Yahoo! Japan says the company became interested in getting into the women’s wrestling game last fall and Takaaki Kitani, Bushiroad founder and chairman of NJPW, took interest in Stardom. He and Stardom owner and co-founder Rossy Ogawa first met in April. The sales agreement was completed in August, which, interestingly, is also when a Stardom DLC became available for Fire Pro Wrestling World, which features New Japan wrestlers.
New Japan just had its biggest financial year ever, and, according to Yahoo! Japan, Bushiroad plans to grow Stardom, the home of Io Shirai and Kairi Sane before they signed with WWE, as well. Kitani has reportedly said that he thinks they can increase Stardom’s current annual gross of about 200 million yen per year to one billion within five years.
It’ll be interesting to see how having New Japan and Stardom under the same corporate umbrella impacts not just these companies, but their allies as well. Stardom and New Japan have shared partner in Ring of Honor, but Stardom has also hosted Toni Storm since she signed with WWE. They’re also friendly with All Elite Wrestling, with which NJPW does not have a relationship – the companies don’t mention each other by name onscreen and AEW never acknowledged when Jon Moxley was the IWGP United States Champion. AEW World Women’s Champion Riho recently signed with Stardom and became their High Speed Champion and AEW’s Bea Priestly is the World of Stardom Champion.
Will Bushiroad owning Stardom change their unique political position in the wrestling world? Will it mean we see New Japan and Stardom wrestlers perform on the same shows at any point, or be available to watch on the same streaming service? If nothing else changes for Stardom, their purchase by Bushiroad means that they have a lot more financial backing by a company that already owns another profitable wrestling promotion.