5STAR GRAND PRIX DAY 13
SEPTEMBER 11, 2022
Watch: STARDOM WORLD (from Wednesday)
This is a day that I’ve had circled since the GP schedule was announced. Not only is the talent likely to go all out in the Yokohama Budokan but there are some major matches on this show like Mayu Iwatani vs Giulia and Suzu Suzuki vs Saya Kamitani. STARDOM added to the GP greatness buy also having STARS challenge for the Artist of STARDOM titles on this show in a match that I’m really looking forward to. Let’s see if this show can live up to the billing.
GOD’S EYE (SYURI & TOMOKA INABA) DEF. COSMIC ANGELS (WAKA TSUKIYAMA & MINA SHIRAKAWA)
This was Tomoka Inaba’s first match since joining God’s Eye and it went a long way to showing how well she will fit into the group. She looked the part next to Syuri and really fit into the aesthetic of the group with ease, it doesn’t hurt that she’s got the Queen of JTO title on hand to make her look a bit more legitimate. We also got a nice showcase of what Inaba can do with her loud kicks being showcased as well as her technical skills.
I’m hoping we get a Syuri and Inaba team in tag league this year to keep letting Inaba learn from Syuri. Inaba pinning Tsukiyama after a blistering kick to the chest was a good choice to further establish her as a threat in STARDOM. ***
RISA SERA (8) DEF. UNAGI SAYAKA (2)
Sayaka tried to attack Sera with a kendo stick to start the match but once she was disarmed it was fun to see Sera tear her apart. Sayaka is having a surprisingly poor tournament results-wise but it has always been fun to see her get beat up. ***
HIMEKA (12) DEF. SAKI (4)
The two former Actwres girl’Z showed out here. While it was nothing amazing they had an intense match with lots of snug strikes that kept the energy and pace high throughout. Himeka got the win out of nowhere when she caught SAKI up top to hit the running powerbomb, similar to the finish of her match with Risa Sera. ***1/2
SUZU SUZUKI (2) DEF. SAYA KAMITANI (12)
I’ve been waiting for this one ever since the blocks came out and they did not disappoint. While I firmly believe that Saya Kamitani is the best in the world today, Suzu Suzuki isn’t far off. Suzuki winning was always the right choice as she needs to start accumulating points ASAP but it also brings an interesting twist to what looked like a standard match.
Despite not being in the same company as one another until earlier this year, Kamitani and Suzuki have always been in competition. They both debuted in the same gen and finished second and third in the 2019 Tokyo Sports rookie of the year vote. Since then they’ve both had meteoric rises to become top stars in the scene, with Suzuki being a former ICExInfinity Champion and Kamitani currently holding the Wonder of STARDOM title. Both women are considered prodigies in the world of Joshi wrestling and this was their first ever match, a match that many never could have expected to get.
And, in the first match between them, Suzuki won. The outsider, deathmatch fanatic who conquered Ice Ribbon defeated the Golden Phoenix of STARDOM. The post-match interaction between Suzuki and Kamitani proved that there’s more to come between them. Kamitani can’t accept this defeat because she’s always been one step behind Suzuki. Suzuki won her promotion’s top title, Kamitani didn’t, Suzuki finished second in the rookie of the year voting, Kamitani finished third, and now, Suzuki boasts a win over Kamitani.
STARDOM’s golden phoenix may have found a career rival, one that we never expected, but one that could push her to her limits for years to come. ****1/4
AZM (12) DEF. UTAMI HAYASHISHITA (8)
These AZM sprints are always very enjoyable, especially when her opponent is a complete stylistic matchup. Hayashishita being a power-technician makes her an excellent base for AZM to work off of. While last year Hayashishita managed to beat her stablemate in the GP she wasn’t so lucky this year as AZM continues her march towards the block winner spot. ***3/4
MAYU IWATANI (9) VS GIULIA (11) – DRAW
Our very first draw of the 5STAR Grand Prix and there’s no better pairing to get that honor. This is the fifth time these two have wrestled and it’s the third time they’ve gone to a time limit draw. What that means for the tournament is huge as Iwatani and Giulia are the only wrestlers with a draw to their names, making a tie with other wrestlers impossible right now. The match itself continued what they brought in their number one contenders match earlier this year, if you enjoyed that, then you’ll enjoy this as it had just as many head drops, head butts, and no-selling. ****
ARTIST OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
OEDO TAI (STARLIGHT KID, SAKI KASHIMA & MOMO WATANABE) (C) DEF. STARS (KOGUMA, HAZUKI & HANAN)
Pure, unadulterated, excellence. Oedo Tai have breathed new life into the Artist titles over the past few months, but they aren’t the story of this match. The story of this match is Hanan.
2022 has seen Hanan step into the spotlight more than ever before. Long believed to be STARDOM’s best homegrown prospect it was finally time for her to move up the card. She won the Future of STARDOM Championship at Sumo Hall in December and has had a record-breaking reign as champion to date with 10 defenses to her name. In addition, she entered her first 5STAR Grand Prix this year, a sign that Rossy Ogawa believes she’s ready for the spotlight.
To continue her ascent this entire match was built around Hanan and the possibility of her winning the match. STARS came out with new gear all around as Koguma had orange, Hazuki had blue, and Hanan had a modified version of her standard yellow and blue. This was sign number one that this was going to be a big match.
Hanan immediately opted to start the match for her team, and who was standing across from her? None other than Starlight Kid. Kid famously betrayed STARS last year when she opted to remain with Oedo Tai after being forced away from her longtime home. In the process, she openly betrayed Mayu Iwatani, but she also betrayed Hanan. Hanan and Kid were the future of STARS, STARDOM’s two homegrowns who would eventually take the mantle from Mayu Iwatani and protect STARDOM from any and all comers. Instead, Kid opted to make her own journey and attempt to surpass Mayu Iwatani by going down a different path.
Not only was Hanan paired up with Kid but Kid went the full mile to make sure that Hanan was elevated, even letting her kick out of the moonsault and escape her new submission finisher. I legitimately believed that Hanan was on the verge of winning at least three times and that speaks to how well both she and Kid performed down the stretch. This hope and belief that Hanan could win elevated this match to a whole new level and had me genuinely engrossed in the near falls.
This match will be looked back on as a huge stepping stone in the elevation of Hanan and it’s only fitting that it involved her longtime stablemate Starlight Kid.
Aside from the Hanan story, this was just an excellent match. Hazuki and Momo got to reignite their long-standing grudge, all six women got involved with fun trios combos, and there was even some brief high-speed goodness from Saki Kashima and Koguma. ****3/4
GODDESS OF STARDOM CHAMPIONSHIP
TAM NAKANO & NATSUPOI (C) DEF. AMI SOREI & MIRAI
When Nakano and Natsupoi won the tag titles I expected to see them main event a PPV or two, I wasn’t expecting it to be this soon but it’s great to see these titles in the top spot. I was on the come down from the Artist match so maybe didn’t enjoy this match fully but it was really good. MIRAI and Sorei seem to have finally clicked as a team as they’ve done good work in their last two tag matches together. Poi and Tam are the perfect team and I hope they keep the titles for a long time.
There wasn’t a lot of drama to this one since it was defense number one for the new champs who claim they want to surpass the legendary Beauty Pair, which would indicate they’ll hold these titles for some time. ****
This show delivered on every expectation I had. Suzu Suzuki vs Saya Kamitani was just a taste of what those two will be able to do together over the course of their careers while Giulia and Mayu Iwatani added another chapter to their in-ring rivalry. The show stealer though was undoubtedly the Artist of STARDOM Championship match which I believe will be looked back on in years to come as one of the pivotal moments in the career of Hanan who is going to be a major star for the company in the future. The main event was outshined by some matches but it was definitely worth a watch and may be even better than I’m giving it credit for.
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