8/8 STARDOM 5STAR GRAND PRIX report: The 9th annual tournament kicks off with Mayu Iwatani vs. Giulia, Jungle Kyona vs. Utami Hayashishita, & many more

By Harley R. Pageot, PWTorch contributor


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

STARDOM 5STAR GRAND PRIX
AUGUST 8, 2020
TOKYO, JAPAN AT KORAKUEN HALL
AIRED ON STARDOM WORLD
REPORT BY HARLEY R. PAGEOT, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR

The show opened with a shot of the 5Star Grand Prix trophy sitting on a table in the ring. The competitors in this year’s tournament were introduced one at a time. In order: Saya Iida, Maika, Syuri, Natsuko Tora, AZM, Jungle Kyona, Utami Hayashishita, Momo Watanabe, Himeka, Death Yama-san, Saya Kamitani, Starlight Kid, Konami, Tam Nakano, Giulia, and Mayu Iwatani. (Every woman could be seen visibly struggling to figure out where she was supposed to stand in the ring for the perfect press photos.) The ring announcer ran down tonight’s card.

-Hina said she was going to liven things up. Rina wanted to move up the card so she couldn’t lose here.

(1) HINA vs. RINA

The twins traded forearms. Rina yanked her sister to the mat and tossed her across the ring. Dropkick to Hina trapped in the ropes. Body slam to Rina. Hina eventually tapped to the hydrangea.

WINNER: Rina in 4:31.

(Pageot’s Perspective: Okay, I was joking in a previous report when I said I wanted to see these two fight forever. This was their third singles match in the past month, fourth this year. And they are now tied 2-2 again. Also anyone who watches Stardom regularly and has seen AZM and Starlight Kid struggle to garner any momentum knows that there’s no way either of the twins are going anywhere higher up the card than where they are now for another five or six years still.)

-First match Death. Kid said she finally made it into the GP. She beat Death the last time they faced in a three-way so momentum was on her side here.

(2) STARLIGHT KID vs. DEATH YAMA-SAN – RED STARS BLOCK

Death sidestepped a dropkick. High speed action. Death with a roll-up for two. Kid hit a tiger feint kick and standing moonsault. Code red avoided by Death. DDT but Kid kicked out. Code red for the win.

WINNER: Starlight Kid in 3:01.

(Pageot’s Perspective: Harmless.)

-Iida said she would leave her mark and show everyone her strength. AZM said this was her first GP as a champion and it would be hers this year. Her high speed would be the difference maker.

(3) HIGH SPEED CHAMPION AZM vs. SAYA IIDA – BLUE STARS BLOCK

Iida looked to slow AZM down with a hammerlock. AZM took over instead with body slams and a slower, power-based offense than we usually see from her. Iida went high speed instead, taking her out with a dropkick off the ropes. Lion-tamer from Iida. Scissored armbar from AZM. Gorilla chops from Iida. Iida yanked AZM off the top rope and nailed her with a missile dropkick. Northern lights suplex! Iidabashi! AZM kicked out. A trio of suplexes to Iida. AZM with a sloppy tilt-a-whirl into an armbar and Iida tapped.

WINNER: AZM in 8:03.

(Pageot’s Perspective: Good match. Will Iida earn any points in the tournament that she wasn’t supposed to be in? AZM earned 8 last year and was a last-minute replacement in that one. The Iidabashi could definitely be built up if they wanted as a flash pin out of nowhere that slays stronger opponents, like Saki Kashima’s Revival. Speaking of, not only did Iida replace Kashima in the tournament, but she’s also been training with Kagetsu and Hazuki and busted out Natsu Sumire’s signature northern lights here. Could the dream of Oiida Tai possibly come true?)

-Kamitani said she wanted to win and pick up momentum. Konami was aiming for her neck.

(4) GODDESS OF STARDOM CHAMPION SAYA KAMITANI vs. KONAMI – RED STARS BLOCK

They traded wristlocks. Konami felled Kamitani with a kick to the chest. Leg scissors. Konami worked her over methodically. Kamitani with a brief flurry of kicks. Konami rolled out of the way of the running shooting star press. Chinlock from Konami. Triangle choke. Kamitani tapped.

WINNER: Konami in 8:06.

(Pageot’s Perspective: Yawn.)

-Maika said it was her nephew’s first birthday and she’d give him the gift of victory. Watanabe said she already beat Maika a couple weeks ago so the outcome here was obvious.

(5) ARTIST OF STARDOM & FUTURE OF STARDOM CHAMPION MAIKA vs. MOMO WATANABE – BLUE STARS BLOCK

Maika choked Watanabe with her boot in the corner. Shoulder tackle. She sidestepped a dropkick from Watanabe and body slammed her three times. Watanabe took over with a barrage of kicks in the corner. Double knees from the second turnbuckle. She tried again from the top but Maika ducked. Hiptosses from Maika. STO. Rock Bottom. Illegal choke from Maika in the ropes. Suplex. Rear naked choke. Watanabe faded but eventually powered to her feet with Maika on her back. Maika fell backwards to the mat, still holding the move, and Watanabe actually tapped.

WINNER: Maika in 8:12.

(Pageot’s Perspective: Insane. Watanabe has been the unofficial #1 contender to the red belt since Stardom returned from the pandemic and Maika is literally the rookie champion. Would we ever see Starlight Kid tap out Kagetsu or AZM pin Iwatani? But apparently the only thing that matters in 2020 is push Donna Del Mondo. Here’s my new prediction: all four members of DDM finish as the four highest-scorers in the tournament and Giulia beats Syuri in the finals, for all the fans who love, love, love Giulia.)

-Syuri said it was her first time in the GP. She has big expectations. Oedo Tai are still refusing to do promos.

(6) ARTIST OF STARDOM CHAMPION SYURI vs. NATSUKO TORA – BLUE STARS BLOCK

Tora chucked Syuri across the ring. Syuri with a high knee off the apron to Tora at ringside. Syuri into the guardrail. Cannonball to Syuri back in the ring. Samoan drop. They traded forearms. Tora landed a top rope frog-splash but Syuri kicked out. Tora shoved the referee into the corner for not calling it a three. She wrapped her chain around her calf and went back up top for a leg drop but Syuri avoided it. Buzzsaw kick for the clean win.

WINNER: Syuri in 13:21.

(Pageot’s Perspective: Hey, it wasn’t 8 minutes. Look at that. Tora could be a Kevin Steen-style sadistic and dangerous heel but they’re apparently content to have her instead be a Dolph Ziggler-style joke that nobody takes seriously as any sort of credible threat. DDM are 2-0 so far in the tournament.)

-Himeka denied that Nakano is the cutest in the universe. Nakano decreed that cute is more justice.

(7) TAM NAKANO vs. HIMEKA – RED STARS BLOCK

Himeka overpowered in the opening minutes. At 10:00 they traded strikes. Spinning heel kick from Nakano. Both women went down. Nakano escaped from a powerbomb attempt. Himeka with a high knee. More back and forth. A couple clotheslines from Himeka. Running powerbomb for the clean win.

WINNER: Himeka in 16:17.

(Pageot’s Perspective: I fear my love affair with Stardom is coming to an end. When your favorite wrestlers on the roster are Kyona, Sumire, Iida, Watanabe, Nakano… it’s hard to get excited about the direction of the promotion right now. DDM are 3-0 on the night.)

-Hayashishita said her last two years in the GP both ended with disappointment. (She lost in the finals in 2018 and was pulled due to injury in 2019.) This will be her year. Kyona said she was gunning for her.

(8) GODDESS OF STARDOM CHAMPION UTAMI HAYASHISHITA vs. JUNGLE KYONA – BLUE STARS BLOCK

They traded shoulder tackles to start. Kyona clotheslined Hayashishita over the top rope to the floor. Hayashishita pulled her off the apron into a torture rack. Kyona into the guardrail. Hayashishita into the guardrail. Apron bomb! (This match should be over in the next sixty seconds. Good lord.) Kyona hit a splash in the ring but Hayashishita kicked out. (lol) Fallaway slam. Single-leg crab. Hayashishita made the rope break. Dropkick from Hayashishita. Chinlock. Kyona slammed her to the mat to break the hold. Hayashishita went up top but Kyona met her.

Top rope powerslam from Kyona at 10:00. Jungle Buster avoided by Hayashishita. Top rope splash from Kyona. Hammerthrow powerbomb but Hayashishita kicked out. Air raid crash from Hayashishita. Torture rack bomb but Kyona grabbed the bottom rope to prevent the three-count. A trio of German suplexes from Hayashishita gave her the win.

WINNER: Utami Hayashishita in 14:38.

(Pageot’s Perspective: No comment.)

-Giulia said that she was ready for a taste of the icon of Stardom. She already knew that she would win every one of her tournament matches. Iwatani said the GP is a tough month and a half. She wanted the points in her first match on behalf of Stars.

The other three members of DDM accompanied Giulia to the ring. Iwatani came out alone.

(9) WORLD OF STARDOM CHAMPION MAYU IWATANI vs. WONDER OF STARDOM & ARTIST OF STARDOM CHAMPION GIULIA – RED STARS BLOCK

Giulia with a takedown. After some back and forth Iwatani blasted her with a big slap and a penalty kick to the spine. Giulia with a draping neckbreaker. Ground abdominal stretch. Giulia toyed with Iwatani in the ropes. Iwatani hit a slingblade. Giulia with an octopus. Giulia up top for a missile dropkick. Falcon arrow avoided by Iwatani and she hit a superkick. They traded boots. Iwatani hit a bridging German suplex for her first two-count of the match.

Iwatani went up top at 10:00 but Giulia cut her off and hit a superplex. Glorious Driver countered into a tombstone from Iwatani. They traded slaps from a kneeling position. Crucifix bomb from Iwatani. She set Giulia on the middle rope for a Running Three and nailed it! Iwatani immediately followed with a top rope frog-splash. Giulia kicked out. (LOL) Bridging dragon suplex but Giulia kicked out again. (LOL x2)

Iwatani looked for a moonsault at 15:00 but Giulia moved. A sloppy back suplex dumped Iwatani on the back of her neck. Falcon arrow. Iwatani kicked out but Giulia held on and transitioned into an armbar, then a kimura. Iwatani reached the rope break. Glorious Driver. Giulia held on, stood back up, and hit a second for the clean pin.

WINNER: Giulia in 17:28.

-Giulia bragged that she beat the icon. “I think it’s a good start.” She said that everyone in DDM was a winner today and that will continue. Syuri pointed out that they can’t all win every match, though. At some point she’ll have to wrestle Maika and Giulia will have to face Himeka. Himeka said Giulia will lose tomorrow and wished her luck. They shook hands.

(Pageot’s Perspective: I repeat… LOL. Giulia has all the charisma and excitement of Randy Orton but she’s in full Brock Lesnar mode now. Stardom ran a whole story back in February where joshi legend Chigusa Nagayo (one-half of The Crush Gals) taught Iwatani her famous Running Three move. It was a big deal because Nagayo is still a huge name and it’s such a powerful move. Six months later Iwatani hits Giulia with the Running Three, a frog-splash, and a dragon suplex in succession and Giulia kicks out. Ridiculous.

Even besides that, this match illustrates the reason I hate having the champion in a tournament like this. Giulia just pinned the red belt, therefore earning herself a future title match. So the rest of the Grand Prix is moot for her now. She can lose every other match and it won’t matter because she’s already got herself a title shot. Hell, at this point but all your chips on Giulia. I wouldn’t even be surprised if she stays undefeated, wins the whole tournament, and beats Iwatani again to become double champ. This is Stardom 2020.)

Blue Stars standings after night 1:
AZM – 2
Utami Hayashishita – 2
Maika – 2
Syuri – 2
Saya Iida – 0
Jungle Kyona – 0
Natsuko Tora – 0
Momo Watanabe – 0

Red Stars standings after night 1:
Giulia – 2
Himeka – 2
Starlight Kid – 2
Konami – 2
Saya Kamitani – 0
Tam Nakano – 0
Mayu Iwatani – 0
Death Yama-san – 0

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