Other Translated Tokyo Sports Article about Bushiroad and Stardom

Amigo Seto

The Fastest Gun
Stardom purchased by Bushiroad, will come under the same umbrella as NJPW

It has been revealed that Bushiroad Inc. (President: Yoshitaka Hashimoto), parent company of New Japan Pro Wrestling, has purchased the women’s wrestling promotion Stardom. The official announcement is expected after the deal receives approval from the temporary Board of Directors on October 17th. The top women’s wrestling promotion coming under the same umbrella as NJPW, which is entrenched as the industry leader, is a sign that the pro wrestling business could be taking the plunge into a new era.

After putting together conversations from several related parties, Bushiroad’s expansion into women’s wrestling was put in motion sometime last fall. Board director Takaaki Kidani (59), who founded the company and also formerly served as NJPW president, expressed a strong interest in making the acquisition. This February, officials made contact with Stardom president Rossy Ogawa (62), and Kidani and Ogawa engaged in discussions in April. In August, the parties were able to have specific conversations about transferring operations.

Stardom’s future operations will be handled by Kixroad, Bushiroad’s subsidiary company, which manages the Knock Out kickboxing events. While Stardom’s current regime will continue to have control, including president Ogawa, it is expected that there will be a gradual transition to a new management structure. After the deal receives approval from the temporary Board of Directors on the morning of October 17th, there are plans for an official announcement in the afternoon.

A Bushiroad official revealed that “For a long time, Mr. Kidani has felt that there is room for growth with women’s wrestling.” WWE, the largest pro wrestling promotion in the world, has seen a rise in the status of its female wrestlers, and in 2016, it abandoned its “Divas” moniker for them in favor of “Superstars,” the same as its male wrestlers. At Wrestlemania 35, a women’s match was the main event for the first time in Wrestlemania history.

Taking this trend in America into consideration, Kidani’s resolve to enter the women’s wrestling market grew stronger. “Mr. Kidani said, ‘Sooner or later, that time is going to come in Japan, too. We don’t want to regret that we didn’t make a move before it happened.’ Setting our sights on Stardom, the top domestic promotion, which is bringing in a new generation of wrestlers, was the natural course for us to take.”

On the other hand, Stardom’s organizational growth has been an issue in recent years. Since its inaugural event in 2011, Stardom has been a leader in Japanese women’s wrestling, and has produced such wrestlers as Kairi Hojo (31), now Kairi Sane, and Io Shirai (29), who are wrestling for WWE. Currently, Stardom’s new generation of wrestlers has been gaining prominence, with Mayu Iwatani (26) first on that list, along with Wonder of Stardom champion Arisa Hoshiki (24), Utami Hayashishita (21) and Hana Kimura (22). However, since Yuzuki Aikawa’s retirement show in April 2013, which was held in Ryogoku Sumo Hall, Stardom has been unable to run major events.

According to an official with the promotion, “Sales themselves are higher than they were when Io and Kairi were with Stardom. However, Mr. Ogawa felt that there was a limit to continuing to go it alone, because it meant that we ended up having to chase profits while keeping costs low. Taking the long view, he decided that this was the right shape to take in order to popularize the women’s wrestling genre and ensure Stardom’s survival in the future.”

In 2021, Stardom aims to once again hold a show at Ryogoku to mark the 10th anniversary of its inaugural show, and has already tentatively decided to run a show at the Ota City General Gymnasium on April 29, 2020. Starting next year, there are plans for a regular show to launch on BS TV and TOKYO MX, and preparations are steadily making progress through Bushiroad.

Bushiroad, which has trading card games as its core business, took on NJPW as a subsidiary in 2012. Since then, through making proactive investments in publicity and advertising, enhancing content by offering a video streaming service, and expanding into the overseas market, NJPW has seen major growth. In 2018, NJPW had roughly 5.4 billion yen in sales, an almost five-fold increase of its 1.1 billion yen mark in 2011. Currently, Stardom’s annual sales are believed to be roughly 200 million yen, but according to a source close to Kidani, he has been enthusiastic about the deal, saying “In five years, we’ll be doing a billion yen annually.”
I know, hardly anyone cares, but I just thought this was interesting and worth the read.
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