ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING’S DESIRE TO DELIVER TO THE WORLD
APRIL 30, 2020
YUMA AOYAGI DEF. BLACK MENSO~RE (8:25)
Aoyagi continues his great run as a dick heel. Here we got Aoyagi the dick versus Menso~re’s trickery. Though the character work was strong, the match was a little dry to start but the last few minutes were fun with Aoyagi and Menso~re’s back-and-forth battle of cradles. Aoyagi got the win by reversing a Menso~re Huricanrana into a cradle. **3/4
JIN (JAKE LEE & KOJI IWAMOTO) DEF. PURPLE HAZE (ZEUS & IZANAGI) (8:46)
Purple Haze attacked before the bell. Match settled into a long portion where Zeus worked over Iwamoto. Zeus really brought out the best in Lee here, and Lee even showed some fire here. Despite dastardly deeds from Purple Haze like Zeus pulling referee Nikkan Lee out of the ring, Lee managed to put Izanagi away with a running knee strike for the victory. This was a good little match. ***1/4
JUN AKIYAMA & TAJIRI DEF. SHUJI ISHIKAWA & YUSUKE OKADA (9:38)
Okada is a rising super worker. He managed to get some fun matwork sequences in this match out of TAJIRI, my most loathed All Japan regular. Akiyama was being surly Uncle Jun here, bodyslamming Okada on the outside and just beating the crap out of him in the ring. Ishikawa, strangely enough, was a non-factor in this thing. Okada and TAJIRI had another fun sequence at the end of the match that ended TAJIRI pinning Okada with a Jacknife Hold. This might be the one good TAJIRI performance of the year. ***1/4
EVOLUTION (SUWAMA & HIKARU SATO) DEF. YOSHITATSU & DAN TAMURA (13:02)
Yoshitatsu and SUWAMA were beefing throughout this match which we will see become relevant in a bit. This match also continued the theme of young talent showing what they’ve got. Tamura was pretty great here doing matwork with Sato and getting beat up by SUWAMA. Tamura was in the ring for most of this match and showed great fire too. He would eventually fall to a Cross Armbreaker from Sato. ***1/4
YOSHITATSU DEF. SUWAMA (3:10)
Shuji Ishikawa must be an ECW fan because for the second time this year in All Japan, one match became another, Paul Heyman style. After the match, Yoshitatsu and SUWAMA brawled and then a match was made between them. Angry Yoshitatsu is kinda fun, to be honest. And he really took it to SUWAMA here controlling this match from the beginning and giving him a thrashing. SUWAMA eventually got control and tried to choke out Yoshitatsu, but SUWAMA refused to break and referee Kyohei Wada disqualified him. Tamura had to pull SUWAMA off of Yoshitatsu after the match. This wasn’t much in terms of moves, but I give all of the marks to this match for the intensity of it. **1/2
ENFANTS TERRIBLE (SHOTARO ASHINO & YUSUKE KODAMA) DEF. TAKAO OMORI & HOKUTO OMORI (9:27)
Despite All Japan doing the empty arena well, a mystery wrestler coming out when there is no crowd is always going to be anticlimactic. That was the case here. Despite that, Ashino and his mystery partner Kodama made a splash here. Ashino and Kodama worked over Hokuto Omori for most of this match and it was a nice display of their talents. After a brief sequence of Takao Omori vs. Ashino, Hokuto Omori got tagged back in and Ashinto went to town on him with lots of suplexes, and got a tap out with the Ankle Lock. This was all action and as good as a debut as you are going to get in the empty arena pandemic era. Hokuto Omori also deserves praise as the whipping boy, he still managed to get in some offense here and gets better in every match I see him in. After the match Ashino cut a promo, then Jake Lee came out to confront him. Ashino vs. Lee and a JIN vs. Enfants Terrible feud is a good choice for a first program for the ex-Wrestle-1 guys. ***1/2
ALL ASIA TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
YANKEE TWO KENJU (ISAMI KODAKA & YUKO MIYAMOTO) DEF. KENTO MIYAHARA & FRANCESCO AKIRA (24:15)
Miyahara still got Kento chants upon his entrance from the wrestlers and staff in the audience. It’s a nice touch because his entrance wouldn’t feel the same without them. This match started with some feeling out and matwork that went on for over five minutes, not the kind of thing you expect from the wrestlers involved here. However it built the match well and we got a steady progression into high action with the Kodaka versus Miyahara parts being a particular highlight. Akira also needs special mention here. He continued to show great progress in this match. He did his flying but he also busted out matwork and submissions. He is definitely diversifying his moveset. It looked like Akira was going to pin Miyamoto after a Meteora but Kodaka came in and kicked him in the face and Miyamoto rolled him up for the win. This match had a really hot finishing stretch. This was Yankee Two Kenju’s first defense of the All Asia Tag Team Championship. ****
All Japan has arguably presented the best atmosphere when it comes to empty arena wrestling. The camera shots of the ring are tight which distracts from the emptiness of the venue while wrestlers and staff act as a crowd and make a good amount of noise which works in a small venue like 2AW Square which looks like a big garage.
At the end of this show, All Japan announced the card for their 5/5 show which features Yoshitatsu & Miyahara vs. Violent Giants for the World Tag Team Championship and Yusuke Kodama vs. Yusuke Okada. Ashino is teaming with another X on this show and the outline of X the match graphic looks a lot like Kuma Arashi.
All Japan will continue to deliver solid shows while the pandemic continues, but it continues to make the right moves of bringing in new talent and putting a spotlight on younger wrestlers in the empty arena area. When things return to normal, All Japan will be in a good position to regain the momentum they had in the first couple of months of the year before the pandemic hit.