ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
LAUNCH COMMEMORATIVE SERIES 2022
OCTOBER 2, 2022
Before the show began, there was a ten bell salute to Antonio Inoki with Yuji Nagata holding the recently passed legend’s picture in the middle of the ring. The crowd all got up to clap at the end of it.
The opening video to this show really played up what All Japan is calling the next generation, which is a much welcomed direction for the company.
YOSHITATSU, TAJIRI & THE SAITO BROTHERS (JUN SAITO & REI SAITO) DEF. TAKAO OMORI, SHUJI ISHIKAWA, HOKUTO OMORI & IZANAGI (9:38)
Yoshitatsu was in his black trunks and kick pads outfit which you know is his tribute to Inoki.
Hokuto Omori tried to do Sumo grapples to the Sato Brothers to little success but the crowd seemed to get a kick out of it.
There wasn’t much to this match. The bigger guys collided with each other while the smaller guys bumped around. Rei Saito pinned Izanagi with a Piledriver.
The Saito Brothers were the focus of this match, but they didn’t look as good as they did in their two previous matches in All Japan after returning from excursion. **½
GAORA TV CHAMPIONSHIP
TOSHIZO © DEF. DAN TAMURA (10:22)
Toshizo worked over Tamura for a while. There was no cheating. Toshizo went to use his weight belt, but threw it away when referee Nikkan Lee started a count to five when he was going to use it.
Things did pick up when Tamura went on offense. Toshizo fought back with a Shining Enziguri and a top rope Fisherman’s Buster but Tamura kicked out at 2.9. A high kick and a Fisherman’s Buster got the three count for Toshizo.
Not technically bad, but like the All Asia tag title match at the Budokan show, the whole Evolution vs. Voodoo Murders angle started out as a blood feud with Tamura literally bleeding from the tag matches early on during it. Toshizo wasn’t even all that aggressive even if he didn’t cheat. This was solid but unspectacular pro wrestling instead. **¾
HOKKAIDO TOURISM AMBASSADOR SHOWDOWN SPECIAL SINGLES MATCH
TORU YANO DEF. BLACK MENSO~RE (7:48)
I’ve been over Yano for some time, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little curious about how he’d interact with Menso~re.
The title of this match is some sort of joke that I’m not getting through translation. Yano is from the Tokyo area though Menso~re is actually from Hokkaido. They both brought a bunch of tourist trinkets from Hokkaido with them to the ring.
This was standard Yano fare. He teased leaving and going to the back and removed the corner padding.
Menso~re tied up Yano’s feet and shoved him under the ring. But Yano grabbed Menso~re’s legs and dragged him under the ring and managed to tie him to something under it. Yano then managed to hop back into the ring and win by countout.
This was what it was. *
YUMA AOYAGI & JAKE LEE DEF. VOODOO MURDERS (SUWAMA & KONO) BY DQ (8:32)
After his 43 second loss to Naoya Nomura at the Budokan, Lee has been looking like he doesn’t want to be here, though I’m pretty sure that’s part of his character’s direction right now.
Voodoo Murders attacked before the bell and Aoyagi got worked over. Aoyagi and Lee eventually made their comeback which certainly helped the match. Lee did an Aoyagi-assisted standing Moonsault which looked pretty good.
Aoyagi and Lee both had the Voodoo Murders in submissions when TARU came out and thew power in referee Kyohei Wada’s face. Then the Saito Brothers came out and beat down Aoyagi and Lee. What a heel turn, and not one I’m loving. Shuji Ishikawa, Izanagi and Hokuto Omori tried to make the save but got beat down by the Saitos. The match ended in a DQ.
After the match, Suwama and TARU reconciled after the tension they had on the last show.
I thought Voodoo Murders was coming to an end so I can’t say I’m happy about this new turn which is going to keep the group around longer.
The match looked like it was trending in a good direction but then the angle happened. **½
The Real World Tag League 2022 teams were announced:
- Shotaro Ashino & Ryuki Honda
- Yuma Aoyagi & Jake Lee
- Yuji Nagata & Yuma Anzai
- Suwama & KONO
- Saito Brothers
- Shuji Ishikawa & Cyrus
- Kuma Arashi & Koji Doi
- Kento Miyahara & Takuya Nomura
ALL JAPAN PRO-WRESTLING 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL MATCH IN KORAKUEN HALL 8-MAN TAG MATCH
YUJI NAGATA, YUTO NAKASHIMA, RYOHEI OIWA & KOSEI FUJITA DEF. KENTO MIYAHARA, TAKUYA NOMURA, YUMA ANZAI & RYO INOUE (14:14)
Anzai and Nakashima started and just laid into each other. It’s always fun when the young boys of different promotions face off against each other, and this really had that heated feeling. Fujita also unleashed some thunderous chops on Anzai. This is one match that definitely could use a cheering crowd.
Nagata and Nomura also had some great sequences. I think this may have been their first-ever meeting. Miyahara and Nagata also did some fun stuff.
Fujita and Inoue traded some near falls while everyone else brawled around on the outside. Fujita got Inoue in a Crab Hold and while Inoue almost made the ropes several times, he eventually had to tap.
After the match, the young boys from each company continued to brawl until being separated. Fuck it, I’m going the full four here. ****
WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
GUNGNIR OF ANARCHY (SHOTARO ASHINO & RYUKI HONDA) © DEF. KUMADOI (KUMA ARASHI & KOJI DOI) (14:31)
In the pre-match video, they went full Wrestle-1 with clips from the company and used U2’s “Where the Streets Have No Name” as the background music.
This was definitely a meat slapper. Lots of suplexes and some wild double team moves from KumaDoi.
Honda was really the focus here, and he spent a lot of time in this match both getting worked over and on offense.
Arashi and Honda had a Lariat battle that Honda managed to win. Honda then hit the Final Event on Arashi for the win.
This was wrestled in the style that I expected. My biggest complaint was that this could have used just a couple more minutes to really make it something truly awesome.
After the match, Suwama and KONO came out to challenge. ***¾
PWF WORLD JR. TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
ATSUKI AOYAGI © DEF. RISING HAYATO (17:59)
This is the first PWF Jr. Heavyweight title match to headline Korakuen Hall since February 23, 2013 when Yoshinobu Kanemaru defeated Shuji Kondo for the title. This was the right choice for the main event in my mind, and a good sign that Atsuki Aoyagi is going to be a big Jr. star for the company.
This started off fast paced, and it only slowed down a couple times from there. Aoyagi often got the better of HAYATO early on, showing his superior skill. Aoyagi would block or reverse a lot of what HAYATO tried to do.
Aoyagi looked in control, but in the last third or so of the match HAYATO made an incredible comeback. He even did a Swanton Bomb off the top rope to the outside where Aoyagi was laying on the ground, which looked insane. And now it was HAYATO’s turn to reverse a bunch of Aoyagi’s moves.
There were several near falls from both men that I bit on and got the crowd to make noise. HAYATO kicked out of a top rope Spanish Fly, but then Aoyagi pinned him after a Firebird Splash.
This was wild stuff and they went out there to prove they deserved the main event and were successful at that. Since they are being set up as generational rivals, God knows what kind of crazy stuff these two will do against each other in the future.
One thing to note about this match that helped to make it memorable was that Kento Miyahara was on commentary and he started screaming over the other commentators as the match went on and it sounded like he was losing his mind.
This flirted with but didn’t quite get to match of the year territory for me, so my rating for it reflects that. ****⅓
This show drew 821 fans, which is down from recent Korakuen Hall shows, but given non-Triple Crown Korakuen Hall shows often struggle to draw, I am going to consider that a minor success, certainly no reason to reverse course on the company’s new direction.
The last three matches on the card saved this show. The undercard wasn’t very good and the Saito Brothers heel turn only means Voodoo Murders is going to be around at least until the new year.
However, the second half of the show gave plenty of spotlight to the younger talent and All Japan’s talk of the next generation has mostly delivered so far which is a good sign.