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Dragon Gate King of Gate Results & Review: A&B Blocks Part 1

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Dragon Gate makes its return to my coverage as they launched their streaming service last month and you can subscribe to it at dragongate.live if this promotion interests you.

However, this one is a bit more costly compared to the other streaming services since it costs 1500 yen a month if you want access to live shows and exclusive content unless you do 999 yen a month, but you only get archived stuff and any new shows will be up 3-4 weeks after it airs, which sucks.

Anyway, we have another tournament after AJPW finished their Carnival as Dragon Gate does their own version called King of Gate, which is a month long and four blocks instead of two, but there’s five wrestlers in each block. So I will be covering blocks A and B while Andrew will join me again to cover blocks C and D. The winner of each block will fight in a single elimination match until they reach the final and the winner of that will fight the Open the Dream Gate Champion, Masaaki Mochizuki.

My Picks for Block Winners and Champion:

A Block: YAMATO
B Block: Big R Shimizu
C Block: Naruki Doi
D Block: Shingo Takagi

Overall Winner: YAMATO

 

Who will win their respective blocks? Let’s find out and…dive right in.

 

5/8/2018

King of Gate 2018 B Block Match
Big R Shimizu vs. Takashi Yoshida

Review: Our first block has Takashi taking on one half of our new Open the Twin Gate Champion, Big R Shimizu and his partner is Ben-K, who is fantastic and is on my A Block. And now for the match…it was a match, it unfortunately existed. This is not a good way to start your B Block and not even a good way to start your actual tournament! The only good thing about the match is that it was only three minutes as it was just sloppy with both of these guys, then again I’m not a fan of Big R or Takashi, but still the match was terrible. The match ended with Takashi trying to pull Big R off the turnbuckle to deliver a Powerbomb, but he kept holding onto the ropes and it looked messy until he lets go and….that’s it, the match ends. Takashi gets two points and I won’t get those three minutes match.

Recommended: No no no no, now time to cry in the corner again.

 

King of Gate 2018 A Block Match
Kzy vs. YAMATO

Review: You really can’t go wrong with these two as they’re some of Dragon Gate’s best and I’m glad they’re the main event of this show. Since it’s been two months since I covered Dragon Gate, time for a quick little recap. Kzy was apart of the same group YAMATO was in called Tribe Vanguard and he recently left the unit since he felt like he was being held back and wanted to shine on his own to make his own group with “brother” YASSHI, Genki Horiguchi, Punch Tominaga, and Susumu Yokosuka as they’re now officially called Natural Vibes and they formed on the April 6th show, I have to admit that I am a fan of this tag team and the change in Kzy, plus their dance is really fun to watch before the match starts, they even won the Open the Triangle Gate titles at the previous show (Kzy, Yokosuka, and Horiguchi). Now he looks to fight his former ally to prove himself that leaving Tribe Vanguard was good for him, also YAMATO changed his hair on me and it scares me… The match was nearly twenty minutes and it was fantastic, both men just worked wonderfully with each other, the story was good, the sequences were crisp, and it just gelled so nicely. Kzy showed that he can hang with the top guys and I have no doubt that he’ll be in getting bigger title runs soon. YAMATO also showed why he was considered an ace at one point despite getting mix reactions, but no denying that he is good in the ring and he could use this tournament to get a proper rematch against him. YAMATO would get the win with the Almighty as he praised Kzy after the match saying he felt something special from him during the bout. Fantastic showing by both of these men.

Recommended: Highly recommended, go watch it now.

– One BIG problem with the network that I’m noticing and that is they don’t have all of the shows on the network, meaning that it’s gonna be hard to cover the whole tournament fully or even tell you if the matches were worth watching, but we will at least tell you the results. On the May 12th show, I only had a B Block match with Genki Horiguchi defeating Takashi Yoshida, gaining two points himself. All of this and more for 1500 yen a month by the way…

 

5/13/2018

King Of Gate 2018 Block A Match
Ben-K vs. Shun Skywalker

Review: Least with this show we get to see the match and this time it’s with Ben-K, who is another one of my favorites in the promotion and can be the future of the company, it’s amazing how great he is with about two years of experience in the ring. He’s got the look, the talent, the charisma, he’s gonna go far in this business for sure. Shun Skywalker has been impressing me lately and was surprised to see him in this tournament, but it’s a good way to prove his worth and see if he can perform well with the top guys. The match was pretty solid for what it was as Shun actually did impress me in his match with Ben-K and has done very well holding his own in the match. Ben-K also did great, but it shouldn’t be a real surprise since he’s on the rise right now. Definitely a lot of good sequences and Shun definitely getting enough close calls to make him feel like he can be a serious threat, but it’s not enough as Ben-K would hit him with an amazing Spear to get a win here.

Recommended: I enjoyed the match, very solid and a great ending.

– Of course it’s happening again with the May 14th show and it appears our next live show isn’t until the 19th…1500 yen folks. This really makes it hard to cover the whole tournament as now it feels like both mine and Andrew’s coverage a bit hollow without most of the matches. I could’ve added three more matches on here to give you all a full article, but it doesn’t appear to be the case here and we at The Chairshot completely apologize for this. If it was an actual tour, then I wouldn’t mind as much, but the fact that it’s for your big tournament that we’re having this problem and that’s not fair to the audience here who subscribe to the product. Get your shit together.

For A Block, Yasushi Kanda defeated YAMATO by Countout in five minutes.

For B Block, Takashi Yoshida defeated BXB Hulk to get his second win.

 

Overall: The shows could’ve been so much better, but the Dragon Gate Network really downgraded the expectations for this show, but I really hope it delivers at the end of it despite us possibly losing half these shows. If I had known this, then we probably could’ve just done it ourselves, but I’m still happy to be working with someone on it. Least two out of three matches were really good, so that’s a plus.

Favorite Match: YAMATO vs. Kzy

Least Favorite Match: Big R Shimizu vs. Takashi Yoshida

Score: 7/10

 

A Block Standings:
YAMATO (1-1) (2 Points)
Ben-K (1-0) (2 Points)
Yasushi Kanda (1-0) (2 Points)
Kzy (0-1) (0 Points)
Shun Skywalker (0-1) (0 Points)

B Block Standings:
Takashi Yoshida (2-1) (4 Points)
Genki Horiguchi (1-0) (2 Points)
BXB Hulk (0-1) (0 Points)
Big R Shimizu (0-1) (0 Points)
Jason Lee (0-0) (0 Points)


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(NOAH) WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.2 ~ 21ST SEPTEMBER 2018

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CURRENT TOUR RECAP

NOAH finished up their mammoth five day in a row event (14th September to the 18th September), fortunately no-one was injured, but both Hajime Ohara (neck) and Hi69 (knee) seem to be carrying injuries.

After losing the GHC Heavyweight Tag Title challenge against Naomichi Marufuji and Akitoshi Saito, Kaito Kiyomiya intimated that he would be interested in challenging for them again, but with another partner (i.e. Go Shiozaki). Shiozaki was seen watching Kaito Kiyomiya in the tag match against 50 Funky Powers in Hakata Stalene. Later in the tour he mentioned on Twitter about “shutting them up” and their GHC Heavyweight Tag Challenge

.Speaking of Go Shiozaki there was a very sweet moment that took place in Hakata, involving both himself and Atsushi Kotoge. When they made their entrance in their match against The Hooligans (Cody Hall and Maybach Taniguchi), a little boy could be seen dressed in a homemade “Revolutionary Cloak”. When Kotoge appeared the little boy and the little girl next to him (most probably his sister), did the revolutionary fist pumps (to the delight of Kotoge who joined in), and when he had gone, Shiozaki noticed, did it for half a second, and then went bright red (Shiozaki gets very shy when he has to do physical comedy, he also has a tendency to start giggling as well when others do it).
During the match, the brawl went into the crowd, and a little girl was upset by it and started crying. Go Shiozaki, gave her a hug to comfort her, and once back in the ring got The Hooligans in the corner, pointed to her and said “this is for you”, and proceeded to chop them.

Despite his claim to “bring the revolution to Hakata, and defeat the villains!”, Atsushi Kotoge took the Zwei Bomb from Taniguchi.

Naomichi Marufuji is still not accepting the challenge of The Hooligans, and gave a somewhat bad tempered promo in Ehime saying they were “a fool, a baldie” and “even though I am an asshole with a lack of sleep, I am going to crush you all. Come and line up with your heads bowed. I am not going to accept your challenge! I’m not in the mood!” Marufuji is still being obsessively hated by Kenoh, and he certainly has taken it from him on this tour, but the person the five days really belongs to, is Katsuhiko Nakajima, who utterly obliterated Takashi Sugiura and did the cocky pin on him. I don’t think anyone has ever at any time or anywhere ever done this…

Nakajima, being Nakajima, wasn’t finished there as he draped the belt over him, and then threw Sugiura out of the ring. When Sugiura had recovered and scraped himself off of the floor, Nakajima had gotten the microphone, and standing on the turnbuckle he told him that he would continue to plague him like he did today, he would plague him again tomorrow and the day after that and forever afterwards.

At the end of the five day tour, having been thoroughly battered by Nakajima, Takashi Sugiura said tiredly he couldn’t keep up and says that he has had no choice but to get better, and rethink his strategy. I can only imagine that Sugiura is playing the spider and the fly…

“Black or white, this is a league.” (Hi69) 

The NOAH Juniors, despite being divided over Junior Global League, are all gunning for Kotaro Suzuki (Hitoshi Kumano says that he is going to “crush the beat so no sound comes out”). Kotaro Suzuki has dismissed even the freelancers amongst the NOAH Juniors as being “weak”.

The biggest build so far is Daisuke Harada vs Kotaro Suzuki, which will take place in Yokohama (Suzuki has already lost to the other “elder” of the Juniors, Hajime Ohara). Daisuke Harada in Kochi, delivered the message to Suzuki that he would beat him down, and then he would “tell you this”…Harada spoke silently to the camera and walked off. Kotaro Suzuki later said that he had no idea what he was saying, but would find out before they faced each other.

Suzuki has made unflattering comments about various NOAH juniors, Hitsohi Kumano is “heavy” and “bulging with fat”, and Tadasuke, due to “too much hair treatment” is “greasy”.

Kotaro Suzuki, known for being just as “slippery” as Tadasuke (maybe even more) has promised something special for his “vision of Korakuen” (he also posted a picture of himself and Yoshinari Ogawa out drinking and said they were “discussing strategy”), well, whatever he has planned, it is probably a lot better than what Tadasuke has promised, he says that he may have to “poison the rice of the winning candidates” if he doesn’t win.

Suzuki and Harada clashed in a tag match on the 18th September on the last day of tour with Harada getting in his face with the belt, and Suzuki playing the innocent after attacking him while standing on the ring apron.

There has been no rift between The Backbreakers, with Hitoshi Kumano defeating Hajime Ohara. Kumano said he had to win, even though Ohara’s neck was very bad.
Part of his reasons for wanting to beat Ohara was due to the comments made by Daisuke Harada when he was aiming for the GHC Junior Heavyweight championship a few months ago, Harada had basically said that Kumano was “below Ohara” or that he was his “subordinate”.

Between RATELS, Daisuke Harada is too busy to comment on Tadasuke beating him, and YO-HEY and HAYATA still appear to be friends (better description might be master and pet).

Junta Miyawaki is still to get his first win, but the boy has earned a lot of accolades with people praising him and saying he was “insanely good” in his matches. NOAH are really teasing his first win with many near pinfalls.  He has also been likened to a young Kenta Kobashi, which means that now in NOAH we have almost the Four Pillars for a new generation with Misawa (Kiyomiya) and Kawada (Kenoh) – now we just need a Taue.

NOAH have had very good attendances out in the provinces for this tour, not all venues have been sold out, but attendances have been very high. The promotion has a policy whereby they travel outside of the metropolitan areas (i.e. Tokyo, Osaka) and the big city areas and bring the show to the “provinces” (i.e. the countryside or the more rural areas on the edge of the suburbs). While this doesn’t always result in a full house (something a lot of people don’t seem to understand and they think its a reflection on NOAH ), what it does do is bring a company who unlike New Japan, All Japan, Big Japan etc doesn’t have a streaming service and\or a TV show, to people who wouldn’t see them otherwise. They have also attracted a lot of new fans too.

Global Junior League Scores (as of 18th September 2018)
YO-HEY: 7
Ikuto Hidaka: 6
Daisuke Harada: 6
Kotaro Suzuki: 6
Hitoshi Kumano: 4
Tadasuke: 4
Hi69: 4
Minoru Tanaka: 4
HAYATA: 3
Hajime Ohara: 2
Seiya Morohashi: 2
Junta Miyawaki: 0

NOAH are back on the 29th September at Radiant Hall, Yokohama, bell sounds at 17.30

NEWS

QUIET STORM CELEBRATES 20 YEARS
Quiet Storm has celebrated his own twenty years in wrestling on the 16th September, he debuted in 1998 (about a month after Naomichi Marufuji did) at roughly the age of seventeen, and while in America had spells with Ring of Honor, PWF and NYWC. Quiet Storm made his debut in his hometown of New York (he’s a Brooklyn boy I think). He came to Japan and trained with KAIENTAI DOJO, but had to return home due to a family situation. Aside from NOAH, his other affiliation is with Osaka Pro. He has been with NOAH since 2014.

His tag team partner, Mohammed Yone, presented him with flowers in the ring.

GHC BELT NEWS

Current champions

  • GHC Heavyweight Champion: Takashi Sugiura
  • GHC Junior Champion: Daisuke Harada
  • GHC Heavyweight Tag Champions: Naomichi Marufuji & Akitoshi Saito
  • GHC Junior Tag Champions: Minoru Tanaka & Hi69

OTHER NEWS

Atsushi Kotoge will be holding his own fan event, further details to be announced (this is not a produce)

Comedy wrestler Kikutaro (who returned to Japan to have ear surgery), announced that before he leaves for America, he wants to appear in NOAH(he was once a regular in SEM, where he memorably teamed with KENTA, who had him thrown out of the building afterwards, Kikutaro made his way back in though), and a match has been arranged against Atsushi Kotoge for the 4th October at Korakuen Hall. Kotoge has asked Kikutaro whether he wants to join the “Revolutionary Army”. What should be a very funny match, will be broadcast on Samurai on the 11th October (FYI: Fuji TV no longer exists, it is now “ForJoyTV“)

Naomichi Marufuji and Doug Williams will be having what will be their last match ever in IPW on Sunday the 23rd September. Their history was made not in NOAH or even in Japan, but in Europe. You can read about their history in an article I have written, “Farewell Europe

Hajime Ohara, (who quite rightly is called “NOAH’s treasure”), has taken part in more municipal activities in Kawasawki by lecturing the Staff Hygiene Committee about exercise that can be done at the office and at home.

Thanks to Metal-Noah who very kindly sent me a copy of “Heir to The Ark”, Naomichi Marufuji’s biography, English translation has started, and can be found here. This is a work in progress, and I hope to update it daily. The book is ranked #3 on the Japanese book charts. TOUR TIDBITS

  • Tadasuke used a chair on Seiya Morohashi (which is unusual for him).
  • Whilst in Shikoku, a big crab turned up on Hi69’s cigarette packet (its probably HAYATA shape-shifting)
  • The ceiling was so low in Hakata Stalene that people’s feet and heads grazed it.
  • Naomichi Marufuji watched “the youngsters” going off together after NOAH arrived in Kochi, and said “the old man is going to bed”
  • Tadasuke announced to Kotaro Suzuki “Hey, Fool! I am today’s NOAH Junior!” (and Kotaro Suzuki beat him down in ten minutes with the Tiger Driver)
  • Naomichi Marufuji wrapped Yoshiki Inamura in Atsushi Kotoge’s cloak, and forced him to do the “Revolution Pose”, right in front of Kotoge.
  • YO-HEY’S rambling promos include him having all his teeth knocked out (he hasn’t), and likening himself to a 16th century Japanese warlord, a champion stallion racehorse which was put out to stud (don’t ask) and then forgetting what he was talking about. He is still convinced that he will be facing Yoshiki Inamura in the finals of Global Junior League, despite the fact that Inamura isn’t in Global Junior League.
  • Yoshinari Ogawa took Atsushi Kotoge’s cape and used it to wipe his boots, much to Kotoge’s horror.
  • Ehime Pro did an opening exhibition at Noah’s show at TEXPORT Imbari
  • Yoshiki Inamura getting good reviews.
  • Go Shiozaki went to shake hands with Kotoge, but Kotoge drew his hand back, wiped his head and walked off (Shiozaki, notorious for giggling, couldn’t keep a straight face)
  • NOAH have had a crack down on people filming at the event, Atsushi Kotoge said “Heroes obey the rules”.
  • Masao Inoue is holding another bowling event, wrestlers participating will be Atsushi Kotoge, Kaito Kiyomiya and Tadasuke
  • On September 17th, Atsushi Kotoge, Kenoh, Katsuhiko Nakajima and Masa Kitamiya went to a sports bar and spent until the early hours watching classic Four Pillars era All Japan (the match Kotoge photographed on the TV was Mitsuharu Misawa vs Kenta Kobashi on the 21st October 1997. When this match took place, Kotoge and Kenoh would have been 12, Kitamiya 14 and Nakajima 9).
  • Cody Hall and Maybach Taniguchi now have a finisher called “The Hooligans Bomb”.

  • On the long drive back from Tottori to Tokyo, (about nine to eleven hours), Takashi Sugiura photographed Masao Inoue at the urinal (twice), and then predictably, things got even worse when Marufuji filmed Inoue eating an ice cream on the bus, and then pausing to look briefly at a passing woman. Between Marufuji and Sugiura, this turned into Inoue thinking about “licking” women…

Lets just end this newsletter here until next week.


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(NOAH) FAREWELL EUROPE ~ THE HISTORY OF NAOMICHI MARUFUJI AND DOUG WILLIAMS

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Doug Williams was part of NOAH’S “Golden Era”. He was with the promotion for about six years, from roughly 2003 to 2009, when he left to work for TNA. In 2008, towards the end of his tenure, when NOAH ran shows in the UK, Williams helped the promotion arrange travel, buses, visas and hotel rooms.

Although he is remembered for teaming mainly with fellow Brit, Nigel McGuiness, his title reign was actually with 2 Cold Scorpio when they took the GHC Heavyweight Tag belts from Mitsuharu Misawa and Yoshinari Ogawa in January 2005 in Tokyo. Memory, (and indeed tag team history), tells us that it should have been Nigel McGuiness and Doug Williams losing them to KENTA and Marufuji, but it never happened that way (they never actually faced them as a tag team), they lost the belts five months later to Naomichi Marufuji and Minoru Suzuki in Morecombe, UK for FWA’S “Noah Limits Show”.

This was the only title Williams would ever hold in NOAH, and the only time he and Marufuji would ever meet for a title.  Ironically, most of their battles for belts, cups and the majority of their singles matches (and their final match together), would and will take place outside of Japan, and even more ironically, they will meet in the UK again, and Marufuji will go into the match as GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, the very belt they fought over thirteen years ago.

But before all of that we need to look at their history together.

Doug Williams first match with Naomichi Marufuji was in 2003 when he teamed with Yoshihiro Takayama to take on Marufuji and Takeshi Morishima. Over the course of six years, from May 2003 until February 2009, they would have twenty-five matches together in various forms.

They were mainly in NOAH and mainly in tags.

Outside of NOAH is where their competitive history was truly made, and hence the reason why in 2018, Doug Williams and Naomichi Marufuji will clash for one last time in Europe. Time is rolling on for both of them, Marufuji has stated that he will probably retire in 2020 when he turns forty, and Williams, is six years older (although I cannot state with any certainty whether or not he has announced any plans to retire). For Marufuji in many ways, 2018 has been a year of reconciliations and some farewells.

In June 2005 they clashed at “Rings of Europe” in Bad Vöslau, Austria, where Williams defeated Marufuji and Murat Bosporus for “Thermencup 2005” in a three way dance.

In June 2005 (as mentioned above) they clashed for GHC Heavyweight Tag titles in Morecombe.

Their first singles match took place outside of NOAH, for Real Quality Wrestling in Colchester, UK (an event I attended as I was living in the town at the time) in June 2007, with Marufuji getting the win.

Their one and only singles match in NOAH took place four months later in October 2007, and went to a time limit draw.

Their next singles match after that took place in Germany for wXw for the 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2008 event, Marufuji was again victorious, beating Williams in the first round.

Out of the three singles matches that they have had, Williams has never actually beaten Marufuji, and it remains to be seen what will happen at IPW in September 2018 when for one last time, Naomichi Marufuji and Doug Williams will meet in Europe, the place where their history was made.


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AJPW 6th Oudou Tournament Round 1 Results & Review

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While I’m waiting for the next set of Stardom shows to full upload, I decided to go back to All Japan to see what they’re up to and it turns out they’re having their 6th annual Oudou Tournament, which means Royal Road. The winner of the tournament will get a Triple Crown Championship match, unless Zeus wins and he just gets to pick his own opponent.

This tournament looks incredibly stacked and I got no complaints about these entrants. So, who do I think is going to win the whole thing? Well, as much as I love Kento, I got a pretty good feeling about Yuji Hino winning the whole thing, plus seeing him taking on Zeus would be amazing and I’d be crazy to not wanna see that happen.

So who out of these sixteen wrestlers will make it to the second round? Let us find out and…dive right in.

 

Royal Road 2018 First Round Match
Ryouji Sai vs. Yuma Aoyagi

Review: So our first match is Ryouji Sai taking on one half of the All Asia Tag Team Champions, Yuma Aoyagi. Ryouji recently lost his Asia Heavyweight Championship and would like to still get some gold around his waist, but he would have to take on the young Yuma to even try to advance to the next round. Which of these two will advance?

Now that I got to see Yuma do more solo, I was able to get a fair assumption of him and I gotta say that he really does have potential just like Jake Lee and Naoya Nomura do, and no doubt has a future in AJPW if he should keep doing what he’s doing here. The match while had a couple of sloppy spots and a slip-up here and there, it was still a solid bout for what it was and was more technical than anything. Yuma would even give Ryouji a DDT to the outside of the ring right in the beginning of the match to give himself that early opening. Ryouji though is someone you shouldn’t take lightly either as he did control most of the match and had Yuma in a submission and every time Yuma tried to grab the ropes, the referee would playfully kick his hand off for the first few times to give a little bit of a comedy spot here and it was kinda funny. Yuma had a hard fought battle but Ryouji would hit a Running Shining Wizard onto Yuma to get the pinfall victory and advance to the next round.

Rating: Eric Bischoff

 

Royal Road 2018 First Round Match
Kento Miyahara vs. Yoshitatsu

Review: Our next match is pretty much a rematch from last year as former Triple Crown Champion, Kento Miyahara takes on his partner, Yoshitatsu. Last year when they fought, Kento would defeat Yoshi in the first round but he failed to win the whole thing when he lost in the semi-final. Yoshitatsu has improved quite a bit over the last year and this could be the chance he needs to probably win over his partner. Can Yoshitatsu pull off an upset victory or will Kento defeat him in the first round again?

I loved the little change Kento did with his attire by having half of his pants be black while the other half still has the red, it looks pretty badass if you ask me. Yoshitatsu is someone that I have been quite negative with for the past couple of years with how bad his performance has been ever since he returned to Japan in general before and after his neck injury. But, I will give credit where credit is due by saying that he definitely belongs in All Japan as they helped him slowly becoming a better wrestler unlike his run in NJPW which was a total bust in my opinion as we can now see him hopefully try to flourish while still needing some polishing. The match was fun with the two of them working well together with Kento being one of the few that could bring out the best in Yoshi much like Suwama would also. The referee would still give Kento a hard time during the match with pulling his hair when he refuses to let go of Yoshi’s head when he was pulling on it during the turnbuckle and even did a slow count when Kento would hit Yoshi with the Blackout and he told the referee to speed it up with the count due to him going slow and said six twice just to mess with him.

They did have an amazing sequence once they got back in the ring with Kento hitting a Blackout in the corner and hits a Brainbuster, but Yoshi got back up quickly to hit a German Suplex which leads to Kento coming back up to hit another Blackout and ends with Yoshi hitting a Spinning Wheel Kick to make them both go down. Yoshi would attempt to go for the Koji Clutch until he got caught in a German Suplex Hold for a two count. Yoshi would eventually lock in the Koji Clutch to try and make him tap out but Kento would break out of the hold before he could tap. Kento would hit two more Blackouts on Yoshi and was able to hit the Shutdown German Suplex Hold to secure the victory and to advance.

Rating: Eric Bischoff and a half

 

Royal Road 2018 First Round Match
Gianni Valletta vs. Suwama

Review: Suwama was the winner of last year’s tournament and he looks to win it back to back as his opponent for the first round is Gianni Valletta. Last time I covered Gianni, he fought Joe Doering and while he did pretty impressive, he still lost at the end of the match and now looks to try to get a big win here over the former ace of All Japan. Can Gianni secure a victory or will Suwama be one step closer to becoming a back to back winner?

Gianni wasted no time when he attacked Suwama from behind with the chain and started to continue the assault around the crowd while getting control of most of the match. Gianni really isn’t a bad heel and this is a much better performance than when I saw him fighting Joe Doering, my only big complaint is that little scream he does over and over again, and I get that it’s probably apart of his gimmick but the fact it’s used very constantly can be seen as a bit annoying. Suwama showed he can still deliver for a man of his age and give him the right opponent, you can see him really go and prove why he was the ace and still one of their best. So far most of these matches had a little bit of comedy mixed into the fray whether it’s the one with Yuma/Ryouji, Kento/Yoshi, and now this one when Gianni would steal the referee’s glasses just so he would be unable to see but Suwama would give them back to him a couple of times. Suwama accidentally knocked the referee out when Gianni took his glasses again, Gianni would try to use his chain to hit Suwama, but it backfired and he falls victim to the Backdrop Driver from Suwama for the win to advance.

Rating: Eric Bischoff and a half

 

Royal Road 2018 First Round Match
Dylan James vs. Joe Doering

Review: It looks like it’ll be a gaijin vs gaijin match with our former Triple Crown Champion, Joe Doering takes on former Tag Team Champion, Dylan James. Both of these guys are normally on and off in my reviews when they can sometimes do well in a match and can also be the worst one on the card and I really hope it’s not the case here. Which one of them gonna move forward?

Wait…the match wasn’t terrible at all…huh. No really, the match really played well with their strengths and it was really slow, but it worked for them since they’re both big guys that aren’t the most mobile and focus more on power than anything, which is exactly how they needed to be here. Both men had powerful strikes towards one another and testing out their strength during their whole match with them being just fairly even with each other and made it quite interesting to see it unfold. Dylan did step it up a little bit more in this match and been impressed after his match with Kento and I know he can be good and needs to flourish more which I hope he does if he can keep giving us performances like this. Joe is someone who just did his job and did his best in the match too and will give him credit for giving us a solid match also. Nothing too memorable in this match, just solid match of power and Joe would come out on top with his Diving Body Press when Dylan was sitting down.

Rating: Eric Bischoff

 

Royal Road 2018 First Round Match
The Bodyguard vs. Yuji Hino

Review: Good to see my boy, Yuji Hino back in an All Japan ring and I missed seeing him there ever since I saw him doing amazing at the Champions Carnival and even gave Bodyguard a decent match. Speaking of The Bodyguard, that’s how Yuji will be facing in his first-round match. Bodyguard is still the All Asia Heavyweight Champion and I don’t believe he has defended it yet, but guess he would wanna go for a double crown if he wins and fights his partner, Zeus. Will Bodyguard advance or will Hino hit the FUCKING BOMB?

Short, sweet, and to the point, that’s kinda how a Bodyguard match should almost always go or it’ll drag on for him and you start to see his flaws. It wasn’t a bad match but it wasn’t a great match either since it was just Hino playing it cool with his opponent, which is fine and then Bodyguard didn’t do too great in the match either and it looked like there was a small both when Hino went for the finisher and it looked like he almost dropped him, but thankfully Bodyguard was able to catch himself and get off the hold to kick him. After a couple of kicks from Bodyguard, Hino would turn it around with a Lariat and he hits the FUCKING BOMB to defeat Bodyguard and advance to the second round. So if Yuji Hino does somehow not advance in the tournament, would he still get a title match against Bodyguard? I wouldn’t mind a consolation prize, but I still got Hino winning the whole thing hopefully.

Rating: Tony Schiavone and a half

 

Royal Road 2018 First Round Match
Kengo Mashimo vs. Shuji Ishikawa

Review: Our next bout has Shuji Ishikawa taking on a surprise guest, Kengo Mashimo. Kengo Mashimo is from K-DOJO and is known to be one of the best strikers in Japan right now with seventeen years of in-ring experience. All Japan likes to bring in free agents or people from other promotions for these tournaments and this one is sure to be a treat. Which one of these hard-hitting wrestlers is going to make it to the next round?

What a match, let me tell you. This was exploding with energy right from the start and neither of these two fully stopped until the end as they both really delivered with everything that they do best. I don’t get to see too much of Kengo, so him being here in this tournament is really a delight from my viewing pleasure and I am very happy with his performance here with how fast he was with his strikes and his technical ability really is something here that should be viewed by people if you haven’t seen this guy wrestle before. Shuji is also amazing in this match and does what he does best, which is kicking ass in any of his matches and showing no mercy to his opponents. Shuji went all out on Kengo in his arsenal with his running knee strikes, a stomp off the top and even hits the Fire Thunder which Kengo kicked out at one, but Shuji would deliver another running knee soon as he got up but still kick out of it all. Shuji went to go pick up Kengo for a Powerbomb but Kengo turned it around into a Sleeper Hold and it looks like the violent giant is about to take a nap once he fell down and it looked like Shuji was fighting it for a while, but he would eventually pass out as Kengo gets the surprise victory over Shuji to advance to the next round!

Rating: Bruce Prichard

 

Royal Road 2018 First Round Match
Jake Lee vs. Jun Akiyama

Review: Uncle Jun is ready for some action as he is next to fight in the tournament and his opponent is All Japan’s rising star, Jake Lee. Jake has been showing a lot of progress ever since his return from injury a couple of months ago and even had a really solid match against Kento Miyahara on top of it, so this tournament would be a good opportunity to defeat the president and one of the greatest ever. Will Jake Lee pull it off or will Uncle Jun ground the young man?

God damn, Jun, calm down a little. Most of this match was Jun pretty much abusing the daylights out of him with nothing but knee strikes and he does them in the ring, out the ring, over and over again to just beat the living crap out of this kid. When he does a few knees to him to the outside of the ring, he would pull back a little bit to check up on his left elbow which seems to be something wrong there but he would run back after him to keep assaulting him with these knees and it just doesn’t stop. The match is more story based with the well-rounded vet teaching Jake in the ring as if he’s trying to groom him up into bigger and better things but wants to not go easy on him otherwise he wouldn’t really learn. Jake eventually did get some offense into this match but he would mostly just be taking the abuse Uncle Jun would give him to help sell the story of the match better and it works out really well. Jun hits the Exploder Suplex a couple of times and Jake would kick out of it and he pulled his kneepad down to try and hit a knee strike with his bare knee to end it but Jake kneed him in the gut and copies him with the same move, hitting him in the face twice and Jake Lee pulls off the victory!

We would later find out that Jun Akiyama would actually injure his elbow during the match. I don’t know when it actually occurred or how long he will be out, but it could be a while before we see him in the ring again. Get well soon, Uncle Jun!

Rating: Eric Bischoff and three quarters

 

Royal Road 2018 First Round Match
Naoya Nomura vs. Zeus

Review: We’re now down to our final match of the first round as our Triple Crown Champion, Zeus takes on the other half of the all Asia Tag Team Champions, Naoya Nomura. A couple of weeks ago, Naoya would pull off an upset by pinning Zeus in a tag team match and it looks like the two would fight in a singles match this time. If Nomura could beat him for the second time in a row, I think that’ll definitely give him a future title opportunity but Zeus ain’t gonna go down without a fight. Can Nomura be able to get a second victory over him or will Zeus overpower him?

I think this was Naoya’s best match in 2018. Nomura was definitely the underdog in this story since he pulled that surprise win over Zeus and has some of the fans backing him during the match while Zeus would hold a bit of a grudge and added more power in his strikes, especially when he had Nomura against the turnbuckle and Zeus would start elbowing him about as much as Jun did to Jake with his knees in the previous match, even the referee would try to pull Zeus off but he looked furious there. Both of these men delivered in the match to make Nomura look like a star while Zeus being the fighting champion and giving it his all in the match whether the title was on the line or not.

Nomura did pull off quite a few stops like hitting the Death Valley Driver onto Zeus to get the crowd on their feet but Zeus kicked out at two. Zeus would hit some of his big moves too like his Chokeslam and even giving Nomura some of his stiffest chops and Lariats in this match to try and knock him out but Nomura would still keep on kicking out. Nomura definitely showed his fighting spirit in the match proving that he is indeed a future star in the company with his never give up type attitude no matter who he faces, but Zeus would knock him down with a Lariat to flip him inside out and hits the Jackhammer for the win. Valiant effort by Nomura but Zeus was just better than him, but great match from beginning to end.

Rating: Bruce Prichard and a half

 

Overall: I thought the first round was very successful here as almost all of the matches were very enjoyable and plenty of surprises with both outcomes and performances that is making me excited to see how the next round will do.

Favorite Match: Naoya Nomura vs. Zeus

Least Favorite Match: The Bodyguard vs. Yuji Hino

Score: 8/10


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