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AJPW Champion Carnival Finals Ratings & Joint Review

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We come to the end of the Champion Carnival. A Block Winner, Triple Crown Champion Kento Miyahara and the B Block Winner, Naomichi Marufuji, face off in the main event for the Carnival Trophy.

Taking a different angle to this article, Mathew Sarpacione and I will be doing a joint review of the entire April 30th show, since the Block separation is now over. So, with everything we saw, history and quality, how does this last show measure up?

 

Masanobu Fuchi & Osamu Nishimura vs Takao Omori & Yutaka Yoshie

In typical Japanese fashion, the opener has some veterans that the crowd appreciates, but my rating system doesn’t. The match was what’s to be expected. A few signature spots, Fuchi gets in a few Scoop Slams on Omori…and then the finish happens. But the crowd liked it, so, at least they know their audience.

The match was harmless, but not something to write about that it was mostly slow and sloppy. The crowd loved Fuchi so I guess in a way it made them happy. – Mathew

Winner: Takao via Axe Bomber

Rating: *

 

3 on 3 Elimination Match: Atsushi Aoki, Hikaru Sato & Yusuke Okada vs Atsushi Maruyama, Koji Iwamoto & Yohei Nakajima

At first, they didn’t fully explain what type of elimination it was with over the top rope or pinfall/submission, but they clarified it and showed that the match was gonna be a little bit sloppy. I was impressed with Hikaru Sato mostly in the match and cared about him more than the Junior Champion. Sucks for Yusuke Okada getting injured and I hope the best for him. Curious to see Maruyama and Aoki fighting off next due to Josh being off the tour, but should be good. – Mathew

Ya basically everything Mathew said. The match was average, a few fun spots for eliminations, but Okada getting injured on his elimination is just unfortunate.

Winner: Murayama via Cradle

Rating: **

 

Violent Giants vs Yoshitatsu & Naoya Nomura

I’m always happy to see Violent Giants being back in the ring together are they’re one of my favorite tag teams right now. The match was solid and I keep saying Naoya was gonna be a star in the company one day and he keeps showing it recently during the Carnival, and Yoshitatsu didn’t do too bad either for himself and hopefully he goes back again. The ending is what sold it for me with Suwama refusing to let go of the Manriki Sleeper on Yoshi after the match since it adds more progression to the story since we forgot about the one with NOSAWA. – Mathew

Suwama feeling insulted during the Carnival since Yoshitatsu not only beat him, which caused him to lose the block, but also got him to submit. A little extra anger from Suwama and a lot of Ishikawa making fun of Yoshitatsu putting his hand in front of his mouth made for an entertaining match. Not a lot on the line besides pride, but still a solid match.

Winner: Suwama via Manriki Sleeper

Rating: *** 1/2

 

KAI & Tajiri vs Ryoji Sai & Dylan James

This match, is a means to an end. Sai and James need opponents for their Tag Team Titles, so what better way then to lose a non-title match. It would’ve been nice for the match to have been better, but the ending sequence was fun and helped the overall perception of the match.

Really not a whole lot to say about it since it was a little bit short, but felt like it would be all over the place at times, specially with the outside spots. Loved the green mist spot with TAJIRI and KAI picking up the win right after that. Also had to admit that Ryoji chasing TAJIRI down was kinda funny and hopefully the title match is better. – Mathew

Winner: KAI via Frog Splash after green mist

Rating: ** 1/4

 

Bodyguard, Zeus & Shingo Takagi vs Jun Akiyama, Yuji Hino & Joe Doering

Definitely my favorite tag match on this show since most of them delivered except for Bodyguard since his stuff felt so out of place compared to how well the others did. I loved the interaction between Zeus and Yuji Hino since it made me wanna see them wrestle one on one and soon, plus they both did fantastic in their respected blocks and matches, more of Yuji Hino if he’s free. Shingo is still great and not much more to say since I’ve been praising him in all of my articles and glad to see him get that well deserved respect. Joe winning was the right call since he does need momentum if he plans on getting revenge on Kento. Also the last interaction with Hino and Zeus after the match was fantastic. – Mathew

Zeus and Shingo need to be a tag team, not Bodyguard. Bodyguard is clumsy, sloppy and looks out of place in any match with upper mid card talent or better. Yuji Hino and Zeus need to have a match though, it just needs to happen. The back and forth strong style spots, the chop battles and even the way they interacted after the match, shows a lot of respect and what could be a great match.

Make it happen All Japan!

Winner: Doering via Revolution Bomb on Bodyguard

Rating: *** 1/2

 

Champion Carnival Finals: Naomichi Marufuji vs Kento Miyahara

With all the emotion and history that went into Marufuji’s match with Akiyama, one had to wonder, exactly what he had left in the tank.

Marufuji came out with a little extra pop in his step, and you could see he wanted this. Highlights of the match being a big Springboard Curb Stomp, the Crescent Kick around the post, Piledriver on the apron as well as a collision of knees, Marufuji’s Bicycle Knee met Kent’s Blackout and both men went down for a few moments.

Both men kicked out of the other’s signature moves, so Marufuji decided to bring out the homage to his friend, his trainer, nearly an adoptive father to him, Misawa’s Flowsion. After landing the Flowsion, Marufuji picks up the pinfall and the NOAH banner waves in victory at AJPW Champion Carnival.

I never thought that they would be able to top Marufuji vs. Akiyama since that match was something else, but these two have raised the bar for sure as two of Japan’s best going at it in the ring. We definitely saw shades of Kobashi, Misawa, and Kawada in Marufuji in this match and you can tell how much this Carnival meant to him and to getting this far, you knew he wanted it more than Kento.

Both of these men just click with every sequence and every move they have done to each other, the close calls, the story, the everything about this match is something that needs to be seen by everyone that is a fan of wrestling since they get that magic and spirit of puroresu in this match right here. I’m glad Marufuji won and I know they said he wasn’t interested in the Triple Crown title due to wanting to focus on the GHC title match that takes place five days after Power Series, but we get the match anyway. Also liked that he invited Kento to come work a match at NOAH if All Japan would allow it. – Mathew

Winner: Marufuji via Fisherman Flowsion

Rating: ***** 1/4

 

I thought the Carnival was fantastic and definitely much better than last year’s for sure. I like that the match quality has gone up ever since they announced a streaming service since they want to have more eyes on their product with more subscribers. If they can keep up this momentum and get more freelancers/partnerships, I think we can see them rising higher here and then some. – Mathew

With the increase in match quality, the increase in Carnival attendance and the electricity in the crowd for the Finals and Akiyama/Marufuji’s match a few days ago, shows a lot of good potential for All Japan. Hopefully the Power Series manages to retain this momentum instead of relying on the last few days of title matches.

Also for the record, Mathew and I guess correctly on the winner in the Uneducated Feat article. We may have gotten the pairing wrong, but Marufuji won, and much like the NCAA tournament, people only care if they guessed the winner right. Until next Carnival everyone!


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Mathew’s Top 10 Joshi Wrestlers (Excluding Stardom)

Did your favorite non-Stardom wrestler make the cut? Check out Mathew’s Top 10 and find out! 

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Did your favorite non-Stardom wrestler make the cut? Check out Mathew’s Top 10 and find out!

I’ve wanted to do this one for a while and I’m gonna use this time to get to it.

You normally see me cover Stardom along with a few shows in the Joshi scene from time to time, but this countdown list is going to focus on the wrestlers that aren’t apart of the Stardom roster. Let’s be honest, if I did add Stardom on this list then that would be almost half and that’s not fair since there are so many talented Japanese women from various promotions and they deserve recognition.

I’m also going by active members instead of all-time to keep up with the current scene, so let’s get right to it as I talk about my Top 10 Joshi wrestlers.

10. ASUKA (Freelancer)

– No, not that Asuka, this is a different ASUKA. ASUKA was able to make history in the short amount of time she’s been around professional wrestling in her three-year career and it’s still going. Asuka was originally from Pro Wrestling WAVE until the end of 2018. She was the first transgender wrestler to main event their biggest show and also the first transgender wrestler to win their biggest title, the Regina Di WAVE Championship. She’s only twenty-years-old and has so much to offer as she represents her community while having the agility of a young Jushin Liger. I only knew her around 2017 but that was when she was also coming out of her shell in the wrestling world and what a big impact she has left so far. She definitely is someone worth keeping an eye on.

9. Takumi Iroha (Marvelous)

– Twenty-six years old and only six years in the wrestling business, Takumi really is something else. She comes from the Marvelous promotion and is considered their top star in the promotion and for good reasons too since she’s just dynamite. Amazing how she started in Stardom and years later, she would make a better name for herself wrestling in various promotions and winning different titles as well. She recently won SEAdLINNNG’s top title, the Beyond the Sea Championship when she defeated the first champion and owner of the promotion, Nanae Takashi. A very talented woman with some fantastic strikes to top it off as she’s someone you would wanna book for your promotion for a couple of shows.

8. Tsukasa Fujimoto (Ice Ribbon)

– The ace of Ice Ribbon and the only one to hold their top title, the ICExInfinity Championship for a total of six times and has had some incredible reigns as the champion. Thirty-five years old and wrestling for only ten years as she was trained by some of the best people like Nanae Takahashi, Manami Toyota, and Emi Sakura. Hardly sloppy in the ring, can work with most styles, these are great qualities to look for in a wrestler in general and Tsukasa is no exception to that.

7. Hikaru Shida (OZ Academy/AEW)

– While she is now considered AEW, she still left an impact in the Japanese scene and is also considered OZ Academy for the time being, so she counts to being on here. This ten-year veteran made sure the world knew who she was when she just performed globally, not bad from someone who started in Ice Ribbon back in 2008. She won major titles from Ice Ribbon, WAVE, OZ Academy, RCW, and Sendai Girls. She was also the one that got knocked out by Naomichi Marufuji on one of her produced shows in 2017 in under two minutes but she wanted a rematch a year later and while she lost, she took her punishment like a champion and still give the fans a great show on her 10th anniversary. Now that she has joined AEW, the fans overseas are sure to get something special with her around as she could be the top star of that division.

6. Hiroyo Matsumoto (Freelancer)

– Otherwise known as the Lady Destroyer and she might be the best Freelancer in the Joshi scene. She’s wrestled in almost every promotion for Joshi wrestling, became more noticed when she recently joined WWE’s Mae Young Classic in 2018 where she lasted until the second round. Hiroyo is strong, fast, technically sound in the ring, and has had many great matches in all of the promotions she’s worked for and you knew you were going to get your money worth since she was that talented. She may not look like much but believe me when I say that she’s an absolute monster and can just wreck you if she wanted to. Surprised nobody has snatched her up for an exclusive contract because she would be the top star in an instant, but I think she enjoys going to various promotions and performing on a high level that she definitely does make do with what she has, so nothing wrong with that.

5. Miyu Yamashita (Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling)

– The star of TJP and for good reasons. She only has about five years of experience with only a background in karate, but she was able to hold the TOKYO Princess of Princess Championship two times for a grand total of 746 days and during those times that she was a champion, she’s had great title defenses on top of it to make her a worthy champion of that company. She was also the SHINE Champion when she went to a title or title match during WrestleMania weekend. She’s like the Shotaro Ashino of TJP. just great in the ring and while not many follow the promotion, people would mostly keep an eye on her from how talented she is. I really hope she gets future opportunities to fight other people from various promotions soon because she would have a lot of dream matches built up that you’d be crazy not to do any of them. Great talent and somebody please get her some special bookings on the double, she’s worth your time!

4. Chihiro Hashimoto (Sendai Girls)

– Meiko Satomura’s prized pupil in Sendai Girls and that woman is Chihiro Hashimoto. If you look at her at first glance, you would think she would be a powerhouse but she’s also very technical in the ring. Chihiro has been wrestling for three years also and Meiko went full speed for Chihiro to make her the top star of her promotion and even be known as one of the best of the next generation of Joshi wrestlers. A four-time Sendai Girls World Champion with a combination of 777 days and each title defense would always leave you satisfied and wanting more of her at the end of things. With very little years under her belt, there’s plenty of room for her to grow in the upcoming years of her career and she might be another one that’ll be considered an all-time great when she does decide to hang it up. Powerful and wrestling-sound, Chihiro has the tools and can back it up at the same time and she’s just getting started.

3. Sareee (World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana)

– I’m gonna level with you on this one, I’m fairly new to her despite being in the wrestling business for eight years, meaning she wrestled since she was fifteen-years-old, but I was able to become a fan of her the moment I saw her. She’s currently wrestling for World Woman Pro-Wrestling Diana and was known as an underdog of sorta. For about a year now, she was able to have big moments in her career when she defeated Aja Kong to become the promotion’s World Champion for the second time, defeating Meiko Satomura clean during a Sendai Girls show in an amazing match, and was able to defeat Chihiro in a title for title match to win the Sendai Girls World Championship, making her a double crown champion with two of the biggest belts in the Joshi scene. A lot of the veterans like Meiko and Nanae are high on Sareee and have faith in her being another won to be the future of professional wrestling as a whole. She has a lot more to prove and plenty of time to do it as this is now her time to shine from here on out.

2. Arisa Nakajima (SEAdLINNNG)

– Aside from Nanae Takashi, I believe Arisa Nakajima is one of the best that SEAdLINNNG has to offer. Arisa is both intense and physical in the ring and while not many have seen a lot of her matches, she always left a big impression on people that have watched her matches and gave them something memorable. While most will be known for their stiff kicks in the ring, she’s more known for her elbows and they’re just as deadly as any stiff kick that you see in most matches these days. Made her career in JWP and is now looking to stand out in her new home and hopefully a future Beyond the Sea Champion when the time is right. Killer instinct and a veteran in the business with thirteen years of experience, she’s someone that will amaze you in that ring.

Before I get to my final one, here’s a small list of honorable mentions down below.
– Nanae Takahashi (SEAdLINNNG)
– Emi Sakura (Gatoh Move)
– Mika Iwata (Sendai Girls)
– DASH Chisako (Sendai Girls)
– Aja Kong (OZ Academy)
– Yuka Sakazaki (Tokyo Joshi Pro-Wrestling)
– Riho (Gatoh Move)
– Yuu (Freelancer)
– Mayumi Ozaki (OZ Academy)
– Saori Anou (Actwres girl’Z)
– Miyako Matsumoto (Ice Ribbon)

1. Meiko Satomura (Sendai Girls)

– I think it’s obvious that she would be at the top of the list for everything she has done throughout her career and still performs at such a high level. The creator of Sendai Girls, Meiko Satomura would go down in the history books as one of the greatest females and wrestlers in general of all time with her incredible wrestling ability and her contributions to the business as a whole. She was also the first female to win DDT’s top title, the KO-D Openweight Championship but that reign didn’t last long, unfortunately. She’s held big titles in her own promotion, Stardom, AAAW, and in Fight Club Pro. Meiko has been wrestling for almost twenty-five years and she still wrestles as if she’s half her age while also being lethal at the same time. She made a big impact in Japan, the United States, and just globally as a whole that she’s earned every accomplishment that she has received. My favorite Joshi wrestler and one of my all-time favorites. If you haven’t seen her before, then something is wrong with you.

Thank you all for taking the time out of your day for reading my list. I’m sure there’s quite a few that I’m missing on here but there are just so many talented women in the Japanese wrestling scene that it’s so hard to put them all in as they all deserve praise. If you have time in your day for more, definitely look up all of these women since they’re worth your time.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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(NOAH) WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.38 ~ 9TH JUNE 2019

The busy week that was in NOAH! The first Misawa memorial show and thoughts on the KENTA situation!

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The busy week that was in NOAH! The first Misawa memorial show and thoughts on the KENTA situation!

CURRENT TOUR RECAP
Global Junior Tag League 2019 held its final two nights before the big finals in Osaka, on the 8th June in Yokohama, and the 9th June in Tokyo (the 9th June being the Mitsuharu Misawa memorial show).

The RATELS seesaw bought Daisuke Harada and Tadasuke down with a bump, while at the other end of the scale rose, bringing YO-HEY & HAYATA up. On the 8th in Yokohama, Tadasuke fell to Hajime Ohara after ten minutes, and Daisuke Harada fell to Yoshinari Ogawa’s sneak schoolboy pin on the 9th. This now means that they are out of the league.

YO-HEY & HAYATA however, on the rising end, won against Hitoshi Kumano & Chris Ridgeway (and eliminating them in the process) and the following night, won against Hi69 & Minoru Tanaka (who despite this loss, have said that they will be challenging for the GHC Junior Heavyweight tag belts). The finals of Global Junior Tag League 2019 in Osaka will be Stinger vs YO-HEY & HAYATA.

The main event of the Yokohama evening was called “The Mitsuharu Misawa Memorial Pre-match” which pitted the veteran team of Naomichi Marufuji, Takashi Sugiura & Shuhei Taniguchi against AXIZ (Go Shiozaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima) & Kaito Kiyomiya.

As Shuhei Taniguchi is going to be Marufuji’s opponent on the 13th in Osaka, there were tensions between the two, although fans did report that there was tension between all the the vets.

During the match, Naomichi Marufuji worked on Go Shiozaki’s shoulder (Shiozaki was to be his opponent for the 9th June), while Shuhei Taniguchi concentrated on everyone else, and Takashi Sugiura against Kaito Kiyomiya in particular. Sugiura managed to destroy him, and later commented that he would be very disappointed if the title match turned out the same way.

NOAH held the first night of the Mitsuharu Misawa memorial show on June 9th (Misawa actually died on the 13th June, when NOAH will be in Osaka) in Tokyo. The memorials are always a moving event with the flower altar arranged for him where fans leave gifts of flowers, his favorite food, drink and even cigarettes, and the traditional ceremony when he is welcomed to the green ring as the GHC Heavyweight Champion while “Spartan X” plays. The event was sold out with even the standing room tickets going quickly.

Naomichi Marufuji had a singles match against Go Shiozaki.

This match was symbolic as Shiozaki has never ever beaten (until now) Marufuji in a singles match, but in a hard fought fight, he managed to get the win over him by a Gowan Lariat\Emerald Fusion combination. Marufuji slunk away to lick his wounds, while Shiozaki spoke in the ring, thanking Marufuji for keeping NOAH alive, and Misawa for creating NOAH. Marufuji, in the post match promo, swore to become “the wall that Misawa was”.

The GHC Heavyweight match started off civilly, with a handshake between the young champion and the veteran challenger, then all gloves were off, and Takashi Sugiura battered him for the best part of the match. Kiyomiya endured everything; the Olympic Slam, vicious elbows, the DDT avalanche, apron suplexed, speared, and that match finisher that has taken out other older, hardened and more experienced challengers, the front neck choke-hold.

The match finished after 33 minutes and 53 seconds, with Kaito Kiyomiya using the Tiger Suplex.

There was no immediate challenger after the match, (although both Kenoh and Naomichi Marufuji had hinted at a challenge), and Kiyomiya had no speech either, simply holding the belt up and pointing to the ceiling.

Elsewhere on the card that evening, Junta Miyawaki got his second win, and the biggest win of his career when he schoolboy pinned NOSAWA Rongai in the league, it was too late for either team to win, but the effects on Miyawaki’s confidence was immense.

It was hoped that KENTA would make his return to NOAH on this night, but instead he appeared at a New Japan show in Osaka, and announced he would be competing in the G1 Climax. NOAH fans are naturally disappointed, as it was hoped that he would come home to NOAH first. Naomichi Marufuji posted on Twitter (without directly naming anyone, but it was obvious who he meant), saying to the effect that on this day of all days, he chose to do this. He wished him luck, and said “don’t get buried”.

EVENT RECAPS
Post match promos ~ Hamamatsu City

EVENT RECAP: Global Junior Tag League 2019 – 8th June, Yokohama Radiant Halls
POST MATCH PROMOS: Global Junior Tag League 2019 – 8th June, Yokohama Radiant Halls

EVENT RECAP: Global Junior Tag League 2019 – 9th June, Korakuen Hall (Mitsuharu Misawa Memorial night)

NEWS

ATSUSHI AOKI PASSES AWAY

It was announced on June 3rd that All Japan (and NOAH born) wrestler, Atsushi Aoki, had been killed in a motorcycle accident in Tokyo. His bike had failed to take a swerve correctly, and he had crashed into a side wall.

Although he was an All Japan wrestler at the time of his death (plus their junior heavyweight champion, and a trainer in the dojo), Atsushi Aoki had actually started his career in Pro-Wrestling NOAH. A friend of Takashi Sugiura from their days in the JSDF (Japan Special Defense Forces), he had entered the NOAH dojo after an introduction to Naomichi Marufuji in Aomori, and graduated on the same date as Shuhei Taniguchi, December 24th 2005. He stayed with NOAH until 2013 when he walked out to All Japan with his trainer, Jun Akiyama (alongside Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Kenta Kobashi, Go Shiozaki and Kotaro Suzuki) in protest over NOAH’s firing of Kobashi due to injuries. During his time in NOAH he had held the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team championship twice, once with Kotaro Suzuki and once with Naomichi Marufuji. Jun Akiyama called him one of his most talented students who had a remarkable capacity for remembering advice about technique and carrying it out, what you told him after one match, he would remember in another.

After the walk out to All Japan, Aoki would return to NOAH one last time in September 2018 when he faced Takashi Sugiura and Daisuke Harada, while teaming with Jun Akiyama at Naomichi Marufuji’s “Flight”.

He was forty-four years old at the time of his death.

NOAH held a commemoration service for him at Yokohama, with old dojo friend and fellow trainee, an emotional Shuhei Taniguchi holding his picture.

NOAH’S PHOTO EXHIBITION
Pro Wrestling NOAH have announced that another photo exhibition will take place on Saturday September 14th until Monday September 16th at the ROJI Gallery in Osaka. The exhibition will be known as “NOAH the BEST 2019”. There is no word as of yet whether another photo book will be released.

“COME AT ME YOU BASTARDS” ~ Kenoh’s column
Kenoh’s column this week dealt with one of his favorite subjects, not his hatred of Naomichi Marufuji, Takashi Sugiura or his hate\love\older brother relationship with Kaito Kiyomiya, or LIDET, but his beloved car.

“BEYOND MISAWA AND KOBASHI” ~ Interview with Go Shiozaki
Go Shiozaki gave an interview to “Weekly Pro” in which he speaks about AXIZ, Shuhei Taniguchi, Sugiura, the new NOAH and other subjects.

CURRENT CHAMPIONS

TOUR TIDBITS
~ To hype the Sumo Hall show on the 2nd November (which I will be attending), NOAH have commissioned a truck with artwork advertising the event, to drive around Tokyo on a schedule in June. Fans have been asked to photograph it, hash tag it and put it on Twitter.
~ Takashi Sugiura got home from the event at Korakuen Hall and saw his two dogs play fighting, he took a picture, put it on Twitter and said, “I also lost today, and so did you”.

BROADCASTS
The 9th June show (the Misawa Memorial from Korakuen Hall, Tokyo and the second to last night of Global Junior Tag League) will be broadcast by G+ on Thursday 13th at 8pm JST.

The 13th June Mitsuharu Misawa memorial show from Osaka, will be shown on the 22nd at 10pm on Samurai TV. This will be the final night of Global Junior Tag League 2019.

Riki Choshu’s Power Hall (featuring Go Shiozaki and Yoshiki Inamura) will be broadcast live on the 26th June on Samurai at 6.30pm

PICTURE CREDITS: YO-HEY, NOAH GHC, PKDK
Newsletter by Hisame


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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