It’s the most wonderful time of the year for Stardom fans as we gear up for their annual round-robin tournament the 5STAR Grand Prix. This year’s tournament runs from July 31 to September 25 with 21 stops on the road as two blocks of ten competitors battle it out for the crown. The winner of the tournament, as is standard, gets a title shot of their choosing. Last year Utami Hayashishita won the tournament and went on to capture the World of Stardom Championship so whoever wins it this year will be aiming to repeat that feat. Before we talk about the tournament in-depth let’s run down the blocks for this year’s competition. We also recommend checking out our recent beginner’s guide to Stardom to get up to date with the roster and factions.
5STAR Grand Prix Blocks
Red Stars Block
- Mayu Iwatani
- Momo Watanabe
- Fukigen Death (replacing Natsuko Tora)
- Saki Kashima
- Starlight Kid
- Mina Shirakawa
Blue Stars Block
- Utami Hayashishita
- Tam Nakano
- Saya Kamitani
- Unagi Sayaka
- Takumi Iroha (representing Marvelous)
With 21 shows set to take place during the Grand Prix it’s hard to keep on top of everything but here are some key dates and the major matches that take place on said dates.
July 31 GP kicks off at Yokohama Budokan:
- Mayu Iwatani vs Momo Watanabe
- Syuri vs Saya Kamitani
- Utami Hayashishita vs Maika
- Starlight Kid vs Giulia
August 1 Day 2 of the GP at Yokohama Budokan:
- Utami Hayashishita vs Saya Kamitani
- Mayu Iwatani vs Giulia
- Maika vs Syuri
August 8 Edion:
- Tam Nakano vs Saya Kamitani
August 22 Ehime:
- Utami Hayashishita vs Konami
August 28 Nagoya:
- Mayu Iwatani vs Himeka
- Syuri vs Tam Nakano
August 29 Tokyo:
- Koguma vs Mayu Iwatani
- Takumi Iroha vs Maika
- Momo Watanabe vs Starlight Kid
September 4 Shinjuku:
- Takumi Iroha vs Konami
- Syuri vs Utami Hayashishita
September 6 Korakuen Hall
- Syuri vs Konami
- Tam Nakano vs Takumi Iroha
September 11 Shinjuku:
- Momo Watanabe vs Himeka
- Saya Kamitani vs Takumi Iroha
- AZM vs Utami Hayashishita
September 12 Sendai:
- Saya Kamitani vs Maika
Sepetmber 20 Korakuen:
- Mayu Iwatani vs Saki Kashima
- Giulia vs Himeka
- Takumi Iroha vs Utami Hayashishita
September 25 GP Final at Ota Ward:
- Momo Watanabe vs Giulia
- Mayu Iwatani vs Starlight Kid
- Tam Nakano vs Utami Hayashishita
- Syuri vs Takumi Iroha
- Konami vs Maika
Ever since her arrival in Stardom in late 2019 Giulia has taken the company by storm. In her short time with Stardom, she has won the Cinderella Tournament, Wonder Of Stardom Championship, Artist of Stardom Championship, and is currently one half of the Goddess Of Stardom title holders.
Sooner or later Giulia will be World Of Stardom champion, that much has been clear for some time. That fact instantly makes Giulia one of the top contenders to win the 5STAR Grand Prix this year as the win would allow her to challenge Hayashishita thus setting up a highly anticipated clash between the two for the world championship.
What gives us pause regarding Giulia is that she likely doesn’t need to win the GP to be a credible challenger for Hayashishita thanks to the strong booking she has had since debuting for Stardom. It may be wise to use the GP to build up another challenger and allow Giulia to face Hayashishita at a later date.
Watanabe hasn’t had a huge amount of success since the end of her record-setting Wonder Of Stardom Championship reign in 2019. Nonetheless, the leader of Queen’s Quest is one of the top names in the company and in recent months has settled in as the gatekeeper to the tag team division alongside AZM. She may not be an obvious pick but her feud with Donna Del Mondo and the recent return of her 2019 swagger has us thinking that Watanabe could be a dark horse to win this tournament.
Again we have some doubt about Watanabe as she already failed to dethrone Hayashishita so Stardom may not want the two to go at it again.
While Giulia’s dominance has been apparent since day one it’s taken fans a bit longer to realize just how strong Syuri is. She debuted in Stardom a month or two after Giulia as an original member of Donna Del Mondo and since then she has rarely been beaten and picked up a number of titles in the meantime.
Syuri and Utami Hayashishita launched themselves into an exclusive echelon when their 43-minute draw for the world title was awarded 5.5 stars by Dave Meltzer. It would be reasonable to assume that Stardom may want to have the two wrestle again in what is probably the most anticipated rematch in Stardom history. Syuri winning the tournament and challenging Hayashishita is the simplest way to reach that end goal.
The main issue with Syuri as a favorite is that she and Hayashishita will wrestle in the GP as they are in the same block, that will be their fourth singles match in just 12 months. Stardom may not want to have a fifth match between the two which possibly rules Syuri out of contention.
Takumi Iroha was the surprise final entrant in the Blue Stars block and immediately becomes one of the tournament favorites. In 2020 Iroha and Hayashishita had a number of interactions in a match pitting Queen’s Quest against a team of Marvelous wrestlers. That match looked to be setting up a future singles match between Hayashishita and Iroha, Iroha would suffer an injury in October put her out of action so we never got the chance to see the two throw down. With Iroha in the GP this presents Stardom with a perfect chance to set up a title match between her and Hayashishita which could main event any major Stardom event.
Takumi Iroha will wrestle Utami Hayashishita in the GP at Korakuen Hall but a clever result there could play into a rematch for the title. As of its writing, Iroha is our favorite to win the tournament.
5STAR Grand Prix Dark Horses
You can never fully rule out a Mayu Iwatani tournament win. The “icon of Stardom” has re-found her confidence in recent weeks and seems primed for a major run in the 5STAR Grand Prix. Iwatani has her eyes set on Tam Nakano and her Wonder Of Stardom championship so a tournament win would allow her to challenge for the title.
Much like Giulia’s situation Mayu Iwatani doesn’t need the GP win to get herself into contention for the title so they may use the tournament to build up a different challenger.
The “jumbo princess” was a finalist in last year’s Grand Prix and is considered a member of the company’s “golden generation”. While she has spent the last few months on the shelf with an injury she could come back with a bang and win the Grand Prix to set up a match with Utami Hayashishita. Hayashishita and Himeka have interacted in tag team matches in every tag match they’ve been in together so you would have to think they will eventually wrestle again.
It may be too early for Himeka to win the tournament but a win would make her a credible top talent in Stardom and would set up a major rematch with Hayashishita.
The de-facto leader of Oedo Tai in Natsuko Tora’s absence isn’t a name to rule out. No matter the championship she decides to challenge for Konami would be able to slot in as a credible challenger. She hasn’t fought for either of the top singles titles since last year but her recent draw with Tam Nakano indicates that they are on the same level. Konami would likely work very well with Hayashishita too and would make for a great PPV challenger for Hayashishita as she pads out her reign.
Another member of Stardom’s golden generation and another contender for the win in this tournament. Maika is another Donna Del Mondo member who has collected championships and even has a claim to a win over Utami Hayashishita. Maika is another wrestler who has already failed to take the belt from Utami but a tournament win could revitalize her and make her into a main event star who poses a major threat to Hayashishita.
Like Himeka, it may be too early for Maika to win this tournament but a win would be a massive feather in her cap.
The current Wonder of Stardom champion Tam Nakano isn’t a name to ignore. Stardom isn’t opposed to doing double championship matches and a match between Nakano and Hayashishita would be a massive match to take place on any pay-per-view. Nakano is one of Stardom’s top names but has already indicated she will retire within 2 years so it may be now or never for Stardom to get as many big matches out of her as possible.
The field for this years 5STAR Grand Prix is very open as a number of wrestlers could definitely win. Outside of who is going to win this tournament should be an interesting one as we get to see Koguma in her first tournament since her return, we will see how Starlight Kid performs now that she is in Oedo Tai, Mina Shirakawa and Unagi Sayaka are in their first GPs and have a shot to improve and prove themselves throughout. From top to bottom there’s going to be a lot of stuff to keep an eye on in this tournament for Stardom fans.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. If you want to see more from Stardom, you can check out their subscription service Stardom World for all your wonderous Joshi needs.