Tam Nakano Discusses Her Wonder of Stardom Title Reign, Greatest Rivals, Mayu Iwatani, And More | INTERVIEW

This Sunday, STARDOM presents their special PPV, STARDOM x STARDOM, hailing live from Dolphin's Arena in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. On paper, it very well may be the biggest STARDOM show of the year and all of this is happening right in the middle of the 5STAR Grand Prix. The show this weekend will feature a double main event as Syuri defends the World of Stardom Championship against first-ever World of Stardom Champion Nanae Takahashi and Saya Kamitani puts her Wonder of Stardom Championship on the line against KAIRI. It's as big as you can get for a double main event but that's not all.

The third match to the top has all the makings of being another tag team classic as FWC (Hazuki and Koguma) defend their Goddess of Stardom Championship against the Cosmic Angels team of Tam Nakano and Natsupoi. The match is a major one as Nakano pursues the tag team titles once again, this time with a new partner in Natsupoi.

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If you've followed the career of Tam Nakano to this point, you have learned how unique and special of a wrestler she is all these years into her career. The leader of the Cosmic Angels has been nothing short of fantastic, especially in recent years, as she tries to leave her mark on professional wrestling as a key member of the STARDOM roster. Her reign with the Wonder of Stardom Championship in 2021 is one of the most beloved in STARDOM's history as Nakano made each and every one of her title defenses carry a story and mean more than the last. While she lost the championship at Stardom Dream Queendom in December of 2021 to Saya Kamitani, it hasn't stopped her from being an important member of the STARDOM roster as she pursues another chance for glory at STARDOM x STARDOM and in the 5STAR Grand Prix. As STARDOM continues to grow, there's no doubt Nakano will continue to be at the forefront every step of the way.

Fightful's Scott Edwards had a chance to interview Tam Nakano ahead of her upcoming match at STARDOM x STARDOM, discussing the title match this Sunday, her reign with the Wonder of Stardom Championship, who her greatest rivals are, Tam Road, who she'd like to face outside of STARDOM, and so much more!

Here's what Tam Nakano had to say in our interview:

Q: At STARDOM X STARDOM, you’ll be teaming with Natsupoi to face FWC for the Goddess of Stardom Championship. What does it mean to you to team with Natsupoi after being rivals over the last year?

A: After the White Belt title match last year with Na-chan and our second match this year, everything about us was exposed to one another.
Tam always fights with a sense of giving everything I have when it comes to a match. But not many people are as emotional as I am, or willing to give their lives in a fight the way Na-chan is.
I think Na-chan is no different than Tam. We’re unique.
I still feel a little uncomfortable teaming up with Na-chan, who I would say is my destiny rival.However, we are rivals who have exposed everything to fight each other, so I think we can be friends who can maximize each other's strengths.

Q: You’ve never won the Goddess of Stardom Championship despite having multiple challenges with different partners in the past. Do you think your long term history and relationship with Natsupoi gives you your best chance to do so this time around?

A: I always think that now is the best opportunity. It was the perfect opportunity to challenge with Mayu Iwatani or Arisa Hoshiki, but we couldn’t seize the opportunity.
The Goddess Belt is a traumatic belt for Tam. Without overcoming that trauma, I cannot go any further. If we can overcome the trauma with Na-chan, we will surely be able to start a revolution for the future. I believe so.

Q: Looking back on your Wonder of Stardom Championship reign, was it everything you wanted it to be? Do you compare it to other reigns before you?

A: Tam Road was indeed a champion road that only I could build. I’m proud to say that I had cursed and passionate defenses against some crazy challengers. Not everything went the way I wanted it to, and some things were never settled with some opponents. I really wanted to carry that belt much, much longer. But it is because of the dreams and promises that I couldn’t fulfill that I am able to fight again with all of my life in this ring. When I’ve fulfilled all of those dreams and promises, I’ll step away from the ring.

Q: Giulia has become a very important part of your career. You’ve been rivals since nearly the moment she walked through the door in STARDOM. After everything that has happened, would you call her your greatest rival?

A: It’s no exaggeration to say that my days of fighting with Giulia are the biggest in Tam's wrestling life. Because of Giulia, Tam is the person she is today. The days when I fought with Giulia, my face was always swollen, and I was always frustrated and in a lot of pain, but those days made me stronger. Lately, I’ve started to miss those brain-shaking, stimulating slaps a little. I think Giulia does too, don't you?

Q: You just challenged for the World of Stardom Championship and while you came up short against Syuri, you’re also competing in the 5STAR Grand Prix with a chance of getting another shot if you win. While the Goddess of Stardom Championship is your current goal, will the Red Belt remain your ultimate goal for the rest of your career?

A: Of course, I have not given up on the Red Belt. No one but Tam Nakano is going to end Syuri’s Vermillion World. The title match the other day made me want that epic number one belt even more. I’ll definitely challenge again before the end of the year after getting a pinfall from Syuri in the 5STAR Grand Prix.
I’ll have a double championship with the Goddess and the Red Belt, and there’s one more vision of revolution that I can't tell you about yet. Please look forward to it.

Q: How has it been working with COLOR’S since they’ve united with yourself and the Cosmic Angels?

A: We have an allied group with COLOR'S and COSMIC ANGELS.
We had planned our first social gathering for the other day, but it had to be postponed because a few people were sick.
Unagi says she wants to make SAKI her henchman, but she’s just communicating in her own way and lays down a good mood for the Allied Forces. Stay tuned for more of the Allied Forces' coordination skills and tag-team formations to come!

Q: Mayu Iwatani has been influential in your career. After you left STARS, it was understandably hard for her to see you move on. Can you tell us what she means to you as you now look across the ring from her rather than being side-by-side like you once were?

A: Mayu Iwatani is an entity that I must surpass someday. Tam created COSMIC ANGELS in order to surpass Mayu Iwatani. Surely, I have to fulfill that meaning. Last year's White Belt match was also a 30-minute draw and couldn’t be settled. I think that she and I may fight each other to the end of hell, and at the same time, perhaps, when I surpass Mayu Iwatani, I will be standing next to her again.

Q: Many new fans of STARDOM may not know much about your time with Oedo Tai. Looking back at when you were forced to leave Oedo Tai, how much did that push you to be a better wrestler?

A: My time in Oedo Tai was very short, and even though I was sidelined due to injury, I was always seconding them as a manager. Tam loved Oedo Tai so much back then, that when they were forced to expel me, it really tore me up.
After being expelled, I couldn’t win at all, wrestling and everything was not going well at all, and I was on the verge of despair. But because I overcame that painful experience, I was able to relate to the feelings of those who were weak, and I believe that I am now a professional wrestler who is able to make many dreams come true. I am truly grateful to Mayu Iwatani for reaching out to me at that time.

Q: Tam Nakano is a storyteller. No matter if you’re detailing your story with your opponent on Twitter or going to battle in a match, there’s a trait about you that makes it feel as though we are watching a story be told. How would you describe your style of wrestling as someone who does something no one else does in all of their matches?

A: Wrestling is life.
For Tam, it feels as if everything in my life is happening in this ring. This ring is my life.
My purpose in life is to let the fans live the story of Tam's life, through me.

Q: What match are you most proud of in your career?

A: June 26, 2022 at the Nagoya International Convention Center.
Tam Nakano vs Natsupoi
Steel Cage Match

Q: What would you tell someone who wants to become a pro wrestler?

A: This ring is the best place to make all your dreams come true.
Your shortcomings can become your strengths, your suffering can turn into strength, your sadness into happiness. You don't have to place any limits on yourself.
It’s never too late to make your dreams come true.
Welcome to the Dream!

Q: We’ve discussed a number of people from your past who have made you a better competitor and have helped you grow. Who has helped you most in your journey as a wrestler?

A: Mayu Iwatani taught me the beauty of wrestling.
Arisa Hoshiki gave me the persistence to never give up on my dream.
My friends in COSMIC ANGELS gave me the strength of mind to think of my friends.
With the best rivals and friends, Tam was able to make many dreams come true.
However, the days of fighting with Giulia gave Tam true strength as a professional wrestler and as a person. I am sure that Giulia and I will be eternal rivals until the end of my life.

The IWGP Women’s Championship was announced recently by STARDOM and NJPW. What would it mean to you to become the inaugural IWGP Women’s Champion at the first-ever NJPW x STARDOM event?

A: Bringing Stardom wrestling to the world is one of Tam's dreams as a professional wrestler.
The top belts of Stardom will remain the same, World of Stardom and Wonder of Stardom, and when Tam becomes IWGP Women's Champion, she will make this belt THE iconic belt of Stardom. I will defend it all over the world and become a champion who brings the new and beautiful wrestling of Stardom to the world. I also want to create an environment that welcomes overseas athletes to COSMIC ANGELS.

Q: Through Stardom in Showcase and NEW BLOOD, STARDOM is working with so many other promotions. Can you name one wrestler you’d like to face outside of STARDOM?

A: It seems that the cutest in the world is apparently Maki Itoh.

Q: Finally, what would you like to tell your international fans who have watched you and cheered you on from around the world?

A: Thank you for finding Tam Nakano.
With your feelings and dreams on my back, I will continue to fight.
Let's make our endless dreams come true together. Believe in Tam!

A huge thank you goes to Tam Nakano for taking the time to provide thoughtful answers to each question and for giving fans a look into who she is as a wrestler and person. Also a big thanks to STARDOM for helping make this interview come to life during such a busy time in the promotion's schedule.

Nakano will team with Natsupoi to challenge for the Goddess of Stardom Championship this Sunday as they challenge FWC.

Nakano is also taking part in the 5STAR Grand Prix. Here's her remaining schedule as the tournament rolls on:

  • vs. Koguma (8/27)
  • vs. Mai Sakurai (8/28)
  • vs. Saki Kashima (9/3)
  • vs. Maika (9/4)
  • vs. Unagi Sayaka (9/12)
  • vs. Risa Sera (9/18)
  • vs. Momo Kohgo (9/19)
  • vs. Syuri (9/23)
  • vs. Utami Hayashishita (9/24)
  • vs. SAKI (10/1)

STARDOM x STARDOM begins Sunday at 3:00 a.m. EST and will air live on pay-per-view.

You can follow STARDOM on Twitter at their official account (@wwr_stardom) and their official English account (@we_are_stardom) to see how you can order the show and stay up-to-date with the promotion.

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