The logo of World Wonder Ring Stardom
|Trading name||World Wonder Ring Stardom|
|Romanized name||Wārudo Wandā Ringu Sutādamu|
|Founded||September 7, 2010|
|Headquarters||Sumitomo Nakano Sakagami Building, 1-38-1 Chuo, Nakano, Tokyo 164-0011|
|Key people||Takaaki Kidani|
(President of Bushiroad)
(President and Representative Director)
Streaming network service
|Sister||New Japan Pro-Wrestling|
|Website||Official Japanese Website|
World Wonder Ring Stardom, legal name Kabushiki Gaisha Stardom (株式会社スターダム Kabushiki Gaisha Sutādamu) and often referred to simply as Stardom (stylized as STARD✪M), is a Japanese joshi puroresu or women's professional wrestling promotion, founded in September 2010 by former Hyper Visual Fighting Arsion and JDStar promoter Rossy Ogawa, retired wrestler, model and mixed martial artist Fuka Kakimoto and veteran professional wrestler Nanae Takahashi. Katsuhiko Harada serves as the President of the promotion since Ocotber 2019, while Rossy Ogawa serves as the promotion's Chief executive officer since September 2010.
Stardom since its inception quickly became the largest joshi puroresu promotion in Japan and the largest women's professional wrestling promotion in the world, largely thanks to gravure idol Yuzuki Aikawa becoming the promotion's public face. Much like JDStar, Stardom also places heavy emphasis on the physical attractiveness of its workers, and publishes several modeling photobooks and calendars of its workers per year. Stardom's in-ring style takes influence from mixed martial arts with many workers relying on kicks as the main part of their offense.
Since October 2019, Stardom has been owned by Japanese card game company Bushiroad, making it a sister promotion to Bushiroad's other promotion New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) which parlayed its entry to the world of professional wrestling into a best-selling trading card game, King of Pro Wrestling in 2012. Since January 2020, Stardom has produced a thirty-minute weekly TV show, We Are Stardom!!, airing live on BS Nippon and Tokyo MX in Japan, being the Joshi promotion to air a national television program since All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling (AJW) left Fuji TV in 2002.
History[edit | edit source]
Chapter One[edit | edit source]
After retiring from professional wrestling on March 29, 2010, Fuka began training Yuzuki Aikawa, a gravure idol signed to Platinum Production, the same modeling agency as her, for a career in professional wrestling. In April, Fuka was approached by Hiroshi "Rossy" Ogawa, the former promoter of JDStar, where she had spent most of her career, about starting a new promotion built around Aikawa. During the following summer, Fuka continued training Aikawa for her upcoming debut and also began training the likes of Arisa Hoshiki, Eri Susa, Kairi Hojo, Mayu Iwatani, Yoko Bito and Yoshiko for Ogawa's new promotion. On September 7, Ogawa held a press conference to announce that his new promotion's name would be World Wonder Ring Stardom. Originally, Ogawa had contemplated naming his promotion Bito (美闘, "Beauty Battle"), before deciding to go with Stardom. The name Bito was then instead given to one of Fuka's trainees as a ring name. Fuka was appointed the General Manager of the promotion and veteran wrestler Nanae Takahashi the playing manager. In addition to Fuka's trainees, the promotion was also joined by Takahashi's longtime associate Natsuki☆Taiyo and mixed martial artist Mika Nagano, who had a professional wrestling past with the Ice Ribbon promotion. Stardom held its first event on January 23, 2011, in front of a sold out crowd in Tokyo's Shin-Kiba 1st Ring, which was also the location of Stardom's training dojo. Originally, Stardom promoted events in "seasons", with one season lasting, on average, two months. During 2011, Stardom was also joined by All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling (AJW) veteran Miho Wakizawa and a longtime freelancer Io Shirai. Out of the large group of models and idols trained by Fuka, the most successful act, apart from Aikawa, was the teenager tag team of Arisa Hoshiki and Mayu Iwatani, known collectively as AMA. From the start, Stardom set itself apart from other joshi promotions by rarely allowing its workers to take other independent bookings.
During the summer of 2011, Stardom introduced its first two championships, the World of Stardom and the Wonder of Stardom Championships, the top and secondary titles of the promotion, respectively. In October, Stardom started the first Goddesses of Stardom tag team tournament, which culminated on November 27 in the crowning of the first Goddess of Stardom Champions. Stardom holds most of its events in the Shin-Kiba 1st Ring, but during its first year also held two events in Korakuen Hall, commonly used by joshi puroresu promotions for their bigger events. Stardom's headquarters were originally located in Katsushika, Tokyo, but in December 2012 they were moved to Kōtō, Tokyo. On August 5, 2012, Stardom announced it was going to run Tokyo's Ryōgoku Kokugikan on April 29, 2013, becoming the first joshi promotion since Ladies Legend Pro-Wrestling (LLPW) on February 12, 2007, to hold an event in the arena with a capacity of 13,000. In October 2012, Yoko Bito, who was seen as a future "ace" prospect, announced her retirement due to lower back and neck injuries. The following December, Stardom's arguably biggest star, Yuzuki Aikawa, also announced that she would be retiring from professional wrestling at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan show. During the final event of 2012 on December 24, Stardom announced the creation of the promotion's fifth active title, the Artist of Stardom Championship, a title for six-woman trios.
Chapter Two[edit | edit source]
Following Ryōgoku Cinderella, Stardom started what it referred to as "Chapter Two"; the post-Aikawa era. The promotion attempted to fill the void left by Aikawa by giving a push to the new idol tag team of Kairi Hojo and Natsumi Showzuki, known collectively as Ho-Show Tennyo. This plan was quickly foiled by Showzuki suffering a cervical spine injury in May 2013, which led to her quitting Stardom the following July. Though she had already made some appearances for Stardom in 2012, during 2013 Canadian wrestler Dark Angel became a regular part of the promotion's roster, holding the Wonder of Stardom Championship during the year. Other foreigners joining the promotion included German wrestler Alpha Female, who held the World of Stardom Championship early in the year and the Artist of Stardom Championship later in the year. On June 2, 2013, Stardom held its first event in Korakuen Hall following Aikawa's retirement, which was attended by 935 fans, down from 1,250 for the previous event at the venue and the second lowest number of attendees ever drawn to the venue by the promotion. Attendance also dropped in Shin-Kiba 1st Ring following Aikawa's departure from the promotion. Stardom's August 17 event at Korakuen Hall was attended by 860 fans, the promotion's lowest attendance ever at the venue. The promotion, however, finished 2013 on a high note, when their year-end event on December 29, headlined by an interpromotional title vs. title match between World of Stardom Champion Io Shirai and JWP Openweight Champion Arisa Nakajima, drew 1,450 fans to Korakuen Hall. Meanwhile, Stardom continued trying to find a replacement for Yuzuki Aikawa and in late 2013 introduced gravure idol Yuuna Suzuki, who was billed as the "second Yuzupon" and made her debut for the promotion on January 12, 2014, under the ring name Yuna Manase. She, however, resigned from the promotion just a year later, following a string of injuries. On January 26, Natsuki☆Taiyo announced she would be retiring from professional wrestling on June 1. Her retirement match drew 1,415 fans to Korakuen Hall.
Chapter Three and Four[edit | edit source]
Stardom's third chapter started on August 10, 2014, when Yoshiko, one of the promotion's original trainees, defeated Io Shirai for the World of Stardom Championship, ending her fifteen-month reign. On September 23, 2014, Stardom established an American branch of the promotion with Melissa appointed as its president. Also announced was a contract with American internet streaming site ClickWrestle. Stardom also announced that the promotion would celebrate its fourth anniversary in 2015 by running monthly shows in Korakuen Hall, becoming the first women's wrestling promotion in ten years to do so. On November 3, another of one Stardom's veterans, Miho Wakizawa, announced she would be retiring from professional wrestling on December 23. On December 17, Stardom announced that the promotion was moving its dojo from Shin-Kiba 1st Ring to Minato, Tokyo to a facility they now shared with DDT and Pro Wrestling Zero1.
On February 22, 2015, Stardom's event in Korakuen Hall ended in controversy, when the main event, where Yoshiko defended the World of Stardom Championship against Act Yasukawa, had to be ended prematurely. The match reportedly saw Yoshiko shooting on Yasukawa, legitimately beating her to the point that the match had to be stopped. Following the match, Yasukawa, with a bloody and badly swollen face, was rushed to a Tokyo hospital, where she was diagnosed with fractured cheek, nasal and orbital bones, which would require surgery. Yasukawa had just two months earlier returned from a long injury break brought on by thyroid issues, during which she had also underwent cataract surgery. Stardom's president Rossy Ogawa publicly apologized for the incident and called an emergency meeting for February 23 with General Manager Fuka and top wrestlers Nanae Takahashi, Io Shirai, and Kyoko Kimura to discuss the situation. The following day, Ogawa also had a meeting with an apologetic Yoshiko. On February 25, Stardom held a press conference with Yoshiko, Ogawa, Fuka, Takahashi, and Kimura, where Yoshiko publicly apologized for her actions, before being stripped of the World of Stardom Championship and suspended indefinitely. Ogawa, Fuka and Takahashi also announced they were taking a 30% pay cut for the next three months. Finally, Stardom banned face punches from the promotion with a disqualification taking place on the first offense, announced that a ringside doctor would be assigned for all future events and named Kairi Hojo intermediary between the wrestlers and management in order to bring the two sides closer. The incident received mainstream attention in Japan and became known as Seisan Matchi (凄惨マッチ, "Ghastly Match"). Yasukawa eventually returned to the ring on September 23, 2015.
Shortly after the incident, multiple Stardom wrestlers were sidelined with injuries, including top veteran wrestlers Nanae Takahashi and Kyoko Kimura, leading to a situation in May, where three of the promotion's five championships had simultaneously been declared vacant. On May 12, Stardom suffered another major blow, when one of the promotion's top wrestlers, founding members and trainers, Nanae Takahashi, announced in an interview with Tokyo Sports that she was leaving the promotion effective immediately. She had reportedly had a falling out with the promotion's management regarding Yoshiko's punishment following her incident with Yasukawa. The resignation was confirmed in a press conference the following day by Takahashi and Rossy Ogawa. On May 31, Rossy Ogawa announced that Yoshiko would not be returning from her suspension, but had instead decided to retire from professional wrestling. Her retirement ceremony took place on June 14. In September 2015, veteran wrestler Madusa was appointed the commissioner of Stardom. In October 2015, Stardom held two shows in Los Angeles County, California. On December 1, Act Yasukawa announced she would retire from professional wrestling on December 23. Yasukawa's eyesight had not fully recovered from the incident with Yoshiko, leading to her doctor advising her to quit wrestling. Yoshiko meanwhile returned to professional wrestling on January 11, 2016, now associated with Nanae Takahashi's new SEAdLINNNG promotion.
On February 17, Stardom announced a new collaboration project with Beginning Actress Girl'Z called "StaArt", which combines professional wrestling with actress and tarento activities. That same month, Stardom launched Stardom World, a worldwide paid streaming service through YouTube. The service was later moved to its own website. In April, Io Shirai, Kairi Hojo, and Mayu Iwatani represented Stardom in the United States, working events for Lucha Underground and Vendetta Pro Wrestling. On April 29, 2016, Yoko Bito announced she was returning to professional wrestling and Stardom. Her first match in four years took place on June 16. In May, Stardom wrestlers took part in a European tour, during which the promotion introduced a new title, the Stardom World Association (SWA) World Championship. On October 2, Stardom officially announced the signing of New Zealander Toni Storm. That same month, Stardom was granted temporary control over the NWA Western States Tag Team Championship by Vendetta Pro Wrestling, on behalf of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), while the reigning champions, The Twisted Sisterz (Holidead and Thunder Rosa), were touring the promotion. In February 2017, Stardom partnered with American promotion Ring of Honor (ROH) for a tryout camp in search of wrestlers for ROH's Women of Honor division, who could also earn a tour of Japan with Stardom. On April 30, Stardom announced it would be holding a show in Taiwan on October 21, 2017. Shortly afterwards it was reported that two of Stardom's top wrestlers, Io Shirai and Kairi Hojo, had both accepted contract offers from WWE and would be departing the company. Shirai, however, ended up staying in Stardom due to WWE rescinding their contract offer following a medical examination (Despite this, WWE would reverse this decision one year later and hired Shirai who departed from Stardom as planned). On November 1, Kagetsu and Tam Nakano, who had worked for Stardom as freelancers, officially joined the promotion. On February 18, 2018, Stardom announced the creation of the promotion's seventh active title, the Future of Stardom Championship, the title is meant for wrestlers with less than two years of experience in professional wrestling or under the age of 20. On March 25, 2019, it was later reported Hana Kimura, who had worked for the promotion as part of Wrestle-1, announced that was she officially signed full-time with promotion. On May 4, 2019, British wrestler Bea Priestley announced that she was joining the promotion full-time despite being already signed to American promotion All Elite Wrestling (AEW). On August 8, 2019, it was introduced a new collaboration between the promotion and Fire Pro Wrestling World, a video game developed by Spike Chunsoft with DLC featuring wrestlers from the promotion and was released on August 21.
Bushiroad ownership[edit | edit source]
On October 14, 2019, Giulia announced that she had signed with the promotion one day prior to leaving Ice Ribbon. Three days later, Stardom was purchased by Bushiroad's subsidiary Kix Road, who renamed itself to Bushiroad Fight Co, Ltd. as part of the acquisition, making it a sister promotion of New Japan Pro-Wrestling, while also being announced that the promotion would use its main name Stardom instead of the World Wonder Ring Stardom and Rossy Ogawa would remain as the promotion's Chief executive officer. Bushiroad's founder Takaaki Kidani had been interested in buying the promotion since February 2019 and began negotiations for the acquisition of the promotion since April, due to WWE's increased popularity of women's wrestling in North America. WWE also attempt to purchase Stardom as part of its plan to expand to the Japanese market in July, but Ogawa ended up refusing WWE's offer and accepted Bushiroad's offer instead with the deal being completed in August, with Bushiroad taking over the operations on December 1.
Following Bushiroad's acquisition, all members of the Stardom roster signed full-time contracts with the promotion. Bushiroad also established a plan for an increased focus on production and advertising to build the popularity of the promotion and increase their female fanbase, while also airing a TV show on BS Nippon and Tokyo MX starting in January 2020, with the BS Nippon show being a 30-minute show on Thursdays, becoming the second Joshi promotion to air a weekly national television show since All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling (AJW) left Fuji TV in 2002. Afterwards, Takaaki Kidani expected to quintuple Stardom's profits in five years similar to the growth of NJPW between 2012 and 2018. The 2019 edition of the Cinderella tournament was scheduled to be the first big event after the acquisition, as well plans to held Stardom's 10th Anniversary Show in January 2021 at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan.
On December 24, Hazuki made her retirement against her Odeo Tai stablemate Natsuko Tora, making her final appearance for the promotion. The following day, it was announced that Stardom would have an exhibition match at NJPW's Wrestle Kingdom 14 with Arisa Hoshiki and Mayu Iwatani facing Giulia and Hana Kimura on January 4th, where Iwatani and Hoshiki were victorious, as part of Bushiroad's acquisition of Stardom and due to Stardom being broadcasted on TV Asahi's rival network Nippon TV the match would later be a dark match. On December 26, Kagetsu announced her retirement, making her final appearance for the promotion on January 26, 2020.
On February 18, Stardom announced that they were canceling shows from February 19 to March 14, due to the 2019-20 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Their March 8 show in Korakuen Hall would later be called No People Gate due to the event being held without any spectators in attendance and would instead broadcast the event live on their YouTube channel. Additional events were canceled throughout April and May, meaning Stardom’s Ota Ward Gym show and the unit-produced shows held during Golden Week in early May would no longer be taking place. On June 16, after Stardom personnel underwent antibody testing, Stardom announced that the promotion would start to held shows on June 21 and allow fans into the arena, starting with the STARDOM is again, but only with a third of the venue's normal capacity, after the Japanese Government lifted some restrictions on many regions in Japan. On October 29, Syuri, who had worked for Stardom as a freelancer, officially joined the promotion full-time. On November 15, it was announced that Stardom would be celebrating their 10th anniversary event on March 3, 2021 at the Nippon Budokan, becoming the first joshi promotion since All Japan Women's Pro Wrestling (AJW) on August 31, 1997, to hold an event at the arena. On December 20 at Osaka Dream Cinderella, it was announced that Stardom wrestlers would be competing at NJPW's Wrestle Kingdom 15 in Tokyo Dome event. Six days later, Nanae Takahashi and Yoshiko, who were one of the wrestlers involved in the Seisan Matchi incindent returned to the promotion, making their first appearance for appearance for Stardom in four years. On March 2, 2021 as part of the Bushiroad acquistion of the promotion Stardom announced that they would start to sell their merchandise to people overseas on NJPW's global Tokon Shop.
Roster[edit | edit source]
Broadcasters[edit | edit source]
- Tokyo MX (2020, broadcasted weekly highlights show We are STARDOM!! and live specials)
- Nippon Television (2020–present, currently broadcasting weekly episodes of We are STARDOM!! matches and live specials)
- Nico Nico Douga (2010-2015, streaming untelevised spot-shows and interviews)
- Fighting TV Samurai (2010–present, currently broadcasting live specials, retrospective shows and magazine shows)
- Stardom World (streaming service, broadcasting most Stardom shows live, as well as on-demand classic and documentary content)
Championships[edit | edit source]
|Championship||Current champion(s)||Reign||Date won||Days held||Location|
|World of Stardom Championship||Utami Hayashihita||1||November 15, 2020||108+||Sendai|
|Wonder of Stardom Championship||Tam Nakano||1||March 3, 2021||0+||Tokyo|
|Goddess of Stardom Championship||Donna del Mondo
(Himeka and Maika)
|1||February 14, 2021||17+|
|Artist of Stardom Championship||Cosmic Angels
(Tam Nakano, Mina Shirakawa and Unagi Sayaka)
|1||December 16, 2020||77+|
|High Speed Championship||Natsupoi||1||March 3, 2021||0+|
|SWA World Championship||Syuri||1||November 15, 2020||108+||Sendai|
|Future of Stardom Championship||Saya Iida||1||December 20, 2020||73+||Osaka|
Events[edit | edit source]
Marquee events[edit | edit source]
- New Year Stars
- Stardom Anniversary
- Wrestle Cinderella
- The Highest
- Stardom X Stardom
- Mask Fiesta
- Year-End Climax
Collaborated events[edit | edit source]
- WWS/Stardom MexJap All Stars (with WWS)
Annual tournaments[edit | edit source]
|Tournament||Last winner(s)||Last held||Created||Notes|
|5★Star Grand Prix||Utami Hayashishita||September 19, 2020||2012||Stardom's biggest annual tournament, Round-robin tournament with a head-to-head final match.|
|Goddesses of Stardom Tag League||Arisa Hoshiki and Tam Nakano||November 15, 2019||2011||Stardom's annual tag team round-robin tournament.|
|Cinderella Tournament||Giulia||March 24, 2020||2015||One-day single-elimination tournament, where the winner gets a wish fulfilled.|
|Rookie of Stardom||Saya Kamitani||December 8, 2019||2011||A tournament held by Stardom for younger wrestlers.|