Welcome back to Wrestle-1 and last time we covered them, a lot has happened with CIMA and OWE invading Wrestle-1 to shake the company up, as they will be fighting each other in a series of matches during the show and Manabu would also retain his championship in the process.
Our main event tonight is for the W-1 Tag Team Championships since Jiro and Masato would defeat Ashino at the previous show as they look to have the match tonight. Will W-1 be able to drive OWE away on their first night or will they show that they’re here to stay? Let us…dive right in.
Takanori Ito vs. Takumi Baba
Review: We open up the show with a regular exhibition match between Takanori Ito as he takes on Takumi Baba. This one was really nothing to write home about because this was more of an average squash type match with one guy controlling the majority of the match in a short amount of time and eventually Takumi would get some offense in the match for about a brief moment and ended after he would hit a Dropkick off the top rope and Ito would turn it around with a few kicks to the chest and would call for the German Suplex Hold for the win after about five minutes. Ito reminds me a bit of Kevin Owens and I think I said that before since he pretty much has the same attire as him, same body type and is quick, but doesn’t have the full intensity like Kevin does, but he does have potential to be a top guy in W-1.
Six Man Tag Team Match
Ganseki Tanaka, Koji Doi & Tsugutaka Sato vs. Masayuki Kono, MAZADA & NOSAWA Rongai
Review: Time for a six-man tag match involving someone that is responsible for the invasion of CIMA and OWE, NOSAWA and he got exactly what he wanted so let’s see if he’s right later on tonight, but now he has to focus on his match against Ganseki, Koji, and Tsugutaka. With another old vs new style tag team match, it’s what you expect with Koji getting the early shine in the match and would lose it once Ganseki came in to take in the heat of everything from NOSAWA, MAZADA, and Kono as all three of them would just give him a beating without giving him any chance to tag in anyone else, which is how it should be when it comes to tag team matches. Eventually, Koji would get back in the ring for the hot tag and would clean house with his powerhouse style and would tag in Sato to try and put it away, but NOSAWA would hit a Shining Wizard on Sato, followed by a Lariat from MAZADA and Kono would hit a Chokeslam to try and win it, but Koji would break the pin just in time. NOSAWA and MAZADA would fight the illegal guys on the outside of the ring as Kono would hit a Chokebomb for a two count and then would hit his Running Knee as the young guys would lose once again.
Recommended: It was an average match, so this one is up to you
Tag Team Match
Alejandro & El Hijo del Pantera vs. Kenichiro Arai & Yusuke Kodama
Review: On our last show, Kodama would defeat Seiki to become the new Cruiserweight Champion and was then challenged by Pantera to be the next contender for the belt as we have no match date for it just yet, we got a tag match with Pantera partnering up with Alejandro while Kodama would team up with Kenichiro Arai. We get our preview early as Pantera and Kodama would start the match off with Pantera being all quick in the ring and even ran the middle ropes for a bit before the two locked up and Pantera is just too quick for him with his cat-like reflexes, no pun intended. Kodama would throw Pantera to the ropes and he just flips outside on his own as he landed on the entrance ramp before going in to do a Springboard Dropkick to make him go outside of the ring as Kenichiro would run in only to be tripped down as Alejandro would hit him with a Crossbody to make him go outside now and it looks like they’re both about to do a Suicide Dive, but they psyche them out as they are still in the ring taunting them.
Alejandro gets tagged in now and looks to do a Splash to the corner as Kodama would move out of the way and kick Pantera down before going back to the ring to tag in Kenichiro as he now begins to work on Alejandro’s arm and that seems to be the key focus for Kenichiro and Kodama when they kept tagging each other back and forth while still working on his arm to injure it more until Kenichiro came back in the ring to do more damage as Alejandro would hit a Hurricanrana to get him down as he makes the hot tag to Pantera. Pantera would hit the both of them with a Tilt-a-Whirl Backbreaker and would go to the ropes to do a Springboard Frontflip onto Kenichiro and before he could do anything, Kenichiro would tag in Kodoma when he wasn’t looking and hits Pantera with an elbow while Kodoma hits a Diving Crossbody for a two count. The two start punching each other back and forth until Kodoma would rake his eyes and went to throw him into the ropes, Pantera would hit a Springboard Headbutt and top it off with a Dropkick before he made his way to tag in Alejandro who hits a Dropkick off the ropes and Pantera would hit a Drop Toehold to make Kodoma land between the ropes so they would hit a Double 619 and a Double Dropkick as Alejandro goes for the pin, Kenichiro would break the count. Alejandro and Pantera would hit the ropes again but Kenichiro would pull Pantera out of the ring, giving Kodama an opening to attack Alejandro with a Fisherman Buster and then he hits his Mad Splash to get the victory.
Recommended: Solid match, worth watching.
CIMA vs. Jun Tonsho
Review: It is now time for Strong Hearts vs. Wrestle-1 to begin as we have our first match with the leader, CIMA to take on Jun Tonsho, who has been pretty impressive during the last couple of times that I’ve seen him wrestle and should be an interesting bout. Soon as CIMA got into the ring, Jun would start to Dropkick him right away and start going after him so CIMA doesn’t get a chance to fight back and it’s a smart move on his part to try and take him down quickly and does with a few more Dropkicks and once he attempted to go for the Dragon Suplex, CIMA would fight it off and hits a Dropkick of his own. CIMA would first hit a Fisherman Buster for a two count and he quickly picks him up for a DDT and then goes to the ropes to hit his Meteora for the quick victory as he defeats Jun in less than two minutes. Strong Hearts has one point on the scoreboard while W-1 has zero.
Recommended: For a match being two minutes, it was pretty entertaining. Worth a viewing I say, especially if you’re interested in this feud.
Tag Team Match
Kaz Hayashi & Seiki Yoshioka vs. Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz
Review: After pretty much CIMA getting the quick work done on Jun, our next match is a tag team match as we have Kaz Hayashi leading this one with former Cruiserweight Champion, Seiki Yoshioka as they take on two of Strong Hearts members, Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz and I’m excited for Zachary as he’s been one of the breakout stars for me in 2018 and I can’t wait to see him shine more tonight. Zachary and Seiki start the match off with first some basic chain wrestling as Zach would turn it around into an Armbar to try and make him tap, but Seiki would have his foot on the rope to break the hold. Seiki would start ducking Zach’s strikes and attempts to go for a Baseball Slide as Zach jumped over him and ran to the ropes to do a Springboard Corkscrew to knock the former champion down and once Saiki got back up, Zach would tag in his partner Dezmond. as Seiki backed up to tag in Kaz.
Dezmond would outsmart Kaz with his strikes and jabs whenever Kaz would try to throw or hit him as Dezmond kept on turning it around and threw him into the corner only to be thrown over, which Zach would tag himself in the second Dezmond hits the apron and would kick Kaz in the back of the head and jump over the ropes to kick his chest in and soon as Dezmond rolled off him, Zach would jump over Dezmond to hit the Bronco Buster and impressive teamwork right here. Seiki would attack Zach for a bit and Kaz would Dropkick his leg to knock him down as he now begins to work the leg a bit until he went for a Handspring Enziguri only for Zach to duck and hit the same move but with a Dropkick as he connected and hurts his knee in the process before tagging in Dezmond.
Dezmond would Dropkick Kaz on the back of his head to make him roll out of the ring and went to go for a dive, but gets punched in the face instead as Zach would jump over the ropes to land on top of Kaz. Seiki would try to attack Dezmond and gets thrown to the ropes and he does an Asai Moonsault to the outside only for Dezmond to do a cartwheel into a Moonsault to the outside as well as the place goes crazy. Dezmond get Kaz back in the ring and goes for a 450 Splash to only land on his feet since Kaz moved and would hit Kaz with a jab to the midsection as both him and Zach would hit a combination of strikes where Zach ends it with a Double Stomp while Dezmond goes for the cover and Kaz kicks out. Seiki and Zach get tagged in and Seiki would look like to put it away as he hits the Headscirssor Slam and tops it off with a Roundhouse Kick to go for the cover but Dezmond breaks the count and gets Kaz out of the ring. Seiki went to go for the victory as Zach had him in a short-arm hold as Dezmond hits Seiki would a Superkick and Zach turns him around for a knee strike as Zach went to go for his Standing Moonsault by Seiki’s feet, Dezmond would push him mid-air to make him land on Seiki for the win. Strong Hearts now has the lead 2-0.
Recommended: Great match and I’ll even post the video of the match on here so you can see it for yourselves.
Six Man Tag Team Match
Andy Wu, Manabu Soya & Shuji Kondo vs. El Lindaman, Gao Jingjia & T-Hawk
Review: This will be the last match in the Strong Hearts vs W-1 matches for the evening as it is not a six-man tag match with our Wrestle-1 Champion, Manabu Soya leading the team with Andy Wu and Shuji Kondo as they take on T-Hawk who leads the team with El Lindaman and Chinese star, Gao Jinjia. Can Strong Hearts get a clean sweep or will Wrestle-1 finally get a victory here?
This is my first time seeing Gao in action here and I gotta admit that while he’s a little bit green and needs more work, he’s very athletic and can definitely move in the ring here, I hope to see more growth from him in these matches. Lindaman is someone I wasn’t fully sold on in Dragon Gate and I still cannot get into the guy here since he’s just mediocre at best in my opinion. T-Hawk is someone I felt like he wasn’t ready for the big spotlight when he won the King of Gate last year and once he teamed up with Eita, he started to slowly get better in the ring and with his character work, and now seeing him here made me think that it would be a good place to start if he does get involved with major storylines with W-1 depending on how long the feud will go on for, but I do believe that Manabu will eventually fight at least CIMA or T-Hawk for the championship depending on the direction they go with it. The match was solid with mostly Kondo and Wu doing the work in the matches while Strong Hearts relied heavily on the heel tactics and greater numbers against one person. When Manabu was in the ring, he really played his strengths into the match to show that the company was his house and he’s not going to let another promotion come in here and try to take it from him or the others in Wrestle-1. One move I did love was that Gao jumped onto Lindaman’s back and hits a 450 Splash off his back and onto Andy Wu, I don’t think I really see that happening and thought it looked awesome. T-Hawk and Andy are in the ring now and it looked like Wu would get the one win Wrestle-1 needed over Strong Hearts, but Hawk would hit his Black Tiger Bomb and get the three count.
That’s right, Strong Hearts was able to get a clean sweep over Wrestle-1 by winning all three of their matches tonight. The two teams would continue to brawl in the ring after the match while T-Hawk was getting confrontational with Manabu hinting that they would eventually fight each other again soon. W-1 would eventually leave the ring during the brawl and T-Hawk declared that they will all return for the Korakuen Hall show on July 18th. Though he stated that this time around that STRONG HEARTS will announce their matches/teams with W-1 being given the chance to follow.
Recommended: Solid six-man tag match, worth a viewing.
WRESTLE-1 Tag Team Title Match
Kumaarashi & Shotaro Ashino (c) vs. Jiro “Ikeman” Kuroshio & Masato Tanaka
Review: At the last show, Jiro would get the surprise victory over Ashino with the Ikeman Flash and Jiro stated that he and Masato would challenge for the belts at the next show with his partner this time since Kuma was busy that night taking on Manabu for the Wrestle-1 Championship and then lost. Both Ashino and Kuma would need to win this match here to redeem their losses or will Jiro pull the upset once again with Masato and have a second belt in his collection since he’s still the Wrestle-1 Result Champion?
Yes, Masato is still rocking Jiro’s jacket and wearing it while he wrestles in this match, I just love how he can be a heel in a few places while being the babyface in other companies like this one. I love whenever Jiro and Ashino work together in the ring since they have such great chemistry together with Ashino’s ability mixed up with Jiro’s charisma gives us unique matches together. I liked how Ashino would tackle Jiro down and would just kip-up right away and do it a couple of times even when Ashino would rake his eyes and throw him down to the ground and Jiro would just find a way to mess with Ashino, it’s the small types of interactions mixed with their chemistry that I just enjoy. Kudos to Kuma for showing off his power and throwing Jiro around like a rag doll and he sold that once he hits the turnbuckle post on the outside, even when Kuma tried to throw him into the ring, Jiro would bounce off the ropes to fall back down to the outside and it made Kuma look great here. Masato getting the hot tag and in the match and starts exploding in the ring and he continues to show that he can still be at the top of his game for a man his age, it must be that ancient Japanese secret that I don’t know about and need to figure out. Ashino would lock the Ankle Lock on Jiro and would make sure he wouldn’t let go of the hold so he could make him tap out this time instead of giving him any type of advantage to escape and pull another upset like he did at the previous show and while Jiro was able to escape, Kuma would be ready to do a Diving Senton onto him off the second rope to add more damage to his body and Masato would hit Ashino with a Brainbuster off the top rope as Jiro hits his Moonsault Press to go for the win, but Kuma broke the count. Ashino isn’t done yet with Jiro as he worked him more with some stiff European Uppercuts and a T-Bone Suplex to go for a two count and would reapply the Ankle Lock once more to see if he could get him to tap out once more and he still fails to do so, and Masato would catch Ashino off guard with a running knee to the face and Jiro would hit not one, but two Moonsault Presses to double tap him and pins him for the win as we have new Tag Team Champions!
Seeing the title change hands rather quickly did throw me off guard, but at the same time, I think it made sense since Ashino is too good for the tag titles and needs to focus on getting his Wrestle-1 Championship back, maybe Kuma can find a different partner from his faction to go for the belts. But congrats to Jiro for now holding two championships in the promotion and if he can win the Grand Prix, he’ll have a chance to win three belts if he can also defeat Manabu, but again he has to win the Grand Prix first.
Recommended: Very fun match and all four of these men delivered for a great main event. Give it a watch.
Overall: I was amazed that Wrestle-1 was able to pull off two great shows back to back and they added new elements to their storylines and rivalries to make me wanna watch more of them frequently if they were able to upload shows in time instead of almost a month in between. Next up is the Wrestle-1 Grand Prix which takes place on the July 1st show and will have the semi-final and finals taking place on July 18th (my birthday), and the winner of that match will fight for the Wrestle-1 Championship on their big show in September 2nd. The entrants to this match are Jiro “Ikemen” Kuroshio, Masayuki Kono, Kaz Hayashi, Shotaro Ashino, Shuji Kondo, Koji Doi, Takanori Ito, and Kumaarashi. I’m gonna go with Jiro making lightning strike twice and win it back to back, but don’t be surprised if Ashino wins the match to set up the rematch between him and Manabu.
Favorite Match: Kaz Hayashi & Seiki Yoshioka vs. Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz
Least Favorite Match: Takanori Ito vs. Takumi Baba
See you all next time!
Andrew’s AJPW Champion Carnival Results & Match Ratings: 4.10.2021
Day 2 of my fill in stint covering the AJPW Champion Carnival! Can Suwama get in the winner’s column? Can the Ace Kento get on the board? Does anyone pull away so early?
Day 2 of my fill in stint covering the AJPW Champion Carnival! Can Suwama get in the winner’s column? Can the Ace Kento get on the board? Does anyone pull away so early?
Given the fact the incumbent champion lost his first round, the ace lost and there were a few main event players that picked up hard fought wins but don’t have an easy day today, this should be interesting. What kind of tournament are we looking at?
Since the tournament is 1 block, each person gets 9 matches, similar to the G1. So using G1 logic, 2 losses puts you on the bubble of being out, and 3 losses is basically death with the exception of weird breakers or fun rock/paper/scissors situations.
So for everyone’s sake, let’s hope we end up at mostly parity to continue to keep everyone alive for most of this single block tournament!
- Yuma Aoyagi vs Shotaro Ashino: Aoyagi wins via End Game @9:22 – ** ¾
- Kohei Sato vs Koji Doi: Doi wins via Murder Lariat @4:52 – * ½
- Shuj Ishikawa vs Zeus: Zeus wins via Arm Trap Facelock @10:41 – *** ½
- Shinjiro Otani vs Kento Miyahara: Kento wins via Blackout @13:23 – *** ¾
- Jake Lee vs Suwama: Suwama wins via Last Ride Powerbomb @18:23 – ****
Yuma Aoyagi vs Shotaro Ashino
So very similarly to the match against Otani, Aoyagi starts slow. The match begins with a handshake, then he gets driven to the ropes, Ashino slides under his legs during the break to trip him up and starts working over the leg. An early Stretch Muffler indicates that Ashino is most likely aiming to win with the Ankle Lock.
Aoyagi was on the move and constantly clawing for an opening. A few strikes and early knockdown give Aoyagi hope as he goes for End Game, but Ashino powers up and slams him into the corner. Ashino controls most of the tempo until we get a German Suplex trade off spot. Aoyagi ends up taking the worst of it, and Ashino goes for the Ankle Lock.
While in the Ankle Lock, Aoyagi tries to roll through 3 times, but Ashino moves with the roll and holds the move in place. Right before Aoyagi looks like he’s going to tap, he adjusts, grabs Ashino’s head for the Small Package; Ashino manages to kick out. But before Ashino can really re-orient himself, Aoyagi slaps on the full version of End Game. Ashino tries to fight through, but succumbs.
Ashino with two big losses almost writes him out already. Hopefully he makes a small run to suspend disbelief for a little bit and this isn’t his swan song from AJPW.
Kohei Sato vs Koji Doi
Doi comes out of a loss to a major player, Shuji Ishikawa, of current AJPW and Sato avenged his loss to the current Triple Crown Champion Suwama. So at face value, one should think this is a perfect time for Sato to gather some momentum to make sure he gets another shot at the title.
Contrary to logic, this match was interesting. Doi starts off with a quick flurry and picks Sato up into a Torture Rack. Sato eventually fights out and then we get a chop battle, which Sato is notoriously bad at and throws some of the lamest looking chops. Granted, even though he was losing the chops, apparently a well-placed Forearm rocked Doi enough to have Doi selling the forearm for nearly the rest of the match.
Referee Nikkan Lee gets up to seven before Doi starts responding enough to be on the receiving end of a Soccer Ball Kick from Sato. Sato senses the match is over, picks Doi up real cocky for a Brainbuster, but it gets countered into a Brainbuster of Doi’s own! A short range lariat rocks Sato afterward and then off the ropes for Murder Lariat! Sato is stacked up, Doi covers and Doi gets the win!
Well we look to be in an interesting starting spot so far. Who would’ve figured Koji Doi would have more points than Shotaro Ashino…ever. Also for clarity, the low rating is because the match was so abrupt. It wasn’t inherently bad, just not really anything to sink teeth into beyond an upset win.
Shuj Ishikawa vs Zeus
There is history with these two, most notable in my head is during Zeus’ only Triple Crown championship reign, Shuji was his first and only defense. So Zeus looks to continue momentum this year, possibly running back the undefeated record of last year; while Shuji is trying to protect his position and title as Gaora TV champion.
This goes the way most of their previous meetings have, where Shuji tries to overpower Zeus. Because even though Zeus is a bodybuilder, he’s a bit on the short side (5’10”). So with Shuji standing about 6 inches taller and not being of a slight build, Shuji loves to buckle Zeus and play the power struggle. Tests of Strength, Shoulder Tackles, Lariat battles, it’s all great power wrestler spots.
Shuji does however start to catch Zeus. So after a chagrining Lariat into the corner, the middle rope Mushroom Stomp and a few Tsunamis; it looks like Shuji is setting up to win with a Fire/Thunder Driver – but Zeus slips out the back! Zeus locks in the Arm Trap Facelock, and Shuji is dead to rights. Stuck in the middle, twisted about in the move, it only takes a few moments before Shuji is forced to tap and Zeus moves on with 4 points!
Shinjiro Otani vs Kento Miyahara
Dueling boots start the match, which Kento bails after being on the losing end of the exchange. Otani decides to remind him that recovering on the apron isn’t safe, so he charges and lands the Bootwash through the bottom rope sending Kento flying. As the match plays out on the outside, Kento regains his swagger, talks smack to referee Wada and does his “headbutts around the ring” spot.
After rocking Otani, Kento gets cocky, poses back in the ring and the smug Kento from his previous Triple Crown champion days starts making a return. He gives Otani too much space though, charges the corner, and takes a Drop Toe Hold into the bottom turnbuckle, and then Otani revs up the old kicking boot across Kento’s face for a few Bootwashes.
From this point, both men’s stubbornness comes out in spades. Kento gets a little cocky, Otani catches him on the corner, they fight back and Otani refuses to fall before hitting Kento with a Superplex. Then we go into a strike exchange where both are just wailing on one another. Otani manages to rock Kento and then catch him with a Dragon Suplex for a near fall.
Moving quickly, Otani hits Spiral Bomb, but again only two. So he tries a Dragon Suplex again, but Kento fights out. Kento hits a Blackout to the back of Otani’s head, and now they are throwing haymakers. Kento catches Otani with another Blackout, but Otani returns the favor with one of those Hashimoto Overhand Chops that put down Aoyagi yesterday! Otani goes for another, but Kento Blackouts the chop. The clash leaves Otani in more pain, another Blackout and Otani powers out of the pinfall at 1, but is scrambling and stumbling around, unable to find his feet. Kento hits one more point blank Blackout, and picks up his first points of the 2021 Carnival!
Jake Lee vs Suwama
So watching this second tournament match for Jake, I’ve come to realize what I’m referring to him as during this Total Eclipse gimmick. He is very much “Light Yagami” Jake Lee. He’s cackling when he accomplishes something, unbridled frustration and nearly schizophrenic reactions do really scream Death Note crazy Light.
This match was interesting since early on Suwama didn’t really know what to make of Jake, and Jake tried the same stuff he pulled on Ashino, where he was a little awkward, took advantage of situations and tried to bait Suwama into bad spots. The difference is, Suwama is a veteran and Triple Crown champion; so even though Jake got a few early shots, Suwama eventually forced him back into old habits.
Jake was forced to wrestle, hitting interesting flying kick and knee variations, pulled out the old Kitchen Sink and put in a lot more effort than the first match. Suwama managed to stay resilient and push our new Total Eclipse Death Note wielder. This match was built more around Jake coming into his new persona, and yet still not being able to get passed certain old hurdles.
Suwama absorbed a lot, hit some short range lariats, his Double Chop comeback, and the spinning chop. Jake hits the back of the head Giant Killing, attempts D4C, but Suwama blocks. Jake keeps the pressure up, attempts and old Giant Killing/Knee Lift, but Suwama catches the leg, lifts him into a Last Ride, and puts him away!
Suwama finally gets on the bored, and Jake is left stunned and seething. Which plays perfect for Jake to win the Carnival and earn his Suwama shot, and prove his evolution then.
Overall Score: 7.5/10
So this ended a little stronger over all than day 1, but both days so far have been a fun start. The mixture of upsets and oddly abrupt matches are perfect for a tournament even if they don’t rank high. In the larger picture of things it’s nice to see that a competitive match can end in less than 5 minutes without comedy tactics.
Seeing how Jake took the loss to Suwama gives me hope for this anime antagonist character. I’m honestly a little surprised that the whole tournament is knotted up except for Zeus at the 2-0 and Ashino at 0-2. I really did not think Ashino would be the slow kid in the pool right now. But I suppose since he was just betrayed he’s still finding his footing. Like I alluded to before, it would be nice if he’s just getting broken down to be built back up and not just putting people over on his way out.
Now since the only unique records are first and last, the rest of the tournament isn’t hard to figure out, but here are the standings! Solid first 2 days so far!
- Zeus: 2-0 – (4 Points)
- Shuji Ishikawa: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Shinjiro Otani: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Kohei Sato: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Jake Lee: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Kento Miyahara: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Suwama: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Koji Doi: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Yuma Aoyagi: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Shotaro Ashino: 0-2 – (0 Points)
Andrew’s AJPW Champion Carnival Results & Match Ratings: 4.9.2021
All Japan’s Champion Carnival kicks off today! The Triple Crown Champion Suwama is in action as well as the Ace of the company Kento Miyahara! Check it out!
All Japan’s Champion Carnival kicks off today! The Triple Crown Champion Suwama is in action as well as the Ace of the company Kento Miyahara! Check it out!
Now I haven’t kept close eyes on the product last few months, because personally, they weren’t grabbing my interest post Quarantine Comeback. But since my Puro Patronus Mathew Sarpraicone is having some computer issues, I guess I’m covering the first couple of these!
Let’s see how the tournament starts!
- Shuji Ishikawa vs Koji Doi: Ishikawa wins via Thesz Press @9:09 – ** ½
- Suwama vs Kohei Sato: Sato wins via German Suplex Hold @10:49 – ***
- Yuma Aoyagi vs Shinjiro Otani: Otani wins via Overhand Chop @9:51 – *** ¼
- Jake Lee vs Shotaro Ashino: Jake wins via D4C @3:44 – **
- Zeus vs Kento Miyahara: Zeus wins via Jackhammer @18:16 – **** ¼
Shuji Ishikawa vs Koji Doi
Doi is the least recognized name in the tournament this year, and last I was aware of his was during the closure of Wrestle-1. Most of his success has come in the tag team division, but he’s no real slouch. Interestingly, Ishikawa is the newest Gaora TV Champion, but also was tied heavily to Suwama and their Violence Giant tag team.
We see Doi come out fast trying to throw Ishikawa into the corners and take him off his base. Ishikawa towers over Doi, so Doi was underneath, literally and figuratively the entire match. As Ishikawa hit most of his signature spots, including the Mushroom Stomp from the middle rope, Doi had a moment where he locked in the Rings of Saturn; but Ishikawa is just too big.
As Doi tried to keep the pressure up, rope runs, big strikes, Murder Lariat attempts from Doi but Ishikawa stifles the surge with a Fire/Thunder Driver. They both stumble up, run the ropes a bit trading lariats and charges, Ishikawa jumps, hits a Thesz Press and manages to keep Doi down for the 3 count!
Suwama vs Kohei Sato
An early card match gives us the Triple Crown champion against one of his more recent challengers! Falling short for the Triple Crown a few months ago, Sato has a little bit to prove.
The match opens as a slugfest, Suwama gets the best of things and rides the power advantage over Sato for a long time. Sato is taller than Suwama but Suwama is more powerful and controlled the pacing. Things went to the outside and the former Violence Giant kept up to the name.
When the match came back in to the ring Suwama looks to try and finish things, goes for the Rolling Lariat, but it gets blocked. Sato starts fighting back, hits a Falcon Arrow for a near fall, and then Suwama starts looking like he’s in trouble. Suwama hits the Double Chop comeback, and tries a Powerbomb, but Sato blocks it, Sato goes for a Powerbomb, but Suwama blocks it. The power struggle is tangible, but Suwama seems to be losing some of the back and forth. Sato rocks Suwama, locks in the German Suplex, and hits the German Suplex Hold.
Kohei gets on the board and avenges his loss! Depending on how the tournament shakes out, Kohei might get another shot at the title in the future.
Yuma Aoyagi vs Shinjiro Otani
The veteran Otani is putting Yuma through the paces early. He’s side stepping Dropkicks and just kicking Yuma to prove a point. Yuma tries to fire back, and then Otani continues to push off certain moves and be funny.
Yuma does manage to take advantage of his youth, but when he goes for the disrespect by attempting the Bootwash, Otani fires, lays out the younger wrestler and hits the Wash. Yuma goes to the outside, and when he turns back to the ring, Otani charges and hits a running Bootwash straight to Yuma’s face.
As Otani takes the role of the cagey veteran punishing the Young Boy, Yuma tries to find ways to come back, but things Otani stays a little ahead of the younger wrestler. Yuma gets a close moment where he locks in End Game, but Otani fights to the ropes. Otani then backs the younger wrestler down, hits Dragon Suplex, then goes for another, but Yuma blocks. Otani counters the block with a lariat, then another Dragon Suplex but Yuma kicks out at 1! Refusing to stay down, Otani goes into his bag of tricks and hits Yuma twice with Hashimoto style Overhand Chops, to finally keep the younger man down.
Jake Lee vs Shotaro Ashino
So there is some fun history between these two when Ashino brought Enfantes Terrible over to AJPW and took JIN down a peg. But then recently, Jake stole the Enfantes members from Ashino and betrayed JIN. Ashino is looking to avenge the turnabout, but Jake is trying to craft his Carnival masterpiece.
Jake definitely has the swagger of an anime villain. He widens his arms like he’s conducting a symphony and moves slowly yet deliberately. Ashino starts quick, hitting a Drop Toe Hold and going to the ground game, but Jake stabilizes. Ashino again brings Jake down after successive German Suplexes and goes for the Ankle Lock! Jake has trouble navigating it for a while, but eventually finds the ropes.
Retreating to the corner, Jake sees the referee, Ashino charges, Jake uses the referee shield and starts taking advantage. A few direct blows to the head, Giant Killing to the back of the head, followed by D4C. Jake drags the referee back, picks up the win and leaves cackling. He’s limping heavily, selling the viciousness of the Ankle Lock even in a short match, but yeah, not what I expected.
The match was used to help build Jake’s new persona and possibly give Ashino a steeper mountain to climb. But the length and abrupt end was definitely not expected. Interesting, but also a little off putting.
Zeus vs Kento Miyahara
Zeus and Kento have had great wars. There was a point a few years ago where Kento was Zeus’ hurdle, but after beating him for the Tag titles, he then gathered momentum. Zeus has beaten Kento for the Triple Crown before, has beaten him in the Carnival, and this has been one of the best rivalries of the last few years in current AJPW. Kento is of course the current generation Ace, and everyone knows that; but given Zeus’ track record and Kento’s stagnation the last year since losing the Triple Crown to Suwama, we could get something interesting.
The match starts with their usual sarcastic respect to one another during breaks and outside the ring moments. Given that they’ve had 2 5 Snowflake classics in the last 3 years, this had a lot to live up to. But at no point did it feel like retreading, since they are both in different positions comparatively, this felt like a whole new book, not an additional chapter. Zeus landed a lot of power spots while Kento combated everything with his Knees.
Kento’s usual attack of Blackouts from different angles rocked Zeus pretty hard. Zeus ate a few, grabbed a Chokeslam and they both landed for a rest spot. Zeus drives Kento into a corner, goes for an Outside-In Brainbuster and starts trying to end things. Kento goes for the Shutdown Suplex, Zeus fires out, a few big Lariats and a Jackhammer from Zeus…AND ZEUS WINS!
Overall Score: 7.25/10
Now this wasn’t a bad start to things! Sure the Ashino/Jake Lee match did not go the way I expected, it definitely told enough of a story to prove it’s going somewhere. Shinjiro Otani gets a solid start to things, Shuji Ishikawa won a match he was supposed to and Zeus/Kento ended up being a solid day 1 main event.
Kento has started on the back foot before. I guess we get to see if he wins out until the Final Day, or if he has a larger struggle. Let’s check out the Day 1 Standings!
- Zeus: 1-0 – (2 Points)
- Shuji Ishikawa: 1-0 – (2 Points)
- Shinjiro Otani: 1-0 – (2 Points)
- Kohei Sato: 1-0 – (2 Points)
- Jake Lee: 1-0 – (2 Points)
- Kento Miyahara: 0-1 – (0 Points)
- Suwama: 0-1 – (0 Points)
- Yuma Aoyagi: 0-1 – (0 Points)
- Shotaro Ashino: 0-1 – (0 Points)
- Koji Doi: 0-1 – (0 Points)
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