2021 was quite a year for Stardom.
It bore witness to Utami Hayashishita's incredible 409 day reign as World of Stardom Champion, during which she defended the title successfully 10 times before finally succumbing to the might of Syuri.
It presented us with the greatest women's match in history (according to good old Dave Meltzer at least) when Utami and Syuri clashed on 12th June 2021, catapulting Stardom into the consciousness of many who had never watched before.
It saw retirements (Konami and Jungle Kyona, although hopefully only temporarily in the case of Konami), returns (Hazuki and Koguma), title changes, emerging stars and the almost monthly defection of one wrestler or another to the villainous Oedo Tai.
All of this culminated in a very well-received exhibition match at Wrestle Kingdom 16 in the Tokyo Dome following an end of year show on 29th December 2021 which was pretty great from start to finish.
So as Stardom rides that wave into 2022, let's have a look at the numbers behind their 2021 success...because I know you are all secretly as geeky as me about this sort of thing.
Numbers Numbers Numbers!
The above table is effectively the raw data, so don't worry you don't have to read it all (although there will be a test afterwards....naturally). If you want to have a look at the full table, together with the fledgling 2022 table, feel free to have a peek at Stardom 2021.xlsx
The main thing to take from this is the long list of 49 wrestlers who competed in Stardom in 2021. Yes the list is inflated by the likes of legend Yoko Bito and Kyoko Inoue who showed up in the 'All Star Rumble' in March 2021, but it still highlights an impressive depth of talent on the roster.
It also shows that if success is based on effort, that is why Syuri ended 2021 with the Red Belt, having wrestled more than anyone else in Stardom with 101 matches. For comparison, Roman Reigns only wrestled 61 times in 2021, and that includes a lot of dark matches and house shows.
This number has already swelled in 2022 with the arrival of Thekla and MIRAI (complete with their terrifying masks) in Stardom, and I suspect we'll see a few more new names as the year progresses.
This table shows the total number of matches, including singles matches, tag matches, multi-woman matches and anything else that happened between the Stardom ropes in 2021. For ease of reference, this only includes wrestlers who had 10 or more matches in 2021.
In terms of win percentage, it is perhaps a slightly surprising name at the top of the list, but Himeka had a hugely successful 2021 winning 63.2% of her matches. This eclipses even the efforts of the all-conquering Syuri, and underlines that Stardom see big things in The Jumbo Princess' future.
Himeka forms part of an ominous grouping of Donna Del Mondo wrestlers, with Giulia and her squad taking up 5 of the top 7 spaces in terms of win-percentage. The only two breaking up that DDM monopoly are Hazuki and Koguma who, having come together as a tag-team on Hazuki's emotional return to Stardom, went on an excellent run culminating in them claiming the Goddesses of Stardom titles earlier this month.
One name which is surprisingly low down this list is that of Utami Hayashishita. She may well have dominated when it came to defending her red belt, but in multi-woman action she was on the end of a surprising number of losses and draws.
Similarly, whilst Starlight Kid had one of the better character transformations in my time watching Stardom, culminating in her effectively leading Oedo Tai, this only translated into a 43.9% winning percentage. Perhaps in 2022 Oedo Tai generally may need to reconsider their approach of deliberately losing matches with a cycle of frustrating disqualifications.
At the other end of the table, Lady C can now take comfort that she is no longer the 'losingest' wrestler in Stardom. Whilst the 'always ready' one did lose 93 matches in 2021, she did finally pick up a couple of wins giving her a monstrous 3.1% winning percentage.
Waka Tsukiyama however was 0-30 in 2021 and will be hoping that 2022 is kinder to her in terms of getting her arm raised (although she is already 0-4 for the year so far).
Lady C and Tsukiyama are of course on the development train and it is therefore not that surprising that they don't pick up many wins. Mina Shirakawa and Unagi Sayaka however may have hoped to have some better figures to brag about as they brought the curtain down on 2021. With only 35.6% and 36% winning percentages, the Cosmic Angels duo will certainly be looking to climb up the table in 2022.
Having a good winning percentage is all well and good, but it is in one-on-one singles matches where careers and reputations are often forged. Therefore in the table below we see just the figures from singles matches in Stardom in 2021, and it does have some marked differences to those overall scores above.
Syuri leads this particular battle, not unsurprising in the year that she finally managed to claim the prestigious Red Belt. Himeka and Giulia also show up very well in these statistics, and you wouldn't bet against one or both of them having a run against their Donna Del Mondo compatriot at some point in 2022.
More noticeably, it is in the singles statistics that we really see the successes of Utami and Tam Nakano. Both women had excellent years despite losing their belts before 2021 was complete, and their 67.9% win percentage in one-on-one matches underscores this.
Saya Kamitani also had an explosive 2021, ending the year by taking the White Belt from Tam and winning he Cinderella Tournament on the way, all of which helped her to an impressive winning percentage.
Towards the bottom of the table, the usual names are there, but the lies of Ruaka, Rina and Hanan can expect to see more checks in their win column in 2022.
Unagi will also be hoping that her friend Tam Nakano doesn't set her up in any more 'challenges' as those 7 defeats early in 2021 led to a fairly disappointing 1 in 3 win percentage.
Too Many Draws?
Finally, a quick spotlight on something that many think has started to become a bit of an issue in Stardom. Time limit draws.
Now there's nothing wrong with a time limit draw. It's a legitimate way to end a match and often highlights that the two wrestlers simply couldn't be separated across the prescribed time-limit. I also understand the desire to protect wrestlers by having them draw rather than lose, and the concept of the draw is generally a more accepted presence in Japanese wrestling than over in America.
However you can definitely have too much of a good thing, and the table above does show that Stardom may have been overdoing it slightly with the draws.
Utami alone had 19 draws in 2021, almost 1 in 5 of her matches, with 4 of those coming in singles matches. Now yes one of those draws was the aforementioned epic with Syuri, and I don't think anyone would change that outcome, but is 19 too many?
Personally I think that Stardom need to dial it down a little bit. Either don't book the matches if you don't want someone to lose, or have the courage to deal someone a defeat in a big match, because the redemption can always be a fascinating story.
Either way it's a relatively minor gripe in what was an excellent 2021 for Stardom and its wrestlers. Let's hope 2022 brings more of the same.