Stardom 2022 Goddesses of Stardom Tag League: My Favorites
With the 5STAR Grand Prix now in the rear-view mirror and their historic crossover event with New Japan swiftly approaching, much of the focus for the next month will follow Stardom's primary tag team competition, the Goddesses of Stardom Tag League. Beginning in 2011, the GoSTL is oldest annual competition in Stardom, predating the 5STAR by one year and the Cinderella by four. Many of the greatest wrestlers this promotion has ever had have won this competition, including Nanae Takahashi, KAIRI, Mayu Iwatani, and Io Shirai.
This year looks to be yet another exciting edition, as there isn't a clear favorite in sight. While there are a few established juggernauts like AphroditE, FWC, and MaiHime, there are other newer tandems that prove very interesting to me, like Mafia Bella, NEO Stardom Army, and Karate Brave. There are16 teams set to compete this year, the most in the competition's history, and while there are some you could predict won't reach the finals, there's a sense of mystery that truly excites me.
In this post, I'm going to list four teams that I believe have the best chance to hoist the GoSTL trophy this year and earn an opportunity to face the Goddesses of Stardom champions at a future show this year. They'll be discussed in alphabetical order. Please let me know who you think is going to win it all this year!
One duo that can never be slept on in a competition like this is Queen's Quest's primary tag team, AphroditE. Former World of Stardom champion Utami Hayashishita and current Wonder of Stardom champ Saya Kamitani have long been two of the biggest stars in the promotion, so you could only imagine what power they have as a tandem.
In my opinion, both are the best in their respective wrestling style in Stardom, Utami as a powerhouse and Saya as a high flyer. Not only have both built impressive resumes in the title winning department, but they've also faired well in a variety of different tournaments.
The most relevant success for the sake of today's blog came in 2018 when Hayashishita won the Tag League with Momo Watanabe. Additionally, both Hayshishita and Kamitani nearly reached the finals last year, however they lost to the eventual winners FWC in their final block match. There's little doubt in my mind that if they find themselves in a similar situation and need a win on the final day to reach this year's final, they won't fail to do so again.
Fukuoka Double Crazy (FWC)
2022 could prove to be a historic year in the Tag League as Fukuoka Double Crazy, the wildly popular duo made up of Hazuki and Koguma, could potentially become the first tag team to win this grueling competition for the second time. Hazuki and Koguma blitzed through the Tag League last year, and on the last day, they defeated both AphroditE and MOMOAZ (Momo Watanabe and AZM) to win the tournament.
Since then, FWC has etched one of the most impressive years that a tag team has ever had in Stardom's history. Two months after they won the 2021 Tag League, they defeated the dominant Alto Livello Kabaliwan (Giulia and Syuri) to take the Goddesses of Stardom belts. Later in the year, they beat Black Desire to become the first tag team to ever win Stardom's tag titles for a second run. In 2022, FWC have held the tag belts for a combined 184 days over their two reigns.
FWC's road to the Tag League final will be difficult this go around, as they'll not only have to take on the likes of MaiHime's Maika and Himeka, The New Eras' MIRAI and Ami Sourei, and a returning Natsuko Tora and Ruaka from BMI2000, but also because they have a target on their backs. Every team in the Blue Block will be gunning for Hazuki and Koguma because they're one of the most well established tag teams in Stardom. However, as the most decorated tandem in the promotion's history, it's hard to count these two out.
Fresh off the heels of winning the toughest women's tournament in the world, the 5STAR Grand Prix, Giulia comes into the Tag League already guaranteed a major title match in the near future. Yet I'd be surprised if she wasn't coming into this competition with a renewed focus, especially as the block she finds herself in this year is incredibly tough. Luckily for the leader of Donna Del Mondo, she has a tremendous partner in tow, the "Toxic Spider" Thekla.
The Austrian comes into her first Tag League with something to prove, as this tournament will see her return to the ring after being forced to miss the 5STAR due to an arm injury. A lot has changed since Thekla last wrestled, so I'm sure she's looking at this Tag League as her opportunity to reestablish herself as a force in Stardom.
Inside the ring these two share a strong bond. These two used to tag in the Ice Ribbon promotion back in 2019, and they've continued to be a hard matchup in Stardom. While they've not had too many tag team matches, as most of their team ups have happened in trios contests, they did challenge Black Desire (Momo Watanabe and Starlight Kid) for the Goddesses of Stardom belts back in April, albeit in an unsuccessful effort.
Similar to FWC, Mafia Bella is going to have a pretty sizable target on their back for this tournament as I'm sure all of their opponents are going to want to say that they beat Giulia, a woman destined for a World of Stardom Championship match against Syuri later this year. But just like with Hazuki and Koguma, I believe these two have enough both as individuals and as a pair to make it far in this competition.
If I was in charge of picking who'd win this year's Tag League, I'd give the nod to Maika and Himeka. The former Goddesses of Stardom champions didn't have the marquee title reign I hoped for back in 2021, as they held the black belts for only 49 days before they dropped them to Donna Del Mondo allies Giulia and Syuri, a duo that would finish 2021 both with the tag team titles still on their waists and a fifth place finish on PWI's Tag Team 50 list.
Since they lost their tag titles, Maika and Himeka have remained a strong presence within Stardom's tag team division, although they've only challenged for the belts on one occasion in 2022. Most of their dominance has come in the trios ranks, where the duo held the Artist of Stardom titles along with Natsupoi for an incredible 237 days, and defended them a record seven times.
Now with the 5STAR done and the tag division back in the spotlight, I believe that MaiHime will impose their will on much of the blue block, not only with their physical strength, but with their incredible chemistry as a tag team. Not only that, but if they do end up winning, they'll most likely take on their former best friend Natsupoi, who's tag team champs right now with Tam Nakano. To me, the story almost writes itself.
Black Desire (RED) - One team I desperately wanted to include in my top four was my favorite Oedo Tai tandem, Black Desire. Momo Watanabe and Starlight Kid are two of the most exciting upper-mid carders on Stardom's roster, and they make for a diabolically exciting tag team as well. I could absolutely see the former Goddesses of Stardom champs reach the finals, and who knows, maybe they'll even win it all. If they do, Momo Watanabe will be stand alone as the first wrestler with three Tag League wins on her resume.
meltear (RED) - Of course you can't sleep on the reigning Goddesses of Stardom champs, Natsupoi and Tam Nakano, to assert their dominance and win it all this year. If they do, they'll be the third team to win the Tag League while holding the belts. The other two were 7Kairi (Kairi Hojo and Nanae Takahashi) in 2014 and Thunder Rock (Io Shirai and Mayu Iwatani) in 2015). That's incredible company!
NEO Stardom Army (BLUE) - If there was an ultimate dark horse for this year, it would have to go to the newly minted NEO Stardom Army. Nanae Takahashi is Stardom royalty, as she was the first ever World of Stardom Champion, and her partner YUU is as good a powerhouse as there is.
The New Eras (BLUE) - While they might have the worst name in the field this year, Ami Sourei and MIRAI have it where it counts. They've got experience as a duo. They're both terrific both apart and together. And if they go on a run, they might prove to be unstoppable. Remember, MIRAI beat both Mayu Iwatani and Giulia during the 5STAR this year and Ami Sourei ended Hanan's legendary run with the Future of Stardom strap. So the sky's the limit for Syuri's lieutenants.
Full Competitors List:
Blue Goddesses Block
AZM - Queen's Quest, 6th appearance, 1-time co-winner (2020)
Miyu Amasaki - Queen's Quest, 1st appearance
Natsuko Tora - Oedo Tai, 5th appearance
Ruaka - Oedo Tai, 3rd appearance
Fukuoka Double Crazy (FWC)
Hazuki - STARS, 6th appearance, 1-time co-winner (2021)
Koguma - STARS, 3rd appearance, 1-time co-winner (2021)
SAKI - Cosmic Angels (COLOR's), 1st appearance
Mina Shirakawa - Cosmic Angels (Main), 3rd appearance
Himeka - Donna Del Mondo, 3rd appearance
Maika - Donna Del Mondo, 3rd appearance
NEO Stardom Army
Nanae Takahashi - NEO Stardom Army, 4th appearance, 1-time co-winner (2014)
YUU - NEO Stardom Army, 1st appearance
The New Eras
Ami Sourei - God's Eye, 1st appearance
MIRAI - God's Eye, 1st appearance
Hanan - STARS, 4th appearance
Saya Iida - STARS, 3rd appearance
Red Goddesses Block
Saya Kamitani - Queen's Quest, 4th appearance
Utami Hayashishita - Queen's Quest, 4th appearance, 1-time co-winner (2018)
Momo Watanabe - Oedo Tai, 7th appearance, 2-time co-winner (2018, 2020)
Starlight Kid - Oedo Tai, 7th appearance
Syuri - God's Eye, 3rd appearance
Tomoka Inaba - God's Eye,1st appearance
Giulia - Donna Del Mondo, 2nd appearance
Thekla - Donna Del Mondo, 1st appearance
Mai Fair Lady
Lady C - Queen's Quest, 2nd appearance
Mai Sakurai - Donna Del Mondo, 2nd appearance
meltear (Current Goddesses of Stardom Champions)
Natsupoi - Cosmic Angels, 2nd appearance
Tam Nakano - Cosmic Angels, 5th appearance, 1-time co-winner (2019)
Mayu Iwatani - STARS, 10th appearance, 1-time co-winner (2015)
Momo Kohgo - STARS, 1st appearance
We Love Tokyo Sports!
Fukigen Death - Oedo Tai, 7th appearance
Saki Kashima - Oedo Tai, 7th appearance
BONUS: The Tag Team Name Ranking, without any explanation.
Mai Fair Lady
Fukuoka Double Crazy
We Love Tokyo Sports!
NEO Stardom Army
The New Eras
Special thanks to WhoScored, Transfermarkt, Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant, Fangraphs, Cagematch, and 1.02.JP for helping make me a more well-informed fan.
Featured Image Credit - Stardom
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