Tomorrow, on September 28th, Stardom will be holding a show where a very particular match is going to happen : A three on three tag team match between Oedo Tai and Tokyo Cyber Squad. If TCS loses, they must disband.
With such high stakes for the faction created by Hana Kimura on the line, let’s ask ourselves the question : Should TCS disband ?
So, where do we start ? Since this article will be some kind of preview to this TCS vs Oedo Tai match, let’s dive right into what matters, starting with a quick reminder of the specific rules. This match won’t be your regular three on three match, it will be a « Captain’s fall » match. In terms of rules, this means both sides will choose the captain the day of the event (Between Natsuko Tora, Saki Kashima or Natsu Sumire for OT, and Konami, Jungle Kyona or DEATH Yama-san for TCS). Then, there are two ways to win the match. Either you win by pinning of submitting one of the captains, or you pin the two other members of the other team (it still is unclear whether or not elimination rules will be in play).
Next, let’s tackle the implications for both sides, and actually discuss whether or not TCS should disband. First, let’s start with the benefit for Oedo Tai. Since Natsuko Tora took over the faction following Kagetsu’s retirement, Oedo Tai hasn’t looked too great. Of course, rebuilding a faction led by someone who still needs to be built, while two prominent members in Bea Priestley, who recently returned, and Jamie Hayter were away does not help. Also, when this faction, the big heels in town, look more like geeks with constant interferences and DQ’s does not help either. Especially with said leader, Natsuko Tora, mainly using a very noisy chain as her main cheating weapon, which truly doesn’t help when it comes to keep the referee distracted in matches while she is choking her opponents. See the singles match Natsuko and Konami had earlier this year for example (one of many obnoxious cheating instances).
With all of this in mind, it’s easy to look at Oedo Tai as more of a joke, rather than a serious threat to TCS in this upcoming match. Especially with Bea Priestley not taking part in said match, as she remains Oedo Tai’s most prominent wrestler at the moment by a good margin. Now then, if the idea is to build up Oedo Tai more and give the group momentum off of this match, they pretty much HAVE to win, at TCS’s expense. Natsuko Tora especially needs to be built as a threat, and winning the match for her team would be a step in the right direction.
Now moving on to the Tokyo Cyber Squad side of things. Since the tragic passing of Hana Kimura, the now former leader, TCS has been lacking someone to truly incarnate the faction, and a star. Not to sound harsh on both Konami and Kyona here, but right now, it’s hard to consider any of them as major stars within the Stardom roster, even though both remained relatively prominent this year. Then, outside of these two, the group right now is filled with young talents such as Rina and Ruaka, Death Yama-san who is one of Stardom’s comedic reliefs, and foreigners who aren’t available (Zoe Lucas, Leyla Hirsch or Bobbi Tyler). Needless to say that the group feels extremely thin at the moment. Therefore, we can easily ask ourselves what is next for TCS.
Should the group continue on with Konami and Kyona leading the charge, with one of them being built up to the next level ? Should Stardom add new people, possibly outsiders, to the faction ? Or has Tokyo Cyber Squad ran its course without the charismatic leader and growing superstar Hana Kimura ?
In the end, this is a matter of perspective, but allow me to give my two cents. TCS disbanding is an easy way out, essentially. Though, as much of an easy way out it is, it still brings up questions. What do you do with Konami and Kyona and where do they go ? Should one of them cost TCS the match and join Oedo Tai ? Surely, someone like Konami could potentially work as a heel, one who is ruthless in the ring without having the need to cheat. The thing is, Oedo Tai have been portrayed as heavily reliant on cheating, and I like to think it wouldn’t help Konami at all to end up working matches where outside interferences and the use of foreign objects overwhelm her ability to dismantle her opponents. Think Minoru Suzuki, but without the chairshots to the back.
Then there is Kyona’s case. I guess you could also turn her heel (which could be interesting, no doubt) and align her alongside Natsuko again, or remain a face and simply move in another group… But which ? STARS has Mayu Iwatani, Tam Nakano as their established stars and Saya Iida essentially being the future. Queens Quest looks to be settled as well, and Donna Del Mondo will add a fifth member in just a few days.
Lastly, looking at the rest of the group, Death Yama-san being anywhere else than TCS sounds odd on paper. Now, Kaori Yoneyama could very well just ditch the gimmick, thus leaving Natsu Sumire as the sole tournament spoiler in Stardom, and do something else. Then, what about someone like Rina, for example ? Someone who probably incarnates more than everybody else what TCS is all about : A group for people who had no place to go prior to joining. During the draft where Hana Kimura first recruited what would be the core of the faction, Rina wasn’t selected by any other group and ended up crying. So, Hana took her in, and from that point on, Rina modeled herself after her, most notably dressing similarly to Hana and using her submission move, Hydrangea. I guess the point here is, Tokyo Cyber Squad isn’t exactly an ordinary faction once you take a bit of a deeper look into things. The fans’ perspective only adds to that, by the way. Just scroll through social media and see how much love TCS has received since forming. There was and still is something special about this faction.
It is farily easy to guess that my stance is that Tokyo Cyber Squad shouldn’t disband, for the reasons layed out above. Now, let’s tackle a side question related to TCS. If not disbanding the group, what do you do with them if you’re Stardom ? It is quite clear the group needs some kind of boost. Surviving this match on the 28th would be a first step, but it would also mean there is some kind of plan for TCS going forward. What could it be ?
Let me suggest one thing real quick. How about, instead of disbanding the faction, you give them an edge ? On Twitter when I first layed this idea out, I had « heel turn » in mind, but in reality this would be more subtle, as TCS cannot really be a heel group due to their « Everybody’s different, everybody’s special » mantra, which I don’t think you want to move away from. However, none of this means you can’t use this upcoming match against Oedo Tai to slightly modify the members’ behaviour going forward. There is a sense of desperation creeping in for TCS regarding this match, it is a must-win situation against a faction which will bend all the rules in order to gain an advantage, and make sure TCS is done for good. Therefore, it also is the perfect starting point to shift the group’s mentality, starting with the current co-leaders. Konami and Kyona have been struggling quite a bit this year. Obviously on a personal level for a very obvious reason, but from a wrestling standpoint as well. Konami and Kyona still aren’t able to break the glass ceiling and claim singles gold in Stardom, and have been falling from grace as a tag team, losing a tag titles match against Utami and Saya Kamitani to crown new Goddesses of Stardom champions. Also, none of them managed to win the 5 Star Grand Prix (even though Konami was close to reach the finals again), and Konami failed to win the four womens tournament to crown a new Wonder of Stardom champion.
It would be fair to assume both are frustrated by these poor results, and while these poor performances would easily explain one of them turning heel and initiate the end of the TCS, how about using this frustration as a fuel to a change in demeanor ? Frustration calls for desperation, and desperation calls for agressiveness. A more agressive, focused TCS could be the key to survive this upcoming match, and regain momentum going forward.