AJPW Champion Carnival 2017 Day 7
April 25 2017
I know, I know. Whatever the fuck happened to days 2-6? Listen, until such a time as it’s financially viable for me to write wrestling reviews for a living (which is never, unless you want to pay me…in which case hi!) I’ll always have to skip stuff I want to watch. Why then have I selected day 7 in particular? Well, before the series started I highlighted Day 7 as a potential stand-out due to the clash between current Triple Crown Champ, and All Japan ace, Kento Miyahara and roaming ronin shogun badass Daisuke Sekimoto. They had a cracker at Champion Carnival last year and Miyahara is even better now.
We’re in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. Only 631 in attendance. What the hell is wrong with you Japanese people? If I had the chance to go and watch Sekimoto-Miyahara I’d be all over it. And don’t give me that “we had to work, blah, blah, blah” shit. I routinely avoid working late when Fight Club Pro is running. You have to make yourselves some Me Time Nagoyaites. Let’s face it, Nagoya is a bit boring and you need to liven up your days by allowing Uncle Jun Akiyama’s All Japan Pro Wrestling product into your hearts and minds.
The fucking state of this!
Yuma Aoyagi vs. Kengo Mashimo
I was hoping for Kengo to fuck Yuma up for daring to step in the ring with a participant in the prestigious Champion Carnival but instead he treats it like a day off. Can’t say I blame him. Yuma makes a spirited comeback, applauded by approximately five people. Put off by the lack of support Yuma allows himself to be bested in five minutes and Kengo wins with an armbar so lethargically applied he might as well have been yawning while doing so. Blame this one on Nagoya. Moving on.
Final Rating: *
Yohei Nakajima & Michio Kageyama vs. Ultimo Dragon & Zeus
I love Jun Akiyama’s wacky ‘bet you’ve never seen this before’ tag matches. Kageyama is from Guts World/Osaka Pro depending on how old you are. He’s a miserable squat veteran who looks like he wants to stab the colourfully attired Nakajima rather than team with him. Zeus has many belts (well, ok, two). Ultimo has a sombrero so he can perform the fabled Mexican hat dance. The only thing Nakajima and Kageyama have in common is that Zeus will murder them if they step up. The way Zeus, The Jobber Hunter, stalks around the ring confirms his status as the Alpha Male in this situation. His body language is saying: look at my pectoral definition. Smell my musk, inferior beings. Then he just tags out because Kageyama isn’t worth his sweat. Naturally Zeus wins, when he can be bothered, and the Ultimate Gods claim a victory for those residents of the mysterious red curtain.
Final Rating: *1/2
Daichi Hashimoto vs. Shuji Ishikawa
This is a Block B match. Both guys have two wins so far. Obviously Shuji has an experience and size advantage. Daichi has a better dad and superior hair. It’s going to be close. Shuji is such a nice guy. He could easily dominate anyone he wanted but he lets Daichi throw a tonne of kicks and gets himself over here. Well, as over as you’ll get in Nagoya where the time announcements echo around the arena and the same seven people clap along to get the action going while everyone else sits there looking bored. Nobody is forcing you fuckers to watch wrestling! Shuji eventually overcomes Daichi with a combination of big power moves and having eaten more cheeseburgers in his prestigious career, giving him that big old size advantage. Honestly, Shuji Ishikawa is fucking great but this six minute match wasn’t the best showcase of his abilities I’ve ever seen. Daichi’s strange stumbling walk to the backstage area is made all the more weird by the apathy from the crowd. He gave it his all, he’s wearing his Dad’s waist scarf thing. What more do you want?
Final Rating: **1/2
Evolution (Suwama, Joe Doering, Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato) vs. Jun Akiyama, KAI, Keisuke Ishii & Koji Iwamoto
Evolution might be a mystery to some but in All Japan it’s a stable made of manly men. Jun Akiyama has not amassed the strongest of men to face this assemblage of manliness. KAI has regressed to ‘first day of school’ wrestler. Ishii is from DDT and is deep into the banter. Iwamoto wants to prove himself but can only do so against Aoki, as a statement. Then he gets picked off for heat and thrown around by Doering. Just so we all know he’s the low man on this particular totem pole. Even though he’s the guy All Japan want to push. Japanese wrestling politics is fucking weird. Ishii decides he’s going to work hard and Sato messes him up for it, eventually scoring the submission win and throwing my politics argument out of the window as Iwamoto didn’t take the loss. Basically they want to push him so he’s not losing, which is refreshing. Sort of. He still got thrown around for half the match. This is a tough one to rate as only Sato gave a shit from the Evolution team but his bits were great.
Final Rating: **1/2
Naoya Nomura vs. Takao Omori
This is from Champion Carnival Block B. Omori has a win and a draw, Nomura has fuck all. I’ve been down on Naoya from the point where I realised he wasn’t Takuya and this tournament has been on a downward trajectory since that realisation. Imagine Takuya Nomura in this match? Imagine him taking the old man to school? That would be fantastic. Nomura jumps during the introductions, somehow eats the Axe Guillotine Driver but kicks out and then hits the spear for the win. What the hell match was that? It was less than a minute and had a finisher kick out!
Final Rating: If I could rate 48 seconds I’d rate it highly
Ryoji Sai vs. Jake Lee
Both guys have one win. Lee is a spunky youngster, for narrative purposes at least, and Sai is out to put him in his place. Which is quite literally one loss behind him in the standings. I’m not sure if I’ll ever stop thinking of Jake Lee as a kid, or a young wrestler. He’s 28 years old. This is the problem with the perspective of an old man. Everyone is young to me. Sai is a feisty upstart from my perspective and he’s 36. Anyway, these two have a perfectly competent match with Sai introducing various parts of his anatomy (all of them pointy) to Lee. Two of them, his feet, conspire to end the match via Big Double Stomp. I will forget about this match by the time the next one starts. An issue with watching lots of wrestling.
Final Rating: **
Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Kento Miyahara
It would be fair to say this has not been an outstanding evening of professional grappling from the All Japan lads. This is in A Block. Miyahara has three wins already. Sekimoto is sporting two victories. It’s set for a Block defining scrap between two of the tournament favourites.
Like most lengthy main events this starts somewhat sluggishly and they make a point of hitting big spots so they can sell and make the spots mean more. I’m more than a little disappointed to see a) Miyahara repeat his spots from the opening night and b) the crowd responding favourably to it. Unless he’s doing that hair pulling bit with the referee as a regular spot but surely it depends on the referee? The match has a lot of grinding wear-down holds. It reminds me of the opening 20 mins of Takeshita-Endo from DDT but they went a lot longer than this matches allotted 30 minute time limit. Sekimoto tries to dominate the match with his power offence but he’s met by a superior striker and a quicker wrestler in Miyahara. Sekimoto does a lovely job of selling the speedy strikes and he frequently crumples to the mat. This becomes a theme as Sekimoto gets wise to Miyahara’s tactics and starts to avoid them. It shows some thought has gone into the process. Sekimoto also has a delightful habit of switching gears when you think he’s completely screwed. My biggest issue with this match is that it continually feels like it’s building to something and that something never comes. Good though both wrestlers are they clearly are unwilling to let it all hang out on a show of no importance. I don’t blame them either. I feel like some wrestling shows should come with a warning: this show is house show fare and you’re unlikely to be impressed. It does pick up significantly as the match progresses but as a whole it’s not an enjoyable experience. It’s not helped by an elderly official, counting at a speed normally associated with awful lucha referees. As the time limit approaches there’s a definite increase in effort from all concerned, bar the ref, and they administer some thrilling near falls. The guy who’s most into the match almost finishing in a draw is the timekeeper, who gets increasingly animated as the 30 minutes is about to expire. Kento takes the piss by lifting the stalling German suplex but it ends up backfiring as the time limit expires in mid-bridge. And that’s what you get for being a cocky bastard. This was good but could have been better with a hotter crowd. I imagine if this was in Korakuen Hall you could throw an extra ½* on minimum.
Final Rating: ***1/2
You can skip this one lads.