SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)…
Stardom announced today that Arisa Hoshiki has chosen to retire at the age of 24 due to an accumulation of head and neck injuries. Hoshiki was the current Wonder Of Stardom Champion and one of the top stars of the promotion over the past year and a half, a unique babyface who blended fierce martial arts kicks with plucky underdog tenacity and inimitable charm.
A statement was issued by Hoshiki with English-language translation provided by Stardom:
Long time no see. Thank you for always showing me support. It’s Arisa Hoshiki. After asking you to wait, I can now announce it. I was absent from the Korakuen Hall show on March 8th due to head and neck issues. After discussions with doctors, Mr. Harada (President of Bushiroad Fight) and Mr. Ogawa (Stardom Executive Producer), I have decided that I will retire.
I’ve not been well for about a year but I was able to continue because I enjoyed doing professional wrestling and my feelings helped me keep going. However, since my physical condition has deteriorated this year and I have accumulated various injuries, I am out of balance mentally and physically, so I can’t continue. At present my neck has improved but my head is still in a bad condition.
I wanted to return the Wonder Of Stardom belt as soon as I got into such a state but the timing was bad because of the coronavirus and so on. I can’t settle in-ring issues with Natsuko Tora, Giulia, and Tam Nakano. I wanted to fight against these three especially for my white belt but I couldn’t finish it because of my body. To all the fans who were looking forward to it, I’m sorry. In the end I wanted to tell the fans in the ring but we have this current world situation. I’m really sorry that the announcement was made while the Stardom shows aren’t happening.
In the future I will continue to do work that I love while watching my physical and mental conditions. It was a short time that I came back to wrestling but I would like to thank you all for your support.
Hoshiki was a member of the first Stardom class, debuting on their very first show in January 2011 at the age of 15. Hoshiki wrestled consistently until May 2012 before electing to step away from wrestling. She would participate in a few shoot boxing matches and started a pop band called Unlimited Dream Navigator before finding her way back to Stardom in the fall of 2018 at the age of 23.
Hoshiki’s return match was a tag team affair alongside her former partner, Mayu Iwatani. She would join Iwatani’s stable Stars and signed full-time with Stardom the following spring. It was around that time that something clicked for Hoshiki. The 2019 Cinderella Tournament proved to be her breakout moment, defeating Natsuko Tora, Saki Kashima, and Konami in the same night to win the traditional ball gown, tiara, and wish.
Hoshiki’s wish was for a Wonder Of Stardom Championship match and she defeated Momo Watanabe for the title last May. Over the next nine months she defended the title successfully ten times against Tam Nakano, Roxxy (at a Pro Wrestling Eve show in England), Hazuki, Jungle Kyona, Avary, Kagetsu, Jamie Hayter, Konami, Utami Hayashishita, and Bea Priestley (on February 8, her final defense).
Throughout her tenure as the holder of the white belt Hoshiki’s biggest storyline was with frenemy Tam Nakano. Despite both being members of the same stable Nakano resented Hoshiki’s return to Stardom and feared what it would do to her own friendship with Iwatani. Their love-hate relationship culminated with Nakano reluctantly agreeing to team with Hoshiki in the 2019 Goddesses Of Stardom tag league. The team known as DREAM*SHiNE wound up defeating Bea Priestley & Jamie Hayter in the finals to win the whole tournament.
Hoshiki ended 2019 with the best singles record of any full-timer in Stardom at 15-3-1, fourth behind only Riho, Giulia, and Toni Storm. In Stardom’s year-end awards she won Outstanding Performance (the MVP award) as well as Best Match for her June 16 white belt defense against Nakano. Her singles matches against Jungle Kyona (on August 10) and Hazuki (on July 24) also received rave reviews and placed among the best Stardom bouts of the year.
The final match of Hoshiki’s career was a ten-woman tag between Stars and Oedo Tai on February 16 at New Years Stars. Natsuko Tora pinned Hoshiki to win the match for Oedo Tai and demanded the right to challenge Hoshiki for the white belt. The champion agreed and the match was announced for March 8 in Korakuen Hall at one of the first empty arena shows for any promotion in the age of COVID-19. On the day of No People Gate Hoshiki was silently pulled from the card with no explanation. Her scheduled opponent, Tora, wrestled a short squash match instead and called out Hoshiki in a promo.
Stardom wouldn’t run another event until March 24, their most recent show to date. Hoshiki was again absent from the card, particularly notable as this was the 2020 Cinderella Tournament and Hoshiki was the reigning Cinderella. The finals of the one-night tournament saw Giulia defeat Tora. Post-match Giulia announced her intention to challenge Hoshiki for the white belt, a glimmer of hope for Hoshiki’s fans that her injuries were just temporary and that Stardom expected her to return sooner than later.
Hoshiki officially vacated the white belt with today’s retirement announcement. Her 369-day reign is the second-longest single reign behind only the inaugural champion, Yuzuki Aikawa. How the next Wonder Of Stardom Champion will be determined remains to be seen as the pandemic continues to halt all pro wrestling in Japan. Her retirement is also a significant loss for the Stars faction, leaving Iwatani and Nakano as the only real credible singles stars in the unit. There’s a chance the factionless Riho could fill the void but Hoshiki’s departure from Stardom will leave many reverberations. This follows closely on the unexpected retirements of top stars Kagetsu and Hazuki, two other incredible wrestlers and charismatic forces. Stardom will subsist but the Stardom of 2020 has become nearly unrecognizable to where it was this time last year.
As for Hoshiki, the end of such a promising career is a tremendous loss. Yet she’s only 24 years old. She has an endless stream of opportunities ahead of her and will assuredly thrive wherever she chooses. Fans can continue to follow Unlimited Dream Navigator if they want to support Stardom’s now-former “shining star.”
Find Harley on Twitter @yrechoheart and listen to he and Emily Fear talk the best in women’s wrestling every Tuesday on the PWTorch Dailycast “Grit & Glitter.”
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