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Q&A with Mina Shirakawa, on Club Venus and aspirations as champion

11 months ago

Q&A with Mina Shirakawa, on Club Venus and aspirations as champion

By: Thom Fain, introduction by James Carlin

On November 3rd 2022 at Hiroshima Goddess Festival, Mina Shirakawa challenged the “Golden Phoenix” Saya Kamitani for her Wonder of Stardom championship. It was a brutal battle that saw Shirakawa suffer a bruised jaw and injuries to her oral cavities after Kamitani’s phoenix splash – the move which took her out of competition until the last PPV of the year, Dream Queendom.

Upon her return to the ring, Shirakawa unveiled a new look with shorter hair, now accompanied by a group collectively referred to as Club Venus. She split away from her Pink Kabuki partner, Unagi Sayaka, and only a week before the company’s historic Yokohama Arena show on April 23rd announced that Club Venus would be splitting to become its own fully fledged unit, with Waka Tsukiyama coming along with her.

Now as the leader of Club Venus, she looked to avenge her crushing lost against Kamitani in their last singles match. All Star Grand Queendom saw Shirakawa end the 480 day reign of the “Golden Phoenix”, pinning her with the Figure Four Driver to become the 17th Wonder of Stardom champion.

Mina Shirakawa sat down with editor-in-chief Thom Fain following her title victory to talk about the future of Club Venus, hopes of New Japan, and her aspirations as a champion in Stardom.

Saya Kamitani crowns Mina Shirakawa as Wonder of Stardom champion. c/o @_MasahiroKubota

Monthly Puroresu: You’ve just won the Wonder of Stardom championship! First, I wanted to ask you if it’s dawned on you yet that you won the white belt after a long journey. Even more so at Yokohama Arena, a historic and big venue.

Mina Shirakawa: I have more big dreams to accomplish. So winning the title is just the first step in that.

Monthly Puroresu: What are your big dreams?

Mina Shirakawa: I want to defend the Wonder of Stardom title in America.

Monthly Puroresu: Do you want to defend it against somebody in particular, or do you have an arena or a city in mind where you would like to wrestle?

Mina Shirakawa: Anyone. Anyone who wants this belt. But I want to fight against foreign wrestlers.

Monthly Puroresu: If STARDOM were to run an event, or would you want to wrestle in New Japan with the White Belt when you defend in the States?

Mina Shirakawa: Both. So, there was one time I went to wrestle in New York [for New Japan]. But this was an undercard match.

Monthly Puroresu: You’d rather be in the main event.

Mina Shirakawa: Main event, yeah.

Monthly Puroresu: Do you think New Japan will maybe put a STARDOM champion in a main event match soon?

Mina Shirakawa: Yes. I hope so! Yeah, we should be able to main event.

Monthly Puroresu: It’s a new era of wrestling.

Mina Shirakawa: A new era, yeah.

Monthly Puroresu: In other organizations, like NOAH, there are women wrestling now, and eventually they will be in the main event. Is it one of your dreams too?

Mina Shirakawa: Yeah, yeah – to be able to main event in a New Japan ring.

Mina Shirakawa makes her entrance at Yokohama Arena. c/o @_MasahiroKubota

Monthly Puroresu: Club Venus is becoming more popular. You have foreign wrestlers joining you. Did it surprise you that so many people surrounded you to form a new group?

Mina Shirakawa: I wouldn’t say… surprising, really.

Monthly Puroresu: Can you give us a little more info on how the VIP process for Club Venus works?

Mina Shirakawa: Please bring champagne, and drive a pink limousine for us! No membership fee is required to become VIP. There is only one condition: You must know how to treat ladies, because we are princesses.

Monthly Puroresu: Well, you can call the shots. You’re a leader now.

Mina Shirakawa: Yes! I want to see Club Venus grow bigger, bigger, and bigger. All over the world, we have to spread the energy of Club Venus! I want to have more wrestlers from more countries join us.

Monthly Puroresu: Club Venus will be only in Japan, but abroad. Kind of like Bullet Club.

Mina Shirakawa: Yes, yes. [laughs]

Monthly Puroresu: Really cool.

Mina Shirakawa: Really cool. But – Bullet Club is not sexy.

Monthly Puroresu: Club Venus is like the sexy version of Bullet Club. I like that. Did it mean a lot to you that the organization of STARDOM came together to support you during such an important event? Did it surprise you?

Mina Shirakawa: Many people say they can’t imagine being at such a big show. But I believe in myself. I can’t wrestle a title match at the biggest event unless I believe in myself.

Monthly Puroresu: Did it surprise you that Rossy-san and STARDOM believed in you too?

Mina Shirakawa: Hmm… Maybe not.

Monthly Puroresu: Would you say it’s fair that you always knew this would happen? That your day would come?

Mina Shirakawa: Yeah, I just believed and believed that I could become a champion – and here we are.

Monthly Puroresu: When you originally joined STARDOM, you said that your goal was to be like Yuzuki Aikawa, who was, like you, a former cheerleader and model-turned wrestler that ended up as Wonder of Stardom champion. Do you think models entering wrestling have to work harder to earn respect than other athletes?

Mina Shirakawa: It is inevitable that those who have switched from other industries to pro-wrestling are viewed with rose colored glasses. We have to work harder than others to change that prejudice. It will be important whether we enjoy this process or not. I enjoyed the process, hoping that one day I would be able to make these people fans of me – and STARDOM.

Monthly Puroresu: You have a lot of fans overseas.

Mina Shirakawa: Really?

Monthly Puroresu: Oh yes. They chose Mina as the Most Improved Wrestler. Many people in the West thought “Mina, she’s an underdog. We want to cheer for her.” Do you feel their support?

Mina Shirakawa: Yeah. I feel very supported by fans from many countries. Yesterday we held a party for VIP only ticket holders. 240 fans came, and two were big fans of me. I am so happy because, really? My passion is to spread joshi wrestling around the world.

Monthly Puroresu: That’s why we do the magazine. I get a lot of fighting spirit when I watch you, and the fans at home think STARDOM is the best women’s wrestling. You give us fighting spirit.

Mina Shirakawa: I think fighting spirit is the most important aspect to wrestling.

Monthly Puroresu: And it’s the best in STARDOM. New Japan, STARDOM; lots of fighting spirit.

Mina Shirakawa: It’s the best in New Japan and in STARDOM.

Monthly Puroresu: You have to beat a lot of opponents with the White Belt if you’re going to be as good of a champion as Saya Kamitani. She was 400+ days as champion. Now you’re the new champion. When you think about Kamitani and her White Belt title reign, what do you remember? Obviously your match with her, where you lost and you hurt your face. That’s one memory.

Mina Shirakawa pins Saya Kamitani to win the White Belt. c/o @_MasahiroKubota

Mina Shirakawa: Saya Kamitani vs Tam Nakano. I remember that.

Monthly Puroresu: Would you say she was a great champion?

Mina Shirakawa: She was great. And very strong. She loved that White Belt. I love the White Belt too.

Monthly Puroresu: Natsupoi underestimated you in your first title defense, and you won in extravagant fashion. What gave you the courage to challenge your former friend Tam Nakano to a double-championship match?

Mina Shirakawa: It is very simple. I want to fight who I want to fight when I want to fight. I had decided that if I got the White Belt, I would defend it against Tam. I just put that into action. I will not be defensive just because I got the white belt. I will attack. I will definitely become a double title champion.

Monthly Puroresu: Now that Mina is champion, what are three things that the title will mean?

Mina Shirakawa: Sexy, honest, and to never give up.

Monthly Puroresu: You want to be remembered as a champion that had everything: The looks. The transparency and honesty with the fans and with Club Venus, and to have fighting spirit.

Monthly Puroresu: How do you prepare now that you’ve been through such a long journey? You have to think about the next step.

Mina Shirakawa: First, I want to defend the championship against Natsupoi.

Monthly Puroresu: She’s a different kind of opponent.

Mina Shirakawa: Many times we have met in the ring. I won one, then she won another, then we drew and I won another by count-out. So I have to fight against her. In Cosmic Angels, I was the best partner to Tam. Now Natsupoi is Tam’s best partner so we have a little bit of a grudge.

Monthly Puroresu: You have to prove who’s better.

Mina Shirakawa: Yeah, I have to prove who is the better partner for Tam.

Monthly Puroresu: When you think of the other factions like Cosmic Angels, Donna del Mondo. Club Venus – you also have to prove that it’s not a trend.

Mina Shirakawa: Cosmic Angels, Donna del Mondo, Queen’s Quest – they all have a long history and I want Club Venus to make a lasting impact by being worldwide and being the number one group in STARDOM.

Monthly Puroresu: How do you think you’ll make it number one? Merchandise?

Mina Shirakawa: [Laughs] What do you think?

Monthly Puroresu: What do I think?

Mina Shirakawa: Yeah!

Monthly Puroresu: I think cheki merchandise. Goddess of Stardom titles around you. Mina as champion, and more champions.

Mina Shirakawa: The SWA Undisputed title – that’s one more belt we want.

Monthly Puroresu: Who do you think in Club Venus would be the best to win the SWA title?

Mina Shirakawa: I think… Mariah.

Monthly Puroresu: Yeah. She’s ready.

Mina Shirakawa: She’s strong, good looking, and loves Japanese pro-wrestling very very much. She wants to stay here in Japan for a long time.

Monthly Puroresu: She would be a good SWA champion because she’s from overseas.

Mina Shirakawa: I agree.

Monthly Puroresu: Have you thought of any opponents or friends on the global stage who should be introduced to Club Venus?

Mina Shirakawa: I know that Trinity has started to appear on a freelance basis in the U.S… I would love to invite her to join STARDOM! Not just because of her wrestling, but her suave character and fun dancing are a perfect fit for Club Venus.

Monthly Puroresu: But she’s overseas now. When do you think you might go to America again?

Mina Shirakawa: I don’t know. I’m not sure.

Monthly Puroresu: You have a lot to do before that.

Mina Shirakawa: I want to stay in the USA for a long time.

Monthly Puroresu: You want to take your title and go through a lot of cities.

Mina Shirakawa: Yeah, yeah. I want to travel to so many cities! It’s a huge country. I want to be a fighting champion.

Monthly Puroresu: Are you still going to be able to do your YouTube channel? Will you still be able to do your other things, such as your training videos?

Mina Shirakawa: I want to but can’t record any new videos for my YouTube. Since I’m a member of STARDOM, it’s very strict, so I can’t do that anymore.

Monthly Puroresu: So you have to focus on wrestling.

Mina Shirakawa: Yeah. Just wrestling.

Monthly Puroresu: Is there anything that you want to tell the foreign fans that read the magazine?

Mina Shirakawa: I want to meet you and I want to visit your country. I will go as Wonder of Stardom champion. So please support Chan-Mina and STARDOM!

Monthly Puroresu: Last question. What are you gonna do to celebrate your title win today?

Mina Shirakawa: Go to Roppongi. [Laughs]. Champagne. I love whiskey.

Monthly Puroresu: Me too.

Mina Shirakawa: What kind of whiskey?

Monthly Puroresu: Well, I’m from Texas. I like bourbon.

Mina Shirakawa: Bourbon? I like Japanese whiskey.

Monthly Puroresu: Japanese whiskey is good.

Mina Shirakawa: Hakushu and Yamazaki.

Monthly Puroresu: I need to try it.

Mina Shirakawa: It’s very expensive. Club Venus will have expensive whiskey. We are first class ladies! [laughs] Now, get us our limousine, please.