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(NOAH) WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.16 ~ 28TH DECEMBER 2018

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End of year fun to be had in NOAH! NOAHful Gift isn’t overly serious, but it does set a decent tone for Navigation for the Future. Hisame let’s us know everything we need to know-ah. Get it? No? Shuddup and read.

NEWS

NOAHFul GIFT
NOAH held their final event of the year, “NOAHFul GIFT”, at Korakuen Hall on the 24th December 2018. The usual flea market was held where the wrestlers sold their old clothing and ring gear (one fan bought something of Nakajima’s and said there was a faint smell of sweat on it).

Fortunately, Genba Hirayanagi did not repeat his threat to turn up in some old pants (or turn up at all).

NOAH held a lottery to determine random drawing of the first three matches prior to the Costumed Battle Royale (I’ll get to that. Its highly disturbing).

The matches were:
1. Yoshiki Inamura vs Hi69
2. Kaito Kiyomiya vs Kenoh vs Kinya Okada
3. Tadasuke, Atsushi Kotoge & Go Shiozaki vs Junta Miyawaki, YO-HEY & Katsuhiko Nakajima.

Inamura put on a good show, but naturally, fell to Hi69 – but it was Kinya Okada in the “random” drawing of the second match (which no one seriously believes was “random”), who stole the show. Okada, with only about seven matches or so since he debuted, completely stole the show. He proved himself to be a natural, at times he had the small blip to show his lack of experience, but you couldn’t fault his ring presence. Sarcastic (he’s going to be NOAH’s very own homegrown Yuji Hino), by pretending that he didn’t see the GHC Heavyweight Champion telling him off for double crossing him, smirking (not sinister like Nakajima though, more in a troublemaker, butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth, kind of way) and when he said to Kiyomiya about Kenoh, “let’s get that blonde bastard”, using language common to his generation.

He is going to be one the nastier heavyweights, and in years to come, and a big part of NOAH.

Naturally, Kenoh and Kiyomiya faced off, Kiyomiya showing an attitude that he hasn’t had for the past twelve months since he came back by standing up to Kenoh.

Kaito Kiyomiya won with the Boston Crab on Kinya Okada after 13 minutes and 27 seconds

The next match had more of a focus on Atsushi Kotoge and Go Shiozaki…and it read like a plot to a anime.

Go Shiozaki was having trouble chopping his opponents, and was offered the cape by Atsushi Kotoge. Shiozaki, put the cape on, and his powers were restored. Kotoge was out of what is left of his mind, when Shiozaki did the “Revolutionary Fist”.

After the match (in which Nakajima and YO-HEY sat in the audience to cheer on Miyawaki), a delighted Kotoge asked Shiozaki whether from now on, he would like to wear his magic power granting cape?

Shiozaki looked like you do when granny asks were that nice Christmas jumper is with Santa on it she bought for you last year?

It should be noted (that with the possible exception of Hi69, who is an eighteen year veteran), that all of the matches featured the younger stars of NOAH.

Then there came the Battle Royale.
EVERYONE (except one person) dressed up for this, even Ally (ring announcer) dressed up to announce it.

Special mention goes to:
~ Santa Masa Kitamiya subduing his too cute reindeer (Hitoshi Kumano and Junta Miyawaki) after they beat him down with soap in a sock
~ Maybach Taniguchi dressing as his Sasumata, and being used as a battering ram
~ Tokyo Sports describing Masao Inoue’s mask as one used for “convenience store robberies”
~ Mohammed Yone bringing a camera to the ring, and taking pictures of EVERYTHING…and I mean EVERYTHING. Yes. Even what you are about to read about.

~ Atsushi Kotoge was an out of control hyperactive “Kotode Mercury” (Freddie Mercury), complete with cane, and what looked like a bath lily stuck to his chest to simulate chest hair.
~ Akitoshi Saito came out as Atsushi Kotoge, and did a dance involving a crotch chop, which I never want to see again.
~ Hajime Ohara recycled his Kiki costume from 2017.
~ HAYATA refused to dress up (no surprises there)
~ Kenoh came as the masked “Menso-re Oyaji”, complete with his beloved can of Orion beer (its from his summer holiday retreat of Okinawa), and did things that Kenoh would not normally do (come on, we all know Mr. “I don’t smile normally in my everyday life”, was smiling under the mask)
~ Kaito Kiyomiya came as a songstress clad in a Kimono and with the traditional white painted face. He made his entrance in the traditional way a dancer does, with the fan over the face and the knees slightly bent.
~ Katsuhiko Nakajima came as a samurai, and then found that Samurai didn’t high kick people as their clothing didn’t allow it.

Takashi Sugiura came as a gorilla.
Yes. A gorilla.

Sugi often refers to himself as one (although KENTA once called him a “Hippo”), and he came out clutching a bunch of bananas.

Then the gorilla got in the ring, and attempted to, shall we say, mount Hi69 (a panda) before being chased away, at which point he then tried to…well…get into Kiki’s drawers.

I guess we should be grateful, had a watershed not existed along with broadcasting laws, he probably would have come as The Baboon…

Moving on – the Battle Royale (in which the Geisha and the Samurai danced together, in what looked like a lopsided Edo period drama of a 5’11 Geisha dancing with a 5’9 man), the event was won by Kotode Mercury.

The traditional picture was taken at the end, even Naomichi Marufuji got in the ring for it (he had been enjoying the action from ringside), the only people missing were YO-HEY and Yoshinari Ogawa. YO-HEY, with his new heel persona felt he couldn’t join in, and Yoshinari Ogawa had come to the ring and been chased off by Daisuke Harada.

After the event, Go Shiozaki (in his role as chairman of the NOAH, wrestlers association) thanked everyone for coming, and thanked them for helping to raise the roof so to speak. Next year the wrestlers and the staff, will continue to devote themselves to Pro Wrestling Noah.

NOAH will hold their next event on January 6th 2019 at Korakuen Hall

POWER HALL & KUSHINO PRODUCE
Riki Chosu held another “POWER HALL” on the 28th December at Korakuen Hall, the same day Kuishinbo Kamen held his produce in Osaka.

YO-HEY & HAYATA (despite YO-HEY turning on RATELS), had to tag together in a three man match. They got into an argument during it, which led to them both being taken down at one point, and a rather sad looking YO-HEY refusing to help HAYATA up, or even tag him in.

If they were going to work together, it was going to be difficult.

The final “POWER HALL” of 2018 featured NOAH wrestlers, Kaito Kiyomiya, Masa Kitamiya, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Takashi Sugiura and Akitoshi Saito (plus regular NOAH freelancer, Minoru Tanaka).

Nakajima was his usual evil grinning sadistic self, who took pleasure in beating up on Big Japan’s Takuya Nomura (who seems to always be busted open whenever he faces NOAH).

Takashi Sugiura wore his tired old man face when confronted with some members of the opposite team.

Kaito Kiyomiya hugged his belt, and looked distressed when someone playfully tugged at it.

Kiyomiya’s team lost, and he said afterwards that this wouldn’t do, it (i.e. 2018) “could not end like this” and he wanted to fight another round.

“COME AT ME YOU BASTARDS”
Kenoh wrote his final column of 2018, and reflected on the past year, calling it the “best and the worst”. He speaks mainly about Kiyomiya and his concerns that the company is pushing him into something he is not ready for.

NAVIGATION FOR THE FUTURE 2019
NOAH are back on the 6th January 2018, with a live broadcast show at Korakuen Hall (to find out your timezone, put into Google “11.30 JST”).

On the 6th January, Kaito Kiyomiya will face Kenoh in his first defense of the GHC Heavyweight title, The Hooligans (Yuji Hino and Maybach Taniguchi) will defend the GHC Heavyweight tag titles against Katsuhiko Nakajima and Go Shiozaki (this is the rematch after the chaotic title match in Yokohama). Junta Miyawaki and Seiya Morohashi will have their trial match to see whether or not Hajime Ohara will let them challenge for the GHC Junior Heavyweight titles (but they have been challenged by Keisuke Ishii & Kouki Iwasaki).

Yoshiki Inamura will also go up against his hero, Takashi Sugiura, in a singles match opener. He will also have a series of singles matches against various seniors.

Elsewhere, Daisuke Harada will defend the GHC Junior Championship against YO-HEY on the 26th in Osaka, but prior to that on the 20th, HAYATA will face YO-HEY, Harada will take on Ogawa, and Tadasuke will fight Kotaro Suzuki.

For this tour, the following outside talent have been announced to be participating in one way or another: Mitsuya Nagai, KAZMA SAKAMOTO, Yuji Hino, Masao Inoue, Minoru Tanaka, Kotaro Suzuki, Seiya Morohashi, Kokuki Iwasaki, Seichi Ikemoto, Kanjyuro Matsuyama and Keisuke Ishii.

GHC BELT NEWS

TOUR TIDBITS
~ President Uchida apparently had a little too much to drink at the Noah Christmas party
~ No one could work out how Tadasuke was sitting at (what looked like) the airport, and even less how he could sleep like that
~ Daisuke Harada wore a pointy Santa Hat for his stint as one day manager at Yoneya, Masa Kitamiya will be there in January 2019
~ Kenoh will be back on “Satoko’s Room” in January 2019 (he was last on it in 2019)
~ Yoshiki Inamura took Takashi Sugiura’s advice, and smiled a little more when out on promotion

KING SHAMELESS CORNER

BROADCASTS
Samurai TV will broadcast the first night of “Navigation For The Future 2019” LIVE on the 6th January at 11.30am JST

BOOK CORNER
The translation into English of “Heir to The Ark” (Naomichi Marufuji’s biography), has reached Chapter 4 “Fight to the Death; Battles with KENTA, GHC Grand Slam, returning to the juniors”.

Chapters 1, 2 and 3 are now complete.

While I am still waiting for “PHOTO THE LIVE” to arrive, two other books on Mitsuharu Misawa\NOAH did “Sailing: The Mitsuharu Misawa autobiography” and “Mitsuharu Misawa: understanding the cause of NOAH”.

The first book seems to deal with his life primarily from childhood to the founding of Noah (it was published in about 2001/2002).

THANK YOU
As this is the last newsletter of 2018, I want to take a moment to thank everyone for supporting me, following me this year and reading this.

In particular I want to thank Metal Noah, not only for kindly sending me his autographed copy of “Heir to The Ark”, but also for being one of the main reasons I can do a recap of NOAH shows (a big thanks also goes to Abeshin, Nacky, Hamaharin, Shishido, Hai, Karin, Fujiwara Armbar, Pinkie Pie, Kei and Maybach Metapoko, and many many others, whom I may have forgotten to mention).

Thank you also to Wilfred Watches and Greg (GoodnightLove) for having me on their podcasts, and to Andrew Balaz (Chairshot) and Andre Corbeil (Wrestling with Wrestling) for asking me to write for them.

A thank you to Purodino for kindly sending me some Noah merchandise on her trip to Japan, and for translating some articles for the site.

A thank you to Jen J for never failing to send me the articles from Puroresu Weekly

A thank you to Brother Mort & Ro Bert for uploading the NOAH shows\Battlemen.

A thank you to John LaRocca for the shout outs on his podcast.

A thank you to my boyfriend for editing my podcast (which I hope to be restarting soon after a hiatus caused by family and work issues)

And a thank you to all those who contributed to my Patreon (the dream of being able to do this full time, from home and paid, comes closer and closer with each donation\subscription)

…and to anyone else I may have neglected to mention, you know who you are x x x

Finally, a big thanks goes to Pro Wrestling NOAH themselves, for being here in 2018 and for not blocking me from any of their accounts.
Yet.

LINKS
SUN ON THE SEA: A RECAP OF PRO-WRESTLING NOAH’S 2018 
Go Shiozaki vs Konosuke Takeshita ~ transcript of press conference
Kaito Kiyomiya, “a new scene” in the ring with Kenoh
Kenoh to the new champion, Kiyomiya, “I will make it easy”
Freddie Mercury wins the costume Royal Rumble? 
Noahful Gift – post match promos
Shiranui Curry (online shop)
HAYATA “My Turning Point” (translated by Purodino)

GIF credit: Battlemen News

PIC credit: Noah.co.jp


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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?

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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!

Ratings:

  • 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 – ****

 

Results:

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!

Standings:

  1. Zeus: 2-0 – (4 Points)
  2. Shuji Ishikawa: 1-1 – (2 Points)
  3. Shinjiro Otani: 1-1 – (2 Points)
  4. Kohei Sato: 1-1 – (2 Points)
  5. Jake Lee: 1-1 – (2 Points)
  6. Kento Miyahara: 1-1 – (2 Points)
  7. Suwama: 1-1 – (2 Points)
  8. Koji Doi: 1-1 – (2 Points)
  9. Yuma Aoyagi: 1-1 – (2 Points)
  10. Shotaro Ashino: 0-2 – (0 Points)

 


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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!

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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!

Ratings:

  • 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

 

Results:

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!

Standings:

  1. Zeus: 1-0 – (2 Points)
  2. Shuji Ishikawa: 1-0 – (2 Points)
  3. Shinjiro Otani: 1-0 – (2 Points)
  4. Kohei Sato: 1-0 – (2 Points)
  5. Jake Lee: 1-0 – (2 Points)
  6. Kento Miyahara: 0-1 – (0 Points)
  7. Suwama: 0-1 – (0 Points)
  8. Yuma Aoyagi: 0-1 – (0 Points)
  9. Shotaro Ashino: 0-1 – (0 Points)
  10. Koji Doi: 0-1 – (0 Points)

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