World Wonder Ring Stardom wrestler, Hana Kimura, took her own life on May 23, 2020, due to cyber harassment, and bullying. Hana was one of this website's owners favorite modern day wrestlers. At only 22 years of age, Hana had her entire life in front of her, and was on track to becoming one of the best wrestlers on the planet. During her career she was an original member of Stardom faction, Oedo Tai, one of the most fun, and popular heel factions in all of wrestling. After breaking from Oedo Tai, she founded her own faction called "Tokyo Cyber Squad," that quickly became the hottest selling t-shirt, and merchandise seller, in Stardom. Hana Kimura had amazing matches with wrestlers such as Kagetsu, Tam Nakano, Arisa Hoshiki, Hazuki, and Guilia. Hana most recently held "The Goddess of Stardom" tag titles with Kagetsu (members of Oedo Tai) and the Artists of Stardom trios titles with Jungle Kyona, and Konami (members of Tokyo Cyber Squad). Hana was absolutely "Wrestling Done Right," and as such, our yearly "Wrestler of the year award" will now be titled "The Hana Kimura Wrestler of the year award." This is a small gesture, but wrestlingdoneright.com's attempt to forever remember, and honor, our beloved Joshi princess, Hana Kimura.
As I keep working on catching up with NJPW, currently watching 2020 New Year Dash, I realized that NJPW caused a major negative in wrestling, much like the Young Bucks have. Japan has had less selling for decades. "Fighting Spirit" always gave us wrestlers kicking out of insane moves, and major spots (even things such as pile drivers off the ring apron). It was never that big of a deal, because it was pretty much limited to Japan. It was a novelty. It was different, and thus generally acceptable. Then it spread all over the world, and stopped being special, and started to come across as kind of ridiculous. Gaijins also just aren't as talented as making that style seem "real" or "acceptable." The Japanese have been selling that style forever, and others trying to do so comes off as a cheap imitation.
In the same way, The Young Bucks used to be the only team that worked their style. It was over the top, overly fast, sort of like a cruiser-weight style on speed. That was their gimmick, special to them, and I accepted it, even enjoyed it. Then we started getting knock offs, copycats, etc. No one did it as good as the Bucks, and even the few that did, just made it too much.
"Fighting Spirit" and "Young Bucks Style" were cool when they were limited. Once these two things started being done by nearly everyone, it got to be way too much. Now when you get all these "wrestlers' combining those styles, it's really difficult to take. Watching two big men no sell killer moves, in Japan, is one thing. Watching tiny little men do it, while also flying all over the place with no rhyme or reason, is just....stupid. In fairness, The Young Bucks are best at what they do, and the Japanese are best at what they do. I just wish those "styles" would have remained exclusive with those teams/groups. This is what makes me appreciate the catch style that wrestlers like Zack Sabre Jr utilize. It's different, fresh, and realistic. I just so wish that there were more wrestlers capable of that style. This is also why I absolutely love the "Bloodsport" shows. More diversity of ring work style is what we need for wrestling done right.
Maika is a rookie, trained by Taka Michinoku. She's not completed her first year in wrestling yet (she will do so July 5th of this year). She is one third of Stardom's Artist champions (trios) with the Donna Del Mondo faction, that includes leader, Giulia, and one of the best women's wrestlers in the world, Syuri Kondo . Maika isn't signed officially by Stardom, as she works regularly with "Just Tap Out" promotion as well, where she is very dominating. This woman, short of an injury, will be a giant star in the business soon. She's going to be a big deal, and remember who told you all about her when that happens! Maika is "Wrestling Done Right!"
Wrestling hasn’t been the same since the Jim Crockett Promotions era. Oh I can hear all the “Okay Boomer” comments now. But bear with me. To be fair, I did decide to “evolve” a little, since the JCP days, falling in love with Ring of Honor Wrestling around 2003, when they had wrestlers like C.M. Punk, A.J. Styles, Christopher Daniels, Bryan Danielson, Samoa Joe, and Low Ki. For many years I followed Ring of Honor religiously, attending many live events, and conventions that they held. Sadly, things started changing in Ring of Honor when “The Elite” took over. Not because I despise The Elite necessarily, but the wrestling, the atmosphere, and the presentation, just wasn’t the same, and it kept getting worse. While I was a fan of New Japan Pro Wrestling, at one point it seemed as if Ring of Honor existed to put NJPW over. Then The Elite left, and things have gotten even worse for Ring of Honor. It’s nearly unwatchable for me these days. So why all this fuss over Ring of Honor in an article about World Wonder Ring Stardom (Stardom for short, from this point forward)? Fair question, and the answer is that Stardom very much reminds me of 2003-2008 Ring of Honor.
For those that have no clue, Stardom is a Japanese Women’s Wrestling promotion, which is called “Joshi Wrestling,” and will be called such in this article as it goes on. Sadly, many wrestling fans these days hear “women’s wrestling” and instantly lose interest. I’ve heard excuses for that being the size of the women, the age of the women (very often quite young in Joshi), and that women just can’t be taken seriously for any number of reasons. All the excuses are lost on me, because if like me, you absolutely love good, tight, snug, pure, pro wrestling, then you should want to watch it anywhere you can find it. Stardom has that style of wrestling in droves. From the top of the roster, to the bottom, there’s nothing in a Stardom ring that’s embarrassing, or foolish. All the women take wrestling serious, and the vast majority of their roster have trained in wrestling since they were small children, often ten to twelve years old. This is something Jim Cornette often mocks, laughing at the idea of a nine or ten-year-old training to be a professional wrestler, but this is common in Japan, and is also the reason that so many Japanese wrestlers are so damn good.
From the moment you turn on a Stardom show, you will notice that all of the wrestlers have amazing gear. You won’t see anyone wrestling in jeans, or sneakers. These ladies dress professionally, so that means you won’t be seeing nipple slips, or accidental wedgies either, so if you follow women’s wrestling because you want to see skin, Stardom isn’t for you, pervert. While it’s true that you might see a wrestler or two that look to be wearing (as Jim Cornette calls it) a Japanese school girl outfit, that really isn’t the norm. The women of Stardom dress like warriors, Japanese warriors, and they most often look cool, or even bad ass. Most of the Stardom ladies also wear entrance gear, something that seems to be dying in American Wrestling. From amazing robes, to cool jackets, scarves, and even head dresses, the Stardom women come to the ring looking incredible. They don’t wrestle in their entrance gear, or t-shirts, as no wrestler ever should! When the bell rings for a Stardom match, you are in for a fight!
The actual wrestling in Stardom is very snug, or “tight.” Yes, some of the women need to learn to strike better, but so do American stars like The Young Bucks, and Kenny Omega. However, the top of the card wrestlers are some of the best strikers in the world! You will see brutal knee and forearm strikes, incredible back and forth blows, dives (not excessive) and technical wrestling like you see from wrestlers like Daniel Bryan, and Drew Gulak today in American wrestling. Yes, none of the women are very large. I fail to see why that matters if much of the roster is generally the same size. Why is that any different than watching the straw weight MMA fighters go toe to toe? Often the light weight MMA fighters are the most exciting to watch. This is true of Stardom as well. Best of all, Stardom matches are not all 20-30 minutes long. Often the main events run 20-30 minutes, but every other match on the card run anywhere from three minutes, to around twelve minutes! These ladies work a very good simulated fight (which is what wrestling is supposed to be) in a decent time frame. Doing this keeps the Stardom wrestler’s from having to spam huge moves all match long, kicking out of said moves, just to keep things going. Stardom is faction focused, meaning nearly every single woman is part of one of five factions. The factions are Queen’s Quest, STARS, Oedo Tai, Donna Del Mondo, and Tokyo Cyber Squad. These factions are how “stories” are told in Stardom, and it works very well. (Side note: WWE wrestlers Kairi Sane, and Io Shirai came from Stardom, and were the two main stars of the promotion for years).
The worst thing about Stardom is the same issue all over wrestling today, and that’s the promos. The women do pre-match promos, and often they are funny, and sometimes they are cool (You have got to see AZM’s, pronounced Azumi). If promos could be better, and expanded, Stardom would be even better. As is though, Stardom is clearly the best wrestling in the world, if like me, you love the in ring product, more than anything else. If you love wrestlers like C.M. Punk, Daniel Bryan, A.J. Styles, Drew Gulak, and Samoa Joe, then Stardom will excite you, maybe as much as it does me. The only other negative that I can think of, is that sometimes the foreigners (called Gaijin’s in Japan) that Stardom invites in, can sometimes be pretty bad. Don’t get me wrong, there are some excellent Gaijin’s that work in Stardom, but there are also too many that don’t really deserve to work there, but at least they are only there occasionally, not full time.
I’ll leave you with a link to highlights of an Arisa Hoshiki match. Arisa is one of the best wrestlers on the roster, the current Wonder of Stardom Champion (second tier title in Stardom) and one of the best wrestlers in the world currently. What you’ll see here is what you’ll see in Stardom overall, for the most part. Wrestling Done Right!
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Stardom is the best professional wrestling on the planet. Fully known as “World Wonder Ring Stardom,” this Joshi (Japanese women) organization presents matches that are the “pure” style of professional wrestling, with a touch of comedy here and there. When I say comedy, I simply mean that the women are serious wrestlers, but often “light hearted” and “jovial” about it. The action is almost always intense, with a stiff/tight working style, and the presentation is second to none. All of the women adorn themselves with beautiful ring gear, and their entrance gear is second to no one. In fact, I believe that entrance gear is nearly a thing of the past, but the ladies of Stardom show why it’s still important. Stardom is very “faction” heavy, even “faction based” would be more appropriate. Nearly every wrestler belongs to one of the five factions, or groups within Stardom. There is Queen’s Quest, Oedo Tai, Tokyo Cyber Squad, STARS, and the faction I am focused on for this article, also the newest faction in Stardom, Donna Del Mondo. I can’t recommend Stardom enough, and you can sign up for their very affordable network (around $8.00 per month) at www.stardom-world.com. One of the many reasons that I subscribe is a faction like the newly formed “Donna Del Mondo,” translated “Women of the World.” While I’ve been a fan of Stardom way before the ladies of this faction arrived, these three have captured me like only a few wrestlers in my life have captured me. As a fan of professional wrestling, I have held wrestlers like Ric Flair, Bruiser Brody, Kurt Angle, and Stan Hansen at the top of my list. I’ve adored factions like The Four Horsemen, and The Varsity Club, as well as The Dangerous Alliance, and The Triple Threat, for the excitement they brought as a group. Quickly climbing the ranks of my very picky wrestling heart (I am called the Wrestling Snob after all) are Giulia, Maika, and Syuri Kondo, the three incredible women that make up “Donna Del Mondo.”
Giulia burst onto the Stardom scene first. A stunningly good looking woman that is half Italian and half Japanese, who only began her wrestling training in 2017. By the end of her rookie year, Giulia had captured her first championship, with Tequila Saya, together known as “Burning Raw” they captured the International Ribbon Tag Team Championship (Ice Ribbon Organization). Giulia challenged for the Ice Cross Infinity championship unsuccessfully, but was widely seen as a future star for the organization. She shocked the Joshi world however when she announced that she had signed with World Wonder Ring Stardom. Ice Ribbon, and their fans, were not happy to lose such a wrestler, whom many believed would one day soon be atop the promotion. Shortly after arriving in Stardom, Giulia was pushed as a star, someone to be taken serious, and some Stardom fans weren’t happy about this. Giulia wasn’t made to earn her spot, which is often the case with Stardom. After teaming a short while with Oedo Tai exile, Andras Miyagi, she abandoned her, and announced that she would be forming a team, a faction, of her own. Many wondered, and some even mocked, who Giulia might bring in to join her.
Stardom has agreed to send their “Future of Stardom Champion, Utami Hayashishita to another Joshi promotion, “Just Tap Out,” to defend her title against one of that organizations stars, Maika. This was a very good match, and while Maika looked very good, she lost the match. The shock of the night however was Giulia appearing at the show, and asking Maika to join her in Stardom as part of her new faction. While Maika had only debuted in May of 2019, many people saw star potential in her, just as many did with Giulia just a few years ago, after her debut. Maika was trained by legendary Taka Michinoku, and she bring a very strong ability, passion, and drive to her matches, and this was clearly an amazing pick up for Giulia, and proved that is not only talented, but has a great eye for it as well. Giuli nd Maika still needed a third partner, as Giulia had challenged “Tokyo Cyber Squad’s Hana Kimura, Death Yama-San, and Leyla Hirsch, to a trios match for January 19th, 202, show in Korakuen Hall.
When the date came for this match, many were shocked, and happily surprised to see the return of veteran wrestler, kick boxer, and MMA fighter, Syuri Kondo, as the third member of Giulia’s faction. Syuri has won championships all over Japan, and is a legitimate shoot fighter, trained, and disciplined in numerous styles. She’s a scary opponent for anyone to face, and a lynch pin for Giulia’s new faction. The new team dismantled the Tokyo Cyber Squad team, and won the match when Giulia finished Hirsch with a tombstone piledriver. After the win, Giulia announced that the name of her faction is “Donna Del Mondo,” meaning “Women of the World.” It’s evident that Donna Del Mondo’s mission is simply to be disruptive, to present themselves in style, and substance, as legitimate, scary, intimidating, fighters. Since their debut, they have taken the “Artist’s of Stardom (trios) titles off of the much beloved “Queens Quest.” Recently, Giulia won one of Stardom’s most prized tournaments, the “Cinderella tournament” defeating Stardom standouts Jungle Kyona, Momo Watanabe, fellow Donna Del Mondo stablemate Syuri, and the leader of Odeo Tai, Natsuko Tora, cementing Giulia and her faction, Donna Del Mondo, as extremely legitimate.
I can’t get enough of Stardom, and their entire roster, but “Donna Del Mondo” has already captured a special place in my hard wrestling heart, a place where only the coolest, and most bad ass wrestlers reside. A place reserved only for Wrestling Done Right!”
I grew up watching Georgia Championship Wrestling, and later the NWA on TBS (the infamous 6:05 show). As I grew up I remained a huge fan of wrestling, mostly WCW, as WWF/E seldom appealed to me. Oh I watched some WWF for sure, but it was always the lesser in my eyes for its overly cartoon like presentation. When the WWE started the Attitude Era, during the heights of the nWo era in WCW, I was one of the few that found it distasteful, and embarrassing. When WWF bought out WCW, I was sad, but turned to Puroresu (Japanese pro wrestling) with companies like All Japan, New Japan, and NOAH, then fulfilling my wrestling fix. For a while, companies like Ring of Honor, and Evolve also made me a happy wrestling fan as well. Along the way, the over the top, no selling, extremely choreographed wrestling started taking over everywhere, even in my beloved Japanese companies. Ring of Honor and Evolve stared losing their best wrestlers to WWE’s NXT, which I tried to enjoy, but they too went the “super indie” route with their in ring style. “Super indie,” for those that don’t know that term, is the no selling style. The style of wrestling that is all about big moves that look like they might kill someone, having little to no effect on the wrestler receiving the move. For example, a DDT on the ring apron gets a two count, a Canadian destroyer gets a two count, and four or five super kicks in a row get a two count. I got to the point to where I was only watching a Japanese Joshi company (meaning Japanese women) called Stardom. While Stardom isn’t “old school style,” it does very much remind me of early 2000’s Ring of Honor, and I decided back then that I could “settle” for that style.
Then it happened! The NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) now owned by Smashing Pumpkins lead man, Billy Corrigan, announced that they would be bringing studio wrestling back! Sure, the NWA had sort of been around for a little while before this announcement, but other than the Crockett Cup PPV, I’d only seen them be part of other companies’ shows, like the time Nick Aldis won the NWA World title from Tim Storm on a CZW (Combat Zone Wrestling) show of all things, or when Cody Rhodes won the NWA title from Aldis, on a Ring of Honor show. Announcing the return of a weekly studio show, at 6:05pm, told me that they planned on returning to the roots of the NWA, and I found the possibilities exciting. I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but when they hired Jim Cornette for commentary, he told everyone to get excited, so I did. The show premiered on Tuesday, October 8th, at 6:05pm on the NWA’s YouTube and Facebook page. It was everything I ever dreamed about. From the podium interviews, to the graphics, to the in ring style of wrestling. The NWA had brought back my precious memories of what professional was, and is supposed to be. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning, and that’s no exaggeration!
The reasons I believe that studio wrestling is “wrestling done right” are several. First of all, studio wrestling is an advertisement for big shows, live, and or pay per view shows, are sold to the audience based on what they see every week on the studio television show. Giving away main event matches on free TV (or YouTube) is just silly. Sure, as a fan you might think that seeing nothing but main event matches on TV is a good thing, but eventually main event matches stop meaning nearly as much, when they are shown week in and week out. Main events have to be built, they have to be drawn out programs that take you on an emotional ride until the match finally happens. Studio wrestling is how that’s done. No, I don’t want to see 100% squash matches every week on studio TV, and I am sure that’s not going to happen, but we will see them, and we should see them.
Secondly, the interviews (promos). Studio TV interviews are not scripted. The WWE is famous for scripting nearly every word out of their wrestl…..errr I mean sports entertainers, or “superstars” mouths, and that’s why nearly every spoken word in the WWE is cringe worthy. That’s why nearly every “superstar” in the WWE tries to find a catch phrase, so they can rely on that to get them over, and sell merchandise. In studio wrestling, the WRESTLERS have to come up with their own words. The best wrestlers are also the best talkers, and if you can’t talk, you don’t deserve to be over. If you’re good enough in ring, a smart company will find you a manger or a tag partner, than can talk for you, but for the most part, learn how to give a promo, or find another line of work. That’s always how I’ve felt. If you don’t want to talk, why in the hell are you in the wrestling business? Oh yeah, to do big moves, high dives, and flips. Ugh….
Thirdly, and most importantly, the wrestling style! In studio wrestling, selling matters, moves hurt, and finishers end matches almost every single time. If you watched NWA Power’s first episode, on Tuesday, October 8th, you saw finishers ending matches. You saw James Storm’s super kick put a guy down for the three count. You saw a second super kick, after the match had ended, put Storms opponent to sleep so badly, that Storm posed him like a baby, by placing his thumb in his mouth as he laid him down. You also didn’t see one single suicide dive, and very few top rope moves! Studio wrestling is personal, as the fans are right on top of the action, so the wrestlers have to tell a story in the ring, or be exposed as frauds. Only the best “workers” can survive in this environment
My third point leads to the pitfall that the NWA, and their wrestlers, their “workers,” have to avoid at all costs. They simply cannot, they must not, present the style of in ring “work” that they did on NWA Power, and then veer off into the earlier described “super indie” style on their pay per views. They can’t “bait and switch” wrestling fans like me, fans that are being sold on the NWA being a real, true, “alternative” to every other wrestling company out there, with their studio presentation of old school worked matches, only to see them then present matches that look just like the WWE, Impact Wrestling, AEW Wrestling, etc. etc. on their big PPV shows. The NWA’s PPV’s need to have matches that are wrestled, presented, worked, in the same exact style that the matches on Power are.
Right now I, “The Wrestling Snob” am in love with what the NWA is doing. I stand behind them, I endorse, and advocate for them. You may not think that’s a big deal, but trust me, my endorsement is a big deal. I turn up my nose at nearly all wrestling anymore. Only the best matches from guys like Walter, Drew Gulak, and Timothy Thatcher get my approval. Here, for the first time in years, is an American company that I am standing behind. Like Eli Drake said “A wrestling company full of men, not young boys!” Here I stand, Adam Leavelle, the Wrestling Snob, telling you all the the NWA is wrestling done right!
Click the image below for the NWA's YouTube Page, where you can watch NWA Power every Tuesday at 6:05pm (replays available immediately after as well)