World Wonder Ring Stardom is considered by many to be one of the world’s leading all women’s promotion. Commonly referred to as simply Stardom, it is the most accessible joshi puroresu (Japanese women’s wrestling) promotion for English language viewers. In this piece, we will introduce you to the all-important factions in the promotion, the champions and establish a hierarchy for who is at the top of the card and who is at the bottom.
Stardom: The Style
Stardom began as more of an idol promotion – meaning there is more emphasis on characters and good looks – but as it’s progressed, it’s become some of the best wrestling in the world. As a promotion, it is looking to build stars that will gain a die-hard fanbase that will support them and buy their merchandise. One of the bonuses of Stardom is that matches are usually not too long, as they appreciate a solid, fun 8-minute match as much as a 30-minute epic. There is a variety of wrestlers too, as you have hard hitters, powerhouses, comedy, lucha and high speed, as well as imports with their own unique style. In one card, you can get a high octane trios match, a hard-hitting Momo match, a comedy match and a fun tag team match. The variety mixed with nice, bite-size matches helps make the promotion a treat to watch.
Where To Watch
The promotion has its own Video On Demand service called Stardom World. The site is fully translated and is very easy to sign up for (there will be a delay in receiving confirmation emails to verify your account so make sure you have 5-10 minutes free to wait on the email). Another important note is you will be billed on the first of the month, even if you sign up at the very end of the previous month (similar to New Japan’s NJPW World), so for best value wait until the first of the month to sign up.
- Natsu Sumire
- Session Moth Martina
- Nao Yamaguchi
The loveable rebels Oedo Tai currently houses the World Of Stardom and High Speed championships. All about doing their half-assed best they are meant to be heels but the crowd has warmed up to their antics and usually cheers or laughs along with their latest shenanigans. They are the cool faction with masks, a dance and more personality than you can shake a stick at.
- Mayu Iwatani
- Tam Nakano
- Arisa Hoshiki
- Saki Kashima
- Starlight Kid
- Shiki Shibusawa
The goofball babyface Idols STARS is lead by Icon Mayu Iwatani. When it comes to STARS it is made up of truly good babyfaces who haven’t got an evil bone in their body. Over the last year they have become the home of lost toys as they welcomed Kashima and Hoshiki back to Stardom and welcomed Tam Nakano in after she was forced to leave Oedo Tai. STARS are the adorkable faction fashioned after Iwatani herself.
- Momo Watanabe
- Utami Hayashishita
- Bea Priestley
Queens Quest is the faction of former ace (and now NXT Superstar) Io Shirai. They are the pure wrestling faction. If you don’t like comedy or over the top personalities than Queen’s Quest is the faction for you. Konami and Watanabe especially are two cocky girls that will kick your skin off, AZM is a brat that is constantly belittling her opponents and Hayashishita is the Super Rookie with a Judo background. All about wrestling and making sure other people know they are the best Queen’s Quest are clear heels.
- Jungle Kyona
- Natsuko Tora
- Kaori Yoneyama
- Leo Onozaki
JAN is the colourful powerhouses. Both agile and strong they all have an animal persona. Specialists in trios and tag matches their singles runs don’t peak as high as the other factions but they are always a fun team to watch. Big favourites if you like colourful performers that have a big variety in their faction.
World Of Stardom Championship (The Red Belt): Kagetsu
The number one title in the promotion, it has only been held by nine people since its inception in 2011. It has been held by names like Nanae Takahashi, Io Shirai, Meiko Satomura, Kairi Hojo and Toni Storm. Currently held by trainer and veteran Kagetsu it has not had the greatest 12 months as Mayu Iwatani’s reign was unfortunately cut short by a freak injury. This lead to Toni Storm having a poor reign where she was unavailable to defend the title due to other commitments, Kagetsu’s reign has not been much better unfortunately, as Stardom seems to be focusing more on Momo Watanabe and Utami Hayashishita than Kagetsu. A prestigious title and one that only a handful of names have held, it is the main title in the promotion that will get back to its former glory soon.
Wonder Of Stardom Championship (The White Belt): Momo Watanabe
The White Belt is much like new Japan’s Intercontinental Championship, as it is often put on a big name and main event’s the odd big show but in recent times has almost become as popular as the number one title. Io Shirai’s run brought the prestige of this title up as her star power made it more important during Toni Storm’s miserable reign with the Red Belt. Shirai’s reign was ended by the new Ace, Momo Watanabe, who has been many people’s pick for Joshi Wrestler Of The Year. The number two title in the promotion has seen a huge surge in prestige over the last two years but may never overtake the Red Belt as Stardom’s number one championship
High Speed Championship: Hazuki
Brought over from NEO Ladies and dominated by Natsuko Taiyo in its early days. This title was, obviously, built around fast-paced matches involving some really good lucha style action. Always put on more exciting in-ring talents like Taiyo, Iwatani and Leon. The last champion Mary Apache did not make many defences and isn’t necessarily a high-speed kind of wrestler. Now on rising star Hazuki it is going back to its roots.
Goddesses Of Stardom Championships: Queen’s Quest (Momo Watanabe & Utami Hayashishita)
The tag team championships have been bounced around lately but are always good for delivering really good matches. Much like the old All Japan Pro Wrestling method of booking tag titles, you usually have a main event level star holding one of the two titles which makes them more prestigious. With faction warfare being a big storytelling method in the company, there is never a lack of teams to deliver fun matches for these titles.
Artist Of Stardom Championships: STARS (Mayu Iwatani, Saki Kashima & Tam Nakano)
Stardom’s trios championships are used for action-packed, balls to the wall trios matches that Stardom does better than any other company in the world. Currently held by a really talented team of Iwatani, Kashima and Nakano they will continue to be the source of some of the most enjoyable matches on any Stardom card.
Future Of Stardom championship: Starlight Kid
A title introduced back in March for the next generation of talents to fight for. Currently held by the Starlight Kid, a protege and future star for the company, it plays a good job in giving the rookies something to fight for and providing them with the opportunity to work big singles matches.
SWA Undisputed World Women’s Championship: Viper
Originally meant to be defended by other promotions within the Stardom Wrestling Alliance it has not been defended outside the main promotion since December 2017. Only defended three times this year, Viper is a good champion and talented wrestler but will hopefully see an increased role as SWA champion should Stardom continue their renewed international expansion. Another interesting rule about this title is it can not be defended against a wrestler from the same country as the title holder, meaning Stardom have to be more creative when it comes to title defences.
Stardom: The Big Four
The faction leaders and the most protected members of the roster Kagetsu, Momo Watanabe, Mayu Iwatani and Jungle Kyona. These are the four most likely candidates to ever hold the World Of Stardom championship and people that rarely if ever take falls in multi-person matches.
The right-hand gals of the faction leaders Hazuki, Natsuko Tora, Utami Hayashishita and Saki Kashima. They are likely to hold the Wonder Of Stardom championship and will often challenger for the World Championship. Usually, go 50/50 in terms of pins won and pins lost in tag matches they are more protected than the lower card but are not invincible.
Stardom: The Midcard
This is the comedy wrestlers, the pin eaters in factions and some of the wrestlers in limbo without a faction. This is where we see Hana Kimura, Mary Apache, Konami, Kaori Yoneyama, Natsu Sumire, Tam Nakano, AZM and Arisa Hoshiki. Usually going to take the pin when involved in a match but can get the occasional win if being pushed and always beat rookies when facing them
The rookies usually found in the opening two matches of the card, and usually seen on ring duty during later matches. Mostly under the age of 18 with a lot of room to grow this is the division of Utami Hayashishita, Starlight Kid, Ruaka, Shiki Shibusawa, Hanan, Leo Onozaki, Rina, Hina and Natsumi.
Stardom has some regular imports that have joined factions. Their role usually depends on the tour but they always get at least one title match if it isn’t for a league. Oedo Tai has Session Moth Martina in their ranks, Queen’s Quest has a UK division of Bea Priestley, Chardonnay and Viper. Other talents like Kay Lee Ray and Jamie Hayter have been over before, Hayter is back in January, while KLR hasn’t been seen since the start of 2018.