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AJPW ‘Excite Series 2019’ Preview & Predictions

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February 24th All Japan Pro Wrestling comes to Yokoyama where both the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship and World Tag Team Championship will be defended and the 2019 Junior Battle of Glory winner will be crowned. You can watch the show live on Sunday morning via AJPW TV at 1am EST or VOD for approximately $8 USD. Here’s a preview of the event in order to give you a refresher on what to expect.

Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship
Kento Miyahara (c) vs Suwama

Four time and current Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion, Kento Miyahara, meets up with rival and six time Triple Crown champion, Suwama. This will be the third time these two have battled for the title, the first time in over sixteen months. Their last encounter saw Suwama end Miyahara’s second reign at fourty-three days. There’s an age gap of thirteen years, Suwama representing the old guard while the 29 year old Miyahara looks to take the company into the future.

Look no further than at the Giant Baba Memorial Show on Februay 19th. Miyahara main evented Sumo Hall as the champion, standing across from the ace of NJPW, Hiroshi Tanahashi. Suwama was nowhere to be seen on the card. This has a feeling of a classic changing of the guard. Those long time fans may rally behind the grizzled veteran in Suwama but it’s Miyahara who will be taking All Japan forward.
Prediction: Kento Miyahara

AJPW World Tag Team Championship
Strong BJ (Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi) (c) vs Sweeper (Jake Lee & Ryoji Sai)

Big Japan Pro-Wrestling’s team of Sekimoto and Okabayashi may technically be outsiders but they’re no strangers to these titles. Last month they defeated the team of Suwama and Shuji Ishikawa to begin their third reign as the champions. Strong BJ are one of the most popular acts in Japanese wrestling and have been so for years, even winning the Tokyo Sports ‘Best Tag Team’ award in both 2011 and 2016.

They face off against two members of Sweeper who, while not exactly heels, are the closest thing to it in the company. Strong BJ may in fact be transitional champions as a way to get the title on young Jake Lee, whose last reign was cut short due to injury. Daisuke Sekimoto is one of the most popular wrestlers on the independent circuit right now. He’s the BJW Strong Champion, ZERO1 Champion and one half of the AJPW Tag Champions. A heavy schedule like this isn’t abnormal for him either. He hasn’t had a year of under one hundred matches in over a decade and he shows no signs of slowing.
Prediction: Strong BJ

2019 Junior Battle of Glory Final
Koji Iwamoto vs Seiki Yoshioka

Just two years after making the jump to All Japan, Iwamoto was able to capture the AJPW World Junior Heavyweight Championship. He lost the title to WRESTLE-1 outsider, Shuji Kondo, on his first defense but quickly corrected that wrong by winning it back from Kondo. Now he faces another opponent from WRESTLE-1 in Seiki Yoshioka. While the title isn’t on the line, failing to defend the tournament from an outsider for a second year in a row could be damaging to his image as the next potential ace of the division.

Seiki Yoshioka has been on the rise ever since betraying his brothers in WRESTLE-1 by joining CIMA’s Stronghearts. Although still officially a member of the WRESTLE-1 roster, Stronghearts has infiltrated the company by way of Yoshioka. Now he finds himself in AJPW’s junior tournament finals, representing both brands. Stronghearts has ties in OWE, AEW, DDT, WRESTLE-1 and if they were able to pick up a tournament win in AJPW it’d only be another notch in their belt.
Prediction: Seiki Yoshioka

Naoya Nomura vs Dylan James
This may in effect be a number one contender’s match for whoever wins the main event. James came into AJPW early last year and made waves by quickly winning the tag titles alongside Ryoji Sai. His strong performance in the following Champion Carnival earned him a shot at Kento Miyahara’s Triple Crown. He stands against Miyahara’s second in command, Naoya Nomura. Seemingly on the cusp of a breakout, it’s impossible not to see the potential on Nomura. He holds that classic throwback AJPW style, no frills, just beat people up. He’s the current All Asia Tag Team Champion and despite a couple of attempts at other titles, has yet to receive a shot at the Triple Crown. James is more likely to get this win but Nomura is poised for that big break.
Prediction: Dylan James

Shuji Ishikawa, Yuma Aoyagi & KAI vs Zeus, Yoshitatsu & Yutaka Yoshie
With Yuma Aoyagi being one half of the All Asian Tag Team Champions, this may be something that leads to the next challengers. Zeus is a part of an AJPW tag team staple called The Big Guns alongside The Bodyguard.
Prediction: Zeus, Yoshitatsu & Yutaka Yoshie

Masanobu Fuchi & Takao Omori vs Jun Akiyama & Mitsuo Momota
A pairing of two legend teams doing legend things. Both Masanobu Fuchi and Mitsuo Momota are well into their 60s but their partners are both fully capable wrestlers still. Don’t expect too much out of this match but it’s always nice to see Jun Akiyama.
Prediction: Jun Akiyama & Mitsuo Momota

Osamu Nishimura & Hokuto Omori vs Gianni Valetta & Atsuki Aoyagi
Another one not to get too excited about but youngster Atsuki Aoyagi will have a small interaction with the legend Osamu Nishimura. That’s something to look forward to if you enjoy that dynamic.
Prediction: Osamu Nishimura & Hokuto Omori

If you can’t tell why I’m previewing an All Japan show for the first time it’s because I think this is going to be very good. I’m confident in the top four matches delivering big time with some of the best and most exciting wrestlers in the company. Right now is a good time to subscribe to AJPW TV. You’ll only have the subscription for a week until it renews on the first but this is a big time show that feels significant for the company moving forward.

Robert McCauley hasn't missed an NJPW show since the launch of NJPW World. Always be on the look out for his reviews where he shares results and gives his honest opinions on the goings-on of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

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