Star Gazing: Starlight Kid – Finding Light In Darkness

Starlight Kid making her entrance
Spread the love

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 the future of Stardom and Joshi wrestling as a whole, Starlight Kid

The Beginning of Starlight Kid’s Career

Starlight Kid has been one of STARDOM’s biggest stars since her debut in 2015. Starting from a young age under Fuka Kakimoto like her career counterpart AZM, her talent within the ring shows no boundaries and it’s clear that she started to slowly become a major player in the company’s roster.

How did she get to where she is now, from the beacon of hope that STARDOM once held onto in times of great despair into the multifaceted complicated side of chasing a long, devious journey to surpass her mentor, and how did that develop into being one of the most interesting and well-developed characters in the company’s recent history.

Well, let’s begin right from the start.

In her debut, she was drafted to Mayu Iwatani’s faction, Stardom Army aka STARS, where she would have varying degrees of success until 2018.

She entered her first and second Goddess of Stardom Tag League in 2015 and 2017, finishing as a semi-finalist in both years, teaming with Hiormi Mimura in her first attempt and with AZM in her second. Sporadically, she would win matches at different shows. Still young, she had a lot to prove in the world wonder ring and it wouldn’t be long until her very first championship victory.

The “Sky Tiger” became the inaugural “Future of Stardom” champion in the spring of 2018, winning a five-woman tournament where she beat Shiki Shibusawa in the finals. 

While champion, she would defend the championship against AZM twice – once in a decisive victory and another to a time-limit draw. Alongside those two defences, she would also defend the championship another three times against Natsumi, Ruaka and Hanan respectively. After 281 days, she would lose the championship to future World of Stardom champion Utami Hayashishita. Not bad for her first ever championship run, huh?

Following the loss of her championship, her frequency in participating in STARDOM’s yearly tournaments began to increase. With Alex Garcia and Natsumi, she would once again become a tournament semi-finalist, a result that continuously crop-ups in her career, as part of the trios tag team tournament in 2019.

That same year, she would enter her first ever Cinderella Tournament, defeating Natsu Sumire and Hazuki before being eliminated by Konami in the semi-finals (again). In the 2019 Goddess of Stardom tag league she reached the semi-finals yet again, this time teaming with All Elite Wrestling’s Riho.

In the 2020 5 STAR Grand Prix, SLK didn’t exactly have a great tournament, only collecting two points by defeating Death Yama-san while losing to everyone else in her block.

Embed from Getty Images

Interestingly, in the 2020 Cinderella Tournament that was won by Giulia, Starlight Kid would be eliminated by Queen’s Quest’s Momo Watanabe before the semi-final. This would be the first time in her career that the Sky Tiger would be taken out of a tournament before reaching the semis, and it was to Momo Watanabe; someone who would become much more significant to Starlight Kid in due time.

However, starting in November of 2020, Starlight Kid would begin to team with her STARS leader and stablemate Mayu Iwatani, where they entered the 10th Goddesses of Stardom Tag League, ending the tournament with four points. 

Although not doing well in the tag league, they continued to team regularly, adopting the name MK Sisters and getting wins over teams like MomoAZ (Momo Watanabe & AZM) and Natsuko Tora & Ruaka. After getting the best of three teams, including AphroditE, in a four-way #1 Contendership match, the MK Sisters earned the right to challenge Alto Livello Kabaliwan (Giulia and Syuri) for the Goddess of Stardom championship. ALK ultimately retained their titles over the Icon and the Sky Tiger, but the two would not let that stop them, and they started to rack up more wins against Donna del Mondo, Queen’s Quest and OEDotai.

As the MK Sisters’ momentum began to increase, the Sky Tiger found herself at the helm of a Wonder of Stardom championship match against Giulia. It was finally her chance to win a second championship in her career, and it was for the second most important title in the company. But what she didn’t expect was that unlike herself and Mayu Iwatani, Giulia didn’t mind breaking the rules to get the result that she needed, viciously ripping at the Sky Tiger’s mask during the match. The Dangerous Queen came out on top, leaving the pure light of STARS laying on the floor but it wasn’t over yet; Giulia grabbed a pair of scissors and slowly began cutting at the eye-hole of Starlight Kid’s mask before ripping it off completely. 

Despite being neither bad nor good, Giulia had still humiliated the Sky Tiger in her biggest championship opportunity to date, and SLK was beginning to find out what it was like to bend the rules in ways that gave you an advantage.

The Good, the Kid and the Bad

Regardless of the setback of SLK unsuccessfully changing for the White Belt, Mayu Iwatani and Starlight Kid were looking promising heading into the June PPV, Tokyo Dream Cinderella, but their momentum would soon come to a screeching halt. At the show, the STARS vs OEDotai all-out war that had engulfed the two factions in the previous months came toa  head as they fought in an elimination match that saw the last member eliminated to be drafted to the opposing faction. 

The last eliminated was, sadly, Starlight Kid, who was forced to join OEDotai and leave STARS – the faction she had been affiliated with since her debut. Mayu was upset, having to be physically restrained to the corner of the ring while OEDotai’s leader Natsuko Tora kicked her and showed off her new attraction, the captured Starlight Kid.

Distraught and distressed, STARDOM’s icon was determined to get back the Sky Tiger from the devious OEDotai.

As the first three shows after Tokyo Dream Cinderella passed, Starlight Kid was initially hesitant to be involved with the dastardly antics that were expected of OEDotai. She covered her joyful colourful STARS attire with a purple shirt that proclaimed she was now part of the gang of misfits that had tortured and ruined her home faction for months and months.

Each match saw a gradual change in Starlight Kid. One of her most important visual features, her iconic mask, was slowly becoming desaturated and losing its bright color.

The mask slowly regressed its beaming pink and blue color scheme as she began to team more and more and become more active within her new unit. Around this time, people were saying that the mask was being “corrupted”, but was it really? 

Unlike any of the other factions in the company, there’s no real hierarchy in OEDotai; Giulia is the clear forefront of Donna del Mondo, Mayu Iwatani (albeit very poorly, at the time that Starlight Kid was lost to OEDotai) holds STARS, Tam Nakano broke off from STARS to change Cosmic Angels from a subsidiary to its own faction, Queen’s Quest has been lead by Momo Watanabe since Io Shirai left for WWE, but OEDotai doesn’t have a clear-cut leader – it was the perfect opportunity for Starlight Kid to fully realize what she was within the ring and find herself an opening that allowed her to show her true potential to the world.

Little-by-little, the black colors began to overwhelm the mask of the Sky Tiger until there was almost nothing left. All that remained was the special markings of the tiger, illuminated by colors that weren’t black.

In June, she was given a choice by Natsuko Tora: Pick up the black mask on the floor and stay with OEDotai, or stay irrelevant in STARS and continue to fall behind the rest of their unit. 

The choice was made: Starlight Kid picked up the mask and vowed to go on her own path, sticking with OEDotai.

Embed from Getty Images

At Yokohama Dream Cinderella in July – Starlight Kid was finally reborn.

Outfitted with the new theme song “Decided” and jet-black gear surrounded by dark blue and purple colors that contrasted with her pink and light blue colors on her mask that she wore in her final match as part of STARS, the Sky Tiger had chosen her path – a path that started against the team of MomoAZ – two members of the roster who would become intertwined with her future.

Teaming with Ruaka, she lost the match, but a fire was ignited within her. Instead of stepping into the darkness, she stepped out of it – giving herself the spotlight and the chance to prove herself.

In Takadanobaba on the 17th of July, a “Starlight Kid Recapture” match took place – the stipulation was that if Mayu Iwatani could defeat all other members of OEDotai in a gauntlet match, she would be able to bring Starlight Kid back to STARS.

Except, the choice was already made. 

The STARDOM Icon won the match, defeating all remaining members of the unit. Approached by her former MK Sisters tag team partner, the Sky Tiger issued her ultimatum: “Mayu Iwatani, I will stand against you and I will surpass you!” 

And so, Starlight Kid’s quest began to set out to become better than Mayu. With the 2021 5 STAR Grand Prix in August, it was the best opportunity for SLK to show off what made her stand-out and what made her special.

Very quickly, she was off to a sprinting start in the round-robin tournament. Claiming victories over fellow OEDotai members Fukigen Death and Saki Kashima as well as Mina Shirakawa, but fell short against high-speed wrestlers Koguma and Natsupoi (who she would then challenge for the High-Speed title to settle things once and for all) and the woman that made her see that you could be devious without being truly evil – Giulia.

High-Speed, Higher Ambitions

But the change in Starlight Kid’s beliefs had already had a profound effect on her wrestling ability outside of the 5 STAR. In a non-tournament match, the reborn Sky Tiger challenged Donna del Mondo’s “High-Speed Fairy” Natsupoi for the High-Speed championship. After unsuccessfully challenging for the championship server times as part of STARS, she would claim the High-Speed championship, usurping Natsupoi and becoming the new High-Speed champion.

After deciding to go on her own path with OEDo Tai, Starlight Kid had accomplished something she never could in STARS. Coming off her title win, she defeated Himeka and Momo Watanabe and it looked as though she would be in the running to get to the finals of a major tournament for the first time in her career.

There was just one problem. One person stood in the way of her chances to reach those finals. The same person that she had adamantly claimed she would be against, to try and surpass. She found herself facing Mayu Iwatani. If Starlight Kid were to win, she would get to the finals of the tournament and potentially win the entire thing – but if Mayu were to win, the Sky Tiger’s chances to advance would be dwindled.

After a hard-fought battle between the former MK Sisters, Mayu Iwatani prevented SLK from reaching the finals of the 5 STAR Grand Prix, giving her yet another tournament exit at the second-to-last hurdle. Following the match, Mayu Iwatani brought her in for a hug, which Kid embraced for a few seconds before pushing her away. There was still some good left inside her.

In light of everything that she had said, Kid was still unable to surpass the Icon of STARDOM, and there was still much more work to be done before that level could be reached.

With Ruaka, she entered the 2021 Goddess of Stardom Tag League – which was yet again another notch in SLK’s “semi-finals” belt. During this time, she would defend the High-Speed championship against Fukigen Death (on the condition that if Fukigen Death wins, she would get her own gravure photoshoot. I know…) and Koguma.

Now that her success was bolstering more than ever before, it was time for her to bring more people to OEDotai, those who she believed were deserving of the same triumphs. Momo Watanabe was that person.

Continuously provoking the True Heart of STARDOM at press conferences and at shows, she wanted their singles match at the November 3rd PPV (Kawasaki Super Wars) to be a High-Speed title match, despite Momo not challenging for the championship in many years. Eventually, Momo gave in and accepted. Their match ended in a double count-out and their rivalry continued.

The idea was made that there would be an elimination match at Osaka Super Wars between Queen’s Quest and OEDotai, where the losing unit leader would have to join the other faction. Of course, with the no hierarchical nature of OEDotai, Starlight Kid would represent the unit regardless, as it was her rivalry with the Queen’s Quest leader anyway. Momo knew the implications of such a match, and proposed that if Starlight Kid lost, she would have to remove her mask. Kid accepted, knowing that it was almost certain that she could defeat her, having already beaten her in that year’s 5 STAR Grand Prix.

SLK also knew that if she defeated Momo Watanabe, her affiliation change to OEDotai would greatly benefit her – having not held a championship for almost two years, and having just lost out in the final of the 5STAR Even though Utami Hayashishita had asked Momo if she could join Queen’s Quest, it had felt like Utami’s quick ascension to the top of STARDOM had overshadowed Momo as a leader, especially with AphroditE winning the Goddess of Stardom championships.

Embed from Getty Images

Osaka Super Wars came, and the only three people left in the match were the AZM, Momo, and Starlight Kid. It looked as though SLK would have to unmask, until the unthinkable happened.

A chair had been left in the ring by OEDotai shenanigans that the Sky Tiger intended to use. Momo picked it up and was about to hit Starlight Kid with the chair… and instead turned and hit AZM square on the head – heeding the advice of the interim leader of OEDotai of wanting to take their own path, and concomitantly betraying Queen’s Quest to join the group of misfits that had all betrayed their units as well. 

Proclaiming herself as the “Black Peach”, Momo Watanabe officially joined OEDotai.

Unlike SLK, who had found herself a balance between good and bad, Momo Watanabe was hell-bent on revenge on those who had done her wrong, forgotten her, and overshadowed the former Cinderella Tournament winner and one of the best White Belt champions. In one of her first matches after joining the unit, she put a wrench inside her boot and rammed it straight into the face of AZM.

Kid would go on to defend the High-Speed title some more, keeping it away from the hands of both AZM and Koguma in a three-way at Dream Queendom and holding onto it after a time-limit draw against Natsupoi at New Year Stars.

A Reunion and a Desire For More

At Wrestle Kingdom 16, the MK Sisters would re-unite as they teamed against Saya Kamitani and Tam Nakano in an exhibition match. Some people said that this wasn’t canon to the mainline STARDOM stories, but it showed that Kid and Mayu were still able to work together as a team despite being split apart seven months prior.

Embed from Getty Images

By this point, Starlight Kid was handing out masks left-right-and-center for every person that challenged her, and kept a collection of masks on her cape for every person that she had defeated. Back into the spotlight came her “eternal foe”, the person that she had teamed with in the Goddess of Stardom Tag League and had fought each other five times before, but only once for the High-Speed championship.

AZM was her biggest hurdle to holding onto the title for the foreseeable future, could she defeat her a second time? AZM had won all of their previous matches besides two draws (both time-limit draws, one during the 2019 Mask Fiesta and the other for the Future of Stardom title)ande Kid successfully defending the Future of Stardom belt; this was a much bigger stage and a much more important championship, however. This match was for a style of wrestling that both women had come to embody and become important players for. If SLK could beat AZM now, who knows how long she could be High-Speed champion for.

On February 23, 2022, Starlight Kid’s 178-day reign with the High-Speed championship was ended by AZM, in a critically acclaimed match that the wrestling world was talking about. It didn’t matter whether or not the Sky Tiger won, because she achieved what she set out to do: gain recognition and be recognised as her own wrestler.

A month later, Momo Watanabe and Starlight Kid would form the team “Black Desire”, challenging for the Goddess of Stardom championships against Fukuoka Double Crazy (Hauzki and Koguma) at World Climax – one of STARDOM’s biggest shows ever. Black Desire won the Goddess of Stardom championships, giving SLK her first tag team championship and the Black Peach her first title since 2020. Momo had listened to SLK’s advice about becoming better as part of OEDotai, and trusted her to be able to push her to level that she had once been at when she was Wonder of Stardom champion; that trust was vindicated when the both of them won the Goddess belts together. The next night, Starlight Kid fought her biggest match to date, wrestling a loss against one of STARDOM’s biggest stars in KAIRI. Just like after the match with Mayu Iwatani at the 5 STAR, she embraced the Pirate Princess before pushing her away.

Although Black Desire would lose the Goddess belts back to FWC, they would quickly regain momentum as with Saki Kashima they would defeat MaiHimePoi to win the Artist of Stardom championships.

Embed from Getty Images

But the Sky Tiger’s biggest challenge was yet to come. Despite winning the trios titles, she wasn’t satisfied; she wanted to prove her worth once and for all as a singles wrestler. And to do that, she had to win the same championship that both KAIRI and her mentor Mayu Iwatani once held – the Wonder of Stardom championship. Challenging champion Saya Kamitani, she laid out her intentions and left – and when that match happens, we may see the absolute best of Starlight Kid.

Starlight Kid is not truly dark or bad – she is still a good person inside, but her way of achieving the success that she wanted after being in the shadows for most of her career isn’t exactly ideal; yet it gave her (and subsequently Momo Watanabe and Saki Kashima) the results that they desperately needed, and this just shows that even surrounded by darkness, there is still light inside no matter what.

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.