AJPW Champion Carnival N14 (4.23.19) review

AJPW Champion Carnival N14 (4.23.19) review

AJPW Champion Carnival N14

 

April 23 2019

 

We’re in Sendai at one of the smaller venues of the tour with 320 in attendance. It’s not going to be one of the top nights of the tour if we’re all completely honest.

 

Standings:

 

BLOCK A

Zeus [8]

Shuji Ishikawa [7]

Dylan James [7]

Yuji Okabayashi [7]

Kento Miyahara [6]

Gianni Valletta [6]

Ryoji Sai [5]

Atsushi Aoki [4]

Yuma Aoyagi [4]

 

BLOCK B

Naoya Nomura [8]

Yoshitatsu [8]

Suwama [8]

Takashi Yoshida [6]

Jake Lee [6]

Joel Redman [6]

Daichi Hashimoto [6]

Joe Doering [6]

Sam Adonis [4]

 

 

Daichi Hashimoto [6] vs. Yoshitatsu [8]

Do or die for Daichi. If he loses here he’s out. Tatsu has a vital part to play in whoever wins.

AJPW14Tatsu

His last match is against Yoshida, also on 6 points. Win both and not only does Tatsu eliminate two contenders but puts himself on 12 points, which should be enough to win Block B with Nomura and Suwama battling each other. Daichi is back to his screaming in pain business again. Like Ospreay, I just wish he’d learn when to vocalise his pain like that. They work surprisingly hard here. Give those 320 the money’s worth. That said they do a tornado DDT spot where Daichi falls over in mid move. Daichi impresses me with his strikes and he was clearly watching Redman vs. Tatsu as he uses the same counter to block the Koji Clutch into a pin. Shining Wizard finishes and Daichi stays alive!

AJPW14Daichi

Final Rating: ***1/4

 

Atsushi Aoki [4] vs. Gianni Valletta [6]

Aoki still has a few matches after this whereas Valletta is wrestling his final Block match here. So Valletta is out and Aoki isn’t, even though Aoki has less points. Valletta has been used almost exclusively as a cheat who causes upsets. He’s beaten Ishikawa, Miyahara and Okabayashi.

AJPW14Valetta

Valletta, who’s been borderline hopeless at times, deliberately comes out and tries to put on a clinic. Then there’s a ref bump and the chain business and forget about it. Valletta tries to choke with the chain and in one last fucking awful spot gets bridge pinned for doing so. And we no longer have to watch anymore terrible Gianni Valletta matches! Hoorah!

Final Rating: *

 

Ryouji Sai [5] vs. Yuji Okabayashi [7]

AJPW14Okabayashi

I have a sneaking suspicion Sai wins here as Okabayashi has three matches left. He can lose here and win the other two and still win the Block. Sai on the other hand is effectively eliminated with a loss. Mainly because of the sheer number of wrestlers above him on points (although not mathematically due to the tight nature of the block). Okabayashi has been this insane work horse during this tournament, keeping in mind he’s also been nipping back to Big Japan for shows in between. He’s actually won a tournament in BJW during this tournament! What a machine! Sai has only wrestled 20 times this year. Okabayashi wrestled 19 matches in March!

 

He doesn’t exactly take it easy either. He wrestled Dylan James and Zeus in back to back CC nights and killed it both times. Here he looks as motivated as ever and combined with Sai’s propensity for violent kicks to the chest it’s quite the little contest. Okabayashi repays the violence with a vertical drop brainbuster that freaks me out, so you know it’s done well. There is a little psychology here as Sai targets Okabayashi’s midsection, which pays off when he gets knees up on the Golem Splash. It immobilises the big man and Sai kills him with a running knee that looks absolutely fucking brutal. They gave it to the ‘smaller venue’ approach here and still nearly killed each other. Okabayashi is a goddamn hero.

Final Rating: ***3/4

 

Dylan James [7] vs. Shuji Ishikawa [7]

James has had a great tournament and really solidified himself as a top guy for All Japan.

AJPW14DylanJames

Here is his biggest test to date. The monster Shuji Ishikawa. Both have one match left after this. The winner will top Block A with 9 points and be in the driving seat going into the final fixtures. I feel like Dylan winning here puts him top but he has The Spoiler in Aoki, whereas Ishikawa has Zeus, which doesn’t need to be telegraphed as the ‘winner takes all’ beforehand.

 

Instead of bringing a complex game plan both guys just wail on each other with chops. Shuji opts to stop that and work the arm, thus negating the power of the chops themselves. Dylan powers through it and keeps using his size, although maintaining a reasonable level of selling on the injured body part. Dylan looks proper beaten up with his injured arm, bloodied hand and his black eye. He looks like Champion Carnival chewed him up and spat him out. For Shuji Ishikawa it’s Tuesday. It gives Dylan a hill to climb and he looks like a complete badass here for surviving let alone competing with Shuji. If you like your heavyweights super then this is for you. Two big slabs of meat smashing into each other. The 15 minute time limit sees Ishikawa simply worn out and the chokeslam finishes for Dylan James. Another battling victory for him. He seems made for heavyweight scraps against fellow large men. This was perhaps a little sluggish for 15 minutes but the tournament is hard and long and both guys gave it their all. Dylan James can now win Block A by beating Atsushi Aoki but he is hurt.

Final Rating: ***3/4

 

Summary:

A solid show for a relatively small crowd in Sendai. Normally you see a drop in performance on the smaller shows but there were a few guys who went out killed themselves. The Valletta was bad but at least he’s done and everything else was watchable. There are no major differences in the Blocks here. Aoki was at risk but stays alive. He’ll probably lose to Okabayashi though and be out in the next round of matches. The real business end is Zeus, Ishikawa, Miyahara and Okabayashi. James is a red herring but he’s been an excellent herring. Block B is so tight it’s hard to know who’s in contention. You’d think it’ll come down to Suwama, Doering, Lee and Nomura. Two seasoned veterans, two young upstarts. Both clashing with the opposite number in Korakuen Hall.

 

Standings:

 

BLOCK A

Dylan James [9]

Zeus [8]

Shuji Ishikawa [7]

Yuji Okabayashi [7]

Ryoji Sai [7]

Kento Miyahara [6]

Atsushi Aoki [6]

Gianni Valletta [6]

Yuma Aoyagi [4]

 

BLOCK B

Naoya Nomura [8]

Yoshitatsu [8]

Suwama [8]

Daichi Hashimoto [8]

Takashi Yoshida [6]

Jake Lee [6]

Joel Redman [6]

Joe Doering [6]

Sam Adonis [4]

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