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(NOAH) WEEKLY NEWSLETTER VOL.18 ~ 12TH JANUARY 2019

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We got the important Day 1 review for Navigation for the Future last week from Andrew, but Hisame is the expert. She clarifies things from that first day, on top of events since January 6th.

NEWS

“NAVIGATION FOR THE FUTURE 2019” BEGINS

NOAH began their year in Korakuen Hall on the 6th January. The roster filed to the ring (this years color is red) and stood while Go Shiozaki made the traditional New Years speech (this is either done by himself as Chairman of the NOAH Wrestlers Association, President Uchida or Naomichi Marufuji, but usually by himself), and although naturally he wasn’t competing, Marufuji was there.

Kinya Okada took on Masa Kitamiya, which ended with Kitamiya doing a massive spear on him which winded him.

Yoshiki Inamura took on his hero, Takashi Sugiura. Inamura put up a good fight, and like all the heavyweights, participated in the unofficial competition that they seem to have, which involves lifting Sugiura up and for as long as possible. He even once or twice managed to knock Sugiura down. However, the match finished as it only could, with the win by Sugiura via the infamous chokehold.

Atsushi Kotoge teamed with Masao Inoue against Hi69 and Minoru Tanaka.

The cape was the star of this match; Minoru Tanaka wore it on his head, Hi69 put it on to do the “Revolutionary Splash” and then got into a fight with it when he took it off over his head and it got kind of stuck.

Kotoge thought that they were going to join the “Revolutionary Army” (which so far has only one member, and no one wanting to join), when Tanaka sarcastically put the cape on at the end of the match and did the revolutionary fist when his arm was raised for the win.

They didn’t want to become his junior corps however, and Kotoge found himself thrown out of the ring, and looked up to see Minoru Tanaka using the cape to wipe Hi69’s ass…

The Backbreakers had their “assessment” match with Seiya Morohashi and Junta Miyawaki to see if they were eligible to challenge for the GHC Junior Tag Team titles. They weren’t as they lost, but afterwards Ohara predicted great things for Miyawaki, and said that he had the potential to be putting on a belt in the spring.
In the meantime, The Backbreakers have been challenged by Keisuke Ishii and Kouki Iwasaki.

The Hooligans had their first match of the evening when Akitoshi Saito teamed with 50 Funky Powers against them (Mitsuya Nagai, KAZMA SAKAMOTO and Cody Hall).

Due to interference by The Hooligans, who shoved Referee Nishinaga down, the match was abandoned after five minutes. This was a taster of what was to come in the title match.

A much healthier, happier and relaxed looking Naomichi Marufuji announced that he would be returning to the ring on the 1st February. After that he remained on commentary for the rest of the event.

The three remaining RATELS took on YO-HEY and his new friends, Yoshinari Ogawa and Kotaro Suzuki. Harada was not wasting any time as he stamped across the ring while he was being announced, not even bothering to look away from YO-HEY or even remove his RATELS jacket as he attacked him. YO-HEY won against the man he used to call “The Boss”.

After the match, HAYATA was bending over Harada, as YO-HEY looked on at Ogawa and Suzuki approaching them. HAYATA stood up, Ogawa said something to him, HAYATA put his hands on his hips and looked away, and the three of them left. HAYATA left soon after, leaving the seconds to help Harada out of the ring.

The Hooligans had their second match of the evening as Yuji Hino and Maybach Taniguchi defended the GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Championship against Go Shiozaki and Katsuhiko Nakajima, following the bloodbath in Yokohama at the end of the year.

The problem with this match was the stop start, stop start, Hooligan interference, which after a while got tiresome. The booking was in itself very Suzuki-Gun, which is not something people really want to be reminded of. When the match was allowed to flow, we got some good moments, especially the dynamic between Katsuhiko Nakajima and Yuji Hino when neither would sell each others moves; Nakajima’s eyes filled black when Hino yawned in response to his kicks.

In the end (and beating up Atsushi Kotoge on the way who seems to have attached himself to Shiozaki and Nakajima, although no one has probably asked him to), The Hooligans retained.

Fifty Funky powers then challenged them for the titles with Quiet Storm telling them that everyone was sick of The Hooligans, and the way they fight, and they would finish them.  

In the main event, Kaito Kiyomiya came full circle, and beat Kenoh to retain the GHC Heavyweight championship.

Kenoh entered with slicked back hair and the usual scowl (he hasn’t debuted the hair since, probably because he was teased, or else he is saving it for big matches), and Kiyomiya entered with a Kobashi mannerism, where he pauses to look at the crowd as if he can’t believe they are cheering for him. They had what will be probably the start of their epic battles. Kenoh had said that neither he and Kiyomiya were the same people they were in January 2018, but I don’t think he really knew that Kiyomiya was not this young boy anymore, who he swung alternately between seeing as a younger brother, and an a potentially dangerous rival, who he had so easily kicked around in 2018. Sugiura had underestimated Kiyomiya during Global League, and Kenoh, while not making the same mistake, made the mistake as seeing Kiyomiya as still somewhat green and unprepared for his role as the GHC Heavyweight Champion.

Kiyomiya knew Kenoh well, he was able to dodge his moves, and he also knew when to play dead and come out of his daze. They had great chemistry together, and this match, already a match of the year to some, was hard fought all the way through, and a solid fight from the start.

At one point, seeing Marufuji on commentary, Kenoh paused to glare at his hated obsession.

After the match, Atsushi Kotoge (mercifully wearing a fresh new cape which hadn’t been anywhere near Hi69’s hindquarters, although lets face it, ALL those cloaks probably have a rude backstage story to tell on a Misawa level), came out to challenge Kaito Kiyomiya.

Kotoge proposed starting a revolution together, and fortunately for Kiyomiya, he was saved from this by Masa Kitamiya, who also challenged and said sensibly (and firmly) that “the GHC Heavyweight does not need a comedy wrestler”.

Kiyomiya, as polite as ever, left the company to arrange the details and Kotoge and Kitamiya will face each other on January 20th to determine the number one contender, with the winner facing Kiyomiya on February 1st.

During the pre-matches, neither Kotoge or Kitamiya got the pin or had the pin given on them by Kiyomiya directly.

Kaito Kiyomiya says that he wants to be an approachable champion, one that talks to fans and makes people leave the event smiling. He was driven by Kenoh to become champion, and he is driven by the memories of the dark days of Suzuki-Gun and the vicious circle it created with the fans who felt the crisis in Noah, which was transmitted to the wrestlers, and when no one was happy. As well as being the youngest GHC Heavyweight Champion on history, he also wants to beat Takashi Sugiura’s defensive record of fourteen people.

NOAH are currently approaching the end of their three day in a row event. Hi69 said that the attendances have not been good, and more people need to come, but for winter in the provinces, the attendances weren’t bad; there was a long line to see Katsuhiko Nakajima, and according to Kaito Kiyomiya, a lot of new fans came to the events.

IPW

RATELS (including YO-HEY) are taking part in IPW’S Junior Tournament on the 15th January. Their opponents for the first round have been announced as:

Daisuke Harada vs Chris Ridgeway
HAYATA vs Kid Lykos
YO-HEY vs Ben Basden
Tadasuke vs James Basden

While Harada is yet to comment on his opponent (who seems to do the Sugiura mouth-guard thing), although he did say that this will be the first time he will ever have competed for a belt concurrently in another promotion, HAYATA doesn’t use social media, YO-HEY said he wanted to meet Mr. Bean, Tadasuke has commented that he will “knock down” his opponent.

Tickets can be purchased here

DDT
Naomichi Marufuji and Go Shiozaki will be taking part in DDT’S 22nd anniversary event “Judgement 2019” on February 17th.

President Uchida represented Marufuji at the press conference (Marufuji has had to be very strict with his rehabilitation, and so cannot travel with NOAH to the events in the countryside, and sometimes has to miss things for treatment), and was met with Tetsuya Endo (who will be Marufuji’s opponent), eating his lunch.

Endo basically said he respects Marufuji, but he doesn’t care about the actual match, he’s out to crush him, he also said that he didn’t think that Marufuji would be physically or mentally ready for it either.

Fortunately, having had the experience of both Kenoh and Sugiura in his face and therefore being familiar with such behavior, President Uchida just ignored him.

CURRENT CHAMPIONS

TOUR TIDBITS
~ Hajime Ohara announced that NOAH will be returning to Kultz Kawasaki on the 27th July, and he will once again be involved in the booking of the show.
~ Yuji Hino said about Mohammed Yone, “The Afro is dead”.
~ YO-HEY appears to have an invisible friend…
~ Atsushi Kotoge’s cloak fell off when he attempted to do the “Revolutionary Cloak Splash”
~ HAYATA did not second Harada and Tadasuke in Hamamatsu
~ Takashi Sugiura bought home a little yellow hat for his puppy. He also said he realizes that his account should be used for photographing people, and not his dog, but he doesn’t apologize; he is going to keep photographing his dog.
~ There seems to be friction developing between Kenoh and Katsuhiko Nakajima, and the fans want to see a single match.
~ Despite the manner in which he left NOAH, and where he is now, Taiji Ishimori appears to be on good terms with Marufuji. Marufuji congratulated him on winning the IWGP Junior in New Japan, and Ishimori thanked him and said he remembered the lessons and experience he had in NOAH. Even if he does return as a Freelancer, which he may well do one day, hopefully Ishimori will be back in the NOAH ring one day.
~ Two small kids ran to Kenoh (who was standing watching the ring action) and asked if they could shake his hand, he was very gentle with them in doing it.
~ Tadasuke turned 33 on the 13th January.
~ President Uchida hinted that a GHC Heavyweight Title defense could take place in Canada (or on IMPACT) as a thank you to Scott D’Amor who took care of him when he was overseas.

KING SHAMELESS CORNER
He’s been good as he’s got a new dog.
His good behavior won’t last, especially when summer comes, or when he finds Masao Inoue at the urinal.

BROADCASTS
I am afraid that no broadcasts have been announced as of yet, although it is likely that the last day of tour (1st February which is the GHC Heavyweight title match and Marufuji’s return) will be broadcast, and perhaps the 26th January in Osaka.

BOOK CORNER
The translation of Naomichi Marufuji’s biography, “Heir to The Ark” continues.
In this chapter he dispels a lot of the myths surrounding himself and KENTA. Its a commonly held (and dearly held belief) that they were close, if anything, they were anything but. They rarely had any contact outside the ring, never socialized or had really had any significant contact out of tour, and Marufuji said he lent him a CD which he never returned.

LINKS
“No memory of the match” ~ Kaito Kiyomiya, the youngest champions first defense
Marufuji’s enthusiastic return on the 1st February at Korakuen
The Hooligans do as they like
“Whichever comes, I will not lose” GHC Heavyweight Champion, Kaito Kiyomiya’s confidence about Kotoge and Kitamiya
Kaito Kiyomiya’s first defense and an ambition in Canada
The birth of the youngest GHC Heavyweight Champion ~ Kaito Kiyomiya’s interview (1st defense)
Wrestling Grand Prix Fighting Spirit winner Kaito Kiyomiya, “My starting point for battle came from Fujinami and Choshu”

NOAH FROM THE VAULT
Kaito Kiyomiya’s “My Turning Point” (translated by Purodino)

Photos & gifs – credit to Noah GHC, IPW, PDXD & Puroresu Weekly


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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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