AJPW Champion Carnival N4
April 11 2018
We’re in Kanazawa, Japan. Even less fans here. 415 in attendance. I can only hope Akiyama’s soldiers are in better form than on N3. I skipped the opener here and most of the tag that followed it but tuned in to the finish because I wanted to see how Bodom was getting along. I got to see him do a flip and he seems fine but he’ll need to keep the attitude in check. Japanese will not tolerate a poor attitude. It’s just not the done thing. Omori grabs the pin with the Axe Bomber and we can move on with tournament action.
Ok, here we go. Name a match that Arn never wants to see?
KAI vs. Yoshitatsu
In one Uncle Jun! Nice work. I’m disappointed, not angry, this has fallen on my night and not ended up with Jack Stevenson. Both these guys are losers (they’re 0-2) so someone has to become a winner here. So…double count out?
This is actually the longest match of the night, which is some sort of punishment for me liking pro wrestling. I’m aware that Tatsu has been a lot better since joining AJPW (especially this year) but throwing him in there with KAI makes it very tough for me to get invested in the action. For example; who do I want to win? I don’t give a toss. What kind of match am I hoping for? A short one. The story is more about who loses than who wins, with the loser going 0-3. It’s AJPW’s story to tell but they have one man lined up to look like a colossal chump. The Battle of the Failures. The Tussle of the Jobbers. It’s an ok match with KAI looking the better of the two, which I would expect. Tatsu has been proving himself in tag action and KAI, despite his shortcomings, is most at home as a singles guy. Plus his work is cleaner, crisper and generally feels like a big deal. Tatsu is a sideshow attraction. This is a good performance from KAI looking both incredibly competent and dominant yet vulnerable and strong at selling. Tatsu wins with the Codebreaker and KAI goes 0-3. KAI’s loss means I’m actually more invested in him. Who gives a shit if Yoshitatsu wins a match in some bumfuck town? KAI going 0-3 is the story. Match was rock solid but you’ll never watch it and you know it.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Yutaka Yoshie vs. Suwama
This is my first look at Suwama, who is 1-1. His badass music isn’t muted, which is cool. His music and his hair are the best things about him. He does occasionally have a sensational match, which makes his normal output even more irritating. This is a Big Boys Battle with lots of shoulderblocks. As I get older I get more and more into shoulderblocks. Guys using their sheer mass to knock another guy over is totally my bag. I may shoulderblock someone at work tomorrow.
Basically the match is good when these two are barrelling into each other and whenever it slows down it sucks. I keep hoping for a Yoshie win but Suwama already has one loss and he’s going to be in contention all tournament so it’s not happening. The dynamic of every Yoshie match is that he’s big and thus is hard to slam but he aids Suwama here by climbing the buckles. It’s the Flair spot. He might as well throw himself off. Suwama does hit a meaty clothesline just ahead of the finish, which I’m still marvelling over when the Backdrop Driver finishes. Hey, we get that sweet music again! Double win. This is already way better than yesterday’s turd of a show.
Final Rating: ***
Yuji Hino vs. Joe Doering
After Doering’s shambolic performance yesterday expectations have been lowered. He trots around the ring pre-match though, suggesting he’s in somewhat better condition. If he was in worse condition he’d be passed out in the toilets. Hey, I like sake as much as the next man Joe but come on. This is immediately a better match than Bodygaah vs. Doering as they do tests of strength.
SHOW ME THE POWER MOTHERFUCKER! (whispers “I promise not to fall over if you do”). There are some big meaty chops in this, especially from Hino. Doering rather dominates proceedings, which at least means not having to watch him bump. I’m fine with him just standing there taking chops all match. Doering struggles to take a big lariat and then gets planted with the Fucking BOMB for the loss. After yesterday’s performance he pretty much deserved to get beat in less than ten minutes and that’s what happened. At least Joe was better here than against Bodygaah but it still wasn’t a good showing.
Final Rating: **1/4
Dylan James vs. Zeus
“I am all that is man!” Zeus’ standard MO is to destroy his opponents with power, which is also Dylan James’ approach so we have ourselves a donnybrook. The execution is solid and it’s the kind of power tussle that gives Vince McMahon sustained erections. Combined with Indieriffic chop duels.
I’m definitely into it and they can go hell for leather because the match doesn’t even last five minutes. Dylan is the bigger man so has the bigger lariat and one massive lariat later Big Zeus is counting lights. Match time was 4.12. The very definition of a sprint. It was 4.12 of almost nothing but lariats and chops. I have to tell you, it was pretty goddamn good.
Final Rating: ***1/4
And with that we’re done for Night 4. I’m not sticking around for the trios main due to time constraints. With apologies to Kento Miyahara and his mates. Quick look at the Blocks before I head out. Hino goes 2-0 and tops Block A. Over in Block B KAI losing sees him go 0-3 but Yoshie is also pointless after Night 4. Zeus had his first loss and is now tied with Akiyama, Suwama and Dylan James who’s gone 2-0 so far. James needed a big start to establish himself as a threat and he’s got that.
YUJI HINO- M2, W2, D0, L0- PTS 4
SHINGO TAKAGI- M1, W1, D0, L0- PTS 2
KENTO MIYAHARA- M2, W1, D0, L1- PTS 2
SHUJI ISHIKAWA- M2, W1, D0, L1- PTS 2
JOE DOERING- M3, W1, D0, L2- PTS 2
THE BODYGUARD- M1, W0, D0, L1- PTS 0
RYOUJI SAI- M0, W0, D0, L0- PTS 0
NAOYA NOMURA- M1, W0, D0, L1- PTS 0
ZEUS- M3, W2, D0, L1- PTS 4
JUN AKIYAMA- M2, W1, D0, L0- PTS 4
SUWAMA- M3, W2, D0, L1- PTS 4
DYLAN JAMES- M2, W2, D0, L1- PTS 4
NAOMICHI MARUFUJI- M1, W1, D0, L0- PTS 2
YOSHITATSU- M3, W1, D0, L2- PTS 2
YUTAKA YOSHIE- M2, W0, D0, L2- PTS 0
KAI- M3, W0, D0, L3- PTS 0
This was better than the abysmal N3 and yet lacked anything approaching the quality of KAI vs. Akiyama. Just four short, watchable matches. You can probably skip this altogether if I’m being perfectly honest.