LONG STORY SPORT

Stardom 101: Oedo Tai

Updated: Nov 8

Welcome to the latest edition of "Stardom 101", the series where I intend to do my part to introduce as many people to Stardom as I possibly can. Today we'll be going over the main heel faction of Stardom, the dastardly Oedo Tai. OT has been around for over seven years now, making them by far the oldest faction in the promotion.


Without getting too deep into the weeds because we could be here for a while, Oedo Tai was started by Kyoko Kimura and Act Yasukawa as both a place foreign wrestlers could flock to during their tours in Japan as well as one for those who wanted to cause some mischief and mayhem to do just that. Some notable women who rotated through Oedo Tai's ranks at the time included Ruby Soho, Thunder Rosa, Nikki Cross, and Doudrop.


While this was all well in good for a little while, the inconsistent lineup and early departures for many of the founding members made Oedo Tai a pretty insignificant entity for most of its early lifespan. As they were struggling to find footing, for instance, the "Three Daughters of Stardom", Mayu Iwatani, Io Shirai, and Kairi Hojo were dominating the promotion.


OT's prospects changed greatly in 2017, however, when a more refined lineup was finally created. Led by new leader Kagetsu, and flanked by both the daughter of Kyoko Kimura, Hana, and by the incredibly entertaining Kris Wolf, Oedo Tai started to blossom into a rag tag group bent on creating chaos wherever they would go. Other wrestlers like Tam Nakano and Natsu Sumire would round out what many consider the best iteration of the faction in late 2017.


Since 2018, Oedo Tai has seen more evolution than any other faction in Stardom. Nakano was forced to leave OT in January, 2018. Kris Wolf would retire from wrestling a couple months later. Hana would leave to start her own faction "Tokyo Cyber Squad" and become a legend. Kagetsu would retire in 2020 and become a legend in his own right. And Sumire Natsu would drift away from Stardom and start to work in the Joshi independent scene. In their place, the faction has rebuilt itself with a new crew of former babyfaces and have created their own well-defined niche in Stardom.


In its seven-year history, OT members have won 19 titles, which is tied for the most with Queen's Quest among active units. Also, they are one of three crews, along with QQ and Donna Del Mondo, to have had a member hold every title at least once. The highest achievement ever reached by an OT member was when Kagetsu held the World of Stardom belt for 329 days, but members have also had notable runs with the Wonder of Stardom, Goddesses of Stardom, and High Speed championships.

  • 1 World of Stardom Championship - Kagetsu (1 time)

  • 1 Wonder of Stardom Championship - Act Yasukawa (1 time)

  • 5 Goddesses of Stardom Championships - Bea Priestley (2 times), Kagetsu (2 times), Hana Kimura (1 time), Jamie Hayter (1 time), Konami (1 time), Kyoko Kimura (1 time), Momo Watanabe (1 time), Starlight Kid (1 time)

  • 5 High Speed Championships - Hazuki (1 time), Kris Wolf (1 time), La Rosa Negra (1 time), Star Fire (1 time), Starlight Kid (1 time)

  • 4 Artist of Stardom Championships - Kagetsu (2 times), Saki Kashima (2 times), Andras Miyagi (1 time), Bea Priestley (1 time), Hana Kimura (1 time), Kyoko Kimura (1 time), Momo Watanabe (1 time), Natsuko Tora (1 time), Starlight Kid (1 time), Sumire Natsu (1 time)

  • 2 SWA Undisputed World Championships - Bea Priestley (1 time), Jamie Hayter (1 time)

  • 1 Future of Stardom Championship - Ruaka (1 time)

While it could be argued that Oedo Tai's best days are behind them to some degree, that shouldn't be a reason to not respect what their members are doing today. One thing I will say about Oedo Tai is that they've been able to stay pretty relevant, especially in today's "faction warfare" environment, and some of their members are some of the best talents in the promotion right now. So without much more delay, let's talk about who makes up Oedo Tai today.

 

Fukigen Death

"Gokigen Death, Death Yama-san, Kaori Yoneyama"

Photo Credit: Stardom

Debut - November 14th, 1999 vs. Kayoko Haruyama at a JWP show

Date Joined Faction - April 4th, 2021 at "Stardom Yokohama Dream Cinderella"

Titles/Tournaments Won - 3-time High Speed Champion, 4-time Artist of Stardom Co-Champion

Rivals - AZM, Mayu Iwatani, People who are afraid of clowns


We're going to start this rundown with a look at Oedo Tai's resident killer clown from outer space, Fukigen Death. The enigmatic wrestler has been a staple at Stardom longer than everyone except for Mayu Iwatani, having made her debut in the company in 2012. However, she hasn't spent all of that time as the evil circus performer she is today. Over her career, she's also graced Stardom rings as the lovable Gokigen Death while at STARS, the slightly insane and potentially possessed Death Yama-san while with Tokyo Cyber Squad, and as the legendary Joshi wrestler, Kaori Yoneyama at other times.


Yoneyama began her career way back in 1999, and has spent the past 20 plus years in just about every Joshi wrestling company to have existed during that time. Without going into too much detail, as this would take forever, Yoneyama has wrestled for AJW, JWP, NEO, Ice Ribbon, WAVE, and Gatoh Move, among many others. During that time, she's held 35 titles including the AJW Championship, the JWP Junior Championship, the High Speed Championship both when it belonged to NEO and later with Stardom, and the DDT Iron Man Heavy Metal Championship. While it's been said about countless other wrestlers, Yoneyama has really done it all.


Stardom's senior member mostly spends her time these days as a comedy act, something that I believe compliments the rest of the roster. Her schtick generally works for me because she can back up her antics with some strong wrestling, something that cannot be said about other comedic wrestlers like New Japan's Toru Yano. While she won't pull out any classics like some of the others we'll talk about in a bit, she's a terrific lower card competitor.


Fukigen Death was forced to join Oedo Tai early last year after she former unit STARS lost an elimination tag team match where the final member eliminated was forced to join the other crew. Since turning heel, she's found a little more tangible success, but she remains on the lower end of the roster. With that being said, she's still a valuable member of the Stardom roster and one of my guilty pleasures.

GIF Credit: @tde_gif on Twitter

 

Momo Watanabe

"Black Peach"

Photo Credit: Stardom

Debut - November 16th, 2014 vs. Takumi Iroha at "Stardom Goddesses of Stardom Tag League 2014 Night 4"

Date Joined Faction - December 18th, 2021 at "Stardom Osaka Super Wars"

Titles/Tournaments Won - 1-time Wonder of Stardom Champion, 2-time Goddesses of Stardom Co-Champion, 3-time Artist of Stardom Co-Champion, 2018 Cinderella Tournament Winner, 2018 Goddesses Of Stardom Tag League Co-Winner (w/ Utami Hayashishita), 2020 Goddesses of Stardom Tag League Co-Winner (w/ AZM)

Rivals - Queen's Quest, Common Decency


As of writing, Oedo Tai has only one wrestler in their ranks who could believably challenge for, and potentially win, the World of Stardom Championship, and that is Momo Watanabe. The "Black Peach" has not only been one of the company's most successful competitors on the roster for many years, but she has also been one of their most important as well. We won't be able to touch on everything, of course, but I'll try and touch on on her biggest highlights.


Momo Watanabe started to make a name for herself back in 2016 when two major things happened. First, she took part in her first 5STAR Grand Prix, during which she found great success in her block, finishing behind only Tessa Blanchard and Io Shirai in her block. Both her singles match with Shirai and her second clash with Jungle Kyona were especially well liked at the time.


The second biggest thing that happened to Watanabe in 2016 was when she turned on her friend and tag team partner Jungle Kyona to join Shirai and HZK, now Hazuki, in the upstart Queen's Quest faction, which had just started earlier in the month. Not long after joining, on January 7th, 2017, she would win the Artist of Stardom Championships with Shirai and HZK after beating Kagetsu, Kyoko Kimura, and Viper of Oedo Tai.


As a member of Queen's Quest, Momo Watanabe learned all that she could from Io Shirai, who around that time was considered one of the best wrestlers, male or female, on the planet. Unfortunately for Watanabe, however, much of that instruction would come while she was on the shelf, as in February 2017, she would go down after tearing her ACL in training. She would eventually return 10 months later.


Luckily, her injury didn't affect how Stardom viewed her, as on February 18th, 2018 she would challenge her mentor, Io Shirai, for the Wonder of Stardom Championship. To me, this was the match where she finally put everything together and had a bonafide classic. This is a must watch. Three months later, after winning the Cinderella Tournament, Watanabe would finally defeat Shirai to win the "White Belt". Add this to your Watanabe watchlist as well.


Watanabe would go on to hold the Wonder of Stardom title for an incredible 358 days, at the time the third longest reign in the belt's history. Not only that, but she also successfully defended the belt a record 13 times, including against some big names like Mayu Iwatani, Kagetsu, Jungle Kyona, Tam Nakano, Utami Hayashishita, Deonna Purazzo, and Jaime Hayter. She would eventually be dethroned on May 16th, 2019 by Arisa Hoshiki, who would subsequently have her own legendary run with the belt.


Outside of holding the White Belt, Watanabe was gradually gaining more and more power within Queen's Quest as well. As Io Shirai finally left for NXT in mid-2018, Watanabe would become the second leader in the faction's history. Under her leadership, she would add multiple members including Utami Hayashishita and Saya Kamitani, who are cornerstones of QQ today, and she would help oversee AZM's ascent up the card. Perhaps because she was able to forge strong bonds, Watanabe became a very successful tag team wrestler as well. She would win her first Goddesses of Stardom Titles with Utami while the Wonder of Stardom Champion, and she's also won the Goddesses of Stardom Tag League tournament twice, once with Utami in 2018 and a second time with AZM in 2020.


The only major accolades that have evaded Watanabe as of writing is that she's never won the 5STAR Grand Prix, and she's never won the World of Stardom Championship, the most important title in the company. When it comes to the 5STAR, she did reach the finals of the 2021 tournament, only to lose to Syuri, and as for the World of Stardom belt, she's challenged for it five times, losing all except for her first match, which ended in a double knockout with Kagetsu.


It's perhaps this lack of high level success that caused her to snap on December 18th, 2021 and turn on her Queen's Quest sisters to join Oedo Tai. To say that this was a surprising moment would be an understatement. Perhaps more shocking, however, has been her subsequent metamorphosis into the evil and conniving character she is today. Much like Starlight Kid, who we'll get to later on, Watanabe has completely morphed into a sadist. She's shown glee when administering pain, and she's even descended to using a wrench in some assaults. Easily her most notable moment in this regard was when she whacked AZM in the face with her wrench-stuffed kick pad, putting her on the shelf for a little while.


While she has yet to find that top level success just yet, Watanabe has continued to achieve in the tag team realm. She held the Goddesses of Stardom titles with Starlight Kid for a little over a month, and she's one third of the current Artist of Stardom straps along with Starlight Kid. andSaki Kashima. One thing that hasn't gone away, however, is that she's still one of the best in-ring competitors in the company today. Aside from Mayu Iwatani, she might be the best as adapting her style depending on who she's fighting. It's because of this, and her recent character change, that I believe she will achieve one of these above remaining accolades in the next few years.

GIF Credit: @tde_gif on Twitter

 

Natsuko Tora

"Unhinged Aramusha Girl"

Photo Credit: Stardom

Debut - October 30th, 2016 with Arisu Nanase vs. AZM and Kaori Yoneyama "Stardom October Showdown"

Date Joined Faction - April 14th, 2019 at "Stardom Glory Stars Night 2: The Stardom Draft 2019"

Titles/Tournaments Won - 1-time Goddesses of Stardom Co-Champion, 2-time Artist of Stardom Co-Champion, 2021 Top Unit Trios Tournament Co-Winner

Rivals - Jungle Kyona, Utami Hayashishita


While most new fans have probably only seen her wrestle a handful of times, if at all, it might be easy to forget that Natsuko Tora is one of the most important characters in Stardom. The leader of Oedo Tai was riding the highest high of her career back in July when she sadly went down with a nasty torn ACL injury during her World of Stardom Championship challenge against Utami Hayashishita. Yet even with her out of action, she has still been there to help strengthen her unit to where it is today.


Tora might be viewed as one of the arch villains in Stardom, but she didn't start out that way. Not long after she started her career in 2016, the future leader of Oedo Tai would join Jungle Kyona's uber babyface stable "Team Jungle", later known as "Jungle Assault Nation". While she was with JAN, she would team up with Kaori Yoneyama, Ruaka, Saya Iida, and he aforementioned Jungle Kyona.


Tora would find moderate success while with JAN. Her greatest achievement while in the unit was when she won the Artist of Stardom titles alongside Kyona and Yoneyama. The trio would successfully defend the straps twice, including against a team that featured Britt Baker of all people, before finally losing the belts to STARS' super trio made up of Mayu Iwatani, Saki Kashima, and Tam Nakano.


Her career changed dramatically in April of 2019 when Jungle Kyona lost a match where the loser must disband her unit, meaning Tora was a free agent by the time Oedo Tai drafted her on April 19th. Quickly after making the switch to the company's main heel faction, Tora would become one of Stardom's most hatable characters. While all of this didn't translate into tangible success, namely in titles or tournament wins, it would in other important ways.


After Kagetsu retired from in ring competition in February 2020, Tora became the fifth leader in Oedo Tai's history and would forge a mission to poison the Stardom roster by bringing in new members one way or another. Since becoming leader, six wrestlers have joined OT's ranks, five of which did when Tora was the visible leader (Starlight Kid mostly facilitated Momo Watanabe's move).


Of all these additions, I think it's fair to say that easily the most shocking was that of Starlight Kid in 2021, when she would tear away the beloved best friend of Mayu Iwatani after an elimination tag team match with STARS. While Tora was unable to hoist up many championships, except for the Artist of Stardom trios titles with Bea Priestley and Saki Kashima in 2020, she has been successful in bringing her own style of terror and chaos to the promotion.


While she's not one of the best wrestlers in between the ropes by any means, Natsuko Tora has nailed the characterization that is so sorely needed in wrestling, especially in a company where the competitors are speaking a language you cannot understand. I think Stardom is missing the unhinged, evil leader of Oedo Tai, so I hope she comes back soon and gets back to bringing her own brand of violent chaos.

GIF Credit: @tde_gif on Twitter

 

Rina

"Oedo Tai's Pink Devil"

Photo Credit: Stardom

Debut - June 11th, 2017 with Rina vs. Hanan at "Stardom Shining Stars 2017"

Date Joined Faction - October 29th, 2020 at "Stardom Goddesses Of Stardom Tag League 2020 - Night 6"

Titles/Tournaments Won - N/A

Rivals - Hanan, Hina


Way back at the start of this series, I talked a little bit about Hina, the junior member of Queen's Quest and the younger sister of Hanan, the Future of Stardom Champion. When talking about both Hina and Hanan, I mentioned that they had another sister who also competed in the promotion. Well, this is that third sister. Rina is the twin sister to Hina, the younger sister to Hanan, and currently the only heel in the trio.


Even though most of her five year career has been spent competing on the undercard, this is not to say that she's been irrelevant this whole time. She was a founding member of the famous Tokyo Cyber Squad where she spent most of her time learning from the unit's leader, Hana Kimura. Following Kimura's tragic death and TCS' disbandment, she would move on to Oedo Tai after spending a cup of coffee with STARS.


Since moving to OT, Rina's really progressed a lot both inside the ring and as a character. She's clearly embraced the dark side, and she's become a thorn in the side of any opponent she's up against, no matter how likely it is for her to win. That attitude has helped her achieve some impressive things like when she beat AZM in the first round of the 2021 Cinderella Tournament.


2022 has been another strong year in Rina's progression. She beat Sakura Hirota at the second annual Hana Kimura Tribute Show, in what her first match outside of Stardom. She took AZM to the limit in a match for the High Speed belt. And she nearly earned a spot in the 5STAR Grand Prix. Given the strides she's made over the past couple years, I can see Rina become a key contributor higher up the card in a few years. We'll just have to wait and see.

GIF Credit: @tde_gif on Twitter

 

Ruaka

"Rebel Child"


Debut - November 20th, 2016 with Arisu Nanase vs. AZM and Natsuko Tora at "Stardom Goddesses Of Stars Night 1"

Date Joined Faction - February 20th, 2021 at "Stardom New Year Stars 2021 Night 9"

Titles/Tournaments Won - 1-time Future of Stardom Champion, 2021 Top Unit Trios Tournament Co-Winner

Rivals - Hanan, Hina


Another one of Oedo Tai's junior members, Ruaka hasn't had too many highlights in the ring just yet, but she's improved a ton in the ring, and she's played a part in a whole lot of key historic moments in Stardom's recent history. During her five year career, she's progressed into a young wrestler who's steadily created a strong foundation of what could one day become a great career.


We're not going to look at Ruaka's early run because it follows a similar structure that many of her contemporaries experienced. Things got interesting for her in 2017 and 2018, when she started teaming regularly with people like Natsuko Tora and Kaori Yoneyama right as the Team Jungle faction was getting started. In 2018, Team Jungle became the Jungle Assault Nation, and Ruaka would stay on and learn her craft from some of the older wrestlers.


Sadly, as I mentioned earlier, J.A.N. was forced to disband in 2019 after Jungle Kyona lost a match in which the loser would lose her faction. Yet she wouldn't remain alone for too long, as Hana Kimura drafted her soon after to join her new stable, Tokyo Cyber Squad. It was while with TCS where Ruaka would continue to work on the undercard with Death Yama-san, Rina, and Jungle Kyona. However, TCS would only last a little over a year and a half, as Hana Kimura tragically passed away in May, 2020 and the unit couldn't realistically exist without it's heart and soul.


Once again, Ruaka was forced to find a new home. And on October 4th, 2020, she would find that home with Mayu Iwatani and the STARS faction. However, she would swiftly grow tired of the pure babyface unit and eventually turn on her compatriots on February 20th, 2021 to join her old friend Natsuko Tora and Oedo Tai.


Since joining OT, Ruaka has shown a new level of aggression and passion, and it's shown in her overall wrestling ability. Soon after joining OT, she, Saki Kashima, and Natsuko Tora would win a trios tournament, beating the Cosmic Angels in the final. Later that year, she would take part in her first ever 5STAR Grand Prix, during which she lost all of her matches, but was able to get a feel for some of the biggest stars in the company in singles competition.


Ruaka's crowning achievement, to this point occurred on October 9th, 2021, when she beat Unagi Sayaka to win the Future of Stardom Championship, thus becoming the first member of Oedo Tai to win the belt while a member of the unit. She would hold on to the title for 81 days, and successfully defending the strap two times, before losing to her career rival, Hanan, who's still the champ as of writing.


Ruaka might be one of the younger wrestlers on the roster as of writing, but given her recent improvements as an overall in-ring competitor, I'm optimistic that the best is still to come for the master of the "Reitouko Bakudan", or diving splash. It might be several years, but I think given her trajectory, Ruaka might one day challenge for the World of Stardom title. And who knows? Maybe she'll even win it.

GIF Credit: @tde_gif on Twitter

 

Saki Kashima

"Lightning Fast Kishikaisei"

Photo Credit: Stardom

Debut - June 12th, 2011 vs. Natsuki Taiyo at "Stardom Season 2: Grow Up Stars"

Date Joined Faction - January 3rd, 2020 at "Stardom New Years Stars 2020 Night 2"

Titles/Tournaments Won - 1-time Goddesses of Stardom Co-Champion, 5-time Artist of Stardom Co-Champion, 2021 Top Unit Trios Tournament Co-Winner

Rivals - Mayu Iwatani


Saki Kashima might not look like a prototypical wrestler, but to me, she's progressed into one of the most intriguing and unique characters in Stardom's mid card by utilizing her trickery, intelligence, and finesse to combat her small frame. Kashima's career can be split into two sections; pre-hiatus and post-hiatus. She began her Stardom run way back in 2011, the same year Stardom began, and found some moderate success.


Easily her greatest achievement before she took her extended hiatus was when she along with Act Yasukawa and Natsuki Taiyo, two of Stardom's top stars at the time, became the first Artist of Stardom Champions. the crew wasn't able to defend the belts for long, sadly, as Kashima soon began a five-year hiatus to heal up from a multitude of injuries.


The Master of the "Kishikasei" would eventually return to action in March 2018 and would immediately link up with Mayu Iwatani, who at that point was creating the building blocks to a new stable she would later call STARS. Kashima would be one of the founding members of STARS, as well as Iwatani's main tag team partner. These two found quick sucess as they would defeat Kagetsu and Hana Kimura for the Goddesses of Stardom tag belts in June of that year.


While Kashima was a babyface working with STARS, she displayed an other-worldly ability to connect with the crowd, especially when she was getting destroyed during a match. She would take so much punishment, but never give up and eventual tag Iwatani in for the save. The dynamic between the two tag team partners was incredible, and to me, Kashima is Iwatani's greatest tag partner besides Io Shirai.


Earlier I mentioned the word "Kishikasei", so I felt that now would be as good a time as ever to explain what that is. Because Kashima has always been so small and thin, it would be easy for her opponents to absolutely demolish her. So Kashima needed to find a way to combat this. So she devised the "Kishikasei", a pinning combination that has ensnared many and has made her a viable threat. This sense of trickery and finesse, and noted earlier, would eventually flip Kashima from Iwatani's strongest ally to her greatest foe in short order on January 3rd, 2020, when she would shockingly turn on her best friend to join Oedo Tai.


Since turning heel, Kashima has thrived as the promotion's most devious hooligan. She might not win all that often, particularly in singles action, but with the help of her "Kishikasei", she's thrown a wrench in many opponent's plans. Her most notable victory with the pinning combination is easily the one she threw on Mayu Iwatani herself in 17 seconds back during the Cinderella Tournament earlier this year. Additionally, she's become one of the most successful trios wrestlers in Stardom's history, as with her most recent Artist of Stardom title victory on May 28th, she's tied for second for most reigns with the belt with five. Only Io Shirai, who had six, had more during her storied run.


While it's taken me a little longer to fully embrace Kashima, I think that I've started to appreciate her more and more over time. She might not be the most incredible in-ring competitor, but she's one of the most intelligent, in my opinion. She's got some of the best body control in Stardom. She's one of the company's best at selling. And she's simply one of the most entertaining characters around, as she's ruthless at trash talk and endlessly tricky. I think the Bean Sprout is great, and one of the most underrated wrestlers in Stardom today.


GIF Credit: @tde_gif on Twitter

 

Starlight Kid

"Sky Tiger Dancing in the Darkness"

Photo Credit: @StarLight_Kid11 on Twitter

Debut - October 11th, 2015 vs. Kaori Yoneyama and Momo Watanabe at "Stardom Appeal The Heat"

Date Joined Faction - June 12th, 2021 at "Stardom Tokyo Dream Cinderella Special Edition"

Titles/Tournaments Won - 1-time Goddesses of Stardom Co-Champion, 1-time Artist of Stardom Co-Champion, 1-time High Speed Champion, 1-time Future of Stardom Champion, 2018 Future Of Stardom Title Tournament Winner

Rivals - AZM, Koguma, Mayu Iwatani, Natuspoi

Long Story Sport Accolade(s) - Female Match of the Month (February 2022 vs. AZM)


We're going to finish off today with a few words on another one of my favorite wrestlers, Starlight Kid. The once beloved babyface and former best friend to Mayu Iwatani was forced to join Oedo Tai last year, and has since become one of the promotion's most hated heels after fully embracing the darkness. And in return, she has been rewarded with accolades and a higher profile.


SLK began her career way back in 2015, and much like many other younger wrestlers we've spoken about before, she spent much of her time losing to more experienced competitors on the lower card. One thing that made her memorable from the jump, however, was that she was the only member of the roster to wear a mask while wrestling. Stardom's had several wrestlers wear a mask down to the ring, like Io Shirai, Mayu Iwatani, and Kairi Sane, but no other full roster member has worn it all the time, except for a few visiting luchadoras from Mexico.


Soon after returning to complete her studies in early 2018, Starlight Kid was entered into a tournament to crown the first ever Future of Stardom Championship, a belt we covered last time in the STARS writeup when talking about Hanan. After defeating both Hanan and Shiki Shibusawa, SLK became the first to ever hold the belt, which she would subsequently hold on to for 281 days and successfully defend five times. In fact, it was during this run that her lifelong rivalry with AZM really started to blossom. Their first two singles matches happened around this time, with the second one in particular being highly regarded.


It was also during her run with the Future of Stardom Championship when she became one of the founding members of Mayu Iwatani's new stable, STARS. She would loyally serve under Iwatani, first as a junior member, and then eventually as the crew's de facto number two by the start of 2021. In fact, when she teamed up with Mayu for the 2020 Goddesses of Stardom Tag League, it was that decision that further caused the rift between Mayu and Tam Nakano, who would subsequently choose Mina Shirakawa and later create the Cosmic Angels stable later that year.


Starlight Kid's days with STARS came to a shrieking halt on June 12th, 2021 when she was the final wrestler to be eliminated from a faction vs. faction match where the final woman to be pinned would be forced to switch to the other unit. At first, SLK took this transition very poorly, as she was a babyface in a heel stable. She was bullied by her teammates and made to look like a mascot. However, as time went on, SLK started to embrace the fun that could be had with being a heel, and by the end of the summer, the SLK we all once knew had been destroyed, and a new evil surrogate was in her place. In fact, it could be argued that with Oedo Tai's leader Natsuko Tora on the shelf due to sustaining a severe injury in July, Starlight Kid kind of became the group's de facto leader.


Over the past several months, Starlight Kid has shot up the card to become one of the marquee members of the Stardom roster. In 2022 alone, she's been the High Speed Champion, one half of. the Goddesses of Stardom Champions with Momo Watanabe, and is currently on-third of the Artist of Stardom Champions along with Watanabe and Saki Kashima. Additionally, she competed against Saya Kamitani for the Wonder of Stardom title, in a match that comes highly recommended, and battled AZM for the High Speed belt in what was my favorite match from February, 2022.


The thing that makes SLK one of the most impressive wrestlers in all of Joshi is that she's proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that she's a tremendously charismatic competitor, both as a babyface and a heel. She's one of the company's coolest characters, and is able to back all that up with her excellent lucha inspired wrestling. There's little doubt that a run with either of the top singles titles is certainly in her future.

GIF Credit: @tde_gif on Twitter

 

Former Members of Oedo Tai


Act Yasukawa - (1/18/2015 - 4/23/2016) Helped create the Oedo Tai stable alongside Kyoko Kimura and others. As a member, her greatest achievement was when she became the first wrestler to win the Wonder of Stardom title for a second time. She challenged for the World of Stardom Championship on February 22nd, 2015, but the match was forced to end in a no-contest when the champion, Yoshiko, viciously shot on her. Yasukawa was sent to the hospital where she was diagnosed with nasal, cheek, and orbital bone fractures, which all required surgery, and Yoshiko was subsequently striped of the title and soon left Stardom all together. Many know this event today as the "Ghastly Match." Yasukawa would later retire from wrestling in December 2015. She's since returned to wrestle occasionally for the Actwres girl'Z promotion.


Hana Kimura - (9/22/2016 - 9/24/2018) One of the most unanimously beloved figures not just in Stardom history, but in all of Joshi, Hana Kimura, the daughter of Oedo Tai founder Kyoko, was one of the group's most popular members during its golden period. The ultra-charismatic superstar in the making. While with OT, she was a one-time Goddesses of Stardom champ, along with group leader Kagetsu, and a one-time Artist of Stardom champ. She would famously leave OT to forge her own path, which culminated in the creation of the Tokyo Cyber Squad unit in 2019. Finding success as the leader of a new unit, she would win the 5STAR Grand Prix in 2019, subsequently becoming one of the biggest stars in Stardom before her tragic, untimely death on May 23rd, 2020 at the age of 22. Even with Stardom's recent rise, the whole left by Kimura still looms for fans who remember her as the "Dangerous Flower" she was.


Kagetsu - (4/23/2016 - 2/24/2020) We'll talk more about Kagetsu in the future, but the former leader of Oedo Tai is one of the greatest legends Stardom ever had. As a member of Oedo Tai, he won the World of Stardom title once, the Goddesses of Stardom title twice, and the Artist of Stardom title four times, all the while cultivating the greatest era OT ever had in 2017/18. He retired on the same day he left Oedo Tai, and has since appeared at a few wrestling events, namely the two Hana Kimura tribute events. You'll notice that I've been using male pronouns this whole time. That's because in 2022, he announced that he is a female-to-male transgender and now goes by the name Yuu Ishino.


Kris Wolf - (1/18/2015 - 3/25/2018) A former High Speed Champion who more importantly, might be the greatest gaijin, or non-Japanese, wrestler in Stardom history. She would leave Stardom in 2018 and wrestle several more times both in the United States and England. She would later retired in 2019, citing multiple concussion issues. Similar to Kagetsu, we'll probably talk more about Wolf at some point in the future.


Kyoko Kimura - (1/18/2015 - 1/22/2017) Another one of Oedo Tai's founding members, Kyoko Kimura came into OT a Joshi legend after wrestling for over a decade by that point. While with the unit, she won her third Goddesses of Stardom title, as well as her second Artist of Stardom title along with Kagetsu and Hana Kimura, Kyoko's daughter. She would retire from the ring in January, 2017, and not wrestle until May 23rd, 2022, when she agreed to wrestle Jungle Kyona during the second annual Hana Kimura tribute show, an event she also ran.


Andras Miyagi, Bea Priestley, Diosa Atenea, Dragonita, Hazuki, Heidi Lovelace, Holidead, Hudson Envy, Jaime Hayter, Kaitlin Diemond, Konami, La Rosa Negra, Leah Vaughan, Martina, Natsu Sumire, Nikki Storm, Nao Yamaguchi, Star Fire, Tam Nakano, Thunder Rosa, Viper also spent time with Oedo Tai.



 

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