Out of all the current factions in Stardom, Oedo Tai without a doubt has been struggling the most, and for quite a while. The group lacks starpower, and more generally has yet to look like much of a threat to the other units.
In this piece, I suggest we take a look at the supposedly top heel faction in Stardom, discuss what’s missing for them to be a threat again, and how that issue can be fixed.
Stardom is in a rather interesting spot right now, when it comes to their factions. Out of the current five (or four, depends on if you Cosmic Angels to be a full-fledged faction), four basically are babyface groups, though not all are « white meat babyfaces ». Besides STARS (though not completely out of the field), the three other groups in Queen’s Quest, Donna Del Mondo and Cosmic Angels are all riding waves of momentum as we speak. QQ and DDM clearly are the dominant units at the moment, carrying the top championships, and Cosmic Angels being a recently formed trio, Tam’s group carries a different type of momentum, which still needs to be converted into accomplishments.
Now, let’s look at the only full-fledged heel group in Stardom, Oedo Tai. The rebuild since Kagetsu, and Hazuki, retired hasn’t been an easy road so far, which had to be expected. Throwing Natsuko Tora in the leading role, while having to grow as a threat for the other leading figures in the other groups is nothing short of easy, and until the additions of Bea Priestley and Konami, the group hardly looked threatening, and the consequent amount of disqualification finishes of their matches didn’t help in that regard.
Little progress has been made since these additions, and the feud revolving around the end of Tokyo Cyber Squad late last year, cut short by Jungle Kyona having to be sidelined, cut most of the momentum the group had gained since Konami joined Tora’s ranks after her betrayal.
Even with two Wonder of Stardom matches featuring Oedo Tai members, Konami and Bea Priestley reclaiming the Goddesses of Stardom tag titles, and Natsuko Tora slowly but surely growing, the group still isn’t quite on the level the other units are. My question therefore is : What should be done moving forward to reach the point where Oedo Tai is a threatening unit again ?
Before actually answering this question, I would like to address the « D.Q problem » regarding Oedo Tai. A decent amount of fans, myself included, have been wondering and complaining about a good chunk of the matches featuring Oedo Tai ending up in a disqualification. Wondering what the point was.
After stumbling upon this Twitter thread giving out an explanation recently, I’d like to use this thread and develop from there. The main point here is that Oedo Tai cheats due to a lack of confidence in themselves, which to be honest, is a very interesting angle to look at this through. Especially regarding Natsuko Tora, the leader who wasn’t Kagetsu’s first choice, who has never been in a position to lead. She examplifies that lack of confidence more than anybody else in that faction full of failed babyfaces.
However, I’d like to point something out. Such a story, told with all the prominent faction members, can only work if a payoff eventually comes. That payoff being Oedo Tai regaining the confidence they currently lack, and at this stage, rather sooner than later. This act has been going on for close to a year, after all.
When will the shift in mentality occur, and how to trigger it ?
The Cinderella tournament : The trigger ?
To make such a shift happen, you need a trigger. Something for Oedo Tai to rely on, as a way to show that they can actually accomplish things beyond the « glasss ceiling » none of them managed to break, besides Bea Priestley once. As things currently stand, Bea and Konami are the current Goddesses of Stardom champions, which they will defend against Himeka and Maika on February 14th. Those tag titles pretty much are their glass ceiling, especially Konami’s. While regaining those titles helps in showcasing that Oedo Tai aren’t exactly « losers », it also doesn’t really raise their status. Though, one could say that letting them have a rather long run with the titles could help in bringing confidence back.
With that said : Oedo Tai should lose those belts to DDM, both for pure convenience and the possibility of building up both Himeka and Maika through their first reign as tag team champions.
With the tag titles out of the way, and the unlikeliness of Oedo Tai reclaiming any type of gold in Budokan on March 3rd, let’s look at the next big occurrence on Stardom’s calendar year : The Cinderella tournament.
At this stage, we don’t know exactly when the tournament will occur and how the field will look like, however we can still discuss what this year’s edition can accomplish. As implied through the title of this article’s section, the Cinderella tourney, being a tournament, can trigger something « out of the blue ». The last three editions launched the winner to new heights, and their following Wonder title run kept cementing them as stars.
There is little to no reason to believe a similar process wouldn’t happen this year, it’s all about who to pick to be elevated. With Tam Nakano getting a Wonder title match at Budokan next March, a potentially big favourite seems to be out of the equation. Especially as we might finally witness her crowning moment next month. The second part of the point is the need to elevate the more prominent wrestlers within Oedo Tai. Both Natsuko Tora and Konami have reached the finals the last two years, and one could argue you they eventually need to win *something* as singles competitors, which they haven’t done.
While there ultimately would be other choices, I can’t say I think there is anything more important to do than elevating someone within Oedo Tai to a higher standard here. No matter who leaves Budokan as Wonder of Stardom champion, both Konami and Natsuko would work as the following opponent to face. With Giulia, a possible story idea is to play off of the lack of confidence we discussed earlier, by focusing on Konami’s or Natsuko’s previous loss for the title. With Tam, you have a more classic face vs heel dynamic where Tam can shine as she gets manhandled, thus making her opponent look strong in the process, without forgetting about the lack of confidence point : Tam being a first time singles champion, one could say she would lack confidence as well, thus being an easier target for whoever were to face her for the title.
Depending on which road you take, the idea at the end of the day is to end up with an Oedo Tai member being Wonder of Stardom champion, and let said member be the one to lead the group back on the road to be a threatening faction again. The one to help Oedo Tai find confidence back, and thus, rely even less on DQ’s. Shifting from not wanting to lose once you feel like you can’t, to wanting to win at all times, no matter the situation. A shift in mentality happening in time for Jungle Kyona’s return, and thus, the next chapter of Oedo Tai’s resurgence.
Whether you want to go with Natsuko or Konami (or both ?) in that role is another discussion, which I’d like to touch on quickly. If you ask me, there is no doubt that Konami, the last big addition, should be the one to bring confidence, and success, back on Oedo Tai’s side. She already started by winning the tag titles alongside Bea, it would make sense for her to continue on that track. Lastly, she is the one member of the group with the most credibility, strictly when it comes to ability. Being one of the best wrestlers in Stardom, it’s hard to think of anyone better to break the glass ceiling for the group.
Though, putting Natsuko in that role instead may be the more inspiring story to tell.