AJPW Champion Carnival N15 (4.24.19) review

AJPW Champion Carnival N15 (4.24.19) review

AJPW Champion Carnival N15

 

April 24 2019

 

We’re in Niigata, Aore Nagaoka. There’s a delay on the VOD for this one, which is a real pisser as there’s another show tomorrow and it’s the goddamn Block A finals. I don’t know the outcomes but I’m predicting Miyahara, Okabayashi, Lee and Doering all win. I feel those are all pretty safe bets too. They all set up more important matches going into the last night. The losers will all be eliminated, bar Adonis who’s already out. The big questions come in the Block finals. While A is relatively straightforward B is looking like an absolute nightmare. I’m glad I’ll have a few days to figure it out. It looks like Suwama, Nomura, Lee and Doering going into the final night dead level. Only two men can win there.

 

Suwama. In a win/win. He’s beaten everyone so far that matters. Wins over Lee and Doering. If he adds a win over Nomura he wins the Block.

 

Nomura. He needs to beat Suwama and hope that Lee, who he beat, defeats Doering, who he lost to.

 

Lee. He’s in trouble. He needs to defeat Doering and hope that Suwama vs. Nomura goes to a draw. If either Suwama or Nomura win, he’s eliminated.

 

Doering. He needs to beat Lee and hope that Suwama loses. A much more likely scenario than Lee’s!

 

Anyway, back to the now.

 

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]

 

 

Joel Redman [6] vs. Joe Doering [6]

Redman has had a good tournament and probably opened a few eyes. He’s incredibly nice and has gotten over with the locals at every step. Doering has had a somewhat laid back Carnival but is still within striking distance going into the business end.

AJPW15Redman

Doering has a pretty obvious tactical advantage, given his size, but Redman pulls out a few savvy technical moves to keep him unbalanced. Redman ends up falling into the same tactical mistakes as his Japanese counterparts. Eager to show his resilience and strength. Redman is also hesitant at times as he’s waiting for Big Joe to get into position. The match is perfectly fine but Doering is still in second gear at best. His crossbody finishes and Redman is out.

Final Rating: ***

 

Jake Lee [6] vs. Sam Adonis [4]

If Jake Lee loses here I will be absolutely stunned.

AJPW15Lee

Adonis is quite a good opponent for Lee as they’re around the same level and therefore Lee is never exposed in any way. They keep it basic and it’s a solid match up. Lee’s kicks are a highlight, although compared to Sai he still has some way to go. They hit ten minutes and a backdrop driver finishes. This was fine. Jake Lee continues to have ‘potential’ but is struggling to live up to his ‘future of the company’ tag.

Final Rating: **1/2

 

Yuji Okabayashi [7] vs. Atsushi Aoki [6]

If Aoki loses he’s done. Okabayashi has Miyahara in his last match so that rather telegraphs the outcome here does it not? Yuji overwhelms Aoki here. He’s got power to burn and doesn’t tire out. The only hope for Aoki is grabbing a hold and wearing Okabayashi down. As a match it makes sense. Okabayashi is a beast, plain and simple, and Aoki has to work from underneath. The crowd rally behind him and it’s good stuff.

AJPW15Aoki

I like how Aoki leans all his weight on Okabayashi to try and compensate for the size difference It’s smart wrestling as they try and make it feel like a genuine competition, which is often an issue when dealing with size differences. I love the little teases of Aoki winning with a flash pin and also his resilience despite getting battered by big bombs for half the match. Okabayashi gets the junior up in the Torture Rack and there’s no escaping the big bear savaging him. Okabayashi’s win takes him into a share of the lead in Block A. This was a smartly told story by one of the best workers in the tournament.

Final Rating: ***1/2

 

James and Okabayashi are tied for the top spot here as they wrestled each other to a 30 minute draw earlier in the tournament.

 

Kento Miyahara [6] vs. Ryouji Sai [7]

Sai has run hot and cold during this tournament. Miyahara has been one of the most consistent guys in the tournament, as he’s All Japan’s ace. Only Okabayashi has been better and that’s open for debate. This result is absolutely nailed on, despite what the one irritating Sai fan thinks. Miyahara has to win here or there’s no drama in his big showdown with Okabayashi.

AJPW15Sai

Miyahara has this upper gear that he goes into sometimes and he hits that here only for Sai to match him and I have a moment of realisation that this match might absolutely fucking rule.

AJPW15Miyahara

There’s perhaps a little too much stalling and posing but they’re here for the long run. Also Sai settles into working the arm and he’s very into that, which is a pity because this started off great. The idea behind Sai’s assaults is that he knows Miyahara wins a straight up fight. So he changes the rules. First he shows Kento he’s capable of matching him, which could have happened we’ll never know, and then he switches gears. Eager to take the arm and then bend the rules a little. Miyahara is utterly unphased. It’s part of his character. So a guy trying to break his arm and throw him off the apron onto the exposed floor is nothing new. He expects this. After all everyone in this tournament has gotten more revved up to wrestle him. It’s like playing the best team in any sport. It’s the Big One.

 

Sai’s murderous running knee has been built as a big finish, and deservedly so (it looks badass), but that doesn’t work here. In fact it spurs Kento into action. After taking it he looks positively energised. He fires off a series of moves culminating in the German suplex and that’ll do it. Kento, sluggish all tournament, is hitting form at the right time.

Final Rating: ***1/2

 

Summary:

A solid enough night. Everything here was really predictable and that stung my enjoyment a touch. The results leave Block B where it was before with a mass of dudes on 8 points. I still think there are only four possible winners and if you look at the permutations it’s more like three (Suwama, Doering, Nomura). Block A should also run out pretty clear cut. Whoever wins Miyahara vs. Okabayashi is going to the final. I know other things are possible and I’m not entirely discounting them but if Dylan James wins Block A I will eat my hat. Sai lost to Dylan James so he’s done. Aoki is eliminated on points now. Ishikawa is also eliminated as even if he beats Zeus and moves to nine points whoever wins out of Okabayashi and Miyahara will have more points. Even if that match is a draw.

 

Standings:

 

BLOCK A

Dylan James [9]

Yuji Okabayashi [9]

Zeus [8]

Kento Miyahara [8]

Shuji Ishikawa [7]

Ryoji Sai [7]

Atsushi Aoki [6]

Gianni Valletta [6]

Yuma Aoyagi [4]

 

BLOCK B

Naoya Nomura [8]

Joe Doering [8]

Jake Lee [8]

Suwama [8]

Yoshitatsu [8]

Daichi Hashimoto [8]

Takashi Yoshida [6]

Joel Redman [6]

Sam Adonis [4]

 

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