Bushiroad, game company and owner of New Japan Pro Wrestling, made a potentially game-changing move in the Japanese wrestling scene earlier today when it was announced that they purchased joshi promotion World Wonder Ring Stardom.
Shortly after this story was featured in Tokyo Sports and Yahoo! Japan, Stardom announced that they would hold a press conference at 2 PM JST on October 17 about the Bushiroad acquisition. The meeting streamed on their YouTube channel and its announcements were relayed by Stardom’s English-language Twitter account.
First, Stardom confirmed that it is now part of Bushiroad. It is now part of the Bushiroad subsidiary Kix Road along with kickboxing promotion Knock Out. On December 1, 2019, Kix Road Co., Ltd, will change its name to Bushiroad Fight Co., Ltd. This will be a subsidiary of the company dedicated to kickboxing and women’s wrestling. Stardom will still be called Stardom and co-founder Rossy Ogawa will maintain his position as its Chief Executive Officer.
Bushiroad officials also announced that will be signing wrestlers to full-time contracts, saying “We will create contracts with each wrestler. We want to create an environment where the wrestlers can concentrate on pro wrestling, and we are expecting to bring in excellent wrestlers from all over the world,” and “We would like to listen to the thoughts of each wrestler and take those thoughts into account when creating this new work environment.”
— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) September 25, 2019
In a Q&A portion after the streamed press conference, Stardom wrestlers talked about wanting to grow the company and grow women’s wrestling. Bushiroad president Takaaki Kidani also mentioned wanting to market to female fans, which would be a change from Stardom’s current, very male-focused marketing and almost entirely male audiences at live events.
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter published more details about the Bushiroad-Stardom deal, saying that Bushiroad plans to build the popularity of Stardom through TV and advertising, similarly to how they handled New Japan when they bought it in 2012.
For those wondering about possible cross-promotion between NJPW and Stardom, there are reportedly no plans for any Stardom championship matches at Wrestle Kingdom, dream mixed tag matches, Kagetsu challenging for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, etc., at this point. Under the Bushiroad corporate umbrella, men’s and women’s wrestling will be separate, as is typical in Japan. Stardom and NJPW also won’t share a streaming service due to their different TV deals (NJPW World is part-owned by TV Asahi; Stardom doesn’t air on TV Asahi) and everything about Stardom’s service, Stardom World, will “remain as it is.”
If the powers that be think there’s a demand, however, WON says that New Japan may book Stardom matches on overseas events. That reportedly isn’t in the works right now. Stardom officials stated that they’re open to the idea of Stardom matches on overseas New Japan shows or at Wrestle Kingdom, but that this is really up to the New Japan office and the reception of the fans.
5: December 7th and 8th, 2019 Stardom will take part in "CharaExpo USA 2019" held at the Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim ,CA. Stardom will put on the following tag team match: Mayu Iwatani & Tam Nakano vs. Sumie Sakai & Nicole Savoy. pic.twitter.com/Kkw5xIwPyr
— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) October 17, 2019
So far, the biggest connection between New Japan and Stardom under the Bushiroad banner is that they’ll both put on matches at the company’s convention in Anaheim, CharaExpo USA 2019, this December. New Japan held its first Lion’s Break Project shows at last years’s CharaExpo and announced months ago that they’ll be returning for Lion’s Break Project 2, featuring the LA Dojo Young Lions. Stardom just announced that they’ll put on a tag match of Sumie Sakai and Nicole Savoy vs. Mayu Iwatani and Tam Nakano at the convention.
What days and times all this Bushiroad-owned wrestling will be happening in the Anaheim Convention Center is currently unknown, but if it’s all grouped together, this could be the first time NJPW and Stardom wrestlers appear on the same card, or at least the same event, since this spring’s G1 Supercard, and the first time since they gained the same parent company.