Get a primer to STARDOM before Historic X-Over with a new column series
As we approach Historic X-Over on November 20 in Ariake Coliseum, Karen Peterson will be providing a fortnightly introduction to the world of STARDOM, its factions, and its history. In this debut column, a look at a history of crossovers before the Ariake Pay Per View was announced.
With the formal announcement of NJPW x STARDOM: Historic X-Over, the establishment of the IWGP Women’s Championship, and the reveal that STARDOM will start sending talent to international New Japan shows, it would seem the sibling promotions are firmly stepping into the international market together. However, these strides are not a hasty development, but rather an organic growth over the last few years which started prior to Bushiroad’s acquisition of STARDOM in late 2019. Let’s take a look at their journey over the last three and a half years.
G1 Supercard at Madison Square Garden on April 6, 2019 saw not only Ring of Honor and New Japan in the spotlight, but STARDOM with a presence on the main card; Mayu Iwatani defending her ROH Women’s World Championship against Kelly Klein, and a six woman ROH vs STARDOM tag on the undercard. Six months later, a formal press conference announced STARDOM joining the Bushiroad Group on October 17, 2019.
Several months later, STARDOM would hold a special exhibition match solely for the guests in attendance on the first night of Wrestle Kingdom 14. Guests in attendance experienced a rare tag match between then World of Stardom Champion Iwatani and Wonder of Stardom Champion, Arisa Hoshiki against Hana Kimura, and Giulia, who would later form Donna del Mondo, one of the company’s most popular factions.
Wrestle Kingdom 15 was the next big jump as Stardom had two dark exhibition matches on the second night. Wrestle Grand Slam in September 2021 had a Stardom exhibition tag match each day with Momo Watanabe and Saya Kamitani facing Maika and Lady C on day one and Syuri and Giulia on day two– these would be the first STARDOM matches broadcast on New Japan World. This year’s Tokyo Dome show would finally see a STARDOM showcase match on the main card of the company’s biggest show of the year, broadcast globally on NJPW World.
Parallel Premium Tournaments
NJPW fans just starting to watch STARDOM will find themselves at home with the group’s annual tournaments, which tend to parallel the placement of NJPW’s big tournaments. The Cinderella Tournament takes place in the spring and is a single elimination like the New Japan Cup. The winner not only gets a special wish granted (usually in the form of a title shot), but has a special pageant ceremony where the winner receives a glass slipper trophy and a stunning ball gown. In recent years, the winner tends to challenge for the Wonder of STARDOM Championship.
The Five Star Grand Prix (5★GP) decides the “Strongest Woman of Summer” in a round robin tournament with a two block format. Unlike the G1, it is typically spread out over the course of two months. This year’s 5★GP opened with a pair of opening weekend events in late July and will conclude on October 1st, just before Royal Quest 2. The winner receives a contract to challenge for the World of STARDOM Championship in the main event of the last card of the year: Dream Queendom.
The Goddesses Tag League is placed in autumn and is a round robin tournament like World & Super Junior Tag Leagues. Last year’s winners, Fukuoka Double Crazy (Hazuki & Koguma) defeated ALIKABA, Giulia and Syuri to start their first reign as Goddesses of Stardom Tag Champions.
The Road to Historic X-Over at Ariake Arena on November 20, 2022
Exhibition matches aside, Stardom and New Japan have worked together behind the scenes and in promotional capacities as well. Milano Collection AT, Yuji Nagata and Satoshi Kojima led coaching clinics at the STARDOM Dojo, and special guest spots on STARDOM commentary have seen El Desperado, Taichi, Great-O-Khan and more participate. Earlier this year, talent crossed over in five Interview Series for STARDOM’s Fan Book as well (order here! (Japanese)), and both groups are represented with ReBirth For You card packs and content in the NJPW Strong Spirits game.
June this year saw the first news of a Historic X-Over, set for the Ariake Arena on November 20. Three mixed tag team matches would be announced for the card, while it was also revealed at the G1 Climax finals that Rumble on 44th Street will see STARDOM’s first international participation since 2019.
Yet one of the biggest outcomes of Historic X-Over will be the establishment of the IWGP Women’s Championship. A tournament will also be held to crown the first champion on November 20, with the new champion’s first defence already set for January 4 at Wrestle Kingdom 17. Befitting of the International Wrestling Grand Prix, the tournament would see a domestic and an international bracket; Royal Quest 2 will see the first international bracket match between Alpha Female and Ava White with the winner set to face global superstar KAIRI. The remaining participants will be announced at a later date, but representatives from STARS, Queen’s Quest, Donna del Mondo and OedoTai will be determined based upon performances in the Five Star Grand Prix, which concludes on October 1st.
Historic X-Over is not the first time that NJPW and STARDOM will have crossed paths, and will not be the last, but it is undeniably the biggest step in a relationship unique in the pro-wrestling world worldwide!
Karen Peterson is a freelance wrestling writer and content creator. Follow her on social media here.