All Japan Pro Wrestling post up in Korakuen Hall with three titles on the line. The show is headlined by a rematch between former NEXTREAM stablemates, Kento Miyahara and Naoya Nomura, as they battle for the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship. This is the first time I’ve done a review on AJPW. If this is your first time reading about the promotion, hopefully you decide to come along and join me. Let’s get started!
Yusuke Okada, Dan Tamura & Atsuki Aoyagi def. Yuki Ishikawa, Akira Hyodo & Takuho Kato @ 11:24 via Okada Sudden Death on Hyodo – ***1/4
If you don’t know who these guys are, Ishikawa, Hyodo and Kato are young boys for BJW. Tamura and Aoyagi are young boys for AJPW and Okada is a recent graduate of the AJPW dojo. The bulk of the match revolved around heated exchanges between Okada and Hyodo. Those two started the match and Hyodo laid in a few clubbing forearms to the chest which prompted Okada to respond by shouldering Hyodo down to the mat and kicking him across the back before tagging out. Hyodo kept his focus on Okada despite Tamura being the legal man by repeatedly knocking Okada off the apron. This caused a clearing of both sides of the apron and became the crux of the match.
One exchange lead to Hyodo firing off a rapid fire series of forearms to the chest that rocked Okada to the corner and follows it up with a spear which was the highlight of the match. Really strong stuff between those two while also adding in Aoyagi’s top rope shotgun dropkick and a gutwrench suplex from Tamura. Hyodo got a great response from Korakuen when he kicked out of a backdrop suplex but was immediately finished with a fisherman buster.
Jun Akiyama, Ultimo Dragon & Yuma Aoyagi def. Masanobu Fuchi, Osamu Nishimura & Hikaru Sato @ 9:32 via Dragon La Magistral on Fuchi – *1/2
If you’ve seen this match once, you know exactly what you’re in for but since it’s my first AJPW review I’ll cover the match with grace. Aoyagi and Aoki start the match with Aoki’s flurry of kicks and an attempted armbar before tagging out to Akiyama and Nishimura. Those two traded uppercuts, ran the ropes and Nishimura caught Akiyama in a Cobra Twist but Akiyama hip tosses him over the ropes and to the floor. They then tag in Fuchi and Dragon where they do the Fuchi punch gimmick which consists of him turning from the referee and delivering a closed fist shot to the head but swearing up and down that it was an open palm. The crowd backs up Fuchi’s claim and the match goes on. Dragon holds onto the ropes to deny Fuchi of his dropkick to a chorus of boos (another one of Fuchi’s staples) and Akiyama tags in to do the same. Aoki stops Akiyama from murdering Fuchi with an Exploder suplex, Akiyama then tags in Ultimo who lands a few kicks and finishes Fuchi with La Magistral.
Hellboy, Jake Lee & Koji Iwamoto def. Takao Omori, Black Menso~re & Hokuto Omori @ 8:12 via Hellboy Lariat on Menso – *1/4
A person came to the ring dressed as Hellboy as a promotional gimmick for the movie’s release. This person could not move and showed very little interest being in the costume. There was a short exchange between Iwamoto and Hokuto but ultimately this match didn’t serve as anything other than an embarrassment.
EWA Intercontinental Championship
TAJIRI (c) vs Akira Francesco @ 11:46 via Sitout Pin – ***
For those who haven’t seen TAJIRI in a while, this was probably one of his strongest outings in recent memory. Akira worked as the fiery babyface, springing all over the place like a Will Ospreay cosplayer. He brought it to TAJIRI with forearms, cut off the handspring back elbow with a dropkick and managed to duck the Buzzsaw Kick. TAJIRI found a way to counter Akira’s speed by catching him running in with a powerbomb and they traded quick pin attempts until TAJIRI was able to score the three.
Yoshitatsu & Joel Redman def. Dylan James & Kotaro Suzuki @ 7:23 via Yoshitatsu Roll Up on James – **3/4
Redman earned himself a spot in AJPW during this year’s Champion Carnival by putting his technical prowess on full display. He matched up nicely here with Kotaro Suzuki who is another technical wizard and one of the most underrated wrestlers around. Those two started off with a great exchange before the match broke into double teams from Redman and Yoshitatsu who were able to capitalize on a flurry to pull off a shocking win over James. These two could very well end up becoming a permanent tag team which I’d give a big thumbs up.
AJPW World Tag Team Championship
Zeus & Ryoji Sai def. Violent Giants (Shuji Ishikawa & Suwama) (c) @ 19:51 via Zeus Jackhammer on Ishikawa – ****1/4
Tag matches often times lose their focus and become big spam sessions with no clear direction. Not this match. The Giants came in with a clear motive: destroy Zeus. Ishikawa whipped Zeus into the rails repeatedly early on and Suwama followed with a Boston Crab. They both would double Zeus with shoulders and lariats and keep Sai out of the match as much as possible. Sai only received one tag the entire match and would instead play the role of breaking up the pins on Zeus.
At one point, Suwama had Zeus on the top rope positioned for a belly-to-belly and Ishikawa came up under Suwama into powerbomb position as a way to add more force to the suplex. That’s where the tides changed. Sai held onto Zeus’ boot and Ishikawa powerbombed a solo Suwama to the mat. Zeus still had to kick out of piledrivers and have strike exchanges with Ishikawa but Sai was able to put an end to the double team by catching Suwama in an STO. This allowed Zeus a one-on-one chance with Ishikawa where he was finally able to drop him with the Jackhammer and take the win. Excellent tag match.
Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship
Kento Miyahara (c) def. Naoya Nomura @ 27:51 via Shutdown German – ****1/2
Kento Miyahara’s seventh defense on his fourth reign as Triple Crown Heavyweight Champion comes at the expense of Naoya Nomura. Just six months ago these two were partners with Nomura under Kento’s wing. A match for the Triple Crown lead to Nomura deciding to go out on his own. Now looking to make it as his own man, he once again faces off with Kento.
The mind games come right from the start with Nomura giving Kento a clean break and patting his face. Kento wouldn’t give the same courtesy, instead hitting Nomura with a forearm. Now that Nomura was inside Kento’s head he was able to catch Kento off guard by throwing him over his shoulders and launching Kento into the post. He would stay on the attack with a pop-up gutbuster but Kento sidestepped a Lancer (spear) and sent Nomura to the floor. From there Kento would go on the chase and begin headbutting Nomura until he collapsed. After a quick flex inside the ring, Kento rolled back out for another headbutt. Kento’s hubris lead to him holding a headscissors beyond the referee’s count and wouldn’t let go until the referee tackled him to force the break. This only angered Kento further as he turned his attention to the referee which in turn upset Nomura because Kento was now taking him so lightly that the referee had his attention more than Nomura.
They would end up battling on the apron, Kento fighting off Nomura’s shoulders only to get planted with a DDT followed by a German suplex off the apron and to the floor. After violently wrenching on Kento’s neck, Nomura took to the top rope, ate the knees on the splash and gets sent to the second rope where Kento drops him with a German followed by a blackout knee strike. This was just one of many knees Nomura would wind up eating. They had this extended forearm exchange that would look to favor Nomura but Kento would block a Lancer and attempt the Shutdown German. Nomura managed to turn one attempt into a Maximum (DVD) but the problem came once he tried for an airplane spin. Kento escaped and hit a Blackout followed by the Shutdown German for the win.
After the match Kento talked about winning the upcoming Ōdō tournament which begins next weekend.
If you’re reading about AJPW for the first time because of this review, welcome. This is a show a first time viewer can sit in on and find something to enjoy. It starts out with a hot AJPW vs BJW tag, a couple of comedy matches you can skip, maybe you want to see TAJIRI, and then two excellent title matches to cap it off.
The Kento/Nomura story is one of the best things going on in AJPW right now so it’s well worth checking out to see if it’s something that grabs your attention. Let me know if you check out this show because of the review.
Kento vs Nomura
Giants vs Zeus & Sai
AJPW vs BJW