stoppage, or Over the Top Rope Elimination rules. 
  • In the event of a time limit draw, both competitors are eliminated.

First Round Byes – based on current championship status at the time of bracket release. They will have their first tournament matches at the Mid-Tournament Stage on April 17th 

  • Syuri (©World; First Seed) faces the winner of Himeka/Ruaka; changed to Syuri vs. debuting Ami Sorei at press conference
  • Saya Kamitani (©Wonder; Second Seed)  faces the winner of Maika/Hanan

I will forego my usual rating notations for the Cinderella Tournament because when it comes to a single-elimination tournament like this, skipping matches means you’ll miss parts of the entire story, making it like a puzzle with missing pieces. The first-round match listing will serve as your buffer before the results. Take note that the matches listed may not be in the order the matches are broadcast. 

First Round Matches

  • Himeka vs. Ruaka 
  • Hazuki vs. Miyu Amasaki
  • AZM vs. Momo Watanabe
  • Giulia vs. Thekla
  • Koguma vs Fukigen Death 
  • Saya Iida vs. Rina
  • Lady C vs. Mai Sakurai
  • Utami Hayashishita vs. Tam Nakano
  • Mina Shirakawa vs. MIRAI
  • Waka Tsukiyama vs. Saki Kashima
  • Mayu Iwatani vs. Momo Kohgo
  • Unagi Sayaka vs. Hina
  • Natsupoi vs. Starlight Kid
  • Maika vs. Hanan
  • Syuri vs. Ami Sōrei

Unagi Sayaka (CA) defeats Hina (QQ) (6:27)

In Japan, high school entrance examinations, much like university entrance examinations, are highly competitive. In order for Hina to focus on getting into the school of her choice, she took time away from the ring, to study and prepare. Having passed her exams, she celebrates the new academic year as a high schooler with a return to Stardom, starting with the Cinderella Tournament.  

Unagi congratulates Hina on her return before manipulating a handshake into a kick. Hina slips past it before offering her own hand to Unagi. Unagi took her hand and Hina proceeded to judo throw her. The Gatekeeper of Stardom’s new talent may have underestimated the returning Hina. Despite her seven months away from the ring, Hina’s returned with a new coolness and confidence that only reinforces her being in Queen’s Quest. 

Hina nearly puts Unagi away with a Gedo Clutch, but Unagi wriggles free and catches her with a reverse spiking STO (Jomon Toppa). Unagi would hug Hina after the match and extend her hand. Hina would slap it away before exiting the ring.

What’s Next: 

  • Unagi advances to the second round to face the winner of Natsupoi/Starlight Kid.
  • Hina faces Hanan for the Future of Stardom Championship.

Saki Kashima (OET) defeats Waka Tsukiyama (CA) (1:49)

When Saki was over the top friendly at Waka at the press conference, I was very suspicious. Of course, Saki quickly reminded Waka how kindness could be a weakness and the ring wasn’t the place for someone to be gullible or easily trusting. 

This match was very short. After a valiant effort by Waka with a missile dropkick from the corner, Saki caught Waka in a rollup, ending the match quickly with Kishikaisei.

What’s Next:

  • Saki advances to the second round to face the winner of Mayu Iwatani/Momo Kohgo.

Maika (DDM) defeats Hanan (STARS) (4:37)

Last year, Maika made it to the finals where she would eventually lose to Saya Kamitani, so this year’s tournament is her opportunity to flip the script and write herself into the heroine’s role. She didn’t stroll in with new gear, but the same gear she wore last year in the finals against Kamitani (and also her best design with red and gold). It was an auspicious choice, but I love the call back to her tournament last year.

This match was Champion versus Champion, judoka versus judoka, so there was mutual respect between the two competitors. Maika got hung up on the top rope, and Hanan nearly eliminated her. However, she managed to get back in. Maika brought out an aggression in Hanan that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Maika closes the book on Hanan with a Michinoku Driver II. 

Maika’s win wasn’t without sacrifice, as she clutched her elbow after the match. The referee gave her an ice bag, which she quickly gave to Hanan instead before exiting. 

What’s Next:

  • Maika wrestles against Saya Kamitani in the eighth match of the night in a rematch of the 2021 Cinderella Tournament Finals. 
  • Hanan will defend the Future of Stardom Championship against her other sister, Hina (QQ).

MIRAI (DDM) defeats Mina Shirakawa (CA) via OTTR Elimination (8:20)

Mina and MIRAI have history together. Prior to Shirakawa’s departure for Stardom in 2020, she and MIRAI (as Mirai Maiumi) would sometimes tag together in Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling as ‘Mina to Mirai’ (a play on words of a famous landmark in Yokohama, Minato Mirai (Port of the Future); in Japanese, to is used as ‘and’ so the pun was Mina & Mirai). 

At the press conference, MIRAI brought the gift box that Mina gave her, with a heartfelt message written on the top, proceeded to tear it up in front of her, making an emphatic statement that she wasn’t going to be sentimental about their history together because in Stardom they have separate paths. This heartbreak would trigger Mina, leading to a revival of her ‘other’ personality, The Bloody Angel: Mina Shirakawa. 

 

MIRAI would be the one who looked emotionally torn throughout their entire match, perhaps with the realization that her own cold-hearted actions at the press conference sent her former friend and partner spiraling into darkness. For a match-up like this, Shirakawa needed to bring back her darker, more aggressive persona to counterbalance MIRAI’s no-nonsense, Tohoku Fighting Spirit. At one point, it looked like MIRAI got a little whiplash from the top rope when her neck bounced off it.

With two minutes left, MIRAI manages to get Mina over the top rope, but Shirakawa refuses to let go. If she was going to be thrown out, she was going to her ex-partner from another lifetime with her. MIRAI shakes herself free, backs up, and charges the ropes, hitting Mina with a lariat and Shirakawa falls to the floor.

“Don’t think for one second that today is the end of this…” – The Bloody Angel (into the camera; post-match)

As Mina walked away, MIRAI went to the neutral corner where Shirakawa hung the paper heart she constructed out of the torn cardboard pieces of the gift box. She would also dodge a hug from Unagi Sayaka as she made her way to the back. MIRAI would take the message with her, smiling, possibly being reminded that nostalgia isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it shows how far they’ve both come since then.

 Shirakawa is one of my favorites purely because of her character range. She can be the fun-loving mood maker, the fiery underdog, or the one who tiptoes the boundary of darkness all at the same time, proving that a babyface doesn’t need to be naive and plucky all the time. Though when she does go dark, Mina’s obsession with her opponent doesn’t necessarily lead to the victory she desires, but she does get the emotional closure to push The Bloody Angel back into her grave for the time being. 

What’s Next:

  • MIRAI wrestles against the winner of Utami Hashishita/Tam Nakano. 
  • Will this loss be enough for Mina Shirakawa to resume control of her senses or is The Bloody Angel going to hang around a little longer? Mina needs to regain control by April 15th when she teams with Unagi Sayaka against Haruka Umesaki and Rin Kadokura at the Korakuen Hall Joshi Dream Festival

Mayu Iwatani defeats Momo Kohgo (5:48)

After a strong showing at New Blood 1, Momo prepared for her biggest challenge yet. With a first-round match against the previous Cinderella Tournament winner (and arguably one of the highest decorated champions in all of Stardom), Momo gives a valiant effort against the Icon herself, Mayu Iwatani.

Momo slings Mayu over the top rope, but the Icon laces her foot around the bottom rope, narrowly avoiding disaster. She locks her other leg into a triangle, but Momo kicks the hold free, leaving her to desperately clutch the bottom rope. However, Momo would wiggle onto the apron, finding herself in a precarious position. Using a swan dive missile dropkick, Momo goes on the offensive taking down Mayu in the process.

I don’t think Mayu intentionally went easy on Momo in this match but gave The Peach Star an opportunity to showcase her progress since Hazuki took over her training. Mayu is another reliable veteran who doesn’t need to win the tournament (because she’s a previous winner) but is placed to help elevate newcomers like Kohgo. With the added pressure of the OTTR rule, it throws a little chaos into the system because someone could win purely on right place, right time alone.

Although Mayu is focused on becoming a grand slam champion, she avoids making Kohgo into peach puree in this singles match. Having someone like Mayu to help push her to her limits will ultimately benefit Momo in the end. Being an all STARS match-up might have also worked toward Kohgo’s benefit as Mayu didn’t pick on her like she does with the girls from Cosmic Angels. Mayu could have ended their match quickly if she wanted to, but she elected to give Momo center stage instead, almost to her own detriment. 

Shortly after the five-minute mark, Mayu wrapped up the match by hitting Momo with the Dragon Suplex. Afterward, Mayu helped Momo to her feet and they bowed to the crowd together, before Mayu left up the main ramp. Hanan would carry Momo out on her back.

What’s Next:

  • Mayu will revisit her old friend and No People Gate rival, Saki Kashima in round two.

Natsupoi (DDM) defeats Starlight Kid (OET) via OTTR Elimination (5:54)

You can take the girls away from the High-Speed Championship, but you can’t take the High Speed out of the Artist and Goddess of Stardom Champions. Natsupoi and SLK start off with a playful grab at each other, Natsupoi taking SLK’s Tiger Ear and Kid taking a fist full of hair. With the sound of the bell, they wasted no time turning the speed up to max.

Kid would think about climbing the corner before stopping herself and wagging a knowing finger at the audience. She wasn’t going to eliminate herself just for a high spot. She intentionally steps out underneath a lower rope, so she can jump without fear of elimination. Natsuko and Kashima would restrain Natsupoi, making sure that she absorbed the brunt of SLK’s plancha suicida.

It’s SLK’s arrogance that is both her asset but also her Achilles heel. She boldly climbed for a moonsault, but Natsupoi rolled out of the way, avoiding disaster. I can’t say enough wonderful and positive things about how much Natsupoi and SLK have grown in the last year. They get rather bold fighting on the neutral corner and continue onto the perilous ring apron. MIRAI would finally get involved when Natsuko and Saki started grabbing at Natsupoi’s legs, even with the referee watching!

After a rather thrilling tight battle on the apron,  SLK would scoop Natsupoi up and administer her Black Tiger Punishment. However, The High-Speed fairy not only survived but reversed it into a leg throw, eliminating Starlight Kid in the process as OedoTai fought MIRAI in the corner.

What’s Next:

  • Natsupoi advances to the second round to face Unagi Sayaka
  • Starlight Kid will defend the Goddesses of Stardom Championship with Momo Watanabe against Giulia and Thekla on April 10th.

NOTE: This is where I promptly threw my entire tournament bracket out the window, as The High-Speed Bracket Buster Fairy Natsupoi eliminated the person I had picked to win the entire tournament. This is why I never do predictions or pick ‘em challenges. 

Utami Hayashishita (QQ) and Tam Nakano (CA) are Eliminated via Time Limit Draw. (10:00)

Full disclosure, when Utami arrived at the press conference with a distinct personality change as “Nakano uTAMi,” I was hoping for a temporary character switch like Mina Shirakawa has done in the past. However, once her music started, The Red Queen entered, seemingly cured of whatever shojo manga (girls’ comic) inspired curse that had plagued her into mimicking the leader of Cosmic Angels.

 

I really enjoyed Tam feigning betrayal at the realization that she would be facing the former World of Stardom Champion, Utami Hayashishita, and NOT her cutesy, girlier alter ego. “Wait… you’re Hayashishita. Where is Nakano Utami?!” Tam Nakano demanded prior to the start of their match. Much to Tam’s dismay, Utami replied, “Oh, she’s at home watching the Pay-Per-View.” However, after a hard-hitting opening exchange, Utami drops Tam to the mat and begins mimicking her posing! This upsets Tam more than the flurry of kicks and strikes they just had.

Utami’s split personality mind games seem to bother Tam more than the battle between them. Like Mayu and Giulia, Utami usually brings out Tam’s more aggressive side, but in this match, Utami’s teasing also brought out a more arrogant side of The Stardom Dream as well. Normally, we wouldn’t see Tam lightly sitting on Utami, posing cutely, and calling for a cover from the referee. Typically, Tam doesn’t underestimate Utami as such, but The Ace managed to push the right buttons to activate the Idolzilla.

After catching Utami in a hanging choke in the neutral corner, forcing her over the top rope and onto the apron. Utami grabs a fistful of Tam’s hair, peeling her off the top turnbuckle and putting her on her shoulders! Tam breaks free, pulling herself back over the ropes without letting go of Utami, transitioning into a tarantula, yanking Utami’s backward neck over the top rope, while climbing to safety. However, her safety would be short-lived as after the referee made her break the hold and Utami fell to her knees unprotected, Tam tried capitalizing by charging at the ropes. Utami pulled the top rope down, and Tam tumbled back over the top to rejoin her on the apron.

While Utami kept her arms wrapped around the middle rope, Tam’s grip slipped and she was left clinging to the bottom rope, with her legs dangling wildly over the apron. This would afford Nakano the opportunity to latch onto Hayashishita’s leg, preventing her from immediately kicking her free. Using Utami’s leg, Tam climbed back to her feet where they continued their fight on the apron. Utami would kick her again, and Tam all but had her toes graze the floor, desperately clinging to the rope with one hand. 

They roll back into the ring together and resume fighting. The biggest challenge for Utami and Tam is the time limit. In the last year many of their matches averaged over twenty minutes apiece, so while they were absorbed in the throes of battle, the ten minute time limit loomed over them. With just over two minutes left, Tam hits Utami with a Tiger Driver, followed by a Tiger Suplex, but Utami still kicks out. The third opponent in the match: Double Elimination by Time Limit Draw pushed the pair into a panic. Utami counters a Violet Shooting going into the final minute of the match.

With thirty seconds left Utami took charge, but Tam wouldn’t give her the satisfaction of a pin or submission. Twenty seconds became ten seconds… and then the bell rang. If there was to be a double elimination in this tournament, this one made the most sense. It keeps both Utami and Tam strong but makes for an interesting twist in the tournament as MIRAI now advances to the Quarter Finals without having to fight either of them. I’m not mad at this outcome, especially if it means we get a nice blood feud between Hayashishita and Nakano.

With as established as Utami and Tam are within Stardom, neither of them truly needs to win the Cinderella tournament. When the Five Star Grand Prix rolls around in July, Tam might be climbing over bodies to claw her way to the Red Belt. Five-Point-Five Star Utami will certainly be back to stop her. 

What’s Next:

  • MIRAI gets a bye in the second round to face the winner of Iwatani/Kashima in the Quarter Finals.
  • Utami/Tam may be the start of a  grudge match?

Mayu Iwatani joins commentary for the remainder of the broadcast.

Maika (DDM) and Saya Kamitani (QQ) are eliminated together via OTTR Elimination (6:34)

With her second match of the night, Maika enters with the elbow taped up without much pageantry as it’s her second match of the night. The 2021 Cinderella Tournament Winner and Wonder of Stardom Champion, Saya Kamitani, entered second, fully rested due to her first-round bye. 

While their match started off slowly, Maika quickly used Saya’s enthusiasm and momentum against her, tricking her into charging toward her and then pulling down on the top rope. The problem with Kamitani’s height is that she has a much smaller margin for error when it comes to worrying about feet touching the floor. As Maika prepares to run at the ropes, Kamitani springs back into the ring, hitting a cross body, but also making a point to stomp on Maika’s taped elbow for good measure!

 For a babyface, Saya makes a very distinct heel move by refusing to let go of Maika’s taped arm, repeatedly twisting and hitting it. As a powerful fighter, Maika needs both of her arms for many of her moves, and she isn’t very forgiving when it comes to throwing Kamitani around either. She tries lifting Saya off the turnbuckle, but Saya reverses it, pushing her out onto the apron and kicking her for good measure. Maika catches herself before hitting the floor and drags Saya over the rope to join her. 

The pair play a risky game of chicken on the ring apron, but Maika snatches Saya up into a brainbuster on the apron. Kamitani regroups and attempts a Frankensteiner, but Maika catches her. Before Maika can throw her, Saya grabs the top rope to stop the use of her momentum against her. Maika sits down, forcing Saya’s grip to break, and she starts begging her not to throw her.   

The pair tumble to the floor together, and the referee declares both of them eliminated. This means the winner of Natsupoi/Unagi Sayaka will immediately advance to the Semi-Finals of the tournament!! MIRAI and Hina pull the pair apart as they start brawling outside the ring. Maika makes a beeline for the timekeeper’s table, takes the mic, and rolls back into the ring.

“Kamitani, this is the second year in a row you’ve cost me in the Cinderella Tournament. That really pisses me off, but I just thought of something good to come out of this. You’ve got that White Belt, right? How about you put it on the line against me in a fight? I’m going to take everything away from you. As for the location, how about in my hometown at the Fukuoka International Center on May 5th?” – Maika (post-match, in-ring promo

“Maika… I’ve been waiting for you!! I had planned to get back to back victories (in this tournament), but I’ll send you packing with tears of frustration in front of your hometown instead. ” – Saya Kamitani (in response)

Like the draw between Utami/Tam, I certainly wasn’t expecting this outcome either. However, I was wondering if they were going to set up something for the Fukuoka Goddess Festival as it happens a week after the Cinderella Tournament finals. I hope this match and one involving Fukuoka Double Crazy top the card, allowing for all three Fukuoka natives to have a proper homecoming. Also, after her going to the finals this year against Kamitani, I could see Maika being the one to dethrone Saya for the Wonder of Stardom Championship.

What’s Next: 

  • Maika likely challenges Saya Kamitani for the Wonder of Stardom Championship at Fukuoka Goddess Festival on May 5th. 
  • Winner of Natsupoi/Unagi Sayaka advances to Semi-Finals on April 29th at Ota Ward Gymnasium

Mai Sakurai (DDM) defeats Lady C (QQ) (5:31)

Since joining DDM and QQ respectively, Mai and Lady C have started to truly flourish as wrestlers. Their confidence has quickly grown and they’re each sculpting themselves into stronger wrestlers. Both wish to prove themselves to everyone, especially to themselves, neither one focuses on going for an over-the-top-rope elimination. Instead, they focus on exchanging kicks, strikes, and grappling. I feel like Mai’s been watching Giulia closely while Lady C’s been keeping a trained eye on Utami. 

Sakurai rolls up Lady C for the win, but Lady C isn’t satisfied with that result, attacking her after the belly. Amasaki jumps in, pulling C away from Sakurai, but before Mai leaves the ring, Lady C demands a rematch. 

What’s Next: 

  • Mai advances to the second round to face the winner of Saya Iida/Rina.

Saya Iida (STARS) defeats Rina (OET) (4:46)

Rina would offer a handshake to Saya, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and while Iida obliges, Rina immediately goes after pulling her hair. While Iida was out rehabilitating her knee, she continued weight training with a personal trainer and returned to Stardom in better condition than when she left. 

Rina locked in the octopus, but Iida managed to break free. Saya climbed the turnbuckle and Rina pushed her over onto the apron. While Rina climbed out, she didn’t go over the top, so when Iida shook her off, she wasn’t eliminated. They both get back into the ring, and Rina attempts a jackknife pin, but Saua reverses it, pinning Rina with the Iidabashi. Sour with defeat, Rina threw Saya across the ring before appealing to the referee.

What’s Next: 

  • Saya Iida advances to the second round to face Mai Sakurai

Koguma (STARS) defeats [Fukigen] Death (OET) (4:43)

Fukigen unveiled a special Cinderella edition entrance video, complete with her head pasted onto various images of Cinderella. The members of OedoTai all stood in the blue corner laughing in appreciation. While Fukigen didn’t have a special costume, she made sure to bring her favorite copy of Tokyo Sports with her to the ring. 

If you love high-speed and comedy shenanigans, this is your match of the night. Fukigen starts with a smoke break, but Koguma reminds her there is no smoking in the venue and eats the air cigarette! She chokes and passes out, but before Fukigen covers her, she makes sure that the sneaky bear is really knocked out. Usually playing dead is reserved for people wanting to avoid being attacked by bears, but Fukigen goes for the cover, and Koguma rolls her over, in a pin attempt.

Fukigen tries to get Koguma to do her metal death pose, but after several attempts, she appeals to Koguma by doing the bear pose dance… with her metal hand gestures instead! Koguma joins in with her bear ears and the pair poses together side-by-side before Fukigen punches Koguma in the chest. Fukigen tries attacking Koguma in the corners, but she keeps dodging and running away to the point where Fukigen convinces Referee Barb Sasaki to help her. When she tries to fling him toward the corner, he pivots and launches her into the blue corner, missing Koguma again.

Koguma retaliates with a corner body splash and a cutter for good measure before attempting a pin. When it doesn’t work, she goes under the rope & climbs the turnbuckle, but Fukigen grabs her and throws her back in the ring. Fukigen does the same, grabs Koguma’s hand, and walks back and forth on the top rope before throwing Koguma. However, Fukigen laces her fingers into Koguma’s, pressuring her to attempt the same move. Much to her protest, the members of OedoTai start cheering for Koguma to give it a try, so she does! This is where Fukigen launches a surprise attack, shaking her from the top rope, and putting her in OTTR elimination danger!

Koguma slips back into the ring and reverses Fukigen into a pin. Fukigen would reverse and try to roll her up, but Koguma reversed it again, pushing herself off the bottom rope.

What’s Next:

  • Koguma advances to the second round to face the winner of Giulia/Thekla.
  • Fukigen Death is likely taking a “smoke break” somewhere.

Himeka (DDM) defeats Ruaka (OET) (6:02)

In a showdown of raw power, Ruaka and Himeka waste no time exchanging splashes and shoulder tackles. However, Ruaka quickly gets Himeka out of the ring, using both the ring post and a bit of help from OedoTai to soften up The Jumbo Princess. Saki would also grab and trip Himeka for good measure. 

This match isn’t particularly a long one, but instead of one opponent, Himeka winds up fighting most of OedoTai throughout the match. Natsuko passes Ruaka the suitcase while Kashima distracts the referee, and she slams it down on Himeka’s head. The assistance from OedoTai helps level the playing field for Ruaka, but it only serves to make Himeka angrier and more aggressive. 

With a massive powerbomb, Himeka isn’t merely satisfied pinning Ruaka, so she yanks her up while the referee counts. She pulls Ruaka to her feet and charges with a lariat that Ruaka doesn’t recover from. Himeka emphasized her point, pinning Ruaka for three.

What’s Next: 

  • Himeka advances to the second round to face the winner of Syuri/Aoi

Hazuki (STARS) defeats Miyu Amasaki (QQ) via submission (5:32)

Amasaki jumps the bell attacking Hazuki during her entrance, but quickly learns her lesson with several boots to her face for her trouble. It’s noted on commentary that Hazuki was Amasaki’s trainer prior to Miyu’s professional testing. Hazuki nearly escapes elimination with a feint on Miyu before getting back into the ring. Although she only debuted in March back, Miyu is showing great promise and confidence. 

Amasaki shows some of her secret weapons with her kneebar and double arm DDT, but Hazuki has counters for all of her attacks, including her modified bridge pin. Hazuki transitions from one submission to chicken wing, leaving Miyu no choice but to tap.

What’s Next: 

  • Hazuki advances to the second round to face the winner of AZM/Momo Watanabe

Giulia defeats Thekla (8:50)

Though they are scheduled to challenge Black Desire together on April 10th for the Goddesses of Stardom Championship, the pair started their match with sportsmanship. They wrestled one another plenty in Ice Ribbon, but never in singles competition, so this was their first meeting. Longtime friends, Giulia and Thekla are not just familiar with each other’s arsenal but seem to anticipate each attack the other prepares. In this match, you definitely hit your friends the hardest.

While many prior matches in this tournament had swift decisions, once the match cleared the five-minute mark, I started to get worried about them being too evenly matched. When Thekla reversed Giulia’s Glorious Driver, I genuinely thought she’d have the upset of the tournament. Thekla defeating a previous tournament winner and advancing would have been a great twist, but I feel like she’s going to have to resolve her outstanding pinfall loss to Suzu Suzuki for SWA Championship before likely having to do the same against her tag partner and friend as well.

While Thekla has been a bit more serious and driven lately, she doesn’t begrudge Giulia for beating her, hugging her tightly in defeat before exiting. I hope this means Giulia goes into the next round, but spends it more making Koguma work for a victory and experiencing some of the High-Speed realm, instead of defeating her quickly.

What’s Next: 

  • Giulia advances to the second round to face Koguma.
  • Thekla now has two potential SWA Title Defenses: Suzu Suzuki and Giulia

AZM (QQ) defeats Momo Watanabe (OET) (3:04)

MOMOAZ Tag Partners turned bitter rivals, AZM and Momo revisit their feud from the end of 2021-early 2022 in a high-speed format. While Momo is out to win by any means possible, AZM wastes no time in reminding The Black Peach what an asset she was while they were tag partners. Momo intentionally pitches AZM out of the ring and while the members of OedoTai swarmed her as well as the referee, Momo slipped a wrench into her kick pad. 

However, it was all for nothing because, despite her best efforts to use it, AZM was faster, rolling her up in Azumizushi for the pin. Knocking her former tag partner and previous Cinderella Tournament winner out of the tournament. AZM deals out a heaping serving of humble pie to Momo, but The Black Peach is bitter with defeat. With AZM’s victory, the only member of OedoTai headed to the second round is Saki Kashima, who has to face Mayu Iwatani. 

What’s Next:

  • AZM advances to the second round to face Hazuki.
  • Momo Watanabe defends the Goddesses of Stardom Championship against Thekla/Giulia on April 10th. If successful, AZM might come around to collect on tonight’s victory.

Syuri defeated Ami Sōrei via Submission (Grounded-version of Suzaku) (9:49)

Originally, Syuri had a first-round bye, but Ami’s bravery to request her new unit leader for a match, so she could participate in the Cinderella tournament was not only accommodated, but supported by the World of Stardom Champion. This was not only the perfect way for Syuri to introduce Ami to the Stardom fans but also set an example of the type of champion she has become. 

Mayu noted on commentary that Ami had previously sustained a knee injury during her time in Actwres girl’Z, and Murata noted that it was true and this was her return match since that time. Talk about an exceptionally challenging post-injury return match! 

While most would expect Syuri to destroy Ami within the first two minutes, the World of Stardom Champion helped to showcase her new talent acquisition instead. That is what I appreciate about Syuri –not just as a champion, but as a wrestler – she’s able to adapt her style and level to match her opponents. In Ami’s case, she’s only wrestled for a year and eight months, and Syuri intentionally avoided squashing her in her first match in a new company, and also didn’t expect Ami to lay down and hand her the win either.

Syuri pushed Ami to the remaining twenty seconds before tapping her out with Suzaku. After the match

“Welcome to Stardom and congratulations on your return match, Ami! You’re so powerful and together, I believe our unit will truly shine. That being said, I would like to announce the unit name. We are the ones the Fighting Gods chose, God’s Eye. We will go beyond all limits set ahead of us, and then even further.” – Syuri (in-ring post-match comments 

As Syuri finishes, the camera cuts to MIRAI walking out to ringside. In January, MIRAI challenged Syuri for the World of Stardom Championship at Nagoya Supreme Fight, shortly after her arrival in Stardom as a new member of Donna del Mondo. If there was one person I had hoped would leave DDM to follow Syuri, it was MIRAI. 

“I was absolutely moved by your match. It was really something else. Seeing that match, I want to fight alongside you.” – MIRAI (to Syuri & Aoi)

MIRAI very carefully, yet respectfully removes and folds her DDM hoodie, closing the brief chapter with the unit in hopeful preparation for the next step in her own story. 

 

“MIRAI, so what you’re telling me is that this means you are truly prepared and finally ready…” – Syuri

“I want to go beyond my own limits. I am ready. Please, let me join your unit.” – MIRAI

“I AM SO HAPPY!! THANK YOU!!! Let’s combine our fighting spirits, and become stronger together!!” – Syuri, hugging MIRAI, followed by an exchange of handshakes.

The trio of God’s Eye will definitely be the ones to watch in 2022. What I liked was that Giulia and Donna del Mondo allowed Syuri and company to have this moment to celebrate their launch together. Looking at the roster, I am wondering who could possibly jump ship to join up without bringing in more new talent. My biggest wish would be that if/when Konami chooses to return to action, she abandons OedoTai and finally aligns with Syuri and God’s Eye.

What’s Next:

  • Syuri advances to the second round to face Himeka.

DDM Splinters Further Backstage

“Who do you think you are, just leaving us like this?” Giulia says to MIRAI as MIRAI fights back tears. After Giulia wipes away MIRAI’s tears and whispers something to MIRAI, before pushing into place at Syuri’s side without a word to her former tag partner. While Giulia brought MIRAI into Stardom, she knows that the path she is about to walk against Prominence is likely one she doesn’t want to subject MIRAI to. Giulia and Syuri knew their split was a likely outcome after their match at World Climax ~ The Best ~, however, I don’t think Giulia imagined MIRAI being the first one from DDM to choose Syuri over herself. Giulia may have needed the numbers at first, I think she and Syuri both know what is most beneficial for MIRAI as leaders, is to let her choose her own path.

 

Mai Sakurai would be the one to linger behind for a moment with MIRAI. “This is where our paths split,” MIRAI says, extending her hand to teary-eyed Sakurai, who shakes it in return. MIRAI doesn’t second guess her decision, but knows the road ahead will not be an easy one.

Cinderella Tournament 2022 Second Round Matches (April 10th & 17th) – Full match cards to be released at a later date. Not listed on the Big Match Schedule, so likely available by delayed VOD only, so if you want to avoid spoilers, stay off social media. 😉

Second Round Matches

  • Syuri (GE) vs. Himeka (DDM)
  • Hazuki (STARS) AZM (QQ)
  • Giulia (DDM) vs. Koguma (STARS)
  • Saya Iida (STARS) vs. Mai Sakurai (DDM)
  • Saki Kashima (OET) vs.  Mayu Iwatani (STARS)
  • Unagi Sayaka (CA) vs. Natsupoi (DDM)
  • MIRAI (GE) has a bye to the Quarterfinals.

Additional Updates: 

  • Natsuko Tora – She’s been showing up at the bigger shows as of late, but still no official clearance and return date yet. Once the archive is available, I will see if she mentioned anything on Japanese commentary to the like.
  • Hazuki’s Secret Sensei – Not revealed

Pending Challenges from Stardom World Climax (March 2022)

  • Future of Stardom: Hanan © (STARS) vs. Hina (QQ)
  • Next High-Speed: AZM © (QQ) vs. Mei Suruga (Gatoh Move)
  • SWA: Thekla © (DDM) vs. Suzu Suzuki (Prominence); Giulia (DDM)
  • World of Stardom: Syuri © (God’s Eye)  vs. Risa Sera (Prominence) 

Scheduled Challenges During Cinderella Tournament

  • Goddesses of Stardom: Black Desire © (OET) vs. Giulia/Thekla (DDM) – Osaka Edion Arena (2022.04.10; Saturday)

Additional Challenges from Cinderella Tournament 

  • Wonder of Stardom: Saya Kamitani © vs. Maika (DDM) – Fukuoka Goddess Festival (2022.05.05; Thursday) 

Korakuen Hall 60th Birthday Joshi Dream Festival 

As part of the sixtieth birthday of Korakuen Hall, Stardom will participate alongside multiple (OZ Academy, Ice Ribbon, DIANA, Pure-J, Sendai Girls, SEAdLINNNG, Marvelous, & WAVE) other women’s promotions and freelancers for a cross-promotion, 9-match card. Twenty-six of the forty-two participants debuted in Korakuen Hall. Koguma, Lady C, MIRAI, Mina Shirakawa, Sayaka Unagi, and Starlight Kid will all represent Stardom, and aside from Shirakawa, all debuted in Korakuen Hall. Starlight Kid will be in the 6-woman tag main event.

No international broadcast/live streaming availability announced yet. Broadcasting will be available in Japan via SkyPerfect/SPOOX.

Pink Kabuki to Challenge for DIANA Tag Titles

After Mina Shirakawa and Haruka Umesaki were simultaneously eliminated in the Cinderella Rumble, they blamed one another for the pair getting eliminated. They both planned on sorting out their grievances at the Joshi Dream Festival at Korakuen Hall’s 60th Birthday Celebration on April 15th, but it seems like the fight will continue in Woman World Pro-Wrestling DIANA as Shirakawa/Unagi will challenge the current WWWD Tag Team Champions: LUMINOUS (Umesaki and freelancer Miyuki Takase) on Friday, April 29th before heading to Cinderella Tournament Finals at Ota Ward Gymnasium later that evening. 

No international broadcast/live streaming details for this event.

Fukuoka Goddess Festival Special Ambassador: Jyushin Thunder Liger

In preparation for the Fukuoka Goddess Festival, Jyushin Thunder Liger met with Fukuoka natives, Fukuoka Double Crazy (FWC; Hazuki & Koguma) to do PR work for the May 5th show at The Fukuoka International Center. The trio recorded a video that will be coming to Stardom’s Official YouTube channel in the near future. Their meeting was recorded on March 26th, while FWC was still Goddesses of Stardom Tag Team Champions.  

 

Big Match Schedule (Spring/Summer 2022) 

April: 

    • Second Rounds – (2022.04.10) Osaka Edion Arena – VOD Only
    • Second Rounds/Quarterfinals (2022.04.17) Korakuen Hall – VOD Only
    • Cinderella Tournament 2022 – Finals* (2022.04.29) Ota Ward Gymnasium

May: Two Events 

June: Fight in the Top 2022 Nagoya International Conference Center (2022.06.26)

July: Five Star Grand Prix (5★GP) 2022 – Opening Weekend (2022.07.30-31) Ota Ward Gymnasium 

Follow @We_Are_Stardom and @WWR_Stardom for all official Stardom updates! Press conferences are streamed live (with an archive) at Stardom Official on YouTube. 

About Karen Peterson 40 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.