As of very recently, the revelation that the masked assailants who have been attacking the members of Cosmic Angels are aligned with Donna del Mondo has seemingly ruffled the feathers of a substantial number of people.
If you read my last piece, you’ll know that I justified that Momo Watanabe moving to Oedo Tai was a good thing – although I will admit I made a mistake by not mentioning that I was focusing more on post-Bushiroad STARDOM as opposed to Momo’s booking as a whole (even though I did mention Momo’s white belt reign to preface it).
Much like this article, that piece was written after I had seen people complain about STARDOM’s booking and that the stipulation that either Momo or Starlight Kid had to change factions was nonsensical booking and out of nowhere – when in reality, it made sense. Kid had been reluctant to join Oedo Tai, but they had no hierarchy and everyone was equal and just wanted to be a pain in the ass to everyone else, whilst STARS had a clear-cut leader in Mayu Iwatani. Kid had succeeded on her own, and Momo was stuck under someone else’s shadow, just like her, and she wanted to see her succeed and become a singles champion yet again.
You could even look at Kagetsu’s reign as World of Stardom champion as a great example of STARDOM booking and storytelling; “If you want to beat me, then get better than me” while putting on some of the most entertaining title defenses of that year. I can admit that after Bushiroad purchased the company, things were off to a rocky start. However, the last year has shown that STARDOM are getting their groove back and showing why they’re one of the top women’s wrestling companies in the world.
The exact same problem and complaints about Momo going to Oedo Tai has happened with Giulia and the masked attackers, with people just proclaiming “This booking sucks, why have they cursed us with such bad storytelling made in the heat of the moment with no thought whatsoever??”. STARDOM has had long-term storytelling since at least last summer and the continuation of animosity between Giulia and Tam Nakano only continues it. You don’t need to be told absolutely everything in a story to be engaged with it. Hell, look at AEW and Hangman – I didn’t watch every episode of Being The Elite that tied into the lead up to the Kenny Omega vs Hangman world championship match, but I still enjoyed the story. It’s not part of AEW’s main programming, or advertised as such, so I don’t feel the need to watch it.
Long-term watching should be rewarded and not just disregarded or ignored, like WWE has done for the last few years, and STARDOM rewards its viewers who watch consistently by putting on good stories, but so few people care to watch the smaller shows and only watch the PPVs, that they feel like this is just sudden booking with no substance. STARDOM’s small venue shows are just as good as their PPV matches, and they often have segments that contribute to these stories – because it has wrestling on those shows, I see it as part of the company’s main programming, unlike BTE which could be compared to STARDOM uploading videos on YouTube of Momo Watanabe playing Ace Attorney (which is fun). It’s like complaining that a booking decision in WWE sucks because you’ve only tuned into the PPV, and haven’t kept up with their weekly shows. Of course you’re not going to enjoy it or have anything good to say about it, because the viewer who only watches the big shows has a much smaller view of the bigger picture.
Now, back to Giulia and friends. Quite a few people were interested in who the masked attackers were; as soon as it was revealed that they’re part of Donna Del Mondo, everyone lost their minds and not in a good way. I thought it was fine. There’s nothing wrong with building up the introduction of new faction members slowly over time. How do you build up future stars if you just shove them right in there? Giulia is a perfect example of people mislabelling “overpushed” when in her case, it’s really not true.
I know that people reading that previous sentence will cry “But Giulia was pushed right into the Wonder of Stardom reign!” – to which I’ll comment that Giulia joined the company in October 2019, and Donna Del Mondo wasn’t established until three months after her debut. That’s not exactly lightning fast. Even then, she had her bout with Hana Kimura at the Year End Climax even before planting the seeds for DDM’s existence.
Giulia has not been overbooked. She has not been rushed. She had three months of having no faction affiliation, then she won the Cinderella tournament and feuded with Tam for the White Belt, which she ended up winning. In my personal experience, I’ve seen Giulia get the most hate out of any other member of the roster. But why? Is she doing something wrong that I can’t comprehend? No one else gets as much hate as she does. Is it because she’s an outsider? Is it because she’s proven that she’s one of the company’s best assets while not being trained under STARDOM through Fuka or Kagetsu?
If Giulia was truly overbooked, she would’ve gone instantly for the Red Belt and won it from Mayu Iwatani, which she did not. She couldn’t win the Future of Stardom belt because she’s over 20 and started wrestling in 2017, she’s not a High Speed wrestler and Jamie Hayter couldn’t defend the SWA World Championship due to the pandemic, so the only championship she could realistically go for was the White belt. And it’s not like she wasn’t ready or couldn’t back up her title win – she had fantastic matches with Syuri, Starlight Kid, Tam and Konami.
It feels like people are causing commotion towards Giulia and STARDOM booking just so they have something to hate for the sake of hating it. I’ve never outright hated any of STARDOM’s booking decisions – I may have not favoured some, but I haven’t gone out of my way to publicly bash and denounce STARDOM’s practises like it’s Hell on Earth.
The same thing happened back when Mina Shirakawa and Unagi Sayaka both became Future of Stardom champions, one after the other. People rejected them, saying that they didn’t deserve it because of their age and that they weren’t worthy of the title, only being used in the company because of their past as a gravure models to attract older demographics. It’s things like these that make me despise conversing with people about wrestling. It’s getting angry for the sake of getting angry. Both women have come a long way since they left Tokyo Joshi for STARDOM, and they’ve both shown that they care about wrestling and want to be seen as respected members of the roster. Why is it so hard for fans to also do that? Why does every argument about Cosmic Angels as a whole have to be based around their past careers, and not what they want to accomplish now? It reminds me a lot of the Yoshiko/Act Yasukawa incident that happened in 2015 and Giulia leaving Ice Ribbon for STARDOM. People still hold that against them. The event which relates to Giulia’s departure from Ice Ribbon is none of our business. Why hold a personal grudge over a wrestler for something that doesn’t concern us? It happened two years ago. We, as viewers and consumers of entertainment don’t get to decide or feel entitled to how a person carries themselves, so why are people making such a big fuss about it all? The blind hatred towards anything Giulia does or is associated with solely because she made her own decision to leave a company that you love and adore, is absolutely ridiculous. You end up looking like the same people who called Bryan Danielson a traitor for leaving the WWE, you look like clowns to everyone else. Even in the case of the 2015 incident, Yoshiko and Act Yasukawa apologised to each other and moved on. Why can’t everyone else do the same? It’s a mentality that I’ll never understand.
Weird people’s obsession with hating Giulia aside, we can take a look at someone who was pushed far too quickly in comparison to Giulia (in my opinion): the current World of Stardom champion Utami Hayashishita. She’s having fantastic matches now but she debuted barely three years ago, and within seven months, had already won the Future belt, the Goddess belt, the SWA belt and the EVE International, holding them all consecutively. In seven months, Giulia had only won the Wonder of Stardom championship, the Artist of Stardom championships and the Cinderella tournament. Fast forward to now and Giulia has only won the Goddess belts with Syuri, whereas Utami won the 5 STAR GP, and beat Mayu Iwatani for the Red belt, holding it for over 400 days compared to Giulia 220 day Wonder belt reign. I don’t have a problem with Utami winning so many titles, she’s clearly incredibly gifted and her success makes a lot of sense considering she trained under Kagetsu – it just felt a bit rushed to pile on so many titles to her rather quickly – which again, is to no fault of her own.
Looking at Cosmic Angels, both Waka Tsukiyama and Mai Sakurai went through a series of challenges when they debuted, slowly building them up to a point where they’ll finally get a win (such as Lady C, who won her first match against Waka). Doing the same thing with new signings by having them appear on shows over time before putting them in a big match or programme is the same thing here – just under masks and not through matches. Donna Del Mondo’s additions, with the exception of Maika, have always been surprises. Syuri’s return, Himeka joining and Natsupoi’s debut.
Giulia and Tam Nakano’s feud has always been about trying to outdo each other, or trying to be better than the other. Not only did Tam want to win her Dream Shine partner’s championship, but she wanted to prove that she was more than just an idol, that she had a place in Stardom and wasn’t just lost in the shuffle – a point that had also lead to the formation of Cosmic Angels alongside Mina and Unagi. Even then, months after Nakano had won the title from Giulia, the three-way tag shuffle at Tokyo Dream Cinderella showed that the history between the two wasn’t ignored or suddenly disappeared, it still carried on and they still resented each other. They were forced to team together and yet they still went after each other instead of teaming together; Tam remarked after the match that Giulia was “shit”. Do people want consistent storytelling where people’s histories are remembered, or do people want stories to change on a whim, with no regard for past history? I see people complaining about both, so which one is it? Good storytelling that weave into and out of other stories well and are logical, or bad storytelling where none of it matters?
With both Tsukiyama and Sakurai unable to get their first win as part of Nakano’s faction, Giulia is trying to prove to everyone that Donna Del Mondo is better than the Cosmic Angels, by recruiting rookies that she’ll know will outshine and outperform them and win matches.
This isn’t a spontaneous booking decision by any means. It’s tying into previous narratives, current ones, and utilising roster members who haven’t really had a chance to shine outside of lesser matches or pre/post-match promos. STARDOM’s storytelling is very good, and it’s helped the company achieve greater heights – but criticizing a booking decision so early while it hasn’t developed fully, or only looking at a slice of its entirety, that’s where the problem lies. People need to give the story a chance, and not use every excuse they can think of to hate on it. Be more positive and excited about what STARDOM is doing – it’s what I did with Momo’s Oedo Tai booking and now with Giulia and the masked attackers, and it’s made me enjoy the product much, much more.