On October 16, news broke that New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) parent company Bushiroad acquired World Wonder Ring Stardom, one of the most followed women’s wrestling promotions, with about 36,000 followers on Twitter and YouTube combined.
For the uninitiated, it is where Riho, Io Shirai, Kairi Sane, and Bea Priestley all honed their craft; the promotion has had popular male wrestlers such as Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi and Rey Wagner also perform for them. Bushiroad acquiring them is big news, especially since the consensus is that women don’t have a viable option other than World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
Professional wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer dispelled rumors of NJPW talents crossing paths with Stardom wrestlers in the ring, but it’s still big news as there will now be three-way battles for top female talents, involving WWE, Stardom, and All Elite Wrestling (AEW) henceforth.
Anyway, here are five WWE wrestlers we think would fit in at Stardom and five who would be better off staying in WWE.
10 Should Join: Sasha Banks
Internet fans expected Sasha Banks to take the Neville route out of WWE. However, after staying away from WWE rings for more than four months after WrestleMania, she popped right back up. This time with blue hair, and turning heel along with her best friend Bayley. Few saw it coming, but the change in character has seen her stock rise again. However, one cannot rule out her moving to Japan in the future as it is common knowledge that she grew up watching now-defunct All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling and Japanese anime. She even spent some time in Japan, training with, Japanese legend and Mae Young Classic semi-finalist, Meiko Satomura. She’d fit right in at Stardom given her willingness to pull of dangerous-looking moves.
9 Steer Clear: Alexa Bliss
Not many would have expected Alexa Bliss to be where she is on the main roster given she had little success on NXT. However, the main roster writers and producers, upon noticing her acting skills, put her in upper-card feuds and she’s now a five-time Women’s Champion and former Money in the Bank winner. Given that she thrives on her mic skills and is quite injury-prone, it would not make sense for her to move to Japan, where audiences place more emphasis on in-ring skills and storytelling than on the soap opera side of pro-wrestling.
8 Should Join: Sonya Deville
Sonya Deville has been a trailblazer and role model to kids in the United States. WWE seems to be taking note of her growing popularity, with the former MMA wrestler now enjoying more limelight than her tag-team partner Mandy Rose. It’s only a matter of time before the WWE puts a Women’s Championship title on her as she’s proven one of the most underrated wrestlers on the roster today. However, once she’s done with WWE, perhaps she should consider moving to Japan for short stint there, as a top gaijin would boost her popularity and help her command a bigger contract when the 26-year-old eventually returns to WWE or joins AEW.
7 Steer Clear: Mandy Rose
Speaking of one half of Fire and Desire brings us to the other half. Mandy Rose has proven her doubters wrong by putting on decent matches every time she’s given the chance. However, she still hasn’t proved she could pull off “Japanese” moves and it’s not known if she, who’s been wrestling full-time only for two years, has it in her to do the gruelling matches that Japanese wrestling is known for. Maybe, two more years down the line, she will find herself being able to put on matches expected of Stardom wrestlers. As of now, however, she must stay in the WWE.
6 Should Join: Ruby Riott
Before becoming Ruby Riott, the former Riott Squad leader plied her trade on the independent circuit as Heidi Lovelace. Although she spent most of her indie career in the United States, she did have short sojourns in Japan and, Stardom in particular, where she rubbed shoulders with NXT’s Io Shirai, long-term WWE target Mayu Iwatani, and Kris Wolf, among others. Given Stardom’s newfound transfer warchest, they must be able to afford her wages and she, who’s been thoroughly mismanaged in WWE, could legitimize herself in Japan before, maybe returning to the United States as a bigger star.
5 Steer Clear: Charlotte Flair
Charlotte Flair is, needless to say, the Roman Reigns of the women’s division. In fact, she’s The Big Dog and Seth Rollins combined, given she’s won the Women’s Championship 10 times in less than five years on the main roster. In a few years’ time, she’ll surpass John Cena and her father Ric Flair, becoming a 17-time world champion. She’s reached untouchable status in WWE and, even if her father is at odds with WWE over patents, it seems her position would remain unperturbed. Moving to Japan, with all due respect to Japanese wrestling, would be a step down for The Queen.
4 Should Join: Bayley
WWE did the unthinkable when it turned kids-hugging, merchandise-moving, tassel-wearing, head-shaking Bayley into a bob cut-donning, black suit-wearing Bayley with resting b*tch face. However, it’s worked wonderfully, with the fans still cheering her on. In fact, the cheers have been louder since her turn. She grew up watching WWE, idolizing Jeff and Matt Hardy, so it’s unlikely a move away from WWE would entice her. However, if her best friend Sasha Banks is on the way to Stardom, there’s a huge chance she would follow in her footsteps as well. And, follow in her footsteps, she must, to add to her arsenal.
3 Steer Clear: The IIconics
The IIconics are two of the underrated stars on the main roster today. As two of the few wrestlers to be popular with both casual and hardcore internet fans, they have established themselves in kayfabe as well, winning the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship. While the consensus is that their reign was rather lackluster, it didn’t help the titles were held by The Hug and Boss Connection and The Kabuki Warriors before and after them. There’s no winning when you’re up against four Internet darlings. However, they have held their own and are on course to being main-roster staples for a long time. Plus, despite their indie experience, one would argue their characters are better-suited to WWE.
2 Should Join: Asuka
This one’s a no brainer. Asuka, a 39-year-old Japanese pro-wrestling legend has done it all in WWE by winning Women's Championship titles, one Royal Rumble match, and going on a record-breaking winning run. Although she has fallen down the pecking order, she’s still among the hottest stocks in the industry itself today. However, one small blemish in her career would be a lack of success in Stardom. She could do that now by moving back to Japan, signing for Bushiroad’s Stardom when her current WWE contract runs out or she decides to move back home.
1 Steer Clear: Becky Lynch
Becky Lynch is among the top three biggest names on the roster today, with only Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins challenging her for the top spot. WWE even reiterated its faith in her by making her the first draft pick as part of the WWE Draft 2019. At this point, moving to any other pro-wrestling promotion would be a massive step down, let alone joining Stardom. Only a move to Hollywood would make sense for her given her star power. Plus, it won’t be like she's missing out on experiencing Japanese wrestling as well, as she’s had her share of fights in Japan.