Star Gazing: Jungle Kyona

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Photo: SquaredCircleSirens

Star Gazing is our series which will add to our already growing coverage of World Wonder Ring Stardom (Also known simply as Stardom) and the Joshi scene where we will get you up to speed with members of the Stardom roster. Today we will be focusing on one of the most popular members of the roster Jungle Kyona.

One of the top wrestlers in Stardom throughout 2018/2019, Jungle Kyona has been a top player in the company for years now. Currently one-half of the Goddesses of Stardom Champions, Kyona is one of the most beloved wrestlers in Stardom, likely due to her passion and love for professional wrestling. So, let’s take a look back at the four years of blood, sweat, and tears that have made Jun-Kyo the wrestler she is today. 

Life Among The Gorillas

Jungle Kyona
Photo: ameblo.jp

Unlike most Joshi wrestlers who begin their careers at an extremely young age, Kyona didn’t make her pro wrestling debut until 24 years old. Instead, Kyona spent her early twenties working in the Republic of Senegal on the Western Coast of Africa. These two years in Africa prompted Kyona to display her love for the jungle in both name & character when she made her debut in November 2015.

Debuting in a win over Momo Watanabe on November 15th, 2015, Jungle made a big first impression in the company when she won the Rookie of Stardom Tournament just a month after her debut. By the time 2016 rolled around, Kyona had already started making attempts at the Goddesses of Stardom as well as the Artists of Stardom championships alongside Momo Watanabe. 

Momo and Kyona (now known as “JKGReeeeN”) teamed regularly throughout 2016, facing the likes of Thunder Rock and different combinations of an ever-evolving Oedo Tai. 2016 also featured Kyona’s first appearances in both the Cinderella Tournament and the 5STAR Grand Prix, falling short on both occasions. Shortly after the 5STAR of course came Goddesses of Stardom Tag League, which marked JKGReeeN’s first and last tag team tournament together. Ending with a record of 1-2, the young duo were unable to make it to the finals.

Bringing Gold to the Jungle

Photo: wwr-stardom.com

Shortly after Tag League 2016 concluded, tragedy struck the Jungle as Momo betrayed her partner, becoming one of the founding members of Io Shirai’s Queen’s Quest. This prompted Kyona to start teaming alongside various unaffiliated roster members as well as freelancers such as Hiroyo MatsumotoKonami, and Kaori Yoneyama. As 2017 quickly got underway, Kyona wasted no time in attempting to get her first taste of singles gold. After unsuccessfully challenging Kay Lee Ray for her ICW Women’s Championship, Kyona aimed for an even bigger challenge: Kairi Hojo and her Wonder of Stardom Championship.

Kairi, who at the time was also one half of the Goddesses of Stardom Champions, accepted the challenge from Kyona, who had claimed Hojo was an inspiration to her as a wrestler. What ensued was Kyona’s best match up to that point, as the underdog used Jungle Power to take Kairi to her absolute limit, only to come up short after 17 minutes of competition. This did not, however, stop Kyona from making one more challenge for Hojo after the match, this time for her & Yoko Bito’s Goddesses of Stardom Titles.

Alongside Hiroyo Matsumoto, Kyona finally fulfilled her dreams of winning gold in her hometown of Nagoya. Along with winning the tag team titles in front of all her friends and family, Jungle Kyona also cemented herself as a fierce competitor in Stardom with this win over such high caliber talent. Over the following months, Kyona & Matsumoto created “Team Jungle” alongside Kaori Yoneyama and Natsuko Tora. The new stable hit the ground running as the reigning tag champs & Yoneyama claimed the Artists of Stardom Championships, briefly making Kyona a double champion before quickly dropping the Goddesses of Stardom titles to Hana Kimura and Kagetsu of Oedo Tai.

Jungle in Jeopardy 

Shortly after losing the Goddesses of Stardom titles, Team Jungle also lost their newly won Artists of Stardom titles in August of 2017. Kyona, who took the pin from her Queen’s Quest adversaries, also suffered a depressed fracture in her nose that fortunately did not take her out of action as that year’s 5STAR started just one week later.

After a relatively successful 5STAR (Going 4-3 in block competition), Kyona once again made a bid for the White Belt, unsuccessfully challenging Yoko Bito in her hometown of Nagoya. Despite her failure to claim the belt, Kyona impressed Yoko and teamed alongside her in the 2017 Goddesses of Stardom tournament. The makeshift team accumulated a block record of 2-1-1, making it all the way to the finals before losing to the team of Bea Priestley and Kelly Klien.

Over the following months heading into 2018, Team Jungle noticeably started to become weaker compared to its original composition. Hiroyo Matsumoto became growingly scarce in the company before leaving completely by March, and Kaori had various other commitments around the Joshi world. This left Kyona and Natsuko as the only members of the group to frequently appear on shows for the first half of the year. This loss of steam culminated at the 2018 Stardom Draft, where Team Jungle went unpicked by all three of the official factions, eventually being lumped in with Mayu Iwatani’s “STARS” to end the night. Kyona’s anger from the situation prompted her, Natsuko and Kaori (alongside rookies Leo Onozaki and Ruaka) to quickly secede from STARS and create their own faction; Thus, the “Jungle Assault Nation” was born. 

Nationalism (The Good Kind)

Jungle Kyona
Photo: wwr-stardom.com

JAN, risen from the ashes of Team Jungle, quickly got Jungle Kyona back on track. Within a month of leading her new group, she was able to win the vacant Artists of Stardom titles, this time alongside Natsuko Tora & Kaori Yoneyama. Jungle looked to continue this momentum into yet another White Belt challenge, this time against former tag team partner and eternal rival Momo Watanabe. Set for the Korakuen Hall show in June 2018, Kyona was unsuccessful yet again at claiming her first singles championship of her career. 

This loss did not stop Jungle from having a great summer, as JAN was able to defend their Artists of Stardom Championships twice before the end of the season. With Autumn, however, came the debut of Utami Hayashishita who debuted with the intent to quickly surpass Kyona as the “Top Power Wrestler” in the company. The adversaries took to battle in Utami’s debut, with Kyona unable to beat the rookie after 15 minutes of action. 

The draw shocked many, as a rookie being able to survive 15 minutes against such a prominent member of the roster was next to unheard of. The story continued into the 2018 5STAR Grand Prix, where Kyona ended with a 3-2-2 record, tying once again against Utami Hayashishita, as well as against the reigning World of Stardom Champion, Kagetsu.

With her third 5STAR in the books, Kyona returned her focus to tag team gold, battling alongside her fellow JAN members against STARS in two championship matches in two consecutive days. While JAN was unable to retain the Artists of Stardom titles Kyona & Natsuko were able to take the Goddesses of Stardom belts in return. This was undoubtedly JAN’s biggest victory to date, and it came just in time for the 2018 Goddesses of Stardom Tag Team Tournament. This also, however, marked the start of Kyona’s misfortune in Tag League, as she and Natsuko were only able to defeat two of their opponents, a low mark for the reigning champions.

Big Match Kyona

The bad luck for Kyona only continued as the year neared its end. In their first defense of the tag team titles, JAN lost the belts to the Tag League winners in Utami Hayashishita & Momo Watanabe, Jungle’s two worst enemies. On top of this, a disgruntled Natsuko Tora declared her intentions to step out of Kyona’s shadow, and to no longer challenge for titles alongside Jun-Kyo. This led to a singles match between the stablemates, and while it ended in yet another time limit draw, it was able to settle their differences for the time being.

With the goddesses of Stardom titles out of question for the moment, Kyona started a journey towards Kagetsu’s World of Stardom Championship. Her desired match for the Red Belt was up for grabs in a four-way match against Konami, Hana Kimura, and Kagetsu herself at the Year-End Climax 2018. It was here that Kyona was able to get a pinfall victory over Kagetsu, making her the sole contender for the crown heading into the new year.

So as the new year commenced, Kyona challenged Kagetsu at the Stardom 8th Anniversary Show in Korakuen Hall. Kyona would fall short of capturing the title but was able to put on one of her best performances to date in the process. That is, until the Spring of 2019 when, in her hometown of Nagoya, Jungle Kyona faced Momo Watanabe once again for the Wonder of Stardom Title in one of the highest-praised matches in Stardom history. Getting a 4.5 Star Rating from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the match was one for the ages, with the crowd fiending for a Jungle Kyona win, only for all the air to be completely sucked out of the building as Kyona once again failed to claim the White Belt.

Loss of Habitat

Hana Kimura

As April rolled around, so did the 2nd Annual Stardom Draft. This year, however, a stipulation was added that the loser of the 5-Way match between the faction leaders had to completely disband their own unit. Unfortunately, Kyona was the eventual loser of the battle, disbanding the group she had attempted to grow for an entire year; For the 2nd year in a row, the members of JAN were homeless.

Kyona, visibly distraught after the loss, was subsequently drafted to Hana Kimura’s brand new army, which would go on to be named “Tokyo Cyber Squad”. Alongside old allies such as Konami and a new and improved “Death” Yama San, Kyona took the change of scenery in stride, though it did quickly create an enemy of Natsuko Tora, who blamed Kyona for the deteriorating state and eventual loss of JAN over the first half of the year. The former duo quickly had a chance to fight it out (much to Jungle’s dismay) in the first round of the Cinderella Tournament, where Natsuko defeated her former leader in the middle of the ring.

As her membership to TCS continued, Kyona slowly started showing less and less “Jungle Qualities” so to speak. Soon after winning her third Artist of Stardom Championship, this time alongside Konami and Hana Kimura, Kyona changed her gear, theme music, and her mannerisms both in and out of the ring; Come the end of Summer 2019, Jungle Kyona had become a completely different competitor than the girl who challenged for the Red Belt just a handful of months prior.

A New Act Opens

Photo: Stardom

Despite her apparent change in attitude, Jungle did not change just how good she is in the ring. As a major player in growing TCS into a prominent role on the roster, Kyona teamed up with Konami & Hana Kimura in a memorable, albeit short, Artists of Stardom Title reign, complete with matching gear to boot. The trio was only able to successfully defend the belts once before losing them back to STARS, however, this presented the opportunity for Kyona to reacquaint herself with some old enemies in Momo Watanabe & Utami Hayashishita.

The reigning Goddesses of Stardom Champions, Momo and Uta were challenged by Kyona & Konami soon after their loss of the Trios belts. Wanting, among other things, revenge on Momo for ruining her Homecoming months earlier, the match was set for the Main Event for “Big Summer in Nagoya” in July 2019. It was here that Kyona was able to win the tag team titles in front of her hometown of Nagoya for the third time in her career. 

As is almost customary for Kyona up to this point, after this huge burst of tag team momentum, Jungle decided to take a shot at the White Belt for the fifth time. This time, reigning champion and 1st Generation Stardom wrestler Arisa Hoshiki was standing in her way. While the match was yet another MOTY Candidate by two high caliber performers, it was once again Kyona who walked away without the White & Silver. 

Tag Team Excellency

Jungle Kyona

While an unfortunate shoulder injury would end up taking Kyona out of the latter half of the 2019 5STAR Grand Prix, Jun-Kyo was, fortunately, able to return in time to resume her Tag Team dominance alongside Konami. After already having one successful title defense up to this point, it looked as if the tag team champions would pick up where they left off with the 2019 Goddesses of Stardom Tag League getting underway. This, however, was far from the case, as Kyona would end up losing 3 of their 5 matches with a 4th going to a draw. 

Since the Goddesses Tournament, Jungle & Konami have gone on a tear, defeating the Tag League winners Tam Nakano & Arisa Hoshiki in yet another classic of a match. Just a few weeks after that, the TCS duo was also able to get redemption on Rhio Starlight Kid after going to a draw with them in the tournament. As 2020 gets underway, Kyona will look to continue her already impressive run as tag team champion, and, hopefully, be able to finally claim a singles title all for herself.

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.  And make sure to subscribe to Stardom World to see Kyona’s “Jungle Power” on full display.

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