Stardom
5☆STAR GP 2020 – Day 1
August 8, 2020
Korakuen Hall
Toyko, Japan

Watch: Stardom-World
Standings & Scores for 5☆STAR GP 2020 Pick’Em: voicesofwrestling.com/5star2020pickem

Tournament season is hotting up in Japan with NJPW, NOAH, and AJPW all gearing up for their annual round-robin tournaments.  In the world of Joshi, we have Tokyo Princess Cup and Stardom’s 5☆STAR GP 2020 taking place.  This year’s tournament looks a lot different from last year’s thanks to the inclusion of all four Donna Del Mondo members as well as Saya Kamitani and late replacement Saya Iida.  With this year changing up the rules all block matches now have 20-minute time limits and not 15 which isn’t a change I welcome but isn’t something that’s going to ruin the tournament.  Show number one looks pretty strong with the huge Mayu Iwatani vs. Giulia main event so let’s get into it.

RINA DEF. HINA

Another solid opener from the two twins.  They continue to expand their movesets and make everything that little bit smoother.  If my calculations are correct the score is now 4-3 to Hina in singles wins as Rina adopting the Hydrangea finisher has swung the tide of momentum. **1/2

RED STARS BLOCK
STARLIGHT KID (2) DEF. DEATH YAMA-SAN (0)

They worked this kind of like a High-Speed match keeping it short at around 3 minutes.  Starlight Kid got to look good to kick off her tournament.  Kid gets a fairly big win too as DEATH is usually kept relatively strong. ***

BLUE STARS BLOCK
AZM (2) DEF. SAYA IIDA (0)

New High-Speed champion AZM is just as suave and confident as ever, the title has probably boosted her ego more than anything.  Initially, it felt like she was toying with Iida and only got serious once Iida fought back.  Given that Iida was a late replacement for Saki Kashima it wasn’t shocking to see her lose to AZM here who gets off to a good start as she looks to replicate her great GP performance from last year.  The match itself was good until they flubbed the finish. ***1/4

RED STARS BLOCK
KONAMI (2) DEF. SAYA KAMITANI (0)

A good match that Konami controlled for the most part.  She works well on top and leaned into her submission prowess a little more than usual, even getting the win via submission.  Kamitani shows so much fire and works quite well working from underneath.  Konami gets the win which many would have expected. ***1/4

BLUE STARS BLOCK
MAIKA (2) DEF. MOMO WATANABE (0)

A big shock from day 1 as Maika tapped out Momo Watanabe.  The Future of Stardom Champion and Watanabe met recently in a singles match and Watanabe came away with the win despite Maika working over her knee.  Maika changed her gameplan for this match and was relentless in keeping Watanabe locked in her chokehold until she tapped.  These two work well together and delivered another good match ***1/2

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BLUE STARS BLOCK
SYURI (2) DEF. NATSUKO TORA (0)

Syuri comes away with the surprising win following a really good hard-hitting match.  Donna Del Mondo goes 2-0 against faction leaders.  As with most Tora matches, she looked great thanks to her good performance but she was felled by two kicks to the head, nothing to be ashamed of there.  ***3/4

RED STARS BLOCK
HIMEKA (2) DEF. TAM NAKANO (0)

This was similar to Nakano’s recent match with Natsuko Tora in that she had to fight back against a physically superior opponent.  This one had the added wrinkle of Himeka working over Tam’s back to soften her up for the finish,  So far Himeka has been booked strong in Stardom and they’ve not only made her look like a physically impressive performer but she’s also presented as an intelligent wrestler.  Donna Del Mondo go 3-0 and Himeka picks up the win in a fairly good match ***1/2

RED STARS BLOCK
UTAMI HAYASHISHITA (2) DEF. JUNGLE KYONA (0)

Kyona continues to wait for her first singles victory over Hayashishita.  The feud between the two is now into its third year and Hayashishita through her various phases has always had Kyona’s number.  This match really showed me how Hayashishita has changed and progressed this year, she’s left behind the red gear and judo/technical influence and adopted a mix of power-based offense with her old judo influence.  When you can go toe to toe with Kyona in the power department you’re doing something right that’s all I can say.  Good match, good finish.  ***1/2

RED STARS BLOCK
GIULIA (2) DEF. MAYU IWATANI (0)

A worthy main event to kick off the 5☆STAR GP 2020 as the Wonder Of Stardom champion Giulia defeated the World Of Stardom champion Mayu Iwatani.  The match was great as the two mixed Mayu’s formula of getting dumped on her head with Giulia’s formula of throwing hands, and boots, lots of boots to the face.  Giulia once again resorted to hitting back to back B-Drivers to ensure she came away with the win, the same way she put away Konami.

The story of this first night is that Donna Del Mondo swept the block, Maika shockingly beat Momo Watanabe, Himeka defeated Tam Nakano, Syuri beat Natsuko Tora, and to cap the night off Giulia defeated the icon of Stardom.  The outsiders are looking unstoppable and Giulia racks up another huge result in her first year with Stardom as she remains undefeated in singles competition. ****

FINAL THOUGHTS

Day 1 of the 5☆STAR GP 2020 was excellent.  The main event was a great match that lived up to the expectations of both women and the rest of the show had fun matches scattered throughout like Syuri vs Tora and Watanabe vs Maika.  They did manage to tell a story with this show and that was the dominance of Donna Del Mondo, the group seems unstoppable and is set to have all four members rank well in the tournament.