The runaway train known as Stardom continues to be the best of the best in all of wrestling. Since All Star Dream Cinderella in 2021, Stardom hasn’t looked back with a number of major matches, shows, and moments to show for it. Much of those involved none other than the World of Stardom Champion, Syuri, who has been on the run of her career after turning one title match against Utami Hayashishita a year ago into destiny. That destiny involved Syuri winning the 5★STAR Grand Prix and moving on to win the championship she had been chasing since joining the promotion at Stardom Dream Queendom. And while that journey has been told to perfection, there’s a match in that road that highlighted Syuri’s road perfectly but also another top talent — Momo Watanabe.

That match, of course, is the stellar 5★STAR Grand Prix final between Syuri and Watanabe on Sep. 25, 2021. The current World of Stardom Champion walked out as the one with her hand raised but Watanabe, in what was one of the best performances of her career, figured out where to go on her path moving forward. And it’s that match that brings us to July 9 at MidSummer Champions, where Syuri will defend the title against Momo Watanabe in the main event. These two managed a magical final last year but with the highest stakes they’ve ever had facing off, this is sure to be another potential classic.

Syuri Outlasted Momo Watanabe To Win 5★STAR Grand Prix After 20-Minute Draw With Takumi Iroha

There was something special in the air on Sep. 25, 2021. The final night of the 2021 5★STAR Grand Prix was a tale of two different evenings for Syuri and Momo Watanabe. Syuri looked forward to facing Takumi Iroha with a win guaranteeing her a spot in the final. Watanabe had to sit and wait instead. Her original matchup with Giulia was not going to happen due to the injury to Giulia, meaning all Watanabe could do was wait to see how the remainder of her block played out. While awaiting her fate, the then-leader of Queen’s Quest participated in a preshow match against Rina and Hanan, not even factoring into the finish. It was halfway through the show that Watanabe knew she was heading to the finals, giving her a chance to sit back and watch as the Blue Stars Block scratched and clawed for a spot opposing her.

That brings us to Syuri, who sat at 11 points heading into the show and would have locked in a trip to the final with a win over Takumi Iroha, who also had an opportunity to make it into the final. Syuri and Iroha collided for a 20-minute match of the tournament contender with neither being able to figure each other out long enough to get the victory. It wasn’t only a match but the closest match to a war on the night. They traded kicks as if they were going for a knockout instead of pinfall. As a result, Syuri was unable to lock in her position against Watanabe and had to await the result of Wonder of Stardom Champion Tam Nakano taking on World of Stardom Champion Utami Hayashishita with Nakano needing to defeat Hayashishita to confirm Syuri’s advancement into the final. Luckily for Syuri, that’s exactly what she got.

So the scene was set. Momo Watanabe, who waited the entire night to know her fate and barely broke a sweat in her match earlier in the night, was going to face Syuri, whose destiny of getting to the World of Stardom Championship included her having to go to war with one of the best wrestlers in the world and have to sweat another match to know whether or not she’d have a shot.

There wasn’t a second where they held back. These two acknowledged the importance of the match and the stress one another had gone through. There wasn’t a second of holding back but rather tossing bombs at one another until there was nothing left. Watanabe has had her big moments before. As a former Cinderella Tournament winner and the most dominant Wonder of Stardom Champion in the title’s history, there was no doubting that she had what it took to get the win. But Syuri was, as mentioned before, a woman on a mission. And one type of wrestler who has been a weakness to Watanabe in her career is someone with a similar offensive style. After all, she did lose her Wonder of Stardom Championship to Arisa Hoshiki.

It was Syuri’s time. Even after having to battle Iroha, Syuri was able to outlast Watanabe. Their match felt like an instant classic at the time and one that will go down as one of, if not the best 5★STAR Grand Prix finals of all time. They threw devastating strikes, breath-taking kicks, and hit everything in the arsenal. It came down to Momo’s Peach Thunder and Syuri’s Ryuen. Unfortunately for the former, it was a Ryuen that was executed in the end. Watanabe gave it her all. She had the advantage of competing early in the night and in a far less taxing match. Yet, it was Syuri who was crowned the 5★STAR winner. Everything was on Watanabe’s side and she once again came up short in her pursuit of the World of Stardom Championship.

Maybe it was finally time for a change when it comes to the Queen’s Quest leader. Of course, we know now—- it was.

Road of Glory and Road of Darkness Leads To MidSummer Champions

Momo Watanabe came up short in her hunt for the World of Stardom Championship once again. Failed challenges against Bea Priestley, Mayu Iwatani, and Utami Hayashishita weren’t breaking points for Watanabe but it felt one more major loss would be. When she lost to Syuri, Watanabe at least seemed to be unbothered and was turning her attention to Starlight Kid and Oedo Tai. Kid had mocked Watanabe enough to the point where Momo challenged for the High-Speed Championship. Kawasaki Super Wars saw the two wrestle to a double countout as all Watanabe had on her mind was violence instead of winning the title she had no interest in. It was one month later that their rivalry would lead to a Captain’s Fall match between Queen’s Quest and Oedo Tai. It was history from there.

With MOMOAZ up two-to-one on Starlight Kid, Watanabe showed her true colors by smashing her now-former tag team partner in the skull with a chair. AZM was down and out, Queen’s Quest was stunned and a bit broken, and most importantly the “Black Peach” was born. Enough was enough for Watanabe. Instead of focusing on being the leader of Queen’s Quest and trying to lead them to success, Watanabe instead bet on herself and it has paid off already. After not holding any championship gold for two years, Watanabe finally was a champion again as she and Starlight Kid defeated FWC for the Goddess of Stardom Championship. While that reign wouldn’t last as long as they hoped, they would soon grab the Artist of Stardom Championship soon after with Saki Kashima in the mix. But neither of those titles are fulfilling Watanabe’s ultimate goal.

May 16, 2019. The final time Momo Watanabe held singles gold as she lost the Wonder of Stardom Championship to Arisa Hoshiki. Now sitting here three years later, his goal is the same. The Wonder of Stardom Championship. And it’s Syuri who stands in her way. Watanabe has never been more focused and more dangerous as an overall competitor. This may finally be her time.

Of course, she is going to be facing the most dominant World of Stardom Champion in quite some time. Syuri has displayed why she is indeed a woman on a completely different level from everyone else. The God’s Eye leader turned her 5★STAR win to challenge Utami Hayashishita at Stardom Dream Queendom in December, defeating “The Red Queen” to finally win the championship she considered her destiny. Each chapter since has been met with dominance. Syuri welcomed the unknown of MIRAI and had little to no problem securing her first title defense against her God’s Eye stablemate (Donna del Mondo at the time). The momentum from 2021 carried on with Syuri as she defeated both Giulia and Mayu Iwatani in back-to-back title defenses on back-to-back nights. That’s “god-tier” levels for anyone in Stardom’s history, let alone right now.

If she was able to get through those two then Himeka stood almost no chance as her attempt was a failure as well. Flashing Champions was when Syuri received her most unique challenge to date in the form of Prominence’s Risa Sera, who used everything but the kitchen sink to try and take out Syuri. But once again, nothing worked. Syuri put Sera nearly to sleep before Prominence threw in the towel for their leader. Again — dominance. That’s all Syuri has known since the 5★STAR Grand Prix last year.

Very different roads from both women but it is Syuri’s leaving us with one question — Can anyone actually stop her?

Maybe… just maybe Momo Watanabe can.

Syuri vs. Momo Watanabe IV: Can They Live Up To Their Classic

Syuri and Momo Watanabe feel like two meteors about to collide at MidSummer Champions. Syuri is the unbeatable champion. Watanabe is the confident, yet cocky challenger whose change has been for the better. If history were to tell us anything, this would be Syuri’s match to win. The World of Stardom Champion has a 2-0-1 record against the “Black Peach.” But history has nothing to do with this next match. Nothing. They’re both vastly different from when they last met and all that can be asked is simple — Can they live up to their classic?

Gut feeling says yes. The main reason Watanabe’s switch to Oedo Tai has worked so incredibly well is because of her ability to make matches her own. Rarely does she count on Oedo Tai to interfere as Natsuko Tora would in her matches. Watanabe’s length of cheating goes to the dastardly wrench that has knocked out AZM and left Natsupoi busted open. It is the wild card of the match and if the unbeatable Syuri was to be hit with it, perhaps she’d finally fall.

Recapturing the greatness of their final is asking for a lot. It is. But the stakes are higher. Syuri is better than ever. And truth be told, Watanabe is too. She’s reached the level where she is ready to be a world champion and lead Stardom into the future. They’ve showcased the chemistry they have in each preview tag they’ve taken part in. The mood goes from zero to 100 the moment they look one another down with the vicious intent their personalities carry. A match where two people want the World of Stardom Championship more than anything. Buckle up because what they do next Saturday is going to be special.

Stardom MidSummer Champions will be on pay-per-view on July 9 at 4 a.m. EST.

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