AJPW Champion Carnival Final
April 29 2019
I started watching this show on my laptop to test it out ahead of SSS16 weekend where it will be providing myself and Brother Mort with New Japan and Big Japan entertainment. So I didn’t really have a keyboard to hand to type up my thoughts. Short story: young boy opener was ok, Iwamoto & Sato vs. Sato & Okada was cheeky good. Hikaru Sato got all fired up and submissions driven in that. Plus Keiichi is the absolute boy and it’s great to have him back. The Akiyama vs. Menso tag was funny stuff. Akiyama slamming Menso on the floor and then flashing this enormous smile was brilliant.
Joel Redman & Sam Adonis vs. Dylan James & Joe Doering
This is certainly a battle of Types. The James & Doering team are the Hoss Gaijin. Redman & Adonis the Technical Gaijin. There is the small issue of Adonis not being that technically proficient. Big Joe is still hurt so he does very little here and Redman shows him a few tricks. Dylan James shows how he’s grown in stature during this tour. People expect him to mash Adonis. There’s only one team winning this and Dylan tees Adonis up to get flattened by Doering.
Final Rating: **3/4
Naoya Nomura & Ryouji Sai vs. Yoshitatsu & Yuma Aoyagi
Nomura is so unlucky not to be in the CC final after basically winning Block B and getting screwed over by All Japan’s wacky rules that have no tiebreaking tools at all.
He’s still a babyfaced assassin at this point but give it a few years and this guy is going to be a killer. The progression of him, and to a lesser extent Jake Lee, has given hope to All Japan that the future is in good hands. They feel more organised and focused than NOAH that’s for damn sure. Nomura doesn’t exactly hurl himself into this and I don’t blame him at all. He busted his ass yesterday. Aoyagi is half-assing it to a shocking degree again. I’m starting to think he’s the YOSHI-HASHI of this crop of youngsters. Sai absolutely mercs Aoyagi with his corner knee for the finish. This was hit and miss. Mostly miss considering the talent involved. Glad Sai put that rookie in his place with a knee to the face.
Final Rating: **3/4
Zeus, Gianni Valletta, Yuji Okabayashi & Daichi Hashimoto vs. Violent Giants, Atsushi Aoki & Takashi Yoshida
Teeny tiny Aoki and his big mates. Zeus, who I’ve praised for looking mega motivated every time out, is super motivated here. He looks like a guy who knows this is the semi-main because he’s in it. With all these other fucking scrubs. Old timers, visiting Big Japan nobodies and whatever Valletta is. Scrubs. All to bask in the glory of Zeus! They have a cracking walk and brawl, involving everyone, and showing the visitors to Korakuen Hall a good time. Interesting to note that Daichi looks more motivated when he has Okabayashi standing in his corner. Valletta gets his comeuppance a little here. He tries to bash Shuji Ishikawa with his chain and let me tell you, that does not end well for him. Shuji bashes him with the running knee and that’ll do it. This was so much fun that I wished it was a lot longer.
Final Rating: ***1/4
2019 Champion Carnival Final
Kento Miyahara vs. Jake Lee
Miyahara has never won CC and he got close last year before losing to Marufuji in the final to set up their title match. However this year he’s already got two title matches lined up after loses to Ishikawa and Zeus. Could this be his year? Meanwhile Jake Lee came out of the pack on the last night in Block B and fluked his way into the final.
Jake is keen to prove he belongs on this stage though and he starts stronger. Looking to impose his will on Kento via knees and kicks. Miyahara is a brilliant character because, with minimal tweaks, he can be a heel or face on any given night and effortlessly switch between the two where required. He’s simply just Kento Miyahara and he adapts to everyone else’s strengths. He spends a fair chunk of this working around the donkey Lee. Jake at one point failing to register that he’s been struck by a dropkick.
If Jake Lee were footballer he’d be a giant centre back who’s ok at positional play and can head the ball but he can’t play out of the back for shit because he’s got no vision. Jake leans heel during the match and Kento has to battle from underneath, which he’s exceptional at but Lee just doesn’t beat him up enough. He’s lacking in aggression and desire and the match is propped in a big way by a lively Korakuen crowd. It’s not until Kento is mounting a big comeback that Lee finally looks like he belongs. Defensively and in dramatic kick-outs he delivers the performance he couldn’t deliver on offence.
When he takes over again it’s Miyahara who is out to save this. Screaming when strapped in submissions, until Daichi he picks his moments for this, and timing his strikes to absolute perfection. This is finally the point where Jake turns up. His moves look more crisp as he gets tired. He’s less able to focus on what he’s doing and it gets a bit rough around the edges, which is much better than his standard staid work. Miyahara does a grand job of making me think he’s fucked, which is one of his calling cards but he literally looks like standing is hard. Jake hits his backdrop driver finish…and Miyahara kicks out of the casual fucking cover. Yes!
I love matches where both guys look absolutely shattered and convince me that they can’t go on. They smash each other with big moves here and the double downs are full of tension. Who will get up first? Who has strength left?
Kento! KENTO! KENTOOO!
Final Rating: ****1/4
He might be the best in the world. He’s been carrying All Japan on his back for three years and now he’s finally got some competition and he’s damned if he’s giving up that spot. The fucking don.