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The Full History of Giulia and Tam Nakano

3 months ago M. Ish | Monthly Puroresu

M. Ish | Monthly Puroresu

The Full History of Giulia and Tam Nakano

By: James Carlin

Ever since their debuts, the “Top Kawaii of the Cosmos” and the “Dangerous Queen” have had differing and similar career paths. When Tam Nakano made her first appearance in the company, the Kagetsu-led Oedo-Tai was already shooting their shot and trying to coerce her into joining, before she finally bit the bullet and became an official member in September 2017 before officially signing with STARDOM later that year.

As for Giulia, getting people to like her wasn’t so easy. There was already animosity from the second she showed up and it didn’t take much for her to create chaos with Hana Kimura as they fought at the press conference and fought to a time-limit draw at Year End Climax 2019. Giulia started brawls because she was strong and wanted to, Tam started brawls because she refused to ever give up, was resilient in the face of certain failure and could quickly change from cute idol to ruthless opponent in the blink of an eye.

Although Giulia willingly fought her way to earn the respect of her peers, some still weren’t fond of her actions. For a while Giulia had teamed with Andras Miyagi, but after they had lost two tag matches, it was clear that she believed that she still hadn’t earned the trust and respect of those in the company, ditching Miyagi.

Soon after, she was joined by two new members. The first, Maika, was a rookie that had yet to reach her potential in her old company and was recruited by Giulia. The second was Syuri, a veteran of the joshi independent scene, having spent years wrestling and honing her craft, now ready to show her talent on the biggest stage possible. Together, the three formed the first trio of Giulia’s new outsider group Donna del Mondo, who debuted against then-rival Hana Kimura’s Tokyo Cyber Squad.

Unlike Giulia’s hostile approach of dumping people aside and creating an entirely new unit, Tam Nakano’s Cosmic Angels had started out as just a sub-group of STARS when Nakano was able to convince Mayu Iwatani to let Mina Shirakawa join in November 2020.

Much like Donna del Mondo, Cosmic Angels would quickly advance into a trio, following the recruitment of a second outsider, Unagi Sayaka, to make up the third member of the group. A month later, Cosmic Angels would peacefully leave STARS and become its own three-woman unit after the trio captured the Artist of Stardom titles from Oedo-Tai.

The original Cosmic Angels trio, c/o Stardom/Bushiroad Fight

The two factions may have had equal numbers for now, however it wasn’t long until Donna del Mondo had the numbers advantage. In June 2020, Himeka would be revealed as the 4th member of the unit, and that October saw Natsupoi become the group’s fifth member.

Suddenly both factions consisted of a tag team and a trios team; Donna del Mondo had Giulia and Syuri (later known as ALK), and Maika, Himeka and Natsupoi (MaiHimePoi) whereas Cosmic Angels had Tam Nakano and Mina Shirakawa (Dream H) for their tag team, and Tam Nakano, Mina Shirakawa and Unagi Sayaka as their trios team. Donna del Mondo’s lead wouldn’t stay for long either, as Mai Sakurai and Waka Tsukiyama would join Cosmic Angels in August and September respectively.

Now that each unit had five members each, Giulia and Nakano had both solidified themselves as group leaders in different ways whilst similarly gaining more and more names from outside of STARDOM to join them. Even before the groups had fully grown, the faction figureheads saw themselves engaging in a heated rivalry with each other that started in a chase for the Wonder of Stardom championship.

Giulia, in her first attempt, had won the 2020 Cinderella Tournament and had gained the right to face current Wonder of Stardom champion Arisa Hoshiki. Arisa was forced to retire due to head and neck injuries, and vacated the championship; she had vowed that she’d keep the belt in order to defend it once more against her DREAM SHiNE partner after their first encounter at Shining Destiny 2019 saw Hoshiki emerge victorious.

It would be a few months before STARDOM would return to shows due to the COVID pandemic, and Giulia’s title opportunity was turned into a guaranteed place in a tournament to crown another White Belt champion. The contention between the two on who was the rightful champion would come to a heated head-to-head in the tournament finals that saw Giulia winning by referee’s decision against Tam to become the new Wonder of Stardom champion. The two would encounter each other twice more in singles matches: Once in STARDOM’s biggest tournament — the 5★STAR GP — where Tam was able to regain a win back from Giulia, and the second in Giulia’s first title defense of her newly won championship. But as Giulia’s reign continued, her aggressive side from her debut began to show, resulting in a draw against stablemate Syuri for the White Belt and SWA titles that December, and in February it became even worse, ripping off Starlight Kid’s mask to ensure that she would stay on-top of STARDOM as champion.

Giulia rips Starlight Kid’s mask. c/o Stardom/Bushiroad Fight

At All Star Dream Cinderella, the decision was made that Tam Nakano and Giulia would settle things once and for all, in a hair vs hair match for Giulia’s Wonder of Stardom championship. Their rivalry had gone on since July 2020 — almost eight months — and Nakano had nothing to lose. The humiliation of losing her hair and no longer being seen as the company’s “cute idol” might’ve worried her just a bit, but she was destined to win the title that she had promised to take off from Arisa Hoshiki, as well as fulfilling her promise of chasing Giulia until the end of the universe to win the White Belt.

Giulia was so desperate to prove that she belonged in STARDOM, that she would gladly take the opportunity to shave her rival’s head and remind her that everyday when she wakes up — Nakano could never beat Giulia when it mattered the most. It was her match with Starlight Kid that truly cemented Akira Hokuto’s claim that Giulia was the modern “Dangerous Queen”, willing to do anything, bending the rules in her favor, like ripping and cutting off the Sky Tiger’s mask, just to make sure she would stay on top.

She had Starlight Kid’s mask, and now she wanted Nakano’s hair.

With all the hopes and dreams that had her back — Nakano entered the arena alongside her Cosmic Angel members Mina Shirakawa and Unagi Sayaka. She was unable to beat her best friend Arisa Hoshiki for the same title, but could she beat her biggest rival, and an incredibly determined one?

Accompanied by sparkling pyro behind her, Giulia entered in her blue gear — whilst her entrance music, Gloria, plays her to the ring — a fitting song for the obstacle that her opponent would have to overcome to be able to win the championship.

A ruthless Giulia squares up against a resilient Tam Nakano — piledriving her through a table, giving her a Glorious Driver, but Nakano refused to stay down. She had promised to take the championship off her best friend’s hands; she never had that chance. But she has the chance to take it off the hands of Giulia, and she will do that.

Holding on just a bit longer so that she can finally finish off her biggest rival once and for all. She gives Giulia one Violet Screwdriver, it’s not enough, so she begins kicking Giulia in the chest over and over again. Promising to follow her to the end of the universe to finally surpass her. Slapping each other, the title probably means more to Tam than it does to Giulia, but Giulia wants to keep hold of it by any means necessary. Tam is a fighter, refusing to give up. Slapping her even harder than before until her rival is completely worn out. Without hesitation, she hits another Violet Screwdriver then her bridging suplex — Twilight Dream — for the three count.

Tam Nakano is the Wonder of Stardom champion.

Giulia’s hair is cut off. c/o Stardom/Bushiroad Fight

Even though Tam Nakano was finally holding the second most prestigious title in the promotion, the ongoing war between Cosmic Angels and Donna del Mondo was far from over, with her first championship defense coming from her former Actwres girl’Z friend Natsumi Maki that had joined Donna del Mondo last October under the new name Natsupoi.

Tokyo Dream Cinderella, only a few months later, had an interesting stipulation match — it was a tag team shuffle, meaning that the teams were chosen out of straws selected by each participating person in the match.

The match had six participants: Momo Watanabe, AZM, Tam Nakano, Mina Shirakawa, Giulia and Natsupoi. Each took turns drawing a straw, which ended up with AZM and Natsupoi, Momo Watanabe and Mina Shirakawa and, unfortunately, Tam Nakano and Giulia as a team.

During the match, Giulia was often reluctant to fight her friend Natsupoi, catching her and keeping her from harm instead of attacking her. It didn’t take long for the two rivals to be unable to cooperate, as Nakano would forearm her partner to the ground, with Giulia retaliating with more elbows, shouting “Winners and losers are at stake here!” and the two fighting in the middle of the ring. Yet again, they were unable to co-operate once again, with both wanting to take a worn-down Momo Watanabe to opposite sides of the ring. Even after the match had officially ended, the two kept hitting each other over and over until Tam got onto the mic and said three simple words to her partner: “You are sh**” before throwing the microphone and walking off.

Throughout the coming months, Giulia would focus on defending her Goddess of Stardom tag team championship that she won with Syuri as Alto Livello KABALIWAN (ALK), whilst taking part in that year’s 5★STAR GP. This wouldn’t last long, as she would be sidelined with an injury. Giulia was seemingly out of a tournament that she was going to win, leaving many to think “what if?”. This left Tam Nakano on her own without her rival interfering in her ambitions and dreams of defending what she called the “cursed title” alongside the Artist of Stardom championships that she had won with Mina and Unagi last year.

Since December 2020 the original Cosmic Angels trio had a firm grasp on the Artist of Stardom titles, with Tam stating that with every defense that the bond between the three grew stronger and stronger. The three became in-synch with each other, executing team moves that they couldn’t have done at the start of their reign and being able to rely on each other to effectively get through matches, whereas in the beginning it was Tam doing all the heavy lifting.

Even with Giulia out of the picture, her unit Donna del Mondo would never be far behind Cosmic Angels. MaiHimePoi had already challenged for the Artist titles once before to a time-limit draw, but they fared their luck a second time in another bout without the limit imposed on the teams. In their second attempt, MaiHimePoi would capture the trios titles from Cosmic Angels — essentially trading the White Belt for the Artist championships between the two factions.

MaiHimePoi with the Artist of Stardom championships. c/o Stardom/Bushiroad Fight

Not long after the loss of the trios titles, an inner-faction rivalry would begin after Mina and Unagi didn’t feel appreciated enough by their leader Tam and Tam herself had doubts about Unagi recruiting Waka Tsukiyama and Mai Sakurai into Cosmic Angels.

At Kawasaki Super Wars, Sakurai and Tsukiyama had a match where if Sakurai had lost, she’d be forced to leave the unit. Luckily, Sakurai won but Waka’s losing streak continued. Following the match, two masked figures assaulted both wrestlers, seemingly out for Cosmic Angels.

The always-bubbly Unagi Sayaka challenged for Tam’s Wonder of Stardom title after picking up a shock win against her leader in the 5★STAR GP, seeing Tam retain her belt.

Disputes between the Cosmic Angels weren’t over though, because at Tokyo Super Wars Mina Shirakawa challenged Tam for her Wonder of Stardom championship, bringing out her own darker side — her “bloody angel” — yet Tam was still able to hold onto her precious White Belt.

Things weren’t getting any better for Cosmic Angels either, Osaka Super Wars saw the original trio of Tam, Unagi and Mina lose a semi-final match in the 10 Million Yen Unit Tournament to STARS.

In December, Donna del Mondo’s leader would return at the company’s biggest and last PPV of the year — Dream Queendom. She took on Konami in her farewell match, a match that was not only spectacular, but a touching tribute to her former destined rival Hana Kimura, as Konami would enter in her old white gear and entrance music from her Tokyo Cyber Squad days. Giulia would hit Hana’s Tiger Lily whilst having her hair braided in the same way that Hana used to, as well as her new gear having the same silver textures from her own STARDOM debut when she first encountered Hana. Giulia was back and seemingly better than ever, getting a win in her return and saying goodbye not only to a fellow roster member but to her old rival and friend.

That same night, Tam Nakano saw herself defending her Wonder of Stardom championship against Queen’s Quest member Saya Kamitani. The two had already faced off three times before — once in the 2020 5★STAR GP and 2021 Cinderella Tournament where Kamitani won both matches and another previous White Belt challenge where Tam had retained.

There’s a reason that Nakano called the White Belt the “cursed belt”; it lets your emotions overcome you and you’ll go to hell and back for holding it. For Giulia, this was being obsessed with staying on top, bending the rules in whatever ways possible in order to win. And with Nakano, she became a fighter, hitting harder than anyone could ever expect from someone calling themselves the “Top Kawaii of the Cosmos’’. Her title challenges for the title against Arisa and Giulia demonstrated her determination to never ever give up, while her defenses against Natsupoi and Mayu Iwatani showed how far she’d go just to be able to say she was equal to her former friends.

On the brightest stage of the year, Tam was knocked off her white throne of purity and emotion as Saya Kamitani became the new Wonder of Stardom champion.

Saya Kamitani dethrones Tam Nakano to become Wonder of Stardom champion. c/o Stardom/Bushiroad Fight

Now without the Artist or Wonder of Stardom titles around her waist, Nakano seemed to be lost and confused. However she had almost no time to grieve the losses of Cosmic Angels as in the first week of January, Giulia planned to reveal the identities of the two masked attackers that had been terrorizing Tam’s stablemates in post-match attacks since November.

Just like last time, Giulia’s plan to introduce mysterious members of her unit to one-up Cosmic Angels was coming to fruition as she would be joined by MIRAI and Thekla as her partners on the first show of the year. The first, MIRAI, was a rookie that had yet to reach her potential in her old company and was recruited by Giulia. The second was Thekla, a veteran of the joshi independent scene, having spent years wrestling and honing her craft, now ready to show her talent on the biggest stage possible.

It was going great, until her ALK partner Syuri noticed that she was spending more time teaming with Donna del Mondo’s new members over her, who she was Goddess of Stardom champion with. A title challenge from Fukuoka Double Crazy (Hazuki and Koguma, “FWC”) meant that the two had to defend the belts for the first time since Giulia’s injury. The pair would end up losing the titles to the dup, and it looked as though that the decision to bring in new members to Donna del Mondo was starting to strain the relationship between the group’s two core members.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows for Cosmic Angels after the new year either. On February 22nd, Mai Sakurai made the bold decision to join Donna del Mondo and leave Cosmic Angels, proclaiming that she wanted to wrestle instead of dance. Despite all they’d been through together, Waka was distraught and Tam once again saw Giulia as someone who stood in the way of her and Cosmic Angels.

STARDOM’s first PPV of the year, Nagoya Supreme Fight, gave Giulia a massive roadblock before being able to encounter the Top Kawaii of the Cosmos once again. Five former Ice Ribbon members, who had formed the freelance group Prominence, shockingly appeared in the company. Headed by Suzu Suzuki, they were out for blood. Not just any blood — those belonging to members of Donna del Mondo — especially Giulia. Suzu Suzuki would stop at nothing to get her hands on the woman that betrayed her and left Ice Ribbon for STARDOM, and the better half of the year would see Prominence interfering in Donna del Mondo’s business time and time again.

Despite the arrival of Prominence and the ultimatum to target Donna del Mondo, Thekla would defeat Mina Shirakawa to win the SWA title that Syuri had vacated after becoming World of Stardom champion, showing that even if Tam and Giulia weren’t at the forefront of the never-ending rivalry between Cosmic Angels and concomitantly themselves, then it would be continued by others in the units.

A triple threat match was planned between Giulia, Tam Nakano and Mayu Iwatani for the right to face Syuri at World Climax for the World of Stardom championship. Tam was unable to compete due to health issues, leaving Giulia an almost certain clear path to settle things against her tag team partner. The now-singles match between Iwatani and Giulia ended in a draw, resulting in both getting a title opportunity; Giulia on the first show, then Iwatani the day after.

Alto Livello KABALIWAN would have one last match together as a team before their encounter at World Climax. Giulia, more determined than ever before to ascend to the true top of STARDOM’s mountain, piledriving Syuri through a table and attempting multiple Glorious Drivers just like she had done against Tam Nakano in their Wonder of Stardom title match almost a year ago.

December 2020 was the last time Syuri as Giulia had wrestled each other in a singles match — a title vs title match for Giulia’s Wonder of Stardom title and Syuri’s SWA championship that ended in a time-limit draw — Giulia was well aware of this fact, but underestimated the fighting spirit of Syuri that mirrored that of Tam Nakano, causing the champion to gain an advantage and pin Giulia to return her title right in the middle of the ring to retain the Red Belt.

Everything seemed fine; the two had resolved their grudge and the unit could grow to even bigger strengths… except it wasn’t fine. Syuri announced the decision to leave Donna del Mondo and lead her own faction known as God’s Eye, with the first two members being Syuri and Ami Sohrei before MIRAI would also defect from the unit a few weeks later to join the two in God’s Eye.

It was clear that Donna del Mondo was too small for such two magnetic personalities and Giulia’s insistence to outdo Tam Nakano and Cosmic Angels ultimately led to the group’s weakening position in the company and the arrival of Suzu Suzuki and Prominence from Giulia’s former home at Ice Ribbon only made that rift larger and the signs were beginning to show that maybe Giulia wasn’t the great leader she had once seen herself as.

Suzu Suzuki confronts Giulia for the first time since 2017. c/o Stardom/Bushiroad Fight

The struggle for faction supremacy would come back yet again for the two units in two different forms. Firstly, the original Cosmic Angels trio would defeat freelance group COLOR’S (SAKI, Hikari Shimizu and Yuko Sakurai) in a “losers join the opposing faction” match, adding the number of members in the unit to seven — just one more than Donna del Mondo. However, the second issue would be when Tam Nakano and Natsupoi faced off in STARDOM’s first ever steel cage match, whose long history together made it appropriate that they would be the two to enter it for the first time in the company’s history.

Tam would win, however sticking to her promise to Natsupoi that “I will never let you go”, by holding her in a sleeper at the top of the cage, before dropping down and earning the victory. The two would have a second match at Korakuen Hall, where this time Natsupoi would get the win after channeling Tam herself, pushing and pushing and never giving up before finally getting a three count. And then, to finally settle things once and for all, there was to be an elimination match at the next PPV, MidSummer Champions.

It seemed as though Giulia and Natsupoi had the match won, with the numbers game clearly favoring the two final Donna del Mondo members over the sole Cosmic Angels member left in the match. Until suddenly Natsupoi superkicked Giulia and helped Tam get the win.

Natsupoi, after all this time she had spent in opposition against her former best friend, joined her in Cosmic Angels and left Donna del Mondo — breaking the hearts of Thekla, Maika, Giulia and now-former best friend Himeka in the process. MaiHimePoi was no more.

Just like how Tam was once upset that Mai Sakurai had betrayed Cosmic Angels to join Donna del Mondo, Giulia was now upset that Natsupoi had betrayed Donna del Mondo to join Cosmic Angels.

Now with another tag team partner she could call her own, Nakano’s sights were immediately set on FWC and the Goddess of Stardom championships. Nakano had once hated Arisa Hoshiki, but had grown to appreciate her as they achieved success by winning the Goddess Tag League, although DREAM SHiNE were unable to win the titles when challenging Tokyo Cyber Squad.

With Natsupoi, someone she had once hated but had now grown to appreciate, they could finally win the championships that had alluded the career of the Top Kawaii of the Cosmos since that day. FWC was on an electric run as tag champions, dethroning the ones that initially dethroned them, Black Desire (Starlight Kid/Momo Watanabe) and defending against OhMaiGiulia (Giulia/Mai Sakurai), God’s Eye and Oedo-Tai.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and Hazuki and Koguma would lose the championships to the newly formed meltear, easing Tam of the trauma that she had experienced with the titles.

The Goddess of Stardom championships used to be so close, yet so far away — time heals all wounds — and Tam’s championship win with Natsupoi not only healed their friendship that had been broken for years since Tam left Actwres girl’Z, but it had healed the torment that Tam felt upon seeing the championships and knowing that she was never able to capture her dreams with Arisa Hoshiki.

But just as Tam Nakano had secured herself the impossible, the 2022 5★STAR Grand Prix rolled around.

It wasn’t looking good for Giulia, as on Day 1 and 2 she would be defeated by Hazuki and then again by MIRAI who was once part of Donna del Mondo, now part of God’s Eye. Hazuki was far and away winning the block with a 14-point lead ahead of everyone else, but slowly Giulia began to climb back up, defeating and ripping at the mask of Starlight Kid until the last day of the tournament arrived.

In the match to determine whether or not she could make the finals of the company’s most lucrative and important singles competition, the Dangerous Queen finds herself facing off against her former best friend, Suzu Suzuki.

The match starts with a wide shot of the ring and the crowd before zooming in on the ring, with the two competitors in frame on either corner of the ring.

Both Giulia and Suzuki are seen crying — it’s the first time they’ve had a singles match together since September 2019 in Ice Ribbon.

It was never meant to happen like this. Suzuki’s path to Giulia wasn’t intentional, nor did she anticipate it would lead to a match that would decide whether or not Giulia would advance to the finals.

She had to win or draw with Suzuki to be able to advance. This isn’t the same Suzu Suzuki she faced in singles matches three years ago. A much tougher, resilient and stronger 20 year old is across from her, not a smaller, ambitious 17 year old woman.

Donna del Mondo had defeated Prominence at World Climax in a four-on-four bout, and Prominence (Risa Sera, Suzu Suzuki) had evened the odds in a two-on-two match against OhMaiGiulia at STARDOM in Showcase, but this time, the two finally faced-off one-on-one after almost nine months of tension growing between the two.

Suzu Suzuki and Giulia meet in the 5STAR GP. c/o Stardom/Bushiroad Fight

Suzuki’s arm is taped, and Giulia wisely takes advantage of that to have a better chance of defeating her foe. However Suzuki’s strong point is with her kicks, not her arms, as well as having a true fighting spirit, highlighted through her recent win of the Catch the WAVE tournament to become Regina di WAVE champion against Miyuki Takase, and then hard-fought match against Hikaru Shida for the Regina di WAVE title, that she would lose to the AEW wrestler.

The most important part of the match isn’t the end, the start, or the middle. It’s just one move. A move that Suzuki had been using in almost every one of her matches since November 2021: The Tequila Shot.

This move was one of the moves that was used by Giulia’s former Burning Raw tag team partner, Tequila Saya. The two that had won the International Ribbon tag team championships together. Being hit by the move, which was her former partner’s finisher, being used by her former best friend that was handed down to her by her former partner? It was Giulia facing her past.

Even in an emotional match where both tried as hard as they could to come out on top, neither of them were able to. The match ended in a draw, with Giulia advancing to the finals. Was she happy with the result? No. At the very least it had simmered down some of the tension between the two that had brewed for years, and there was no doubt that another singles match was due to happen in the future.

This was an important chapter in the story of Giulia’s wrestling career. For almost three years she had moved on from the controversy surrounding her exit from Ice Ribbon, until it came back to bite her in the most important year of her career, and the time that it looked like she would ascend to the top of the company.

Now that she had faced her past that was looming over her during her first few years, it was finally time for Giulia to concentrate on the present, to determine her future and her destiny in the finals of the 5★STAR GP.

As Giulia’s road to destiny to finally become the World of Stardom champion looked clear, having missed last year’s tournament due to injury, there would be a thorn in her side waiting in the finals. A familiar face that had ripped away the Wonder of Stardom championship from her hands a year ago, forcing her to shave her head and to be reminded of what transpired in March of last year.

Her opponent was Tam Nakano.

The last time the two faced off in a one-on-one encounter, it was for Giulia’s Wonder of Stardom title match at All Star Dream Cinderella last year — This time, the stakes were higher.

It wasn’t about having Giulia’s head being shaved as a reminder of her losing her championship, it wasn’t about Tam winning the championship that she had promised Arisa that she would beat her for.

It was about the opportunity of sitting on-top of STARDOM once and for all. Tam had eyed down Syuri’s title before, and had lost to her in July for the Red Belt, but that title represented passion, and desire. “This is the landscape at the top. It’s beautiful.” as the Top Kawaii of the Cosmos had stated after being unable to defeat Syuri for the title in the summer.

For Giulia, winning the championship wouldn’t just be about proving everyone wrong, proving that she belonged in STARDOM or proving that she was good enough — she had a score to settle with Syuri, who had left Donna del Mondo following their title match at World Climax and formed God’s Eye.

Both women needed to win this tournament more than anything else they had fought for in the past. Once again, the eyes of the wrestling world were on Giulia and Tam Nakano.

They fought, and they fought. Headbutts, suplexes, submissions, nearfalls. But in the end, Giulia had prevailed.

She had won the 5★STAR that had been taken from her before, and now she was well on her way to Dream Queendom and taking the championship that should have been hers a year ago, but was taken from her by Syuri.

Nakano wasn’t going to give up. It was her destiny to be the Wonder of Stardom champion like Arisa Hoshiki had once been, and now it is her destiny to become World of Stardom champion like Mayu Iwatani had been.

With her past and her present now dealt with, the Dangerous Queen looked to prepare for her match against Syuri at Dream Queendom on December 29th.

The story of Giulia began in STARDOM by starting out as an outsider who was cocky but not confident in herself, and the transformation of the young and naive Giulia into the person that would once again challenge her former ALK tag team partner had unraveled.

Giulia was known as a fighter. Throughout the match there are strong strikes, hard-hitting action and call-backs to previous matches between the two. The final result of this match truly mattered. If Giulia can’t beat Syuri for a second time, especially on the biggest stage, then where does she go from here? She has to pin her former partner and become World of Stardom champion.

For the entirety of 2022 Syuri proved that she was the best wrestler in the world, and even then, doesn’t want to let go of the one thing that gave her that validation. Giulia needs that title for the same validation, for all the years of work that has accumulated since her debut match against Hazuki.

Syuri kicks out at one. She kicks out of the Glorious Driver, and out of various different moves, but the championship that defined Syuri this year means so much more to Giulia, knowing that in March she previously lost to Syuri. She cannot lose the World of Stardom championship to Syuri a second time.

Giulia is known as a fighter. She fought to be accepted in the beginning, she fought to keep hold of her Wonder of Stardom championship, she fought to keep Donna del Mondo alive despite many departures and unwanted arrivals. Whilst most wrestlers in STARDOM are never fully bad, Giulia is never fully good, or never fully bad. Her actions up to this point have been on varying sides of the spectrum.

She values the White Belt and tries anything to keep hold of it when she’s not confident in her own ability. Piledrivers through tables, ripping at Starlight Kid’s mask — but throughout the year, her confidence grows more and more, she believes in herself more. She still rips at Starlight Kid’s mask in the 5★STAR, but it’s not to cheat to win — it’s to prove to the world, and herself, that she is confident – to show that SLK is below her.

Early on, she looks as though she’s hurt, but she continues to fight, fighting to prove that she belonged in a world that didn’t want her three years ago, fighting to topple the Syu-Red World that had encompassed the company a year ago. Giulia pulled out the moves of those that had tenured in her faction. First was Maika’s Enka Otoshii, second was Himeka’s running powerbomb, and then also using Hana Kimura’s Tiger Lily combination.

Even with the strength of those closest to Giulia by her side, Syuri kicked out, and she knew she had to win with her own move, hitting the champion with a devastating Northern Lights Bomb, a move that was the old finishing maneuver of Akira Hokuto, the original Dangerous Queen, to win the match and become World of Stardom champion and officially cementing her name not only in the company’s history, but as the successor to Hokuto herself.

Giulia finally achieves her validation. c/o Stardom/Bushiroad Fight

Now at the top of the mountain in STARDOM, Giulia had a target on her back. Yet again, her past had come to haunt her as Suzu Suzuki is the first to step up to the challenge of taking on the newly crowned champion.

While the new Dangerous Queen was busy fighting the Vermillion Champion for the Red Belt, the Prominence trio of Risa Sera, Kurumi Hiiragi and Suzu Suzuki sought after fully establishing the name Prominence in the history books of STARDOM, challenging Oedo-Tai (Starlight Kid, Saki Kashima and Momo Watanabe) in a hardcore match for the Artist of Stardom championships at Dream Queendom. Starlight Kid is another of Suzuki’s big rivals in the company, having fought each other viscously in the 5★STAR, and going as far to mock Suzuki in their title match by using the 20-year-old’s iconic bicycle run over the opponent that she had used in her debut match in Ice Ribbon back in 2018.

Prominence are the queens of hardcore and deathmatch stipulations both within STARDOM and outside of it, decisively capturing the trios titles from Oedo-Tai and in doing so gave Suzuki her first taste of STARDOM gold alongside her other two stablemates.

Days later, Suzuki would bring her orange-coloured Artist of Stardom championship to Ice Ribbon, facing off against her protogé Yuuki Mashiro in the Gacha King’s retirement match at Ribbon Mania, whose Triangle Ribbon championship was left inactive following her retirement ceremony.

Back in January within STARDOM, Suzu Suzuki decides to make her intentions known now that her former best friend sits alone at the top of the mountain, interrupting Giulia following a match, and stating simply: “If you’re the face of women’s pro-wrestling, then I’m the face of the pro-wrestling world!”.

Suzu Suzuki challenges Giulia for the World of Stardom championship. c/o Stardom/Bushiroad Fight

Even after their encounter at the 5★STAR, the tension between the two was still present, yet Giulia interestingly tries to use her confrontations with Suzuki to lure her to appear in the company more often, to the dismay of the challenger.

The two come face-to-face at Supreme Fight 2023 in February, and it’s clear that Giulia is still ahead of Suzuki in terms of in-ring ability, only narrowly managing to scrape a win from the twenty year old that represents the freelance unit Prominence.

Despite the ability gap, the two don’t back down from each other, hitting even harder than their encounter in the 5★STAR, and with a much longer time limit for them to hurt and punish each other. Suzuki has wrestled deathmatches, she knows she can handle much more than Giulia can, who only brought out cinder blocks to a hardcore match against Suzuki and Risa Sera.

Her second challenger is another face from her past — one that hasn’t made their presence known in STARDOM yet: Maya Yukihi.

Yukihi criticized the champion for making a career out of hurting and grieving people, and Giulia responded by saying that she had to face her past, that Yukihi didn’t want to talk about the past, and it was the face of the Snow Princess that she didn’t want to see the most. Although the two didn’t team together as much as Giulia did with her Burning Raw partner Tequila Saya, the duo still shared an important bond. And with Prominence, Thekla and Maya Yukihi all leaving Ice Ribbon in the same few months, it was only inevitable that the final piece of the puzzle would make her long awaited appearance in front of the new Giulia.

The champion and then challenger Suzu Suzuki might’ve stayed within the bounds of a title match back in February, but the animosity between Giulia and Yukihi far exceeded that of anyone else the champion had been in the ring with so far. Tokyo Sports had called this the next generation of the legendary Kandori and Hokuto match, one which saw a brutal contest between wrestlers of two different organizations going at it with no holding back. Their prediction turned out to be pretty accurate, as it became evident almost immediately as the bell rang that the World of Stardom championship was going to take a backseat to the score that needed to be settled between these two.

Weapons come into play, someone is out through a table and uncharacteristically for big STARDOM main events, the match doesn’t go over twenty minutes and ends in a double countout, securing Giulia’s second defense of the Red Belt, despite it not being the focus of this match at all.

Meanwhile, Tam Nakano hands out an ultimatum to Waka Tsukiyama, the member of Cosmic Angels that can’t seem to win. If she can’t win a match before a set time period, Tsukiyama will be kicked out of Cosmic Angels. The deadline ends up being at New Blood’s first ever PPV, and the duo have to team up against one of STARDOM’s most notable pairings in both the past and the present — 7KAIRI.

That’s not the only thing happening in Cosmic Angels. Mina Shirakawa had her jaw broken by Saya Kamitani in her challenge for the Golden Phoenix’s Wonder of Stardom championship, and her return at Dream Queendom saw her bring two new wrestlers to the company: Xia Brookside and Mariah May, with the three women naming themselves Club Venus.

Unagi Sayaka had been off on her “gyan period”, antagonizing, instigating and running into as many speeding bullets as possible by attempting to square up against Tiger Queen, Chihiro Hashimoto, Jaguar Yokota, Kyoko Inoue, Takako Inoue, Shinobu Kandori and more. Along the way she became friends with JTO’s Aoi, but Sayaka’s return to STARDOM at Dream Queendom isn’t received too well by the also returning Shirakawa — now flanked by Club Venus — who makes the decision to end Pink Kabuki once and for all, marking Sayaka’s last appearance in STARDOM as she embarks on her ambitions around the world whilst Shirakawa’s new trios team enters into the newly established Triangle Derby tournament.

Mina Shirakawa’s new trio, Club Venus. c/o Stardom/Bushiroad Fight

The first New Blood Premium event comes around, and after many many training sessions to prepare Waka for this vital match, her face shows a sign of both worry and determination. Prior to this match, Tsukiyama had even threatened to quit STARDOM if she couldn’t win, leading to Takahashi slapping her and telling her not to say such things.

Her hard work and training pays off in the end, successfully pinning Nanae Takahashi right in the middle of the ring with a roll-up, saving not only her membership of Cosmic Angels but her STARDOM career too. The next day, she is officially allowed to enter the Cinderella Tournament, and defeats her old C-Moon partner Lady C to advance in the tournament. Tam also advances in the tournament by eliminating Maika, however her progress is ended with a screeching halt when she’s eliminated in the second round by Natsuko Tora.

With STARDOM’s biggest show ever around the horizon on April 23rd, Giulia still needed an opponent. All Star Grand Queendom was taking place at the legendary Yokohama Arena, and already a slew of matches had already been set, yet nothing was concrete for Giulia.

Luckily, someone decided that the World of Stardom champion didn’t deserve to get some time to herself after going to a double countout at the Triangle Derby 1 pay-per-view, and from the entranceway onto the ramp and into the ring walks Tam Nakano. The biggest stage in STARDOM’s twelve year history is coming, and Nakano believes that there’s only one person that can challenge Giulia: “I want you to fight me for this Red Belt”.

Giulia’s response wasn’t too keen in the beginning, “Are you finished babysitting Waka Tsukiyama now?” Nakano retorts by saying that she’ll win for Waka, and she’ll put anything on the line to get the title: “My hair, my fortune, my name!”. The champion seems quite fine with just putting the title on the line between the two, and the match is set, but not before Tam says that she’ll “drag you down to Hell” towards her rival.

Things begin to very quickly heat up between Tam and Giulia, more so than has ever been between them. Giulia and the soon-to-retire Himeka are main-eventing a show at KBS Hall against Natsupoi and Tam. The story between Himeka and her former partner Natsupoi clearly aren’t over, and neither is the ignited flames of disdain between Tam and Giulia, as after successfully winning the match, Tam grabs a pair of scissors and cuts a piece of Giulia’s hair off before lifting up the World of Stardom championship above the champion’s body laying in the ring.

Tam Nakano poses with Giulia’s hair and championship. c/o Stardom/Bushiroad Fight

The challenger remembers the frustration of finally winning the Wonder of Stardom championship, only for her monumental victory to be overshadowed by the hairless loser: “I’m going to win and take everything from you. I’ll make you go through so much despair that you’ll never want to get into the ring again”.

Nakano by saying that she doesn’t want the Red Belt to be used to settle Giulia’s past as it had been before with her former Ice Ribbon friends.

In the online world, the animosity becomes a vicious trade of back-and-forths between the two. Nakano says that Donna del Mondo has entered a period of stagnation with Natsupoi now in Cosmic Angels and Himeka retiring at All Star Grand Queendom, claiming that she has done a better job at making her stablemates shine as opposed to Giulia. She recounts that the Dangerous Queen didn’t even make the Top 10 of the fan-voted STARDOM General Election, saying that the company is going to lose money because of an unpopular champion. Nakano herself was third in the election, saying “The president said to me that I’m always first or second in merchandise sales”, promising that if she was champion, everyone would benefit and get better salaries.

Giulia likened Tam’s comments to an anonymous hater online, stating that if the “meaningless” New Year’s poll was to be trusted, then Natsupoi would deserve to be World of Stardom champion and that if that was the case, it makes people think that STARDOM is just glitter and glamor.

She continues by saying that she hates the phrase “making people shine”, asking her opponent to put herself in the shoes of those she says it too.

Nakano replies by stating that she never said that and if anything, professional wrestling allows everyone to shine, and Tam herself is able to shine because of Cosmic Angels and Waka Tsukiyama.

Following on from that, she says “Your reading comprehension skills are lacking, octopus. Don’t be like the haters who don’t understand, unless I explain everything from zero to one hundred, meathead”.

Nakano then goes back and rebuttals Giulia’s earlier comments on the New Year’s poll, saying that if wrestlers have bigger salaries then they can afford better training and conditioning to improve their performances within the ring. If the company is profitable, then it’s possible to produce a performance that compliments the wrestlers.

The champion rebuts, stating that you should be able to do quality training regardless of income because you’re a wrestler. She claims that Tam uses plastic surgery, and that she’s only putting her life on the line for cuteness and popularity.

Once again, Tam replies, reminding her that the point was that you’re able to train better with more money. Tam says that this is a profession that gives people around the world hopes and dreams, and urges Giulia to do something about her wrinkles.

Giulia does not respond.

At the beginning of April, STAROM would hold a press conference for All Star Grand Queendom, including a conference for the World of Stardom championship title match.

At the conference, Nakano reveals that she kept hold of Giulia’s shaved hair from their Wonder of Stardom championship match at the Nippon Budokan so that she would never let go of the hatred that she had for her.

She believes that even though she took Giulia’s hair and title, she didn’t believe that she had beaten her. All the spotlight was on bald Giulia and not her crowning moment. The only thing she could hear as champion was Giulia. She took her spotlight and she had taken Mai Sakurai from her to Donna del Mondo. The challenger ends the conference by saying she wishes to beat Giulia into no longer existing, wanting her to disappear and finally be the undisputed number one of STARDOM. Nakano even proposes the idea of disbanding Cosmic Angels if she loses.

Giulia compares her opponent to a stalker, and her obsession with taking things away from people, asking if that’s the only thing she’s capable of doing. She questions if that’s why she became a wrestler, because she was a failed idol that was unable to be the center of attention.

The two get up and brawl, and the champion headbutts Tam, causing her to bleed. She stands on top of her, clutching her Red Belt as she pulls Tam’s head from the ground, highlighting the blood pouring down from her face as she poses towards the media with her title.

Only a week away from All Star Grand Queendom, and Donna del Mondo successfully defeat Cosmic Angels in a 2-out-of-three falls match, with Giulia and Tam trading pins with each other for the first two falls and Maika defeating Natsupoi with the Michinoku Driver II to score the final pin.

The Top Kawaii of the Cosmos doesn’t have much time to process the loss when immediately after the match had ended, Mina Shirakawa enters the ring and announces that she is leaving Cosmic Angels, with her new group Club Venus becoming its own faction moving forward. She has no hard feelings towards anyone in Cosmic Angels, but believes it is the best thing for her.

On the outside, Waka Tsukiyama looks confused, and both unit leaders walk up to her at ringside and urge her to make a decision on whether to stay with Tam Nakano, or join Mina Shirakawa in Club Venus. It’s a difficult choice that takes Waka a minute or two to think about, but in the end she chooses to continue her career alongside Mina instead of staying loyal to Tam, who helped her get her first win.

With Mina and Waka both gone from Cosmic Angels and the ring, Tam sits down and cries in the ring, apologizing to Natsupoi and SAKI for being such a horrible leader. However, hope is not lost just yet.

From ringside, the “Absolute Indomitable Girlfriend” Saori Anou, who will be teaming with Natsupoi, Tam and KAIRI at All Star Grand Queendom under the team name REstart, enters the ring and asks simply to join Cosmic Angels, promising to support Tam Nakano and the group moving forward.

Nakano accepts the offer, and the show ends with SAKI, Natsupoi, Tam Nakano and Saori Anou all on the stage doing the Cosmic Angels pose.

Saori Anou joins Cosmic Angels. c/o Stardom/Bushiroad Fight

All Star Grand Queendom is an important show. It’s the highest attended show by an all women’s wrestling company in the 21st Century and the first time a women’s company has run Yokohama Arena since 2003. Rossy Ogawa’s vision of the future of women’s professional wrestling has led to this day — April 23, 2023.

The Top Kawaii of the Cosmos has an insurmountable task ahead of her: Defeat Giulia on the biggest and grandest stage in STARDOM’s twelve year history. The last time Nakano faced Giulia in a title match, it was for the belt that she had promised Arisa Hoshiki she would take from her. Now, she faces Giulia for the most prestigious championship in women’s professional wrestling.

Since debuting for STARDOM in 2017, Nakano has faced off against many people that have held the World of Stardom championship: Nanae Takahashi, Io Shirai, Kagetsu, Syuri Kondo, Kairi Hojo, Utami Hayashishita, Toni Storm, Mayu Iwatani; all her mornings, afternoons, evenings, days and nights have led her to this day.

But to Giulia, this is just another title defense. The arrogant and brash Wonder of Stardom champion was back yet again, now holding an even more important possession around her waist. She was the face of women’s pro-wrestling, and had been since December when she defeated Syuri for the title. Every part of her past had crept up to her, culminating in a match at Yokohama Arena against the one part that would never go away.

This was the end of a three year long feud that had encompassed STARDOM since May 2020, and now the story finally had to end with one of them leaving as the undisputed top of the women’s wrestling sphere.

Tam Nakano was a fighter who would never give up on her dreams, she would never concede unless she couldn’t possibly go on any more. It’s a tenacity that STARDOM has never seen before, and today was her day to achieve the twilight dream.

As they had done so many times in the past, for the White Belt, for the 5★STAR GP, and now for the biggest prize in STARDOM, the two didn’t hold back. They had fought and fought just for the privilege to prove that they were better than the other, but their paths continued to be intertwined even when they became focused on other things. Encountering each other at every step, an inevitability that they would once again be across the ring from each other.

They fought up the ramp, as Nakano hits her Violet Shooting running knee, the chaos unfolding outside of the squared circle, both determined to show that they should be the World of Stardom champion. Throughout the three years they had evolved – their looks, their presentation, their movement, but the way they treated each other had remained constant no matter what.

Trading blows, trading faction members, trading championships between their units – their beliefs sometimes compromised in order to one-up the other.

Ten minutes had passed as the challenger remembered everything she had been through until this point. From being kicked out from Oedo-Tai and losing her friends, feeling neglected by Iwatani for Kashima and Hoshiki, finding new friends in Cosmic Angels, only for the first two to leave her side, reconciling with Natsupoi, being joined by Saori Anou. Every thought and feeling she had ever held in the last six years all came down to this – one last opportunity to end her story with Giulia for good.

Tam got Giulia’s body up for the Violet Screwdriver, holding her up in place for five seconds, and dropping her back onto the mat.

One… two…

Three.

On the grandest stage, under the brightest lights, main eventing the most important show in STARDOM history since January 23rd, 2011, Tam Nakano fulfilled her twilight dream, becoming the sixteenth World of Stardom champion and ending Giulia’s reign at only 115 days, making it one of the shortest Red Belt reigns in the company’s history.

Tam Nakano as World of Stardom champion. c/o Stardom/Bushiroad Fight

Tam Nakano and Giulia SNS translations (April 2023) by Himanshu Doi

Written by:

Initially hired for social media management and Joshi coverage, I lead the coverage of joshi between May 2023 and March 2024, and worked behind the scenes in multiple roles since August 2022 that allowed Monthly Puroresu to smoothly operate.