Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix (Afternoon 14/9/19)

Credit: Stardom

Another big shout out to the people behind the scenes at Stardom who got these matches up super quick. They ran two shows on the 14th, so I can only assume it was a busy day, and after the kerfuffle at the start of the tournament, they’ve been fantastic at getting things back on track. As for the wrestling itself, the 5STAR’s finishing line is drawing ever closer, but there is still plenty of time for twists and turns before we get there.

Mayu Iwatani defeated Saya Kamitani

Kamitani has wrestled a single-digit number of matches but has already shared the ring with Momo Watanabe and Mayu Iwatani. More impressively, she hasn’t looked out of her depth in there with either one of them.

That’s not to say she isn’t green because, well, she obviously is. There are moments where she moves around the ring weird or does something that reminds you how inexperienced she is, but they are fleeting for someone as new to this as Kamitani is. On top of that, with the Modified Last Chancery she pulled out, she’s already developing a cool move-set. Throw in the dancing skills and I suspect we should all bow down to her now.

The easy thing to do is to give credit to Mayu and Momo for her impressing, and that probably has played a part as I’m pretty sure they could make me look competent. However, there is enough in young Saya to suggest that Stardom has something here, and the fact she’s getting to wrestle these geniuses is a hint that they see it too.

Verdict: Three Stars

Red Stars: Hazuki (42) defeated Avary (1-4)

Avary was incredibly excited about beating Saki while Hazuki has spent the entire tournament introducing her matches by saying that there is nothing to say. One wonders if she’ll ever have any wisdom to impart.

I wrote that first paragraph during the entrances and was kind of hoping Hazuki would eat Avary up so I could quip about her teaching lessons in the ring. Sadly, Hazuki is far too selfless to do that, as Avary got a decent amount of offence in this match. She’s a solid wrestler, you know. There’s a strong character there, and while she isn’t a super-worker, she’s got a nice move-set. Hopefully, Stardom bring her back, as with more time in the ring with talented opponents, she could be something.

Sadly, this day was eventually Hazuki’s as she survived Avary’s offence, escaped a Cattle Mutilation and turned things around with a Codebreaker out of the corner. She then finished off the Aussie with the Brainbuster she’s been using all tournament (which looks awesome) and all but ended any chance Avary has of winning this thing.

Verdict: Three Stars

STARS (Arisa Hoshiki and Tam Nakano) defeated Queen’s Quest (AZM and Leo Onozaki)

Tam and Arisa may have beat the shit out of each other and seemingly worked through some of their issues, but that doesn’t mean Tam is about to start playing nice. She’s still employing the tactic that Arisa is as much a weapon as she is a partner, and is happy to slam her on opponents before jumping on top of both of them.

And I love that dynamic, so I was always going to enjoy this match. Tam and Arisa nail it, with Hoshiki as the hopeful one, certain that this time it will be different and Tam not budging an inch. When you throw in AZM and Onozaki both putting out strong performances, you’ve got a shitload of fun in your hands.

In the end, Tam and Arisa managed to get on the same page for long enough to pick up the win, and I hope this story goes on forever.

Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars

Red Stars: Momo Watanabe (4-2) defeated Natsu Sumire (1-4)

Natsu ‘Serious Wrestler’ Sumire met Momo ‘I Want To Kick Your Head Off’ Watanabe in this match and you’ve got to believe that was a battle for the ages.

I love how hard Natsu is trying in this tournament. It’s this lovely narrative of someone who won a title and has realised they’ve been limiting themselves for years by playing the joke. She spent so long being a funny character (and being brilliant at it) that she started to believe that’s all she was right up until the moment she got her hands on that belt and discovered she could be so much more.

And because of that, it doesn’t matter that Momo beat her. What matters is that Natsu went out and wrestled this match fairly. She wrestled fairly, and God damn it, she nearly won the damn thing, rolling Momo into a Small Package and coming inches from the three. This wasn’t a walk in the park for Watanabe, but a tough match that left her clutching the back of her head after she got the win.

So yea, Natsu isn’t going to win this thing because she’s Natsu, but she’s going out there and proving herself, and I think that story is just as good.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Tokyo Cyber Squad (Hana Kimura and Jungle Kyona) defeated STARS (Saki Kashima and Saya Iida) and Oedo Tai (Andras Miyagi and Natsuko Tora) in a Three Way Tag

Hana spent the pre-match promo doing a very Naito-esque widening of her eye. I’m taking that as proof that the TCS and LIJ world order is coming sooner rather than later. That’s if Kashima doesn’t take Kimura out first, she told Iida to be careful because she had some personal issues to deal with in this match.

It didn’t take long for those issues to manifest as Hana nearly fell to Revival in the opening seconds. Although I’m not sure that would have ended the issues as another quick lose would have probably led to Kimura murdering someone. Thankfully, that wasn’t to be, and we settled into a fun match.

My highlight of that fun match was a wee JAN reunion between Iida, Kyona and Tora. It started with Jungle and Natsuko facing off until Iida decided she wanted to join in. That turned out to be a bad idea as her impudence briefly brought the former teammates back together to deal with her. Then, when Iida jumped on Jungle’s back to put a choke on, Tora spotted the opportunity to rewind time and hit the Triple Splash on Saki.

The finish felt a bit sudden as Hana booted Iida in the head for a rather simple three, but this was fun while it lasted. It’s also unlikely to be the last time we see Saki and Hana face-off as their battle continued after the bell.

Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars

Blue Stars: Jamie Hayter (4-2) defeated Konami (3-2)

Konami vs Hayter quickly became a battle of brute force vs technical skill. Konami wanted to kick away at Hayter, setting her up for a variety of submissions. In response, Hayter set out to steamroll Konami, elbowing her way through her and slamming her to the floor.

It’s a styles clash that always works and with Hayter in the form she’s in this wasn’t going to be the exception to the rule. I’m pretty sure I’ve said it already, but there can’t be many foreign wrestlers in Japan right now who are better suited to the Japanese style than Jamie. Those stiff Lariats and vicious moves she hits over her knee are a perfect combination, and they’d eventually leave Konami reeling.

These two have quietly been 5STAR MVPs, delivering good match after good match all tournament. That should make it no surprise that this was the same.

Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars

Blue Stars: Kagetsu (3-3) defeated Bea Priestley (3-2)

When Bea Priestley is in control of matches, she does this cocky saunter around the ring, a sneer on her face as she works over her opponent. It’s a great heel attitude, but the problem is that it seems to be hiding the fact she doesn’t do much. Once again, this was a Priestley match let down by the fact that when she’s working someone over, it’s fucking dull.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I think Kagetsu gets the best out of Bea, and when this became a back and forth sprint, she did. Bea has a plethora of cool moves backed up with a burst of pace that makes these fast exchanges a shitload of fun. It’s just a shame she can’t keep that level of intensity up all match.

Still, when this did get going, it was great, even if the tide did turn with a scary spot as a Kagetsu Deadlift Superplex nearly went badly wrong. Thankfully, it didn’t, so we were treated to some cool moments like Bea hitting a Bicycle Knee to Kagetsu as she went for the mist, sending it spurting out of her mouth in the wrong direction. It was to be a brief reprieve, however, as the Oedo Tai leader shoved Daichi out of the ring and proved to have back-up, spraying Bea to set up the Avalance Ebisu Drop. After that, it was only a matter of time.

Verdict: Three And A Half Stars

Post-match Kagetsu put over Bea, calling her amazing and saying that she’s glad Priestley has made Stardom her home. It’s comments like that which make me wonder whether I’m missing something there. Am I wrong about her? Feel free to tell me if I am.

Overall Show

That was a strong show as even without a standout match, there were enough enjoyable moments to keep me engaged throughout. If you’re only watching the tournament you won’t miss much on the surrounding faff, but it was only seven matches, so you might as well give it a go.

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. Tam Nakano vs Mayu Iwatani (7/9/19) – Four And A Quarter Stars

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