What Does Rossy’s Exit from STARDOM Mean for Joshi?

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HANABIE – “OTAKU Lovely Densetsu”

Effective February 4, 2024, Rossy Ogawa is no longer with STARDOM. The co-founder of the promotion was terminated by Bushiroad (who are also affiliated with New Japan Pro Wrestling) for allegedly poaching talent for a new  promotion.

Months ago, Rossy made is known internally of his intentions to start a new promotion aside from STARDOM. Quietly securing some of  STARDOM’s own talent for his own was frowned upon by Bushiroad, and for good reason (if true). Even Tony Khan seemed happy with the news of Ogawa’s departure, amidst rumors that Ogawa was poaching STARDOM talent for WWE.

However, Ogawa strictly denies poaching talent at all, either to WWE, or his own future promotion. Regardless of any rumors or allegations, how will this affect Joshi wrestling moving forward, even for Western audiences? Let’s dig in.


Bushiroad’s Mismanagement of STARDOM


It seems that not all is well when it comes to the Bushiroad/STARDOM relationship. The parent company of New Japan Pro Wrestling, Bushiroad acquired STARDOM in 2019. While notable changes were made, including featuring STARDOM talent on NJPW shows, rumors have persisted of general mismanagement of STARDOM all together.

Giulia has been outspoken in her distaste for how Bushiroad was running the promotion from a business standpoint. They have allegedly urged Rossy to book more “gimmicky” shows for western audience appeal, but increased the show schedule as well.

In an interview in November of 2023, Giulia would bring this mismanagement to attention:  “The thing that Rossy Ogawa has built is being destroyed…”

This has been seen in STARDOM’s heavy schedule, as a slew of injuries have plagued the promotion over 2023. Current IWGP Women’s Champion Mayu Iwatani was injured up until December of 2023. Tam Nakano, Natsupoi, Waka Tsukiyama, Saki Kashima, Koguma, and many others have either just returned from injury, or are still currently out.

As Redditor MrDaark put it in a related post:

“BushiRoad has been doing a horrible job with both NJPW and Stardom since the purchase. BushiRoad is treating Stardom the way investors always treat acquired companies. They are beating it like a piñata until every last dollar comes out, and then they are going to ditch the dried out husk when they are finished.”

This is just one person’s opinion, seemingly shared by a chunk of fans. Let’s hope this isn’t the hard truth, mainly for the sake of the talent. For STARDOM’s talented roster, they should be repeated with as much respect to their mental and physical health as possible. If problems persist in Bushiroad, this needs to be corrected immediately.


Rossy is (mostly) Respected by Many


If Rossy were to start his own promotion, he might bring a number of STARDOM talents with him when many contracts are up in March. According to Dave Meltzer, it’s possible Giulia has delayed her WWE signing to help Rossy start his new women’s promotion.

And this makes sense. Rossy Ogawa is a generally admired figure in Joshi wrestling by fans and talent alike. He has been a major figure in the Joshi scene since the 70s. What you see from STARDOM largely comes from Rossy himself. We can’t speculate what talents could follow him to a new promotion, but we can assume much like the AJPW exodus to NOAH in 2000, some names will likely follow him.

Mayu Iwatani has a good relationship with Rossy, and she’s a locker room leader. It wouldn’t surprise me to see both Giulia and Mayu land in Rossy’s new promotion if and when that comes to fruition.

And how does this affect the Stardom/AEW/WWE relationship?



An Exodus to AEW/WWE?


Could we see Mina Shirakawa reunited with Mariah May in AEW? Does Rossy’s firing secure Giulia’s eventual future with WWE? According to Tokyo Sports, current STARDOM President Taro Okada has confirmed that several wrestlers within STARDOM intend to leave when their contract is up.

Does this mean talents may test the freelance waters before landing elsewhere entirely? Or perhaps a move within Japan to a promotion like Tokyo Joshi Pro or Ice Ribbon. It’s fitting that STARDOM is running a show in Philadelphia on Wrestlemania weekend on April 4th. Will this tempt current talents to venture beyond STARDOM into the United States and beyond?

According to the same reports, “popular talents” are ones rumored to have interest in leaving. Does this mean Mayu Iwatani, Utami Hayashishita, Maika, Natsupoi, or even Tam Nakano? Any of these names out of STARDOM would be a gut punch to the promotion. Any of these names in WWE or AEW would be an upgrade to the women’s division.

It remains to be seen how this unfolds, but what we can try to determine is how it might affect other current promotions.


TJPW, Oz Academy, Ice Ribbon on the Rise?

DDT Wrestling

There are many Joshi promotions in Japan. In fact, both WWE and AEW have worked with a number of them. So which promotions could benefit from a potential decrease in STARDOM popularity upon a talent exodus?

Ice Ribbon features the likes of Misa Kagura, Ibuki Hoshi, and Akane Fujita. Hikaru Shida is a notable alumni, and the promotion has the greatest women’s wrestler of all time in Manami Toyota as a Managing Supervisor.

Giulia is also a former Ice Ribbon alumni, though that ended on bad terms. There’s more drama with Ice Ribbon and STARDOM that is too much to get into at the moment. 

Mia Momono, Rina Yamashita, and Maya Yukihi are names to keep an eye on from hardcore Joshi promotion Oz Academy.

And of course, Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling, which features a few talents who have appeared on AEW shows. Current champion Miyu Yamashita, Yuki Aino, Hyper Misao, and of course, Maki Itoh, whom we all love and adore, are notable names.

Unpopular opinion: I think TJPW is just as good, if not better than STARDOM. 

Rossy’s departure, and imminent departure of other stars, opens up a hole in the Joshi scene. I could see a few promotions rise in popularity as a result, especially Tokyo Joshi Pro.

But what does the future hold for Joshi?


Stardom Will Be Fine

As far as STARDOM goes, they’ll be fine. They still have a chunk of great talents that will carry the promotion long after Giulia, or even Mayu are gone. They still have the reputation of being the #1 Joshi promotion, and with names like Maika, Suzu Suzuki, Hazuki, Thekla, Utami, Syuri, and many others I’m not listing — STARDOM will be fine.

They have a loyal fan base, and the real question remains is how it’s run by Bushiroad influence. Even if questionably managed, Bushiroad has money and reach, and will likely continue to bring in fresh new talent for the promotion.

STARDOM may lose some stars, but they aren’t going anywhere.


The Future of Joshi


Formed in December of 2023, United Japan Pro Wrestling serves as partnership for Japanese promotions to work inside of the U.S. Essentially, a way for multiple promotions to share resources and talent.

This list includes:
Promotion Parent company
All Japan Pro Wrestling All Japan Pro-Wrestling Co., Ltd.
Big Japan Pro Wrestling Yotsuba Industries Co., Ltd.
DDT Pro-Wrestling CyberFight Co., Ltd.
Dragongate Dragongate Co., Ltd.
Ganbare☆Pro-Wrestling CyberFight Co., Ltd.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling New Japan Pro-Wrestling Co., Ltd.
Pro Wrestling Noah CyberFight Co., Ltd.
Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling CyberFight Co., Ltd.
World Wonder Ring Stardom Bushiroad Fight Co., Ltd.


In short, Rossy’s exit may open up more opportunities for a working U.S./Japan relationship, as well as more exposure to more Joshi promotions. I am a huge STARDOM fan, but they aren’t the be-all/end-all of joshi. While many popular names you know have passed through the ranks of STARDOM (Toni Storm, Io Sky, KAIRI, Jamie Hayter, Dakota Kai, Mercedes Mone, etc.), plenty of well-known made their way to the top without STARDOM.

This includes Asuka, Hikaru Shida, Yuka Sakazaki, and even Maki Itoh given her large popularity in the U.S. You can include Riho as well, as her time in STARDOM was very short-lived.

The future of Joshi is bright. And perhaps this move opens up more doors than we realize. Both in bringing Joshi to U.S. audiences, but Joshi to mainstream American promotions. More exposure of other Joshi promotions beyond STARDOM means more opportunities elsewhere.

I would love to see Miyu Yamashita back in AEW, or Mayu Iwatani herself; as well as a Club Venus reunion with Mariah May and Mina Shirakawa. And if Giulia does end up with WWE, why not bring the likes of Maika or Thekla with her and reunite Donna Del Mondo?

In the end, this might be the best thing to ever happen to Joshi. I guess I’ll stay on the positive end of this one. More to come as this unfolds…