Stardom 5 ★ STAR GP 2015 Finale
A Review by Kevin Wilson

Date: September 23rd, 2015
Location: Korakuen Hall, Tokyo in Tokyo, Japan
Announced Attendance: 1,290

We have reached the final of the FIVE STAR GP! After a month of action, Kairi Hojo and Hudson Envy won their respective blocks and face off for the crown (there is literally a crown). Also on this card we get the return of Act Yasukawa, and a Goddesses of Stardom Tag Championship match! Here is the full card:

- High Speed Championship: Starfire vs. La Rosa Negra
- Chelsea and Melissa vs. Alex Lee and Queen Maya
- Act Yasukawa and Kyoko Kimura vs. Haruka Kato and Momo Watanabe
- Goddesses of Stardom Tag Team Championship: Io Shirai and Mayu Iwatani vs. DASH Chisako and Sendai Sachiko
- Stardom 5 ★ STAR GP Final: Hudson Envy vs. Kairi Hojo

Let's get to the action!

Starfire vs. La Rosa Negra

This match is for the High Speed Championship. This match didn't work out as intended, although it is still an interesting match on paper. Starfire first wrestled for Stardom in last year's FIVE STAR GP, and has been fairly active in the promotion since then, including winning the High Speed Championship. La Rosa Negra debuted for Stardom in this year's FIVE STAR GP, and she is attempting to follow Starfire's path by staying in the promotion instead of just being a one-time thing. The easiest way to do that is to win a title, which is what she is attempting to do here.

They immediately start trading slaps and punches before trading boots with neither wrestler going down. Lariat by La Rosa Negra but Starfire slides away, and it looks like Starfire suffered a knee injury as she gets away from La Rosa Negra's grasp. Rotating powerslam by La Rosa Negra, she goes up top and she nails the Rose Splash for the three count! La Rosa Negra wins the championship!

It is a shame that Starfire was hurt here, hopefully it is nothing serious although she did not wrestle on the next Stardom event. I am not sure if La Rosa Negra was scheduled to win the match so they just went to the ending early, or if since Starfire was injured they went to Plan B. So it was a non-match not by design, although I am interested in seeing what La Rosa Negra does in the promotion with the title.

Chelsea and Melissa vs. Alex Lee and Queen Maya

Gaijins collide! Chelsea and Melissa represent Stardom USA and frequently team, with Chelsea being the cute one and Melissa being all business. Lee and Maya are not a regular team as this is Maya's first tour in Stardom, but since neither are in a faction they are easy to just randomly throw together for a match against the California Dolls.

Lee is isolated to start and double teamed, Chelsea stays in with Lee and she delivers a heel kick before booting Lee for a two count. Lee boots her back and hits a scoop slam, Melissa comes in to help but Maya comes in too and hits a lariat on both of them. Maya hits a bit boot on Melissa and then nails Chelsea with one as well. Lee picks up Chelsea and hits a scoop slam before tagging in Maya. Maya picks up Chelsea and throws her into the corner, Chelsea goes for a sunset flip but Maya sits down on her for two count. Maya throws Chelsea to the mat and applies a bear hug, she puts Chelsea into the corner but Chelsea kicks Maya and hits a tornado DDT. Chelsea tags in Melissa while Maya tags in Lee, lariats by Melissa and she hits a Samoan Drop for a two count. Maya comes in but Melissa drops her with one as well, Melissa gets on the second turnbuckle but Maya gets her feet up when she jumps off. Chelsea dives in the ring but Maya plants her with a chokeslam, Melissa goes up top again and she hits a missile dropkick. Maya charges Melissa but Melissa holds down the ropes and Maya tumbles out of the ring. Lee hits Melissa with a missile dropkick and kicks her into the corner, butterfly suplex by Lee but it gets a two count. Melissa ducks a kick and lariats Lee, Air Raid Crash by Melissa and she gets the three count! The California Dolls win the match!

As far as in-ring goes, the most impressive one here was actually Maya. Tag matches fit her well, she can come in and hit some impressive looking power moves without the match getting repetitious. Chelsea and Lee aren't great so the match dragged a bit while they were in there, which was a good chunk of the match, and Maya/Lee didn't have great chemistry since they aren't a real tag team. Some good spots here and there, mostly by Maya, but overall skippable.

Act Yasukawa and Kyoko Kimura vs. Haruka Kato and Momo Watanabe

On paper this looks like just another midcard match with two veteran wrestlers against two overmatched and less experienced wrestlers. In reality this is much more special of course as it is not only the return of Kimura after an injury, but the first match for Yasukawa after she was badly injured in a match last February against Yoshiko. Yasukawa has said all long she was coming back better than ever, and she certainly hasn't lost her fire. So while I'd have rather seen her in a more competitive match (there is a 0% chance of Kato and Watanabe winning), it will still be great to see Yasukawa again.

Yasukawa and Kato start things off and they start with some mat work. I am probably too giddy from seeing Yasukawa wrestle again but I will try to keep my composure. Yasukawa snaps me out of it by spinning Kato around by her head and then knocking Watanabe off the apron. Yasukawa puts Kato in a stretchy submission hold but Kato elbows Yasukawa and they trade shots. Yasukawa charges Kato but Kato avoids the lariat and applies an armbreaker. Kimura breaks it up but Kato slugs her and tags in Watanabe. Watanabe dropkicks Yasukawa, another dropkick by Watanabe and she hits a missile dropkick off the second turnbuckle. Kato goes up top and hits a diving crossbody, snap suplex by Watanabe to Yasukawa and she gets a two count. Watanabe tackles Yasukawa and hits the Somato, but Kimura breaks up the cover. Kimura puts Watanabe in a sleeper but Kato runs in and breaks it up. Yasukawa gets on the top turnbuckle and hits a missile dropkick to Watanabe, cover by Yasukawa but it gets two. Kimura gets on the second turnbuckle and hits a diving senton, Yasukawa then goes to the second turnbuckle and hits a corkscrew senton for a two count cover. Yasukawa picks up Watanabe but Watanabe slides away, she charges Yasukawa but Yasukawa puts her in the Stretch Muffler until Kato breaks it up. Kimura picks up Kato and slams her to the mat, while Yasukawa picks up Watanabe and drops her with the Act Special for the three count cover! Yasukawa and Kimura pick up the win.

This match was a bit sloppy in parts, and was clipped, but the joy of seeing Yasukawa back in the ring overcame all of that. Yasukawa is one of those wrestlers that you can't help but root for, between her rough life growing up to fighting her way up the card to her attitude to what happened with Yoshiko, to say she is easy to cheer on is an understatement. And she is a quality wrestler. This wasn't the best match in-ring as Watanabe is still a rookie and both Kimura and Yasukawa were rusty, but it is still worth watching just for what it means big picture. Mildly Recommended

(c) Io Shirai and Mayu Iwatani vs. DASH Chisako and Sendai Sachiko

This match is for the Goddesses of Stardom Tag Team Championship. It is more than just a normal title defense though, as it will also be the Jumonji Sisters' final shot at Stardom gold. Sachiko announced last month that she will retire in January, so these next few months will be the last few that we will get to enjoy the sister tag team. But they are going out with a bang as this is their first title challenge in Stardom even though they both have wrestled in the promotion off and on as Freelancers. Shirai and Iwatani are no slouches of course as this is their fourth defense of the premiere tag titles in Stardom.

Chisako and Shirai kick off the match and trade holds with neither getting a clear advantage. They then trade elbows, Shirai gets the better of it and tags in Iwatani. Chisako is double teamed in the corner, but Sachiko runs in and helps. Chisako hits a footstomp on Iwatani and tags in Sachiko, Sachiko slams Iwatani and hits an elbow drop for a two count. Sachiko throws Iwatani into the corner and tags in Chisako, and Chisako assaults Iwatani against the ropes with her sister. Face buster by Chisako and she starts working on Iwatani's arm. She tags Sachiko back in and they double team Iwatani, cover by Chisako but it gets two. Sachiko throws Iwatani into the corner, she avoids Iwatani's dropkick and kicks her in the head. Iwatani comes back with a Sling Blade and tags in Shirai, Space Rolling Elbow by Shirai and she slams Sachiko to the mat. Iwatani runs in but Sachiko avoids the assisted senton and tags in Chisako. Double Irish whip to Shirai but Shirai cartwheels away and dropkicks them both. Chisako and Sachiko fall out of the ring, Iwatani and Shirai get on different turnbuckles and dive out onto them with a moonsault/plancha combination. Shirai and Sachiko return to the ring, facebuster by Shirai and she applies an arm trap crossface. Sachiko gets to the ropes to break it up, Sachiko avoids the tiger feint kick and she plants Shirai with an elevated DDT. Rolling senton by Sachiko but Shirai kicks out of the cover. Northern Lights Suplex by Sachiko, but that gets a two count as well. Sachiko tags in Chisako, elbows by Chisako but Shirai fires back with her own elbows, Chisako gets Shirai down in the corner and nails her with a dropkick. Chisako charges Shirai in the corner but Shirai kicks her back and goes up top, but Chisako smacks her before she jumps off. Chisako goes up top as well and she drops Shirai throat-first onto the top rope.

Chisako goes for a diving footstomp but Shirai rolls out of the way, stomps by Chisako but Shirai regains the advantage and hits a tiger feint kick followed by a missile dropkick. Another dropkick by Shirai and she covers Chisako for a two count. Shirai tags in Iwatani and Iwatani hits her own missile dropkick, elbows by Iwatani to Chisako but Chisako dropkicks Iwatani in the knee. Chisako tags Sachiko and Sachiko hits a missile dropkick, which Iwatani bumps across the ring for. Bridging vertical suplex by Sachiko, she goes up top but Shirai runs in. Chisako throws Shirai to the mat and hits a diving footstomp on her, tornado DDT by Sachiko to Iwatani and Chisako hits a diving footstomp on her as well. Diving body press by Sachiko, but Shirai barely breaks up the cover. Iwatani knocks Sachiko back with a superkick but Sachiko returns the favor. Northern Lights Suplex by Iwatani, but Sachiko gets a shoulder up. Shirai goes up top with Iwatani and together they hit a missile dropkick on Sachiko, dragon suplex hold by Iwatani but Chisako breaks it up. Shirai picks up Sachiko, Iwatani goes up top but Chisako interrupts, giving Sachiko time to hit a German suplex on Shirai. Avalanche Cutter by Chisako to Iwatani, Sachiko goes up top and she delivers the diving body press, but Iwatani barely kicks out. Shirai and Chisako trade elbows, headbutt by Shirai and all four wrestlers are out on the mat. Sachiko and Iwatani slowly get up and trade elbows, Chisako runs in and she hits a catapult dropkick. Face crusher by Chisako on Iwatani and Sachiko hits a German suplex hold for two. Shirai runs in to assist, reverses hurricanrana by Iwatani on Sachiko but it gets a two count. Iwatani picks up Sachiko in a piledriver position, Shirai goes up top and they nail the spike piledriver. Cover, but Chisako breaks it up. Shirai takes care of Chisako and then dives out onto her with a tope suicida. In the ring, Iwatani picks up Sachiko and drops her with the dragon suplex hold, and she picks up the three count! Shirai and Iwatani are still your champions!

This was a fast paced and well executed wrestling match. The benefit of having two real tag teams (meaning teams that wrestle a lot together) is the action is so much more smooth. They were running in and helping at just the right times but not so excessively that it felt like a tornado tag, and there was literally no down time for the entire 20 minutes. I wouldn't have minded a bit more structure but this is higher level Joshi, as they had the speed and precision without the miscommunications that sometimes happen when wrestlers go too fast. All four are quality wrestlers and everyone got a chance to shine. Really good stuff between these four, definitely worth a watch. Recommended

Hudson Envy vs. Kairi Hojo

This match is the Finals of the FIVE STAR GP. Hojo's path to get here was the classic tale of a wrestler trying to build themselves back up. She lost a soul crushing match to Satomura, and started the tournament with two straight non-wins before charging back to beat Maya to claim the block. Envy is the monster gaijin in her way, a beast through and through with the power and strength to take whatever Hojo has to offer. They also have been feuding as of late to build up to this, with Envy even having the gall to steal Hojo's pirate hat. So with multiple storylines going on at the same time (two feuding wrestlers finally facing off, one a smaller babyface rebuilding herself after a tough stretch with the other a monster heel that is afraid of nothing), this one should be good.

They start shoving after the bell rings and then trading elbows, they eventually calm down and go to the more traditional tie-up until Envy kicks Hojo to the mat. Shoulderblock by Envy but Hojo avoids the senton and they both return to their feet. They lock knuckles and trade wristlocks, Envy charges Hojo in the corner but Hojo moves out of the way. Now it is Hojo that charges in but Envy throws her over the top rope down to the floor. La Rosa Negra gets on the apron so that Envy can jump off her back down onto Hojo to the floor. Wolf comes over with a push cart, they put Hojo on it and rams her into a row of chairs. Envy randomly pushes down Chelsea before they return to the ring, Envy throws Hojo in the corner and hits a hard elbow, Hojo goes for a spear but Envy side steps her and hits an elbow drop. Rolling kick by Envy, and she covers Hojo for a two count. Envy chokes Hojo against the ropes and throws her down by the hair, Irish whip by Envy but Hojo hits a headscissors. Spear by Hojo and Envy rolls out of the ring, Hojo gets on the top turnbuckle and dives out onto Envy with a diving crossbody onto Envy and Yasukawa. Hojo slides Envy back in and hits a diving elbow smash, shoulder tackle by Hojo and she hits a rolling neckbreaker for a two count. Hojo applies a cross-arm submission and stomps on Envy, she gets on the second turnbuckle but Envy gets up and headbutts her. Muscle Buster by Envy, and she covers Hojo for two. Envy kicks Hojo out of the ring and goes out after her, hitting a scoop slam. Back in the ring Envy chokes Hojo, she picks her up but Hojo hits a Final Cut Elbow. Envy and Hojo trade elbows, Hojo wins the battle and goes up top, but Envy elbows her before she can jump off. Running shoulder tackle to the back by Envy, she joins Hojo up top but Hojo headbutts her into the tree of woe and hits a diving double knee drop. Running elbow to the back by Hojo, she goes off the ropes and delivers the Sliding D for a two count. Hojo goes up top but Envy gets her feet up on the attempted diving elbow drop. Envy clubs Hojo into the corner and hits a lariat, Air Raid Crash by Envy and she goes up top and hits a diving body press but Hojo gets a hand on the ropes on the cover attempt. Double underhook by Envy but Hojo gets away and hits a spinning backfist. Another one by Hojo, she rolls over Envy and hits a diving elbow drop off the top turnbuckle. She goes up top again and hits a final diving elbow drop, and she picks up the three count! Hojo wins the 2015 FIVE STAR GP!

This wasn't as polished as the last match but it was still entertaining. Envy is more of a brawler than a high flyer so it helped balance the match some, and everything done felt meaningful. It did start slow as they did more 'intro' work than I was expecting, but once they kicked it into gear the pace stayed up until the end. This also of course is the classic fan favorite overcoming all odds (not just tonight, but the whole tournament) to win the match and wear the crown, it is not original but sometimes the expected thing is still the right thing. A satisfying way to end the tournament and a great effort by both. Recommended

Final Thoughts:

Stardom has a habit of clipping matches, so I am happy to report that these matches were all shown in full or close to full which was a big plus. The last two matches in-ring really delivered, and while the Act match wasn't great it had the emotion with her big return to the ring. The opener unfortunately was derailed and the California Dolls match is skippable, but everything else is worth a watch. If La Rosa Negra/Starfire had been more satisfying this may have been the best Stardom event as a year, but with the great tag title match and entertaining main event it is still definitely worth seeing.

Grade: B

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event reviewed on 10/6/15