STARDOM: 5★STAR GP – Review of Day 1 | Red & Blue Block

The day has come, my fellow Stardom fans. What day is that you may be asking, well it’s none other than the beginning of the 5★STAR GP! We’ve got a lot of interesting match-ups this year and there are sure to be some surprises along the way.

As I said, we have a lot of interesting matches in this tournament and a lot of interesting plot twists that can happen. For example, if Koguma pins Natsupoi, she is next in line for the High-Speed Championship. Or even if Unagi defeats Tam Nakano, then Unagi becomes the leader of the Cosmic Angels unit! Let’s get it going then, shall we?

5★STAR GP | Shirakawa Mina vs Fukigen Desu (Death)

Our first match of the show is Fukigen Death vs Mina Shirakawa. We’ve got the crafty, long-time veteran in Death against the upstart, really inexperienced Shirakawa here. As both women make their entrances, I can’t help but chuckle each time I see Fukigen with Konami as of late.. Konami has Fukigen parading around in a collar and dog chain and it’s such an interesting dynamic there. Fukigen also has finally changed her clown outfit to look like a more poisonous being, that’s how it was described don’t blame me. This is actually the perfect first round match for both women given their experience levels. Say what you will about Shirakawa, but the former gravure model has improved so much in her two years of experience that it’s frankly astounding. She’s got the look, she has charisma and she is always getting better in the ring. One thing to keep in mind as well about Fukigen, she is most likely in the tournament to put over the younger stars so don’t expect her to win many matches this year.. We see Fukigen in control for the early parts of the match, frustrating Mina and using her veteran wiles, until Mina reverses it with a Romero Special and takes control. Interference from Konami, briefly but it really doesn’t do much for Fukigen. In the end, we see Mina with an unique roll-up for the upset pinfall. This was a really short match, maybe around five minutes or so, but I suppose that’s what you get when you have a rookie in there against a 40+ year old vet. Apologies for not going too in-depth for this match, it was super short. Just watch it if you want a play-by-play.

Mina Shirakawa – 2 points | Fukigen Death – 0 points

5★STAR GP | “High Speed Fairy” Natuspoi vs “High Speed Genius” Koguma

Our second match of the show pits Koguma against Natsupoi. If Koguma wins, she is pretty much guaranteed the next title shot against Natsupoi for the High Speed Championship. I loved Koguma during her first run, but five years out of the ring definitely shows. She’s not as fast as she once was, but she is still just as athletic as before. So this should be an intriguing match for all, especially since this is the first time that Natsupoi has been in the ring since returning from injury. If you’ve never seen Natsupoi in the ring, man is she athletic. You gotta check her out. Anyway..

Natsupoi starts early with a couple roll-ups to try and surprise Koguma but to no avail. Some back and forth, both women showing their athleticism but Natsupoi controls most of the action. Koguma suddenly slides out of the ring after being whipped into the ropes and disappears while Natsupoi has her back turned. Poi looking all around for her opponent, who is hiding under the ring. It’s pretty funny watching Poi calling for Koguma and looking all around for her. She does an excellent job with this and really sells the whole hide and seek thing. Commentary chuckles about it while Natsupoi grows frustrated. Koguma with a roll-up for two followed by a slam and a double foot stomp. Pinfall for two only, Koguma in control going for a slam that Natsupoi finesses out of and gets control back. Double stomp to the back earns Poi a 2. She’s got Koguma in the ropes and pulls back on her nose, ouch. Koguma climbs the ropes but Poi pulls the same hide and seek thing, coming out behind Koguma and pushing her off the ropes, only to fly down and splash her. Back in the ring with another beautiful splash only gets Poi a 2. Stretch muffler applied, Poi trying to ground Koguma here, but Koguma makes it to the ropes. Poi firmly in control and hits a vicious dropkick in the ropes, snapping Koguma’s head back only for two. Man Natsupoi looks freaking amazing in the ring, like she hasn’t lost a single step at all in her absence. Both women rolling around with each other trying for the win but only getting two counts, back and forth, several near falls in succession before Koguma hits a nice cutter (RKO). Poi blocks a suplex attempt and hits a hook kick before nailing the Star Crusher, but is unable to pick up the pin. Koguma reverses with a DDT and climbs the ropes, but Poi meets her on the top and drags her down by the hair. Poi is now to the top with a spinning splash (think Twisted Bliss) attempt but misses. Koguma hits a dropkick off the top for two then slams Poi to the mat with a bridging German Suplex and picks up the three! Koguma guarantees herself a title shot against Natsupoi in the future! Fantastic match and it was an absolute joy to see Natsupoi back in the ring. Man, she can do some amazing things in there, hopefully, she does better in her next match.

Koguma – 2 points | Natsupoi – 0 points

Brief intermission as they announce a Stardom manga. I’d definitely buy it if I were in Japan.. anyway, we’re back to the action with one of my most anticipated matches on Day 1.

5★STAR GP | Giulia vs Starlight Kid

Whoever messed up and played Giulia’s video during Kid’s entrance better do it right next time. Giulia is definitely amongst the favourites to win it this year, with 3-1 odds for her. Me personally, I am pulling for Kid, as I absolutely love watching her in the ring and she is one of my favourites in Stardom. She’s got so much athleticism and yet is still insanely young (I think) so she has a long time to grow still. Plus, this new darker, more aggressive Kid is just fun. I freaking love Starlight Kid. Giulia actually tore one of Kid’s masks earlier this year so Kid is looking for a bit of payback here.

The bell sounds and we are underway. Giulia with a clear power advantage against Kid, dragging her down and trying to mount her but Kid gets away. Kid initiates a test of strength, which Giulia quickly muscles her over. Kid back up though with an arm drag, but Giulia counters with one of her own and takes control. Slamming Kid into the turnbuckle then choking her with the boot. Kid with a reversal, sliding out of the ring and tripping Giulia, to smash her leg into the ring post.

Kid in control now and focusing on the leg. Kid’s like a shark that smells blood here, working on that leg and keeping Giulia off her feet. Smart by Kid if I may say. She keeps her offense focused on the leg, using the ropes to inflict more damage. Dragon screw by Kid into a figure 4, a submission game from Kid we don’t see often enough. Giulia makes it to the bottom rope, using her upper body strength to drag Kid to the apron. Kid doesn’t let up though, picking Giulia up who hits her with two big boots before taking control and dead-lifting Kid with a release German. Giulia to the top and hits a dropkick for two. She’s in control and locks in a submission, which Kid reverses and then Giulia reverses again. Roll-up by Kid gets two. We’ve got the strike match now, trading forearm blows which Giulia takes control of, dropping Kid to the mat. Kid back up and slaps Giulia before driving her to the mat with strikes of her own. Kid’s aggressive style really suits her, I love it.

DDT attempt reversed into a release suplex by Giulia who climbs the ropes. Kid meets her and hits an interesting version of a hurricanrana but can’t follow up. Giulia with a power move gets a two then Kid does the same with a double-arm DDT. Cloverleaf by Kid in the center of the ring but Giulia manages to crawl to the ropes. Kid with a backbreaker which Giulia didn’t really help her with, it looked awkward. Kid to the top, moonsault but Giulia counters into a triangle choke then transitions into a double-arm lock which Kid breaks by getting to the ropes. A couple more near falls before Giulia hits Kid with a delayed vertical into a slam. Giulia hits a brain-buster type move and picks up the win, pinning Kid after an intense match. I was really pulling for Kid here but Giulia is the favorite to win it all so it makes sense. After the match, Giulia tries ripping the mask off Kid but doesn’t manage to do so.

Giulia – 2 points | Starlight Kid – 0 points

5★STAR GP | Tam Nakano vs Unagi Sayaka

If Unagi wins, she becomes the leader of the Cosmic Angels Unit.

So, Tam Nakano and Unagi Sayaka are both top-tier talents in Stardom with Unagi really coming into her own as of late. She’s improved a lot, much like her stablemate Shirakawa. This should be a really good match between two friends and unit mates. Unagi is also debuting a new look today and it looks pretty cool if I do say so myself. Will we see another upset here? Time will tell.

Unagi offers a handshake but kicks Tam in the face then begins beating her down. Tam counters though with a vicious kick to the stomach. Tam is in control here, using her strength and striking against Unagi. Man, Nakano’s kicks are vicious. Tam begins working the left leg, grounding Unagi and using a modified, bridging leg lock to inflict some pain. Kimura locked in as well now but Unagi refuses to give up. Tam is just toying with Unagi now, still with the leg lock on and just giving her no room to do anything. Unagi does manage to get to the ropes eventually but Nakano is back on the leg with a double knee. Tam with some stiff kicks, brings Unagi to the mat for a two. Pretty bad cover attempt there Tam. She lifts Unagi back up, Unagi selling the leg moves out of the way and gets slammed to the mat for her troubles. Another arrogant pin by Tam nets a two. She’s gonna be her own downfall if this keeps up. Unagi with some forearm strikes but Tam isn’t phased, she is smiling and then knocks Unagi down with one stiff forearm. Tam runs the ropes but gets slammed to the mat by Unagi!

Unagi up, trying to keep the momentum going, and hits a facebuster before a big leg drop for two. Kick by Tam followed by an elbow by Unagi but she gets floored with a stiff spinning kick by Tam. Her kicks are absolutely lethal folks. Unagi looks out of it but Tam doesn’t let the Ref check, instead goes for the pin but gets a two. She seems frustrated as she tries to slam Unagi down again. Strikes to the back only to get shotgunned into the ropes by Unagi. She’s selling the shit out of her left leg being injured. Nakano’s back in control before they begin exchanging strikes, you know, the staple of nearly every Stardom match. Tam dares Unagi to throw everything she has at her and Tam is not really affected and slaps the taste out of Unagi’s mouth. Tam calling for it after a suplex and hits a nasty knee to the face. Arrogant cover again nets Tam a two. Unagi meets Tam at the top with strikes but gets knocked off. Tam with a knee to the head from the top but only gets two! Man Unagi is tough. Tam goes for her finisher but Unagi counters with a roll-up. Stiff strikes by Unagi as she tries to fire herself up. But it’s to no avail as Tam slams her to the mat then uses her shorts to pick her up. Tam goes for another one but Unagi reverses a slam attempt into a beautiful surprise slam of her own and picks up the pin! Unagi has upset Tam Nakano and becomes the leader of the Cosmic Angels! Nakano is in shock as she should be, shaking her head as Mina Shirakawa escorts her to the back.

Unagi Sayaka – 2 points | Tam Nakano – 0 points

5★STAR GP | Syuri vs Saya Kamitani

Up next we have Syuri vs Kamitani Saya. Saya won the Cinderella Dream tournament earlier this year and has looked really impressive in the ring this year. That said, Syuri is on another level right now and is the clear favorite in the Blue Block this year. This should be a really hard hitting affair and could be the match of the night.

Right off the bat we have the speed and strikes going with Saya getting a brief advantage. It’s pretty back and forth here in the early going, couple near falls with lots of strikes from both women. Neither woman gains any clear momentum thus far, each trading a pretty even split of the offense. That is until Syuri takes it outside and hits Saya with a stiff knee to the chest. Syuri in control in the corner, using her strength advantage to keep Saya grounded. Stiff strikes lead to a two. Syuri taking her time here, hitting some strikes and a big slam, trying to wear down Saya. Saya tries to come back into it with some stiff strikes of her own but Syuri is right back in control. That is, until Saya hits a frankensteiner and takes control. Springing splash to the outside by Saya! She got some good air on that one. Back in the ring and Saya climbs the ropes. Dropkick from the top gets Saya a two. Syuri counters a suplex attempt with some stiff kicks to the chest and has regained control. Armbar by Syuri but Saya says no she won’t tap and makes it to the ropes. A beautiful pump kick by Saya puts her back in control as she counters several strike attempts by Syuri.

Syuri hits a gut buster but can’t follow up right away and gets a two for her effort. Saya with a nearfall after catching a kick and reversing it into a capture suplex. Saya hits a nice slam but only gets two. She signals and goes to the top, but Syuri meets her there and pushes her off. Dropkick by Saya brings Syuri off the ropes. Kneeling strike exchange now, back and forth until Saya brings Syuri to the mat. Slap by Syuri staggers Saya who slaps her back. Now we’ve got a slap fest and man these are stiff. Both women slapping the shit out of each other and man their faces are red. Running the ropes until Syuri drags Saya down with an arm bar and then slams her with a suplex. Saya up though with a spinning heel kick. High kick by Syuri followed by a frankensteiner by Saya. Knee to the back by Syuri for two. Another arm bar by Syuri but Saya makes it to the ropes. Trio of back fists by Syuri before dropping her on her head and picking up the pin. Syuri wins a really hard fought and stiff match, just as I thought it would be.  After the match, Syuri picks up Saya by the hair but Saya slaps her across the face and crawls away. Great match by two women who always bring it.

Syuri – 2 points | Saya Kamitani – 0 points

Natsupoi joins the commentary team and they chat for a bit before the next match.

5★STAR GP | Mayu Iwatani vs Momo Watanabe

Ever since the blocks were announced, this was one of two matches I most wanted to see as it pits the eternal rivals of Iwatani and Watanabe against each other once again. They really have great chemistry in the ring together and it shows each time they face off.

Handshake before the match and we’re underway. Mayu playful at first but Momo takes control with a headlock. Some counters by both women and we get a stalemate. These two know each other so well and it shows. Momo in control with some stiff kicks to the back and begins working the neck of Mayu. Momo is firmly in control and keeps working Mayu’s head and neck, keeping Mayu down and not giving her any space. Mayu with a sudden roll counter into a head kick! Mayu starts building some momentum with some kicks of her own to Momo’s back, which is taped up a bit. Aww Mayu lost her tail..Oh well. Thigh kick by Mayu after a double stomp to the lower back.

A couple near falls for Mayu and you can see she is getting frustrated. It’s clear on her face. Momo counters with a dropkick. Couple more into the corner by Momo then a suplex leads to two. Chicken wing applied in the center of the ring but Mayu makes it to the ropes. Momo bringing some killer instinct tonight but Mayu counters once again. Northern Lights by Mayu for two. Dropkick against the ropes by Mayu sends Momo outside. Mayu gets hit with a headkick and slammed to the mat for two. Superkick by Mayu but she can’t capitalize, both women down. Iwatani is the absolute Queen of selling, just saying, it’s one of the reasons she is the best in the world. Strike exchange now, stiff shots from both women but Mayu ends it with a dragon screw into an ankle lock. Momo makes it to the ropes to cause the break.

Mayu focuses on the ankle and leg now and kicks Momo to the outside again. This time, she hits a beautiful splash off the top to the floor. Back in the ring with Mayu in control. Up to the rop and hits a big front dropkick, slow to pin and nets a two. Beautiful counter pin by Mayu gets a two followed by a stiff head kick. Mayu up top going for a moonsault but Momo moves out of the way. Momo with a meteora for two into a chin lock. Momo back in control with a sick kick to the head on the apron. Back in the ring and Momo hits a driver but only for two. She picks Mayu up with a tiger suplex, again for two. Mayu bleeding from the chin rolls up Momo for two but Momo hits her with a big kick. Picks up Mayu for a modified bomb into the pinfall. Momo Watanabe pins Mayu Iwatani. What a sick match, every bit as good as all their matches previously. Good sportsmanship after the match by both women, as expected from these two great rivals. Mayu has to be carried to the back, she is exhausted.

Momo Watanabe – 2 points | Mayu Iwatani – 0 points

5★STAR GP | Utami Hayashishita vs Maika

Up next is another match between Maika and Utami Hayashishita. These two have faced off before and have really good chemistry in the ring. Utami won this very tournament in 2020 and went on to beat Mayu Iwatani for the World of Stardom Championship. Will we see another upset with Maika defeating Utami, or will the Red Queen reign victorious once again? Let’s just see what they bring to the table today, shall we?

Like the previous match, we get a pretty even start with both women looking to gain the upper hand. A lot of standing switches and headlocks to start. Utami drops Maika and begins working her over, delayed scoop slam nets Utami two. You wouldn’t know that Utami only has a few years under her belt with how good she is in the ring. She is firmly in control here and gets another near fall on Maika. Camel clutch by Utami but Maika says no and gets out of it by scooting back to the ropes. Double knee to the back by Utami and she gets another two count. Utami getting cocky and Maika hits her with a rock bottom for two.

Maika rolls Utami into an arm lock, using the fingers to add some pressure but Utami makes it to the ropes. Maika begins focusing on the right arm of Utami, using the ropes to hyperextend the arm. Both women trade clotheslines until Utami slams Maika to the mat again. Maika sent outside by a clothesline and gives Utami some time to recover. Outside the ring, Maika catches Utami and dead-lifts her into a vertical suplex. Maika back to working the arm, slamming it into the apron. Maika then throws Utami shoulder first into the ring post and slides back into the ring. Utami rolls back in and Maika pounces, working the left arm this time and then switches back to the right.

Utami counters a suplex with a choke but Maika powers out of the choke and hits a brain-buster for two. Utami counters a running slam with a release german, which is immediately followed by one from Maika, and another counter with a clothesline from Utami. Back and forth still, both women working their ass off in this match. Both women back up and charge each other like two bulls, hitting each other with lariats and knocking each other to the mat. Both women down after that and immediately knock each other back down as soon as they stand. The crowd is loving this match as am I, this is really an awesome match. Utami gets a near fall and heads to the top. Maika catches her and climbs the ropes too, hitting a superplex off the top rope. Maika crawls for the pin and gets only two. Judo slam by Maika again gets two. Triangle choke now by Maika but Utami powers out and drops Maika to the mat.

Utami is back on the ropes and hits a dropkick before hoisting Maika up for a german suplex which nets two. She signals this is the end and picks Maika up, Utami hits her slam and is slow to make the pin so Maika kicks out! I don’t think she got all of it either. Utami goes for a razor’s edge but drops Maika, she can’t hold her up. Choke by Maika and Utami drops her, but Maika goes right back to it. Utami makes it to the ropes and breaks the choke, just barely. The ref forces Maika to break the hold when she won’t release it. Maika dead-lifting Utami up and nails her with a Michinoku Driver, picking up the win! Another upset! Maika has pinned Utami Hayashishita! Holy shit that was a fun match. Both women rightly exhausted after that match and red as all hell from smacking each other so much. Maika definitely earned that win there and the reigning winner is off to a bad start.

Maika – 2 points | Utami Hayashishita – 0 points

Current 5★STAR GP Red Stars standings:
2 points Giulia
2 points Mina Shirakawa
2 points Koguma
2 points Momo Watanabe
0 points Mayu Iwatani
0 points Himeka
0 points Natsupoi
0 points Fukigen Death
0 points Saki Kashima
0 points Starlight Kid

Current 5★STAR GP Blue Stars standings:
2 points Unagi Sayaka
2 points Syuri
2 points Maika
0 points Utami Hayashishita
0 points Saya Kamitani
0 points Tam Nakano
0 points Takumi Iroha
0 points AZM
0 points Konami
0 points Ruaka

Keep your eyes open for continuing reviews for the rest of the tournament. Since there are some that aren’t full shows, expect some brief updates now and then. See you for day two!

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