AJPW Super Power Series
May 21 2017
We’re in Tokyo at Korakuen Hall (I see so many shows from Korakuen Hall it almost seems weird when I’m not watching something from Korakuen Hall. I wonder if they do season tickets?) This is All Japan’s follow up show to Champion Carnival, which means Champ Carnival winner Shuji Ishikawa gets his title shot at AJPW Ace Kento Miyahara. I am excited. Also on this card is a whole bunch of All Japan-esque stuff including old dudes, weird titles, plucky youngsters and more old dudes.
BANG! TV World Championship
Contestants here are Trans Am Hiroshi (from DDT), Yuma Aoyagi, Koji Iwamoto, Atsushi Maruyama, Yohei Nakajima, Yutaka Yoshie, Yusuke Okada and Osamu Nishimura.
What a handsome bunch. The Flying Pink Tank is a tool of the masses here, being used to eliminate Yohei before he’s pinned by everyone else. They know what they’re doing. He’s a big fat fuck who can’t be thrown over the top rope. Almost immediately we’re down to the final three; Hiroshi, Nishimura and Aoyagi. Trans Am tries singing to win but that works out badly for him and Nishimura rolls Aoyagi up for the strap in a matter of minutes.
Final Rating: ½*
Takao Omori & Masao Inoue vs. The Great Kabuki & Masanobu Fuchi
Combined age in this match: 412. Actually it’s 225 but fuck me, that’s pretty old without the comedic exaggeration. It’s supposed to be a tribute match to Jumbo Tsuruta so they’ve all got sweet Jumbo tees on, including the referee. Everyone is very old and tired. Fuchi’s lumbago is playing up. The match is better when they piss around; Fuchi getting a lot of love for concealing a punch from the referee. It’s an art form! Inoue gets the Mist and Fuchi rolls him up for the pin after six minutes of bumbling comedy. This pinfall is met by Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone” blasting out of the speakers in Korakuen Hall, complete with jet noises from Top Gun. It’s the least suitable music ever and as far as tribute matches go, I’m not sure Jumbo would have been that into it. Maybe he was a prankster behind the scenes.
Final Rating: *
NEXTREAM (Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura) vs. Evolution (Joe Doering & Atsushi Aoki)
Like with every young guys vs. established guys match there’s an uphill struggle for the young punks. Although Jake Lee has grown the kind of facial hair you expect from a musketeer so he’s got to be considered a player soon. Doering was one of the stars of the Champion Carnival so it’s no surprise the match revolves around him and his power offence. And his furry boots. It’s all about whether the two youngsters can get stuck into Big Joe. This leads directly to a shocking outcome; Jake overcoming Joe and his power and finishing with a backdrop driver. Massive win for Jake Lee! Match was barely five minutes but has done tonnes for Lee.
Final Rating: **1/2
GAORA TV Championship
Jun Akiyama (c) vs. Mitsuya Nagai
Akiyama has given himself this under-strap so he can help the progression of plucky youngsters, like Mitsuya Nagai, 48. He’s one half of Dark Nightmare with Minamino, so he has a sweet leather ring jacket. Then Uncle Jun shows up!
The banner has bunny ears and whiskers. I may never understand Japan. Nagai works firmly heel, accepting the assistance of his Dark Nightmare brother. Akiyama runs through an astonishing amount of his finishers in putting Nagai down. As if they wanted to stress what a top challenger the aging Nagai was for Jun. Minamino’s interference, like pulling the ref out, is particularly mean because it’s Nikkan Lee. I can only imagine Nagai yelling “go back to your pots and pans woman” for additional heat. Whenever the match takes place on an even kiel Nagai gets destroyed and even after the interference Akiyama picks Nagai off with the Exploder ’98 for the pin.
Final Rating: **1/4
AJPW Junior Heavyweight Championship
Hikaru Sato (c) vs. Black Tiger VII
The latest Black Tiger is NOSAWA Rongai. Black Tiger has a prestigious history. Originally portrayed by Marc “Rollerball” Rocco. Then by Eddie Guerrero. Other Black Tiger’s have included Silver King and Tomohiro Ishii. Is NOSAWA the worst wrestler to don the mask? Probably. They originally tried him in 2012 only for NOSAWA to get busted for drugs and dropped by New Japan. I care so little about NOSAWA that if I wasn’t reviewing this I would definitely skip it and I love Sato. NOSAWA’s work is so sloppy and illogical. It’s heavily influenced by lucha-libre, which makes him even worse. The match takes a dramatic turn when NOSAWA clips some of Sato’s hair off with a pair of scissors! Holy shit, it’s fucking personal now. NOSAWA’s shortcomings are glaringly obvious here. His movement is horrible and he telegraphs everything. How can someone have been in wrestling for twenty years and still stink this badly? He does a bad job of everything, including his cheating, which isn’t concealed at all. Certain wrestlers rub me up the wrong way and NOSAWA is a prime example of a shit wrestler. Sato does his best to carry the match but there’s nothing doing. The match peaks at the finish with Sato outclassing NOSAWA on the mat and getting the armbar submission. It felt genuine and the match was at its level best on the mat where Sato could lead.
Final Rating: **1/4
Look at this absolute tosspot;
AJPW World Tag Team Championship
Big Guns (Zeus & The Bodyguard) (c) vs. KAI & Kengo Mashimo
KAI without his facial hair looks like a child. He’s 34. The team with Kengo is based on a mutual dislike of each other. Oh, the old mismatched tag team partners is it? Zeus & Bodygaaaaah are the old reliable team for AJPW now. Mainly because Zeus went from being a roided up waste of space to being one of the best wrestlers in the company. All hail the mighty Zeus!
This is a fairly heated affair, with the crowd getting into all four guys to varying degrees. The mismatched partners storyline continues with KAI making a hash of a double team and superkicking his partner. When has that ‘I’ll hold him, you kick him in the face’ spot actually worked? They even miscue the other way, just to show how hopeless they are as a team. Big Guns dominate throughout and it looks like a walk in the park but this is professional wrestling. KAI superkicks Bodyguard to prevent a Torture Rack and Kengo gets the cheeky roll up for the belts. The mismatched duo have somehow won the belts. This is KAI’s first title in All Japan since 2012, when he was still a junior. For the veteran Kengo, it’s probably his biggest career win, having spent most of his wrestling life in K-Dojo.
Final Rating: ***1/4
AJPW Triple Crown Championship
Kento Miyahara (c) vs. Shuji Ishikawa
Kento has held the belt for 464 days. It’s the longest title reign since Satoshi Kojima in 2005-2006. A good long title run can stabilise a company, especially if the champion puts his all into being the companies ace.
Kento Miyahara has been an outstanding champion but he’s never faced someone as strong as Shuji Ishikawa. Even last year, when he bested Daisuke Sekimoto, he didn’t have to deal with the sheer size of a Shuji. He’s massive, powerful and lays in the strikes. And yet Miyahara has been equal to everything anyone has thrown at him for 464 days. Although that has only included eight successful title defences he has become the symbol of All Japan in the process.
The story of the match is that Shuji is a beast and is near impossible to overcome. That’s how he won Champion Carnival. Of late he’s exuded confidence, even in DDT where he’s constantly belittled by Daisuke Sasaki. There’s no doubt Shuji is one of the top talents DDT have. Miyahara has faced larger opponents before but not anyone like Ishikawa. This becomes prevalent as Miyahara can’t lift Shuji but also gets rocked by heavy knees and rattled by big power moves. His only hope is throwing knees and hoping to get a knock out. Both guys throw incredible looking knees. Shuji for sheer power, Kento for versatility and angle of attack. The match is a war. If it was taking place in somewhere more critically acclaimed it would have gotten a lot more buzz. They rock each other with the strikes and it’s all so fast and timed to perfection. Especially with Big Shuji in there, throwing his weight around. Kento keeps busting out miracle escapes, which involve his knee smashing into Ishikawa’s head, so Shuji can’t end him. In the past this would result in Miyahara throwing knees and German suplexing his way to victory but here Ishikawa won’t stay down. Some of the last gasp kick-outs, from both men, are sensational. That shoulder shooting up as the ref’s hand comes down for three. I genuinely buy into four of these before Shuji scores the pinfall that sees him end Kento’s long reign. There is a tremendous reaction from the crowd, who were genuinely attached to Kento’s run. It feels like a special occasion that Shuji Ishikawa unseated the champ here.
It’s Ishikawa’s first Triple Crown title, at age 41, and probably the biggest win of his pro wrestling career. The twenty minute match clearly took it’s toll, as Shuji struggles to lift the belt after the match.
Final Rating: ****1/2
This was not a good show but the main event is definitely worth your time. Kento Miyahara has been fucking great as All Japan’s ace over the past year and a half. He’s been exceptional. Shuji Ishikawa is one of the few names that I would consider as being worthy of ending that run. So I’m pleased it wasn’t a random title switch, as Japanese companies sometimes have, and instead an important match and one that makes another main event star. In my head either Zeus or Jake Lee would be the one to unseat Kento, down the line, but it’s better than Miyahara can beat those guys but can’t cope with the massive talents of Shuji Ishikawa.