ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
SUPER POWER SERIES 2019
MAY 20, 2019
HOKUTO OMORI DEF. DAN TAMURA
These guys keep showing great progress. Omori busted out new moves like a Headscissors. This was a very back-and-forth match with both guys getting in lots of offense. Tamura also kicked out of a lot of near falls, more than you usually see in a match with rookies/Young Lions.
Omori got the win with a Vertical Suplex after Tamura had kicked out at 2.9 from a High Angle Backdrop. Worth a watch to see how much better these guys are getting. ***1/4
JUMBO TSURUTA MEMORIAL MATCH
JUN AKIYAMA, OSAMU NISHIMURA & KOTARO SUZUKI DEF. TAKAO OMORI, MASANOBU FUCHI & BLACK MENSO-RE
May 13 was the 19th anniversary of the passing of Jumbo Tsuruta so we got a veterans comedy match in his honor.
This was lots of fun. Fuchi was the focal point here, getting in all of his different comedy spots, to huge cheers from the crowd. Nobody worked particularly hard here, though Black Menso-re did some flying. But that wasn’t the point of this match. It was all about some nostalgia and that’s why Fuchi, who was once a member of Jumbo’s group that feuded with the Super Generation Army of Misawa, Kawada, and Kobashi got all the attention. Akiyama pinned Menso-re with an Exploder. After the match, all the wrestlers in the match posed in the ring with Fuchi holding a picture of Jumbo wearing the three Triple Crown belts. If you’re a hardcore All Japan fan, you’ll love this. ***
JAKE LEE, NAOYA NOMURA & TAJIRI DEF. YOSHITATSU, YUMA AOYAGI & YUTAKA YOSHIE
TAJIRI spent a lot of time in the ring early on in this match. That meant it started pretty slowly. I’ve said a lot of good things about Yoshitatsu in the Champion Carnival, but he’s not good enough to carry TAJIRI. They have a match for the GAORA TV Title coming up on 5/27 in Gifu so we got a lot of them against each other here. This match finally picked up when we got an extended sequence of Nomura vs. Aoyagi that rocked. Lee was then tagged in and soon hit a Backdrop on Aoyagi for the win. I thought despite the slow start, this match could have used a couple of more minutes of Lee vs. Aoyagi before the match ended. ***
DYLAN JAMES, GIANNI VALLETTA & NOBE BRYANT DEF. SUWAMA, HIKARU SATO & YUSUKE OKADA
This was Bryant’s debut match in All Japan. He was not tagged in for long, but he did look good. He is over six feet tall and did some athletic stuff that popped the crowd. I’ve heard mixed things about his work on the Texas indies, but I can definitely say he’s better than Gianni Valletta.
This match was about building towards Violent Giants vs. Joe Doering and Dylan James for the World Tag Titles on 6/2 in Kobe. So we got some hard hitting SUWAMA vs. James action in this match that is the kind of big guys hitting each other really hard that All Japan is great at these days. There was an extended finishing sequence of James vs. Okada that was really great. Okada even got a couple near falls on James including one from a top rope splash. Though Okada would eventually be pinned by a Chokeslam from James, this match really highlighted Okada’s fighting spirit which got a great reaction from the crowd. I would not be surprised if Okada finally begins to climb the ranks of the Jr. division soon. This match did everything it needed to do – give Bryant a couple cool spots to establish himself, build towards the World Tag Title match, and give Okada a chance to show his fighting spirit. ***1/2
On the screen in Korakuen Hall we got a video package from The End (Parrow and Odinson) announcing they would be returning to All Japan soon and want the World Tag Team Titles. Got a New Japan vibe from this, given their use of this video gimmick lately.
ALL ASIA TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
RYUICHI KAWAKAMI & KAZUMI KIKUTA © DEF. ZEUS & ATSUSHI MARUYAMA
I had some relatively high expectations for this match given how good the 5/5 All Asia Tag Title match that saw Kawakami and Kikuta win the titles from Lee and Iwamoto. I was not disappointed.
The standout of this match was Kawakami. He and Zeus had some great exchanges where they just laid in the stiff strikes to each other. Maruyama played the whipping boy in this match and took a lot of abuse from both Kawakami and Kikuta, with Kikuta’s kicks being the highlight. After what was probably over half of the match, Zeus and Maruyama eventually took control of the match and that’s where he got all of the great Kawakami vs. Zeus stuff. From there, they went into the closing stretch where both teams got a bunch of near falls. Eventually, Kawakami put Maruyama away with the Hurricane Driver at exactly 17 minutes. This was a great tag team match with a hot ending that kept my attention the entire time, even during the parts where Maruyama was getting worked over a lot. Another great match in the All Japan vs. Big Japan feud. ****
WORLD JUNIOR HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
ATSUSHI AOKI DEF. KOJI IWAMOTO ©
Aoki is hands down the best Jr. in All Japan. He is a solid veteran hand that can carry wrestlers. I thought this match started well enough. Aoki landed a Missile Dropkick and Tope Suicida very early on in this match. From the hot opening, it slowed down a lot when Iwamoto took control. Iwamoto is a good wrestler and has had good matches, but at times, especially during the early parts of matches, he doesn’t do anything compelling until the match picks up the pace. That was the case here. Match finally became compelling again when Aoki began to target Iwamoto’s left arm, stomping on it and going for armbars. From there we entered the closing stretch and Iwamoto’s work significantly improved. Iwamoto got several near falls with multiple STOs and a Brainbuster. But Aoki is the crafty veteran managed to lock in his Trap Over arm submission for the win, and his third World Junior Heavyweight Championship. This got better as it went on and was very much a display of how great Aoki is as a wrestler. After the match, Aoki’s fellow Evolution member Hikaru Sato came out and challenged Aoki to a title match, that Aoki seemed to accept. ***1/2
TRIPLE CROWN CHAMPIONSHIP
KENTO MIYAHARA © DEF. SHUJI ISHIKAWA
I rated their Champion Carnival match ****. It was very good, but nothing you hadn’t seen before between these two guys. Here, these guys managed to put on a showing that was much more unique.
Within a minute of this match starting, Ishikawa hit a nasty looking forearm on Miyahara, and it was sold like a bullet to the head. Miyahara struggled for a bit to get up. But as Ishikawa rushed the champ, Miyahara hit a Drop Toe Hold on Ishikawa sending him head first into the ropes. Miyahara then hit a Dropkick and Ishikawa rolled to the outside. Initially on the outside, the match followed the usual Miyahara outside the ring formula with him Headbutting Ishikawa a couple of times. Ishikawa eventually took control and did a Diving Foot Stomp off of the Korakuen bleachers on to Miyahara. And before they got back into the ring, Ishikawa did another Diving Foot Stomp off of the ring apron on to Miyahara lying on the ground at ringside. Ishikawa furthered worked over Miyahara’s abdomen area once back in the ring, by standing on him, and hit some more knees to the gut. Miyahara took control a few times throughout the match, but Ishikawa fought back with knee strikes, and in one case a Fire Thunder Driver on the arpon.
The closing stretch was very wild. Ishikawa got a ton of near falls on Miyahara using knee strikes, Splash Mountain, and the Fire Thunder Driver. One cool sequence near the end saw Miyahara get a Japanese Leg Roll Clutch for a near fall and then Ishikawa kicked out and immediately turned it into a Gedo Clutch for near fall of his own that the crowd exploded for.
The finale of the match involved Miyahara hitting three Blackout Knees, and Ishikawa kind of no-sold that third one but was still staggering around but was on his feet. Miyahara went to apply the Shutdown German Suplex. The two battled over it, but Miyahara eventually hit it for the victory and his V4 defense of the Triple Crown.
There was a very vocal pro-Ishikawa contingent in the crowd, and Miyahara was booed at points when he acted like a dick. Only major criticism of this match that I have is that given all of the moves targeting Miyahara’s abdomen, he didn’t do much selling of it throughout the match. That being said, this was still an awesome match, though I think it was a shade below Miyahara’s matches against KAI, Nomura, and Lee this year have been better. However, this is another notch in Miyahara’s belt in the debate over him being wrestler of the year thus far. ****1/2
Another great All Japan Korakuen Hall show. The attendance was 1556, which is slightly below the 1698 that attended the Champion Carnival finals and the 1615 in attendance for Miyahara vs. Nomura in March. But I would still take the attendance as quite good given that Ishikawa vs. Miyahara has been done several times before for the Triple Crown and in the Champion Carnival.
Teams for the Jr. Tag Battle of Glory tournament which will take place in July have been announced:
-Atsushi Aoki & Hikaru Sato
-Hercules Senga & Tsutomu Oosugi
-KAGETORA & Yosuke Santa Maria
-Yusuke Okada & Francisco Akira
-Koji Iwamoto & Keichii Sato
-Black Menso-re & Atsushi Maruyama