Even before writing this, I had a lot of people, including myself, saying that another all-out war elimination match in place of a draft within Stardom was stupid. The elimination match is Stardom’s attempt to keep the stakes up between opposing factions when in any other time of the year, there basically isn’t any other stakes outside of this newfound gimmick match. But yet, in this second or third matchup at what feels like an already stale concept, I find myself intrigued for once. It’s not just “the last one eliminated has to join the other faction” – it’s “ whichever faction leader loses has to join the other faction”. It’s unlike the stipulations that had come before it. It’s more specialised, and more specific. There are an incredible amount of stakes in this match. Either Momo Watanabe or Starlight Kid will have to change their allegiance, and if Starlight Kid loses – she’ll have to unmask too. But why did Starlight Kid accept such a dangerous offer that could potentially backfire? The mask is what makes her special, the mask is her identity. Well, it’s obvious when you think about it.
Momo Watanabe was always the de-facto leader of Queen’s Quest after Io Shirai left and Hazuki was moved to Oedo Tai in the draft. But still, she always felt like an afterthought, and not like the true leader. There were always clear-cut group leaders within Stardom. Hana Kimura, Kagetsu, Giulia, Mayu Iwatani, Tam Nakano except for Queen’s Quest. Utami Hayashishita, upon capturing the World of Stardom championship from Mayu Iwatani in November 2020, had in all but official acknowledgement assumed the role of Queen’s Quest’s leader – you could see it clear as day from how she was presented in comparison to Momo. Despite her impressive and well received run of the White belt, Momo still wasn’t treated like their leader, losing fairly regularly and picking up a few wins every so often across the board. She had pretty much become a shadow of what she once was – an important player in the Stardom roster. In a completely fair and just comparison that I wish I didn’t have to make – she was the Saki Kashima of Queens Quest.
This year’s Five Star GP looked to change that once and for all. Momo had made the finals and was faced off against Syuri. Both looked to challenge Utami for the World of Stardom title for different reasons. Syuri, destined to finally overcome her and prove her worth as a professional wrestler, needed the win to face-off against Utami for what hopefully would be the third and final time, and claim the championship. She had lost the title match in June via a double knockout, and they had a time-limit draw in the tournament itself, all she had to do was defeat Momo and beat Utami for the title. Momo, however, didn’t need the gold. She needed to prove a point – she needed to prove that she was still capable of being the leader of Queen’s Quest, to put Utami in her place and show strong leadership when in contention with others. It was her moment to finally cement herself as the one that Saya, AZM, Hina and Utami would look up to and have faith in.
Syuri won. At the final hurdle of what could be seen as Momo’s biggest moment of her career, she couldn’t defeat Syuri. Was she really the leader of Queen’s Quest? Or was it Utami, who had stepped up into the spotlight and did what Momo couldn’t – be the successor to Io Shirai that the group needed.
Starlight Kid is the antithesis of Momo Watanabe. Whilst not leader of their faction officially, the Sky Tiger had been forced into Oedo Tai after she was the last one pinned in a “loser forced to join the other faction” match, and since had lead the almost directionless stable during the absence of their true leader, Natsuko Tora. Before Oedo Tai, Kid had been with STARS since her debut in 2015 and regularly teamed with faction leader Mayu Iwatani as the MK Sisters since 2019. Much like Momo, it always felt that Starlight Kid could have been more than what she was in STARS, and when she was forced into Oedo Tai, things began to change.
She had rejected Mayu’s proposal to re-join STARS after the Icon had defeated every other member of Oedo Tai in a gauntlet match, dedicating herself to becoming Mayu’s greatest rival and to forge her own path without being in the shadow of somebody else. During the eighth night of the Five Star GP, to which Momo lost in the finals, Starlight Kid found light in her darkness; capturing the High Speed championship from Natsupoi that had eluded her since her debut. Every time she had challenged for the title under STARS in the past, she had lost. But with Oedo Tai? She had won. Momo challenged Starlight Kid for the High Speed title, but was ultimately unsuccessful. The Sky Tiger had finally become the star that she couldn’t be within STARS, while under Mayu Iwatani – and it looked like she saw the same in Momo Watanabe.
Kid thought to herself: “If I was able to finally become the wrestler I was destined to be after moving to Oedo-Tai, why shouldn’t I help Momo do the same?”. She knows that Momo has untapped potential, she knows that Momo is one of the best in her group, but she also realises that being in the shadow of someone else prevents them from truly being what they’re capable of, and that’s why Starlight Kid proposed an all-out war match where only the faction leader can change factions – to ensure that, just like her, Momo will see the light from within the darkness, and become the wrestler that she was born to be. Even with her mask on the line, Kid knows that she’ll win. She’s already defeated Momo once in a championship match, she just has to do it again.
No longer being held down by others, no longer pushed to the side while others succeed further than her. Oedo Tai can save Momo, and Starlight Kid knows that.
Momo Watanabe is destined for Oedo Tai.