This week's Fightful Joshi Journal keeps you up-to-date on all things Joshi while focusing on rise of Suzu Suzuki in the 5STAR Grand Prix as she enters the final night with a chance to win as well as the Ice Ribbon Korakuen Hall event that saw new tag team champions crowned and a great main event.
Suzu Suzuki Closing in on 5STAR GP Final
Doubt began to creep in for those following the 5STAR Grand Prix when Suzu Suzuki's record dropped to 1-4. Not only did it seem as though she wouldn't be in contention on the final night of the tournament, but her matches would soon not matter as one more loss would have effectively eliminated her from contention. Her lone win at the time was against Wonder of Stardom Champion Saya Kamitani but still, her being in contention is what you want to see with the match she has set against Giulia.
Beginning September 17 in a match with Saya Iida, Suzuki finally started to pick it up. She'd beat Momo Watanabe and Mina Shirakawa in her next two matches to get herself back to a .500 record and most importantly -- she kept herself alive. Fast forward to this past weekend, sitting at 4-4 with no room to spare. It was win or go home. Suzuki's matches were against Hanan -- who was winless at the time -- Ami Sourei, and Starlight Kid. All winnable for the Prominence star, but nothing guaranteed.
She'd kick off Day 18 of action by having a competitive match with Hanan, who has shown big improvements since the beginning of the tournament and used those two to win in her final two matches of the tournament -- but this was Suzuki's to win. A German Suplex planted the Future of Stardom Champion to get her to 5-4. The next day, she'd do the same to the challenger for the Future of Stardom Championship by putting down Sourei.
So with five-straight wins to her name, a match with Starlight Kid was the final roadblock to her being in contention on the final night or not. Suzuki and Kid showcased why they are among the best young wrestlers in the world, giving us teases of what an eventual title match could be between them down the line. Back and forth it went before Suzuki took over and hit her double Locomotion German Suplexes to grab the win and earn her 13th and 14th points with a 7-4 record.
Suzu Suzuki will now enter the finals in the conversation. The Blue Stars Block is down to three -- Giulia, Hazuki, and Suzu Suzuki. The scenarios are pretty simple:
- If Hazuki defeats Momo Watanabe, she eliminates Suzu Suzuki and will need a Giulia loss or draw to advance
- If Hazuki loses, the winner of Giulia vs. Suzu Suzuki advances
- If Giulia wins, she advances to the final
The fact Suzuki is in the conversation is impressive. And the potential that it all comes down to her and Giulia? A match she told the world she wanted all the way back in January? Poetic.
Suzuki's struggles early on could be traced to her cockiness, confidence, and just not being at the top of her game. What we've seen in her last six matches is the same wrestler who won the ICExInfinity Championship during her time in Ice Ribbon at 18 years old. This six-match run for her has told us she can compete with the best of the best in STARDOM. She can win the 5STAR Grand Prix. And that she is more than ready to finally face Giulia one-on-one.
Suzuki was the story of last weekend. Can she be the story of the finals? We will see on Saturday.
Here's a look at the updated standings.
5STAR Grand Prix Standings Heading Into Finals
RED STARS BLOCK
14 - Maika
14 - AZM
14 - Syuri
14 - Tam Nakano
14 - Himeka
14 - Utami Hayashishita
13 - Risa Sera
12 - Koguma
10 - Saki Kashima
10 - SAKI
9 - Mai Sakurai
4 - Momo Kohgo
2 - Unagi Sayaka
BLUE STARS BLOCK
15 - Giulia
14 - Hazuki
14 - Suzu Suzuki
14 - Starlight Kid
13 - Saya Kamitani
13 - MIRAI
13 - Mayu Iwatani
12 - Natsupoi
10 - Ami Sourei
10 - Momo Watanabe
8 - Mina Shirakawa
4 - Saya Iida
4 - Hanan
Ice Ribbon Korakuen Results
Ice Ribbon ran Korakuen Hall this past weekend for their Ribbon No Kishitachi 2022 event as gold was on the lineup and down the card. Yuuki Mashiro returned to action as she successfully defended her Triangle Ribbon Championship. But the more newsworthy and exciting action came in the semi-main and main events.
First up was Hamuko Hoshi and Makoto defending the International Ribbon Tag Team Championship against the team of Ibuki Hoshi and AEW's Hikaru Shida. Not only was the match as entertaining as you'd hope with the mother and daughter opposing each other and getting to see Shida go out there and shine but new champions were crowned as Ibuki Hoshi earned the win for her team which is a wonderful sight to see.
Dating back to the beginning of August in the first Fightful Joshi Journal, I wrote about how the singles match between Hikaru Shida and Ibuki Hoshi should have been looked at as a big deal. Hoshi displayed her potential in one of the biggest matches of her career, taking it to Shida who would ultimately win the match. Through their singles match, Hoshi earned the respect of Shida, leading them to team up for these titles. Now that they are champions, Hoshi has a chance to learn alongside Shida, creating an opportunity for her to grow even more as a wrestler.
Finally, all eyes go to the main event of this show. Saori Anou would defend the ICExInfinity Championship against CMLL's Stephanie Vaquer and let's just say this: it was excellent. When looking at these two wrestlers, it becomes clear instantly who you want to cheer on. On one side is Anou, who has this angel-like look as she walks down to the ring while Vaquer has demon-styled gear and a heelish persona. It was the classic "good vs. bad" but they nailed it. Vaquer has impressed since coming to Japan, showing an ability to be, well, a jerk to whoever she wrestles but do it in a way that works so well. She was tossing Anou around ringside with violence on her mind and the title soon in her grasp.
But as seen when Anou won the tournament to win the ICExInfinity Championship, she has the resilience that can power her through any attack. She needed it here as everything Anou hit her with had intent behind it and it felt as though a new champion would be crowned. Anou, with all that she had left, was able to fend off Vaquer in the best defense of her reign, confirming there's no one better to lead Ice Ribbon now than her.
2022 has been an up-and-down year for Ice Ribbon but they finally feel as though they have found the momentum they need for good which is exciting for the talent, the fans, and the Joshi scene as a whole.
Matches Worth Checking Out (9/28/22)
Saya Kamitani vs. Mina Shirakawa
Giulia vs. Momo Watanabe
Mayu Iwatani vs. Hazuki
Syuri vs. Tam Nakano
Giulia vs. Saya Kamitani
Mayu Iwatani vs. Momo Watanabe
Utami Hayashishita vs. Tam Nakano
Starlight Kid vs. Suzu Suzuki
Hamuko Hoshi & Makoto vs. Hikaru Shida & Ibuki Hoshi
Saori Anou vs. Stephanie Vaquer
Other notable Joshi results from the weekend:
TJPW Autumn Tour '22 (9/24/22)
- Suzume def. Moka Miyamoto
- Yuki Kamifuku def. Kaya Toribami
- Nao Kakuta def. Haruna Neko
- Maki Itoh & Miyu Yamashita def. Arisu Endo & Hikari Noa
- Hakuchumu (Miu Watanabe & Rika Tatsumi), Shoko Nakajima & Yuki Aino def. Magical Sugar Rabbits (Mizuki & Yuka Sakazaki), Pom Harajuku & Raku
Check out our latest Joshi interview with Yuka Sakazaki.