On April 29th, 2016, Yoko Bito shocked Joshi fans everywhere when she walked into the Stardom ring and announced her return to the promotion. Bito was last seen in a Stardom wrestling ring in 2012, when she retired due to injury. With her background in karate, Bito was in the first graduating class from Stardom and was trained by Fuka. She was almost immediately seen as the top of the class, and won in the main event of the first Stardom event on January 23rd, 2011.
Known for her high kicks and toughness, even though she was seen as the potential future ace of the company, nothing was handed to her. While she generally had little issues against other young wrestlers such as Mayu Iwatani and Eri, she struggled to get wins over the stars of the promotion like Taiyo and Nanae Takahashi. In the fall of 2011, Stardom had a tournament to crown the first ever tag champions, called the Goddesses of Stardom Championship. Yoko Bito teamed with Yuzuki Aikawa, who was also Bito’s main competition to become the ace. Together, they won the tournament as they defeated Natsuki*Taiyo and Yoshiko in the final, and they were crowned the first champions. But Bito still had a ways to go, as on the very next show she lost in the Rookie of the Year tournament to another young wrestler named Arisa Hoshiki (Yoshiko went on to win the tournament).
In 2012, Yoko continued her rise in Stardom. Yoko and Aikawa successfully defended their tag titles in March and May, and Yoko had a big singles win against fellow young wrestler Act Yasukawa on May 3rd in the co-main event. On August 5th, Bito had the biggest match of her career, as she faced off against her tag partner Aikawa to challenge for the Wonder of Stardom Championship at Korakuen Hall. Bito would lose the match, but more tragically, it would be the last wrestling match of her career.
After missing events during the fall, Yuko Bito announced on November 3rd, 2012 that she was retiring from wrestling due to neck and back injuries. There were no noticeable moments during the Aikawa match where an injury occurred (you can watch the match below), and it was never pinpointed when or how the injury happened. Regardless, Stardom was suddenly losing one of its brightest young stars, a wrestler with the skill in the ring to dominate and the looks to also take part in Stardom’s photobooks and other publications. Stardom fans thought they would never see Bito come down the ring again, and nothing publicly was heard from her in the wrestling world for many years.
That is until April 29th. Unbeknownst to fans, Bito had been in discussions with Fuka about coming back to Stardom and it was decided that Bito would return to professional wrestling. The currently plan is for Bito to train in May and early June, and re-debut on June 16th at Korakuen Hall. No one knows for certain what Bito’s role will be in Stardom going forward, as it will depend on if she can return to old form and has no further issues with injuries, however it is very exciting to see her return as she was one of the best young Stardom wrestlers in 2011 and 2012. Bito is only 29 years old, so she still has plenty of time to leave her mark in professional wrestling once again. Below I have three Yoko Bito matches, including her final match against Aikawa.
Yoko Bito vs. Mika Nagano on 7/24/11
Yoko Bito vs. Act Yasukawa in Stardom on 5/3/12
Yuzuki Aikawa vs. Yoko Bito on 8/5/12
For more information on Yoko Bito’s return (in Japanese): Yoko Bito’s conference on April 30th, discussing return (wwr-stardom.com)