Well coming off a short day for both Red and Blue Stars, Stardom does back to back shows, to even out the match counts.
Kyona has two big matches, where two victories would all but solidify her victory in Red Stars. So I guess it’s best for us to see how Stardom decides to keep this tournament interesting.
Natsuko Tora vs Rachael Ellering
…Ellering starts off her promo by saying a scoop of Peanut Butter will power her through. Ughh. Sadly she has Natsuko, and Natsuko hasn’t been able to buy a win. So Peanut Butter promo probably wins here, and that’s disappointing, very…disappointing.
The opening salvo looks like a battle of, Who can throw the worst looking forearm, German judge says Natsuko, but just barely. But wait – there’s more of them.
Ellering hits a couple Jumping Forearms that look marginally better, but that’s not saying much. This whole first minute or so is so poorly timed it makes me miss a Bella Twins match. Well, Natsuko finds an opening hits a Spear off the ropes and then a…I don’t know, UnShiny Wizard? Falling Sideways Knee Thing? Why is this match still going on?
Natsuko goes for a Fireman’s Carry Forward Slam into her middle rope Splash and top rope Splash, for a near fall. Bossman Slam, bad Pump Kick, Spine Buster for a 2 count from Ellering. Rachael then hits Graveyard Smash to put us out of our misery. I’ve had concussions more enjoyable than this match.
Winner: Ellering via Graveyard Smash
Kimber Lee vs Utami Hayashishita
Kimber comes out with the super babyface promo about not underestimating Utami because she’s been underestimated her entire life. Also this is Utami’s first match against a Gaijin, and Kimber is a much different style than everyone she’s faced so far. This one should be enjoyable, but the previous match set a low bar…so I’ll prolly be happy regardless.
Well I was very impressed early, both Kimber and Utami kept it mostly mat based. This helped to show how far ahead Utami is from most rookies, cause her transitioning is fantastic. Kimber stepped up her aggression and played the teacher role during the match, so watching Utami so far on her heels was interesting.
The match started to fall apart a little when Kimber went for a Spider style rope submission, but Utami’s one arm came free and it took them a few moves to get their rhythm back. Utami goes for her martial arts style lead into her finish with a nice Judo Throw, two STOs and then her Torture Rack. This time she drops it into a Torture Rack Bomb, and gets the pinfall.
It’s nice to see Utami use a few different moves to help the suspense of not knowing what her pattern looks like yet.
Winner: Utami via Torture Rack Bomb
Rating: ** 1/2
Kagetsu vs Jungle Kyona
Kagetsu has an interestingly subtle promo, basically surmising that Kyona reminds her of herself from before, so she wants to win fair and square. Kyona on the other hand, is her usual energetic and fun self just looking forward to someone breaking the tie for the lead in Red Stars. So, who comes out of this match with the lead?
Well these two definitely didn’t disappoint. They’ve been two of the more consistent Red Stars competitors and we can see why. Most of this match was just very nicely matching each other blow for blow and seeing who’d stop getting up. Of course when it spills to the outside we get a bit of Oedo Tai interference, but Kyona fights back nicely and at some point tosses Kagetsu from the entrance ramp into the waiting arms of the rest of her faction members.
Each woman hit most of their signatures, but they did good to protect certain moves. My personal highlight was when Kyona was trying to Powerbomb Kagetsu, Kagetsu kept fighting back, so Kyona pulled a Kawada and just dropped Kagetsu straight down for the Ganso Bomb. We saw a few submission attempts from both, but as the time counts down Kagetsu gets erratic.
She lands a Michinoku Driver and goes up for the Oedo Coaster (450 Splash), hits her move, but after the 1 count, time runs out. So it’s a good way to protect the champion and her finisher, as well as give an interesting wrinkle to a fairly straight forward tournament so far. Damn good match.
Winner: Time Limit Draw
Rating: **** 1/4
Konami vs Kimber Lee
So Kimber seemed excited for this match, cause she wanted to see how their styles matched up. Konami just mentioned the Triangle Lancer having 100% win rate, which isn’t perfectly honest since Tam countered the transition earlier in the tournament. But hey, nit picks aside this should be a solid match.
Konami is a fun combination of Asuka’s striking and Io’s swagger in the ring. Her and Kimber went back and forth, Kimber did her split spot and Konami tried to Buzzsaw Kick her face off, but missed. Kimber landed more power moves as well as correctly executing her in the ropes Neck Lock, unlike the match against Utami.
A big Powerbomb from Kimber gave her and opening to go for the Swanton Bomb, but Konami moved and slipped on the Triangle Lancer, causing Kimber to tap rather quickly. Decent match, a bit short, but not bad at all.
Winner: Konami via Triangle Lancer
Rating: ** 1/2
Tam Nakano vs Natsuko Tora
You can see from their pre-match promos they’re both dejected. Currently Natsuko has no points and Tam only has 1 win. Both feel they have something to prove. So with the end close in sight, who will build some momentum?
Well this match starts off interesting. Tam charges Natsuko as she’s getting her introduction. So Joey Styles may say “Cat Fight”, I’d call it more of a “Streamer Fight”. They even roll off the apron onto the floor, and ya, it doesn’t look comfortable.
After they get back in the ring, the tussle continues. Tam tries a few shoulder tackles, but Natsuko out powers her easily. Tam manages to reverse a whip and go for a Cutter, but Natsuko drops to her knees way to early and makes it look bad. So Tam does her Cartwheel Double Knees, right on the back of Natsuko’s head. We get a strike exchange with Tam connecting on Round Kicks for every one of Natsuko’s Double Chops. Tora tries to hit the ropes and Tam stuns her with a well timed Super Kick, followed by something I’m calling a T-Trigger (V-Trigger), but only getting a 2 count.
From that point Tam dominates most of the remainder of the match. A few flurries from Natsuko, but Tam puts together a few Spinning Crescent Kicks, Knee Strikes and even her Diving Knee Strike, but only for 2. Tam comes off the ropes and Natusko catches her, then turns it into a Tilt-a-Whirl STO. Three of her Top Rope Body Splashes finally put Tam away, so Natsuko gets her first win.
There were a few sloppy spots, but Tam really is selling her ass off in this tournament. Her back seems to be taped from her Kyona match, and she sells it quite often. If anything I can equate Tam’s tournament this year to SANADA’s G1 from last year. Trying too hard to wrestle other people’s matches, they get caught off guard trying to do too much.
Winner: Natsuko via Top Rope Body Splash
Utami Hayashishita vs Jungle Kyona
Kyona was Utami’s very first match last month, and that ended in a draw. Now we’ve got both women with a very real chance to win the 5 Star Grand Prix. So whoever gets the win here, will direct their own destiny.
Both women came in with something to prove, and a specific way they wanted to send a message. The match had numerous submissions and most of their signature strikes. Utami did her Judo throws into the STO for a near fall. She even put together a few Sleeper Hold Takeovers into the Coquina Clutch, but Kyona found the ropes.
As the match got close to the time limit, Utami started to lose steam and Kyona really picked it up. Earlier we saw her focus on Utami’s back with the Camel Clutch and Canadian Backbreaker into an across the knee Backbreaker. So when Kyona slaps on her Scorpion Deathlock, it could’ve all been over if they weren’t right in front of the ropes.
Kyona dropped Utami a couple times and hits the Hammer Throw Powerbomb, but the time runs out on the 2 count. So again, Kyona and Utami wrestle to draw, but Kyona was literally 1 second away from winning.
Winner: Time Limit Draw
Rating: *** 1/2
Red Stars Standings:
Jungle Kyona 3-1-2 (8 Points)
Kagetsu 3-1-1 (7 Points)
Utami Hayashishita 3-1-1 (7 Points)
Rachael Ellering 3-1 (6 Points)
Konami 3-3 (6 Points) – Eliminated
Tam Nakano 1-3 (2 Points) – Eliminated
Kimber Lee 1-3 (2 Points) – Eliminated
Natsuko Tora 1-5 (2 Points) – Eliminated
Kyona has the lead, but she’s also only got 1 match left. So smart money is probably on Kagetsu or Utami to pull off the Red Stars win. Would be kind of odd to have Kyona win after back to back disappointing draws.
As we’ve established through this tournament, I have a huge Tam bias. So what I said in her match rundown was pretty accurate for how I see everything has played out so far. Tam has had the most consistent selling and ring work of the tournament, but she keeps wrestling out of her comfort zone. I appreciate how hard she tries to prove herself by going after her opponents strengths instead of weaknesses. However, that’s not the best strategy to win a match, she’s definitely grown as a wrestler, which is respectable.
So we’re down to four viable winners of the block, but Kyona is looking less and less likely, even though she’s the current leader. Should be interesting to see who plays spoiler and who edges out the victory in the end.