Coming up on March 26th, we have the first round of the 2023 Cinderella Tournament! This year’s line-up looks absolutely stacked and the first round alone is gonna be filled with plenty of upsets and crazy matches. Today is the day when we take a look at the bracket and I give my picks for the first round and a few of my opinions on the matches. Well, in most cases.
We do have two mystery participants this year so who knows what’ll happen. With that said, let’s get into the first-round match-ups folks! This year is gonna be fun! Here are the rules and dates for the Cinderella Tournament.
March 26, it’s the 1st Round of the annual Cinderella Tournament live on PPV! 18 matches!
Round 2 – 4.1 Tochigi Quarterfinals – 4.2 Korakuen
Semi-Finals & Finals – 4.15 Yoyogi PPV
Each match will have a 10-minute time limit. Participants can win the matches via pinfall, submission, DQ, Countout and Over the Top Rope to the Floor. There may end up being some double over-the-tops, it’s happened before.
Saya Kamitani vs Mayu Iwatani: The Pheonix faces The ACE
The first match we’re gonna look at features the 2021 Cinderella winner, Saya Kamitani, facing off against the only woman who has won the Cinderella tournament twice, in 2015 and 2016, Mayu Iwatani. Saya has been on an absolute roll since winning the 2021 Cinderella tournament. She defeated Tam Nakano to earn the Wonder of Stardom title and has defeated all comers for that belt to date. Unfortunately for her, she runs into the Ace of Stardom in the very first match.
Mayu Iwatani has won this thing twice and has been a runner-up one other time. If Mayu is going to have a strong 2023, then she needs to have a great Cinderella tournament. This match is going to be really damn good but I think that Mayu will take the win after a hard-fought match.
Predicted Winner: Mayu Iwatani
Natsupoi vs Mina Shirakawa: COSMIC ANGELS Square Off
This one is gonna be fun too. Natsupoi, the newest member of the COSMIC ANGELS, faces off against the leader of Club Venus, Mina Shirakawa. Mina formed her own sect of the Cosmic Angels with Mariah May and Xia Brookside, dubbing it Club Venus. She’s got Saya Kamitani in her sights for the Wonder of Stardom title and she’s been on a tear since coming back from injury.
Natsupoi has flourished since leaving Donna del Mondo for the Angels, working well with Tam Nakano as the tag-team MelTear. She’s super athletic and she always brings her A game into every match. She’s gonna give Mina everything she can handle, but I think Mina takes this one folks.
Predicted Winner: Mina Shirakawa
Tam Nakano vs Himeka: The Cutest in the Universe takes on The Jumbo Princess
Our leader of the Cosmic Angels, Tam Nakano, takes on the Jumbo Princess Himeka. Himeka is on her retirement tour. At the age of 25, she’s done a lot in Stardom. She’s been a part of Donna Del Mondo and had a successful team with Maika for the vast majority of that time. Himeka has a great chance to defeat Tam, but knowing that she is on her retirement tour, I cannot see her taking the W here.
Tam Nakano, the cutest in the universe, has a strong chance to end up being in the finals of this year’s tournament. Himeka will give her all she can handle, but handle it Tam will. Tam takes this one and is a strong contender to win the crown this year.
Predicted Winner: Tam Nakano
MIRAI vs Hanan: The Former Winner Faces The High-School Graduate
The 2022 Cinderella winner, MIRAI, takes on the recent High School graduate Hanan. Hanan represents STARS and will be looking to get back on the right track during the Cinderella tournament. She’s historically not done well during these big tournaments and unfortunately, I don’t see that turning around this year.
Mirai comes in after winning last year’s tournament looking to become the second person to win it twice and back to back. She’s got a good chance but I don’t think she will. She will definitely defeat Hanan, even though Hanan will give her one heck of a fight.
Predicted Winner: MIRAI
Ami Sourei vs Yuna Mizumori: Can God’s Eye defeat the Neo Stardom Army?
Ami Sourei takes on Yuna Mizumori in this first-round match and this one should be pretty hard-hitting. Out of all the matches, this one might be the least exciting for me but that’s no knock on either woman. Ami is our current Future of Stardom Champion and she’s been on a bit of a roll for a bit now. She’s one of the powerhouses in God’s Eye and looking to make a statement this year.
Now, admittedly, I’m not too familiar with Yuna Mizumori yet but I know that she’s a member of the Neo Stardom Army and is a Freelancer. She is also mostly known for working with Gatoh Move and Ganbare so I’m sure she has fans that will cheer for her. I think Ami takes this one though.
Predicted Winner: Ami Sourei
Starlight Kid vs Haruka Umesaki: The Sky Tiger wants to take down Karma
The Sky Tiger, Starlight Kid, takes on one heck of a wild card in Haruka Umesaki. Haruka comes in as a Freelancer, notably wrestling under the name Karma and working with Diana and Pure-J amongst other promotions. The 22-year-old is looking to make a name for herself in Stardom starting with this tournament but she’s drawn the short end of the stick this time.
SLK is always a favourite in these tournaments and she deserves to be. She’s one of the best High-Speed contenders in the company and she has one hell of a move set. She’s comfortable wherever the match goes and is my personal pick to win it all this year, though that may be proven to be wrong. SLK wins this match though.
Predicted Winner: Starlight Kid
Koguma vs Thekla: The Bear takes on the Toxic Spider
STAR’s Bear, the lovable Koguma, takes on the Toxic Spider of Donna del Mondo, Thekla. Thekla comes into this year’s tournament wanting to redeem herself after missing the 5 Star Grand Prix last year due to injury. She’s looked really good since coming back from that injury and is getting back on track finally.
With the rest of DDM backing her up, Thekla is a dangerous opponent for Koguma in the first round. Koguma, for her part, is a two-time runner-up in the Cinderella tournament and can always be looked at as a favourite. For me though, she’s got a big roadblock in the first round and her side of the bracket is gonna be interesting. I don’t think she takes this one folks, Thekla wins a tough match.
Predicted Winner: Thekla
Saya Iida vs Miyu Amasaki: Can the Rookie defeat the strongest in STAR’S?
Saya Iida enters this year’s tournament and takes on first-timer Miyu Amasaki. Iida, like Hanan, usually doesn’t do great during these tournaments despite being one of the strongest and most well-rounded participants. She’s STARS’ gorilla for a reason, easily the strongest woman in that unit but she really hasn’t had much gold to speak of. She is definitely going to try and prove herself this year but she’s running into the newcomer Amasaki Miyu.
Miyu is surprisingly great for how new she is to wrestling and Stardom in general. She’s super popular already and was brought into Queen’s Quest after her very first match. She’s one of the best rookies Stardom has had in some time and is already being compared to the likes of Mayu and Io. She’s got a long way to go but I think she takes this one.
Predicted Winner: Miyu Amasaki
Natsuko Tora vs Ruaka: The Powerhouses of Oedo Tai Clash
We’ve got a double dose of Oedo Tai in this one as Ruaka takes on her leader Natsuko Tora. Tora comes in trying to get back on track after the serious knee injury that took her out for most of last year. She’s picked up mostly right where she left off but isn’t quite at the same level as she was when she faced Utami.
Opposing her this year is Ruaka, the other major powerhouse of Oedo Tai. Ruaka doesn’t have the skill set that Tora has but she can match her strength so that gives her a chance in this one. Unfortunately for Ruaka, that won’t matter much. If this one doesn’t end with a double elimination, Tora takes it.
Predicted Winner: Natsuko Tora
Utami Hayashishita vs Nanae Takahashi: The Red Queen vs a Founding Mother of Stardom
In one of the more exciting first-round match-ups, Utami Hayashishita is taking on one of the Founding Mothers of Stardom, Nanae Takahashi. The Red Queen has her work cut out for her facing Nanae. Both women are powerful with plenty of technical skill between them so this should be a battle of wills. I know Utami looks to regain her form after spending a year without a title and winning the Cinderella tournament would be a huge feather in her cap. I don’t know how well she will fare against one of the current Goddess champions though. Nanae is imposing and not someone Utami can just out power. We will see what happens.
Predicted Winner: Utami Hayashishita
Hina vs XX: Queen’s Quest’s Youngster has a Mystery Opponent
Queen’s Quest’s youngest member, Hina, has a mystery opponent as of right now. I have no idea who it could be as there have been no hints. Whomever it is will have a tough out though. Hina’s no pushover, much like her twin sister Rina and elder sister Hanan. She has a strong Judo background, solid ground game and the experience of working with the rest of the Queens. Whomever Stardom chooses to face off against Hina, they better bring their A-game if they want to win it.
Predicted Winner: N/A at the moment
AZM vs Hazuki: The High Speed Champion looks to knock off Hazuki on the way to the finals
Azumi facing Hazuki in the first round is absolutely insane. Stardom should have held out on this one for at least the semis, but alas it’s happening right off the bat. A lot of fans are clamouring for an AZM vs SLK finals and I am one of them, but Hazuki is no push-over. If anyone is a favourite for this tournament, it’s Hazuki. She deserves a big title and tournament win, so starting with Cinderella would make so much sense. She’s got size and strength on her side but AZM is one slippery little shit. Don’t be surprised if she hits the Azumi Sushi and wins it.
Predicted Winner: AZM
Mariah May vs Rina: Can the Club Venus member topple the Judo Champ of Oedo Tai?
Mariah May, one of the newest members of the Stardom roster, takes on the mini Judoka Rina. Rina, or Mini Hana as some call her, is one of the biggest underdogs in Stardom. At only 16 years old, she’s a judo master like her twin and older sister and uses it to her advantage. Not to mention she learned a ton from the late Hana Kimura. Mariah May is a UK import, coming to Stardom with a returning Xia Brookside to join Club Venus with Mina Shirakawa. I don’t know a ton about her, just what I’ve read online, but I know she’ll be a tough one for Rina.
Predicted Winner: Rina
Giulia vs Mai Sakurai: The World of Stardom Champion is looking to the future of Donna del Mondo
Donna del Mondo members Giulia and Mai Sakurai face off right off the bat. Mai, a former member of the Cosmic Angels, tries to prove herself against the World Champion and the woman who recruited her. It’s gonna be a tough task for Mai as Giulia is on the run of her life right now. After defeating Syuri for the World of Stardom Championship, all eyes are on her and she is shining. She may have started her time here in a bad way but she has proven to be a stellar worker for Stardom. It’s a tough call here but.. I’m gonna just hope for a great match.
Predicted Winner: Double Ring OUT
Maika vs Momo Watanabe: The Dark Peach looks to take down a member of Donna del Mondo
Maika is taking on the 2018 Cinderella winner, Momo Watanabe, in a match that could steal the show. Sure, Maika is best known for her tag-team work with Himeka, but she does have a strong enough singles career and experience to be a threat in this one. She’s strong, athletic and she has a legion of fans supporting her. Maika is definitely a threat to Momo Watanabe here.
Momo, for her part, has embraced the Oedo Tai mantra and is more of a threat than ever before. She will do anything to win, even if it means using a wrench to smack her opponent in the head. Wherever this match goes, Momo is going to be trouble for Maika and that’s trouble I don’t see her overcoming.
Predicted Winner: Momo Watanabe
Syuri vs Tomoka Inaba: God’s Eye’s Former Champion wants to make Inaba Just Tap Out
Tomoka Inaba has one hell of a hill to climb in facing her mentor and stable leader Syuri. Inaba, a product of Just Tap Out, has been working with God’s Eye and Syuri for a few months now and that work has shown insane improvements in this amazing athlete. The problem for her is that everything she is good at, Syuri is just as good if not better. Syuri has an MMA background, competed in the UFC and is a former World champion. Sure, Inaba has a belt for JTO, but that promotion is still in its infancy and Inaba has never faced someone of Syuri’s calibre in a major tournament. I don’t see either woman advancing personally.
Predicted Winner: Time-limit draw
Momo Kohgo (Comomo) vs Saki Kashima: Can Oedo Tai’s Wildcard defeat Kohgo?
Personally one of my more anticipated matches this year, Momo Kohgo takes on a vastly improved Saki Kashima. The 37-year-old, 4-year veteran, Kohgo has a tough opponent and she has to bring out everything in her arsenal if she hopes to beat her again. She did upset Saki during the 5 Star GP last year, but you know Kashima will be looking to avenge that loss. Saki, for her part, is never someone to be counted out of a match. She can pull a win out of nowhere with the Kishikaisei and has done so to numerous opponents stronger and bigger than her. Saki is always a wild card in tournaments and this one will be no different.
Predicted Winner: Saki Kashima
Lady C vs X: Stardom’s Skyscraper has a Surprise Opponent in the First Round
Like Hina, Lady C has a mystery opponent in the first round and there has not been any hints as to who it could be just yet. I wish I knew, I really do, but I don’t. Therefore it’s really hard to predict how this one will go. The silhouettes might give a hint as to who they could be, but for the life of me, I cannot figure it out. Whoever it is, has to face Stardom’s skyscraper, someone who has improved so much in the last year it’s scary. They better bring their A-game because Lady C is out to prove herself this year.
Predicted Winner: N/A at the moment