ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
DREAM POWER SERIES 2021
MARCH 14, 2021
PURPLE HAZE (IZANAGI & UTAMARO) DEF. RYUJI HIJIKATA & DAN TAMURA (7:51)
There was not a whole lot to this match. Tamura ended up getting worked over for a bit, Purple Haze did some dastardly stuff, Hijikata was a hot tag and eventually, Izanagi pinned Tamura with an inside cradle. Match started off slow but Tamura looked pretty good going into the closing stretch but some botched double bridge spots with Izanagi and Tamura took it down a notch at the end. **1/4
ALEJANDRO DEF. FRANCESCO AKIRA & ATSUKI AOYAGI (7:02)
Akira and Aoyagi were frenemies throughout this match, alternating between antagonizing each other and working together. Alejandro would take advantage of that dynamic to gain the advantage at times. There were a bunch of fun spots in this match, but the 3-way format made it uneven as they did the cliche of one of the wrestlers being knocked out of the ring quite a bit in this match. Alejandro got what was a mild surprise of a win with the ESO ES TODOS (Tilt-a-whirl DDT) on Akira. ***1/4
TOTAL ECLIPSE (KOJI DOI, KUMA ARASHI, TAJIRI & HOKUTO OMORI) DEF. SHUJI ISHIKAWA, TAKAO OMORI, BLACK MENSO~RE & RYUKI HONDA (9:30)
After an opening sequence setting up beef between Arashi and Takao Omori, Menos~re got worked over for a while. Doi got in an impressive spot where he put Ishikawa in the Argentine Backbreaker. All of the Doi versus Ishikawa sequences were great in fact. Doi would get the win with a Lariat on Honda. This match was very much about building up Doi for the Champion Carnival. The match accomplished its mission, but could have been even better if guys like Hokuto Omori got in some more time. ***1/4
TOTAL ECLIPSE (JAKE LEE & YUSUKE KODAMA) DEF. SHOTARO ASHINO & KOJI IWAMOTO (11:26)
These teams went right after each other off the bat. Ashino in particular was looking to get some vengeance against Total Eclipse. Lee and Iwamoto also had some great sequences. Lee’s grin when going after Iwamoto was some of the best Lee character work I’ve ever seen from him. At one point Ashino hit an overhead belly-to-belly suplex to Kodama off the apron and Kodama was hurled into the other members of Total Eclipse who were at ringside. That spot ruled. Iwamoto kicked out of the running knee to the back of the head from Lee which had won the past couple of matches for him and then fell to a Brainbuster from Lee that is called the D4C, which is a nice JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure reference. The match ended abruptly as they had something really good building, but this was still a great combination of both furthering the story and in-ring work. ***1/2
YOSHITATSU & OSAMU NISHIMURA DEF. EVOLUTION (SUWAMA & HIKARU SATO) (14:18)
Yoshitatsu came out in basic blank trunks, boots and kick pads to sell the angle he has been doing where he has been training with Nishimura to learn more technical wrestling in preparation for his Triple Crown match against SUWAMA on 3/21. SUWAMA and Yoshitatsu had some actually quite decent chain wrestling to start. We then got some grappling between Nishimura and Sato which I loved because I love both of them and they really haven’t tangled much in the ring beyond some undercard six and eight man tag matches where they got little time. There was also some decent stuff between Nishimura and SUWAMA which real Muto-era All Japan fans know wasn’t a surprise. SUWAMA and Yoshitatsu would go on to have some other pretty good exchanges in the later half of the match. As strange as it is, these two have really good chemistry. Sato had the advantage over Yoshitatsu for a while, but Yoshitatsu fought back, managed to counter a SUWAMA run-in, and hit a Backdrop on Sato for the win.
This match certainly exceeded expectations, but at the same time, SUWAMA and Yoshitatsu have unexpectedly great chemistry and their weaknesses can be hidden in a tag match. I have to say I am more excited for their Triple Crown match than I was yesterday. If you didn’t like this match as much as I did, I totally get it, but call me crazy, I’m going ***3/4.
WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
NEXTREAM (KENTO MIYAHARA & YUMA AOYAGI) © DEF. PURPLE HAZE (ZEUS & SHIGEHIRO IRIE) (21:30)
Aoyagi and Zeus started off and laid into each other, building off of Zeus brutalizing Aoyagi on the 3/6 show. Their feud was the focus of this match. Aoyagi became the whipping boy for a while, and got a bloody chest for it, then finally made the hot tag to Miyahara. The middle of the match was fine but didn’t hit the highest gear, but things picked up towards the end. Aoyagi was once again brutalized by Zeus, but managed to survive. There was a cool spot where Irie put Aoyagi up on his shoulders and Zeus Chokeslammed him off. Aoyagi managed to reverse a Jackhammer attempt from Zeus and then locked in the End Game and after Zeus struggled for a bit and got the referee stoppage. While it had a shaky middle, the Aoyagi versus Zeus story and the closing stretch were awesome. Aoyagi is in my top five list of wrestler of the year so far, he has been just fantastic in every big match he’s had so far. Nextream succeed in their V2 defense. ****
This was a great show, thought certainly not a spectacular one. But the booking did exactly what it needed to do. Total Eclipse continued to look dominant and Yuma Aoyagi got put over strong in the main event. With the Champion Carnival coming up, I don’t think the Aoyagi versus Zeus feud is over, and that is a match I am definitely looking forward to.
Even if the recent shows aren’t going on your show of the year lists, they have been solid and All Japan continues to trend in the right direction, but the Champion Carnival will really determine just how good that direction is.