Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix - Final Round - ALL TO PLAY FOR!
Almost unbelievably, we are already at the final round of matches in Stardom’s prestigious 5 Star Grand Prix, and what a frenetic tournament it has been. The brief re-entry into lockdown for the promotion due to one of the crew contracting Covid-19 was clearly the right thing to do, but so as to not disrupt the rest of their calendar, when Stardom returned, they were forced to fit five rounds of tournament matches into just nine days across three separate venues.
This has made it quite hard to get to grips with the various permutations across the Red and Blue stars blocks, and has also robbed us of a few lengthy bangers as the competitors were understandably keen to not completely burn themselves out.
Regardless of these issues though, it has still been an extremely high quality tournament, and going into the final day of tournament matches both blocks remain hugely exciting and wide open. It is still very unclear who will face off in the final match of the evening between the two block winners, but whoever is involved, it is bound to be a fantastic contest.
Here we look at how each competitor has fared so far, and what they are still able to achieve going into the final day of the 5 Star Grand Prix.
Red Stars Block
Himeka (9 pts)
Remaining Match - Konami
Put simply, if Himeka wins her final match against Konami then no other results will matter and she will win the block, and you wouldn’t put it past her after an explosive tournament debut. Picking up big wins against Tam and stable leader Giulia, the only blots on Himeka’s tournament record have been a defeat to red belt champion Mayu Iwatani, and a potentially crucial time limit draw against Saya Kamitani. Whatever happens on the final night Himeka has put herself firmly in amongst the top contenders in Stardom, but she would be desperately disappointed to fall at the final hurdle.
Konami (8 pts)
Remaining Match - Himeka
A win for Konami against front-runner Himeka would put her on 10 points, but that still might not be enough to clinch victory in the Red Stars block. Konami will be ruing the surprise defeat against Death Yama-San which in turn means that her defeat earlier in the tournament against Tam could be disastrous. If Tam wins her final match, Konami can no longer win the block, and that would be a bitter pill to swallow for the perennial Stardom bridesmaid. Another impressive tournament certainly, including victories over both the red and white belt holders (Mayu and Giulia) and a classic with Himeka beckons. But is it a classic she can win?
Mayu Iwatani (8 pts)
Remaining Match - Tam Nakano
Losing two of her first three matches to Giulia and Konami has put Mayu on the back-foot ever since, and despite being the only person to conquer Himeka so far, she is relying on the results elsewhere to progress. Even if she does navigate the tricky encounter with stable-mate Tam, the only way Mayu can win the block is if Himeka and Konami go to a draw. Not out of the question certainly, but not the position the red belt holder would want to be in. A title match with Syuri is also on the horizon at the post 5 Star GP Cinderella show, but can Mayu go into that with a tournament win also under her belt? The odds don’t look good.
Tam Nakano (8 pts)
Remaining Match - Mayu Iwatani
Having beaten sworn enemy Giulia in her most recent match, Tam may consider that the 5 Star GP has already been a success, something which didn’t look likely after an opening round defeat to Himeka. A surprise defeat to Saya Kamitani means that Tam’s destiny is not in her own hands, but if she beats Mayu on the final night, and Konami beats Himeka, then Tam will go onto the final. Her dance card is already fairly full with a further match against Giulia for the white belt lined up, but that could just be the first step to the glorious triumph of Tam two-belts.
Giulia (6 pts)
Remaining Match - Death Yama-San
Unbeaten in singles competition going into the tournament, and beating Mayu on night one, it all looked set up for Giulia to crush the red stars block. However her run was thrillingly derailed by stable-mate Himeka, before she was also forced to tap out by Konami and then vanquished by old nemesis Tam Nakano. As a result Giulia will just be fighting for pride on the final night, and I suspect she may give Death Yama-San a bit of a pummeling to try and ease that frustration.
Death Yama-San (4 pts)
Remaining Match - Giulia
Having lost her first four matches, it looked like DEATH was going to be the whipping-boy of the red stars block. However her shock win against Konami changed the entire complexion of the tournament, and she was also able to pick up a win against Saya Kamitani, proving that she can still match the kids when needed. Some genuinely entertaining performances, in particular in making Mayu Iwatani read a book whilst putting her in a submission hold, have kept DEATH as a crowd favourite but I fear she may be on a hiding to nothing in her match with an angry Giulia.
Saya Kamitani (3 pts)
Remaining Match - Starlight Kid
It took Tall Saya four matches to pick up her first 5 Star Grand Prix victory, but what a victory that was as she rolled up a shocked looking Tam Nakano. Even before this though Saya had impressed in taking the previously unstoppable Himeka to a time limit draw, and even in defeat Kamitani has shown that she is not far from rising to the top of the Stardom roster. Her match with Starlight Kid on the final night is sure to be an absolute fire-cracker.
Starlight Kid (2 pts)
Remaining Match - Saya Kamitani
SK won her first match against Death Yama-San but goes into the final round on a five match losing streak. Not entirely surprising for the 5 Star GP debutant but she will look to end a tournament which has seen some superb performances in defeat against Mayu and Konami with a win over fellow youngster Kamitani. She already has AZM lined up for a shot at the High Speed Title, so she will certainly want to end on a high.
Blue Stars Block
Utami Hayashishita (9 pts)
Remaining Match - Syuri
It was all going so well for Utami! Four straight wins at the start of the blue stars block seemed to have one half of the tag team champions sailing to victory. But a brutal time-limit draw against faction leader Momo, and a defeat to surprise package Maika in her final two matches mean that Utami could still theoretically win her final match and still not win the block. In any case that final match is against the terrifyingly talented Syuri in what could be the match of the tournament, and that will not be easy to say the least. A tag title match with Saya Kamitani against Himeka and Maika is also hoving in to view, so will Utami take her eyes off the prize at the crucial moment?
Maika (8 pts)
Remaining Matches - Syuri and AZM
Maika has surprised everyone in this tournament picking up wins against Momo Watanabe and Utami as well as against seasoned veteran Jungle Kyona. In many ways she is in pole position going into the final night as if she wins her two matches, she wins the block. However she will first have to overcome stable-mate Syuri in what should be a superb match, and then also needs to pick up a win against fellow youngster AZM. I think most would be very surprised to see Maika win both matches and then go on to win the whole tournament on the same night, but her performances so far mean that she has to be taken very seriously as a contender both now and in the future.
Momo Watanabe (7 pts)
Remaining Match - Jungle Kyona
My personal pick to win the whole tournament can now not even win the block after a largely disappointing campaign. A shock defeat to Maika, coupled with a brutal battering at the hands of Natsuko Tora meant Momo had to win all of her last four matches to have a chance of going to the final. Sadly for Momo, she could only muster a time limit draw against fellow Queen’s Quest member Utami and that means her final match with Jungle Kyona will be a case of ‘what might have been’ once again. Where does Momo go from here? It’s hard to tell.
Syuri (6 pts)
Remaining Matches - Maika and Utami Hayashishita
Real life events have overshadowed Syuri’s 5 Star Grand Prix as the death of her mother took her out of action in the tournament and likely pushed wrestling to the back of her mind. Her performances have been incredible regardless, and she still holds a hope of block victory as winning both her matches on the final night would see her into the final. Defeating Maika, Utami and then the winner of the red block on one night might seem impossible, but Syuri has talent in abundance and only a fool would bet against her at least taking Utami to her limit.
Jungle Kyona (6 pts)
Remaining Match - Momo Watanabe
Two defeats in her first two matches put Jungle Kyona almost immediately out of contention, meaning that the crowd favourite will once again not be lifting the trophy. Away from the tournament, Jungle has been preoccupied with the chair and chain wielding madness of Natsuko Tora, and her victory over the Oedo Tai leader came as a result of a disqualification. It looks like that feud with Oedo Tai is where Kyona’s immediate future lies, and the chances of her lifting the red belt to much acclaim seem further and further away by the day.
Natsuko Tora (6 pts)
Remaining Match - Saya Iida
Natsuko has basically acted like an animal in this year’s 5 Star GP, engaging in attempts to wreak violence upon opponents rather than actually defeating them. Disqualification losses against both Utami and Jungle could have left Natsuko near the top of the table if that’s what she wanted, but wanton destruction seems to be her stated goal. Expect to see her do something despicable with either a chain, a chair, or both when she faces youngster Saya Iida in her final match.
Saya Iida (0 pts)
Remaining Match - Natsuko Tora
A last minute stand in for the injured Saki Kashima, Saya Iida was always going to struggle in her tournament, and so it has proved. Some decent performances haven’t masked the fact that she is 0-6, and you suspect that her only chance of victory in her final match will be if Natsuko oversteps the mark in the shenanigans department. That said, Saya continues to show that she can be a factor in Stardom, and I suspect this won’t be the last time we see her in the tournament.
Red Stars Block
Before the tournament I picked Konami to win the block and I’m sticking with that prediction. I fancy Mayu to either beat Tam or for them to have a time limit draw leaving Himeka v Konami in a winner takes all tussle. That match will be a fascinating clash of styles with Himeka likely to dominate in terms of strength, but Konami’s technical prowess giving her the edge on the mat. I’m confident it will be an absolute barn-burner, and whilst I’m less confident on who wins, I think Konami will be making yet another tournament final.
Blue Stars Block
Much of this depends on what happens in the Maika v Syuri match that I assume will be first on the card. My personal prediction is that Syuri wins that match leaving her and Maika on 8 points and Utami on 9. Maika could still win the block at that stage with a victory over AZM followed by a draw between Utami and Syuri, but I don’t think the youngest member of DDM will be adding a block victory to her name just yet. I think Syuri v Utami will go down to the wire but I think there will be a clear winner….I just cannot pick who. Syuri. No, Utami. No….oh I don’t know. So as to avoid accusations of cowardice I will say Syuri….for now.
If Konami v Syuri is the final it would be a magnificent wrestling match. The fury of Syuri’s striking against the technical wizardry of Konami would be a sight to behold, and both would make extremely worthwhile holders of this year’s 5 Star GP trophy. To even get to this stage, Syuri would already have had to go through Maika and Utami, and I think this could play into the match story, with Syuri fighting against justifiable exhaustion but ultimately coming up short against the relentless Konami. Syuri does already have a match for the red belt coming up against Mayu Iwatani, so it would also make sense to see Konami win this final meaning we get a slew of great title matches in the future.
And if this match happens, and is as good as I think it could be, I would then be willing Syuri to beat Mayu for the red belt so that we can see her and Konami go at it again, this time for all the marbles.