Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix (Night 12/9/20) Review

Credit: Stardom

This was Stardom’s second show from Fukuoka last weekend and they still had one to go before they were done. I’m tired from reviewing them all, so I can’t imagine what the wrestlers were thinking. There is nothing like a tournament to test your cardio, but when that tournament has to cancel shows? Well, it seems a bit nightmarish to me.

Red Stars: Death Yama-san (1-4) defeated Saya Kamitani (1-3-1)

Tall Saya stole a win over Tam early in the day, so it was time for Death to repay the failure.

Kamitani dominated this match. Death had her moments, the occasional flurry when her shtick gave her an opening, but it was almost a squash – the rookie with slightly over a year of experience taking the twenty-one-year veteran to school. Except, you don’t last twenty-one years without learning a thing or two.

For when Tall Saya hit her Running Shooting Star, Death was ready, twisting her weight to trap the kid’s shoulders to the mat. She may listen to Emperor and have a limited vocabulary, but Yama-san knows how to get it done.

Verdict: Never Underestimate A Veteran

Red Stars: Konami (4-1) defeated Starlight Kid (1-5)

Konami’s tournament has been built around her ability to dictate the tempo of her matches. She’s always the one in control, slowing people down and making them play her game.

It appears Kid wanted to break that flow. She flew out of the blocks and was constantly on the move. If you’re charging about the place, leaping into Dropkicks at every chance, then it’s kind of hard for someone to take your arm.

The plan was working to perfection too. Konami got into the occasional hold, but Kid was always able to escape and keep the pressure up. Then, she went for the kill and Konami slipped out of the Ki-chan Bomb. Seconds later, poor Starlight was tapping.

Konami and Kid are two people I have high expectations for, and for their spot on the card, this blew them out the water. It was a brilliantly worked wee match that played into both their tournament arcs. Kid is repeatedly coming within inches of getting the win while Konami’s ability to grab a submission at any time is proving lethal. Brilliant stuff.

Verdict: Loved It

Giulia defeated Tam Nakano and Hanan in a Three-Way

Poor Hanan was sporting bruises on her chest from the beating Momo gave her earlier in the day. She also had the misfortune of being dropped into a match with Giulia and Tam, two people who do not get along.

Hanan would end up being a pawn in their games as Giulia rolled to the outside, refusing to face off with two STARS’ members. Tam would then beat up Hanan and throw her out the ring, only for Giulia to roll her straight back in. One wouldn’t have blamed her if she was feeling a bit put upon as they played tennis with her.

That would become the theme of the action as Hanan was slipped into the role of a confused child stuck between two fighting parents. It was probably made even worse by the fact both parents kept beating her up. Still, she did it very well and when you combine this with her impressive showing against Momo, she’s really stepping up.

Verdict: Yes, I Spent The Review Talking About Hanan

Giulia and Tam took a couple of minutes to build to their match (why they’re going back to that already, I don’t know). It ended with Tam calling Giulia stupid and promising to crush her, so it was fairly standard stuff.

Riho and AZM defeated Oedo Tai (Natsuko Tora and Saki Kashima)

Riho is great, but fucking hell is her entire Stardom run pointless. She wanders around a random selection of tag partners, never losing and kind of just, existing. The most entertaining part has been other people bickering over her affection while she stands looking confused. Sadly, neither Natsu nor Utami were in this match, so we didn’t even get that.

It’s not like she’s shite either. She’s too good a wrestler to be shite. If Hina had occupied her role in this match, I’d be raving about her performance, but it’s not Hina. It’s Riho, and I’m not sure it’s worth bringing her in just to be a face in a random tag putting on a good showing.

Still, the match was alright. There was a moment where Saki and Natsuko dragged Riho and AZM backstage before returning with them on a trolley that they drove into a ring post, so that was fun. Christ, I sound like a right grump. I did genuinely enjoy the action right up until Saki started beating on AZM with a chair to cause the DQ. Oedo Tai still don’t give a shit, and that’s a storyline I’m hoping is not just Stardom being unsure what to do with them (I shan’t hold my breath).

Verdict: Much Better Than My Moaning Suggests

Blue Stars: Syuri (3-2) defeated Saya Iida (0-5)

Syuri was caught off-guard by AZM earlier in the day and was determined not to make the same mistake. There was a ruthless efficiency to the way she started against Giant Saya, slowly unpicking her with kicks and submissions.

Gori-chan doesn’t go down without a fight, though. She finally found that fire towards the end, unleashing with chops and powering into the match. It was brief, the sparking of a flame rather than the roar of a fire, but it was enough to make sure she wasn’t completely dismantled.

Ultimately, this was a very decisive match. As much as it might not be what I want, Giant Saya was drafted in late and is there to take a beating. She does it well, but on this occasion, it probably didn’t make for something you needed to see. Still, as Syuri looked to the sky afterwards, it was hard not to think about how shit her week must have been. Some stuff is more important things than 5STAR points.

Verdict: All The Love To Syuri

Blue Stars: Maika (3-1) defeated Jungle Kyona (3-3)

Holy shit, Stardom is going all out on this Maika push, aren’t they? I expected her to pick up one or two wins, and now she’s one result away from guaranteeing a positive record. Of course, this being Stardom, Jungle was her latest conquest because, well, why not?

And while Jungle being on the receiving end might not be my first choice, I do support the decision to get behind Maika. As I’ve been saying at every opportunity, the lass is good, and in typical Jungle fashion, she was made to look even better than usual here. A lot of the upsets in this tournament have been smash and grabs, but this was nothing like that. Maika matched Jungle physically, using her judo to throw her around the ring.

It made for a hard-hitting match that ended with Maika picking up a dominant victory. I did not see that coming, especially not in that style, but fuck it, my Jungle love aside, I’m a fan.

Verdict: Maika’s Got A Jetpack

Red Stars: Mayu Iwatani (3-2) defeated Jumbo (4-1-1)

With Himeka sweeping all in her path, it was time for the Icon to see if she could slay Jumbo.

It wasn’t going to be an easy day at the office for Mayu. Jumbo didn’t so much overpower her as crush her, leaving the champ to take a beating. Few people get beat up as well as Mayu, as she flopped around the ring, eating move after move. It bore a passing resemblance to one of the matches of the year, as like Iroha before her, Himeka looked to be taking Iwatani to school.

Sadly, while it was good, it didn’t come near the level of that match. Instead, we got a kind of sudden finish, Mayu hitting a Superkick before following up with a brace of Germans for a rather straightforward three. It all felt a bit sudden, especially after the way Jumbo had dominated.

Despite that, I did like this. It made Jumbo look strong while giving Mayu the win that she needed to stay in contention. However, it felt like we were kind of cheated of a third act. These two have a lot more to give and fingers crossed we get it someday.

Verdict: They Can Do More

Blue Stars: Momo Watanabe (2-2-1) and Utami Hayashishita (4-0-1) fought to a time-limit draw

While Momo vs Mayu still feels like Stardom’s biggest match, Momo vs Utami is the one that sits firmly in spot number two. Queen’s Quests central pairing have faced off once before, in New York, and put on a banger, so for Stardom to give away their first meeting in Japan was a big call.

It felt even more important with the story Momo seems to have been telling recently. Her grip on QQ is slipping, Utami choosing to team with Tall Saya instead of her (and winning the belts she couldn’t) being the latest blow in a series of them. Not that long ago, she was the impervious champ, beating all in her record-breaking white belt reign. Now, she’s struggling through the 5STAR, losing to the likes of Maika. This was her chance to grab some stability, cement her spot at the top of QQ and get her 5STAR pointed in the right direction too.

For long periods that looked to be the way she was headed. Momo controlled the early action, almost cockily walking around Utami, lashing out at her with kicks. It felt like Watanabe flowing back into herself, remembering how much of a badass she is. Unfortunately, even as she worked Utami over, she wasn’t able to get the job done. She could have all the swagger on the planet, but the longer this went, the more her number two came into it.

It built to a final act where they went all out. They have the best kind of chemistry, the kind born from a friendship that means they can lay into every move without any worry of anger. Everything looked like it hurt and yet there wasn’t enough there to separate them. Utami hit the final move, a Lariat as the time elapsed, but neither was in control. Momo’s spot at the top of QQ didn’t shake any further, but it wasn’t solidified either.

Verdict: The Momo Drama Continues

Overall Show

That’s probably my favourite 5STAR show so far? I don’t know. It’s hard to remember them all, especially with the break in the middle. However, I really enjoyed it, and Momo vs Utami is definitely my favourite match that didn’t involve Mayu being forcibly made to read an extract from her book. Some bars are too high to hurdle.

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