Just a day removed from the unfortunate retirement of Hazuki at Stardom’s 2019 Year-End Climax, it was announced that her fellow Oedo Tai member and Stardom mainstay, Kagetsu, would be putting the finishing touches on her wrestling career as well. The 11-year veteran, who had just challenged Mayu Iwatani for the World of Stardom Championship the night prior, announced her retirement on Christmas Day along with a self-produced retirement show on February 24th in her hometown of Osaka. Her final match of choice will be against her trainer, Meiko Satomura.
For those unaware, Kagetsu’s original educator & joshi legend, Meiko Satomura, has had a profound impact on Kagetsu’s character arc as a professional wrestler despite only having a direct connection to the first half of Kagetsu’s career. While I’ve already written an article about Kagetsu’s time as the “final boss” of the Stardom roster, it’s time to talk about Kagetsu’s true ambitions as a professional wrestler.
Kagetsu’s matches with Meiko Satomura have truly laid the groundwork for her path as a professional wrestler over the past 7 years. Starting on-screen in Sendai Girls back in 2013, Kagetsu stated her grand ambition was to cause a generational shift in joshi wrestling that would have ripple effects around the world. Kagetsu proclaimed that it was time for the younger talent to take the reins from ‘90s stars such as Aja Kong, Manami Toyota, and that year’s Tokyo Sports’ Female Wrestler of the Year, Meiko Satomura. How would this revolution start? Kagetsu defeating Satomura and becoming the #1 woman’s wrestler on the planet.
The desire to become the #1 joshi wrestler in the world was a goal that Kagetsu had from very early in her career. Recently, Kagetsu stated in her blog that a young Yukari Ishino (Kagetsu’s shoot name) traveled across the country from Osaka to Sendai specifically to learn under and eventually surpass Meiko Satomura. Kagetsu even went as far as seeking the tutelage of Meiko’s original trainer, Chigusa Nagayo, in late 2013. Kagetsu’s elaborate plan of bringing upon a new era of joshi wrestling was perfect, but was ultimately foiled by one tiny issue: Satomura refused to give up her spot at the top of the mountain. After numerous attempts, Kagetsu could not find a way to defeat her trainer before leaving Sendai Girls in late 2014 out of frustrations with the company.
With her original plan of surpassing Meiko directly ending in failure, Kagetsu went freelance with the goal of becoming a well-known and respected name all over Japan rather than just in Sendai. Over the following two years, Kagetsu fought in over 12 different promotions across Japan hoping to display just how good she was to new eyes around the country. Yet, apart from claiming the occasional tag team championship in various promotions, Kagetsu was unsuccessful at making a significant impact as a main event performer.
This rough patch for Kagetsu met its climax in the spring of 2017 when her hard work finally paid off – she was now in contention for two top belts of two separate joshi companies. With both Io Shirai’s World of Stardom title and Hiroyo Matsumoto’s OZ Academy Openweight title in her sights, Kagetsu saw the opportunity to proclaim herself the true #1 joshi wrestler on the planet if she could claim both top titles. However, Kagetsu would unfortunately lose both matches before taking an indefinite leave from pro wrestling.
During this time, Kagetsu contemplated both her past and her future. She looked back on her inability to set in motion the generational shift she had promised years before. She looked back at her inability to defeat her trainer, who was now making a name for herself internationally as well. Kagetsu nearly concluded that she had nothing left to give to this sport that she spent 9 years of her life devoted to. It was at this point, however, that she came to a realization – a generational shift could never have happened because of one person’s success. So with her ambition to change the joshi world still intact, Kagetsu signed a full-time contract with World Wonder Ring Stardom.
After her brief absence in 2017, Kagetsu became hellbent on the improvement of Stardom and its wrestlers; Taking a first-hand role in the improvement of each member of the roster, specifically the wrestlers she worked with as part of Oedo Tai. Kagetsu aided in lessening the gap between main event players like herself & Mayu Iwatani and wrestlers like Hazuki and Hana Kimura, both of whom grew leaps and bounds from the time they started working alongside Kagetsu until their time in Oedo Tai ended.
Her reach grew beyond just the wrestlers she had a direct kinship in the ring with, as in the summer of 2018, Kagetsu would become the head trainer and developer of junior wrestlers in Stardom. Kagetsu’s first students were Utami Hayashihsita & Saya Iida, both of whom were considered very skilled wrestlers right out of the gate. Utami would have one of the strongest rookie years in joshi wrestling history, and Saya would become one of the most popular under-card wrestlers in the company. Kagetsu followed up her two success stories with Saya Kamatani & Itsuki Hoshino who have both impressed fans immensely since their debuts in late 2019.
From the very beginning, Kagetsu wanted to induce a joshi wrestling renaissance with her at the forefront. As her career comes to an end, it is hard to say she hasn’t achieved that goal. Despite never truly being able to claim her throne atop the joshi wrestling mountain, her work as a trainer and as a key member of the main event scene raised Stardom to a higher standard of competition with each of its members improving as a result.
Kagetsu’s success, despite Meiko Satomura not passing her the proverbial torch, is what makes her proposed final match so important. While Kagetsu no longer has the chance of becoming the #1 women’s wrestler with a win here, she would be able to close the one part of her story she was forced to leave unfinished. With her retirement, Kagetsu entrusts the continued progress of Stardom and the joshi world to a new generation of talent – an act she expected from her superior all those years ago. Now, in her final wrestling match, Kagetsu plans to beat the ghost of her past and finally close the Kagetsu story once and for all.