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STARDOM Dream Queendom Preview -12.29.22

1 year ago

STARDOM Dream Queendom Preview -12.29.22

STARDOM Dream Queendom Preview

By: Trent Breward

It has been a tradition that STARDOM look to end their year on a high. For years Korakuen Hall would host their big final show, but as they have grown so has the the way they close out a year. December 29th at Ryogoku Hall now marks a new tradition with the Dream Queendom event.

Two main stories sit at the forefront as 2022 comes to a close: Giulia’s quest to defeat Syuri and win the World of Stardom Championship, and whether the promotion can stave off a wave of hungry outside talent.

Beyond the main event, the five biggest matches all feature non-contracted talent looking to defeat the STARDOM faithful. It’s been a running theme for the entire year, beginning in February when Prominence first showed up unannounced. STARDOM opened the doors for outside talent through events like NEW BLOOD, now that door has well and truly been kicked down

Stardom Rumble

The perfect way to get everyone on the card of a big show, the Stardom Rumble returns for another iteration with thirteen participants all looking to end the show on a big win. Also becoming a tradition for these events is the participation of the masked homage Super Strong Stardom Machine. Her short stature, muscular physique and affinity for the color green certainly means that there is no way it is secretly Saya Iida.

The big question from this match might not be who wins, but who else is involved. Of the thirteen involved, two are listed as mystery wrestlers. With a secret team also listed for the Triangle Derby starting a week later, this match may be the first hints as to who is filling out the tournament. Expect big showings from Yuna Mizumori and Tomoka Inaba, two non-contracted wrestlers who are making more and more of an impact in STARDOM

Unagi Sayaka & Mina Shirakawa vs. Mai Sakurai & Thekla

Pink Kabuki are back! Dream Queendom will mark the first time since August that Mina and Unagi have teamed together, and both wrestlers have been away from STARDOM of late as well (Mina recovering from a jaw injury and Unagi has been on a run in the independent scene). They return to face the Donna Del Mondo pairing of Mai Sakurai and Thekla.

The big question will be Mina’s health and appearance. Her face was fully bandaged at the press conference, and left the talking to her tag partner. Through Unagi she promised something special for the final show of the year, and Mina isn’t one to deliver in halves.

Mai Sakurai has been one of the more improved wrestlers of the year since leaving the Cosmic Angels faction of her opponents – in fact on this show a year ago she team with Pink Kabuki in a losing effort to Donna Del Mondo. Capping off the year with a big win would solidify the hard work she’s put in throughout 2022. Thekla meanwhile seems hungry to renew the short rivalry she had with Mina at the start of the year over the SWA Title.

Triangle Derby Preview Match: Momo Kohgo, Mayu Iwatani & Hanan vs. Hazuki, Saya Iida & Koguma

The Triangle Derby Tournament will be kicking off at the Yokohama Budokan on January 3rd, and this match will serve to set the scene with what to expect. The All STARS affair is sure to be exciting as any inter-faction match is, but special attention should be on how well Mayu and Momo work together. Their Tag League performance seemed to disappoint Mayu, who was expecting more from her less experienced partner. Entering another tournament together will give Momo a second chance to impress her leader, provided she doesn’t get too distracted by who she’s facing again.

Hazuki and Koguma had a dynamite 2022 together, and the duo already has great chemistry with the Little Giant. They should definitely be one of the more entertaining teams in the tournament, but we’ll see how far they might go in this warm up match. The showdown between ‘H&M’ and ‘Classmates’ will be a great introduction to the tournament that will kick off STARDOM’s 2023.

Goddess of Stardom #1 Contenders Match: Ami Sourei & MIRAI vs. Maika & Himeka vs. Natsuko Tora & Ruaka

7Upp may have won the Goddess of Stardom Tag League, but in the wake of their success were several hungry wolves close behind. For many, Maika and Himeka were the favourites heading into the tournament, falling just shy of the final after losing to FWC. Meanwhile Natsuko Tora and Ruaka surprised many with a strong showing that had them still in the running on the final night. Then there’s The New Eras. MIRAI and Ami Sourei are no strangers to title contention, and a win here would grant them their fourth title shot since July.

There’s always an air of unpredictability surrounding these multi-team affairs, but what can be expected is a physical hoss fight. All six participants look to overwhelm their opponents with their hard hitting power, and throwing them all into one match guarantees that it’s not just a shot at the Goddess of Stardom Titles on the line, but also the title of strongest team.

Special Singles Match: KAIRI vs. Utami Hayashishita

When KAIRI won the IWGP Women’s Championship, Utami was one of the first to congratulate the Pirate Princess on her success. There’s no doubt the Red Queen has an eye for the new title, but by her own admission she needs to earn a shot after falling short in the tournament to crown its first champion.

It’s pride, and not the championship that is at stake here. Doubly so with the stipulation proposed by KAIRI. The loser will have to revert to their rookie days, donning their debut gear and ditching their elaborate entrances. With both wrestlers at the top of their game, going back to the beginning would be an incredibly humbling experience as both prepare for a big 2023.

KAIRI needs to be careful, for just a week later she has to defend her IWGP Women’s Championship at Wrestle Kingdom against Tam Nakano. It takes a lot to put down the Red Queen, and she can change a match with a single punishing slam or lariat. KAIRI has proven herself to be worthy of the hype since making her return, but nobody represents the strength of the ‘new’ STARDOM quite like Utami.

High Speed Title: AZM (c) vs. Hikaru Shimizu

AZM is no stranger to outside challengers for the High Speed Championship. She’s already fended off Mei Suruga and Momoka Hanazono (as well as Mei Hoshizuki in her first reign) but now Colors representative Hikaru Shimizu is looking to outpace STARDOM’s dynamo.

Shimizuku challenged AZM to a series of speed related challenges at the press conference, and while not every skill on display during this will be relevant to the match, the message was certainly sent. Hikaru considers herself as fast as the champion.

The challenger’s recent excursion to Mexico could be the difference maker and she certainly seems to think so. However nobody has yet proven themselves capable of matching AZM’s blinding pace and pinpoint precision inside the ring. AZM has a stranglehold on the High Speed Division, and December 29th could further cement that fact. A win would not only give her the all time record for overall defenses, but tie the record for defenses in a single reign.

AZM won’t let that honor go easily.

Artist of Stardom Title (Hardcore Rules): Starlight Kid, Saki Kashima & Momo Watanabe (c) vs. Suzu Suzuki, Risa Sera and Kurumi Hiiragi

The Artist Championship used to be something of a hot potato at it bounced between teams, but over the last two years it’s been a lot harder to pry the trios titles away. This trend has continued with Oedo Tai, who have enjoyed a strong reign with the belts after ripping them away from MaiHimePoi. They’ve proven to be a difficult team to get the better of with their mix of speed, striking and ingenuity, but their sky high confidence might come back to hurt them.

At the Dream Queendom press conference the champions put forth the request for the match to be contested under hardcore rules. A dangerous move at the best of times, but particularly so when your opponents are part of the deathmatch freelance group Prominence. As much as Oedo Tai like to use weapons (whether it’s legal to or not), they will be out of their element here. Prominence relish the chance to get violent.

That being said, the ultimate X-factor here is Saki Kashima, who is a threat to end the match at any moment with her Revival flash pin. Risa Sera learned this the hard way in the 5 Star Grand Prix. Even if Prominence are in full control, as long as Saki is the legal woman there’s always a chance the match ends in an instant.

Goddess of Stardom Title: Natsupoi & Tam Nakano (c) vs. Nanae Takahashi & Yuu

Eight years marks the gap between Nanae Takahashi’s two Goddess of Stardom Tag League victories. It’s an impressive achievement, but the real glory still awaits her in the form of the Tag Titles. Her and Yuu looked like a finely oiled machine as they won the tournament, and both bring tag familiarity with them from years of experience in teams away from each other. They’re arguably more experienced than the champions, who have only been a team since August.

Still, Tam and Natsupoi wasted no time becoming a dangerous duo, and nearly won the Tokyo Sports Tag Team Award, falling one point short of Jeff Cobb and Great O-Khan. Their chemistry and skill far exceeds the half a year they’ve spent together.

In a preview on Christmas Eve, Yuu and Nanae walked out victorious, but they were able to target Waka Tysukiyama in that handicap match. There won’t be any apparent weak link on December 29, and neither champion will stay down unless they physically can’t get back up.

Wonder of Stardom Title: Saya Kamitani (c) vs. Haruka Umesaki

When considering who would challenge Saya for her White Belt at Ryogoku Hall, Diana’s Haruka Umesaki likely wasn’t on anyone’s radar. The 21 year old has become one of the main recurring attractions at the NEW BLOOD events, even taking on a new gimmick as she slips further under Oedo Tai’s influence. Haruka has quickly proven herself to be one of the brightest up and coming stars in the joshi scene, and now she finds herself in the biggest match of her career.

The billing says Umesaki, and she has promised to win fair and square as herself and not the more rebellious Karma persona (who got disqualified in her last match for using a fireball on the referee). Whether she holds true to her word or not remains to be seen, but whoever Haruka walks out as she will need to bring everything she has to overcome one of 2022’s biggest success stories. Saya Kamitani has become one of the can’t miss attractions for STARDOM, and her reign as the Wonder of Stardom Champion has gone a long way to proving she belongs at the top of the mountain.

It will be a year to the day since Saya won the title when she walks into Ryogoku Hall, but she’s showing no signs of slowing down. Kamitani is just a couple of wins away from breaking Momo Watanabe’s record for most defenses with the title. History could be on the horizon, if she doesn’t make the mistake of looking past her opponent.

World of Stardom Title: Syuri (c) vs. Giulia

March 26, 2022 is a significant date for both Giulia and Syuri. It was the last time they wrestled one on one, competing for Syuri’s World of Stardom Championship. Syuri walked away champion on that night, but the aftermath also saw her walk away from Donna Del Mondo, and her successful tag team partnership with the challenger.

The faction simply wasn’t big enough for the two of them, both with the singular goal of leading STARDOM into the future as the top champion. Syuri moved on and formed God’s Eye, while Donna Del Mondo struggled somewhat to readjust without its ace wrestler.

Through this struggle, Giulia has only furthered her claim to being the main character of STARDOM. Through the ups and downs, she endured and won the prestigious 5 Star Grand Prix. The same tournament she had to retire from last year, forced to watch from the sidelines as Syuri won and then converted that into her World of Stardom Championship triumph.

History may repeat itself once again as Giulia looks to destroy the Syu-Red World the champion has created and reshape it into her own vision of what wrestling should be. After hitting rock bottom the top of the mountain is within her grasp, she just needs to overcome the strongest wrestler in STARDOM. Can Guilia become just the 13th woman to hold the coveted Red Belt?