Beginner’s Guide to Stardom (2021 Edition)

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In the 15 months since our 2020 beginner’s guide to Stardom was published, the world of Stardom has been turned upside down.  Retirements, COVID-19, new faces, and the tragic death of Hana Kimura have ensured that the Stardom of today is almost unrecognizable from the one we covered last time. In our new and improved beginner’s guide to Stardom, we are going to bring you up to speed with everything you could possibly need to know about Stardom.

Where To Watch Stardom

As always, the best place to start is with how to watch Stardom. Stardom has its own subscription service named Stardom World where all new shows are uploaded. They also have older shows on Stardom World, although there are big gaps in the library.

Stardom does not live stream shows on this service. Instead, they upload events match-by-match with English subtitles in the days after the event. Major shows in bigger arenas are live-streamed via Pay-Per-View and go up on Stardom World, usually on the Wednesday following the event.

For fans who maybe aren’t willing to jump into Stardom just yet, they upload their weekly “We Are Stardom” show to YouTube every week, which uploads slightly clipped versions of most major matches and contains most of the important storyline beats.

Major Events

Stardom doesn’t necessarily have any tentpole events like SummerSlam or WrestleKingdom as of this writing. The closest they have is the Year-End Climax and Anniversary shows, although they were both minor events this year.

What Stardom does have is a couple of major tournaments that you can mark on your calendar. The first of which is the Cinderella Tournament. Similar to the New Japan Cup, this is a single-elimination tournament which is usually won by someone outside the main event scene to elevate them up the card. The Cinderella Tournament is unique as a draw result eliminates both wrestlers in a match, the earlier rounds have shortened time limits, and you can win or lose via over-the-top-rope elimination. The winner of the tournament is granted one wish, which has always been used for a title shot.

Stardom’s other major singles tournament of the year is the 5STAR Grand Prix. This is a round-robin tournament similar to the G1 Climax and past Champion Carnival tournaments with competitors split into two blocks with the block winners competing in the final to earn a title shot.

The Goddess Of Stardom Tag League is Stardom’s annual tag team tournament and follows the same structure as the Grand Prix with teams split into two blocks and the block winners competing in the final, except in 2020 where the teams in one block (red stars) wrestled the teams in the other block (blue stars) with the final inevitably being a rematch.

The Factions

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For years now, factions have been a major part of Stardom. They provide an identity for the performers and allow an easy way to build grudges between performers with betrayals and faction wars being common stories. Every member of the Stardom roster is currently in a faction except for their latest debutant, Lady C. There are currently five factions active in Stardom. Let’s run down the members and current state of each faction.

STARS

  • Mayu Iwatani
  • Koguma
  • Hanan
  • Jungle Kyona (Currently injured)
  • Saya Iida (Currently injured)

The stereotypical good guys, STARS is led by the “icon of Stardom,” Mayu Iwatani. Injuries, betrayals, and their war with Oedo Tai have wreaked havoc on the faction, leaving Iwatani with just two healthy roster members, one of which is a teenager, and the other just back after a six-year retirement. The future of STARS is up in the air right now as they await the return of two key members in Iida and Kyona, although it may be a while before we see either woman in a Stardom ring again.

Cosmic Angels

  • Tam Nakano
  • Mina Shirakawa
  • Unagi Sayaka

The newest faction in Stardom is led by Tam Nakano and includes two recent arrivals in Shirakawa and Sayaka. All three women have backgrounds in the idol world which has seemingly united them in Stardom. Don’t get it twisted; the Cosmic Angels aren’t just a group of idols. They are all weird in their own way and want to blast off to the cosmos while giving it their all in the ring.

Donna Del Mondo

  • Giulia
  • Maika
  • Syuri
  • Himeka (Currently injured)
  • Natsupoi (Currently injured)

Ever since its inception, Donna Del Mondo has been a dominant presence in Stardom. Originally consisting of Giulia, Syuri, and Maika as a group of outsiders coming to Stardom, they found success very quickly, with 2020 being a phenomenal year for Giulia. Since then, they have added other outsiders in Himeka and Natsupoi, although all five have since signed with Stardom exclusively, and only become stronger.  Donna Del Mondo is a badass group of women who strive for perfection and have won countless championships in Stardom since their arrival just 18 months ago, spearheaded by Syuri and Giulia who have been practically unbeatable since their debuts.

Queen’s Quest

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  • Utami Hayashishita
  • Momo Watanabe
  • AZM
  • Saya Kamitani
  • Hina

Once upon a time, Queen’s Quest was the most dominant faction in Stardom. They were a group of women that didn’t appreciate the silliness of the other factions and strived to prove their superiority in the ring, with Momo Watanabe especially leading the charge in 2018/19 when she was almost unbeatable. The dynamic of QQ is different these days as Watanabe has taken a backseat to Hayashishita and Kamitani who are considered future pillars of the company. While Queen’s Quest remains true to its roots of being the best in Stardom, they now have their eye on the future and are adamant to prove that they are the future of Stardom.

Oedo Tai

  • Natsuko Tora
  • Konami
  • Saki Kashima
  • Fukigen Death
  • Ruaka
  • Starlight Kid
  • Rina

Once the lovable rebels of Stardom, Oedo Tai have undergone a change since Natsuko Tora took the reigns from Kagetsu.  They don’t do pre-match promos, they hate Stardom, they hate rules, and they will unashamedly cheat to win. Oedo Tai has had some bumps in the road since this shift in ethos, but recently, they have corrected the course and built up a lot of momentum, even taking Death and Kid away from STARS by winning separate stimulation matches. Sooner or later, Oedo Tai will be a major threat to everyone in Stardom and have their fair share of championships.

The Champions & Holders

World Of Stardom Championship – Utami Hayashishita

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The World Of Stardom Championship is considered the top championship in Stardom. It is meant to be held by those who are among the best in the world at professional wrestling; this is an important point as it distinguishes this from Stardom’s other top title. Currently, this championship is held by Utami Hayashishita, who defeated Mayu Iwatani for the championship last year to establish herself as one of the top names in Stardom. Ever since her debut in late 2018, Hayashishita has been no stranger to gold as she has already held every title in Stardom except for the Wonder Of Stardom Championship. Hayashishita has proved to be world champion material throughout her reign as she has been having the best matches of her career against an array of opponents, capped off by her most recent defense against Syuri which has received widespread acclaim.

Hayashishita is currently in the midst of one of the best world title runs in Stardom history and is firmly establishing herself as one of the company’s top stars.

Wonder Of Stardom Championship – Tam Nakano

The 1B to the world championship is the Wonder Of Stardom Championship, colloquially known as the “white belt.” This title is often held by those who represent what Stardom is, those who can showcase what makes Joshi wrestling special. In recent years, this championship has seen its prestige shoot through the roof as a number of Stardom’s top names had amazing runs with the title. It is now the turn of Tam Nakano, who is on the run of her career at the moment.  Nakano has been waiting for four years to get the spotlight and a singles run and she has made the most of it by delivering some of the most intense, passionate matches in Stardom history.

Goddess Of Stardom Championship – Alto Livello KABALIWAN (Giulia & Syuri)

The team, nicknamed Alikaba, of Giulia and Syuri are currently leading a revival in the tag team division.  Ever since Stardom’s return from COVID-19, the Goddess of Stardom titles have been passed from team to team but with Giulia and Syuri, two of Stardom’s elite and most pushed talents, atop the division, it has provided a great anchor to focus the division on. With such a strong team holding the titles, it makes the division feel refreshed as dethroning Alikaba will be a big moment for whoever beats them. In addition to the good booking, Giulia and Syuri have consistently delivered fantastic tag team matches that have been wrestled at an incredible pace, compared to by some to the special tag matches of All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling (AJW).

High Speed Championship – Natsupoi

As the name might suggest, the High Speed Championship focuses on some of the more athletic and fast-paced matches in Stardom. While the number of people that contest for the title is small, they usually deliver very entertaining matches that are almost always under ten minutes.

SWA Undisputed World Women’s Championship – Syuri

This is one of the more unique championships in Stardom. Originally set up to make the most use of the SWA (Stardom World Association), the titleholder can only defend against women who are of a different nationality to them. So a Japanese woman cannot defend this title against another Japanese woman, nor could an English champion defend against an English challenger. This rule has limited the SWA Undisputed World Women’s title in the past but under Syuri (who chose to represent the Phillippines), she can defend it against anyone in Stardom thanks to her heritage.

Artist Of Stardom Championship – Cosmic Angels (Tam Nakano, Mina Shirakawa & Unagi Sayaka)

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With Stardom’s focus on factions, it should come as no surprise that they have a trios championship. The Artist of Stardom titles are usually bounced from faction to faction with very few teams managing to hold on to them for an extended period of time. This isn’t important, as these titles are always good for spotlighting a faction and adding some gold to their lineup. The Cosmic Angels team that currently hold the titles have broken the record for most defenses in a single reign and seem to have staked their claim as the marquee trio in Stardom.

Future Of Stardom Championship – Vacant

The Future Of Stardom Championship recently underwent a change in the ruleset of the title. It used to be that a wrestler under 21 or with less than two years of experience was eligible for this title. After Saya Iida’s title win in December, the latter was raised to three years. Saya Iida had to vacate the title following her injury. Mina Shirakawa and Unagi Sayaka will compete at Yokohama Dream Cinderella in Summer to claim the title.

Ones To Watch

The top stars of Stardom are Mayu Iwatani, Giulia, Utami Hayashishita, and Tam Nakano. They are almost always involved in major matches or feuds. Talents like Syuri, Konami, and Natsuko Tora operate just outside that top 4, but are usually involved in something important.  Outside of that top tier, though, here are some of the names in Stardom that we think you should keep an eye on going forward.

Saya Kamitani

Saya Kamitani is the main talent that everyone should keep their eyes on. Despite only debuting in late 2019, she has taken to wrestling like a duck to water and seems primed for a push any time soon.  Kamitani has a background in the dance world which has come in handy for wrestling as she is naturally very agile and knows how to present herself as a star.

She has gained some comparisons, mostly by this writer, to early career Manami Toyota, who used her exceptional agility to dazzle audiences while battling as an underdog against her more experienced and stronger peers.  Kamitani has already pulled off moves rarely seen in the Joshi sphere like the Phoenix Splash, a Tope Con Hilo, and a variety of springboard attacks.

With her natural talents, charisma, and growing arsenal of eye-popping moves, it is only a matter of time before Saya Kamitani dominates Stardom in a way we haven’t seen since Io Shirai‘s heyday.

Unagi Sayaka

One of Stardom’s most recent signings, Unagi Sayaka made an almost immediate impact with the Cosmic Angels. Sayaka is still relatively inexperienced having wrestled just over 100 matches since her debut in early 2019, largely due to an injury that kept her out of action for 8 months.

To any eagle-eyed viewer, Sayaka has been earmarked for success since her arrival in Stardom. She may not always win, but they give her every chance they can to showcase her heart and underdog spirit. They capped this off with her win in the All-Star Rumble and a miracle run to the semi-final of the Cinderella Tournament.

They are taking the slow and steady approach with Unagi Sayaka. but they’ve set her up to be a major babyface in the future. When they decide to pull the trigger, she will no doubt be a serious contender to hold the Wonder Of Stardom Championship.

Starlight Kid

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Starlight Kid has been primed over the past few years to step into Mayu Iwatani’s role as the leading babyface of Stardom. At Tokyo Dream Cinderella, her career took an unexpected turn when she was forced to join Oedo Tai, which adds an interesting wrinkle to her growth.

Regardless of what role she plays in the future, Starlight Kid has shown potential to be the best wrestler in all of Stardom. She’s refined her game ever since her debut in 2015 and is proficient technically, aerially, and when needed, she can throw a mean forearm.  Not only is she great in the ring, but she has some attitude to match and an endearing nature that she can use to play either the face or heel role.

When Stardom finally decided to give Kid the ball, we have no doubts she will run with it in a way few people could.

Hanan

Looking even further forward, Hanan is another member of the Stardom roster who is primed to be very important to Stardom in the future.  Hanan is still a teenager, but has shown flashes of potential whenever Stardom has put her in big matches with some of their top stars. Not only does she have in-ring talent, but she has height and charisma that is evident to any viewer.

She is already quite tall and charismatic, but will only get better as she matures and gets more opportunities to showcase her talent. Hanan’s growth has been kneecapped by injuries, personal issues, and her need to balance her education with wrestling  which means she has only wrestled roughly 150 matches in her four-year career. This hasn’t stopped her from showing the potential to be a star of the future.

Recent Matches To Watch

Utami Hayashishita vs Syuri – Tokyo Dream Cinderella

Giulia & Syuri vs Maika & Himeka  – Yokohama Dream Cinderella

Tam Nakano vs Giulia – All Star Dream Cinderella

Utami Hayashishita vs Saya Kamitani – All Star Dream Cinderella

Mayu Iwatani vs Unagi Sayaka – Stardom Valentin Special Day 2

Momo Watanabe & AZM vs Giulia & Syuri – May 2 Golden Week Fight Tour Day 1

Natsupoi vs AZM – All Star Dream Cinderella

English Language Resources

If you’ve found this beginner’s guide to Stardom helpful and are interested in different English language resources that can help you keep up to date with Stardom please use some of the following:

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. If you want to see more from Stardom, you can check out their subscription service Stardom World for all your wonderous Joshi needs.

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