Star Gazing is our new series which will add to our already growing coverage of World Wonder Ring Stardom (colloquially known simply as Stardom) and the Joshi scene where we will get you up to speed with members of the Stardom roster. Our second one will focus on the perennial 1B of Stardom, Mayu Iwatani.
Iwatani is a Stardom original and recently celebrated her 8th Anniversary with the company. Over the years, she has climbed up the card to become it’s most recognizable stars. From her days as High Speed Champion, to her adventures with the Threedom and onwards as the leader of STARS, she has done it all in Stardom and become the heart and soul of the company.
Who Is Mayu Iwatani
The beauty of Mayu Iwatani is not her as a wrestler – although she is a great wrestler – and it isn’t in her character, nor is it in her promo ability. What makes Iwatani special is Mayu Iwatani herself, the girl behind the wrestler. She has the ability to forge a connection with fans that so few wrestlers can match. Iwatani was never meant to be an icon, she wasn’t born into the business, she wasn’t a Super Rookie like Utami Hayashishita. She was never even the best member of her early tag teams AMA and Thunder Rock. In her younger years, Iwatani was an extreme introvert, to the point that she never finished school. For years before her debut, she could barely leave her room at home and has described herself as a hikkomori which means a shut-in. It’s this fact that makes her decision to wrestle even more mind boggling. She left home, without telling her parents, to go and wrestle for Stardom in front of hundreds of people. This same girl, who couldn’t face reality enough to leave her home, was now wrestling in front of cameras and crowds. She says herself “wrestling saved me” and she has worked so hard at wrestling and given her all to it ever since.
As mentioned earlier, Iwatani was never the chosen one – it wasn’t until December 2013 that she won her first title and was the very last member of Stardom’s original roster to win a singles match. She was not a very good wrestler in her early days either, barely passing her Pro Test and botching frequently in her earlier days – the years of being a shut in had clearly done a number on her athletic abilities. Even when it came to Stardom’s famous Threedom (Io Shirai, Kairi Hojo & Iwatani), she was the least protected member of the group and was the only one at the time to never hold the prestigious World Of Stardom Championship. When the Threedom and Thunder Rock, broke up Shirai called Iwatani weak and turned on her longtime partner.
The Icon Takes the World
By 2017, Iwatani had progressed from the green rookie that Stardom fans first saw. She was one of the three best women’s wrestlers in the world and had captured every title in Stardom, except for one. The Icon of Stardom had never been World of Stardom champion. On June 21, 2017, Wonder of Stardom champion Mayu Iwatani faced Io Shirai in the main event at Korakuen Hall. The woman who turned on Iwatani, and Stardom’s Chosen One, Shirai had been champion for 546 days, with 14 successful defenses. As always the odds were against Iwatani but she did it. For the first time in her career, she won the World Of Stardom Championship and reached the pinnacle of Stardom. Long gone was the quiet introvert who conveyed nervousness in every movement and in her place the Icon of Stardom, the fan favorite and one of the world’s best wrestlers. It took her over 6 years but Iwatani had finally done it.
End of the World
After three short months with the World of Stardom championships, Iwatani was forced to lose the title due to a freak injury against Toni Storm. It was a crushing blow, as her six-year journey ended in disaster. Since her comeback, she has become the leader of STARS and been working her way back to World of Stardom contention. As leader of STARS, Iwatani has truly let her adorable personality shine through. Her pre-match interviews are unique in just how messy and unorganized they are. She doesn’t have a character or a catchphrase, she’s just pushing her way through a promo so that she can go and wrestle. She has once again stepped aside in 2018 to allow Stardom to focus on their newer stars but she remains the Icon. Ring Of Honor has announced that Mayu Iwatani will be back for shows leading up to their MSG show, she will be there for a TV taping as well as the Bound By Honor show. Rumors are flying that she will be on the MSG show and the thought of Mayu Iwtani wrestling in front of almost 20,000 people should fill any longtime fan with joy!
— Women of Honor (@Women_of_Honor) January 22, 2019
Iwatani is an everywoman, she is everyone who has ever suffered from anxiety, she is everyone who was ever not good enough, she is every one that started from the very bottom and worked to reach the top of her game. The beauty of Mayu Iwatani is the person behind the wrestler, the woman who never gave up despite so much working against her. And it’s for that reason that she is, in everyone’s eyes, the Icon Of Stardom.