Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix N7
September 14, 2019
We’re in Osaka, Japan. There are two shows here. An afternoon and evening one. I’m slapping them both together. There are eight tournament matches across the two shows. Both drew around the same.
Hazuki  vs. Avary 
Avary got her first win last time out. “I don’t know how I managed to pull that one out of my arse”. Hazuki again refuses to comment. Avary has had a hard time clicking with anyone in this tournament due to their lack of history. That’s in evidence here but Hazuki keeps everything simple and the match is pretty good due to the basic planning. It’s the first real look at how good Avary could be for Stardom. The big spots and counters all work and Avary must be happy to get this out there into the world. I’m sure there are critics, myself included, that have suggested she wasn’t ready for this. However this match says differently. It’s slick, well executed and when Hazuki plants Avary with the Brainbuster it’s a job well done.
Final Rating: ***
Momo Watanabe  vs. Natsu Sumire 
Natsu is alongside Avary at the bottom of Red Stars and there’s logic to that but her only win was versus Mayu so it still feels like a big deal. Sumire tries hard to make this a competitive match, rather than a comedy one, and Momo kicks fuck out of her for it. Unlike Momo at her best she takes it relatively easy, perhaps not willing to go into full Damage Mode against a comedy wrestler for fear of being booed for it. Sumire puts in a good performance and like Avary I’m sure she’ll feel happy with how she presented herself until she gets caught and tapped out. If anything it was Momo’s lackluster performance that hurt this match rating.
Final Rating: **3/4
Jamie Hayter  vs. Konami 
“Konami’s gonna get her fucking ass beat”. Both women are in the 6 points logjam. Konami is deceptively small and it’s only seeing her opposite Jamie here that makes me fully register this. She stands at 5’1” and is giving up 7 inches in height here. Hayter uses that size and power advantage to boss the smaller yet lethal Konami. They have one utterly horrible blown spot where Jamie tries to make up for Konami slipping over but ends up overcompensating. The match never quite recovers. Almost every spot feels on edge with neither one quite sure what the other is about to do. Hayter is the one to pull the match back on track by putting some follow through into her moves and making everything look more legitimate. Ushikoroshi finishes for Hayter who moves to 8 points. This match went off the rails. Credit to both of them that it got back on.
Final Rating: **1/4
Bea Priestley  vs. Kagetsu 
This is Kagetsu’s chance at revenge for Bea taking her red belt.
Bea claims her two losses were flukes and the Arisa one wasn’t a three count. It’s some delightfully deluded work from the champ but as the match gets underway its apparent Kagetsu is more fired up for this match than Bea. Which is fine because Priestley can claim she’s champion anyway so who cares?
There’s a very rough superplex spot where Bea accidentally sandbags it and it doesn’t end well. Kagetsu looks to get a receipt with a very stiff looking dropkick a minute later. Kagetsu manipulates the ref, poison mists Bea and drags her corpse into the corner for the 450 Splash. DVD finishes and Kagetsu gets her win back. Surely setting up a Bea title defence at some point. Very good match, dodgy superplex aside.
Final Rating: ***1/4
AZM  vs. Saki Kashima 
Saki has been an also-ran in this tournament while AZM has been excellent. It’s felt like a coming-of-age tournament for her and at 16 years old that’s probably not even true.
Saki won in 8 seconds earlier in the tournament so they try and out-do that here and it leads to an absolutely fucking wild near falls sequence that takes up the first minute of the match. Saki can’t quite live up to AZM’s combination of speed and athleticism but she has a go. Saki goes after Revival but it’s countered and AZM gets the pin. AZM virtually bullied Kashima at times here and, as I may have mentioned before, AZM has been superb during this tournament.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Natsu Sumire  vs. Tam Nakano 
Sumire stole Tam’s little panda bear called P-chan.
She wears it down her top here and it stops Nakano from hitting her!
This is exceptional psychology. Tam is internally conflicted! Striking her opponent will result in striking her beloved stuffed panda. This is definitely a psychology driven match with Natsu being downright abusive. The “broncobuster” is just her rubbing her crotch into P-Chan, into Tam’s face. It’s…disturbing. I hope no kids are watching. I’m not sure Sumire’s attempt to hit her DDT finish onto P-Chan will work as it would almost certainly soften the blow (maybe not mentally). I like how Tam reclaims P-Chan and then uses the little panda to help her hold on for dear life on the German suplex finish. The story stuff here was magic. The evil Sumire vanquished, the little panda brought home to mama and Tam scoring a victory that keeps her in the running.
Final Rating: ***
Jamie Hayter  vs. Jungle Kyona 
“Jamie, tonight you will die. Bang!”
Kyona’s threats don’t translate into the match where Jamie bullies her. From this wet willy to wrapping Jungle around the ring post. Hayter is a petulant child, even calling the ref “dad” at one point and admonishing him for a particularly slow looking count. Jamie has integrated herself into Japan in a fashion that shows she means business long term here. Jamie traps Kyona in a half crab and leans back on it so hard that Jungle taps out. That felt like an odd finish.
Final Rating: **3/4
Hana Kimura  vs. Mayu Iwatani 
This is a key match in Red Stars. There are already four wrestlers on 8 points. The loser here misses out on joining in the lead and is in danger of being out. Hana is super aggressive but is frequently caught out by Mayu’s speed, which seems to be an ongoing thread of this tournament. The smaller wrestlers being beaten up but making excellent comebacks. Kimura is very impressive here. She’s reached a stage of her career where she can compete with the best Stardom has to offer. This tournament has been evidence of that. It shines through in near misses and when they’re trading strikes. She’s not at Mayu’s level yet, maybe never will be, but she’s good enough that it feels like a realistic competitive contest. Mayu’s bumps are much better and Hana still struggles with taking big spots. They have some really good near falls but the finish is somewhat abrupt. Hana running into the dragon suplex and Mayu picks up the key win. This was a really good finish to a double shot of shows.
Final Rating: ***1/2
A decent couple of shows from Osaka. No real stand out match although Kagetsu vs. Bea Priestley could have gotten there without the superplex spot perhaps. AZM was again in one of the best matches and has really had a tournament where it felt like she’s stepped up a level. Hana Kimura has also had that kind of tournament but in a different way. She’s been presented differently rather than performing at a higher level. She certainly went into the Mayu Iwatani match as an equal and behaved like she belonged in there.