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Special Report: STARDOM Valentine’s Day Show

4 months ago Masahiro Kubota | Monthly Puroresu | 2.14.24

Masahiro Kubota | Monthly Puroresu | 2.14.24

Special Report: STARDOM Valentine’s Day Show

By: Thom Fain and James Carlin

As Queen and Adam Lambert drove crowds to an illuminated Tokyo Dome next door, the air of Korakuen Hall was filled with a noticeable wistfulness, barely two weeks after company founder (and father figure) Rossy Ogawa left a trail of broken hearts in his divorce with Bushiroad.

My soul is painted like the wings of butterflies
Fairy tales of yesterday will grow but never die
I can fly my friends
Oooh, I’ll top the bill, I’ll overkill
I have to find the will to carry on

On this Valentine’s Day, an enduring love for the athletes and performers who make STARDOM special took spotlight over any one person. Gifts of chocolate floated around the arena – from Mai Sakurai and Hazuki to the audience, from Bushiroad staff to the Press, from the performers to one another backstage.

Perhaps no one felt the love tonight more than Giulia and Natsuko Tora, whose underdog status left her with more adoration than the Oedo -ai leader has felt since contrarians rooted her on during the ill-fated Red Belt challenge vs. Utami that took her out of action in July 2021. Giulia’s widely reported desire to leave the company – which MP hasn’t corroborated yet – didn’t prevent the Korakuen faithful from cheering her on when the last bell had rung with her hand raised. Her tag match alongside Suzu Suzuki and Mei Seira featured an extended physical exchange with Tora, the challenger of her NJPW STRONG Women’s Title.

Sayaka Kurara officially had her first match as an apprentice of Cosmic Angels – teaming with leader Tam Nakano and Wonder of Stardom champion Saori Anou against 2/3 of the Artist of Stardom champions Abarenbo GE, while Saki Kashima took the role of the third woman in the group this time around as MIRAI faced off in singles action against fellow God’s Eye member Ranna Yagami.

Nakano has done an impressive job of bringing others up to her level since creating the original trio as a sub-group of STARS back in November 2020 with Mina Shirakawa and Unagi Sayaka. With Anou, Yuna Mizumori, Natsupoi and now Kurura behind her as stablemates, the unit is sure to continue to shine throughout STARDOM’s 2024.

And although Hanan’s heart was broken just as the crowd got fully behind her (by World of Stardom champion Maika), the wild multi-woman elimination match between STARS and Empress Nexus Venus gave everyone a look at the past, present and future of STARDOM.

Mina Shirakawa and Mayu Iwatani predictably shined in their time in the ring together, foreshadowing an important IWGP Women’s title match. Tonight saw Shirakawa pin the champ and give Bushiroad execs food for thought with the Southeast Asian expansion set to continue and an open road to booking the title in further cooperation with New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

It’s not yet known who will remain once all the dominoes fall from the very public, and sometimes ugly breakup featuring Ogawa-san – what is known is that those who stay with STARDOM are going to find the will to carry on, and whoever tops the bill must top the capabilities and starpower of wrestlers like Syuri, Giulia and Mayu Iwatani.

A lot of the reporting has been laughably off the mark, while many of the talents weigh out there options. Besides, who’s to say that in the future we won’t see a reunion and a happy ending? After all, time heals all wounds.

But tonight, the clear winner were the fans, whose passions have been stirred by the ladies of STARDOM for 13 years. The lasting two-way love between these Korkauen Hall diehards and the roster was a much needed step forward in a time of uncertainty for both the roster and fans as the future of the current roster is yet to be seen.

Giulia: How many times we have wrestled against Oedo-Tai since my title match against Natsuko Tora was made official? It feels like we’re wrestling against them every week.

I think I already know what Tora is going to do, and what she’s thinking for our upcoming title match. I’m looking forward to having a match with her where she can exceed my expectations. It’ll be my ninth time defending the NJPW STRONG Women’s Championship.

Natsuko, take my very, very important belt from me – if you can. I’m not afraid of you, and I’m looking forward to our match.

(To Suzu Suzuki and Mei Seira) Thank you for today’s match. We may have lost against Oedo-Tai last time, but this time we won after an incredible fight. Thank you.

Mei Seira: Happy Valentine’s Day!
Suzu Suzuki: It’s Valentine’s Day!
Giulia: Let’s go and eat the chocolates for today. There’s a lot of them over there.
Suzuki: Let’s go.
Giulia: I look forward to our title match, Natsuko. Arrivederci.

All Photos by Masahiro Kubota and Thom Fain