AJPW Summer Explosion review (8.18.18)

AJPW Summer Explosion review (8.18.18)

AJPW Summer Explosion


August 18 2018


We’re in Tokyo, Japan at Korakuen Hall. This is in the midst of the Junior Tag Battle of Glory, which is certainly a tournament that I have limited interest in. But this show is from Korakuen Hall so it also has a big All Asia title defence and the AJPW tag belts on the line.


Jun Akiyama, Takao Omori, Chikara & Atsushi Maruyama vs. Osamu Nishimura, Masanobu Fuchi, Yuma Aoyagi & Gianni Valletta

Valletta is from Malta, stands well over six feet and has never worked in Japan before this tour. AJPW sure pick some weird guys. Omori is looking dreadful nowadays. I’m truly sorry for suggesting he should have been in Champion Carnival this year, I was clearly wrong. I mean he is 48 years old so I can see why he’s deteriorated but Akiyama is the exact same age and still pumping out top tier bangers when he feels like it.


This is…pedestrian. The pace actually picks up when Fuchi gets in there and he only has two moves. Three if you count the eye rake. At 64 Fuchi is now at the eternal babyface stage of his career where everyone is booed for hitting him with anything. Maruyama even does the concealed punch spot on him. It’s great. Maruyama gets so wound up by Fuchi getting him back that he kicks the rope and hurts his foot.

Omori finishes Fuchi off with the Axe Bomber, which is hardly fair as he doesn’t take ‘spots’ anymore. Maruyama was pretty great here, as was Akiyama. Really fun opener. I could watch a lot of Fuchi and not get tired of his antics.

Final Rating: ***


Shiori Asahi & Kaji Tomato vs. Black Tiger & Black Menso-re

Black Menso-re is the evil version of Yohei Nakajima’s Menso-re Oyaji; his old masked gimmick. They do a funny gimmick here where Black Tiger keeps knocking Menso-re out of the way and Tomato does the same to Asahi. Menso-re ups the evil stakes by trying to remove Tomato’s mask. He’s not wearing one! It’s almost an attempted scalping. Tomato then goes to do his taunt and Black Tiger full on kicks him in the balls. It’s great timing.



They do a lot of miscues for comedy purposes and I find myself chuckling the entire match. Which makes it two in a row. Asahi catches Menso with a rolling cradle and Black Tiger jumps in to celebrate before realising that his team lost. I had a great time with this match.

Final Rating: ***


Shuji Kondo & Kotaro Suzuki vs. Tajiri & Koji Iwamoto

The standard of wrestling improves here but I care less because I’ve become so accustomed to the comedy matches. I almost wish this was clipped but the match they wrestle feels like its clipped anyway as they pay brief homage to an actual match before going straight into the stretch. Kondo catches Iwamoto by surprise and a deadly roll up finishes. This was five minutes, all out. I kinda hate they even bothered with the first minute of action where nothing happened for them to load the next four with nothing but near falls.

Final Rating: **1/2


Zeus & Joe Doering vs. Dylan James & Jake Lee

Where did he get that hat? You’ll be pleased to know that the fan got a high five from Zeus moments later. Revealing himself to be All Japan’s Best Boy.


The big question here is how quickly will Zeus beat both James and Lee and will he beat them both at the same time? Big Joe kills some time doing tests of strength as Dylan attempts to SHOW HIM THE POWER, MOTHERFUCKER. Then it’s Zeus in for chop duels with Dylan, the impact echoing around the building and I think I love this match. At one point you can see Joe standing on the apron smiling. Me too, Joe, me too. I hope Jake Lee never tags in. His first involvement in the match is to fail to break up a pin. Jackhammer puts Dylan away and Jake never legally enters the match. Bonus star!

Final Rating: ***1/4


Masaaki Mochizuki & Shun Skywalker vs. Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato

Team Dragon Gate vs. Evolution. This match would be fucking great without the nerds in masks.

Look at this action! Imagine a match that’s just all that and none of the assorted Aoki stalling and Shun….whatever Shun does. And they keep tagging back in. Eventually it gets to Mochizuki and he falls off the buckles attempting to kick Aoki in the face. He was so eager to kick Aoki in the face that he fell. I can’t call that a botch. Shun gets a bunch of flips in and I’m definitely siding with the DG team by the end of the match. I was leaning that way with Mochizuki anyway but Shun does more than Aoki here. They settle back into Mochizuki vs. Sato and I really wish that was a singles match here. It would kinda mess up the idea of a tag league but hey. The end of the match, where Aoki is out on the floor boring the ringside fans, is fucking great. Mochi vs. Sato. That’s what I want from pro wrestling.

Final Rating: ***1/4


All Asia Heavyweight Championship

The Bodyguard (c) vs. Naoya Nomura


Big burly Bodygaaaah faces plucky young chubbster Nomura in this routine title defence. Nomura is making a living right now by coming close, looking heroic but ultimately failing. It’s a long journey he’s on and I’m excited to see how it pans out. Sacrificing Bodyguard here wouldn’t be a disastrously bad idea but ideally Nomura should work on his puppy fat first before being rewarded. He’s definitely improved in the ring over the past year or so and it will only be a matter of time before he clubs his way into AJPW’s elite. The biggest issue this match faces is following the Zeus/Doering tag where it was big boys barrelling into each other. With that tactic essentially undermined Bodyguard has no real plan B to go to. Nomura lacks the experience to switch it up and we’re left with a decent but underwhelming semi main. The basic storyline line is a ‘will he/won’t he’ ascendancy story for Nomura. Bodyguard, who let’s remember is 50 years old, gets absolutely gassed. He can’t lift his legs, he can’t get his shoulders up. He’s fucked. It becomes a tragic contest. Bodyguard beaten comprehensively by father time. Nomura has to literally work around him. Bodyguard can barely get Nomura off the ground for the finish, his legs buckling on the slam. Bodyguard can barely stand after the match. It went less than 16 minutes. I get that he’s trying his little heart out but this was hard to watch after the ten minute mark. Bodyguard was done.


Final Rating: *1/2


AJPW World Tag Team Championship

Violent Giants (c) vs. Kento Miyahara & Yoshitatsu

Suwama’s theme is muted, but here it is. Solid.


Violent Giants are an imposing team and I struggle to understand why AJPW hooked the belts off them back in February. The only possible reason was to set up this match with the possible intrigue of Yoshiken repeating that February title switch. There’s intrigue from that but also that Yoshiken operate as a team whereas Violent Giants are just two huge men who are able to boss the action through sheer size. Yoshitatsu also benefits from the Kento Factor; where everyone in his vicinity immediately improves.


The champs work over Tatsu at length to allow the hot tag to go to the companies Ace. While Miyahara has success with his speed, he also finds it hard to overcome two larger opponents. His exchanges with Shuji are the best on the entire show. When they simultaneously tag out the air goes out of the building. Nobody wants to see Tatsu slow motion kicking at Suwama after that intense Ishikawa/Miyahara stuff.


Suwama getting fired up is the good part and that’s entirely backwards. I’m aware Yoshitatsu is better in AJPW than he was in NJPW but there are times when he still comes up short. He’s definitely the weak link in this match. With a superior wrestler in his spot this could have been something special. He’s not a total disaster and there are times where he does deliver but the crowd don’t buy into it. Look at the reaction for him no selling the backdrop driver. There is noise but moments later Kento and Shuji and going back to it and the noise is much louder. I’m being a little picky as they do go to war here.

Suwama eventually has too much for Tatsu, despite sustaining a neck injury earlier in the match and clearly nursing it at the finish. Backdrop Hold finishes. This got super fucking fantastic towards the finish. Suwama gave it his all and the Miyahara/Shuji sequences are always good. Tatsu just about held his own and the result was a good time all round.

Final Rating: ****1/4



I loved this show. There was so much going on. The comedy bouts at the start. The variety in the matches that followed. Some quick and to the point. Some absolute wars. Great show. Watch it.


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