ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
RAISING AN ARMY MEMORIAL SERIES 2019
OCTOBER 24, 2019
HOKUTO OMORI, ATSUKI AOYAGI & DAN TAMURA DEF. AKIRA HYODO, TAKUHO KATO, & YUKI ISHIKAWA
These teams have had several of these opening six man tags on All Japan shows and they have all been really fun. Hyodo is the stand out of these matches as he is the young hoss-in-training compared to the others who are Jr. Heavyweight sized (at least for now). His exchanges with Tamura, who is a power Jr. are awesome.
Omori was also a standout here, and he has really improved his work over the past couple of months. He pinned Ishikawa with a beautiful German Suplex in just under seven minutes. A good opener. ***1/4
EVOLUTION (HIKARU SATO & YUSUKE OKADA) DEF. UTAMARO & MASAYUKI MITOMI
UTAMARO who unsuccessfully challenged for the GAORA TV Championship recently, seems like he will be working AJPW regularly from now on. He may look like a dollar store Los Ingobernables de Japon member knock-off, but he is the kind of solid talent the All Japan midcard needs. He debuted in TAJIRI’s old promotion Wrestling New Classic in 2013 before being a Wrestle-1 regular from 2014-2017, and a freelancer for the last two years.
This was a solid match that was a showcase for the Evolution Team while it lasted. Okada and Sato both got in their spots before Mitomi fell to a Sato Cross Armbreaker in 4:52. Way too short. This could have been a lot of fun if it had some time. ***
TAKAO OMORI, MASANOBU FUCHI & BLACK MENSO~RE DEF. JUN AKIYAMA, OSAMU NISHIMURA & SUSHI
The obligatory All Japan Korakuen Hall comedy match gets the third slot, instead of its usual second slot.
This match started with SUSHI targeting Fuchi’s… balls. The crowd poured scorn on a low blow behind the ref’s back and a heabutt to the balls.
This was a little more interesting than the average comedy match. Instead of the usual comedy spots around Fuchi and Meno~re, we got SUSHI instead. It made for a fresher match format.
SUSHI was pinned by an Omori Axe Bomber in 8:43. **3/4
FUMINORI ABE & KOJI IWAMOTO DEF. KOTARO SUZUKI & ATSUSHI MARUYAMA
I thought this match was going to be something worth checking out when I saw it was announced and I was right.
Basic story of the match was the veterans vs. the younger wrestlers. Suzuki and Maruyama spent a lot of time early on in the match working over Iwamoto. Abe managed to get in a burst of offense, only to get shut down himself by the veterans.
Iwamoto eventually got back on offense and took control of Maruyama winning with the Koko no Geijutsu at 8:04. Abe wasn’t in the match for long, but he was awesome in his brief moments. I would like to see Abe more often in All Japan. ***1/2
And lo and behold During the intermission, it was announced that Fuminori Abe, Koji Iwamoto,
Atsushi Maruyama, Susumu Yokosuka (Dragon Gate), Black Menso~Re, Hikaru Sato, Yusuke Okada and KAGETORA (Dragon Gate) would participate in a tournament for the vacant World Junior Heavyweight Championship. The Quarter-Finals will take place on 11/21 and 12/17, while the semis are on 1/2/2020 and the finals on 1/3/2020, both in Korakuen Hall.
It’s Iwamoto vs. Abe and Menso~re vs. Sato on 11/21, and 12/17 will feature Yokosuka vs. Maruyama and KAGETORA vs. Okada.
Also announced was Hayato “Mach” Sakurai on 11/12. He will team with Sato and Okada to take on Iwamoto, Menso~re and Maruyama.
And finally, 11/13 will feature Juro “Ikemen” Kuroshio while Toshiaki Kawada (!!!) makes a special appearance.
NAOYA NOMURA, KAI, YUMA AOYAGI & TAJIRI DEF. SUWAMA, SHUJI ISHIKAWA, DAISUKE SEKIMOTO & THE BODYGUARD
The Bodyguard was a late substitution of Dylan James who suffered an injury.
Sekimoto and The Bodyguard attacked before the bell, with Aoyagi taking a big German Suplex from Sekimoto. Aoyagi unsurprisingly also played the whipping boy for a lot of this (short) match.
Match came down to TAJIRI and SUWAMA. TAJIRI escaped a Last Ride attempt, distracted the ref, sprayed the mist in SUWAMA’s face, followed that up with a Buzzsaw Kick and Small Package for the big upset in 8:11.
On these All Japan Korakuen Hall or any other tour ending shows, a lot of the upper midcarders and main eventers not in a title match get thrown together in a multiman tag near the top of the card. These multiman tags often only get 8 minutes. Yet on the smaller spot shows, there are great 20 minute multiman tags in the main event featuring most of these wrestlers. It would be nice if we could get those in Korakuen Hall on the tour ending shows. Anway, I digress. This was great while it lasted, and how could it not given the talent involved? ***1/4
WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
ZEUS & RYOUJI SAI © DEF. ONE WORLD (YOSHITATSU & JOEL REDMAN)
This tag title challenge is part of a push for Redman I think. He even got to pin Zeus earlier on the tour to heat this match up. And Redman and Yoshitatsu will be teaming together in the 2019 World’s Strongest Tag Determination League. And it’s a deserved push for Redman. He has gotten himself quite over with the All Japan crowds. Just look at the response and the streamers for him here.
First thing I loved in this match was Redman using his British style grappling against a power wrestlers like Zeus. Crowd ate it up. Zeus and Redman have great chemistry. Yoshitatsu and Redman also gelled well together as a team.
I thought that the match plodded along a little bit in the middle, particularly through some Sai and Yoshitatsu sequences. It picked up again thanks to Zeus and Redman. Zeus won with a Jackhammer on Redman in 17:27. Would love to see a singles match against these guys in the future. A good V1 defense for Sai & Zeus as they head into the World’s Strongest Tag Determination League. ***1/2
TRIPLE CROWN CHAMPIONSHIP
KENTO MIYAHARA © DEF. JAKE LEE
Lee showed more emotion in the first two minutes of this, than he has almost all year. This was wrestled differently than their underwhelming Ōdō Tournament finals match.
This felt a lot more like a fight than your average Miyahara title match. That works stylistically for Lee. There were points in the match where Lee would unload some offense and I bought it as something that might actually take out Miyahara for once. They continued the story of Lee possibly getting a KO on Miyahara which originated during the Ōdō tournament after knocking out Shuji Ishikawa with a High Kick. Though there were points in the middle of the match where it was beginning to lose me, usually when Lee was on offense.
While the early parts of the match tried something a little different, the last few minutes definitely resembled a traditional Miyahara match – and that’s not a knock on it. Lots of big moves and reversals. Lee even kicked out of a properly applied Shutdown German Suplex. There were also some High Kicks and Backdrops from Lee that I thought were the end. After a bunch of kicks and knees from both men, Miyahara locked in the Shutdown German Suplex and held up Lee in the air longer than usual before hitting it for the win at 33:19.
This was a lot better than their 2019 Ōdō Tournament finals match, but just a shade below their Champion Carnival 2019 finals match which I thought flowed better. However, the last few minutes of this match were tremendous.
Lee looked great here, but can he consistently perform at this level? He still hasn’t proven he can. He has only given two performances at level this high before – this match and the Champion Carnival 2019 finals. He has also looked uninspiring plenty of times this year too. One hopes this could be a turning point, but Lee has let us down before.
Miyahara’s V8 defense, which was the same number of defenses he managed during his first reign with the Triple Crown. It’s clear where this reign is going, even if we don’t know who Miyahara’s next couple of opponents will be. ****1/2
This show drew only 1,213 to Korakuen Hall. That’s the worst attendance for a Miyahara title defense in Korakuen Hall this year, and second worst attendance for a Miyahara defense overall. You have to go back nearly a year and a half to find a Triple Crown match at Korakuen Hall that drew less. Miyahara vs. Dylan James drew 1,053 on 6/12/18.
The irony here, is that since the beginning of this year, the All Japan undercards have become noticeably better. And while business is down a bit, it has not tanked nor does it look like it is about to. It has gotten stale at the top of the card though. This was the third Miyahara vs. Lee match this year, and the last one happened only a month ago. But if All Japan can continue to improve its undercard I think this lull in business won’t last long.
Let Miyahara exceed Toshiaki Kawada’s Triple Crown defense record of ten, but immediately after, it’s time to put the belt on someone new.
By that time, which should be around April-May next year, Nomura should be ready to hold this company’s top title, and hopefully Lee is too.
This was probably Miyahara’s last Triple Crown defense and singles match of the year. While not his best match this year, it was still an incredible match to go out on as we enter awards season, and Miyahara is up there for any wrestler of the year or most outstanding wrestler award.
Anyway, happy 47th birthday to All Japan Pro Wrestling, and here’s to, at the very least, another 47 years!