Stardom has announced that the 5 Star Grand Prix will return this year and take place from July 31st until September 25th. The tournament will last 21 days in total, spread out I am sure, and culminate with the crowning of a new star in September. Past winners of this tournament include Toni Storm (2017), Io Shirai (2014), Kairi Hojo/Sane (2015), Utami Hayashishita (2020) and the late Hana Kimura (2019). Basically, the 5 Star GP league based tournament is all about who the biggest star is right now. Every year there’s a lot of intrigue on how the blocks will line up and this year was no different. Being announced during Stardom’s Yokohama Cinderella in the Summer, each block is stacked and with the possibility for more in-ring time compared to past years, there is certainly going to be some match of the year contenders. With that said, I’m going to give you a brief introduction to each contender in each block, starting today with the Red block, that has been currently announced. Without further ado, I bring to you, the Red Block Participants!
1. Giulia – Donna del Mondo
Kicking it off on the Red side of things is one-half of the current Goddesses of Stardom champions, the polarizing Giulia. Many were unhappy with how Giulia left her former promotion (Ice Ribbon) for Stardom, but since she has arrived she has built a strong unit around her and has presented herself as a force within the company. With everything I have been reading so far since the Grand Prix was announced, it would appear that Giulia is the betting favourite to win on the Red Side and advance to the finals. Personally, I don’t agree but it wouldn’t shock me if she was. The leader of DDM has a good bit of momentum on her side. As of this writing, she has had 53 matches this year with a record of 31-16-6, the best record currently in Stardom. Not my pick to win the Red side or the tournament, but I can see her doing well in it. Her first match in the tournament was announced to take place on Day 1, 7/31, against Starlight Kid.
2. Momo Watanabe – Queen’s Quest
Up next we have the former leader of Queen’s Quest, the incomparable Momo Watanabe. Unlike Giulia, Momo is a rather popular performer who should have a lot of fan support in the tournament. She’s a former Goddess of Stardom, Artist of Stardom and Wonder of Stardom champion. Sure, she has had her ups and her downs in her career but who hasn’t. In the current year, she holds a record of 25-19-10. Definitely not the kind of record you want going into the biggest tournament of the year but tournaments are unpredictable. Momo should do well this year but I don’t think that she has much of a chance to win the whole thing outright. She’s drawn a really tough matchup on Day 1 against The Icon of Stardom, Mayu Iwatani. That match already has fans talking and will be one of the matches to watch this year.
3. Saki Kashima – Oedo Tai
Saki Kashima is our next participant. Currently a member of the Oedo Tai unit, she is an opportunistic wrestler who isn’t above using cheap pins and cheating to attain victory. Especially since she joined Oedo Tai. She currently holds a record in 2021 of 20-20-1. She’s not the best performer in the ring but she is among the safest. Saki spends more time in tag matches than she does in singles competition, so I believe that will be a bit of a hindrance for her. In a tournament, anything can happen, but I don’t see Saki Kashima doing very well this year. As of this writing, I believe her first match will be on day 2 (8/1) of the tournament and go up against Starlight Kid.
4. Starlight Kid – Oedo Tai
Up next is my personal favourite to win the tournament, even though the odds are very much against her, Starlight Kid. Kid is so incredibly fun to watch, her matches are fast paced and high flying. Especially if she is in the ring with her eternal rival AZM. Ever since she was forced to join Oedo Tai a few weeks ago, she has begun showing this darker side of herself and her character. The luchadora is using new tactics, being a lot more aggressive and frankly, this is the best she has been in a while. That said, her record doesn’t reflect that this year, with it being 20-32-2. I love Starlight Kid, even before when she was such an innocent and pure soul, but I am absolutely loving the dark version of her. Unfortunately for Kid, she has drawn Giulia as her first opponent in the tournament this year, but her second is a better match for her against Saki Kashima. My heart says she will win the tournament, but my brain tells me she doesn’t have the best chance.
5. Natsupoi – Donna del Mondo
Up next we have the reigning High-Speed Champion, representing Donna del Mondo, Natsupoi. Natsupoi’s been around since 2015 and has wrestled for a number of promotions, including Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling. Natsupoi is definitely not one of the betting favourites this year but she is one you shouldn’t sleep on. Currently holding a 2021 record of 22-17-5, she at least has a winning record going for her and should prove to be pretty entertaining during the tournament. She’s got a tough match on the first day against the High-Speed Genius Koguma, which should be an absolutely insane match to watch. It has all the potential to be one of the better matches for the duration of the tournament, so keep your eyes peeled for it. Speaking of Koguma…
6. Koguma – STARS
Up next is the High-Speed Genius, Koguma. Koguma returned from a six-year retirement on May 14th of this year to save Mayu Iwatani from a beat down by Oedo Tai. Since then, she has been an invaluable ally for the Icon. So far since her return, she has had 12 matches to date and holds a record of 7-4-1. Know who has a better win percentage than Koguma so far? Only Giulia. That’s saying something. Sure, she is still working off a bit of rust after being out of action for six years, but she has returned and looks stronger than ever. Hell, every match of hers I’ve seen since her return has been really fun to watch. Keep an eye on Koguma for the tournament, she could be a sleeper pick to win the red block. Up first, as stated above, she is going against Natsupoi on day 1.
7. Himeka – Donna del Mondo
We’re getting close to the end of the Red Block and up next is another Donna del Mondo representative in Himeka. Since her debut for Stardom in 2020 as the mystery partner for DDM, she has been a very valuable member of the unit. She is a former Goddess of Stardom Champion already and has proven to be a very reliable and fun performer in the ring. There aren’t many matches I’ve seen of hers that I could call duds, honestly, she is really entertaining to me. So far this year, she is 24-13-5, giving her a good record going into the Grand Prix. I can’t call her a favourite or a sleeper but she should be a fun watch for everyone.
8. Mina Shirakawa – Cosmic Angels
Up next, representing the Cosmic Angels, is the beautiful and talented Mina Shirakawa. Mina is the current Future of Stardom Champion as well as 1/3 of the Goddess of Stardom Champions with her stablemates Tam Nakano and Unagi Sayaka, the latter is whom she defeated to gain the Future of Stardom title. Mina is 13-16-5 so far this year, so not the best record but she is so much fun to watch in the ring. She’s seemed to find her groove recently and she has improved so much since she debuted in 2018 on the Indie circuit. Honestly, she’s quickly becoming one of my favourite performers on the Stardom roster. There is still a lot of room for improvement, and I can’t see her as a favourite to win the Grand Prix this year, but she should do fairly well in the tournament. Her first match of the tournament was announced for day 1 against Fukigen Death, but I cannot find anything that says Fukigen is an actual participant in the tournament. Although, she could be the replacement for the injured Natsuko Tora.
9. Mayu Iwatani – STARS
Our 9th participant for the red block is the Icon of Stardom, the (arguably) best women’s wrestler on the planet, Mayu Iwatani. The current, and struggling, leader of Stars has not had an easy 2021 so far. She lost two stablemates to Oedo Tai in Starlight Kid and Fukigen Death, she lost two members to injury and she is scheduled for a 1 on 5 matches coming up soon against Oedo Tai. She’s 22-25-5 so far this year and honestly, she picked a bad time for her match against Oedo Tai. With the tournament coming up, you would think Mayu wouldn’t take such a risk, but maybe the reward will be worth it should she somehow find a way to win. If Mayu wins the match, she gets Starlight Kid back for STARS which would be huge. I don’t want to get too distracted talking about that though. Mayu Iwatani should be viewed as a betting favourite to win the red block and the tournament. Her first match is against Momo Watanabe which could be one of the best matches of the tournament.
Our tenth participant was supposed to be Natsuko Tora, representing Oedo Tai, but she tore her ACL in a match against Utami Hayashishita.
As confirmed on the Stardom website, replacing Natsuko Tora is her stablemate…
10. Fukigen Death – Oedo Tai
Kaori Yoneyama, or Fukigen Death she is currently wrestling as is a 21 year veteran of the sport and should be considered a living legend. She is a member of the Oedo Tai unit after Konami won her in a stipulation match. Since then, she’s been pretty important to Oedo Tai, even with a 2021 record of 8-6-0. Sure, her gimmick is a bit silly at times but she is really damn good in the ring. Remember when the Undertaker would use the ‘old school’ move and walk across the ropes? Well, Fukigen does it too, except she can walk around the entire ring before she drops her opponent. She is a lot of fun to watch in the ring, even with the silly gimmick, and could be a sleeper contender for the tournament. As stated above, she is slated to face Mina Shirakawa in the first round on day one, so it should be an interesting tournament to say the least for Fukigen Death.