It’s tournament season in Japan, and the best women’s wrestling tournament in all of professional wrestling is coming—5STAR Grand Prix 2023.
The 2023 5STAR Grand Prix officially kicks off on July 23 inside Ota Ward and will finish up on September 30 at the Yokohama Budokan. The tournament will move down from the 26 participants it had a year ago and go back to the traditional 20-person, two-block format that they utilized in 2021, and NJPW has used countless times for the G1 Climax.
In many ways, the 5STAR Grand Prix has taken over what the G1 Climax once was as that tournament continues to expand, the GP features the best of the best with a number of deserving names missing their opportunity to compete. That’s how stacked it is this year.
2023 has been an interesting year for STARDOM following their most impressive year ever in 2022. This year has featured STARDOM’s biggest show of all time, All Star Grand Queendom, and had worldwide superstar Mercedes Moné compete at that very show.
STARDOM also saw the second-ever two-time Cinderella Tournament winner in MIRAI and the second-ever Double Champion crowned as Tam Nakano shockingly beat Giulia in the main event of All Star Grand Queendom then defeated Mina Shirakawa to win the Wonder of Stardom Championship for the second time. Oh, and as we head into the tournament, we’ll have four top singles champions with Tam Nakano, MIRAI, Mayu Iwatani, and Giulia all holding singles titles that could factor into some interesting stories at the conclusion of the GP.
There’s a good chance that because of Moné’s appearance in the promotion,. many new fans will be checking out this tournament for the first time so we made sure to have everything you’ll need to do heading into the premier two-month event.
Below is your complete guide to 5STAR Grand Prix 2023, featuring each competitor and champion in the blocks, the full schedule, stats, facts, stories to know, favorites, darkhorses, and the essential matches to check out as the tournament begins.
5STAR Grand Prix 2023 Blocks
RED STARS BLOCK
- Tam Nakano (World of Stardom Champion)
- Mayu Iwatani (IWGP Women’s Champion)
- Saya Kamitani
- Suzu Suzuki
- Starlight Kid
- Natsuko Tora
- Ami Sourei
BLUE STARS BLOCK
- Giulia (STRONG Women’s Champion)
- Utami Hayashishita
- Saori Anou*
- Momo Watanabe
- MIRAI (Wonder of Stardom Champion)
- Mina Shirakawa
- Mariah May*
* First time entrants
5STAR Grand Prix 2023 Schedule
July 23 (LIVE)
- Ami Sourei vs. Natsuko Tora
- Natsupoi vs. Starlight Kid
- Syuri vs. Suzu Suzuki
- Mayu Iwatani vs. Hazuki
- Tam Nakano vs. Saya Kamitani
- Maika vs. Hanan
- AZM vs. Mariah May
- MIRAI vs. Momo Watanabe
- Utami Hayashishita vs. Mina Shirakawa
- Giulia vs. Saori Anou
- Saori Anou vs. Mariah May
- Giulia vs. Hanan
- MIRAI vs. Mina Shirakawa
- Saya Kamitani vs. Natsuko Tora
- Suzu Suzuki vs. Natsupoi
- MIRAI vs. Hanan
- Suzu Suzuki vs. Starlight Kid
- Saori Anou vs. Maika
- MIRAI vs. AZM
- Tam Nakano vs. Hazuki
- Syuri vs. Natsuko Tora
- Saori Anou vs. AZM
- Mina Shirakawa vs. Hanan
- Mayu Iwatani vs. Suzu Suzuki
- Syuri vs. Natsupoi
- Maika vs. Momo Watanabe
- Giulia vs. Mariah May
- Mayu Iwatani vs. Natsupoi
- Saya Kamitani vs. Ami Sourei
- Suzu Suzuki vs. Natsuko Tora
- Utami Hayashishita vs. Saori Anou
- Giulia vs. Mina Shirakawa
- AZM vs. Hanan
August 13 (LIVE)
- Starlight Kid vs. Natsuko Tora
- Tam Nakano vs. Mayu Iwatani
- Saya Kamitani vs. Natsupoi
- Syuri vs. Hazuki
- Utami Hayashishita vs. AZM
- Saori Anou vs. Momo Watanabe
- Mina Shirakawa vs. Mariah May
- Mayu Iwatani vs. Natsuko Tora
- Hazuki vs. Ami Sourei
- Tam Nakano vs. Natsuko Tora
- Saya Kamitani vs. Starlight Kid
- Giulia vs. MIRAI
- Utami Hayashishita vs. Maika
- Natsupoi vs. Natsuko Tora
- Ami Sourei vs. Starlight Kid
- Saori Anou vs. Hanan
- Momo Watanabe vs. Mariah May
- Mayu Iwatani vs. Ami Sourei
- Giulia vs. Momo Watanabe
- Mina Shirakawa vs. AZM
- Utami Hayashishita vs. Mariah May
September 3 (LIVE)
- Mayu Iwatani vs. Syuri
- Saya Kamitani vs. Hazuki
- Tam Nakano vs. Starlight Kid
- Utami Hayashishita vs. Momo Watanabe
- Tam Nakano vs. Suzu Suzuki
- Syuri vs. Saya Kamitani
- Starlight Kid vs. Hazuki
- Giulia vs. Maika
- Saori Anou vs. MIRAI
- Tam Nakano vs. Ami Sourei
- Hazuki vs. Natsupoi
- Maika vs. AZM
- Suzu Suzuki vs. Ami Sourei
- Hanan vs. Momo Watanabe
- MIRAI vs. Mariah May
- Natsupoi vs. Ami Sourei
- Mina Shirakawa vs. Momo Watanabe
- Tam Nakano vs. Syuri
- Giulia vs. AZM
- Utami Hayashishita vs. MIRAI
- Maika vs. Mariah May
- Mayu Iwatani vs. Saya Kamitani
- Hazuki vs. Suzu Suzuki
- Maika vs. Mina Shirakawa
- Syuri vs. Starlight Kid
- Utami Hayashishita vs. Hanan
September 30 (LIVE)
- Mayu Iwatani vs. Starlight Kid
- Saya Kamitani vs. Suzu Suzuki
- Tam Nakano vs. Natsupoi
- Syuri vs. Ami Sourei
- Hazuki vs. Natsuko Tora
- Giulia vs. Utami Hayashishita
- MIRAI vs. Maika
- AZM vs. Momo Watanabe
- Hanan vs. Mariah May
- Mina Shirakawa vs. Saori Anou
- Red Stars Winner vs. Blue Stars Winner
NOTABLE STATS & FACTS HEADING INTO 2023 TOURNAMENT
- Yuzuki Aikawa won the first-ever 5STAR Grand Prix in 2012.
- There has never been a two-time winner in the history of the tournament
- Utami Hayashishita, Mayu Iwatani, Syuri, and Giulia are all former winners
- Toni Storm is the only wrestler in STARDOM history to win the Cinderella Tournament and 5STAR Grand Prix in the same year
- In 5STAR Grand Prix history, only 4 of 11 winners have gone on to win the championship they’ve decided to challenge for with the win, including the last three winners—Utami Hayashishita, Syuri, and Giulia
- Out of the first 11 winners, 9 of them challenged for the World of Stardom Championship
- Io Shirai used her tournament win to challenge for the Goddess of Stardom Championship in 2014
- Mayu Iwatani used her tournament win to challenge for the Wonder of Stardom Championship in 2018
- Utami Hayashishita and Yoko Bito are the only participants in 5STAR Grand Prix history to be runner-up one year and win the tournament in another
- No other runner-ups have ever gone on to win
- Yoko Bito is the only wrestler to be in the finals back-to-back years, winning in 2016 and losing in 2017
- Mayu Iwatani has the most matches in tournament history with 67. In those matches, she has a record of 39-22-6.
- The last three winners (Utami Hayashishita, Syuri, and Giulia) all wrestled to a draw in their first match of the final night, going on to compete in the finals later on
STARDOM STORIES, NOTES TO KNOW
- Utami Hayashishita left Queen’s Quest to the rest of the group as she took a trip to America to get herself back on track as a singles competitor—having not held championship gold since Stardom Dream Queendom 2021
- She has had three unique singles matches in GCW while also training with WWE’s Natalya and Io Shirai (aka IYO SKY)
- Queen’s Quest has struggled without Utami Hayashishita, losing all their matches since
- The Generational Struggle will continue in the tournament with the third series of matches coming on September 9 inside Korakuen Hall
- The veteran generation of Mayu Iwatani, Tam Nakano, Giulia, and Syuri lead the series 1-0-1 over the younger generation (Suzu Suzuki, Maika, MIRAI, Saya Kamitani & Utami Hayashishita)
- The three matches of the third Generation Struggle series to know on September 9 are as follows:
- Tam Nakano vs. Suzu Suzuki
- Syuri vs. Saya Kamitani
- Giulia vs. Maika
- Maika has been nearly unbeatable this year but came up short against Giulia in the second Generational Struggle Match. She has a connection with Suzu Suzuki and Mei Seira that has led to her status in Donna del Mondo in question.
- Giulia and Maika face off on September 9
- Mayu Iwatani and Starlight Kid will renew their troubled relationship on the final night of the 5STAR Grand Prix (Sep. 30).
- This will mark the third year in a row that they compete against one another on the final night
- Kid will try to beat Mayu Iwatani for the first time in her career
- Suzu Suzuki is the only wrestler in this tournament without a faction.
- Saori Anou and Mariah May are first-time competitors and will match up on July 29 as Cosmic Angels and Club Venus continue to battle post-Mina Shirakawa and Waka Tsukiyama’s exit from the group.
5STAR Grand Prix 2023: Favorites & Darkhorses
As more and more time goes on, it’s beginning to feel like this year’s tournament is Utami Hayashishita and everyone else.
“The Red Queen” has spent a year and a half getting back on track since losing the World of Stardom Championship at Stardom Dream Queendom 2021. Much of that year and a half has included some of the biggest losses of her career and watching her stablemates accomplish history while she was simply a leader. A loss in the semifinals of the IWGP Women’s Championship tournament, losing to Syuri for a second straight time with the World of Stardom Championship on the line and nearly watching Queen’s Quest move on without her. Of course, this all changed at STARDOM SUNSHINE 2023 when she pulled off her first major win in quite some time, making sure no one in Queen’s Quest had to leave the faction as she fought until the very end inside the Steel Cage, bloodied and all.
The moment was one of the finest in STARDOM’s history, let alone Hayashishita’s career. After securing that win, everything felt like it’d be going her way moving forward before she dropped the bombshell on her faction that she’d be taking a trip to find herself as a singles competitor again. That surprisingly meant wrestling in GCW in America and having the chance to train with WWE’s Natalya and former two-time World of Stardom Champion Io Shirai. Now it’s all starting to make sense.
We don’t have any idea what this new, focused version of Utami Hayashishita is going to look like but what we do know is that the 5STAR Grand Prix 2023 is going to be where she shows the world who she is once again. No one has ever won the tournament twice but there’s always room for firsts. No one fits that bill more than Utami Hayashishita, who is my personal pick to win this thing and go on to have the greatest World of Stardom Championship reign ever. That’s right. The Greatest.
Hayashishita’s rise back to the top has been a long process but if there was ever a time for her to get back to the top of STARDOM, this is it. She’s the complete package and so much better than she was the last time she was champion. It’s time.
Would it be crazy for STARDOM to go right back to Saya Kamitani after she set a record as the Wonder of Stardom Championship? I don’t think so. And right now, she’s the favorite in the Red Stars Block.
“The Golden Phoenix” has become one of the best in the world in two years’ time, going from a wrestler who looked unsure of herself to a wrestler who is willing to do anything to walk out as champion—and more often than not make it look great while doing so. Kamitani and Hayashishita become an incredibly intriguing final based on this year alone. The doubts of one another leading to the ultimate embrace at the conclusion of the Steel Cage Match… there’s a story to be told.
After all, the last time they faced off one-on-one, it was Kamitani who got the victory over Utami Hayashishita at Stardom World Climax 2022 to defend her Wonder of Stardom Championship. The win feels like one where Kamitani only elevated more as champion meanwhile Hayashishita looked for answers all the more.
When Kamitani finally lost the Wonder of Stardom Championship against Mina Shirakawa at All Star Grand Queendom, it was a moment where she didn’t feel like a loser but she had come to the end of an all-time run and it was time to move on. What does moving on look like? The World of Stardom Championship.
Setting up a potential Kamitani vs. Hayashishita or even Maika final feels fitting and plays to what STARDOM has built to over the last few years. The Golden Generation is one wrestler down with Himeka having retired earlier this year so wouldn’t it be right if we had our first Golden Generation final since 2020—when Hayashishita defeated Himeka.
Maybe the most interesting comment from Kamitani heading into the tournament is the idea of becoming STARDOM’s next ace and it’s by defeating the previous generation.
“I want to defeat the previous champions and prove that I am the unwavering ace of Stardom,” Kamitani told Tokyo Sports regarding her 5STAR matches with Mayu Iwatani and Syuri.
The battle of the new ace in the finals between “The Golden Phoenix” and “The Red Queen” feels too perfect. Queen’s Quest on top.
This Generational Struggle has become the overarching story of STARDOM and the 5STAR Grand Prix looks like another level to it with it all closing at Stardom Dream Queendom 2023. Tam Nakano and Kamitani have the history fitting of that year-end main event. They’ve already teased it… maybe it’s time to make it reality.
Dominance can be described in many ways. Winning titles, winning tournaments, or simply just winning.
Maika has had all sorts of dominance this year, rarely losing and more often than not getting the wins thanks to her devastating Michinoku Driver II. If you didn’t know better, you’d think Maika is gearing up for the run of her career. She’s been nothing short of good in her career, but 2023 has shown that she has a level of greatness in her that she’s trying to show to the world.
Maybe it’s because her tag team partner and other half Himeka retired that she’s had a determination like never before. Maybe it’s because she’s had enough of the major title losses. Or maybe she’s just ready to take the next step.
It was in the second Generational Struggle match that Maika finally slipped up, losing to Giulia as the final two left in the match. She was angry, fed up, and knew she needed to keep improving. It was Suzu Suzuki, Maika’s new ally who pushed her after the match questioning her loss and Maika responded by saying they’d meet in the finals of the 5STAR Grand Prix and that certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.
Even if Maika comes up short in the 5STAR Grand Prix, this tournament is going to be the most important period of her career as she not only looks to grow but looks to figure out who she’ll be from here on out. The connection with Donna del Mondo as well as Suzu Suzuki and Mei Seira is a story we’re all paying attention to for good reason. Win or lose for Maikaa, we should have that answer by the end of it.
If Utami Hayashishita wasn’t in her block, she’d be the heavy favorite for the Blue Stars.
Suzu Suzuki is the one. Well, she will be. And the fact we are talking about a 20-year-old who just signed with the company as a possible winner tells you all you need to know about her potential.
Suzuki was a win away from making it to the finals of the 2022 5STAR Grand Prix before going to a draw with eventual winner Giulia. She instead settled for winning the Artist of Stardom Titles with PROMINENCE before losing those belts at All Star Grand Queendom earlier this year. From that moment, Suzuki became a full-time member of the STARDOM roster and has been in purgatory waiting to find an opportunity—she found one herself.
Because of where the story has gone, it’d be easy to forget that the Generational Struggle was started by Suzu Suzuki and she’s consistently been the one poking to keep the younger generation in the game. She instantly jumped over AZM and Starlight Kid in STARDOM which should be a sign of things to come very, very soon.
If STARDOM wanted to make a new face of their company instantly, Suzu Suzuki winning this tournament and beating anyone in that final is the way to do it. Fans know she’s going to be an undeniable star, it’s just a matter of when.
The 2023 5STAR Grand Prix can very well be when. She’ll be at the top of STARDOM—and wrestling—for years to come.
Why not Giulia?
The reigning 5STAR Grand Prix winner and former World of Stardom Champion enters 5STAR Grand Prix 2023 as a former World of Stardom Champion, holding the title for such a short period before Tam Nakano defeated her for it. Getting back to the World of Stardom Championship has to be part of Giulia’s journey, but is it the journey right now for the STRONG Women’s Champion? Perhaps not with an inevitable matchup against Mercedes Moné coming, but a major, final match between Giulia and Tam Nakano at Stardom Dream Queendom 2023 doesn’t feel out of the realm of possibilities.
Understandably so, Giulia winning back-to-back is hard to believe. But with MIRAI having just done it with the Cinderella Tournament plus that it really feels like a year that we do finally see a two-time winner, the Donna del Mondo winning feels all too right.
Matching up with Utami Hayashishita in a first-time-ever singles match on the final night of the GP tells me that one of them will advance to the final. It’s why Giulia at least deserves some credit this year. She is a superstar who only continues to watch her star rise.
Mina Shirakawa has unfinished business with Tam Nakano after losing the Wonder of Stardom Championship in a Double Championship match and it sure feels like she will have to win the 5STAR Grand Prix if she wants redemption.
What has become a matter of fact is that the 5STAR Grand Prix, in many ways, has become Shirakawa’s tournament. The Club Venus leader has utilized the tournament to improve each and every year with 2022 being the biggest. That win in the tournament over Saya Kamitani catapulted her to a championship match, the moment that made her, and one final title match to become Wonder of Stardom Champion.
Entering the 2023 Grand Prix, she’s a different wrestler than ever before and she’s determined to get back to the top of STARDOM. She’s been flawless in almost all of her major matches since last year’s 5STAR and she’s only an option for MVP this upcoming year, but an option to win the whole thing.
Maybe her Wonder of Stardom Championship win was more for the moment than a reign, but as far as anyone should be concerned, she’s a star because of it. No one expected her to ever win the Wonder of Stardom Championship and she did. Maybe the 5STAR Grand Prix is her next way of proving everyone wrong and getting that payback against Tam Nakano too.
5 MATCHES EVERYONE SHOULD GO OUT OF THEIR WAY TO SEE
Syuri vs. Suzu Suzuki (July 23)
First time ever—Syuri vs. Suzu Suzuki.
Does it get much better than that? No, no it does not. And it will be one of the key matches on the opening night of the tournament.
There’s a viciousness that these two wrestlers share that will be brought out when the opening bell rings. Syuri has been saving up all her energy this year for this tournament and to think she will get to unleash that against someone like Suzuki who has done the same should have everyone on the edge of their seat already. Fans got to see a little bit of what to expect in the Generational Struggle match… it’s going to be tremendous.
If this match were the best of the tournament until the final day, I don’t think anyone would be too surprised.
Tam Nakano vs. Mayu Iwatani (August 15)
Tam Nakano and Mayu Iwatani go one-on-one on August 15—the first time since Oct. 10, 2021.
It will also be the first time the World of Stardom Champion and IWGP Women’s Champion face off in a singles match. This is a match that goes far deeper than their titles and it makes this must-see for anyone who wants to watch this tournament or is a fan of STARDOM.
The most exciting aspect of this match comes in the form of their story. Citing that she wanted to reach Mayu Iwatani’s level when leaving STARS to form Cosmic Angels, Tam Nakano has never defeated her former leader and friend, meaning that she still hasn’t reached the same level as Mayu despite all the similar accolades that they share.
In her career, Nakano is 0-3-2 against Iwatani in singles action with their last two matches going to a draw. If I had to guess, this could be the very same result as the previous two matches but it’s going to be important no matter how you slice it.
Utami Hayashishita vs. Maika (August 26)
Looking for a match with massive stakes prior to the final night of the tournament? Here’s the one.
As I highlighted in the breakdown of favorites, both Utami Hayashishita and Maika enter as the top two favorites in the Red Stars Block and this match could be the decider when September 30 arrives and a winner must be crowned. Their records against one another sit a 3-3-1, showing how equal of competitors they are and that this match to take the series lead has all the meaning. Maika, however, is 2-0 against Hayashishita in the 5STAR Grand Prix. That matters.
It’s going to be a match that has a lot of HEAVY hits and the nearest of falls, but whoever walks out as the winner between Maika and Hayashishita could very well be the ones winning the block.
Saya Kamitani vs. Hazuki (September 3)
The rematch from the instant classic Wonder of Stardom Championship match should be excellent.
Last year’s 5STAR Grand Prix was our first chance to see Hazuki and Kamitani one-on-one and it was a great hint of what was to come in their title match months later. Despite not winning any gold this year, Hazuki has had incredible match after incredible match. She has a motor that no one can touch in STARDOM… except maybe big match Saya.
If you’re looking for a match in the middle of the tournament that can be a 5STAR best, this is the one to look for.
Giulia vs. Utami Hayashishita (September 30)
Giulia goes one-on-one with Utami Hayashishita. Finally.
The final night of this year’s tournament will follow last year’s as it will feature what many have to agree is the match of the tournament. While they’ve been at the top of STARDOM for three years now, we’ve never seen them face off in a singles match and it’s even been rare in tag team action. They’ve just missed each other but that won’t happen any longer. September 30 marks part one of what should be a series of greatness between these two rockstars.
All will be right if the Blue Stars Block comes down to Giulia and Utami on the final night. This is STARDOM’s biggest match and we’re going to get it. Add the stakes of being the first two-time 5STAR Grand Prix winner if either advances to the final with a win (or draw) and yeah, it will feel as big as the inevitable title match that is sure to follow sometime in 2024.
Circle this, highlight it, star it, and prepare for the match of the tournament. It’s going to be as special as it should be.
- Utami Hayashishita vs. Mina Shirakawa (July 23)
- Giulia vs. Maika (August 15)
- Syuri vs. Hazuki (August 15)
- Utami Hayashishita vs. Momo Watanabe (September 3)
- MIRAI vs. Maika (September 30)
- Mayu Iwatani vs. Starlight Kid (September 30)
- Saya Kamitani vs. Suzu Suzuki (September 30)
5STAR Grand Prix 2023 begins July 23 at 4:00 a.m. EST on pay-per-view. Here’s a link to follow along on the tournament’s results, updated standings, and more: 5★STAR 2023 Tracker
All matches will be made available on Stardom World
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