ALL JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
NEW YEAR GIANT SERIES 2023
JANUARY 2, 2023
GUNGNIR OF ANARCHY (RYUKI HONDA, YUSUKE KODAMA & MASAO HANABATA) DEF. DAN TAMURA, YUMA ANZAI & RYO INOUE (7:20)
This was a nice little opener featuring a bunch of the younger guys. Inoue was the center of attention here and continued to impress. Honda also roughed him up good and pinned Inoue, who debuted one year ago today with the Final Vent. ***¼
TAKAO OMORI, KAZ HAYASHI & RISING HAYATO DEF. YOSHITATSU, MITSUYA NAGAI & BLACK MENSO~RE (9:05)
Yoshitatsu busted out some lucha stuff on HAYATO, and honestly he wasn’t bad at it. The middle of this match with Nagai and Omori was pretty forgettable. Hayahsi and Menso~re had a fun little closing stretch. Hayashi pinned Menso~re with the Final Cut.
After the match Kendo Kashin ambushed Omori and they fought to the back. NOSAWA in what looked like a weasel costume (how fitting) was with him. They also did the tease of Omori then Kashin trying to throw each other off of the balcony. Whatever. **¾
MINORU SUZUKI & NARUKI DOI DEF. SHUJI ISHIKAWA & HOKUTO OMORI (11:19)
Suzuki and Omori immediately reignited their feud from September of last year. Omori predictably got roughed up a lot by his opponents. Suzuki did give Omori some moments to shine though.
Doi didn’t do a lot here. Suzuki pinned Omori after a Gotch-style Piledriver. I find the Omori and Suzuki interactions to be a lot of fun.
After the match, Omori got on his knees to Suzuki and offered up his loyalty. They went to the back together so that’s a storyline to watch. ***
NOMUYAGI (NAOYA NOMURA & YUMA AOYAGI) DEF. VOODOO MURDERS (JUN SAITO & REI SAITO) (11:48)
Nomuyagi were in control early on but then Rei pulled referee Nikkan Lee in front of him and Aoyagi collided with her. This allowed TARU to interfere and deliver an Axe Kick to the balls of an upside-down Aoyagi.
Lee recovered but Aoyagi continued to get worked over. Aoyagi finally made the hot tag to Nomura but it wasn’t long before Jun was dominating Nomura and the Saitos took control again.
The Saitos looked like they had this won but Aoyagi reversed a Cobra Clutch Slam from Jun into a cradle and got the pin. That got a big pop from the crowd.
After the match, the Saitos beat up Nomuyagi some more before leaving.
I admit I was kind of hyped for this match but the cheating took it down a notch for me and the Saitos spent way too much time in control. **¾
PWF WORLD JR. HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
ATSUKI AOYAGI © DEF. HIKARU SATO (15:10)
Sato unsurprisingly went after the arm, but Aoyagi absorbed that and a lot of stiff strikes. Instead of flying, Aoyagi tried to show he can strike as well and managed to hold is own.
Aoyagi eventually took to the air but the arm worked hampered the effectiveness of his handsprings which allowed Sato to reverse one into an attempted Ankle Lock at one point. That looked really cool.
Aoyagi tried for a Firebird Splash but Sato got his knees up and then proceeded to put Aoyagi in a number of submissions but the Champion managed to escape them. A Death Valley Bomb from Sato only got 2. Sato put on some more submissions and I thought Aoyagi was going to tap but he fought back with some Enziguris. This allowed Aoyagi to try for another Firebird Splash to get the win.
I thought this started slow but became really compelling towards the end with all those submission attempts from Sato. I really thought Aoyagi was going to tap.
Aoaygi has finally defeated Sato in a singles match which had been a long running thing. Sato put the belt on Aoyagi after the match in a show of respect.
Kaz Hayashi then came out to challenge and we’re going to get the old All Japan Jr. Ace vs. the new one. ***¾
WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
VOODOO MURDERS (SUWAMA & KONO) © DEF. KENTO MIYAHARA & TAKUYA NOMURA (17:27)
Miyahara and Nomura had a miscommunication early on which allowed Voodoo Murders to take control for a while.
Voodoo Murders eventually cheated but TARU accidentally threw powder into Suwama’s face. That set up a chain of events which saw Nomura make KONO tap to a Choke Sleeper.
There wasn’t much to this but at least the Voodoo Murders cheating wasn’t too egregious. The work was mostly fine but the match never really kicked into high gear. The last couple of minutes were decent enough as they at least had you unsure who would win. ***
NEW YEAR’S BATTLE ROYALE
WINNER: TAKUYA NOMURA (12:01)
Everyone on the show other than Suwama, Minoru Suzuki and Naruki Doi was in this plus Masanobu Fuchi. Nomuyagi and the Saitos brawled on the outside and got counted out early on.
This had the usually Japanese battle Royale spots. Fuchi pinned Miyahara with some assistance which was a nice touch.
Things came down to Ryo Inoue and Takuya Nomura and they did the best stuff of this match. Nomura got the win with a PK. He got some momentum going into his Triple Crown match against Miyahara the following day. I’ll give this a passing grade. **¼
There wasn’t much to this show really other than setting up stuff for the future. The Jr. title match was the only thing you need to see.
It did draw 1055 which is a good number for All Japan these days. It’s hard to say if the company has momentum or if it’s the time of year (this show drew more than last year). But tourists are also back.
I have to say that I was saddened that it wasn’t announced that Naoya Nomura had returned full-time to the company, but it is what it is.
At least there are some interesting directions being set up in the company and hopefully tomorrow’s show delivers.
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