Stardom 5*Star Grand Prix Day 1
Watch: Stardom World
Shinkiba 1st Ring – Tokyo, Japan
The summer months in Puroresu usually marks tournament time for most of the promotions in Japan and it’s no different for the biggest Joshi puroresu promotion, STARDOM, as their fifth annual 5*Star Grand Prix kicked off on August 21, 2016. The 5*Star GP is a standard Round Robin tournament that is divided into two blocks (Red Stars and Blue Stars) with a win earning two points, a loss earning zero points, and a draw earning one point. Tournament matches are a 15 minute time limit and the finals of the tournament will be a 30 minute time limit. Winners of each block will face each other in the finals that will take place on September 22 at Korakuen Hall on SamuraiTV and air the same day compared to their other events where it takes weeks for fans of STARDOM to see on the channel.
This year’s tournament has bolstered more fresh faces compared to last year’s tournament with ten wrestlers making their tournament debut. The added pressure to impress fans and the STARDOM office will fall on foreign talent Blue Nikita, Courtney Stewart, and Tessa Blanchard as they are making their first ever appearances in a STARDOM ring.
The tournament blocks goes as followed:
Red Stars Block
Courtney Stewart (first 5* Star GP Appearance)
Io Shirai (2014 5* Star GP Winner, 5th 5* Star GP Appearance )
Jungle Kyouna (first 5* Star GP Appearance)
Kairi Hojo (2015 5* Star GP Winner, 5th 5* Star GP Appearance)
Kris Wolf (2nd 5* Star GP Appearance)
Momo Watanabe (first 5* Star GP Appearance)
Tessa Blanchard (first 5* Star GP Appearance)
Blue Stars Block
Blue Nikita (first 5* Star GP Appearance)
Hiromi Mimura (first 5* Star GP Appearance)
Kay Lee Ray (first 5* Star GP Appearance)
Natsumi Maki (first 5* Star GP Appearance)
Mayu Iwatani (3rd 5* Star GP Appearance)
Toni Storm (first 5* Star GP Appearance)
Yoko Bito (first 5* Star GP Appearance)
The show opened with a non tournament match that involved Hiromi Mimura against 13 year old “Kids Leader” Azumi.
Hiromi Mimura vs. Azumi **1/2
Before the match, Azumi talks about coming back from an injury while Hiromi Mimura says that she she understands coming back from an injury. You would think the youngster Azumi would appreciate that sympathy but doesn’t as she disregards the handshake to start the match and they get into an arm wringer/hammerlock sequence. As an opener, it was pretty decent. After the match, Mimura got on the house microphone to gloat about her victory but Azumi snatched the mic out of her hand to her that there were other matches on the show and called her Grandma (which got a chuckle out of the Shinkiba faithful). Pretty harsh since Mimura just turned 30.
Official Result: Hiromi Mimura over Azumi via pinfall in 3:56.
Blue Stars Block: Blue Nikita vs. Natsumi Maki**
Blue Nikita is making her STARDOM debut in this tournament but her career spans close to 17 years as she made debut in 1999 in the German independent scene. She’s faced notable wrestlers such as Awesome Kong, Saraya Knight and Paige along with foreign STARDOM notables Cheerleader Melissa, Alpha Female, Queen Maya, Shanna and Kay Lee Ray. Natsumi Maki, on the other hand, is a former idol turned actress/wrestler who only debuted May 2015 in the Actwres girl’Z promotion. In the pre-match interviews, Natsumi Maki states that she is really scared of Blue Nikita but ready to show everybody what Poi Poi World is about. As you would expect, Maki would show her inexperience as she mistimed a couple of her moves during the match while Nikita controlled most of it. Just as you thought Maki was completing her comeback from the top rope, Nikita ends it by catching her mid-flight and giving her a Death Valley Driver for the win. Nikita made a decent debut and hopefully she gets to put on better outings during the tournament with more experienced wrestlers.
Official Result: Blue Nikita over Natsumi Maki via pinfall in 6:44.
Red Stars Block: Courtney Stewart vs. Jungle Kyouna**1/4
Glasgow, Scotland’s Courtney Stewart is making her STARDOM debut as well but has wrestled STARDOM regulars Viper and Toni Storm along with STARDOM alum Nikki Glencross aka Nikki Storm. Stewart put on a solid performance here as she beat Kyouna with a Half Nelson Suplex in six minutes. One would think it would be an upset to beat Kyonua as she is the super rookie of the promotion but the match didn’t deliver any drama.
Official Result: Courtney Stewart over Jungle Kyouna via pinfall in 6:34.
Red Stars Block: Tessa Blanchard vs. Momo Watanabe**1/2
Many know Tessa Blanchard as Tully’s daughter but people have seen her pop up on NXT as enhancement talent. She cuts her pre-match promo telling us about her family’s accomplishments but also saying that she has won championships and tournaments all around the world. On record, Tessa has only won tournaments (one was a tag tournament) in Massachusetts and New Jersey. Nevertheless, her match with 16 year old Momo Watanabe was passable as she got the win with a Slingshot Belly to Back Suplex. She controlled the match with Momo getting a couple of hope spots with dropkicks and forearms. Watanabe might not get a win in this block by the end of the tournament.
Official Result: Tessa Blanchard over Momo Watanabe via pinfall in 6:45.
Blue Stars Block: Toni Storm vs. Yoko Bito**3/4
Toni Storm is decked out in a mini top hat like the Planters Peanut man or Big Daddy along with very big sunglasses. But it works. She looks like a star and in her pre match promo, she says she’s the best in Japan right now and will get another victory against Yoko Bito. The match started off with decent mat wrestling that didn’t drag for an extended period of time. Both women were good in this match although they did do a comedy spot with Storm’s backside as she used hip attacks against Bito with a Rick Rude hip swivel only for Bito to smack and kick her backside. Storm won with a Bull Nakano esque Diving Leg Drop to gain two points. The match had good action but didn’t have enough to elevate it to a really good match.
Official Result: Toni Storm over Yoko Bito via pinfall in 10:51.
Red Stars Block: Kris Wolf vs. Kairi Hojo***
Kris Wolf cuts a simple short promo before the match but in her own Kris Wolf way. She is replacing Lucha Underground’s Ivelisse as she dropped out of the tournament 2 days before August 21. This might be an upgrade in the entertainment department as Wolf has a great character and can do comedy well. However, the match quality goes down as Ivelisse against Shirai, Hojo and Kyouna would’ve been great potential matchups. The match itself with Hojo and Wolf was good in its own right as Hojo dominated the match but Wolf mixed in comedy spots with her tail (yes, her tail) whenever Hojo wasn’t on offense and rolled slowly out of the way when Hojo’s Diving Flying Elbow drop was coming. Wolf did just enough with near falls to have the fans buy into the upset but Hojo eventually won with the elbow drop to give her 2 points in the block.
Official Result: Kairi Hojo over Kris Wolf via pinfall in 10:42.
Blue Stars Block: Kay Lee Ray vs. Mayu Iwatani***3/4
The expectation level was elevated for these two to deliver in the main event as these two had a really good match on January 17, 2016 for the NEO High Speed Championship. And it didn’t disappoint. One thing to note is that Mayu Iwatani is in her 3rd 5* Star GP but is the only one out of the three daughters of STARDOM that has not won the tournament. She’s coming in already being the winner of this year’s Cinderella Tournament, which granted her a World of Stardom Championship match against her Thunder Rock teammate Io Shirai. With Thunder Rock not being Goddesses of Stardom Champions, it could open the door to book Mayu to be Io’s rival towards the end of the year by winning this tournament. This match started off great with Kay Lee Ray giving Iwatani an enzuigiri when they were going to shake hands. There several spots in the match that will get you sucked in immediately such as the sequence of Mayu missing her flying dropkick to the bottom rope only to deliver an elbow cutting off Kay Lee Ray’s tope seconds later. Kay Lee Ray flew into a bunch of chairs trying to take out Mayu and then got suplexed onto the chairs a minute later. This is all in the first 3 minutes of the match. The crowd also added to the match of loud chants of “MAYU” were repeated by certain pockets in Shinkiba. There was only one flub in the match that stood out was when Kay Lee Ray did a tope later in the match that looked like it completely missed Mayu but she covered it up with an incredible swanton bomb from the top rope to the floor that cleared all of the young girls helping with the match. Kay Lee Ray won with the swanton to even up the match up. Ray gets on the mic afterwards to acknowledge that she is tied with Mayu and calls out Io Shirai. Ray says that she wants Io in the finals of the tournament. This prompts Toni Storm to come out and say that it’s going to be her instead Ray. Io answers by saying she doesn’t if Storm or Ray are in the finals because she will be in the finals.
Official Result: Kee Lee Ray over Mayu Iwatani via pinfall in 11:21.
OVERALL THOUGHTS AND STANDINGS:
Overall, the show had a lot of average matches but the Kay Lee Ray vs. Mayu Iwatani match saved it from being a forgettable show.
Red Stars Block
- Courtney Stewart (2 points)
- Kairi Hojo (2 points)
- Tessa Blanchard (2 points)
- Jungle Kyouna (0 points)
- Kris Wolf (0 points)
- Momo Watanabe (0 points)
- Io Shirai (0 points)
Blue Stars Block
- Blue Nikita (2 points)
- Kay Lee Ray (2 points)
- Toni Storm (2 points)
- Hiromi Mimura (0 points)
- Natsumi Maki (0 points)
- Yoko Bito (0 points)
- Mayu Iwatani (0 points)