ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
SUPER DELUXE SERIES 2021
SEPTEMBER 21, 2021
SHUJI ISHIKAWA, TAKAO OMORI & BLACK MENSO~RE DEF. JUN SAITO, REI SAITO & RYOMA TSUKAMOTO (5:45)
This was a lot of fun for what it was. The Saitos and Tsukamoto were in control for a fair amount of this match. The Saitos got to hit a nice looking double Chokeslam on Menso~re. Tsukamoto put up a valiant fight against Omori, and even managed to bodyslam the much larger wrestler. But Tsukamoto the rookie ended up tapping out to a Half Crab from Omori. Tsukamoto is a ball of fire and I love watching him go toe-to-toe against larger opponents. The Saitos also look like they are improving too. The Saito Respect Army continues to gain more momentum. ***
MASANOBU FUCHI, TAJIRI & IZANAGI DEF. SHOTARO ASHINO & EVOLUTION (HIKARU SATO & DAN TAMURA) (8:15)
This was Fuchi’s first match since the Champion’s Night show in June. He has been wrestling a lot less since the pandemic began. I’m not sure if that is a safety precaution because of his age, or if he’s finally going to be hanging up his boots soon.
Ashino and Fuchi started the match. Fuchi did his closed fist punch to the head spot and then Ashino did one of his own. This angered Sato, who got into the ring and kicked Ashino and they stared at each other. Sato seemed to think Ashino was being too rough on the old man. Later on, Ashino and Sato kept slapping each other in the corner. Ashino and Sato started brawling with each other on the outside, and this breakdown of their team allowed Izanagi to pin Tamura with an Inside Cradle. This match was really just an angle which I think was pulled off well. The Ashino and Fuchi spots at the beginning were fun too. If I had to guess where this is going, I’d say Sato turns heel and leaves Evolution. If he also moves up to heavyweight because of this angle, I think that would be great. **½
KOJI IWAMOTO & RYUKI HONDA DEF. YOSHITATSU KINGDOM (YOSHITATSU & SEIGO TACHIBANA) (9:40)
A solid little match. Honda got worked over for a bit, then Iwamoto made the hot tag. In the closing stretch, Tachibana looked like he was about to finish off Honda, but Honda escaped an Olympic Slam attempt, hit a Spear, a Running Powerslam and then a German Suplex Hold with a tremendous looking bridge to get the win. Honda continues to show the potential to be a star, and his new tag team with Iwamoto has been great. ***¼
TOTAL ECLIPSE (HOKUTO OMORI, KOJI DOI & KUMA ARASHI) DEF. NEXTREAM (YUMA AOYAGI, ATSUKI AOYAGI & RISING HAYATO) (9:40)
Total Eclipse, the heels that they are, attacked Nextream before the bell. This led to an extended sequence of Total Eclipse working over Atsuki Aoyagi that wasn’t particularly dynamic. Things picked up a little bit when Omori got in there and his closing stretch with HAYATO was decent. Omori pinned HAYATO with the Muso Issen while Arashi and Doi had the Aoyagi brothers each in an Argentine Backbreaker. This was not what it could have been given the talent involved from a workrate standpoint, but it was more about establishing Total Eclipse as a dominant unit. **¾
During the intermission, Tatsumi Fujinami & LEONA vs. Yuma Aoyagi & Atsuki Aoyagi was announced for the Champions Night 2 / 49th Anniversary Show on October 16 at Ota Ward Gym. And Shuji Ishikawa vs. Daisuke Sekimoto for the GAORA TV Championship was announced for October 9 in Saitama.
Then we got the announcement of the teams for the Real World Tag League:
- Suwama & Shotaro Ashino
- Jake Lee & Hokuto Omori
- Abdullah Kobayashi & Drew Parker
- Jun Saito & Rei Saito
- Kento Miyahara & Yuma Aoyagi
- TAJIRI & Super Crazy
- T-Hawk & El Lindaman
- Izanagi & Devil Murasaki
- Shuji Ishikawa & Kohei Sato
- Yoshitatsu & Seigo Tachibana
- Mitsuya Nagai & LEONA
- Kengo Mashimo & KAZMA SAKAMOTO
- Zeus & Shigehiro Irie
- Takao Omori & Yuko Miyamoto
- Koji Iwamoto & Ryuki Honda
- Koji Doi & Kuma Arashi
This was a much larger field than I was expecting. There’s also some teams here that are not great like Nagai & LEONA, Kobayashi & Parker, and TAJIRI & Super Crazy. At least with a four team, four block format, you will only have to endure three matches from the bad teams. However, there are still lots of great matchups here. The tournament begins on November 13 in Korakuen Hall and concludes with the semi-finals and finals at Korakuen Hall on December 5. This is the first time they are doing more than one block in the RWTL since 2016 and the first time ever they are doing four blocks.
PWF WORLD JR. HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE CHAMPIONSHIP
SUGI © DEF. YUSUKE KODAMA (14:49)
I previously referred to Kodama as an emo kid. I was mistaken, he likes Christian Rock, as he used Invincible by Skillet as his entrance music. The man is truly full of surprises. This started off with a relatively brisk pace, and it didn’t take long for SUGI to bust out the high spots. What was a plus though, was Kodama really didn’t do much stalling which is often an issue with him. In a minus, there was a referee bump caused by Kodama that also led to a low blow on SUGI. Not great, but it was not as egregious here as some of the cheating and referee bumps you see elsewhere these days. SUGI won his V2 defense here with a Springboard Firebird Splash. This was a perfectly acceptable filler defense, but it wasn’t as hot as the last two SUGI title matches in All Japan. ***
After the match, Izanagi came out to challenge SUGI. No date has been announced for the match yet, but I am excited for it. They will probably gel really well together.
TRIPLE CROWN #1 CONTENDER MATCH
KENTO MIYAHARA DEF. ZEUS (13:30)
Given the length of this, they got down to business early, with little filler at the beginning. Others may disagree, but I thought each man established that they were both going to offer up some nastiness in this match early on. I thought they would use their relatively limited (for them) time to really go balls out in a sprint. They didn’t do that. I thought there were some really good exchanges here, but the thing with Miyahara and Zeus matches, the big spots at the end really need the time to build to them to mean something. So this never quite got out of second gear, maybe second and a half gear to be fair as I did like the stuff they were building to at the end. But then out of nowhere Miyahara locks on his Snake Limit submission which is a modified Triangle Choke and Cross Armbreaker. Zeus struggled for a little bit before tapping out. Miyahara hasn’t used the Snake Limit in ages, so if they are teasing he is going to be using it against Jake Lee, they should have had him using it more lately to really build it up. A good match if this was from some average wrestlers, but disappointing from these two. ***½
TRIPLE CROWN HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
JAKE LEE © DEF. SUWAMA (24:40)
Lee entered wearing his Darth Vader cosplay outfit. I think it is kind of goofy, if I’m being honest. At one point early on, Lee outwitted Suwama to take back control of the match and then taunted Suwama by doing push-ups. Lee hasn’t quite mastered how to be a heel like Scott Steiner though. Once again, I will caution, your mileage may vary here. I enjoyed most of Lee and Suwama working over each other for the first half of the match, though I could definitely see many finding it a little dry. I am on record in many of my reviews on this great website, that I think Suwama’s control sequences when he’s working over someone to be pretty good generally. And the opposite is also true, as Suwama is underrated at selling.
The real question is, did they build it into a truly great match? Not quite. There were some glimpses of great stuff as the match went on. The last few minutes had some great strike exchanges. I really liked Lee’s knee and kick’s to Suwama’s chest. Suwama had COVID-19 and he also suffers from asthma. Suwama sold it like those strikes were causing him breathing problems. I was also into the near falls at the end before Lee won this match with the D4C in his V2 defense of the Triple Crown. I thought this was a very good match. I think others will disagree. But I will say this, if Jake Lee is to ever be a true superstar on the level of Kento Miyahara his matches have to be better than this. ***¾
After the match, Miyahara came out to the ring wearing a very nice suit to confront Lee and cut a promo.
This show drew only 478 which has got to be a bit of a disappointment. It was however on a Tuesday, and most promotions in Japan take a hit when their shows are on a weekday. Lee as Triple Crown Champion has sold out Korakuen Hall (the COVID-19 limit, however) before but those were on the weekend or holidays. But I can’t help but thinking, the main event here, one of the biggest All Japan had, especially because it was delayed due to Suwama getting COVID-19, underperformed on some level.
At first I was into Lee’s heel character work but now he’s just stagnated doing it, even though he is a great bell-to-bell worker. Going back to Lee vs. Miyahara again may seem premature, but they don’t have much else in the way of other big matches, and they have a show at Ota Ward Gym to do next month. There’s a part of me that says just have Miyahara win the title back. But I think that should be saved for next year’s 50th anniversary show to close out the Miyahara is in a slump storyline. While Lee’s Triple Crown reign has been lackluster, he’s at least not bombing. A lot of times, and Naomichi Marufuji’s first (and brief) GHC Heavyweight Championship reign comes to mind here, you need to stick with things just a little longer before you cut bait, especially when your company needs new young stars to be made.
The show overall was fine but there was nothing awesome on the undercard, unlike All Japan’s last few Korakuen Hall shows. This is the time of the year where All Japan can often begin to feel a little stale, but even after the awful Autumn of 2020 in the company, it was the Real World Tag League that spiced things up again. I have a feeling it will do the same thing this year.