Stardom
5☆STAR GP 2020 – Final
September 19, 2020
Korakuen Hall
Toyko, Japan

Watch: Stardom-World

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

After seven shows and several COVID cancelations, the tournament that began on August 8 in Korakuen Hall returns to that building for the 8th and final show of the 2020 5☆STAR GP with half of the participants still alive. In the Red Stars Block, Himeka with 9 points controls her own destiny, winning the block with a victory over Konami. Konami, at 8 points with the tiebreaker over Mayu Iwatani, needs to pick up the win over Himeka and have Mayu defeat or draw Tam Nakano, while Tam, also at 8 points, needs to win and have Konami defeat Himeka. Mayu, also at 8 points, has an outside shot that I almost missed, winning the block with a win over Tam and a draw between Konami and Himeka. Over in the Blue Stars Block, four wrestlers have a shot at winning the block in kayfabe, while COVID complications, the unlikeliness of Momo Watanabe’s path, and the fact that the tournament final takes place immediately after the block matches really signposts Utami Hayashishita as the block winner, as the other 2 wrestlers with a chance at winning the block are already working two matches on this show. That being said, if either Maika or Syuri win both their matches, they would move on to the tournament final and their third match of the night. Whatever the results may be, a full night of Joshi action is guaranteed, so let’s get right to the matches.

Blue Stars Block
Syuri (8) Def. Maika (8)

The show opened with a battle between members of Donna del Mondo in the first of at least two matches for these women, and they started the show off hot with a surprising extended squash that really got over with the crowd. Other than a couple of nice judo throws and the odd submission attempt, this was all Syuri as she overwhelmed Maika with strikes, just destroying her faction mate with vicious-looking kicks. This was worked very intelligently, as, assuming the kicks looked worse than they felt, it saved a lot of energy for both women for their later matches while still completely winning over the crowd. Korakuen fans love Syuri’s kicks! While the result moves Syuri one step closer to winning the block, it does not eliminate Maika, as she would still advance with a win over AZM and a draw between Syuri and Utami, but let’s be honest here. If Stardom was booking Maika to win the block, she wouldn’t have gotten squashed in the show’s opener. This match not resulting in a double count out did eliminate Momo Watanabe from contention, so we can put the calculators away and admit she’s not winning this. Good one sided action and hopefully a sign that the crowd is going to be red hot tonight. All you can ask for in a match this one-sided. ***1/4

Red Stars Block
Saya Kamitani (5) Def. Starlight Kid (2)

A fun sprint between two of the best young workers on the rosters, these two didn’t let the fact they were both already eliminated stop them from giving their all for the Korakuen crowd in the time they were given. Starlight Kid has one of the most effective babyface-in-peril routines in wrestling today, as she is so good at getting sympathy from the live crowd and, in spite of wearing a mask, is able to work her facial expressions for maximum results. Tall Saya, on the other hand, is going to be on the top of the Stardom cards in a year or two, gaining experience and preparing to step up when called. Her work is so smooth and she does so many of the little things right, like her looks of disbelief and shock after almost getting caught in a flash pin. Some of the work at the start resembled gymnastics choreography more than a wrestling match, but that ended after a minute or two. At one point Starlight attempted a missile dropkick only to have Saya dropkick her out of the sky in a spot that the camera was unfortunately at the wrong angle to catch properly, yet still looked impressive. Saya got the pin with a sweet looking Ki Krusher. ***1/4

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Red Stars Block
Giulia (8) Def. DEATH Yama-San (4)

While not surprising that a DEATH Yama-San match relied mostly on comedy, what did come as a shock was how good Giulia was at the shtick. With both wrestlers eliminated, they just went out there and had fun, with notable spots seeing Giulia “kill” DEATH with a shot to the throat, t-shirt hoods for everyone, and flash pins aplenty. I was pleasantly surprised that Giulia wasn’t a factor on the final night. After winning both the Cinderella Tournament and the white belt, it was a good idea to use the 5Star to get the rest of Donna del Mondo over rather than risk over pushing Giulia and having the fans turn against her. Giulia got the pin after a series of reversals, finishing the tournament with a strong 8 point showing as the leader of the hottest faction in Stardom. A highly entertaining comedy match. ***

Red Stars Block
Mayu Iwatani (10) Def. Tam Nakano (8)

Honest question, how is Mayu still breathing? Much like Kota Ibushi, her body seems to laugh at things that would break most humans. At one point in this match, Tam, standing in the corner on the second rope, lifted Mayu in a disgusting looking guillotine dragon sleeper the whole way over the top rope to send her falling to the floor. Near the finish, Tam hit her with 4 bridging German suplexes, holding on to roll to the next one after each kick out, with two of them at sickening angles for poor Iwatani’s neck. Other than the opening squash, this was the first match of the night between two wrestlers still in contention, and it was pure fire. The only thing that kept this under 4 stars was the time it was given, as these two went at each other from the bell in a very competitive back and forth match. In the end, no matter how much we believed in Tam and her “bridge of dreams,” Mayu showed once again why she holds the red belt, first locking in her modified dragon sleeper before switching to a bridging dragon suplex for the win and the 2 points. The loss eliminates Tam with a very respectable 8 points, and Mayu returns to the locker room with all her hopes on an unlikely draw between Konami and Himeka. ***3/4

Red Stars Block
Himeka (11) Def. Konami (8)
Himeka Wins the Red Stars Block with 11 points.

And the Red Stars block comes down to this match, with either Himeka or Konami taking the block with a victory, and Mayu Iwatani stealing the block on a draw. Konami had some extended control sequences in this match, and while her strikes are impressive and her submission game is on point, I found myself losing interest in the match at times during these. Konami would probably benefit the most from the dissolution of TCS, as the gimmick just doesn’t seem to fit her anymore. Perhaps a turn to a darker Konami with a bit of a harder edge is in the cards? Himeka continues to show she’s not in Stardom just to stand in Giulia’s shadow, getting over with her hoss attitude and devastating power moves. The second half of this was really good, as once things were more competitive Konami started to shine, yet even with her submission game in play, you never really felt Himeka was in trouble over the last 2 or 3 minutes of action. Himeka put her away clean with a running powerbomb, winning the Red Stars Block with 11 points. ***1/4

Blue Stars Block
AZM (6) Def. Maika (8)

After getting dominated in the opener, Maika returns for a much more competitive match against AZM, although the end result was still worth zero points as she finishes with a strong but disappointing 8 points. AZM is an amazingly good worker, and sometimes its easy to forget how young she still is since we’ve been watching her wrestle for so long now. She may finish the tournament with only 6 points, but she has many 5Stars in her future. This was your average larger wrestler vs smaller wrestler match, with Maika using her size and power advantage and AZM her speed and submissions, with AZM stealing the win with the AZM Sushi flash pin. ***

Blue Stars Block
Saya Iida (2) Def. Natsuko Tora (6)

In a good news, bad news, surprising news situation, Saya Iida picks up her first two points against Natsuko Tora, the points came predictably by disqualification, yet unlike Natsuko’s previous tournament disqualifications, this one wasn’t a disappointment.  Saya took the fight to Natsuko as soon as she entered the ring, attacking Natsuko in the corner before introductions. This was almost completely one-sided and worked at a very fast pace, which may have been what caused Saya’s top rope botch, but they worked right through it with Natsuko using her experience to make sure it didn’t hurt the match. The finish saw Saya hitting a series of flash pin attempts, each one coming closer and closer to the three count, before Natsuko gave up all hope of winning and took the referee into the corner, at which point Saki Kashima and a returning Bea Priestley hit the ring and destroyed poor Saya. As the ref employed referee logic to try to control the members of Stars at ringside, Natsuko hanged Saya with the chain over the top rope, until the referee finally noticed and called for the bell. After brief faction battle, Jungle Kyona came to the ring and chased Odeo Tai away, saving Saya and rolling her to her Stars teammates to care for. Before departing the ring, it looked like Jungle wanted a mic but instead just left the ring as the music for the next match began to play. The interest peaking angle pushed this one up a quarter star. ***

Blue Stars Block
Jungle Kyona (7) Went to a No Contest with Momo Watanabe (8)

Seriously? They had to turn this match into a glorified angle to set up the show in Yokohama? The match between two people who could sleepwalk to 4 stars together? I guess it makes sense, since neither wrestler could win the block at this point, but that doesn’t make it any less disappointing. Momo and Jungle were well on their way to another great match when Natsuko Tora pulled the referee out of the ring and Odeo Tai went on the attack, bringing Jungle’s TCS faction mates into the ring as it turned into one big scrum that was quickly ruled a no contest. Once order was restored, they hyped up the TCS vs Odeo Tai match for the future of TCS, and set up a singles match between Momo and Bea Priestley for Yokohama. This angle has potential, and I’m interested in seeing where they go with it, but next time maybe they can interrupt a DEATH Yama-San match. N/A




Blue Stars Block
Utami Hayashishita (10) Draw Syuri (9)
Utami wins the Blue Stars Block with 10 points.

Much like the Red Stars earlier, the Blue Stars block came down to the final block match, with Utami claiming the block with a win or draw, and Syuri taking it with a win. With the tournament finals happening immediately after this match, I thought there were several different ways this could go only to have them pick an option that I never would have predicted. This was the first match that made the increased time limit for block matches look like a good idea, as this was an excellent time limit draw that really needed the time to breathe. After a night full of singles matches running ten minutes or under, it took a few minutes to get used to the slower, more deliberate style they worked in this block final, but at no point did it feel like they were wasting time to reach the time limit. This had everything that you want in puro; stiff kicks, withering strike exchanges, no selling bombs, desperation Germans, an exhausted strike exchange from the knees, and a whole show’s worth of fighting spirit. My only complaint is with the way the block standings were, it would have been more dramatic for Syuri to be the one racing the clock for the victory at the end, as Utami didn’t need the win to advance. It also would have set up an eventual rematch between the two better instead of making it seem like Syuri barely escaped defeat. Booking issues aside, this was great and is easily one of the best matches of the tournament. ****1/4

5☆STAR GP 2020 Finals
Utami Hayashishita Def. Himeka

I’m not sure how long separated this from the last match as the complete show feed on Stardom World cut to a Finals graphic, but Utami looked exhausted while making her ring entrance. This had the obvious story of Himeka, who had close to an hour to rest after her block winning match, taking it to the weary Utami, and while they could have had a much better match if the finals were held on a separate night, say at the Yokohama show, this had the added benefit of installing Utami as the huge underdog rather than the betting favorite. This was a really good match that cemented Himeka as a player in Stardom while pushing Utami very strong with the clean victory right after the previous war. With the way Utami struggled to hit Himeka with the finish after wrestling a hard combined 30 minutes, they probably should have just had Himeka pass out to the rear naked choke, which I actually had bought as the finish, and wasn’t really escaped from rather just let go. ***3/4

Final Thoughts

A great show to end a great tournament. If you are pressed for time, watch Mayu/Tam, and Utami’s two matches, but really I recommend the whole show this time. Excepting the draw all the matches are 10 minutes or less, and they bottom out at 3 stars. While Utami Hayashishita is the obvious winner, Donna del Mondo exits the 5Star GP in a much better place than when they entered, with all the members stepping out of Giulia’s shadow to make their own mark on Stardom. Yokohama approaches with Donna del Mondo on fire, TCS’ future hanging in the balance, Odeo Tai refreshed with the return of Bea Priestley, and Utami on top of the world. Things could go in many different directions, but one thing is certain; Stardom is a very interesting place to be right now.