AJPW Champion Carnival Night 8
April 16 2018
We’re in Kagoshima, Japan. The card here is a huge step down after Night 7’s awesomeness in Hakata. At least they’ve got a ringside camera back for this show so it’s more visually stimulating. Although the building is uninspired, lighting wise and the venue is very small.
KAI  vs. Yutaka Yoshie 
This is not going to determine who wins Champion Carnival this year but it may determine who finishes bottom of Block B. In 7 matches they’ve got one win between the two of them. KAI plays underdog, again, against big boy Yoshie. The Flying Pink Tank is one of my favourite wrestlers who doesn’t have good matches and it’s largely because he’s so goddamn wholesome. Which makes it tough to buy him as a threat, or as a dominant force. It does not help that KAI is a fucking nerd and I kinda wish they’d reversed roles in this one. They so, somewhat, by having KAI chase the leg but Yoshie is doing flips off it moments later. How hard is it to not flip! Yoshie is 330lbs. You’d think he’d fine a moveset without using his bad wheel. It would be typical of nerd KAI if he lost here but instead he manages to pull of the win. So much for him losing every match until the last day but it is only Yoshie.
Final Rating: **1/4
Dylan James  vs. Yoshitatsu 
Kagoshima has not been delivered a gangbusters card here mates. KAI vs. Yoshie felt strained at bang on 10 minutes but these lads get given a full 15 minutes to do their thing. Spider-Tatsu tries his best to not be shit and I appreciate his effort levels. Tatsu is given control periods, which is contrary to what I expect from this match; Dylan James murdering former World Wrestling Entertainment employees with his beefy big boy moveset.
A total squash here would have been fine. Instead Dylan has to prolong his control periods with filler and it’s fucking boring. Dylan James is your Five Minute Sprint Man or your Big War with Big Lads Man. He is not your 15 minute back and forth with Yoshitatsu Man. Tatsu traps James in his Koji Clutch to weaken him and the Codebreaker finishes. Tatsu going over is an…interesting decision. It confirms James as a micard guy rather than a threat to the top echelons of AJPW’s singles ranks.
Final Rating: **
Shuji Ishikawa  vs. Naoya Nomura 
Through our sharing of shows Jack has gotten all three Nomura matches up to this point. This is my first look at him with a big challenge ahead of him in Shuji. It’s insane they’re both on 2 points. Now this is an ideal big man versus smaller man set up and they do it justice from the bell, after two other matches have failed with the same dynamic. Nomura digging deep, Shuji underestimating the youngster threat level. Ishikawa cutting him off at the right time. They do a spot off the stage where Nomura falls back first onto a table and he wings it, leaving a long red mark down his tricep. That might be something to watch for in later bouts.
Ishikawa doesn’t use it, or deviate from his plan of attack because he doesn’t need to. Although I find myself captivated by the red mark for the rest of the match.
My arm hurts just looking at that. It’s distracting, that’s for sure. Nomura puts in a gutsy effort and an unprepared Shuji is frequently caught off guard. Nomura brings the Fighting Spirit too! He’s all fired up and after a big scalp. He goes to the well one too many times with spear attempts though and gets a knee to the face. Big Shuji is perhaps not the most mobile but he knows what he’s doing. Nomura’s ballsy performance is fantastic and it takes Shuji planting him with the Fire Thunder Driver and Splash Mountain to get the pin. Shuji lets out a little ‘phew’ after the match too, showing how close it was and what a tough battle he just survived. One of my favourite matches of the tournament.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Kento Miyahara  vs. Bodyguard 
This doesn’t happen because Bodyguard is injured. So, no match and Kento gets two sweet points to take him up to joint top in Block A. Bodyguard, who is basically out of the tournament anyway, may be done.
No. He's scheduled to wrestle on Saturday and Sunday in Osaka. As of today only missed two shows due to a calf injury.
— STRIGGA (@STRIGGA) April 18, 2018
Let’s look at the blocks. Block A sees Kento tying it up with Hino on 8 points, even Hino has the proverbial ‘game in hand’. One of his remaining matches is against Bodyguard. Shuji moves up to 4 pts but has left himself a mountain to climb. He’ll need to beat Sai, Shingo and Bodyguard to get up to 10 points and hope both Hino and Kento fail in their remaining matches. It’s an unlikely scenario and with Shuji having lost to both Kento and Hino he’s basically done anyway. Shingo still has four matches so he’s very much alive. Doering has three left including Kento so he’s still there. Nomura is done. Shuji is done. Bodyguard is done. Sai needs to win all his matches and hope that Kento loses to Hino on the last day.
YUJI HINO- M4, W4, D0, L0- PTS 8
KENTO MIYAHARA- M5, W4, D0, L1- PTS 8
SHINGO TAKAGI- M3, W2, D0, L1- PTS 4
JOE DOERING- M4, W2, D0, L2- PTS 4
SHUJI ISHIKAWA- M4, W2, D0, L2- PTS 4
NAOYA NOMURA- M4, W1, D0, L3- PTS 2
RYOUJI SAI- M2, W0, D0, L2- PTS 0
THE BODYGUARD- M4, W0, D0, L4- PTS 0
Because there’s no run-away leaders in Block B it’s still pretty open. Tatsu’s win means a James block win is highly unlikely and we’ll start mathematically eliminating people around here pretty darn soon.
JUN AKIYAMA- M4, W3, D0, L1- PTS 6
SUWAMA- M4, W3, D0, L1- PTS 6
NAOMICHI MARUFUJI- M2, W2, D0, L0- PTS 4
DYLAN JAMES- M5, W2, D0, L3- PTS 4
ZEUS- M4, W2, D0, L2- PTS 4
YOSHITATSU- M4, W2, D0, L2- PTS 4
YUTAKA YOSHIE- M4, W1, D0, L3- PTS 2
KAI- M4, W1, D0, L3- PTS 2
Bodyguard’s injury cut this card short, which caused Tatsu vs. James to run way too long. However Shuji vs. Nomura was terrific wrestling. Make sure you don’t miss that.