On April 30, sixteen of Stardom’s best and brightest stars will clash in their annual Cinderella Tournament. The prize the women will be fighting for isn’t the traditional Championship or title shot that you see in most tournaments. Instead, the winner gets one wish to do whatever they want with. Realistically, the winner will probably wish for a title shot, but just think of the possibilities!
Speaking of possibilities, there are many for the outcome of this tournament. The Cinderella is a single day, bracket style tournament. Each match has a ten minute time limit (excluding the 30 minute finals) and can be won by pin, submission, or by throwing your opponent over the top rope. If the time limit expires, both women in the match are eliminated and their next round opponent gets a bye.
The short time limit and the possibility of being eliminated by going over the top rope leaves things incredibly open for upsets and, for lack of a better term, Cinderella stories. The bracket for the tournament can be seen below.
— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) April 20, 2017
And now, with all that in mind, the real question is…
Who do I think is going to win?
There are plenty of solid choices to win, but I think that things will come down to a final match between Jungle Kyona and Hana Kimura. With all of the talk and rumors of some of their top stars leaving or retiring, it would show a strong belief in the future of the company for Stardom to have these two go all the way.
Kyona would have an incredibly tough road to the finals, but after her brutal match with Kairi Hojo early in the year and her recent tag title victory, we’ve seen the she has the fortitude to make it far in a grueling tournament. After a first round victory over HZK, she would find herself up against Hojo once again.
It has been confirmed that Kairi is on her way out of the company, so it would make sense to have Jungle defeat her here to set up a title match in the future. Perhaps that will even be the match that Kyona would wish for if she wins the whole thing? In the semi-finals, I predict we’ll see Jungle take on Toni Storm in a match that could, honestly, go either way.
If Kyona were to already set up a match with Hojo by beating her, it makes sense to have Storm win to establish her as a challenger for Io Shirai’s championship. In fact, this all makes a bit too much sense and I think I’ve talked myself into seeing Toni Storm not only as a finalist, but as the inevitable winner.
Even with the love of Twitter behind her, Hana Kimura won’t win it all
While I may have changed my mind on Jungle Kyona making it to the finals, I still believe that Hana will make it there. Sadly, I don’t think that she has a chance to win the whole thing though. Listen, if it was up to me, I would push her to the moon. Stardom, on the other hand, is a bit reluctant to go all-in on her.
And for good reason too.
Hana is only 19 years old and has a ton of growing and developing as a wrestler ahead of her. There is plenty of time for Hana to have her big moment. So, that all being said, why do I think she’ll end up in the finals then? It’s because of who I think she’ll beat in the semi-finals. Much of the talk among joshi fans regarding this tournament is if Mayu Iwatani will win for the third year in a row.
Mayu Iwatani won the Cinderella Tournament in 2015 & 2016!
Can Mayu Threepeat? pic.twitter.com/vimfpEAAGZ
— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) April 20, 2017
At this point, I think it would be more impactful for Mayu not to win, especially if Kimura is the one to beat her. As of late, Hana has been cutting promos on Mayu that question her dedication to Stardom while also trying to convince her to join Odeo Tai. The promos have toed the line between work and shoot as they come on the heels of reports that Iwatani plans to retire in the near future. There’s a strong possibility that a loss against Hana might be enough to convince Mayu to change things up and join the dark side.
If Kimura were to make it to the finals in a losing effort, this doesn’t hurt her one bit. There’s the potential for her to get two huge scalps on the way there with victories over Shirai and Iwatani. As I said before, she has plenty of time ahead of her and doesn’t need the victory here. Both Toni Storm and Jungle Kyona have more to gain from a victory here.
First Round Matches to Look Out For
While most of these matches are going to be forced to be sprints due to the time limit, there is a lot to look forward to in the first round. Most of the first round buzz is going to the match between Io Shirai and Hana Kimura. These are two fan favorites that will be clashing in a singles match for the first time.
My second most anticipated match of the first round is between Komani and Kagetsu, which should be a hard hitting affair. One of the fun things here is that I couldn’t guess who is going to win. These are two great wrestlers and it really has a sleeper chance to be one of the best matches of the entire tournament.
Other fun matches that stand out are Jungle Kyona vs. HZK and Kairi Hojo vs. Hiromi Mimura. I feel like the outcomes of these matches are both very predictable, but they should be fun nonetheless. Mimura has been great in the loveable loser role, fighting hard, but never getting the big win. In the other contest, HZK has looked impressive as of late, so I fully expect her to have a great singles match with Kyona.
This action packed tournament has the potential to be a great show. If you enjoy a good sprint, this is absolutely a tournament that you have to check out. Stardom has had a great 2017 thus far and looks to keep it rolling. Following the show taking place on 4/30, the matches will be uploaded on Stardom World over the course of the next several days.
Get excited because someone’s wish is going to come true!