Event: Stardom 5☆STAR GP Finale
Date: September 24th, 2018
Location: Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 850
Even though I am a big fan of tournaments and enjoy most of the wrestlers, this year I opted not to try to watch the entire 5 STAR GP as I simply didn’t have the time. But I didn’t want to skip out on the finals, so here we are, playing quick catch-up. All 16 wrestlers in the tournament will have a match on this show, with the winners of each group meeting in the main event. Going into the show, here were the standings:
As you can see, the winner of each group is still up in the air. In the Blue Stars group, Mayu Iwatani and Kelly Klein have eight points and Momo Watanabe and Hazuki have seven points, giving all of them a path to winning the group. Over on the Red Stars side, Rachael Ellering and Kagetsu lead the way with nine points but Jungle Kyona and Utami are just one point behind and can catch up. There may be complicated tie-breaker reasons one of them can’t win but we will cross that bridge when we get there. Here is the full card for tonight (I am watching it on Samurai TV, and the opener rookie tag match wasn’t shown):
As I mentioned above, I am watching the show on Samurai TV which is a two hour program, so some (if not most) of the matches will be clipped. All the wrestlers have a profile on Joshi City, you can click on their names above to go straight to it. Let’s get started.
Jamie Hayter vs. Saki Kashima
Both Jamie and Saki are eliminated from the tournament. In her first Japanese wrestling tour, Jamie’s biggest win of the tournament was over Nicole Savoy. Saki returned to wrestling this past Spring after a long layoff, her biggest win of the tournament came over Mayu Iwatani.
Jamie acts like she wants to shake Saki’s hand but slaps her instead, Saki fires back at her with kicks and goes up top, hitting a diving footstomp for a two count. Saki picks up Jamie and applies a satellite armbar, but Jamie gets out of it by slamming Saki to the mat. Knees by Jamie and she delivers a running knee, but Saki reverses the cover into one of her own for two. Stunner by Saki and she hits a double underhook facebuster followed by a bridging butterfly suplex for two. Saki goes off the ropes but Jamie catches her with a side slam onto her knee, she then hits a vertical suplex onto her knees for the three count pinfall! Jamie Hayter wins and gets two points in the tournament.
They clipped a really short match even shorter. This is the first time I’ve seen Jamie wrestle, she seems fine, lots of quality knees. Saki looked fired up as well, since it was a sprint they were going all out. Obviously too short to recommend but a solid two minutes of wrestling.
Kelly Klein vs. Nicole Savoy
Coming into the match, Kelly Klein still is in the running to win the Blue Stars group as she leads the block with eight points. Nicole Savoy is essentially eliminated as there doesn’t appear to be a path for her to win since two wrestlers with more points than her already will meet later. Nicole’s biggest win of the event so far was over Hazuki, while Kelly defeated Mayu Iwatani in her first match of the tournament.
This one is joined in progress with Kelly cranking Nicole’s neck, knees by Kelly and she knees Nicole in the back of the head for a two count. Kelly picks up Nicole but Nicole elbows her back, Nicole charges Kelly but Kelly moves and chokes Nicole in the corner. She chokes her some more as the referee tries to get her to stop, Nicole gets free and knocks Kelly off the turnbuckle so she is hanging by her leg. Kelly gets herself free but is holding her knee, leg kicks by Nicole and when Kelly picks up Nicole she collapses due to her bad knee. Cross kneelock by Nicole into a single leg crab hold, and Kelly has no choice but to submit! Nicole Savoy wins and ends the tournament with 8 points, which likely also eliminates Kelly from winning her block.
I am not going to lie, these rapid fire matches are fun to watch. Don’t get me wrong, you aren’t going to get any real substance when three minutes of a match is shown (it was only a six minute match anyway), but Nicole Savoy is fantastic and Kelly Klein played her part very well here. I enjoyed this, I won’t be able to really recommend these sub-five minute matches but its making me wish I had watched more of the tournament if this is the type of action I missed.
Hazuki vs. Natsu Sumire
Oedo Tai collides! Hazuki comes into the match with seven points and can still reach the Finals if the stars align for her with a win here. Natsu Sumire has four points and is eliminated, but her pride won’t allow her to just roll over and take another loss, not even against her friend Hazuki.
To prove that point, Natsu chokes Hazuki while they are still doing the Oedo Tai dance before tossing her out of the ring to the floor. So the match starts with Natsu attacking Hazuki on the floor as she throws Hazuki hard into the chairs at ringside, she slides Hazuki back into the ring and boots her in the back of the head while she is tied up in the ropes. Stomps by Natsu, she picks up Hazuki but Hazuki hits a running elbow in the corner. Swandive dropkick by Hazuki and she gives Natsu some bootscrapes in the corner before delivering a running boot. Full Nelson Slam by Hazuki and she puts Natsu in the armtrap crossface, but Natsu gets a foot on the ropes for the break. Hazuki charges Natsu and nails a Pump Kick, Natsu tries to come back with a boot of her own but Hazuki slides under it and schoolboys Natsu for two. Hazuki charges Natsu but Natsu moves and whips her, she sets up Hazuki in the corner and hits her thrusting bronco buster. Hard elbows by Natsu and she delivers a running boot, bridging scoop slam by Natsu but it gets a two count. Natsu grabs Hazuki but Hazuki pushes her off and the two trade elbows, inside cradle attempt by Natsu but Hazuki reverses it into La Magistral for the three count! Hazuki wins and has nine points in the tournament.
This match wasn’t clipped as Oedo Tai is one of the main focuses of the promotion so we got their full presentation. I enjoyed this as well, I loved Natsu choking out Hazuki during the dance to get the upper hand and there was certainly no indication that either was going easy on the other. Natsu is 90% character work but its a quality character, and Hazuki continues to get better. For a short match they delivered something memorable, which is all you can ask for. Mildly Recommended
Mayu Iwatani vs. Momo Watanabe
Unless something unusual happens, this match will likely decide the winner of Blue Stars. Coming into the match, Mayu Iwatani has eight points and can win the Blue Stars with either a win or a draw. Momo Watanabe has seven points, she needs a win to have any chance as that would tie her with Hazuki… since Hazuki and Momo went to a Draw when they faced off I am not sure how they would break that tie-breaker. Surprisingly, this is the first singles match between these two since 2016, and Momo has never beaten Mayu one on one.
They start fast as they charge each other and trade suplex attempts, kick by Mayu and they trade armdrags until they reach a stalemate. Momo goes for a dropkick but Mayu moves, dropkick by Mayu and she dropkicks Momo again while she is against the ropes. Momo falls out of the ring, Mayu goes up top but Momo quickly rolls back in. Mayu jumps off the turnbuckle but eats a dropkick, kicks by Momo and she twists Mayu’s arm in the bottom rope. Mayu rolls out as she holds her arm but returns after a moment, more kicks to the arm by Momo and she knocks her into the corner. Momo goes off the ropes but Mayu catches her with the Sling Blade, Momo fires back with an elbow and two trade shots. Spinning headscissors by Mayu but Momo avoids her charge in the corner, Mayu rolls Momo to the mat and delivers a dropkick for a two count. Mayu picks up Momo but Momo slides away and kicks Mayu in the chest, more kicks by Momo but Mayu finally catches one and hits a dragon screw. Momo recovers and puts Mayu in a modified armbar, she releases Mayu after a moment and kicks her out of the ring. Momo goes for the Somato off the apron but Mayu moves, they both go for suplexes on the floor but they are blocked. Momo eventually gets Mayu up and drops her with a B Driver on the floor, she then gets on the apron and hits the Somato. Momo slides Mayu back in the ring and delivers the traditional Tequila Sunrise, but Mayu kicks out. Momo goes for the Peach Sunrise but Mayu blocks it and rolls up Momo for two. High kick by Mayu and she nails the dragon suplex hold, but the bell rings as the time limit has expired. Mayu and Momo both get one point, and Mayu Iwatani advances to the Finals with nine points!
I really need to go watch the Stardom World version of this match as they cut out about six minutes on Samurai TV which is a shame. That being said I did enjoy everything that they showed us here, Momo has really turned into an ass kicker and its really putting Stardom in an interesting spot as they currently have several wrestlers with a legitimate claim to being the “Future Ace” of the company. Mayu continues to be a bump machine and makes everything look deadly, she was dominated here (or at least with what made TV) but never felt out of it as being a rag doll is her style. Really entertaining but I think the full version needs to be seen to really get a feel for the match. Recommended
Kimber Lee vs. Rachael Ellering
We have now moved over to the Red Stars group, starting with two of the Gaijin members of the block. Rachael Ellering leads the Red Stars with nine points, and with a win here would give her a great chance of winning the block (she does lose a tiebreaker to Kagetsu, so if both she and Kagetsu win, Kagetsu will advance to the finals). Kimber is already eliminated but gets to play the role of spoiler, she doesn’t have a signature win of the tournament yet so here is her chance to leave an impact.
We join this one in progress as Rachael picks up Kimber, Kimber pushes her off and hits a series of kicks before covering Rachael for two. Kimber picks up Rachael but Rachael throws her into the ropes and delivers a swinging side slam. Rachael picks up Kimber and puts her on the top turnbuckle, she then joins her but Kimber headbutts Rachael back to the mat. Kimber goes for a senton bomb but Rachael moves out of the way, Rachael grabs Kimber and gets her on her shoulders but Kimber applies a sunset flip with extra gusto and she picks up the three count! Kimber Lee wins and knocks Ellering out of the finals.
This probably is the first match I would say wasn’t entertaining to watch. Part of it was just the sheer shortness of it but even with what they showed it didn’t really feel fluid. Too short to be offensive but nothing to see here.
Konami vs. Utami Hayashishita
With Rachael Ellering’s loss, that opens the door for Utami Hayashishita. Utami comes into the match with 8 points, so with a win here she would (at least for now) be alone at the top of the rankings. Konami is already eliminated as she only has six points, but she will still do all she can to slow down the super rookie.
Konami and Utami tie-up and trade standing submissions until Konami takes Utami to the mat with an armbar. Konami rolls Utami out of the hold and kicks her twice, snapmare by Konami and she kicks Utami in the back for a two count. Konami picks up Utami but Utami elbows her off, back kick by Konami but Utami hits a hard shoulderblock. Utami goes for a slam but Konami blocks it, Irish whip by Konami but Utami reverses it and hits a dropkick in the corner. Scoop slam by Utami and she hits another shoulderblock, she goes for a sleeper but Konami slides away and applies an armbar. Buzzsaw Kick by Konami and she delivers a sliding kick to Utami’s midsection, fisherman suplex hold by Konami but it gets a two count. Konami goes off the ropes but Utami hits a judo toss, she gets Konami up but Konami puts her in a sleeper hold. Utami throws Konami off of her and applies a Camel Clutch, but Konami rolls out of it and applies the cross armbreaker. Utami gets a foot on the ropes to force the break, Konami picks her up but Utami delivers a trio of STOs for a two count. Utami goes up top but Konami avoids the missile dropkick, she goes for a submission but Utami blocks it so Konami applies a sunset flip for two. Seated armbar by Konami but Utami gets out of it and applies a sleeper hold into a takedown. She keeps the sleeper applied but Konami gets close to the ropes so Utami releases it and puts Konami in the Argentine Backbreaker before slamming her to the mat. Utami picks Konami back up and puts her in the Argentine Backbreaker again, and this time Konami submits! Utami Hayashishita wins and now has 10 points as well as the lead of the Red Stars block.
Sometimes a wrestler can be labeled as a super rookie of sorts and the hype train is excessive, but in Utami’s case it is completely justified. For someone that just officially debuted two months ago, she is so smooth on the mat and she looked completely at home exchanging holds and positions with Konami. Between her submissions and power moves she is the total package, and she is a great seller as well. This was a shorter match but was a good small sample of what she brings to the table, and while it may annoy some that she is picking up wins over wrestlers years her senior, sometimes when you have a hot act you just have to run with it. A really tight and well-worked match, no complaints whatsoever outside of the length. Recommended
Jungle Kyona vs. Natsuko Tora
The Red Stars block continues as two friends do battle. Kyona has eight points coming in and with a win can tie Utami, they went to a Draw when they faced off so not sure how they would break that tie-breaker. But either way she needs a win to have a chance. Natsuko is out of the tournament as she has only one win, the lowest of any wrestler in the Red Stars. Still, like wrestlers before her she can play the spoiler, even if it does hurt the leader of her faction.
Natsuko immediately starts the match with a spear, she goes for a second one but Kyona catches her and they get into a shoulderblock battle. Kyona wins the exchange, she picks up Natsuko and hits a scoop slam followed by a running body press for a two count. Back up they trade strikes, Kyona chops Natsuko in the corner and hits a body avalanche, but Natsuko fires back with a hard shoulderblock. Elbows by Natsuko, she goes off the ropes but Kyona catches her with a lariat. Sliding lariat to the back by Kyona, she picks up Natsuko and puts her on her shoulder before spinning her down onto her knee for a two count. Crab hold by Kyona but she lets go after a moment and stomps on Natsuko’s back, Scorpion Deathlock by Kyona but Natsuko gets to the ropes for the break. Kyona goes up top but Natsuko hits her before she can jump off and flings Kyona to the mat. Running knee by Natsuko, she gets Kyona on her shoulders and hits a rolling fireman’s carry slam. Natsuko goes up top but Kyona smacks her and goes up top as well, she goes for a powerslam but Natsuko slides down and hits a powerbomb for a two count. Natsuko picks up Kyona but Kyona gets away and clubs her in the head. Spear by Natsuko, she picks up Kyona and hits a side slam for a two count. Natsuko goes up top and she nails a diving body press, she goes up top and immediately delivers a second one before following up with a third diving body press for the three count cover! Natsuko Tora wins and knocks Jungle Kyona out of the tournament.
The most interesting thing here is not that Natsuko won, but how she won. Since Natsuko is basically the #2 wrestler in Jungle Assault Nation while Kyona is the leader, any win would have been worth noticing but if it was a fluke win it wouldn’t mean much big picture. But Natsuko didn’t just win the match, she literally crushed Kyona at the end to win it emphatically. Up to that point the match was fine, your typical strength-based battle, but its the ending that left an impression. Maybe it meant nothing and will be forgotten, but in the moment it felt like a big deal and a big win for the less experienced wrestler. A fun match overall, a few parts weren’t completely smooth but still a solid match with an unexpected ending. Mildly Recommended
Kagetsu vs. Tam Nakano
We have reached the last match for the Red Stars. As Kagetsu has nine points, with a win or a draw she will reach the Finals of the tournament. Tam Nakano has not had a good tournament thus far as she only has one win, but she already has been feuding with Oedo Tai since leaving the group so there is some bad blood here that she can build on for motivation.
Tam immediately goes for a head kick but Kagetsu ducks, she goes for one as well with no luck as they both trade kick attempts back and forth. Tam elbows Kagetsu but Kagetsu elbows her back as they trade blows, Tam jumps on the second turnbuckle and applies a dragon sleeper while in the ropes. The referee gets her to stop, cutter by Tam and she hits a cartwheel kneedrop for two. Kagetsu elbows Tam off of her and goes off the ropes, but Tam catches her with a head kick followed by a German suplex hold for two. Tam goes up top and nails the Takako Panic, she picks up Kagetsu and goes off the ropes, but Kagetsu connects with a head kick. Tam is up first but Kagetsu delivers a kick combination, Kagetsu gets Tam on her shoulders and hits a Samoan Drop, but the cover gets two. Kagetsu quickly picks up Tam and hits a vertical suplex, crab hold by Kagetsu but Tam gets into the ropes for the break. Stomps by Kagetsu, she picks up Tam and delivers a pair of Ebisu Drops. A third Ebisu Drop by Kagetsu, but Tam barely kicks out of the cover. She slams Tam in front of the corner before going up top, but Tam joins her and hits a superplex. Sliding Knee by Kagetsu, but Tam gets her hands on the rope when she goes for the cover. Kagetsu picks up Tam and slaps her, she goes off the ropes but Hana Kimura hits her from the floor with a chair. This gives Tam a chance to cradle Kagetsu and she picks up the three count! Tam Nakano wins and Kagetsu is eliminated!
Post match, Hana fights Oedo Tai and is officially leaving the faction, after teasing it for most of the tournament.
There are a few ways to look at a match like this. On one hand, Hana breaking away from Oedo Tai is an important story, and long term maybe more important than winning the GP, so it overshadowing the final match (and leading directly to who is in the Finals) isn’t a big deal. On the other hand, if you were looking for a clean back and forth (well as clean as Oedo Tai gets) with a conclusive ending, this probably wasn’t it, so your opinion of this match will be based on if you enjoy Hana turning on her group since that was the focus. I am neutral on it, and at least leading up to that ending the match was entertaining. Tam and Kagetsu have solid chemistry and both of their strikes were on point, and Tam was extra fired up which got the crowd engaged. So while it ended up being a storyline match, which is a bit of a shame, it still had good action as well so no complaints. Mildly Recommended
Mayu Iwatani vs. Utami Hayashishita
Stardom 5☆STAR GP Final
After a month of tough battles, we have reached the finals of the 5☆STAR GP! Both Mayu and Utami did enough to reach the finals tonight (along with a little bit of help along the way), and since Utami wasn’t the last match of her block of matches, hopefully she is well rested. It is utterly unprecedented for a rookie to reach the finals of the 5☆STAR GP but Utami is no regular wrestler, and while Mayu still goes in as the favorite, she knows she can’t sleep on Utami based on the success she has already had in Stardom.
Tie-up to begin, Utami quickly takes Mayu to the mat but Mayu kicks her in the head and stomps her against the ropes. Mayu starts on Utami’s arm, continuing the work that Konami began earlier, she hiptosses Utami to the mat and twists her arm while covering her for two. Mayu keeps on the arm but Utami finally gets away and applies a sleeper, but Mayu slides out of it and applies a seated armbar. She lets go and stomps on Utami, she sets up Utami near the ropes and dropkicks her out of the ring. Mayu goes up top but Utami jumps on the apron and gets Mayu on her shoulders before tossing her down to the floor. Utami slides Mayu back into the ring and puts her in a modified Camel Clutch, but Mayu inches to the ropes to force a break. Utami picks up Mayu and starts on her arm, she tosses Mayu into the corner but Mayu rebounds out of it with a triple jump dropkick. Stomps by Mayu and she dropkicks Utami twice while she is against the ropes, cover by Mayu but Utami kicks out. Diving footstomp by Mayu and she goes for the dragon suplex, but Utami grabs the top rope to block it.
Mayu goes off the ropes but Utami catches her with a judo toss and puts her in a sleeper, but Mayu gets a toe on the ropes. Utami gets Mayu on her shoulders but Mayu quickly slides off and hits a high kick, lariat by Mayu but Utami rocks her back with a lariat of her own. Mayu recovers first and nails the standing crucifix bomb, she picks up Utami and delivers a strike combination followed by a release German. Mayu goes up top but Utami gets up and knocks her down to the apron, Utami chokes Mayu over the top rope and drags her back into the ring, keeping the hold applied until Mayu makes it to the ropes to get the break. Utami gets Mayu in the Argentine Backbreaker and slams her backwards into the mat, cover by Utami but Mayu gets a shoulder up. Utami goes up top and hits a missile dropkick, she goes up again but this time Mayu hits her before she can jump off and climbs up as well. Frankensteiner by Mayu and she kicks Utami in the chest, high kick by Mayu and she delivers a thrust kick to the head. Cover by Mayu, but it gets two. Mayu goes up top and nails the Frog Splash, but Utami kicks out of the pin attempt. Mayu picks up Utami but Utami blocks the dragon suplex, Utami goes for an elbow but Mayu ducks it and nails her version of the dragon suplex hold for the three count! Mayu Iwatani wins the match and the 5☆STAR GP!
Another great match for both tonight, if there were still any doubts about Stardom’s future they can be put to rest. The action was very fluid and fast paced, and completely captivating as Mayu is not only a master at selling but really laid in with the strikes here and asserted herself as the dominate wrestler at times which she doesn’t always do. I liked the callback on Utami’s arm but it was very quickly forgotten, its like both wrestlers felt obligated to tip their cap to the wounds from the prior matches but were not dedicated at all to following through. The fact Utami had two matches of this caliber on the same card just a few months into her career is scary, she is definitely one that is going to make an impact sooner than later. Overall a high end match with all the drama and ‘moments’ one could hope for, it didn’t feel like a MOTYC for various small reasons but still a great display by both wrestlers. Highly Recommended
Watching a nine match card (ten to the live crowd) within a two hour broadcast can be a difficult task as you know going in that matches will be clipped, however in a tournament setting it didn’t feel overly restrictive. Most of the matches were short anyway so they were just action packed versions of their regular matches, making them an easy watch. The ‘big’ matches on the show all delivered, and Utami Hayashishita is one of the most exciting rookies to come along in years. Overall a really entertaining show, with the matches being a good showcase for Stardom’s wrestlers. A must-see event for any fan of Joshi.