With three shows left in the group stage of the 5STAR Grand Prix, we’re finally getting to the point where everyone is going to catch-up and have wrestled the same number of matches (excluding a couple who because of the Utami and Jungle injuries will finish up over these shows in Fukuoka). That means that by the end of the next two reviews, we should have a good idea of who is in line to win this thing. Excited? I am.
STARS (Arisa Hoshiki and Starlight Kid) defeated Queen’s Quest (AZM and Leo Onozaki)
Pre-match promos with Leo Onozaki are one of the few times that AZM acts her age. Those two seem to have a lot of fun together, and it suddenly strikes you that this amazing badass wrestler is still a kid.
These four went out and worked a hell of a lot harder than they needed to with Kid and AZM’s interactions being the unsurprising highlight. I’ve said it a million times, but those two should wrestle forever. Then, when forever comes to an end, they can have one more match, to give the feud the big send-off it deserves.
Arisa and AZM also had some cool interactions with AZM hitting a lethal-looking Double Stomp before Arisa removed Onozaki’s head a couple of times to take us home. That was probably one of the better undercard tags of the tour.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Red Stars: Avary (2-4) defeated Tam Nakano (4-3)
Avary’s pre-match promos have come on leaps and bounds across this tour. She’s gone from awkward and overly-rehearsed to showing a lot of character and a dry sense of humour. Tam, meanwhile, is loving life now that she has P-sama back by her side.
It’s not only backstage that Avary has improved, as she’s seen a marked step-up in the ring and had another strong showing here. Although she might have regretted her hand-licking shtick as Tam decided that rather than dealing with it, she was going to kick her way through the Aussie instead.
As tactics go, it was a both effective and entertaining. Poor Avary was taking a beating, and when Tam managed to hoist her over for a German, she must have been confident she’d got the win. However, Avary showed a level of determination we haven’t seen from her yet, kicking out, battling through a few more kicks to the head and hitting her DDT for the upset. That might put a dampener on Nakano’s mood.
Verdict: Three and A Half Stars
Blue Stars: Bea Priestley (4-3) defeated Natsuko Tora (1-5)
Bea could probably learn a thing or two from Avary when it comes to the promos. I know I’m super harsh on Priestley, but fucking hell they make me cringe. Perhaps I’m just going to have to accept that the occasional match aside, she’s never going to click with me.
In saying that, this was an example of a better Priestley performance, so perhaps I shouldn’t give up quite yet. Tora dominated a lot of the action and pushed Priestley into working from underneath. It’s a role she’s much better in, having to battle back after Tora hit three Splashes in a row and then turn the action in her favour with those Bicycle Knees.
A Backpack Stunner failed to get the win for Priestley (and didn’t look great either), but set her up for the Regalplex which did the job. I had a few minor quibbles with this match, but it was still a solid showing.
Verdict: Three And A Quarter Stars
Oedo Tai (Kagetsu, Jamie Hayter and Hazuki) defeated Riho and STARS (Mayu Iwatani and Saya Iida)
I don’t feel the need to go in-depth on this one. It was STARS (w/Riho) vs Oedo Tai, and that always delivers. They worked at a fair old pace with something always happening so you’d have to have a minuscule attention span to get bored. Jamie won with the Falcon Arrow Backbreaker to Iida, and this was enjoyable, but won’t go down as anything you haven’t seen before.
Verdict: Three Stars
Blue Stars: Konami (4-2-1) and Andras Miyagi (3-2-1) wrestled to a time limit draw
Andras has been working a grappling heavy style during this 5STAR, making Konami the perfect opponent for her. They started on the mat, neither able to get the upper hand before Miyagi struck, hitting the Tombstone Facebuster thing that Taiji Ishimori uses. Does that have a name? It feels like a move that needs a name.
Whatever it’s called, it was the first blow in what became a very simple match structure. Miyagi was focusing on the midsection and Konami the neck. Both women were doing so through a variety of holds, twisting and squeezing away at each other in an attempt to wear the other person down. It was just really solid wrestling.
And then the final few minutes exploded. First, Konami hit a Missile Dropkick to the back of Miyagi’s head before dropping her with a trio of Germans. In response, Andras hit a Senton Bomb, crashing down for what she must have thought was the three, but only got a two. That careful and deliberate pace had come up against the time limit, and these two were throwing everything they had in an attempt to beat it.
In the end, neither would be successful. Konami hit a final German, but as Andras came down the bell went and time was called, neither woman was going home with two points. To be honest, it was probably a fair result. They both rocked in this one.
Verdict: Four Stars
Red Stars: Natsu Sumire (2-5) defeated Saki Kashima (2-4)
Natsu Sumire has been a pain in Saki Kashima’s… wait, has Kashima changed her music? How have I missed this? What the hell is she thinking! She had the greatest wrestling theme on the planet that isn’t Kaze Ni Nare. How dare she!
Putting my personal feelings about this tragedy to one side, this was an enjoyable comedy match. They spent the early part of the action mucking around (Natsu got so tired from hitting the ropes that she had to stop to have a rest) before getting down to some good old-fashioned move-stealing. Eventually, that would lead to Natsu sliding into Revival and using Kashima’s move to get the win. Ouch, that one is going to hurt.
Afterwards, Natsu had a little gloat, claiming that Revival now belonged to her. One suspects that Saki Kashima angrily chasing her to the back is a hint that their issues are from over.
Verdict: Three Stars
Red Stars: Hana Kimura (4-3) defeated Momo Watanabe (4–3)
Hana and Momo have had some issues recently, getting into several heated exchanges. Then again, Hana has issues with most people, so that’s probably not surprising. Either way, Momo was determined to do some kicking.
She wasn’t the only one either, as Kimura and Watanabe beat the shit out of each other. Every kick looked stiff as hell as Hana was repeatedly booting Momo in the head only to take just as many shots to the chest. At one point, Watanabe had Kimura hanging in the Tree of Woe screaming as kick after kick came flying in. It was fucking awesome.
It built to a fantastic conclusion as Hana survived Tequila Sunrise before battling back to hit a Package Piledriver for the win. That’s obviously a new one, and she informed everyone after the match that the Missile Dropkick and Package Piledriver combo is called the Tiger Lily. Whatever it’s called, it fucking worked, and that makes two shows in a row where Kimura has closed us out with a great match.
Verdict: Four Stars
That was a fantastic 5STAR show providing two four-star matches and a bunch of other stuff that will keep you more than entertained. I had a lovely time, and I’m sure you will do too.
Top Three 5STAR Grand Prix Matches So Far
- Jungle Kyona vs Utami Hayashishita (17/8/19) – Four And A Quarter Stars
- Arisa Hoshiki vs Utami Hayashishita (18/8/19) – Four And A Quarter Stars
- Tam Nakano vs Mayu Iwatani (7/9/19) – Four And A Quarter Stars
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The backpack stunner isn’t a new move for Priestley. She used to use it all the time, though she only brings it out occasionally these days.
Thanks for letting me know, I’ll change that!