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STARDOM in January 2023: Your Monthly Recap

1 year ago

STARDOM in January 2023: Your Monthly Recap

STARDOM in January 2023: Your Monthly Recap

Every month Monthly Puroresu will be bringing you a guide to the current events in STARDOM. Whether you’re someone who can only occasionally watch, are looking to get into the promotion, or have just been too busy to keep up, we have you covered! This is what happened in STARDOM during the month of January…

Championship matches:

  • IWGP Women’s Championship: KAIRI (c) vs. Tam Nakano – January 4th
  • Wonder of Stardom Championship: Saya Kamitani (c) vs. Ami Sourei – Janurary 8th
  • Future of Stardom Championship: Ami Sourei (c) vs. Mai Sakurai – Janurary 21st

With three of the major STARDOM championships changing hands on the final show of 2022 and a major tournament starting, it was not too surprising that the first month of the year passed by without any drama surrounding its titles. Only two titles were defended on STARDOM shows, while a third – the High Speed Title – was scheduled between AZM and Starlight Kid until the latter had to pull out due to illness. The match as of now has not been rescheduled, but there is no doubt their paths will cross sooner rather than later as AZM continues to cement herself as the greatest High Speed Champion of all time.

The match might have been on the shorter side, but KAIRI’s first successful defense of the IWGP Women’s Championship still proved to be an important moment, and the duo fit a lot into a sub-six minute match. With Wrestle Kingdom back to one night there was never going to be a lot of time dedicated to the women, but the post match reveal of Mercedes Moné meant further sacrifices had to be made.

The subsequent announcement of Moné vs KAIRI for the IWGP Women’s Championship at February’s Battle in the Valley event quickly sold out the show, which is an encouraging sign for the future of the IWGP Women’s title and the amount of time it’ll get on future shows.

There were only two titles defended on STARDOM shows, and both matches featured the God’s Eye powerhouse Ami Sourei. She earned herself her first PPV main event, putting forth a solid showing against Saya Kamitani before going to on defend her Future of Stardom title a few weeks later.

Ami is still finding her place in STARDOM, but she is growing with every opportunity presented to her. This should only continue while she defends the Future Championship, giving Ami (and her opponents) matches that have stakes but aren’t headlining major shows. One just has to look at the growth Hanan enjoyed during her record breaking reign to see the potential surrounding the title.

It was a busy month for Ami, who also found herself in the hunt for a new championship. Eight teams entered a single elimination tournament on January 20 to be crowned the first ever New Blood Tag Champions, the first championship to be created for STARDOM’s sub-brand. Ami and sixteen year old Nanami (from Diana) advanced to the semi-finals alongside Mai Sakurai and Chanyota, MIRAI and Tomoka Inaba, and the dangerous duo of Starlight Kid and Karma.

Both the semi-finals and final for the New Blood Tag Titles are scheduled to take place at the New Blood Premium event on March 25.

The Triangle Derby Begins

The main focal point for January was centered around the very first Triangle Derby Tournament. Fourteen teams of three were separated in two blocks to compete in a round robin format, with the finals set for March 4th. STARDOM now have a major tournament running in each season, with the Cinderella Tournament in Spring, the 5 Star GP in Summer, and the Goddess of Stardom Tag League in Autumn.

While most teams still have matches remaining, the newly formed Club Venus finished their run by the end of January so that Xia Brookside could return home to England. With four wins from their seven matches they have set the benchmark for success at eight points.

Luck will need to go their way for eight points to be enough to advance to the semi-finals – 7Upp also have eight points and two more matches left, while both Queen’s Quest and the Cosmic Angels have a chance to overtake Club Venus with their remaining matches. Still, it’s a solid effort. This is Mina’s first time leading her own team, and the trio had never worked together prior. Mariah May in particular has impressed throughout her first tour with the company, and will hopefully become a recurring face throughout 2023.

Over in the other block the God’s Eye trio of Syuri, MIRAI and Ami Sourei lead all teams with nine points and two more matches up their sleeves. Although their final two matches are difficult, the future is squarely in their hands and should advance. The final spot in the Red Block will be contested between Gold Ship (The Oedo Tai team of Natsuko Tora, Momo Watanabe, and Saki Kashima), the outsider group RebelxEnemy, and the current Artist of Stardom Champions Prominence.

Teams were always going to go extra hard against Prominence during the tournament, as any win over the champions would give teams a reason to move to the front of the line as challengers. Their reign could be in trouble early too, having taking losses to the strong 7Upp and Queen’s Quest trios. Either team could very well make a case to challenge for those belts in the aftermath of the tournament.

Key Stories

The Triangle Derby has been front and center for the month of January, but there have been a few stories building towards Supreme Fight: the big February 4th PPV that is serving as this year’s anniversary show. Not only will it mark the first time in three years that cheering will be allowed at a STARDOM event, but it also marks the next chapter in the rivalry between Giulia and Suzu Suzuki.

The former Ice Ribbon duo will square off in Giulia’s first defense of the World of Stardom Championship, and the two will continue where they left off in their fifteen minute draw on the final night of the 5 Star Grand Prix in October. The hatred that was apparent when Suzu and Prominence first showed up in STARDOM a year ago has simmered somewhat, with the twenty year old prodigy having thoroughly expressed her emotions in that October fight. She still has plenty to prove however, and has openly expressed an interest in becoming the ‘face of STARDOM’.

The biggest ongoing story of the month though belongs to Waka Tsukiyama, who has yet to win a match in STARDOM since debuting for the company in September of 2021. It would seem that her faction leader Tam Nakano has seen enough, setting a three month deadline back on Christmas Eve. Win by the end of March or be kicked out of the Cosmic Angels.

While it is not March yet, there have been three key matches surrounding this burgeoning story this month. The first was a Triangle Derby match that pitted Waka against the Cosmic Angels team of Tam, Natsupoi and SAKI. Waka came within two seconds of surviving and forcing a draw, but succumbed to Tam’s Violet Screwdriver in the last moments. The second was a one on one match with veteran Nanae Takahashi, where Waka impressed with one of her strongest showings yet against STARDOM’s first World Champion.

Finally, Waka was the final entrant in Giulia’s ten woman gauntlet match. She didn’t beat the World of Stardom Champion but she also didn’t lose, managing her first draw. It was a three minute contest – which might not sound like much – but it’s an important step forward nonetheless. Her efforts even caught the eye of the champion, who commented afterwards how impressed she was by how hard Waka pushed her.

The improvement Waka has made is clear, but now she only has two months to change her fortunes. Nanae Takahashi will be awaiting her at the New Blood Premium event which will mark her final chance to win before the deadline. Ideally she doesn’t have to overcome someone of Nanae’s strength to earn that first win, but it was Waka herself to asked for the rematch. Every match for Waka Tsukiyama over these next two months will carry a bit of extra importance, and each failure will add to the question: Can Waka finally win?

Finally, STARDOM took the time to award its best and brightest from the previous year, holding an awards ceremony on January 21 after their Takadanobaba show. The full list of winners can be seen below:

  • Best Technical Skill: AZM
  • Fighting Spirit Award: Starlight Kid
  • Outstanding Performance: Saya Kamitani
  • SHINING Award (Voted by fans): Tam Nakano
  • Best Unit Award: STARS
  • Best Tag Team Award: meltear (Natsupoi & Tam Nakano)
  • Best Match Award: Giulia vs. Syuri (December 29th)
  • MVP Award: Syuri