Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix (8/8/20) Review

Dominant. Credit: Stardom

It’s 5STAR time! Yes, it’s not enough that we have the Princess Cup and King of DDT going on, we also have Stardom’s round-robin tournament bustling away in the background. It’s been a year of change in Stardom, giving this a rather fresh look despite the lack of outsiders. Will we get a new winner too? Or is my prediction that it’s time for Momo to rise back up the ranks correct?

We got the traditional opening ceremony, the highlight of which was Mayu cheesily posing next to the trophy and then not being sure where she was supposed to stand. She also turned her back and had a wee crouch down as the day’s matches were announced. I’m sure she was talking to someone, but it looked a bit like she couldn’t be arsed any more.

Rina defeated Hina

Cheerio, sis. Credit: Stardom

I wonder if Rossy even bothers telling Rina and Hina that they are opening the show or if they’re through the curtain before he needs to get the words out.

It is becoming quite hard to think of new things to say about this match-up. As always, I enjoyed it, they’re two nifty wee wrestlers who have already come a long way in their short careers. I’m just not sure they’ve come that much further than they had a couple of weeks ago.

Still, I don’t blame Stardom for sending them out there. It’s another five minutes under their belts, and they’re more than good enough to warm-up the crowd. Plus, it saw Rina level things up in their overall record, putting them to 4-4-1. The feud continues!

Verdict: Don’t Expect Anything New

Red Stars: Starlight Kid (1-0) defeated Death Yama-san (0-1)

Ki-Chan! Credit: Stardom

Kid’s found her way into the 5STAR and gets to kick it off in the familiar confines of a match with Death Yama-san.

They went high speed with this one, flying into the action and having the kind of encounter we’ve seen these two have a hundred times. Not that I’m complaining, they are very good at it, and in Yama-san you have one of the best wrestlers of that style full stop.

It wasn’t to be her day, though, Kid finding a way to slip into the Ki-chan Bomb and setting her 5STAR record at 100%. If she can keep that up, she’ll do just fine.

Verdict: High Speed!

Blue Stars: AZM (1-0) defeated Saya Iida (0-1)

Giant Saya! Credit: Stardom

Another 5STAR debutant, although in Gori-chan’s case this wasn’t supposed to be her year. Saki having to pull out (for reasons not explained) meant she got the late tap on the shoulder, and while I can’t imagine she’ll pick up many wins, I have no doubt it’s an opportunity she’ll grab with two hands.

She was given a tough opening task as she came up against grizzled old-timer AZM, ready to bring all seventeen of her years to the fight (I will never stop finding those jokes funny). AZM dominated the early going, even feeling comfortable enough to mock Iida, inviting her to take her shot.

It was a brave move as one should probably avoid taunting your local Gori-chan, but this was an example of experience outweighing passion. While Giant Saya gave her all, throwing everything into her strikes, AZM was a step ahead. A trio of Suplexes was enough to stun the gorilla and a rather violent twist into the Armbar got the submission.

That finish was a bit messed up, AZM having to reposition Iida who seemed put off by that and then lost her footing. However, it added an edge of brutality to the set-up and mistakes like that rarely bother me anyway. It was a strong match from two wrestlers who I always enjoy.

Verdict: Enjoyable

Red Stars: Konami (1-0) defeated Saya Kamitani (0-1)

Tap or break, kid. Credit: Stardom

Konami, rather chillingly, proclaimed she was aiming for Tall Saya’s neck before the match. If I was our third 5STAR debutant, I’d have probably made my excuses and gone on the run.

Konami didn’t go full vampire, but she did stick to her word, going after Kamitani’s poor neck. That included plenty of stretches and a Dropkick that seemed to connect with the top of her head when Tall Saya tucked her chin. I can’t imagine she enjoyed that one.

Saya had her moments, showing off a couple of new strings to her bow with a nice Axe Kick followed by a Spinning Hell Kick, but this went down a similar route to the previous match. Konami was just that bit ahead of her and when push came to shove, she rolled out of the way of the Running Shooting Star Press and took it home comfortably.

I have this down as a big tournament for Kamitani as it’s a real chance for her to get a run of singles matches under her belt and iron out some of her more erratic tendencies (mainly those that threaten to have her land on her head). This was as solid a way to kick things off as she could have hoped for.

Verdict: Solid

Blue Stars: Maika (1-0) defeated Momo Watanabe (0-1)

Away with you. Credit: Stardom

Wow, I did not see this one coming. I had Maika getting a win over a member of Queen’s Quest during this tournament, but it was her first victory over Utami I saw coming, not Momo. However, this only makes me more confident that Momo is heading for victory as it’s time for Watanabe to run the old rising up from a shit start gauntlet.

Having lost to Momo just a couple of weeks before, Maika was in no mood to repeat her mistakes. The bell had barely rung when she charged across the ring, taking the fight to Watanabe. In that last match, she went after Momo’s leg, but there was none of that here. She was trying to put Momo the fuck down, tossing her around with judo throws and even lifting her in the corner, choking her out as she held her in the air.

It was an onslaught that almost caught Momo entirely off-guard. She battled back into the match briefly, but Maika was relentless, and when she locked on a choke, she just wouldn’t let go. Watanabe was defiant, fighting with every last breath, but the problem with that is that you tend to run out of breath. Eventually, she had no other choice but to tap.

That was an awesome wee match-up as it feels like Momo and Maika are being positioned as long-term rivals. I’m surprised they gave Maika the win so quickly, but Stardom obviously sees something in her, and after performances like this it’s easy to see why.

Verdict: On Yersel’ Maika!

Blue Stars: Syuri (1-0) defeated Natsuko Tora (0-1)

Natsuko looking very relaxed. Credit: Stardom

Some weird booking means that Syuri is building to her title shot by competing in a tournament to win a, em, title shot. You do get a crown and a cape too, so I reckon it’s worth it.

In the ring, I suspect it’s time that people accept this is the role that Natsuko is destined to play. She’s the badass who loses, and as long as Stardom is run the way it is, that’s not going to change. If you want to see wrestlers like her flourish, SEAdLINNNG is probably the place for you.

And even if she’s not being given wins, Natsuko is good in that role. She attacked Syuri before the bell, taking control and bruising through the opening minutes. The problem is that Syuri is no secret to being a badass. Once she got out from under Tora, she was more than happy to stand and trade blows, those vicious kicks proving a decent response.

In the end, Natsuko missed a chain-assisted leg drop and met a bunch of Syuri-assisted boots, which proved more than enough to put her out for the count.

Verdict: Natsuko’s Spot

Red Stars: Jumbo (1-0) defeated Tam Nakano (0-1)

Poor Tam. Credit: Stardom

Poor Tam, she’s not having the best of times when it comes to these DDM types is she?

They built this match around Jumbo’s power. Tam tried, she really fucking tried, but it didn’t seem to matter what she did. Jumbo was bigger and badder than her, lifting her into the air and tossing her around. Nakano fired off with kicks, trying to cut Himeka down to size, but it didn’t matter how many she hit, Jumbo barely seemed to flinch.

It all left me with the distinct feeling that Tam is being cut down before she rises. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic and inventing a story that isn’t there, but this feels a lot like her bashing her head against a DDM wall that one day she’ll breakthrough. Sadly, this wasn’t that day, her inability to hold her bridge on a Suplex removing the one-shot she had to win. When Jumbo fired back up, she made more than sure she wouldn’t have another.

Still, that Jumbo is good, ain’t she?

Verdict: Keep Fighting, Tam!

Red Stars: Utami Hayashishita (1-0) defeated Jungle Kyona (0-1)

Fight! Credit: Stardom

Throwing Utami vs Jungle out on the first night of your tournament? That’s cheating, Stardom.

Unsurprisingly, this was good. Very good, in fact. Jungle and Utami have always had strong chemistry and, to be honest, I’d quite happily watch them run into each other all day. They’re two wrestlers who use their power well, giving real impact to their moves and still retaining a burst of pace that adds snap to things like Lariats.

Another thing that snapped was Utami’s neck as Jungle hit a Hammer Throw Powerbomb onto the apron that looked like it should have killed her. It was around halfway through the match, but it could have been the end. The count had already trickled up to fifteen, and there was no way in hell that Utami was getting up.

Jungle couldn’t help herself, though. She’s not a person who can accept a countout win. She picked Utami up and rolled her into the ring, determined to do this the proper way. Kyona came damn close too, flying from the top with a Splash and hitting a second Powerbomb in the centre of the mat. Utami kicked out, though, because that’s the Jungle story. She should have taken the countout.

Verdict: Take The Countout, Jungle

Red Stars: Giulia (1-0) defeated Mayu Iwatani (0-1)

Okay, Buzz never did that to Woody. Credit: Stardom

The match result that set Twitter ablaze and left me wondering if people have seen Toy Story. When the shiny new toy arrive you can’t have it lost to the old favourite, can you? Giulia is in the midst of the push of a lifetime, and her getting one over Mayu in this match is a result I’d have bet my house on beforehand (I don’t actually have a house).

My Toy Story comparison continues into the action as this very much told the story of Mayu’s old tricks not being enough to put Giulia away. Time after time, she was able to absorb Iwatani’s punishment, eating up Superkicks and even kicking out of the Running Three followed by a Frog Splash. It was presented as Giulia just being too tough for Iwatani. Mayu threw everything at her, but it wasn’t enough.

Then, when It was Giulia’s turn to hit a big move, she made sure it ended it, spiking Mayu not once, but twice on her head with the Glorious Driver. The shock on her face when the three-count was made was well-judged, as she’s proven it’s not just the fact she’s new and sparkly that’s got everyone excited.

Look, I get that people are always going to take against mega pushes and there are times where that is justified. I’m not sure it is in Giulia’s case, though. In my opinion, she’s stepping up at every chance she gets, and while I don’t think she’s some perfect wrestler, she’s proving to be everything Stardom want her to be.

Verdict: She’s Here To Stay

After a perfect day for Donna del Mondo, Giulia was in full bragging mood post-match. Luckily, she had Syuri there to make sure she didn’t get too cocky, pointing out that as Giulia and Himeka are facing off tomorrow, one of them was going to lose. Himeka was also there to assure Giulia it would be her. I’m enjoying the dynamic of the rest of DDM consistently pricking the ego of their leader.

Overall Show

Well, that was a damn fine start to this year’s 5STAR. They packed up this first show with some badass matches and got exactly what they wanted from it. Sure, some people are going to complain about results, but that’s always the case, and judging the path of a tournament by its first night is silly. There is still plenty of time for everyone’s hopes to come to pass.

Watch Stardom:

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