STARDOM Cinderella Tournament Final Report: Winner is crowned

Mai Sakura, Waka Tsukiyama, MIRAI and Ami Sohrei clash to become the 2023 Cinderella Tournament Winner. Final stop before All-Star Grand Queendom in Yokohama.

Photo Courtesy of STARDOM (c)

The finals of STARDOM’s annual single-elimination tournament emanated from Yoyogi National Stadium’s Auxiliary Gymnasium. Japanese commentary featured Shunichiro Fujisawa and Makoto Ohe with special guest Koguma (Cinderella Tournament 2022 Finalist). No English commentary was available for this show. 

The Road to the Cinderella Tournament Finals

  • Cinderella Tournament 2023 Opening Day Event Report (3/26) 
  • PROMINENCE defeated QQ for V2! (4/2) Suzu Suzuki pinned Utami Hayashishita with a German Suplex for PROMINENCE to retain the Artists of STARDOM Championship. 
  • Saori Anou is KAIRI’s X (4/2) At Korakuen Hall during the mid-rounds of the Cinderella Tournament, KAIRI and Natsupoi challenged Prominence for the Artists of STARDOM Championship with a secret third member: Saori Anou. KAIRI (Hojo) last tagged with Anou in 2016 prior to her departure for WWE. Anou and Natsupoi regularly wrestled in ActWres GirlZ as well as in STARDOM (prior to Natsupoi’s joining DDM; as Natsumi Maki). The trio will go by the name REstart. Anou is one of the most popular freelancers in the Japanese women’s scene right now!
  • Jessica Elaban joins Club Venus (4/6) Mina Shirawaka’s Club Venus is rapidly growing, and the international world tour continues with the addition of former NXT wrestler, Jessie. She was in NXT from 2017-2021 before being released. She wrestled in CCW throughout Florida in 2022. 
  • Mercedes Moné Retains at Sakura Genesis (4/8) In a wild three way match against AZM and Hazuki, the IWGP Women’s Champion retained her championship to advance to Yokohama Arena against Mayu Iwatani (4/23). Hazuki would be added to Fuwa-chan’s second STARDOM match against Utami Hayashishita & Miyu Amasaki. AZM would be revealed as Mei Suruga’s mystery tag partner against Starlight Kid & Mei Seira for the show as well. 
  • Farewell MaiHime! Maika & Himeka vs. ALIKABA (Giulia & Syuri) at Korakuen Hall. Syuri and Giulia reunite for the first time since Syuri’s departure from DDM last year for a special final tag match as part of Himeka’s Retirement Road. All four members were the first four members of Giulia’s DDM. Himeka will face Maika at Yokohama in her retirement match. 
  • High Speed Bomb Girl hits V11! AZM defeated Saki Kashima to continue her hot streak as the longest consecutive wins as High Speed Champion (4/14) at Korakuen Hall.
  • 3 Participants at Third Hana Kimura Memorial Show! (5/23) Rina, Syuri and Natsupoi will participate at PINX at Korakuen Hall. Follow HanaKimuraPinx for all updates about the show, matches, and international availability.

Cinderella Tournament 2023 Mid-Round  Results

Cinderella Tournament 2023 Second Round (4/1) Light Cube, Utsunomiya

  • MIRAI defeated Saya Iida (5:13) – MIRAMARE SHOCK/Pin
  • Xena defeated Thekla (6:38) – Thunder Strike/Pin
  • Mai Sakurai defeated Mariah May (4:18) – OTTR
  • Natsuko Tora defeated Tam Nakano (6:34) – OTTR 
  • Saki Kashima defeated Syuri (6:21) – Kishi Kaisei

Quarter Finals (4/2) Korakuen Hall, Tokyo – Winners advance to Finals (4/15)

  • Waka Tsukiyama defeated Saki Kashima (4:44) – pin Tsukiyama advances
  • MIRAI defeated Xena (6:23) – pin; MIRAI advances 
  • Ami Sohrei defeated Natsuko Tora (4:39) – OTTR; Sohrei advances
  • Mai Sakurai defeated Momo Watanabe (4:58) – OTTR;  Sakurai advances

Quick Pick Spoiler-Free Recommended Matches

  1. Syuri vs. Konami – UWF Rules
  2. Himeka’s Last DDM/All-Star Grand Queendom Preview – Two out of Three Falls
  3. Cinderella Tournament 2023 Finals

The live stream does not feature HANAKO vs. Sakura. The broadcasted match is Sakurai vs. Tsukiyama and the opening pre-show.

Opening Match: HANAKO vs. Aya Sakura (5:00) – Time Limit Draw

When I watched the YouTube stream and the Pia Live Stream, this match wasn’t broadcasted. I hope that it will be released later. Neither HANAKO nor Aya has declared themselves to a particular faction just yet. Very curious to see where they fall. 

Cinderella Tournament Semi-Final 1: Mai Sakurai defeated Waka Tsukiyama (5:52) – Rolling Guillotine/Pin

This was one of the most unlikely, bracket-busting pairings in the entire 2023 Cinderella Tournament. Joining STARDOM within weeks of one another back in 2021, Mai Sakurai and Waka Tsukiyama’s journeys felt immediately intertwined. They left AGW at the same time and joined Cosmic Angels around the same time, but Sakurai’s defection to Donna del Mondo in 2022 would begin the split in their paths. 

Sakurai went on to rack up wins, finally discovering who she was as a wrestler while Tsukiyama struggled, quickly becoming STARDOM’s ultimate underdog. Their match shows their progression since joining STARDOM. I’m not quite sure about Sakurai detailing Tsukiyama’s momentum with a win, but then again, Tsukiyama still has yet to get a win over Sakurai. While Nanae Takahashi called Tsukiyama her latest rival, it seems that Sakurai and Tsukiyama have unfinished business.

  • Verdict: Worth a Watch
  • What’s Next? This wasn’t the outcome I was expecting after Waka’s momentum after finally getting her first win over Nanae Takahashi at the PPV. Sakurai advances to the finals against the winner of MIRAI and Ami Sohrei

Cinderella Tournament Semi-Final 1: MIRAI defeated Ami Sohrei (11:12) – Jumping Lariat/Pin

MIRAI returned to the Cinderella Tournament as the defending Cinderella (2022) but found herself face to face against her God’s Eye stablemate and NEW ERAS tag partner, Ami Sohrei. This friendly fire match-up didn’t lack any of the usual hard-hitting power fighting that both MIRAI and Sohrei bring in their matches. 

What I loved the most is that unlike most of her opponents, MIRAI intentionally opted for a jumping lariat instead of her usual MIRAMARE submission or the MIRAMARE SHOCK. While it was a kindness, it certainly wasn’t forgiving in its power at all. It makes me wonder if MIRAI could win back-to-back Cinderellas!

  • Verdict: Recommended
  • What’s Next? MIRAI advances to the tournament finals. Sohrei has a scheduled Future of STARDOM defense against Rina at New Blood 8 (5/12). They are challenging the Goddesses of STARDOM against 7Upp at Yokohama Arena (4/23)

6-Woman Tag: STARS (Hazuki, Koguma & Momo Kohgo) vs. Club Venus (Mariah May, Xena & Jessie) (9:54) – Jessie pinned Momo Kogho after Joy Ride

This was a short and sweet match to wrap up the first Cinderella Tournament for Club Venus. A fun STARS vs. Club Venus match with very low stakes… that was until Jessie pinned Momo Kohgo, and Mariah May cut a promo on The Peach Star. Shades of Bea Priestly have returned with May calling Momo (Kohgo) shoppai (weak; lame; salty).” The catchphrase is back, passing from Watanabe to Kohgo. 

A fired-up Momo responded very clearly in English, flatly stating she is neither weak nor a loser, and that she’ll show them just how strong she and STARS can be.  

  • Verdict: Worth a Watch
  • What’s Next? Club Venus continues their hot streak. With Fukuoka Goddess Legend in Fukuoka (5/5) Hazuki and Koguma are likely to be heavily featured in their home prefecture.

12-Woman Tag: OedoTai (Natsuko Tora, Saki Kashima, Rina, Ruaka, Starlight Kid, & Momo Watanabe) defeated Queen’s Quest (AZM, Utami Hayashishita, Saya Kamitani, Hina, Lady C & Miyu Amasaki) (10:47) – Rina pinned Miyu Amasaki with PinkDevil

The eternal blood feud between OedoTai and Queen’s Quest continues. The last time they were engrossed in a battle together, Momo Watanabe abandoned her post as leader of QQ. It didn’t rapidly spiral into chaos as I would have expected. It was a simple exhibition of all the members but really didn’t do much beyond reminding everyone of how much QQ and OED are like oil and water.

  • Verdict: Worth a Watch
  • What’s Next? Rina challenges Ami Sohrei for the Future of STARDOM Championship (5/12). Saya Kamitani defends her Wonder of STARDOM Championship against Mina Shirakawa next week at All-Star Grand Queendom.

6-Woman Tag: STARS (Mayu Iwatani, Saya Iida & Hanan) vs. 7Upp (Nanae Takahashi, Yuu & Yuna Mizumori) (11:43) – Takahashi submitted Iida with a Crossface

There is a fair amount of history and nostalgia in this match between Mayu Iwatani and Nanae Takahashi. Hanan and Mayu decided to scale a lighting scaffold and give the audience stereo-flying cross-body presses onto their opponents below. Another showcase match, wrapping up the tournament as well as looking forward to Yokohama next weekend.

In the post-match, Mayu declares that after she beats Mercedes at Yokoyama, she’s calling out Nanae as her first opponent. Mercedes would run into the ring in a STARDOM jersey and wig, attack ‘May-you’, and see her at ‘All-Star Grand Slam Queendom.’ I knew it felt a little ambitious for Mayu to take up the mic after her team just lost the match.

  • Verdict: Worth a Watch
  • What’s Next? 7Upp (Takahashi/Yuu) defend the Goddesses of STARDOM Championships against THE NEW ERAS (MIRAI/Sohrei) next weekend in Yokohama. Mayu Iwatani is challenging Mercedes Moné for the IWGP Women’s Championship on the same date. This will be Iwatani’s second attempt at winning the IWGP Women’s Championship. She previously faced KAIRI in the Tournament Finals of Historic X-Over.

Special Singles Match: Syuri defeated Konami (10:02) – Stipulation: UWF Rules; Buzzsaw Kick/pin

One of my favorite personal histories in STARDOM is that of Syuri and Konami as master and protege. Konami’s decision to unceremoniously leave OedoTai to join God’s Eye was a very refreshing change from everyone just turning heel and joining OED. Unlike their previous friendly face-offs, Konami went for the pre-match sportsmanship but nearly caught Syuri off guard with a cheeky feint and kick

Their transitions between Konami’s Triangle Lancer and Syuri’s Byakko (White Tiger), in particular, felt like a calculated game of chess. In an inevitable game of “anything you can do, I can do better,” neither Syuri nor Konami would be outdone… until the head butts and head strikes started. Syuri would pin Konami quickly and cleanly shortly after, which made me think it was initially a Knockout. However, the ring doctor did check on Konami after the match, and she thankfully walked off on her own feet.  

Very much like their striking and submission games, Konami vs. Syuri simply doesn’t miss. It is an evergreen rivalry regardless of faction alignment purely due to the level both consistently operate. I know that Konami’s appearances in STARDOM are now rare, but every time she returns, it always feels like a spectacularly big deal, which I love.  

  • Verdict: Highly Recommended. Yes, I wrote that before the match even started.
  • What’s Next? Syuri will face Sendai Girls’ Chihiro Hashimoto next weekend in Yokohama in a special singles match. Konami will also join God’s Eye for the Golden Week Fight Tour stop in her hometown of Hiroshima (4/30); tagging together with MIRAI and Ami Sohrei against Donna del Mondo (Giulia, Maika, Mai Sakurai & Thekla).

Cinderella Tournament Final (1/NTL): MIRAI defeated Mai Sakurai (13:12) – Flying Crossbody Press/Pin 

As the defending tournament winner, MIRAI had much more at stake than Sakurai did going into this match. Initially, there I was concerned that there might have been a mismatch, but The Combat Sports Princess brought out the best in The Refined Lady. I feel repetitive in saying it, but Mai improvement since joining DDM has been quite apparent. STARDOM taking risks on newer talent like Mai and Tsukiyama is quite refreshing honestly. Is there room for improvement? Certainly, but both MIRAI and Mai can only go up from here. 

I don’t want to compare Sakurai toMIRAI’s previous opponent and last year’s other finalist, Koguma, purely because their career lengths and wrestling experiences are substantially different. MIRAI brought out the best in Sakurai, and when she saw Mai crying afterward, she gave her a fist bump and helped her to her feet. MIRAI now has a pair of Cinderella Tourney Glass Slippers. 

  • Verdict: Recommended
  • What’s Next? Last year, MIRAI challenged Saya Kamitani for the Wonder of STARDOM Championship but ultimately came up short. However, depending on what her wish is, it could become a very different story after next week in Yokohama.

Himeka’s Final DMM Tag & Yokohama Arena Preview: Donna del Mondo (Giulia, Maika, Himeka & Thekla) vs. Cosmic Angels (Tam Nakano, Mina Shirakawa, Natsupoi & SAKI) (DDM 2-1 CA) – Stipulation: 2/3 Falls

First Fall: Giulia pinned Tam (7:12) – Mina’s errant spinning back fist that was intended for Giulia, but landed on Tam could the red flag that not everything is on the up and up in Cosmic Angels. MaiHime hoisted Tam up and Thekla and Giulia kicked her in the gut as they threw her down. 

Second Fall: Tam pinned Giulia (2:54) – A Violet Shooting followed by a Violet Screwdriver, and DDM got the save, but Tam would recoup it with Twilight Dream.

Third Fall: Maika pinned Natsupoi (4:37) – Michinoku Driver II to the former DDM turncoat.

“I don’t care if COSMIC ANGELS breaks up or stays together. That’s none of my business…” – Giulia to Tam

“COSMIC ANGELS ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE!!” – Tam after DDM departs

“Today, I’m quitted Cosmic Angels… you replaced me with Natsupoi, so in that period, I surrounded myself with the girls in Club Venus. I loved being part of Cosmic Angels and at your side, but its now time for me to go my own way.” – Mina to Tam 

The biggest surprise was Mina turning the conversation from her promise to Tam for them to win the red and white belts and celebrate together. While Tam pleads for Tsukiyama to stay, Mina offers Waka an alternative choice that only she can make.

“I love COSMIC ANGELS. I got to where I am because of everyone here. No matter what I’ll always love you, Tam. However, thank you for everything up until now… ” – Waka Tsukiyakma

Mina and Waka leave hand and hand, followed by the rest of Club Venus. They bow and leave. With that, the only members of COSMIC ANGELS left are Tam and  Natsupoi, her meltear tag partner, and SAKI from COLOR’s, the freelance group who help boost CA’s numbers to nine with their partnership.

Saori Anou appeared at ringside and joined them in the ring “Natsumi (“NATSUPOI!!”)… Tam… SAKI… I wonder if I could be of service…” As Saori is tagging with Natsupoi and KAIRI against PROMINENCE, this could be a big shift for COSMIC ANGELS. Upon her return, KAIRI previously tagged with Tam Nakano as White Knights, with Natsupoi as POIRATES.  While KAIRI isn’t contracted to STARDOM, she is the thread looping the remnants of CA together. 

While the post-match was a bit long, all of it was necessary to move forward to next weekend in Yokohama as well as into the summer with the Five Star Grand Prix on the horizon.

  • Verdict: Highly Recommended
  • What’s Next? Himeka will face Maika in her official retirement match next week. Mina Shirakawa is looking forward to cementing the future of Club Venus as she has her rematch with Saya Kamitani for the Wonder of STARDOM Championship. Giulia hopes to serve Tam Nakano a first-class ticket straight to Hell as she defends the World of STARDOM Championship in the main event of All-Star Grand Queendom.  

Cinderella Tournament 2023 Coronation 

With her second glass slipper and a brand new Cinderella gown, MIRAI made her promenade to the ring. She thanked Ami Sohrei for being her opponent as well as Sakurai.

Winner’s Wish: “After Ami challenge for the Goddess belts next week… I’ll decide which belt I want to go for whether its the White Belt… the Red Belt… or even the IWGP Women’s Championship… so please hang tight and I’ll let you know soon.”

Koguma notes on commentary that it was NJPW Pro-Wrestling that inspired MIRAI to become a wrestler, so it is possible that including the IWGP Women’s Championship in her singles championship wishlist is unsurprising. It is also worth mentioning the only other person to win more than one Cinderella Tournament (and back-to-back no less) was Mayu Iwatani (2015; 2016).

Final Thoughts:

With All-Star Grand Queendom next week and all the fanfare it is receiving as the first all-women’s show in Yokohama in 20 years, it somewhat overshadowed the Cinderella Tournament. The card for ASGQ was built out rather quickly, including two press conferences, along with the IWGP Women’s Championship defense at Sakura Genesis last week, which pulled the spotlight away from what is one of STARDOM’s most popular and most beloved tournaments.

I hope in future years, more time is placed between these two events, should All-Star Grand Queendom become a recurring calendar staple. I would have preferred the opening weekend of the Cinderella Tournament to be two days back-to-back like the opening weekend of the Five Star Grand Prix, with the quarter-finals and finals also being held back-to-back that first weekend in April. I know that scheduling is everything, but the Cinderella Tournament is one of the unique marquee tournaments in STARDOM, and I simply wished it had a bigger platform like it had in previous years. 

This also might be nitpicking, but I feel like Himeka’s Retirement Road as part of DDM has been slightly eclipsed by the build of Giulia and Tam for the World of STARDOM Championship. So here is a short list of some of her other Retirement Road matches which may not have received as much fanfare (since the last Dream Slam Monthly):

  • (3/25) MaiHime defeated HANAKO & Lady C (10:46) – New Blood Premium
  • (4/2) Tag: w/ Miyuki Takase vs. Natsupoi & Kakeru Sekiguchi (15:00) – Time Limit Draw
  • (4/6) vs. Mina Shirakawa (10:25) – Loss
  • (4/8) vs. Ami Sohrei (15:00) – Time Limit Draw 

I am happy for MIRAI winning, but I do hope that she opts to go after either the Wonder of STARDOM or World of STARDOM Championships instead of the IWGP Women’s Championship as her Cinderella Wish. Personally, I would prefer STARDOM’s tournaments to influence STARDOM’s continuity and build STARDOM’s history. While STARDOM is partnered with NJPW in building the foundation of the IWGP, a working partnership is a two-way street. They may have been integral to the launching of the Women’s Championship, but we have yet to see a full-time STARDOM talent as IWGP Women’s Champion. There needs to be a little more give and take, and that is said from a place of love for women’s wrestling with a desire for accountability.  


STARDOM 2023 Big Matches

Next Weekend: All-Star Grand Queendom 2023 (4/23) Yokohama Arena; English commentary with STARDOM’s Sonny Gutierrez and NJPW’s Chris Charlton; scheduled guest: Momo Kohgo

  • Yokohama Rumble: Participants TBA; Momoe Nakanishi announced
  • Fuwa-Chan’s Second Match: STARS (Hazuki & Fuwa-chan) vs. Queen’s Quest (Utami Hayashishita & Miyu Amasaki)
  • 8-Woman Tag Match: Thekla (DDM) & Club Venus (Mariah May, Xena & Jessie) vs. OedoTai (Natsuko Tora, Saki Kashima, Ruaka & Momo Watanabe)
  • High Speed Tag Match: Mei Suruga & AZM vs. Starlight Kid & Mei Seira (formerly Mei Hoshizuki)
  • HIMEKA FINAL: Himeka vs. Maika – Himeka’s Retirement Match
  • Goddesses of STARDOM: 7Upp (Nanae Takahashi/Yuu) vs. THE NEW ERAS (MIRAI & Ami Sohrei)
  • Artists of STARDOM: PROMINENCE (Risa Sera, Suzu Suzuki & Kurumi Hiiragi) vs. REstart (KAIRI, Natsupoi & Saori Anou)
  • Special Singles Match: Syuri vs. Chihiro Hashimoto (Sendai Girls) – Give up, Knock Out or Referee Stoppage ONLY
  • IWGP Women’s Championship: Mercedes Moné © vs. Mayu Iwatani
  • Wonder of STARDOM: Saya Kamitani © vs. Mina Shirakawa
  • World of STARDOM: Giulia © vs. Tam Nakano

NEWS FLASH! Keep an eye out next week for a POST Podcast primer for All-Star Grand Queendom 2023 with myself and Bruce Lord! Instead of a written event report we’ll be doing a podcast review of the show as well! I’m so excited, and I hope you’ll join us for the new format!

Jumbo Forever ~ BushiFIGHT x WAVE Pro-Wrestling~  (4/28) Shinjuku Face;  Full card TBA; Results in April Dream Slam Monthly

  • Himeka’s Request Special Singles Match: Himeka vs. Kyusei Sakura Hirota – I am truly hoping for Kyusei Jumbo Princess to make her debut

NEW BLOOD 8 (5/12) Shinagawa Intercity Hall; Full Card TBA; results in May 2023 Dream Slam Monthly

  • NEW BLOOD Tag Championship: Starlight Kid & KARMA © vs. Lady C (QQ) & HANAKO
  • Future of STARDOM Championship: Ami Sohrei © vs. Rina (OED)

2023 Schedule

  • Fukuoka Goddess Legend (5/4) – Golden Week; Fukuoka Rumble scheduled 
  • NEW BLOOD 8 (5/12) Shinagawa Intercity Hall
  • Last Jumbo Princess (5/14) Korakuen Hall; Himeka’s Retirement Ceremony
  • Flashing Champions 2023 (5/27) Ota Ward Gymnasium
  • NEW BLOOD 9 (6/2) Shinagawa Intercity Hall
  • Save the Date (Title TBA) (6/25) Yoyogi National Stadium Auxiliary GymLast Big Match Prior to the 2023 5 Star Grand Prix; Same day as Forbidden Door 2 in Toronto, Canada

Keep an eye out for Dream Slam Monthly Vol. 4 on Saturday, April 29th! Arrivederci, Mata nya!

About Karen Peterson 113 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.