ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
ATSUSHI AOKI MEMORIAL AA FOREVER
AUGUST 15, 2020
ENFANTS TERRIBLES (KUMA ARASHI & HOKUTO OMORI) DEF. YUMA AOYAGI & ATSUKI AOYAGI (6:53)
This was the Atsuki and Hokuto show as they did the lion’s share of work here. Hokuto is really improving his heelwork and Atsuki is getting better as well and continues to transition into a high flyer. Hokuto pinned Atsuki with a German Suplex This was a perfectly good opener. ***
ENFANTS TERRIBLES (SHOTARO ASHINO & YUSUKE KODAMA) DEF. YOSHITATSU & YUSUKE OKADA (6:07)
Good match but it was too one-sided given all of the talent involved. Enfants seemingly controlled this entire match Ashino and Okada showed some good chemistry though. Ashino won this with a T-Bone Suplex on Okada. Poor Okada who has all the potential in the world has been pretty directionless since leaving Evolution. **3/4
ULTIMO DRAGON & TAJIRI DEF. FRANCESCO AKIRA & RISING HAYATO (8:42)
Akira really knows how to work the crowd. The younger team worked hard here to make something of this match. Ultimo didn’t try much at first but kind of turned it up (relatively speaking) towards the end. Ultimo pinned HAYATO with the La Magistral. While Ultimo is one of my all-time favorites, he should be “separados” from All Japan going forward so to speak. **1/2
ATSUKI AOKI MEMORIAL MATCH
HIKARU SATO & TAKUYA WADA DEF. KAGETORA & GOSAMARU
Kagetora and GOSAMARU were in the same high school wrestling club as Aoki, so that’s the connection here. GOSAMARU spends most of his time in Ryukyu Dragon Pro Wrestling which is a promotion in Okinawa. Sato was wearing UFC branded MMA gloves here, maybe in preparation of watching Cormier vs. Miocic later that day. This was surprisingly good. Kagetora generally brings it when he’s in All Japan and GOSAMARU was a pleasant surprise here. Wada, who was an MMA fighter is also pretty decent given he’s basically a part-time pro wrestler with not that many matches under his belt. There was some nice grappling and shoot style stuff here and GOSAMARU unexpectedly brought some high flying. Sato won this with a Foot Hold on GOSAMARU. A good tribute match ***1/4
TAKAO OMORI, OSAMU NISHIMURA, KOJI IWAMOTO & BLACK MENSO~RE DEF. JUN AKIYAMA, MASANOBU FUCHI, DAN TAMURA & SUSHI (11:39)
Akiyama made his (not that) long-awaited return to All Japan. And he did as much here as he was doing in All Japan before he left. This was a bit comedy plus the younger guys doing some good wrestling which is a nice mix. Tamura and Iwamoto teased their upcoming Jr. Title match on 8/30 with some stare downs and exchanges, while Fuchi, SUSHI and Menso~re did their comedy spots. Omori won this for his team with an Axe Bomber on SUSHI. After the match, Iwamoto and Tamura tried to brawl but got restrained by the others. This match did the job it was supposed to do. **3/4
ALL ASIA TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
PURPLE HAZE (ZEUS & IZANAGI) DEF. YANKEE TWO KENJU (ISAMI KODAKA & YUKO MIYAMOTO) © (12:01)
This was a lot of fun. Zeus and Miyamoto had some great chemistry here and they carried the match. This was a back-and-forth match with lots of action. Izanagi continued his streak of winning with Inside Cradles as he trapped Kodama in one after a suplex attempt for the win. Yankee Two Kenju failed in their fourth defense. This was Izanagi’s (Atsushi Maruyama) first title win in All Japan since he started working full time there in 2017. It was also the culmination of a story that has lasted the past couple of months of Zeus and Izanagi nearly breaking up because Izanagi kept losing matches until he turned things around. ***1/2
ATSUKI AOKI MEMORIAL MATCH
VIOLENT GIANTS (SUWAMA & SHUJI ISHIKAWA) & SHIGEHIRO IRIE DEF. KENTO MIYAHARA, JAKE LEE & YUJI OKABAYASHI (20:56)
Ishikawa has been hitting the gym lately, as he looks like he’s lost some weight, which is no doubt helpful for him given he’s been slowing down lately. He definitely was moving faster here than he has on other recent shows. This was a solid main event. Each wrestler got to do their spots. Miyahara played the whipping boy here, which isn’t what he usually does. Okabayashi was the hot tag here which was great as he just then threw everyone else around and lariated and chopped them. The Okabayashi versus Ishikawa sequences were a highlight here. Last couple minutes of the match were really hot with everyone just jumping into the ring to hit big moves. There was a botched Last Ride Powerbomb attempt by SUWAMA on Miyahara near the end that looked like it could’ve ended badly. But SUWAMA’s follow up actually looked tremendous and it allowed SUWAMA to pin Miyahara for the win. The botch didn’t bother me too much as the rest of the match had good action. After the match, a number of wrestlers got into the ring and there was a ten bell salute to Aoki. ***3/4
This show drew 657 which is basically a sell-out given the crowd size limitations.
The ten bell salute at the end was very emotional. You can tell just how much Aoki meant to everyone, especially his stablemates, SUWAMA and Hikaru Sato, and that hasn’t changed in the just over a year it’s been since his death.
The absence of Pro Wrestling NOAH roster members, who were all over the show last year, was felt here. Something seems to have happened since the pandemic started as All Japan and NOAH looked as if they would be working together more just prior to it.
The result in the main event is interesting. SUWAMA pinning Miyahara may in part just be part of heating up the Violent Giants versus Miyahara and Jiro Kuroshio World Tag Team Championship match on 8/30. But it could also be a sign that the SUWAMA and Miyahara rivalry over the Triple Crown isn’t over. The results of the Champion Carnival will tell us if that is the case or not.