Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix N5
My attempts at completism on this tournament have clearly gone out of the window but I’m here for N5 in Shin-Kiba because it has Mayu vs. Tam and I feel they’ll go all out. It’s not even the main event as Arisa battles Bea Priestley in the Battle of the Belts!
I’ll skip over a couple of multi-man matches to save time.
Natsu Sumire  vs. Hazuki 
Oh look, Oedo Tai collide once again. Their versus matches on this tour have been pretty bad. Sumire is the aggressor with Hazuki perhaps a little innocent to assume it’ll be a clean fight. Sumire breaks out her bag of tricks but Hazuki just outwrestles her and wins with a Brainbuster. This was perfectly solid stuff. A good sprint with Sumire throwing everything at the wall but not being good enough to put Hazuki away.
Final Rating: **1/2
Avary  vs. Hana Kimura 
Avary has no points and is a bit wound up about it. Hana is coming off her first loss (to that bean sprout Kashima). Avary seems a little naïve, getting caught in a pin and then kicking out of into an obvious Boston crab. From a character stand-point, her inexperience shows in the match. Which is quite clever and I’m fine with it. It shows she’s not ready for this and is likely to lose every match. Her in-ring is ok and hopefully should improve with more tours of Japan. Hana takes everything she has to offer before tying her up in her version of the Octopus Stretch for the submission.
Final Rating: **1/4
AZM  vs. Momo Watanabe 
Queen’s Quest clash here so we get their shitty music twice. AZM knows she’s outmatched here and tries to flash pin Momo as quickly as possible. Momo does a good job of momentarily being shell-shocked until recovering and AZM does a good job of hitting and moving and trying to use her pace to beat Momo. It’s easily the strongest contest on the show to this point even if Watanabe looks sluggish. It may be a deliberate ploy to make AZM look better. Momo certainly seems to land some hefty strikes here and she hasn’t skipped leg day in a while! AZM’s speed is incredible here. Like she’s stepped up a level and certainly during this tournament she’s looked closer to being a finished product. Keep in mind; AZM is only 16 years old. How good will she be in 2-3 years time? She’s already good now! AZM can’t quite deal with Momo’s sheer range of weapons here and the chickenwing finishes. Really good match. AZM has impressed the hell out of me this year.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Jamie Hayter  vs. Kagetsu 
Another Oedo Tai collides match. Kagetsu has been a non-factor so far and this is her first match with Hayter. Jamie isn’t keen on playing by the rules, which is what made Kagetsu interested in her for Oedo Tai in the first place. However Jamie is unprepared for Kagetsu. Poison mist, 450 Splash and the DVD finishes for Kagetsu. I wish there were less Oedo Tai matches in this half of the draw.
Final Rating: *1/2
Natsuko Tora  vs. Jungle Kyona 
Former JAN teammates collide here. Kyona has never beaten Tora in singles.
It looks unlikely to change here as Tora runs through her array of shithousery on the floor. They even brawl out to the merch area, which is outside the building, and Jungle gets a bucket of water thrown over her. Fantastic timing on Kyona rolling back into the ring at 19. Jungle getting all fired up and pissed off with Tora, for her change of attitude and general bitchery, is the focal point of the match. You see a Jungle Kyona that wants to teach her former friend a lesson. The finish comes when Jungle blocks a spear and jacks Tora up into a running powerbomb. It’s a great display from Kyona and the best match Tora has had in the tournament so far.
Final Rating: ***
Tam Nakano  vs. Mayu Iwatani 
Tam is on fire but she’s traditionally operated a level below Mayu and Iwatani is essentially her mentor and better in Stars.
Tam decides to be aggressive but Mayu is too quick and it soon settles into a process of Nakano trying hard but getting overwhelmed. She even targets Iwatani’s bad knee, which has strapping on it. This is a very driven Tam Nakano who’s prepared to hurt her friend and mentor if it means success in the tournament. It’s very different to her standard approach of being cute and occasionally roundhousing someone in the jaw. Mayu does a majestic sell job on the knee. She’s collapsing into the corner on Irish Whips. She’s using the ropes to support her on the bad side. She’s collapsing on bridges. She’s down selling after hitting moves because of the impact damage. It’s not quite as consistent as you’d want for a true legendary level sell job but it’s close. Nakano is super aggressive and some of her kicks are borderline reckless. The roundhouse that barely wings Mayu looks like it would have taken her head off if it connected. At 11 minutes it feels like a war of attrition compared to the rest of the card. Mayu ends up getting quite angry and grabs Tam for the dragon suplex. Her bridge collapsing but her head keeping up so her shoulders weren’t down. Excellent match. Two mates beating the fuck out of each other.
Final Rating: ****
Arisa Hoshiki  vs. Bea Priestley 
White belt vs. Red belt here. Stardom’s two singles champions. Neither of them feel like they’ve dominated the company this year though. The promotions biggest stars still feel like those of 2018. Arisa is certainly building a reputation and Bea has come on leaps and bounds though. It’s great for Stardom to have developed main event depth. Something they’ve been criticized about after the WWE signings of Io Shirai and Kairi Sane. The roster has stepped up and closed the gap. This is a very solid match up, as you’d hope from the respective two leading singles champions. Arisa ends up taking the bulk of the abuse here but winning with a Somato.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Post Match: Arisa is looking for Will Ospreay in the crowd because he said if she beat Bea she could use one of his moves. She doesn’t say which one she’ll use.
Had a lovely time watching this. Two very good matches with AZM/Watanabe and Iwatani/Nakano. You’re not going to get outstanding matches on every night of 5STAR like with say G1 but you will get good quality, good storytelling and snappy matches. The longest match being 11 minutes is wonderful.