Ride the Winds: AZM, The Human Embodiment of Speed Metal

Motivational speakers will tell you to envision the impossible; AZM goes beyond that. She enacts it. She conjures it up casually.

Credit: STARDOM

There’s a moment in her match against Mei Suruga at the STARDOM Cinderella Tournament Final where AZM showed that power off. AZM had sprinted into the corner, sprung from the second ropes to the top ropes like Super Mario leaping from one floating brick to another, but arrived there off balance, teetering. She scooted her feet closer, bouncing, balancing until her launch point was ready. Then, the High Speed Bomb Girl dove out onto the floor to flatten Suruga.

She did it all so effortlessly, so quickly, like a kid messing around on playground equipment.

Many a wrestler would have slipped off the ropes. Some would have tumbled over. With all that momentum, who could blame them? But AZM does not adhere to the laws of physics. The STARDOM teenage sensation wrestles a style that is sonic boom fast, brilliantly athletic, as graceful as an eagle.  

To watch her wrestle is to be impressed by her physical gifts and kinetic artistry, to be blown away time and time again.

That’s the same kind of feeling I had when I first listened to German speed metal band Kreator. I was a painfully gangly teenager in the early stages of learning how to play guitar. My callused fingers were doing some nifty things, but nothing like the bullet train riffs from songs like When the Sun Burns Red and World Beyond.  These guys seemed to be playing 600 times faster than a normal human. And they were doing so without sacrificing precision. Even blazing ahead at 190-plus beats per minute, everything remained crisp and perfect.

That’s sums up AZM’s ring style, too. Dazzling speed plus impeccable technical skill.

AZM leaps in the air toward Koguma. Credit: STARDOM

To explore that unexpected connection between German speed metal band and STARDOM High Speed champ, let’s revisit some of her recent standout matches, paralleling each one with a Kreator song. We travel from AZM and Momo Watanabe’s Korakuen Hall main event back in January to the early stages of the Cinderella tourney.

AZM vs. Momo Watanabe (Lion with Eagle Wings)
January 8, Stardom New Years Stars

AZM could easily snatch a line from the pre-chorus of “Lion with Eagle Wings” and make it her rallying cry: “Nothing can touch me as I fly.”

That feels especially true in 2022 where AZM’s dynamism has grown even more special. No longer is the discussion surrounding her all about potential. It’s about the present. She is flying, around the ring and flying toward mega-stardom. We saw that as early this year as this main event of a Korakuen Hall show.

“Lion with Eagle Wings” takes a few beats to kick in, and then once it does it’s a sprinting antelope. It is relentless. It’s the ideal soundtrack to AZM and Momo’s speedy offense, to their strike exchanges, to some of the fastest rope running you’ll ever see.

AZM starts by kicking Momo’s hand away and firing off a dropkick. Then she is off and running, a charging force of nature much like that winged creature Kreator speaks of in this song.

Both the song and the match feel big, a spectacle. This Kreator track uses a rampaging solo to create that effect. AZM and Momo do that with brawling at ringside, and eventually Momo abusing her opponent to the point the ref had to stop the action.

AZM vs. Starlight Kid (Dystopia)
February 23, Stardom Cinderella Journey in Nagaoka

An absolute masterpiece unfolded when AZM dethroned Starlight Kid for the Stardom High Speed Championship.

The speed of the match and athleticism of both wrestlers is what will first grab many folks’ attention. It’s the nastiness underneath everything, though, that truly drives this bout. Everything has an edge to it. Even when AZM and her masked longtime rival trade arm drags of all things, you can feel their eternal animosity.

“Dystopia” mirrors that intensity.

The song is built around a brutal riff. AZM and Starlight kid deliver brutal forearms. The wrestling is heavy hitting and machine gun fast, just like this track from Kreator’s Enemy of God album.

Mille Petrozza goes all out on his vocals here, shrieking the chorus. AZM and Starlight Kid, meanwhile, give everything of themselves, to steal the show, to demand attention, to tell a story of how vital and precious that High Speed Championship is.  

Highlights of AZM vs. Starlight Kid

AZM vs. Hanan Destroy What Destroys You
STARDOM, March 6, 2022

“Destroy What Destroys You” leans on its brute force more than its speed. The intense track, from Kreator’s 2009 album Hordes of Chaos, sounds like the insides of some infernal machines with all its churning, pounding, screeching.

AZM’s battle with fellow unfairly talented teenager in Shizuoka, Japan, is a showcase of intensity much like that Kreator song.

The foes blast each other with a frenzy of forearms. They try to rip each other’s arms out of socket. It felt like we were watching two birds of prey pecking at each other’s flesh until AZM won out.

The match’s pace never dies down. It hits a groove and stays there, much like the crunching guitar of “Destroy What Destroys You.” And when AZM just blasts Hanan in the face, it creates an image that would be right at home in a metal music video.

AZM vs. Hazuki (Army of Storms)
April 10, Stardom Cinderella Tournament Round 2

In Osaka, AZM and Hazuki collided in the Cinderella tournament in a bout that lasted just five minutes 11 seconds. In 2017, on the Gods of Violence album, Kreator released a scorching track that runs one second short of that exact length of time.

The match pulses with dives and ducks, sprints, and high-geared attacks. AZM and Hazuki, the lioness in leather pants, pack action into every pore of the short bout.

Their clash is reminiscent of “Army of Storms”’ quickness, its hard-charging guitar riffs. The song barely takes a moment to breathe. The lyrics allude to a killer swarm-esque army tearing toward its enemy. AZM moves here as if she’s auditioning for this troop set to “ride the winds,” her boots a blur. She battles Hazuki on the apron at one point, showing off impressive balance, making the ring her circus.

She’s as skilled at fighting at a breakneck pace as guitarist Sami Yli-Sirniö shows himself to be in skating along the frets early in this song.

AZM sweeps Hazuki’s legs. Credit: STARDOM

Kreator, fresh off a standout debut called Endless Pain, recorded the album Pleasure to Kill in 1986.

Band members told Dom Lawson of Louder Sound how this sophomore effort was meant to eclipse their first. Kreator frontman Mille Petrozza said, “We just wrote what we thought was a better album than Endless Pain. It was faster, it was more complex, it was more of everything.“ He described the album and the process of creating it as “pure energy and emotion.”

Out of context, it sounds like someone describing AZM and her evolution as a wrestler.

She has always been speedy. She has always been athletic. In 2022, however, she seems determined to test her own limits, to outdo herself.

That process is underway with every display of an in-ring style that is as fast and potent and demanding as speed metal.