Karen continues her introduction to the STARDOM factions
The long journey to Historic X-Over is almost complete. We touched upon the origins of STARS and COSMIC ANGELS, but today we visit the complicated and continued rivalry between Oedo Tai and Queen’s Quest. In the last year alone, a massive shift happened when a freshly shrouded in darkness Starlight Kid set her sights on the leader of Queen’s Quest, Momo Watanabe. They are two of STARDOM’s oldest factions that have some of the most bitter rivalries and some of the best battles.
OedoTai (est 2015)
Momo Watanabe (center) turns her back on Queen’s Quest after five years, aligning herself with Oedo Tai.
The actual villain’s gallery of STARDOM is the OedoTai holdfast. With several leadership changes in the unit as well as a steady revolving door of frenemies, consistent teamwork and shenanigans makes the OedoTai dream work. With Kagetsu’s departure in 2020, the torch was passed to Natsuko Tora, who quickly went to work on replenishing the group’s numbers after several departures. The first to join her cause was Saki Kashima, who turned her back on STARS and Mayu Iwatani, and it quickly caught fire from there! .
Under Natsuko Tora’s leadership, OedoTai razed Tokyo Cyber Squad when they flipped Konami, resulting in her betrayal of Jungle Kyona during a losing faction must disband match. She then set her sights and the power of OED on STARS once more, forcing the Mayu Iwatani into a series of matches. Each time STARS lost, OED would collect a member from the unit. Tora’s efforts would pay off quickly with the additions of Rina, Ruaka, and Fukigen Death (formerly Gokigen). However, an injury in her World of Stardom Championship match with Utami Hayashishita would see her out of the ring for over a year. Still, her sphere of influence from behind the scenes did not go unnoticed.
Back row (L to R): Natsuko Tora, Rina, Fukigen Death, Ruaka Front row: Artists of STARDOM Champions Momo Watanabe, Saki Kashima & Starlight Kid
OED’s trump card would be the surprising acquisition of Starlight Kid, in another match where the teamwork of OED outclassed STARS, resulting in quite possibly the most devastating loss for the unit. While Tora was out with injury, SLK shot to the forefront as the voice of the group. However, the ‘Sky Tiger Shrouded in Darkness’ found a kindred spirit in an unlikely opponent: Momo Watanabe.
The lucrative success of OED and mounting frustrations were more than enough to shatter STARDOM’s True Heart, and Watanabe’s feud with Starlight Kid plunged her into the deepest of darkness. Momo dropped Queen’s Quest in a devastating turn of events, and emerged as her twisted persona, The Black Peach. To add insult to injury, with the backing of OED Watanabe continues to war on QQ and even formed a successful tag team (Black Desire) with the woman responsible for her throwing away everyone she held dear. The 2021 Five Star Grand Prix Finalist had a solid 2022 GP, resulting in her representing OED in the domestic bracket of the IWGP Women’s Championship tournament. While she lost to Mayu Iwatani in the first round, there’s no argument on how her stocks have risen since buying in… on herself.
Earlier this year, Tora resumed public appearances for STARDOM, including commentary and ringside support for her crew. However, her clearance status remained a mystery. She decided to announce to the world at the Finals of the Five Star Grand Prix by attacking Utami Hayashishita after her loss to Koguma. When Tora injured her knee in her match with Hayashishita, the then World of Stardom Champion promised to keep defending the championship until Tora returned. However, Tora has a massive chip on her shoulder since Hayashishita lost the belt to Syuri. In a highly physical battle, Utami held her ground as QQ leader, and put OED on the back foot, at least for the time being. As Black Desire team with El Desperado and DOUKI on November 20, OedoTai are sure to stay in the headlines as the end of the year approaches.
Queen’s Quest (est. 2016)
Front Row: Lady C (left) and Hina (right)
Back Row (left to right): AZM (Azumi), Utami Hayashishita, and Saya Kamitani
Io Shirai made waves in 2016 when she turned on her Thunder Rock tag team partner, Mayu Iwatani to strike out on her own. She established Queen’s Quest taking Hazuki (as HZK) and with Momo Watanabe and AZM joining soon after. Upon Shirai’s departure, Watanabe would take up the reins as the leader with Utami Hayashishita, Hina, and Saya Kamitani joining the group in 2018 and 2019.
With Hayashishita defeating Mayu Iwatani for World of Stardom championship and having her 43-minute, five-star rated match against Syuri, AZM tearing up arenas in the High Speed Division, Kamitani winning the Cinderella Tournament and Momo making it to the finals of the Five Star Grand Prix, everything was coming up Queen’s Quest… until darkness shrouded their door. SLK set her sights on Momo, rekindling their violent singles match during the Five Star.
Kid and Momo agreed to a high stakes match where if Queen’s Quest lost, Watanabe would be stapled to the bottom of OedoTai’s hierarchy, while if OED lost, Starlight Kid would be forced to unmask and join Queen’s Quest at the bottom of the ladder. Shock waves rattle the STARDOM WORLD when Momo got her hands on a steel chair and throttled AZM and lead referee Daichi Murayama instead of her antagonist SLK.
With the gaping hole left by Momo’s betrayal, the numbers of QQ dwindled. However, on January 3, 2022, after a year of being unaffiliated in STARDOM, Lady C finally declared for Queen’s Quest, bringing the group’s ranks to five. During her first year in STARDOM, Lady C wrestled with multiple units, but ultimately chose QQ due to their being some of her first tag partners.
Miyu Amasaki (right) made her professional debut in the main event of the first New Blood series event against Utami Hayashishita (left).
2022 has been a rebuilding year for Queen Quest, but there is no lack of championship gold in their camp. With Saya Kamitani dethroning Tam Nakano at Dream Queendom last December, she has her sights on shattering the record of longest reigning Wonder of Stardom Champion Momo Watanabe. AZM is in the midst of her second reign with the High Speed Championship, dominating most of 2022 as Champion. Kamitani tagged with Nakano at Wrestle Kingdom 16, where they defeated Iwatani and Starlight Kid in the first main card match for STARDOM. After her performance in this year’s Five Star, Utami represented Queen’s Quest in the domestic bracket for the IWGP Women’s Championship tournament. She defeated Himeka to advance, but lost to Mayu in the semi-finals.
At the premiere of STARDOM’s new rookie showcase, NEW BLOOD, Miyu Amasaki faced Utami in her professional debut in the show’s main event. Hina went on hiatus for part of 2021, so she could focus on her high school entrance exams, but would return triumphantly after making the grade in March. With their numbers finally stable at six, QQ had a five-way to determine the new leader with the master of STARDOM in Hayashishita coming out the other side as the new leader.
At Historic X-Over, Utami Hayashishita teams with Hiroshi Tanahashi in a masterful combination tag against The Empress, Maika and The Fierce Warrior, Goto Hirooki. The journey of Maika and Hayashishita started in January 2020 when Maika challenged Utami for the Future of Stardom championship. She would join STARDOM shortly after as a member in DDM. While Maika has three consecutive Five Star Grand Prix block wins over Utami, Hayashishita would win the 2020 GP and go onto win the World of Stardom Championship later in the year.
During her reign as World of Stardom Champion, Utami successfully defeated Maika twice to retain her championship. At Wrestle Kingdom 15, they found themselves on opposite sides of the ring in one of the dark matches. Two of STARDOM’s top power fighters paired with two names synonymous with fighting spirit in New Japan in Tanahashi and Goto is a spicy recipe for a heated tag battle at Ariake Arena.