STARDOM: 5★STAR Grand Prix FINALS: September 25th 2021

It’s here folks, it’s the day of the finals. With 10 total matches, including the final match, this is gonna be a long but hopefully fun show. I won’t be doing blow by blow this time, and will just review the matches as I did for the majority of the shows leading up to the finals. That said, sit back and enjoy with me as we experience the Finals of the 2021 Stardom 5★STAR Grand Prix. Our first match is…

Stardom 5★STAR Grand Prix: Natsupoi vs Mina Shirakawa

Kicking things off with the final match for both Natsupoi and Mina Shirakawa, both women have been mathematically eliminated from contention for the crown this year but they can still put on a show for us. I watched this match on Youtube as it aired live and then again on a replay and I couldn’t help be impressed with Mina Shirakawa as she was able to match speed with Natsupoi in the early goings of the match before taking control. That said, you can only keep Natsupoi down for so long, as Mina found out the hard way. This was a fun, fast-paced match that saw both women get some bit moments and decent control lengths. The beginning of the end came when both Mina and Poi battled up the entrance ramp and got near the entrance to the stage. Both women tried to get back into the ring and break the referee’s twenty counts but Mina hit a big DDT to the ring apron and prevented Poi from getting back in. With that big move, Mina was able to barely beat the 10 counts and win the match, earning herself a final 2 points in the tournament. Great and fun match between these two and I hope for more soon.

Mina Shirakawa – 6 points (+2) | Natsupoi – 9 points

We got an announcement for this year’s Stardom Dream Queendom being held on 12/29 before the next match. Coming up next…

Stardom 5★STAR Grand Prix: Saki Kashima vs Fukigen Death (Desu)

We’ve got a battle between Oedo Tai members next as Saki Kashima faces off against Fukigen Death. Going into the tournament this year, when Desu was announced as a replacement for the injured Natsuko Tora, I didn’t expect her to win a single match. Yet, she has and looks to win one final one before the tournament ends. Both women are already eliminated so nothing to show for this other than some bragging rights. You basically know what you’re getting with a Desu match. She’s comedy gold and does her best to just keep people smiling and having fun during her matches. She picked up another win with a roll-up over Saki and shared an imaginary cigarette with her after the match. Short, sweet and not too terrible. Pretty much all you could ask for out of this pairing.

Fukigen Death – 10 points (+2) | Saki Kashima – 4 points

Stardom 5★STAR Grand Prix: Himeka vs Koguma

Himeka comes into this match needing a win. If she wins, she will hold a tiebreaker with Momo Watanabe and be poised to enter the finals. Koguma is out to play spoiler and prevent that. Power vs Speed, who will win it? That’s the question with this match. Right off the bat, Himeka tries to establish her power game but Koguma uses her speed to get away from her. That of course didn’t last as Koguma got Himeka to try acting cute and Himeka turned that around and just levelled Koguma. What I loved about this match, while not the best from either woman of the tournament, was that they were really able to feed off each other despite their clear differences. Koguma was out of action for a long time and she hasn’t lost a step. Hell, she showed some surprising strength in this match as she slammed her larger opponent. I cannot believe that Koguma rolled up Himeka and earned the pinfall in this match. It came out of nowhere and shocked everyone. It ensures that Himeka has no chance of going to the finals!

Koguma – 11 points | Himeka – 10 points

Up next we’ve got the one match I was most looking forward to out of the Red Block this year.

Stardom 5★STAR Grand Prix: Mayu Iwatani vs Starlight Kid

Starlight Kid needs to beat Mayu Iwatani here. If she does, she will win the Red Block with 13 points. A loss ends the High Speed Champion’s run this year. Mayu definitely wants to play spoiler to Kid’s ambitions and also try to knock some sense into her former bff. Mayu even plays some mind games as she enters the ring with a mask on reminiscent of Kid’s own. I was really pulling for Kid in this match from the beginning, especially now that she is so close to winning the Red Block. The match starts strong with the former friends laying into each other with strikes. SLK is really trying to prove to Mayu that she belongs in the same ring with her and that she should be considered her greatest rival. SLK avoided a cross body to the outside and hit a beautiful moonsault to Mayu in retaliation. I cannot believe how good her aerial attacks are, especially her flips. SLK and Mayu hit each other with everything they had. This was a hard hitting, fast paced and really physical match which I was not expecting at all. Yet it played so well into the story between these two and really hammered home that despite Mayu wanting to still be friends with SLK, she was willing to beat the hell out of her if she had to. Kid missed a huge moonsault attempt off the top which I think would have won her the match had she connected. There was one botch in this match where Mayu went for something but it just didn’t go as planned. SLK even tried to end it with a Tombstone Piledriver but Mayu kicked out. SLK had Mayu dead to rights but got cocky, leading Mayu to gain control and eventually pin SLK with a Tiger Suplex, ending Kid’s chances of winning this year. Mayu offers her hand after the match, which Kid ignores and slaps the taste out of her mouth. Mayu returns and forces Kid into a hug before throwing her out of the ring. I was really hoping for a SLK win here, but I understand why Mayu won. It keeps the feud between the two going and should push Kid further down the path of the dark side.

Mayu Iwatani – 11 points (+2) | Starlight Kid – 11 points

With Mayu defeating SLK, that ensures Momo Watanabe has made it to the finals. Up next…

5★STAR Grand Prix: AZM (Azumi) vs Ruaka

This match represents Ruaka’s last chance to win a single match in this year’s tournament whereas AZM is looking to end the tournament on a high note with three straight wins. I wish that AZM had a stronger showing this tournament, but it is what it is. Ruaka attacked AZM before she could even get her coat off, so that tells me she was desperate to get a win here. Honestly, that was about all there is to write about this match. It lasted just over three minutes in length with AZM picking up the win and ending Ruaka’s misery in the tournament. There really wasn’t anything special that happened here. AZM rolled Ruaka into the Azumi Sushi and pinned her to the mat. That was after Oedo Tai tried to interfere. Meh, nothing left to say folks.

AZM – 8 points | Ruaka – 0 points

Well that was a bonafide cool down match ala WWE if I’ve ever seen one. We’ve got, hopefully, a much better match up next.

5★STAR Grand Prix: Saya Kamitani vs Unagi Sayaka

Saya is poised to win it all. She just needs to surpass Unagi Sayaka here in this match and she will face Momo Watanabe in the finals. Saya won the Cinderella tournament earlier this year and is hoping to pull off a repeat and win the next big tournament. Unagi, eliminated from a chance in the finals, is looking to play spoiler. This is definitely a match between two women who are the absolute future of Stardom. This match was a lot of fun. It was fast-paced and had a lot of huge moments for each woman. I couldn’t help but be impressed by both of them. Either woman could have ended it at any point. It was back and forth for the whole match and neither woman gave an inch. Honest to god it was almost as good as Natsupoi vs Starlight Kid’s title match from last month. That’s how good this match was. There were several points in the match where I thought Saya had Unagi beat and yet Unagi found a way to counter and get back into the match. These two beat the absolute hell out of each other and there was never a moment where the match was not entertaining. The crowd loved it and I did too. Unfortunately, Unagi Sayaka managed to pick up the victory after more than eleven minutes of non-stop action. Unagi even missed her spot on a Frankensteiner attempt by Saya, but no one was hurt thank god. She used a package piledriver (it looked like) and ended Saya’s chances of winning the tournament outright. She can still win it if Takumi and Konami lose or draw their matches. She has to hope Syuri loses to Takumi in order for Syuri to not win it.

Unagi Sayaka – 9 points | Saya Kamitani – 11 points

5★STAR Grand Prix: Maika vs Konami

Maika is looking to play spoiler here. If Konami wins she has a clear shot at winning the blue block, but if she loses then she’s done. Maika is mathematically done but can at least do her part in maybe ensuring her teammate Syuri wins it all. The Submission Sniper had her work cut out for her in this match for sure. Especially given how Maika will do everything in her power to pave the way for Syuri to win it all. A member of Donna del Mondo winning is the goal, especially since the rest are all eliminated mathematically. This was a hard-fought match from bell to bell. It wasn’t ever going to be a speed game, instead, it was power vs technical skills and that made for a very interesting match this time around. Konami went in and pulled every trick in her arsenal from kicks to submission holds. Maika just kept her power game on point and muscled Konami around every chance she got. Maika nailed Konami with a Michinoku Driver 2 and ended Konami’s run this year. Damn shame, but this was a good match at the end of the day. I was really pulling for Konami in this one.

Maika – 9 points | Konami – 10 points

Maika gave Syuri the opening she needs to make it to the finals. She only needs to win or draw with Takumi Iroha and she is almost guaranteed to win the blue block this year. Speaking of those two;

5★STAR Grand Prix: Syuri vs Takumi Iroha

This may end up being the match of the night folks as Takumi Iroha and Syuri face off in their final match. Win, lose or draw, this match is going to be hard-hitting and extremely physical. An interesting note before we begin the match is that both Takumi and Syuri fought Utami Hayashishita to a draw in this years GP. For the first few minutes, there was a feeling-out process, each woman unsure how to engage the other. I knew there was a chance of this as both women are prolific strikers and are basically mirror images of the other. That was all but confirmed as they spent the early portions of this match trading the same moves against each other. It was a true stalemate and the crowd seemed to love it. This match was everything I expected it to be and then some. It was twenty minutes of non-stop physical action that could have gone either way. There were plenty of huge spots, mostly involving strikes and power moves, that could have netted either a win. I found myself wishing that I could see a triple threat match between Syuri. Takumi and Utami. Dear god that matches idea has me drooling from excitement. That could be the match of the year if it ever happened. What we got here at the end of the day was twenty minutes of each woman throwing everything they had at each other. Neither woman could get a clear advantage and keep it, thus leading to a twenty-minute time-limit draw. I can’t say I’m disappointed with this finish. After all, this was the absolute best way to ensure both women looked as strong as they could be. It even lends a thought that Takumi could be Syuri’s greatest rival. Phenomenal match and easily match of the night. All Syuri needs now is for Takumi Iroha to lose or draw Tam Nakano and her path to the finals is set in stone.

Syuri – 12 points | Takumi Iroha – 11 points

The final match that will ultimately decide the finals for this years GP is.

5★STAR Grand Prix: Utami Hayashishita vs Tam Nakano

Utami Hayashishita absolutely has to beat Tam Nakano to even have a chance at getting into the finals for the second year in a row. With Syuri getting the one point for the draw, it’s Utami’s tournament to lose. It’s also the battle of champions as Utami is the World of Stardom Champion, the red belt, against Nakano who is the Wonder of Stardom Champion, the white belt. I didn’t come into this match expecting a technical masterpiece. Instead, I expected a hard-hitting affair since both Tam and Utami can throw it down. Tam came into the match like the spitfire she is and gave Utami everything she had, pulling out every trick in her arsenal. There were also plenty of times when Utami gave it right back to Tam and had her on the ropes. This was a lot of fun, not as much as Syuri and Takumi, but it was a phenomenal match regardless. The ending of the match saw Tam Nakano bolster her claim to top champion in Stardom as the white belt surpassed the red one. Tam Nakano managed to defeat Utami Hayashishita with the Twilight Dream and end her chances of a repeat. This means that the finals are set and it’s Momo Watanabe vs Syuri!

Tam Nakano – 10 points (+2) | Utami Hayashishita – 10 points

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time for the Finals in this year’s Stardom 5★STAR Grand Prix!

Stardom 5★STAR Grand Prix Finals: Momo Watanabe vs Syuri

Syuri, who went to an exhausting 20-minute time-limit draw against Takumi Iroha not 30 minutes before this finals match is up against Momo Watanabe, who was in a three-way dark match against Hanan and Rina. Coming into it, Momo is definitely the fresher of the two women but Syuri was the betting favourite going into this years GP and I have to believe she remains as such. The match opens with both women trading kicks to the chest with Momo eventually bringing Syuri down. I think that opening exchange is going to set the tone for what this match is going to be about. It’s basically a stalemate as far as skill and experience go here. I think that Momo’s experience is why she was allowed to set the pace early in this match. Once Syuri got it going though, this turned into a lot more physical match than it had started off. We got a nearly twenty-minute match that saw plenty of times where Momo or Syuri could have ended it but just weren’t able to get the final count. Hell Syuri hit this vicious-looking back fist and I’m shocked she didn’t legit knock out Momo. This wasn’t the match of the night, but it was damn close to it. In the end, the betting favourite Syuri finished off Momo Watanabe to capture the crown in this year’s Grand Prix.

Winner of the 2021 Stardom 5★STAR Grand Prix: Syuri

She will challenge for the World of Stardom Championship and has set the date for December 29th at Stardom Dream Queendom. She’s likely to face the winner of the Utami Hayashishita vs Takumi Iroha match that will take place on October 9. During Syuri’s speech, she kept getting interrupted as people challenged each other in an attempt to steal her spotlight. Tam Nakano challenged Mayu Iwatani for the Wonder of Stardom title and Takumi challenged Utami. October 9 is shaping up to be a phenomenal card with some big matches.

  • Koguma vs Hazuki in HZK’s return to Stardom match
  • Future of Stardom Championship: Unagi Sayaka vs Ruaka
  • High Speed Championship: Starlight Kid vs Fukigen Death
  • Wonder of Stardom Championship: Tam Nakano vs Mayu Iwatani
  • World of Stardom Championship: Utami Hayashishita vs Takumi Iroha

Alright, with that out of the way, Stardom handed out the awards for this year’s tournament after the match.

  • Technical Skill Award: Starlight Kid
  • Fighting Spirit Award: Unagi Sayaka
  • Outstanding Performance Award: AZM
  • Red Stars Best Bout: Mayu Iwatani vs Giulia from 8/1
  • Blue Stars Best Bout: Syuri vs Takumi Iroha from 9/25
  • 2021 5★ GP Finalist: Momo Watanabe (Red Stars Block Winner)
  • 2021 5★ Winner: Syuri (Blue Stars Block Winner)

I hope you all enjoyed following along with the Stardom 5★ Star Grand Prix with me this year. Keep your eyes open for more from Stardom and Japan from me, the end of the year is going to be big for Joshi Puroresu. See you all next time folks!

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