World Wonder Ring Stardom made its return on June 21st with the event “Stardom is again”. During this event, Jungle Kyona announced she wasn’t ready to return to the ring just yet following Hana Kimura’s tragic passing, taking a break indefinitely.
However, with the 2020 edition of the 5 Stars Grand Prix usually taking place in between August and September, there is potential for a very emotional and fulfilling story involving one of the most popular wrestlers in Stardom, and that’s what I will be diving into !
The first thing I feel the need to adress before actually dipping my feet into this topic is that, of course, nobody within the fandom has any idea when Kyona will make her return to the Stardom ring, so ultimately, setting the « right time » for her to do so is not exactly smart given the circumstances. Now, the point of this piece is more about developping the story around Kyona, if she does return in time for the 5 Stars Grand Prix, which should be taking place during the usual timeframe.
You got it, this piece is highly hypothetical as of now, but without further ado, let’s get into it.
Now then, Jungle Kyona and the upcoming 5 Stars Grand Prix. Let’s kick things off by, as usual, giving out context so you can understand the title of this article more, in case you are not too well versed when it comes to Stardom’s history. The Grand Prix is Stardom’s biggest tournament, using a very similar format to NJPW’s G1 Climax or AJPW’s Champion Carnival. Round Robin tournament, two blocks (Red and Blue). Regarding the number of participants, last year’s edition saw 18 women take part in the tournament, so expect the next edition to have either the same or a rather close number. The winner of the tournament gets the right to face either the World of Stardom champion (the red belt, currently held by Mayu Iwatani) or the Wonder of Stardom champion (the white belt, currently vacant due to Arisa Hoshiki’s retirement).
Regarding Kyona herself and her history in the tournament, she made her Grand Prix debut in 2016, scoring 4 points and finished second to last in her block. In 2017, she improved her record to 6 points, finishing tied for 7th out of 8. 2018 saw Kyona get the same amount of points, but this time she’d finish 6th in her block. As for last year, Kyona scored 6 points yet again, this time unable to finish the tournament due to injury, finishing tied for 7th once more. As you can tell, Kyona’s history in Stardom’s biggest tournament hasn’t been one filled with success, but what if I told you this only plays into the point I am about to develop ?
You see, Jungle Kyona, besides growing into a truly great and consistent worker, hasn’t received the singles success you’d expect someone this talented to get only finding said success as part of tag teams throughout the course of her soon to be five years career. She failed in every single attempt to win either the World or Wonder of Stardom championship. This partly being due to the likes of Io Shirai, Kairi Hojo, Mayu Iwatani, or Momo Watanabe being the more prominent figures in the promotion during that timeframe, even with Stardom seeing the first two leaving to WWE. Spots at the top of the card have opened before, but Kyona never got truly got the opportunity to prove she could be a top champion.
With both Kagetsu and Arisa Hoshiki retiring, the latter leaving the Wonder of Stardom title vacant, and Hana Kimura passing away, once again there are spots very high on the card to fill, and a leading role to take over within Kyona’s current faction Tokyo Cyber Squad. With Stardom scheduled to hold their biggest tournament next August if all goes well, the opportunity to give Kyona what she has been working hard to earn is sounding like a very credible possibility, if she does participate in the tournament.
Not only is there an opportunity, possibly bigger than any other one presented to Rossy Ogawa in the past, to insert Kyona in a position her talent would require she gets in, the story would be a very compelling and emotional one.
As most Stardom fans know, the passing of Hana Kimura has heavily affected Kyona and is the main reason why she is not yet ready to return to the ring. Assuming she feels able to do so in time for the Grand Prix, what other story comes close to Kyona making her grand return after such a traumatic experience, winning the tournament she never truly managed to shine in, and earn a shot at one of Stardom’s top singles championship once again ?
Earlier this year, I would have told you that Tam Nakano’s story, which shares similarities with Kyona as both of them never got the chance to hold singles gold in the company, would have been the big story entering the tournament, but the recent unfortunate circumstances tended to change my perspective a little bit. Now, Tam remains a favourite in my eyes and her winning the Grand Prix is not something I could exclude AT ALL. Another story which may unfold relies on Momo Watanabe, who has yet to be truly prominent since losing the Wonder of Stardom championship to Arisa Hoshiki, and has yet to win the World championship. Facing Mayu Iwatani in a « Icon vs future Ace » for the top title in Stardom is not something to put on the side either.
Now, one possibility I want to bring up, and thought of while typing the first few lines of this article, is linked to the currently vacant Wonder of Stardom title. Whether it is Kyona, Tam, or anyone else winning the tournament, what if the winner were to be the next woman to hold this championship ?
This would be a first ever both in the tournament and the championship’s history, and would instantly bring even more importance to both. While there is a chance that the winning prize remains the same, and the tournament winner ends up facing Mayu Iwatani (most likely) for the World of Stardom title, putting the biggest vacated title on the line in Stardom’s biggest tournament does sound like a good move to me. Especially if the winner is someone who had desperately been running after that same title belt for a long while, which is Kyona’s case as she challenged for it four times, and always failed.
The emotionally compelling story of Jungle Kyona’s triumphant return to the Stardom ring after her hiatus, winning the 5 Stars Grand Prix and, possibly even being crowned Wonder of Stardom champion for the first time is a story I fully believe is one Rossy Ogawa should at the very least keep in his mind. The story tells itself rather easily, and as fans should be coming back to venues by that point, what better way to please the audience than by giving them a beautiful story with a fan favourite as the protagonist ?