Stardom 5Star Grand Prix N1
August 17, 2019
We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Shin-Kiba 1st Ring. I’ll be skipping over a few undercard bits and bobs because I’m a month behind in the Stardom coverage and who really cares about the random six-women tags on these things?
I saw a documentary about Stardom recently and basically if you don’t shift merch you don’t get pushed. If you don’t appeal to the creeps in the crowd, you don’t get pushed. You have to be cute. It’s bizarre but on reflection makes perfect sense. Otherwise explain the lack of title runs for Jungle Kyona?
Natsu Sumire vs. AZM
Sumire is a good heel and a solid character but she’s not a polished wrestler. This match is all about Sumire using her size and strength to get AZM over as fighting from underneath. The match is very untidy and I could have done without seeing the full five minutes. Sumire is particularly bad and AZM even has to beckon her into position at one point while another spot collapses in mid-move and is not recovered. AZM gets an armbar and taps Sumire out for two hard earned points. This was terrible.
Final Rating: ½*
Hana Kimura vs. Tam Nakano
Hana has some choice words for the “shitty little trashy panda” pre-match. Tam has changed her look a bit this year and I wonder if it’s a bid to be taken more seriously as a wrestler. This is a marked improvement over match one with better bumps, better transitions and a more intense feel to proceedings. Both are huge characters for Stardom and potentially the Ace of the promotion given time and focus. It does rather seem they’re taking a back seat due to their ability to be over regardless of card position. Tam does slip on the ropes so not everything is clean and that is supposed to set up her comeback so it’s bad timing. She has a spot where she’s supposed to grab the ropes on a pin and can’t reach too. There are these tiny pieces of skill missing from Tam’s repertoire where she’s overextending a bit. Hana ties Tam in knots for the finish. It’s a brutal looking submission. Solid match.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Saki Kashima vs. Mayu Iwatani
These two are good friends but are not expected to break each other this early in the tournament and this low on the card. There are literally five matches after this one. Mayu is not only the best wrestler in the promotion but probably in my top five anywhere in the world. Her reactions to everything are top notch. There are a couple of early roll ups and her face tells the story of the near falls. She puts everything into every move and is a prime example of professionalism. You make everything feel legit and the crowd will treat it that way. The match is loaded with moments that feel like a finish because of Iwatani and her tremendous attitude. The finish is sensational. A multiple near falls counter spot where Mayu tries to kick out twice but is held down for the pin (it’s Saki’s zombie Revival pinning combination). Absolutely brilliant. People in wrestling should watch Mayu Iwatani for a lesson of how it should be. She’s so good at every aspect of in-ring.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Arisa Hoshiki vs. Jamie Hayter
Arisa hasn’t lost since coming back to Stardom. This is a match of contrasts with the dark side of Hayter vs. the colourful excitable Arisa. I appreciate Jamie learning some Japanese and lifting Chris Brookes’ spots.
In that order. This doesn’t have the intensity of the last two matches but it’s very solid. Jamie being a bully and Arisa making her pay for it with flying kicks. Some of the sequences are a little ropey but not like the opener. It helps that Jamie is so mean when she’s on top and finishes with a variant of the curb stomp. In doing so inflicts Arisa’s first defeat since returning and Jamie is suitably horrible in victory.
Final Rating: **3/4
Andras Miyagi vs. Bea Priestley
Andras spends most of a short match working the mid-section. It’s logically sound but not very interesting. There’s no follow though either. They spend all that time on the mid-section and then Bea comes back with a bunch of V-Triggers and one cradle suplex finishes, which the bridge shouldn’t work on if you’ve had your mid-section worked but hey.
Final Rating: *3/4
Jungle Kyona vs. Utami Hayashishita
They’ve wrestled twice with two draws but Utami has improved a lot since then.
Jungle is out to prove she should have beaten Utami twice already with aggression out of the gate. Utami takes an absolute beating but turns it around on the floor with a sick Rack Slam into the apron. It’s very close to being a kill shot level of move and the seconds on the floor are very freaked out by it. They clearly want to go out there and steal the show. Kyona in particular seems determined to deliver. Both wrestlers take some cracking bumps and create magnificent tension with submission attempts. Considering it doesn’t make the ten minute mark it’s a smartly constructed and hard-worked match up. Jungle gets stuck in the Rack and the ref stops it. I don’t think Kyona actually tapped out but there was nothing she could do to escape. Utami finally gets her win over Jungle although in controversial circumstances.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Hazuki vs. Momo Watanabe
Hazuki is ready to take a major belt in this company right now if they desired. She’s outstanding. Momo was the ‘chosen one’ of that era of young up and comers and she had a great title run. They’re set for the long run like Io and Kairi. They’re particularly vicious here and kick each other a lot. Hazuki does the boot scrapes but kicks Momo in the back of the neck on the final one. It’s fucking savage. And this is after she’s thrown her around by her hair for about a minute. They have some excellent sequences in this where blocks are effective and I love it. Plus there are counters to big moves and everything feels nicely intense and meaningful. It’s just a wee bit untidy at times although that often helps the match feel more ‘real’. Momo largely bosses it but gets caught in La Majistral and that’s it! This, like Hazuki, was very good.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Konami vs. Kagetsu
This starts briskly with both looking for quick wins, which has been an ongoing storyline tonight. It quickly settles down with both realise the other isn’t going to be beaten in such fashion.
Kagetsu is in full on Bastard Mode and tortures Konami’s arm. Which is a good idea…unless it’s Konami and she just kicks you a lot. As a move to reduce Konami’s offence it is ineffectual but as an offensive plot it pays off with being a constant target for submission attempts. Kagetsu is in a weird mood and pulls Konami up after the 450 Splash, which should logically finish. The finish is odd too with Konami tapping Kagetsu out with an armbar. Like the entire match was clearly setting up Konami having a bad arm and then it just goes the other way. This was patchy. Good intensity and good focus but some odd decisions down the stretch.
Final Rating: ***1/4
A strong opening night to the tournament with a lot of consistently good matches. I’m quite badly behind and watching this a month after it took place so my attempts to watch the whole tournament are unlikely to meet with success. I really enjoyed this show though. Lots of different wrestlers on the show and lots of strong matches around 5-12 minutes long.