ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
SUMMER ACTION SERIES
JULY 23 2020
BANDAIJIMA MULTIPURPOSE PLAZA
NIIGATA, JAPAN

Watch: AJPW.TV

YUSUKE KODAMA DEF. ATSUKI AOYAGI (7:00)

Aoyagi continued to look good in these opening bouts. Lots of energy and spunk and he is slowly evolving into a high flyer. Kodama is a perfect foil for him in an opening match. Kodama worked him over and stretched him out. With Aoyagi getting in his hope spots. Kodama won the match with a Mad Splash. Kodama hooked Aoyagi’s legs so high that it looked like his shoulders were not quite on the mat. Barring that, this was everything you wanted in an opener between a young boy and an established talent. ***

JIN (JAKE LEE & KOJI IWAMOTO) DEF. YUMA AOYAGI & TSUGUTAKA SATO (7:42)

As I have mentioned before, Aoyagi has seemed directionless since the empty arena era began and still seems directionless now that the fans have returned. I like Sato a lot and I think he has a lot of potential. These two would be a good team going forward, teaming with the young Aoyagi, Atsuki as well. The Aoyagi Brothers seem to be the only All Japan wrestlers right now that don’t have a stable or regular partners. Teaming them with Sato would solve this. Sato was solid here and took a beating from the JIN team well. Aoyagi and Lee also had some hot sequences here. Match ended rather abruptly with Lee hitting the Giant Killer running knee on Sato. This could have gone a few more minutes as it was quite good while it lasted and seemed to be heating up before the finish. ***

PURPLE HAZE (ZEUS & IZANAGI) DEF. TAKAO OMORI & BLACK MENSO~RE (8:12)

Purple Haze attacked before the bell of course. This was a perfectly fine match between two perfectly fine teams. Menso~re got beat up a bunch and did some comedy. There were a couple of kind of hot false finishes in this match that I really dug. The main takeaway from this match was that Izanagi continued his winning streak, pinning Meno~re with a Small Package. You have to think Zeus and Izanagi are the top pick to win the #1 Contender’s Three-Way match for the All Asia Tag Titles against Omori & Menso~re and TAJIRI & KAI on 7/25. ***1/4

TRIPLE CROWN SKIRMISH
SHUJI ISHIKAWA & DAN TAMURA DEF. EVOLUTION (SUWAMA & HIKARU SATO) (12:52)

It has been a lackluster build to the SUWAMA vs. Ishikawa Triple Crown match. They really haven’t been teasing that much dissension between the tag team champions. Given that the Violent Giants have been around for a few years now and won the tag team championships at the Real World Tag League on multiple occasions. It is time to break them up I think. Hopefully their Triple Crown match does eventually lead to that as All Japan’s tag team division needs a shake up. Anyway, this was a good little match. SUWAMA and Sato beat the crap out of Tamura. The hot tag was eventually made to Ishikawa and he and SUWAMA went at it. Ishikawa looked pretty good here, and was working harder than I have seen him do in a while. Ishikawa has clearly lost a step or two lately (and I’m not the only one to think that), but if SUWAMA and Ishikawa just hit each other really hard, they should have a good Triple Crown match. Ishikawa got the win with the Fire Thunder Driver on Sato after Tamura cleared SUWAMA from the ring after hitting him with an impressive deadlift gutwrench suplex. SUWAMA and Ishikawa finally decided to show some tension between each other after the match where they briefly yelled at each other. ***1/4

EWA INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
TAJIRI © DEF. FRANCESCO AKIRA (11:09)

This title hails from the EWA, an Austrian promotion which is run by Chris “Bambikiller” Raaber. TAJIRI has held its Intercontinental Championship since July 2019, and has defended it already in All Japan against Francesco Akira back in September 2019. I have been a lot higher on TAJIRI as of late and he continued to stay on my good side here. Since Akira is TAJIRI’s protégé, he is also more apt to work harder against him. This started with a lot of matwork, and it is clear that Akira has really improved that part of his game. The story was simple, TAJIRI used his matwork and counters to neutralize Akira’s high-flying offense. Apart from an extended bodyscissors hold spot that went on too long, it worked well. Akira should also be credited here for selling his abdomen that TAJIRI worked over throughout the entire match. TAJIRI got the win out of nowhere with a Ground Cobra Twist. I thought that mostly made sense within the context of this match. And while Akira has really made some big strides this year, finally pinning his senpai TAJIRI, is a longer-term storyline. I really dug this though I could see that mat heavy element of this match may not be for everyone. ***1/2

GAORA TV CHAMPIONSHIP
YOSHITATSU © DEF. YUSUKE OKADA (10:38)

Okada won the right to challenge for the GAORA TV Championship by defeating Seigo Tachibana in a hair versus hair match on the last show. Okada attacked aggressively at the bell, showing a lot of fire and how much he wants to win the title. This match had a kind of boring middle part with some brawling outside the ring and submission hold attempts that really didn’t mean anything later on. Things did pick up later on when Okada went on the offensive. After a flurry of Okada offense, Yoshitatsu just locked in the Yoshitatsu Fantasy for the quick tap out. I thought this was going to be better, though Okada really did save this match after some boring opening and middle spots. ***



KENTO MIYAHARA, JIRO “IKEMEN” KUROSHIO & RISING HAYATO DEF. ENFANTS TERRIBLES (SHOTARO ASHINO, KUMA ARASHI & HOKUTO OMORI) (23:43)

The entrance for Jiro TOOK FOREVER. It is getting tiresome now that he seems to have made All Japan his main home. This took a while to get going, because everyone got in their character work early on. Jiro and Miyahara mugged for the camera while Ashino and Arashi needed to get over as dastardly heels. It was left to HAYATO and Omori to finally start wrestling. But a lot of the character work then came back as the match progressed, especially from Jiro. I did however like that once against Omori went right after Miyahara when he could, including another DDT on the entrance ramp like on the last show. There was even more weird character stuff in this match like HAYATO slapping Miyahara to motivate him to go after Omori. The last couple of minutes were pretty good with Miyahara vs. Omori and Miyahara pinning The North Wolf with the Shutdown German Suplex. After the match, while it seemed like everything had quieted down, Omori came out of nowhere and jumped Miyahara and both teams brawled a bit before HAYATO ran Omori off. While some may roll their eyes about another loss for Enfants Terribles, I thought it was fine given the story they’ve told over the past two shows about Miyahara vs. Omori. The feud between Miyahara’s new faction and Enfants Terribles will continue.

This match, however, was much weaker than other six-man tag main events in All Japan. There was too much character work and the action was lackluster, especially given the length of this match. Even Ashino did a lot of silly cheap heat stuff instead of getting himself over as a stone cold killer as he usually does. This was disappointing given what it had the potential to be and showed flashes of. ***1/4

FINAL THOUGHTS

This was a weird show. The build towards the 7/25 Korakuen Hall show has been a little underwhelming. There does not seem to be much heat for SUWAMA vs. Ishikawa. And while Kento Miyahara and his allies versus Enfants Terribles has some heat, the actual in-ring work has been way too over the top and not serious enough. However, I still expect SUWAMA vs. Ishikawa to be pretty good and Susumu Yokosuka vs. Koji Iwamoto fo the Jr. Title also has the potential to deliver big time.