The 5 Star Grand Prix has sadly been and gone for 2020, but it was a fascinating tournament setting up a whole host of angles to keep Stardom fans happy for the next few months. Here we take a look at how some of the participants and each of the factions sit following the completion of the 5 Star GP and what might be in their future, leading into two shows at the end of September and a big Yokohama Cinderella Show on 3rd October.
1. Mayu Iwatani
Still the Ace of Stardom, Mayu Iwatani will certainly feel like a hunted woman off the back of a 5 Star GP that started with two defeats out of three, before a run of five victories to finish off the block. The defeats to Giulia and Konami may give each of them good reason to challenge for the coveted Red Belt, and of course she now has the tournament winner to keep an eye on. On top of that, Mayu faces Syuri in Yokohama on 3rd October and it will also not have escaped her attention that Takumi Iroha is back on the scene. Takumi holds a dominant victory over Mayu from earlier this year, and a re-match for the title is something that many want to see. But these are the prices to pay for being one of the best wrestlers in the world, and Mayu yet again proved that throughout this tournament.
2. Utami Hayashishita
The fully deserved winner of the 5 Star Grand Prix, it feels like Utami has finally made the leap up to Stardom’s top table that many have seen in her future for some time. An energy sapping end to the tournament saw Utami go through two 20 minute time-limit draws with Momo Watanabe and Syuri, and then an intensely physical encounter with Himeka in the final. But there will be no rest for Utami as she looks to defend the Goddess of Stardom Championships with Saya Kamitani against Maika and Himeka in Yokohama, following which she will get her match with whoever holds the red belt after that show. It’s going to be a busy few months for Utami, and that’s just how she would have wanted it.
Perhaps lucky to be at number 3 following a disappointing 5 Star GP, but Giulia did pick up a win against Mayu Iwatani on night one, and she is still the holder of two belts including the Wonder of Stardom Championship. On top of that she remains in control of the most dominant faction in the promotion and has a huge title defence coming up against Tam Nakano in Yokohama. That rivalry has dominated Giulia’s time in the last couple of months and perhaps explains why she took her eye off the ball in the 5 Star GP, particularly in suffering a damaging defeat to Tam in the Red Stars block. Giulia will be desperate to right that wrong in their blow-off match for the white belt so she can start to look in the direction of the World of Stardom Champion.
Battling through both personal grief and an intense schedule at the end of the 5 Star GP, some of Syuri’s performances have been borderline miraculous. She couldn’t quite see off Utami in a fantastic match to decide the Blue Stars block, but her performances throughout the tournament have left very few in doubt that Syuri is a real threat to Mayu Iwatani in their red belt match at Yokohama. Either way that match should be one that every wrestling fan has circled as a ‘must-watch’ and if Syuri does manage to wrest the title away from Iwatani, then few would be disappointed to see a rematch with Utami.
The surprise package for many in this tournament, not many people would have had the newest member of Donna Del Mondo winning the Red Stars block. She went on a tear from the start however, defeating Tam Nakano and stable-leader Giulia, with only Mayu Iwatani managing to defeat her before the final. Himeka will of course been disappointed not to win the tournament to get another crack at Mayu, but the tournament has elevated her enormously and she will now be looking to add title belts to an impressive win/loss record. The first opportunity for that comes in Yokohama when she and Maika will face Sami Kamitani and Himeka’s 5 Star conqueror Utami. Don’t be surprised if it’s not the only belt Himeka is holding come the end of 2020.
6. Tam Nakano
Tam had an outside chance at winning the Red Stars block going into the final night, but came up short against apparent best friend Mayu Iwatani in what was an absolutely brutal match. The highlight of the tournament for Tam though was definitely in getting her win back against long-term rival Giulia, leading to another crack at the white belt in Yokohama. Based on their previous encounters, that should be an absolute barn-burner and could easily see Tam pick up the title that many have had her name on since the retirement of Arisa Hoshiki.
Yet another case of ‘so near yet so far’ for Konami. Huge wins over Mayu Iwatani and Giulia put her in control of her own destiny with two rounds to go, but a disastrous defeat to Death Yama-San in her penultimate match seemed to suck the life out of Konami. She duly went on to lose to Himeka, when a win would still have given her the block win, and it is now quite hard to see what the future holds for Konami. Seemingly down the queue of challengers for the red belt, despite that win over Mayu, Konami has also unsuccessfully challenged for the white belt recently, and her more immediate future seems to be focused on simply saving the existence of Tokyo Cyber Squad.
Another surprise package in this tournament, Maika defeated Utami, Momo Watanabe and Jungle Kyona in what was an incredible early run. She just ran out of steam at the end, losing to both Syuri and AZM on the final night, but whilst this shows she may not quite be ready to challenge for the top honours, she is very good value for already holding two belts within Stardom. That could increase to three belts if she and Himeka are successful in dethroning the Goddess of Stardom champions in Yokohama, and following this year’s 5 Star GP, I suspect we will see great things from the naturally gifted Maika in the next 12 months.
9. Momo Watanabe
Many people’s (including my humble, and wrong, self) pick to win the whole thing, Momo had a pretty disastrous tournament, being out of the running before the final round of matches. Early defeats to Maika and Natsuko Tora gave Momo little chance of making up the gap, and the draw with Utami effectively sealed her fate. Her match with Jungle Kyona on the final night felt like a battle for a consolation prize, and even that was denied Momo as Oedo Tai interfered and ruined the match. This means that Momo’s first job post-5 Star GP is to fight for the vacant SWA title against the traitorous Bea Priestley, a contest which seems many rungs below were Momo and her fans want her to be.
10. Jungle Kyona
Another year another disappointing 5 Star GP for the ever-popular Jungle Kyona. She never really got going in this tournament, losing her opening two matches and being on the wrong end of a couple of Oedo Tai beat downs for good measure. That feud has resulted in a match that could see Tokyo Cyber Squad forced to disband at the end of September, which would really be a massive fall from grace for Jungle who was challenging for the red belt before the start of the tournament.
1. Donna Del Mondo
Undoubtedly the dominant force in Stardom right now, DDM hold three sets of belts and were two excellent Utami Hayashishita performances away from one of their members picking up the tournament victory. Syuri goes for the red belt in Yokohama in October and even their most junior performer Maika had a stellar tournament. Only faction leader Giulia really had a disappointing 5 Star GP, but she remains the white belt holder. Not content with their current dominance though, Giulia announced on the final night that she would be adding another member to the faction in Yokohama. A fearsome thought for all those who have already fallen before the strength of Donna Del Mondo.
Whilst DDM hold plenty of belts, Stars still hold Mayu Iwatani, and that is enough to push any faction to the top. On top of that Tam Nakano had a strong tournament and whilst Saya Iida and Starlight Kid only picked up two points apiece in their respective blocks, they both will have benefited plenty from the experience of being in their first 5 Star GPs. If Tam can defeat her nemesis Giulia in Yokohama, Stars will hold the top two belts in the company, but there is an equal risk that they could come away with nothing.
3. Queen’s Quest
Utami’s rise to victory in the 5 Star GP was a real feather in the cap of QQ, but the tournament was not without its disappointments, particularly for faction leader Momo Watanabe. Whilst both AZM and Saya Kamitani continued their development, picking up some big results along the way, Momo cannot help but be disappointed with her points haul and the limp way her tournament ended at the hands of Oedo Tai. Having said all that QQ do have the opportunity to leave the next three shows with three sets of belts, plus Momo’s attempts to win the SWA title and Utami’s eventual challenge for the red belt. It could certainly be worse.
4. Tokyo Cyber Squad
Case in point. TCS are in disarray. Konami was left bereft by another stumble at the tournament finish line, and Jungle Kyona has been embroiled in a feud with Natsuko Tora that has left the very future of the faction in doubt. The match between Oedo Tai and TCS at Korakuen Hall at the end of September will see one faction forced to disband, and with TCS low on confidence and numbers, it doesn’t look particularly promising for fans of Tokyo Cyber Squad.
5. Oedo Tai
Oedo Tai were effectively a one-woman outfit during the tournament, with Saki Kashima’s pre-tournament withdrawal meaning only Natsuko Tora was available to represent the faction. She chose to do that with no pre-match interviews and a complete disregard for trying to win points. Instead Natsuko focused on putting her chain around as many throats as possible, a jarring approach for fans of a promotion that has historically not seen similar shenanigans. The return of Bea Priestley and the always entertaining Natsu Sumire gives Oedo Tai the numerical advantage in their showdown with TCS, but could we soon be seeing the end of this institution of a team?
Power Rankings Within Factions
Donna Del Mondo
1. Mayu Iwatani
2. Tam Nakano
3. Starlight Kid
4. Saya Iida
1. Utami Hayashishita
2. Momo Watanabe
4. Saya Kamitani
Tokyo Cyber Squad
2. Jungle Kyona
3. Death Yama-San
1. Natsuko Tora
2. Saki Kashima
3. Bea Priestley
4. Natsu Sumire
5. Jamie Hayter