STARDOM
Cinderella Tournament Finals
April 15, 2023
Yoyogi National Gymnasium
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: PPV (link via @we_are_stardom)

The final stop ahead of All Star Grand Queendom! The Cinderella Tournament Finals have become a staple in the STARDOM schedule since the adjustment of the tournament and this year will be no different as a Cinderella will be crowned and a wish will be earned.

HANAKO vs. Aya Sakura

The two rookies face off in singles action once again. As we’ve seen when these two go head-to-head, a five-minute time limit hasn’t allowed them to establish who is ahead of the other in terms of development. That being said, HANAKO has impressed a bit more since their debuts last month, but this match will have the same result as their previous bouts. Prediction: Draw

STARS (Hazuki, Koguma & Momo Kohgo) vs. Club Venus (Mariah May, Xena & Jessie)

Only Hazuki will have a true feature match in a week’s time but as we’ve seen quickly with Club Venus, they’re gaining momentum. The STARDOM roster hasn’t fully figured out the new additions of Xena and Jessie so until they do, it’s hard to pick against the trio at this time. Prediction: Mariah May, Xena & Jessie

STARS (Mayu Iwatani, Hanan & Saya Iida) vs. 7Upp (Nanae Takahashi, Yuu & Yuna Mizumori)

Ahead of Mayu Iwatani’s second opportunity for the IWGP Women’s Championship in a dream match with Mercedes Moné, she teams up with Hanan and Saya Iida to take on the 7Upp trio of Nanae Takahashi, Yuu, and Yuna Mizumori. This match will be a good tune-up for both Iwatani and 7Upp, who will be defending their Goddesses of Stardom Championship at the big show as well. Seeing that 7Upp has had immense success since coming together as a duo and soon adding Mizumori after the fact, they’re likely to leave with the victory in this one. Prediction: Nanae Takahashi, Yuu & Yuna Mizumori

Queen’s Quest (Utami Hayashishita, Saya Kamitani, AZM, Miyu Amasaki, Hina & Lady C) vs. Oedo Tai (Natsuko Tora, Momo Watanabe, Starlight Kid, Saki Kashima, Ruaka & Rina)

It’s difficult to say the last time we saw a 12-person tag team match in STARDOM but we are getting one here as Queen’s Quest and Oedo Tai face off. More often than not, the Oedo Tai teams show their teamwork as a stable better than anyone else but that doesn’t come without some interference. Seeing that they’re all in the match this time around, that could actually hurt them more than help them. Saya Kamitani will be trying to gain herself some more momentum with the Wonder of Stardom Championship match coming up against Mina Shirakawa, so that could be the driving force Queen’s Quest needs in this match to get the victory. As with all the other matches to this point, it’s a toss-up. Prediction: Natsuko Tora, Momo Watanabe, Starlight Kid, Saki Kashima, Ruaka & Rina

Donna del Mondo (Giulia, Himeka, Maika & Thekla) vs. Cosmic Angels (Tam Nakano, Natsupoi, Mina Shirakawa & SAKI)

Stakes have begun to kick in now as there are many moving parts to this match beginning with it being the final time Donna del Mondo comes together with Himeka as a member as she prepares for her retirement. That alone will make this an emotional encounter but now add in what this is all building towards. Giulia and Tam Nakano have made each other’s lives a living hell over the past few weeks building to the World of Stardom Championship match at All Star Grand Queendom. The champion left the challenger bloodied at the press conference and Nakano has shown multiple bumps and bruises along the way. These two have brought it to a different level that didn’t feel possible after their Hair vs. Hair match at All Star Dream Cinderella in 2021.

As we’ve seen in preview matches with Giulia and her opponents, she is never afraid to take it to the championship level we’ll eventually see in the match. There still feels to be one more element that needs to be added to their title match but we haven’t gotten there yet. Giulia wants to end Cosmic Angels and has made that perfectly clear—maybe that’s we end up at the end of this. For now, it’ll all come down to who gets the last laugh heading into All Star Grand Queendom. Prediction: Tam Nakano, Natsupoi, Mina Shirakawa & SAKI

Cinderella Tournament Semifinals
Mai Sakurai vs. Waka Tsukiyama

The history of Mai Sakurai and Waka Tsukiyama will play a crucial part in the Cinderella Tournament this year as they go head-to-head in the semifinals. It feels like it’s been forever since these two were feuding with one another to try and grow to be the better version of themselves. Mai Sakurai eclipsed Tsukiyama early on, getting her first win against the fan-favorite and really using that to elevate herself in the process. Tsukiyama, however, wasn’t able to get a win until only last month and has used that success to find more and more victories along the way. There’s no doubt her spot in the semifinals of this tournament is unexpected, but out of the three left, she has just as much momentum as the rest of them.

What Sakurai managed to do to get here was take out the World of Stardom Champion, Giulia, in the first round then proceed to eliminate Mariah May and former Cinderella Tournament winner and Wonder of Stardom Champion, Momo Watanabe. Tsukiayama? She wasn’t even initially set for the tournament until the night of the first round when she became X, allowing her to defeat Lady C and then await Saki Kashima in the quarterfinals. Two very different journeys to get here but they’ve been connected since they walked into STARDOM. This feels like Tsukiyama’s chance to finally get a win over Sakurai but with the momentum of her wins, Sakurai not only feels like the winner here but the current favorite for the tournament. Prediction: Mai Sakurai

Cinderella Tournament Semifinals
MIRAI vs. Ami Sourei

God’s Eye collides as the reigning Cinderella Tournament winner MIRAI takes on the Future of Stardom Champion Ami Sourei. In one week’s time, they’ll be teaming up to challenge for the Goddesses of Stardom Championship so it’ll be interesting to see if this match alters their focus and connection in any way. Making the case for either competitor is interesting as it’s believable to see one of these two walk out as the winner of the whole thing. The story that STARDOM has told with MIRAI over the last year ever since winning the Cinderella Tournament is that the “Ash-Covered Cinderella” has come so close to winning gold but has fallen just short each and every time.

The same can’t be said for Sourei, who has been rather dominant since debuting last year as Syuri’s bodyguard and ended the Future of Stardom Championship reign of Hanan—one that is the best of the title’s history. Sourei did come up short against Saya Kamitani earlier this year and was also part of the Triangle Derby Finals that God’s Eye lost, but at least she wasn’t the one taking the fall.

If there’s anyone that will match Mayu Iwatani and go back-to-back, MIRAI may be the one to do it. Her time on top of STARDOM is coming and maybe, just maybe getting this win is how we finally get there. Prediction: MIRAI

Cinderella Tournament Final

The final could truly be by any of the four competing. As we’ve seen in the Cinderella Tournament this year, there’s been countless upsets that have left me and many others shocked, stunned, and asking questions. The unpredictability is what makes this Cinderella Tournament Final so exciting and while I think the final will be Mai Sakurai vs. MIRAI, who knows what it’ll be at the end of the night?

What we do know is that a wish will be granted and a championship match will be earned. Will the winner, whomever it is, continue the trend of challenging for the Wonder of Stardom Championship? Or will different ambitions arise for the winner? Prediction: Winner of Mai Sakurai vs. Waka Tsukiyama

Syuri vs. Konami

In a special singles match, we will get a chance to see Syuri and Konami go one-on-one for the first time since 2021. Konami has been in action a lot recently which could just be due to getting into shape for this match or maybe a bigger reason we have yet to learn. “The Submission Sniper” has been spectacular any time she’s shown back up so it’s hard to not be excited about this match. Unlike their previous matchup, this will be under normal singles rules rather than UWF, making for what should be an even better battle. Syuri is tuning herself up for her match with Sendai Girls ace Chihiro Hashimoto at All Star Grand Queendom, so it’s difficult to think Konami will be the one to throw her completely off her game—even if she’s been in competition more than usual recently. Prediction: Syuri

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