ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
NEW YEAR WARS 2022
JANUARY 3, 2022
SEIGO TACHIBANA DEF. RYO INOUE (6:21)
Tachibana was all business here, in a change from his usual comedic stylings. I thought it worked. He’s too good and too young a wrestler to be pigeonholed into being a comedy wrestler. Inoue is a competent rookie. He shows some fire, and while he doesn’t do much, he doesn’t look awkward either. Too early to tell, but I think he will be at least above average. Tachibana roughed up Inoue a bunch, Inoue got some hope spots before Tachibana finished him off with a Half Crab. This was what you’d expect it to be. **½
EVOLUTION (HIKARU SATO & DAN TAMURA) & RYUJI HIJIKATA DEF. HIROSHI YAMATO, ANDY WU & BLACK MENSO~RE (7:26)
Sato and Yamato really laid into each other, continuing a rivalry that got re-ignited during the Jr. Tag Battle of Glory tournament. It’s a real battle of the perverts, though they don’t do that stuff when they’re in All Japan. The rest of the match was your standard six-man tag with everyone getting in their spots. Sato hit a Backdrop on Menso~re who kicked out. Sato then applied his Arm Lock-Leg Lock combo hold to Menso~re for the tap out. Sato and Yamato brawled after the match. This was fun. ***¼
PURPLE HAZE (IZANAGI & DEVIL MURASAKI) DEF. TOTAL ECLIPSE (KUMA ARASHI & TAJIRI) (6:28)
Purple Haze attacked Total Eclipse before the bell, but Total Eclipse quickly gained the upper hand. Arashi taped Murasaki’s wrist to the guardrail. TAJIRI did a spot where he didn’t want to tag to Arashi who kept hitting Body Slams on Izanagi. When TAJIRI finally did tag in, he tagged right out. There was a miscommunication and Izanagi managed to knock TAJIRI and Arashi out of the ring, and the now free Murasaki taped them to each other with their wrists between the guardrail bars so they were counted out.
This sucked and is everything wrong with TAJIRI’s booking. After the match, Izanagi got on the mic, and I’m pretty sure he challenged Hokuto Omori and Yusuke Kodama for the All Asia tag titles. ½*
TOTAL ECLIPSE (HOKUTO OMORI, YUSUKE KODAMA & RYUKI HONDA) DEF. NEXTREAM (ATSUKI AOYAGI & RISING HAYATO) & YU IIZUKA (7:10)
Aoyagi got worked over for a while by Total Eclipse. Then the match picked up into non-stop action. The babyfaces went after Honda, but he managed to fight them all off. He no-sold an Aoyagi Enziguri, hit a big short Lariat and finished Aoyagi off with a Shot Put Slam looking move he’s calling the Final Event.
Another fun match. Iizuka didn’t get a lot in here, but what he did was good. It also did a great job of establishing Honda as a Total Eclipse member who just wrecks guys. All Japan has some good young wrestlers that could carry it into a bright future, though the booking could be their undoing. Right now it looks good. ***¼
NEW YEAR GIANT SIX-MAN TAG
SHUJI ISHIKAWA, TAKAO OMORI & REN AYABE DEF. YOSHITATSU, JUN SAITO & REI SAITO (8:46)
Once again, Ishikawa worked some great sequences with the Saito Brothers. This was my first time seeing Ayabe. Despite being very tall, he looks like he’s 14. He also did Giant Baba tribute spots like a Big Boot and a Neckbreaker. In a very non-Baba spot, he did a Missile Dropkick. This ended up being worked at a pretty fast pace. There were several near falls before Omori pinned Rei Saito after an Axe Bomber.
This was tons of fun and exceeded my expectations. Sure it was a tad awkward in a couple spots, but it was just cool to see all these big guys go hard. This was also the penultimate match for the Saito Brothers before they head off on their American excursion. All Japan, where the big boys play. ***½
GAORA TV CHAMPIONSHIP
SHIGEHIRO IRIE © DEF. KOJI DOI (8:34)
They got right down to business. It was what you’d expect, lots of hard hits and slams. The closing stretch featured several Lariats from each guy, before Irie landed a big Beast Bomber for the three count. It was good for what it was, though it was nothing you’ll remember next week. They could have used some more time to lay out something that built up differently This was Irie’s first defense of the title. ***¼
PWF WORLD JR. HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
SUGI DEF. SUPER CRAZY © (7:14)
SUGI went wild at the bell, knocking Super Crazy out of the ring, hitting a Top con Hilo and a Hurricanrana on the floor. Super Crazy looked gassed early on just by taking SUGI’s offense. I will say that SUGI tried here. Almost every offensive move he did here was a flying spot. SUGI did his run across the ropes into a Dropkick followed by a Springboard Firebird Splash for the win.
Well, this was the best match Super Crazy has had in this recent All Japan run, though that’s not saying much. This was thankfully the end of Super Crazy’s pointless reign (thanks TAJIRI) and the start of SUGI’s second with the PWF World Jr. title. After the match Rising HAYATO came out to challenge SUGI for the title. Now that should be good. **
WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
RUNAWAY SUPLEX (SUWAMA & SHOTARO ASHINO) © DEF. NEXTREAM (KENTO MIYAHARA & YUMA AOYAGI) (28:12)
As soon as Ashino entered the ring he got right up in Aoyagi’s face. The hate was palpable. The teams just started laying into each other right off the bat. Ashino landed some thunderous slaps on Aoyagi while brawling on the outside. Aoyagi got worked over for a while, then Miyahara did. Nextream finally made their comeback, going after Ashino. Then it became a back-and-forth. Aoyagi did his playing possum spot and surprised Ashino with three Rolling German Suplexes. Aoyagi missed a Spin Kick and Ashino took advantage to slap on the Ankle Lock. Nice call back to yesterday’s show.
Ashino managed to fight out of the End Game in a way I’ve never seen before. Aoyagi and Ashino had a savage battle in the closing minutes. Ashino kicked out of the Spin Kick which pinned him yesterday. They had a ton of near falls against each other before a T-Bone Suplex from Ashino put Aoyagi away. Runaway SUPLEX make their second defense of the titles.
This was awesome from the opening moments where you could feel the hatred between these two teams. Aoyagi and Ashino were outstanding here, and Miyahara and Suwama played their roles well. This was the best All Japan match since the pandemic started. Though it was a clap crowd, they were into it as much as they could be. It was also one of the best men’s tag matches from Japan in recent times too. The only other men’s company turning out high-quality tag stuff is Dragongate.
After the match, while the champions were cutting a promo, Miyahara got back on the mic to yell at them, stealing some heat. Then Ryuki Honda came out of nowhere and delivered a big Lariat to Miyahara and cut a promo on him. All Japan is going all in on Honda for 2022. From what I could tell, it sounds like there will be a tournament to determine the next Triple Crown Champion. It seems like Ashino, Honda, Miyahara and Suwama will be in the tournament. No word yet if it will be bigger than that.
Anyway, go watch this match. Hopefully, this is a prelude to many Aoyagi vs. Ashino Triple Crown matches in the future. ****½
A solid show that was an easy watch with a tremendous main event. It drew 701 which is a good number these days, but strangely down from yesterday’s 720. There was some other good stuff here too like the Ryuki Honda push, and Rising HAYATO getting set up for his first Jr. title shot. That’s a good sign for the company’s future. What’s not so great is the continued bullshit from TAJIRI’s booking. At least Super Crazy is no longer the Jr. champion.