STARDOM
5STAR GRAND PRIX DAY 16
SEPTEMBER 18, 2022
EDION OSAKA ARENA #2
OSAKA, JAPAN

WATCH: STARDOM WORLD

Red Stars Block
Koguma (10) def. Unagi Sayaka (2)

The story of Unagi Sayaka in this tournament has been an interesting one to follow. She can’t buy herself a win. Sayaka was able to defeat Saki Kashima early on in the 5STAR Grand Prix but has lost all her other matches, a complete letdown after her eye-opening performance last year. So she had a plan going into this match with Koguma to attack early and often. Keep Koguma on the ropes while trying to get a win by any means necessary. And that all worked so well… until it didn’t. Koguma was able to get the Kuma Roll pin out of nowhere to beat Sayaka and leave her looking for answers but honestly, this was one of the best showings by Koguma in the tournament. She fought and survived to steal a win as high-speed wrestlers often can and do. Way to start the show. ***

Red Stars Block
SAKI (8) def. Mai Sakurai (9)

SAKI has had her own style for this tournament. The matches are fast and to the point. Not much more than hitting each other back and forth with big boots or forearms before heading into the final stretch. SAKI did bring out her submission game a bit but this match was as expected. Mai Sakurai has had a good showing from start to finish in this tournament — she should be proud. **¾

Blue Stars Block
Starlight Kid (10) def. Mina Shirakawa (6)

When the bright lights of the 5STAR Grand Prix are on, Mina Shirakawa decides to show up. I’ve personally been down on Shirakawa for the majority of this year but there is no denying that her performance in this tournament has reminded many, including myself, that she has the talent at any time to be great in the ring. Match her up against Starlight Kid and you get one of Shirakawa’s best matches of the year. There’s something about what Kid is doing in this tournament that should not be overlooked. Hazuki got a lot of the early noise while many of the favorites are getting that attention now but what Kid has done is put together a sneaky run for MVP consideration. She defeated Shirakawa with her version of the Numero Dos, bending Shirakawa in half to make her tap out.

A really good match on a card filled with some of the best action in this tournament thus far. ***½

Blue Stars Block
Giulia (13) def. Ami Sourei (10)

Giulia went into this match with a plan and was able to succeed. Ami Sourei has been one of the big surprises of this tournament as she has multiple big wins in her first 5STAR. She’s proven that she will not only be a threat in the future but right now, which is why Giulia needed to go in with a plan. She had to “chop down the tree,” hitting Sourei as hard as she could and as often with the idea it’d weaken her enough to lock on Bianca and get the win. It was almost a failed plan for Giulia as Sourei’s power almost nabbed her the win. When Sourei hit the spinning Brainbuster, there was certainly a feeling that Giulia could be losing her momentum at that very moment. Thankfully, Giulia’s plan came through and she remains the heavy favorite going into the final two weekends. ***¼

Blue Stars Block
Saya Kamitani (13) vs. MIRAI (13) ends in a 15-minute draw

Saya Kamitani and MIRAI have that chemistry. These two could wrestle time and time again and somehow I think it would feel new each time. Their second singles match lived up to their first as this 15-minute draw flew by in the best match of the night up until this point. Kamitani was so good at being alpha in this, making MIRAI have to fire up and work from behind if she wanted to have any chance of winning. The way they crafted the match worked to the strengths of both really because MIRAI is so much better as an underdog. She just is. You want to cheer for her but if she’s dominating, it doesn’t feel as right. So when she fired up in this match, you felt it.

Those Lariats she was throwing and how she closed out the match was to perfection. The jumping Lariat will be a devastating move for her moving forward because it FOLDED Kamitani in half and had the best nearfall of the match. As the seconds ticked down, it was clear MIRAI had the victory in hand if there were 30 more seconds. That right there is how you book a draw. A great, great match that continues great tournaments for both women. ****

Red Stars Block
Tam Nakano (12) def. Risa Sera (11)

Tam Nakano and Risa Sera are equally insane albeit it’s in very different ways. Sera’s craziness is well-documented (just look at her back) as is Nakano’s. So, then you bring those two crazy-minded individuals together, they’re going to create something awesome together and that’s what they did. I’ve said this before but Sera in STARDOM has been nothing but excellent. It’d be a shame if the relationship ever ended.

Anyways, the match itself featured Sera launching Nakano via her Giant Swing into a ton of chairs, Nakano hitting a Cutter to Sera to launch them both off the apron, and finally these two just becoming so violent that they hammered one another with as many elbows as they could to each other’s faces. It was wonderful violence. Nakano escaped with the win but she won’t forget the day she faced Sera and neither will I. The only thing I wanted from this match was for them to fight for another 20 minutes. They were that good and have something even better in them if they get the chance down the line. ****

Blue Stars Block
Suzu Suzuki (6) def. Momo Watanabe (6)

There were few matches I was looking forward to more than this one. Suzu Suzuki and Momo Watanabe are two of the best in the world. That’s just a fact. Their energy inside the ring matches up perfectly for them to mesh together for something great and, well, that’s what they did. Their attitudes alone made this interesting from the start. They’re both cocky, confident, and really don’t care about anything besides hurting their opponent. It got personal fast. Everything they hit on one another was not only with intent but with the goal of breaking each other for two points. I could just sing the praises about the final minutes but the way they built to that moment was perfect.

Your usual Oedo Tai interference worked as Watanabe distracted the referee long enough to have Starlight Kid nail Suzuki with a chair but that wasn’t going to stop the former ICExInfinity Champion. Suzuki got up and wrecked both Watanabe and Kid with a chair before they got back in the ring. I think by the end of the match these two kicked each other in the head no less than five times each. The moment of the match that broke the crowd out of the clap-only rules was when Suzuki smashed Watanabe in the face with a wrench — that got a big pop out of me too. Suzuki eventually putting Watanabe down with her Double German Suplex finish was perfect as Suzuki has not only found her way in the tournament but she might have become the force of it.

I firmly believe Suzu Suzuki has already entered the conversation of being the best in the world at 20 years old. This match solidifies the claim. It was perfectly executed from start to finish with Watanabe bringing her old school violence, Suzuki showing why she has already done so much at her young age, and these two just beating the hell out of each other until someone could outclass the other — or out cheat for that matter. I’ve been rolling with Giulia vs. Hazuki as the match of the tournament for quite some time now but this feels like it had everything I needed to at least be in the conversation. Outstanding and a must-watch bout. ****½