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IWGP Women’s Title: The Right Belt, at the Right Time

2 years ago

IWGP Women’s Title: The Right Belt, at the Right Time

By: James Carlin

STARDOM is currently the best women’s pro-wrestling company in the world, and now more than ever people will get the opportunity to see their wrestlers live. A summer press conference revealed that New Japan Pro-Wrestling and World Wonder Ring Stardom are minting the IWGP Women’s Championship, sure to have an impact on joshi puroresu’s continued expansion. Although the title is designed to be defended as part of joint New Japan cards, the IWGP Women’s Title will be defended domestically and abroad.

Internationally, New Japan STRONG and the LA Dojo has already laid the groundwork for Bushiroad to run shows in the United States, scout for foreign talent and partner with U.S. promotions — so this also provides the quickest route for market penetration for STARDOM. 

It shouldn’t be ignored that the IWGP prefix of the title itself is also a very big deal. New Japan’s governing body, the International Wrestling Grand Prix, having their name attached to a women’s championship tells fans immediately the prestige and regard that the championship is held in. This same governing body is the one responsible for championships held by the legendary Jyushin Thunder Liger, Owen Hart, Antonio Inoki and Kazuchika Okada just to name a few. It’s no accident that the IWGP name is attached to the title, it’s telling of how Bushiroad views women’s wrestling.

The divide between men and women’s wrestling being relegated to separate organizations is still a prevalent concept, even if companies like DDT still continue to be ahead of the curve, but New Japan. The upcoming NJPWxSTARDOM show where the inaugural champion will be crowned has been confirmed to also feature mixed tag team matches, which will have the women facing the women and the men facing the men.

It’s no secret that New Japan and STARDOM are Japan’s biggest wrestling companies for both men and women, an announcement of this magnitude is something that’s almost unheard of but it’s definitely been brewing for a few years, as STARDOM have taken part in New Japan’s shows previously at Wrestle Kingdom and Wrestle Grand Slam in “special” showcase matches. Not only that, but wrestlers from both organizations have collaborated in different ways, whether it be short interviews on social media or Tanahashi and Tam Nakano promoting Bushiroad’s new gym. In any case, it looks as though the partnership between New Japan and its sister company is looking very bright.

The big questions on fans minds, however…

Who will be the first ever IWGP Women’s Champion? 

Mayu Iwatani

The Icon of STARDOM currently holds the SWA Undisputed World Women’s Championship, which is meant to be part of the international aspect of the company, where the champion can only defend the title against someone representing another country. 

However, the importance of the Stardom World Association (SWA) that led to the title’s creation has diminished since Io Shirai became the first champion when STARDOM went on tour to Europe in 2016.  It wouldn’t be surprising if the opportunity of making Mayu the inaugural IWGP Women’s Champion was used to unify the SWA title alongside it, further adding to the prestige of an already important championship. 

Since KAIRI and Io Shirai left STARDOM in 2017 and 2018 respectively, the last of Threedom has been the face of the company ever since, and it would only make sense if STARDOM’s biggest name and best representation of the promotion was the first to hold the title and once again cement her legacy as one of the best women’s wrestlers of all time.

Utami Hayashishita

The huge presence of STARDOM’s “Red Queen” hasn’t been so huge for most of 2022, having dropped the World of Stardom championship to Syuri at Dream Queendom in December of 2021. The pressure of being the top champion of the company two years into your career is no doubt immense, and the former champion has used this time to unleash her sillier side, imitating Tam Nakano and getting a shorter haircut.

After a relatively relaxed year, maybe it’s time for Utami to step-up once again and be the first IWGP Women’s champion. Her critically acclaimed matches with Syuri have already given the world a taste of what she can accomplish at a high level, and doing the same in a New Japan ring would only help to bring more eyes to STARDOM and her incredible potential as a whole.


Out of all of the choices in mind, the Genius Kid of STARDOM is the dark horse.

It’s without a doubt that AZM is the future of women’s wrestling in Japan. She’s only 19 but has set the industry ablaze with her incredible talent in high-speed championship matches, where she currently holds the High-Speed championship.

The Queen’s Quest prodigy being the inaugural IWGP Women’s Champion just after her 20th birthday would be a historical moment, not just because she’ll be the first holder of the title, but she’ll be one of the youngest world champions in New Japan’s history.


Most people would probably attest that “it’s about time” that Giulia has another singles championship reign, having not held one since early 2021.

Even without a singles title around her waist, the European-born wrestler has only added to her star power in the last year by experimenting with different looks and recruiting more people to her unit Donna del Mondo. She’s already hugely popular with most fans and has already given us a Match of the Year candidate against Mayu Iwatani, as well as already featuring on a New Japan card previously.

As STARDOM continues to slowly increase its international presence, Giulia may be the perfect fit for the IWGP Women’s Championship. She has the look, the charisma and the wrestling ability to be remembered and to give a championship run for the ages.

Sasha Banks

With her status within the biggest wrestling company in the world still a mystery, I don’t think anyone would necessarily complain about the prospect of one of the most revolutionary and talented wrestlers in the west coming over to Japan.

In the past, she went on a short excursion to Japan to train under some joshi, including Chihiro Hashimoto and Mina Shirakawa, and her love for wrestling has always shone through her in-ring work no matter where she was placed on the card.

Already one of the biggest names in the professional wrestling industry as a whole, the attention that New Japan and STARDOM would garner from making Sasha their inaugural IWGP Women’s champion is understandably unfathomable and the perfect choice if they want to expand internationally.

When it’s all said and done, the possibilities with the IWGP Women’s Championship are endless and there’s no doubt that its creation will help contribute to another big boom in the world of Japanese women’s wrestling. The talent is there, the mainstream attention through New Japan is there. Whether it happens sooner or later is the question. It’s bound to happen and when it does, the wrestling industry will be better because of it.