5STAR Grand Prix Day 13
September 2, 2023|
Fukuyama, Japan

Watch: Stardom World

Undercard Thoughts:

  • I’m ready for Thekla to get more shine again. Her missing out on the 5STAR Grand Prix can be paired with Mei Seira as the main two I would have really liked to see in this tournament. She had a solid opening singles match with Starlight Kid. Here’s to hoping she gets a chance to shine in Goddesses Tag League.

Blue Stars
Utami Hayashishita (6) def. Mariah May (6)

Mariah May has been the can’t-miss breakout star of 2023 and this match proved that once again.

She’s had better matches in this tournament (namely with Giulia), but this was one of her best start-to-finish performances since joining STARDOM at the end of 2022.

Trying to match someone like Utami Hayashishita is a tall task. But based on what we’ve seen throughout this tournament from both competitors, it was a perfect match. It was the New Ace (Utami) vs. the Foreign Ace (Mariah). In another universe, this match would be a World of Stardom Championship somewhere down the line. Rumors swirl enough to the point that May very well may not be in STARDOM much longer, but here’s to hoping that another universe becomes this one because they had the chemistry that could translate to a truly fantastic championship match.

The best moment of the match was when May fought through a German Suplex by Hayashishita to hit her with one of her own. That was grand.

Hayashishita ultimately won the bout with a Torture Rack Bomb, completing a fine overall tournament match for both competitors. “The Red Queen” is on her way to a huge final night in this tournament — this felt like the win that may push her to the run she needs to contend. ***¼

Blue Stars
AZM (6) def. Mina Shirakawa (6)

AZM has been having one heck of a tournament and it didn’t stop here.

The match against Mina Shirakawa was one of the well-worked matches of the tournament, even if we’re not walking away from it saying it’s one of the best matches of the tournament. The story was simple really: Shirakawa did everything in her power to limit the speed of AZM by attacking her legs. Simple, yet effective.

It doesn’t get much easier than that but as we know with AZM, it just takes a window of opportunity and she can capitalize. That’s what she did.

She didn’t need her usual Canadian Destroyer into an Azumi Sushi to get the win that she had used on Utami Hayashishita to get her biggest win of the tournament. Instead, she pulled off the roll through Azumi Sushi to pull off the upset and bring her into a tie for first place. AZM is ready for more and these wins only prove that more and more.

A smart match that achieved everything it needed to. They, like Utami-Mariah, have a better match in them which I hope to see somewhere down the line. ***½

Blue Stars
Giulia (7) def. Momo Watanabe (6)

Truth is I could watch Giulia and Momo Watanabe wrestle each other and never get tired.

So as you can imagine, this match was right up my alley once again.

Now the difference between this year’s and last year’s match may have been the build-up. After all, seeing them face off last year was after their final night battle in the 2021 5STAR Grand Prix was taken away from us due to a Giulia injury. So ultimately, I’ll take it any time we do see these two face off against one another. And this match started as you’d expect — Watanabe attacked Giulia midway through her entrance and it was on from there.

Whether it was throwing Giulia through the chairs in the crowd or exchanging shots with Momo’s baseball bat, much of this was of the new Watanabe recipe that she’s created in this year’s 5STAR Grand Prix. But once they got back in the ring, it was on.

A loud trading of forearms to the face got it going (brutal ones at that). And then from there, it was just a bomb fest. Big shot after big shot which made the finish of the match that much better. As Watanabe popped up from a Giulia Back Suplex, Giulia then caught her in a Northern Lights Bomb for the victory. Simple yet so such a perfect finish. Felt like a heavyweight fight where it could end in seconds.

A great chance of pace from the two matches prior. ***¾

Red Stars
Mayu Iwatani (7) def. Ami Sourei (4)

Mayu Iwatani is the greatest of all time in my book and this match again proves why.

I’ve been very hard on what has been a rather lackluster performance for Ami Sourei through the first half of the 5STAR Grand Prix. Most of her matches have been forgettable and the match against Starlight Kid was probably the worst of all the tournament matches so far in my opinion. It’s been rough.

But enter Iwatani and in a big spot too. The loser of this match was going to be eliminated from the 5STAR Grand Prix — crazy, right? But with Natsuko Tora’s lead, it’s just how it’s going to go. So Iwatani was able to bring out one of those great performances we’ve become so accustomed to and in a way also made Sourei look like a legit threat. Her offense was hard-hitting and these two were in sync because of it.

Iwatani had to overcome the God’s Eye Giant by any means necessary. Any means necessary ended up being a Snap Rana to steal the victory but hey, you know what? We’ll take that any day of the week. The action in here was great from start to finish as it really just drove home how great Iwatani is despite not having a spotlight on her all that much this year (yes, I know she’s the IWGP Women’s Champion).

This is the match Sourei should build on moving forward. Sadly, Iwatani was eliminated the next day so she won’t be the first two-time 5STAR Grand Prix winner this year. Sigh. The match was solid though, deserving of the main event thanks to the drama. ***½

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