Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix (Night 25/8/19) Review

Credit: Stardom

With things appearing to have returned to normal at Stardom HQ (fingers crossed), we can return to the important business of reviewing the 5STAR. We’re obviously behind schedule, but then everyone is, so we’re not going to stress about that. Let’s sit back and enjoy the wrestling instead.

Queen’s Quest (Momo Watanabe and Leo Onozaki) defeated Tokyo Cyber Squad (Avary and Rina)

Poor Rina looked baffled at Avary’s sexualised antics during their entrance. You got the impression she wasn’t quite sure how to deal with her new partner who has been embracing the TCS mantra, giving a ‘yes, sir!’ before the match.

There is not a lot to say about this one as they had a pretty standard opener. Everyone is solid to incredible, so it was good, but it will shock no-one to hear that Watanabe wasn’t busting a gut. They breezed through an enjoyable and utterly forgettable seven-minutes which saw Rina give Momo a few scares towards the end but was ultimately a walk in the park for the Queen’s Quest team.

Verdict: Two And A Quarter Stars

Oedo Tai (Kagetsu, Hazuki and Andras Miyagi) defeated STARS (Arisa Hoshiki, Starlight Kid and Saya Iida)

Hazuki and Miyagi were coming off rough afternoons as they lost to AZM and Jungle respectively. That will have made the sight of Hoshiki even more galling as she’d earlier put their partner Natsuko Tora away.

Having been caught off-guard by AZM earlier in the day, Hazuki looked in danger of making the same mistake with Kid early-on. The difference this time was that she had back-up, and Kagetsu grabbing Starlight’s legs from outside the ring allowed Oedo Tai to take control.

Once they took it they never really lost it as Hoshiki barely entered the ring in this match. Hazuki would eventually put her rough afternoon behind her, dropping Iida on her head with a Brainbuster to end a fun match that didn’t have much in the way of substance.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Red Stars: Tam Nakano (2-1) defeated AZM (2-2)

Tam is living her best life this 5STAR and having a lovely old time. She spent her pre-match promo being what she (rather adorably) called a ‘buttonfly’. Why? Who knows, but she’s having fun so let’s leave her to it.

With Tam having already admitted to struggling with speedy people, AZM’s path to victory seemed pretty clear. When she was at top speed, Nakano couldn’t keep up, and the youngster had the advantage. Unfortunately, she kept getting cocky and doing things like trading kicks. That turned out to be a bad move because Tam might be a buttonfly, but she also likes kicking people, and when she does, they tend to stay down.

These two had a hella fun match. It was worked at a ridiculous pace and had a silly amount of fantastic near falls. Tam’s experience would eventually shine through and the Bridging German was all she needed for the three.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Red Stars: Saki Kashima (2-1) defeated Hana Kimura (2-1)

Hana was having a busy day and promised to finish Saki quickly. Sadly, that didn’t quite go to plan. As Kashima entered the ring, she charged across, booting her in the face and hitting a suplex. It was when she went for Hydrangea that things went wrong as Saki slipped into Revival instead and got the three in, em, eight seconds. Poor Hana, she wasn’t happy.

Obviously, this wasn’t a great match, but I have no problem with stuff like this. It adds a bit of variation to the tournament and plays into the idea that anyone can win at any time. Hana and Kashima will have plenty of opportunities to show what they can do in the ring.

Verdict: Two Stars

Blue Stars: Jamie Hayter (3-0) defeated Natsuko Tora (0-3)

Jamie threw her EVE International Title into the ring as she walked down the ramp before kicking it into the corner. That’s rude, Hayter.

Oedo Tai’s sneakiness was on full display here as both women tried to steal a win while offering up a handshake. It wouldn’t last long, though, as they quickly reverted to the rather more straightforward tactic of running into each other and seeing who was still standing afterwards. It turned out to be Natsuko as she gave Hayter a taste of her own medicine by dishing up a wet willy.

What followed was a fight, pure and simple. Tora and Hayter may team together all the time, but they had no qualms about beating each other up. It was all cursing and pain with Hayter continuing to embrace her hard-hitting role. That Backbreaker across her knee looks particularly awesome.

It would be those power moves that made the difference as she plucked Tora into the air and smashed her down to the ground before putting her down to 0-3 with the Falcon Arrow Backbreaker. They then finally managed to share a handshake post-match in celebration of a match well-fought.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Red Stars: Natsu Sumire (1-2) defeated Mayu Iwatani (1-2)

In last year’s 5STAR Natsu apparently locked Mayu out of the venue in an attempt to get the win? I need to see that match. Unfortunately, we weren’t going to get anything like that in 2019 as Sumire is on a mission to prove she’s a serious wrestler who belongs in this tournament. She even pulled off a clean handshake which caught everyone off-guard.

And it didn’t look like Mayu ever quite figured out what was going on. She’d come out prepared for antics and got wrestling moves. Iwatani had underestimated her opponent, leaving Natsu open to slip into Revival, a move Kashima had already used to beat Iwatani, and which would once again prove her downfall.

Afterwards, while Mayu looked on in shock, Natsu showed she hasn’t changed too much and had a little brag. That brought out Kashima who was pissed that Natsu had stolen her move, leading to Sumire asking when you had to start asking permission to use other people’s moves (hm, I wonder if Manami Toyota was watching?) before declaring Revival her new finishing move to set-up Revival vs Revival in their block match.

It was strange to see Mayu Iwatani being used to advance the feud between Saki and Natsu, but I can dig it. Iwatani is so over that she eats defeats like this for breakfast, so it won’t do her any harm. Meanwhile, Natsu picked up a huge win! It wasn’t a great match, but I enjoyed the story, so it’s worth a watch.

Verdict: Two And A Half Stars

Blue Stars: Konami (2-1) defeated Utami Hayashishita (2-1)

The Utami we got in this match is one I’d like to see more often. That’s not a slight against her normal wrestling, but she can be too willing to let opponents dominate her, whereas here she was a fucking badass. Utami was throwing Konami around the ring with those judo moves and beating the shit out of her lower back. She even went as far as aiming her Missile Dropkicks in that direction.

And Konami is great in the underdog role. I was a bit critical of her match with Kagetsu because it was so one-sided, but I’m starting to suspect I might have got that one wrong. She flopped around for Utami, making her look great, but you always suspected she had a victory in her. With those vicious kicks and an ability to slip into submissions out of nowhere, you’d have been silly to count her out.

And if you didn’t, she proved you right, sliding out of the Torture Rack position and into the Triangle Lancer. This was a fantastic example of how a match can make two people look great. Konami was the underdog who battled valiantly to get the win while Utami was a motherfucking badass, slipping on a banana peel did not change that.

Verdict: Four Stars

Blue Stars: Jungle Kyona (1-2) defeated Bea Priestley (2-1) by countout

JUNGLE! I can’t imagine many results in this 5STAR are going to make me happier than the sight of Kyona Powerbombing Priestley onto the apron as the countout ticked up.

I’d have liked it even more if she had flattened Priestley in ten seconds, but we were never going to get that. Instead, Bea took control of the first act, picking up where Utami left off by working over Jungle’s back, even going as far as exposing the top turnbuckle to throw her into it. As Priestley heat sections go, it was quite entertaining, the focus on the back preventing it from getting as meandering and scattered as some of them have in the past.

Where this took off was in Jungle’s comeback, though. The thing that makes Kyona such a brilliant wrestler is that you truly believe she is giving her life and soul to everything she does. Letting out roars of agony because of her injured back, you felt like she was having to drag herself forward by will alone and it’s impossible not to support that person. She is all heart, and her selling in this match was immaculate. Just look at her face when she had Priestley in the crab, that combination of agony and desperation is incredible.

I can’t, and should not, give all the credit to Jungle. Priestley was good here, and she is slowly winning me over. When she’s in the ring with great wrestlers, she is brought up to their level, and Jungle Kyona is a great wrestler. Now let’s hope she’s coming for that title and God, I hope this is the time she doesn’t miss.

Verdict: Four Stars

The TCS post-match promo saw a wee bit of tension in the camp, but Hana, Jungle and Konami all seemed to accept that they could have their separate ambitions and still be a team. Not that it helped poor Rina who took a beating from Konami and Kyona when she made the mistake of saying she wanted Hana to win, that’s called paying your dues kid.

Overall Show

First off, if I’ve mucked up anyone’s record, please let me know. The break between shows has left me scrabbling around trying to figure out who has what.

Anyway, that was an incredibly enjoyable wrestling show. It had a wide range of match types, all of which were at the very least entertaining (although you can skip the opening tags). There are a few really fun storylines being set-up in this tournament, and I can’t wait to see where they’re going.

Top Three 5STAR Grand Prix Matches So Far

  1. Jungle Kyona vs Utami Hayashishita (17/8/19) – Four And A Quarter Stars
  2. Arisa Hoshiki vs Utami Hayashishita (18/8/19) – Four And A Quarter Stars
  3. Konami vs Utami Hayashishita (25/8/19) – Four Stars

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