WORLD WONDER RING STARDOM
STARDOM CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT 2021 – ROUND 1
APRIL 10, 2021
KORAKUEN HALL
TOKYO, JAPAN

Watch: Stardom-World 

Stardom’s Cinderella Tournament is upon us and I for one am incredibly happy as this tournament is one of the highlights of Stardom’s year.  The unique rules allow for unpredictable upsets as well as matches we don’t normally see as everyone is racing against the clock.  This year’s tournament is unpredictable with at least two wrestlers leading the way as clear favorites with a few others remaining as potential dark horse picks.  Before we get into the review let’s run down the rules of the tournament.

Stardom CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT RULES

  • First-round matches have a 10-minute time limit.  From the second round until the semi-finals this becomes 15 minutes.  A time limit draw will see both competitors eliminated from the tournament.
  • Eliminations can take place via pinfall, submission, or throwing your opponent over the top rope and to the floor.  Both wrestlers falling to the floor usually leads to a double elimination.
  • The winner of the tournament gets one wish, this wish has always been used for a title shot.

NON TOURNAMENT MATCH
HINA DEF. LADY C

This was originally set to be a three-way match involving Rina but it was changed to a singles match abruptly with Rina taking Saki Kashima’s spot in the tournament.  Credit to these two for putting together a solid match on such short notice.  Hina beats Lady C again, this time with a new power slam. **1/2

STARDOM CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT 2021
HIMEKA DEF. HANAN

With Saya Iida and Jungle Kyona out injured Hanan is going to need to step up as she is now one of only three active members of STARS.  This match was a good showcase for what she brings to the table as Himeka dominated for the most part but Hanan had some close calls with her comebacks.  Himeka got back on track after losing the Goddess belts with a defiant win and showed why she’s one of my favorites to win the tournament. ***

STARDOM CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT 2021
MAIKA DEF. KONAMI

This is one of those matches that the Cinderella Tournament was built for as Konami dominated proceedings but Maika was able to get the win via over-the-top-rope elimination.  This was one of the more unpredictable matches in the first round and its nice to see Stardom give Maika the nod while protecting Konami with the finish. ***

STARDOM CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT 2021
UNAGI SAYAKA DEF. NATSUKO TORA

My favorite match so far as Tora really showcased Unagi Sayaka’s strengths in this one.  It didn’t feel too one-sided but Tora was still the clear aggressor.  The finish also came out of nowhere as Tora took a spill over the top rope and fell to the floor for the elimination.  An unexpected result but a well-done match. ***1/4

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STARDOM CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT 2021
RINA DEF. AZM

Now, this is more like it.  Rina attacked AZM before the bell to immediately kick this one into high gear.  What followed was four minutes of back and forth action as the former High Speed champ AZM and the judoka tried to get wins with rollups and submissions.  Interference from Natsuko Tora helped Rina eliminate AZM via over the top rope elimination in a huge upset. ***1/2

STARDOM CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT 2021
STARLIGHT KID DEF. MOMO WATANABE

This match represents everything great about the Cinderella Tournament.  Two competitors battling it out at a fast pace in an absolute sprint in an effort to avoid hitting the time limit.  Kid and Watanabe work really well together as Kid’s agility mixes well with Watanabe’s striking base.  They worked at a great pace throughout the match and packed a lot into 6 minutes.  Kid gets the big win by reversing a B-Driver into a  Ki-Chan Bomb on the apron to pull off the upset. ****

STARDOM CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT 2021
MAYU IWATANI DEF. FUKIGEN DEATH

This was our first glimpse at Fukigen Death and while the character suddenly being an evil, sad clown that’s possibly under some form of mind control makes very little sense the wrestler under the makeup is one of the most consistently entertaining wrestlers in Stardom.  Fukigen Death had some fun, new spots that separated this match from the pack and helped it stand out a bit more despite being another short sprint. Iwatani won with a roll-up and seemed very confused by Death’s change after the match ***1/4

STARDOM CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT 2021
GIULIA DEF. RUAKA

Another Oedo Tai match, another attack before the bell.  Ruaka absolutely blitzed Giulia and controlled the early portions of the match as she was desperate to eliminate Giulia before the former Wonder of Stardom champion could gain a foothold in the match.  Unfortunately for Ruaka that didn’t happen and once Giulia turned the tide of the match she put Ruaka away with the Northern Lights Bomb.  I loved the urgency that Ruaka brought to this and she was laying it in on Giulia who ended the match bleeding from the mouth.  More good stuff from round 1. ***1/4

STARDOM CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT 2021
UTAMI HAYASHISHITA DEF. MINA SHIRAKAWA

In a vacuum, this match is probably better than I’m giving it credit for but following up a run of distinct good-to-great matches it just failed to grab me in any meaningful way.  Shirakawa attacked Hayashishita during her entrance which is a tactic I appreciated earlier but is wearing thin by this point.  **3/4

STARDOM CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT 2021
SAYA KAMITANI DEF. TAM NAKANO

This was another unpredictable first-round contest that I  convinced was going to a draw.  Kamitani seems primed to be next in line for Tam Nakano’s Wonder of Stardom Championship and I expected a draw here to set that up.  Instead, Kamitani used her incredible agility to eliminate Nakano over the top rope and immediately established herself as one of the favorites to win the entire tournament. From what we saw in this one that inevitable title match. ***1/4

STARDOM CINDERELLA TOURNAMENT 2021
SYURI DEF. NATSUPOI

Syuri predictably went through in a match that Natsupoi took to the wire.  Early on it looked like Syuri was going to walk through as she was destroying Poi with kicks but the High Speed Champion fought back and almost took the match to a time limit draw before falling to a buzzsaw kick.  Syuri seems to be next in line to challenge Utami Hayashishita, presumably at Ota Ward in May, and she’s adopted what feels like a different attitude leading up to the match.  She was more driven and ruthless here than I can recall her being in some time and that spells danger for Hayashishita. ***1/2

FINAL THOUGHTS

Night 1 of Stardom’s Cinderella Tournament started slowly but once things got kicking this was really fun.  Momo Watanabe vs Starlight Kid stood out as the best match of the show among a pile of really fun sprints.  Despite every match being short, there was enough variety to keep everything ticking without the matches ever feeling repetitive.  Before I knew it this show was over and that’s why I love cinderella.  The final rounds of the tournament take place on April 30 and while I think Saya Kamitani is winning the tournament it is still up in the air.