All Japan Pro Wrestling
Dynamite Series 2016
June 15, 2016
Korakuen Hall – Tokyo, Japan
Atsushi Maruyama, Kaji Tomato, Soma Takao & Ultimo Dragon def. Masanobu Fuchi, Osamu Nishimura, Ryuji Hijikata & SUSHI
Kaji Tomato won K-DOJO’s little Super J Cup tournament so will represent the company later this month. I don’t expect him to get very far, but he’s a nice hand to put someone over. He got his own entrance here and received a pretty decent reaction.
This was a surprisingly eventful opener. Everyone worked hard, everyone got time, everyone looked motivated, especially old man Ultimo Dragon, who should not be nearly as good as he is at 49 given the style he’s worked his entire career. He knows when to dial it down and mail it in, don’t get me wrong, but when he’s on, he’s on. Better match than it had any right to be. ***1/4
Masashi Takeda & Shuji Ishikawa def. Jake Lee & Ryouji Sai
One of the best aspects of this Big Japan partnership is getting to see guys like Takeda shine in a non-deathmatch environment. Takeda looks like a full-on deathmatcher but has a background in MMA and is a very good technical wrestler, and if you need further proof, watch his match with Aoki from May.
Shuji Ishikawa, at 40 years old, is one of the best wrestlers in all of wrestling right now and has been for some time. He’s on just about every non-Bushiroad/non-Dragon Gate show in Japan and never fails to deliver no matter where he is on the card or who he’s facing. This was no different.
Side note: Jake Lee continues to improve and at this point may be right behind Zeus for Most Improved. ***1/4
Isami Kodaka, Yuko Miyamoto & Takao Omori def. Atsushi Aoki, Hikaru Sato & Naoya Nomura
Takao Omori generally gets lost in these multi-mans and is someone you may even forget was in the match until you look at the card. However, I think they may have something with him and Nomura. Nomura looks and works like a young Takayama (Omori’s former tag partner), so they could easily play off of that and pair the two together. Would give Omori something to do and could only be beneficial to Nomura’s career.
Hot little match here used to set up Kodaka and Miyamoto vs. Aoki and Sato for the All Asia tag belts at BJW’s Sumo Hall show on July 18. The two teams seem to have great chemistry, specifically Sato and Kodaka. ***3/4
GAORA TV Championship
Yohei Nakajima def. Kazuhiro Tamura (c)
My two favorite styles of wrestling have always been the Toryumon/Dragon Gate style and the BattlArts style. Kazuhiro Tamura is the perfect BattlArts throwback. He’s essentially the 2016 version of both Daisuke Ikeda and young Minoru Tanaka (his trainer), so it’s no surprise he’s quickly become a favorite of mine. He’s 38 years old, he’s so small he could pass as a mini in any lucha promotion, and he’s everything I like about that style. I’m no expert on him yet, but what I’ve seen of him this year has had me wondering why it’s taken so long for a promotion like All Japan to give him a shot.
Yohei Nakajima has the potential to be a huge star someday. He’s great now and will only get better with time. Both guys shined here and did everything they could possibly do given the twelve minutes they had. Unfortunately, Tamura’s reign was cut short as Nakajima regained the title he lost just days before. I’m sure they’ll find something else for him to do moving forward, so no need to worry about it. ***3/4
Tetsuya Endo & Konosuke Takeshita def. Jun Akiyama & Yuma Aoyagi
I guess the biggest story here would be Yuma Aoyagi representing All Japan in the Super J Cup. Aoyagi’s been teaming with Akiyama for some time now, looking to him as a mentor of sorts. Akiyama has shown him his ways and believes he’s now ready to show the world not only who he is, but what All Japan Pro Wrestling in 2016 is.
(I’m wasting my time, he’ll work an eight-minute match and be eliminated in the first round.)
The other story here would be newly crowned KO-D Openweight Champion Konosuke Takeshita getting the chance to prove himself against Akiyama, which he most certainly did. He took this opportunity and he made the most of it. He looked like a champion, he worked like he had something prove, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back in All Japan soon as a result. I’ve always preferred Endo, I still haven’t fully turned the corner on Takeshita, but with performances like he had here, I just might. Very good match. ***3/4
AJPW World Tag Team Championship
Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi Def. Zeus & The Bodyguard (c)
If Zeus doesn’t have your vote for Most Improved, I don’t know who does. He went from being well below average to being an actively great pro wrestler within a year’s time. He’s still a notch below Okabayashi and Sekimoto in terms of completeness but that’s no slight against him, as those are two of the best wrestlers in Japan, if not the best.
The Bodyguard is consistently the fourth most talented guy in these tag matches by a very large margin but rarely stands out. He works well with guys like Okabayashi and Sekimoto, guys he can just hit hard as hell and be hit hard as hell by. That’s what this was, 20+ minutes of big, nasty, roided up motherfuckers beating the living daylights out of each other, plain and simple. Who doesn’t love that?!
I said last year that what All Japan could use to freshen things up and perhaps get some more eyes on the company, were Sekimoto and Okabayashi, and just over half a year a later, they’re world tag team champions. ****1/4
Triple Crown Championship
Kento Miyahara (c) Def. Kengo Mashimo
Miyahara very quickly realized that he hadn’t gotten rid of Mashimo after wrestling him to a time limit draw back on opening day of the Champion Carnival, he realized Mashimo had a good shot at winning the tournament, and even if he didn’t, he’d still have to deal with him eventually. Daisuke Sekimoto actually won the Carnival so was granted his shot in May. The thing about Sekimoto is that he isn’t impossible to beat, but he isn’t easy to beat. If you’re going to beat Daisuke Sekimoto, you’re going to have to push yourself to the very limit, fight harder than you’ve ever fought, and that’s what Miyahara did. And just a few short weeks later, he found himself in that position once again.
One of many things I love about Miyahara is how good he is at conveying desperation. You can tell how badly he wants it, how badly he wants to beat his opponent, and how he refuses to back down despite generally being the smaller of the two guys in the ring. He’s the definition of a fighting champion, and at that style, I’m not sure there’s anyone better. He nearly had his arm ripped off of his body on more than one occasion but he still didn’t quit, he fought through, he’s been working his ass off for years to get to where he is now, and wasn’t going to let some K-DOJO punk ruin it for him. He went into this match having already scouted Mashimo after wrestling him back in April. He played it smart, he knew Mashimo wasn’t as smart a worker as he was, he knew Mashimo wasn’t going to take the time to think about what either of them were doing, he knew Mashimo just wanted to get his hands on him. He slipped up at times and let his frustration get in the way of his game plan but like the smart worker that he is, he almost immediately snapped out of it.
This match was everything I love about not only All Japan Pro Wrestling, but pro wrestling as a whole. It was emotional, it was dramatic, it was high-energy, it felt like a big deal. This was the exact type of match All Japan needs, and after this, you bet your ass Kento Miyahara will be at the very top of my Wrestler of the Year list. He looks like a star, he carries himself like a star, he’s booked like a star, and he works like a star. Kento Miyahara, is a star.
Go out of your way to watch this no matter who you are or what you enjoy, because I’m almost positive you’ll like it to some extent. ****3/4
Miyahara will likely go on to defeat Akiyama before the Sumo Hall show in October, where he’ll more than likely wrestle Suwama. In the meantime, I’d like to see him against more of these guys who clearly won’t beat him but will help establish him as champion, like a Mashimo and like a Sekimoto.
Another great show from one of the best, most consistent promotions of 2016. Not a single match that wasn’t at least very good, and an absolute Match of the Year candidate to top it all off. Two thumbs up.