Star Gazing: AZM

AZM

Star Gazing is our series which will add to our expansive coverage of World Wonder Ring Stardom (Also known simply as Stardom) and the Joshi scene where we will get you up to speed with members of the Stardom roster. Today we will be focusing on Queen’s Quest’s High-Speed Prodigy, AZM.

When having a conversation about the best young wrestlers in the industry today, it’s nearly impossible for AZM not to be at the top of your list. A 7-year veteran at the young age of 18, there are few wrestlers who can compare to the work ethic, dedication, and sheer ability that AZM has displayed over the past number of years. For new fans and fanatics alike, here is a bit of a crash course on how AZM has become the youngest veteran in the game today.

Child’s Play

Azumi began her training at the young age of nine years old back in 2011, learning how to compete safely at such a young age for two years before her official debut in 2013. Competing against Passion No. 2, better known as High-Speed legend Natsuki Taiyo, less than a week after her 12th birthday, Azumi quickly showed that she was quite a capable wrestler—for an eleven-year-old. With a three-minute time limit on most of her early matches, Azumi managed to go the distance with Yoshiko, Io Shirai, and the aforementioned Natsuki Taiyo in her first three matches.

Soon after these mismatches against three of her strongest senpais, Azumi began a feud with fellow youngster Mayaa in April 2014. Mayaa, who’s one year Azumi’s senior, was on a far more equal footing as the young wrestler, becoming both the first person to defeat Azumi and the first person Azumi got a win over. She was also the first person that Azumi had a singles match against that lasted longer than three minutes, pushing the boundaries to five minutes in late 2014.

Mayaa would go inactive in late 2014, leaving Azumi to rack up losses against newer, older rookies such as Kris Wolf, Reo Hazuki, and Momo Watanabe for nearly the entirety of 2015. This was fine, as Azumi was already on a limited schedule due to her young age, but it meant she would go practically winless from May to October of that year. That is, until Azumi was gifted the arrivals of Starlight Kid and Hiromi Mimura for her 13th birthday, giving her new rivals as the year came to a close.

Full Metal Jacket

2016 was a very big year for Azumi, as she would go on to compete in 39 matches by the end of the year, a considerable increase from her 20 matches in 2015. This was also a big year for Azumi as she would create the faction known as Azumi’s Army in February. The army, led by Azumi and Kaori Yoneyama, was made up of circulating members of Stardom’s undercard at the time. Women like Natsumi Maki, Alex Lee, and Natsuko Tora all enlisted at some point throughout the year.

This new sense of superiority as a leader noticeably went to Azumi’s head, as she would begin doing her now-notorious roasts of every opponent she faced. Most noticeably, Azumi targeted Haruka Kato, whom she ridiculed for being on death’s door at the elderly age of 27, as well as her biggest rival at the time, Arisu Nanase. Arisu, who beat out Azumi, Natsuko, and the newly debuted Ruaka in the 2016 Rookie of Stardom Tournament, would be the butt of Azumi’s jokes until her quiet retirement in early 2017. This didn’t stop Azumi from getting her last shots in, claiming that her January 2017 win over Arisu made her the true Rookie of the Year

Thy Queendom Come

With Azumi and Yoneyama parting ways as the new year came around, it didn’t take long for Azumi to find a new crew to run with for a while. Little did she know that, when she officially began competing alongside the recently formed group called Queen’s Quest, she found a home that would carry for well over three years. With a name change from Azumi to just AZM—A stylizing that was adopted from her new tag team partner, Reo Hazuki aka HZK.

AZM With Her First Championship Photo: wwr-stardom.com

Beginning in February 2017, AZM would get her first taste of main-event competition alongside QQ, even winning her first Artist of Stardom Championship less than two months into her tenure with the group. Though the trio of AZM, HZK, and Queen’s Quest leader Io Shirai lost the belts in their first defense, this opened the door to AZM being included in bigger matches (and claiming bigger victories) than was previously possible. AZM would mainly compete in tag team action with HZK throughout the summer months, being less than successful against teams like Oedo Tai, Team Jungle, and Marvelous’s NEW-TRA as the fall came along.

With the end of the year approaching, AZM made her first major tournament appearance, teaming up with her arch-rival Starlight Kid to compete in the 2017 Goddesses of Stardom Tournament. Despite the duo not winning a single match in the tournament, they were able to display the chemistry they have in yet another way as one of the most cohesive teams in tournament competition. AZM’s workload in 2017 once again inflated, now working 68 matches throughout the year, a number that would become her standard for the following years.

New Era Coming Soon

With 2017 coming to the end, AZM continued to be QQ’s loyal Bomb Girl, taking part in the all-out war between them and Oedo Tai throughout the winter months. This granted AZM her first and only singles match against Kagetsu in January 2018, losing to her more experienced adversary. She also competed in the infamous 5-on-5 Gauntlet Match against OT, getting a win over Kris Wolf before falling to Natsu Sumire to start the match.

As cherry blossoms began to fall in Japan, AZM would turn her attention to the newly devised Future of Stardom Championship and its introductory tournament. After beating Ruaka in the opening bout, AZM would suffer a shocking loss to newcomer Shiki Shibusawa, who would go on to lose to Starlight Kid in the finals, crowning AZM’s fiercest rival the new Future of Stardom Champion.

AZM would go on to challenge Kid twice over the following months, losing once before pushing the champion to a draw in the June of that year. It was also around this time that Io Shirai, the leader of Queen’s Quest, was departing for the WWE, leaving QQ without a leader. AZM, who was now the longest-tenured wrestler in the group, was declared the honorary leader, despite Momo Watanabe’s status as the strongest member of the group at the time. While it meant little on paper, AZM’s “leadership” and feud with Starlight Kid over the Future Belt was a testament to AZM’s status as the future star of QQ and Stardom as a whole. All it took was a strong catalyst to get that ball rolling.

Enter Hazuki.

Need For Speed

After their defeat of Oedo Tai in January, Queen’s Quest would renew their rivalry with the chaotic group, now including former QQ member Hazuki. Now tagging alongside QQ member Konami, AZM competed in her 2nd Goddesses of Stardom Tournament. Unlike her first outing, AZM was able to claim four points with her partner, including a spoiler victory over Team Moon. Then, on the same day that AZM got a decisive victory over Natsu Sumire, Hazuki won the High-Speed Championship from Mary Apache, presenting a reachable goal for AZM to aim for. The only problem was, she was now racing against none other than Starlight Kid to reach said goal.

During this time, AZM’s growing rivalry with Hazuki was further enhanced by Kagetsu, who had taken a liking to AZM and wanted to recruit her into Oedo Tai. Much to Hazuki’s dismay, Kagetsu would make various attempts to get her former QQ teammate in the squad, becoming a major story amongst Team Moon throughout 2019. Throughout February and March of 2019, AZM would make two separate attempts at Hazuki’s High-Speed Belt, both of which were ultimately unsuccessful, and was forced to reassess her approach for the following months.

Tournament Arcs

AZM would challenge for the High-Speed Belt once more in July of 2019, this time losing in a three-way also featuring DEATH Yama-sam before opportunity struck; Due to Kasey Owen’s being unable to compete, AZM would enter her first-ever 5STAR Grand Prix before her 17th birthday in August of that year. Stating that it was her summer project to collect grandmas throughout the 5STAR, AZM had one of the best rookie years the tournament has ever seen.

Claiming shock victories over Hazuki, Saki Kashima, and eventual tournament winner Hana Kimura, AZM accumulated eight points and won the Technique Award by the end of the tournament. This would be the first of several tournaments AZM would take part in, as soon after she would claim six points alongside Momo Watanabe in the Goddesses of Stardom Tournament, including a victory over reigning Tag Team Champions Jungle Kyona and Konami on the final day. While this win didn’t lead to a tag title opportunity, AZM was capable of winning the Artists of Stardom Championship for the third time, now alongside Momo Watanabe and the “Big Rookie” Utami Hayashishita.

As 2020 began, AZM once again turned her attention to the High-Speed Title, now held by Riho. To determine a fitting challenger, AZM proposed the creation of the High-Speed Grand Prix, consisting of AZM, Starlight Kid, Leyla Hirsch, Zoey Skye, and DEATH Yama-san. AZM would go 2-1, picking up wins over Skye and DEATH, before the tournament was scrapped due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite the tournament’s inability to conclude, it could be assumed that the finals would be between AZM and Starlight Kid, as would be further proven upon the company’s return a few months later.

Stardom’s Only One

AZM Defends Her High Speed Championship Photo Credit: Stardom

As Stardom made its return, so did AZM’s tag team with Momo Watanabe, now being referred to as MomoAZ by the duo. Starting things off with a time-limit draw against fellow Queen’s Quest Members Utami Hayashishita and the newly added Saya Kamitani, the duo would go on to have recognizable success later in the year. But first, AZM was looking to get back on the bullet train to High-Speed Gold. Just over a month after Stardom’s return to action AZM would battle Riho and Starlight Kid in a three-way battle for the High-Speed Championship, a belt won by none other than wrestling’s favorite Bomb Girl.

By pinning Kid for the elusive High-Speed honors, AZM became the second-youngest wrestler to hold the belt, only being beaten out by Koguma five years earlier. Furthermore, AZM declared her next mission statement following the match: Defeat the rest of the roster, obtain all the belts, and become Stardom’s Only One—undefeatable and undeniable. Entering her second 5STAR Grand Prix shortly thereafter, AZM was unable to reach the eight point-mark that she got the year prior, only claiming wins over Saya Iida, Syuri, and Maika when all was said and done. She did, however, become the first woman to get the 5STAR Technique Award two years in a row, giving her yet another accomplishment in a short period of time.

Less than a week before her first defense of the High-Speed Title, Queen’s Quest got the opportunity to battle the Marvelous trio of Takumi Iroha, Rin Kadokura, and Mei Hoshizuki, their resident high-speed upstart. While the match had multiple focuses throughout, it was clear that Mei and AZM were destined to battle each other, with Mei even getting a roll-up victory over the young champion. While AZM would go on to defeat Kid in her first defense of the belt at Yokohama Cinderella, the champ’s mind was still focused on Mei, who she was clamoring to get back inside the ring with.

The High-Speed Goddess 

AZM’s status has continued to rise since her first defense of the High-Speed Belt in October, with her partnership alongside Momo Watanabe paying dividends with a victory in the Goddess of Stardom Tag League. With victories over Mayu Iwatani and Starlight Kid, Giulia and Maika, and the reigning Goddesses of Stardom Champions Saya Kamitani and Utami Hayashishita. Along with custom rings and a trophy, this tournament win brought AZM her first Goddesses of Stardom Tag Title opportunity after six years as a wrestler.

MomoAZ would battle their Queen’s Quest stablemates for the third time this year, finally being served a loss to the newly named AphroditE duo. AZM would recover just a day later with her second successful title defense, this time against Gokigen DEATH. Since then, it has been announced that AZM will get her wish of meeting Mei Hoshizuki inside the ring at Osaka Edion Arena on December 20th, in front of what will likely be her biggest crowd to date. On top of that, former Azumi Army member Natsumi Maki is looking to challenge for the High-Speed Belt sometime in the future, making AZM’s path forward a very interesting one, indeed.

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