Long time no see, amirite? If you weren’t aware, the 5Star Grand Prix was put on hiatus because a few girls were ill and some of them tested positive for covid. As far as I’ve read, they didn’t release names of who, so let’s just be happy they’re all fine and we’re back on track.
Mathew and I decided to combine the last two days, since it takes a little time for Stardom-World to load up full shows; and one big catch up article will get everyone ready for the 9.12 Day and Night double header!
We left off with Himeka taking early control, with most of the other names in the Red Block picking up an early loss. Can the Jumbo Princess continue running the table?
- Death-Yama vs Tam Nakano: Tam wins via Tiger Suplex Hold @4:12 – **
- Starlight Kid vs Himeka: Himeka wins via Human Torture Rack @8:32 – ** ½
- Saya Kamitani vs Giulia: Giulia wins via Glorious Driver @11:25 – ** ¼
- Mayu Iwatani vs Konami: Konami wins via Triangle Kimura @13:39 – ****
- Saya Kamitani vs Himeka: Time Limit Draw @20:00 – ****
- Starlight Kid vs Tam Nakano: Tam wins via Tiger Suplex Hold @6:58 – **
- Konami vs Giulia: Konami wins via Triangle Kimura @11:26 – *** ¼
Death-Yama vs Tam Nakano
This match involves Death-Yama…so it’s not intended to be overly serious. The Death incarnation of Kaori Yoneyama is mostly like a zombie and Pokemon mixture. Some of the moves are purposefully telegraphed because she has to do the Death-Death-Death wind up, so it’s more of a comedic styling. Tam however, does have a track record of losing dumb matches. So this is mostly a test to see if Tam has grown as much as I’d like to think she has.
Tam gets sucked into the Death stuff pretty often, and it seems to bite her a little. She does her own poses and devil horns moments in response to Death, which is cute and all; but then leads to Death having an advantage for a while. There are quite a few moments where Death hits a few Cradle attempts, which come scarily close to beating Tam.
Thankfully, the cutest in the cosmos prevails, hits a Spinning Crane Kick followed by the Tiger Suplex Hold for the victory. Maybe Tam really is turning a corner.
— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) September 7, 2020
Starlight Kid vs Himeka
Starlight, as we’ve been over, is young but positioned in the Stardom tier lists fairly well. She tends to pick up good momentum and show a lot of promise, even when outclassed. Himeka is one of the newest additions to Stardom, and she’s been a force. The Jumbo Princess is power, beauty all mixed with wild Minoru Suzuki eyes and a penchant for inflicting pain.
This match went based off of how we perceive the two wrestlers. Starlight used her speed and ingenuity to hit a few moves and a series of Cradle attempts which had Himeka concerned at a few moments. My issues with this match come from the youth of both competitors. Himeka has a great gimmick on the offense. She tortures Starlight in Boston Crabs and Camel Clutches while her whole face beams with sadistic joy…but damn does she telegraph when Starlight gets a move in.
Himeka stands too obviously when about to receive Satellite DDTs, guards too quickly against a Tiger Feint and I’m still trying to figure out why she kept climbing the corner when Starlight was doing a series of charges; just to get Avalanche Arm Dragged.
Don’t take this wrong, as I’m a big fan of Starlight, and I’d be lying if Himeka’s insanity hasn’t won me over a lot in the 5 Star so far. But when things are obvious, I need to point them out.
Saya Kamitani vs Giulia
So the way the two women framed this match, was the future versus the present. Giulia was essentially telling Saya that she’s not on her level, and Saya is trying to prove herself.
Welp….where to begin here? Giulia is cocky and Saya is openly frustrated early on, taking a few cheap shots in the ropes. But when the pace starts to pick up a little, there’s a combination of Giulia not really selling and Saya’s offense being slow; that this was a rough watch. Most egregious being that Giulia was in charge until a Double Hand Spring Dropkick, and stayed in the corner waay too long while Saya played to the crowd and took a second before charging.
Giulia only really showed some pain after Saya hit a Draping Dropkick, but that was quickly forgotten when we got toward the end and Giulia was just goading Saya to hit her. The match was supposed to show a struggle for Saya to prove herself, yet Giulia still being a little out of reach. And instead it made Saya look a little inept and not even on the same continent as Giulia.
I generally expected better from two women who are half of the Godesses (Saya) and the Wonder and one third of the Artists (Giulia). Maybe I’ll chalk this up to the month off.
Mayu Iwatani vs Konami
No real story here beyond Konami is the most technically proficient wrestler on the roster and Mayu is the Icon of Stardom. Mayu having one loss already is bad for the current World champion. So she’s trying to get some momentum and Konami could get a quality win, possible future title shot and 2 points.
Now talk about living up to the dynamic of the women! Konami came out hot, nearly locking in the Triangle Lancer in the first few minutes, causing Mayu to retreat to the ropes. That was really the entire story of this match. Konami was aggressive and Mayu was forever on the back foot. When Mayu did finally find some offense, it was short lived.
Mayu got a near fall with a Dragon Suplex Hold, went to the top rope for her Moonsault, but as soon as she missed, Konami was back in attack mode. Konami sunk in a Sleeper Hold for so long that by the time she broke the hold, since Mayu managed to get her foot to the ropes, Mayu looked like she was just coming back to. More submission offense, Front Neck Lock, a few Triangle Lancer attempts, and then the Triangle Kimura that finished off the match.
Watching Mayu barely limp over to the ropes, and reach with the last bit of her energy as Konami just kept finding ways to choke the life out her was pretty awesome. Konami is usually a little too stoic to get a good read on things, but after this match, attack mode Konami is pretty great.
— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) September 5, 2020
Saya Kamitani vs Himeka
Now let’s hope my hang ups with these two are remedied a little. Both have a lot of potential, but I’d really like to see Himeka telegraph less and Saya to speed up her transitions into moves. Only story we really have here is that Himeka has had Saya’s number a bit in preliminary matches since joining Stardom. So again, this is a chance for Saya to prove herself to a degree.
WOW! So Himeka comes out with medical tape on her right shoulder, so that gives Saya an eventual target. This started out slowly with both women taking a little bit to lock up, and then try to search for some grappling/mat based advantages before Himeka finds the opening and boots Saya out of the ring. This gives us the first glimpse of their dynamic, with Himeka talking smack the entire time as she bounced Saya’s head off the chairs and apron.
Once Saya turned things around, I think we’ve learned how to make Saya look good. She was vicious! Saya started talking crap, repeating jabs back at Himeka, and she threw the referee off multiple times during the match. Saya focused Dropkicks on the injured shoulder, chided and goaded Himeka to engage in strikes, and proved she has quite a sadistic side herself.
Both women sold well, fought well and it was just fantastic. Saya still has to work on finding a good time to do her Water Wheel Kick, cause that still looks bad, but so much of this was tremendous. The Draw worked wonderfully because it showed a vulnerable side of Himeka, since she’s been a bit sadistic and dominant; but damn did this do wonders for Saya.
Now on Stardom World! Red Stars action continues in the 5★ STAR GP 2020! From 9.6 in Sendai, it's Saya Kamitani vs Himeka! pic.twitter.com/Y2a8QLddnv
— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) September 9, 2020
Starlight Kid vs Tam Nakano
We don’t have any real match prep here. Tam and Starlight are both members of the STARS faction, so this is more just “may the best woman win”.
Tam gets to play a weird role in this match. She’s the bigger wrestler, and the more powerful; so she assumes more of a “big sister playing with little sister” role. The problem there is that Tam is not accustomed to it, and the opening salvo comes off a little clunky and weird…and frankly the match never finds its groove. Tam sells for Starlight fairly well and the Avalanche Arm Drag spot makes more sense here, but it’s still odd. Then when Tam makes her comeback is looked like Starlight didn’t really know how to bump for things. Starlight ate a High Kick oddly, so it came off looking short, then she bumped bad from the Spinning Crane Kick and…well at least it was almost over.
Tam wins with the Tiger Suplex after softening up Starlight with a German Suplex and a few other strikes.
Konami vs Giulia
— We Are Stardom (@we_are_stardom) September 10, 2020
Giulia beat Konami during the mini white belt tournament a few months ago, so that’s the easy thread. Giulia is looking to run the result back, and Konami is looking to change up her attack and even up the score.
A fairly even fight is what we got here. Konami tried to take it to Giulia, but Giulia found ways out early, and had a more effective striking offense. Konami and Giulia have similar character approaches where they are relatively stoic and confident, but Konami is the technical wizard.
Konami went after the arms, which was beautiful since Giulia’s Glorious Driver needs arm strength and most of Konami’s submissions are arm based. Konami didn’t bust out the really cool Hanging Dragon Sleeper that she did again Mayu, but it was still nice Armbar variants.
My only gripe will be Giulia’s selling, as is usually my issue. She did sell more in this match, but when she had to “stagger” to the next spot, the way she did it made no sense or just looked dumb. Tam is one I give a lot of credit for understanding what selling is, cause it’s more than taking a bump and screaming. OH SPEAKING OF SELLING – Himeka earned massive points in my book. She was on the outside during this match, and was still treating her right arm as useless. That girl gets it.
Overall Score: 6 + 7.5 = 6.75/10 (both days combined score)
So the 9.5 show wasn’t really great except for the last Red Stars match. So I’d give it a solid 6. There were a lot of obvious issues that I couldn’t turn a blind eye to. Nothing was out right awful, just a bunch of matches piled up the disappointment. Except that Konami match; boy was that tremendous.
As for the 9.6 match, there was one less match, but the overall quality was higher. Himeka and Saya impressed me together. So I think part of Himeka’s issue from the previous day is working with smaller girls. Himeka is only 23, with 3 years of wrestling experience. Between her facial expressions during matches, her really solid wrestling ability and when I saw her selling the arm during Giulia’s match; she just needs more time. I might get nitpicky, but now I want to see her succeed.
Oh yeah, this isn’t only the Himeka show, so let me focus for a second. The fact that Konami has momentum, instead of following up a big win over the World champion with a string of failure, could definitely prove interesting. Also I expect Tam’s matches to be highlights for me moving forward. When she’s not in comedy matches or playing a role she’s unfamiliar with, she’s a lovable underdog that tends to sell great and tell a story.
So I love, love, loved the 9.6 show just because of what it could mean for the rest of the tournament. So Day 3 was a little lackluster to me, but ending high and then Day 4 starting off great…the block finished this article storng!