ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
NEW YEAR WARS 2022
JANUARY 2 & 3, 2022
KORAKUEN HALL
TOKYO, JAPAN

Watch: AJPW.TV

All Japan heads into another set of back-to-back Korakuen Hall shows to kick off the new year. These shows generally set the tone for the upcoming year, so hopefully they demonstrate that things will be headed in a different direction than in 2021. With the late breaking news of Jake Lee’s injury, there is no excuse not to try something new. It should be noted that All Japan has not announced an official match order as of yet for January 3. Both of these shows start at 11:30 a.m. JST, which means on the East Coast of North America, you can watch these shows beginning at 9:30 p.m. the evening before their actual date.

JANUARY 2

RYO INOUE DEBUT MATCH
RYO INOUE VS. DAN TAMURA

Despite all the turmoil and departures, All Japan keeps turning out students from its Dojo. Inoue is 5’8” and 187 pounds. Given All Japan’s track record in recent years, there’s every reason to believe that he has potential. Anyway, that’s all you can say at this point. Tamura wins obviously. Prediction: Dan Tamura

SHUJI ISHIKWA & JUN SAITO VS. RISING HAYATO & REI SAITO

This is the third last match of the Saito Brothers before they leave for their U.S. excursion. The real question of this match is what the finish is. On the December 26 Fan Appreciation Day Show, Jun pinned Seigo Tachibana in a tag match. Given how high All Japan is on the Saitos, I think Jun pinning HAYATO is a real possibility here, but Ishikawa’s team is winning one way or another. Prediction: Shuji Ishikawa & Jun Saito

YOSHITATSU KINGDOM (YOSHITATSU, SEIGO TACHIBANA, TAKAYUKI UEKI & BALIYAN AKKI) & RAIMU IMAI VS. MASNOBU FUCHI, TAKAO OMORI, BLACK MENSO~RE, ANDY WU & TAMURA

No better way to kick off the new year than with a 10-man tag featuring wrestling’s most pointless stable. But seriously, this will probably be fine, but they could easily go way too heavy on the comedy. Normally, I would guess Yoshitatsu and his gang of misfits winning here, but Imai is still in his young boy phase, so I think he’s taking the fall. Prediction: Masnobu Fuchi, Takao Omori, Black Menso~Re, Andy Wu & TAMURA

CIMA, TAJIRI & SUPER CRAZY VS. KAZ HAYASHI, IZANAGI & SUGI

This is being billed as a Jr. legends match. I guess it is that though only SUGI has any claim of still being in their prime, and even then, he’s not quite as wild a flyer as he was a few years ago. This could be good or this could be bad, it will depend how it’s booked. Too many TAJIRI and Super Crazy comedy spots could really drag this down. Anyway, I’m going to go with CIMA’s team here because it also features the booker. Prediction: CIMA, TAJIRI & Super Crazy

NEW YEAR BATTLE ROYAL

The annual tradition going back to the Giant Baba days continues. Battle Royals in Japan aren’t very good so don’t expect something like the AEW Casino Battle Royale where there are lots of high spots and stories told. The winner is often a midcarder and winning is not indicative of a future push. The participants are probably going to be everyone who has wrestled on to the show up to this point, but there’s always a chance of some surprise indie guy popping up just for this. Anyway, I’m going to pick Seigo Tachibana to win this because he does a lot of jobs but I think he’s very underrated as a worker. Prediction: Seigo Tachibana

EVOLUTION (SUWAMA & HIKARU SATO) & SHOTARO ASHINO VS. NEXTREAM (KENTO MIYAHARA, YUMA AOYAGI & ATSUKI AOYAGI)

This is building towards the World tag title match the next day. This should be good and give us a nice preview of that match. Given everyone involved here, Atsuki Aoyagi seems like the fall guy here. Prediction: Suwama, Sato & Ashino

TOTAL ECLIPSE (KOJI DOI, KUMA ARASHI & RYUKI HONDA) VS. DAISUKE SEKIMOTO, ABDULLAH KOBAYASH & RYUJI ITO

Well here we are. When very early on Tuesday morning I learned Jake Lee was injured and would be vacating the Triple Crown, I admit I laughed. That sounds insensitive but it was a panicked response to this company having more bad luck. There’s the pandemic and the restriction that hurts things. There’s been bad booking that REALLY hurts things, and then there’s bad luck beyond anyone’s control, usually having to do with injuries. Both All Japan and New Japan have been cursed by all three going on almost two years now. I can’t tell you that everything is going to work out in the end with this, but these kinds of situations make for good excuses to reboot things, not unlike how Miyahara first won the Triple Crown because Suwama vacated it due to injury. Anyway, I do hope Jake recovers soon, as generally the broken nose and orbital bone wall injuries take weeks to heal as opposed to months.

Honestly, the replacement match here was a step up from Lee vs. Kobayashi. We get All Japan vs. Big Japan six-man tag. This is also Honda’s debut as a member of Total Eclipse. After his singles match against Lee on December 26, where the injury happened, Honda asked to join Total Eclipse. Lee didn’t give an answer, but I guess we know what the answer is now. I wouldn’t even have a problem if this was turned into a hardcore match, because that would defitely help Kobayashi and Ito who are showing their age. I would assume that despite making his debut as a Total Eclipse member, Honda is the fall guy here. Prediction: Daisuke Sekimoto, Abdullah Kobayashi & Ryuji Ito

ALL ASIA TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
STRONGHEARTS (T-HAWK & EL LINDAMAN) © VS. TOTAL ECLIPSE (HOKUTO OMORI & YUSUKE KODAMA)

Omori and Kodama got this title shot by winning the Jr. Tag Battle of Glory Tournament on December 26 beating Hikaru Sato and Dan Tamura. You should check out the finals of that show. On the surface, this looks like a heel vs. heel match up. But Omori played the babyface in the finals of the tournament, getting worked over for a long time before managing to make a comeback and pin Tamura.

This is my most eagerly awaited match on this show, and that was even before it was announced as the new main even because the Triple Crown match is no longer on. While I always thought this would be a good match, given the spot they have here, it should be great. While Omori and Kodama would be fine champions, and I think Omori is going to be pushed in 2022, I would like to see Stronghearts hold these titles a little longer. But given this is now the main event, it seems possible that we might also get a title change, but I’m still leaning there won’t be. This will be Stronghearts’ third defense of the titles. Prediction: Stronghearts

JANUARY 3

RYO INOUE VS. SEIGO TACHIBANA

This is a dark match that will start at 11:10 a.m Tokyo time, 20 minutes before the show officially starts. It was originally supposed to be Inoue against Dan Tamura again, but the Jake Lee injury shuffled the card a little bit. Not much to say about this other than Tachibana is winning this one. Prediction: Dan Tamura

EVOLUTION (HIKARU SATO & DAN TAMURA) & RYUJI HIJIKATA VS. HIROSHI YAMATO, ANDY WU & BLACK MENSO~RE

Always nice to see Yamato back in All Japan. He’s still a really good worker when he’s not trying to wrestle in a way that exposes his balls or ass. This should be a lot of fun. I would assume Menso~re is taking the fall here. Prediction: Hikaru Sato & Ryuji Hijikata

TOTAL ECLIPSE (TAJIRI & KUMA ARASHI) VS. PURPLE HAZE (IZANAGI & DEVIL MURASAKI)

This could be atrocious or this could be passable. It will be passable if Arashi just throws the Purple Haze team around. What we are probably getting is Purple Haze doing a bunch of silly bullshit. I would think Total Eclipse wins here, but you can’t rule out Purple Haze winning by count out or even a double count out here. Prediction: Total Eclipse

TOTAL ECLIPSE ( HOKUTO OMORI, RYUKI HONDA & YUSUKE KODAMA) VS. NEXTREAM (ATUSKI AOYAGI & RISING HAYATO) & YU IIZUKA

Great to see Iizuka in All Japan. He is a hell of a young talent. This match should be great, and I’m not sure who the winners might be here since Jake Lee was supposed to be in this. That being said, I think they will try to keep Total Eclipse looking relatively strong in his absence. Prediction: Total Eclipse

NEW YEAR GIANT TAG MATCH
SHUJI ISHIKAWA, TAKAO OMORI & REN AYABE VS. YOSHITATSI, JUN SAITO & REI SAITO

This is being billed as a match full of tall people. I guess it should be okay, though I’ve never seen Ayabe in action before. Ishikawa works well with the Saitos so I think something can be made of this match even though everyone is either old or inexperienced. I think that Yoshitatsu and the Saitos have a chance of winning here as Ayabe, a Just Tap Out wrestler, is regularly dropping falls there. Prediction: Yoshitatusu, Jun Saito & Rei Saito

GAORA TV CHAMPIONSHIP
SHIGEHIRO IRIE © VS. KOJI DOI

Doi got this title shot by pinning Irie in the Real World Tag League. This should be really good. It’s just two beefy boys who like to lariat people. Doi doesn’t have the most compelling personality, but he’s always been a solid worker, and Irie is your journeyman workhorse. I would assume Irie wins here because this is only his first defense of the title, and I don’t think he’s going to lose it while he’s also the 2AW champion. Prediction: Shigehiro Irie

PWF WORLD JR. HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
SUPER CRAZY © VS. SUGI

This match encapsulates what’s wrong with the Jr. division despite the fact there is attention given to it in the booking. The title has been a hot potato (six title changes in 2021) and it has ended up on someone like Super Crazy. Now, he’s not the worst older wrestler in the world, but his best days have clearly passed him by. He should be in undercard six-man tags, not title matches. Anyway, even though this is Super Crazy’s first defense, I’m pretty sure that SUGI is going to win the title back and then hopefully we will get some stability for a while. I guess this has a chance of being passable if SUGI just flies around a lot. Prediction: SUGI

WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
RUNAWAY SUPLEX (SUWAMA & SHOTARO ASHINO) © VS. NEXTREAM (KENTO MIYAHARA & YUMA AOYAGI)

As I’ve already mentioned, this is clearly the biggest match they have on these two shows, so that’s why it’s headlining the second day. For all that All Japan got wrong in 2021, these two tag teams really have a claim of being some of the best tag teams in wrestling right now, and certainly in Japan. This has a chance to be an early match of the year contender, and expect it to get plenty of time.

This might be the hardest match on these two shows to predict. On one hand, this is only the second defense for Runaway SUPLEX, but on the other hand, the company’s top star, Miyahara feels very directionless when he’s not holding a title. I’m of the thought that Miyahara should be getting the Triple Crown back soon, and since Nextream already had a long tag title reign, it’s time to establish Runaway SUPLEX as a major force. With the Triple Crown now vacant, and the company in the doldrums, you have to assume Miyahara is the top candidate to win the title next, so I’d keep the tag titles off of him right now. You really can’t rule out any result, but I’m going with what I think should happen. Prediction: Runaway SUPLEX