It would be an understatement to call April a “big month” for the World Wonder Ring Stardom. The Bushiroad company’s springtime tournament returns with its biggest entrant list to date, with 31 competitors vying to win the 2022 Cinderella Tournament. This year, the tournament will be split into three days throughout April, a similar format to what was done last year due to COVID-19 difficulties. Saya Kamitani received a bye to the second round as both the reigning Cinderella tournament winner and Wonder of Stardom Champion. Also, 15 first-round matches and one 2nd round bout will occur on April 3rd. Luckily, each match has a 10-minute time limit and can even be won via over-the-top-rope elimination. This means it could be full of upsets, fast-paced matches, and many other unpredictable events throughout the show. Without further ado, let’s get into all the action set to take at the STARDOM Cinderella Tournament 2022 Day 1 event.
This Sunday, April 3 in Tachikawa it's Day 1 of the Cinderella Tournament! 16 matches, with 31 participants, the largest field ever! pic.twitter.com/hTXMR7XHTw
— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) March 31, 2022
STARDOM Cinderella Tournament 2022 Day 1 Preview
Unagi Sayaka vs. Hina
In her first match back since last fall, Hina will face the ever-chaotic Unagi Sayaka in the first match of the night. Unagi, who is a dark horse pick to win the whole tournament, will likely walk away from this bout the winner, but she somehow finds herself playing the role of the assessor once again, with Hina’s absence calling into question her in-ring conditioning and abilities compared to the other younger members of the roster. Can Hina find a way to gain any momentum against one of Cosmic Angels’ strongest members?
Waka Tsukiyama vs. Saki Kashima
In match two of round one, we see a match that could have a myriad of outcomes, all resulting in the same victor. To this day, Waka Tsukiyama is yet to be on the winning side of a single match since her debut in Stardom last year. It is very likely that Tsukiyama continues to ride that losing streak as the 2022 Cinderella Tournament begins. Alternatively, despite not being proficient in recent months, Saki Kashima has great versatility and can conceivably put her opponents away in a dozen different ways. What does Kashima have in store for New York’s Finest on April 3rd?
Maika vs. Hanan
In a battle of two judokas, Maika and Hanan will compete in the third match of the night on April 3rd. They’ve competed in singles action once before and proved to be great opponents for one another on that occasion. With Hanan’s remarkable improvements since winning the Future of Stardom Championship last December, she and Maika can really tear the house down here. The winner, currently projected to be Maika, will also compete in their 2nd round match later in the night. More on that later.
Mina Shirakawa vs. MIRAI
After an intense press conference confrontation, two former Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling stars will compete once again in the 2022 Cinderella Tournament. This match has plenty of history to it despite it being the first time Mina Shirakawa and MIRAI meet one-on-one in their careers. MIRAI initially made her mark in Stardom by triumphantly pinning Shirakawa in trios action, so this match could be the latter’s chance for revenge. Plus, after Shirakawa’s outburst at the presser for this event, the question of can MIRAI handle her at her most deranged must also be asked as we head into the show.
Mayu Iwatani vs. Momo Kohgo
In yet another Pro vs. Rookie type of match, Mayu Iwatani will face her newest subordinate, Momo Kohgo, in the fifth match of the night. Kohgo’s special training has been repeatedly acknowledged by both her and her trainer, Hazuki, but even the best trainer in the world can hardly prepare you for a wrestler like Iwatani. While the result feels imminent, this will be yet another evaluation of how Momo Kohgo is progressing in the Stardom ring.
Utami Hayashishita vs. Tam Nakano
In perhaps the most anticipated match of the night, Utami Hayashishita will face off against Tam Nakano in the first round. Notably, the build to this match has featured Hayashishita mimicking Nakano’s cute aesthetic at the press conference and has seemingly refused to stop ever since. The former world champion has changed her social media name to Utami Nakano and even released a “Girlfriend Experience” teaser video akin to ones that Tam is known to make. Historically, the pairing faced off on the final night of the 2021 5STAR Grand Prix, where Tam Nakano got the win, but under Cinderella Tournament rules, this match is truly anybody’s game. Can we see Utami Nakano pick up the win and declare herself the Cutest Wrestler in the Cosmos?
Natsupoi vs. Starlight Kid
A rematch of one of the most… Polarizing matches of the year, Natsupoi and Starlight Kid will be limited to only 10 minutes to accomplish something neither woman was capable of doing in 30. Kid remains a favorite in the tournament, but one of her toughest projected opponents is, in fact, Natsupoi, so this is a match to pay attention to in this year’s tournament. Can either Natsupoi or Kid pick up the win, or will the High-Speed be too much for the High-Speed wrestlers to handle?
Round 2 Match: Saya Kamitani vs. Maika/Hanan
In the only 2nd round match of the night, Saya Kamitani will walk in fresh against either Maika or Hanan just an hour after their first-round matchup. While Maika is always a threat in these sorts of situations, it is hard to see anybody beating the White Belt Champion in their second match of the night. Can Maika overcome the odds, or will the Phoenix advance and be one step closer to her goal of being a back-to-back Cinderella Tournament winner?
Lady C vs. Mai Sakurai
In a match that is surprisingly hard to predict, two of the lowest ranking competitors on the roster will fight as Lady C & Mai Sakurai will both make their Cinderella Tournament debut in the ninth match of the night. While Lady C has more Stardom experience, they both made their wrestling debut in November 2020 and have been slotted at roughly the same spot on the card. Sakurai’s recent alignment with DDM has made her more successful than Lady C as of late, but it’s very possible that Lady C overwhelms Sakurai when they meet in singles action.
Saya Iida vs. Rina
Next up is a clash of wrestlers who effectively came up together in Saya Iida and Rina. Since her return, Iida has established herself as one of the most unique members of the Stardom roster, both aesthetically and technically. While Rina has been a consistent fixture in Stardom cards in Iida’s absence, the Super Gorilla will certainly be trying to maximize her minutes in the tournament she missed out on last year.
Koguma vs. Fukigen DEATH
In a bout between two former High-Speed Champions and notorious bit-women, Fukigen DEATH faces Koguma, who returns to the Cinderella Tournament for the first time since its debut in 2015. In fact, Koguma’s only Cinderella run was a prolific one, as she made it all the way to the finals before losing to Mayu Iwatani. Could Koguma have herself another fantastic Cinderella Tournament run? Will Fukigen DEATH remind Koguma that DEATH is inevitable? Will we see the clown do the bear pose? So many questions left to be answered on April 3rd!
Himeka vs. Ruaka
In what can best be described as a hoss-fight, Himeka will begin her 2022 Cinderella Tournament against Oedo Tai’s Ruaka. This may be a first-time singles match, but these two wrestlers have had plenty of experience against each other in tag team action and proved to have good chemistry with each other, as they wrestle very similar styles. Himeka is the projected winner here, but her victory won’t come without plenty of struggle against Oedo Tai’s Kappa Monster.
Hazuki vs. Miyu Amasaki
For the third time in her incredibly short time as a wrestler, Miyu Amasaki will be put to the test against Hazuki in her Cinderella Tournament debut. The young Queen’s Quest member has been touted to have heaps of potential, and there are few wrestlers more equipped to deal with that potential more than Hazuki. The former Assualt Commander is a shoo-in to be a major threat in this tournament, and her road starts here against the most inexperienced member of the Stardom roster.
Giulia vs. Thekla
In what was pegged to be the semi-main event before a sporadic card change was made, DDM members will collide as Giulia meets Thekla in the 14th match on the card. The tag-team duo has not only never had a singles matchup against one another, but their history in tag team matches against one another is also incredibly slim. While Giulia clearly has the advantage going into the match, this feels like it could end in a Cinderella Tournament upset in one way or another. The Toxic Spider is known for her incredible body control, and that could very well aid her in getting an over-the-top-rope victory on April 3rd.
AZM vs. Momo Watanabe
In the penultimate clash of the night, former tag team partners AZM & Momo Watanabe have a rematch from early this year. While that match ended in controversy with Watanabe picking up the win by kicking AZM in the face with a wrench in her boot, AZM has gained plenty of confidence and even reclaimed her High-Speed Championship since losing that bout. Can Momo Watanabe ride her wave of momentum through the first round, or will AZM’s speed be her downfall in the 2022 Cinderella Tournament?
Syuri vs. Ami Sourei
In the main event of the evening, Syuri will face her recently recruited bodyguard, Ami Sourei, in an impromptu first-round matchup. Despite her status as Red Belt Champion granting her a bye to the second round originally, Sourei asked and was granted this match by Syuri herself, and it was made into a first-round match. This will be Sourei’s in-ring debut in Stardom, but her placement as Syuri’s de facto second-in-command could be a sign of high hopes for the 25-year-old competitor.
Who Will Win?
While I usually refrain from personal predictions, seeing as this tournament is the biggest in the company’s history, It feels necessary to give a little long-term insight into potential winners of the entire thing. Up until recently, Himeka and Starlight Kid were perceived as the two frontrunners for the tournament, but with Jumbo’s second-round clash seemingly being against Syuri, she has an incredibly difficult road to victory. Similarly, Starlight Kid has perhaps the most difficult path to the finals of any of the top contenders, but Oedo Tai’s shenanigans can very well disrupt that. Unagi & Hazuki, while having less momentum going into the tourney, are very possible winners if they can put things together and find themselves in winnable matches down the line. As for Dark Horses, AZM and Koguma can win matches on any given day, so we could see a real Cinderella story from the High-Speed Division. If nothing else, Stardom’s Cinderella Tournament 2022 is absolutely unpredictable and will be fun to follow throughout April.
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.