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Q&A with STARDOM CEO Rossy Ogawa

2 years ago

Q&A with STARDOM CEO Rossy Ogawa

By: Thom Fain

Introduction by Mavs Gillis

At the last STARDOM Korakuen Hall card as of this writing, the thousand fan threshold was broken, marking a return to pre-pandemic numbers. Are we setting a course into an era that beckons back to the Crush Gals, Aja Kong and All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling, Victory Through Guts, being flag bearers for the Japanese wrestling scene worldwide? Links to that era are still prominent ringside today in the form of the man in the hat, STARDOM founder and executive producer Rossy Ogawa. In 1977, Ogawa walked into AJW, camera in hand, with a love for the business that would turn into a 40-plus year career. No one knew heʼd evolve from ringside photographer to creator of Japanʼs hottest promotion. Itʼs an incredible image for a photographer turned promoter to capture. Rossy captured the spirit of womenʼs wrestling; heʼs framed it for all to see. Through this lens, the quote from our interview that speaks to his success: Believe in your own talent, believe in your wrestlers. Ogawa calls STARDOM the culmination of his career. With what we are seeing from his talent now, heʼs reaching a pinnacle.


Monthly Puroresu: At what point did you know STARDOM had found a product market fit?

Rossy Ogawa: From the beginning, Stardom was aiming to be at the top of the industry. Before the company was established, Fuka was already training the core group, and I knew that we could start a new company.

Monthly Puroresu: Do you keep in contact with that original core group of STARDOM talent you started the company with?

Rossy Ogawa: Iʼm always in contact with Fuka, Yuzuki Aikawa, Yoko Bito, Nanae Takahashi, Miho Wakizawa and others. They are our early members and their history is connected to our current prosperity.

Monthly Puroresu: Do you still enjoy photography? When you were younger, what attracted you to the medium?

Rossy Ogawa: These days, I enjoy shooting with my cell phone. The close-up photo of a wrestler is enjoyable to me. When I was a boy, I was fascinated by visuals of Mil Máscaras and was drawn into professional wrestling.

Monthly Puroresu: The visual element of STARDOM, the executive production is extremely impressive. Can you tell us your part in the production value, and how many people it takes to make an event look so spectacular?

Rossy Ogawa: I am currently focusing on matchmaking and booking. Not only at big shows, but also at house shows, we try to make the event something special that you canʼt miss. At the bigger events, the production of lighting and sound is important and success depends on it. A lot of elements are essential for big events.

Monthly Puroresu: What is your philosophy scouting for and developing young talent that you know can become stars?

Rossy Ogawa: It is of utmost importance to keep things young and fresh. For that reason, we have broken the seniority system. There is also star power and visual appeal. The important thing is to earnestly and desperately incorporate that into professional wrestling.

Monthly Puroresu: What do you rely on most heavily as CEO to ensure a top grade product?

Rossy Ogawa: Believe in your own talent, believe in your wrestlers.

Monthly Puroresu: What do you see as the next big step for the company, now that it enjoys immense respect globally?

Rossy Ogawa: I think weʼre still on the rise. Ready for that superstar or superheroine that breaks from the pack and shakes the world, and raises the name value of the organization even more.

Monthly Puroresu: Any discussions for primetime TV deals in Japan, or updates on streaming services you want to share?

Rossy Ogawa: Broadcasting on terrestrial television will always be a proposition. Although I donʼt deal directly with TV, the biggest publicity we can get is to broadcast in a time zone that is naturally noticeable. The video distribution service Stardom World has its limits on current servers. Professional wrestling with a video service like WWE is mainstream out in the world, but Stardom still wants our focus to be on our live touring events.

Monthly Puroresu: You obviously have a very close relationship with Mayu Iwatani and oversaw her transformation into a true star over the years. Has she developed the way you first foresaw?

Rossy Ogawa: When I first saw pictures of her, I foresaw the possibility of her becoming a star. After that, it was waiting patiently until she decided to get serious. It’s like a father watching over his daughter.

Monthly Puroresu: What is your vision for the NEW BLOOD events now that the first one has taken place?

Rossy Ogawa: Itʼs a new Stardom brand with the idea of discovering a new heroine, and development of new stories that you wouldnʼt normally see on a Stardom show.

Monthly Puroresu: How do you feel Joshi has evolved over the years, and since STARDOM began?

Rossy Ogawa: I have been involved in this world since 1977, and the culmination of my career is Stardom. The state of joshi pro wrestling is that only Stardom is evolving. The rest of the groups are stagnant or regressing.

Monthly Puroresu: Do the talent have freedom to build their characters and styles, or do they rely on the senior level trainers and creative executives? And which talent has really impressed you with their development?

Rossy Ogawa: Talents have to adapt to the story. Stardom talent is highly adaptable and self-produced. My instructions have absolute influence, but the wrestlers have the talent to take my instructions and make it their own, expound on it further.

Monthly Puroresu: STARDOM had a lot of new talent arriving and improving, which wrestlers do you think have really stepped up in helping the roster grow?


Rossy, who started as a photographer, has been a part of joshi puroresu since the 1970s. He would become a manager of talents such as Crush Gals (Chigusa Nagayo-Left; Lioness Asuka-Right), two of the biggest stars of 1980s All Japan Women’s (AJW). The trio would witness an explosion of Joshi popularity that came with its broadcast on Fuji Television, Channel 8. The question today is, can Rossy capture lightning in a bottle with streaming services?



Rossy Ogawa: Mayu Iwatani, Utami Hayashishita, and Giulia are the most successful wrestlers in recent years. Side stories are also attractive; like in life, you have weeds, you have those that weather the storms, you have elites. In recent years, I think I have unearthed the charisma of Giulia. This year, Syuri is my next big success.

Monthly Puroresu: Are there any long term plans for international touring and focus once it becomes possible to do so?

Rossy Ogawa: Previously, we had events in Los Angeles (2015) and New York (2019), and it was quite rewarding. American professional wrestling fans have great expectations for Stardom. Those past shows werenʼt about making a profit, it was about getting more recognition. Therefore, it takes a considerable amount of preparation time and a strong local partner to hold a profitseeking tour overseas. However, I am proud that Stardom’s professional wrestling is global, so I think it is possible