5STAR GRAND PRIX DAY 12
SEPTEMBER 4, 2022
Watch: STARDOM WORLD
STARDOM’s event in Takamatsu was one of the first real down shows of the entire tournament. All this Hiroshima show has to do is pick things back up and get the momentum rolling again heading into a loaded weekend where STARDOM runs the Yokohama Budokan and Korakuen Hall. I have hope this show can outdo day 11 if only because Natsupoi vs Mayu Iwatani is a match I’ve wanted for aged.
MOMO KOHGO (2) DEF. SAKI KASHIMA (6)
We started with some laughs and then settled into a pretty decent match. Kashima trying to outsmart Kohgo after bribing her was clever and helped keep this one from just being a completely unremarkable match. Kohgo gets the upset win over Kashima to finally get on the board as Oedo Tai continues to slip up in this tournament. ***
SAYA KAMITANI (12) DEF. SAYA IIDA (2)
Watching this match brought me back to the days of seeing SayaSaya tag in tag league. At the time both Saya’s were fresh off their debuts and got paired up immediately and during that tag league run, STARDOM made it clear that Kamitani would be the one to get pushed. Fast forward to now and Kamitani enters this match as white belt champion and a bona fide star, while her opponent’s growth has been slower and was stalled by a long spell on the sidelines.
The familiarity that they had was definitely on display as Iida’s strength matched well with Kamitani’s agility to provide a fun match that served as a reminder of how quick Kamitani’s rise has been. Their post-match embrace was a nice touch. ***1/4
AMI SOREI (10) DEF. HAZUKI (14)
Another big win for Ami in this tournament as she picks off block leader Hazuki who has predictably hit a stumbling block after her 7-0 start to the GP. Hazuki continued her MVP-level run here as this was an enjoyable match with plenty of action, including a lot of good offense from Ami who is really showing what she can do in this tournament.
Sorei came into this tournament protected, but she will leave as someone on a real upward trajectory. ***1/2
MIRAI (10) DEF. MOMO WATANABE (6)
There was a lot to like about this match and one glaring issue. I’ll stick with the positives first. This was the perfect dynamic to bring out the best in MIRAI, she has excelled in STARDOM every time she’s been forced to fight from behind as the babyface. Oedo Tai’s interference and Momo’s tendency to just kick the shit out of whoever she wrestles provided a great obstacle for MIRAI to rally against. As usual, she was really good at it and this match was on course to be great.
That’s when things went off track, the wrench stuff was too drawn out and really poorly done. I haven’t hated the wrench stuff in this tournament so far but the execution of it here dragged things to a screeching halt. MIRAI making up for it by knocking Momo’s head off a few times with lariats was admittedly quite badass though. ***1/2
TAM NAKANO (8) DEF. MAIKA (10)
Once again I must remark how surprised I am that Maika has embraced and excels at sprints. Tam has always been great when doing matches like this so I’m not as surprised by her performance. I’m sure if given time these two would deliver greatness but what they did here was give us an energetic all-action contest to keep the good times rolling in this GP. ***1/2
NATSUPOI (8) DEF. MAYU IWATANI (8)
Two of my favorites in STARDOM really delivered here despite having roughly 8 minutes to work with. Both women are custom made for higher-paced matches and they worked very well together. This didn’t seem like a teaser for anything but I have no doubt that Iwatani and Natsupoi could have a Match of The Year contender if they were paired up for a big title match down the line, part of me hopes that Poi winning here gives her reason to challenge Mayu Iwatani for the IWGP Women’s Title at Wrestle Kingdom. That is assuming Iwtaani wins the belt, which I’d say has a 95% chance of happening. Either way, this was a nice taste of the excellence these two could deliver in a full-length match. ****
SYURI (8) DEF. HIMEKA (10)
This was a condensed version of their title match from earlier this year and I wouldn’t blame anyone who says they enjoyed this even more than their title match. This had everything you could expect from a big Syuri match including Syuri kicking someone very hard (in fact she’s been kicking harder than ever lately), big moves, and some very tense near falls. I expected a Himeka win to even out the score after her loss to Syuri earlier this year but instead, the red belt champion continued her march up the standings. ****1/4
Day 12 of the 5STAR Grand Prix really surpassed my expectations. I expected the entire crew to be at half speed all weekend but they picked things up in Hiroshima and almost every match was very good at minimum. The top two matches are standouts of the tournament and are definitely not to be missed.
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