Trisha Shetty (Editor)

World Wonder Ring Stardom

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Founded  September 7, 2010
Headquarters  Kōtō, Tokyo
Website  wwr-stardom.com
Style  Joshi puroresu
Owner(s)  Rossy Ogawa
Founder(s)  Fuka Nanae Takahashi Rossy Ogawa

World Wonder Ring Stardom, often referred to simply as Stardom (スターダム, Sutādamu) 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. Stardom quickly became one of the top joshi puroresu promotions, 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.

Contents

Chapter One

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 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 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 tag teams.

Ryōgoku Cinderella

Ryōgoku Cinderella was the biggest event in the history of World Wonder Ring Stardom, taking place April 29, 2013. It was the first joshi event held in Tokyo's Ryōgoku Kokugikan in six years. The card, which was revealed on April 2, 2013, featured four of Stardom's five titles on the line and was headlined by the retirement match of Yuzuki Aikawa. Outside participants in the event included Lin Byron, Makoto and Syuri from Wrestling New Classic (WNC), freelancer Manami Toyota, Meiko Satomura from Sendai Girls' Pro Wrestling, Risa Sera, Rutsuko Yamaguchi and Tsukasa Fujimoto from Ice Ribbon and male wrestlers Gota Ihashi, Hikaru Sato, Kota Ibushi and Michael Nakazawa from DDT Pro-Wrestling. Also taking part in the event was former AJW ring announcer Nagaharu Imai, who died from gastric cancer just three months later on July 29. According to Stardom, the event was attended by 5,500 fans. A special movie edition of the event, featuring backstage material, was premiered at a theater in Ichikawa, Chiba and released on DVD on September 28.

Results

Chapter Two

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

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% paycut 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.

References

World Wonder Ring Stardom Wikipedia


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