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STARDOM 5 Star Grand Prix: Final Night Review

2 years ago

STARDOM 5 Star Grand Prix: Final Night Review

STARDOM 5 Star Grand Prix: Final Night Review

By: Trent Breward

There was a moment in the aftermath of the 5 Star Grand Prix Final – a violent war between Giulia and Tam Nakano – where they shared a look through tired, half opened eyes. In that moment they both knew without question: there will be no end to their rivalry.

Tonight, it was Giulia who was able to stand tall. Revenge for the loss inside the Nippon Budokan a year and a half ago when she said goodbye to both her Wonder of Stardom Championship and her hair. Revenge for seeing her former Donna Del Mondo sister Natsupoi betray her to join Tam in Cosmic Angels.

Giulia had told Tam Nakano to ‘walk through hell’ to get that title match last year. And that’s precisely what Giulia had to do on the final night of the 5 Star Grand Prix in order to be crowned the winner. Before she could even step foot in the ring with Tam Nakano, she had to qualify for that right.

All she had to do was survive fifteen minutes in the ring with Suzu Suzuki, the woman who had surged into STARDOM with the express intent to make Giulia’s life a living hell after learning their craft together in Ice Ribbon years ago. It was a match that promised to test her resolve.

Tears filled both of their eyes when the bell rang. For all the ferocity between Giulia and Suzu in the lead-up, they couldn’t hold back their deepest feelings in that brief moment. However it didn’t take them long to start firing off on each other. It was as brutally vicious as you could expect between these two, letting out all of their complicated emotions through stiff strikes.


It looked like Giulia had the match won when she hit the Glorious Driver, but Suzu refused to be defeated. She fired back, and as the clock ticked down she tried every trick she had up her sleeve. Eventually time ran out and the two collapsed, utterly spent both physically and emotionally. Suzu had to win to advance, Giulia could do so with the draw. It wasn’t definitive, but Giulia was through.

How the Donna Del Mondo leader found the reserves to do it all again with Tam is a feat in of itself. From the moment the bell rang they picked up where they had left off in the Budokan. A raw expression of determination as they traded big moves both in and outside the ring. Tam Nakano ran the length of the rampway to deliver a Violet Shooting. Giulia tried to slam her off the apron to the outside. They sat in the middle of the ring and traded boots and slaps to the face.

It was the debut of the Violet Screwdriver that gave Tam Nakano the edge in their last match. This time Giulia used that very move against her as the precursor to the Glorious Driver and Northern Lights Bomb combination that brought the match to a close. Tam’s heart might have wanted to keep going, but her body could not. And with that, Giulia’s two month long journey through the tournament ended in glorious victory.

Wearing the crown and robe Giulia celebrated the biggest accomplishment of her career, but she already had one eye on the future. She announced her intent to challenge Syuri for the World of Stardom Championship inside Ryogoku Hall on December 29. A year to the day that Syuri won that very championship from Utami Hayashishita, having earned that right by winning last years tournament.

It won’t be the first time they have fought for the Red Belt inside Ryogoku Hall, having done so in March as part of the World Climax event. Syuri walked away victorious on that night, but it feels this year has been a learning experience for Giulia. Her character has been tested, and she has walked through that fire stronger than ever before. Just how far she’s come will be determined in a few months.

Giulia’s journey to victory might have been the main story of the night, but it was just one of many as STARDOM put together a Show of the Year caliber event. Just before Suzu Suzuki and Giulia’s amazing draw, Starlight Kid tried once more to best her former mentor Mayu Iwatani.

It has been one of biggest desires for a couple of years now, citing it as one of the reasons why she chose to stay with Oedo Tai. She needs to defeat The Icon. Last year on the final night of the tournament a loss to Mayu cost Kid a spot in the final. This year it was merely pride on the line, but they both fought as if it were the final.

Starlight Kid looked more dominant than ever through the match, managing to chain together two top rope moonsaults before tightly locking her rival in the Numero Dos submission. It took every ounce of desperation for Mayu to reach her one free limb toward the ropes, and it seemed as though in that moment Kid began to doubt herself.

Eventually Mayu Iwatani clinched it with the Two Stage Dragon Suplex. Every time Starlight Kid has come a little closer to finally getting that win over her, but that victory will have to wait for another time. When it happens, it’ll go down as one of the biggest moments in STARDOM history.

Another match that only had pride on the line was Maika and Himeka. The two tag team partners had never fought one on one before, and there was an electric energy in the air as two of the strongest wrestlers on the roster sprinted into each other at the bell. It was the definition of a hoss war as the two traded lariats, shoulder tackles and high impact slams for the duration of their match. After trading finishers neither could answer the referee’s count of ten, ending the match in a draw. The question of which partner is better will have to be settled for another day, but there were clearly no hard feelings as the two skipped to the ring hand in hand to accept the award for ‘Best Red Block Match’ about an hour later.

Tonight brought to a close two months of some of the best wrestling in the world. STARDOM’s 5 Star Grand Prix has earned a reputation as appointment viewing and yet again it delivered. It was a proving ground for talent like Mina Shirakawa and Hanan, while confirming the reputation of the company’s top stars. There’s barely a moment to rest though, with the Goddess of Stardom Tag League beginning in just a couple of weeks.

Full Match Results

  • Blue Stars Block: MIRAI (15) def. Saya Iida (4)
  • Blue Stars Block: Mina Shirakawa (10) def. Natsupoi (12)
  • Blue Stars Block: Momo Watanabe (12) def. Hazuki (14)
  • Blue Stars Block: Saya Kamitani (14) vs. Ami Sourei (11) ended in a double countout
  • Blue Stars Block: Mayu Iwatani (15) def. Starlight Kid (14)
  • Blue Stars Block: Giulia (16) vs. Suzu Suzuki (15) ended in a 15-minute draw
  • Red Stars Block: Unagi Sayaka (4) def. Momo Kohgo (4)
  • Red Stars Block: Saki Kashima (12) def. AZM (14)
  • Red Stars Block: Koguma (14) def. Utami Hayashishita (14)
  • Red Stars Block: Tam Nakano (16) def. SAKI (10)
  • Red Stars Block: Maika (15) vs. Himeka (15) ended in double knockout
  • Red Stars Block: Risa Sera (15) def. Syuri (14)
  • 5 STAR Grand Prix Final: Giulia def. Tam Nakano

Official 5 Star Grand Prix Awards

  • Best Technique Award: MIRAI
  • Fighting Spirit Award: AZM
  • Outstanding Performance Award: Saki Kashima
  • Best Blue Stars Block Match: Saya Kamitani vs Suzu Suzuki (11/9)
  • Best Red Stars Block Match: Himeka vs Maika (1/10)
  • Runner Up: Tam Nakano
  • 5 Star Grand Prix Winner: Giulia

Rapid Fire Takeaways

  • Utami Hayashishita’s night didn’t end with her Hi-Jack Bomb being countered into a Yoshi-Tonic by Koguma. After the match Natsuko Tora made herself known, planting Utami with a Death Valley Driver. Tora’s been out for over a year recovering from an ACL injury she picked up in her World of Stardom Title match with Utami Hayashishita just before last year’s 5 Star Grand Prix. Utami promised to keep the belt in anticipation for a rematch, and Tora’s none too pleased she didn’t hold up her end of the deal.
  • It seemed that Mina Shirakawa wanted to send a message in her match with fellow Cosmic Angel Natsupoi. The newest member of the group was forced to submit to the Figure Four Leglock after a couple of nasty Dragon Screws, and it was notable that she didn’t dance to the ring like she usually does. This 5 Star Grand Prix has shone a light on Mina, and she’ll be looking to use that momentum to chase down the Wonder of Stardom Championship. The other question that has to be asked: just what is the mood in the Cosmic Angels locker room right now?
  • AZM might have won the Fighting Spirit Award, but both her tournament run and her 20th birthday was ruined by Saki Kashima. In a match that featured nothing by signature flash pins, Kashima trapped her in the Kishikaisei to win in under 30 seconds. At least AZM’s now old enough to drink in Japan so she can drown her sorrows – though she seemed happy enough at the award ceremony.
  • Syuri had a chance to advance to the final, but fell short to Risa Sera in a rematch from their title match a few months earlier. This time Sera didn’t use her Kendo stick as promised, and she proved she could outwrestle the champion without it. Syuri’s got a couple of potential challengers waiting in the aftermath of the tournament, and now Risa Sera might be lining up for a title match as well. If Syuri’s not careful, she might not even make it to December as the champion.
  • Giulia’s victory continues a unique trend in the 5 Star Grand Prix. The last three winners have all advanced to the final of the tournament off of a draw. Utami Hayashishita drew with Syuri and then beat Himeka in the 2020 final. Syuri drew with Takumi Iroha in 2021 before beating Momo Watanabe, and now Giulia advanced after a draw with Suzu Suzuki and then beat Tam Nakano.

Final 5 Star Grand Prix Standings

Red Stars Block
16 – Tam Nakano
15 – Maika
15 – Himeka
15 – Risa Sera
14 – AZM
14 – Syuri
14 – Utami Hayashishita
14 – Koguma
12 – Saki Kashima
10 – SAKI
9 – Mai Sakurai
4 – Momo Kohgo
4 – Unagi Sayaka

16 – Giulia
15 – MIRAI
15 – Mayu Iwatani
15 – Suzu Suzuki
14 – Hazuki
14 – Starlight Kid
14 – Saya Kamitani
12 – Momo Watanabe
12 – Natsupoi
11 – Ami Sourei
10 – Mina Shirakawa
4 – Saya Iida
4 – Hanan