The Future of Joshi series is an effort to highlight the best, young talent in Joshi pro wrestling for fans to keep an eye on in 2023 and beyond. Led by Scott Edwards, a number of Joshi podcasters, writers, and fans took part in hyping up the best young talent from the scene as 15 wrestlers will be highlighted as well as honorable mentions. The final name in the series is none other than future STARDOM ace, Hanan.
WRITER’S NOTE: The Future of Joshi series has been an honor to put together. 16 articles, over 20 wrestlers highlighted, and it was all done within a month. Thank you to everyone who has taken part in making this happen and thank you to everyone who has given these a read. Means more than you know. And with that, let’s wrap it up!
There are few wrestlers in the world today, let alone Joshi, with the potential that Hanan possesses. The 18-year-old has shown over the past year that the high expectations that many have for her and her future not only will be fulfilled but she will do so in ways maybe no one expected.
Many have called her the “future ace” of STARDOM and while that sounds preposterous to predict, she couldn’t be a better fit for that title if she tried. Maybe it’s due to her learning from the longtime ace of STARDOM, Mayu Iwatani. Maybe it’s due to the fact that she’s about as natural of a babyface as you can find. Or maybe, just maybe, she’s that freaking good at 18 years old. It wasn’t until the end of 2021 that she’d really get to start showing the world how great she could truly be. Hanan would defeat Ruaka to finally become the Future of Stardom Champion, a win that was long expected but felt all the more important. And there’s no mistake that it happened at STARDOM’s first time ever in Ryogoku Sumo Hall as the opening match of Stardom Dream Queendom. No mistake at all.
Older sister to Rina and Hina, Hanan will never be alone in her journey of industry domination. Having trained and performed with Stardom since the age of 12, Hanan is the very definition of a homegrown talent. Seamlessly blending judo with the iconic puroresu style of her formative trainer Yu Ishino (Kagetsu) Hanan is an absolute force to be reckoned with as her record-breaking 10 defenses of “The Future of Stardom” championship demonstrates. Hanan has been sharpened by the likes of Syuri, Starlight Kid, Giulia, and handpicked by the legendary Mayu Iwatani to potentially take over the STARS faction. Statistically, with her 27.8% career win ratio it would be easy to miss out on this future Ace but I feel it’s important to look past the stat block and dig deeper when creating these predictions. Hanan’s future is bright and we hope you watch with us. – Jamie Goulding (@Void_of_Opinion)
The reign would prove to be a record-breaking one, as she’d defend the belt successfully nine times before eventually losing it to Ami Sourei, setting the record for most defenses to give her the first big accolade of her career.
Hanan’s first appearance in the 5STAR Grand Prix ended up being incredibly important to her development inside the ring, as the wins did not come often but the growth certainly did along the way. Matches with the likes of her mentor Mayu Iwatani pushed her to be better. Bouts with Suzu Suzuki and MIRAI gave us a sneak peek as to what the main event scene in STARDOM could look like two or three years down the road. And she was able to get a win over Mina Shirakawa, who is of course well on her way to a Wonder of Stardom Championship match as we speak, so that’s just another major feather in the cap for her.
No match, however, proved to be more important than the Artist of Stardom Championship challenge that she took part in. Teaming with fellow STARS members Hazuki and Koguma, they’d take on Momo Watanabe, Starlight Kid, and Saki Kashima for the titles. Little did we know before the match that this would be the breakout performance of Hanan’s career. Being in the 5STAR Grand Prix was great. Winning the Future of Stardom Championship was all good and fun also. But this match? This match showed the world that Hanan is ready for whatever is in her future — sooner rather than later.
She was the ultimate underdog, the ultimate babyface trying to shock the world and win the titles for her team. When you have FWC alongside you and someone like Starlight Kid opposing you, it’s hard to stand out but not only did she do that but for my money — she was the reason this match was as special as it was.
Hanan wasn’t able to grab the victory and fell in defeat in the end, but everyone saw what the 5STAR Grand Prix was doing for her and that her future features a lot of gold, main events, and anything else you can possibly think of that signals success.
Hanan’s Future of Stardom Title win in December of 2021 was met with excitement. After all the years of toiling on the lowest part of the card, toiling away and honing her craft, it was now her time. Hanan had often been heralded as a special kind of prospect, one that combines all the physical gifts one could ever need with all the intangibles that a promoter dreams of. Her size and strength allow her to implement her judo-based style with power and grace, combined with a presence and energy that’s radiant, lighting up any venue the second she enters. With her new belt in hand, she would step into 2022 and make anyone who had bet on her rich. After spending the winter and spring racking up title defenses and giving impressive showings on house shows and Stardom’s NEW BLOOD series, summer would prove to be her true breakout. It started with a great 15-minute draw against fellow rising star Tomoka Inaba. This would be followed by her debut 5STAR Grand Prix, one which was punctuated by a meeting of the present and future against Mayu Iwatani. During the GP she would also challenge for the Artist Titles alongside Hazuki and Koguma, a match in which she was presented as the main star of her team despite her partners having the bigger names. As 2023 begins it remains to be seen how she will build on this momentum, however, this growth seems now, more than ever before, like an inevitability. The sky truly is the limit, and soon everyone will know, if they don’t already, that Stardom has yet another generational talent on its hands. – Wide Screen (@WidescreenJoshi)
Dylan Murray of Stardom Quest gave a full outlook as to what she’s done to get her and how 2022 was the proving ground in many ways.
Wrestling is a truly unpredictable art form. Trying to speculate the landscape of professional wrestling just two years from now is almost always a fool’s errand, but we, as wrestling fans, love to do it anyways. So, when I say that I believe Hanan is the future of Joshi wrestling, I absolutely mean it.
The eldest of STARDOM’s Minami Sisters, fans who have seen Hanan grow since her debut back in 2017 will know that she has been heralded for her potential in the ring since the early age of 13. This potential was partially realized in December 2021 when Hanan won the Future of Stardom Championship from Ruaka at STARDOM Dream Queendom 1. Hanan went on to hold the title for most of 2022, defending it more than any former champion and adopting a unique match style that encouraged fast-paced, aggressive encounters with the likes of Lady C, Mai Sakurai, and both of her younger sisters.
To call the past 13 months a time of improvement for the former judoka is undoubtedly an understatement. While she has been competing in STARDOM for nearly six years, Hanan experienced multiple firsts throughout 2022 and knocked each opportunity she was given out of the park. Hanan’s title defense against Tomoka Inaba last June was the first singles match in Hanan’s career to pass the 10-minute mark as it went to a 15-minute draw. The match, which saw a remarkable performance from both the champion and the challenger, marked a shift in Hanan’s career; It was at that point that Hanan’s transition from kid fighter to bonafide “Ring Star” had begun.
From there, Hanan began to exemplify why she is such a promising performer for the remainder of the year. Her first 5STAR Grand Prix saw her finish the tournament with 4 points, a low yet impressive total for a teenage entrant. Her first non-rookie championship match, a challenge alongside Hazuki and Koguma for the Artists of Stardom Championships, saw her get closer than anybody expected to win the prize for her team. While she went on to lose her Future of Stardom Championship to Ami Sourei in October, she walked away from her reign being heralded as the greatest Future Champion in history.
For Hanan, it feels like it is just a matter of time before she becomes an unignorable member of the STARDOM roster. Similar to AZM and Starlight Kid before her, Hanan’s time competing as a teenager has prepared her to become a pillar of Joshi wrestling when the time is right. And with her final year of schooling concluding this spring, the future may be coming sooner than you expect. – Dylan Murray (@XXIchiban)
As someone who believes in Hanan more than maybe anyone, the excitement of seeing her development inside the ring and watching her confidence grow makes her an instant favorite.
The future of STARS has just graduated from school which means she has a decision to make, so for anyone hoping that she is planning to stick around, you’re in luck!
“I was thinking about going to nursing school after high school. However, when I was wondering what I wanted to do most right now, the answer was Puroresu,” Hanan said, as translated by @sg_oxxt via ENCOUNT.
The focus is on pro wrestling. The future of Hanan is pro wrestling. And she is the future of pro wrestling. It’s undeniable that she has a bright future and we have entered the conversation of when does she make the next step? Heading into the Cinderella Tournament, it could be sooner rather than later. A matchup with MIRAI has been hyped up by both of them. They know their future is against one another. And while maybe the tournament won’t be her chance to rise up the card just yet, it could be anywhere down the road as the future for her is full of potential.
Hanan is going to be a special name (as her incredible theme song reminds you each and every time) to follow in pro wrestling and being the future ace of STARDOM only helps her all the more.
Keep an eye on her, much like the rest of the names featured, as she closes at the Future of Joshi series!
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