ShuPro 2020 Wrestlers to Watch: Saya Kamitani

Image from Weekly Pro-Wrestling #2050

In recent years there are lots of people in the world of joshi wrestling that have experience in the entertainment industry. Saya Kamitani is one of them.

Kamitani used to be part of the group “Baito AKB” [a group of AKB48 members who have part-time status with the group]. When she finished her time there her idol work was not over, and she became a member of the former Stardom Idols group. There she was encouraged to make her pro wrestling debut by management, and that is how she became a trainee with Stardom and made her debut.

In short, she is a ‘former idol turned pro wrestler’, and that backbone clearly suits pro wrestling. She has 12 years of experience in street dance, and she came second in the world championship in Las Vegas. She trained in gymnastics for three years. Furthermore, she is 168cm tall, and has excellent reflexes.

In fact, while being a rookie she has demonstrated some eye-opening feats in Stardom. Last December she won the 2019 Rookie of Stardom Tournament. She was entered into the Tag League ahead of some of her senpai, and since the start of the year she has been in the main event numerous times.

If you got these opportunities within six months of your debut it would be natural to feel pressure. However, she seems to be unconcerned by pressure. This is another instance that shows how remarkable Kamitani is.

 “Frankly, I’m the type that doesn’t feel pressure (haha). (Even if it’s an important match) I’m excited to be able to test myself. I feel like it’s a challenge for me to show off what I can do and how far I’ve come.”

Kamitani said, “I’m happy that I found pro wrestling.” Her happiness exceeds the pressure or anything like that.

As stated previously she used to be an idol, and there were plenty of tough breaks back then. Despite being able to dance well, it was always the “thin, cute, slender girls” who went on first. Kamitani, who was tall and muscular, was usually in the “3rd or 4th row” and didn’t have the chance to stand out.

“There were lots of tough moments. Too many. I felt that I was alone a lot. While I knew I wasn’t naturally suited to being an idol, I didn’t give up my idol dreams. But it was made clear to me that this was my ceiling as an idol. At that time I discovered pro wrestling – wrestling is the sort of thing where you get out of it what you put in. When I was an idol I used to think ‘does it even matter what I do’, but now I really feel that there are lots of ways I can contribute and it feels very worthwhile, I’m happy.”

She wrote that her goal for this year is to ‘take down Utami’. Of course, Utami is Stardom’s Utami Hayashishita. For Kamitani, who became a trainee with virtually no knowledge of pro wrestling, her immediate senior Utami was someone that appeared to be “super cool and cute”. It was thinking ‘I want to become like Utami’ that allowed her to endure a lot of harsh training.

She wants to become a wrestler that rivals Utami. Therefore, she wants to be recognised by challenging for and winning Utami’s Future of Stardom Title.

The Future of Stardom Title has rules that the champion has to have a career of less than two years, or be under 20 years old, and as of August this year the 21-year old Utami will enter the second year of her career. There isn’t much time left. Kamitani is engrossed in her beloved pro wrestling, is developing as a wrestler, and will fulfil her promise to take down Utami by August. And she intends to stand alongside the senpai that she idolises.

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