STARDOM: 5★STAR Grand Prix: September 11th/12th 2021

Alright, so I’ve been a total slacker on keeping the Grand Prix updated, so today I am going to break down the four shows worth of Grand Prix matches that we’ve missed and give them to you. We’ll start on September 11 and get it going. There are a lot of matches, so I’ll only focus on the Grand Prix itself.

5★STAR Grand Prix: Mayu Iwatani vs Fukigen DEATH

We’re starting off with Mayu Iwatani and Fukigen DEATH. As I’ve noted before, none of Desu’s matches has been very long this tournament and I’m not expecting that to change here. What’s intriguing is this match between two former Unit mates as Desu and Mayu were both in STARS together before Oedo Tai (specifically Konami) won Desu for their unit. Desu pulled her usual shenanigans, using her newspaper and a steel chair even, and this was actually the most competitive match for her this tournament. It’s like she found another gear because she was in the ring with Mayu, which I appreciated a lot. What sucks is that Fukigen knocked herself out with the aforementioned chair by bouncing it off the top rope into her own face. The referee saw Mayu Iwatani holding the chair and Desu on the ground, so he disqualified Mayu and awarded Fukigen the win.

Fukigen Death – 4 points (+2) | Mayu Iwatani – 6 points

5★STAR Grand Prix: Utami Hayashishita vs Azumi (AZM)

Up next we’ve got two members of Queen’s Quest facing off in Utami Hayashishita and Azumi or AZM. I’m fully expecting this match to be amazing as it’s two of the best Stardom has to offer facing off. I have to say though that I am very disappointed with Azumi’s booking in this tournament. She’s barely gotten any points and has had a lot of very tough losses thus far. These two know each other really well and it showed in their match. AZM and Utami had a lot of back and forth, and I am honestly surprised that Utami was able to hold her own against AZM’s speed. There were plenty of times that either woman could have won this match and honestly it just made me want to see more between these two. AZM is still super young, so she has a long time to earn that red belt that Utami holds, but this was just for GP points. The match itself was an absolute banger with both women going all out on each other. It was a refreshing change of pace and honestly, this is one of the better matches in this year’s GP. It didn’t end how I was hoping, but it was a fun match and that’s really all I can ask for at this point. Your winner, after a hard-fought and highly entertaining match, is Utami Hayashishita.

Utami Hayashishita – 7 points (+2) | Azumi – 2 point

5★STAR Grand Prix: Saya Kamitani vs Takumi Iroha

Saya Kamitani has had a dream year thus far and she’s had mixed results in the tournament to date but every match has been super fun. Then we have Takumi Iroha, who started late but thus far has had incredible match after incredible match. I’m not expecting anything less in this one. This one started much different than I expected as Takumi goaded Saya into suddenly attacking her before the bell even rang. I’m not sure what was said, but it seemed to fire up Saya. At this point I shouldn’t really be surprised by what these two do in the ring. Their match, to me, was even more fun than the previous one on the card. You could see just how stiff Takumi was with the welts on Saya’s chest after a bunch of chops. I’ve loved watching both these women in the tournament to date and this match didn’t fail to impress. Saya continues to improve every time she is in there and she shows why Stardom chose her to win this years Cinderella tournament. There were a lot of highs in this match with very few lows, hardly any rests at all. From bell to bell this was a fun, fast paced and hard hitting match that I am shocked didn’t end earlier than it did. There were plenty of times where the match should have ended, but someone fought out of the pin. What was even more shocking was the finish, as it ended with a double count-out!  Pretty sure both women gained 1 point after this, but I’m not 100% positive. The Stardom Twitter gave these point totals after the 9/11 show so I think they did.

Saya Kamitani – 7 points | Takumi Iroha – 5 points

We were supposed to get Giulia vs Natsupoi on this card, but due to Giulia’s injury she had to retire from the tournament this year, thus awarding Natsupoi a forfeit win and 2 points, putting her total to 7 points. Up next, the main event from 9/11.

5★STAR Grand Prix: Momo Watanabe vs Himeka

I was actually expecting a pretty violent affair between these two as Momo Watanabe and Himeka step into the ring together. Let me tell you, I got exactly what I expected. Himeka has a significant power advantage over Momo and she did her damnedest to use it against her. Both women threw absolutely everything they had at each other for sixteen minutes, the longest match of the night, and I’m shocked it went that long. The match didn’t feel like a sixteen minute match, it felt like it was more akin to five or so. It was a lot of fun to behold and honest to god, I want to see more between them. The added dynamic of it being Queen’s Quest against Donna del Mondo just made it more fun for me. Anyway.. Momo did her best and pulled out a lot from her bag of tricks, but it was not to be as Himeka eventually got the upper hand for good and finished her off. This show had three -really- good matches on it for the tournament and I encourage you all to watch all three of them.

Himeka – 6 points (+2) | Momo Watanabe – 8 points

We’re moving on to the 9/12 show next. I’ll give a final, up-to-date standings at the end of the 9/18 show review. Just making sure to tell you all that now as it’s, honestly, a bit hard to keep track of all the points when how they are awarded isn’t always clear. We’ve got five GP matches from 9/12 so let’s just get right into it.

5★STAR Grand Prix: Takumi Iroha vs Ruaka

First up on 9/12 is the winless Ruaka against one of the favorites in the blue block heading into the final stretch of shows in Takumi Iroha. Iroha is fresh off of one hell of a match the day before against Saya Kamitani, so this should be a much different opponent for her. Especially since Ruaka tends to get herself DQ’d or finding her cheating attempts backfiring. If anyone can get a good match out of Ruaka this tournament, it’s Iroha. It also marks her first opponent, outside of Maika, who can match strength with Ruaka. But of course, Ruaka cheated like always and even used the outside spotters as ‘weapons’ against Iroha. The match was good, but it wasn’t great. Try as she might, Iroha just couldn’t pull a great match out of Ruaka. That’s not a detriment to either woman. Ruaka is still -really- young and has a long time ahead of her to keep improving and learn how to use her size advantage better. Ruaka ended up tapping to a sleeper hold, giving Iroha another two points.

Takumi Iroha – 7 points | Ruaka – 0 points

Ain’t no rest for the wicked folks. Up next..

5★STAR Grand Prix: Momo Watanabe vs Koguma

Momo Watanabe looks to get back into the win column against Koguma in this clash of Queen’s Quest and STARS. Koguma’s had some mixed results but she did manage to pin Starlight Kid in an upset, so let’s see if she can pull another out against the Red Block’s points leader. You could tell that Momo came out with a plan. She was all over Koguma like white on rice in the early going. She used her strength and technical skills to keep Koguma off her feet. Once she did get to her feet though, Koguma tried her best to use her speed to keep Momo flustered. Alas, Momo Watanabe is not someone who easily gets flustered. Koguma did manage to get a good bit of offense in, keeping her feet moving and countering Momo a lot, but it was not meant to be. Momo Watanabe, who was not to be denied, cemented her status as current favorite in the Red Block by defeating Koguma after one hell of a match. I’m really starting to think that Momo should be on everyone’s radar as one of the top 5 best female wrestlers in the world. She’s not quite on Iwatani or Shirai’s level, but she is damn close.

Momo Watanabe – 10 points (+2) | Koguma – 4 points

Yeah, Momo Watanabe has clearly cemented herself at the top of the Red Block and should be looked at as the favorite at this point. She’s a few points above Himeka, Mayu Iwatani, Natsupoi and Starlight Kid who are all nipping at her heels. Up next should be a fun one.

5★STAR Grand Prix: Tam Nakano vs Azumi (AZM)

It’s Queen’s Quest against Cosmic Angels as AZM (Azumi) takes on the Stardom Dream, Tam Nakano. I was a bit surprised we got a handshake before the bell, usually, AZM doesn’t want to do that with the so-called “grandma’s” of Stardom. The young and cocky AZM took control early and seemed to surprise Tam with how aggressive she was. Everyone knows though that you can’t keep Tam Nakano down. She’s like the energizer bunny in that regard. She took a lot from AZM early on but once she got her feet under her, she was able to turn this into a fight. Outside of the Utami Hayashishita match, this was definitely AZM’s best match of the tournament. She and Tam have a fair bit of chemistry in the ring together and it showed. They were able to work off each other and keep the match going at a pace that I was surprised Tam could match. Back and forth, like all Stardom matches, but this one had a lot of fun moments behind it and Tam really made AZM look like the star that she is. I may be the only person in the world who wanted an AZM vs Starlight Kid finals for the GP, but I didn’t think that AZM would have such a weak showing. Tam managed to take the win here, leaving AZM near the bottom of the block where she has been all tournament. Damn shame that, but it was a great match.

Tam Nakano – 8 points (+2) | AZM – 2 points

I really was hoping that Stardom would let AZM shine this tournament, and she has, but not in the win column where it matters most. It’s a damn shame since she is arguable the most naturally talented woman on their roster. Anyway.. Up next..

5★STAR Grand Prix: Syuri vs Unagi Sayaka

This should be a fun one as Syuri, the favorite early on in the blue block, takes on Unagi Sayaka, one of the most popular women in the tournament. I was probably one of many who thought the finals this year would be Syuri vs Giulia, but as we know that was not to be. Great show of respect to start as Unagi didn’t try to sucker Syuri during the handshake. I wasn’t totally surprised that Syuri dominated a good portion of the match, she’s been built up as a force in her block and it was nice to see what Unagi could do against someone who was bigger, stronger and meaner than she. She tried, she got a bit of good offense in, but Syuri was just too much for her on this occasion. She succumbed to a rather unique stretch muffler (white tiger) submission hold and was forced to tap. This definitely wasn’t match of the tournament, or even of the night, but there was a lot of respect shown during and after this match that finished with an embrace between the two which was a perfect way to finish the match. Congrats to Syuri, but you still have a ways to go to win it.

Syuri – 7 points (+2) | Unagi Sayaka – 5 points

We’ve come to the last match of our first catch-up from 9/11 to 9/12 and that belongs to a match I’ve been looking forward to most of the tournament.

5★STAR Grand Prix: Saya Kamitani vs Maika

We’ve got another Queen’s Quest vs Donna del Mondo match in this one.. Like Syuri, Maika has had times where she was booked like a juggernaut this tournament, having a really strong showing during most of it. Sure, she’s 3-3-1 but she definitely could have won all four of her losses. That said,  Saya Kamitani has had to scratch and claw her way through and often act as the underdog just to get some points. Entering the match, she’s got a tourney record of 3-2-1 so both have some mixed scores here. She’s also coming off an amazing match against Takumi Iroha. Let’s get into this one.. So to me one thing stands out here as this is a classic match of speed vs strength. Maika is one of, if not the, strongest women in Stardom whereas Saya is among the fastest they have. She seems to understand her disadvantage as she tried her best to keep the match as fast paced as possible and keep Maika on her toes. It didn’t surprise me that these two absolutely tore the house down, what did surprise me was that Saya actually controlled a good portion of the match. Given how they booked Maika going into this, I figured she would carry the bulk of the match. I’m definitely not complaining though as this was definitely match of the night for 9/12.  Your winner after this extremely fun and competitive match is Saya Kamitani who continues to defy expectations and have one of the best years in Stardom.

Saya Kamitani – 9 points (+2) | Maika – 7 points

This win puts Saya Kamitani at the top of the Blue Stars block and it is clear that Stardom is really high on her. I did not expect her to be this close to another major tournament victory this year but here we are. I’ll update the standings in the next article where I cover the 9/16 and 9/18 shows. See you there!

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