KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (11/14)
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This Thursday, October 17 it was formally announced that leading Japanese women’s wrestling promotion World Wonder Ring Stardom has been purchased by Kix Road, a subsidiary of Bushiroad. Kix Road also owns kickboxing promotion Knock Out while Bushiroad, predominantly a trading card company, is best known under these circumstances for being the owners of New Japan Pro-Wrestling. As of December 1 Kix Road Co. will officially be rebranded as Bushiroad Fight Co. as a result.
A press conference was held at 2 p.m. Tokyo time today to address the acquisition with Stardom CEO Rossy Ogawa and the entire roster present and on stage. It was made clear that Bushiroad owning both NJPW and Stardom will not affect the business practices of either promotion. This is not a merger and both companies will remain separate entities. Ogawa will stay on as Stardom president and Stardom World will remain the streaming service for all events.
Bushiroad’s main intent is an increased focus on production and advertising as they market and build on Stardom’s already strong fanbase through TV commercials, billboards, and ads in wrestling magazines beginning in January. They also hope to reach and draw in more female fans. All current Stardom roster members have been given new full-time contracts, which should enable them to support themselves solely as professional wrestlers.
Bushiroad founder Takaaki Kidani is a former president of NJPW himself. He and Ogawa began talks of an acquisition last fall with serious discussions starting in the spring. WWE’s increased promotion of women’s wrestling in North America as well as allowing women to main event WrestleMania were said by Kidani to be factors in his decision to consider acquiring Stardom. Kidani expects to quintuple Stardom’s profits in the next five years similar to the growth NJPW saw between 2011 and 2018.
Other confirmed early developments arising from the purchase include a weekly half hour television show airing in Japan on Thursdays and the scheduling of 14 events in 2020 at Korakuen Hall up from 12 in 2019. The April 29, 2020 Cinderella tournament at Ota Ward Gym is scheduled to be the first big event post-acquisition and plans are already in place for Stardom’s 10th Anniversary Show to take place in January 2021 at the legendary Ryogoku Sumo Hall.
World Of Stardom Champion Bea Priestley and High Speed Champion Riho both currently wrestle for All Elite Wrestling in the United States and their involvement is not expected to change. The same goes for international talent like Session Moth Martina, Zoe Lucas, and Bobbi Tyler. Whether Stardom will continue to have access to WWE wrestlers like Toni Storm, Xia Brookside, and Viper remains to be seen.