After a grueling 5 Star Grand Prix, and the fantastic Cinderella Show in Yokohama on October 3rd, Stardom now marches on towards the end of year spectacular. Before we reach that momentous occasion though, there is the small matter of the Goddess of Stardom Tag League to negotiate. A different setup for the tournament this year sees the 5 teams from the Red Stars block taking on each of the 5 teams in the Blue Stars block, with the team with the best record from each block then facing each other in the final for a chance to face the current Goddess of Stardom champions AphroditE (Utami Hayashishita and Saya Kamitani).
So going into the Tag League, and in advance of what will likely be a hectic end of 2020 for Stardom, where do the various wrestlers and factions stand, and how have they moved in the short but action packed period since the end of the 5 Star GP (see prowrestlingmusings.com/post/stardom-power-rankings-post-5-star-grand-prix for the previous set of rankings).
1. Mayu Iwatani (Rank Maintained)
Mayu survived an absolute war with Syuri in Yokohama in a match that left her stumbling around after the match like a punch-drunk old woman (seriously go and find the video of her falling over her winner’s trophy….it is Mayu at her adorable awkward best). As such she retains the Red Belt and continues to have a massive target on her back. First to take aim will be Takumi Iroha, with Utami next in line following that (assuming nobody else throws their hat into the ring). The Tag League might seem like a bit of a respite for Mayu then, as she teams with Starlight Kid in the MK✩Sisters, but whilst it seems unlikely she’ll be on the winning team here, that is unlikely to diminish the current glow around the Ace of Stardom.
2. Utami Hayashishita (Rank Maintained)
Still riding high off her magnificent 5 Star GP win, Utami further cemented her position of power within Stardom by holding onto the Goddess of Stardom titles with Saya Kamitani in a fiercely competitive match with Himeka and Maika in Yokohama. Having ceded the next shot at Mayu Iwatani to Takumi Iroha, Utami can afford to focus on her tag credentials for the next month or so, and whatever the result in the Tag League, it feels like a big challenge is coming for those belts fairly soon. And all the while Utami knows that she has a shot at the red belt in her back pocket. Will she take that shot at Stardom’s biggest show of the year in December? You wouldn’t put it past her.
3. Giulia (Rank Maintained)
After a shaky 5 Star GP, Giulia has re-exerted her dominance following the brutal, and final, dismantling of perennial rival Tam Nakano in Yokohama. Leaving with the White Belt still in hand means a whole host of potential matches now open up for Giulia, most notably with a likely match to come against Himeka who defeated her leader during the 5 Star GP. Teaming with Maika as part of Crazy Bloom for the Tag League will see a compelling set of matches for Giulia, most notably in an inter-faction battle with Syuri and Himeka. And don’t forget that Giulia beat Mayu Iwatani during the 5 Star GP….I’m certain it’s not something that Giulia will let slip from her mind.
4. Takumi Iroha (Previously Unranked)
Not actually a part of the Stardom roster, Takumi Iroha nevertheless deserves this high ranking as she could be about to turn the whole promotion on its head. Following Team Marvelous’ victory over Queen’s Quest on 28th September, Takumi asked Utami if she could step to the front of the queue for a shot at the Red Belt, and Utami graciously accepted. This means we will be getting a re-run of the Iroha v Iwatani match from earlier in 2020, a match which is on many match of the year lists….and more crucially a match which Takumi won. Can she use that mental advantage to wrench the Red Belt away from Mayu? Based on her dominance in their previous meeting, it is certainly on the cards.
5. Syuri (Down 1 Place)
Syuri will obviously have been disappointed to lose to Mayu Iwatani in Yokohama, but in truth it was a match that she could as easily have triumphed in. In yet another vicious striking display, Syuri gave the champion an absolute kicking, and deserves to be considered as someone who remains at the top of the Stardom field. Already part of the Artists of Stardom champions, the Tag League presents an immediate opportunity for Syuri to grab another belt as part of Grab The Top with Himeka. For me probably the favourites to win the tournament, Syuri could find herself forgetting all about that Red Belt loss very soon.
6. Himeka (Down 1 Place)
As with Grab The Top team-mate Syuri, Himeka suffered disappointment in Yokohama as she and Maika were unable to wrest the Goddess of Stardom titles from AphroditE. Following on from her defeat in the final of the 5 Star GP, it looked as if Himeka’s momentum had finally been halted, but that team with Syuri really does look formidable going into the Tag League. And whilst the Tag League will likely be her priority for now, I fully expect to see a challenge to her DDM leader for the White Belt in the near future. Either way, it doesn’t look like Himeka will be without gold for long.
7. Konami (Rank Maintained)
Ahem. Yes the destroyer of Tokyo Cyber Squad now resides in the dark colours of Oedo Tai, and in the bad books for fans of Jungle Kyona everywhere. Whatever your feelings on this traitorous snake however, it’s hard to deny she doesn’t immediately feel more powerful in her new role. Will she be the de-facto leader of Oedo Tai? That could be an interesting story to tell in the coming months, but in the meantime Konami goes into the Tag League with Bea Priestley (Black Widows) as one of the favourites to win it. She broke our hearts, but Konami will want to be in a position soon to say that it was worth it.
8. Tam Nakano (Down 2 Places)
For Tam Nakano 2020 has been all about defeating Giulia and winning the White Belt. At Yokohama that dream all came crashing down in a violent epic between the two rivals. Now having returned to the back of the White Belt queue, it seemed as if Tam didn’t have a whole lot to target for the rest of the year, but following a victory over recent Stardom debutant Mina Shirakawa, she invited her opponent to join her in DREAM H for the Tag League. A team which seems to largely be based on Tam’s admiration for Mina’s….ahem….assets, it will be very interesting to see how they fare in the next month or so. Without a decent run in this Tag League, questions may justifiably be asked about where Tam is heading in Stardom.
9. Bea Priestley (Previously Unranked)
Bea Priestley will not be a popular name to see on any of these lists for reasons that I really don’t want to go into here. All that said however, Priestley picked up a big win against nemesis Momo Watanabe in Yokohama to pick up the SWA Women’s Title. It is a lowly regarded belt yes, but it is a sign that Priestley, a former holder of the Red Belt, is still considered a major player in Stardom despite all the justified negativity around her continued presence in the promotion. Her team with Konami is likely to be strong in the Tag League, and she seems to be a key party of the new lease of life within Oedo Tai. But yeah….at least say sorry properly Bea.
10. AZM (Previously Unranked)
The teenage sensation continued her unerring rise to the top of Stardom with a fantastic performance and victory over Starlight Kid in Yokohama to retain the High Speed Title. What was most impressive about that win was how at home AZM looked in the ‘big-time’ environment of Yokohama….a position that I’m sure she will increasingly find herself in over the next few years. Such has been AZM’s presence in recent weeks that she has knocked her own faction leader, and Tag League partner, Momo Watanabe out of this top 10. Indeed going into this tournament it feels as if AZM is likely to be the stronger part of MOMOAZ, and whilst I don’t expect them to win the Tag League, I do think they are strong contenders.
1. Stars (Up One Place)
Tam Nakano lost in Yokohama. Starlight Kid lost in Yokohama. But Mayu Iwatani won in Yokohama and on her performances alone, Stars are back at the top of the table in Stardom. So much so, that it appears they will become the home for all the unfortunates who have had to leave Tokyo Cyber Squad, including Jungle Kyona who looks set to join the faction when she returns from what appear to be long-term injuries. It seems unlikely that any of the Stars teams will win in the Tag League, but will they be able to formally add Mina Shirakawa to their ranks? If so it is just another feather in the cap of Stardom’s top faction.
2. Donna Del Mondo (Down 1 Place)
Going into Yokohama, DDM had the opportunity to walk away with almost every belt within the promotion. Following Syuri’s defeat to Momo, and Himeka and Maika’s demise at the hands of AphroditE, DDM’s luster has ever so slightly waned. Giulia, however, has again stamped her authority on the faction and you wouldn’t bet against both DDM teams having a very strong showing in the Tag League. On top of this, Giulia has added the extremely exciting Natsupoi to DDM, giving the faction a presence in the High-Speed title picture, and that match with AZM when it comes will likely be an absolute treat.
3. Queen’s Quest (Rank Maintained)
QQ would arguably be the strongest faction in Stardom if it weren’t for one glaring problem. Utami won the 5 Star GP, and she and Saya Kamitani hold the Goddess of Stardom belts. AZM meanwhile holds the High-Speed title and seems to be on an almost unstoppable upward trajectory. But the issue lies with QQ’s leader Momo Watanabe. After a disappointing 5 Star GP, Momo was also bested in her grudge match with Bea Priestley in Yokohama. With their leader in such dire straits, it is hard to see Queen’s Quest as a dominant faction, and they will need Momo’s results to start matching the quality of her new Kota Ibushi inspired ring gear very soon.
4. Oedo Tai (Up One Place)
What a difference a couple of weeks can make. Whilst the 5 Star GP saw Natsuko Tora as Oedo Tai’s only representative, and not a successful one at that, with the return of Saki Kashima and Bea Priestley and the addition of everyone’s new number 1 enemy Konami, suddenly OT seem like they are on the up. Yes, that will need to be proven with victories rather than just hitting people with chairs, but Konami and Priestley look like a good bet to do well in the Tag League. The only potential issue for Oedo Tai is the question of who will now be the dominant force within the faction, with neither Natsuko nor Konami likely willing to play second fiddle.
Special Mention - Tokyo Cyber Squad (Disbanded)
As Jungle Kyona lay in the ring wailing in despair in Yokohama it was very hard not to shed a tear or two (shut up….you’re crying). Real life tragedy has obviously taken centre stage with Hana Kimura’s creation TCS, but watching Konami turn on Jungle to signal the end of the faction was a hammer blow for many. To compound the misery, Jungle Kyona is now injured and expected to be out for a long time, and when she returns TCS may well be a distant memory. But it shouldn’t be allowed to become one. Hana’s message of ‘Everyone is Different, Everyone is Special’ deserves to be memorialised and I absolutely think it will be. Yes Sir.
Power Rankings Within Factions
Donna Del Mondo
1. Mayu Iwatani
2. Tam Nakano
3. Starlight Kid
4. Saya Iida
1. Utami Hayashishita
3. Momo Watanabe
4. Saya Kamitani
Tokyo Cyber Squad
2. Jungle Kyona
3. Death Yama-San
2. Natsuko Tora
3. Bea Priestley
4. Saki Kashima
5. Natsu Sumire
Gokigen Death (formerly Tokyo Cyber Squad)
Jungle Kyona (formerly Tokyo Cyber Squad)
Rina (formerly Tokyo Cyber Squad)
Ruaka (formerly Tokyo Cyber Squad)
Natsumi (formerly Tokyo Cyber Squad)