ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
7TH ŌDŌ TOURNAMENT NIGHT 6
SEPTEMBER 23, 2019
NAGOYA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE HALL
7TH ŌDŌ TOURNAMENT SEMI-FINALS
KENTO MIYAHARA DEF. ZEUS
With this only going 11:05, this was basically the greatest hits of Miyahara vs. Zeus. You’ve seen a lot of the spots in here before in their other singles matches but they are still good. My biggest beef with this match was that they spent too much time brawling in the crowd given how long this match went. Miyahara got the flash pin with a Japanese Leg Roll Clutch. These two with their skill and chemistry could have a good singles match between each other in their sleep. ***1/2
7TH ŌDŌ TOURNAMENT SEMI-FINALS
JAKE LEE DEF. SHUJI ISHIKAWA
This was a fun back-and-forth match that I thought was going fairly well until the end. The main problem with this match before the end was Lee’s lack of fire. That would play into the end because Lee would get a win via referee stoppage in only 9:16 after a High Kick to Ishikawa’s head. The Violent Giant was unable to get up and referee Kyohei Wada called for the bell. Even though Lee has considerable size of his own, the idea that he could knock out someone the size of Ishikawa so easily seemed like asking to much of my suspension of disbelief. This was clearly designed to give Lee a dominant win over a decorated veteran like Ishikawa, but it just came off flat. Gotta give some good marks to Ishikawa for how he carried the match up to the final moments, though. ***
JUN AKIYAMA, UTAMARO, ATSUSHI MARUYAMA & TAKAYA SHIBAYAMA DEF. TAKAO OMORI, BLACK MENSO~RE, AKIRA FRANCESCO & HOKUTO OMORI
This took the spot of the comedy match on the card. While Black Menso~Re did a lot of his comedy spots with Akiyama, this match also featured a good amount of action and also acted as a showcase for UTAMARO who is hinting he wants to challenge Yoshitatsu for the GAORA TV Championship. Everybody got some time to do some spots, which doesn’t always happen on undercard multi-man tag matches in this company. UTAMARO pinned Hokuto Omori with a Moonsault. Fun stuff. ***1/4
EVOLUTION (HIKARU SATO & YUSUKE OKADA) DEF. KOJI IWAMOTO & DAN TAMURA
This was the best match on the undercard. Sato and Okada have become a great team, and the young boy Tamura got plenty of time to shine. This match went 11:25 which was a nice amount of time for these guys to put together a pretty good match. Okada and Tamura had some great exchanges, and in a twist, it was Iwamoto instead of Tamura who got worked over and had to make a hot tag. Tamura also got to kick out of more stuff than usual before he was put away by a Diving Headbutt from Okada. Tamura continues to show growth and in my opinion, is the best of the three AJPW young boys. ***1/2
LAND’S END (RYOUJI SAI, SO DAIMONJI & KYOSUKE IKAHO) DEF. YOSHITATSU, YUMA AOYAGI & ATSUKI AOYAGI
The Sai vs. Yoshitatsu feud that started on 9/22 in Osaka continues. Those two started out in this match and had a heated exchange. From there, everyone else got in some spots, building to Sai and Yoshitatsu both getting tagged in again. There was also a valiant performance from Atsuki Aoyagi who tried to hold his own against the veteran Sai before tapping out to a Boston Crab from Sai. This was another really fun undercard match on this show that helped to move the Sai vs. Yoshitatsu feud along. After the match Yoshitatsu challenged Sai and Zeus’ World Tag Team Championship with Joel Redman to be his partner. ***1/2
SUWAMA, KAI, JIRO “IKEMEN” KUROSHIO & TAISHI TAKIZAWA DEF. JOE DOERING, DYLAN JAMES, NAOYA NOMURA & SAM ADONIS
Like the other multi-man tags on this show, this got enough time to let everyone get some rub. Nomura’s interactions with Kuroshio and KAI were the highlights of this match, and are singles matches that I would like to see one day. SUWAMA got the win with a Backdrop on Adonis. Simple but fun. ***1/4
7TH ŌDŌ TOURNAMENT FINALS
JAKE LEE DEF. KENTO MIYAHARA
The 2019 Champion Carnival finals between these two is one of my favorite matches of the year. But since then, Lee has not been able to come close to putting on a performance that is anything close to his performance from the Champion Carnival finals. Sadly, he was unable to rise to the occasion here.
This was not a bad match as it turned out to be decent but it was a total Miyahara carry job. Lee tried to show some fire and passion at points but it was inconsistent. There was even one point in the match where Lee clapped his hands together to try to get the crowd to do the same, but his effort looked incredibly lackadaisical and the crowd didn’t keep their clapping up for very long.
At 23:59, this was a little shorter than most Miyahara title defenses. It was also shorter than their Champion Carnival finals match by a couple of minutes. It seemed like it took longer than most Miyahara matches to kick into high gear. When it did, though, Miyahara managed to make this match something good and not the boring match it seemed like it was trending to be early on. I was not impressed by Lee’s performance here. I hope he can rediscover whatever helped him manage to have a ****3/4 match with Miyahara back in April, when he challenges Miyahara for the Triple Crown during AJPW’s 47th Anniversary tour in October. ***2/3
The 7th Ōdō Tournament was good but not great in part due to the relatively flat finals. If I had to rank my MVPs of the tournament, I would say: 1. Zeus 2. Kento Miyahara 3. Naoya Nomura. It should also be noted that this show had a really fun undercard.
This show drew 1,005 which should be seen as a success. AJPW rarely draws more than 1,000 for a show outside of Tokyo or Yokohama. Nagoya is one of the only cities outside of the Greater Tokyo Area along with Osaka and Sendai where AJPW has managed to draw four figures to a show in the past two years.
Nomura’s recent match against Miyahara and his performance in this tournament is proof that he is miles ahead of Lee as worker and having a connection with the crowd. However, it is Lee that is the first of the two to pin Miyahara in a singles match, though Nomura has pinned Miyahara a couple of times in six and eight-man tags. I wouldn’t expect Lee to have much of a chance when he faces Miyahara for the Triple Crown next month. The way this tournament went, it was designed so Miyahara would get his win back in the title match.
At least this year’s Ōdō Tournament was used to try to establish a new star instead of previous years where established talent had always won it. However, given Lee’s performance on this final night of the tournament, his upcoming Triple Crown match against Miyahara is really do-or-die for him if he is to ever have a chance as a credible top guy in this company.