All Japan “Champion Carnival” Day 1
April 5, 2015
Okinawa Convention Center
The 2015 Champion Carnival has begun! As most of you probably know, the Champion Carnival is a block-based tournament that All Japan has every spring. All the big stars of the promotion participate as it is a big deal, and of course there are always a few surprises. Onto the matches!
Atsushi Aoki and Yuma Aoyagi vs. The Bodyguard and Gurukun Mask: I guess Gurukun Mask sold the most tickets so he got put into a match. Aoyagi and Gurukun Mask start off and they trade holds without either getting a clear advantage. Gurukun Mask tags in Bodyguard and Bodyguard shoulderblocks Aoyagi. Another shoulderblock by Bodyguard and he hits a scoop slam, throwing Aoyagi into the corner so he can tag out. He doesn’t, Bodyguard hits another shoulderblock and finally Aoyagi tags in Aoki. Aoki clubs Bodyguard and applies a wristlock before tagging in Aoyagi. They take turns working on Bodyguard’s arm until Bodyguard hits a double shoulderblock on them. Bodyguard picks up Aoyagi and hits a military press slam. Bodyguard tags in Gurukun Mask and Gurukun Mask clubs Aoyagi in the back. Gurukun Mask kicks Aoyagi and he hits a leg drop. Reverse chinlock by Gurukun Mask but Aoyagi gets into the ropes. Gurukun Mask tags in Bodyguard and Bodyguard drops Aoyagi with a hard chop. Back up, Aoyagi clubs at Bodyguard but Bodyguard hits another chop.
Bodyguard chops Aoyagi in the corner but Aoyagi hits a dropkick off the second turnbuckle. Aoyagi tags in Aoki and Aoki hits a missile dropkick of his own. Aoki grabs Bodyguard but Bodyguard hits a powerslam. Bodyguard tags in Gurukun Mask and Gurukun Mask hits a face crusher on Aoki followed by a somersault senton. Kicks to the chest by Gurukun Mask but Aoki hits a dropkick. Aoki tags in Aoyagi, elbow by Aoyagi to Gurukun Mask and he hits a jumping elbow for two. Aoyagi goes up top and he hits a diving crossbody on Gurukun Mask for a two count. Fisherman suplex by Aoyagi to Gurukun Mask, he goes up top but Bodyguard comes in and throws him off. Bodyguard and Gurukun Mask throw Aoyagi into the corner and both hit lariats. German suplex hold by Gurukun Mask, but it only gets two. Gurukun Mask scoop slams Aoyagi, he goes up top and delivers the moonsault for a three count! This was a fine opener, nothing special but no one looked bad. Big win for whomever the hell Gurukun Mask is. **
KENSO vs. SUSHI: SUSHI avoids KENSO to start and SUSHI avoids KENSO’s charges. KENSO throws SUSHI in the corner and then out of the ring, where he attacks him around the floor. Back in the ring KENSO hits a lariat followed by a brainbuster for a two count. STF by KENSO but SUSHI makes it to the ropes. KENSO and SUSHI trade strikes back up, slap by KENSO and SUSHI tries a series of shoulderblocks until he finally levels KENSO with a lariat. Lariat by SUSHI in the corner and he hits a spinning heel kick. SUSHI goes off the ropes but KENSO hits a lariat. KENSO picks up SUSHI but SUSHI reverses the vertical suplex into one of his own. SUSHI goes up top and SUSHI hits a diving headbutt for a two count. SUSHI goes off the ropes but KENSO chokes him with his belt. Brainbuster by KENSO, cover, but it gets a two count. KENSO goes up top and slowly hits a diving elbow drop of sorts, picking up the three count. I liked KENSO just taking his sweet time with the elbow drop to make SUSHI look even more like a chump. This match didn’t do a lot for me, just dull lower card filler. *1/2
Jun Akiyama, Kanemaru, and Ultimo Dragon vs. Kento Miyahara, Suzuki, and Yohei Nakajima: Akiyama and Miyahara start off, Miyahara knocks Akiyama out of the ring and they both fail to throw each other in the rail. They return to the ring and tag in Suzuki and Ultimo Dragon. Ultimo Dragon armdrags Suzuki out of the ring but Suzuki gets back in and Kanemaru is tagged in. Suzuki applies a wristlock and tags in Nakajima, and this process continues for a few minutes. Nakajima is isolated finally and everyone takes turns on him. Nakajima gets away from Akiyama with an enzigieri and he tags in Miyahara. Miyahara and Akiyama trade elbows, dropkick to the knee by Miyahara and he hits a dropkick. Jumping elbow by Miyahara in the corner and he hits a Northern Lights Suplex for a two count. Miyahara goes off the ropes but Akiyama hits a lariat. Jumping knee by Akiyama but Miyahara hits a big boot. Exploder by Akiyama but Miyahara hits another big boot and both wrestlers fall to the mat. Ultimo Dragon and Suzuki are tagged in and Suzuki hits a handspring elbow strike. Armdrag by Suzuki and he knees Ultimo Dragon in the corner. Ultimo Dragon lands on his feet on a back bodydrop attempt and he hits a headscissors followed by a kick combination.
Ultimo Dragon tags in Kanemaru, Kanemaru dropkicks Suzuki in the knee and he hits a diving crossbody for a two count. Suzuki and Kanemaru trade elbows until Suzuki hits a backbreaker and tags in Nakajima. Dropkick by Nakajima in the corner and he hits a missile dropkick for a two count. Nakajima goes up top but Kanemaru avoids his dive, drop toehold by Nakajima and Suzuki hits a tiger feint kick. Assisted neckbreaker on Kanemaru and Nakajima comes off the top with a diving footstomp, but the pin attempt is broken up. Superkick by Nakajima but Kanemaru hits a lariat. Lots of weak lariats in this match. Everyone attacks Nakajima in the corner, running knee by Akiyama and Kanemaru hits a diving body press for two. Kanemaru picks up Nakajima but Nakajima sneaks in an inside cradle for a two count. Kanemaru grabs Nakajima and delivers a brainbuster, but Nakajima gets a shoulder up. Touch Out by Kanemaru, and this time he gets the three count. The first half of this match was quite boring but it picked up by the end. Once they got to the ending run it was good, it just took a bit too long to get good. Some solid action though and Nakajima looks like he has potential. **1/2
Champion Carnival – Akebono vs. Zeus: They push each other to start until Akebono hits a shoulderblock. Elbows by Zeus and he tries to pick up Akebono with no success. Akebono shoulderblocks Zeus down again but Zeus avoids the elbow drop. They take it outside the ring and trade strikes, Akebono runs into the ring post and Zeus gets on the apron, hitting a diving lariat that still doesn’t knock over Akebono. Another lariat by Zeus and Akebono sits down in a chair, Zeus sees this as a victory so he returns to the ring. Akebono slowly returns, elbows by Zeus and he jumps on Akebono’s back. Akebono shakes him off and hits a pair of lariats in the corner followed by an elbow drop for two. Akebono picks up Zeus but Zeus hits a back bodydrop. Samoan Drop by Zeus and he covers Akebono, but it only gets a two count. Zeus goes up top and he delivers the diving lariat, but Akebono kicks out of the cover. Zeus grabs Akebono and goes for the Jackhammer, but Akebono blocks it and hits a DDT. Zeus goes off the ropes but Akebono catches him with a swinging side slam. Body press by Akebono, but it only gets two. Akebono picks up Zeus and he plants him with the Yokozuna Impact, getting the three count pinfall. Uh this was as good as it was going to be, calling Akebono limited is generous but he generally works well within his limitations. The journey was all in Zeus knocking over Akebono, never really felt like he was actually going to win. Watchable, which is a compliment. **
Champion Carnival – Suwama vs. Yutaka Yoshie: They trade holds and things to start before trying to knock each other off their feet, which Yoshie does first with a lariat. Suwama gets up and they trade elbows, Suwama goes for a suplex but Yoshie blocks it. Chops by Suwama and he hits a jumping elbow drop for two. Back up Suwama goes for a suplex but Yoshie reverses it. Yoshie hits and elbow drop, Suwama gets up and Yoshie hits butt thumps in the corner. They trade elbows again, Suwama goes for a powerbomb but Yoshie back bodydrops out of it and sits on Suwama for a two count. Yoshie stands on Suwama near the ropes and he knees Suwama in the chest. On their feet they trade strikes and Suwama hits a reverse STO. Lariat by Suwama and a hard one sends Yoshie to the mat. Waistlock by Suwama but Yoshie elbows out of it. Suwama applies a sleeper but Yoshie gets into the ropes. Suwama goes off the ropes but Yoshie hits a Lou Thesz Press for a two count. Suwama is knocked into the corner and Yoshie delivers the running butt smash. Rolling senton by Yoshie but Suwama kicks out of the cover.
Suwama applies a sleeper but Yoshie gets out of it without much issue. Running senton by Yoshie but it gets a two. Yoshie goes up top but Suwama springs up and joins him, hitting a superplex. They both slowly get up and trade elbows, but Suwama delivers a dropkick. Suwama charges Yoshie in the corner and hits a lariat, he goes for a backdrop suplex but Yoshie lands on top of him. Body press by Yoshie but it gets two. Elbows by Yoshie but Suwama ducks one and hits a backdrop suplex. Suwama hits a lariat, cover, but it gets a two count. Suwama picks up Yoshie, he hits another backdrop suplex and this time he gets the three count victory. This was a sound match but it lacked pop. Yoshie to me isn’t big enough to do the ‘so heavy you can’t pick him up’ stuff, he isn’t much bigger than Suwama and he is shorter so those spots seemed a bit silly. Otherwise not a very exciting match but solid. ***
Champion Carnival – Go Shiozaki vs. Takao Omori: They tie-up to start and they trade shoulderblock attempts until Omori knocks Shiozaki to the mat. They lock knuckles but Omori uppercuts Shiozaki as he jumps off the ropes, sending Shiozaki out of the ring. Omori goes out after him and they trade chops on the floor before returning to the ring. Shiozaki kicks Omori in the arm and he slams Omori’s arm into the apron before hitting a sliding kick to it. Shiozaki applies a keylock and he hits a splash onto Omori’s arm. Shiozaki elbows Omori in the arm but Omori chops him back. Shiozaki throws Omori shoulder-first into the post, Omori goes out of the ring but Shiozaki throws him into the post again. Shiozaki goes for a suplex back in the ring but Omori blocks it, Shiozaki goes off the ropes but Omori clubs him in the chest. Big boot by Omori, he goes off the ropes and hits a neckbreaker for a two count. Omori goes for the Axe Guillotine Driver but Shiozaki blocks it and hits a DDT. Running chop by Shiozaki in the corner and he hits a fisherman buster for a two count. Shiozaki goes off the ropes and hits a jumping shoulderblock, sending Omori out to the apron. Shiozaki dropkicks Omori down to the floor, he goes up top and he hits a plancha suicida of sorts.
Back in the ring, Shiozaki picks up Omori but Omori hits a full nelson slam. Knee drop by Omori, cover, but it gets a two count. Omori goes up top but Shiozaki hits him and joins him, he falls off but delivers a dropkick. Shiozaki drags Omori back up with him while on the apron but Omori hits a lariat, sending Shiozaki to the floor. Omori lariats Shiozaki back in the ring, he puts him up top and hits an avalanche backdrop suplex. Axe Guillotine Driver by Omori, but Shiozaki gets a shoulder up. Omori goes for a lariat but Shiozaki ducks it and hits a modified Go Flasher. Back up they trade chops and uppercuts, both wrestlers hit lariats, short-range lariat by Shiozaki but Omori kicks out of the pin. Shiozaki picks up Omori but Omori blocks the Go Flasher attempt. Roaring chop by Shiozaki and he gives Omori a second one. Another roaring chop by Shiozaki, cover, but Omori gets a shoulder up. Shiozaki picks up Omori again and goes for roaring lariat but Omori quickly hits an Axe Bomber, picking up the three count! It is odd for a 20 minute match to feel like it ended so suddenly, I know the lariat is Omori’s finisher but it is Shiozaki’s as well and it wasn’t able to get the win just a few moments earlier, usually in the main event it takes more than one strike finisher to get the win. Unusual ending aside it was a good match, I liked the action for the bulk of it. A fitting main event, it felt like a big match, and a good way to kick off the Champion Carnival even though it had its faults. ***1/2
Final Thoughts: For a show that wasn’t very long it just didn’t do enough to stand out. There were a few solid matches for sure, the main event was entertaining and Yoshie/Suwama was fun, but beyond that this show did not have a lot going for it. I hope going forward that All Japan focuses on putting on more complete cards instead of just depending on a couple Champion Carnival matches to carry it as there just wasn’t enough here to recommend.