A major tournament victory. Several big title matches. Victories over some of the top names on the roster.
The early Stardom resume for MIRAI speaks volumes. Making her debut on the first show of 2022, the unassuming 22-year-old might not demand your attention at first glance, but whenever an inch has been offered, she’s taken a mile. Now she finds herself primed for big things in one of the world’s hottest wrestling companies.
It was Thekla who made the biggest impression when the two first arrived in Stardom on January 3rd 2022. With an exuberant personality and a fresh style, people walked away from that show wondering what was next for the Toxic Spider.
MIRAI’s impact was more understated. She got to showcase her style and skill, but she took a back seat to the Austrian native who literally bent over backwards to wow the crowd. However, those who had seen glimpses of her potential as a rookie in Tokyo Joshi Pro–Wrestling knew there was more than meets the eye.
One of the better kept secrets of the TJPW roster, the then Mirai Maiumi stood out against the boisterous thunder and middle card precisely by not standing out. Amidst the gimmick heavy characters and wild personalities, Maiumi let her wrestling do the talking. With a strong physique, blindingly deceptive speed and a Judo heavy background that began to implement more MMA technique, Maiumi felt cut from a the same mold of the company’s Ace: Miyu Yamashita.
In her couple of years there Maiumi never saw any real success. She began to taste the spotlight in 2021 with unsuccessful challenges of the International Princess Championship and the Princess Tag Team Championship as one half of BeeStar with Suzume, but mostly watched from the outside as the top stars basked in the spotlight. In time she might have been able to scratch and claw her way alongside the pillars of the company, but it wasn’t a road she was going to walk down. At the start of September 2021 she requested and was granted her release.
The departure came during a climactic period for the wider Joshi scene. Maiumi was just one of many wrestlers to leave their promotions around this time, with YuuRi leaving JTO and Mikoto Shindo, Hibiki and Mei Hoshizuki all leaving Marvelous. It was a shakeup in the industry that would eventually hit Ice Ribbon a couple of months later as they lost a bevvy of important names, including the previously mentioned Thekla.
The Tokyo Joshi experience was invaluable, but it wasn’t fulfilling. By her own words, she wanted to “be able to eat only with professional wrestling without having to work part time”. Pro-wrestling was where her heart and soul belonged, and that’s all she wanted to do. Still, leaving couldn’t have been an easy decision. She had been made to feel welcome and was accepted by her fellow wrestlers – a far cry from her harsh experiences of being relentlessly bullied and feeling completely isolated in school.
Still, she yearned for more from wrestling.
From the moment her departure from TJPW was announced, people started predicting her arrival in Stardom. It wasn’t without reason either. While many companies were losing talent, Stardom was gaining them, welcoming an array of new outside talent since Giulia‘s big appearance towards the end of 2019 and giving them prominent positions on the card. Included in those acquisitions were three former TJPW talent: Natsupoi, Unagi Sayaka and Mina Shirakawa. Stardom just made sense.
Although she left TJPW in September, the new MIRAI wouldn’t be officially introduced to the Stardom audience until that January 3rd show, appearing instead under a ‘Momo’ mask and attacking wrestlers for months. Along with Thekla they joined Donna Del Mondo, brought in by Giulia to show up the new additions to Cosmic Angels and essentially prove she was a better talent scout than Tam Nakano.
In that debut Thekla was the star of the show. But if MIRAI was quiet on her first night in the company, she wouldn’t be on her second. After earning the pinfall during a 6-woman tag against Cosmic Angels, MIRAI took to the microphone and made her intentions clear: she wanted a shot at Syuri’s newly won World of Stardom Championship.
It was a bold move, one that even caught the new champion off guard. Even high profile names typically weren’t challenging for the top title a month into their first appearance. After being a hidden gem in TJPW, she wasn’t risking falling into old patterns in Stardom.
MIRAI’s challenge of fellow DDM stablemate Syuri had longer reaching effects than even she bargained for at the time. Donna Del Mondo had grown into the biggest group in Stardom, to the point of bursting while small cliques formed within. MIRAI often found herself alongside the same Giulia and Thekla team she had debuted with – but there was a clear disconnect. Giulia and Thekla had both come from Ice Ribbon and were clearly making up for lost time.
MIRAI didn’t have that same connection with Giulia. She didn’t have that connection with Syuri either, but in their January 29th title match an important connection was forged. MIRAI made a lasting impression on the champion, who spoke with excitement of working with her more and watching her career grow.
Their bond extended beyond just that singular match too. MIRAI and Syuri’s wrestling philosophies seemed to line up. Both were serious and focused competitors with martial arts backgrounds, with a goofier side that shone when away from the ring. MIRAI continued to team with Giulia continued to team mostly alongside Giulia, but Syuri seemed to be more suited as her mentor.
It was no longer possible for MIRAI to stand alongside both women.
The next challenger to Syuri’s World of Stardom Championship would be none other than Giulia, and it soon became apparent that Donna Del Mondo wasn’t big enough for the two of them. There was no betrayal or bitter breakup, but they both knew that one the bell rang on March 26th, they would no longer be allies.
Syuri’s road would lead to the formation of God’s Eye a week later at the first round of the Cinderella Tournament, joining forces with newcomer Ami Sourei after their tournament match. They wouldn’t be alone though. MIRAI made her way out to the ring and signified her desire by removing her Donna Del Mondo top. She wanted to follow in the footsteps of the champion she admired.
Syuri’s response made it clear the feeling was mutual. “I’m so happy! Thank you!”
Being awarded a Red Belt match so soon might have demonstrated MIRAI wasn’t going to be stuffed away in the Stardom undercard, but following Syuri to God’s Eye was much bigger than just a change of scenery.
Donna Del Mondo was the premier group in Stardom, but prior to the split the group was almost too good, and someone like MIRAI would have been at risk of fading in and out of relevancy. She would have been fighting for position alongside leader Giulia, the top champion and near unbeatable Syuri, two members of the vaunted Golden Generation in Maika and Himeka, High Speed stalwart Natsupoi, Thekla and the new addition of ex-Cosmic Angel Mai Sakurai.
Considering how Stardom operates, it would have meant playing a support role for much of the year as members took turns being a focal point, and fighting for the right to maybe be the fourth or fifth most important person on the team.
In God’s Eye that would not be the case. While Syuri was the undisputed leader of the faction, there was little question that MIRAI was now the second in command, placing her on the level with wrestlers like Momo Watanabe, Saya Kamitani, and Hazuki in other factions. It meant more high profile matches, a naturally higher standing on the roster and an avenue to influence the early domination of the group.
Later in April that faith in her abilities would be quickly rewarded. A week shy of her third anniversary in wrestling, MIRAI stood in the middle of the ring with her first ever award in pro wrestling. She had won the Cinderella Tournament, an honour only few of Stardom’s best have ever achieved. Her name now sat alongside heavy hitters like Mayu Iwatani, Toni Storm, Arisa Hoshiki, and Giulia.
By her own admission MIRAI had never shone the brightest. She wasn’t the loudest voice in the room, and prior to this moment had never won the big match. Now the woman dubbed the Fighting Princess was an actual princess. It wasn’t a spot she looked entirely comfortable in. By her own admission the dress was a little embarrassing, as it clashed with her rather tomboyish look. What mattered though was her beaming smile as she stood in the ring and proudly proclaimed that she had owned something. On this night, she shone brighter than ever.
The focus of MIRAI’s character, and her promos moving forward, were all about giving her soul to each match and pro wrestling. That was where the heart of her character had always been from the very beginning. Back when she first fell in love with wrestling when the original Tiger Mask held an event in her hometown back in 2011. Through her school years her dream of pro wrestling became real. The isolation felt by her bullying only seemed to driver her deeper into that desire. Not even her parents’ disapproval swayed her.
Pro wrestling was her dream and passion. She took a risk and moved to Tokyo with what little money she had managed to save working part time at a moving shop. By her own admission, it wasn’t enough. But she was where she needed to be. First in the Kaientai Dojo, then with Tokyo Joshi before finally landing in Stardom.
Three years of wrestling. A lifetime of work. It had all led to this moment.
“I was stuck under a glass ceiling, so it’s nice to see from a different view today.”
Her subsequent challenge for the Wonder of Stardom Championship might have left her looking up at the ceiling, but MIRAI had arrived in Stardom, and in just a few short months had put the rest of the roster on notice. After being spoken of as a potential star in TJPW, she had become one in Stardom despite a swathe of people fighting for the spotlight.
The quiet, unassuming MIRAI had arrived.
It wasn’t just inside the ring where the success was growing. In an era where crowds can only show their support through clapping (rather than cheering out loud), MIRAI brought in a signature triple clap. It quickly caught on, and the entire building would join in or even take the initiative, starting up before she even stepped out from behind the curtain or to show their support mid match.
The opening weekend of the 2022 5 Star Grand Prix only further proved her ascension. Facing MIRAI was the toughest one two punch possible in Mayu Iwatani and Giulia on back to back nights. The Icon of Stardom and the person who brought her into the company.
It was the same situation Syuri found herself in as she defended her World of Stardom Championship in March as she left Donna Del Mondo. Just as Syuri had, MIRAI walked away from that weekend able to say she had defeated both. Accolades aside, beating Mayu Iwatani one on one is about as big an honour that can be bestowed upon a Stardom wrestler.
Eleven years ago MIRAI was introduced to Pro Wrestling, with an event run by Tiger Mask in the wake of the devastating Tohoku earthquake. Amidst that tragedy a dream was born. It gave MIRAI something to cling to as she struggled through her teenage years. It gave her courage and strength to back herself, leaving her family and hometown and keep fighting until she could reach that dream.
MIRAI’s soul was dedicated to pro wrestling, and now the whole world could see that soul shine. The Fighting Princess has arrived.