STARDOM 2023 5STAR Grand Prix Event Report

STARDOM crowns 2023 5STAR Grand Prix Champion at Yokohama Budokan.

STARDOM wrapped up the 5STAR Grand Prix 2023 at Yokohama Budokan with an attendance of 2,507. Japanese Commentary was provided by  Haruo Murata (lead play-by-play), Makoto Ohe (color commentary), Aina Aiba (Guest Ring Announcer), Waka Tsukiyama & Giulia (Guest Commentary). There was no English Commentary available for this event. 

Medical Statuses

Much like Giulia dropping out of the 2021 Five Star, losing Saya Kamitani immediately on the first day with a dislocated elbow was heartbreaking, especially when she’s a tournament favorite every single year. However, the grueling Grand Prix schedule, peppered with non-tournament big events might have caught up with some of STARDOM’s hardest workers, with both Utami Hayashishita and Starlight Kid being removed in the last ten days of the two-month tournament. This resulted in a total of three matches that fans most looked forward to when the tournament was announced: Suzu Suzuki vs. Saya Kamitani, Giulia vs. Utami Hayashishita, and Mayu Iwatani vs. Starlight Kid. Due to their opponents’ required forfeits due to medical, Iwatani, Giulia & Suzuki were added to the opening Battle Royal.

There have been updates to the match cards involving Hayashishita, however, with the announcement of SLK now being out for an unknown time frame, her matches will probably be updated after tomorrow’s Korakuen Hall show. Wishing everyone a speedy and healthy recoveries.

Remaining 5★GP Results & Standings Prior to the Finals

5★GP Sendai (9/23) Aztec Museum, Sendai Industrial Gymnasium, Miyagi

  • RED STARS BYE: Mayu Iwatani +2 [Kamitani]
  • RED STARS: Suzu Suzuki [10] defeated Hazuki [8] (11:35)
  • BLUE STARS: Maika [10] vs. Mina Shirakawa [9] (15:00) – Time Limit Draw 

5★GP Sanjo (9/24) Kosei Fukushikaikan, Sanjo City, Niigata

  • RED STARS: Syuri [11] defeated Starlight Kid [4] (10:56)
  • BLUE STARS: Hanan [+2 Hayashishita]

UPDATED STANDINGS (Prior to 9/30 Finals)

2023 5★GP RED STARS

  • Natsuko Tora [12] 
  • Suzu Suzuki [12]
  • Mayu Iwatani [11] 
  • Tam Nakano [11]
  • Syuri [11] 
  • Natsupoi [9] 
  • Hazuki [8]
  • Ami Sohrei [6]
  • Starlight Kid [4] – Medical; Removed from 2023 Tournament*
  • Saya Kamitani [0] – Medical; Removed from 2023 Tournament*

2023 5★GP BLUE STARS

  • Giulia [11]
  • Maika [10]
  • MIRAI [10]
  • Mina Shirakawa [9]
  • AZM [8]
  • Momo Watanabe [8]
  • Utami Hayashishita [8] – Medical; Removed from 2023 Tournament*
  • Saori Anou [8]
  • Mariah May [6]
  • Hanan [4]

5★GP 2023 Finals (9/30) Yokohama Budokan

  • Opening Match: Battle Royal: HANAKO, Saya Iida, Koguma, Miyu Amasaki, Yuna Mizumori, Hina, Saki Kashima, Megan Bayne, Mei Seira, Waka Tsukiyama, Ruaka, Thekla, Rina, Mayu Iwatani*, Giulia*, & Suzu Suzuki*
  • RED STARS BYE: Suzu Suzuki* +2 [Kamitani]
  • BLUE STARS: Giulia* +2 [Hayashishita]
  • RED STARS: Mayu Iwatani* +2 [Starlight Kid]
  • Due to their opponents’ required forfeits due to medical, Iwatani, Giulia & Suzuki were added to the opening Battle Royal
  • BLUE STARS: Hanan [4] vs. Mariah May [6]
  • BLUE STARS: AZM [8] vs. Momo Watanabe [8]
  • BLUE STARS: Mina Shirakawa [9] vs. Saori Anou [8]
  • BLUE STARS: MIRAI [10] vs. Maika [10]
  • RED STARS: Syuri [11] vs. Ami Sohrei [6] 
  • RED STARS: Hazuki [8] vs. Natsuko Tora [12]
  • RED STARS: Tam Nakano [11] vs. Natsupoi [9] 
  • 5★GP 2023 Finals: Red Stars #1 vs. Blue Stars #1

 

Opening Battle Royal and First Match (Hanan vs. Mariah May) free on YouTube

Opening Match: Battle Royal: Suzu Suzuki defeated HANAKO, Saya Iida, Koguma, Miyu Amasaki, Yuna Mizumori, Hina, Saki Kashima, Megan Bayne, Mei Seira, Waka Tsukiyama, Ruaka, Thekla, Rina, Mayu Iwatani & Giulia (9:05) – Suzuki eliminated Seira over Over the Top Rope

Like most battle royals in STARDOM, this was an opportunity to get the entire roster on the show, including the three tournament participants who were not able to compete on the show due to the forfeits. It was strangely refreshing to see NJPW Strong Champion Giulia and IWGP Women’s Champion Mayu Iwatani in a FREE YouTube dark match for a change. From a marketing standpoint, it was a slick way to finally give fans a free sample of the talent usually headlining STARDOM shows for a change. This was a fun showcase of everyone and highlighted Megan Bayne nicely. 

Highlights included Bayne using Kashima to catch Iwatani in a head-scissor before dumping Kashima out and as a result, her dragging Iwatani out of the ring over the top rope together, Giulia sacrificing herself to get a sunset flip powerbomb on Bayne, and 

After the match, Mayu Iwatani addressed the crowd, saying that due to SLK’s injury, all she did today was make her entrance with her new costume. She openly admitted that she hasn’t really defended the IWGP Women’s Championship, so she’s turning her sights internationally. “I don’t care who it is, I’ll answer any challenges, so I want to go to America, defend this belt, and return to Japan, still champion. ”

Waka Tsukiyama joined commentary for the first portion of the final show. As this was Mariah May’s announced last match in STARDOM, her being ringside for her Club Venus pal really made the commentary. Although Tsukiyama did not participate in this year’s GP, she’s been an integral part of Club Venus, utilizing her bilingual skills to help support the foreign members of the group. She’s also one of the regular picks to join commentary when she isn’t seconding at ringside, but her growth has become quite apparent.

BLUE STARS: Hanan defeated Mariah May (8:47) – via pinfall; Seventeen

Before the match even started, there was an emotional handshake between Hanan and Mariah May. When this matchup was originally announced, I had no clue that there would be such an emotional connection to it. After their very cute and utterly wholesome pairing up for the Dream Tag showcase, it was wonderful to see how a potential one-off became an undercurrent for this match. Through their working together, May has helped Hanan open up and show some personality, despite being in separate factions. They were event-matched throughout and ultimately, Hanan scored a meaning

After the match, Mariah gave her farewell address to STARDOM, expressing her love for STARDOM and its fans. “I love STARDOM and I love you all. I’m the foreign ace and don’t you dare forget me.” Hanan refused to let May take the losing wrestler’s exit, pulling her up the ramp arm and arm together. 

5★GP 2023 Report Card

  • Hanan [6pts]: She’s shown significant growth and confidence since graduating high school. Her unlikely dream tag with May was one of my favorites. Compared to last year, she won a bit more, which is progress. I still love her Young Lioness makeover because it feels like she truly is part of STARDOM’s future. Her and Saya Iida winning the New Blood Tag Championships yesterday also give her a bit of direction for the remainder of 2023. 
  • Mariah May [6pts]: It was revealed at New Blood yesterday that May was linked to the mysterious Sexy Dynamite Princess!! The finals were May’s last appearance in STARDOM for the time being and concluded a very successful nine-month run with the company. She not only helped Shirakawa establish Club Venus, but carved her own niche within Stardom, and seemingly had a blast the entire time. I am excited to see what her next move is.

STARDOM Dream Queendom 2023 was announced for December 29, 2023, at Ryogoku Sumo Hall. 

BLUE STARS: Momo Watanabe defeated AZM (8:13) – via pinfall; Peach Sunrise

Ever since Momo turned her back on Queen’s Quest to defect to OedoTai, some of her consistently best singles matches (when she isn’t cheating) are with the members of QQ. Tonight’s match against AZM was no exception, once they were in the ring and wrestling. The two things Momo excels at in tournaments –aside from her workhorse reliability – are hitting members of QQ harder physically and emotionally than anyone else on the STARDOM roster and ruining tournaments for other competitors. After a fair bit of brawling around the ringside area, they had a solid bit of back and forth, but a lot centered around Momo’s desire to rain on AZM’s 10th Anniversary and Birthday Parade, starting with serving up a loss on the final night of the tournament. This was by any means the best match in their long catalog, but another solid opener for the night ahead. Plus, with the uptick in medical-related injuries, it felt a bit more reserved than some of their previous encounters.

5★GP 2023 Report Card

  • Momo Watanabe [10pts]: Since her loss to Syuri in the 2021 5STARGP, Momo dove headlong into the dark side, embracing her bitter emotions and completely making herself over in the OedoTai darkness. Although both the 5STARGP win and the World of STARDOM constantly elude her, she’s in the gravity of the Wonder of STARDOM Champion once more as MIRAI’s challenger on October 9th. I would love to see Momo finally win the big one, but I wonder if they’d let her shoulder the World of STARDOM Championship, even for a little bit, as a heel. When she strips out the excessive heel tactics, her wrestling still shines through. She’s gritty in a good way, but I would love for her to find a way to make it shine brightly once more. 
  • AZM [8pts]: AZM celebrates her 10th anniversary of wrestling and her 21st birthday tomorrow at Korakuen Hall in a singles match against Mayu Iwatani. Her 10th Anniversary Match was previously a tag match involving Utami Hayashishita against Starlight Kid and Momo Watanabe, but with the sidelining of Hayashishita & SLK, it was changed to a singles match against Iwatani. Backstage, she revealed it has been quite some time since she and Mayu had a singles match because they’re usually kept apart during the 5STAR. While her match tomorrow is at Korakuen Hall, celebrating her 10th anniversary, she’s eager to let Iwatani know that she too, wants to wrestle abroad and wouldn’t mind it being for the IWGP Women’s Championship.

BLUE STARS: Saori Anou defeated Mina Shirakawa (11:07) – via pinfall; Small Package

Saori Anou stepped in to help Tam Nakano rebuild Cosmic Angels when Mina Shirakawa broke away and formally established Club Venus as a separate entity with herself as the helm. Anou helped provide some stability to CA, including winning both the Artists of STARDOM and Goddesses of STARDOM Championships in her 2023 tenure. While she didn’t have the numbers to advance to the finals, she played a key role in serving Mina Shirakawa a hefty plate of revenge. While both use their legs for a significant part of their wheelhouses, those were the biggest targets of attack throughout the match. Both were not only determined to win, they were both willing to practically dismantle one another to do so. 

There was a fast-paced desperation, especially for Mina who needed the win to advance. She dictated a lot of the pacing until Saori turned the tables with a series of beautifully complex chokehold combinations. My own knees hurt from the various submissions they locked on one another. The saving grace for each of them was scrambling to the ropes to break up the holds. I hadn’t realized how evenly matched and complementary in style they are to one another until this match. Ultimately, Saori played to Mina’s love for showboating by sneaking a roll-up while she set up a finisher, eliminating her from the finals.

5★GP 2023 Report Card

  • Mina Shirakawa [9pts]: I wondered if her short reign with the Wonder would have led to her getting to the finals, but she received a little comeuppance for breaking off Cosmic Angels instead. Her next big singles match is a curious choice in a UWF Rules match against Syuri on October 9th. I am curious to see how Mina fares outside her comfort zone. Maybe 2024 will become the year of the Venus
  • Saori Anou [10pts]: Having joined Cosmic Angels while remaining a freelancer, Anou had a solid tournament this year, while upholding all her independent booking outside of STARDOM, which included flying to NYC last week for the debut of SUKEBAN in the main event. She and Natsupoi are scheduled to defend the Goddesses of STARDOM Championship against Utami & AZM, but that could change in the coming week depending on Hayashishita’s medical clearance. Additionally, Hayashishita and AZM are scheduled to team with Lady C and Miyu Amasaki respectively for the tournament, so this timing of the defense is curious. Natsupoi is reuniting with Tam Nakano as meltear for the 13th Goddesses of STARDOM Tag League which starts on October 15, while Anou is sitting the tournament out, so it leaves a lot of question marks floating around the Goddesses of STARDOM Championship for the time being.

BLUE STARS: Maika defeated MIRAI (11:00) – via pinfall; Michinoku Driver II

With the winner of the match advancing to the finals as the Blue Stars Block Finalist, the stakes for this match were exceptionally high. In STARDOM’s list of power fighters, Maika and her former DDM associate, MIRAI, often feel like opposite sides of the same coin or mirror images of each other style-wise. Every exchange in this match was a test of strength, stamina, and timing with both competitors doing their utmost to wear down and outlast the other. Maika kicking out of the MIRAMARE SHOCK and countering a second one into a Michinoku Driver II wasn’t on my 2023 bingo card, but if there is a rematch sometime in the future, I’m curious to see what they have left for one another because they could have easily gone to a time limit draw. I want to see what they can do with a longer time limit.

Of the Blue Stars matches on the last day, this one was my hands-down favorite. MIRAI didn’t look the least bit disappointed even with the loss either. Loved the post-match fist bump and smiles afterward. 

5★GP 2023 Report Card

  • Maika [12pts]: Maika’s win over MIRAI sends her to the 2023 5STAR GP Finals as the winner of the Blue Stars Block and now with a potential Wonder of STARDOM Championship challenge in her back pocket. (See below for the rest of her report card after the finals.) 
  • MIRAI 10pts]: MIRAI exits the tournament after a consistent and strong showing. She’ll defend her Wonder of STARDOM Championship against Momo Watanabe on October 9th. Should she be successful and retain, she’ll still have outstanding tournament losses to Maika, Mina Shirakawa, and Saori Anou which could fill up her dance card for the rest of 2023. 

Giulia joined Japanese commentary for the Red Stars portion of the show, but the first thing she said to Murata and Ohe was how she should have been allowed to sit there for Maika versus MIRAI as she was the one who brought them both into STARDOM as members of DDM. She stood in the arena and watched the entire match, but she would have loved to have called the match with a ringside seat instead. While she had hoped to win two in a row, the defending 2022 Winner and NJPW STRONG Champion, had a seat in the commentary booth instead for this year’s finals. She also reassured fans who were looking forward to her singles match against Utami, “Don’t worry. Just because it isn’t tonight doesn’t mean that there isn’t a bigger stage waiting for us in the future.”\

RED STARS: Ami Sohrei defeated Syuri (9:14) – via pinfall; Rollup

Syuri needs to win, but it hinges on both Tam and Natsuko losing their matches. Before God’s Eye was properly established and named, Syuri brought Sohrei in as her enforcer. It would be Syuri’s prerogative as then World of STARDOM Champion to forgo her first-round bye in the 2022 Cinderella Tournament, to allow Sohrei to have her first singles match in STARDOM. Together with MIRAI’s defection from DDM, God’s Eye would begin, however, this would be their first singles meeting against one another. This match reminded me of Syuri’s singles matches with Konami in the sense that while exerting dominance in the ring, she also elevated her opponent by playing to her opponent’s strengths to give a proper showcase. Ami’s growth under Syuri’s learning tree was very apparent, and Syuri leaned into Ami’s power fighting, almost begging Sohrei to do anything to take her down.

Ami managed to reverse a particularly gnarly submission to roll Syuri up for a three-count. With the pin, Syuri is eliminated from finals contention, much to her (and Giulia’s) disbelief. In an upset loss, Syuri exited quickly from ringside while Ami Sohrei iced her elbow on her way up the ramp in victory. 

5★GP 2023 Report Card

  • Syuri [11pts]: After winning the 2021 5STARGP, Syuri went on to win the World of STARDOM Championship, leave DDM to form God’s Eye, teaming with Tom Lawlor against Giulia and SZJ at Historic X-Over, and had a monster run with the red belt in 2022. Her 2023 focused on expanding GE and giving the group credibility and stability. Her Red Stars (9/3) win over IWGP Women’s Champion, Mayu Iwatani might result in her next big program, and it is certainly one many have waited for quite some time.
  • Ami Sohrei [8pts]: Sohrei will challenge Giulia tomorrow for the NJPW STRONG Women’s Championship at Korakuen Hall. She’ll tag with Yuna Mizumori for Goddess Tag League later in the month.

RED STARS: Hazuki defeated Natsuko Tora (9:41) – Hazukistral 

The 5STARGP has been a consistent road of heartbreak for Natsuko Tora. In her World of STARDOM Championship match just prior to the 2021 5STAR, she blew out her knee and missed over a year of action. This included the ability to participate in the 2022 5STAR GP as well, so her strong run in this year’s tournament could best be described as making up for lost time. There isn’t much that seems to rattle Natsuko’s cage, but if there is one person who constantly has her number, it’s Hazuki. The only way Natsuko could punch her ticket to the finals is a definite win on points.

What I loved about this match-up is that Hazuki dug deep into her old OedoTai bag of tricks and wasted zero time giving Natsuko a tour of the venue and a boot wash reminder who was in Oedo first. Natsuko may be the leader now that Kagetsu has retired, but Hazuki spent a year with the group before she joined. They may have tagged together earlier at the Dream Tag Festival, but that water has long washed under the bridge, and they’re back to their standard operations. 

When Natsuko brought out the blue mist in the closing minutes of the match, it felt like Hazuki’s chances of derailing Tora’s momentum to the finals evaporated. However, Hazuki – blue mist mask and all – escaped and rolled Natsuko up with the Hazukistral for the upset victory. Unlike most matches which ended in sportsmanship and hugs, Natsuko made sure to get one parting shot on Hazuki before stalking out of the arena. I wouldn’t expect any less. While Natsuko and Suzu were tied at 12 points apiece, Suzuki holds the tiebreaker with her win over Tora earlier in the competition. If Tam loses, Suzu advances, but Suzu also holds a tiebreaker victory over Tam Nakano, so if Tam loses to Natsupoi, Suzu advances.

5★GP 2023 Report Card

  • Hazuki [10pts]: If we are not going to see Hazuki win singles gold or a singles championship in 2023, surely— SURELY– its on the docket for 2024, right? If anything, fire up her and Giulia once more, this time for the NJPW STRONG Women’s Championship. With her (combined) tenure with the company, I feel like she’s one of the few who could bypass the white belt and go straight to the red belt.
  • Natsuko Tora [12pts]: Give me more of this Natsuko, please and thank you. As the leader of OedoTai, there is the expectation of shenanigans (especially from the “Oedo Kids” as Giulia called them), but fighting hard and relatively cleanly throughout the match renewed my interest in her as a competitor. She’ll face Tam for the World of STARDOM Championship on October 9th in Tam’s backyard of Aichi Prefecture at NAGOYA GOLDEN FIGHT.  

RED STARS: Natsupoi defeated Tam Nakano (10:54) – pinned; Fairy Strain 

In the last Red Stars match of the 2023 5STARGP, it’s an all-Cosmic Angels match-up as meltear tag partners, Tam Nakano and Natsupoi face off once more. Those newer to STARDOM might not have seen the brutal set of singles matches that lead to Natsupoi ultimately chasing her heart to Cosmic Angels, but the final Red Stars Block Match of 2023 serves as a hefty reminder of their chemistry as rivals and not tag partners. Much like many of the other matches on tonight’s card, there is an organic complement in wrestling styles, which helps bring out the best on both when they’re mixed together. I did love seeing Tam trying her hand at a high speed match format, when Natsupoi would take control of the pacing. 

The pair of top turnbuckle plancha suicidas that resulted in the seconds catching each competitor as the opponent casually walked off were fun, but not necessarily essential to the flow of the match. However, after Tam dangled Natsupoi in a sleeper and then went for a second had an impactful visual. However, she forgot about the speed of Natsupoi’s German suplex. Once they were back in the ring, they resumed the violence reminiscent of their 2022 cage match. While the World of STARDOM Champion lost and her tournament ended, she congratulated her tag partner on a hard-fought victory.

5★GP 2023 Report Card

  • Tam Nakano [11pts]: Tam will defend her World of STARDOM Championship against Natsuko Tora at NAGOYA GOLDEN FIGHT 2023 (10/9). Her other losses in the tournament now belong to Natsupoi who joins Suzu Suzuki and Natsuko Tora in rarified air. Could Tam Championship Road include reconciling the other two tournament losses after Tora? We’ll find out, hopefully, sooner rather than later. 
  • Natsupoi [11pts]: Since betraying Giulia and aligning herself with Tam, Natsupoi continues to grow and elevate her stock. However, I would like to see her graduate from feeling like Tam’s sidekick with a singles run of her own. Natsupoi is another who has been a strong contender in tournaments, but since her run with the High-Speed Championship, has been floating around the tag and trios belts only.  She and Saori Anou are scheduled to defend the Goddesses of STARDOM Championships on October 9th but does a greater task await her now that she holds a singles victory over the current World of STARDOM Champion?

5★GP 2023 Report Card

Red Stars

  • Mayu Iwatani [11pts] Tournament Losses against Syuri, Natsuko Tora, and Natsupoi as well as a time-limit draw against Tam Nakano. While The Icon wants to take the IWGP abroad to defend it, there is the possibility that there will also be a queue of competitors waiting for her upon return to the locker room as well. No formal title announcements have been made, but as mentioned earlier, AZM is also interested in joining the dash for IWGP gold.
  • Starlight Kid [4pts] I am certain that SLK will one day win a tournament and a singles championship, but before any of that can happen, she needs to topple and overcome two of the mountains that have perpetually stood in her way: Saya Kamitani and Mayu Iwatani. Hopefully, the concerns surrounding her ankle just require a little time off, but I am sure no one is more anxious about her getting back in the ring than she is. 

Blue Stars 

  • Giulia [11pts] Tournament Losses against MIRAI, Mina Shirakawa, and AZM, her NJPW STRONG defense road could become very busy after her match against Ami Sohrei at Korakuen Hall. Loved her on commentary for the finals as the defending tournament winner, especially with her former protege in Suzu and her first DDM associate Maika as the finalists. She didn’t hold back her genuine thrill and enthusiasm when calling matches against rivals like Tam, Natsupoi, and Hazuki either.
  • Utami Hayashishita [8pts] While STARDOM’s Ace could always use a vacation, I do not think this was what she had in mind. As a former tournament winner, when the time comes for her and Giulia’s singles match to eventually unfold, I hope the world is ready for a match-of-the-year contender. 

Just prior to the main event, Murata, Ohe, Aiba & Giulia gave final comments on the day’s events, and Giulia was doing her utmost not to cry in front of everyone. However, when asked about her feelings about having a front-row seat for this year’s finals not just as a defending champion, but as someone deeply connected to both Suzu and Maika, she got a little feisty. 

“Those two are like family to me. My precious younger sisters are going to the finals… I AM NOT CRYING!! IT’S SWEAT! I’M SWEATING!!” – Giulia 

Also a great video package highlighting the 2023 tournament was played in the venue, showcasing all competitors in both blocks. I hope they add it to their YouTube channel.

5★GP 2023 Finals: Suzu Suzuki (Red Stars) defeated Maika (Blue Stars) (14:04) – via pinfall; Sky Twister Press

There is a tale of two very different warm-up matches to the finals on this last day of the Grand Prix: Suzu’s brief victory during the opening battle royal and Maika’s all-out war against MIRAI, mid-way through the show. Neither Suzu nor Maika was going to go down without a fight, and within fifteen breathtaking minutes, the winner of STARDOM’s hardest tournament of the year was decided. Both Suzu and Maika shone brighter than I have ever seen either of them do, and I feel like a lot of people will be talking about this match come year’s end as a standout contender.   

Maika’s avalanche brain buster that transitioned into a very defiant three amigos was unlike anything I’ve ever seen her do, but I would love for her to save that one for a rainy day, pulling it out only on special occasions because wowza! What made it all the more surreal was Suzu kicking out after. For two wrestlers with just around 4 years of experience a piece and being under 30, this was a blast to watch. It certainly wasn’t a consolation finale due to injuries either, both fought hard and worked to earn their way to this main event. There was very little downtime in the match and the breakneck speed of the final four minutes. Both dug deep, trying everything and anything to get the other one to stay down, but in the end, it was Suzu hitting a Sky Twister Press on Maika to become the 2023 5STAR Grand Prix Winner. 

I loved seeing Suzu and Maika embrace after the match, leaving everything they had on the mat. Suzu pointing to Giulia afterward and Giulia acknowledging it with a tearful wink really felt special. Maika stayed in the ring as Suzu received her crown, robe, and the champions cup from Executive Producer Rossy Ogawa. Thekla helped Maika to the back as Suzu prepared to give her remarks. Hopefully, next year, there will be a berth saved for Thekla because she should be in the conversation. Giulia on commentary was the best decision because her history and emotion added truly meaningful commentary and excitement as the pace ramped up.

“MAIKA!! YOU WERE UNBELIEVABLY STRONG!!!” – Suzu Suzuki

Post Match: Suzu Suzuki opts not to wait until the Main Event of STARDOM Dream Queendom (12/29), but instead demands the winner of the World of STARDOM Championship match between Tam Nakano © vs. Natsuko Tora (10/9) to meet her in Osaka on November 18th at STARDOM GOLD RUSH 2023… since she holds tournament wins over both of them. The champion’s confetti rained down in Yokohama and Suzu quickly headed up the ramp to close this year’s tournament. 

5★GP 2023 Report Card

  • Maika [2023 5STAR GP Finalist]: Maika pushed herself even further afterward, crying through emotional backstage remarks, including apologizing to Himeka for not being able to win the tournament, not being able to change things, and even expressing her raw feelings about wanting to distance herself from wrestling. “I know I have to keep fighting in the ring, but I am at a loss as to where I go from here.” Both success in singles tournaments and singles championships have constantly eluded Maika since her arrival in 2020. She’s a previous GP semi-finalist (2020), and a Cinderella tournament finalist (2021), and challenged Kamitani for the Wonder of STARDOM Championship in her hometown of Fukuoka (2022) in a main event. She’s also challenged for the World of STARDOM Championship three times: twice against Utami Hayashishita in 2021 and once against Syuri in 2022. Personally, I’ve loved seeing Maika’s journey, but I don’t want to see her break in the process. This truly felt like her time, but I can see why STARDOM wouldn’t want a third member of Donna del Mondo to win the 5STAR in a row. If she needs time, I hope they give it to her, so as to mitigate the risk of potentially losing one of their own.
  • Suzu Suzuki [2023 5STAR GP Winner]: When Suzu entered last year’s GP, got sick and missed the first half, only to come back and wind up finishing with a better point total than many of the STARDOM regulars, my gut told me that STARDOM had plans for Suzu in the future. When she announced her exit from PROMINENCE earlier this year and began working exclusively with STARDOM immediately after, I realized that they not only had plans but B-I-G plans for Suzu. Suzu is a lighting-in-a-bottle prodigy, but personally, I feel like this is way too soon. I know many will disagree, and that is ok. It all just feels a little too much too soon, especially when there are multiple other veterans who have not yet won the tournament.   

Overall, much like previous Five Star Grand Prixs, the STARDOM roster worked hard as ever to provide fans with the best showcase possible. Was I disappointed that injuries played into a bit more subdued Grand Prix Final? I would be lying if I flat out said ‘no’ because the three matches I was looking forward to most on the card, were the three that ultimately were dissolved. Maybe ‘just a little bummed out’ would best describe it. However, I would rather have the wrestlers sit out and heal instead of forcing themselves to hide it and work through the pain for the sake of keeping their promises to fans at the sacrifice of their own health and well-being. STARDOM did the best with what they had, and made the tough decisions to protect their wrestlers, which I completely support and respect.

TOMORROW: STARDOM in KORAKUEN (10/1) Korakuen Hall

  • Tag Match: Lady C & Miyu Amasaki (Queen’s Quest) vs. Mina Shirakawa & Waka Tsukiyama (Club Venus)
  • 4-Way Match: Saya Iida vs. Hina vs. HANAKO vs. Fukigen Death
  • 6-Woman Tag Match: Donna del Mondo (Maika, Mai Sakurai & Thekla) vs. STARS (Hazuki, Koguma & Hanan)
  • 6-Woman Tag Match: Syuri, Saki Kashima & MIRAI vs. Suzu Suzuki, Mei Seira & Megan Bayne
  • World of STARDOM Prelude 8-Woman Tag: Tam Nakano, Yuna Mizumori, Natsupoi & Saori Anou vs. Natsuko Tora, Fukigen Death, Rina & Ruaka
  • AZM’s 10th Anniversary Match: AZM vs. Mayu Iwatani – non-title match
  • NJPW STRONG Women’s Championship: Giulia © vs. Ami Sohrei

NAGOYA GOLDEN FIGHT (10/9) Dolphins Arena, Aichi

  • Gauntlet Tag Match: Lady C & Miyu Amasaki vs. TBD & Ruaka vs. Hanan & Ami Sohrei vs. Waka Tsukiyama & Yuna Mizumori
  • UWF Rules Match: Syuri vs. Mina Shirakawa
  • High-Speed Championship: Saki Kashima vs. Mei Seira
  • Artists of STARDOM Championships: Giulia, Thekla & Mai Sakurai vs. Suzu Suzuki, Maika & Megan Bayne
  • Goddesses of STARDOM Tag Championship: Natsupoi & Saori Anou vs. TBD & AZM
  • KAIRI’s Final Voyage 6-Woman Tag: KAIRI, Nanae Takahashi, Mayu Iwatani vs. Koguma, Hazuki & Saya Iida
  • Wonder of STARDOM Championship: MIRAI © vs. Momo Watanabe
  • World of STARDOM Championship: Tam Nakano © vs. Natsuko Tora

GOLD RUSH 2023 (11/18) Edion Arena, Osaka – Full Card TBA

NEW! World of STARDOM Championship: Winner of Nakano/Tora (10/9) vs. Suzu Suzuki (2023 5★GP Winner)

Big Events – Full Cards TBA

  • Halloween Dark Night 2023 (10/29) Tachikawa Stage Garden, Tokyo
  • 13th Annual Goddesses of STARDOM Tournament Finals (11/12) Aore Nagaoka, Niigata
  • NEW BLOOD WEST 1 (11/17) Osaka Azalea Hall
  • GOLD RUSH 2023 (11/18) Edion Arena, Osaka
  • Big Event [Title Pending] (12/2) Dolphins Arena, Aichi
  • STARDOM Dream Queendom (12/29) Ryogoku Sumo Hall
About Karen Peterson 104 Articles
Occasionally drops by wrestling podcasts, but remains rather elusive. Joined the Japanese wrestling fan scene in summer 2017, and continues to work on bridging the language gap between fans. Outside of wrestling, she’s a dog mom, perpetual Japanese learner, and when conditions permit, world traveler. Never skips dessert.