Updated: Jul 25
The women of World Wonder Ring Stardom have been the talk of the wrestling world in 2023. Former World of Stardom Champion and Queen’s Quest leader Utami Hayashishista recently finished up a tour in the U.S that included matches in GCW, JCW, and ROH. One-third of the Artist of Stardom champions Giulia recently defeated Willow Nightingale to become the NJPW Strong Women’s Champion. The hottest free agent in professional wrestling, Mercedes Mone, made a huge splash earlier this year when she became IWGP Women’s Champion and lost to Stardom icon Mayu Iwatani at Stardom’s All Star Grand Queendom event.
Stardom has their biggest tournament of the year coming up and the field is stacked with some of the best women’s wrestlers on the planet. The 5 Star Grand Prix is a 20-person round-robin tournament split into two blocks: Red Stars & Blue Stars. The tournament is similar to the G1 Climax tournament held by Stardom’s brother promotion, New Japan Pro Wrestling. The 5 Star Grand Prix winner gets to choose a champion (typically the World of Stardom champion) to challenge at Stardom’s Dream Queendom event at the end of the year.
There are some excellent guides available as an introduction to both Stardom and the 5 Star Grand Prix for new fans and fans looking to prepare for the tournament. Ben Harris from Dropkick Media put together an in-depth look at the participants and their winning odds. Scott Edwards wrote an extensive tournament preview featuring blocks, schedules, stories, and more.
Here at Women’s Wrestling Talk, we’re debuting our new weekly joshi wrestling show ‘Rising Sun Rundown’ which will cover Stardom, TJPW, and NJPW. Rising Sun Rundown premieres Thursday, July 20 at 5 pm EST on Twitch & YouTube with a preview of Stardom’s 5 Star Grand Prix and updates from the tournaments in TJPW and NJPW. The show will be hosted by Lyric Swinton, Shay Sawyer, and Aisha Lomax.
There are 4 Stardom wrestlers who I think have a great chance of winning the 5 Star Grand Prix and 1 who probably won’t win but I guarantee she’ll steal the show.
“The Wildheart” Hazuki is my personal favorite to win the tournament. Many of you may remember her being apart of the IWGP Women’s Championship triple threat match at NJPW Sakura Genesis vs. AZM and Mercedes Mone. However, Hazuki’s true breakout match was her instant classic battle for the Wonder of Stardom Championship vs Saya Kamitani at March’s Triangle Derby I. Hazuki wrestles with her whole heart and she is an incredible talent but she’s often come up short in big match situations. She’s one step away from a big win that will catapult her into Stardom superstardom. The 5 Star Grand Prix is the perfect opportunity to turn her luck around.
Since her original World of Stardom Championship reign came to an end, Utami has lacked direction. That lack of direction led to issues arising within her Queen’s Quest faction, issues that weren’t resolved until an emotional Loser Leaves The Unit steel cage match that saw Queen’s Quest defeat Oedo Tai. Soon after, Utami declared her intention to take a brief hiatus from Stardom to find herself. During her excursion, the Red Queen has had a successful U.S. tour with a 4-0 record in GCW, JCW, and ROH against some of the hottest stars on the American indies. Momentum is on her side and she’s become an even better wrestler and storyteller since her first time winning the 5 Star Grand Prix. No woman has ever won the tournament twice but if there was ever a woman to do it, Utami Hayashishita is an excellent pick.
Giulia was the 2022 5 Star Grand Prix winner and went on to defeat Syuri for the World of Stardom Championship at Stardom Dream Queendom on December 29, 2022. Many thought this would usher in a long reign of dominance for Giulia but she ended up losing the title to Tam Nakano at All Star Grand Queendom in April 2023. Nevertheless, Giulia continues to be one of the biggest stars in women’s wrestling, currently holding the Artist of Stardom Championships with her Donna Del Mondo stablemates, Thekla & Mai Sakurai, as well as the NJPW Strong Women’s Championship. Much like Utami, Giulia is in a great position to become the first woman to win the 5 Star Grand Prix twice.
Maika had the unfortunate honor of pinning her longtime tag team partner & best friend Himeka in her Stardom retirement match at All Star Grand Queendom. Fans of MaiHime (their tag team name) wondered what would be next for Maika. She had spent much of her time in Stardom as a tag team wrestler so many wondered how she’d fare on her own. They need not have worried at all. Maika has been on a tear of dominance since the April 23 event with strong (literally and figuratively) performances and minimal losses.
In Stardom’s current Generational Struggle storyline, Maika has emerged as one of the leaders of the new school. In doing so, she has distanced herself somewhat from her Donna Del Mondo stablemates. That distance may work in Maika’s favor to her head mind clear when she inevitably faces Giulia in the Blue Stars block. Keep an eye on Maika, she’s on the run of a lifetime and it should definitely end with some singles gold around her waist.
The Show Stealer — Suzu Suzuki
Although this is her 2nd time competing in the 5 Star Grand Prix, this is Suzu Suzuki’s first time as an actual member of the Stardom roster. The 20-year-old prodigy built a name for herself freelancing in promotions like Ice Ribbon and Pro Wrestling WAVE as a part of the Prominence stable. Suzuki may be young but make no mistake, she is one of the best wrestlers in the world already and she’s gunning for that number one spot. She is a former Artist of Stardom Champion and challenged Giulia for the World of Stardom Championship in a thrilling match earlier this year.
She’s the queen of violence, specializing in hard strikes and the occasional deathmatch. Her future is very bright and it’s clear that she will be a major pillar in Stardom’s future, as seen by her involvement in the Generational Struggle within mere weeks of joining the roster full-time. I’m certain that Suzu will win the 5 Star Grand Prix one day, but I’m not convinced that 2023 will be her year. Even so, bet on her to steal the show and become your new favorite wrestler during this tournament.
The 5 Star Grand Prix tournament kicks off on Sunday, July 23 at 4:00 EST on PPV (follow @we_are_stardom on Twitter for updates). Matches will be posted on Stardom World within 1-3 days. Stardom World is around $8.55 USD per month.