All Japan Pro Wrestling
Royal Road Tournament 2018 – Finals
September 24, 2018
EDION Arena Osaka #2
Kento Miyahara def. Yuji Hino
2018 has been the year that a lot of peoples eyes have been opened to the greatness of Yuji Hino. This continued here as him and Kento had a great match. Hino played the big bully role that he excels and he beat the hell out of Kento. Hino took most of this match, with Kento getting in the occasional hope spot, only for Hino to immediately take control again. Ultimately however, Kento manages to catch Hino in a clutch to move onto the final.
Kengo Mashimo def. Zeus
I don’t really get Kengo Mashimo. He is not a bad wrestlers but I struggle to identify what he excels at that would warrant him being treated as such a big deal by every promotion that brings him in. With that said this ended up being a very good match. I have been a bit down on Zeus since he won the title but him and Kengo told a wonderful story here. Zeus took control early before injuring his arm and from there Kengo tried to figure out a way exploit that to get the win. One of my favorite stories in Japanese wrestling is the fact that Japanese wrestlers tend to be proud idiots that refuse to admit when they are hurt and that almost always backfiring on them. Which is what happened in this match as well. Zeus managed to fire up and hit a lariat and a chokeslam with his injured arm just to show that he can and most likely further injuring it. This then allowed Kengo to take full advantage and submitting the Triple Crown Champion.
Sweeper (Ryouji Sai & Koji Iwamoto) def. Hikaru Sato & Gianni Valletta
Poor Hikaru Sato has to lug around Gianna Valletta’s useless ass around for this match. Valletta is easily the worst wrestler in All Japan right now and I can’t wait for his tour to end and for him to go back to Malta and stay there. It makes All Japan look worse if they bring in Gajins like that if you compare it to the people other promotions bring in. As I’m already in a grumpy mood for this match, the decision to take the title off Iwamato and put it on Kondo is still baffling to me. It seemed like All Japan was finally willing to push Iwamoto as the junior ace, only to give the title back to veteran wrestler. The average age of the last 5 junior champions has been 41.6 years. Now Kondo is still a very good wrestler, but I hope his reign is brief and Iwamoto can start his proper reign on top of the division soon. We have a standard tag match that is fine as long as everyone except for Valletta is involved, who luckily took the pin as well. At least he can do that.
Joe Doering & The Bodyguard vs. Sweeper (Jake Lee & Dylan James)
Now onto some happier things. It’s time for some proper big boys wrasslin. We don’t deserve Bodyga as he is simply too pure for this world. However, this wasn’t really much of a match as the big story here was Dylan James betraying Jake Lee. I did like James in Sweeper as the powerhouse of the stable. However, him teaming Doering has a lot of potential and adds to an already strong tag division. Further, it finally gives Joe something to do as he has been a bit adrift since losing the title in March. Real World Tag League this year should be a ton of fun.
Black Menso-re & Takao Omori def. Atsushi Maruyama & Ultimo Dragon
This was your standard All Japan comedy tag match. For the last few years Yohei Nakajima had been a fixture in these kinds of matches. Unfortunately he is still on a self imposed suspension. Luckily All Japan managed to find the mysterious Black Menso-re to fill this role at the same time. An AXE BOMBER from Omori ends this one rather quickly.
Atsushi Aoki, Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa def. Yoshitatsu, Naoya Nomura & Yuma Aoyagi
The Evolution & Associates and NEXTREAM & Associates feud continues. Its somewhat baffling that Yoshitatsu is still wearing the Bullet Club Hunter gear. At this point it might as well be a shoot and he really doesn’t like Bullet Club. Violent Giants and Nomuyagi have been facing off quite a bit since both teams became champions and we might be looking at a title vs title match some point down the line. However, its equally likely that one of the teams will lose their titles to the new Joe Doering/Dylan James combo soon. The Splash Mountain from Ishikawa puts Yoshitatsu down and gives the Evolution & Co. team the win.
Also it seems that the guy responsible for muting the licensed music has just stopped doing his job this night as we’ve heard all of the entrance themes on this show. Not that I’m complaining as most of them are awesome.
Kento Miyahara def. Kengo Mashimo
This is smart booking by All Japan as they are not giving away a big match as the final of the tournament. However, this also means that the result of the match was never in doubt for me. Nevertheless, they established a nice story here as this match more or less mirrored the Kengo vs Zeus match earlier. Kento got his arm injured and Kengo tried to take him out the same way he had done with Zeus. But in the end Kento managed to hang on and win the tournament with his Shutdown German Suplex.
Overall, the AJPW Royal Road Tournament 2018 Final was a very enjoyable show with three great tournament matches and a big angle with Dylan James betraying Sweeper. I would definitely recommend that you watch this show if you haven’t already.