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Highlights From Night 1 of the 5 Star Grand Prix

The highly anticipated Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix 2023 tournament kicked off on Sunday, July 23 and did not disappoint! Before I fully dive into the standout matches of the first night of the tournament, I’d like to wish a speedy recovery to the Golden Phoenix Saya Kamitani who dislocated her elbow in the main event vs. Tam Nakano. The Phoenix will always rise from the ashes and I look forward to her return!

Back to the actual card, every match delivered but there were 5 standout matches worth watching if you didn’t catch Night 1 live.

Momo Watanabe vs MIRAI

For those who have been clamoring for the Momo Watanabe of old to resurface, this match was for you. The Oedo Tai star shined in this match against the current Wonder of Stardom Champion, MIRAI. This near-10 minute contest was aggressive and reminded the audiences that both women are top talents within Stardom. Watanabe avenged her loss to MIRAI last year and not only put 2 points on the board to start the tournament but also put herself in White Belt title contention as she seeks to win her first singles title in four years.

Utami Hayashishita vs Mina Shirakawa

These two had been sending jabs at each other on Twitter in the days leading up to this match. Mina was inquiring about if Utami would return from her short excursion in America in time for their match and also remarked how she wanted to wrestle in America too. Hayashishita quipped back about being booked and busy without a title, insinuating that Mina was unable to do the same. The actual match lived up to the hype. Hayashishita skipped the opening ceremony to keep her new look a surprise. She brought back her former long long locks, a sign that the dominant Red Queen is back and better than ever, as well as a new finisher courtesy of Shayna Baszler. Even in defeat, Shirakawa, who is one-half of the Goddess of Stardom champions, fought hard and proved why she’s gone from Most Improved to MVP in less than a year’s time.

Syuri vs Suzu Suzuki

This was the match I had been anticipating most from Night 1. Based on skill alone, Syuri is arguably the best women’s wrestler in the world on any given night. Suzu Suzuki is arguably the greatest female wrestling prospect under the age of 25. Plus, both of these women are known for hitting incredibly hard and being insane in the ring, not to mention there was some tension already there from the ongoing Stardom Generational Struggle. This match had it all: fast-paced action, near falls, bumps that made you audibly gasp, and unmatched intensity from both competitors. Syuri picked up the win but Suzuki made her work for it. My only critique of this match is that I wanted more of it. 11 minutes wasn’t enough. A 15-minute time limit wasn’t enough. This felt like an incredible taste of a feud I’d love to see on the biggest possible stages. Perhaps even an Ironwoman match or two out of three falls would be a great stipulation down the line.

Mayu Iwatani vs Hazuki

I’ve been vocal about my support of Hazuki, not only in the 5 Star Grand Prix but as one of the next major faces of Stardom. She went one on one with the Icon of Stardom and her STARS faction leader, the IWGP Women’s Champion, Mayu Iwatani. Despite being friends & partners, these two didn’t take it easy on each other. Hazuki came up short but this match could’ve gone either way at any moment. This loss throws a wrench in Hazuki’s plans to challenge for the IWGP Women’s Championship but with the talent and passion that the Wildheart will be racking up points in the 5 Star Grand Prix in no time, hopefully thrusting her back into title contention. As for Mayu, this was a strong start to the tournament and her first singles match since defeating Mercedes Mone at April’s All-Star Grand Queendom event.

Giulia vs Saori Anou

This first-time match-up was projected to be good but I don’t think anyone knew that this match would be as incredible as it was. Giulia is a double champion on an extremely hot run and Saori Anou has dazzled during her short time in Stardom as a part of Cosmic Angels. Both of these women are two of the best on the roster and this match was a showcase of their greatness. They got to work early, brawling on the outside of the ring like they were locked in a decade-long blood feud. However, Giulia piledriving her opponent through a table and Anou’s subsequent bloody head & face is what people will remember the most from this match. For a show that had already featured some of the stiffest matches I’ve seen this year, Giulia and Saori Anou managed to turn the violence all the way up in this time-limit draw. This was an instant classic that you should go out of your way to watch.

The current 5 Star Grand Prix point standings after Night 1:

Red Stars - Tam Nakano (2 Points), Mayu Iwatani (2 Points), Saya Kamitani (Forced to leave tournament due to injury), Syuri (2 Points), Suzu Suzuki (0 Points), Starlight Kid (0 Points), Natsupoi (2 points), Hazuki (0 Points), Natsuko Tora (2 Points), Ami Sohrei (0 Points)

Blue Stars - Giulia (1 Point), Utami Hayashishita (2 Points), Maika (2 Points), Saori Anou (1 Point), Momo Watanabe (2 Points), MIRAI (0 Points), AZM (0 Points), Mina Shirakawa (0 Points), Mariah May (2 Points), Hanan (0 Points)

Other big news coming out of the tournament’s first night was the debut of American indie star Megan Bayne who attacked Tam Nakano after the main event and issued a challenge for the World of Stardom Championship. In addition, Utami Hayashishita challenged Mayu Iwatani for the IWGP Women’s Championship. Both matches will take place at the upcoming August 13 Stardom x Stardom Show.

The Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix is still ongoing. Matches will be posted on Stardom World within 1-3 days. Stardom World is approximately $7 USD.


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