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LONG STORY SPORT

Who I'd Like to See Wrestle Giulia for the Red Belt

Back on December 29th, Giulia did the impossible when she defeated Syuri in the main event of Stardom Dream Queendom 2 and became the 13th women in history to hold the coveted top prize of Joshi wrestling. The leader of Donna Del Mondo will have to hold on to the title for a long time if she has any hope of having a reign worthy of the Red Belt, but if anyone is capable of doing so, it is her.


One thing that might make this aim a little difficult, however, is that unlike Syuri, whom many of her opponents showed respect and admiration, Giulia has many enemies. While not quite a villain in the classic sense, as she has a ton of fans, she is definitely antagonistic to pretty much anyone who's not currently in her faction. Add to that her controversial past, most notably her exit from Ice Ribbon in 2019, and I'm sure Giulia won't have an easy time as champion.


Luckily, she's going into what could be a landmark reign with the confidence that you'd expect. She's already signed up for her first title defense, which will see her take on one of those women who absolutely hates her guts, Suzu Suzuki. That match will take place on February 4th, and will be the first major Stardom show to allow crowd noise since the start of the pandemic.


With one highly anticipated dream match already bound to happen in less than a month, I thought I'd list off seven more women whom I'd love to see challenge Giulia for the World of Stardom Championship, that is if she's able to defeat Suzuki first. This list will be done in alphabetical order.

 

AZM

Singles Record vs. Giulia (0-0)
Photo Credit: Stardom

While most of the women I'll be talking about today have a history with Giulia, the same cannot be said about the first potential challenger on this list, the "High Speed Bomb Girl" AZM. While the reigning High Speed Champion has competed against Giulia in 20 matches this season, all of those were in multi-woman tags, which might be surprising given how these two have both been in Stardom together for over three years.


Nevertheless, one of the biggest reasons why I want to see AZM take on Giulia for the Red Belt this year is that it's a fresh matchup and I'd love to see what kind of match they'd have. AZM wrestles the pure form of high speed wrestling, which is to say that she wrestles at a thousand miles per hour. For those of you who've never seen her, think of her like a Masato Yoshino from Dragon Gate or a young Rey Mysterio, minus the insane lucha moves. She's already proven to be a great matchup against pretty much everyone she's wrestled, so I have no doubt she'd give Giulia terrific defense.


The other reason I wanted to put AZM on here is that I think 2023 should be the year she's finally given her first World of Stardom title match. AZM has taken part in 43 title matches since 2017, none of which were for the Red Belt. Stardom has basically said that the Red Belt was the title for the best pure wrestler in the world, and AZM might be in that conversation after having a stellar 2022.

 

Hazuki

Singles Record vs. Giulia (1-1)
Photo Credit: Stardom

Back on November 19th at "Stardom Gold Rush", Hazuki, Koguma, and Mayu Iwatani defeated Giulia, Mai Sakurai, and Thekla in a wild Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match to win the first ever Moneyball Tournament and a share of 10 million yen. With this latest victory, Hazuki claimed her third consecutive victory over the woman who's now World of Stardom Champion.


Hazuki's history with Giulia is actually pretty interesting. In fact, Giulia's first match in a Stardom ring was a win over Hazuki on December 8th, 2019. Since that match, these two have competed in 13 matches, including one more singles contest from the first night of the 2022 5STAR Grand Prix back on July 30th. In a shocking turn of events, Hazuki would beat Giulia in the main event, evening their career singles series to 1-1.


It might seem to some people that Hazuki has had Giulia's number since she unretired back in mid-2021. I didn't even mention that she along with Koguma beat Giulia and Syuri to end their historic Goddesses of Stardom Title reign. Who's to say that Hazuki can't keep her streak going and end Giulia's World of Stardom title reign down the road? It might seem like a long shot, but if she notches some big singles victories in the next few months, than "Wild Heart" might get that very opportunity.

 

Maya Yukihi

Singles Record vs. Giulia (3-0)
Photo Credit: @0128_hikari on Twitter

While Giulia's has recently struggled against Hazuki, she's never had any success against the next person on this list, Maya Yukihi. The leader of Donna Del Mondo previously wrestled both with and against Yukihi quite often when they both worked in the Ice Ribbon promotion from 2017 to 2019, before she moved on to Stardom. Of all of those contests, only three of them were singles bouts. Yukihi beat Giulia every time, however in each subsequent match, Giulia proved she was getting closer to beating the two time ICExInfinity Champion.


Three years have passed since these two have fought in singles competition, and it's fair to say that Giulia has evolved to the point where she's arguably stronger than Yukihi, seemingly flipping their relationship completely around. A fourth contest between these two would then see the "Snow Princess" as the underdog and Giulia as the dominant boss. And I think that dynamic alone would make for an awesome title match.


One of the favorite things from all of wrestling in 2022 was when Prominence invaded Stardom and started an emotional rivalry with Giulia. Suzu Suzuki's hatred for the World of Stardom Champion was so palpable that it made me wonder if any other former Ice Ribbon wrestlers would arrive in Stardom and start something similar with their former friend and co-worker. With Maya Yukihi's arrival, I think it would be great to see them mix it up as well.

 

Mayu Iwatani

Singles Record vs. Giulia (1-1-3)
Photo Credit: Stardom

Any list regarding the World of Stardom Championship wouldn't be complete without saying a few words about Stardom's Icon, Mayu Iwatani. Not only is the leader of STARS one of only two women to have had two reigns with the title, but she's challenged every former Red Belt champion ever since Kairi Hojo held it in 2015. There is no woman currently on Stardom's roster who is as synonymous with the belt than she is.


Mayu Iwatani being added to this list doesn't begin and end with her historic significance to the title, however, as she's also had an interesting history with the reigning champion, Giulia. Since 2020, these two have had five singles matches, including three that ended in time limit draws. In all, their five contests combined for one hour, 35 minutes, and 58 seconds of match time. And in my opinion, all of those matches have been excellent.


Giulia and Iwatani have an other-worldly chemistry, in my opinion, so I would be shocked if these two didn't mix it up in the ring once again for the belt. Not only would it continue Iwatani's streak going, but it would all but ensure that Giulia's reign will stack up with the best reigns the World of Stardom's Title has ever had once her reign concludes.

 

Mei Suruga

Singles Record vs. Giulia (0-0)
Photo Credit: @U1ebalcony

If I'm being realistic, I know that there's no chance that this match will happen at all, but I thought I'd have some fun and pick a competitor whom I think could give Giulia a run for her money. Mei Suruga is probably best known for her work in Gatoh Move, but she's appeared in Stardom a few times. She took part in, and won, the "Cinderella Rumble" battle royal back on March 27th, 2022, and she competed against AZM for the High Speed Championship a month later in a losing effort.


For those of you who haven't watched her stuff, Mei Suruga wrestles similar to people like AZM or Starlight Kid, but she adds a little more comedy to the mix. The "Apple Girl" has never won a singles championship up until this point, but that doesn't mean that she hasn't had any singles experience. Since making her debut in 2018, she's beaten some big names like Emi Sakura, Yuna Mizumori, Haruka Umesaki, Suzume, and Hikaru Shida.


I'll stress again that I don't think that this match will happen at all. And even if it did, there would be zero percent chance that Suruga would come away with the victory. But at the same time, I love when wrestling companies put people in unexpected positions, and if Haruka Umesaki could believeaby challenge Saya Kamitani for the Wonder of Stardom Championship all the while being a part-time freelancer (for now), then why not give someone as terrific as Mei Suruga in a big match down the road.

 

Natsupoi

Singles Record vs. Giulia (0-1)
Photo Credit: Stardom

While it might take some work to make her a believable option to actually take the World of Stardom Championship at some point, I think Natsupoi could be a terrific challenger for Giulia's reign. Not only would this be a pretty fresh matchup because Poi and Giulia have only fought once in singles competition, but also because there's a really interesting story that Stardom can continue.


Many of you already know this, but for those of you who don't, Natsupoi was once a trusted friend and teammate of Giulia for a few years. As a member of Donna Del Mondo, Poi loyally fought alongside her fellow DDM teammates, but she was also treated as somewhat of a secondary figure in the faction. As Giulia would say after Natsupoi defected from the group and joined Cosmic Angels, Natsupoi was little more than the group's mascot.


Since joining Cosmic Angels last summer, Natsupoi has seen her stock rise quite a bit. Soon after joining, she and Tam Nakano would win the Goddesses of Stardom Titles, which they would hold for most of the fall and winter of 2022. Additionally, she notched wins over MIRAI, Suzu Suzuki, Ami Sourei, and Mayu Iwatani. Around that same time, she had her first ever singles match against her old friend Giulia, and although she did survive for over 10 minutes, she would lose in the end.


Just like with most of the matches I'm pitching here today, I don't seen Natsupoi winning this World title match, but the history these two share along with Poi's surge up the card make this a match I'd love to see during Giulia's reign.


POI!

 

Tam Nakano

Singles Record vs. Giulia (2-3)
Photo Credit: Stardom

As I mentioned in the last section, if I had to predict the one woman I think will eventually beat Giulia and win the World of Stardom Championship, then it has to be her greatest rival, Tam Nakano. The leader of the Cosmic Angels faction sports a 2-3 record against Giulia in singles competition, and among those matches include some of the greatest matches in Stardom's recent history.


Most recently, these two titans competed in the finals of the 2022 5STAR Grand Prix, where Giulia notched the massive victory to not only win the tournament but also earn her a match against Syuri for the Red Belt, which of course she would win on December 29th. But before that match, the biggest win in this series belonged Tam Nakano, who famously beat her adversary in a hair vs. hair match for the Wonder of Stardom Title back on March 3rd, 2021. I've said this before, but that bout was the one that made me fall in love with Stardom.


One of the cornerstones of booking in Japanese wrestling is the career rival. Some of the more famous ones today include Okada and Naito in New Japan, Konosuke Takeshita and Tetsuya Endo in DDT, and of course Go Shiozaki and Katsuhiko Nakajima in NOAH. But in the Joshi realm, you'd be hard pressed to find a long standing rivalry as terrific today than the one between Giulia and Tam Nakano.


When these two first met up, Giulia had just joined the promotion under a deluge of controversy and Nakano had been mostly viewed a mid-card talent at best. But thanks to these two being excellent storytellers, both in the ring and out, they've moved up the card together to the point where Giulia has become the top star in Stardom and Nakano was given the chance to fight KAIRI for the IWGP Women's Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 17.


So it's not a matter of if they'll fight for the World of Stardom belt, but when they will.

 

Featured Image Credit - @takuybyb





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