There is no wrestling politics like Joshi wrestling politics and the announcement of Kagetsu’s retirement has floated a number of stories/conspiracies that will be explored here but first, let us look at one of the most productive and high-quality Joshi workers of the last decade. Prior to the Stardom Press conference announcing the companies involvement in Wrestle Kingdom, Kagetsu announced her retirement show on the 26th of January in Osaka.
Kagetsu started her career in 2008 in the Sendai Girls Dojo under Meiko Satomura. She debuted August of that year and over the next five years established herself as the second lead draw of the company as Satomura’s protege. She would be a lead proponent in the Sendai Girls Ice Ribbon feud that gave both companies a huge burst of success in 2011. When it became clear that she had done all she could for the company and herself, Satomura gave her an incredible leaving present. Satomura booked the Generation Battle feud that catapulted the younger stars of Joshi against the Queens of the older generation.
It culminated in the Generation Battle event at Korukean Hall which pitted the two sides in a ten vs ten winner stays on gauntlet match. Kagetsu had defied Satomura and taken Satomura’s mentor Chigusa Nagayo as her new advisor. She ended the night with clean pinfall wins over Aja Kong and Satomura to cement her place in the Joshi main event hierarchy. The feud continued in Stardom with Kagetsu tagging with Yoshiko and Satomura tagging with sworn enemy Nanae Takahashi.
Kagetsu would change her look and move on firstly as a freelancer with Oz Academy and various promotions before signing full-time World Wonder Ring Stardom in 2017. She would descend into a slow heel turn, losing weight but keeping her ground and pound mat-based style. She would eventually become the leader of the Odeo Tai faction changing its look and aesthetic from its original stable for Gaijin to its current form of a home of outcasts from everywhere in women’s wrestling.
With the company losing Kairi Sane (now Hojo) and Io Shirai, Kagetsu was tapped to both lead the Dojo and steady the ship in the main event. As one of the few confirmed headliners in the company, she would take the World of Stardom Championship from Toni Storm in September of 2017 holding the title till the following June. Still running the Dojo she would be a key architect in Stardom’s future development. Then in 2019 her own protege Hazuki announced her retirement. This coincided with New Japan owners taking over Stardom. Citing her long-standing neck issues, she has also announced her retirement at the age of 28.
While it is pretty standard practice for a Joshi wrestler to retire at 28, it is an incredibly hard life, after all, further news coming out of Japan has muddied the waters. The Wrestling Observer reported that Kagetsu was widely disliked in the Stardom Dojo for fining latecomers and creating a clique with Hazuki that overly protected her. On the surface this is believable too, however, Meltzer is notoriously unreliable with Joshi news, once citing that Asuka was a former Stardom champion despite the fact she never worked for the company and was in most likelihood politically blackballed from the promotion at the time. So was he fed the information by someone with an agenda?
There is also the Bushiroad take over which for many fans is also troubling. New Japan is very proud of its highly attractive roster which tends to favour traditionally good looking and exceptionally single young men and the rumour is that the focus in Stardom has shifted in a similar direction, however looking at the history of Stardom with its calendars, photo books and nude shoots with Io Shirai and Mayu Iwatani it’s hard to see that as anything but the norm.
Whatever the rumour mill provides, and there will be plenty, a woman like Kagetsu is still an important name in the industry if she decides to unretire like Yoshiko did in 2016, something else that will fuel rumours, she will be a hot asset. She could also have a great future as a trainer. For now, let us celebrate a career with few equals throughout the biggest growth era for Joshi since the seventies.
All pics courtesy of STARDOM