Five Wrestlers Including Giulia & Utami leave Stardom, Hanan Wins Cinderella Tournament | Weekly Joshi Guide



STARDOM held a show on March 20th in Nagoya in front of a sold-out International Conference Hall with a really strong card and a good show that featured the semi-finals and the final of the Cinderella Tournament, Giulia & Tam Nakano facing off in a singles match one more time, and a World of Stardom Championship match between Utami and Maika in the main event.

It was known that Giulia is leaving Stardom once her contract is up, so her facing off against her biggest rival Tam Nakano one last time felt inevitable and made for a perfect conclusion to her past 4 1/2 years. The match was more of a “greatest hits” match and didn’t have the excitement of their past matches. Their matches always gain mixed reactions due to how they’re laid out, and this wasn’t much different. Both were trying to hurt one another with nasty shoot headbutts, punches, and slaps. On top, there was more no-selling here than in their previous encounters. It ended with both no-selling each other’s finisher and fighting until the time limit expired.

The entire match and post-match felt a bit weird and surreal, but it somehow fits perfectly to Giulia. It wasn’t a fairytale goodbye but rather the opposite. It resembled what Giulia is about as a wrestler and character. It’s not a match for everyone, but it’s the ending of the most influential rivalry in the Bushiroad era of STARDOM.

The semi-finals and finals of the Cinderella tournament happened on the show, and it ended with a huge crowning moment. Hanan defeated her career-rival Ruaka in the first semi-final. While it wasn’t the *best* match, it was a good ending to OEDo Tai’s “cheating” in the tournament. New Japan and STARDOM had two similar approaches for their single elimination tournaments with the heel heat, but the way they used it was different with Ruaka being the sole wrestler who advanced far in the tournament, and as a result, it didn’t feel overused at all. It helped Hanan to look like an even bigger babyface with her overcoming the obstacles that cost Hazuki, Koguma, and Xena their matches in the tournament.

In the other semi-final, Ami Sohrei defeated AZM to advance to the final. With Hanan advancing, the winner of this match was obvious, but both Wrestlers did a good job of making the near falls matter, but the winner was never in doubt with Sohrei hitting the “Like a Thunderbolt” to win the match.

Hanan & Ami then clashed later in the night in the final, and it was Hanan who was able to win the match with the Backdrop Driver to win the Cinderella Tournament. The match itself was enjoyable with Hanan continuing to be a great babyface who slays another roadblock on her way to crown herself Cinderella and with that gets a wish, which is to challenge for the Wonder of Stardom Championship.

Hanan herself has been ready for a push for some time with her great showings in recent months, including the Goddess Tag League and the Cinderella Tournament, and now STARDOM decided that it is time to test her against their biggest stars. Her booking in this tournament has been fantastic with her going through all her rivals, including 2x Cinderella Winner MIRAI, Starlight Kid, who eliminated her in the White Belt Rumble, her career-rival Ruaka, and then her recent rival Ami Sohrei in the final. Now, it’s Hanan’s time to show that she’s worthy of the push in the upcoming bigger match of her career against Saori Anou.

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In the main event of the show, Maika defeated Utami Hayashishita in a barn burner of a match with just 20 seconds left on the clock to retain her World of Stardom Championship for the second time. Maika & Utami’s rivalry has been an important rivalry in Stardom over the past four years and reached a new height here, solidifying Maika as a top star in the company. Both wrestlers prefer a slower tempo and build-up of their bigger matches, with this one being built similar to many “Puro” epics in recent years, and they are great at it. They picked up the tempo at the right time and never lost the focus.

The match had a simple story with Maika needing to prove that she’s a real champion and can survive the offence of her biggest rival. She found multiple ways to counter Utami’s BT Bomb, which has cost her her past two World of Stardom Championship matches against Utami already. Just like against Suzu and Kamitani, she was prepared for her opponent’s key move and defeated another of her rivals.

Momo Watanabe came out and once again challenged Maika after the match but was told that she was too late, with Maika throwing out a challenge to her Divine Kingdom tag team partner Megan Bayne for STARDOM’s American show on April 4th. The inventable match between Watanabe and Maika for the Red Belt has been teased for two months now, so the chances that it’s happening soon are high.

Just 48 hours later, STARDOM announced that, along with Giulia, Utami Hayashishita, Mai Sakurai, MIRAI, and Yuzuki will leave the promotion. Mai Sakurai, MIRAI, and Yuzuki will have their final date on March 31st, while Giulia & Hayashishita will have their send-off on the April 12th Korakuen Hall show. They are all expected to join Rossy Ogawa’s new promotion, which is expected to start before the summer.

The biggest departure is undoubtedly Utami Hayashishita, who has been one of the most successful wrestlers in the post-Io Shirai era of STARDOM. She was labelled as the “Super Rookie” with her reaching the final of the 5STAR Grand Prix and winning multiple championships shortly after her debut match. Her biggest success happened in 2020 when she won the 5STAR GP and the World of Stardom Championship by defeating Mayu Iwatani to start her 400-day title run, which is the fourth-longest title run in the history of the Red Belt. She’s still one-half of the current Goddess of Stardom Champions alongside Saya Kamitani and will defend the belts against Crazy Star on March 30th.

MIRAI joined the promotion just two years ago and has achieved a lot in a short amount of time, with her back-to-back Cinderella Tournament victories in 2022 & 2023 leading to her becoming the Wonder of Stardom Champion for six months until Stardom Dream Queendom in December. The current Artist of Stardom Champion has been seen as one of the top players in Stardom in the next couple of years. In addition, Mai Sakurai and Yuzuki are also leaving the promotion. Sakurai has been gaining popularity with her “Ladyship” Gimmick, while Yuzuki is a promising young wrestler who won STARDOM’s Rookie of the Year tournament this January.

Ice Ribbon

On March 23rd, Ice Ribbon held a Korakuen Hall show in front of 541 fans, which is their highest attendance at Korakuen Hall since Ribbonmania 2022. The card featured three championship matches, including Ibuki Hoshi facing her mother, Hamuko Hoshi, in the main event of the show.

In the first title match, the vacant Triangle Ribbon Championship was on the line as Yuki Mashiro, who claims still to be Champion after her return to pro-wrestling, looked to win her belt back against Makoto and Kaho Matsushita. It was a typical Triangle Ribbon Title match with a good mix of comedy in it that ended with Mashiro rolling up Matsushita to crown her a 2x Champion, or in her mind, continuing her two-year title run.

Kyuri & Mifu Ashida lost their International Ribbon Tag Team Titles in the semi-main event against Totoro Satsuki & Yuna Manase in a good 15-minute match. The champions lost the belts in their first defence after winning it from YuuRI & Ancham at Ribbonmania. After multiple short reigns, the titles now need a bit of stability and a great run that hopefully BIG DEKAI can deliver.

The main event of the show was the highlight as Ibuki Hoshi defended her ICExInfinity Championship against her mother, Hamuko Hoshi. Hamuko was able to defeat Asuka Fujitaki to win the “Ribbon-1” in January. She used her wish to call out Ibuki Hoshi and challenge her for the ICExInfinity Championship.

The former 2x ICExInfinity Champion looked to win the title for the first time since 2018 but would need to defeat her daughter in doing so. Ibuki has been holding the most prestigious title in Ice Ribbon since August and has defended it twice since. This was the biggest test yet for the champion, who had never defeated her mother in singles action and had the chance to take another step towards being the Ace of Ice Ribbon.

It was a great match and lived up to the expectations. It started slow, but the pace picked up quickly. The finishing stretch was fantastic,  with the crowd biting on all of the near falls. Hamuko was able to hang in and showed good fighting spirit, but Ibuki hit a second Ibuningstar to put away Hamuko and defeat her mother for the first time in a singles match to retain her Championship for V3.

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