STARDOM Fukuoka Goddess Festival: Saya Kamitani vs. Maika
By: Karen Peterson
Japanese Commentary with Miki Motoi and Makoto Ohe. Fukuoka Resident and Special Event Ambassador Jyushin Thunder Liger joined them on commentary with Saki Kashima scheduled to join later in the show. A total of 1,156 fans packed into the Fukuoka International Center for Stardom’s first show at the venue!
Date/Time: May 5, 2022 (Thursday; 4PM Start)
Venue: Fukuoka International Center
- Opening Singles Match: Will tonight be Waka’s night? – Worth a Watch
- 6-Woman Tag Match: Who is the true Future of Stardom? – Worth a Watch
- 6-Woman Tag Match: How much can a single moment impact someone’s entire career? – Highly Recommended
- SWA World Championship: The Icon seeks to score a Grand Slam – Highly Recommended
- Elimination Match: The Battle Never End-ing Battle over Konami – Highly Recommended
- Goddesses of Stardom Championship: Will FCW be crazy enough to dethrone Black Desire? – Highly Recommended
- Wonder of Stardom Championship: Does Maika strip Saya of absolutely everything? – Highly Recommended
*NEW* Big Match Added to July!
Stardom returns to Tachikawa Stage Garden on July 9, 20220 for MidSummer Champions! Ticketing information coming soon.
Opening Singles Match: Hina (Queen’s Quest) defeated Waka Tsukiyama (Cosmic Angels) (6:25)
The match is short and sweet with a relatively balanced exchange between Hina and Waka. One of Waka’s new moves is named “Moonlight Dream” (yes, it is an intentionally similar naming to Tam’s “Twilight Dream.” Hina uses a Body Buster to break down Waka and pin her. However, it seems the more Waka loses, the more I find myself cheering for her. Who knows when she’ll finally secure her first win, but it makes me wonder that when it happens, it might be a shocker, so perhaps the Five Star Grand Prix could have a lunar eclipse!
What’s Next? Waka’s quest for her first win continues. Hina still isn’t giving up on becoming Future of Stardom of Champion.
6-Woman Tag Match: STARS (Hanan, Saya Iida & Momo Kohgo) defeats OedoTai (Saki Kashima, Rina & Ruaka) (8:43)
The central focus is on Hanan as the Future of Stardom Champion and revisiting her matchups with Rina, Ruaka as well wrestling alongside Momo K and former champion Saya. Hanan’s seeking to not only tie Utami Hayashishita’s Future of Stardom streak at six but break it! The match is fun and quick. Hanan pins Ruaka.
“She’s totally Queen Kong!” – Jyushin Thunder
“She aims to be like Tomohiro Ishii and Katsuyori Shibata!” – Miki Motoi
I would love to see Saya Iida win this year’s Five Star GP. Since her return, she’s been on fire and is constantly proving that she’s outgrown the Future of Stardom Championship scene. While she did relinquish it when she needed knee surgery, folding her back into the mix isn’t the direction that she needs to be going. She’s been listed in that Golden Generation with MIRAI, and as a Stardom original, she should be receiving equal treatment.
What’s Next? At the Golden Fight Tour stop in Nagasaki earlier in the week, Ruaka pinned Hanan, so their rematch is likely on the horizon. No official announcement yet, but the next big show is at the end of the month.
6-Woman Tag Match: Cosmic Angels (Tam Nakako, Mina Shirakawa & Unagi Sayaka defeats Queen’s Quest (Utami Hayashishita, AZM & Lady C) (10:03)
Ever cry over an entrance? I sure did. Maybe it’s the big Mina Shirakawa and Jyushin Thunder Liger fan in me, but the moment she walked out wearing his mask, I was like, “If I were her, I’d do the exact same thing.” Unagi and Tam joined her and they did the Cosmic Angels’ dance entrance with the Liger masks on. They even made a point to edit their dance entrance to include Liger’s muscle pose.
Naturally, Utami and Tam gravitate to one another, so I am sure that somewhere down the road, they will revisit their rivalry again. At the heart of this match is how Mina saw Liger’s title match six years ago in that very building and how it pushed her to step away from being purely a gravure idol and to transition into being a professional wrestler. While she attempts the Romero Special earlier in the match, I was happy to see that it was High-Speed Champion AZM, who was the one she finally locked Liger’s signature move on during the match twice, as she transitioned the second into a pinning combination. While she didn’t secure the victory, it certainly made me want to see Mina challenge AZM for the High-Speed Championship in the future.
Oh, and Lady C’s Giant Swing?! She’s turning into Cesaro with the speed and number of rotations she’s including in the move. Utami and AZM really pushed to help Lady C as she battled Unagi, which gives me the feeling that either one of them may wind up becoming the new leader of QQ on May 15th in the five-way match.
I love the Cosmic Angels’ Launch when they ‘cheerleader throw’ Tam out of the ring, but the commentary table was too close. I did like they were trying to show off for Liger, but Tam could have easily cleared the group and landed ON him. Unagi pins Lady C after Jomon Toppa.
The only thing I would have changed in this match was who pinned Lady C at the end. Unagi Sayaka received plenty of opportunities to shine and take victories for them since her arrival, but in this one instance, it should have been Shirakawa. She is the biggest Jyushin Thunder Liger fan, and with the #OutVictory4Liger mini-story they did for this event, the CA victory would have had far more gravity if she were the one to finally score a rare win, in front of her favorite wrestler and keep their promise to secure the victory for him. In her press conference comments, she talked about seeing his title match in Fukuoka in 2016 and how it forever changed her life. I know that is splitting hairs, but this could have felt much more impactful, especially as she isn’t pushed as hard as Tam or Unagi.
— スターダム✪STARDOM (@wwr_stardom) May 5, 2022
Cosmic Angels steal JTL’s heart as they present him with their victory!
For those who follow Liger’s YouTube channel, when Liger held an open casting for his Diva, Shirakawa reached out to the channel personally because she’s such a huge fan of him. She does the Romero Special because he inspired her. She even has her own Liger costume which she showed him when they collaborated on some Liger x Stardom cross-over videos! The mask she brought to the ring was the one he gave her in that video because he told her, “you need a (Liger) mask without the mesh over the eyes, so you can show off your eyes!” If there ever was the perfect opportunity to bring this full circle, it would have been this match.
SWA World Championship: Mayu Iwatani (STARS) defeated Thekla © (DDM) (17:26) Moonsault to pin.
Is The Icon of Stardom running out of things to do and championships to win? Nope, she’s only getting started. What I loved in her loss to Syuri at Stardom World Climax The Top, was instead of wallowing in defeat, she quickly regrouped and came up with her next plan of action: finally close the loop on her outstanding Stardom Grand Slam and challenge Thekla for the SWA World Championship. Thekla has been practically unstoppable with her speed, ring acumen, and unyielding charisma and I’ve waited for someone like Mayu to finally take interest in her. When it comes to elevating talent and titles, there is no one better.
“Mayu has a lot of experience wrestling abroad, so she’s one who can best match styles with foreign wrestlers.” – Saki Kashima (on commentary)
I cannot get enough of Thekla’s taunts and technique! I loved her knee lock which she transitioned into a bridge and then walked over into a Muta Lock! Her flexibility and strength are next level. It’s rare to see someone dictate match pace to Mayu. Usually, Iwatani is in the driver’s seat, so it was refreshing to see someone make Mayu work and think hard.
Didn’t think we would see Thekla use the belt as a weapon, which could be very telling of her trajectory moving forward into the second half of the year as a remaining member of DDM. It harkens back to when she was brought in as one of Giulia’s Masked Assailants late last year, prior to her being revealed as one of the latest members of DDM in January. She could easily become one of the company’s top heels if she’s ever allowed, especially if they turn her and Giulia. She could also easily have a runaway, smash success Five Star Grand Prix because I simply cannot take my eyes off her. She’s incredible.
“I want to make this (SWA World) championship title wrestlers from all over Japan… no… The World… want to aim for.” – Mayu (press conference comments)
Thekla brought out a darker side of Mayu between the pair of piledrivers outside and inside the ring. It’s been a while since someone pushed The Icon’s buttons like that, but that hug at the end was like the sun parting the clouds after a summer squall. Even if Thekla were to go completely dark, I feel like someone like Mayu could be her sunshine on any given day of the week. Even in defeat, Thekla looks stronger than ever, she’s truly carving her place into Stardom’s history as a wrestler. Not foreign wrestler. WRESTLER.
Mayu is officially a Grand Slam Champion! Congratulations! With Thekla as the purely only foreign wrestler in the company currently, relieving her of the championship at this time could mean that with the upcoming Five Star Grand Prix, there is the possibility of more foreign talent coming to Stardom, or if they’re smart, start taking a page out of the TJPW playbook, and start sending talent abroad to start bringing more eyes to Stardom.
The last big events Stardom participated outside of Japan were their own Stardom American Dream in The Big Apple and the G1 SuperCard at MSG Mania weekend (April 2019). Personally, with the continuously expanding NJPW of America, they have a sibling promotion with a foothold in the North American market. While they are not NJPW’s Women’s Division, exhibition matches on bigger international shows, like they did at MSG and the Dome shows the last few years could be a great start.
NOTE: In last week’s inaugural Dream Slam Weekly, I mentioned the possibility of what Forbidden Doors Mayu or any other SWA World Championship holder could kick open once international travel resumes. However, No Forbidden Door jumping… yet… as last week, Dave Meltzer at the Wrestling Observer expanded on the potential involvement of Stardom in the NJPW x AEW: Forbidden Door show. The article also mentions a Ryogoku Sumo Hall on December 30th, meaning the potential return of Stardom Dream Queendom (or a similarly named big event) to close out the 2022 calendar. Last year, Queendom was announced at the Finals of the Five Star Grand Prix, but it is possible that it might be announced earlier.
8-Woman Elimination Match: God’s Eye (Syuri, MIRAI, Ami Sorei & Konami) defeats Donna del Mondo (Giulia, Himeka, Natsupoi & Mai Sakurai) (26:32) MIRAI eliminates Mai Sakurai last with the MIRAMARE
Konami, welcome back!!! It may just be a weeklong special engagement, but it is great to see her back in a Stardom ring. With a triumphant return in Hiroshima, Konami returned looking happy, healthy, and refreshed! Giulia wastes no time calling out Konami, but Syuri steps in, saying, “NO WAY!” In the press conference prior to this match-up, Giulia suggested that if DDM wins, Konami should join DDM when she chooses to return to full-time wrestling. Naturally, Syuri’s vetoed this bet, quickly shutting it down. When Giulia and Konami had their match at Queendom, Giulia gifted Konami with a flag signed by the entire roster, so when Konami’s return was announced, Giulia demanded that she return the present. This came into play during the match when Giulia asked for the flag again, and Konami obliged, using it as a diversionary tactic to cover her face and try to roll it up. Briefly, the flag became the third competition in their stand-off of the match, both using it as a weapon (Giulia having a little slippy-do on it).
If DDM wanted Konami, the double armbar & leglock submission attempt was probably the best way to appeal to the Submission Sniper’s sensibility. Himeka and Ami having a tall girl power fight is definitely something I want to see more of. Although Himeka lost to Syuri in her World of Stardom attempt last week, she shows no sign of stopping any time soon. Ami and Mai are also continuing their stand-off from last week as well. 2022 Cinderella Tourney Winner, MIRAI, isn’t going easy on her former DDM partner Mai either, but the Syuri nearly kicked Mai’s heart out of her chest with those back kicks!
Mai gets her revenge, by eliminating Ami over the top rope first! It took several kicks and a sliding drag from under the bottom rope, but she finally did it. Konami and Natsupoi have a very, VERY hard-hitting exchange. Konami dives into the high speed realm, and Natsupoi takes her to task with seemingly an answer for everything. Konami taps out Natsupoi. Himeka pitches Himeka over the top rope, but Ami and MIRAI catch her. Himeka tries again, but Syuri drags Himeka over the top rope with a triangle. Syuri tries for a powerbomb, and Giulia tries to pull Himeka back in. Himeka & Syuri are concurrently eliminated by the combination of Giulia and Konami.
Giulia knocks Konami onto the apron and she uses the flag and help from MIRAI to pull her over. The flag is the biggest unsung opponent in this match because somehow Giulia and Konami make slapstick comedy spots look really cool. With a Konami slip on the flag, she takes Giulia with her and they are eliminated together, leaving MIRAI and Mai. Sakurai has a valiant fight against MIRAI, and her training with Giulia & DDM is really starting to show. She really takes it to the New Battle Sports Princess & Cinderella Tourney Winner, but once fired up, MIRAI is nearly impossible to stop!
Mai attempts to eliminate MIRAI the same way she eliminated Ami, but MIRAI quickly reversed it. Even Kashima acknowledged the great change in Mai since her departure from Cosmic Angels. MIRAI nearly snaps Mai in half with her lariats, so she decided to close the match with MIRAMARE. Mai narrowly escapes it the first time, but MIRAI drags her back and taps her.
— スターダム✪STARDOM (@wwr_stardom) May 5, 2022
“Giulia, just give it up already. She’s not joining you.” – Syuri
“Konami, I know you’re here just for a short time only right now, but when you decide to come back, kindly consider joining us in DDM….” – Giulia (appealing formally to Konami again)
“I’m keeping this flag, no matter how much you ask for it. IDIOT!!! I’ve still got plenty of fight leftover for you, Giulia!! NEVER END!!” – Konami (post-match)
While Konami is currently in a limited-time engagement with Stardom during this Golden (Week) Fight Series, it does seem that she’s leaving the door cracked open for a future return. When? Who knows, but when it happens, I am certain it’ll be a triumphant return for her. She’s too perfect of a fit with God’s Eye. Working closely with her own mentor, Syuri, she can not only help build the faction into an unstoppable stable, but she can also be an unlimited source of information and training for both MIRAI and Ami moving forward.
Goddesses of Stardom Championship: Fukuoka Double Crazy (STARS; Hazuki/Koguma) defeated Black Desire © (OET; Starlight Kid/Momo Watanabe) (22:19) Hazuki pins Momo
A homecoming homerun for Fukuoka Double Crazy as Hazuki and Koguma step out in new matching gear. I love the new individual designs as well as the color scheme. While they previously had a matching look with their signature styles, I think the abundance of glittery materials makes them feel more like a cohesive, champion-level force to be reckoned with.
A seeming rarity at times in Stardom, this is an all-Stardom originals match. As long as all four have known each other, they really push one another to their limits. Usually wearing vivid colors and white as members of STARS, FWC opted to put on their black hats tonight so as to best compete with Black Desire. With the promise that FWC would repay everything that BD did to them with interest, both Koguma and Hazuki promised to get up again and again, no matter how many times they are knocked down.
What I liked in this match was despite Rina and Ruaka at ringside, Momo and SLK were left to fight on their own, with minimal interference. Even with the water bottles, ring mallet, and occasional steel chair tease, the seconds left the match to the veterans to handle on their own. The added feature of a bonus of an unofficial high-speed match really helped the pacing and momentum of this match. Koguma is truly the workhorse in the match and doesn’t receive nearly enough of the accolades that Hazuki does. While Momo and SLK have quickly found their synchronicity shortly after Momo’s joining OET, Hazuki and Koguma had it long, long before them. For FWC, it feels innate.
Ah, there it is– the OET bait and switch with Ruaka causing destruction, SLK with the chair… and Hazuki reversing Momo’s Peach Sunrise pinning attempt. Hazuki pins Momo after the Hazukistrial. While she doesn’t need to be protected, I feel like SLK could have easily taken the loss in this match as well. I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but I would have loved to have seen Koguma secure the win. I don’t know if it’s her new kick pads or if she spends time kicking trees, but Momo’s kicks sound like shotgun blasts and thunder all rolled into one.
— 葉月/HAZUKI (@0929_hazuki) May 5, 2022
I hope Stardom starts considering making tag team music for their established tag teams because while fusion mixes of their music are fun, they’re actually establishing tag teams within factions, so both partners should be on equal footing.
“FUKUOKA, WE’RE HOME!!! GODDESS BELTS, WELCOME BACK!!” – Hazuki
Hazuki also reminds Black Desire not to come around begging for a rematch as Momo and SLK stalk off toward the back. Koguma takes the mic and calls Mayu to join them, as STARS is returning home with three more belts than they had at the start of the show.
What’s Next: Koguma declares a challenge against AZM for the High-Speed Championship for May 8th (Nagoya), the final day of the Golden Fight Series.
“I don’t know if AZM will accept it or not, but I’ve gotta try! I’m a champion, too, now!” – Koguma
Wonder of Stardom Championship: Saya Kamitani © (QQ) defeated Maika (DDM) (24:25) via Phoenix Splash
Maika and Saya’s story goes back to last year’s Cinderella Tournament finals where Kamitani would defeat Maika to become the 2021 winner. This would launch Saya on her way to chase Tam to the white belt by year’s end. They revisited their match-up in the second round of this year’s tournament, only to be eliminated together as they fell out of the ring together, setting up this main event in Maika’s hometown. “I will take everything away from you…” were Maika’s parting words to Saya at the press conference.
Before I get started on this… take a moment to appreciate the pageantry of Maika’s entrance. Main eventing in her hometown, she got an empress’ entrance, and I was not prepared for the new silver & black gear. Not in the least. The sneaky girl concealed her new threads under her old robe, allowing only a peek, with the new DDM logo on the bodice. The folding fan was also a nice, classical touch to her costume as well. Her new costume is also an homage to the big festivals in Fukuoka and a style of the traditional clothes worn (chase up the term fundoshi BUT it is slightly NSFW as it discusses the cut of the bottoms) which is much more revealing than her previous costumes (and not because she recently released a solo, pin-up photo book).
— スターダム✪STARDOM (@wwr_stardom) May 5, 2022
Their match very much revisits the 2021 Cinderella Tournament Final but also displays the growth each of them has sustained since last year. Maika in particular has overwhelming confidence that is neck and neck with her power, making me feel she could genuinely be Wonder champion within the next year. She does take risks like the Brainbuster on the apron that deals equal damage to her and Saya, butcher refuses to win by count-out.
Saya is pushed to match Maika’s power fighter-style while constantly pushing to use her high-flying tactics. I was cautiously optimistic that Maika could win the match, but with FWC and Mayu all snagging titles, I was unsure if they were going to have all the titles change hands on the same night. As much as I was loving Maika Matsuri (Festival), I feel like Saya and Tam before her, this needs to be the star-making loss that launches her onto the chase for the Wonder of Stardom Championship. It’s also continuing the build of Kamitani as champion by consistently defeating strong opponents. However, if they are going to have Kamitani close the shows with title defenses, she can’t be the plucky underdog as champion. She needs to dial up her confidence and aggression, or find her Ibushi Switch, where she just goes into Danger Mode. Shrinking violet underdog champ is cute when it’s becoming champion for the first time, not when it’s one of the two top champions.
I do love Saya’s roll-through Star Crusher, possibly more than her Phoenix Splash. I was surprised that Maika didn’t get to kick-out of either because I think that could have nudged the pressure a little more on Saya, but in the end, it was a solid title defense.
“You [Maika] may say that you hate me, but personally, you are someone of consequence in my career. You’re my rival.” – Saya Kamitani (to Maika in-ring post-match)
This is Kamitani’s fifth successful defense. It wasn’t surprising that Maika lost, despite it being held in her backyard. I genuinely didn’t think they were going to make Saya give up “that signature move” (implying her stopping using the Phoenix Splash) and I didn’t think they were going to have the pair kiss after the match either (yes, that was one of the other conditions Maika had set for the match, by force or otherwise).
“Kamitani, you may have turned the tables this time, but I’m not giving up either… not until I completely surpass you!!” – Maika (post-match)
What’s Next: Afterward, MIRAI came to the ring to follow through on her Cinderella Tournament claim to have the winner of Maika/Saya at the next big show (Flashing Champions on May 28th). Saya accepted, and MIRAI pulled an Okada-esque “thanks for your hard work” (otsukare-sama deshita!) as if Kamitani was Tanahashi to her Rainmaker. VERY SPICY. I just need Saya to have more confidence in her mic performances unless she’s just leaning into being endearingly awkward when trying to close a show. She needs to start carrying herself with the confidence she has during press conferences the entire time.
Happy Birthday, Saki-saaaaaaaan!!!
After the show, while the commentary team was wrapping up the show, Rina and Ruaka surprised Saki with a birthday cake and song!
— スターダム✪STARDOM (@wwr_stardom) May 5, 2022
“Hold on! I’m still in the middle of commentary I’m totally floored I’m here just working and minding my business… oh you two!!!!!” – Saki (to Rina and Ruaka)
Saki was quite good on commentary because she focused on a rather fair analysis of the wrestling presented on the show and didn’t downplay any of the moments. She’s even caught on audio congratulating Mayu on her win.
Next Event: New Blood 2 – (2022.05.13) – Tokyo New Pier Hall – The second installment in Stardom’s new invitations for young wrestlers or those with short careers. Sponsored by FIBREPLEX. The full match card was announced at a press conference on April 20, 2022 (immediately after the Cinderella Tournament Finals press conference)
- Tag Match: Stardom (Hina & Hanan) vs. Just Tap Out (Aoi & Tomoka Inaba)
- Singles Match: Yuna Mizumori (Gatoh Move) vs. Lady C (Queen’s Quest)
- Tag Match: STARS (Saya Iida & Momo Kohgo) vs. COLOR’s (Yuko Sakurai & Rina Amikura)
- Tag Match: God’s Eye (MIRAI & Ami Sorei) vs. Waka Tsukiyama (CA) & Momoka Hanazono
- Singles Match: Suzu Suzuki (Prominence) vs. Mai Sakurai (Donna del Mondo)
- Main Event: 6-Woman Tag Match: Cosmic Angels (Mina Shirakawa, Unagi Sayaka & Haruka Umesaki) versus OedoTai (Ruaka, Rina & Starlight Kid)
Summer 2022 Big Match Schedule
- NEXT: New Blood 2 (May 13, 2022) – New Pier Hall (Tokyo)
- Flashing Champions 2022 – (May 28, 2022) Ota Ward Gymnasium
- Fight in the Top 2022 – (June 26, 2022) Nagoya International Conference Center
- *NEW* MidSummer Champions 2022 (July 9, 2022) – Tachikawa Stage Garden
- Five Star Grand Prix (5★GP) 2022 Opening Weekend – (July 30-31, 2022) Ota Ward Gymnasium
- Five Star Grand Prix (5★GP) 2022 Finals – (October 1, 2022) Musashino Forest Sun Plaza’s Main Arena (Chofu Ward, Tokyo)