All Japan Pro Wrestling
Giant Series 2015
October 12, 2015
Tokyo Korakuen Hall
Tokyo, Japan

The All Japan Jr. Tag Battle of Glory Tournament has begun! Every year, All Japan has a tag team tournament with the best Jr. Heavyweights they have available. This year there are only five teams total, so every team has a pretty good chance to win (20% by my rough math) This event has two matches in the tournament (which I guess is the maximum they can have on one night) plus some other miscellaneous action.

Jake Lee vs. Zeus

Jake Lee has had an interesting career thus far. He debuted in All Japan back in 2011 wrestling as Lee Che Gyong, but retired in October of 2011 so he could concentrate on MMA. Four years later, he made his re-debut on June 4, 2015. His time away did not help is standing in the promotion, as here he is wrestling the opening match against the monster Zeus. Zeus came up through Osaka Pro, but joined All Japan in 2014 and has worked almost exclusively in the promotion since. Zeus has made two Triple Crown challenges this year and is certainly no slouch, firmly placed in the All Japan upper midcard. Except when he is beating up rookies in the opening match.

Zeus pushes around Lee to kick things off, Lee fights back with elbows but Zeus chops him to the mat. Zeus works the headlock and shoulderblocks Lee to the mat before hitting a press slam. Lee rolls out of the ring but returns after a moment, Zeus chops Lee in the corner but Lee chops him back. Poorly. Zeus shrugs off Lee’s chops and knocks him back to the mat, but Lee keeps getting up to try again. He never has any luck, Irish whip by Zeus and he elbows Lee hard in the chest for a two count. Sleeper by Zeus but Lee gets a toe on the ropes to force the break. Bearhug into a belly to belly suplex by Zeus, and he covers Lee for a two count. Zeus goes for a vertical suplex but Lee reverses it into one of his own, Lee charges Zeus in the corner and hits a back elbow. Atomic drop by Lee and he hits a gutwrench suplex for a two count cover. Lee picks up Zeus, Irish whip, and he knees Zeus in the stomach before hitting a DDT for another two. Lee grabs Zeus around the waist but Zeus elbows out of it, Lee tries to chop Zeus again but it goes just as well this time. Lee goes off the ropes and hits a jumping kick to Zeus’s chest, but Zeus comes back with a lariat. Irish whip by Zeus, he hits a final lariat and he picks up the three count! Zeus is your winner.

I’ve never liked it when a low ranking wrestler insists on trading strikes with someone they have no chance of getting the upperhand against. Lee should have been doing sneaky things or high energy things to try to knock over Zeus, not trading chops with him. Beyond that, Lee is a bit awkward but he is tall, honestly I don’t ever see him as a champion but he is young enough that anything can happen. Zeus winning with a couple lariats after they were trading moves seemed a bit weak, I would have liked for Lee to be a harder to put down. Hopefully Lee learned something but not a great match.

Masanobu Fuchi vs. Masao Inoue

I want to know who I pissed off in a past life to be forced to watch this match. Fuchi used to be a good wrestler, but now he is 61 and wrestles like a 61-year-old, with one of the most dull movesets in professional wrestling.

Inoue is “only” 45 but has never been good, and is worse now than he used to be. I’m not sure if these two could have a quality singles match against anyone in 2015, and they certainly can’t against each other. But I’m going to watch it anyway.

I don’t think enough happens to justify doing play-by-play, but Fuchi immediately starts with a small package to try to put us out of our misery. Sadly, Inoue kicked out. Inoue pushes Fuchi in the ropes but gives a clean break, drop toehold by Fuchi and he starts stretching Inoue’s leg. He does this for a while. A good while, I mean he is literally just standing and pushing on Inoue’s leg. Inoue eventually gets back up but Fuchi pushes him to the mat and starts twisting on the leg again. Inoue eventually gets to the ropes so they get back up but wouldn’t you know, Fuchi gets Inoue to the mat and stretches on his leg again. This is literally the worst thing I’ve ever watched. Eventually Fuchi wins by sitting on Inoue.

I am sure there is someone in the world that will enjoy that but I am not sure I want to meet that person. Way too long and just utterly uneventful, I’ve never seen such a slow action-less match in my life. Curse Akiyama for booking this match, hard to take All Japan seriously when they have matches like this. Perhaps the worst wrestling match I’ve ever seen.

Thrilling action throughout.

Hoshitango, Shuji Ishikawa, and Suwama vs. KENSO, Kento Miyahara, and Ryuji Hijikata

At least this match has some real wrestlers. Hoshitango is a fat hairy wrestler from DDT, not really sure what he is doing here, but the rest are the normal crew on really random teams. Hijikata and Miyahara don’t usually team with KENSO so on paper it just looks like All Japan throwing all the leftover wrestlers into one match.

Suwama and Miyahara begin the match, Suwama offers Miyahara his hand but Miyahara boots him instead. Another boot by Miyahara and a third sends Suwama to the mat. Suwama quickly gets back up and he tags in Ishikawa. Hijikata comes in too and Ishikawa shoulderblocks Hijikata to the mat. Ishikawa goes off the ropes but Hijikata hits a hiptoss, Hijikata slaps Ishikawa but Ishikawa knees him hard in the stomach. Ishikawa tags Hoshitango while Hijikata rolls out of the ring to recover, but Ishikawa goes over and jumps up and down on Hijikata while he is on the floor. He slowly returns to the ring and tries to shake it off, but Hoshitango continues working over Hijikata’s midsection. Hoshitango tags Suwama and Suwama knees Hijikata into the corner. Irish whip by Suwama and he hits a big lariat followed by a belly to belly suplex for a two count cover. Suwama picks up Hijikata but Hijikata reverses the powerbomb attempt into a back bodydrop. Enzuigiri by Hijikata, and he makes the hot tag to Miyahara. Miyahara boots Suwama and dropkicks him in the head, jumping elbow by Miyahara and he hits a Northern Lights Suplex for a two count. Suwama comes back with a belly to back suplex and he tags in Hoshitango, Hoshitango slaps Miyahara into the corner and hits a body avalanche for a two count cover. Hoshitango goes off the ropes but Miyahara boots him right in the face, he tags in KENSO and KENSO boots Hoshitango as well. KENSO slaps Hoshitango in the corner, but Hoshitango gets away and tags Ishikawa. Ishikawa and Hoshitango both attack KENSO in the corner, body press by Hoshitango and Ishikawa covers KENSO for a two count. Hijikata comes in and he kicks Hoshitango and Ishikawa, but they knock him down with a double shoulderblock. Ishikawa and KENSO trade strikes, lariat by Ishikawa and he delivers a running knee, but KENSO barely gets a shoulder up. Ishikawa hits a second one, and this time KENSO stays down for the three count! Team Ishikawa win the match.

This wasn’t bad and the best we have seen so far, but it was still pretty bland. The midsection work on Hijikata was going well but it didn’t end up going anywhere, and most of it was just the wrestlers taking turns tagging in and doing a few moves. Which is a common issue in six man tags that are under ten minutes long, it’s a difficult situation to try to put on a memorable match. They set up some stories (Miyahara not being friendly with Suwama, Nishimura came out at the end in support of KENSO), but as far as bell to bell action it was just average.

Now the real matches start.

Junior Tag Battle of Glory
Atsushi Aoki and Hikaru Sato vs. Kotaro Suzuki and Yohei Nakajima

Both of these teams regularly tag other, with Aoki and Sato in the Evolution faction with their opponents being part of Xceed. Suzuki comes into the match the All Japan World Jr. Heavyweight Champion so he is the most accomplished, with Aoki also having championship success of note in the past. On paper, Nakajima is perhaps the weakest link here but he comes into the match with a title also (GAORA TV Championship) so they all are quality wrestlers.

Aoki and Suzuki kick things off, they both go for cross armbreakers with no luck and they return to their feet again. Suzuki gets Aoki around the waist and tags in Nakajima, Nakajima starts on Aoki’s arm but Aoki pushes him into the corner and tags Sato. Kicks by Sato and he shoulderblocks Nakajima down, he goes off the ropes and kicks Nakajima hard in the chest for a two count cover. Aoki comes in and they both chop Nakajima before hitting stereo kicks. Sato gets Nakajima by the ankle but Nakajima flips him out to the apron and then dropkicks Sato to the floor. Nakajima hits a big tope suicida out onto Sato, Suzuki then gets in the ring and he does the same. Nakajima drags Sato up and slides him into the ring, covering him for two. Nakajima throws Sato into the corner and hits a back elbow, quick footstomp by Nakajima and he covers Sato for a two count. Suzuki is tagged in, tiger feint kick by Suzuki and he hits rolling DDTs into a front necklock. Suzuki picks up Sato and elbows him into the corner before tagging in Nakajima. Neckbreaker by Nakajima and he kicks Sato hard in the back. Sato starts fighting back and he hits a jumping heel kick, giving him time to tag in Aoki. Aoki goes after Suzuki, he knocks him out of the ring and hits a vertical suplex on the floor. Nakajima hops out to get him but Aoki sails out onto Suzuki with a tope suicida. Nakajima gets Aoki again but Aoki dropkicks Nakajima in the jaw. Nakajima tags in Suzuki and Suzuki hits a handspring elbow onto Aoki. Jumping knee by Suzuki in the corner and he hits a diving knee to a standing Aoki for a two count cover.

Suzuki charges Aoki but Aoki moves out-of-the-way and kicks him in the head. Aoki goes up top and delivers a missile dropkick, waistlock by Aoki but Suzuki reverses it. Suzuki drop toeholds Aoki onto the second rope but Aoki blocks the tiger feint kick and Sato kicks Suzuki from the apron. Sato comes in the ring and stomp on Suzuki, and they take turns kicking Suzuki. Aoki goes up top and hits a diving body press, but Nakajima breaks up the cover. Aoki goes off the ropes but Suzuki elbows him, they trade move attempts before Suzuki gets Aoki on his shoulders so Nakajima can hit a missile dropkick. Tombstone by Suzuki to Aoki, but Aoki barely gets a shoulder up. Tiger Driver attempt by Suzuki but Aoki blocks it and hits a lariat. Backdrop suplex by Aoki and he tags in Sato. Suzuki tags out as well, Irish whip by Sato to Nakajima but Nakajima delivers a dropkick. Nakajima goes up top but Sato avoids the footstomp and applies a heel hold. Nakajima gets out of it and they trade kicks, enzuigiri by Nakajima but Sato rolls him to the mat with a heel hold. Nakajima gets out of it with another enzuigiri, Suzuki goes up top but Aoki joins him, avalanche armdrag by Suzuki but Sato knocks him out of the ring. Sato and Nakajima trade high kicks, Nakajima hits a buzzsaw kick but Sato kicks out of the cover. Nakajima goes for another high kick but Sato catches it and applies a heel hold. Nakajima tries to get to the ropes but he can’t, and he has to tap out! Aoki and Sato win the match and get two points in the tournament.

I really enjoyed this match, it fast paced and very smooth from start to finish. Aoki and Suzuki have great chemistry together, I loved it anytime they interacted, but both Nakajima and Sato really held their own as well so there was no weak or lesser pairing at any time. Sato stayed focused on the leg which directly factored into the ending, and they never went excessive with no-selling or anything of that nature. I can’t really think of anything about it I didn’t like, a must-see match between these four if you enjoy high energy Jr. Heavyweight tag matches. Highly Recommended

Rolling DDTs by Suzuki

Junior Tag Battle of Glory
Isami Kodaka and Yuko Miyamoto vs. Ultimo Dragon and Yoshinobu Kanemaru

Kodaka and Miyamoto hail from Union and TripleSix respectively (but are better known for wrestling in Big Japan) and are a very successful team. They have won tag team gold in three different promotions, but not yet All Japan which is no doubt their next goal since they are in this tournament. Ultimo Dragon of course is a legend (and still awesome), and Kanemaru isn’t my favorite but is a long time veteran and was a major player in NOAH for over a decade.

Miyamoto and Kanemaru start the match and trade holds, Miyamoto gets Kanemaru in the corner and tags in Kodaka. Ultimo Dragon is also tagged in and Ultimo Dragon yanks on Kodaka’s arm. Kodaka works on Ultimo Dragon’s arm but Ultimo Dragon armdrags him to the mat. Kodaka tags Miyamoto but Ultimo Dragon hits a headscissors on Miyamoto, Kanemaru comes in and they both elbow Miyamoto. Miyamoto gets back up and trades elbows with Kanemaru, and Miyamoto tags in Kodaka. They action spills out to the floor and Kanemaru hits a leg drop on Kodaka over the railing. Kodaka is slid back in, DDT by Kanemaru and he covers Kodaka for two. Ultimo Dragon is tagged in and he elbows Kodaka, and they both take turns on Kodaka. Kodaka finally suplexes Kanemaru and makes the hot tag to Miyamoto, Miyamoto slams Kanemaru and Ultimo Dragon as well before dropkicking both. Miyamoto takes Kanemaru out of the ring and chops him while Ultimo Dragon knees Kodaka into the crowd. Miyamoto and Kanemaru return just in time to beat the count, and Miyamoto puts Kanemaru in a sleeper. Miyamoto tags in Kodaka and Kodaka stomps down Kanemaru in the corner before tagging Miyamoto back in. Kanemaru hits a flapjack on Miyamoto and he makes the tag to Ultimo Dragon, kicks by Ultimo Dragon and he hits a jumping double chop. Spinning headscissors by Ultimo Dragon to Miyamoto and he hits a back bodydrop. Kodaka attacks Ultimo Dragon from behind but Ultimo Dragon hits a takedown/headscissors on both of his opponents. Kodaka goes up top and hits a diving crossbody on Ultimo Dragon but Ultimo Dragon kicks him instead.

Dropkick by Kodaka but Ultimo Dragon hits a vertical suplex, Kanemaru comes in and he dropkicks Kodaka in the knee. Scoop slam by Kanemaru to Kodaka and he hits a split legged moonsault for a two count. Kanemaru is double teamed in the corner, Kodaka goes up top but Kanemaru avoids the diving double knee drop. Kodaka puts Kanemaru in the octopus hold while Miyamoto puts Ultimo Dragon in a cobra twist, but Kanemaru gets into the ropes. Belly to belly suplex by Miyamoto, he goes up top and he hits a missile dropkick. Irish whip by Miyamoto but Kanemaru hits a satellite DDT, kick to the head by Ultimo Dragon and Kanemaru covers Miyamoto for a two count. Kanemaru goes up top and delivers the Deep Impact, but Kodaka breaks up the cover. Kanemaru and Kodaka trade elbows, enzuigiri by Ultimo Dragon to Kodaka but Kodaka hits a lariat and all the wrestlers are down on the mat. Kanemaru and Miyamoto slowly get up, heel kick by Miyamoto and he powerbombs Kanemaru for a two count. Miyamoto slams Kanemaru in front of the corner, he goes up top but Kanemaru gets his knees up on the moonsault attempt. Lariat by Kanemaru and he hits the brainbuster, but Miyamoto gets a shoulder up on the pin. Kanemaru goes up top and hits the Deep Impact, cover, but Kodaka breaks it up with a diving double kneedrop. Ultimo Dragon comes in the ring but Kodaka suplexes him, Kanemaru and Kodaka trade elbows until Kanemaru dives out of the ring with a tope suicida onto Ultimo Dragon. Handspring kick by Miyamoto to Kanemaru and he drops him with the Yankee Driver, picking up the three count! Kodaka and Miyamoto pick up the win and two points in the tournament.

This was a step down from the last match but was still solid. It didn’t have that sense of urgency or importance for most of it, it felt like just another tag match with four good wrestlers rather than a tournament match. It was a bit directionless, even though it was a fairly long match they never seemed to be building to anything, it could have ended ten minutes sooner and accomplished the same goal. That being said, all the action was crisp and the invading pair played it clean, which is always fun to see. Decent but nothing more than just ‘good’. Mildly Recommended

Deep Impact by Kanemaru

Akebono, Naoya Nomura, and Yutaka Yoshie vs. Jun Akiyama, Takao Omori, and Yuma Aoyagi

This is an odd way to end the show. This appears to be a random mixture of former champions and rookies all thrown into one match. Akebono comes into the match as the Triple Crown Champion, but other than that no one in the match has any titles. The big question is, which rookie will be pinned? Let’s find out!

Akebono and Akiyama are the first two in but neither can hit a solid move so they tag in Yoshie and Omori. Irish whip by Yoshie but Omori boots him in the face, he goes for a slam but Yoshie blocks it and lands on top of Omori. Yoshie goes for a body press but Omori rolls out-of-the-way. Omori tags in Aoyagi while Nomura is tagged in, Nomura and Aoyagi trade holds until Aoyagi hits a shoulderblock. Aoyagi and Nomura trade strikes, dropkick by Nomura and he tries to knock Akiyama off the apron, but Akiyama just looks at him funny. Nomura runs over and attacks Akiyama again, thoroughly pissing off Akiyama, as Akiyama pulls him out of the ring and slams him on the floor. Akiyama throws Nomura into the railing a few times before putting him back into the ring, and Aoyagi tags in Omori. Nomura fights back against Omori but Omori gives him a hard uppercut followed by a boot. Aoyagi is tagged back in and he slams Nomura, cover by Aoyagi but it gets a two count. Akiyama is tagged in next and he lariats Nomura to the mat. Kicks by Akiyama and he tags in Omori, Irish whip by Omori and he hits a back bodydrop on Nomura. Crab hold by Omori but Nomura gets into the ropes, Nomura hits a few elbows but Omori knocks him back to the mat. Akiyama tags back in and he hits a running knee in the corner but Nomura kicks out of the multiple covers.

Akiyama tags in Omori and Omori drops Nomura with a piledriver, but Yoshie breaks up the cover. Normally I don’t type up beatdown segments but this one has been entertaining. Nomura finally hits a mean spear on Omori, giving him time to tag in Akebono. Akebono hits a body avalanche in the corner and follows that with an elbow drop for a two count. Akebono goes for a piledriver but Omori gets out of it and kicks Akebono in the face. Heel kick by Omori and he tags in Akiyama, Akiyama goes off the ropes but Akebono catches him with a side slam. Nomura grabs Akiyama and hits a jumping elbow in the corner, then the fat men follow with body avalanches. Body press by Akebono, but Akiyama gets a shoulder up. Things break down a bit as all six are in the ring, most end up on the floor while Yoshie attacks Akiyama in the corner with a running butt thump. Body press by Yoshie, but Aoyagi breaks up the cover. Yoshie goes up top but Omori grabs him, giving Akiyama time to recover. Akiyama joins Yoshie and hits an avalanche exploder, cover by Akiyama but Akebono breaks it up. Akebono hits a lariat on Akiyama and Omori, Yoshie covers Akiyama but it gets two. Yoshie and Akiyama trade elbows, chops by Yoshie but Akiyama catches him with a jumping knee. Exploder by Akiyama, Omori comes in and he hits a sliding lariat. Wrist-clutch exploder by Akiyama, and he gets the three count! Team Akiyama wins the match!

First of all, I was wrong as you can tell, a rookie wasn’t pinned which is surprising but refreshing. This was far better than I was expecting, probably because Akebono did very little except his power fat man spots and Akiyama controlled the action. Akiyama was great here as the grumpy vet, but Nomura was equally good as the young wrestler that never gives up and keeps trying to get one over on a higher ranked wrestler. The length of the match felt just right and all six got a chance to shine. A solid main event, nothing earth shattering but lots of effort was put into it and it was a fine way to end the show. Mildly Recommended

Akiyama with the Avalanche Exploder

Final Thoughts: This event started really slow, as All Japan events tend to as they do not have a full roster of talented wrestlers. But both of the tournament matches were good, with one being excellent, and the main event surprised me by actually having emotion and not just going through the usual motions. An easy recommendation from me, skip the first three matches as they have no redeemable qualities but you’ll no doubt find something you enjoy on the second half of the card.

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