Noob Japan: Purpose

Are our paths paved by some transcendental entity, our own destiny carved out by the very hand of God? Or do we seize it by the throat, squeezing until we assert dominance over our world and take the chances life gives us? 

Today, we are going to focus on two souls who once walked the road they believed was destined for them, but inevitably opted to chart their fate for themselves. Today, we are talking about two of Stardom’s biggest stars who faced off in a wicked hair vs hair match at the All-Star Dream Cinderella event in Budokan Hall on March 3, 2021: Giulia vs Tam Nakano.

What I Know So Far:
Tam Nakano joined the world of professional wrestling in 2016, following a stint as a singer in an idol group, soon finding herself in brutal deathmatches. The cute wrestler was quite the scrapper, in Atsushi Onita’s FMW she emerged from rivers of blood and the smoke of explosions every bit the woman she walked in.

Tam joined Stardom in the autumn of 2017 and was heavily scouted by Oedo Tai. This didn’t last too long, as she was kicked out following a loss. This didn’t blacken the star that was shining for the former deathmatch wrestler; Mayu Iwatani herself would come a’calling to recruit Nakano to her ranks in the Stardom Army, later known as STARS. And wouldn’t you know it, not even that was meant to be, for Tam would turn her allegiances to herself, Mina Shirakawa, and later Unagi Sayaka to officially form Cosmic Angels. In the three years she had spent so far in Stardom, she had not won a single title.

Enter Giulia.

Half-Italian, half-Japanese, Giulia was fresh on the scene as a wrestler. A former manager at an Italian restaurant, the English-born became a joshi wrestler for the promotion of Ice Ribbon from 2017 to 2019 before she made the very controversial decision to jump to Stardom. Why she did that is unknown to the public, but it did not stop her from becoming the star she was meant to be.

And what a star she became, quickly forming her own faction of Donna Del Mondo which filled their ranks with women who were outcasts and loners, banded together by the simple notion of taking what they believe should be theirs. No moral alignment, no good and evil, just living for self and for each other. Donna Del Mondo is family. 

Giulia and her cohorts would draw success like a bee draws out pollen, and like golden honey, a treasure would find its way around the hips of each member. Too many good things happening too fast and too soon for Giluia, in the eyes of many at the time. 

Setting the stage for the bout between two totally different personalities on different teams, Tam Nakano and Giulia had vitriol and hatred for each other, evidenced in almost every match of theirs in the build up to the March 3rd clash.

For months upon months, Nakano and Giulia would fight over the latter’s Wonder of Stardom Championship. The leader of Donna Del Mondo would walk away victorious every time, leaving the head of the Cosmic Angels in the dust.

This had to come to a final head – something had to give. A stipulation had to be made that strip the loser of something important to them, something that signifies identity and personality, and to some, beauty. While many of us would normally go to a barber and pay for a haircut, these two women would scrap for the right to not have their hair chopped off, not just to keep the belt, but to to make a statement.

Credit: Stardom

The Match
Tension is palpable in the air, even right now, more than a year after this match. Both women swirl into each other like a whirlpool before they lock up, albeit shakily and frantically, before Nakano gets the first headlock on Giulia. Not too long after, both women strike each other with elbows to the face, such hatred and purpose in these strikes.

Suplexes and maneuvers follow, neither connecting, until Giulia finally lands one, giving just enough time to breathe and recollect. So much is on the line; she can’t loosen her grasp on greatness.

A table is then brought out by the DDM leader, and as she sets up a piledriver to send the Cosmic Angel down to hell, it shakes and buckles. If tables were sentient, I’m sure that table would’ve been crying and begging for its life. This table break incapacitates both women.

A slam by Giulia is reversed into a DDT by Nakano and Giulia finds herself ensnared by the vicious grasp of technical wrestling prowess exerted by Nakano, but it only provides a two-count.

Irate, Nakano pulls her opponent’s arm and boots her in the face several times, dead-set on leaving a stamp imprint symbolic of all the resentment she has toward Giulia, until she eventually regains her composure. Serving her ill, the wasted time is to the advantage of Giulia as she locks Nakano in for a slam in quite the reversal. Another slam, another two-count.

Now for my favorite part of the match. You know that part of the song where in the middle there’s this quietness and stillness, the music slowly building up? That’s what transpires here. Tam Nakano and Giulia slowly rise to their feet, slapping each other’s faces, there are already scars and bruises and welts – but no, a conversation beyond mere words must happen. This is communication by violence.

Normally, when you think of people in a slap-fight, you think of silliness or “cat fights” or whatever, but not here. These slaps are loud and powerful, so much so that Tam Nakano’s adorable face grows puffy with red cheeks and watery eyes. Whether she’s facing tears of pain, anger, or hatred, is known only to her.

Giulia also feels every bit of it but remains calm, striking with her own numb vitriol. She even locks her own hands behind her back, inviting these brutal swings to the face, greeting excruciating agony as though it were a dear friend. Awaiting her time to repay in full.

Giulia stumbles to her feet, calculating and cold. There is emotion and weight in these hits, almost like an MMA fight, and man did she swing for the fences. In between some of these strikes there is a brief glimpse of an unwavering Nakano, psychotic and grim, possibly even enjoying this.

Both women collide with a final slap that sends each other collapsing to their knees. Both rise up again, but Nakano is in the lead at this point. Spin-kick after spin-kick followed by a nasty Screwdriver folds Giulia like a bad hand at poker. Disappointment injects itself into Nakano like a syringe, as yet another two-count is made.

Frenzied, Nakano grabs the corpse of Giulia to her feet before driving her head-first onto the mat with a Bridging Hammerlock Tiger Suplex, or as she refers to it, Twilight Dream. 

One, two, three.

She’s still holding it – the bell has rung and the song has ended, but this moment hangs and hangs until the women are separated and lying broken on the mat. In a shot that looks so damn cinematic as Nakano’s music plays, both women lay across from one another as they’re tended to by team members and referees. 

Unable to speak Japanese, it’s still clear to see that Nakano has newfound respect for Giulia, even after the bad blood, and is refusing to cut the hair of her felled opponent. Ever the soldier, Giulia suggests someone else cut her hair and she sits there and lets it happen, ensuring the match stipulation is played out. Half of Giulia’s hair is shaved after a while and a pause hangs in the air before Tam Nakano thanks Giulia for the match and for honoring her word. The rest of Giulia’s hair is shaved backstage.

For a long story told short, Giulia changed up her hairstyle as it grew back and would change her look accordingly, meanwhile adding new names to her ranks including Thekla and Mai Sakurai, the latter of whom was a former member of the Cosmic Angels, once again reigniting the hatred betwixt the factions. 

Credit: Stardom

My Thoughts
It had been made apparent to me for a long time that joshi wrestling can be some of the most magical, destructive type of wrestling you can find in the medium. They show that women’s wrestling is on equal grounds with men’s wrestling, and matches like this prove how far women will go to etch their name in stone. 

I’m accustomed to seeing hair vs hair matches portrayed as an attack on perceived vanity, whether it’s Edge vs Kurt Angle or Molly Holly vs Victoria, but this match solidified the fighting spirit and hatred that carried the match from bell to bell. 

This is the type of wrestling I would love to see in the big promotions out west, in the United States. I want to see women tear each other apart just like the men do to each other. I’ve seen this type of energy in the NXT of old, in those glimpses in AEW that hint at how these women are itching to make unforgettable art that lives on beyond their lifespan. Please, take and learn from what others are doing and make that which works, work harder. 

Because right now, you could bet your hair that this version of women’s wrestling is the measuring stick at which the rest are judged.