SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
STARDOM 5STAR GRAND PRIX
SEPTEMBER 22, 2019
TOKYO, JAPAN AT KORAKUEN HALL
AIRED ON STARDOM WORLD
REPORT BY HARLEY R. PAGEOT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Konami said it was a good feeling teaming with this duo in Shinkiba so let’s do it again. Hina said this was their second tim teaming as a trio but they hadn’t won yet. Stars debated what to call a three-way trios elimination match.
(1) QUEEN’S QUEST (AZM, Leo Onozaki, & Hina) vs. RIHO & STARS (High Speed Champion Riho, Starlight Kid, & Saya Iida) vs. SAYA KAMITANI & TOKYO CYBER SQUAD (Goddess Of Stardom Champion Konami, Rina, & Saya Kamitani) – ELIMINATION MATCH
Konami, Kid, and AZM started. The two high-speeders flipped around. Tags to Hina, Rina, and Iida. The twins went after each other while Iida felt left out. TCS whipped all six opponents into one corner and took turns hitting running dropkicks. Triple submissions from TCS to Stars. AZM with a cheap shot and QQ took over. Top rope double-stomp to Rina for a pin.
TCS were eliminated at 4:40.
Stars and QQ battled. Riho rolled up Onozaki.
WINNERS: Riho & Stars in 6:18.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Fine opening match. I’m guessing Hanan and Ruaka are busy with school at the moment as we haven’t seen Ruaka in a month and Hanan hasn’t wrestled since May.)
-Avary called Sumire a cheeky fucker and said her winning streak wouldn’t stop now. Sumire said the tournament is over and she was going out to play.
(2) ARTIST OF STARDOM CHAMPION NATSU SUMIRE vs. AVARY – RED STARS BLOCK
Avary licked her hand and grabbed Sumire. She immediately raced to grab a towel and wipe herself off. Avary hung her upside-down in the corner and baseball slid into licking her. Sumire grabbed a chinlock and licked Avary’s face in response. Crotch assault! They traded near-falls. Revival but Avary countered into a two-count of her own. Straitjacket lungblower from Avary. Hammerlock DDT.
WINNER: Avary in 5:18.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Boooooooooooo. Thanks to this garbage finish Sumire ends the Grand Prix in dead last in the red stars, beating only Natsuko Tora overall. Meanwhile Avary is now tied for first place in the red stars with actually credible wrestlers like Iwatani and Watanabe. Ridiculous. Even though she’s currently in first place, though, she can’t win as at least one person is guaranteed to earn at least nine points.)
-Nakano said the Grand Prix was a long journey. Along the way she collected seven important lessons. Today she wanted to pick up one last lesson and open a new door. She leapt off a chair – into the future. Kashima said she and Nakano teamed for the first time in May 2018 and have been in Stars together since. This was their first singles time since then and Nakano had never faced her Revival.
(3) SAKI KASHIMA vs. TAM NAKANO – RED STARS BLOCK
Kashima targeted Nakano’s left knee. They traded near-falls at the three-minute mark. Revival but Nakano kicked out. Pedigree from Kashima. Knee strikes from Nakano. Bridging tiger suplex.
WINNER: Tam Nakano in 4:30.
(Pageot’s Perspective: The camera work on this show is a little different and I like it. One of the handhelds is glossier and the shots they get with it remind me more of music video cinematography than anything I usually see in wrestling. Nakano moves into the red stars lead alone. If both of the next two matches end in draws she’ll take the red stars. If either one results in a winner that winner will tie her for the lead. In the case of a tie, Nakano beat Watanabe and Hazuki in the tournament but lost to Iwatani and Kimura.)
-Hazuki still had nothing to say. Kimura was still singing her “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” parody. Kimura said she was going to take over Stardom.
(4) HANA KIMURA vs. HAZUKI – RED STARS BLOCK
Kimura dominated the opening minutes until Hazuki took her into the crowd. She ran Kimura into a metal sign on a wall, then took her back to the ring and threw her out the other side. Same thing on the other side of the arena. They re-entered the ring at the referee’s count of 17. Facewash from Hazuki. Backbreaker. Crossface. Top rope back senton. Octopus from Kimura. Hazukistral but a kick out. Tiger Lily.
WINNER: Hana Kimura in 11:42.
(Pageot’s Perspective: I wonder if Hazuki has something to say now. It was weird seeing Kimura play the babyface on the defensive for most of the match when she’s so naturally heelish. Hell, on our last show she kicked around and belittled her own tag partner for no good reason. Regardless of her inconsistent portrayal (the same issue I have with The Briscoes in ROH and Bianca Belair in NXT) Kimura now moves into the lead alone due to her previous win over Nakano in the tournament. Nakano and Watanabe have both been eliminated with ths outcome and our next match decides the red stars. Kimura beat Watanabe but lost to Iwatani in tournament matches. A win for Watanabe here or a draw is a win for Kimura. A win for Iwatani here means she wins the whole block.)
-Watanabe (in footage recorded prior to the start of the show) spoke about her odds of winning. She said she’d never let Iwatani go to the finals. Iwatani said she won last year and she wanted to win again and challenge for the red belt. She’d need some luck to beat Watanabe but she wanted everyone else to lose.
(5) MAYU IWATANI vs. MOMO WATANABE – RED STARS BLOCK
Iwatani went aggressively for the victory. Running dropkick and a dragon suplex attempt 14 seconds in. She settled for a German and landed a top rope frog-splash but Watanabe avoided a moonsault. They reset at 1:20. Watanabe took control and went to work. Iwatani with a high crossbody that took out Watanabe and the rest of Stars at ringside. Top rope double-stomp. Double knees from Watanabe, off the second turnbuckle and then the top. Rear naked choke. Rope break. Release suplex. Running knees. Iwatani countered an avalanche move and powerbombed Watanabe off the second rope. She sprang right back up and yanked Iwatani off the second rope into a Peach Sunrise. Watanabe hung on and rolled through into a second for the pin.
WINNER: Momo Watanabe in 9:24.
(Pageot’s Perspective: That was a heck of a match and the crowd was red hot. Iwatani wrestled like she was desperate to win and Watanabe wrestled like she was not going to be overlooked. Both women could, and probably should, be in the main event picture this winter. Hana Kimura (my initial pick to win the entire tournament back when the list of entrants was first announced) advances to the finals. She faces either Konami or Jamie Hayter.)
-Miyagi said the same old about us seeing the real Miyagi. (She and Hazuki really phoned in these tournament promos.) Tora said it was her last match and she hadn’t won once. Everything is over here. The tournament ends.
(6) ARTIST OF STARDOM CHAMPION ANDRAS MIYAGI vs. NATSUKO TORA – BLUE STARS BLOCK
Miyagi immediately grabbed the Oedo Tai placard and swung but Tora ducked. Tora threw her into the crowd and hit her with a folding chair. Miyagi suplexed her on the floor. Sumire offered Tora some water so Miyagi kicked her away. Miyagi worked over Tora. She summoned Sumire and made her slide a second placard to her. Miyagi and the referee fought over the placard, allowing Tora to hit a spear. She unloaded with elbows and hit a Samoan drop. Miyagi hit a dropkick and went up top. Sumire slid one of the placards into the ring. As the referee confiscated it Tora grabbed the other placard and clocked Miyagi across the head. Miyagi fell off the top rope and ate a second placard shot to the head. Top rope frog-splash from Tora for a two-count. F-Crash.
WINNER: Natsuko Tora in 7:18
-Sumire patted Tora on the back for her first tournament win.
(Pageot’s Perspective: I like the camaraderie of the two women who placed last in both blocks being there to support each other. I also like the story of Sumire betraying Miyagi to help Tora. The only person in Oedo Tai (or Stardom in general) who seems to have any real connection or affection toward Miyagi is Kagetsu.)
-Hoshiki said this next match is the one she wanted most. 15 minutes is short but she’d relax and enjoy it. Kagetsu said there was nothing to say. (You have nothing to say about wrestling the white belt champion? That’s rude.)
(7) WONDER OF STARDOM CHAMPION ARISA HOSHIKI vs. ARTIST OF STARDOM CHAMPION KAGETSU – BLUE STARS BLOCK
Kagetsu of course targeted Hoshiki’s knee early on. She spit water in the faces of Hoshiki and the referee, then emptied another water bottle onto Hoshiki’s head a minute later. She dragged Hoshiki around the ring by her hair. Hoshiki fired up at 6:30. A high crossbody took out Kagetsu at ringside. Step-off kick. Hoshiki went up top but a springboard kick from Kagetsu sent her to the floor. Suicide dive. Springboard dropkick. Enziguiri. Death valley driver. Kick out from Hoshiki. Anklelock at 10:00. Death valley driver. Oedo Coaster avoided by Hoshiki. They traded kicks. Knee strike from Hoshiki. Hoshiki grabbed the referee and hurled him across the ring for some reason. Red mist from Kagetsu. Death valley driver. Oedo Coaster. No-sold. Knee strikes. Brazilian kick. Kick out from Kagetsu. A fourth death valley driver to Hoshiki. Simultaneous kicks to the head put both women down.
DECISION: Time limit draw in 15:00.
-Hoshiki said she really wanted to beat her. A draw is frustrating. She wants to defend the white belt against her now.
Avary strolled down to the ring and looked on. She stood between them and said she’s not ready to leave yet. Hoshiki understood enough to know she was asking for a white belt match. But she wanted to face Kagetsu… Kagetsu rolled out of the ring and left. Hoshiki agreed to fight Avary in Nagoya but promised that she wouldn’t lose the title before getting to defend against Kagetsu.
(Pageot’s Perspective: As soon as I saw the length of the video I knew it had to be a time limit draw. It had a big fight feel and they were clearly going for a New Japan-style main event. It was very good but I have some serious issues with Hoshiki throwing the referee across the ring and her jumping right up after taking a DVD and 450 splash following a previous 12 minutes of punishment.
Post-match: Avary can put over Hoshiki before heading home to Australia. Hoshiki-Kagetsu is the big one we’ll build to for a bit, though Jamie Hayter, Konami, and Utami Hayashishita are also owed white belt matches due to the results of their Grand Prix matches.)
-Hayter said she tried hard in last year’s Grand Prix. This year she half-assed it and still has 10 points. She mocked the “top gaijin” nickname of Priestley. Priestley simply reiterated that she’s the top gaijin. (A win or draw here means Hayter wins the blue stars. A win for Priestley gives Konami the blue stars.)
(8) WORLD OF STARDOM CHAMPION BEA PRIESTLEY vs. JAMIE HAYTER – BLUE STARS BLOCK
A bit of dueling chants to start but “Let’s go Jamie” was more consistent. Priestley tossed over the ropes and run along the apron into the ring post. Suicide dive from Hayter took out Priestley and the injured Hayashishita. Priestley started to get on a run but Hayter put her down with a backbreaker. Both women looked for moves on the apron. Hayter came out on top with a Rock Bottom. Clotheslines from Hayter in the ring. Roll-up from Priestley. Knee strike. Bridging back suplex. V-trigger. Priestley dropped her kneepad. Another knee strike to Hayter in the corner. Queen’s Landing.
WINNER: Bea Priestley in 10:08.
-Priestley reminded Hayter that she’s still top gaijin. She suggested she and Hayter team together in the Goddesses Of Stardom tag league this fall. The rest of Oedo Tai were baffled at ringside. Hayter shook her hand as the Queen’s Quest members also looked on in confusion.
(Pageot’s Perspective: Decent match. Hayter did far better in the tournament than anyone expected going in. With this outcome Konami wins the blue stars and finishes with the most points of anyone in either block. This is a huge push for her after going to the finals of the Cinderella tournament earlier this year too. She faces her TCS leader for the right to challenge Priestley but we need to note that Kagetsu, Hoshiki, and Jungle Kyona are also already owed red belt matches due to their tournament victories over Priestley.
Post-match: the fact that the rest of their factions were so stunned by this alliance is what sells it for me. It doesn’t make any sense for the members of two rival groups to cross enemy lines to team up and the fact that the rest of the Capulets and the Montagues are out of sorts about it puts a lot of drama on this decision. Also (and this is a stat I was going to save for when we got closer to the tag league) the duo of Priestley & Watanabe have the best tag record of anybody in Stardom this year at 3 wins, 0 losses, and 1 draw. For Priestley to walk away from that just to team up with a member of Oedo Tai? The consequences of this should be far-reaching.)
-No pre-match promos for our main event. Jungle Kyona was kneeling on the apron with her right arm in a sling. Konami entered first wearing her gas mask and blue stars sash but not carrying her tag title. She hugged Kyona. Kimura entered without any accessories, hair tied back in a ponytail. Rina held the ropes open for her. No sign of Kyona. As Kimura started to climb through the ropes to enter the ring Konami nailed her with a dropkick.
(9) GODDESS OF STARDOM CHAMPION KONAMI vs. HANA KIMURA – 5STAR GRAND PRIX FINALS
Konami unloaded with kicks and went for the first pinfall at 28 seconds. Anklelock but Kimura scrambled to the ropes. Dragonscrew leg whip. More kicks to Kimura’s right leg. Konami wrapped it around the bottom rope and pulled back. Kimura hung up in the corner and Konami gave her Goldust’s old Shattered Dreams. Kimura wailed like a banshee while Konami locked on a leglock. Another rope break. Kimura tried to escape but Konami wouldn’t let her get any air. Konami went for an Irish whip but Kimura’s leg gave out and she collapsed. Konami stood on her knee. A weak kick out from Kimura. Anklelock and Konami grapevined it. Rope break. Konami threw Kimura into the corner. Irish whip reversed but Konami avoided a kick. Kimura with a quintet of suplexes, hanging on between each one. Octopus. Rope break by Konami. Facewash from Kimura. Kimura went up top but Konami cut her off. Kimura lock from Kimura on the top rope. She looked for an avalanche package piledriver but Konami avoided it. Leglock to Kimura on the top rope, Konami’s full weight dangling from her limb. Kimura fell to ringside where Rina was waiting with the cold spray. Kyona stared down Kimura. Top rope double-stomp from Konami to Kimura’s leg back in the ring. Sharpshooter. Rope break.
They traded forearms at 10:00. Sidewalk slam from Kimura. Missile dropkick. Konami avoided the package piledriver. Roll-up from Kimura for two. Kimura fought off the triangle lancer. Briding German suplex from Konami. Octopus from Kimura. Konami fought it. The referee called for the bell with no clear visual as to whether Konami tapped or said she quit.
WINNER: Hana Kimura in 14:16 to win the 2019 Grand Prix.
(Pageot’s Perspective: A great match with a really flat finish. Did Konami quit? Was this a referee stoppage? That’s an important distinction. I do love the fire that Konami showed from the get-go and how relentless she was. Kimura vowed to win the Grand Prix using her new Tiger Lily combination and she didn’t so that’s one small victory, I suppose. I always consider Kimura a heel due to how bratty, obnoxious, and rude she is to everybody so a heel winning the tournament to challenge the heel champion Priestley feels strange. But it’s true that traditional face and heel structures barely exist in Stardom. Will she be the one to dethrone Priestley? I guess I wouldn’t be surprised. When the GP entrant list was first announced I named her my pick to win the whole thing. You can’t sell as much merch as she does and not expect Ogawa to jump at the opportunity to make her the top champ. I will just forever be haunted by the question of how things may have gone differently had Kyona and Hayashishita not gotten injured. Konami’s spot here could very well have been intended for Kyona. That would not surprise me in the least.)
-Kimura rolled onto the apron. Her sidekick Rina gave her a bottle of cold spray while Kyona jumped into the ring to check on Konami. Stardom president Rossy Ogawa entered the ring with a crown and ceremonial robe. The paparazzi swarmed the hard camera apron. Ogawa and the referee tried to tie the robe around Kimura’s neck but she wanted nothing to do with it. She was presented with the GP trophy while Konami was handed a runner-up trophy. Kimura and Konami fist-bumped.
Hayter was called out and given the Fighting Spirit Award. Nakano was given a trophy for Outstanding Performance. AZM got Best Technical Skills. Kyona vs. Kagetsu won Best Bout. The seven award-winners posed for photos.
Kimura was handed a microphone. She sang her stupid “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” parody again before screaming “I won!” She was in a different block than the rest of TCS and believed she’d meet one of them in the finals. Unfortunately Kyona wasn’t able to make it. Someday… She said Konami killed her leg and asked that they go to the hospital together. Through tears she said this was not her goal, even though she always wanted to win the tournament. She called out Priestley.
In English Kimura said, “Hello Queen Bea. I want to kick your ass. I want to win the red belt.” Priestley swore a lot so you knew she was serious. They both said “See you.” Kimura rolled her eyes as Priestley left.
Cut to: the entire roster in the ring for the TCS close-out.
(Pageot’s Perspective: The Grand Prix was fun, if heartbreaking at times. This fall ought to be an interesting time, especially with the tag league right around the corner. But having two of my least-favorite wrestlers on the roster competing for the top title? I just hope Hoshiki has a bunch of great white belt matches lined up.)
Final Red Stars standings:
Hana Kimura – 10
Tam Nakano – 10
Momo Watanabe – 10
Avary – 8
AZM – 8
Hazuki – 8
Mayu Iwatani – 8
Saki Kashima – 6
Natsu Sumire – 4
Final Blue Stars standings:
Konami – 11
Jamie Hayter – 10
Bea Priestley – 10
Arisa Hoshiki – 9
Kagetsu – 9
Andras Miyagi – 7
Jungle Kyona – 6
Utami Hayashishita – 6
Natsuko Tora – 4