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Top 5 Matches of Mayu Iwatani

10 months ago

Top 5 Matches of Mayu Iwatani

By: James Carlin

Mayu Iwatani has had an electric career as one of the best women to wrestle in the last decade since her debut in 2011, and there’s no doubt that her name will go down as one of the best women’s professional wrestlers of all time. Her time has been almost entirely with STARDOM, earning her the name “The Icon of Stardom”, and being the one wrestler whose name has been constant with the promotion since its very beginnings.

Her career has been only twelve years, yet it’s a storied one with a large catalog of phenomenal match-ups that have only continued to get better as the years go by.

We count down five of some of the greatest matches of Mayu Iwatani’s career.

Number 5 – JKGReeeeN vs. Mayu Iwatani & Kagetsu, 01/26/2020

On STARDOM’s Ninth Anniversary show, an emotional but fantastic match is held when Momo Watanabe and Jungle Kyona once again team up as JKGReeeeN against a one-time tag team of STARDOM’s Icon and STARDOM’s Prime Minister.

This match is important because it’s the only time that Iwatani and Kagetsu team-up, but it also served as Kagetsu’s (now known as Yuu Ishino) last match in the company before he would retire in February.

It’s evident that the retiring Prime Minister wanted to go out with a bang, and that he did, having a remarkable performance alongside his best rival and enemy, and in the process, giving STARDOM one of its best tag team encounters.

Seeing the two blood-enemies perform tag team manoeuvres together in unison is an oddly comfortable sight; Iwatani having always been the best foil for Ishino’s antics which are, of course, on display against one one of the company’s unforgettable team teams in Watanabe and Kyona.

The duo come out with matching masks and similar gear, creating a unique dynamic between the two even before the bell rings; and what comes after is a great match that even three years on, is worth viewing for newer fans of STARDOM to seek out and watch.

Mayu Iwatani and Yuu Ishino team for the first and last time. c/o STARDOM

Number 4 – Mayu Iwatani vs. Mercedes Mone, 04/23/2023

No one could’ve thought that two of the best women’s pro-wrestlers of the last ten years, in both North America and Japan, would ever step foot inside the same ring. Iwatani stayed to her roots, staying in STARDOM since the company’s first show back in 2011. Mercedes, on the other hand, perfected her craft across the independent scene before being picked up by the re-launched NXT through Dusty Rhodes and William Regal, and undeniably becoming one of the most successful, popular and influential women’s wrestlers in North America during the modern era.

For those that doubted that Mercedes would be successful outside of the company that she made her name and wrestled for ten years, a match against one of joshi’s best current wrestlers certainly proved the doubters wrong. She performs moves that she wasn’t doing in WWE, and attempting reversals and tricks on Iwatani that shows that the environment of STARDOM and New Japan.

Mercedes finds herself doing the best wrestling of her career whilst the STARDOM Icon once again proves how she got her name, continually impressive, continually raising the bar for what wrestling can be.

Taking place at the biggest show in STARDOM’s history, the two created a true “dream match” for many and after the bell, re-enforced both as important names in the 21st Century for women’s professional wrestling.

Mercedes Mone and challenger Mayu Iwatani pose before their match. c/o @_MasahiroKubota

Number 3 – Takumi Iroha vs. Mayu Iwatani, 08/02/2020

In the beginning, this match was promoted as Iwatani taking on Sareee, but as the latter had to pull out of the match, Iwatani’s replacement was none other than Takumi Iroha.

Iroha was trained by Stardom before leaving in 2015 to transfer to Chigusa Nagayo’s Marvelous organization, where she continued to hone her craft and became one of the most hard-hitting and greatest female talents in the country.

The two last fought in 2018 on Iroha’s own turf back at Marvelous’ first Korakuen Hall show, wrestling all the way to a twenty-minute draw and now Iwatani looks to gain her first ever win against her since she was defeated by Iroha in the 2014 5STAR GP.

After the bell rings, comes one of the best matches that Iwatani has ever put on. The two find themselves almost equal to each other despite Iroha dictating the pace for most of the match. It’s a battle of non-stop action throughout its run-time that features incredible wrestling, fantastic counters and an encounter that will go down as one of the best last-minute match changes in the last few years.

Takumi Iroha and Mayu Iwatani face off in February 2020. c/o Stardom

Number 2 – Thunder Rock vs. Jumonji Sisters, 09/23/2015

Mayu Iwatani and Io Shirai, teaming as Thunder Rock, are one of the best tag teams to have ever graced STARDOM’s ring, if not, the best tag team to have ever wrestled in STARDOM’s ring. For comparison, Thunder Rock is the joshi equivalent of the team of KENTA and Naomichi Marufuji in terms of star power and talent  not only as a tag team, but as singles stars themselves.

On the other side of the ring, you have the Jumonji Sisters — DASH Chisako and Sendai Sachiko — from Sendai Girls. Since starting their run as a tag team in 2007, the sisters had become one of the best teams on the scene in joshi puroresu, and it was only a matter of time until they appeared in STARDOM.

Although they were bested by Kawakatsu Plus One (Yoshiko and Natsuki Taiyo) in 2013, they were back yet again and this time they wanted the Goddess of Stardom championships off the hands of Mayu Iwatani and Io Shirai.

It was only two months prior that Thunder Rock had lost to Jumonji Sisters back on the sisters’ home turf in Sendai Girls, but now the pressure was on to even the score to 1-1 in a much more consequential matchup that now had championships on the line.

This is tag-team wrestling in its purest form, and a fantastic display of what joshi wrestling is all about. The action never stops – there’s brawling, there’s hard-hitting moves, there’s drama. Iwatani looks to find the light outside of the shadow of her tag team partner as the urgency of the match begins to set in that they’re defending the championships against an outsider team that can’t get their hands on STARDOM’s tag team titles.

Iwatani is the sore thumb of the match, but with every moment she spends inside the ring against Chisako and Sachiko, the hope begins to rise more and more as Thunder Rock seek to defend the championships a fourth time against their biggest challenge since winning the titles back in May.

The match graphic for Thunder Rock vs. Jumonji Sisters. c/o STARDOM

Number 1 – Mayu Iwatani vs. Io Shirai, 12/22/2016

One of STARDOM’s greatest rivalries comes to its third match, this time with Mayu Iwatani challenging her former Thunder Rock tag team partner and Genius of the Sky for the World of Stardom championship once more. This is undoubtedly one of the best in-ring performances in STARDOM history, a match that truly displayed Mayu Iwatani as a top name for the company.

Shirai’s obsession with staying as World of Stardom champion since defeating Meiko Satomura for the championship in 2015 began to influence her like The One Ring in The Lord of the Rings; she slowly became more desperate, more egotistical and less friendly as time went on, as her demeanour changed with every pre-match promo and title defence. Thunder Rock was beginning to fall apart as Shirai began to see an ever-increasing gap in ability between herself and Iwatani, and it was in November of 2016 that history would change forever and Genius of the Sky would become more aggressive and volatile than ever before.

After Thunder Rock failed to win in the finals of the Goddess of Stardom Tag League against BY Treasure (Kairi Hojo and Yoko Bito), Shirai turned her back on her best friend and expressed her distain for the Sky Blue Hyper Technician. This betrayal from Shirai saw the end of Threedom, and the beginning of Queen’s Quest; with Shirai now flanked by Momo Watanabe and a returning Reo Hazuki, now under the name HZK.

This new attitude of Shirai combined with Iwatani seeking revenge on her best friend in their first non-tournament singles match since 2013 gives an atmosphere unlike any other that has yet to be replicated since.

A fast-paced, hard-hitting match ensues, as Mayu’s fighting spirit unleashes to prove to the champion that she isn’t useless like Shirai claimed her to be.

If there’s one match from Mayu Iwatani that you watch, it’s her battle of the ages against Io Shirai from Year End Climax 2016.

Mayu Iwatani challenges Io Shirai for the World of Stardom champonship. c/o STARDOM