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Mai Sakurai: The Evolution of Her Ladyship

7 months ago Mai Sakurai at the opening day of the 5STAR GP on 7.23.23 c/o Masahiro Kubota

Mai Sakurai at the opening day of the 5STAR GP on 7.23.23 c/o Masahiro Kubota

Mai Sakurai: The Evolution of Her Ladyship

By: Ben Harris

A good character can change a wrestler’s career. There have been many examples of this over the years, with a recent one being WWE’s LA Knight. STARDOM have their own recent example in Mai Sakurai. The Donna del Mondo member has arguably been one of the surprise break-out stars of 2023. Her ‘Ladyship’ character is entertaining fans with her snobby personality and comedic antics. I want to look back on how she introduced this character and how she’s evolved it over the past few months. Before that, though, it’s important to be reminded of her time in Cosmic Angels.

It never felt like Mai Sakurai was a good fit for Tam Nakano’s Cosmic Angels. She was not able to display the bubbly personality that the other members possessed, nor did she have an engaging story that fans could connect with. Waka Tsukiyama, the other inexperienced member of the unit, overshadowed Sakurai thanks to her incredible losing streak story which captured the hearts of many. Sakurai herself was seemingly aware of this, as in February 2022 she would commit the ultimate act of betrayal. She announced that she wanted to join Giulia in Donna Del Mondo right in front of Tam Nakano. In her own words, she “didn’t join STARDOM to become a dancer, but a wrestler”. It was a shocking moment for fans.

As 2022 progressed, it became clear that Sakurai joining DDM was the right decision. New gear and a new look allowed her to establish her own identity. A story was told of her being taken under Giulia’s wing and improving as a result. Sakurai picked up wins in main event tag matches, scored numerous pins over her friend-turned-rival Tsukiyama and even qualified for the 5STAR GP. It was around the time of the 5STAR that Sakurai further developed her identity. Alongside Giulia, she put in a great performance against Prominence in a Hardcore match. Steel tube scaffolding even became her trademark weapon. It was remarkable to witness her improving in-ring wise and becoming a bit of an extremist. Mai even went as far as pulling out a Harlem Hangover in a later match. No longer did she look inexperienced. Character-wise, she still lacked a clear personality but used the New Blood PPVs as opportunities to prove that she possesses charisma. When teaming with LINDA, she embraced her team mate’s dominatrix gimmick. Who could forget the tag team with Chanyota too? These two have provided much entertainment together, from dressing up as bunny girls and eating carrots to tormenting executive producer Rossy Ogawa.

After eliminating Giulia from this year’s Cinderella Tournament, she took the mic to deliver another important promo in her career. High on confidence, she seemed to happily be asking fans what they’d be doing after the show. Her expression and tone then changed all of a sudden. She instead insulted them by calling them “commoners” and saying they’d be eating at a train station, then thinking about “this Lady” at home afterwards. It’s a promo that came out of nowhere but raised intrigue. Over the coming weeks, her confidence grew with each Cinderella win which brought out more of this new character. She began referring to herself as “Your Ladyship” towards crowds, which they instantly caught on to and would chant despite being insulted by her. She also spoke in upper class language to present herself as being superior. This attitude arguably inspired her to reach the Cinderella Tournament finals. She may have narrowly lost to MIRAI, but the past few weeks of her career had caught fans’ interests going forward.

Mai Sakurai turned her focus to altering her appearance to match her character. She brags about being rich, so she has to look like she is. Big hats with feathers attached have since become a trademark clothing item for Sakurai, along with elegant, expensive-looking robes. After debuting these as her entrance gear, newcomers to STARDOM were now able to know instantly who she is as a character when walking through the curtain. Sakurai also began to wear more makeup around this time, particularly bright red lipstick. With her continuing to participate in physical matches, such as a steel cage match against STARS, she could be seen as breaking the stereotype of this type of character avoiding difficult situations to protect themselves. In recent months, Sakurai also debuted new ring gear. The colours, furry shoulder straps and puffy arm sleeves further add to her image. Of course, we can’t forget about her iconic pose where she encourages audiences to look at her face. Her DDM team mates even join in once in a while.

More character traits have been established over the past few weeks, as Mai continues to evolve. Her post-match promos are now so common that she even speaks after losing a match. At one show, she refused to talk to the crowd which hilariously resulted in boos. During her entrances, Sakurai now throws money out to the poor commoners. Her face is on the notes, of course. She even uses her cash as a weapon in matches. She’ll intercept a running attack by throwing money into her opponent’s face. Sometimes, other wrestlers will pick up the cash for themselves as seen in the Y-Shirt Battle Royal at Natsu Sumire’s recent produce show. Another new trait from Mai is moves that solely allow her to showboat. The most common one is where she ties up her opponent’s arms and legs, turns them onto their front then sits on them while posing. It perfectly encapsulates who she is. Watching her pull it off while dressed like Darth Vader at Halloween Dark Night was a sight to behold.

‘Her Ladyship’ is such a simple character yet it is unique for STARDOM and Mai Sakurai’s performances in the role are fantastic. It’s fair to say that she enjoys it given that she is constantly adding stuff to her appearance, promos and matches. With all the comedy that she provides, it’s important to remember her continued growth as a wrestler. She’s developed into a reliable competitor. Being placed in a tag team with Wonder of Stardom Champion MIRAI for the Goddess of Stardom Tag League tournament could be seen as evidence of that.

Mai Sakurai is someone who is difficult to keep your eyes off at this moment as well as for the foreseeable future, and that is exactly what she wants to hear from us commoners.

Written by:

Hello! Based in Wales, I am a university graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Creative Writing & Media. I'm currently a freelance writer and run my own blog called Dropkick Media. For most of my life, I've been a wrestling fan and fell in love with joshi puroresu a few years ago. Writing about wrestling has increased my passion for the sport, and I'm especially intrigued by STARDOM.