STARDOM: 5★ STAR Grand Prix: September 16th/18th 2021

We’re back at it with 12 matches from two shows as we near the finals of this year’s  5★ STAR Grand Prix. It’s been one hell of a tournament this year with a lot of upsets and, frankly, results that I didn’t see coming at all. We’re kicking off this two-day review with 9/16 from Korakuen Hall. Let’s jump right into it.

5★ STAR Grand Prix: Natsupoi vs Saki Kashima

Donna del Mondo’s Natsupoi faces off against Oedo Tai’s Saki Kashima to start us off. Saki has had.. less than ideal results from her standpoint whereas Natsupoi is right up there near the top of the Red Block standings. Not exactly surprising that Saki tried to keep Poi grounded and off her feet, she has a clear advantage if she can keep the former High Speed Champion on the mat. But as everyone who follows Stardom should know by now, you can never count Natsupoi out of a match. Saki did control the whole first portion of the match but once Poi got it together, she took control and really made Saki work for it. She pulled out a lot of unique moves and even had Saki beat at several points but Saki was able to fight her way back into things. Poi brought out the absolute best in Saki for this match and that was something she desparately needed. She may not have won, but Saki looked great in this match. Natsupoi earned herself another two points with a Rolling Magistral for the win, much to Saki’s shock. Good way to kick us off.

Natsupoi – 9 points (+2) | Saki Kashima – 2 points

It’s worth noting that this leaves Natsupoi with one final match against Mina Shirakawa, which she must win if she wants a chance at the finals this year. Up next..

5★ STAR Grand Prix: Momo Watanabe vs Mina Shirakawa

Speaking of Mina Shirakawa, she’s up next in a match against Red Star front runner, Momo Watanabe. While her results aren’t what she’d hoped for, Mina has quietly and subtly had one of the best showings this year. Every single match she was in has been superb and she easily could have won more matches than she did. That said, she’s in there against one of the best in the world and Momo does not make it easy for Mina. I didn’t expect Mina to control the early portions of this match, but she did and she actually carried the match in Momo’s stead. This surprised me a lot but she looked amazing in doing so. She’s one of the greenest members of the roster, but Mina doesn’t let that get in her way. I was impressed with this match from Mina’s standpoint, she looked like she belonged in there with one of the best in the world. That is a win in my books, even though Momo Watanabe scored the victory here and cemented her place atop the Red Block standings. Unfortunately for Mina, she had long been mathematically eliminated from her chances of winning the tournament, but she went out on her shield in every match. You can’t have asked for more from her. Momo Watanabe picks up the win, one she absolutely had to earn against the very game Mina Shirakawa.

Momo Watanabe – 12 points (+2) | Mina Shirakawa – 4 points

We’re just gonna keep right on going folks. We’ve got a battle of the Queen’s next between two members of the Queen’s Quest unit.

5★ STAR Grand Prix: Saya Kamitani vs Azumi (AZM)

Blue Block front-runner Saya Kamitani faces off against unit mate Azumi. Azumi has not had the results that she likely would have hoped for in this tournament, going into the match she still has only 2 points. There’s no way for her to win her block but she can go out and try to play spoiler for the last matches she has. This match started out with a bang as each woman tried to show she was faster than the other, ending that challenge in a stalemate. I was shocked at how fast Saya actually is, she was easily able to keep up with AZM who may be the fastest woman in Stardom. AZM had a lot of beautiful counters, like when she caught Saya’s spinning heel kick and turned it into an arm bar somehow. It was impressive, but I shouldn’t be surprised with what the wrestling prodigy can do in the ring. I absolutely loved this match and I want to see a lot more between them. This could be one of the best rivalries in Stardom if they ever viewed or booked it as such. I really thought AZM was going to upset Saya here and keep her from putting more of a gap on the block, but that was not to be as Saya Kamitani managed to pull out the victory after eight and a half minutes of non-stop action and fun. This was one of the best matches during the tournament and it isn’t even close.

Saya Kamitani – 11 points (+2) | AZM – 2 points

That was a lot of fun. Up next we have another match that should be a banger.

5★ STAR Grand Prix: Unagi Sayaka vs Takumi Iroha

We’ve got one of the most anticipated matches of the tournament this time as Unagi Sayaka faces off against Takumi Iroha. Unagi hit a big kick that didn’t do squat after a handshake, but when Iroha did the same thing she damn near knocked Unagi out. Wow she sold the hell out of that kick. Note to everyone in Stardom, don’t piss off Takumi Iroha. Unagi found that out the hard way as Takumi controlled the majority of this match. She hit Unagi with everything but the kitchen sink but Unagi kept coming, much to her credit. She did her best to make a match out of this one and eventually she did just that. Unagi hit some impressive counters and got some good offense in but ultimately this was the story of Takumi Iroha punishing Unagi for daring to kick her before the bell. I love Unagi, she’s one of the most improved wrestlers this year, but Takumi out classed her and made her look like a rookie. The long-time veteran used everything in her arsenal and eventually managed to pick up the victory. It wasn’t easy by any means and Unagi was game the entire match, but Iroha was just too much for the Future’s champion to overcome this day.

Takumi Iroha – 9 points | Unagi Sayaka – 5 points

That was unexpectedly one-sided.. Up next..

5★ STAR Grand Prix: Mayu Iwatani vs Koguma

We’re at that point in the tournament where STARS teammates Mayu Iwatani and Koguma have to face off against one another. These two know each other so well and it showed in this match as each took turns anticipating what the other would do, most Mayu but Koguma did so as well, and that made this a fun match. It wasn’t as epic as Kamitani vs Azumi, but this one was a lot of fun between the best in the world and her friend. This match was a lot more competitive than I actually anticipated. I didn’t think that Koguma would be able to hang with Mayu but she proved me wrong on this day. I didn’t think she would win, but I really didn’t expect her to make a match out of this one. This match was a lot of fun for what it was and eventually we saw each woman earning one point after a double count-out, but they made the most out of their match and time and definitely gave the fans one of the better matches of the night. One crazy spot that caused the count-out was when Koguma hit a spinning DDT to the outside and rammed Mayu’s face into the steel barricade. Solid and fun match, but not as good as AZM and Saya was.

Mayu Iwatani – 7 points | Koguma – 7 points

Both women are, surprisingly, within reach of Momo Watanabe on top of the Red Block. But up next we return to the Blue Stars side..

5★ STAR Grand Prix: Utami Hayashishita vs Konami

Queen’s Quest and Oedo Tai get into it on the outside as each unit jumps the two participants in the match before the bell rings. Such a WWE thing to do.. Anyway, we’ve got Konami trying to keep herself in contention to win the Blue Block against the World of Stardom Champion Utami Hayashishita. After the shenanigans on the outside of the ring before the bell, Utami took control and utterly dominated Konami for the first like five or so minutes. After that, the match became much more competitive and a lot more fun to watch. Something that struck me watching how Konami went at Utami was just hot similar her striking style is to Asuka’s. I know that Kana/Asuka trained her, but it never really hit me just how similar some of their styles were until this match. Honestly, this match was a lot better than I anticipated and that’s credit to how good these two women are in the ring. Konami can really shine when she is given the chance and she proved it in this match. Especially since she used a small package roll-up to surprise and defeat Utami Hayashishita. That’s like, the upset of the tournament I think. Not many people were giving Konami any chance of winning the Blue Block, let alone defeating someone like Utami Hayashishita, but here we are and she has defeated the three favorites of the Blue Block in Takumi Iroha, Syuri and Utami Hayashishita.

Konami – 10 points (+2)

Utami Hayashishita – 6 points

One more match from 9/16 folks. That match is…

5★ STAR Grand Prix: Syuri vs Tam Nakano

So in the final match of this show we’ve got Syuri facing off against Tam Nakano. Much like the previous match, there was clear dominance early on as Syuri pretty much ragdolled the smaller Tam Nakano around the ring and the outside. She has a massive strength and size advantage over the Stardom Dream but you can never count the diminutive Nakano out. Despite her disadvantages in this match, Tam was a spitfire at times, throwing everything she had at Syuri to try and get some momentum. She did get some spots of offense here and there but Syuri dominated the majority of the match. Which, let’s be honest, she was the betting favorite going into the tournament this year so it’s no surprise that she would dominate a lot of her opponents. Tam was one of the women I was cheering for this year and it sucks that she’s mathematically eliminated from the chance of winning this year. Tam put up a fight but ultimately Syuri prevailed and earned herself another two points, ensuring that Tam Nakano has no chance of winning this year.

Syuri – 9 points (+2) | Tam Nakano – 8 points

Well, that is a wrap on night 13 of the 5 STAR Grand Prix.
onward we go to night 14 folks! Up first..

5★ STAR Grand Prix: Unagi Sayaka vs Ruaka

Winless Ruaka faces off against Future’s champion Unagi Sayaka. Ruaka got up to shenanigans before the match, attacking Unagi with her case and kind of stealing the belt for a few moments. Watching this match, I’m left thinking that Ruaka no longer cares about the GP and she just wants to hurt someone and disrupt the rest of the tournament. Unagi did come back and put up a fight though, at least showing Ruaka that she wasn’t going to allow the shenanigans from earlier to stop her. But Ruaka kept control most of the match and got frustrated that she couldn’t put Unagi away. So she resorted to using Natsuko Tora’s pipe that Konami has been holding and got herself disqualified, thus awarding Unagi two points. Ruaka subsequently challenged for the Future’s title and Unagi accepted for October 9 at Osaka Jo Hall. Meh match and I’m not expecting much from their title match in October. At least Unagi got two points out of this.

Unagi Sayaka – 7 points (+2)

Ruaka – 0 points

Moving on..

5★ STAR Grand Prix: Koguma vs Saki Kashima

Frankly, this wasn’t on my radar for a match that would be anything too great. Sure, Koguma is a really good athlete but I’ve never been much impressed by Saki. Watching this match though, I found that Saki is actually pretty solid in the ring when she isn’t focusing on cutting corners. Where I was really impressed in this match was watching her ability to sell for Koguma. This was a really short match, just over seven minutes, and it was fairly steady for back and forth action. Nothing spectacular but I’ve seen a lot worse in the wrestling ring. Koguma eventually managed a roll-up for the pinfall and then decided she was going to sit on Saki for good measure after the match. Solid but average match giving Koguma 2 points. Pretty sure both she and Saki are eliminated from contention for the crown this year anyway.

Koguma – 7 points (+2) | Saki Kashima – 4 points

We’ve got a few more to go folks. Keep with me.

5★ STAR Grand Prix: Mayu Iwatani vs Mina Shirakawa

This match should be pretty fun, I think. I love both these women and was looking forward to the match. There was a fair bit of taunting from Mina early on and she goaded Mayu into doing a version of her pose which was funny as hell. Mina has low key put on amazing matches this tournament, even though she didn’t get the results she clearly wanted. Of course, Mayu Iwatani, being who she is, absolutely made Mina look a million times better than she already was. That’s why I love Mayu. There were several points in this match where I thought Mina, who is mathematically eliminated from the finals, was going to play spoiler and end Mayu’s bid for the crown a second time. Once Mayu took control however, that was all she wrote. She hit Mina with several beautiful superkicks before pinning her with a Dragon Suplex. This was a great match and I loved it, I want to see more. It was fun and entertaining, that’s really all want out of a wrestling match. Besides, when Mayu is cheeky, it is downright hilarious.

Mayu Iwatani – 9 points (+2) | Mina Shirakawa – 4 points

We’re almost done, I promise. We’ve got…

5★ STAR Grand Prix: AZM (Azumi) vs Takumi Iroha

Azumi has had a difficult and disappointing tournament this year and is already mathematically eliminated from the finals. She’s playing spoiler in this match, hoping to upset Takumi Iroha and slow her rise to the top of the bracket. AZM definitely knew she had to use her speed going into the match and did her best to outwit and outmanoeuvre her opponent. Takumi, to her credit, is a longtime veteran who has seen it all in the ring. What did we get out of this match? We got AZM being AZM and putting on an incredible performance against the woman from Marvelous. This match was everything I wanted it to be given who was in the ring. AZM hasn’t had a match this good all tournament and that’s a damn shame because she is one of the best performers that Stardom has. She gave up a lot to Takumi but she managed to overcome it all and pull out the upset win. It was unique because she and Takumi locked each other in a small package and rolled around for like two minutes trading attempts before AZM locked in the Azumi Sushi roll. I hate calling it an upset, but that’s exactly what it was this year. Great match, best of the night so far.

AZM – 4 points (+2)

Takumi Iroha – 9 points

Our last match for today folks, I promise.

5★ STAR Grand Prix: Himeka vs Starlight Kid

Himeka returned from injury and lost two matches in a row, but since then has gone on a tear through the Red Block and finds herself near the top. A win keeps her in contention. Starlight Kid is looking to keep pace with Momo Watanabe and try like hell to top the Red Block at the end of the tournament. Kid gives up size and strength to Himeka, like she does against most opponents, but she has shown her crafty side and has a high ring IQ to match her speed. All of which she will need to topple Himeka. This is exactly what we got from Kid as she pulled out all of her tricks every chance she got against her much larger opponent. Sure, there were a lot of times where Himeka just muscled Kid around and ran roughshod over her, but this was Kid showing how determined she was to earn a chance for the Red Belt. SLK never fails to impress me each time she is in the ring. She’s still super young but she’s already shown skill that puts her in a class above most. I’d argue for her to be in consideration for top 10 in the world. She adapts well and uses new moves almost every match, which is something she desperately needed to do to topple Himeka. I cannot believe that Kid actually pulled it off this match, as she reversed a powerbomb attempt into a Momoracci and scored the pinfall. I nearly screamed in joy because I’ve been pulling for Kid to win the tournament this whole time and it keeps her in contention for the crown.

Starlight Kid – 9 points (+2) | Himeka – 6 points

With that, Himeka finds herself eliminated from the chance of winning this year. The final standings after these two days are as follows.

Red Block

  • Momo Watanabe – 12 points
  • Natsupoi – 9 points
  • Mayu Iwatani – 9 points
  • Koguma – 7 points
  • Fukigen Death – 6 points
  • Himeka – 6 points
  • Giulia – 6 points (Injured, forfeit the rest of her matches)
  • Mina Shirakawa – 4 points
  • Saki Kashima – 2 points

Blue Block

  • Saya Kamitani – 11 points
  • Konami – 10 points
  • Syuri – 9 points
  • Takumi Iroha – 9 points
  • Tam Nakano – 8 points
  • Utami Hayashishita – 7 points
  • Maika – 7 points
  • Unagi Sayaka – 7 points
  • AZM – 4 Points
  • Ruaka – 0 points

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