All Japan Pro Wrestling
2014 World’s Strongest Tag League – Day 1
November 16, 2014
Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan

On the first night of the 2014 version of AJPW’s Tag League we have Dory Funk Jr. (73) returning to All Japan to wrestle alongside Masanobu Fuchi (60), Evolution looking to continue their dominance in the tag division, Xceed trying to win this year and a whole other slew of teams trying to become the World Tag Champions.

Wild Burning (Takao Omori and Jun Akiyama) have vacated the belts beforehand even after a successful 3rd title defense  — they believed that they were not worthy of holding the titles based on losses going into their 3rd defense. This kind of wrinkle/storytelling can be intriguing when done right. Who will get the prestige of winning this tournament and the World Tag Championship? Will I get through one Kenso match without complaining? Let’s just get to the action and find out.

Masanobu Fuchi & Dory Funk Jr. vs. Osamu Nishimura & SUSHI: I don’t know what makes less sense to me, Dory Funk Jr. still wrestling or SUSHI’s outfit. Dory looks like the Crypt Keeper and I’m convinced All Japan is doing subliminal messaging by featuring SUSHI (I really want sushi now). Both Nishimura and SUSHI are very giving to both seniors and they get very little offense in. Some forearm smashes, mat work and plenty of slow meandering moments. I’ve already written more words on this match then I should have. Seriously if you want something to test your patience for 10 minutes in pro wrestling possibly more than a segment on RAW this is it. Fuchi eventually won with a small package and mercifully this was over but I can never get those 10 minutes back. Whatever you do avoid this at all costs, it’s just a sad match for the viewers and wrestlers. DUD

Kotaro Suzuki & Yohei Nakajima vs. Ryuji Hijikata & Masayuki Mitomi: We can only improve from the previous match which cannot be that hard to do plus you have Suzuki and Nakajima who are some of the better talents in AJPW and Hijikata is a nasty bastard. Hijikata and Suzuki have some nice back and forth before they reach a stalemate. Nakajima gets a sweet looking dropkick and then misses a plancha and Hijikata gets an apron kick to Nakajima’s chest. Chop exchange between Nakajima and Mitomi which Mitomi gets the better of and Mitomi works over Nakajima. Nakajima gets the hot tag and Suzuki gets control of the match but Hijikata gets two high kicks that decimate Suzuki.

Suzuki manages to get the Endless Waltz but that is broken up by Mitomi. The pace picks up at the end and Suzuki and Hijikata have some fun strike exchanges until both men are down on the mat. Mitomi with near falls a plenty down the stretch but Nakajima will not quit and the fans continue to get behind him. Nakajima gets a double stomp from the top rope and then lands a pair of high kicks to get the victory for his team. A fun little sprint that had some stiff exchanges and fan participation while all 4 guys worked hard and looked good. **3/4

KENSO & Mitsuya Nagai vs. Kengo Mashimo & Tank Nagai: KENSO and Kengo were once partners in Dark Kingdom but that is no longer as Kengo turned his back on KENSO and they have been at each other’s throats since.

They immediately get into the action before the bell rings and Dark Kingdom destroys both Michinoku Pro boys in the crowd. Back inside Tank gets hit with a KENSO lariat and then KENSO gets a plancha on both Tank and Kengo. Tank tries to keep coming back into the match but KENSO takes him down at every turn. Nagai tries his best Toshiaki Kawada impression as he nails a backdrop and does a Stretch Plum. Tank gets a shoulder block and tags to Kengo who takes out both members of Dark Kingdom with ease. In a nice moment Kengo gets a double ankle lock on Nagai and KENSO but Dark Kingdom get back into the match with an Exploder Suplex from Nagai and repetitive pimp slaps from KENSO (Get something new in your repertoire fool). Michinoku Driver from Nagai and a diving elbow drop from KENSO but Kengo still gets the kick out. Tank goes on the offensive with a superplex, spear and a boss senton (So much alliteration). Kengo finally finishes off KENSO after a Tank spear, high kick and a brainbuster. This match really suffered when Dark Kingdom was in control but when the Michinoku Pro guys were in control I enjoyed it. Half and half, split the difference it was decent but nothing to go out of your way to see. I was really impressed with Tank Nagai and I want to see more of him if tape is available. **

Akebono & Yutaka Yoshie vs. Zeus & The Bodyguard: The Big Guns of Zeus & The Bodyguard take on the heaviest team in the tag league, it’s the perfect unstoppable force meets the unmovable object scenario. Why don’t wrestlers take my advice when I say shoulder blocking Akebono is a game that only Akebono wins? Zeus is valiant but both Yoshie and Akebono work him over for an extended period of time. Multiple lariats in the corner from The Bodyguard but Akebono is having none of it and nails The Bodyguard with a lariat of his own.

The Bodyguard and Yoshie get into a forearm and chop exchange and then The Bodyguard gets a powerslam of his own. Yoshie and Akebono do some double teams on Zeus but The Bodyguard breaks it up and even gets a suplex on Akebono. Akebono and Yoshie miss a few splashes down the stretch that normally would give them a victory. In an impressive feat of strength Zeus becomes Bill Goldberg and hits the Jackhammer on Yoshie to give The Big Guns the win. Short little match here but they packed in plenty of action. Akebono and Yoshie were not as slow as they normally are and The Big Guns were just trying to stay alive throughout. Power game the whole time and the match was even up until the finish. They didn’t do a ton of moves but the fans enjoyed it and there were no dull moments. ***

Go Shiozaki & Kento Miyahara vs. Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato: Anytime Xceed and Evolution go at it I’m watching intently, whether it is Shiozaki & Miyahara vs. Doering & Suwama or this paring here. Shiozaki and Aoki start the match off and work a solid pace until they reach a stalemate. Miyahara and Sato are in and do some nice mat work until the ref breaks it up. Nasty strike exchange between Miyahara and Sato which Miyahara wins with some good ol’ fashioned stomping of the head. Xceed continue working over Sato with Miyahara trying his best to break Sato’s nose on the guardrail. Call me someone who loves 1980’s wrestling but I’m a fan of a good sleeper and Aoki is great with those. Miyahara is worked over by both members of Xceed and the fans want Miyahara to get back into the match (Sympathy chants, baby, nothing like them).

Aoki and Shiozaki fight on the floor and it gets extremely heated between the two. Shiozaki gets the hot tag from Miyahara and goes to town on both Sato and Aoki. Sato gets the tag after a sliding kick from Aoki and Sato wails away with kicks on Shiozaki and almost gets an armbar. Miyahara and Sato have a fun little exchange that goes back and forth in which we see high kicks, triangle chokes, boots, Northern Light Suplex and a backdrop. The running knee and Liger Bomb from Miyahara still don’t put Sato down. Sato manages to lock in the excruciating heel hook but Shiozaki breaks it up. The last few minutes both teams are struggling to put the other away. Both teams are bringing out the big bombs and it is glorious.

Shiozaki tries for the Go Flasher but Aoki gets a near fall, Shiozaki with a superkick and discus chop gets a near fall as well. The finish was great as Shiozaki actually hits the Go Flasher but Aoki goes into a Fujiwara Armbar and then another armbar and time expires — 30 minute draw! They built the drama well, the limb work led to something, strike exchanges were fun and majority of the match was crisp. They really sold that there was legit animosity between all four guys and it made the match believable. ****1/4

Takao Omori & Jun Akiyama vs. Joe Doering & Suwama: Wild Burning jump on Evolution as they run the ropes to start the match. Suwama comes back with his sledgehammer double chops and a lariat on Omori but Akiyama catches Suwama with an Exploder. Akiyama follows that up with a double arm DDT, running knees and a Wrist Clutch Exploder. Doering jumps back into the match with a lariat on both Omori and Akiyama and then nails Akiyama with a Death Valley Bomb. Doering and Omori go at it for a bit with Doering getting the advantage. Doering with a stiff cross body and then dual corner lariats from Evolution and a double team fallaway slam. Double dropkicks from Evolution and an Arn Anderson spine buster from Doering. Eventually, Suwama takes out Akiyama with The Last Ride afnd simultaneously Doering takes out Omori with The Revolution Bomb for the victory. Dominant performance from Evolution here and a fun sprint (the whole match was six minutes). Wild Burning got some offense in and their game plan to take out Evolution quick, early and often made for some fun moments. Sometimes economic matches are not a bad thing at all. This may be one of the better less than 10 minute matches this year. ***1/2

Final Thoughts:

Xceed vs. Evolution was great, Wild Burning vs. Evolution was a fun sprint, and The Big Guns vs. Big Fun was quite interesting. This was a breeze to watch as some matches were not that long and the others that were 15 minutes had time to build and were satisfying. If you have a morbid curiosity you could see Dory Funk Jr. wrestle but you would immediately regret it. As usual if I did anything good or bad tell me @RobsBrutalWorld