ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
EXCITE SERIES 2019
FEBRUARY 7, 2019
KORAKUEN HALL

Watch: AJPW.TV

TAJIRI, HOKUTO OMORI & KIM SUBIN DEF. ATSUSHI MARUYAMA, ATSUKI AYOAGI & DAN TAMURA

A quick opener that goes under seven minutes. TAJIRI is outworked by all of the rookies. I’ve never seen Subin before and I don’t know where he’s from, he doesn’t even have a Cagematch profile but he puts in a decent effort.

A perfectly fine opener that shows off the potential of the rookies. **½

JR. BATTLE OF GLORY TOURNAMENT MATCH
CHIKARA [2] DEF. BLACK TIGER VII [0]

This match lasted about four minutes and was more brawling than Jr. style. Black Tiger sucked and CHIKARA didn’t do much either except for using Overhead Chops which I suspect is because he’s Mitsuo Momota’s son and thus Rikidozan’s Grandson. He even wears long black tights like his Grandfather. He hits an Overhead Chop after jumping off the top rope for the win.

If not for the Overhead Chops, which I always mark out for because of my love for Giant Baba, I’d go even lower on this

ZEUS & DYLAN JAMES DEF. JAKE LEE & GIANNI VALLETTA

A big boy match that started off well with everyone doing nice no sell spots showing their toughness.

Valletta did his heel shenanigans but at least we got a cool spot where Zeus breaks free of being wrapped by the Maltese wrestler’s chain by using his brute strength.

Valletta keeps using the chain and misses a punch with the chain wrapped around his fist and Zeus promptly hits the Jackhammer for the win at about five minutes.

An abrupt ending and I’m serious when I say this could’ve used a couple of more minutes. **½

JUN AKIYAMA, ULTIMO DRAGON & MITSUO MOMOTA DEF. TAKAO OMORI, OSAMU NISHIMURA & MASANOBU FUCHI

Momota at 70 years old, is even older than Fuchi.

This was a fun flashback to 1990s AJPW comedy matches with Fuchi and Momota starting the match off.

We go almost immediately to the Fuchi comedy spots with the Fuchi hidden closed fist that he claims to the referee was a slap.

Momota for his part doesn’t move around as slowly as you might think he would and manages to throw a bunch of reasonably good looking strikes and even manages to escape fromana Abdominal Stretch from Nishimura.

Dragon looked pretty good in this too because he was not in for an extended period and just came in to hit his spots.

Akiyama gets the win by pinning Fuchi at a little over ten minutes.

This was a fun throwback and pretty decent given the quality of some of the comedy multi man tag matches that AJPW runs these days. **½

SUWAMA, SHUJI ISHIKAWA, HIKARU SATO & YUSUKE OKADA DEF. KENTO MIYAHARA, YOSHITATSU, BLACK MENSO-RE & FRANCESCO AKIRA

Fun spot at the beginning of the match where Ishikawa goes to sit in the front row and chant with the crowd as the Triple Crown champion and his next challenger square off to begin the match..

SUWAMA and Miyahara have some great exchanges that get a lot of heat from the crowd in the early minutes.

This was Akira’s debut match in AJPW and the first time I’ve ever seen him. I was cautiously impressed. He tried to work the crowd while standing on the ring apron and got a little bit of heat. He also got in some high spots like Flying Headscissors and a Tope Con Hilo onto a bunch of guys standing outside the ring and did a good job selling a beat down when he was in the ring against SUWAMA.

This match did a great job building towards Miyahara vs. SUWAMA. They also brawled into the crowd and took turns slamming each others’ heads into the East sign at the top of the bleachers. SUWAMA even throws a crowd barrier at Miyahara but the Triple Crown champion manages to catch it!

Ultimately, SUWAMA catches Miyahara in a Sleeper Hold, and while Miyahara initially almost reverses it, SUWAMA locks it back in and gets the win.

Miyahara does a awesome selling job like he’s been choked out and looks like he’s dead lying in the ring. Yoshitatsu then has to carry him to the back with Miyahara looking like he could not stand up on his own.

The build towards Miyahara vs. SUWAMA has been the best storyline so far this year in AJPW. ***½

JR. BATTLE OF GLORY TOURNAMENT MATCH
ATSUSHI AOKI [2] DEF. SEIKI YOSHIOKA [0]

Unlike the first match of this tournament, this match starts off like a more traditional Jr. encounter with lots of chain wrestling and reversals at the beginning of this match.

An Asai Moonsault from Yoshioka is the first high spot of this match. And in the coolest spot of the match, Aoki lands a dropkick jumping off of the crowd barrier.

Despite the cool spots, the match never quite hits it into high gear. I felt it was a tad plodding at times despite going only 11 minutes. Aoki gets the win with a backdrop hold.

I feel like these guys have a better match in them, which will turn out to be a theme tonight. ***¼





ALL ASIAN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
NAOYA NOMURA & YUMA AOYAGI © DEF. RYUICHI KAWAKAMI & KAZUMI KIKUTA

I must admit unlike many of the cool kids, I don’t watch BJW (I did watch Violence Giants vs. Strong BJ which was the first BJW match I’d seen since 2000 when Honma and Yamakawa were having Death Matches against each other), so this is the first time I’ve seen Kawakami and Kikuta in action.

This match started of slow with lots of holds being exchanged then some brawling on the outside.

Nomura plays whipping boy in this match for a while, but he’s not as good as Aoyagi is in this role.

Towards the end of the match, Nomura kicks out of some double team moves and some nasty looking kicks from Kikuta that gets the crowd into the match.

Kikuta goes for a high kick that Nomura turns into a Death Valley Driver for the win.

I thought this match had gone at least 20 minutes when it was over but the actual time was 16:45.

While still a good match with some decent drama at the end, it could have benefitted from being a couple minutes shorter. ***½

JR. BATTLE OF GLORY TOURNAMENT MATCH
KOTARO SUZUKI [2] DEF. KOJI IWAMOTO [0]

I was looking forward to this match as Suzuki was the standout of an eight man tag match made up of all competitors in the tournament during the last tour on 1/9.

Suzuki takes control early in this match and works over Iwamoto’s abdominal area though that doesn’t play into the match later.

While the work was mostly crisp and we got some stiff strikes from Suzuki there was some awkward stuff like a Superplex reversal from Suzuki that looked incredibly awkward with him taking the brunt of his landing on his right leg in what I suspect was supposed to look more like a Cross Body.

The finish saw Iwamoto kick out of a Rolling Elbow and then a Blue Destiny. Suzuki then hit a Judo Throw and an elbow to the face of Suzuki while he was laying on the mat. It seemed somewhat anticlimactic and the crowd didn’t seem to expect that this would be the finish.

Again, much like the Aoki vs. Yoshioka match, these guys definitely have a better match in them, and it would not surprise me if a rematch between these two ends up being the tournament final. ***¼

FINAL THOUGHTS

I was underwhelmed by this show.

When you look at the participants in the Jr. tournament, it’s clear that there would be some weak stuff. However, some underachieving matches from some of the stronger workers in the tournament on the opening show is a bit of red flag.

The best part of this show was the continued build towards Miyahara vs. Suwama. The multi man tag matches featuring Miyahara and Violence Giants have been the strongest part of the smaller shows for AJPW so far this year.

Another thing that AJPW will have to look at is that this Korakuen show drew only 1110. The January 2 and 3 shows both drew 1440 and 1585 respectively.

If AJPW wants to draw near sellouts at Korakuen without having major title matches on them, they are going to have to provide better all around cards. This is not impossible. There were many fun top to bottom shows on the January tour. The trick is booking everyone properly and covering up for the weaknesses of wrestlers like TAJIRI and Black Tiger VII.

I’m a little nervous on how this Jr. tournament will pan out though they did a good job building towards it on the last tour. Being concerned that on the smaller shows on the tour, the chances of great tournament matches will be greatly decreased is quite reasonable, but we won’t know that until they happen. However, the 2/24 Yokohama Bunka Gym show should still deliver if only on the strength of Miyahara vs SUWAMA.