We’re back folks, with the finals set to take place on September 25th, we’re really close to the end of this year’s 5★ STAR Grand Prix. I hope you’ve enjoyed my reviews of the shows and I do apologize for the delays in getting them written out for you. With that said, it’s time for Day 15, September 20’s show. Let’s get into it.
5★ STAR Grand Prix: Himeka vs Giulia
I had to use the 2020 graphic for this match because, as Stardom noted a few weeks ago, Giulia suffered a neck injury and had to forfeit her remaining matches and withdraw from the tournament. Himeka wins by forfeit/bye and gains another 2 points.
Himeka – 8 points (+2) | Giulia – 6 points
Himeka has two matches left so mathematically she still has a chance to at least tie Momo Watanabe for the Red Block lead.. We will see what happens. Up next..
5★STAR Grand Prix: Koguma vs Fukigen Death
Former allies face-off as STARS representative Koguma faces off with the Oedo Tai version of Fukigen Death. Not expecting a very long match here. Koguma did some fake outs and tried roll-ups to get a quick pin but failed. Then of course, Desu did her usual thing and we got a bit of comedy in the middle of the match. We also got to see Koguma get beaten up by a rolled-up newspaper. Koguma did a lot of the controlling thought and the legwork, but Desu managed to reverse into a pinfall and get two more points. This makes it official that both women are completely eliminated from the chance at the finals. Decent match but nothing spectacular, it was barely over three minutes long.
Fukigen Death – 8 points | Koguma – 7 points
Moving right along and into the Blue Bracket…
5★ STAR Grand Prix: Azumi (AZM) vs Konami
Queen’s Quest vs Oedo Tai here folks as Azumi, aka AZM, takes on the Submission Sniper Konami. AZM is eliminated from qualifying for the finals so she is trying to disrupt Konami’s chances of reaching them. Will she succeed? Let’s find out. Lot more back and forth than I expected to start it out, AZM using her speed and Konami trying to ground the youngster. Of course, wouldn’t be an AZM or Konami match without the traditional exchanging of the elbow strikes, which Konami won. This match is really all about the two styles and they play off each other really well. The match is actually a lot of fun to watch. Especially when AZM counters the Triangle Lancer and almost pins Konami. That counter was genius. Konami tried like hell to put AZM away but she couldn’t do it. Azumi rolled Konami up in the Azumi Sushi finisher and denied Konami the top spot in the Block. AZM really is playing spoiler here in the final stretch, about damn time she gets some wins.
AZM – 6 points (+2) | Konami – 10 points
With a match against Maika left, Konami must win and hope that both Saya Kamitani and Syuri lose their upcoming matches to have a chance at winning the block. In the case of Syuri, she has to face off against Takumi Iroha, who is tied with Konami with 10 points. Saya Kamitani faces off against Unagi Sayaka in her last match. If she wins that, she will have 13 points and only Syuri would be able to catch her.
5★ STAR Grand Prix: Syuri vs Ruaka
Speaking of Syuri, here she is facing off against Ruaka. Ruaka, who is winless in the entire tournament will try to upset Syuri and actually win a match. Unfortunately for her, Syuri is probably the one person in the blue bracket, outside of Maika, who Ruaka cannot top in the strength department. Ruaka just goes straight at Syuri and tries to make sure she has an advantage, trying not to let the powerhouse back into it. I was honestly surprised that Ruaka was able to muscle Syuri around, but once the latter started in with the strikes, Ruaka’s game plan went out the window. Syuri really did what she could to make Ruaka look like a beast in this match, and I enjoyed this match more than any other Ruaka one in this tournament. That’s a big credit to Syuri. Syuri did finish this off with a nasty Buzzsaw kick to the head, ensuring her victory.
Syuri – 11 points (+2) | Ruaka – 0 points
I get the feeling that Ruaka will finish the tournament with no wins at all. She has Utami Hayashishita and Unagi Sayaka left to face off. I don’t see her winning either match. As for Syuri, as I said above she has to face off with Takumi Iroha in her final match. Win and she has 13 points. Lose and her chances of winning the Blue Block are slim. Moving on.
5★ STAR Grand Prix: Momo Watanabe vs Starlight Kid
This is Momo Watanabe’s last match of the tournament since she has a bye over Giulia. Sitting at 12 points, counting that bye, if she wins here she seals her victory in the Red Block. Lose and she has to rely on Himeka and SLK losing their final matches. For her part, Starlight Kid needs to win here and against Mayu Iwatani on the 25th to win the Red Block. Let’s get into the match. Great strategy by SLK by getting the jump on Momo before the bell and setting the tone. You can tell SLK wants and needs this victory, she’s all action in the early going. Of course, she missed a crossbody to the outside and Momo took control. Momo kept SLK grounded for a good while but you can never keep her down for long. She’s too fast and Momo found that out the hard way as she hit a sick flip off the ropes to retake control. I thought Momo had her with a Meteora from the second rope but SLK managed to kick out. Of course, Momo went right back into the ground and control the game, trying to keep SLK from using her speed. Let me say that this match was exactly what the Red Block needed. It’s definitely been one of the best matches thus far in the tournament for their block. Just when you think either woman has the win, the other counters or kicks out and the match goes on. SLK actually got an assist from Ruaka while the ref has his back turned. Ruaka hit Momo in the head with her case, allowing SLK to hit a Momoracci for the win. She actually spiked herself into the mat too, so I’m surprised that she didn’t injure herself with that.. Great win for Starlight Kid who keeps herself in contention for the Red Block Crown.
Starlight Kid – 11 points (+2) | Momo Watanabe – 12 points
Of course, after the match, her own teammate Fukigen Death challenged SLK for the High-Speed Championship. Kid accepts her challenge but then says she already plans on beating Mayu Iwatani and -winning- the 5 Star GP on the 25th. So they have to schedule the match for later. Fukigen is a 3-time High-Speed Champion, so that should be fun. Up next…
5★ STAR Grand Prix: Utami Hayashishita vs Takumi Iroha
You want a freaking barn burner of a match? Want a match that makes Syuri vs Utami look like a WWE match? Takumi Iroha vs Utami Hayashishita should deliver that in spades. Let’s see what they give us. This started off awesome as neither woman would budge from shoulder blocks. It took almost three minutes of this for Utami to knock Iroha down. What follows is an absolutely epic showdown between two titans of the Joshi scene. Say what you will about Utami, but you cannot deny that she is currently one of the absolute best to be working in Japan. When you pair her with the amazing Iroha, the recipe for awesome goes through the roof and that’s exactly what they gave us. Twenty minutes of beautiful back and forth with both women mere moments away from winning the match. I loved Starlight Kid vs Momo Watanabe, but this match was just pure fun and awesome. There is no other words for it. It ended with Utami getting her second Time Limit Draw of the tournament and ensuring she doesn’t have a chance of repeating wins. That said, she had some absolutely killer matches this year and to top them all off she got pushed to her limit by Takumi Iroha. If you get the chance to watch this match, do so. It’s easily one of the top 5 matches of the tournament this year.
Utami Hayashishita – 8 points | Takumi Iroha – 10 points
We’ve got one final match left for the show folks. Let’s not delay.
5 ★STAR Grand Prix: Mayu Iwatani vs Saki Kashima
As much as I love Mayu Iwatani, there is no way ( I believe) she can get a match out of Saki Kashima that is to the level that Utami vs Iroha was in the previous match. Win and Mayu ties Starlight Kid at 11 points going into their match on the 25th. Lose and she is eliminated from winning this year. We get shenanigans as soon as the match begins with the members of Oedo Tai getting a few licks on Mayu Iwatani. Long history there, even SLK was involved in the kicking. It’s not too shocking that after that, Saki controls the whole beginning of this match and puts Mayu on the defensive. It was kind of great too when Konami tried to interfere, only to get kicked in the face by Saki. I did love too how Mayu got a bit of revenge on Ruaka and SLK, using Ruaka’s briefcase against all three while the Ref was distracted. Mayu was in total control until she got a bit cocky and Saki Kashima rolled her up with a Kishikaisei for the victory. Mayu was in the ropes but the official didn’t see it, thus the victory stands. Saki Kashima has successfully upset Mayu Iwatani and ensured that she will not advance to the finals. She even predicts a Starlight Kid vs Konami finals this year, which I would love to see happen. Oedo Tai stands tall, still a thorn in Mayu Iwatani’s side.
Saki Kashima – 4 points (+2) | Mayu Iwatani – 9 points
That’s all she wrote folks! Here are the updated standings for this year’s bracket. I’ll Bold those who still have a chance to win it and I’ll Underline the leaders. See you later this week for the finals!
- Momo Watanabe – 12 points
- Starlight Kid – 11 points
- Natsupoi – 9 points
- Mayu Iwatani – 9 points
- Fukigen Death – 8 points
- Himeka – 8 points
- Koguma – 7 points
- Giulia – 6 points
(Injured, forfeit the rest of her matches)
- Mina Shirakawa – 4 points
- Saki Kashima – 4 points
- Saya Kamitani – 11 points
- Syuri – 11 points
- Konami – 10 points
- Takumi Iroha – 10 points
- Utami Hayashishita – 8 points
- Tam Nakano – 8 points
- Maika – 7 points
- Unagi Sayaka – 7 points
- AZM – 4 Points
- Ruaka – 0 points
As you can see, in the Red block it is more cut and dry. If Starlight Kid defeats Mayu Iwatani on the 25th of September, she will win the Red Block of the Grand Prix and earn herself a trip to the finals. Lose and it’s Momo Watanabe who will represent the Red side of things. Himeka could tie Momo Watanabe if she wins out, but I don’t see it happening. One loss and she is done.
For the Blue Block, a lot has to happen to crown a winner. Here are the matches for the front runners.
- Saya Kamitani vs Unagi Sayaka
- Syuri vs Takumi Iroha
- Konami vs Maika
- Utami vs Tam Nakano, Utami vs Ruaka
Konami and Takumi Iroha absolutely -must- win to have a chance. Syuri wins and she has to hope Saya loses to win it. The same goes for Saya. Utami must win out to have a chance. The Blue Block has a lot more ways this could play out than the Red does. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens on 9/23 and 9/25. See you soon folks!
To view my earlier posts from this year’s 5★ STAR Grand Prix..visit my author profile and remember to let me know what you think on Twitter @jmerchant427….