June 22, 2024
Yoyogi National Stadium
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: PPV via @wwr_stardom

STARDOM is back on pay-per-view this weekend with STARDOM THE CONVERSION. It should be a noteworthy show, featuring the “Final Chapter” between Queen’s Quest and Oedo Tai. It’s been a weird year for STARDOM, but I’m looking at this show as a reset for the company in a way — for better or worse. Enough matches on this show should hit the level you’d expect from STARDOM, which is always nice.

I’ll also preview Mayu Iwatani’s IWGP Women’s Championship match, which takes place this Sunday on an Ice Ribbon show.

Let’s dive into what is likely to be a major show in STARDOM’s history.

Tam Nakano, Aya Sakura & Sayaka Kurara vs. Tomoka Inaba, Saki Kashima & Ranna Yagami

STARDOM THE CONVERSION will kick off with top star Tam Nakano in action, as she will lead the Cosmic Angels rookie duo of Sayaka Kurara and Aya Sakura. On the other side of this trios match will be Saki Kashima, Ranna Yagami, and a returning Tomoka Inaba — who has been a member of God’s Eye since 2022 but has rarely appeared over the past year and a half.

There’s not too much to discuss in this one. With rookies on each side, it can be a toss-up. I’ll side with the God’s Eye side as Inaba might be on her way to a World of Stardom Championship match at the JTO Anniversary show next month. Prediction: Tomoka Inaba, Saki Kashima & Ranna Yagami

Mina Shirakawa & HANAKO vs. Natsupoi & Yuna Mizumori

Another undercard tag team match for this show. It will likely be Mina Shirakawa’s final match ahead of her AEW Women’s World Championship bout at Forbidden Door.

She teams with HANAKO to take on the Cosmic Angels team of Natsupoi and Yuna Mizumori. Just over a year ago, it was Shirakawa and Natsupoi fighting over the Wonder of Stardom Championship in one of STARDOM’s best matches of the year. Boy, do I wish that’s where we were with those two right now. This match is a toss-up with few stakes. Shirakawa should get the strong win heading into her big title match against Toni Storm. Prediction: Mina Shirakawa & HANAKO

Starlight Kid vs. Mei Seira

The High-Speed Championship match of the show… without the High-Speed Title on the line. Of course, Saya Kamitani is the High-Speed Champion but she’s found herself busy fighting Oedo Tai (again). So we have this and it should be super!

Mei Seira had an incredible start to the year. She held the Goddess of Stardom Championship and High-Speed Championship at the same time, delivering two of the best matches all year in STARDOM with those belts. And then, you know, she lost — both. Sigh. We haven’t seen her in an important role since, especially with Suzu Suzuki out due to injury. She hasn’t even been announced for the 5STAR Grand Prix yet. So, I’ll take this match at this stage for her.

Starlight Kid has been nothing but busy. She’s currently factionless and free, looking for the next place to call home within STARDOM. That has included Tam Nakano telling her she would be willing to wear a mask if it meant she joined Cosmic Angels. It’s apparent that SLK is trying to gain momentum right now and this match will play up to that.

Considering how little Seira is included right now, I think this is Kid’s match to win. Prediction: Starlight Kid

Mayu Iwatani & Momo Kohgo vs. Syuri & Ami Sohrei

Runaway Wrestler presents another tag team match. Though, this is a cool one. Mayu Iwatani’s biopic will present this match as Mayu Iwatani and Momo Kohgo team up to face Syuri and Ami Sohrei. For anyone who doesn’t know, Iwatani, Kohgo, and Syuri all had involvement in the film. Anna Hirai, who played Iwatani in the biopic, will be ringside for the match.

While the movie may be about “The Icon,” she has a tough mountain to climb as Syuri and Ami Sohrei are likely to win here. Syuri is getting heated up for an eventual Goddess of Stardom Championship match alongside Konami and Sohrei is just a month removed from a Wonder of Stardom Title challenge. Prediction: Syuri & Ami Sohrei

The Final Chapter – Four Wrestlers Other Than The Final Loser are Expelled from their Faction
Queen’s Quest (Saya Kamitani, AZM, Miyu Amasaki, Lady C & Hina) vs. Oedo Tai (Natsuko Tora, Momo Watanabe, Thekla, Ruaka & Rina) in an Elimination Match

Here we go again. One more time.

One year after the best story in STARDOM was told with Utami Hayashishita defending Queen’s Quest, STARDOM will go back to the Queen’s Quest vs. Oedo Tai well. And this time feels… different.

Don’t get me wrong, last year carried all the fear in the world into that match, but the payoff was as good as the story going in. This time? I don’t know, folks. There’s an eerie feeling to this — so much so that it feels as though either Saya Kamitani or AZM will be turning their back on their long-time faction.

The stipulation — four wrestlers other than the final loser are expelled from their faction — is a strange but scary one all in all. If you are a fan of Queen’s Quest, Oedo Tai, or STARDOM as a whole — this match should leave you worried. For as long as I can remember, these two factions have been feuding. The wrestlers may change, but the teams always had the same idea. Whether it was Io Shirai and Kagetsu leading or it was Utami Hayashishita trying to prove her leadership — many stories have been told between these two factions. And this may truly be it.

I don’t expect four members to just leave a faction on Saturday. I believe one of STARDOM’s staples goes away for good. That’s the only way this ends up being the true “Final Chapter.” And Oedo Tai will do everything in their power to make sure it’s not them for a second straight year. Prediction: Oedo Tai

Goddess of Stardom Championship
FWC (Hazuki & Koguma) (c) vs. wing*gori (Hanan & Saya Iida)

No match on the STARDOM THE CONVERSION card has more potential than this one right here. It will be a STARS Civil War of sorts as FWC and wing*gori collide for the Goddess of Stardom Championship.

The record-breaking FWC has been unstoppable since winning the titles from CRAZY STAR in Fukuoka. Not only was that match one of the best all year in wrestling, but it reminded the world that FWC is special. Being three-time Goddess of Stardom Champions puts them on a level no other single team has achieved in STARDOM history. As far as I’m concerned, they’re in the conversation of the best tag teams in STARDOM history.

wing*gori has done nothing but show why they’re ready for anything this year. As the NEW BLOOD Tag Team Champions, they’ve managed to defend the belts three separate times and should add a fourth the night prior at NEW BLOOD 13. Hanan and Saya Iida are the perfect threats to their STARS stablemates, but it’s going to be an uphill battle.

This is one of those matches where sitting back and enjoying the match is really all that matters. FWC is still so fresh into their reign that, despite the greatness of wing*gori this year, it’s too early to see their reign end. The three-time champions are on their way to V2. Prediction: FWC (Hazuki & Koguma)

Wonder of Stardom Championship
Saori Anou (c) vs. Mika Iwata

Saori Anou will make another defense of the Wonder of Stardom Championship at STARDOM THE CONVERSION, defending against reigning Sendai Girls World Champion Mika Iwata.

There are two ways to look at this match. One way is that this is a really cool championship bout. Iwata is great and has been for years. Her stepping up to face Anou was a legitimate surprise but it makes sense — they went to a 20-minute draw earlier this year in Sendai Girls. There’s little shot that Iwata wins this match as an outside, but it’s going to be great. I’ll take that.

Now, the other way to look at this match is that it’s a questionable decision. STARDOM crowds haven’t been quiet in recent months. And they’ve made it clear at shows that they prefer to root for the STARDOM-based wrestlers than outsiders. They often show little interest in the building. But it’s also a questionable choice because of how many wrestlers on the roster have shown interest in the Wonder of Stardom Championship. Natsupoi feels like the obvious next champion, but she’s been pushed down the line time and time again. Anou has teased a match with Hazuki more times than I can count, and even Xena teased a potential match with Anou after pinning Natsupoi in a tag match. There are a lot of matches that make sense for Anou right now, but STARDOM has gone with an outsider instead.

Nonetheless, this match will be great — it just won’t bring much drama because there’s very little chance Iwata takes this belt. It’s either going to be an Anou win or go to a draw. After all, Iwata is the Sendai Girls World Champion. Whatever they choose, I hope the crowd is into it because these talents deserve it — even if it’s not a match I may have picked myself for STARDOM THE CONVERSION. Prediction: Saori Anou

World of Stardom Championship
Maika (c) vs. Xena

Maika will defend the World of Stardom Championship for the first time since All-Star Grand Queendom 2024. It’ll be against her EXV stablemate Xena. It wasn’t expected, but it’s a match worth your attention.

It’s no secret that the Red Belt reign of Maika has been lackluster. It’s hard to blame her — it hasn’t been the easiest time to be champion in STARDOM. But still, the Momo Watanabe title defense was met with both praise and hate — it was the reality of the match style, after all. The main problem for Maika since then has been not getting back into the ring to defend her belt. At Flashing Champions 2024, she just went one-on-one against HANAKO. So with the time away from defending her gold, I expected her next defense to be a big one. I did not expect the challenge to come from Xena, who will have her first singles title match since joining the STARDOM ranks last year.

In her STARDOM singles career, Xena is 4-3 with wins over Hina, Thekla, Momo Kohgo, and Waka Tsukiyama. It’s not the biggest and best list ever — but she has been picking up wins in tag and trios matches, which is where her challenge comes from. In the past two months, she’s pinned Momo Watanabe, Natsupoi, and even Maika in their preview trios match in Osaka. This is a huge spot for the Australian, but it carries a lot of interest.

That interest mostly comes from the strides Xena has made in her second tour with STARDOM. Her lucha-style chops speak for themselves, but she’s just been a solid performer in each match she’s had. And if she’s going to step up into the biggest match of her career, doing so with someone she trains with may be her best chance to shine.

It’s not a challenge that jumps off the page, but it can be the match that puts Xena on the map to more than just STARDOM fans. Maika isn’t going to lose right now, but they’ll be determined to shine against one another at STARDOM THE CONVERSION. Prediction: Maika


Ice Ribbon
Ribbon After the Rain 2024
June 23, 2024
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan

Watch: Ice Ribbon PPV

IWGP Women’s Championship
Mayu Iwatani (c) vs. Tsukasa Fujimoto

Our bonus match of the preview happens one day later at Korakuen Hall. And it’s not just any match — it’s an IWGP Women’s Championship match.

It was a real surprise to see the latest defense of the IWGP Women’s Title take place in Ice Ribbon, but when it pits two of the best in a generation against one another for the first time ever, who am I to complain?

Mayu Iwatani and Tsukasa Fujimoto led the top Joshi promotions of the 2010s, watching from afar as they put on classic after classic. The only time they had ever shared a ring prior to this year was at Kyoko Kimura’s retirement show in 2017. Otherwise, it’s been nothing between two all-timers. And then following Iwatani’s instant classic against Sareee at All Star Grand Queendom, it was the Ice Ribbon ace who made her way down to the ring and came face to face with Iwatani.

As we learned that night, she was there to set up a tag team match — which took place at Flashing Champions. Fujimoto, teaming with Arisa Nakajima, defeated Iwatani and Hanan to get a leg up over Iwatani. It was there that Fujimoto would officially challenge Iwatani for the IWGP Women’s Championship, as long as it’d happen in an Ice Ribbon ring.

So, that brings us to Sunday. An unprecedented scenario, but one that should lead to the match of the weekend.

Iwatani has done everything in STARDOM. She’s a two-time World of Stardom Champion, two-time Wonder of Stardom Champion, the longest reigning IWGP Women’s Champion, a two-time Cinderella Tournament winner, and a one-time 5STAR Grand Prix winner — you get the point. And then there’s Fujimoto, who led Ice Ribbon to glory for many years in the 2010s. She is a seven-time ICExInfinity Champion, former REINA World Women’s Champion, and 14-time tag team champion. Must I say more about these two?

If you’re a STARDOM fan, an Ice Ribbon fan, a Joshi fan, or a wrestling fan — this is a match you will need to see. Iwatani isn’t losing her championship to Fujimoto, but it’s going to be as competitive and exciting as it can be. Two of the best for the first time ever. Can’t beat that. Prediction: Mayu Iwatani

Listen to Voices of Wrestling’s Joshi podcast: Jumping Bomb Audio!

Powered by RedCircle